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That TikTok hearing was pretty messed up, right?

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That TikTok hearing was pretty messed up, right?

Yesterday continued Congress’s current historical past of calling tech executives right into a listening to to berate them about their extreme assortment of customers’ non-public knowledge for monetary means. However the place Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai suffered via the hearings solely to face little to no repercussions for his or her probably egregious assortment of information and anti-competitive practices, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was met with one thing way more outlined — and the customers of his platform instantly picked up on it.

“Your platform needs to be banned,” was one of many first issues Chew heard when the listening to began. That was from Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) in her opening assertion. Her thoughts appeared made up, as did most of the members of Congress on the Home Vitality and Commerce Committee, and for the subsequent few hours, Chew was berated by the committee members for every thing from TikTok challenges to NyQuil hen.

The members appeared notably curious about TikTok’s relationship with China. And that is smart. China is an authoritarian capitalist state the place the federal government will fortunately exert affect to construct revenue however the place it additionally has undue affect over the businesses that base their operations there. As a result of TikTok’s father or mother firm, ByteDance, relies in China, there’s potential for China to realize entry to knowledge managed by TikTok that it may not have the ability to for firms based mostly in different nations, resembling Meta and Google.

China’s attain on this regard is broad, and its skill to exert affect is highly effective. When Canada arrested the CFO and daughter of Huawei’s founder in 2018, China retaliated by arresting two Canadians and retrying and sentencing a 3rd to loss of life. “Due to the character of the political system in China, you’re naturally related to the federal government, and the federal government might put numerous stress on any agency in China to show in knowledge and to spy on different nations,” Lynette Ong, an affiliate professor of political science on the College of Toronto, advised me on the time.

China’s additionally retaliated towards its personal residents. When Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, spoke out towards deliberate tech regulation, he appeared to vanish in a similar way to the well-known actress Fan Bingbing (her crime was failing to pay sufficient taxes).


And customers on TikTok took discover

However China’s skill to exert horrible affect on its firms and residents and the way that may make TikTok vulnerable to undue affect wasn’t the road of questioning Congress appeared curious about pursuing. The few occasions it did come up, the questioning Congress member would typically proceed their rant, by no means giving Chew time to reply. Congress spent numerous time asking him about affiliations with the Chinese language Communist Occasion — China’s sole ruling political celebration. Incessantly, they might seek advice from the celebration, usually known as the CCP, as “communists,” calling again to the times of McCarthyism.

Between their obsession with communism, their typically obnoxious and condescending tone, and the occasional assumption that Chew was Chinese language, regardless of his repeated reminders that he’s Singaporean, the listening to was a bizarre, brutal, xenophobic mess. And customers on TikTok took discover.

They weren’t followers. The app has been flooded with movies (which TikTok itself might very effectively be boosting) of customers mocking Congress, supporting Chew and TikTok, and mentioning the flagrant hypocrisy of Congress’s determination to focus on TikTok whereas ignoring the equally egregious abuse of information and algorithms by its American opponents. TikTok may drive harmful challenges embraced by teenagers, however I don’t assume it’s incited a genocide as Meta has.

That is type of the issue with partaking in a xenophobic and deeply hypocritical marketing campaign towards a single, wildly standard app. Its very engaged customers will discover you’re being an asshole! And whereas Chew actually didn’t do himself or TikTok numerous favors yesterday or within the years since Trump first known as for a ban, Congress was in uncommon kind.


The thought of a Congressional listening to is you get folks mad and in your facet so you could have the political capital to push via no matter payments you’ve written on the matter. However typically you simply appear like a dumbass, and Congress appeared thunderingly out of contact yesterday. No matter political capital they’d hoped to realize was misplaced on the customers of TikTok. Representatives lectured Chew and TikTok customers over the hazard of the app, however wrapping it up in bizarre xenophobic rhetoric and tech illiteracy simply made them look pathetic to the viewers they had been making an attempt to achieve.

If the plan was to get folks to rethink utilizing TikTok as the USA jockeys for a worldwide management with China, I don’t assume it succeeded. Not if all our FYP feeds are something to go by.

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Spotify’s podcast future isn’t very original

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Spotify’s podcast future isn’t very original

This is Hot PodThe Verge’s newsletter about podcasting and the audio industry. Sign up here for more.

When Spotify announced yesterday that it would lay off 200 employees from its podcast unit and combine Gimlet and Parcast into a single operation, it came as a shock to outside observers. But former and current podcast employees at Spotify have seen the writing on the wall for some time. 

