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Anti-harassment features on Twitch prevent banned users from watching streams

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A recent anti-harassment update lets Twitch streamers block banned users from watching their streams.

August saw Twitch announce the feature. Despite years of tools to block banned users from chat, streamers could not stop banned users from watching their streams.

Channel owners can now ban users by checking “Stop banned users from viewing stream” in their Creator Dashboard moderation settings.

Twitch implemented the feature after community feedback. In August’s Patch Notes, Twitch senior product manager Trevor Fisher said banning unwanted viewers is the first step in addressing harassment.

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the years, to be honest, that people want their channel bans to do more,” Fisher said.

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If a streamer blocks a user, the user will be banned from watching streams on Twitch. It only applies to Twitch users who are logged in, and the site doesn’t block IPs yet. If someone is blocked from viewing a stream, they can still watch it by logging out. Twitch plans to block unwanted viewers from watching VODs, highlights, and clips.

“Everyone in the comments claiming this is silly or a negative thing has never had a stalker or feared for their safety,” Twitch streamer Divatron9000 said on X. There’s a reason we’ve been requesting this feature for years—I’m glad they’re listening.”

Not everyone can use the feature. Twitch told streamers it may take time for all channel owners to have access. No timeline was provided by Twitch.

“These updates roll out over time, so some people get it a bit sooner than others,” Twitch Support stated.

 

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Twitch has been improving moderation tools to create a “layered” safety strategy. Last year, the platform added “Ban Evasion Detection” to catch channel ban evaders. The tool alerts channel moderators to suspicious accounts using machine learning. So channels can request and trade banned user lists, that platform launched banned list swaps. A channel restricts all users on another channel’s list by accepting its list swap request. Moderators can manually approve or monitor banned users from other channels.

Minority Twitch streamers, especially Black and trans, are vulnerable to targeted harassment. In March, streamers used #TwitchDoBetter to pressure Twitch to stop hate raids, which flood a targeted streamer’s channel with hate speech.

Twitch product VP Alison Huffman told earlier this year that the company has conducted “extensive” modist interviews to determine their safety tool needs.

“Targeted harassment is not solved anywhere on the internet,” Huffman said. “And, like in the non-internet world, it is a forever problem with no single solution.”

“We’re trying to build a really robust set of tools that are highly customizable, put them in the hands of the people who know their needs best, which are the creators and moderators, and allow them to tailor that suite of tools to meet their particular needs.”

 

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Engineering

Content creators on the platform YouTube have constructed a remarkable and “potentially hazardous” retractable lightsaber

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A group of YouTubers have created a remarkable retractable lightsaber that they classify as “potentially hazardous.”.

HeroTech recently released a video outlining their intention to develop a lightsaber that mimics the retractable nature of the lightsabers seen in the Star Wars movies, as opposed to the currently available models with fixed extended blades.

The team stated on YouTube that they were well aware of the challenges they would face when embarking on the project to create an actual retractable lightsaber. “Our primary obstacles were evident: achieving complete containment of blade extension and retraction, creating a compact hilt design that is proportional to the original, and producing a blade and sound that closely resemble reality.”

Creating a retractable lightsaber proved challenging, but the team successfully accomplished this by utilizing a magician’s cane, a tool that can contract to a compact size and extend to a length of over 0.9 meters (3 feet). After extensive tinkering, the outcome is a remarkable lightsaber that elongates upon activation.

The team clarifies on their website that this lightsaber showcases a dazzling blade of light that genuinely extends from and retracts into the hilt. “Equipped with a 12V COB LED strip, 4S LiPo battery, the Proffieboard V3.9, and a high-performance speaker, this lightsaber delivers authentic lighting effects and lifelike sound effects.”

The team also aimed to enable others to construct the lightsaber in their own homes, by furnishing their subscribers with comprehensive instructions on how to do so. Nevertheless, they have strongly cautioned against attempting it.

“This lightsaber is an experimental model and has the potential to be hazardous if attempted to be made by oneself,” they mention on their YouTube channel. “Although I am actively working towards improving this situation, I am unable to currently endorse this product for individuals lacking engineering proficiency and the determination to spend several hours resolving technical issues.”

Disney has developed its own collapsible lightsabers specifically for use in performances at Disney World, although they are probably not produced at a low cost.

Neither of the blades is capable of cutting through stormtroopers, as they are purely ornamental. Nevertheless, an inexperienced YouTuber successfully constructed a functional lightsaber with the ability to retract, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2022.

Alex Burkan, the proprietor of the YouTube channel Alex Lab, engineered a contraption capable of generating a plasma blade measuring 1 meter (equivalent to 3.28 feet) in length upon activation. The blade, which reaches a temperature of 2,800°C (5,072°F), possesses the ability to effortlessly slice through steel.

“An electrolyser is the crucial element of my lightsaber,” Burkan informed Guinness World Records. An electrolyser is a device capable of producing a substantial quantity of hydrogen and oxygen, and it can compress the gas to any desired pressure without the need for a mechanical compressor.

However, in contrast to an authentic lightsaber or the ones demonstrated by Disney, the blade has a limited operational duration of approximately 30 seconds at maximum intensity. Consequently, lightsaber duels are brief unless they occur in close proximity to charging stations.

Burkan also mentioned that occasionally the lightsaber may explode in your hand due to a hydrogen flashback.

