A pregnant man, a multiracial handshake and a face that cannot bear to watch are some of the emojis that will hit devices over the next year, according to a draft list published by the Unicode Consortium, which approves icons for use.
The new emojis, illustrated by Emojipedia to celebrate World Emoji Day on Saturday, all but complete the consortium’s drive to offer masculine, feminine and gender-neutral versions of every available emoji, as well as a selection of skintones.
Trans and non-binary pregnancies will now be represented in the emoji set, thanks to two new gender options for the “pregnant woman” emoji, while “person with crown” joins “prince” and “princess” for gender-neutral royalty.
The additions, which follow a similar update to the “bearded person” emoji that allowed users to choose between a masculine and feminine bearded face, “will mean that nearly all emojis can have default a gender-neutral option, with choice to use a woman or man where relevant”. said Jeremy Burge, the chief emoji officer of the reference site Emojipedia.
A few emojis remain without a gender-neutral option, largely in cases where it is unclear what an appropriate gender-neutral approach entails. The two dancer emojis, for instance, depict a male disco dancer and a female flamenco dancer: options under discussion include offering identically attired versions of each for other genders (allowing men to depict themselves dazzling in a red dress, for instance); offering gender-appropriate alternatives (with a new male flamenco dancer); or, the preferred option, deciding on a dancing style to offer in a gender-neutral version. Emojipedia has suggested breakdancing.
Elsewhere, the draft list contains support for handshakes between two hands with different skintones, hands making a heart-shape, and additional faces, such as “peeking eye”, “holding back tears” and “saluting”. There are also 20 new icons, including coral, a playground slide, a crutch, an X-ray and an empty battery.
Scientists working to save the northern white rhino from extinction have produced two more embryos of the world’s most endangered mammal, increasing the number of viable embryos produced so far to five.
There are no known living males and neither of the two remaining northern white rhinos on Earth – a mother and her daughter living in Kenya – can carry a calf to term.
Scientists hope to implant embryos made from the rhinos’ egg cells and frozen sperm from deceased males into surrogate mothers from a more abundant rhino species.
The work of the BioRescue research team has been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic as international travel restrictions delayed some of its procedures.
“2020 was really a hard test for all of us, but giving up is not the mentality of any true scientist,” BioRescue leader Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany told Reuters.
“Christmas gave us a present: two embryos. And we are extremely happy about that.”
The five embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen at a laboratory in Cremona, in Italy’s Lombardy region, waiting to be transferred into a surrogate mother.
The team hopes to be able to deliver its first northern white rhino calf in three years and a wider population in the next two decades.
“We are under time constraint because we want really a transfer of the social knowledge from the last existing northern white rhinos to a calf,” Hildebrandt said.
The northern white rhino used to live in several countries in east and central Africa, but its numbers fell sharply due to poaching.
While the introduction of chip-and-pin technology made it more difficult for someone to use a stolen credit card for fraudulent transactions in person, hackers tend to be endlessly creative when it comes to theft. The reality is, there are plenty of ways thieves can get their hands on your credit card account numbers, which they can easily use to make purchases or wreak other types of havoc using your name.
A stolen credit card or account number could also be one of the first signs of identity theft, so keep an eye out for credit card fraud and take steps to mitigate the damage if you find any.
Phishing emails may look official, but these fraudulent messages are crafted with a nefarious purpose. Most phishing emails try to get you to click a button or link that takes you to a familiar-looking fraudulent site to enter your account information.
Another common phishing tactic is to provide an urgent (and entirely bogus) reason that you need to call a company, like your credit card company or Social Security office, list a fraudulent phone number and when you call, request your personal information, and even your card details, to “confirm your identity.”
Downloading, or even opening, the wrong file from an email or website can add spyware to your computer, which is put there with the goal of exporting your card details and other information hackers can use to steal your money or your identity. Be careful what you download and prevent spyware by purchasing your own antivirus software. 3.
3. Public Wi-Fi networks
Public internet networks, like the ones you find in hotels and airports, can easily put you at risk if you enter your account information or open sensitive documents and someone is monitoring the network. Make sure to install a VPN on your computer if you need to use the internet away from home fairly often.
4. Your trash
Finally, don’t forget that some thieves still try to steal your credit card data the old-fashioned way. Your trash can be a treasure trove when it comes to finding credit card and account numbers or for figuring out which companies you use for your savings or investment accounts.
