Tag: Twitter

By Katie Canales for Business Insider US

Twitter will prohibit users from posting photos or videos of people without their permission, the company said in a statement earlier this week.

In a blog post, the company said users will have to file a first-person report or one from an “authorised representative” to ensure that the photo or video has been shared without permission. If the person in the tweet reports it, citing their lack of consent, Twitter will remove the media.

There are, however, exceptions to the new rule. Photos and videos of public figures posted without their permission may remain when “shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse” unless the purpose is to “harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence them.”

Twitter also said it will also try to take context into account on a case-by-case basis. If, for example, the image is publicly available or is being covered by traditional media outlets, Twitter would consider that as it makes its decision, it said.

It’s unclear how Twitter will enforce the new policy or what resources may be directed to enforcement.

The move is an addition to Twitter’s existing “doxxing” policies, which forbid users from sharing home addresses, identity documents, contact information, and other personal details without the subject’s permission.

It was this batch of rules that Twitter in part cited when it banned the URL of a dubious New York Post story purporting to show ties between then US presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son and Ukraine in late 2020.

The article included public information, which violated Twitter’s rules when the news outlet posted the story on its Twitter account. However, a Twitter spokesperson later said the story had spread so widely that that information was now considered publicly available. Former CEO Jack Dorsey also later said it was “wrong” to ban the URL.

 

Donald Trump versus social media

The President has had multiple posts on social media removed or blocked for violation of the terms and conditions, and for spreading “fake news”.

Twitter blocked the President’s account
Twitter locked Donald Trump’s account on Tuesday after he shared the email address of a New York Post columnist.

The US President’s account was locked for posting private information without consent, the social media giant confirmed to Business Insider on Wednesday.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump praised and quoted columnist Miranda Devine for her Sunday column in the New York Post.

In the column, Devine applauded Trump for overcoming his battle with COVID-19, saying he will “show America we no longer have to be afraid”.

In the now-deleted tweet, Trump followed up his praise by posting Devine’s email address, which is against Twitter’s privacy information policy.

Twitter removes posts

Following his departure from the Walter Reed Medical Center, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday had a restful first night at home, and reported no symptoms of COVID-19, confirmed White House physician Dr Sean Conley. In a Twitter post, the President wrote that the flu season is coming up and “many people every year, sometimes over 100 000, and despite the vaccine, die from the Flu.”
The US President added the Americans had “learned to live with” flu season, “just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Twitter hid Trump’s tweet behind a warning about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information”.

Facebook removes posts too

Meanwhile, Facebook Inc removed the Trump post for breaking its rules on COVID-19 misinformation, according to CNN. According to media reports, this is the second time that Facebook has deleted a post from Donald Trump whereas Twitter has intervened more often with deletions and warnings.

By Brian Fung for CNN

President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to “strongly regulate” or even shut down social media platforms after Twitter applied a fact-check to two of his tweets this week.

Trump did not elaborate on what actions he could take. But the threat is Trump’s clearest expression of intent to use the power of government to target his perceived political enemies in the private sector — businesses that already enjoy wide latitude under the law to moderate their platforms as they see fit. And it raises the stakes for Twitter and Facebook as they grapple with Trump’s misleading claims about mail-in voting and his baseless insinuations that a cable TV news host had a hand in an aide’s death decades ago.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. He went on to accuse the tech industry of trying to interfere in the 2016 election, before repeating an unfounded claim about voter fraud stemming from mail-in ballots.

“We can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country,” Trump tweeted. “It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment Wednesday.

Later Wednesday morning, Trump teased a “big action” regarding social media but declined to elaborate on what that could be.
Trump’s Twitter outburst followed an unprecedented decision by the platform on Tuesday evening to apply a fact-checking label to Trump’s content for the first time.

The label, which Twitter has designed to combat misinformation and unverified claims, linked to a curated page with links and
summaries of articles describing how Trump’s claims on mail-in ballots are unfounded.

Shortly after the labels were applied, Trump took to Twitter to claim the company “is interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifling FREE SPEECH.” He added that he “will not allow it to happen!”

