Tag: instagram

Does social media threaten the illusion of news neutrality?

For journalists, social media can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share their opinion on a wide range of matters, from sports to politics. But at the same time, they have to remember to exercise caution, because whatever they say can be taken out of context and have major implications on the publications they work for. If a reader who follows your tweets or Facebook posts doesn't agree with you, that can motivate them to claim your entire newsroom is biased.

That's why we're now seeing publications having to change their digital strategy. Last week, The New York Times published an "updated and expanded" set of social media guidelines for its journalists. These new rules outline how every staff member (not just editors and reporters) is expected to behave online. In an article posted last week, The Times said that while social media "plays a vital role" in its journalism, since it can act as a tool to better engage with readers and help reach fresh audiences, it can also be a complicated medium. "If our journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media," The Times said, "that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom."


Put simply, The Times wants its journalists to "take extra care to avoid expressing partisan opinions" through social media on issues that it covers, even if the reporter or editor isn't attached to a specific story's byline. Dean Banquet, The New York Times' executive editor, said in a memo that the guidelines are "rooted in the very experience of our journalists." Several reporters who are prominent on Twitter, including Maggie Haberman and Max Fisher, were involved in the process, offering "very helpful" input and, ultimately, their endorsement.

Rukmini Callimachi, a correspondent for The New York Times covering ISIS, suggested in the same memo that her colleagues block abusive people, rather than engaging in a argument that may turn ugly. At the same time, however, the guidelines say that staffers should avoid muting or blocking people who are simply criticizing their work.

Meanwhile, chief White House correspondent Peter Baker, warned reporters and editors that any tweet about President Trump from them could be taken as a statement from The New York Times. That's why it's probably best to keep your thoughts to yourself. "The White House," he said, "doesn't make a distinction. In this charged environment, we all need to be in this together." Baker's example is important because it signals that The New York Times doesn't just want to protect itself from reader criticism, but also President Trump and his staff. Don't make you and your colleagues an easy target, Bakers seems to suggest.

It's clear the idea is to avoid giving anyone reason to claim the paper isn't fair or neutral. That's understandable, but many journalism experts believe the move was driven by recent political events. The decision comes at a time when Trump is constantly bashing the publication, with "the failing New York Times" being his favorite epithet. And he often follows that by claiming that The Times and the rest of the "mainstream media" are "fake news." That said, the paper may be doing this as a way to shield itself against growing scrutiny.

The thing is that while other news organizations, such as The Wall Stret Journal, have similar guidelines in place, those don't tend to be publicly available. The New York Times made the choice to share them with its readers, and by doing so, it's opening itself up to critiques.

So why now?

Cynthia Collins, Social Media Editor at The New York Times, told Engadget that these guidelines have been in the works for months. Though she didn't elaborate on why this was the right time to share these rules publicly, Collins said that The Times felt it would be "interesting or useful for other newsrooms, journalism schools and most importantly to us, our readers." As for what's changed from the old rules, she said only that the new ones were shaped by incorporating reporters' voices.

If our Journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom.

The New York Times

"Although stricter policies are in place for journalists who directly cover topics like sports or culture," said Collins, "journalists who work outside of those departments can reasonably discuss their leisurely pursuits on social media." She said that staffers should ask themselves a couple of key questions before posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or any other social media app: "If readers see your post and notice that you're a Times journalist, would that affect their view of The Times's news coverage as fair and impartial?" and "Could your post hamper your colleagues' ability to effectively do their jobs?"

If the answer is "yes" to either of those, she said, then it's best for journalists to just bite your tongue. (We reached out to a couple of NYT current and former staffers, but they declined to speak on the record.)

"I am very concerned that The Times' dictum might come in response to pressure and criticism from the right," said Jeff Jarvis, Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Naturally, The Times won't say whether the new rules are, indeed, based on pressure from right-wing. Buf if that were to be the case, the paper would be making itself vulnerable. "In this age, it is more necessary than ever for journalists to connect with the publics they serve on a human level with direct communication, with empathy and with honesty. Journalists are not superhuman beings who have no opinions, no bias, no perspective, no worldview, no background."

