Heartbreak in newsroom as Apple Daily bids farewell to Hong Kong

The final edition was a tribute to its readers with the headline: “Hong Kongers bid a painful farewell in the rain.” (AFP)
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Updated 24 June 2021

Heartbreak in newsroom as Apple Daily bids farewell to Hong Kong

  • Staff at the Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily bid farewell as the paper prints its last edition on Thursday.
  • Hundreds of Hong Kong residents gathered in the rain outside Apple Daily offices where a million copies were being printed.

HONG KONG: Apple Daily cub reporter Yau Ting-leung could not sleep much. Tired, he lay in bed on Wednesday morning checking the news.
The 23-year-old had been in his dream job at the pro-democracy tabloid for less than a year, but now things were unraveling.
Six days after a police raid on Apple, the arrests of its top two editors and a freeze of core assets on national security grounds, the company was running out of cash and options.
Final publication was set for Saturday, with a skeleton crew putting out the last of the roughly 9,500 editions of the paper.
“At 11:30 a.m. the news came that they’d arrested our lead columnist,” Yau told Reuters. “At that moment, I just felt numb.”
Soon afterward, the board decided it would be the last day for the feisty Chinese-language publication that combined celebrity gossip with investigations of the powerful.
Yau, the youngest member of the paper’s investigative team, ignored a warning from management to stay home, showing up at the office in an isolated industrial estate. Many others did the same.
With Apple’s website and 26 years’ worth of content to be purged at midnight, time was running out.
“I didn’t have to write anything today. I was put in charge of saving our work, including our award-winning reports,” said Yau, who is three years younger than Apple Daily. But he was unable to finish: “No matter how hard I tried to back up ... there just wasn’t enough time.”
Ten meters from Yau, Norman Choi was at work on a story. This time, though, it was an obituary for Apple Daily.
Surrounded by the clutter of 22 years at the paper, including crackers and empty liquor bottles, the 51-year-old senior features editor clacked away at his keyboard, wearing a black mask and clothes.
As he tried to focus, Choi had a mountain of other tasks, such as taking down slogans beside his desk.
“I’m not deliberately staying behind. I just don’t want to leave my fellow reporters,” he said.
Deputy chief editor Chan Pui-man, out on bail after her arrest, wandered the open-plan newsroom with its “I love Apple” logos on the wall, red-eyed at times.
“It’s hard to control our emotions,” she said.

As news of the paper’s impending closure spread, staff could see and hear crowds gathering outside. Some chanted “Thank you Apple Daily — Add oil!” a Chinese expression of encouragement that had become a refrain among supporters of the paper.
Around midnight, the first warm copies of the record 1 million to be printed — more than 10 times the usual press run — came off the presses and were handed out to the cheering crowd.
Ryan Law, 47, Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief, told Reuters before his arrest, “No matter what happens to us, you can’t kill the people who read Apple Daily.”
Photographer Harry Long, and his pictures team did not have to venture far for their last front-page image.
They settled on a shot from the roof showing the people, many with umbrellas, and vehicles clogging the normally quiet street below. Beside the picture, the headline read: “Hong Kongers bid a painful farewell in the rain.”
Lights from mobile phones twinkle up from the supporters.
“I’m heartbroken,” Long said.
Yau waved down from the roof with his own mobile phone, hugging colleagues soon to be out of a job.
“We would all suddenly start crying as we just couldn’t bear to see this end,” he said. But at the same time, “everyone was happy too. That we could all work through this last day together, united in doing this one thing.”
Choi, the features editor, found the public support touching.
“It’s the first time so many readers come and support us here, and I know it’s the last time,” he said. Their showing up “means everything in my career in Apple Daily, and in my life.”
Papers were stacked and loaded onto lorries and vans and whisked to newsstands across the city of 7.5 million.
At a kiosk in the working class district of Mong Kok, hundreds queued around the block to snap up a copy. Some chanted “Liberate Hong Kong — Revolution of our Times,” the rallying cry of the city’s mass anti-China protests in 2019.
The last edition carried a farewell letter from Chan, the deputy chief editor.
“When an apple is buried beneath the soil, its seed will become a tree filled with bigger and more beautiful apples.
“Love you all forever, love Hong Kong forever.”

STARZPLAY partners with YouNeedCharacter to expand kids’ content portfolio

Updated 04 August 2021

STARZPLAY partners with YouNeedCharacter to expand kids’ content portfolio

  • Partnership adds ‘CricketPang’ animation series endorsed by Ajinkya Rahane, vice captain of Indian cricket team

DUBAI: STARZPLAY has expanded its portfolio of kids’ content on the streaming platform with the addition of “CricketPang,” an animated TV series based on cricket and endorsed by the talented Ajinkya Rahane, vice captain of the Indian cricket team.

“We are thrilled to stream ‘CricketPang’ for our youngest viewers who can now enjoy a fun animation show while also honing their creative skills. We look forward to our partnership with YouNeedCharacter and are confident that this all-new edition will be loved by our MENA subscribers,” said Nadim Dada, vice president of content acquisition at STARZPLAY.

The series is produced by global character creation and animation production company YouNeedCharacter, which recently signed Indian cricketer Ajinkya Rahane as the brand ambassador for the show. With Rahane onboard, the company aims to launch activities to support cricket by securing scholarships for promising young cricketers.

“‘CricketPang’ offers a simple and interesting way for kids to learn while being entertained, and we hope that animation fans in the region enjoy the series as much as we enjoyed creating it,” said Minsu Song, CEO of YouNeedCharacter.

Each episode of “CricketPang” has been designed to contain stories of friendship, conflict resolutions, cooperation and creativity in ways that children can understand and learn from. The fun and light-hearted stories aim to help children with problem-solving, cooperation and communication skills.

