British ad group WPP to leave Russia following Ukraine invasion

British ad group WPP to leave Russia following Ukraine invasion
Cars move along the Moskva River near the Kremlin, in Moscow on Friday, when Britain’s WPP, the world’s biggest advertising group, said it would discontinue its operations in Russia. (AP)
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Updated 04 March 2022

British ad group WPP to leave Russia following Ukraine invasion

British ad group WPP to leave Russia following Ukraine invasion
  • “WPP stands with Ukraine and the international community in condemning the Russian invasion,” the company said

LONDON: Britain's WPP, the world's biggest advertising group, said on Friday it would discontinue its operations in Russia, saying its continued presence in the country would be "inconsistent" with its values.
"WPP stands with Ukraine and the international community in condemning the Russian invasion, which has created a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Europe," the company, which employs nearly 1,400 in Russia, said.
"The Board of WPP has concluded that WPP's ongoing presence in Russia would be inconsistent with our values as a company, and we are therefore discontinuing our operations in the country."
It said it "deeply regretted" the impact of the decision on its Russian staff, and it would support them, as well as working closely with clients and partners, as it withdrew from the country.
Russia is a relatively small part of WPP's global operations, representing 0.6% of revenue less pass-through costs in 2021.


Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal

Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal
Updated 19 August 2022

Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal

Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who is attempting to walk away from his deal to acquire Twitter Inc. , is seeking documents from advertising technology firms as part of his quest to gain more information on bot and spam accounts on Twitter, according to filings in a Delaware court on Thursday.
Twitter has sued the Tesla chief executive, who has accused Twitter of hiding information about how it calculates the percentage of bots on the service, for attempting to walk away from the $44 billion agreement. A trial is scheduled for Oct. 17.

Musk’s lawyers have subpoenaed both Integral Ad Science (IAS) and DoubleVerify for any documents or communications on their involvement in reviewing accounts or participation in any audit of Twitter’s user base.
IAS and DoubleVerify, which are both based in New York, use technology to independently verify that digital ads are viewed by real people. Advertisers use the services to ensure the ads they pay for are seen by potential customers and not automated bots.


Twitter, IAS and DoubleVerify did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In response to a tweet by a user who questioned how Twitter audits its service and also linked to a Reuters story on Musk targeting the ad firms, Musk tweeted: “Those are the questions that Twitter is doing everything possible to avoid answering …“
In a countersuit earlier this month, Musk claimed that Twitter’s monetizable daily active users are 65 million lower than what the company has touted. Twitter has said it stands by its disclosures.
The metric measures users who log onto Twitter through the website or apps that are able to serve ads or used paid products like subscriptions, according to Twitter filings.


Apple warns of security flaw for iPhones, iPads and Macs

Apple warns of security flaw for iPhones, iPads and Macs
Updated 19 August 2022

Apple warns of security flaw for iPhones, iPads and Macs

Apple warns of security flaw for iPhones, iPads and Macs
  • Apple released two security reports about the issue on Wednesday

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple disclosed serious security vulnerabilities for iPhones, iPads and Macs that could potentially allow attackers to take complete control of these devices.

The company said it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.”

Apple released two security reports about the issue on Wednesday, although they didn’t receive wide attention outside of tech publications.

Security experts have advised users to update affected devices — the iPhones6S and later models; several models of the iPad, including the 5th generation and later, all iPad Pro models and the iPad Air 2; and Mac computers running MacOS Monterey. It also affects some iPod models.

Apple’s explanation of the vulnerability means a hacker could get “full admin access to the device” so that they can “execute any code as if they are you, the user,” said Rachel Tobac, CEO of SocialProof Security.

Those who should be particularly attentive to updating their software are “people who are in the public eye” such as activists or journalists who might be the targets of sophisticated nation-state spying, Tobac said.


StarzPlay partners with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait

StarzPlay partners with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait
Updated 18 August 2022

StarzPlay partners with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait

StarzPlay partners with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait
  • The telecoms company’s subscribers on selected plans will get free access to the streaming service
  • StarzPlay is one of Virgin’s first partners in Kuwait to offer free subscriptions bundled with mobile plans

DUBAI: Streaming platform StarzPlay has partnered with Virgin Mobile to offer the telecoms company’s subscribers in Kuwait free access to its library of movies and TV shows.

Virgin Mobile users who sign up for selected monthly, six-monthly or annual plans will receive a free StarzPlay subscription. The cost of eligible mobile plans range from 7 Kuwaiti dinars ($23) to 19 dinars a month.

StarzPlay is one of Virgin Mobile’s first partners in Kuwait to offer free subscriptions bundled with mobile plans as a value-added benefit for customers.

“Bolstering our telcos (telecommunications companies) portfolio has been a strong focus for us from the start,” said Raghida Abou Fadel, StarzPlay’s senior vice-president of business development and sales. “Virgin Mobile has been a strong partner for us across the region.”

Last year, for example, StarzPlay partnered with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia to offer free subscriptions to customers with selected plans.

“We want to make content easily accessible for our subscribers in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, and partnering with local telco players offers us a great opportunity to reach and connect with newer audiences,” said Abou Fadel.