When asked about whether reporters should avoid sharing their personal opinion, be it on Trump or other matters, Jarvis said that this shouldn't have to be the case. "I believe that we as journalists need to be transparent about our worldviews and experience," he said. "Indeed, one of the reasons the conservative half of America does not trust news media is, I believe, because we were not honest about journalists being predominately liberal in our outlook. If they could not trust us to be open about that, then they came to believe they could not trust us about other things we report."

Jarvis said he does understand The Times' desire to be somewhat more prescriptive, particularly when it comes to reporters using social media to make consumer complaints. On Twitter, for instance, journalists are often verified. That means they can use their position to grab a company's attention faster than someone without a blue check mark on their profile. Still, Jarvis said, "I feel for them as I find that public discussion can be the best way to find consumer justice."

It will be interesting to see if more publications follow in The New York Times' footsteps. Not just in demanding that staffers be less opinionated on social media but also making any revised guidelines public. Given the current state of affair, wherein readers who agree with something may shout "fake news," it wouldn't be surprising to see more news organizations change or be more transparent about their social media rules for staff members.

#MeToo becomes a rallying cry for survivors of sexual assault

Yesterday, a campaign geared towards demonstrating just how common sexual assault and harassment are began to spread on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Alongside the hashtag #MeToo, women began posting their own stories of harassment in response to a prompt by Alyssa Milano.

The tweet has generated thousands of retweets and likes as well as over 40,000 responses. Among some of the celebrities that have joined the campaign are Lady Gaga, Debra Messing, Anna Paquin and Evan Rachel Wood.

The move comes after a New York Times report about Harvey Weinstein and the now many, many accusations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and rape that surround him. The #MeToo campaign was generated in order to show just how prevalent sexual assault is, the risks posed to women in any workplace including Hollywood and how easy it is for someone like Weinstein to get away with what he did.

Following the recent reports, Rose McGowan began discussing her experiences with sexual assault in Hollywood on Twitter and the platform temporarily limited her account. It has since been reinstated, but the move from Twitter, which has come under a lot of criticism for how it handles harassment, spurred the #WomenBoycottTwitter protest last week. The company has since said that new rules for the platform are on the way.

Via: New York Times

Why I kicked my morning Twitter habit

Up until a week ago, the first thing I did every morning after waking up was reach for the nightstand and grab my iPhone. Then, after hitting the snooze on the alarm a couple of times, I'd open Twitter or Instagram and scroll through my feeds for 10-15 minutes before getting ready for work. Once dressed and prepared to face another day, I'd walk to the train, hop on, take my phone out and check social media again. For 40 minutes, almost the entire length of my commute, I scrolled through people's posts for what felt like an eternity. Wash, rinse, repeat -- save for the weekends. And I imagine many people can relate.

Liking posts on Twitter and Instagram before my day really started became routine; it was a way to catch up with what the world had been up to for the six or seven hours I was asleep. What news did I miss? What were my friends doing? You know, the usual. Some call that FOMO (fear of missing out), but I'd say it's just a bad habit. I'd even go as far as calling it an addiction. I feel the need to be glued to my phone, particularly social-media apps, as if my brain is wired to open them every chance I get.

Via Twitter, Trump Threatens To Cancel Mexico Visit To White House Over Wall

Recently though, it's all become too much -- especially on Twitter, where oftentimes the first thing I'd see were tweets about politics and how the world is basically falling apart. It wasn't just Trump's questionable tweets, either, or people's reactions to them, but also things like the discussions around the Las Vegas Route 91 mass shooting. (Instagram is less toxic, because my feed is made up mostly of friends at bars, fashion and sports.)

Don't get me wrong: I love Twitter and Instagram, and I might even say the same about Facebook if I had an account (but probably not). However, that negativity eventually took a toll on me mentally. I noticed that by the time I got to the Engadget office in the morning, I was already in a bad mood. Things that were out of my control sometimes made it hard to focus on my work. And who wants to start the day like that?

