In China, Apple’s 5G iPhone 12 sparks fever-pitch, but divided reaction


By Josh Horwitz and Brenda Goh

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Apple’s iPhone 12 launch drew mixed reactions in mainland China on Wednesday, with fans cheering a 5G model for their favourite brand while others planned to wait for upcoming devices from local rivals like Huawei Technologies.

The much-anticipated Apple launch comes in the wake of Chinese Android-platform brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi Corp having already rolled out higher-end 5G devices compatible with China’s upgraded telecoms networks, with the U.S. giant seen by some analysts to be late to the party.

In its second-largest market by revenue, Apple’s announcement was feverishly discussed on social media. With over 6 billion views, the tag ‘iPhone12’ ranked as the no. 1 topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

Asked if they’d buy the new iPhone, which will give Apple users 5G access in a market where such networks are already widespread, respondents to a Caijing magazine poll were almost evenly split: some 10,000 voted no, 9,269 said yes, and just over 5,400 said they were still considering it.

Available for orders in China from Oct. 16, the iPhone 12 will cost 5,499 yuan ($815.37) for a ‘mini’ version, rising to as much as 11,899 yuan for the top of the range.

That price tag was also a hot topic, with many complaining it was too expensive. “How is it this expensive even with no power charger or earbuds?,” said one commenter, referring to Apple’s announcement that it would leave out those components citing environmental reasons.

Many Weibo users said they may put off ordering iPhone 12s to wait for the expected unveiling of Huawei’s rival Mate 40 Pro this month.

Still, analysts said they were bullish about the iPhone 12’s reception in China, saying that the firm still likely had many loyal users who have postponed

Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis sparks hostile Twitter reaction against Asians


For example, in one since-deleted tweet to her 394,000 followers, pro-Trump former congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine said that “China must pay for giving Trump COVID,” and swore that “we will have justice.”

Another Twitter user with 114,000 followers blamed Chinese President Xi Jinping for trying to assassinate Trump.

The anti-China rhetoric used by the Trump administration and its supporters throughout the pandemic has left Asian Americans vulnerable to racist attacks, researchers have previously found. Fear, hatred and misinformation online has led to verbal assaults, boycotts of Asian businesses and sometimes violence. A coalition of Asian American groups, along with San Francisco State University, reported this summer that 2,120 hate incidents against Asian Americans have taken place since March.

President Trump has been at the forefront of pushing a narrative that responsibility for the virus lies with China. In the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, Trump said the covid-19 crisis was “China’s fault,” and referred to the virus as the “China plague.”

“From the birther scandal to lies about immigrants to his attempt to blame China for his own failure to contain the coronavirus, Donald Trump has built his presidency on perpetuating conspiracy theories and racism,” said Rep. Judy Chu, (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, in a statement.

She warned that rhetoric in reaction to the president‘s followers blaming Asians or Jews for problems can lead to violence.

They “not only doubled down on the use of slurs like ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Kung flu,’ they also denied the impact their own words were having on innocent Asian Americans who have been terrified by the anti-Asian hate we have witnessed throughout this pandemic,” Chu said.

The ADL conducted its research by collecting tweets containing the keywords “trump,” “melania” and “first lady,” pairing them with the terms “china

Seattle startup Skilljar raises $33M as pandemic sparks demand for its customer education software


Skilljar co-founders Sandi Lin (left) and Jason Stewart. (Skilljar Photos)

The third time really has been a charm for Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart.

The entrepreneurs began their startup journey in 2013 when the former Amazon employees launched Everpath, a Techstars Seattle company that tried to build a Yelp for online classes. They soon pivoted and began targeting independent instructors, offering them a platform to host online education.

“I call those my first two failed startups,” Lin said this week.

It was the third evolution of the original idea that really took off. Lin and Stewart saw a lot of interest from enterprise companies needing help building customer education experiences. They ultimately launched Skilljar, which has now delivered more than 10 million hours of instruction and 100 million lessons via on-demand and virtual live training programs hosted on its learning management platform.