But Twitter’s fact-checking decision raised further questions about whether it would apply the same treatment to Trump’s misleading claims about Lori Klausutis, the aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough, a prominent critic of Trump. In recent days, Trump has leveled unsubstantiated allegations at Scarborough suggesting he was responsible for Klausutis’s death. The claims have been undermined by the official autopsy, which found Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition. Klausutis’s husband, Timothy Klausutis, reiterated that in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week, saying that Trump’s claims denigrated the memory of his wife for perceived political gain.

Twitter has told CNN Business that it will not be removing the tweets about Scarborough.

Long-standing complaints from conservatives

Trump and conservatives have long complained that tech platforms algorithmically censor right-wing voices. The claims derive from a perception that Silicon Valley’s largely left-leaning workforce has designed social media products to discriminate against conservatives, though the companies strongly deny the allegations.

Some executives, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have sought to accommodate conservative voices by meeting with them privately, and even meeting with Trump himself.

Trump has previously suggested that the US government could take action against media he dislikes. Last year, the White House set up a website to solicit complaints from the public about tech companies’ perceived political bias, and Trump has called for an examination of NBC’s television license, even though it does not have one.

Earlier this month, Trump tweeted: “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” and promised, without specifics, that his administration would “remedy this illegal situation.” Following that tweet, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump has considered establishing a White House commission to study allegations of conservative bias.

Privately, officials from the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have expressed concerns about a prior proposal from the White House to appoint those agencies as direct regulators of political content on social media.
Meanwhile, major tech industry players remain under federal and state antitrust investigation. But antitrust probes tend to be highly technical and are usually limited to the impact of corporate conduct on competition in the marketplace.

David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former top FTC consumer protection official, said any government push to restrict how private platforms moderate their websites could raise First Amendment questions.
“This is just another example of Trump thinking that the Constitution makes him a king, but it doesn’t,” he said.

Twitter to remove inactive accounts

By Chris Welch for The Verge

Twitter is sending out emails to owners of inactive accounts with a warning: sign in by December 11th, or your account will be history and its username will be up for grabs again. Any account that hasn’t signed in for more than six months will receive the email alert.

“As part of our commitment to serve the public conversation, we’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter. Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log-in and use Twitter when they register an account, as stated in our inactive accounts policy,” a spokesperson told The Verge by email. “We have begun proactive outreach to many accounts who have not logged into Twitter in over six months to inform them that their accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.”

Twitter hasn’t yet said exactly when recouped usernames will be made available to existing users. The account removal process “will happen over many months — not just on a single day,” according to the spokesperson. So don’t expect some massive username rush to happen on December 12th. It might be awhile.

This doesn’t just affect people who’ve abandoned Twitter; it also stands to have an enormous impact on accounts belonging to the deceased. The Verge has asked Twitter whether those will also be pulled into the inactive pool and ultimately removed as part of this process. “We do not currently have a way to memorialise someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, but the team is thinking about ways to do this,” the spokesperson said.

This might be your best chance to preserve tweets from deceased loved ones

If you’ve set up a bot or another secondary account, you should be safe as long as it’s stayed active. The BBC’s Dave Lee reported on the username cleanup. It’s not unusual for huge online platforms to do this from time to time. Yahoo launched an “account recycling” effort in 2013, though some people who grabbed inactive usernames wound up receiving email intended for the old account holder.

Keep in mind that these accounts don’t have to actually tweet anything to stick around. They just have to log in and follow Twitter’s instructions. So even if the username you want seems long dormant based on activity, whoever owns it can still hold on to the username pretty easily.

Also, usernames with under five characters can no longer be registered on Twitter, so that’s another thing to consider when dreaming about switching to that username you’ve always wanted. The username some other fool is failing to put to good use.

The email being sent out has a subject line of “Don’t lose access to @(username).” Here’s what it says:

Hello,

To continue using Twitter, you’ll need to agree to the current Terms, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Use. This not only lets you make the best decisions about the information that you share with us, it also allows you to keep using your Twitter account. But first, you need to log in and follow the on-screen prompts before Dec. 11, 2019, otherwise your account will be removed from Twitter.

