Six drones that do good for people and the planet

Fighting drought with cloud-seeding drones

Six drones that do good for people and the planet

While humans may never figure out a way to control the weather, there have been many attempts to influence it. Cloud seeding, the practice of sprinkling silver iodide into clouds to promote rainfall, has traditionally been done by small airplanes, but the job can be made a lot easier thanks to drones. In Nevada, one such experiment took place earlier this year, funded in part by the state government. Cloud-seeding drones were flown at altitudes up to 400 feet and equipped with silver iodide flares to shoot into the clouds. While it’s unlikely the team was able to make it rain, using drones to deliver potentially rain-inducing measures could catch on in places like Nevada and California, where widespread droughts have been destroying agriculture for years.

Protecting animals with poacher-defense drones

Six drones that do good for people and the planet

In Africa, poachers have caused populations of many species to shrink and wildlife authorities have struggled to protect the animals. Elephants and rhinos are among the most threatened, and one group of conservationists in Zimbabwe is using drones to monitor poaching activities and add an extra layer of defense for the highly sought after animals. The drones monitor Hwange National Park, covering much larger swaths of land from the air than rangers could do on foot. In addition to providing broader coverage, drones can fly and record at night – a time when many poachers sneak into protected areas to poison wildlife water supplies.

Delivering emergency medicine with ambulance drones

Six drones that do good for people and the planet

A Japanese toy company is an unlikely source for a life-saving medical aid, but that’s exactly what happened when RC helicopter maker Hirobo unveiled its HX-1 in 2013. The tiny, unmanned electric rescue helicopter was designed to withstand severe weather conditions while traveling to hard-to-reach locations. With a steep price tag starting around $80,000 each, the HX-1 could be outfitted to transport donor blood or organs, deliver medical supplies, and collect site data. Any of those tasks could save lives, and an ambulance drone can be a lot faster and more efficient than a human team.

Connecting the world with internet-beaming drones

Six drones that do good for people and the planet

Facebook promised an internet-beaming drone for a long time before the social media company’s Aquila aircraft finally soared in the Arizona sky this past June. On its first test flight, the large solar-powered drone flew for a whopping 96 minutes before touching down safely. Aquila is unique because of its size: its wingspan rivals that of a Boeing 737. Despite its span, the Aquila drone soared with ease and the Facebook Connectivity Lab is improving the design now. In the future, internet-beaming equipment will be added so the drone can provide connectivity in off-grid areas.

Responding to remote Africa with drone airport

Six drones that do good for people and the planet

Earlier this year world-renowned architecture firm Foster + Partners unveiled plans for a Droneport that will deliver emergency supplies to remote areas in East Africa. The project is essentially an airport for unmanned flying vehicles, and it can serve drones of various sizes while doubling as a community hub for everything from medical supplies to electronic equipment and spare parts. This isn’t just a design, though. The first three buildings of the project are expected to be completed by 2020.

Remote building with drone robots

Six drones that do good for people and the planet

Drones are, essentially, flying robots. They can be programmed with specific navigation and flight patterns, and depending on their equipment, can perform any number of tasks – all with very little human interaction. In one of the most elaborate applications for the technology we’ve seen, a team of autonomous drones built a 24-foot-long rope bridge that is strong enough for humans to walk on. The project proves that flying robots may have a strong future career in a number of industries.

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The best of Engadget 2016: Editors’ picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksTerrence O’Brien

That Dragon, Cancer and shooting the “enemy”

The Engadget team has published a lot of great work this year. I’ve had the pleasure of editing everything from ambitious 4,000 word features, to clever 500 word editorials, but only one story has ever actually brought tears to my eyes. So, for that Aaron, thank you (I think). I’ll never forget how hard it is to edit 10 point font on a laptop while crying.