That's why I decided to impose a social media diet on myself, in hopes of sparing me a few hours of dealing with the world's problems. No more Twitter or Instagram until after I'm in the office, at my desk and I've had time to settle into the day. Instead, I spend my commute playing games on my Nintendo Switch or reading a book.

I'm not alone in wanting to break from the shackles of social media. Celebrities like Solange Knowles have taken digital sabbaticals recently, citing the need to stay away from "racist ugly ass fuck bois who reek of citronella" on Twitter and Instagram. She made that decision three days after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 15th. As a reporter, it's hard for me to completely tune out, given that my job requires me to stay informed with what's happening around us. But if anything needs my immediate attention, I have notifications for breaking news set up, and I still check my work email at home and on the train.

A couple of friends have suggested wiping the slate clean on Twitter -- unfollowing everyone and starting from scratch. Thing is, that probably wouldn't change much -- I'd just end up just following most of the same people and media accounts. My colleague Dan Cooper took a break from Twitter for an entire week, but I just can't bring myself to do that. Where else am I going to get live reactions to sporting events? Especially right now that the Yankees are on their way to snag another World Series pennant. (Editor's note: Cubs, two years in a row!)

Honestly, I wish I could go back to last year, when the majority of New York City's subway lines didn't have cell service. That said, I also understand there are people out there who need to stay connected for more important reasons, not just to check Twitter constantly. Plus, it's not the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) fault I have no self-control.

I've enjoyed my experiment so far, and now my mornings feel more pure and free from bad vibes. I'm less disappointed in humanity when I get to work, and it's great not starting my day by worrying whether or not Trump has started World War III. Sure, that all changes as soon as I check Twitter at the office, or when I absent-mindedly break my diet for a brief second, but there's no way to avoid reality. The only thing I can do is change the way I use social media, at least if I want to stay sane.

Fear of the US government led me to censor myself on Twitter

The day I've been dreading for months is drawing near. On October 18th, the Department of Homeland Security's modified system of records is scheduled to go into effect. The updated policy would affect all US immigrants, whether they are new, existing or permanent residents or even naturalized citizens, and how they are identified by the government. More accurately, it would allow the DHS, Border Patrol and other immigration authorities to collect social media handles as part of an individual's official record. As someone who's working in the US on a visa, I was immediately worried about how it would affect my standing.

The reason the DHS gave for the update is that it is beginning to conduct "more immigration actions in an electronic environment" and that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is adjudicating "more immigration benefits and requests for action in its USCIS Electronic Immigration System." Basically, people are increasingly applying online, and the changes would reduce the existing reliance on paper records. What the DHS wants to do is be able to officially identify you by your online persona in addition to existing attributes like your name, birthday and address. The update would also add an individual's "country of nationality; country of residence; the USCIS Online Account Number; social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results" to one's records.

A DHS spokesperson said in a statement, "This amendment does not represent a new policy." The notice published on September 18th was "an effort to be transparent (and) comply with existing regulations" and "due to updates in the electronic immigration system." Multiple requests for clarity on what would change for immigrants -- whether they would have to fill out new forms asking for their social media handles or what would happen for those with private profiles, were not answered.

I was raised in Singapore, where political criticism can get you sued (if interpreted as libel), arrested (if seen as inciting violence) or even jailed. At my first full-time job, as a marketing executive for a local oil and gas company, my boss told me not to speak in meetings -- playing dumb was always better than potentially making a mistake, he said. For most of my life, I learned to swallow my feelings. My mother's mantra was "Keep your opinions to yourself," and she sternly repeated it as we made our way to family gatherings and social functions.


When I first came to live in the US, in 2008, I was surprised by how liberally people expressed themselves. I learned that individuals' thoughts have value but also, more important, that we are entitled to them. The notion of freedom of speech was new to me, but as I observed the thriving arts and culture in American society, I understood what liberty was worth. Just as people grow and improve by accepting and learning from different opinions, so a country flourishes by embracing and encouraging open discourse.

