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Post-Election Backlash Spurs Fake News Crackdown
November 15, 2016
Facebook and Google have amended their internal policies regarding advertising on fake news posts in response to increasing pressure from users and a growing controversy within the company. There are mounting concerns that the presidential election may have been influenced by unvetted fake news stories trending on the network during the past few weeks of the cycle.
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 2
November 15, 2016
In the past, heightened rhetoric and propaganda were the tools of choice for those looking to convince an electorate to vote them into office, and conspiracy theories were their bane. This election season has seen the rise of a new form of persuasion, one that's unique to the Information Age. For months, WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange had promised to rain bombshells.
Hype Video Broadcast App Has Niche Potential
November 14, 2016
The folks who brought Vine into the world last month introduced a new video broadcasting app called "Hype." Available for free from Intermedia Labs in the iTunes App Store, Hype not only allows users to broadcast live to the Internet, but also lets followers interact with their broadcasts in real time. At first blush, it might seem that Hype's offering closely mirrors Periscope and Facebook Live.
Facebook Share Price Falls Despite Blowout Quarter
November 4, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday reported a record Q3, beating analysts' expectations for the fourth straight quarter, but concerns among investors about increased expenditures and the company's future prospects drove down share prices. They closed Thursday at $119.95, down more than $7 from Wednesday's closing price of $127.17. Friday saw little movement, with a closing price of $120.75.
Bot Armies Boost Candidates' Popularity on Twitter
October 29, 2016
Internet bots have many useful online purposes, but they have a dark side, too, as three researchers demonstrated in their analysis of Twitter traffic during the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Bots are used to automate functions on the Net. For example, if you belong to several social networks, you could use a bot to post a photo to all of them at once.
Stock Price Rises as Twitter Slashes Jobs, Uproots Vine
October 28, 2016
Twitter shares were up Friday following a third-quarter earnings report that beat Wall Street estimates despite declining revenue growth. Twitter also announced a widely expected round of job cuts and the unexpected shutdown of Vine. Twitter has been on financial oxygen in recent weeks, after failing to find a buyer. Investors applauded the news that it will slash 9 percent of its workforce.
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 1
October 28, 2016
One of the most volatile conspiracy theories in recent times ended with a whimper last month, when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made the terse statement, "President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. Period." Though birthers may be with us always, it seems many have turned their attention to other potentially scandalous topics -- and they need look no further than the Internet.
Social Media Analytics, Meet Big Brother
October 26, 2016
The ACLU recently uncovered evidence that led Twitter, Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary to stop sharing data with Geofeedia, a firm accused of improperly collecting social media data on protest groups, and sharing that information with numerous law enforcement agencies. Geofeedia, a developer of location-based analytics, had been marketing its technology to law enforcement agencies.
Twitter May Kick 300 Employees Out of Its Nest
October 25, 2016
Twitter appears close to slashing another 300 jobs, or about 8 percent of its workforce, as it works to recover from a failed round of acquisition talks with several suitors. The job cuts likely would be in sales. Twitter might be taking steps to make itself look more attractive to investors in preparation for its third-quarter earnings report later this week.
Twitter Hopes Fade as Salesforce Deal Slips Away
October 18, 2016
Salesforce, the last known suitor for Twitter, last week officially bowed out of the running for an acquisition deal, a move that forces the embattled company either to look for a new savior or find some internal answers to its lingering inability to find a winning growth strategy. Salesforce walked away from the deal because it wasn't the right fit, CEO Marc Benioff said.
This Election May Be Scarier Than You Think
October 17, 2016
Not that it isn't scary enough -- but if you look at both candidates, who have had their images destroyed largely by technology, i.e., tapes and emails -- there is a huge warning inherent in the process. Email really wasn't a big thing until the late 1990s and even having your own email server wouldn't have been likely before 2005, let alone thinking through the security aspects.
Snap Lines Up Bankers for Spring IPO
October 13, 2016
Snap this week hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to manage its IPO, according to multiple reports. JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Allen & Co., Barclays and Credit Suisse Group reportedly also will play a role. The IPO, expected as early as this spring, could result in a valuation of $25 billion or more. That would make Snap one of the highest-profile IPOs in years.
Surviving the Internet's Troll Apocalypse
September 29, 2016
Social media has sharpened humans' age-old appetite for public shaming, providing a stage and unlimited seating for an endless stream of immorality plays. Those who share even the simplest identifying details about themselves are vulnerable to being pushed into the glare of the spotlight. Anonymity frees many individuals of the consequences they might face offline for being abusive to others.
Germany Dope Slaps Facebook Over WhatsApp Data
September 28, 2016
Germany's data protection regulator on Tuesday ordered Facebook to stop collecting and storing data from WhatsApp users in the country. Facebook also must delete any data it already may have harvested from German WhatsApp users, according to Johannes Caspar, Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, who issued the order. Facebook purchased WhatsApp two years ago.
Tech Big Shots Rumored Lining Up for Twitter
September 26, 2016
Twitter shares remained strong Monday after Friday's sharp rise on reports that it was considering a possible sale, with Google parent Alphabet and Salesforce emerging as two of the most likely buyers. Twitter has faced enormous pressure, both internally and from investors, to consider a major shakeup. It has struggled to find ways to monetize its core 140-character microblogging property.
