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Facebook should ban campaign ads. End the lies.

Permitting falsehood in political advertising would work if we had a model democracy, but we don’t. Not only are candidates dishonest, but voters aren’t educated, and the media isn’t objective. And now, hyperlinks turn lies into donations and donations into louder lies. The checks don’t balance. What we face is a self-reinforcing disinformation dystopia.

That’s why if Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube don’t want to be the arbiters of truth in campaign ads, they should stop selling them. If they can’t be distributed safely, they shouldn’t be distributed at all.

No one wants historically untrustworthy social networks becoming the honesty police, deciding what’s factual enough to fly. But the alternative of allowing deception to run rampant is unacceptable. Until voter-elected officials can implement reasonable policies to preserve truth in campaign ads, the tech giants should go a step further and refuse to run them.

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This problem came to a head recently when Facebook formalized its policy of allowing politicians to lie in ads and refusing to send their claims to third-party fact-checkers. “We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny” Facebook’s VP of policy Nick Clegg wrote.

The Trump campaign was already running ads with false claims about Democrats trying to repeal the Second Amendment and weeks-long scams about a “midnight deadline” for a contest to win the one-millionth MAGA hat.

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After the announcement, Trump’s campaign began running ads smearing potential opponent Joe Biden with widely debunked claims about his relationship with Ukraine. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter refused to remove the ad when asked by Biden.

In response to the policy, Elizabeth Warren is running ads claiming Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg endorses Trump because it’s allowing his campaign lies. She’s continued to press Facebook on the issue, asking “you can be in the disinformation-for-profit business, or you can hold yourself to some standards.”

We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims and submitted it to Facebook’s ad platform to see if it’d be approved. It got approved quickly and the ad is now running on Facebook. Take a look: pic.twitter.com/7NQyThWHgO

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 12, 2019

It’s easy to imagine campaign ads escalating into an arms race of dishonesty.

Campaigns could advertise increasingly untrue and defamatory claims about each other tied to urgent calls for donations. Once all sides are complicit in the misinformation, lying loses its stigma, becomes the status quo, and ceases to have consequences. Otherwise, whichever campaign misleads more aggressively will have an edge.

“In open democracies, voters rightly believe that, as a general rule, they should be able to judge what politicians say themselves.” Facebook’s Clegg writes.

But as is emblematic of Facebook’s past mistakes, it’s putting too much idealistic faith in society. If all voters were well educated and we weren’t surrounded by hyperpartisan media from Fox News to far-left Facebook Pages, maybe this hands-off approach might work. But in reality, juicy lies spread further than boring truths, and plenty of “news” outlets are financially incentivized to share sensationalism and whatever keeps their team in power.

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Protecting the electorate should fall to legislators. But incumbents have few reasons to change the rules that got them their jobs. The FCC already has truth in advertising policies, but exempts campaign ads and a judge struck down a law mandating accuracy.

Granted, there have always been dishonest candidates, uninformed voters, and one-sided news outlets. But it’s all gotten worse. We’re in a post-truth era now where the spoils won through deceptive demagoguery are clear. Cable news and digitally native publications have turned distortion of facts into a huge business.

Most critically, targeted social network advertising combined with donation links create a perpetual misinformation machine. Politicians can target vulnerable demographics with frightening lies, then say only their financial contribution will let the candidate save them. A few clicks later and the candidate has the cash to buy more ads, amplifying more untruths and raising even more money. Without the friction of having to pick up the phone, mail a letter, or even type in a URL like TV ads request, the feedback loop is shorter and things spiral out of control.

Many countries including the UK, Ireland, and the EU ban or heavily restrict TV campaign ads. There’s plenty of precedent for policies keeping candidates’ money out of the most powerful communication mediums.

Campaign commercials on US television might need additional regulation as well. However, the lack of direct connections to donate buttons, microtargeting, and rapid variable testing weaken their potential for abuse. Individual networks can refuse ads for containing falsehoods as CNN recently did without the same backlash over bias that an entity as powerful as Facebook receives.

This is why the social networks should halt sales of political campaign ads now. They’re the one set of stakeholders with flexibility and that could make a united decision. You’ll never get all the politicians and media to be honest, or the public to understand, but just a few companies could set a policy that would protect democracy from the world’s . And they could do it without having to pick sides or make questionable decisions on a case-by-case basis. Just block them all from all candidates.

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Facebook wrote in response to Biden’s request to block the Trump ads that “Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is.”

But banning campaign ads would still leave room for open political expression that’s subject to public scrutiny. Social networks should continue to let politicians say what they want to their own followers, barring calls for violence. Tech giants can offer a degree of freedom of speech, just not freedom of reach. Whoever wants to listen can, but they shouldn’t be able to jam misinformation into the feeds of the unsuspecting.

If the tech giants want to stop short of completely banning campaign ads, they could introduce a format designed to minimize misinformation. Politicians could be allowed to simply promote themselves with a set of stock messages, but without the option to make claims about themselves or their opponents.

Campaign ads aren’t a huge revenue driver for social apps, nor are they a high-margin business nowadays. The Trump and Clinton campaigns spent only a combined $81 million on 2016 election ads, a fraction of Facebook’s $27 billion in revenue that year. $284 million was spent in total on 2018 midterm election ads versus Facebook’s $55 billion in revenue last year, says Tech For Campaigns. Zuckerberg even said that Facebook will lose money selling political ads because of all the moderators it hires to weed out election interference by foreign parties.

Surely, there would be some unfortunate repercussions from blocking campaign ads. New candidates in local to national elections would lose a tool for reducing the lead of incumbents, some of which have already benefited from years of advertising. Some campaign ads might be pushed “underground” where they’re not properly labeled, though the major spenders could be kept under watch.

If the social apps can still offer free expression through candidates’ own accounts, aren’t reliant on politicians’ cash to survive, won’t police specific lies in their promos, and would rather let the government regulate the situation, then they should respectfully decline to sell campaign advertising. Following the law isn’t enough until the laws adapt. This will be an ongoing issue through the 2020 election, and leaving the floodgates open is irresponsible.

If a game is dangerous, you don’t eliminate the referee. You stop playing until you can play safe.

Twitter reunites woman with man who gifted her a bike when she was a child refugee

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Sometimes the internet takes a break from being on fire and churns out something good. This week, a woman was able to thank the man who gave her a bike when she was a five-year-old refugee, with the help of Twitter’s supreme tracking abilities. 

As Saddam Hussein began targeting Kurdish communities in the 1990s, Mevan Babakar and her family fled Iraq and moved to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia, and eventually to a city called Zwolle in the Netherlands. Babakar and her mother later settled down in London. 

