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How to See Joe Biden’s Island in ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’

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The 2020 presidential election was bound to be a weird one, and not only because COVID-19 has made in-person events like rallies and door-to-door canvassing more fraught than ever. Thankfully, there’s always Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Players have been able to show their in-game support for candidates using digital campaign signs, and we’re about to get our first look at Joe Biden’s official Animal Crossing island later today.

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Screenwriter Gary Whitta will join Greg Miller of Kinda Funny Games as the first Animal Crossing players to visit the official island of the Joe Biden campaign. The virtual hangout will take place as part of Whitta’s popular “Animal Talking” livestream series, during which he chats with celebrities, game developers, and other popular figures while playing Animal Crossing.

Miller and Whitta plan to tour Biden’s in-game island and interview members of the campaign. It’s unclear if Vice President Biden will make an appearance. (Something tells me he probably isn’t much of a gamer, but who knows.)

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You can watch the livestream on Kinda Funny’s Twitch page today, starting at 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern. If you miss the show, we’ll be sure to update this post with any relevant information on Biden’s Animal Crossing island, including any opportunities to visit it for yourself.

For those unfamiliar, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a popular video game on the Nintendo Switch, and one of the few bright spots in this murky span of time otherwise known as 2020. The relaxing town management sim lets players create their own personalized island populated with likable animal townsfolk.

The game released back in March 2020, but is already the second best-selling game on the system, having moved almost 23 million copies. It’s also the second best-selling game of all time in Japan. It has a massive following from players of all ages and backgrounds—including U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC previously guested on Whitta’s “Animal Talking” show after she made headlines by visiting other players in the game—including Lifehacker’s own Senior Technology Editor, David Murphy.

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TikTok removing accounts of users who share QAnon-related content

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TikTok has been removing the accounts of users who share QAnon-related content on the platform, NPR reported, part of a policy the video-sharing platform says has been in effect since August. While TikTok initially focused on reducing discoverability of such content — banning QAnon-related hashtags, for instance — its policy now includes removing the content, banning accounts, and redirecting searches and hashtags to display its community guidelines.

“Content and accounts that promote QAnon violate our disinformation policy and we remove them from our platform,” a spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. The company has taken steps to make QAnon-related content harder to find in search. “We continually update our safeguards with misspellings and new phrases as we work to keep TikTok a safe and authentic place for our community.”

A search for QAnon on TikTok brings up its community guidelines
Image: TikTok

In July, TikTok started blocking several hashtags related to the QAnon conspiracy theory, including “QAnon,” “QAnonTruth,” and the related phrase “Out of Shadows.” But the videos themselves were still visible and could have appeared among the For You suggestions or in users’ feeds, the BBC reported.

Other social platforms have cracked down QAnon content as well. Facebook said earlier this month it would ban content related to QAnon, which it termed a “militarized social movement” from Facebook and Instagram. Facebook had removed some groups and pages promoting QAnon back in April, saying they were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Facebook users can still post QAnon content to their individual profiles, however.

Twitter banned thousands of QAnon-related accounts and links over the summer, and Reddit banned the QAnon subreddit r/GreatAwakening for violating its rules against “inciting violence, harassment, and the dissemination of personal information.” Even exercise platform Peloton has removed hashtags related to the conspiracy theory from its online classes.

And while YouTube isn’t banning QAnon content, the platform said last week it will remove “conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence.”

QAnon is a false conspiracy theory that claims, among other things, that President Trump is secretly planning to arrest high-profile Democratic politicians and celebrities for pedophilia or cannibalism. The FBI has labeled the conspiracy theory a potential domestic terrorist threat.

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Facebook introduces a new Messenger API with support for Instagram

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Following the updates to Instagram and Messenger that delivered cross-app communication and other features, Facebook today announced its Messenger API has also been updated to allow businesses to manage their communications across Instagram, in addition to Messenger .

Before today, businesses could only respond to customer inquiries through the Instagram app and through Facebook’s unified business inbox. This could work for some smaller businesses, but for larger brands with a high volume of messages, it could be difficult to be efficient this way.

The update means businesses will be able to now also integrate Instagram messaging into the applications and workflows they’re already using in-house to manage their Facebook conversations. Specifically, they’ll be able to use rich media — like photos, URL links and more — and work with developers to integrate the API with their product and customer databases to provide the same experience on Instagram as they do today on Messenger.

For example, a business with a CRM system integration would be able to view the customer loyalty information and take that into account when they respond.

Businesses using the API can also manage their Instagram presence, including their Profile, Shops and Stories, Facebook says.

Image Credits: Facebook

The change comes at a time when Instagram is pushing Shopping as a core activity on Instagram, and follows the launch of Instagram shops and visual changes to the app to highlight shopping features.

According to Facebook, daily conversations between people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram combined grew over 40% over the last year.

With the launch of the new API, Facebook is also introducing new features on Instagram that will allow businesses to respond immediately to common questions using automation, while still offering to connect customers to live support, if needed. An alpha test with partner Clarabridge on this feature indicated that client brands improved response rates on Instagram by up to 55% by managing DMs through its platform.

The updated Messenger API is launching into beta testing with businesses like Adidas, Amaro, Glossier, H&M, MagazineLuiza, Michael Kors, Nars, Sephora and TechStyle Fashion Group, among other consumer brands. The beta is also open to a limited number of developer partners. Today, other businesses and developers can join a waitlist to request access to the API post-beta.

Cross-app communication, a key part of the recent Instagram and Messenger update, is not available in the API at launch, however. For now, the messages will appear a brand’s Messenger or Instagram tab depending on where their customers are messaging from. However, Facebook confirmed it plans to “eventually” bring cross-app communication to businesses and developers in a later update.

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Equity Monday: Three neat venture rounds, and Alibaba’s latest

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Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode.

  • American equities are set to rise, which is good news for the startup-VC world as it means that the current up-cycle will continue. But the good public market is not landing evenly, as Europe sees its VC-backed IPO tally lag the rest of the world.
  • The biggest recent news stories in tech and venture were Alibaba’s enormous Sun Art deal that echoes the Amazon-Whole Foods deal at first blush, and SpaceX’s latest success. The quiet weekend could herald the return of a slower, holiday news cycle as we close in on November.

On the funding front, we found three super cool startups:

  • AiFi raised $14.5 million in a round that Crunchbase News covered. Autonomous, checkout-free stores? Count us in.
  • Lawmatics raised a $2.5 million Seed round. The startup does vertical SaaS (CRM, marketing) for lawyers. That just sounds lucrative.
  • And then there was Chiper, which put together a $12 million round to help build out its ecommerce service in Latin America. Investors Monashees, Kaszek Ventures, and WIND Ventures put the money up.

And to close we took a look at some Q3 2020 data from CBInsights and Crunchbase News.

That’s all we got. The show is back in just a few days. Hugs!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

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