Social Networks Prep for Key Role in Presidential Debates
September 23, 2016
The Commission on Presidential Debates, which has run them since 1988, last week announced initiatives with social media, academics, and media organizations to engage the American public in substantive conversations before, during and after this year's debates. The first debate between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is scheduled for Monday at Hofstra University in New York.
The Internet's Shameful Role in Propagating Body Shaming
September 21, 2016
A problem once associated mainly with school playgrounds often follows people into adulthood, and the anonymity of the Internet has aided its proliferation. People have been shamed for being overweight, underweight, too conservative, too revealing, too young, too old, too plastic or too real. Bullying and harassment are very real problems not only for children, but also for countless adults.
Alphabet Think Tank Spearheads Online Counterterrorism Campaign
September 14, 2016
Alphabet think tank Jigsaw and startup Moonshot CVE last week demonstrated a new counterterrorism technology tool. The groups have been collaborating to steer social media users away from terrorist propaganda. They have developed sophisticated algorithms to target potential ISIS sympathizers with counter narratives when they search for certain terms online or through social media.
Facebook's Sandberg Expresses Regret Over Deletion of Historic Vietnam War Photo
September 12, 2016
COO Sheryl Sandberg has acknowledged that Facebook was wrong to delete posts showing an iconic image of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam war. The admission came in a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Facebook last week repeatedly deleted the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, "The Terror of War," on grounds that it violated its nudity restrictions.
Can Apple Beat Snapchat and Instagram at Their Video Game?
September 1, 2016
Snapchat and Instagram, look out. Apple has you in its sights. The company reportedly is working on a video-sharing app with features similar to those found in Snapchat and Instagram. The app, possibly slated for release in 2017, will allow users of Apple devices to record a video, apply filters and draw on it, then share it with others on a variety of social networks.
Nextdoor Tackles Racial Profiling at Street Level
August 30, 2016
Nextdoor last week rolled out to all 110,000 of its neighborhoods a new form-based process for making crime and safety reports. Implementation of the tool reduced incidents of racial profiling by 75 percent in areas where it was tested, according to CEO Nirav Tolia. Some Nextdoor members had begun using the site to post problematic messages targeting racial minorities.
#StandWithLeslie and Obliterate Internet Trolls
August 29, 2016
I think there's a legitimate argument for removing one category of folks from the gene pool, because they spend the little time they are given on Earth making other folks' lives miserable. Back when I was playing MMOs, some twisted folks -- known as "griefers," would lie in wait to mug lower level characters and find creative ways to destroy the fun in a game, often eventually killing it.
US Government's Social Media Vetting Idea Draws Fire
August 26, 2016
A coalition headed by the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Internet Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union this week filed objections to a Department of Homeland Security proposal to collect social media information from visitors entering the United States. The proposal, published in June, calls for the addition of a request to the I-94W form required for aliens seeking entry.
Instagram Opens Snappy New Events Channel
August 26, 2016
Instagram last week announced a new Explore video channel that gives users an easier way to find and watch events. The channel aggregates videos from concerts, sporting events and more, and its personalization features flag events that might be a good match for users' individual interests. The new channel initially will be available only to U.S. users.
WhatsApp Shaves Off a Little More Privacy
August 25, 2016
WhatsApp on Thursday announced an update to its terms and privacy policy -- the first in four years. Among other things, the changes will affect the ways users can communicate with businesses while continuing to avoid third-party banner ads or spam messages, according to the company. However, WhatsApp will begin to share some personal details about its 1 billion users with Facebook.
Twitter Steps Up Counterterrorism Efforts
August 24, 2016
Twitter last week announced it had suspended 235,000 accounts since February for promoting terrorism, bringing to 360,000 the total number of suspensions since mid-2015. Daily suspensions have increased more than 80 percent since last year, spiking immediately after terrorist attacks. Twitter's response time for suspending reported accounts has decreased dramatically.
The Growing Scourge of Cyberbullying, Part 2
August 17, 2016
The digitization of everything has decreased the degrees of separation between everyone. While that interconnectedness has solved many problems, old and new, digitization has worsened one age-old problem: bullying. An online bullying epidemic is now pushing parents, teens, teachers and technology companies to try even harder to mitigate the misery inflicted on its victims.
Adblock Plus Mouse Roars at Facebook
August 11, 2016
Adblock Plus on Thursday announced that the open source community had created a filter to neutralize Facebook's latest offensive in its ongoing battle with ad blockers. Any Adblock Plus users who want to implement the workaround will have to update their filterlists manually. "For this round of the cat-and-mouse contest, looks like the mouse won," said Adblock Plus spokesperson Ben Williams.
The Growing Scourge of Cyberbullying, Part 1
August 10, 2016
Smartphones are proliferating among adolescents, and so is cyberbullying. That's particularly worrisome due to its potential contribution to the No. 2 cause of teen death: suicide. About 26.3 percent of the middle- and high-school students who responded to a nine-school survey indicated that they'd been bullied in each of the eight years the poll was taken, researchers found.
Facebook Aims to Scrub Clickbait From News Feed
August 9, 2016
Facebook last week announced a new move to fight clickbait in the News Feed: downranking links from Web domains and Facebook Pages that consistently post clickbait headlines. Those that stop posting clickbait no longer will be downranked. Users who post links that lead to a clickbait domain on their personal Facebook page also could have their posts downgraded, according to Facebook.
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