During her stay in Zwolle, a kind man who worked at a refugee camp gifted her a bike “out of the kindness of his own heart.”  Read more…

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Google and Twitter are using AMD’s new EPYC Rome processors in their datacenters

AMD announced that Google and Twitter are among the companies now using EPYC Rome processors during a launch event for the 7nm chips today. The release of EPYC Rome marks a major step in AMD’s processor war with Intel, which said last month that its own 7nm chips, Ice Lake, won’t be available until 2021 (though it is expected to release its 10nm node this year).

Intel is still the biggest datacenter processor maker by far, however, and also counts Google and Twitter among its customers. But AMD’s latest releases and its strategy of undercutting competitors with lower pricing have quickly transformed it into a formidable rival.

Google has used other AMD chips before, including in its “Millionth Server,” built in 2008, and says it is now the first company to use second-generation EPYC chips in its datacenters. Later this year, Google will also make virtual machines that run on the chips available to Google Cloud customers.

In a press statement, Bart Sano, Google vice president of engineering, said “AMD 2nd Gen Epyc processors will help us continue to do what we do best in our datacenters: innovate. Its scalable compute, memory and I/O performance will expand out ability to drive innovation forward in our infrastructure and will give Google Cloud customers the flexibility to choose the best VM for their workloads.”

Twitter plans to begin using EPYC Rome in its datacenter infrastructure later this year. Its senior director of engineering, Jennifer Fraser, said the chips will reduce the energy consumption of its datacenters. “Using the AMD EPYC 7702 processor, we can scale out our compute clusters with more cores in less space using less power, which translates to 25% lower [total cost of ownership] for Twitter.”

In a comparison test between 2-socket Intel Xeon 6242 and AMD EPYC 7702P processors, AMD claimed that its chips were able to reduce total cost of ownership by up to 50% across “numerous workloads.” AMD EPYC Rome’s flagship is the 64-core, 128-thread 7742 chip, with a 2.25 base frequency, 225 default TDP and 256MB of total cache, starts at $6,950.

The softblocking meme blends literary references with cancel culture

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Oof. Yikes. A new copypasta has everyone softblocking problematic villains from well known stories, all in the name of the meme. 

Urban Dictionary defines softblocking as “A phrase often used by Twitter users to describe the blocking of another person, then immediate unblock.” 

Essentially, it forces the blocked party to unknowingly unfollow the user so they stop interacting with the user’s tweets. 

It’s a passive-aggressive — but drama-skirting — way to get someone out of your social sphere. When Twitter users find out that someone has been problematic — whether it’s a terrible take they had on a marginalized group or allegations of sexual harassment — they’ll softblock the person to gently remove them from their online social lives.  Read more…

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Kid makes cute fake passport for class, unlocks next-level confidence

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Once more for the people in the back: I am small and beautiful.

In a photo posted to Twitter on Friday, Zarina Muhammad shared her younger brother’s fake passport, the result of a class exercise — presumably intended to teach kids about international travel — and years of unbridled, tiny-human pride.  

It’s a basic, little worksheet, complete with fake paper stamps, a passport number (12345, of course), fill-in blanks for gender and age, and lastly, an area for a physical description. 

For most, that last section would prompt hair/eye color, height, and skin tone descriptors. You know, the kinds of things one would be asked about by airport security. Read more…

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Elon Musk defends tweets in SEC’s contempt proceedings

Tesla CEO Elon Musk argued Friday that his Twitter use did not violate a settlement agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and that the agency’s request to have him held in contempt is based on a “radical interpretation” of the order, according to court papers filed in Manhattan federal court.

The SEC has asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt for violating a settlement agreement reached last year over Musk’s now infamous “funding secured” tweet. Under that agreement, Musk is supposed to get approval from Tesla’s board before communicating potentially material information to investors.

Musk contends he didn’t violate the agreement and that the problem lies in the SEC’s interpretation, which he describes as “virtually wrong at every level.” The filing also reveals new details about the settlement negotiations, notably that the SEC sent Musk a draft agreement that would have required him to obtain pre-approval for all public statements related to Tesla, in any format.

Musk and Tesla never agreed to those terms. Instead, Musk says the agreement requires him to comply with Tesla own policy, which would require pre-approval for “written communications that contain, or reasonably could contain, information material to the company or its shareholders.”

The barbs traded via court filings are the latest in an escalating fight between the billionaire entrepreneur and SEC that began last August when Musk tweeted that he had “funding secured” for a private takeover of the company at $420 per share.  The SEC filed a complaint in federal district court in September alleging that Musk lied.

Musk and Tesla settled with the SEC last year without admitting wrongdoing. Tesla agreed to pay a $20 million fine; Musk had to agree to step down as Tesla chairman for a period of at least three years; the company had to appoint two independent directors to the board; and Tesla was also told to put in place a way to monitor Musk’s statements to the public about the company, including via Twitter.

But the fight was re-ignited last month after Musk sent a tweet on February 19 that Tesla would produce “around” 500,000 cars this year, correcting himself hours later to clarify that he meant the company would be producing at an annualized rate of 500,000 vehicles by year end.

The SEC argued that the tweet sent by Musk violated their agreement. Musk has said the tweet was “immaterial” and complied with the settlement.

Piers Morgan gets dragged for going after men holding babies

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Ugh. 

I regret to inform you that Piers Morgan is at it again. The TV personality, known for his terrible hot takes, blatant misogyny, and strange obsession with Donald Trump took to Twitter to rail against … good fathers? 

He posted a photo of Daniel Craig, who plays James Bond, holding his infant in an adorable spotted baby carrier. Implying that Craig was “emasculated” for caring being a good father, Morgan tweeted, “Oh 007.. not you as well?” 

Oh 007.. not you as well?!!! #papoose #emasculatedBond pic.twitter.com/cqWiCRCFt3

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 15, 2018 Read more…

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Party Rock Anthem has the same BPM as a lot of songs, and it’s a glorious meme now

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Please take a moment to appreciate one of the internet’s greatest gifts: the Party Rock Anthem music video set to other songs. 

LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem captures the spirit of 2011, from the thick rimmed glasses, to the skinny jeans, to the inexplicable trend of wearing vests over T-shirts. Although the song is now rarely played at public events other than sweet sixteens and unfortunate weddings, it’s still a beloved piece of pop culture. It’s so thoroughly enjoyed, it went diamond earlier this year, snagging 10 million units through song sales and streams. 

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Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline

Twitter will now put live streams and broadcasts started by accounts you follow at the top of your timeline, making it easier to see what they’re doing in realtime.

In a tweet, Twitter said that that the new feature will include breaking news, personalities and sports.

The social networking giant included the new feature in its iOS and Android apps, updated this week. Among the updates, Twitter said it’s now also supporting audio-only live broadcasts, as well as through its sister broadcast service Periscope.

Last month, Twitter discontinued its app for iOS 9 and lower versions, which according to Apple’s own data still harbors some 5 percent of all iPhone and iPad users.