So which username will you be going for? Actually, probably best to keep that to yourself until it’s locked in.

By Eddie Spence for Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports are getting a lot of blame for slowing the global economy, but it’s all the uncertainty from his Twitter habit and trade policy more broadly that could be even more harmful.

According to a report by Bloomberg Economics’ Dan Hanson, Jamie Rush and Tom Orlik, uncertainty over trade could lower world gross domestic product by 0.6% in 2021, relative to a scenario with no trade war. That’s double the direct impact of the tariffs themselves and the equivalent of $585 billion off the International Monetary Fund’s estimated world GDP of $97 trillion in 2021.

China would be hit harder by the uncertainty factor, with its GDP lower by 1% compared with a 0.6% chunk taken out of America’s economic output, the analysis showed.

“The tweet is mightier than the tariff,” the Bloomberg economists wrote in their report.

The U.S. president’s social media posts on trade, many of which are about China, sometimes appear several times a day and other times not at all. His contradictory takes on the progress of negotiations with Beijing send a chill through businesses that are making decisions about investing and hiring.

A survey released last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found a growing conviction among businesses that tariffs were hitting their bottom line.

The Fed responded to economic headwinds with a rate cut of 0.25% last month. The Bloomberg Economics report said that while monetary policy can be used to mitigate uncertainty shocks, it cannot prevent the damage entirely. If central banks respond to demand weakness, world GDP will be 0.3% lower in 2021 than it would be in a no-trade-war scenario.

Mecer ad misses the mark?

South African computer manufacturer Mecer has released an ad celebrating three decades of locally-manufactured products.

According to Business Insider, the ad “features a crew of singing and dancing people (presumably employees) in a factory, celebrating local manufacturing and everything South African, from the Springboks to Nelson Mandela. At one point, the lead singer raps that ‘local is not k*k'”.

In addition, “the ad explains how local manufacturing boosts economic growth and provides jobs, and at one point, a singer shoulders dancers wearing international brands like Nike, Kappa and Adidas out of the way.”

Reactions from Twitter and YouTube users were mixed, with some calling it “Next level cringe” and “The worst ad in the history of SA”.

Image credit: Business Insider

A customer service representative responding on the official Telkom Twitter account has accidentally agreed with a negative comment about the company.

The user was complaining about the provider’s service delivery, and the representative replied without having correctly understood the context.

According to MyBroadband, a “professional Fortnite player Dennis ‘Cloak’ Lepore said in a tweet that ‘Spectrum might be the worst internet provider ever’. Spectrum is an ISP which serves users in the US.”

A South African Twitter user named Jonathan Oliver then “responded to Lepore’s tweet, stating ‘Nah @TelkomZA takes the number 1 spot’.”

Although both users were complaining about the service of certain Internet service providers, the Telkom customer representative responded with the following: “Yass and your continuous support keeps us up there! Thank you…”

The reply was widely mocked and shared on social media. It has since been deleted by Telkom.

Standard Bank turns tweets into stationery

For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Some call it the concept of cause and effect. Others would term it reaping what you sow. At Standard Bank, this means that #GoodFollowsGood.

From August to October, Standard Bank will launch the Tweet Machine, a mobile industrial container that acts as a factory of sorts by linking the global reach of social media to 3D printers and laser cutters, which will produce 1000 set square and ruler kits for grade 6 learners. This is the first installation in the world to turn tweets into educational tools.

The idea will be to kick-start a positive impact initiative on social media by encouraging South Africans to tweet about something positive using the #GoodFollowsGood hashtag. Standard Bank will then facilitate the forward payment of this positivity by transforming these tweets into stationery sets for learners that are part of the Standard Bank Tutuwa-BRIDGE School Programme. The five-year partnership with Tutuwa-BRIDGE seeks to support schools in improving learner outcomes. Both learners and school performance will be monitored to ensure that the impact is effective and long-lasting.