Benoit Janin, the CEO of Virgin Mobile, said: “Our continued partnership with StarzPlay highlights our commitment to providing excellence and additional benefits to our customers and we are excited to extend this partnership in Kuwait.”

StarzPlay is home to original shows such as “Baghdad Central,” “Power,” and “Vikings,” among others. It also offers Western classics such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Office,” as well as Arabic and anime content.

It ranks among the region’s top three subscription video-on-demand services, according to the company, and is available in 19 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.


CNN cancels ‘Reliable Sources,’ host Stelter leaving network

CNN cancels ‘Reliable Sources,’ host Stelter leaving network
Updated 18 August 2022

CNN cancels ‘Reliable Sources,’ host Stelter leaving network

CNN cancels ‘Reliable Sources,’ host Stelter leaving network
  • The show will have its last broadcast this Sunday.
  • CNN has been looking to cut costs but also to put forth a less opinionated product

NEW YORK: CNN has canceled its weekly “Reliable Sources” show on the media, and said Thursday that its host, Brian Stelter, is leaving the network.
The show will have its last broadcast this Sunday.
CNN has been looking to cut costs but also to put forth a less opinionated product. Stelter has written a book, “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth” and been critical of Fox News, making him a frequent target of the CNN’s conservative critics.
Stelter came to CNN from The New York Times, where he was a media writer.
“He departs CNN as an impeccable broadcaster,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development at CNN. “We are proud of what Brian and his team accomplished over the years, and we’re confident their impact and influence will long outlive the show.”
Stelter said that he was grateful for his nine years at CNN, proud of the show and thankful to its viewers.
“It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential,” he said. “I’ll have more to say on Sunday.”
The “Reliable Sources” newsletter, a daily compendium of the media’s big stories, will continue and will be led by CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.


From Wordle and beyond: The rise of word games

From Wordle and beyond: The rise of word games
Updated 18 August 2022

From Wordle and beyond: The rise of word games

From Wordle and beyond: The rise of word games
  • The New York Times upgrades Wordlebot assistant, a ‘daily companion’ to analyze performance
  • Over the past year dozens of spinoffs have sprung up across the Internet

LONDON: The New York Times announced it has upgraded its Wordle assistant, Wordlebot, introduced earlier this year as a “daily companion” to help analyze your Wordle performance.
With the new update, The New York Times added a number of new features, such as the addition of “slate” to Wordlebot’s list of starting words, a new method of “scoring skills” and modifications to the way the bot restricts its analysis to the group of five-letter words that are known Wordle solutions, which according to the company “puts it on a more even footing with humans.”
Wordle is (arguably) the undisputed game of the year. Every day, users try to guess a chosen five-letter word within six tries. The app has become a daily ritual for millions of users worldwide.
The game is a perfect mix of simplicity, fun and genuine competition. Rachel Orr, a senior design editor at The Washington Post, described Wordle as the “perfect pandemic game” for its ability to absorb our attention through the “pattern-seeking custom it humbly provides.”
Thanks to its “lack of ads, simple interface and a heartwarming origin story,” the daily word guessing game drew millions of players in its brief existence, convincing The New York Times to buy it for an undisclosed seven-figure sum last January.
Since then, a number Wordle spinoffs have sprung up across the Internet, including Worldle, Heardle and even an Arabic version, AlWird, giving rise to an entirely new genre of guessing games.
Among the latest additions to the genre is GuessThe.Game, a Wordle-style deduction test based on video games.
GuessThe.Game was developed by Sam Stiles, a Canada-based software engineer who created the game based on Framed, another Wordle-style game where players guess a mystery movie of the day by viewing still shots. Stiles realized that the same concept could be applied to video games.
“So I decided to whip one up,” Stiles said.
Since its debut in May, Stiles claimed that millions of people had played GuessThe.Game in “nearly every single country on Earth,” and that given the volume of daily traffic, “the game continues to expand virally.”
But Stiles is not the only person to have developed a Wordle-style game during his spare time. The list of spinoffs is long and spans across many different topics and subjects.
For example, Wordle aficionados can choose between Wordle Unlimited, an almost unlimited version of the real game; Quordle, where you are required to solve four Wordles at once; Dordle, where you play with two puzzles; and also Octordle and Sedecordle.
There is also Worldle, a geography guessing game where players are shown the outline of a country and have to guess which one it is; Heardle, the Wordle-style game for music lovers; and Nerdle, a maths game developed by data scientist Richard Mann with help from his daughter and son.
Environmentalists can try A Greener Wordle, which gives climate change-related answers; Airportle instead is designed for frequent flyers who want to test their knowledge of the three-digit airport IATA code; and there is even a game for Taylor Swift fans called Taylordle, where you guess practically anything related to the US pop star.
For the joy of players, new Wordle-style games are popping up every day, with Wordle-mania showing no signs of slowing down.
Even though the majority of Wordle-style games have humble origins and were intended as pure entertainment, some developers do not hide their desire to replicate the Wordle fairytale and cash in.
“In an ideal world, it ends up getting acquired by some brand or publication,” Stiles said, expressing confidence that someday “someone may come along and want to have their brand name associated with it like (Wordle and Heardle) did.”