Hate speech, collusion, and the constitution

Half an hour into their two-hour testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were asked about collaboration between social media companies. “Our collaboration has greatly increased,” Sandberg stated before turning to Dorsey and adding that Facebook has “always shared information with other companies.” Dorsey nodded in response, and noted for his part that he’s very open to establishing “a regular cadence with our industry peers.”

Social media companies have established extensive policies on what constitutes “hate speech” on their platforms. But discrepancies between these policies open the possibility for propagators of hate to game the platforms and still get their vitriol out to a large audience. Collaboration of the kind Sandberg and Dorsey discussed can lead to a more consistent approach to hate speech that will prevent the gaming of platforms’ policies.

But collaboration between competitors as dominant as Facebook and Twitter are in social media poses an important question: would antitrust or other laws make their coordination illegal?

The short answer is no. Facebook and Twitter are private companies that get to decide what user content stays and what gets deleted off of their platforms. When users sign up for these free services, they agree to abide by their terms. Neither company is under a First Amendment obligation to keep speech up. Nor can it be said that collaboration on platform safety policies amounts to collusion.

This could change based on an investigation into speech policing on social media platforms being considered by the Justice Department. But it’s extremely unlikely that Congress would end up regulating what platforms delete or keep online – not least because it may violate the First Amendment rights of the platforms themselves.

What is hate speech anyway?

Trying to find a universal definition for hate speech would be a fool’s errand, but in the context of private companies hosting user generated content, hate speech for social platforms is what they say is hate speech.

Facebook’s 26-page Community Standards include a whole section on how Facebook defines hate speech. For Facebook, hate speech is “anything that directly attacks people based on . . . their ‘protected characteristics’ — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability or disease.” While that might be vague, Facebook then goes on to give specific examples of what would and wouldn’t amount to hate speech, all while making clear that there are cases – depending on the context – where speech will still be tolerated if, for example, it’s intended to raise awareness.

Twitter uses a “hateful conduct” prohibition which they define as promoting “violence against or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” They also prohibit hateful imagery and display names, meaning it’s not just what you tweet but what you also display on your profile page that can count against you.

Both companies constantly reiterate and supplement their definitions, as new test cases arise and as words take on new meaning. For example, the two common slang words to describe Ukrainians by Russians and Russians by Ukrainians was determined to be hate speech after war erupted in Eastern Ukraine in 2014. An internal review by Facebook found that what used to be common slang had turned into derogatory, hateful language.

Would collaboration on hate speech amount to anticompetitive collusion?

Under U.S. antitrust laws, companies cannot collude to make anticompetitive agreements or try to monopolize a market. A company which becomes a monopoly by having a superior product in the marketplace doesn’t violate antitrust laws. What does violate the law is dominant companies making an agreement – usually in secret – to deceive or mislead competitors or consumers. Examples include price fixing, restricting new market entrants, or misrepresenting the independence of the relationship between competitors.

A Pew survey found that 68% of Americans use Facebook. According to Facebook’s own records, the platform had a whopping 1.47 billion daily active users on average for the month of June and 2.23 billion monthly active users as of the end of June – with over 200 million in the US alone. While Twitter doesn’t disclose its number of daily users, it does publish the number of monthly active users which stood at 330 million at last count, 69 million of which are in the U.S.

There can be no question that Facebook and Twitter are overwhelmingly dominant in the social media market. That kind of dominance has led to calls for breaking up these giants under antitrust laws.

Would those calls hold more credence if the two social giants began coordinating their policies on hate speech?

The answer is probably not, but it does depend on exactly how they coordinated. Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat have grown large internal product policy teams that decide the rules for using their platforms, including on hate speech. If these teams were to get together behind closed doors and coordinate policies and enforcement in a way that would preclude smaller competitors from being able to enter the market, then antitrust regulators may get involved.

Antitrust would also come into play if, for example, Facebook and Twitter got together and decided to charge twice as much for advertising that includes hate speech (an obviously absurd scenario) – in other words, using their market power to affect pricing of certain types of speech that advertisers use.

In fact, coordination around hate speech may reduce anti-competitive concerns. Given the high user engagement around hate speech, banning it could lead to reduced profits for the two companies and provide an opening to upstart competitors.

Sandberg and Dorsey’s testimony Wednesday didn’t point to executives hell-bent on keeping competition out through collaboration. Rather, their potential collaboration is probably better seen as an industry deciding on “best practices,” a common occurrence in other industries including those with dominant market players.

What about the First Amendment?

Private companies are not subject to the First Amendment. The Constitution applies to the government, not to corporations. A private company, no matter its size, can ignore your right to free speech.

That’s why Facebook and Twitter already can and do delete posts that contravene their policies. Calling for the extermination of all immigrants, referring to Africans as coming from shithole countries, and even anti-gay protests at military funerals may be protected in public spaces, but social media companies get to decide whether they’ll allow any of that on their platforms. As Harvard Law School’s Noah Feldman has stated, “There’s no right to free speech on Twitter. The only rule is that Twitter Inc. gets to decide who speaks and listens–which is its right under the First Amendment.”

Instead, when it comes to social media and the First Amendment, courts have been more focused on not allowing the government to keep citizens off of social media. Just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that made it a crime for a registered sex offender to access social media if children use that platform. During the hearing, judges asked the government probing questions about the rights of citizens to free speech on social media from Facebook, to Snapchat, to Twitter and even LinkedIn.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made clear during the hearing that restricting access to social media would mean “being cut off from a very large part of the marketplace of ideas [a]nd [that] the First Amendment includes not only the right to speak, but the right to receive information.”

The Court ended up deciding that the law violated the fundamental First Amendment principle that “all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen,” noting that social media has become one of the most important forums for expression of our day.

Lower courts have also ruled that public officials who block users off their profiles are violating the First Amendment rights of those users. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, of the Southern District of New York, decided in May that Trump’s Twitter feed is a public forum. As a result, she ruled that when Trump blocks citizens from viewing and replying to his posts, he violates their First Amendment rights.

The First Amendment doesn’t mean Facebook and Twitter are under any obligation to keep up whatever you post, but it does mean that the government can’t just ban you from accessing your Facebook or Twitter accounts – and probably can’t block you off of their own public accounts either.

Collaboration is Coming?

Sandberg made clear in her testimony on Wednesday that collaboration is already happening when it comes to keeping bad actors off of platforms. “We [already] get tips from each other. The faster we collaborate, the faster we share these tips with each other, the stronger our collective defenses will be.”

Dorsey for his part stressed that keeping bad actors off of social media “is not something we want to compete on.” Twitter is here “to contribute to a healthy public square, not compete to have the only one, we know that’s the only way our business thrives and helps us all defend against these new threats.”