5. Major data breach
Large institutions, including banks and retail businesses, may be the victim of a data breach that puts your credit card information and other personal details at risk. Some of the biggest data breaches of the last decade, including the Capital One data breach of 2019, led to tens of millions of consumers having their information stolen.
What to do if your credit card number is stolen
If your credit card number has been stolen, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlines the steps you should take right away:
• Report the loss of your credit card or card number to your issuer immediately, which you can usually do using its toll-free number or 24-hour emergency phone number.
• Follow up with a letter or email that includes your account number, the date and time the card was noticed missing and when you reported the loss.
• Check your credit card statement carefully for purchases you didn’t make, and let your card issuer know of any fraudulent transactions immediately.
• Carefully monitor your credit reports to make sure nobody has more of your information and that the theft of your card hasn’t led to other instances of identity theft.
• You can check your credit reports for free once a year from all three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—using the website AnnualCreditReport.com.
How to protect your credit card information
When it comes to protecting your credit card information and identity, there are plenty of steps you can take right away. Most of them are also easy to implement, including the following:
Only use secure websites
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it’s crucial to avoid entering your credit card numbers and personal information on unsecured websites. “Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data,” according to the bureau’s site. “This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site but provides some assurance.”
Don’t give your account number over the phone
The FTC warns that you should proceed cautiously with anyone who wants your credit card number over the phone. This is especially true if they called you to initiate the transaction.
Check your credit card statements regularly
The best way to protect against credit card fraud is by keeping a close eye on your accounts. Check your statements at least once a month to make sure each charge on your credit card is actually yours. If you find suspicious charges or purchases on your accounts, inform your credit card issuer right away.
Keep an eye on your card during in-person transactions
If you’re using a credit card in a restaurant or a retail store, try to avoid situations where the employee processing your card walks away from you and takes your card out of your view. If they are able to take your card into another area away from you, they might have the chance to write down your card number, expiration date and security code.
By slipping human stem cells into the embryos of other animals, we might someday grow new organs for people with faltering hearts or kidneys. In a step toward that goal, researchers have created the first embryos with a mixture of human and monkey cells. These chimeras could help scientists hone techniques for growing human tissue in species better suited for transplants, such as pigs.
“The paper is a landmark in the stem cell and interspecies chimera fields,” says stem cell biologist Alejandro De Los Angeles of Yale University. The findings hint at mechanisms by which cells of one species can adjust to survive in the embryo of another, adds Daniel Garry, a stem cell biologist at the University of Minnesota (UM), Twin Cities.
In 2017, researchers reported growing pancreases from mouse stem cells inserted into rat embryos. Transplanting the organs into mice with diabetes eliminated the disease. But cells from more distantly related species, such as pigs and humans, haven’t gotten along as well. That same year, developmental biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and colleagues reported injecting human stem cells into pig embryos. After the embryos had developed in surrogate mother pigs for 3 to 4 weeks, only about one in 100,000 of their cells were human.
The pig study used human skin cells that had been reprogrammed into stem cells. But so-called extended pluripotent stem (EPS) cells, made by exposing stem cells to a certain molecular cocktail, can spawn a greater variety of tissues. In the new study, Izpisúa Belmonte, reproductive biologist Weizhi Ji of Kunming University of Science and Technology, and colleagues tested those more capable cells in a closer human relative—cynomolgus monkeys. They inserted 25 human EPS cells into each of 132 monkey embryos and reared the chimeras in culture dishes for up to 20 days.
The team reports today in Cell that the human cells showed staying power: After 13 days, they were still present in about one-third of the chimeras. The human cells seemed to integrate with the monkey cells and had begun to specialize into cell types that would develop into different organs.
By analyzing gene activity, the researchers identified molecular pathways that were switched on or turned up in the chimeras, possibly promoting integration between human and monkey cells. Izpisúa Belmonte says manipulating some of those pathways may help human cells survive in embryos of species “more appropriate for regenerative medicine.”
Still, the human and monkey cells didn’t quite mesh, notes UM stem cell biologist Andrew Crane. The human cells often stuck together, making him wonder whether there’s “another barrier that we aren’t seeing” that could prevent human cells from thriving if the embryos were to develop further.
In the United States, federal funding cannot be used to create certain types of chimeras, including early nonhuman primate embryos containing human stem cells. The new study was performed in China and funded by Chinese government sources, a Spanish university, and a U.S. foundation. Bioethicist Karen Maschke of the Hastings Center in New York says she is satisfied that the work, which passed layers of institutional review and drew on advice from two independent bioethicists, was performed responsibly.
