New Facebook Feature Provides Option to Avoid Political Ads

Facebook debuted a feature, first to a small group, to allow U.S. users to opt out of seeing political, electoral and social issue ads in Facebook and Instagram feeds. After months of refusing to take action on these ads, even those with lies, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted that, “everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content.” Facebook also announced its intent to register 4 million new voters in the next few months.

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Twitter Is Developing a New, Transparent Verification System

Tech blogger and app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered that Twitter is developing a new verification service. The original 2016 service placed a blue-and-white checkmark next to a verified personal account, brand or company. The service was halted in 2017 after it verified an account of Jason Kessler, an organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. According to Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey, the company planned to expand the service in 2018 but didn’t have the bandwidth to do so. Continue reading Twitter Is Developing a New, Transparent Verification System

TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

The younger demographic that gravitates to TikTok is turning it into a political force, forming political coalitions — called hype houses — for their favored candidates, fact-checking others, posting news updates and commenting in real-time. Hype houses come in conservative, liberal, bipartisan and undecided flavors, and are amassing hundreds of thousands of followers. Reddit chief executive and co-founder Steve Huffman, however, is concerned about TikTok’s privacy policies, calling the app “fundamentally parasitic.” Continue reading TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

Twitter revealed that, in Q4, revenue rose 11 percent to $1.01 billion, the first time that quarterly revenue topped the billion-dollar mark, and surpassing the $992 million projected by Wall Street analysts. The company stated that income was $118.8 million, with costs rising 22 percent from a year earlier. Its operating income, a closely watched number, was $153 million, down from $207 million the previous year and lower than the $161 million predicted by analysts surveyed by FactSet. Shares rose about 15 percent. Continue reading Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

New Twitter Policy Aims to Combat Fake Photos and Video

Twitter announced yesterday that it would be more assertive in identifying fake and manipulated content on its platform. Beginning next month, the company plans to add labels or remove tweets that feature such manipulated images and video content. While short of an outright ban, the new policy is meant to address the growing concern of users frustrated by the practice of disinformation spread via social platforms. However, it also highlights the challenges faced by social media companies in regards to balancing freedom of speech, parody and satire, and false or manipulated content. On Monday, YouTube announced its plans to better manage misleading political content on its site. Continue reading New Twitter Policy Aims to Combat Fake Photos and Video

Facebook Reveals More Details About Its Oversight Board

Facebook’s Oversight Board, comprised of people from outside the company, will determine if specific user posts violate its rules. But the company just divulged that it expects the board to “come to a case decision, and for Facebook to have acted on that decision, in approximately 90 days,” a lengthy period of time that makes it unlikely the board will be able to block misinformation from spreading virally. The board may play a role, however, in changing the company’s policy on paid political ads. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More Details About Its Oversight Board

Instagram Removes the IGTV Button From Its Main Screen

Instagram has removed the IGTV button from the main screen of its app because so few people use it, instead “finding IGTV content through previews in Feed, the IGTV channel in Explore, creators’ profiles, and the standalone app,” according to the company. Instagram, which launched IGTV in 2018 as a way to post long-form video, has not stated whether it will replace the icon with another. IGTV allows video uploads of up to one hour for celebrities and influencers and 10 minutes for everyone else. Continue reading Instagram Removes the IGTV Button From Its Main Screen

Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stepped down from their executive roles, with Google chief executive Sundar Pichai now heading up both Google and Alphabet. For the past 20 years, Page and Brin personified the company and many of their ideas on how to run an Internet company became standard for other Silicon Valley firms. The two first dialed back their involvement in 2015 when they created Alphabet as a holding company and turned their attention to “other bets,” including life-extending technologies. Continue reading Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

Google is tweaking its policies in advance of the 2020 presidential election. The company has decided to restrict just how minutely political advertisers can target an online audience. While advertisers will still be able to target ads based on age, gender, location and content of the websites that users visited, they will no longer be able to target audiences based on public voter records or political affiliations described as “left-leaning,” “right-leaning” or “independent.” Meanwhile, social giant Facebook is considering a similar move. Continue reading Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Evidence of social media manipulation for political gain is increasing. In Brazil, in response to an investigation into the spread of misinformation during the last presidential campaign, WhatsApp revealed it banned 400,000+ accounts between August 15 and October 28, 2018, which had “breached its terms of service,” with mass mailings. In the U.K., during a debate between the prime minister and head of the opposition party, the former’s party rebranded its Twitter account with the aim of misleading the public. Continue reading WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

On November 13, Twitter is launching Topics, a feature aimed at new or intermittent users that allows them to follow more than 300 subjects. By following a topic, the user will see tweets from experts in that arena. Twitter began testing the feature on Android in August. Topics team lead Rob Bishop noted, “the main reason that people come to Twitter is to keep up on the things that they’re interested in … [but] the challenge is it’s really quite difficult to do that on Twitter day to day.” Continue reading Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Yesterday we reported that Jack Dorsey announced Twitter would ban all political ads, placing pressure on Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider Facebook’s laissez-faire approach to such content. As the CEOs’ opposing philosophies are generating a great deal of media buzz, screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin published an open letter to Zuckerberg, criticizing the chief executive for not doing his part to stop the spread of misinformation on the social network. In response, Zuckerberg used lines from the Sorkin-penned 1995 film “The American President” to essentially call Sorkin a hypocrite. Continue reading Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Facebook Toughens Ad Rules in Lead-Up to 2020 Election

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, Facebook said it is strengthening how it verifies who is paying for political advertising, in an attempt to curtail the spread of disinformation on the site. Last year, Facebook began to require political advertisers to reveal the names — and prove the identities — of the organizations behind ads. At the same time, as numerous Democratic hopefuls vie for the presidential nomination, the cost for advertising on Facebook is skyrocketing. Continue reading Facebook Toughens Ad Rules in Lead-Up to 2020 Election

Twitter Releases Web Redesign That Highlights Community

Twitter’s desktop interface hadn’t been tweaked in seven years and its technology was woefully out of date. The company began working on a redesign of the site in 2017 and started beta-testing it in September 2018. After showing it to more users in January, Twitter finally released it widely this week. The new three-column design is faster, but other changes are subtle. According to Twitter senior director of product design Mike Kruzeniski, much of the design changes focus on “simplification.” Continue reading Twitter Releases Web Redesign That Highlights Community

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