He even went further. When it comes to the drafting of their policies, beyond collaborating with Facebook, he said he would be open to a public consultation. “We have real openness to this. . . . We have an opportunity to create more transparency with an eye to more accountability but also a more open way of working – a way of working for instance that allows for a review period by the public about how we think about our policies.”

I’ve already argued why tech firms should collaborate on hate speech policies, the question that remains is if that would be legal. The First Amendment does not apply to social media companies. Antitrust laws don’t seem to stand in their way either. And based on how Senator Burr, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chose to close the hearing, government seems supportive of social media companies collaborating. Addressing Sandberg and Dorsey, he said, “I would ask both of you. If there are any rules, such as any antitrust, FTC, regulations or guidelines that are obstacles to collaboration between you, I hope you’ll submit for the record where those obstacles are so we can look at the appropriate steps we can take as a committee to open those avenues up.”

Twitter tests suggestions on people to unfollow for when your timeline is too much

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You’re likely familiar with Twitter’s suggestions on who to follow. Now, the company is asking some users if they want to unfollow people. 

As first pointed out by Slate, the social media platform is testing unfollow suggestions.

“We know that people want a relevant Twitter timeline. One way to do this is by unfollowing people they don’t engage with regularly. We ran an incredibly limited test to surface accounts that people were not engaging with to check if they’d like to unfollow them,” a Twitter spokesperson told the publication.

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Twitter suspends more accounts for “engaging in coordinated manipulation”

Following last week’s suspension of 284 accounts for “engaging in coordinated manipulation,” Twitter announced today that it’s kicked an additional 486 accounts off the platform for the same reason, bringing the total to 770 accounts.

While many of the accounts removed last week appeared to originate from Iran, Twitter said this time that about 100 of the latest batch to be suspended claimed to be in the United States. Many of these were less than a year old and shared “divisive commentary.” These 100 accounts tweeted a total of 867 times and had 1,268 followers between them.

Since our initial suspensions last Tuesday, we have continued our investigation, further building our understanding of these networks. In addition, we suspended an additional 486 accounts for violating the policies outlined last week. This brings the total suspended to 770.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 27, 2018

As examples of the “divisive commentary” tweeted, Twitter shared screenshots from several suspended accounts that showed anti-Trump rhetoric, counter to the conservative narrative that the platform unfairly targets Republican accounts.

Fewer than 100 of the 770 suspended accounts claimed to be located in the U.S. and many of these were sharing divisive social commentary. On average, these 100 Tweeted 867 times, were followed by 1, 268 accounts, and were less than a year old. Examples below. pic.twitter.com/LQhbvFjxSo

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 27, 2018

Twitter also said that the suspended accounts included one advertiser that spent $30 on Twitter ads last year, but added those ads did not target the U.S. and that the billing address was outside of Iran.

“As with prior investigations, we are committed to engaging with other companies and relevant law enforcement entities. Our goal is to assist investigations into these activities and where possible, we will provide the public with transparency and context on our efforts,” Twitter said on its Safety account.

After years of accusations that it doesn’t enforce its own policies about bullying, bots and other abuses, Twitter has taken a much harder line on problematic accounts in the past few months. Despite stalling user growth, especially in the United States, Twitter has been aggressively suspending accounts, including ones that were created by users to evade prior suspensions.

Twitter announced a drop of one million monthly users in the second quarter, causing investors to panic even though it posted a $100 million profit. In its earnings call, Twitter said that its efforts don’t impact user numbers because many of the “tens of millions” of removed accounts were too new or had been inactive for more than a month and were therefore not counted in active user numbers. The company did admit, however, that it’s anti-spam measures had caused it to lose three million monthly active users.

Whatever its impact on user numbers, Twitter’s anti-abuse measures may help it save face during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on September 5. Executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google are expected to be grilled by Sen. Mark Warner and other politicians about the use of their platforms by other countries to influence U.S. politics.

Best Twitter account, dril, has released a book

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Twitter mostly sucks, but one of the few accounts which isn’t terrible is @dril.

Even if you don’t spend much of your time on the platform, you’ve likely come across his bizarre, nonsensical jokes that we wish we knew how to come up with.

Seemingly the ramblings of a cranky old man with poor grasp of the keyboard, @dril has been on the internet since 2008, and was also infamously doxxed last year. Now, he has a book.

Titled Dril Official “Mr. Ten Years” Anniversary Collection, the book is suitably an anthology of the mysterious writer’s tweets and sketches. Read more…

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Twitter puts Infowars’ Alex Jones in the ‘read-only’ sin bin for 7 days

Twitter has finally taken action against Infowars creator Alex Jones, but it isn’t what you might think.

While Apple, Facebook, Google/YouTube, Spotify and many others have removed Jones and his conspiracy-peddling organization Infowars from their platforms, Twitter has remained unmoved with its claim that Jones hasn’t violated rules on its platform.

That was helped in no small way by the mysterious removal of some tweets last week, but now Jones has been found to have violated Twitter’s rules, as CNET first noted.

Twitter is punishing Jones for a tweet that violates its community standards but it isn’t locking him out forever. Instead, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that Jones’ account is in “read-only mode” for up to seven days.

That means he will still be able to use the service and look up content via his account, but he’ll be unable to engage with it. That means no tweets, likes, retweets, comments, etc. He’s also been ordered to delete the offending tweet — more on that below — in order to qualify for a fully functioning account again.

That restoration doesn’t happen immediately, though. Twitter policy states that the read-only sin bin can last for up to seven days “depending on the nature of the violation.” We’re imagining Jones got the full one-week penalty, but we’re waiting on Twitter to confirm that.

The offending tweet in question is a link to a story claiming President “Trump must take action against web censorship.” It looks like the tweet has already been deleted, but not before Twitter judged that it violates its policy on abuse:

Abuse: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. We consider abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice.

When you consider the things Infowars and Jones have said or written — 9/11 conspiracies, harassment of Sandy Hook victim families and more — the content in question seems fairly innocuous. Indeed, you could look at President Trump’s tweets and find seemingly more punishable content without much difficulty.

But here we are.

The weirdest part of this Twitter caning is one of the reference points that the company gave to media. These days, it is common for the company to point reporters to specific tweets that it believes encapsulate its position on an issue, or provide additional color in certain situations.

In this case, Twitter pointed us — and presumably other reporters — to this tweet from Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson:

Alex Jones has been suspended by Twitter for 7 days for a video talking about social media censorship. Truly, monumentally, beyond stupid. 😄

On the same day that the Infowars website was brought down by a cyber attack.