I got used to the freedom to air my thoughts on any topic in public forums like Twitter and Instagram. I still refrain from saying anything that would make me look insensitive or give away too much personal information, though. Part of me also continues to fear the wrath of the Singapore government; I worry about what could happen to me when I return to visit family should I unwittingly say something too critical. But for the most part I feel carefree. My posts tend to be a mix of my own articles, random musings, funny videos or frustrating stories about poor customer service and bad PR.

Something changed a few months ago, after I first heard of the DHS' plans to incorporate social media into its visa application process. I started to second-guess myself. I avoided weighing in on topics that would show my political leanings. I dutifully wished my followers a happy Fourth of July, shared the results of the Super Bowl and retweeted posts honoring the fallen victims of 9/11. I sent these tweets mostly out of goodwill, but a small part of me felt it was better to look like I participate in American activities.

I started posting what I imagined a immigration officer would like to see, rather than show an unfiltered version of my thoughts. Truth is, Chinese New Year matters more to me than Fourth of July does, and I didn't really care if the Patriots won. I love America, and I love many of its festivities and people, but I can't change the fact that I grew up elsewhere. And honestly, I shouldn't have to.

I continued to tweet, trying mostly to stay on neutral topics. Occasionally, I let myself express anger at institutions or people, but I only feel safe ranting about issues that people agree on regardless of political views.

I don't want to let my fear get in the way of me expressing myself, but it already has.

But it's what people don't see that I found the most telling. I agonized over whether to soften a jokingly violent tweet about New York's subway system. I didn't want someone to come across those thoughts, assume I was serious, and decide I'm a dangerous individual. Who knows what an immigration officer might think? Eventually, I toned down the language and added qualifiers like "I guess" to make it clear I was merely musing.

There are times I've avoided posting altogether. I kept quiet during the white nationalist rally in Virginia and generally don't comment on things Donald Trump does. But things came to a head when I found myself holding back from sharing negative tweets about American gun laws and political gridlock after the Las Vegas shootings. As my feed filled up with statistics showing how the US and its (lack of) gun control policies have led to massive loss of lives, I longed to retweet and share. But I didn't. Instead, I vented in private messages to trusted friends. I felt like I was back in Singapore.

I'm torn. I don't want to let my fear get in the way of me expressing myself, but it already has.

Maybe I'm being paranoid. A DHS spokesperson said the agency already does "and continues to monitor publicly-available social media to protect the homeland." They might already know everything they need to about me from years of unfiltered tweeting. But when your job, life and future depend on how strangers in some government agency perceive you, wouldn't you be careful too? Yes, my profile is public and anyone can already access it and judge me. But it's one thing to allow random people online to decide if they like you -- it's almost debilitating when your beliefs or personality are used to officially determine if you can visit a country.

The good news is, based on the thousands of comments on the proposal's forum, an overwhelming majority of people are against the upcoming update. Many of them argue that the move would be a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments. Some even claim this is a slippery slope toward a Big Brother–like future with the government monitoring the social media of citizens and immigrants alike. It's still unclear exactly how the changes would affect us, or how they are new, given the vague responses from the USCIS and the DHS. At this point though, my social media is no longer an accurate representation of the person I actually am. It's some facade I've created for the powers that be. Which really makes monitoring it useless anyway.

Instagram tool finally lets you cross-post Stories to Facebook

You'll probably have a lot more Facebook Stories to watch in the near future... except you can also watch most of them on Instagram. According to TechCrunch, the social network has begun rolling out a feature that allows you to cross-post Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories if you're in the US. The company began testing the feature in August, but as always, only a handful of people were lucky enough to get access to it. Now that it's officially out in the US, the feature will arrive on your Instagram app in the near future if it hasn't yet, giving you an easy way to share what's going on with your life with nan and pop.

The social network also told TechCrunch that while you can only cross-post from Instagram to Facebook, it hasn't ruled out the possibility of building a tool that could do the opposite. Instagram Stories has amassed over 250 million users, though, surpassing even Snapchat's version that's been around longer. Considering Facebook Stories is reportedly not doing as well, building a cross-posting tool from Facebook to Instagram might not be a priority for the social network.

