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technology assisting victims of the earthquake

Twitter postpones new paid API version – resource was being used in rescue operations in Turkey

Twitter has announced that it will postpone the launch of the new paid version of its API for a few days. The information provided by the social network does not indicate a new date for the entry into force of the new API access rules. It is only explained that the launch will be postponed “for a few days” and that more information on the subject will come out soon. technology assisting victims of the earthquake

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The abrupt change of rules in accessing the Twitter API, which allows third parties to integrate and develop tools taking advantage of information from the social network, has been widely criticized. The API is used by researchers who analyze trends or study the phenomenon of fake news, for example, and by programmers, and indirectly benefits millions of users. Whether those that take advantage of tools that allow the automatic sharing of content published on a website, on the respective Twitter profile, or other tools created by third parties, to speed up and simplify the use of Twitter’s own resources.

One of the important uses of the tool in recent days has also been to support search and rescue operations for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. As a Fortune article explains, thousands of volunteer software developers have been using the API to, through automatic programs (bots), look for help requests left by users on the platform and direct them to rescue teams.

” This is not only useful for the rescue efforts which are sadly almost over, but also for logistical planning as people turn to Twitter to convey their needs,” explained Sedat Kapanoglu.  The person responsible is the founder of a popular linguistics site in Turkey (Eksi Sozluk), which has been collaborating with volunteers to guide action efforts on the ground, based on information that is being shared online by earthquake victims.

” For Turkish developers working with the Twitter API for disaster monitoring purposes, this is particularly worrisome – and I imagine it is equally worrisome for others around the world who are using Twitter data to monitor emergencies and events. politically challenged,” Akin Unver , professor of international relations at Ozyegin University in Istanbul, told Fortune.

For now, Twitter does not explain why the postponement is due, it justifies it with the need to “create a great experience for the developer community ”, which seems to be far from meeting the main claim that this community has been making to do, since it was known that the free version of the API will continue to exist, with fewer features, and the paid version will cost at least 99 dollars per month. Given the number of non-commercial projects that rely on app data to collect and process relevant information for many purposes, more exceptions to the new rules are requested.

Making access to the API payable is yet another measure in Elon Musk’s strategy to make Twitter profitable, in addition to others, such as the wave of redundancies that marked the beginning of the management of the new owner of Twitter or the relaunch of the paid version of service. technology assisting victims of the earthquake

 

4 ways technology is assisting victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria technology assisting victims of the earthquake

The magnitude 7.8 quake has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless during a freezing winter while desperate for food, water and supplies. From crypto donations to open-source sites listing temporary housing, here are four ways people are using technology to help earthquake victims:

Social media

Social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter have been used to share vital information and rally support.

Meta rolled out its Safety Check feature for users in Turkey and Syria to let friends and family know they are safe, which the company has been used by hundreds of thousands of users so far.

Turkey’s AKUT Search and Rescue Association has a dedicated WhatsApp helpline to spread information about volunteering and rescue operations.

People trapped under the debris tweeted desperate messages that included their location, sharing them with users with large followings.

Users replied sharing videos of a high-pitched whistle that can be played from the phone to attract the attention of extraction teams.

Access to Twitter was briefly restricted on Wednesday sparking protests by political opposition figures, academics and activists. It was restored on Thursday following talks between the company and Turkish authorities.

VPNs

Turks turned to virtual private networks (VPNs) to reroute internet traffic through other countries, to bypass government restrictions and access Twitter.

Many large VPN providers reported huge increases in activity in the aftermath of the quake.

Proton, which provides the Proton VPN service, saw usage increase by over 20,000% compared to this time last week in Turkey, and predicted it was likely to increase further.

Laura Tyrylyte, head of public relations at Nord Security, said NordVPN saw twice as much activity on the day of the quake compared to the day before.

“Whenever a government announces an increase in surveillance, internet restrictions, or other types of constraints, people turn to privacy tools,” Tyrylyte said.

“This was also seen in the wake of major events such as the Hong Kong protests, the repeal of net neutrality in the US, and the passage of the UK’s ‘Snoopers’ Charter’,” she added.

 

Crypto donations

The cryptocurrency community raised millions of dollars worth of donations that will be sent to Turkey, as an alternative to traditional banking facilities that may have been damaged in the devastation.

Crypto exchange Binance said it will send $100 worth of Binance Coin to all users in cities that have been impacted by the quake. It estimates that approximately $5 million will be donated in total.

Cryptocurrency exchanges Okx and Bitget have also respectively donated one million Turkish lira (about $53,000) in financial aid for those affected.

The use of cryptocurrencies and crypto assets to purchase goods and services has been banned in Turkey since 2021.

However, the country’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) approved an initiative by Ahbap, a charity, to receive cryptocurrency donations, according to founder and singer Haluk Levent.

The Ministry of Treasury and Finance, which oversees MASAK, did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Open-source software

Developers worldwide have used created websites for crisis assistance – making all of the projects open source and easy to use in a country with hampered internet access.

Students and alumni from Middle East Technical University in Ankara started working on Afetbilgi.com, Turkish for “disaster information”, 30 hours after the earthquake hit.

The hub, which was started by five colleague students and has grown to a team of 25, hosts links for temporary accommodation, food distributors, blood and stem cell donations, and veterinary services.

The main challenge was to keep it simple. There is so much information, so many different sources. We had to cut down on what was necessary, and what was easy to verify for us”, Alperen Keles, a 23-year-old PhD student, said in emailed comments.

Since its launch, the website has had more than 14 million requests, and close to 1 million unique visitors.

Another group of developers used social media messages from Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter – as well as an online contact form – to create a heatmap to help rescue teams focus their efforts.

 

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