Human-monkey chimeras do raise a worry, addressed in a report released last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (p. 218): that human nerve cells might enter animals’ brains and alter their mental capabilities. But that concern is moot for the chimeras in this study because they don’t have a nervous system. They “can’t experience pain and aren’t conscious,” says bioethicist Katrien Devolder of the University of Oxford. “If the human-monkey chimeras were allowed to develop further,” she says, “that would be a very different story.”
After the passing of many of her colleagues from coronavirus (COVID-19), a doctor in Wuhan is now openly criticizing Chinese health authorities for keeping the early warnings of the outbreak from the public.
Wuhan Central hospital emergency department head Ai Fen spoke out about state censors have reportedly been trying to scrub the internet.
The novel coronavirus has since killed over 3,000 people in China, including four of her colleagues at her hospital.
At the risk of losing her job and landing in jail, Ai has joined other critics in putting the Chinese government to task for its handling of the outbreak.
“If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand. I would have fucking talked about it to whoever, where ever I could,” she said in the interview released on Tuesday.
Immediately after Ai’s interview was posted and shared online, it was removed from Chinese social media sites. Even the online magazine that hosted the interview has removed the article.
But as the censors worked to do the cleanup, some Chinese social media users were able to save the article, and now screenshots of the article are being shared in creative ways.
In their bid to evade censors, some users posted versions written in emojis and even Morse codes. There’s also a version done in pinyin, the Romanization system for Mandarin.
Based on the article, Ai received the lab results of a case containing the word “SARS coronavirus” on December 30. She felt nervous after reviewing the report as she has previously seen several patients with flu-like symptoms and resistant to usual treatment methods.
She took a photo of the report with the word “SARS” circled and sent it to a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan.
The image immediately spread within the medical community in Wuhan overnight. Among those who saw it was Li Wenliang, the doctor who eventually became a whistleblower when his warnings were later shared publicly on WeChat.
According to Ai, she received a message from her hospital that night warning her against sharing information about the disease to the public as it would cause panic.
She was then summoned and reprimanded for “spreading rumors” and “harming stability” by the head of the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee two days later.
As even the hospital staff were prohibited from discussing anything related to the virus, Ai asked her staff to wear protective clothing and masks despite hospital authorities telling them not to. She also instructed staff in her department to wear protective jackets under their doctor coats.
“We watched more and more patients come in as the radius of the spread of infection became larger,” she was quoted as saying.
They soon noticed the influx of patients without any connection to the seafood market, which was thought to be the source of the original cases.
While Ai already observed at the time that there must be human to human transmission, Chinese authorities maintain that there was no reason to believe the virus was being passed between people.
It was not until January 21 when the Chinese officials finally confirmed that there was human to human transmission of the virus. The number of patients coming to the emergency room was already over 1,500 per day, which was three times the normal number of cases.
Ai said that over the last few months, she saw many of her colleagues fall sick and four die from the virus, including Li Wenliang.
The car-sized Perseverance, the most advanced robot ever sent to the Red Planet, aced its “seven minutes of terror” touchdown this afternoon (Feb. 18), alighting gently on an ancient lakebed inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater shortly before 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT).
After a series of instrument and hardware checkouts, Perseverance will start doing what it crossed interplanetary space to do: hunt for signs of ancient Mars life, collect and cache rock samples for future return to Earth and demonstrate some shiny new exploration technologies, among other things.
“I don’t think we’ve had a mission that is going to contribute so much to both science and technology,” NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk told Space.com earlier this week . “It’s going to be truly amazing.”
Perseverance, the heart of NASA’s $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission, lifted off from Florida’s Space Coast atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on July 30, 2020.
That was about halfway through Perseverance’s month-long launch window, which closed in mid-August. Such windows come along just once every 26 months for Mars missions, so NASA was determined to get the rover off the ground on time — a challenging task made even tougher by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced a rethink of assembly and testing protocols and made it harder for the team to travel.
“In March and early April, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to make it,” Jurczyk said. (Back then, the NASA chief was Jim Bridenstine, and Jurczyk led the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.)
The rover’s name is a testament to the spirit that got the mission off the ground and on its way to Mars, agency officials have said.
“Perseverance is a strong word,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in March 2020 during the rover’s naming ceremony. “It’s about making progress despite obstacles.”