Source: TechCrunch

Instagram shopping is getting a big boost from Shopify

Shopify is providing its users with another way to sell their goods. Throughout the year, it has been testing an Instagram shopping feature, but it's now opening the tool up to thousands of additional merchants just in time for the holiday shopping season, TechCrunch reports. The feature lets sellers tag items in an Instagram post that are available for purchase and viewers can then click those tags to buy the items without having to leave Instagram.

Instagram first introduced shopping tags into its platform last November, but they were only available to a handful of brands, such as Kate Spade and Warby Parker. Earlier this year, Instagram opened them up to Shopify and BigCommerce. Since then, Shopify has been testing the feature with a handful of its merchants before widely releasing it and the company says seller response has been enthusiastic. BigCommerce just announced that its Instagram shopping tool is now available to US brands that use its service.

With this expanded rollout, Shopify will continue testing and tweaking the feature before issuing a wide release. Instagram joins Facebook, Messenger, Pinterest and BuzzFeed on Shopify's lineup of supported sales channels.

Via: TechCrunch (1), (2)

Source: Shopify, BigCommerce

Instagram’s new Stories sticker is all about polls

Instagram has introduced quite a few stickers for their Stories feature recently, but their latest update adds some valuable functionality as well. Now you can add a poll to your Instagram Stories through a sticker. You can write out your question, customize the choices and see real-time results within the app.

To check out poll results, simply swipe up when viewing the story, and you'll see who voted and what they thought. The people who see your story can also view poll results; the vote tallies are refreshed in real time, so if they come back later to see it, they'll see new poll numbers. Additionally, Instagram announced a new alignment tool to help you place stickers. You can make sure your sticker is aligned correctly and also ensure that you aren't covering up an important part of your story.

The temporal nature of Instagram Stories (they're only viewable for 24 hours) makes pairing them with polls a smart idea. Just make sure you check back in before the story disappears to see the poll results!

Source: Instagram

How Kevin Durant’s attempt to clap back at trolls backfired

What does an NBA champion and Finals MVP have in common with Taylor Swift? In the case of the Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, it's that internet trolls love calling them snakes. Swift earned that label last year after a feud with Kim Kardashian and husband Kanye West; for Durant, that scorn came after he decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join its main Western Conference rival, the Warriors. Since that day, July 4th, 2016, his mentions have been overtaken by angry basketball fans calling him a cupcake, coward, sellout, traitor and, yes, a snake. That's right, a cupcake and a snake.

Durant has claimed that these negative interactions on Twitter and Instagram don't bother him, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Earlier this week, a user sent him a tweet saying, "man I respect the hell outta you but give me one legitimate reason for leaving okc other than getting a championship." Through his @KDTrey5 account,, Durant replied, "he didn't like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan. His roster wasn't that good it was just him and russ [Russell Westbrook]." In a separate tweet, he continued, "imagine taking russ off that team, see how bad they were. Kd can't win a championship with those cats."

Given Durant's history of not shrinking from confrontations with bitter OKC fans, who can't get over the fact he became a free agent to go to the Warriors, his response wasn't particularly newsworthy. What was surprising was how we defended himself in the third person. And although he hasn't confirmed the existence of a burner Twitter account, all signs point toward that being the case. After all, this is a guy who once responded "your mother" when someone asked if he was softer than the football program at the University of Texas. Why, then, would he refer to himself as KD? Twitter users started wondering the same and it wasn't long before Durant's third-person tweets went viral.

Was he hacked? Have we reached peak Kevin Durant? Did someone from his entourage take it upon themselves to stand up for him? Or, did he simply have another account that he used to defend himself from time to time? As it turns out, Durant revealed at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week that it was indeed he who sent those tweets bashing his former team -- but he didn't explicitly say if he did that thinking he was using another account. "I use Twitter to engage with the fans," he said. "But I happened to take it a little too far, that's what happens sometimes when I get into these basketball debates. What I really love is to just play basketball, and I went a little too far."

