How WeChat’s design turned it into a global powerhouse—and a Trump target

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A researcher of culturally sensitive design explains WeChat’s significance for the Chinese diaspora and what will be lost if the U.S. succeeds in banning it. On the day before WeChat was ordered to be banned, my octogenarian parents, who live in China, insisted on having a video chat with their granddaughter and me. They were worried that they would not be able to see us as conveniently after we were forced to switch to regular phone calls. Read Full Story

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In historic first, Portland bans corporations from using facial recognition tech on the public

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But Portland residents can still use facial recognition tech, like the kind found in iPhones and Nest cameras. Over the past year, several U.S. cities have taken steps to ban or limit the use of facial recognition technology to surveil people. Yet these bans were only applied to government departments and police. As of today, Portland, Oregon, has surpassed those bans in an effort to protect its citizens from surveillance. Read Full Story

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Twitter has acquired its first design firm ever. Here’s why

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You might have never heard of Ueno, but it’s the first design studio that Twitter has ever acquired. For years, Twitter has faced criticism for enabling harassment and the spread of misinformation and, in recent months, the company has shown signs of trying to right its course. With an important election in balance, the company banned political ads, flagged Donald Trump’s tweets as disputed, and used its interface to nudge people to read and comment on stories before retweeting them. Last week, it banned Trump from its platform outright . Read Full Story

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TikTok may be banned in India, but this ByteDance app is having a moment there

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Resso, a music streaming service owned by TikTok parent ByteDance, is thriving in India, despite a ban on China-owned apps. TikTok was among dozens of China-linked apps that were banned in India last month over what the government said were national security concerns. The wildly popular short-video service—owned by China’s ByteDance—has faced increased scrutiny over its data-collection practices, although TikTok has said it does not share user data with the Chinese government. India’s move, which followed a fatal clash between the two countries on a disputed border, was notable in scale, affecting some 59 mobile apps and severing TikTok from one of its largest markets. Read Full Story

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The plastic industry is using the coronavirus to fight plastic bag bans

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Bag bans that were supposed to go into effect have been halted in several states as the plastic industry plays up fears of infection from reusable bags (but doesn’t mention anything about infection from plastic ones). As the groundswell against single-use plastic has grown, a recent study about the new coronavirus could lend more ammunition: The virus, SARS-CoV-2, can live on plastic for two to three days , versus 24 hours on cardboard. (Another study that looked at related viruses, SARS and MERS, found that some lived on plastic as long as nine days.) But the plastic industry is also using the coronavirus crisis for the opposite reason, to argue that public health requires us to overturn bans on single-use plastic bags at stores. Read Full Story

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‘The Fight’ is a powerful documentary showcasing the ACLU’s work against the Trump agenda

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‘The Fight’ showcases the work of several ACLU attorneys as they attempt to curb Trump’s policies in the name of civil liberties for all. Not long after he took office in 2017, Donald Trump issued a travel ban targeting seven predominately Muslim countries. The order drew sharp criticism as well as immediate chaos when travelers from the targeted countries were detained across several airports. Read Full Story

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What is a mask valve, and why are cities banning them?

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Valves will keep you more comfortable, but endanger those around you. In some states and major cities, it’s now mandatory to wear a mask in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That mask could be anything from a handkerchief to a designer cotton mask to a full-blown N95 respirator , so long as you have something between your mouth and nose and the world around you. Read Full Story

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In the fight for police reform and abolition, design plays a key role

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The 8 Can’t Wait campaign took social media by storm with a catchy, shareable graphic—then the 8toAbolition campaign co-opted its look. You’ve probably seen the 8 Can’t Wait campaign’s graphic while scrolling through your Instagram feed. It’s an eminently shareable image that uses succinct icons and a high-contrast color palette to push for eight specific police reforms, like de-escalating conflicts and banning chokeholds. Read Full Story

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Can good design help win an election? Experts duke it out

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Jennifer Kinon and Scott Starrett, alums from the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and AOC, debate whether design can make a difference in politics. Much of the world was surprised by the results of the 2016 presidential election, and designers were no exception. Hillary Clinton’s campaign had a cleaner, more cogent design, with the polish, strategy, and experience of some of the biggest names in the design world. Yet Donald Trump, and his particular brand of acrimonious chaos and convoluted aesthetic, still won. Those retina-piercing red hats seared into the design community’s collective memory a reminder of design’s power—and limitations. Read Full Story

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