Like NASA’s other Mars rovers, Perseverance got its name via a nationwide student competition. The winning moniker was submitted by Alex Mather, at the time a seventh grader at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia.
The six-wheeled Perseverance is modeled heavily after its predecessor, NASA’s Curiosity rover, which touched down inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater in August 2012 and is still going strong today.
Perseverance is a few inches longer than Curiosity and, with a weight of 2,260 lbs. (1,025 kilograms), nearly 300 lbs. (136 kg) heavier. Some of their scientific instruments are also quite different. But the two rovers share the same basic body plan and the same type of nuclear power source, and they used the same strategy to land safely on the Red Planet.
That strategy, which Curiosity pioneered, sounds like something out of science fiction. Perseverance hit the Martian atmosphere at about 12,100 mph (19,500 kph) and deployed a 70.5-foot-wide (20.5 meters) parachute a few minutes later, while still traveling faster than the speed of sound.
But Mars’ air is just 1% as thick as that of Earth, so a chute couldn’t slow the rover down enough for a safe landing. Mars 2020 therefore employed a rocket-powered sky crane, which lowered the Mars car to the red dirt on cables, then flew off to crash-land intentionally a safe distance away.
NASA received word that Perseverance had gotten down safely at 3:55 p.m. EST (2055 GMT) today, about 11 minutes after the landing actually took place. (It currently takes that long for signals to travel from the Red Planet to Earth.) The news prompted wild celebrations at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which manages the Mars 2020 mission.
There was doubtless a decent dose of relief mixed in with the excitement, for success today was far from guaranteed. Over the decades, only about half of Mars surface missions have touched down safely. And Perseverance’s landing site on Jezero’s floor, which features hazards such as cliffs, sand dunes and boulder fields, was the toughest ever targeted by a Mars mission, NASA officials have said.
Indeed, this dangerous terrain required Perseverance to make the most precise Red Planet touchdown ever. The rover’s landing ellipse was just 4.8 miles long by 4.1 miles wide (7.7 by 6.6 kilometers), compared to 4 miles by 12 miles (7 by 12 km) for Curiosity.
Perseverance hit that target today with the aid of two new entry, descent and landing (EDL) technologies that Curiosity didn’t have at its disposal. One, called “range trigger,” allowed the mission to deploy its supersonic parachute at just the right moment. The other, “terrain-relative navigation,” enabled Perseverance’s sky crane to assess the Jezero landscape and navigate autonomously around potential hazards during the descent.
These landing technologies worked exactly as planned, guiding Perseverance to a picture-perfect touchdown on a safe, flat part of Jezero’s floor, mission team members said during a post-landing news conference this afternoon.
And the rover seems to have made it through EDL in fine shape. Perseverance has already beamed home its first images of its new surroundings, and initial health checks revealed no causes for concern.
“The power system looks good,” Mars 2020 deputy project manager Jennifer Trosper, also of JPL, said during today’s briefing. “The batteries are charged at 95%, and everything looks great.”
Curiosity is a habitability-assessing mission, and that rover has found plenty of evidence that Gale Crater could have supported Earth-like life billions of years ago. Perseverance will take the next step, actively searching for signs of past organisms in the first life hunt conducted on the Martian surface since NASA’s twin Viking landers ceased operations in the early 1980s. (The Vikings looked for present-day Mars life, however, whereas Perseverance is focused on the distant past.)
Jezero is a great place to do such work, mission team members have said. The crater, which lies about 18 degrees north of the Martian equator, hosted a lake the size of Lake Tahoe long ago and also sports an ancient river delta. In addition, Mars orbiters have spied on Jezero’s floor clay minerals, which form in the presence of liquid water.
Perseverance will scrutinize Martian dirt and rock with a variety of high-tech science gear, including multiple spectrometers, high-resolution cameras and ground-penetrating radar. One of the rover’s seven instruments, called SuperCam, will zap rocks with a laser and gauge the composition of the resulting vapor.
Such observations could potentially identify a convincing sign of ancient Mars life — perhaps something akin to stromatolites, structures created here on Earth by dirt-trapping microbial mats. But that’s a tall order for a lonely robot far from home. A positive ID of Martian life, if it ever existed, will likely require analyses by advanced equipment in laboratories here on Earth, NASA officials have said. And Mars 2020 aims to help make that happen.