Will this madness ever end? pic.twitter.com/hXDzH2b7rT

— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) August 14, 2018

WTF, Twitter…

Twitter will suspend repeat offenders posting abusive comments on Periscope live streams

As part of Twitter’s attempted crackdown on abusive behavior across its network, the company announced on Friday afternoon a new policy facing those who repeatedly harass, threaten or otherwise make abusive comments during a Periscope broadcaster’s live stream. According to Twitter, the company will begin to more aggressively enforce its Periscope Community Guidelines by reviewing and suspending accounts of habitual offenders.

The plans were announced via a Periscope blog post and tweet that said everyone should be able to feel safe watching live video.

We’re committed to making sure everyone feels safe watching live video, whether you’re broadcasting or just tuning in. To create safer conversation, we’re launching more aggressive enforcement of our guidelines. https://t.co/dQdtnxCfx6

— Periscope (@PeriscopeCo) July 27, 2018

Currently, Periscope’s comment moderation policy involves group moderation.

That is, when one viewer reports a comment as “abuse,” “spam” or selects “other reason,” Periscope’s software will then randomly select a few other viewers to take a look and decide if the comment is abuse, spam or if it looks okay. The randomness factor here prevents a person (or persons) from using the reporting feature to shut down conversations. Only if a majority of the randomly selected voters agree the comment is spam or abuse does the commenter get suspended.

However, this suspension would only disable their ability to chat during the broadcast itself — it didn’t prevent them from continuing to watch other live broadcasts and make further abusive remarks in the comments. Though they would risk the temporary ban by doing so, they could still disrupt the conversation, and make the video creator — and their community — feel threatened or otherwise harassed.

Twitter says that accounts that repeatedly get suspended for violating its guidelines will soon be reviewed and suspended. This enhanced enforcement begins on August 10, and is one of several other changes Twitter is making to its product across Periscope and Twitter focused on user safety.

To what extent those changes have been working is questionable. Twitter may have policies in place around online harassment and abuse, but its enforcement has been hit-or-miss. But ridding its platform of unwanted accounts — including spam, despite the impact to monthly active user numbers — is something the company must do for its long-term health. The fact that so much hate and abuse is seemingly tolerated or overlooked on Twitter has been an issue for some time, and the problem continues today. And it could be one of the factors in Twitter’s stagnant user growth. After all, who willingly signs up for harassment?

The company is at least attempting to address the problem, most recently by acquiring the anti-abuse technology provider Smyte. Its transition to Twitter didn’t go so well, but the technology it offers the company could help Twitter address abuse at a greater scale in the future.

Her tweet echoed Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but her story had a much different ending

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They both got kicked out of different Washington, D.C. area restaurants on Friday. But only one suffered unjust treatment.

While White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used her government Twitter account on Saturday to criticize a private business that politely asked her to leave, Charlotte Clymer shared a story of her own. Both women were ejected from a restaurant on Friday, but the similarities end there.

“Last night, I was told by the manager of @CubaLibreDC that I couldn’t use the women’s restroom, and after challenging his discrimination with D.C. law and responding to his threat of calling the police w/ “please do so”, I was forcibly removed from the restaurant.”  Read more…

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Twitter will give political candidates a special badge during US midterm elections

Ahead of 2018 U.S. midterm elections, Twitter is taking a visible step to combat the spread of misinformation on its famously chaotic platform. In a blog post this week, the company explained how it would be adding “election labels” to the profiles of candidates running for political office.

“Twitter has become the first place voters go to seek accurate information, resources, and breaking news from journalists, political candidates, and elected officials,” the company wrote in its announcement. “We understand the significance of this responsibility and our teams are building new ways for people who use Twitter to identify original sources and authentic information.”

These labels feature a small government building icon and text identifying the position a candidate is running for and the state or district where the race is taking place. The label information included in the profile will also appear elsewhere on Twitter, even when tweets are embedded off-site.

The labels will start popping up after May 30 and will apply to candidates in state governor races as well as those campaigning for a seat in the Senate or the House of Representatives.

Twitter will partner with nonpartisan political nonprofit Ballotpedia to create the candidate labels. In a statement announcing its partnership, Ballotpedia explains how that process will work:

Ballotpedia covers all candidates in every upcoming election occurring within the 100 most-populated cities in the U.S., plus all federal and statewide elections, including ballot measures. After each state primary, Ballotpedia will provide Twitter with information on gubernatorial and Congressional candidates who will appear on the November ballot. After receiving consent from each candidate, Twitter will apply the labels to each candidate profile.

The decision to create a dedicated process to verify political profiles is a step in the right direction for Twitter. With major social platforms still in upheaval over revelations around foreign misinformation campaigns during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Twitter and Facebook need to take decisive action now if they intend to inoculate their users against a repeat threat in 2018.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, says he doesn’t have a laptop. At all.

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Jack Dorsey does everything from his phone. 

Seriously, the CEO of Twitter doesn’t have a laptop. He shared that fact at a press breakfast in Sydney, Australia on Friday.

“I don’t have a laptop, no, I do everything on my phone,” he told 9 News presenter Deb Knight, who’d asked Dorsey about his own online security practices. Knight was referencing the infamous photo of fellow social network CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which his webcam is physically obscured with tape.

“It was important to me because I turn off my notifications, and for me it’s one application at a time. So I just have one app up, and I can really focus on what’s in front of me instead of everything coming at me as I would a laptop.” Read more…

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A floating dumpster became the most relatable meme

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Pittsburgh was hit with heavy rain on Wednesday night, causing severe flooding on a local highway. 

Unlike typical rainfall in the area, the thunderstorm didn’t just pass through. Instead, it stayed over the city, dumping half an inch of rain over Pittsburgh every hour. 

The storm gave us one bright spot during the downpour: this video of a dumpster jauntily floating down the river that used to be Route 51. Local news anchor Ken Rice captured it on the move on Wednesday night. Read more…

Not all Twitter users had fond memories of their past relationships — and this floating dumpster reminded them of that. 

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Twitter is testing secret, encrypted direct messaging

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With the proliferation of secure messaging apps out there, Twitter is set to join in on the action.

The company is seemingly testing end-to-end encrypted direct messaging in the Android version of its app, as spotted by computer science student Jane Manchun Wong on Twitter.

The feature, dubbed “Secret conversation,” will apparently be available in the conversation info section of the app, when direct messaging. Users can also view encryption keys of themselves and a recipient.

End-to-end encryption ensures that messages can only be read between the sender and the recipient, and not by the company whose platform you’re using, or anyone who may try and intercept the message. Read more…

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The ‘I get high on’ meme has fans sharing what gets them hyped

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420 was a while ago, but the internet is still buzzed. This time, it’s off a meme. 

The “I get high on” meme has Twitter fans bypassing drugs, and going straight for the things they love, whether it’s part of their favorite songs or scenes for incredible movies. 

