Sony buys The Playroom developers to bolster its PlayStation Studios

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A screenshot from The Playroom. | Image: Firesprite

Sony announced that it will acquire UK-based studio Firesprite, the developers of The Playroom and The Playroom VR. It’s unclear what Firesprite might be working on in its new first-party capacity, but executives are already hyping what’s to come. “Firesprite’s ability to weave best-in-class gameplay with new technology is exceptional and I think fans will be excited about their creative vision for the future,” Hermen Hulst, the head of PlayStation Studios, said in a press release.

Firespite was founded by staffers from Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Liverpool studio, so there are already strong connections between the two companies. While Firesprite’s experience with The Playroom VR could suggest that the company is working on a game…

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Apple’s car chief is heading to Ford

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Ford has hired away Apple’s car chief, Doug Field, to become its chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. “Field will lead Ford’s efforts to develop the next-gen Blue Oval Intelligence tech stack to deliver smart, connected vehicles and services that improve over time through constant updates,” according to Ford’s press release. He’ll report to Ford’s president and CEO, Jim Farley.

Field was a VP of special projects at Apple, where he was the de facto head of the company’s confused efforts to make an autonomous electric car — known as Project Titan. He had a previous stint at Apple where he was once the VP of Mac hardware engineering, but he left the company in 2013 to become Tesla’s chief vehicle engineer, where he helped…

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Twitter’s new Safety Mode autoblocks abusive accounts

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Here’s what Safety Mode settings look like. | Image: Twitter

Twitter is launching a new feature called Safety Mode that will temporarily autoblock accounts sending harmful or abusive tweets to you. Safety Mode is launching in beta with a “small feedback group” of accounts on iOS, Android, and Twitter.com with English-language settings enabled and plans of expanding the group of testers “in the coming months.”

“When the feature is turned on in your Settings, our systems will assess the likelihood of a negative engagement by considering both the Tweet’s content and the relationship between the Tweet author and replier,” senior product manager Jarrod Doherty said in a blog post. “Our technology takes existing relationships into account, so accounts you follow or frequently interact with will not be…

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The next Apple Watch may be delayed due to manufacturing issues

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The next Apple Watch is experiencing manufacturing issues that could lead to the product being released later than expected, according to separate reports from Nikkei and Bloomberg. The potential delay is reportedly due to complexities in the smartwatch’s new design, which is rumored to include flat sides and bigger screens.

Sources told Nikkei that small-scale production for the next Apple Watch had begun but that it encountered “critical challenges in reaching satisfactory production performance.” Bloomberg reported similar details. Production has now been “temporarily halted” while Apple and its suppliers work to solve the manufacturing issues ahead of eventual mass production, Nikkei says.

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Facebook is reportedly forming an election commission that it will announce in the fall

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook is considering creating a commission that would weigh in on global election-related issues on the platform, according to The New York Times. Facebook has talked to academics and policy experts about the commission, which The New York Times reports is expected to be announced this fall ahead of the 2022 US midterm elections.

Like how the independent Oversight Board helps review content moderation appeals, it sounds as if Facebook could ask the election commission to handle some decisions about election content. That could reduce the perception that Facebook’s decisions about content are politically biased, which has been a common criticism lobbed toward the company from conservatives. However, it’s unclear if this election…

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Facebook suppressed report that made it look bad

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

On Wednesday, Facebook released a report about what content was most viewed by people in the US last quarter. It was the first time it had released such a report. But according to The New York Times, Facebook was working on a similar report for the first quarter of 2021 that it opted not to share because it might have reflected poorly on the company.

The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the report, says that the most-viewed link in the first quarter had a headline that could promote COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, which has been an issue on the social media platform. The headline read, “A ‘healthy’ doctor died two weeks after getting a COVID-19 vaccine; CDC is investigating why.” The article was published by The South Florida Sun…

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Here are the latest accusations Activision Blizzard employees have leveled at the company

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

More disturbing allegations of Activision Blizzard’s reported culture of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination have been reported in recent days, following a huge lawsuit filed against the company by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) last week.

Details in these stories may be challenging to read, so we are prefacing them with a content warning for descriptions of sexual harassment.

On Thursday, The New York Times posted a story of extremely distressing accounts of Activision Blizzard’s culture. Here is one from Shay Stein, a former customer service employee:

Ms. Stein, 28, who worked at Activision from 2014 to 2017 in a customer service role, helping gamers with problems and glitches, said she…

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