“We definitely have expected for several months now that they’d be axing people since the vibe at Gimlet had been very much one of walking on eggshells for months now,” one former Gimlet employee who was a part of yesterday’s layoffs told Hot Pod. “Zero joy. [The layoffs] were more just a matter of when. The fact that it was yesterday, that was the surprise.”

“Zero joy. [The layoffs] were more just a matter of when.”

It’s been more than a year since Spotify first eliminated its namesake podcast production unit. Last fall, Spotify laid off dozens of Gimlet and Parcast workers and pulled 11 original shows from production. It began this year by axing 600 jobs companywide (including a number of ad and business jobs under Podsights and Chartable). High-profile executives such as content chief Dawn Ostroff (who steered Spotify’s podcast operations) have left. Prominent names, including Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, Brené Brown, and Esther Perel, have exited deals with the platform. Jemele Hill hasn’t left yet but is weighing other options. 


As Bloomberg reported last week, neither Parcast nor Gimlet had received annual budgets, so they hadn’t been able to greenlight new shows or approve travel expenses. It was only this week that we found out Spotify’s reasoning for this: both Gimlet and Parcast will be combined to form a new Spotify Originals studio focused on original productions, which will include producing shows like Stolen, The Journal, Science Vs, Heavyweight, Serial Killers, and Conspiracy Theories

Another Gimlet employee who was laid off noted that production staff — producers, reporters, and engineers — seem to be most heavily hit by the job cuts. 

Both nonfiction and fiction shows were impacted. Spotify spokesperson Grey Munford confirmed that Case 63, which dropped its first season last fall, will be continuing. The show is produced by Gimlet along with Julianne Moore and Oscar Issac’s production companies, FortySixty and Mad Gene Media. Much of the Gimlet fiction team behind Case 63, the chart-topping fiction podcast starring Moore and Issac, is now under Spotify’s head of development, Liz Gateley, according to Munford.

As far as what Spotify wants the remaining chunk of Gimlet and Parcast to be doing, it appears to be along the lines of not getting in the way as it embraces creators and third-party deals. The company spelled out clearly that the next phase of its podcast strategy was to focus on creators and users, including the Spotify for Podcasters — the company’s ad and monetization platform. 

“We know that creators have embraced the global audience on our platform but want improved discovery to help them grow their audience. We also know that they appreciate our tools and creator support programs but want more optionality and flexibility in terms of monetization. Fortunately, Spotify is not a company that ever sits still. Given these learnings and our leadership position, we recently embarked on the next phase of our podcast strategy, which is focused on delivering even more value for creators (and users!),” wrote Sahar Elhabashi, Spotify’s head of podcast business.


“They’re very different styles of production and development.”

The merging of Gimlet and Parcast seems to be an unnatural one, according to a number of former employees. Parcast, which Spotify acquired in 2019, focuses largely on true-crime podcasts, with shows like Criminal Passion and Criminal Couples. Gimlet is known for its lineup of audio journalism series and interview podcasts, as well as scripted audio dramas. Gimlet won its first Pulitzer Prize in audio reporting earlier this year for Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s by investigative journalist Connie Walker. A second season of Stolen has been greenlit. 

“I’m not sure what folding Parcast and Gimlet together in one team means. They’re very different styles of production and development, so they need different kinds of support in terms of marketing, PR, development, and other skill sets,” said one former Gimlet employee, who left prior to this week’s layoffs. 

Gimlet blew up largely due to its original shows, which helped define the podcast boom. Series like Reply All, The Nod, Heavyweight, and StartUp helped push the bar on what audio storytelling could be, and both advertisers and investors lined up to get involved. But under the leadership of Spotify, both Gimlet and Parcast struggled to find direction. Reply All came to an inglorious end just over a year ago, and Gimlet under Spotify hasn’t produced another equivalent hit. 

The blame is at least partly due to Spotify’s inability to fully understand what it was buying for a combined total of roughly $300 million. Unifying Parcast and Gimlet was a good example of that. 


“Our shows and content are very different,” said one Gimlet worker who was laid off yesterday. “The fact that Spotify is merging them so clumsily only further illustrates that they never really understood or appreciated either of us fully.”