Who needs weed when you have “Africa” by Toto to get you hyped?

i get high on:

⚪️ life

⚪️ drugs

🔘 Africa by Toto

— Plathanos 🐝🇩🇴 (@SavinTheBees) April 25, 2018

Cocaine? Never heard of her. Have you seen the Shibutani siblings at the 2016 Skate America Gala? You can’t say this performance doesn’t get you feeling some type of way. Read more…

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Looks like Google is changing Android’s gun emoji into a water gun

Back in 2016, Apple swapped out the graphic used for its gun emoji, replacing the realistically drawn handgun with a bright green water gun.

Just a few days ago, Twitter followed suit.

And now, it seems, so will Google . The gun emoji on Android will likely soon appear as a bright orange and yellow super soaker lookalike.

As first noted by Emojipedia, Google has just swapped the graphics in its open Noto Emoji library on GitHub. These are the Emoji that Android uses by default, so the same change will presumably start to roll out there before too long.

At this point, Google making this change seemed inevitable. It seemed likely to happen as soon Apple made the jump; once others started following suit (Twitter earlier this week, and Samsung with the release of the Galaxy S9) it became a certainty.

It’s a matter of clarity in communication. If a massive chunk of people (iOS users) can send a cartoony water toy in a message that another massive chunk of people (Android users) receive as a realistically drawn handgun, there’s room for all sorts of trouble and confusion. Apple wasn’t going to reverse course on this one — and now that others have made the change, Google would’ve been the odd one out.

Drake’s ‘God’s Plan’ is now a meme, soundtracking your minor, but good deeds

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OK, so it’s very likely you won’t be able to give away close to a million dollars as Drake does in his video for “God’s Plan.”

Not that it should stop you from trying to replicate the feeling he gets, kinda.

People on Twitter are parodying Drake’s charitable efforts in his music video with their own good, albeit very minor good deeds. 

Then “God’s Plan” starts playing, of course, in the background.

Me: *Holds door open*

Friend: Thanks—

*God’s plan starts playing* pic.twitter.com/VwPtBqoZdJ

— 🤞🏼🤞🏼🏁👁‍🗨 (@notklyde) February 26, 2018 Read more…

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Protecting Yourself From Fake Social Media Accounts

Fake news.

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about it lately.

What is fake news and why is it so important that you know how to spot it?

Fake news is not someone saying something you don’t agree with. It’s not one political party pointing out facts that happen to be inconvenient to the opposition.

It’s made-up stories disseminated with the sole purpose of creating divisiveness and spreading misinformation.

The widespread availability of the Internet has led to an openness in the exchange of information that humanity has never before experienced. Unfortunately, this has also led to folks taking advantage of this openness to spread divisiveness. The greatest tool in their shed? Social media.

Fake Social Media Accounts Spread Fake News

During the election cycle in 2016, Stanford University conducted a study of fake news circulating on Facebook and the results were shocking.

Researchers found 115 fake pro-Trump stories circulating on Facebook that had been shared 30 million times at that time. They also found 41 fake pro-Clinton stories that had been shared 7.6 million times.

We’ve all seen them- implausible headlines, questionable websites, and recycled photos.

The problem is that people do believe them and fake social media accounts use this fact to spread such stories like wildfire.

How Big Is The Problem Of Fake Social Media Accounts?

Between 2014 and 2016, the number of fake social media accounts grew 11 times, a shockingly sharp uptick. While as a percentage, fake social media profiles don’t seem especially prevalent.

However, by volume, there are way more fake profiles than you may think. Check out these numbers:

  • 2-3% or 60 million fake Facebook accounts
  • 9-15% or 48 million fake Twitter accounts
  • 8% or 24 million fake Instagram accounts

How Can You Spot Fake Social Media Accounts?

fake social media account
Via skstechnologies

Have you ever received a friend request from someone you are already friends with that has the same profile picture and everything? That was probably a hacker trying to gain access to your or your friend’s personal information.

In addition to looking for duplicate accounts of people you know, there are a few other ways to spot fake social media accounts.

Here are some great examples:

  • Profile pictures that are of celebrities or objects
  • Accounts with almost no followers or have thousands of followers
  • Public figures who aren’t verified
  • Accounts with little user engagement

What Should You Do If You Are Being Impersonated?

Impersonators wield a lot of power in today’s open social media society.

Just setting up a social media account and pretending to be a real person can gain you a lot of trust right off the bat. So, what do you do when someone is impersonating you?

Start by reporting the impersonator. Know that reporting the impersonator may or may not work and even if you get one account shut down, there’s always the possibility that another one will be created.

Impersonator accounts can be used to gain access to personal information or to publicly shame, embarrass, or humiliate the person they are impersonating. If you are a target of either, make sure to monitor all social channels regularly to find and report them immediately.

Why Does Any Of This Matter?

Social media is the new telephone.

Instead of calling our friends and catching up one by one, social media has allowed us to catch up with all of our friends at once, multiple times a day.

Logging off is one way to avoid fake news but is that really a reasonable solution?

We didn’t get rid of telephones when telemarketers became a problem.

Plus, most people aren’t going to log off anyway.

Fake news and fake social media profiles are a real problem and you can only solve them with education and awareness. Learn more about where fake social media accounts come from by checking out this infographic.

Where do fake social media accounts come from?
Source: SocialCatfish.com

The post Protecting Yourself From Fake Social Media Accounts appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

David Harbour from ‘Stranger Things’ makes another big fan promise for lots of retweets

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Good guy David Harbour is back with his big promises.

The Stranger Things star has pledged to become ordained and preside over the wedding ceremony of Twitter user @ErickaElizabth, but only if he gets 125,000 retweets.

There’s a bit of time though, the wedding is slated for September.

What would it take to get @DavidKHarbour to be the Officiant at my wedding in September?!

— Ericka (@ErickaElizabth) January 15, 2018

Of course, the wedding date will have to work with the shooting schedule of Season 3 of Stranger Things.  Read more…

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Twitter hits back again at claims that its employees monitor direct messages

 Twitter is pushing back against claims made by conservative activist group Project Veritas that its employees monitor private user data, including direct messages. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Twitter representative said “we do not proactively review DMs. Period. A limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes, and we enforce strict… Read More

My favorite Twitter account is a bot

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Human Twitter accounts serve their purpose, but I prefer tweets from bots.

Research suggests there are now some 30 million tweeting bots — though this might be a low estimate. Some of these bots provide weather updates, make stock recommendations, or attempt to subvert democracy. 

I, however, like bots that aren’t necessarily so useful nor ambitious. I look forward to their musings because their primary directive is to produce creative or absurd content — and I’m not alone. 

“I like anything that’s going to inject a little strangeness, beyond the normal strangeness that we have every day now,” Charles Bergquist, the creator of my favorite twitter bot, NewFound Planets, told Mashable. Bergquist is also the director of the public radio program Science FridayRead more…

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Relax, everyone. These pictures prove royals have taken selfies before.

