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Posts tagged ‘Twitter’

26
Aug

Twitter is working on a keyword tool to combat harassment


Harassment is one of the biggest problems facing Twitter right now. Some of the company’s most popular and influential users have been driven off the platform because of some truly horrific, hurtful tweets. The problem hasn’t gone unnoticed. Twitter has promised to do more to combat trolls, making it simpler to flag abusive tweets and banning controversial figures such as the conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos. Now, according to Bloomberg, it’s working on a keyword filtering system that would allow users to hide tweets containing specific terms and phrases. If you’ve muted keywords before on TweetDeck or Tweetbot, you’ll get the idea.

Twitter has been weighing the new feature for “about a year,” Bloomberg claims, and would “screen out” any keyword specified by the user, including swear words and racial slurs. Instagram introduced a similar feature for photo and video comments last month, giving people word filters and the ability to turn off comments entirely. My colleague Dana Wollman wrote an excellent piece about why these tools should have been introduced years ago — I’m sure many feel the same way about Twitter.

The platform’s public and open nature is why it’s become such an important utility. But it’s also fostered a community which, at times, can feel toxic and uninviting. That’s dangerous, because if people feel they can’t use the service without receiving an avalanche of abuse, they’ll leave, diluting Twitter’s user base and the amount of thoughtful, beneficial Tweets being published every day. It’s a big problem for Twitter — the company has long-struggled to explain the service’s purpose, and bad press regarding celebrity departures isn’t helping. To reverse its stalling user growth, Twitter needs a feature like keyword filtering, and fast.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment.

Source: Bloomberg

26
Aug

Twitter Working on Anti-Harassment Tool With Keyword Blocking Abilities


Following a recent string of high-profile stories centered around cruel tweets, Twitter is said be gearing up to launch a new tweet moderation feature that will let users filter content they see by using keywords (via Bloomberg). Any subsequent tweet with the specifically designated harmful words would be blocked from the user’s timeline and invisible to them, but still posted for anyone else to see.

The anti-harassment tool is said to have been in production “for about a year” at the company, and is still not quite ready for a wide rollout yet. The news comes from a group of people close to the project, and is most likely gaining traction after a particularly public year of unfortunate incidents surrounding the social network, where both reporters and celebrities were attacked on the service.

Twitter needs to attract and retain users as the growth in their numbers slows. The company has spent the past few months consulting with an outside council of anti-harassment groups about its strategy for addressing the issue, which has become one of Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s top priorities.

Twitter took some small steps this year, such as making it easier for people to report abuse by letting them identify multiple offending tweets while filing their complaints. But the keyword tool, if implemented, would be the first to give users more control over what they see instead of blocking individual users after they attack.

Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey have attempted to make inroads towards creating a less harmful atmosphere on the social network, but as yet haven’t created an in-depth feature that could help prevent bullying on a wider scale. The potential keyword blocking solution sounds similar to one that Instagram is also reportedly planning to launch soon, which will let users filter out the comment section on their photos because “different words or phrases are offensive to different people.”

The news comes after Twitter reported its slowest revenue growth since 2013, thanks to the growing popularity of rival companies Snapchat and Instagram. To turn things around, Twitter plans to focus on five key areas within its network, one of which will focus on keeping users safe from online abuse: core services, live-streaming video, the site’s “creators and influencers,” safety, and developers.

Eventually, the new anti-harassment tool could become a universal filtering feature for content not just potentially harmful, “for example, users could block a hashtag about an event they don’t care to read about.” If true, the Twitter desktop and mobile apps would be playing catch-up to features currently implemented in popular third-party clients, like Tweetbot on iOS and OS X. That app has a feature-rich “Mute Filters” section that allows users to silence any user, keyword, hashtag, and client, all packed with settings to add contingencies like mute locations and duration.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: Twitter
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26
Aug

The Engadget Podcast Ep 3: Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)


Editors Nathan Ingraham and Devindra Hardawar join host Terrence O’Brien to talk about Android Nougat, PlayStation 4 rumors and why Amazon would create an Echo-exclusive music service. Then the panel addresses the endless harassment faced by Leslie Jones, and use the word “garbage”… a lot.

Oh, and as promised, here are your Flame Wars leaderboards:

Wins

Loses

Winning %

Chris Velazco
3
1
.750
Devindra Hardawar
4
3
.571
Nathan Ingraham
3
4
.429
Cherlynn Low
1
3
.250

Relevant links:

  • The slim PS4 is looking realer every day
  • Amazon could launch an Echo-exclusive music service
  • Android 7.0 Nougat arrives today
  • Hackers target Leslie Jones, post nude photos to her site
  • Twitter permanently bans one of its most offensive users
  • Twitter is letting all users filter out trolls from their notifications
  • Gawker.com will shut down as part of Univision buyout

You can check out every episode on The Engadget Podcast page in audio, video and text form for the hearing impaired.