“We have been working continuously to increase awareness for ‘CricketPang’,” Song said, adding that the partnership with STARZPLAY would further strengthen the brand.

The first season of the series is currently streaming on STARZPLAY.


Twitter accidentally verifies fake account of novelist Cormac McCarthy

Updated 04 August 2021

Twitter accidentally verifies fake account of novelist Cormac McCarthy

LONDON: Twitter admitted on Tuesday that the platform had accidentally given a fake account for renowned author and novelist Cormac McCarthy a blue tick marking it as a “verified user.”

The account, under the misspelled name “CormacMcCrthy,” was registered in 2018 and was recently tweeting about kombucha and SoundCloud for thousands of followers on the platform.


Both the author’s agent and publisher confirmed that McCarthy has never signed up for Twitter.

A spokesperson for Twitter said: “The account referenced was verified by mistake and that has since been reversed. The account will also be required to adhere to Twitter’s parody, news feed, commentary, and fan account policy.”

This is the second time Twitter has verified a fake account supposedly belonging to McCarthy; the first time was in 2012.

The fake account of 2012 was not only verifed, but also welcomed by Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey.

In order to qualify for verification, Twitter users must upload an ID to authenticate their identity or show that an official website links directly to their account.

However, the fake account “CormacMcCrthy” did neither, and Twitter verified the account anyway following a viral tweet that gained more than 122 thousand likes.

Twitter restarted its verification process in May after halting it for several years to reassess how the process works.

Verification was initially introduced to combat identity theft on the platform and has since grown to include an array of special features for those carrying a blue tick.

Features include access to additional tools for notifications, priority for algorithmic filters and moderation, and a few or no adverts on the site.

The process was paused in 2017 and restarted in May 2021, only to be paused again a week later because of a flood of requests for verification.





Zain records fastest response times for popular video games in Saudi Arabia

Updated 04 August 2021

Zain records fastest response times for popular video games in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: Telecoms company Zain has recorded the fastest response times for the most popular online video games, according to a Saudi industry survey.

The firm’s rating was revealed in the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission’s quarterly Game Mode report.

The study compared the response times of telecom providers in Saudi Arabia, reviewed the most popular video gaming platforms and games, and offered guidelines to improve the quality of internet connections for video games.

The Game Mode initiative forms part of the commission’s drive to increase competition between telecom providers to give the best experience for video gamers.

Its efforts are also aimed at increasing transparency in the sector by publishing data and indicators and enabling investors to view market performance indicators in the Kingdom.

The quickest response time rate for the popular “Fortnite” online game was secured by Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) and Zain with an average of 12 milliseconds, jointly followed by Mobily and Salam on 24 milliseconds.

Response time performance for “FIFA” again showed STC and Zain in the lead at 13 milliseconds and Mobily and Salam closely behind with an average of 23 milliseconds and 24 milliseconds, respectively.

Battle royale-hero shooter game “Apex Legends” mirrored the results of “FIFA” with STC and Zain heading the list with a 13-millisecond response time, followed by Mobily in second on 24 milliseconds, and Salam third at 28 milliseconds.

Mobily hit top spot in “League of Legends” with a time of 79 milliseconds, followed by STC, Salam, and Zain on 86, 89, and 91 milliseconds, respectively.

Zain came first for battle arena game “Dota 2,” recording a response time of 20 milliseconds, followed by STC on 23 milliseconds. The third and fourth place were taken by Salam and Mobily with 25 and 31 milliseconds, respectively.

The White House is frustrated with media coverage of pandemic

Updated 04 August 2021

The White House is frustrated with media coverage of pandemic

LONDON: The White House and senior officials in President Joe Biden’s administration have expressed their frustration last week over media coverage of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases among vaccinated Americans.

A senior official in the Biden administration stated on Friday that the press is reporting misleading information on a breakthrough of Delta variant infections spreading among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The official said that the White House had asked these news organizations to tone down the language as focusing on “breakthrough infections” is likely to lead to more vaccine hesitancy.

A member of Biden’s COVID-19 response team, Ben Wakana, also referred to a Washington Post article as “completely irresponsible” for featuring a story about an outbreak in Massachusetts among vaccinated people.

This comes as the Biden administration steps up its efforts to combat COVID-19 misinformation.

Last week, Biden blamed Facebook for the soaring number of COVID-19 infections and said that the social media company was “killing people” by allowing the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

However, a few days later, Biden softened his tone and said instead that he meant to accuse a dozen users who have been responsible for spreading the most amount of misinformation on the social media platform, not the company itself.

With a combined 59 million followers, the 12 online personalities — also known as the “Disinformation Dozen” — include doctors who practice pseudoscience, a bodybuilder, a wellness blogger, a religious zealot, and, most notably Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the nephew of former US President John F. Kennedy.

Facebook’s WhatsApp rolls out option for disappearing photos, videos to take on Snapchat

The feature is called 'View Once' and will be displayed as 'opened' once the media has been viewed by the user. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 August 2021

Facebook’s WhatsApp rolls out option for disappearing photos, videos to take on Snapchat

  • WhatsApp rolls out new feature which allows users to send photos and videos which will then disappear from the chat after they have been seen

Aug 3 : Users of Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp can now send disappearing photos and videos on its platform starting this week, as it looks to better compete with Snap Inc’s photo messaging app Snapchat.
The feature, called View Once, will let photos and videos disappear from the chat after they have been seen, Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that once the media content has been viewed, the message will be shown as “opened.”
Snapchat, known for its Stories feature that lets users post updates that disappear after 24 hours, has grown in popularity last year as pandemic-induced curbs kept users at home. The company has also been adding new features on its messaging app to attract more users.