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Spotify is shutting down Heardle, a Wordle-like music guessing game it bought last year



Spotify closes Heardle, a music guessing game he purchased inspired by Wordle last July for an undisclosed amount. Like wordle, hurdle offers players six attempts to guess a popular song – but instead of entering different letters to form words, players listen to the song’s intro to guess the artist and title. At the time of the acquisition, Spotify stated that Heardle would remain free for everyone. The company now says it will hear the sunset on May 5 as it seeks to focus on its other music discovery goals.

Changes are communicated via an in-app message on the Heardle website.

Image credits: hurdle

We understand that the decision to shut down Heardle was made because Spotify wants to devote more of its energy to finding music through recent in-app changes rather than Wordle-inspired gameplay off the platform.

last month, Spotify redesigned from its mobile app, which introduced new TikTok-style music and podcast discovery channels, as well as other features such as Smart Shuffle for playlist recommendations and a new option to automatically play podcasts, among others. Rolled out too on “I DJ” which finds out what kind of music users like and then plays those tracks for you. This feature also gets smarter over time the more you interact with it.

In light of these updates, Hurdle was no longer involved in Spotify’s overall music discovery efforts. Also, like many tech companies that have been subject to belt-tightening measures such as layoffs In recent months, there has been less financial incentive to participate in side projects, including, for example, a fun musical game.

However, at the time of the acquisition, Heardle was still quite popular. In March 2022, the game peaked at 69 million visits per month on desktop and mobile, according to analytics firm Similarweb. Shortly before the Spotify deal, those visits dropped to 41 million. The firm says visits continued to decline, likely making Hurdle’s ongoing maintenance no longer viable for Spotify.

In addition, with most Wordle craze is also on the decline After The New York Times bought the flagship word game last January, Hurdle’s own future prospects may have dimmed as well. We understand that Heardle has retained some of its loyal users since the deal closed, but Spotify will not comment on overall usage or repeat interactions with any specific metrics. However, it wasn’t until Spotify learned how Heardle players interacted with the game that the decision was made to focus the company’s investment elsewhere.

In the game, after users guessed the song, they could press a button to listen to the full track on Spotify. Perhaps not enough users did this, but simply left the game to play again later.

In other words, Hurdle ultimately didn’t help Spotify achieve its goals of improving music discovery. And with the redesign, much of what Heardle had to offer was now duplicating the company’s other music search features — and doing so outside of the Spotify app.

However, for those who enjoyed playing Heardle, today’s announcement that the game will soon be closed is hardly welcome news. Except, perhaps, those Forbes participants who had to write down daily answers and prompts, as well as numerous sites that ran Hurdle clones.

Spotify confirmed the closure of the game with a statement.

“After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to say goodbye to Heardle as we focus our efforts on other music discovery features,” a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.

The website will display a banner for users to warn them of the shutdown, which will occur on May 5th.

We understand that Heardle did not have a dedicated team, so this will not affect either the reduction in staff or the reorganization.

We’re told that while Spotify is moving away from Heardle, that doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning other kinds of interactive experiences. Today, the company offers an interactive AI DJ feature and other features such as polls and Q&A that allow podcast listeners to interact with their favorite creators. It will also continue to invest in other gaming projects such as Roblox’s Spotify island, in-app gaming hub, and other Xbox and PlayStation integrations.

Earlier this month, Spotify also shut down another spin-off project with close Spotify Livelive streaming app and competitor to Clubhouse.

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Senators introduce bipartisan law to ban children under 13 from joining social media




A new federal bill unveiled on Wednesday sets a national minimum age for social media use and requires tech companies to get parental consent before creating teen accounts, reflecting a growing trend at all levels of government to restrict the use of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others. platforms interact with young users.

The bill, proposed by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, aims to address what politicians, mental health advocates and critics of technology platforms are calling the mental health crisis fueled by social media.

Under the bill, known as the Child Social Media Protection Act, social media platforms will be prohibited from allowing children under the age of 13 to create accounts or interact with other users, although children will still be allowed to view content without logging into an account. , in accordance with draft text legislation.