The hasty merger and axing of original programming echo similar tactics from the world of streaming video, such as Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to combine HBO Max and Discovery Plus’ offerings into one streaming platform or Paramount’s decision to merge Showtime (which generates premium scripted series like Yellowjackets) with Paramount Plus, which is home to shows from CBS, BET, and TV Land — as well as live sports. 

Such decisions reflect the reality of today’s cash-strapped streaming environment. Much like how Netflix would once go on buying sprees at Cannes and now makes reality shows like Too Hot to Handle, Spotify is moving away from pricey originals and embracing amateur podcasters and creator partnerships (not to mention its highest-value celebrity audio deals, such as that with Joe Rogan). In both cases, companies are trimming their original programming in favor of content that is cheaper to produce and generates more eyeballs and downloads. 

Less prestigious content won’t make a difference to advertisers, says Max Willens, a senior analyst at Insider Intelligence. “I would say that advertisers will welcome this decision in the sense that it may give them more inventory to advertise against, possibly at a more attractive price. The longform, highly produced content that Gimlet made its name creating was costlier and took longer to produce, and often commanded premium ad prices, which advertisers sometimes chafed at.”

But for those who work in the audio industry, Spotify’s hasty exit from the world of podcasting and original audio journalism aligns with the behavior they’ve grown to expect from the tech company. 


“[The individuals laid off] are some of the most talented, experienced producers in the entire industry,” said a Gimlet staffer who left prior to this week’s layoffs. “It’s disappointing that Spotify never understood that — and how to harness that creativity and experience.”

Audiobooks and podcasts may become a haven in the event of a SAG strike

SAG-AFTRA overwhelmingly voted in support of a strike if they don’t reach a deal with the studios, union leadership announced on Monday night. Although SAG-AFTRA is known traditionally as Hollywood’s actor union, its 160,000-strong membership includes DJs, news anchors, voiceover artists — as well as podcast hosts and audiobook narrators. 

The looming SAG-AFTRA strike is with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and would only impact contracts bargained with them. Productions covered by SAG’s TV and theatrical contracts would be considered off-limits. 

“Only productions that are covered by the TV/Theatrical Codified Basic Agreement and Television Agreement would be struck in […in the event of a strike]. Scripted dramatic live action entertainment production that is covered by the SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Contracts would be considered struck work,” wrote SAG-AFTRA’s chief communications officer Pamela Greenwalt in an email.


In other words, most podcast and audiobook contracts under SAG-AFTRA would not be considered “struck” work. This is in contrast to the ongoing WGA strike, where writing on scripted, fiction podcasts covered by WGA isn’t kosher and striking members are not allowed to work on non-union projects. 

“So while work by any member (celebrity or otherwise) under SAG-AFTRA’s Audiobook Contracts would NOT be covered by a TV/Theatrical strike, all members will honor that action in the areas of work that are impacted should a strike need to be called,” clarified Greenwalt.

Which means that for performers looking to work during a Hollywood strike, the audio world may become their go-to destination. Celebrity audio dramas have certainly become in vogue lately, with the likes of Demi Moore, Chris Pine, Rami Malek, Matthew McConaughey, and others contributing their voice talents to fiction podcasts. Audible has showcased a number of celebrity-narrated audiobooks by Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Thandiwe Newton, and others. 

It’s still uncertain whether SAG-AFTRA will even call a strike. The union is scheduled to start contract negotiations with AMPTP on June 7th. In the event that they’re unable to reach a deal with the studios, SAG-AFTRA can then take steps to go on strike. 

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Crooks are targeting this easy money app on your phone

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Crooks are targeting this easy money app on your phone

Venmo has grown in popularity, and for a good reason, because it is so easy and convenient to send and receive money electronically between you and another person. 

It operates as a digital wallet linked to your bank account or debit card, which enables you to make payments quickly and easily to other Venmo users. The service is popular among younger generations as it provides a simple and social way to split bills or pay back friends for shared expenses.

Additionally, Venmo offers a social feed feature that allows you to see and comment on your friends’ transactions, adding an element of social interaction to the platform. It is available for both iPhone and Android devices.

iPhone: 4.9 stars (at time of publishing)

Android: 4.2 stars (at time of publishing)


However, with all that ease comes much targeting from scammers who want to steal your money, although unlike U.S. bank accounts, Venmo balances are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. 

Let’s review what kind of Venmo scams to look out for and how to protect yourself.


Venmo is an app that lets you pay from a linked bank account or debit card. (



Is Venmo safe to use?