Movies and TV have a long history of painting Muslims (and in particular Arab Muslims) with a broad, unflattering brush. Not surprisingly, video games have fallen into the same sad routine. But games might prove even more problematic, since it asks people to become active participants, rather than just observers. As developer Rami Ismail pointed out told Nicole Lee, “That’s Call of Duty, over and over. Shoot all the Arabs… Muslim blood is the cheapest in the world.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksJames Trew

The “Uber for blowjobs”

When we think about how technology impacts our lives, it’s easy to focus on the convenience it brings. In 2016, we can order room service with a voice command, or frolic on the beach (or is it run for our lives?) while a drone takes our holiday snaps. It’s certainly an amazing time to be alive. The real impact of technology, for me, though, is when it shines a light on the darker corners of the human condition.

Earlier this year, I met and interviewed Pia Poppenreiter, who raised eyebrows with her (definitely not prostitution) “paid dating” service. Poppenreiter’s “Ohlala” commoditized the most basic emotional need — companionship. Unsurprisingly this “dating on demand” business model elicited mixed feelings, raising questions of morality, desire and maybe the true cost of convenience.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksKerry Davis

AI is genderless, until it isn’t

This year, as part of our AI Week, we dug into why so many of our gadgets’ “personalities” skew female, and how that could harm society; something that ended up being very eye-opening. From Cortana developers to proud feminists who abhor calling AI “she,” we learned a lot about gender, and its representation in technology.

I personally was also touched by the “Superhumans” video series showing the people who suffered debilitating injuries and are fighting to get fuller lives back with exoskeleton suits and the like. Engadget’s series following some of them at the first International Cyborg competition is a shining example of what can be achieved when technology is used to meaningfully improve people’s lives.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksDan Cooper

The future is sexy

Back in 2015, I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to try out Kiiroo’s teledildonic sex kit that enables you to have sex across the internet. I found it quite underwhelming when I tried to make an electronic bedroom dance with my wife. I was delighted — and a little gobsmacked — to read my boss follow in my footsteps, albeit with a slight twist.

Rather than attempting to make love to someone else, he decided to place himself at the heart of a robotic threesome. Not only was it brave, it also served as a little protest at the heteronormativity of so many pieces of sex tech.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksJessica Conditt

Even when artificial, intelligence is complicated

I’ve been thinking about the complex relationship between the mind and technology since I was a senior in high school. That’s when I wrote the prologue of my first novel, a near-future science-fiction story about the world’s first brain-transplant patient.

Neuropsychology is fascinating to me — it was my major for a hot minute in college — but even though I’d researched its components for years, I’d never shared my thoughts about the technological singularity as a journalist. I felt vulnerable writing this editorial for AI Week, which is why I’m so glad I did it.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksNick Summers

Shooters with scientific sound design

While I love video game music, I rarely think about sound design. The atmosphere created when hailstones rattle against the roof of a dilapidated factory. The tension you feel when a tree branch snaps in a seemingly empty forest. Back in October, Tim dived into Gears of War 4 and the sounds that were achieved with a Microsoft technology called Triton.

It’s a fascinating read, explaining a technical part of video game development in a way that anyone can understand. I’m not a huge fan of the roadie-run franchise, but this piece made me want to check out The Coalition’s handiwork.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksBilly Steele

Shooters with scientific sound design

What’s the level below casual gamer? Whatever you call that, it’s what I am. I’m interested, but it’s not something I spend a lot of time doing. However, I do have a soft spot for Gears of War as it was one of the few games besides Call of Duty, NCAA Football and a few others that really kept my attention.

As more of an audio/music nerd, Tim’s feature on how Microsoft made the sound in the latest Gears so good is a deep dive into a crucial part of every game. In this case, the effort put in to make sure hallways don’t sound like bathrooms makes all the difference.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksAaron Souppouris

Superhumans and fighting depression

I loved watching Superhumans, our video series about the world’s first cyborg games. But it’s one of Mona Lalwani’s accompanying essays that stayed with me longest. In it, she looked into the lives of two competitors, both left paralyzed by accidents, that were competing in a cycling event thanks to tech.

Another important story came from Jessica Conditt, who reported on a nonprofit organization working to support those in the gaming industry that are living with depression. It’s an undercovered, highly stigmatized topic, and Jess’ article offers a beacon of hope for those that struggle with mental health issues.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksDevindra Hardawar

Foreseeing cyberwarfare

You can trace a direct line from Stuxnet — the brainchild of the US and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program — to Russia’s hacking of this year’s presidential election. Stuxnet was the first major cyberattack from a nation state, and it led to subsequent attacks from Iran, North Korea and others.