Watch on YouTube

Subscribe on Google Play Music

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

Subscribe on Pocket Casts

25
Aug

Olympics GIFs apparently did get someone banned from Twitter


You may have heard that the IOC placed a ban on media outlets using unlicensed footage from the Rio Olympics to make GIFs for their social media channels. Of course, since it’s 2016 and people have Twitter, that didn’t stop some from trying. One of the more popular clips on social media showed Katie Ledecky destroying her opponents in the women’s 800m freestyle race, providing enough time for Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana to reach “Man it’s a hot one” before another competitor even finishes. While the IOC did have that video pulled, its poster’s account remains active. Meanwhile, Jim Weber posts on LinkedIn that after posting three GIFs of Olympic action, his account ended up permanently banned.

After a few automated messages sent over a period of a few minutes, @JimMWeber was gone for good. According to Weber, while he assumed Twitter might yank the GIFs, he did not think it would ax his account entirely. Still, pulling this GIF of Aly Raisman’s floor routine that someone else posted to Reddit appears to have done the trick.

We contacted the company and it said that “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.” As a result, it’s hard to see why this account got the hammer and others have survived (some accounts were banned, at least temporarily, for posting videos), but it is yet another example of how quickly things can move when a powerful organization wants to control the conversation, vs. harassment targeting groups and individuals.

Source: Jim Weber (LinkedIn)

25
Aug

Hackers target Leslie Jones, post nude photos to her site


Leslie Jones, the Ghostbusters and SNL star who has been the target of vicious online harassment this summer, has fallen victim to a hack that compromised her personal photos and info. According to Variety, Jones’ website was hacked and nude photos from her iCloud account were published to its front page. Images of her passport and driver’s license have also been shared. Jones has yet to offer an official comment on the situation (either on Twitter or anywhere else) but her personal website is currently down entirely.

This marks just the latest incident in a summer in which Jones has been at the center of a number of online attacks. Ever since the female-led Ghostbusters project was announced, those involved with it have dealt with harassment from a variety of trolls who think it’s reasonable to verbally abuse other humans because of a movie. But Jones’ has borne the brunt of it, and things have gotten worse since the film came out in June.

About a month ago, notorious troll Milo Yiannopoulos led a host of like-minded idiots in an organized Twitter attack on Jones in which she dealt with a huge stream of racist comments. Jones briefly left Twitter, but the company stepped in and permanently banned Yiannopoulous. Jones returned to the platform shortly thereafter — and used her celebrity to defend USA Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, who was recently on the receiving end of some online harassment herself.

While it’s not clear exactly how Jones fell victim to hackers or who did the hacking, it’s not a stretch to imagine this all came about as fallout after Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter. The internet is a vast and ugly place, and there are plenty of trolls still looking to punish Jones for having the temerity to be a black woman.

22
Aug

Twitter’s night mode comes to iOS


It was only a matter of time before Twitter brought its night mode to iOS, and sure enough, it’s here. The social network has started rolling out a settings tweak that, like on Android, lets you shift to a darker color scheme to avoid straining your eyes (or because you prefer the look, of course). This definitely isn’t the first Twitter client on iOS to do a night mode, or even the best implementation — Tweetbot has had the option for ages, and it switches automatically based on time of day where Twitter asks you to toggle it manually. Still, it’s nice to see such a practical feature reach the widest audience possible.

Rolling out today – we’re bringing night mode to iOS! 🌙 https://t.co/XxNZHQdth9 pic.twitter.com/WLwKi4H0Oe

— Twitter (@twitter) August 22, 2016

Source: Twitter (1), (2)

19
Aug

Twitter Rolls Out ‘Quality Filter’ to Block Abuse and Automated Content


Twitter has announced a new “Quality Filter” feature that enables users to filter notifications so that they only see “quality tweets” and mentions from people they follow.

The feature initially rolled out as a test and was created partly as a means to combat users’ exposure to abusive trolls, but Twitter says the filter is now available to everyone.

“Last year we began testing a quality filter setting and we’re now rolling out a feature for everyone. When turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior,” Twitter said in a blog post.

The filter works using an algorithm to distinguish between good and abusive mentions. Any duplicate tweets or automated content identified by the feature are also filtered out of feeds, so that users don’t see them at all when browsing the social media service.

Two simple settings to give you better control over your Twitter experience. https://t.co/pEJuMUhCYs pic.twitter.com/jmFd0rDoV6

— Twitter Support (@Support) August 18, 2016

Content from accounts users follow and any recent interactions with accounts they don’t, aren’t affected by the filter, according to Twitter.

To turn the Quality Filter on or off in the iOS app, users can tap Notifications in the navigation bar, tap the Settings icon at the top left of the screen, and toggle the associated feature switch. A second option on the screen ensures users only see tweets from people they follow.

