The Weekly Wrap: Creative & Freelance News

Upwork's creepy productivity tracker. Freelancer tells story of kidnapping in Somalia. New comedy writing contest...AND MORE!!

Alex Jones Removed From Range of Platforms

If you don’t know, Alex Jones is the conspiracy theorist behind Infowars. And if you haven’t heard, a range of companies wiped his content off of their platforms.

Those companies include Facebook, Spotify, Apple, and YouTube.

Jones spreads lies such as claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was made up. According to NPR, he’s facing five defamation suits. Last month, some social media sites started taking action on Jones’ content.

This week that effort intensified as companies one after another reached the conclusion that he was violating their hate speech and bullying policies. They eliminated his pages, podcasts, videos, and accounts.

Twitter stood out for not taking action against Jones. The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey explains:

Amazon Allegedly Banning Authors for No Apparent Reason

Over the past several weeks, Amazon removed e-books written by at least six self-published authors and terminated their Kindle Direct Publishing accounts, says Yahoo Finance. Those affected say Amazon sent them a generic message claiming they manipulated the system.

The problem seems to be connected to writers who earn money through Kindle Unlimited, which pays for pages read instead of a portion of book sales. Some authors try to game the system and Yahoo says Amazon is cracking down on abusers.

But the people interviewed for the article claim they haven’t done anything wrong. Yahoo tried to get answers but says Amazon wouldn’t give them any specifics about the authors either.

At least two of the writers said publishing through Amazon was their only source of income. And since Amazon is the largest online book retailer, without it, their days of being full-time novelists have probably come to an end.

 


Upwork Has An Invasive Productivity Tracker

Upwork has a digital Work Diary that counts keystrokes, monitors mouse movement, and takes periodic screenshots to ensure freelancers are being productive during the time they’re supposed to be working.

The feature is used for Payment Protection, which is a service where Upwork will pay freelancers even if the client refuses to pay.

The monitoring is only required for about 15% of projects on the site, and only 1% use the webcam feature, according to Upwork. Freelancers can opt out of tracking if they want to forego Payment Protection.

Some freelancers believe the tracker is creepy, invasive, and that Upwork is over-stepping their bounds, reported BuzzFeed News.

I agree and would never be down to use something like that. How about you?

Canadian Journalist Tells Story of Being A Captive in Somalia

Freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout went to Somalia in 2008 with her boyfriend, an Australian photographer named Nigel Brennan. They were planning to go to an internally displaced people’s camp to do a story. But before that happened, they were kidnapped and held for 15 months.

Lindhout opened up about the torture, her repeated rape, an attempt to escape, and being on the brink of suicide.

The man who orchestrated the kidnapping, Ali Omar Ader, was lured to Canada, and this summer, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The Daily Mail has a fuller story.

 

 

Blue Light From Screens Accelerates Blindness

Prolonged exposure to blue light from digital devices, such as smartphones and laptops, damages vision and can accelerate blindness, research from the University of Toledo found.

A lot of us are constantly exposing our eyes to blue light. And it has a shorter wavelength and more energy than other colors. Our eyes can’t block it or reflect it, explains an associate professor at the university.

The blue light causes the eyes to release poisonous molecules that kill our photoreceptor cells, which we use to see. And once they’re dead, they’re dead for good, a study participant told The Guardian.

Workona Lets You Close Those Tabs

A start-up called Workona launched software that allows those of us who normally have a gazillion open tabs to finally close them without losing them.

To do this, the software allows you to create browser windows that are set up as workspaces. You can set up one for each project and these workspaces can save cloud documents, task lists, open websites, CRM records, Slack sessions, calendars, Trello boards, and basically anything else that you would have open in your browser related to your work, says TechCrunch.

It’s like having a filing system for each project, and you can collaborate with other people in these workspaces.

The free version, which is now available as a Chrome plugin, only allows you to create 10 workspaces and only three can be shared. But the company plans to launch Pro accounts, currently advertised as being $6 per month, that will allow you have unlimited workspaces with unlimited sharing.


1 in 5 Women In Book Biz Were Sexually Harassed

Publishers Weekly says 22% of the women in a recent survey reported that they have been sexually harassed. And of them, women of color were more affected by the issue.

Over half of the incidents of harassment occurred in an office. Conventions and book fairs were the second most common location and parties or after-hours industry gatherings came in third.

In the survey, which included 664 people, four men also reported they were sexually harassed.

Free Book Site Shut Down

Oceanofpdf, a website that offered free PDF and ebook downloads, has been shut down after seven months.

Authors including Philip Pullman, Robin Stevens and Michelle Harrison were among those who were upset about the site giving away books that were reportedly “pirated.”

According to Nicholas Liam, who claimed to be a founder, Oceanofpdf was run by four guys. They processed requests from around the world from users who couldn’t find or afford books or who lost them. The people at Oceanofpdf would then find the books and upload them, making them accessible for free, reported The Bookseller.

Briefs

Conde’ Nast plans to sell W, Brides and Golf Digest  magazines, reported New York Post. No serious prospective buyers have been announced yet.


The West Quebec Post cut its freelance budget for writers and copy editing. Instead of having about 12 freelance articles per week, there will only be about three. The cuts come as the paper struggles with declining ad revenue.


By the time you read this, Facebook Friend Feeds will be gone. The feature was supposed to offer you a more personalized experience by allowing you to view a feed that only had posts from a list of friends that you created. But it wasn’t very popular and many people didn’t know it existed.  According to TechCrunch, the friend lists will still be there but the feeds were set to die on Aug 9.

Memphis, TN-based ArtUp launched the Artivism podcast, which features the projects, careers and contributions of artists and change makers who combine social activism and creative practice.  Guests will include painters, musicians, hip-hop artists and more. Tune in here.


Mississippi is launching a writers trail and the first two markers will be announced at the 2018 Mississippi Book Festival, which starts on August 18.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty, a prolific short story writer will be honored at the event. And Jesmyn Ward, the first woman and black author to win two National Book Awards for fiction will also be honored, reported the Clarion-Ledger.


Comedy Women in Print Award is a new contest that will offer prizes for published and unpublished comedy novel writers.

Novels for both categories must be at least 50,000 words.

Participants can be any nationality but must be over age 18. The application fee is £10. The prize for the published winner is £2,000 and the unpublished winner will get a place on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire, along with £1,000 in cash. If you’re interested, here are the deets.

So folks, that’s your Weekly Wrap. If happy hour calls, please answer responsibly.

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