WASHINGTON – A mobile app launched last week in China that many there hoped would allow access to long banned Western social media sites abruptly disappeared from Chinese app stores a day after its unveiling.
Tuber, an Andriod app backed by Chinese cyber security software giant Qihoo 360, first appeared to be officially available last Friday. It offered Chinese citizens limited access to websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Google, and it facilitated some 5 million downloads following its debut.
Yet a day later, the Tuber app disappeared from mobile app stores, including one run by Huawei Technologies Co. A search for the app’s website yielded no results when VOA checked Monday. It’s unclear whether the government ordered the takedown of the app.
Experts told VOA that such ventures are sometimes designed to create the illusion of choice to users eager to gain access to the global internet, but these circumvention tools are sometimes deleted if they are deemed by the Chinese government to be too popular with consumers.
Chinese users hailed their newfound ability to visit long banned websites before the app was removed last Saturday.
Several now banned articles introducing Tuber went viral Friday on China’s super app WeChat and seem to have contributed to Tuber’s overnight success.
Sporting a logo similar to that of YouTube, Tuber’s main page offered a feed of YouTube videos, while another tab allowed users go to Western websites banned in China.
A reporter at Chinese state media Global Times tweeted that the move is “good for China’s stability and it’s a great step for China’s opening up.”
Exciting news!! #China launched a new web browser Tuber that can connect to
- Facebook announced Monday it was changing its hate speech policy to “prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”
- The company has faced criticism for more than a decade over its refusal to moderate anti-Semitic content that distorts or denies the Holocaust, when Nazis and their allies systematically killed 6 million Jews, happened.
- In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Facebook has attempted to mitigate criticism that it fails to prevent the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories and disinformation on its platform. Just last week, Facebook said it banned QAnon accounts across its platforms.
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Facebook has banned Holocaust-denial content from the platform after years of criticism over its refusal to take action against such anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Facebook announced Monday it was updating its hate speech policy to “prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”
The policy change marks an abrupt about-face on Facebook’s refusal, for more than a decade, to remove content from its platform that denies the existence of the Holocaust and the genocide of millions of Jews and other minority groups. The platform has faced pressure from human rights and civil rights groups to take a stricter stance against such content, but Facebook has maintained that the “mere statement” of Holocaust denial doesn’t violate policies.
“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Recode in July 2018. “But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”
In the meantime, it appears that Holocaust-denial content on Facebook has continued to not just exist, but flourish. A recent study, published in August by
Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music, and a division of Warner have filed applications for a preliminary injunction against Apple for hosting three music apps in the Russian App Store that infringe copyright, reports TorrentFreak.
Roman Lukyanov, CEO of Semenov & Pevzner, a local law firm specializing in copyright protection and representing the labels, told Kommersant that the applications for interim measures against three apps were filed on October 1, 2020, listing Apple as the defendant.
The applications were filed at the Moscow City Court and request that local telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor takes action “to stop creating conditions” that allow for the illegal distribution of copyrighted works by a handful of local artists.
One of the apps in question, PewPee: Music Player, offers users a Spotify-like experience where they sign up for a free account to access a catalog of music, listen to playlists and download tracks for offline listening. It’s unclear where PewPee sources its music. According to TorrentFreak‘s source code checks, however, the app actually distributes MP3 files of the selected tracks.
The PewPee website offers the same free service using basic browser tools, but in a way that reveals the precise URLs of the songs, which can also be downloaded.
Another app mentioned in the complaints, iMus Music Player, lets users stream music tracks pulled from YouTube interspersed with ads. iMus is the 104th most popular app in Apple’s “Music” App Store category. The third app, called Music Downloader & Player, offers users a similar ads-based streaming service, with music videos pulled from YouTube, track downloads for offline listening, and an optional paid ad-free subscription.
The complaints follow a new law that came into force in Russia last week and which is designed to quickly remove piracy-enabling apps from mobile app stores. The legislation requires digital