The UpStream

Twitter Puts Pen to Paper with New Reporting System for Abuse and Trolls

posted Sunday Mar 1, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Twitter Puts Pen to Paper with New Reporting System for Abuse and Trolls

It appears Twitter's move to better handle trolls and abuse on the site has quickly started to come to life. This week, Twitter launched a newly-streamlined reporting system that will allow users to submit those abusive tweets and trolls to the site staff. This also coincides with Twitter's promise in December to make it easier to report these problems.

What's interesting is users can now report when a Twitter user is posting private information about your or someone else, commonly referred to as doxing. Considering that many recent data breaches exponentially were worse due to the immediate spreading of the information via social media, this seems fitting. It also protects individuals from gangs of online trolls who typically band together to make a person's life miserable.

Per the announcement by Twitter's VP of User Services Tina Bhatnagar, Twitter will also triple the size of its staff that handles these reports, further solidifying CEO Dick Costolo's goal to better monitor and take action on abuse.

While we review many more reports than ever before, we've been able to significantly reduce the average response time to a fraction of what it was, and we see this number continuing to drop.

Another addition to the website includes a new verification system for users who have been temporarily banned or warned. Those users will be told they must provide a phone number and/or an email address to Twitter, which the company will use to verify the identity of the user. This move definitely helps the anonymity problem that plagues Twitter and could surely attach a more identifiable piece of information to a user's handle on the site. From what we know about this announcement, the verification process will not be for every warned or banned user, and looks to be random or based on severity for now.

Bethesda to Possibly Announce Fallout 4 at First Ever E3 Conference

posted Sunday Mar 1, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Bethesda to Possibly Announce <i>Fallout 4</i> at First Ever E3 Conference

A couple weeks ago, Bethesda announced that the team will be hosting its first ever E3 showcase and press conference this year in Hollywood, California. The company set the date for June 14th, and ever since the announcement, fans worldwide have wondered what would be announced at the event. This week, a source has come forward to say that Fallout 4 would be the title that the studio will show off at the gaming convention.

An email was sent by an unknown source to GamerCenterOnline, outlining the announcement and that Fallout 4 would indeed be unveiled at E3 2015. In the email, the source said,

It will happen. Bethesda is aiming for an impressive scale and atmosphere with Fallout 4. They're only developing it on current gen and PC.

Now, there's a couple of things we can take away from this. First, Bethesda is completely passing over last-gen consoles, which is a huge step for gamers everywhere. The focus is completely on current-gen and PC, and that means the studio's ambitions are high and they won't have to worry about old technology bottlenecks. Secondly, it also means that, given the quality titles Bethesda has put out, we'll see a level of polish to the environment that only PC mods could bring before.

While we don't know the location of where the game will take place, nor do we know the release date, the source did say we should expect to see it on or around Spring of 2016 "at the least." This makes sense as there will be a dozen AAA titles launching at the holiday season this year, and another game of this magnitude would just get lost in the fray.

Are you excited for E3 this year? Or are you just excited to see what Bethesda has to offer? Let your thoughts flow into our comments section below.

Aereo is Officially Gone, as Are Its Assets

posted Saturday Feb 28, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Aereo is Officially Gone, as Are Its Assets

The story of Aereo may not be long, but it is awfully sad. After losing their Supreme Court case and inevitably closing their offices, the company tried, unsuccessfully, to change directions. With the company out of business, it was just a matter of time before the assets of the defunct company would be sold off.

The expectations for the sale, which concluded this week, were for between $4 million and $31 million. Not an unreasonable set of numbers for a company with servers, antenna farms, television tuners, streaming systems and their patents. Unfortunately, those expectations were not to be, as the entire company's asset portfolio sold for only $2 million - half of the lowest number expected.

Aereo's lawyer William Baldiga said that the company was "very disappointed" with the results. It was definitely an unimpressive showing, with only 10 bidders participating in the bankruptcy auction. TiVo, the new owner of said assets, certainly made off like bandits, having the ability to do as they wish with those patents. The proceeds will be used to pay off some of Aereo's creditors, who, I would imagine, were also hoping for more than the $2 million Aereo received.