In his most recent documentary, Zero Days, Alex Gibney breaks down the inside story of Stuxnet and why it’s necessary for countries to discuss cyberwarfare. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my chat with Gibney and Symantec researchers Eric Chien and Liam O’Murchu ended up being my most prescient interview this year.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksMat Smith

The world’s crappiest robot

My favorite report was on Hebocon, a competition to find the world’s crappiest robot. Held in London, most of the robots were low-tech and poorly-made. One was literally a sex toy on wheels. I laughed, I cried, I took as many photos and gifs as I could.

You should definitely watch our video series on the Cybathlon. Mona and our video team covered the world’s fist cyber games in Switzerland, where augmented athletes competed using exoskeletons, arm prosthetics, brain-computer interfaces and more. The competition’s purpose was to push the field of bionic-assistive technology to do more for the people who need it — to drag it forward. I can’t wait to see what happens next year, or even five years from now.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksCherlynn Low

Games can make you feel uncomfortable

I joined Engadget in June this year, so really this pick is my favorite from the past six months. In my time here, I’ve loved every single piece I’ve written equally — they’re all my children — so I decided to avoid showing bias by picking someone else’s.

I really enjoyed Jess Conditt’s amazing piece on What Remains of Edith Finch that drew me in with a compelling headline but that managed to avoid being sensational in its handling of a sensitive topic. I’m a casual gamer and a huge fan of the horror genre, and Jess’ story made me really want to check out the game to see if it’s as calmly macabre as she describes.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksTim Seppala

Home town props and post-election fallout

My favorite piece to write this year was one where I was able to combine a love of my home state (and Detroit) into a story that touched on the broader implications of an android-filled future (no not Google’s Android). Also, it was a nice chance to break away from typical E3 preview coverage, and dig into something a little deeper.

As for the work of my colleagues, Aaron knocked this story about the follow-up to Resogun out of the park. Not just in terms of writing, but also reporting and layout. Not much else needs to be said. Likewise Jess did a great job covering the fascinating connection between earthquake science and predicting elections, and of course, our coverage on the fake news debacle that followed.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksNathan Ingraham

Underground hip-hop and the end of the universe

Jess’s feature on the collision of hip-hop and nerd culture is exactly the kind of story I love seeing on Engadget. It’s not about gadgets and on its face it isn’t a story that screams “technology,” but it’s a profile of a movement that wouldn’t exist without the geek culture that sprung up around technology. I had never heard about or thought about this sort of music before, and any story that opens my eyes a little to something I didn’t know about before in such an entertaining way is worth a read.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksNicole Lee

Pink or Bluetooth?

Everything needs to have an app, right? Well, not to me. Back in January at CES, I learned about a Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test and, well, got a little upset that something so inexorably personal was now part of the “Internet of Things” movement. I thought it was opportunistic and completely unnecessary (even if it does work on smartphones and tablets!). Almost a year later, and I still feel the same way.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksRobbie Baldwin

Everything is hacked

The United States is currently up in arms over the possibility that Russia hacked our democratic process. “How could such a thing happen?” I’ve heard people utter a version of this again and again. The reality is that this is nothing new (just look at the US involvement in Latin America in the 1980s).

During Def Con this year security researcher Chris Rock laid out just how simple it is to undermine the political status quo; regime change no longer requires guns and military. A few well placed articles, some hacked email and/or bank accounts and you’re on your way to a bold and frightening new world. AKA 2017.

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picks

The best of Engadget 2016: Editors' picksChristopher Trout

Screw everything

Our editors and producers did some truly thought-provoking work this year. There was Jess Conditt’s exploration of AI’s limits, Mona Lalwani’s in-depth look at the world’s first cyborg olympics, Aaron Souppouris’ very personal essay about “That Dragon, Cancer,” Cherlynn Lowe’s first-person exploration of Donald Trump’s potential effect on immigration and Daniel Cooper’s heartfelt shift to daddy blogging. But I’m shallow and I love to see things fall apart. So 2016 was basically my year.

