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New Instagram update looks to heavily lean into video

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Instagram update

Instagram is no longer a square photo-sharing app, the company’s head Adam Mosseri said, as the application is looking to undergo profound changes via two features that have been announced, and another that was leaked.

Mosseri highlighted this fact during a video he published on Wednesday on both his personal Instagram and Twitter accounts, noting that the company will be looking to provide entertainment through improving its video content through its new Instagram update.

He later added that following internal testing already happening from Facebook, the Instagram app will start asking users for their recommendations concerning their preferred topics to create more enticing videos, as it looks to offer a full-screen experience.

However, the app currently has a full-screen video experiences for content posted to IGTV, Reels, and Stories, Mosseri assures that they want to “embrace video more broadly.”

The move will place the Facebook-owned platform on track to compete with Chinese rival TikTok and Google’s YouTube. But while Mosseri highlighted that the company will look to support content creators, he failed to provide any sort of explanation as to how they will do so.

In parallel, several screenshots were leaked last week about a new Instagram update that show the app testing a subscriber-only stories feature called “exclusive stories,” which could be the program tapped for growing the platform’s content creators.

The screenshots shared by developer Alessandro Paluzzi, show that the new feature is designed with a different color — purple for now — to differentiate it from free content.

When unsubscribes try to open an exclusive story, they will bump into a message that says, “only member can view this content.” Creators can save these stories in their Highlights section that only their fans have access to.

In response, Instagram confirmed that the new feature is currently being developed but not yet being publicly tested. The app did not disclose any further details about its plans, yet Mosseri announced earlier last May that his company is “exploring” a subscription model.

Hala is a journalist and an editor with experience in the news industry. She enjoys writing motivational stories aiming to inspire people to overachieve.

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CEO of Epic speaks up on NFTs

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Fortnite

If you were hoping to see Fortnite NFTs some time in the near future, we have some bad news for you. 

Earlier this week, Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games tweeted that the company won’t be diving into the NFT world, as Sweeney believes the space’s problem with scams and hacks will act as a huge barrier. 

After the tweet caught major backlash, the CEO of Epic sent out another tweet clarifying his perspective on the matter, explaining that, to him, owning an NFT holds the same worth as liking a picture on Twitter. Sweeney even questioned the credibility of NFT ownership whether it is actually non-fungible. 

“While the NFT space does have fake art and shady goings-on at major companies (along with the various other scams that have taken off as NFTs rocketed to prominence this year), that’s probably not why we aren’t seeing V-NFTs take the place of V-Bucks,” The Verge explained.  

The more understandable explanation goes back to the fact that Epic doesn’t need to use blockchain tech to bring in revenues, while NFTs aren’t well-geared to fix issues such as its battle with Apple over what’s allowed in the App Store.   

However, scams aren’t acting as a barrier for other well-known companies to delve into NFTS, with brands such as Coca-Cola, Dole and Twitter already taking advantage of the hype surrounding NFTs. 

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Apple’s new iPhone 13 devices are facing technical difficulties

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Apple

If you aren’t able to unlock your Apple Watch that’s connected to your new iPhone 13, you’re not alone.  

Apple has recently announced that the tech giant has found an issue where the “unlock with Apple Watch” option does not work with new iPhone 13 devices.  

A document posted on its support page explains the issue, noting that users “might see ‘Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch’ if you try to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, or you might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch.” 

The issue first came to light when Reddit users on the r/AppleWatch subreddit began reporting that they were facing this technical difficulty, with some users complaining that the issue was never there with older iPhone devices. 

Earlier this year, the smartphone giant released the unlock feature that utilized Face ID with a paired Apple Watch, hand-in-hand with the release of iOS 14.5. The feature requires both the iPhone and the Watch to have a stable Wi-Fi connection as a turned-on Bluetooth. “The Watch needs to have wrist detection turned on and be passcode-protected, and it has to be on your wrist and unlocked for the feature to work,” according to The Verge

Apple didn’t explicitly mention what’s causing the problem with the iPhone 13 devices in its support document. However, the company reassured users that it will be “fixed in an upcoming software update,” but without mention a date.  

Even though Apple has just begun testing the iOS 15.1 beta, the tech giant has a documented history of delivering quick fixes. So, tech experts believe that users should expect the issue to become part of the past in the upcoming few days.  

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For many Haitian migrants, journey to Texas started online

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For many Haitian migrants, journey to Texas started online

For the final leg of his journey from Chile to the United States, Haitian migrant Fabricio Jean followed detailed instructions sent to him via WhatsApp from his brother in New Jersey who had recently taken the route to the Texas border.

His brother wired him money for the trip, then meticulously mapped it out, warning him of areas heavy with Mexican immigration officials.

“You will need about 20,000 pesos (about $1,000 U.S. dollars) for the buses. You need to take this bus to this location and then take another bus,” recounted Jean, who spoke to The Associated Press after reaching the border town of Del Rio.

What Jean didn’t expect was to find thousands of Haitian migrants like himself crossing at the same remote spot. The 38-year-old, his wife and two young children earlier this month joined as many as 14,000 mostly Haitian migrants camped under a Del Rio bridge.