Venmo uses multi-factor authentication to secure logins and encrypts all transactions to ensure the safety of your personal information. Also, you have the ability to manage your privacy and passcode settings, adding another layer of protection to your Venmo account. As a result, I would say Venmo is generally considered a safe platform to use.

However, it was designed to use with people you know and trust, such as your friends and family members, and not random people you’ve never met. When making a transaction with a person for the first time, Venmo will even ask that you enter the person’s last four digits of their phone number as an extra safety precaution.


Even with these safety measures, however, people still get tricked by scams on Venmo. A common trick that scammers will use is phishing emails. A scammer will send you an email and claim to be a representative of Venmo and trick you into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or personal details by asking you to send your personal information or click a suspicious link to “update your password” or something of that nature. These emails often mimic legitimate communications.

These kinds of scams can occur via text message or phone call as well, and unsuspecting victims may accidentally give out their banking information or even their Social Security numbers.



Screenshot of a Venmo scam.

Scammers are using phishing emails to trick you into giving away your information. Here’s what to know.items (

Scammers who are trying to sell you things online, such as on websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, will also often ask for people to pay them through Venmo. This is because Venmo’s user agreement and terms of service state that the app is meant to be used for transactions between people who know each other personally or have an established business relationship.

Scammers may ask for payment through Venmo because they know that the app lacks buyer protections and dispute resolution options. Venmo transactions are instant and irreversible, which means that if you send money to a scammer, it may be difficult or impossible to get your money back.


What types of Venmo scams should I look out for?

  • Requests for personal information: Venmo will never ask you for personal or sensitive information via email, text message, or phone.
  • Rental lease offers: If you’re looking for a place to rent and the landlord asks you to pay upfront via Venmo, don’t fall for it.
  • Random prizes or rewards: Sometimes scammers will put up fake competitions and offer to send prize money via Venmo, but will then ask for a person’s Venmo login info to send the money. This is a common scam.
  • Overpayment scams: Scammers may overpay you for an item or service and ask you to refund the difference. Once you refund the money, the scammer cancels the payment, leaving you with no money and no item or service.


How can I avoid being part of a Venmo scam?

  • Look at the email address: Look closely at the address of the sender if they claim to be from Venmo. If you Google it and it’s an official email address, then it should come up right away. If it doesn’t, then it’s not really Venmo.
  • Watch out for fake accounts: Scammers commonly create fake Venmo accounts claiming to be real people and will then ask family and friends of that person for money. Reach out to a person directly before sending them money.
  • Public transactions: Be cautious about making your transactions public on Venmo, as scammers can use this information to target you with phishing scams or other fraudulent activities.


What to do if you believe you have been scammed on Venmo

1) The first thing you should do is contact Venmo support immediately and report the fraudulent transaction. They can provide guidance and assistance in resolving the issue.


2) Second, if you used your bank account or credit card to fund the Venmo transaction, contact your bank or credit card issuer to report the fraud and dispute the charge.

3) The third step is to change your Venmo password immediately to prevent further unauthorized transactions.

4) Also, if you believe you have been scammed, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the fraudulent activity.

5) If you feel your personal data has been stolen, and you want a service that will walk you through every step of the reporting and recovery process, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from this type of fraud is to subscribe to an identity theft protection company.  



This service will monitor personal information like your Home title, Social Security Number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. One of the best parts of using some services is that they might include identity theft insurance of up to 1 million dollars to cover losses and legal fees and a white glove fraud resolution team where a U.S.-based case manager helps you recover any losses.

See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft by visiting

6) Lastly, always report the scammer. If you have any information about the scammer, such as their name, phone number, or email address, report it to Venmo and the authorities.


Kurt’s key takeaways

While Venmo is a convenient and widely used platform for electronic money transfers, you should remain vigilant against scams by being cautious of phishing emails, avoiding transactions with unknown individuals, and protecting personal information. If scammed, you should report the incident to Venmo, contact your bank or credit card issuer, change your password and file a complaint with the FTC while also providing any available information about the scammer to authorities. 


Do you feel protected against the growing number of scams? What are your tools and tips? Let us know so we can alert others by writing us at

For more of my tips, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to

Copyright 2023 All rights reserved.

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What’s Your Type? How to Add Custom Fonts on an iPhone or iPad

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What’s Your Type? How to Add Custom Fonts on an iPhone or iPad

Your device comes with several built-in system fonts in apps like Mail and Safari. Just look for the Aa icon while writing an email or searching the internet, and you can change the default font. But thanks to Apple’s built-in font manager, you can easily view and control the third-party fonts you have installed on your iPhone or iPad.

