China's Web Crackdown Gives Mobile Chat a Boost
Today in international tech news: China's social media crackdown could be a boon for messaging apps. Also: A 15-year-old video-game addict in China reportedly killed his mother after she asked him to quit playing; GTA smashes first-day sales records; Nokia's former chief is set for a huge Microsoft-funded payday; and a report says children are being blackmailed into performing sexual acts online.
Tencent Holdings' WeChat mobile messaging service, which is akin to WhatsApp, stands to gain more users as China makes it more and more risky to vent opinions online.
Long a hotbed for censorship, China has been turning up the heat even further on netizens believed to be spreading "rumors." China's Supreme Court recently ruled that jail was in the cards for anyone who posts a rumor that is viewed 5,000 times or re-posted 500 times.
This, according to some, is making WeChat even more attractive.
WeChat began as a free chat app for smartphones, but it has spawned into its own social network -- one that is, for the time being, less policed than traditional social media like Sina Weibo, which is more or less like Twitter and constantly under the watchful eye of Beijing. WeChat allows people to communicate directly with friends, taking some of the public element out of digital chatting.
That said, there are still risks to WeChat. Lu Wei, a top official in charge of Internet monitoring and censorship, penned an article in the People's Daily newspaper earlier this week. In it, Lu said, "If we do not effectively occupy newly emerged public opinion battlefields, other people will occupy them."
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]
Chinese Gamer Kills Mother, Keeps Playing
A 15-year-old in China stabbed his mother to death after she asked him to quit playing video games, only to continue playing video games while his mother died.
The gruesome tale gets more so: After stabbing his mother, the kid reportedly changed his clothes, went shopping and then ended up at an Internet cafe -- to keep gaming.
He turned himself in to police after fielding calls from his father asking why his mother wasn't answering the phone.
GTA Makes Hay
Grand Theft Auto V, the impossibly hyped video game that hit shelves around the world this week, raked in $800 million in first-day sales, according to Take-Two Interactive Software, a New York-based firm that owns GTA maker Rockstar Games.
That is the biggest opening-day score for any video game, crushing previous record holder Call of Duty's $500 million.
Experts said the game could garner as much as $1 billion in sales, but it looks like that might happen within the month.
Nokia Chief Set for Big Payday
Stephen Elop, the former Nokia chief who helped wed the company to Microsoft, is set to collect about US$25.5 million.
The payday stems from Microsoft's $7.2 billion purchase of the Finnish telecommunication firm's cellphone business.
Materials for shareholders describe the haul thus: about $19 million in stock awards; roughly $5.5 million in salary and management incentives; and six figures' worth of benefits.
Microsoft will foot about 70 percent of the tab, with Nokia picking up the rest.
Elop is credited -- for better or worse -- with Nokia's decision to run its handsets on Microsoft software. Elop will be leaving Nokia to join Microsoft.
[Source: The New York Times]
Children Blackmailed Into Performing Online Sex Acts
The UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center reported that hundreds of children are being blackmailed into performing sex acts online.
The group said that it knows of more than 400 children who were victimized over the past two years. Abusers typically dupe children by pretending to be children themselves, and then convince the unsuspecting child to carry out sexual acts or to share images.
Seven victims have killed themselves, including a well-known case of a 17-year-old who took his life after blackmailers demanded thousands of dollars after tricking him into thinking he was chatting with a female in the U.S. The blackmailers threatened to spread the video chat to family and friends.
The CEOP says that British children are particularly susceptible because of the pervasiveness of the English language and the openness of UK society.