The technology powering the Tweet Machine is a customised Python programming script on a master computer to scrape Twitter and other social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for posts using the #GoodFollowsGood hashtag. The social media posts will be fed to a special micro-controller unit called a Raspberry Pi, which will send the appropriate print commands to the 3D printers and laser cutters housed inside the Standard Bank Tweet Machine.

“Our goal is to use the power of social media to illustrate that everything you do sets something in motion. The Tweet Machine activation is a live demonstration of positive words having a positive impact, while at the same time creating tangible education tools to benefit young learners,” said Katlego Mahleka, Senior Manager, Brand at Standard Bank Group.

The public will be able to view and contribute to the stationery by posting on social media and feeding directly into the printers and laser cutters as they work. The activations will be held at a two venues in Johannesburg: Melrose Arch Square (30 August – 2 September) and Singularity U Summit (15-18 October).

See the Tweet Machine in action here:

By Eric Limer for Popular Mechanics 

Twitter is suggesting all users change their passwords as a precaution after a reported glitch caused some passwords to be stored in plain text. If you’ve ever used your Twitter password for another service, you’d be wise to change it in both places.

Twitter says there is no evidence of a breach, but the error would have allowed any snoopers inside the system to scoop up unprotected passwords with ease. Typically, passwords are “hashed” before they are stored, a process which transforms them password into a unique series of numbers and letters that can’t be translated back into the actually sequence of numbers and letters you type in. This prevents hackers from snagging a phrase they can try on your other accounts.

Even with no evidence of an actual breach, this bug serves as a good reminder for some basic security hygiene. Use unique passwords for every service you use; a password manager can help you keep track of them all. Turn on two-factor authentication where available (it is available on Twitter). And while you’re at it, go look at the apps that have access to your account. These apps, if they’re insecure themselves, can offer hackers a limited way into your account without ever having to figure out your password.

Twitter is now finished with a several week process updating rules to curb abuse on the platform — but now the platform is refuting several undercover videos by Project Veritas trying to point fingers at the network.

On January 16, Twitter shared a statement on the latest video that suggests Twitter engineers access private direct messages, calling the project “deceptive”.

The video in question appears to be an undercover project where Project Veritas members recorded Twitter engineers — without their knowledge — while in a bar. In the video, the Twitter employees mention a machine learning system that goes through both Tweets and direct messages, while according to the video, some staff members go through the messages flagged by the machines.

The video was the third recent dig from the organization directed at Twitter, and the platform called the videos “deceptive” and “selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative.” In a statement on the direct message video, Twitter 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 access protocols for those employees.”

Twitter says the employees in the video were not speaking on behalf of Twitter at the time. Twitter’s Privacy Policy says that for direct messages, “we will store and process your communications, and information related to them.”

The video comes after another report on Twitter’s shadow-banning, and another undercover video where a Twitter engineer says they’d happily hand over President Donald Trump’s data for an investigation. Twitter also refuted both earlier videos.

While a number of individuals are using the recent videos against the platform, others are looking deeper into Project Veritas — an organization run by conservative James O’Keefe that also tried to get the Washington Post to publish fake news against a political candidate. As Twitter’s new rules result in more users getting banned from the platform, some groups aren’t happy with the switch from a platform that was previously more open, saying the changes create more bias.

Twitter, however, isn’t the only one calling the organization’s tactics deceptive. Wired suggests that the videos are part of the inevitable backlash from the new rules designed to combat abuse and eliminate hate groups and hate speech from the platform, suggesting the rules have the “alt-right” groups mad over the removal of some accounts. The video also comes after a handful of lawsuits filed against Twitter, including a complaint from one user that lost Twitter access after a post threatening to “take out” a civil rights activist. While the lawsuit is recent, the account ban happened three years ago.

The videos factor into a larger discussion as Twitter strengthens policies against abuse, and multiple social media networks struggle against fake news and now removing extremist content. No matter what side of the conversation you fall on, the “legitimate work purposes” access is a nice reminder that the internet isn’t the best place for the most private conversations.

By Hillary Grigonis for Digital Trends

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