Skilljar is set to grow even more after raising a fresh $33 million Series B round led by Insight Partners, with participation from existing investors Mayfield, Trilogy Equity Partners, and Shasta Ventures. Total funding to date is north of $50 million. 

The Seattle startup provides the back-end technology and software that lets companies build cloud-based training and onboarding programs for both their own employees and for end users. The company has more than 300 customers, including Smartsheet, Tableau, Cisco, Zendesk, and others. For example, Tableau uses Skilljar to power its Tableau eLearning training courses, while Nintex taps Skilljar to help lower “how-to” support tickets.

Skilljar also offers a built-in assessment and certifications engine, as well as analytics on learner activity and integrations with various other software tools.

Tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft have built their own customer education platforms, but Skilljar hopes to provide the same service for thousands of other companies that don’t have the

Twitter Bans Trump Death Wishes, Sparks Debate


Twitter is removing tweets hoping for the demise of US President Donald Trump — a move which opened up the social platform to criticism that it should enforce the same policy for everyone.

San Francisco-based Twitter drew a line on caustic commentary after Trump’s Covid-19 hospitalization Friday, telling users that expressing hope for the death of anyone violates policies against abusive behavior at the one-to-many messaging service.

“Tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against anyone are not allowed and will need to be removed,” Twitter said in a post.

Attached was a link to a Twitter policy page that said it does not tolerate content that wishes, hopes, or expresses desire for someone to die or contract a fatal disease.

The post sparked a firestorm of responses from people contending that Twitter has not been consistent about enforcing those rules.

“So… you mean to tell us you could’ve done this the whole time?” Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said in a retweet of Twitter’s message.

Twitter's move to ban comments wishing for the death of President Donald Trump sparked calls for the platform to enforce that policy for everyone Twitter’s move to ban comments wishing for the death of President Donald Trump sparked calls for the platform to enforce that policy for everyone Photo: AFP / Olivier DOULIERY

Conservative Republicans have relentless used social media to spew venom at Ocasio-Cortez, often referred to by her initials AOC.

Fellow Democratic lawmaker Rashida Tlaib chimed in with a similar comment, tweeting, “this is messed up. The death threats towards us should have been taking more seriously.”

Twitter responded with a pledge to be more even-handed.

“We hear the voices who feel that we’re enforcing some policies inconsistently,” Twitter said in response to fierce backlash.

“We agree we must do better, and we are working together inside to do so.”

Trump’s hospitalization for treatment of Covid-19 has been

The Technology 202: Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis sparks onslaught of online misinformation


“It’s as if a nuclear information bomb exploded on social media,” says Watts, a longtime researcher of influence operations, who is already starting to track and log various conspiracy theories related to the news. 

“Make no mistake — regardless of your politics — the President and first lady contracting covid-19 is a significant national crisis compounding on the pandemic that has taken over 200,000 Americans,” said Graham Brookie, the director and managing editor of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab. “We’re going to see a lot misinformation — and disinformation — about this in the coming days and weeks.” 

Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis could be an ideal target for foreign adversaries seeking to sow discord among the American public. 

“Any time the President of the United States is at risk is an opportunity to foreign adversaries,” Brookie told me. “It’s why the United States has contingency and continuity plans in place across the government before a crisis happens. Those continuity plans need to account for the low likelihood for things like military attacks but a near guarantee of foreign adversaries adjusting ongoing influence operations to the event.”

There is broad evidence that Russian actors frequently seize on major news events to spread information and amplify divisions on social media, as they did to help Trump during the 2016 presidential race. With a month until the 2020 election, and intelligence agencies already tracking Russian influence operations to denigrate Biden, adversaries could seize on the chaos to undermine Americans’ faith in the election process. 

Watts said he’s already seeing Russian media sources, including the Russian state-backed English language outlet RT, spread speculation about Joe Biden’s health and spread photos of him coughing. 

“I would expect Russia to amplify, heavy, the uncertainty and play up disastrous scenarios,” he said. “Or speculate about Biden.”