A confluence of factors caused the sudden sharp increase at the Texas town of about 35,000 residents. Interviews with dozens of Haitian migrants, immigration attorneys and advocates reveal a phenomenon produced partly by confusion over the Biden administration’s policies after authorities recently extended protections for the more than 100,000 Haitians living in the United States.

It also reflects the power of Facebook, YouTube and platforms like WhatsApp, which migrants use to share information that can get distorted as it speeds through immigrant communities, directing migration flows. That’s especially true for tight-knit groups like the Creole-and-French-speaking Haitians, many of whom left their homeland after its devastating 2010 earthquake and have been living in Latin America, drawn by Brazil and Chile’s once-booming economies.

In extending protections for Haitians this spring, the Biden administration cited security concerns and social unrest in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the temporary protections were limited to those residing in the U.S. before July 29 — but that condition was often missing in posts, leading Haitians outside the United States to believe they, too, were eligible.

Mayorkas acknowledged that this week, saying “we are very concerned that Haitians who are taking the irregular migration path are receiving misinformation that the border is open,” or that they qualify for protected status despite the expired deadline.

“I want to make sure it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States,” he said.

Thousands of Haitians have been stuck in Mexican border towns since 2016, when the Obama administration abruptly halted a policy that initially allowed them in on humanitarian grounds.

Online messages touting the Mexican town of Ciudad Acuña, across from Del Rio, started after President Joe Biden took office and began reversing some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Ciudad Acuña has been spared the drug and gang violence seen elsewhere along the border. Some of the social media posts recommending it appear to have come from human smugglers seeking to drum up business, according to immigrant advocates.

Haitians began crossing there this year, but their numbers ballooned after a Biden administration program that briefly opened the door to some asylum seekers ended, said Nicole Phillips, of the San Diego-based Haitian Bridge Alliance, which advocates for Haitian migrants. The program allowed in a select number of people deemed by humanitarian groups to be at high risk in Mexico.

Once it ceased in August, people panicked, and the messages recommending Ciudad Acuña “went viral,” Phillips said.

“That’s why they rushed at this time to get in,” she said. “They realized they wouldn’t be able to get in legally through a port-of-entry like they were hoping.”

Del Rio is just one example of how technology that has put a smartphone in the hands of nearly every migrant is transforming migration flows, according to advocates. Migrants often monitor the news and share information on routes. The most popular platform is WhatsApp, which connects 2 billion people worldwide.

In 2020, after Turkey announced that the land border with Greece was open, thousands of migrants headed there – only to find the gates closed on the Greek side. Similar sudden mass migrations have happened elsewhere in Europe.

In 2018, social media posts and WhatsApp messages fueled caravans that swelled to 10,000 mostly Central American migrants who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Last week, in a Facebook group for Haitians in Chile with 26,000 members, one member posted specific instructions on routes through Mexico. It included paths to avoid and recommended certain bus companies.

“Good luck and be careful,” said the post, written in Haitian Creole.

Another member shared a different route in the comments. The group’s members have since relayed stories of horrific conditions in Del Rio and risks of being deported.

The International Organization for Migration found most of the 238 Haitians who were surveyed in March after passing through a 60-mile (100-kilometer) stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama known as the Darien Gap received route information from family or friends who had made the dangerous trek.

About 15% said they saw instructions on the internet.

Agency spokesman Jorge Gallo said the instructions led the migrants to believe crossing the gap was “difficult but not impossible.”

But just as similar messages drew many Haitians to Del Rio, news of the Biden administration deporting hundreds on the Texas border caused some to change their plans.

A 32-year-old Haitian woman who made it to Del Rio with her two teenage children bought bus tickets to Mexico City after receiving a cousin’s audio message via WhatsApp. She previously lived in Chile for four years.

“Wait in Mexico until this month is over. They will pick up everyone under the bridge. After that, they will give me the contact to enter Miami,” said the recording in Creole, which she played for an AP reporter. The AP is withholding the woman’s name to protect her safety.

Facebook Inc., which owns WhatsApp, allows people to exchange information about crossing borders, even illegally, but its policy bars posts that ask for money for services that facilitate human smuggling.

Robins Exile said he and his pregnant wife, who left Brazil after he lost his job amid the pandemic-wracked economy, headed to Tijuana, Mexico, instead after seeing warnings via YouTube and WhatsApp from fellow Haitian migrants.

“A lot of Haitians are advising now not to come to Acuña. They say it’s no longer a good place,” he said.

On Wednesday, Antonio Pierre, 33, who was camped in Del Rio with his wife and daughter, listened to the news on his friend’s cellphone.

“The U.S. is releasing some but just a few,” he said, referring to U.S. officials who told the AP on Tuesday that thousands of Haitians in custody were being let go and ordered to report to an immigration office, contradicting the Biden administration’s announcement that all Haitians camped in the town would be expelled to Haiti.

Nelson Saintil and his wife and four children had been camped in Texas but moved back to Mexico as they awaited word on where to go next to avoid deportation.

“I do not want to be like mice who do not find out that they are falling into a trap,” he said. “Because returning to Haiti is to bury a person alive.”


DEL RIO, Texas (AP)

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