Our social media expert Nicole Lee took Snapchat to task for its racist filters, Edgar Alvarez called out the Kardashians for pimping products on Instagram, Andrew Tarantola attended a pathetic Pokemon crawl and our managing editor, Dana Wollman, braved the world of smart tampons. All this is to say, please keep fucking up because we do great work when you do.

Oh, and how could I forget the dick bidet. Say it with me: D I C K B I D E T! Happy New Year!

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Pros and cons: Our quick verdict on Lenovo's Phab 2 Pro

Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro has a mouthful of a name and a somewhat bland design. But what might seem like a forgettable phone really isn’t: This massive 6.4-inch handset is the first available phone with Google’s “Tango” 3D mapping technology. But while Tango feels magical when it works, bugs and hiccups periodically dampen the experience. Indeed, as is the case with many first-generation technologies, you’re better off waiting for refinements — that is, unless you’re the sort of early adopter who needs to be on the bleeding edge. (And if you are, the $499 asking price is reasonable considering how much flagship phones typically cost.)

The problem is, once you set aside Tango (which itself isn’t perfect), you’re left with one lackluster phone. Though well-constructed, the design isn’t memorable, while the cameras and custom software are downright lousy. The possibly too-big screen will also be a deal-breaker for some. Basically, then, as cool as Tango is, you’re better off waiting for the technology to improve, and for a wider variety of devices to support it.

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Recommended Reading: Some suggestions for Twitter in 2017

A Billion Dollar
Gift for Twitter

Anil Dash,
Medium

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked the masses this week what the company should focus on in 2017. After a year filled with harassment issues and the failure to court a buyer, the next few months will be very important for Twitter’s future. Tech entrepreneur and blogger Anil Dash penned some suggestions for the company and the list would be a great place for Dorsey to start in January.

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Smartwatches failed to excite in 2016

Smartwatches failed to excite in 2016

This year’s new watches, such as the Apple Watch Series 2, the Fitbit Blaze and a slew of Android Wear watches, were mostly underwhelming, with merely incremental upgrades. Battery life continues to be unsatisfactory, the cases are usually still too thick, and companies still struggle to balance timeless design with futuristic functionality. Google, which originally planned to launch Android Wear 2.0 this year, is pushing that update to early 2017. The new version will apparently allow for apps that can run independently on smartwatches without requiring a companion phone, something that Apple’s watchOS 2 has offered since fall 2015. Speaking of Apple, the Series 2 appears to be one of the few smartwatches that did well this year: It’s received mostly positive reviews and appears to be selling decently well, although Apple did not respond to queries on actual sales numbers.

Traditional watchmakers continued to smarten up their products this year, with one of the most notable being Tag Heuer and its fancy Connected watch. That thing costs a whopping $1,500, and it doesn’t offer much more than the other Android Wear watches. Sure, it’s a Tag, but when most Android Wear watches cost between $150 and $400, you realize that you’re paying $1,200 more for yet another wearable that needs recharging every two days or so, with a display that’s middling at best.

Smartwatches failed to excite in 2016

The only established watchmakers that succeeded at producing decent devices (think Timex and Fossil) did so by avoiding going fully digital, sticking instead to more-conventional analog designs with hidden sensors for basic fitness tracking. Really, then, the watches that did well this year were the hybrids, with the one big exception being the Apple Watch Series 2.

Then come the brands that have basically given up on making smartwatches altogether. A Motorola exec recently said the company is not working on a successor to last year’s Moto 360, because it just doesn’t “see enough pull in the market” to justify developing an updated model. That this kind of sentiment is coming from Motorola, of all companies, is telling. After all, the Moto 360 was the first Android Wear watch to have a round face and is one of the most well-received smartwatches running Google’s software.

Similarly, this year Microsoft discontinued its Band fitness wearable. Although it’s more of an activity tracker, the Microsoft Band always toed the line, what with its color touchscreen and smartwatch-like features such as phone notifications and third-party app support. Unlike Motorola, however, Microsoft never explained its exit from the field, although it continues to support its suite of health apps that can run on other devices.

