It’s been a bad month for Super Bowl broadcasts. First, the CBS broadcast of the game was plagued by technical difficulties, with audio dropouts and picture quality issues. Then, on Sunday, the game was again marred by an issue with the audio, this time on the Fox broadcast. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called the situation “unfortunate,” but said that the league would “look into” the matter.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, another broadcast problem was brewing. This one was not caused by a malfunctioning sound system, but by a censoring artificial intelligence (A.I.).
The A.I. in question is part of China’s “Great Firewall,” a massive censorship system that the government uses to control what its citizens can see and hear online. The Firewall is notoriously effective, and has been used to block access to Western social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as to censor news and information that the government deems “sensitive.”
But the Great Firewall is not perfect, and Chinese users have long been creative in finding ways to circumvent it. This has led to a game of cat-and-mouse between the censors and the circumvention community, with each side continually trying to stay one step ahead of the other.
The most recent round of this game began on February 3, when a popular circumvention tool called Lantern was abruptly blocked by the Great Firewall. Lantern is a “freemium” service, meaning that it is free to use, but users can pay for a premium version with additional features.
The block on Lantern came as a surprise to many, as the service had been used for years without incident. lantern users soon began searching for alternatives, and within days, a new tool called “toilet paper” had emerged as the frontrunner.
Toilet paper is a simple piece of software that encrypts a user’s traffic and routes it through a server in another country, bypassing the Great Firewall. The software is free to download and use, and it is already proving to be popular, with downloads surpassing those of Lantern.
But the story does not end there. On February 6, just two days after the block on Lantern, Chinese authorities announced that they had developed a new technique for detecting and blocking circumvention tools. The announcement was accompanied by a warning that anyone caught using such tools would be “severely punished.”
The Great Firewall is no match for the power of the Internet.
This latest development highlights the ongoing arms race between the censors and the circumvention community. As long as the Great Firewall exists, there will be people working to circumvent it. And as long as there are circumvention tools, the censors will be working to block them.
The good news is that, so far, the censors have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation. Every time they block one circumvention tool, another one pops up to take its place.
This arms race is unlikely to end anytime soon. But as long as the Internet remains free and open, the circumvention community will continue to find ways to circumvent the Great Firewall.
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We all have those days where nothing seems to go right. For Elon Musk, it was a two-day Twitter war with Apple. It all started when Musk Quote tweeted Apple’s support page for serious issues with the iPhone. He added his own commentary, “Should just be called ‘Unable to function when used as designed’”.
This did not sit well with Apple, who responded by saying that they are constantly working to improve their products and that they stand by their products. Musk then fired back, saying that Apple products are only designed to work well when new and that they become unusable within a few years.
The back-and-forth went on for a couple of days, with each side taking potshots at the other. In the end, it was Musk who had the last laugh when he tweeted out a picture of an iPhone case with the words “Apple is trash” printed on it.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips on how to beat an A.I. censor:
1. Use sarcasm
Sarcasm is a great way to get your point across without actually saying anything inflammatory. This is what Musk did when he posted the picture of the “Apple is trash” iPhone case.
2. Be clever
Another way to beat an A.I. censor is to be clever with your words. Instead of using profanity or making personal attacks, try to be creative with your insults. This will make it more difficult for the A.I. to censor you.
3. Keep it short
A.I. censors are designed to detect certain keywords and phrases. If you keep your statements short, it will be more difficult for the censor to detect anything that could be considered offensive.
4. Speak in code
If you’re really worried about being censored, you can always speak in code. This is a common tactic used by people who are trying to avoid government censorship.
5. Stand up for yourself
If you believe that you’ve been unfairly censored, you can always appeal the decision. This is usually done through a human review process.
No matter what method you choose, the important thing is to stand up for yourself. Don’t let the A.I. censor control what you say or do.
S.B.F., or Social Butterfly Factory, is a short-form content platform that has been described as “Twitter for the masses.” The company was founded in 2016 by Jack Jia, an early employee at Snapchat, and aims to be a more user-friendly and democratic alternative to the existing social media landscape.
In early 2018, S.B.F. found itself in the middle of a very public spat with Apple. It all started when S.B.F. launched a new app called “Whistle” on the App Store. “Whistle” was a short-form audio platform that allowed users to record and share snippets of audio with each other.
However, within days of launching, Apple pulled “Whistle” from the App Store, citing concerns over spam and misuse. S.B.F. was quick to cry foul, accusing Apple of censorship.
The story quickly made its way to the press, and a number of high-profile tech figures, including Elon Musk, weighed in. Musk tweeted that Apple’s actions were “total bullshit” and pledged his support for S.B.F.
The whole debacle lasted just two days, but it was a PR nightmare for Apple. In the end, the company relented and allowed “Whistle” to return to the App Store.
However, the damage was done. S.B.F. had successfully made Apple look like the bad guy, and the episode helped to raise the profile of the company and its products.
So, what can we learn from this whole sorry saga?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that, as a big tech company, Apple is not immune to criticism. Just because it’s one of the most valuable companies in the world doesn’t mean it can’t make mistakes.
Secondly, S.B.F. was quick to exploit Apple’s mistake. The company quickly pivoted from being an underdog to being a champion of free speech, and this helped to raise its profile significantly.
Finally, this story is a reminder that A.I. censors can often be circumvented. In this case, all it took was a little bit of public pressure to get Apple to change its mind.
So, if you’re ever in a situation where you feel like you’re being censored, don’t be afraid to speak up and make some noise. You never know, you might just get the result you’re looking for.