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Software

The United States has prohibited the sale of Kaspersky software due to concerns about security risks originating from Russia

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The United States government declared on Thursday its prohibition of the sale of Kaspersky antivirus within the nation and is urging American users of the software to transition to an alternative provider.

The Bureau of Industry and Security, a division of the Commerce Department, has implemented a unique ban on Kaspersky, claiming that the company, being headquartered in Russia, poses a threat to both U.S. national security and the privacy of its users.

Russia has demonstrated both the ability and the intention to utilize Russian companies, such as Kaspersky, to gather and weaponize the personal data of Americans. “Hence, we are obliged to undertake the course of action that we are currently implementing,” stated U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during a conference call with journalists.

Reuters was the first to report on the ban before it was officially announced. A representative from Kaspersky did not promptly reply to the inquiry for a comment.

Starting on July 20, Kaspersky will face a ban on selling its software to American consumers and businesses. However, the company will still be allowed to offer software and security updates to its current customers until September 29. Subsequently, Raimondo stated that Kaspersky would be prohibited from delivering software updates to customers in the United States.

“This implies that the quality of your software and services will decline.” Raimondo strongly advises finding an alternative to Kaspersky without delay.

Raimondo stated that U.S. consumers who are currently utilizing Kaspersky’s antivirus software are not in breach of any legal regulations.

Raimondo stated that individuals and businesses in the United States who currently use or have previously used Kaspersky products and services are not breaking the law, have not committed any wrongdoing, and will not face any legal consequences. “I strongly urge you to cease using that software and transition to an alternative as soon as possible to safeguard yourself, your data, and your family.”

Raimondo announced that the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department will collaborate to notify American consumers. Additionally, the U.S. government will establish a website to provide affected individuals with the necessary information to comprehend the rationale behind our actions and guide them in taking appropriate measures.

According to a high-ranking official from the U.S. Commerce Department, the federal cybersecurity agency CISA will engage in communication efforts with critical infrastructure organizations that rely on Kaspersky software in order to assist them in identifying alternative options. The official further stated that they have no intention of specifying any particular action by Kaspersky that prompted today’s decision. (The Commerce Department asked reporters not to reveal the official’s identity.)

The ban, which was announced on Thursday, represents the most recent intensification in a protracted sequence of measures taken by the U.S. government against Kaspersky, a company based in Moscow.

In September 2017, the Trump administration implemented a prohibition on the utilization of Kaspersky software by U.S. federal agencies due to concerns that the company may be coerced into assisting Russian intelligence agencies. In a previous report, it was disclosed that Russian state-sponsored hackers had illicitly acquired classified U.S. documents that were stored on the personal computer of an intelligence contractor. This breach occurred due to the use of Kaspersky’s antivirus software, making it the first documented case of espionage resulting from the use of this particular company’s software.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2023 that the decision to prohibit Kaspersky has been under development since last year.

According to the company itself, Kaspersky has more than 240,000 corporate clients globally and over 400 million individual customers. The senior official refrained from disclosing the exact number of U.S. customers that Kaspersky has. However, the official mentioned that there are a substantial number of customers, including critical infrastructure organizations as well as state and local government entities.

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Medicine and Health

Microplastics have been detected in the male genitalia of humans for the first time

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Researchers have recently discovered microplastics in human penises, expanding the list of body parts where these harmful particles have been detected.

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are shorter than 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) and can originate from various sources, including plastic production or the breakdown of plastic objects. With their apparent penetration into every small space, some people are worried about the potential consequences for our well-being.

The initial phase of this process involves determining their presence within the body. Researchers from the University of Miami, the University of Colorado, and the research institution Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon embarked on a quest to ascertain whether these entities could be detected in penises.

In order to accomplish this, the team collected penile tissue samples from six individuals who were undergoing surgery to treat erectile dysfunction. One of the samples was used as a control for comparison. Subsequently, the samples were examined for microplastics using laser direct infrared (LDIR) microspectroscopy, a method that enables scientists to identify the types, sizes, and quantities of microplastics present.

The analysis indicated that microplastics were present in 80 percent of the samples, with sizes ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers. However, another microscopy technique detected some microplastics as small as 2 micrometers (equivalent to thousandths of a millimeter, for reference to their minuscule size).

The microplastics (MPs) consisted of seven distinct types, with polyethylene terephthalate being the most abundant at 47.8 percent. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of plastic, is frequently utilized in the manufacturing of clothing as well as packaging for food and beverages.

Polypropylene, accounting for 34.7 percent of the sample, emerged as the second most prevalent plastic. This versatile plastic is utilized in various applications, including rigid food packaging and plastic laboratory equipment.

The authors state that their study is a pioneering investigation into the existence of microplastics (MPs) in penile tissue. “Our research provides important information about the presence of MPs in human tissues, which contributes significantly to the ongoing discussion about the impact of environmental pollutants on human health.”

While this study represents the initial discovery of microplastics in penile tissue, previous findings have already identified their presence in the surrounding region. In a recent study, scientists discovered substantial amounts of microplastics in the testes of both humans and dogs. Additionally, another investigation revealed the presence of microplastics in all 36 semen samples examined by the researchers.

Scientists have consistently highlighted the need for further research, but they have indicated the potential impact of microplastics on reproductive health, specifically investigating the connection between microplastics and erectile dysfunction.

In an interview with Sky News, Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, the main researcher, stated that further investigation is needed to understand the mechanism behind the presence of microplastics in the penis.

The research is published in the International Journal of Impotence Research

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