• Cowboy 3 electric bike review: better safe than sporty

    Cowboy has returned with its third-generation e-bike. It’s still the best-looking pedal-assisted electric bike with a removable battery that I’ve ever seen having carried forward the same physical design as the original Cowboy. While the Cowboy 2 from last year was sporty, the Cowboy 3 is mature, focusing on safety rather than fun.

    The Cowboy 3 is fitted with a variety of safety features including automatic crash detection, a slower top speed, and new puncture-resistant tires of Cowboy design. Version three, like the previous model, also has integrated lighting, with a rear light that flashes red when braking. And believe it or not, Cowboy’s finally making fenders.

    It’s as if this Belgian startup wants to become the Volvo of e-bikes. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  • Zoom cancels talk by Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled at San Francisco State University

    Zoom has canceled a webinar due to be held at San Francisco State University (SFSU) this Wednesday featuring Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who took part in two plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970. YouTube and Facebook also intervened to stop the talk, according to reports.

    The webinar was cancelled after pressure from Israeli and Jewish lobby groups including the Lawfare Project. They noted that the US government has designated the PFLP a terrorist organization, and claimed that by hosting Khaled on its service, Zoom was exposing itself to criminal liability for providing “material support or resources” to a terrorist group.

    A 2001 profile of Khaled from The Guardian described her as “the international pin-up of armed struggle” following her involvement in the two hijackings. “Khaled is from a very different

  • A new lawsuit may force YouTube to own up to the mental health consequences of content moderation

    For big tech platforms, one of the more urgent questions to arise during the pandemic’s early months was how the forced closure of offices would change their approach to content moderation. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter all rely on huge numbers of third-party contract workers to police their networks, and traditionally those workers have worked side by side in big offices. When tech companies shuttered their offices, they closed down most of their content moderation facilities as well.

    Happily, they continued to pay their moderators — even those who could no longer work, because their jobs required them to use secure facilities. But with usage of social networks surging and an election on the horizon, the need for moderation had never been greater. And so Silicon Valley largely shifted moderation duties to automated systems.

    The question was whether it would work — and this week, we began to get some details.

  • Cynicism suggests that the TikTok deal will go through

    Mark Twain is credited with first saying that if you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait five minutes. The TikTok deal has followed a similar schedule.

    On Friday, President Trump said downloads of TikTok would be banned from mobile app stores on Sunday, potentially preventing users from receiving critical security updates.

    On Saturday, Trump said he supported Oracle’s bid to acquire a stake in TikTok and oversee some of its operations, and extended the ban date to September 27th. As part of the deal, he said, the companies involved had agreed to contribute $5 billion for “patriotic education.”

    On Sunday, everyone involved took a well deserved rest. And as Monday dawned, everything went to hell.

    Everyone agrees that Oracle and Walmart have bought a combined 20 percent of TikTok. But the remaining 80 percent appears to be up for grabs. Here are

  • Facebook estimates it has helped more people register to vote in 2020 than it did in 2016

    Facebook estimates it has helped 2.5 million people register to vote this year across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, the company said. With more than a month until the 2020 election, that’s already higher than the two million people it helped register in both 2016 and 2018. The company has set a goal to help four million people register to vote this year, though, so it still has a ways to go.

    As part of its efforts to reach that goal, the company launched a “voting information center” that has resources about voting on Facebook and Instagram in August. And this weekend, the company started showing users information about how to register to vote at the top of Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Facebook says it will continue showing these notifications through September 25th.

    Image: Facebook

    The company ran a similar initiative in July. Facebook also kicked off a poll

  • President Trump says he approves of Oracle’s bid for TikTok ‘in concept’

    President Trump says he has approved “in concept” Oracle’s bid for TikTok, less than a day before a de facto ban he threatened in August was set to go into effect.

    “I have given the deal my blessing,” Trump said to reporters outside the White House Saturday as he departed for a rally in North Carolina. “I approved the deal in concept.”

    On Friday, the Commerce Department issued an order to block transactions with both TikTok parent company ByteDance and WeChat, effective September 20th. The order is set to go into effect on November 12th for TikTok, effectively halting the app’s operations.

    The details of the deal are still in flux, but the new company, called TikTok Global, would be based in the US and take over processing and storage for all US-based TikTok users.

    Trump said the new company would be headquartered in Texas, would hire up to 25,000