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Everyone knows a life of royalty comes with certain sacrifices, but rest assured, taking selfies is likely not one of them.

*wipes sweat from brow and breathes sigh of relief*

A recent Twitter Moment titled, “Royals can’t take selfies says Meghan as she steps out with Harry” unnecessarily shook people up on a Friday. It focused on a tweet from The Mirror’s royals correspondent, which noted Meghan Markle told a fan she wasn’t “allowed” to take selfies at an event in Nottingham.

Meghan is learning the royal ropes already, telling one couple who asked for a selfie in Nottingham today: “We’re not allowed to do selfies.”

— Victoria Murphy (@QueenVicMirror) December 1, 2017 Read more…

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Reddit found this dude’s stolen car in a matter of hours

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Getting your car stolen is one of the worst things, but finding it can be MUCH easier than it was a decade ago.

Over Thanksgiving week, Sebastiaan de With, a freelance designer and photographer, got his Land Rover Defender stolen in the San Francisco Bay Area, after just having purchased it a little over a year ago.

Desperate to find any help in locating his car, de With decided to post about it on Twitter and Reddit, asking people to contact him if they happen to see it.

“I thought it’d be pointless to post it, but on the other hand, I really wanted to find my car,” de With told the SF Gate. “They’re extremely hard cars to find in the U.S., and I was waiting on an appraiser to come around to get full coverage, full-value insurance. So it being gone meant I had absolutely nothing, not even a claim payout.” Read more…

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Trump’s ‘Time’ tweet got better with every internet spoof

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It’s Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means: Time for Donald Trump’s annual tiff with Time magazine and it’s “Person of the Year” issue. 

Trump won the honor last year, which should have silenced his irritation forthwith. But because he’s Donald Trump, he will not be satisfied unless he is the center of all attention always. 

Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year,” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2017 Read more…

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Crunch Report | Twitter tests a new tweetstorm feature and Tesla unveils a semi truck

 Today’s Stories Apple pushes back on the release of the Homepod Twitter tests a new tweetstorm feature Tesla unveils a new semi truck Walmart will pilot the new Tesla Semis Credits Written by: Sarah Buhr Hosted by: Sarah Buhr Filmed by: Chris Gates Edited by: John Murillo Notes: Tito continues his journey in the Outback this week so you’re with me til Friday. Let’s… Read More

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Tim Cook tweets congratulatory message to Australia but uses the wrong flag

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Looks like Tim Cook might have sent this tweet out a little too quickly.

The Apple CEO on Wednesday congratulated Australia on saying “yes” to same-sex marriage — except he added an emoji of the flag of New Zealand.

Congratulations Australia! Another important step toward equality for all. 🇦🇺 #MarriageEquality

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) November 15, 2017

The original tweet was quickly deleted and a new tweet sent out, this time, with the correct flag.

The original tweet that was sent out

The original tweet that was sent out

Image: @officialmicca/twitter

But the mistake had already been spotted by some on Twitter, and one guy pointed out how it’s tough searching for emoji on Apple’s keyboard: Read more…

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Here’s why a Twitter account for Maine tourism gets so many notifications

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Your relatable tweets are proving to be a real headache for the state of Maine.

As The Daily Dot pointed out Saturday, one of the many ways people announce that they’ve found a tweet relatable is by at-replying the Twitter handle “@me.” It’s tongue-in-cheek — a shorter way to say “that’s me” or “it me.”

The handle is also frequently used when someone says “don’t @ me,” but fails to put a space between “@” and “me.” That space makes a world of difference, y’all. Isn’t Twitter interesting?

Using “@me” has an unintended side effect. The handle @me is actually owned by Maine.com, a website run by a man named Teddy Worcester to advertise Maine tourism.  Read more…

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Please stop applauding Louis C.K. for doing the bare minimum

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Well, it looks like the Louis C.K. apologists have at least pivoted to a different tactic than simply labeling accusers liars, after the comedian finally admitted to the sexual misconduct he’s been disparaging as mere “rumor” for five years (and as recently as two months ago).

Within mere hours of C.K. issuing his statement, the internet fell over itself to commend him for the brave act of finally admitting he is, in fact, a sexual harasser and feels bad about it — now that there’s a New York Times story about it, anyway.

And as C.K. fans (and even some of his critics) pat him on the back for doing the literal least he could by not lying anymore, some conservatives continue to make excuses for Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge and U.S. Senate candidate accused of initiating a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. Read more…

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Tech’s favorite royal — Prince Alwaleed bin Talal — has been arrested in Saudi Arabia

 In a move sure to shock the business world, Saudi Arabia last night announced the arrest of at least eleven princes, including renowned billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, as part of a sweeping corruption investigation. Prince Alwaleed controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned major in satellite TV networks, as… Read More

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Crunch Report | Hey Dillon Francis, iPhone X Is Now Available For Pre-Order

Today we’re hanging out with EDM artist Dillon Francis, Apple opens for iPhone X pre-orders and releases a sleeve for MacBooks, Walmart starts using robots in stores and Russia condemns Twitter for banning two of its media companies from advertising on the platform. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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If you like ranting on Twitter, a new tweetstorm function is your dream come true

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Sometimes, 140 characters is not enough.

Twitter is reportedly secretly testing out a new feature in Android that lets users publish a string of tweets all in one go, according to a report by The Next Web.

A user under the alias Devesh Logendran reportedly shared screenshots showing the tweetstorm feature with Matt Navarra of The Next Web, who added that the feature was still hidden and “not live yet.”

WOAH! Twitter has a hidden tweet storm feature!

h/t Devesh Logendran pic.twitter.com/QpDLhKnAZZ

— Matt Navarra ⭐️ (@MattNavarra) September 10, 2017 Read more…

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7-year-old with 3D-printed hand could soon throw first pitch at every MLB stadium

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Turns out, Twitter can be used for the powers of good.

That’s sure the case with Hailey Dawson, a 7-year-old with a penchant for tossing fastballs. She was born with a disease called Poland Syndrome, according to reports, and is missing three fingers on her right hand. But thanks to a specially designed, 3D-printed hand controlled by fishing line, she’s never let that get in the way of her love for baseball.

In fact, after using teaching herself how to hold and throw a baseball, she wants to use her 3D-printed hand to throw the first pitch at every single stadium in the National Baseball League.  Read more…

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Here's how the White House may be keeping Trump off the web

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It’s the digital version of a playpen for an adult who’s incapable of setting his own boundaries.

A new report in The New York Times on Friday talks about President Trump having no access to a normal web browser on his iPhone. It’s a setup designed, according to the report, to limit his exposure to the news media (thus, presumably, avoiding one of his now familiar, venomous, media-hating tweetstorms).  