Tag: Twitter
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19
Aug

Twitter suspends 235,000 accounts for promoting terrorism


For years, Twitter was the free speech bastion it aspired to be, maintaining a hands-off approach enabling a liberated forum yet allowing hate speech to flow across its channels. Amid criticism and pressure to stop extremist groups from using its services for coordination and recruitment, the social media company began cracking down in mid-2015. Today they announced that over the past six months, the company has suspended 235,000 accounts suspected of promoting terrorism, bringing the total to 360,000 since last year.

Over its lifespan, Twitter has avoided directly monitoring and filtering content, preferring instead to let users flag offensive tweets for it to screen at its leisure. The result has been policing that’s irregular at best, which critics claim fostered a safe haven for bullies and racists: to wit, it took years for the service to finally block one of its most reported pitchfork-rallying trolls last month. This hesitance to step in is haunting the company as evidence surfaced that it refused to take down key content posted by ISIS proponent and cleric Anjem Choudary after he was arrested in 2014. Only after news broke about it earlier this week did his account disappear.

Thus Twitter’s increasing vigilance of suspected terrorist activity: Daily suspensions for violating its prohibition on supporting extremism are up 80 percent from last year. In addition, it’s expanded its teams reviewing reported violations, is moving faster to suspend accounts and improving its ability to sniff out banned users returning with new usernames. How effectively these actions will curb terrorist support and communication on the platform has yet to be seen.

Source: The New York Times

19
Aug

Twitter is letting all users filter out trolls from their notifications


Twitter has been failing to deal with abuse on its platform for a good long time now, but it seems like the company might finally be taking some substantive action. Twitter just posted a blog detailing two new features as part of its notification settings that should be rolling out to all users soon. The first is a so-called “quality filter” that attempts to reduce unpleasant or abusive @ mentions you might receive. Twitter says it filters out tweets based on a variety of factors including “account origin and behavior.”

The company says it’ll remove “low quality” tweets like duplicate tweets or automated content, but it doesn’t specifically mention abusive language. However, when the company rolled out the quality filter for verified users last year, removing abusive tweets was definitely one of its use cases. It isn’t bulletproof, but if you post something that the trolls of the internet latch on to and won’t let go, turning on the quality filter is definitely worth a shot.

The other new option will only show you notifications and @ messages from people you already follow. It’ll make your Twitter experience a little more insular, but sometimes that can be a very good thing. Both of these new features are available in the mobile app and on Twitter’s website.

These new features come at a time when Twitter is increasingly besieged by a reputation for harboring racist, sexist and otherwise abusive users under the guise of “free speech.” Most recently, Ghostbusters and Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones had to put up with a barrage of racist remarks, led by notorious troll Milo Yiannopoulos. Twitter eventually banned Yiannopoulos, but not before Jones briefly quit Twitter altogether. She came back and has since used her platform to help defend US Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas from similar abuse.

These new features likely won’t solve Twitter’s problems, but they’re a step in the right direction — albeit a step the company should have taken years ago. The features aren’t live for everyone yet, but Twitter says they’ll be rolling out in the next few days. And the company also indicates it’s working on more features to help improve the experience users have on Twitter.

Two simple settings to give you better control over your Twitter experience. https://t.co/pEJuMUhCYs pic.twitter.com/jmFd0rDoV6

— Twitter Support (@Support) August 18, 2016

Source: Twitter

17
Aug

Twitter and YouTube wouldn’t delete an extremist cleric’s posts (update: gone)


Internet giants have been increasingly willing to take down extremist content, but their previous reluctance is coming back to haunt them. The UK recently convicted radical cleric Anjem Choudary (and co-defendant Mohammed Rahman) of rallying support for ISIS, and court documents have revealed that neither Twitter nor YouTube agreed to take down key content. Twitter hasn’t deleted his account, for example, despite British law enforcement’s claims that it violates Twitter policies on promoting terrorism — even after he was arrested in September 2014. It pulled Rahman’s, but not in sync with an official request.

YouTube has sometimes pulled videos, but not always. It wouldn’t yank one Choudary clip because it was “journalistic” (it was posted at a research institute), while only some of Rahman’s content went down. One of his stayed online under claims that it fostered “religious debate.”

We’ve reached out to both Twitter and YouTube for their take on the situation, although authorities mentioned in the documents that they didn’t have the authority to make either site take the extremist material down. The big question is whether or not the sites would react differently now. Google, Twitter and others have taken a more aggressive stance in fighting pro-terrorist content in recent months, even since the last Twitter takedown request in March 2016. It wouldn’t be surprising if they pulled a lot more of the offending online content in the current climate.

Update: Choudary’s Twitter account has disappeared following news reports. Also, YouTube reiterated its policies, which have it pulling pro-terrorist content unless there’s a “clear news or documentary purpose.” You can read YouTube’s full statement below.

“We have clear policies prohibiting terrorist recruitment and content intending to incite violence, and quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users. We also terminate accounts run by terrorist organisations or those that repeatedly violate our policies. We allow videos posted with a clear news or documentary purpose to remain on YouTube, applying warnings and age-restrictions as appropriate.”

Source: The Independent

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