Smartwatches failed to excite in 2016

One of the biggest signs that smartwatches are in trouble, though, was industry pioneer Pebble’s recent acquisition by Fitbit for the modest sum of about $40 million. Back in its heyday, Pebble reportedly received bids from Citizen and Intel for $740 million and $70 million, respectively. The startup declined both suitors and went on to launch a new line of fitness-focused smartwatches this year. The Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 raised $12 million on Kickstarter, beating the $1 million funding goal. Despite the company’s fundraising successes, Pebble failed to resolve its financial woes and eventually accepted Fitbit’s offer.

With so much consolidation in the smartwatch space, the future of the category looks gloomy. Less competition can mean less innovation, which can result in products growing stale and eventually fading altogether. Still, there have been developments in 2016 that could give the industry a boost. Startup Matrix Industries came up with a way to use body heat to power a smartwatch, which could eliminate (or at least alleviate) the problem of inadequate battery life. Plus, with Android Wear 2.0 slated to arrive early next year, the next generation of smartwatches will likely become more functional, giving users more reason to wear them.

Smartwatches failed to excite in 2016

We also saw a few watches this year that let wearers control Amazon’s Alexa from their wrist, although they ran obscure independent operating systems that barely had third-party app support. The Alexa integration means that these watches can access more than 2,000 so-called skills, letting you do things such as turn on your smart lights or thermostat, ask how much you’ve spent at specific stores, or buy many, many pairs of socks. You can’t do most of that yet with Android Wear’s OK Google command, but Alexa’s expansion into watches could spur Google to improve its own assistant.

So 2016 wasn’t a great year for smartwatches. In fact, it was a disappointing 12 months that don’t bode well for the future of the category. But there are enough upcoming potential enhancements that the industry could be revived. Components could also get smaller and more powerful over time, as they did with smartphones, eventually leading to sleeker frames housing more full-featured systems. But that’s something to look forward to in the future. As for this year’s smartwatches? Goodbye, and good riddance.

Check out all of Engadget’s year-in-review coverage right here.

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ICYMI: Say farewell to 2016 with these favorite stories

ICYMI: Say farewell to 2016 with these favorite stories

Today on In Case You Missed It: We are rounding up some favorite stories from the year before it’s lost to us all. When next you see ICYMI, it’ll be from CES.

As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

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The Morning After: Weekend Edition

Similarly, Jess Conditt recounted Yahoo’s series of catastrophes that was the past twelve months. An attack compromising 500 million accounts was only the company’s second-biggest hack revealed this year. It beggars belief. Almost.

Nathan Ingraham was disappointed by Apple. Dan Cooper described Theranos’ and Twitter’s self-inflicted wounds. Andrew Tarantola gave us the counterpoint to next week’s Best of CES awards. And Terrence O’Brien explained why we all lost in 2016.

Next year can be better. Here’s to making it happen.

The Morning After: Weekend Edition


Minor, but ominousA Vermont power company found Russian malware on a laptop

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

On Friday the Burlington Electric Department says it found a malware signature matching Russia’s “Grizzly Steppe” attackers on a company laptop. There’s no sign yet that the power grid is at risk, however, due to reports of Russian hackers attacking utilities in Ukraine, it’s a worrying development.


Smart snitchingPolice seek Amazon Echo data in murder case

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

If you don’t want your digital assistant taking notes on a criminal conspiracy, you might want to disable its microphone. Police requested information from Amazon because they believe an Echo speaker could have picked up evidence of a murder. Amazon declined the request (and it’s unclear whether any relevant information was recorded), but the prosecution’s case is being helped by a different connected device: the defendant’s smart water meter.


Take my moneyA South Korean robotics company just built a real Gundam

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

Yup, that’s a real mech. The 1.3 ton Method-2 is the work of a Korean robotics company and a Hollywood special effects designer, who envision real-world applications beyond looking cool and being a mech. If all goes well, it could go on sale by the end of 2017 for a little over $8 million.