“[New chief of staff, John F. Kelly] cannot stop Mr. Trump from binge-watching Fox News, which aides describe as the president’s primary source of information gathering,” the Times report states.  Read more…

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Trump says he doesn't 'do Twitter storms' – uh huh, ok, sure

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President Donald Trump, who can both make the world cower in fear and belly laugh in response to his very well-known tweetstorms, wants you to know a very important fact: He doesn’t ‘do Twitter storms.’

“Do you notice when I go on and I’ll put out like a tweet or a couple of tweets, ‘He’s in a Twitter storm again,'” he said at a Phoenix rally Tuesday night. “I don’t do Twitter storms.”

OK, um, but what about the tweetstorm when ex-FBI Director James Comey got fired or the one about his failed Muslim travel ban or that time he tweetstormed the hell out of his Obama wiretapping accusations, oh and don’t forget the tweetstorms about the “illegal leaks,” Democrats, and the “fake media?” Read more…

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Popehat suspended from Twitter for sharing a threat he received

This morning, Twitter covered Ken “Popehat” White’s profile page in balloons to celebrate his birthday. This afternoon, it suspended his account for posting screenshots of threats he’d received from another user.

The ranting missive, from a far-right lawyer in Texas whose threatening Twitter postings White had earlier mocked, promises such hatred and cruelty that White will want to kill himself or flee to “escape my wrath.”

But it was White’s response that fell afoul of Twitter’s mysterious rules on posting personally identifying information—even when such information is disclosed and widely publicized.

Twitter is a private company. It has every right to suspend me or kick me off, however foolish its reason. It’s got the right to free speech and free association. My rights have not been violated. I am not a victim. When you use a “free” service like Twitter and Facebook, you’re buying into the policies and attitudes they pursue, for better or worse. Want a platform with no dumb policies? Create one or pay for one.

For the moment, I doubt this reflects an evaluation by anyone at Twitter that “it’s okay for a deranged bigot to threaten people on Twitter but not okay to publish his threats.” Rather, this is part of the inevitable result of automating responses to abuse complaints. Now, if Twitter reviews this, and thinks that’s the right result — well, that would be something else again.

Twitter is still where the abusive can rail on and on before they get canned, while anyone with an earnest interest in using the site in good faith must adhere to vague, unhelpful policies in how they deal with all that trash.

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Debullshitifying the free speech debate about CNN and Trump's alt-right wrestling GIF

In the wake of CNN threatening to out a critic if he does not limit his speech in the future, former federal prosecutor and First Amendment champion Ken White has published an eminently sensible post about the incoherence of the present moment’s views on free speech, and on the way that partisanship causes us to apply a double standard that excuses “our bunch” and damns the “other side.”
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One hero tweeted at KFC for a year until it brought back the spicy drumlets he wanted so bad

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You know how they say persistence is the key to success? This guy is the living embodiment of that.

One man in Singapore made it his mission to get KFC to bring back its Hot Devil Drumlets — basically spicy chicken drumsticks — that was discontinued in the country in 2014.

He turned to Twitter as his weapon of choice.

hot devil drumlets pls.

— Farhan (@farthestofhans) August 26, 2016

He pretty much used every opportunity he had to bring up ’em spicy drumlets.

im hangry coz you guys wont bring back the Hot Devil Drumlets.

— Farhan (@farthestofhans) October 20, 2016 Read more…

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J.K. Rowling made a huge correction to this 'Daily Mail' headline

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Just after midnight on Monday morning, a man drove a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers outside Finsbury Park Mosque in London.

Ten people are injured and one man is dead, the BBC reports, and counter-terrorism officers are in attendance.

For awhile after the attack happened, though, some news headlines weren’t mentioning the word “terrorism”. This didn’t go unnoticed.

This is not an accident, it’s not a collision, it’s not revenge. It’s terrorism. The media should be calling it as such#FinsburyPark

— Tez (@tezilyas) June 19, 2017 Read more…

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Man in giant fish finger outfit beautifully upstages politician

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General election night in the UK is a long, tiring business, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of joy too.

The joke candidates that stand purely for the pleasure of being on TV in their silly outfits, for instance.

249! A new Buckethead record! Something to celebrate, eh? #GeneralElection17 pic.twitter.com/cCx7Utc8EL

— Lord Buckethead (@LordBuckethead) June 9, 2017

One of these candidates is a man who goes by the name “Mr Fish Finger.” He was standing in the same constituency as Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron after he managed to successfully crowdfund over £2,300 (more than enough for the £500 pledge). Read more…

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Elon Musk's weird Ambien tweets are back

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Don’t tweet while on Ambien.

If you didn’t already know that before, let Elon Musk’s series of bizarre tweets on Tuesday night serve as an example kids. 

Case in point: 

A little red wine, vintage record, some Ambien … and magic!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2017

Once you add the vintage record player, it’s all good

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2017

It started off with him talking about the Tesla shareholder meeting — and then things quickly take a very random turn. 

And um … not trying to brag or anything, but I think I look good for 500

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2017 Read more…

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Sean Hannity is desperate for your retweets

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For a moment, it seemed like the Sean Hannity conspiracy train had come to a halt. 

The Fox News host announced on his show Tuesday night that he would stop talking about the debunked claim that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich had leaked thousands of emails to WikiLeaks “out of respect for the family’s wishes.”

Apparently, not discussing the matter means immediately going on Twitter and hitting Kim Dotcom with an OMG. 

Then he posted a tweet with lots of caps, so you know to take it seriously. 

Ok TO BE CLEAR, I am closer to the TRUTH than ever. Not only am I not stopping, I am working harder. Updates when available. Stay tuned!

— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 24, 2017 Read more…

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Queen Cersei gives student A+ acting advice on how to play Queen Cersei

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If you want to get some top-level acting tips, you might as well go straight to the original source.

On Tuesday, actor M. Browne sent a tweet to Game of Thrones star Lena Headey. He was set to play Cersei Lannister in his next class, apparently, and he was looking for some advice.

@IAMLenaHeadey I have to embody Cersei for a class next week. Any advice? #acting #homework

— M. Browne (@Brownemint) April 18, 2017

Luckily, being the all-round nice person that she is (and actually nothing at all like Cersei IRL), Headey responded. Read more…

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Policeman's safe cycling demonstration goes very wrong, very fast

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You know exactly what’s going to happen in the clip below the minute you start watching it.

All the elements are there: the crowd of onlookers, the steep flight of concrete steps, and the policeman in the helmet and the high-vis yellow jacket, who was apparently on hand to demonstrate cycling safety to children. It was only ever going to go one way.

“Police were staging a safe way for kids to go down the stairs on their bikes and the policeman failed miserably,” said a man named Derek, who uploaded the clip to Twitter, was quoted as saying in the Daily Record. Read more…

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