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Game

Microsoft’s Game Pass Friend & Family tier goes live in two countries

Following a leak last week, Microsoft has unveiled the Game Pass Friends & Family in Ireland, offering the same benefits of Game Pass Ultimate for you and four others at €22 ($22) per month. That’s less than double the Game Pass Ultimate price for one person (€13), and works out to just €4.40 ($4.40) a month each. Better still, it’s not limited to family and the only restriction is that all four members have to be in the same country. 

So far, it’s come to just two countries, but that might change soon. “Currently we are piloting this plan in Colombia and the Republic of Ireland. Future countries / regions might be added in the next months,” Microsoft wrote in a FAQ.

Users in those countries with an existing Game Pass Ultimate plan will see their remaining days pro-rated, basically according to the price difference. That means for 30 days of Game Pass Ultimate you’ll get 18 days of Game Pass Friends & family, while 30 days of Xbox Game Pass or Live Gold gets you 12 days. 30 days of EA Play nets 6 days of Game Pass Friends & Family.

In the US, Xbox Game Pass or PC Game Pass costs $10 per month, while Game Pass Ultimate is $15 with multiplayer capabilities. The Game Pass Friends & Family is likely to cost around $25 stateside, according to The Verge, or $5 per month per person. On top of multiplayer, Ultimate users can also access Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox Live and more. 

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Tech News

Venmo is finally adding a private friend list feature following Biden report

Venmo, the PayPal-owned financial app that makes it easy to send money to your friends, is rolling out an important update that adds a major new privacy option. Going forward, Venmo users will have the option to hide their friend lists, making it harder for other people to identify their social circle. The change follows the discovery of President Biden’s Venmo account and the people he was linked to through it.

Earlier this month, The New York Times published an article that included a brief mention about Joe Biden’s use of Venmo — and that quickly led to a report from BuzzFeed announcing that it had discovered the president’s account. Though the report didn’t reveal his associates, it did detail the number of people in his social circle the writers were able to find, renewing talk about the financial app and related privacy concerns.

Though Venmo users have had the option of hiding their transactions from public view, the app has never offered a way for users to hide their friend lists. Many have pointed out the potential privacy issues this can cause, including making it possible for someone to stalk an ex, get an idea about a person’s life and routines, and even shed light on whistleblowers.

Only days after the report detailing Biden’s Venmo account, the company has revealed that it will enable users to hide their friend lists — though these lists will be made public by default. As well, users will be able to set their list to ‘friends-only,’ Venmo told BuzzFeed News, offering a compromise between privacy and the app’s social network foundation.

This is a win for privacy advocates who have spent years highlighting the issue public friend lists pose to users. The ability to make transactions private only offered a certain degree of protection, particularly if friends on their public list made their own transactions public. Everyone from scammers to stalkers could leverage this information, and that’s a big concern when it comes to public figures like the president.

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Game

Fortnite Reboot a Friend returns with promise of free rewards

Epic Games has brought back ‘Reboot a Friend,’ which, despite its name, doesn’t have anything to do with the reboot vans. Instead, Epic is encouraging players to get former Fortnite players back into the action by offering them free rewards in exchange for gameplay. How do you participate and get the rewards?

Reboot a Friend is simple: search through your Friends list and find three people who haven’t played Fortnite in 30 days or longer. Send those friends invites to play and, assuming they accept, you’ll earn points toward unlocking the free rewards.

You’ll get 100 points to start with after playing your first match with a rebooted friend; every game played after that with one of these rebooted friends will earn you 10 additional points. The points can then be exchanged to unlock available rewards, including a Toxic Flash Glider, Plasma Carrot Pickaxe, Heartbeat Wrap, and Reboot a Friend Spray.

You can find your potential ‘reboot’ squad by heading over to the Reboot a Friend website and signing into your Epic account. Once signed in, you’ll be presented with a dashboard where you can ‘reboot’ three friends who haven’t played in at least 30 days (the tool will find them for you).

Once they accept the invitation, you’ll be able to fire up a match and start playing to earn points. The latest ‘Reboot a Friend’ event will be available until April 26, after which point the free rewards will no longer be available. You can also participate if you don’t have any friends you can reboot, but you’ll miss out on the initial 100-point bonus.

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Tech News

Snapchat Friend Check Up reminds users to clean up their lists

Social networking platforms have always been a numbers game, from “engagement” numbers to “friends” numbers. The latter is sometimes used as a bragging right, showing how many followers or friends you have collected. In some cases, it’s virtually impossible for you to actually know all of those personally, and, sometimes, those can even be liabilities. Snap, once popular for its strong privacy features, is now rolling out a feature that will remind its users to keep their friends lists regularly in check.

Although it seems to have been largely eclipsed by its rivals both old and new, Snapchat once carried the public’s favor because of its strong privacy safeguards that protected its users. Of course, that also emboldened those same users to share compromising images or videos which, despite those security measures, still managed to leak out. That’s because while Snapchat itself may have strong privacy measures, it can’t always vet everyone you added as a friend.

That is why the company is now offering a regular reminder to only keep people they can trust on those lists. Friend Check Up will prompt users to review their friends, some of which may no longer really be friends or have forgotten who they even were. The feature will make it easy to prune that list, without even alerting the other party.

Who’s on your friend’s list is critical in Snapchat since some features are enabled only for those who have mutually added themselves as friends. Others work on the assumption that people in a group are real friends, not just a friend of a friend of a friend. Snapchat’s safeguards pretty much breakdown if the user doesn’t make sure there aren’t weak links in the chain.

Friend Check Up will be coming to Android in the coming weeks and on iOS in the coming months. This is the network’s latest contribution to Safer Internet Day this year, along with partnerships with the Trevor Project for LGBTQ+ youths and MindUp for parents.

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