SoonNintendo Switch FCC docs reveal a sealed battery

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

The next Nintendo console is only a few months away, and we still know very little about it. Thanks to regulators, we got a closer look at its design this week, and the bad news is that you won’t be able to swap its battery pack on the fly, or easily upgrade it with a larger one.


Put the kids to bed whenever you’re ready
Netflix has 10 New Year’s Eve countdowns ready for streaming

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

Netflix posted countdown videos based on series like Fuller House, Trollhunters and Skylanders Academy for kids to watch instead of the celebrations on regular broadcast TV. Since they’re ready to go whenever you are, the only task standing between you and an early bedtime is resetting every clock in the house.

But wait, there’s more…

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.

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Vermont power company finds malware linked to Russian hackers

The Washington Post first reported the finding, suggesting that Russian hackers had gained access to the electrical grid via the Vermont utility, however the company’s statement says there’s no indication that happened. In a statement, it said the laptop in question was not connected to grid systems. Vermont Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia told the Burlington Free Press that the grid was not in danger.

Because it’s not clear exactly what matched, there’s a possibility that it could be the result of a false positive, or shared code. Also, it’s not clear when or how the malware got on the laptop. Based on those reasons, a number of security professionals on Twitter suggested waiting for more details before crediting this finding to Grizzly Steppe (a name attributed to the Russian attacks in Wednesday’s report).

So far, no other utilities or agencies have reported anything similar, but we will update this post if more information comes to light.

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Facebook will set off fireworks on your feed for NYE

This December 31st and January 1st, you can set off animated fireworks on your Facebook News Feed to welcome 2017. Simply click or tap a trigger phrase, such “Happy New Year” (of course), on your friends’ or even your own status update. You’ll know you’re not tapping on a random status in vain, because those phrases will appear in blue text. We looked for triggers ourselves and can confirm that it works both on desktop and on Facebook’s mobile apps. So, if you’re spending New Year’s eve and day indoors and alone, you can go on the social network and alleviate that loneliness by having your own private fireworks show.

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Facebook briefly bans journalist’s post slamming Trump supporters


I have been banned for 24 hours posting on Facebook because I shared a Matthew Dowd post about being trolled by Trump voters and his being called a “retard and faggot and Jew” even though he pointed out he is a divorced Catholic. I then called them Russo-American oligarchical theocratic fascists and was was flagged by someone – no doubt a fascist or fascist collaborator – and FB told me that what I posted did not meet its community standards and this would serve as a warning but they if I continued to post such things I would be permanently blocked. To be censored and blocked rightfully naming the rise of fascism is a form of fascism itself and corporate collaboration. On the same day that the celebrity fascist Milo Yiannopoulos gets a $250,000 advance from Simon $ Schuster to write a book they are spinning as one about free speech I am censored for my political speech and banned from posting on Facebook. We are living in dangerous Orwellian times. Maybe take a screenshot of this and post it on your own Facebook pages. Thank you. RESIST.

A photo posted by Kevin Sessums (@kevsessums) on

Back in September, the network banned a post containing the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Terror of War” photograph (better known as ‘napalm girl’) for indecency and suspended the journalist who posted it before reversing both actions after heavy complaint. That same month, anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters claim Facebook censored their video stream, though the social network claims its automatic spam filter blocked the live feed site in error. Then Palestinian journalists were briefly locked out of their own accounts, which Facebook again cited as an innocent mistake.

Once again, the social network chalked Sessums’ ban up to internal error.

“We’re very sorry about this mistake,” a Facebook spokesman told The Guardian. “The post was removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate. Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong.”

In each apology, Facebook cites the sheer volume of algorithm and community-reported posts. But less understandable is the arbitrary ruling of what violates the network’s community standards. During the presidential campaign, the social network’s employees argued to ban Trump’s posts for hate speech against CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s command, who ruled it would be inappropriate to censor a candidate. Even if Sessums’ post was blocked in error, it’s worrying that it took a major newspaper’s inquiry to reinstate his speech and access, especially when he was critiquing the followers of a man whose posts evidently don’t run afoul of the network’s community standards.

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