Using the drill at the end of its long robotic arm, Perseverance will collect about 40 samples from especially promising sites and seal them inside special tubes. This material will then be brought back to Earth by a joint NASA-European Space Agency campaign, perhaps as early as 2031.
Once here, the samples will be studied in countless ways by hundreds of scientists for decades to come. Researchers are still poring over the moon rocks hauled home by NASA’s Apollo astronauts half a century ago, after all, and that material has no serious astrobiological potential.
“Mars sample return is the planetary science endeavor of our generation,” Bobby Braun, director of solar system exploration at JPL, said during a pre-landing news conference yesterday (Feb. 17).
“It’s ambitious. It’s challenging. It’s a scientifically compelling goal that, over decades, we have been working toward,” Braun said. “And it’s right there. It’s just within our reach.”
Mars 2020 will also pave the way for more ambitious exploration of the Red Planet in the future, if all goes according to plan.
For example, one of Perseverance’s instruments, called MOXIE (“Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment”), is designed to generate oxygen from the Red Planet’s atmosphere, which is 95% carbon dioxide by volume. Such equipment, if scaled up, could help humanity get a foothold on Mars down the road, NASA officials have said. (“ISRU,” by the way, is short for “in situ resource utilization,” a fancy term for living off the land.)
And attached to Perseverance’s belly is a 4-lb. (1.8 kg) helicopter named Ingenuity, which will attempt to become the first rotorcraft ever to fly in the skies of a world beyond Earth. If Ingenuity succeeds, helicopters could soon become an important part of the Mars-exploration toolkit.
“We could put sensors on them and use them as science platforms, and also as scouts,” Jurczyk said. Aerial reconnaissance by rotorcraft could allow rovers to “drive more autonomously, and drive faster and longer on the surface,” he added.
What inspired you to consider feeding one million people on Mars?
I’ve been working on a lot of projects related to space resources, so using local materials on the moon or Mars to support exploration and development of space. If you think about the consumables you would need for humans, you’re looking at oxygen, water, construction material and food. And what we realized is that the food is one of the most challenging things to produce on the surface of Mars and that it’s going to take a lot of processing. In our opinion, people really weren’t thinking big enough.
How did you come up with numbers—like number of people and caloric intake—for the study?
The million people, that’s kind of an arbitrary figure based on some stuff that Elon Musk has talked about for his aspirational goals, so we just chose that as a baseline. For the specific numbers in the study, we took a lot from data on Earth. For example, we looked at how many calories the average person eats per day and then scaled that based on a person’s age and activity level. In this computer model, we actually represent a population of people, so we had a 50/50 mix of males and females and we had an age structure. Of course, children consume a lot less calories than older people. That’s all taken into account in our modeling.
How did you determine which food sources would be well-suited for life on Mars?
We looked at this in a very general way. We thought, okay, let’s start from plants, because that’s what most people assumed in the past when they thought about what people would be eating on space missions. And let’s go a little bit beyond that to some protein sources. So, we looked at what’s being done on Earth and we honed in on insect-based foods that turned out to be very efficient for Mars, as well as what’s called cellular agriculture. That’s this idea of growing meat from cells in these large bioreactors. It’s something that’s actually coming a lot sooner than people think on Earth, and it’s very well-adapted for producing food in space.
How does cellular agriculture work?
The way it works is that you take cells from an animal—you can really use any animal, but people are starting with chickens, cows, the familiar things. You extract those cells and then you basically grow them in a nutrient solution. This could be done in a big, stainless steel tank and it almost would look more like brewing beer than a traditional farm. What people are really working on now is to try to get the texture right by building up those cells in some kind of scaffold that gives you the texture of different meats. But the whole point is it’s a much more sustainable way of producing animal protein, and it’s much more ethical because it doesn’t involve raising animals in questionable conditions.
Could you elaborate a bit more on the insect protein?
In North America and in Europe, it’s not really part of our culture or diet. But if you look more broadly, I think something like 2 billion people eat insects as part of their diet on a regular basis. It turns out to be a very good source of protein and again, it’s much more sustainable. It doesn’t require a lot of land or a lot of water compared to factory farming practices. Of course, there is a little bit of a gross factor. But people can, for example, grind up crickets into flour and then put them into cookies or chips or things like that, so you can hide them and get away from just chomping down on whole insects.
What kind of fruits or vegetables would be on the menu?