Tech platforms subject to the law will also need to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian before creating new accounts for users under the age of 18. Companies will be prohibited from using teenagers’ personal information to target them with content or advertising, although they may still provide limited, targeted recommendations to teenagers based on other contextual cues.

This is the latest move by lawmakers to develop age limits for tech platforms after similar bills became law this year in states like Arkansas and Utah. But the law could also spark wider debate and possible future litigation, calling into question the privacy and constitutional rights of young Americans.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, author of the federal bill, said Congress urgently needs to protect children from the harm caused by social media.

“Social media companies have stumbled upon a stubborn, disruptive fact,” Schatz said. “The way to get kids to linger on the platforms and maximize profits is to frustrate them—to cause resentment, excitement, fear, vulnerability, helplessness, anxiety. [and] depressed.”

Most of the major social networks already ban children under the age of 13 from using their platforms as a result of the federal Children’s Privacy Act known as COPPA. But enforcing the restriction was a problem.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, the leading Republican funder, said existing ways to ensure kids aren’t underage online are too easy to circumvent. The two senators were joined by Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Alabama Republican Senator Kathy Britt.

The bill, which could be one of the most far-reaching changes in the tech landscape, aims to create a government age verification program that can certify users’ age or parental status based on an identity they upload to a government system or a third-party verifier.

Under the bill, this program will be a pilot project administered by the Department of Commerce, and participation and use of a federally administered age verifier will be voluntary. But it would mean a potentially significant expansion of the government’s role in regulating websites that require age verification.

Tech companies can still develop their own age verification technologies or hire third-party companies for verification, lawmakers said.

Violations of the proposed law could mean millions of dollars in FTC fines for social media companies. But this is not the case for a long list of tech products, including email services, teleconferencing providers, payment companies, video game stores, digital newsletter platforms, cloud storage services, travel websites and online directories like Wikipedia, or user review sites. , such as Yelp. .

The bill, passed on Wednesday, can be seen as competing with another separate bill being drafted by Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn. The legislation, known as the Children’s Online Safety Act, will be reintroduced in the Senate “very soon,” Blumenthal said, raising concerns about the Schatz-Cotton bill.

“I welcome additional ideas,” Blumenthal said. But he added: “I have some concerns about an age identification system that will create a national database of personal information about children in the hands of big technology, which could lead to misuse or exploitation. I have other concerns about a bill that places responsibility on parents and not on Big Tech, as our legislation does.”

In response to the “Design It for Us” bill, a youth coalition advocating social media change in the face of mental health issues said lawmakers should focus on shaping the basic product design of social media platforms rather than imposing post-facto restrictions on .

“We believe that any legislation addressing the harms of social media should hold companies accountable for making their platforms safer, rather than prohibiting children and teens from using platforms altogether,” said Zamaan Qureshi, Co-Chair groups.

Opponents of such proposals, set out on Wednesday, also said the restrictions on teenagers threaten their constitutional rights. For example, the tech industry and digital rights advocates have argued that Utah’s legislation requiring age verification and parental consent would violate the First Amendment rights of young Americans to access information and limit the speech rights of all Americans.

“Requiring all users in Utah to link their accounts to their age and ultimately their identity will result in fewer people expressing opinions or searching for information online,” Electronic Frontier wrote last month. Foundation, a digital rights organization. “In addition, tens of millions of people in the United States do not have a government-issued ID. Those in Utah are likely to be age restricted offline.”

The Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represents companies including Google and Facebook parent Meta, said age verification rules would require consumers to disclose even more of their personal information to tech companies or third parties.

“This data collection poses additional privacy and security risks for everyone,” the CCIA wrote in a letter to the Governor of Utah. Spencer Cox last month. “This mandatory data collection will include the collection of very sensitive personal information about children, including the collection and storage of their geolocation to ensure they do not reside out of state while verifying that they are of age to use these services.” .

