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Global tech roundup: Tiktok signal helps find kidnapped girl and other stories

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Hi guys. Welcome to the end of another fantastic week. We hope you enjoyed it just as we did.

All hands are on deck for the biggest cryptocurrency gathering, Coinference 2021, coming up on December 9. You should attend. You can register to be a part of it here.

Getting straight into it, here are some other interesting stories in the world of tech for this week you probably missed.

Uber faces litigation for overcharging disabled people

The ride-hailing company, Uber, faces litigation from the US Justice Department (DoJ) over allegations that the company has been overcharging disabled people.

According to the justice department, Uber’s wait time surcharge discriminates against disabled passengers who would take longer than two minutes to board a vehicle.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Uber-1024x679.jpg

The department of justice further contends that Uber must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which reserves special rights for these individuals.

“Uber and other companies that provide transportation services cannot penalise passengers with disabilities simply because they need more time to get into a car. They must ensure equal access for all people, including those with disabilities,”

Kristen Clarke, assistance attorney general for the DoJ’s civil rights division.

The ride-hailing company, on the other hand, claimed that the wait time costs were not meant for disabled riders and that they had been refunded.

A spokesperson for Uber has said that wait time fees were “never intended for riders who are ready at their designated pickup location but need more time to get into the car.”

Uber began charging riders for driver wait time in 2016.

According to the company, users are charged on average less than 60 cents for each journey, with no wait time costs applied by default to wheelchair-accessible or Uber Assist rides.

Tiktok hand signal helps find missing girl

A teenager in the United States who went missing has been located after she used TikTok hand signals to suggest she was in danger.

The 16-year-old who was reported missing by her parents in North Carolina on Tuesday morning was found inside a car two days later in Kentucky.

Authorities say it was easier for them to locate the girl and arrest the 61-year-old suspected kidnapper after she alerted a passing driver using the gesture designed to help domestic abuse victims ask for help.

The Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a driver noticed “a female passenger in the vehicle making hand gestures that are known on the social media platform TikTok to represent “I need help.”

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, the hand gesture is a one-handed symbol that can be used when someone is distressed.

The victim raises their hand, palm facing out, tucks their thumb inside their hand, and then closes their fingers on top of the thumb.

The concept was to create a non-verbal cue for domestic abuse victims to seek help.

Nigeria’s Helium Health acquires Qatar’s Meddy

Helium Health, a Nigerian and San Francisco-based health tech company, has acquired Meddy, a Qatar-based and UAE-based doctor booking platform, for an undisclosed sum.

The agreement, which Helium Health CEO Adegoke Olubusi described as “a great deal,” brings together two regions that rarely collide in technology: Africa and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

As part of the acquisition, Meddy’s CEO, Haris Aghadi, and COO, Abed Alkarim Khattab, will join Helium’s leadership team and will play critical roles in Helium’s GCC strategy and operations.

Olubusi, Dimeji Sofowora, and Tito Ovia launched Helium Health in 2016. The startup is well-known in Africa for its core electronic medical records (EMR) and hospital administration solutions.

Helium Health now operates in six African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Kenya, and Uganda. It has secured over 500 healthcare contracts and has more than 7,000 medical professionals treating over 300,000 patients on a regular basis.

According to both founders, the Helium Health and Meddy teams, are identical in terms of operations, technological execution, culture. They said market price points made it easy to close the agreement in less than four months.

Twitter’s image previews are no longer cropped on the web

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The social media network Twitter has announced it will no longer crop image previews, but instead, images will now be displayed in their entirety on Twitter for the web.

The social networking company, which had rolled out full-size image previews on mobile earlier this year, now plans to also allow web users to view photographs exactly as they would appear when they were shot.

The platform has previously cropped photographs automatically to make them fit better in the timeline, where users frequently scroll without clicking on an image preview.

The modification was first tested with a limited group of iOS and Android users in March, with the goal of giving customers an accurate preview of what an image will appear like.

Although photos would likely take up more vertical space in users’ web timelines, it will be less of a pain than painstakingly clicking through images to see them in their entirety.

This latest adjustment coincides with Twitter’s ongoing efforts to improve its platform and make its services more accessible.

Rwanda’s Ampersand launch locally-made electric motorbikes

Rwanda’s Ampersand

Electric vehicles are beginning to gain traction on the African continent as Rwanda’s Ampersand has launched locally-made electric motorbikes.

Ampersand is pioneering the switch with the goal of having nearly 100% electric motorcycles in Rwanda within the next five years.

Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, has over 25,000 motorcycle taxis, some of which operate for up to ten hours a day, travelling hundreds of kilometres every day.

According to Ampersand, this move will help to reduce emissions, and fuel and maintenance savings can double a driver’s income.

“In Rwanda, drivers spend more on petrol per year than on a new motorcycle. We’ve demonstrated that we can provide an alternative in the same style as their present motorcycle that is less expensive to acquire, power, and maintain. ”

Ampersand

Ampersand is more than a technology platform; it actually assembles motorcycles, batteries, and has charging stations in place.

Rwanda has pioneered a variety of incentives to encourage e-mobility, but this is only Ampersand’s first move in Africa. The business is also planning to debut in neighbouring Kenya and other African countries shortly after.

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