If you look at what’s being done in space right now, the astronauts have a little garden where they’re able to grow things like lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. Of course, those foods are valuable for things like vitamins and the psychological benefit of being able to grow your own vegetables. But you’re not going to be able to feed a large population on those very low-calorie vegetables, so you’re really going to have to look at things like corn, wheat and soy that are dense enough in calories to support a growing population.
What kinds of technologies did you find were best suited for food production on Mars?
One of the important things is that you would want your food production to be as automated as possible because that would free up people’s time to do more important things. A lot of companies are working on that on Earth, trying to integrate robots into farming and insect production. I think the other thing that’s going to be important is genetic modification, particularly with the plant species, to find ways to improve strains of crops and make them more resilient to grow in a harsh environment on Mars. Right now, the most promising thing would be something like CRISPR, which has kind of taken over the biology world. Already, there’s been a few studies that have used CRISPR to rapidly modify the genomes of specific plant species. So, I think that in particular has the most promise for making Mars-specific strains of crops.
What are some other challenges posed by the conditions on Mars?
One thing we looked at was whether it makes sense to grow plants in greenhouses on the surface. Whenever you see an artist sketch of a Mars base, you always see greenhouses everywhere. But what we found is that you really just don’t get enough sunlight at the surface of Mars because it’s farther away from the sun. Your incident sunlight is basically what you would get in Alaska, and there’s a reason why we don’t grow corn and wheat in Alaska. They’re growing at more southern latitudes. So, it turns out that something like a greenhouse might actually not make sense on Mars. You might be better off growing the plants and producing other foods in tunnels underground, for example.
Where would the water come from?
We have a pretty good handle on where the water is on Mars. It’s mostly locked up as ice underground and it’s also found in certain minerals. For things like clays and salts, where the water is actually embedded in the mineral structure, you could heat those up and evaporate the water off. Once you extract that water, it’s pretty easy to recycle water fairly efficiently. I think on the space station, something like 97 percent of the water is recaptured and reused. It’s obviously an engineering challenge to mine that water in the first place, but then once you have a reservoir built up, you should be able to recycle it fairly efficiently in this closed ecosystem that you construct.
Based on the results of the study, would you advocate for a human settlement on Mars?
Yes, and I think if we look at what particularly SpaceX is doing, they’re already building the ships that are going to take cargo and then people to Mars. We’re already kind of set down that path, and the question is going to be: who goes? Is this going to be space agencies? Is it going to be tourists? And how is a settlement or a city going to build up? But I think it is definitely something that’s feasible in the near term.
Reddit has acquired Dubsmash, the lipsyncing video app which launched in 2014 and was largely supplanted when TikTok showed up.
Announced via Reddit’s blog on Sunday, the annexing of Dubsmash’s 12-person team to Reddit’s 700-strong horde is the popular website’s first major acquisition in its 15-year history.
While the financial terms of the agreement haven’t been disclosed, Dubsmash will be keeping its own platform and separate branding. Dubsmash’s Android and Apple apps will continue to operate as normal, with its video creation tools simply integrated into Reddit’s infrastructure.
Reddit currently allows users to upload and livestream videos, however its editing capabilities are somewhat lacklustre — a problem this acquisition hopes to address.
“The transition to video will be bigger than the transition to mobile,” Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said, speaking via the Wall Street Journal. Which sounds fake, but okay. Pivots to video historically haven’t worked out well, but perhaps the distinction between editorial and user-created content will yield better results.
Dubsmash went through a slow decline in the wake of its 2015 popularity boom, before revamping itself in 2017 to stage an unlikely comeback. While still not as successful as TikTok, the short-form video app established a significant audience by focusing on the one demographic still using it — Black teenagers in the U.S.
As such, both Reddit and Dubsmash’s acquisition announcements heavily emphasised the diverse, underrepresented creators who use the app. According to Reddit, a quarter of Black teens in the U.S. use Dubsmash, while 70 percent of users are women or girls.
“By joining forces with Reddit, we expand our ability to serve the creators that represent the lifeblood of Dubsmash, helping them connect, share, and deepen their impact on culture,” wrote Dubsmash co-founders Suchit Dash, Jonas Drüppel and Tim Specht. The trio further reaffirmed their goal to “[create] a safe and welcoming platform for underrepresented communities.”
“Both Reddit and Dubsmash share a deep rooted respect for how communities come together,” said Huffman. “Dubsmash elevates under-represented creators, while Reddit fosters a sense of community and belonging across thousands of different topics and passions.”