On Wednesday, however, Cotton dismissed privacy concerns, calling it not a “serious argument” when government agencies and online gambling sites use identity or age verification. He also said the bill would effectively reduce the amount of personal information technology platforms can effectively collect by blocking children under 13 from accessing their sites.

“If a child is, say, too small to sign a contract, or too small to open a bank account in the real world, they are too small to sign terms of service agreements and use social media in the digital world,” Cotton said. reporters.

Schatz added that the bill was not posted on social media for feedback, but predicted that the industry would soon deploy an “army of lobbyists” to fight it.

“The tech industry will pass this bill like any other child online safety bill, with everything it has,” Schatz said. “But the burden of proof is on those who want to defend the status quo, because the status quo makes an entire generation of users mentally ill.”

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Twitter verification fiasco could end in court



Twitter verification system Crash had more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel, which is fitting given that the author was caught in the middle of yet another storm on the platform. A confirmed “legacy” user due to his fame as a horror writer, King likely expected to lose his blue tick on April 20 when Twitter owner Elon Musk announced he planned to remove the demarcation for all legacy users.

But while others lost their blue ticks, King kept his. It soon emerged that Musk had chosen the writer and two others — NBA star LeBron James and Star Trek actor William Shatner — to receive a free blue check. These new blue checks come with a label that reads: “This account is verified because they follow Twitter Blue and have verified their phone number.” King objected. “My Twitter account says I follow Twitter Blue” hi tweeted. – No. My Twitter account says I gave out my phone number. I didn’t.”

More confusion ensued when Twitter abandoned Musk’s “peace or shut up” approach to verification. It now appears that any old Twitter user with over a million followers prior to April 20 has their tick back, along with a note that they paid for it. They don’t have many professions, which, if true, could lead to a lot of legal trouble on Twitter.

“There are a number of potential legal actions we could see on Twitter assigning blue checks to accounts that didn’t subscribe to them and don’t want to receive them,” says Alexandra Roberts, professor of law and media at Northeastern University. “Given that the blue checkmarks are for users who follow Twitter Blue and have verified their phone number.”

Laws that Twitter can violate include federal laws against false advertising or endorsements, and state laws against unfair competition lawsuits, as well as defamation and publicity misappropriation lawsuits, Roberts said. Any cases under these laws (“None of these are slam dunk,” according to Roberts) will need to prove that Twitter’s false claim that celebrities paid for Blue constitutes an endorsement of a service or commercial use of the platform, or that consumers seeing them would be misled.

Some scientists believe that this is possible.

“What Musk is doing by paying some celebrities to keep the blue tick can be seen as unfair or misleading because it gives the public, including consumers, the impression that those particular celebrities are supporting Twitter’s business models,” he says. Catalina Goant. , Associate Professor of the Department of Law, Economics and Management Faculty of Law, Utrecht University. “Only LeBron James or William Shatner have the right to use their own public personas and personas.”

The launch of Twitter Blue was not a resounding success. This reportedly resulting in Twitter receiving less than 1 percent of its targeted annual revenue. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment on this story, with the exception of sending an automatic response to the poop emoji.

By blue-checking unwilling users, Twitter may also have opened itself up to regulatory action.

“The US, EU and UK have similar rules in place in this regard, prohibiting unscrupulous and misleading practices that can manipulate consumers and influence markets,” says Goanta.

The Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits misleading or trade-influencing activities — countless celebrities and famous people are said to have paid to subscribe to Twitter Blue when they didn’t seem like a good example of it. “It is also possible that we will see some action by the agency,” she says. The FTC declined to comment.

The platform could face similar action in the UK under “grant” laws, says Andres Guadamoose, a law and technology academic specializing in intellectual property at the University of Sussex. Because the checkmark means the bearer has paid for the service, “this is misleading,” says Guadamuz.

Given the widespread contempt on Twitter for people who paid to be verified, celebrities can also claim that their reputation has been damaged.

“Any celebrities who want to troll Musk should seriously consider calling their lawyers,” Guadamuz says. “It could be a very strong case.”

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Apple Watch band and face for Pride 2023 revealed in leak



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