Apparently he's so embarrassed that he hasn't been able to sleep or eat since posting those tweets, so you know he definitely regrets not switching to his presumed ghost Twitter account. The thing is, Durant is already one of the most-hated men in the NBA, and this latest gaffe won't help. Some of his peers have already started mercilessly mocking him on social media, making comical comments and creating hashtags like #burnertwitter. Thanks, Joel Embiid.

This is hardly the first time Durant has been roasted he's endured regular backlash over the past year on Instagram and Twitter, platforms where he frequently engages with NBA fans. And by "engages," I mean he's not afraid to share his opinion with the world -- even if, as mentioned earlier, sometimes it leads to "yo momma" jokes. Last month, another user sent him a tweet saying, "Never have someone like @KDTrey5 on ya team because they'll switch up on you when they think times are rough." Durant replied: "Cool, ill give u 30 if you don't want me on your team chump." Then there's this one:

By now, the list of sour words used to describe Warriors-era Durant is so long and well-documented that his sponsor Nike actually designed a sneaker that reflects his meme status. Seriously, it's called the KD 10 Finals, and it features a sole with text of all the bad things he was called during his first season in the Bay Area. "Cupcake," "soft," "sellout," "snake," "pathetic," "can't beat 'em, join 'em," they're all part of the shoe. The name-calling didn't just come from the disappointed OKC faithful either, but also fans of other teams and even his ex-teammates. And it all seems to have caught up to him this week.

"I don't regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter," he said at Disrupt, where he was on a panel discussing his investments in the tech industry. "I do regret using my former coach's name, and my former organization that I played for. That was childish, that was idiotic, all those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologized to them for doing that." Durant says he will now "scale back" his social media usage and instead plans to focus more on playing basketball: "I want to move on from that. I was really upset with myself. I definitely want to move on and keep playing basketball. But I still want to interact with my fans as well."

I do regret using my former coach's name, and my former organization that I played for. That was childish, that was idiotic, all those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologized to them for doing that.

As for Durant's secret Twitter account, no one has been able to find it, meaning we may never know how many more times he had his own back. That's a shame, really, because if it does exist there's probably some clever stuff that we'll forever miss out on. Either way, Durant's actions showed that the adverse reaction from fans has, in fact, affected him. Otherwise why would he be out there with a fake Twitter account, defending himself from trolls?

Still, he's lucky his situation is sports banter more than anything, not serious online abuse like other famous people have had to deal with in the past. Maybe Kanye West, Solange and Ed Sheeran have found the perfect formula to live a stress-free life: vanish from social media, even if it's only temporary.

Instagram’s ‘follows you’ feature reveals your true friends

In what might be one of the most overdue updates of all time, Instagram is finally testing a feature that lets you see if someone is following you directly from their bio. Previously, you'd have to laboriously scroll through your followers list to see if your crush/boss/favorite celebrity cat was following you -- now you can just check their bio for the "follows you" label.

This incredibly simple and much sought-after update has the internet rejoicing, but it seems it's only rolling out to Android users at the moment (and not all of them -- no-one at Engadget can see the coveted label yet). Instagram has been pretty vague about the new feature, telling Mashable "We're always testing ways to improve the Instagram experience." Rest assured the iOS update will follow soon, though, and then everyone can get to work culling their follower lists and taking their social media beef and passive aggression to a whole new level.

Via: Mashable

Instagram’s face filters are now available during your livestreams

The face filters that Instagram swiped from Snapchat are now available on Instagram Live. Starting today, you can add filters before your Live feed airs or during with options that include various crowns and animal ears as well as pilot getup and and nerd glasses. Also, for the next week, a sunglasses filter will be available only through live video and it allows users to tap on the glasses to change what scenery is reflected off of them.

It was only a matter of time before Instagram worked filters into its live video feature. Facebook Live has had them for some time and Instagram introduced filters for photos and videos earlier this year.

To use the feature, tap the face icon on the bottom right of the screen. Then scroll through the selection and tap whichever filter you want to try on. Face filters for live video start rolling out now and should reach all users over the next few weeks.

Source: Instagram