Unfortunately, the process for grabbing the right fonts and font libraries, and then determining which apps allow them, can be challenging. Still, it’s worth the effort if you want to spruce up your emails, messages, and apps. You can do the same on a Windows PC or Mac.

In order to use Apple’s font manager, you need to be running iOS 13 or higher on your iPhone and iPadOS 13 or higher on your iPad. You can make sure you have the latest version of iOS or iPadOS under Settings > General > Software Update. It will either say you are up to date or prompt you to install an update.

How to Download Fonts

Once you are running the latest OS version, head to the App Store and download the fonts you want to add. This process is tricky, as there are no official Apple fonts in the App Store.

Rather, you have to search for and download third-party apps that contain fonts and font libraries. Try searching “fonts” to yield a fair number of results.


Font Diner

Font Diner(Opens in a new window) offers one free font set for personal use, while the others each cost $4.99 a year. Still, the free Silverware set does include a healthy selection of fonts, including Bahama, Black Widow, Cherry Soda, Creaky Frank, Leftovers, and Turnpike. Tap the Activate button for the font set you want and then tap Install.


iFont(Opens in a new window) acts as a font manager while also offering its own fonts and steering you to font websites. The basic free version provides 224 different fonts. For $1.99, the premium version kicks in additional fonts and helps you better manage them all. Tap Featured Fonts, then select the Install button (and Install again) for any font you want.


Fonts(Opens in a new window) is an app that offers a few font sets for free but requires a paid subscription to access most of the others. Following a free one-week trial, one plan will cost you $4.99 a week or $24.99 a year, while another will run $7.99 a week or $39.99 a year.

After you install one or more sets, Fonts is available as a third-party keyboard so you can use its fonts in any text-based app.

Smart Fonts

Smart Fonts(Opens in a new window) is a free app that offers a range of fonts to use in any text-based app via its own keyboard. Though the fonts are free, the developer asks you to leave a review of the app to unlock them all. From there, add Smart Fonts as a keyboard in iOS and you can tap into its fonts from any app.


Alternatively, you can type text in the Smart Fonts app itself, format it with a specific font, and then copy and paste the text into another app.

Manage Fonts on Your iPhone and iPad

Manage Fonts on Your iPhone and iPad

To manage your fonts, you would use your device’s built-in font manager. Go to Settings > General > Fonts to see all the installed fonts from Font Diner, iFont, and any other font apps you may have downloaded. Tap a font and select a typeface to view a sample. Swipe to the left to see additional screens that display the font.

Remove fonts

To remove a font you don’t want to keep, tap the Edit link at the screen of installed fonts, select the font, and then tap Remove. Alternatively, tap the name of the font and then tap Remove at the top of the screen, then select Remove this font family to confirm.

How to Change Fonts

The whole point of downloading fonts is to use them with your favorite apps, but this process can be tricky. Most iOS and iPadOS apps still don’t support these types of third-party fonts, though Apple’s iWork apps, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, do.

Recommended by Our Editors

If you find an apps that allows you to use it as a third-party keyboard, you should be able to use their fonts in any text-based app.


Change Font in Pages

In a program such as Pages, select the text whose font you want to change. Tap the paint brush icon at the top and select the name of the current font from the formatting pane at the bottom. Browse through the list of fonts and you should see both the built-in system fonts and the custom fonts you installed.

Tap the font you want to use and then close the formatting pane. You should then be able to start typing your text, and have it appear in the font you selected.

Change Font in Numbers

You can do the same if you are working with a spreadsheet in Numbers. Select a range of cells and then tap the paint brush icon at the top to open the formatting pane. Tap Cell and choose the current font name, then select your font from the list. Any text or numbers in the selected cells will then take on the new font.

Change Font in Keynote

If you are working on a presentation in Keynote, select some text on a slide and then tap the paint brush icon to open the formatting pane. Tap Text, then select the font name. Choose a new font from the selection screen and the text you selected will appear in your chosen font.

Change Font in Fonts or Smart Fonts

For font apps accessible as a keyboard, open any text-based app. Tap the globe icon at the lower left and select the font keyboard you want to use. Choose a specific font from the list. Now start typing your text, and it will appear in the font you picked.


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