Google Bans and Unbans Adult Content on Blogger

posted Saturday Feb 28, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Google Bans and Unbans Adult Content on Blogger

This has been an interesting week for the Internet. The FCC has deemed itself the hall monitor of the Internet which is likely to end up with broadcast-style, or English-style content filtering in the United States. Before the FCC can forever change the Internet for us, though, Google and Reddit announced content filtering themselves. While Reddit announced that they would no longer allow any adult content without permission from those involved, Google took a different approach.

Google's announced that their Blogger brand, which is known for containing a lot of adult content, would no longer allow most of that content. Included in the ban was almost all photos and videos, leaving behind only erotic fan fiction and the occasional Penthouse-style story - usually overly exaggerated. They did leave a single exception, saying,

We'll still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts.

As one might expect, there has been a lot of backlash. Most of the content producers and users of Blogger are there for one thing: nudity. With all of the public comments, and the obvious fear of a massive user exodus, Google has backed down on their decision. The company said,

This week, we announced a change to Blogger's porn policy stating that blogs that distributed sexually explicit images or graphic nudity would be made private.

We've received lots of feedback about making a policy change that impacts longstanding blogs, and about the negative impact this could have on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities.

It is unusual for Google to back down on an unpopular policy change - if they were this easy to change directions, then YouTube would never have implemented Google+ for its commenting system. Perhaps this is a new day for Google, if not the Internet as a whole.

Microsoft and Lionhead Make New Fable Free to Play on Xbox One and PC

posted Saturday Feb 28, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft and Lionhead Make New <i>Fable</i> Free to Play on Xbox One and PC

The term "free to play" has some pretty negative connotations. Casual and mobile games have certainly made the concept painful and expensive. Often, "free to play" games require large sums of money to actually play them, despite their name. That is why the decision to make new Fable free to play on Xbox One and PC initially sounds devastating to fans of the series. They have promised 3 tenants for the game.

The good news is, this is not the same kind of free to play. In fact, you will have free access to the entire game, not just small sections of the game, with paid locks on others. This is their first promise to players. Users will be able to earn silver in the game, giving the ability to purchase goods inside of the game. There will, of course, be paid items in the game, but nothing of consequence. These paid items will include things like cosmetic items, etc.

In addition to an open game, the company promises that the game will also be fair. This means that anything that is required to continue playing the game will be available in-game. This means that no portion of the game will require a purchase to advance, distancing itself from the normal "free to play" fare.

Finally, the company promises to be generous in the game. Mostly, the goal here is to make a game and a scenario that encourages a happy player community. The success of a game like this revolves entirely around the happiness of its players. Unfortunately, that is not always a goal of the development team for a game; if it was, gaming would be a significantly more entertaining place.

GameStop Moving in to RadioShack Locations

posted Saturday Feb 28, 2015 by Scott Ertz

GameStop Moving in to RadioShack Locations

By now, everyone knows that RadioShack filed bankruptcy a few weeks ago. As part of the bankruptcy, the company is closing bunch of stores and selling others to Sprint. Some of the stores that are being abandoned will transition to new owners, including GameStop.

One of GameStop's lesser-known brands, Spring Mobile, will be moving in to 163 of RadioShack's dark stores. Those stores do not sell videogames, as you might expect, but instead are AT&T authorized dealers. This 1,500 employee brand will be expanding from around 300 stores to more than 450 with this single transaction, making it a huge expansion for the company.

What is interesting about this transition is in business concept. These stores, which are currently under RadioShack's control, have for the past 10 years sold AT&T phones (and Cingular before them), along with Sprint and Verizon or T-Mobile (depending on the year). Under those circumstances, RadioShack was unable to maintain the cost of the stores, even with additional revenue options available.

This means that GameStop is hoping that, while limiting the product line available in the stores, they will be able to sell more of that product category than their previous tenants. The concept of limiting scope can be successful for retail, as other revenue options may actually be driving profits down. Over the past few years, however, RadioShack's revenue and profits came more and more from wireless sales. Here in the end, some stores reported 40% of their revenue from wireless, meaning that this isn't that big of a change in business model.

Will GameStop be able to make a successful move into stores that couldn't succeed on increasingly wireless sales with only wireless sales? What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

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