Tech News

Twitter is having a hard time enforcing its age policy

July 24, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Thomas White / Reuters

Once Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in May, Twitter began enforcing its age policy more aggressively, and unfortunately for some users, that meant having their accounts locked even if they were currently of age. GDPR doesn’t allow those under the age of 13 to sign user agreements, but a problem arises when current users who are now older than 13 signed up for an account when they were younger than 13. A source at Twitter told The Guardian in May that since the company can’t selectively remove a user’s content that was posted when they were underage, it was instead suspending those users altogether. But while the company was reportedly working on a more long-term solution, weeks later, the problem persists.

The Verge reported today that users are still being suspended after adding their correct birth years. “For a couple of years, I couldn’t actually update my birth year on Twitter. If I tried to select my correct year, 1996, it just would be grayed out,” Tom Maxwell, a 22-year-old Twitter user, told The Verge. “On Wednesday, I checked again and noticed I could select 1996, but as soon as I saved the change, my account locked.”

In June, Twitter acknowledged the problem, tweeting that it was “working on a technical solution” to delete tweets created when individuals were younger than 13. But that solution must still be in the works. The company also told Engadget that those affected have been sent directions on how to appeal their suspensions by supplying an ID. However, that process hasn’t worked for everyone. Maxwell told The Verge that he had appealed repeatedly, but was still locked out. Some users have reported on Reddit that their accounts were only reinstated after sending their IDs to Twitter multiple times.

We recently made product changes tied to new privacy laws (GDPR) and became aware of accounts that were set up by people when they were younger than 13. We didn’t expect this. 2/6

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 12, 2018

Other social media sites are also having to more actively enforce their age policies. While previously, Facebook only looked into user age when an account was specifically reported to be managed by someone younger than 13 years old, it recently took a more proactive approach. Going forward, any time an account comes up for a review for any reason, reviewers will lock those that appear to be from underage users. To have their accounts reinstated, users will have to prove they’re at least 13 years old with an ID.

Tech News

Facebook will begin actively enforcing its age policy

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Facebook is tweaking its policies towards underage users, TechCrunch reports, and it will begin requiring those suspected of being younger than 13 years old to provide proof of their age. The move comes after a report from the UK’s Channel 4, in which an undercover journalist began working as a Facebook content reviewer. Though Facebook and Instagram require users to be at least 13 years of age — in order to comply with the US Child Online Privacy Protection Act — the report revealed that in practice, those rules were often ignored. “We have to have an admission that the person is underage,” a trainer told the reporter. “If not, we just pretend that we are blind and that we don’t know what underage looks like.”

But going forward, that hands-off approach will be replaced by a more proactive policy. Previously, reviewers would only look into the age of a user if their account was specifically reported as being from someone who might be underage. But now, reviewers will lock the accounts of those suspected of being underage anytime their accounts are noted for review, regardless of the reason why. In a blog post, Facebook said, “Since the program, we have been working to update the guidance for reviewers to put a hold on any account they encounter if they have a strong indication it is underage, even if the report was for something else.” And locked accounts can only be unlocked if users prove they’re at least 13 years old, with a government issued ID, for example.

While young children aren’t allowed to have Facebook and Instagram accounts, at least in theory, the company has been working to draw in younger users with its Messenger Kids app. The kid-only messaging app continues to expand to more devices and more countries despite some outcry from those concerned about exposing young children to social media and overuse of digital technology.

Meanwhile, a recent study found that interest in Facebook seems to be declining among younger populations while Instagram use is growing.

Tech News

Valve temporarily stops adding adult games to Steam

July 17, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Love in Space

In recent months, the question of which games should be granted access to Steam — Valve’s online marketplace — has become an increasingly heated one. After initially warning developers whose games contained adult or violent subject matter to remove explicit themes, Valve settled on a new, watered down content policy that did allow controversial content — so long as it wasn’t illegal. But one visual novel developer claims the moderation isn’t over.

Shining Song Starnova creator Love in Space said via Twitter that its title was being withheld from Steam until it satisfied new requirements. Valve confirmed the suspension in a statement to Gamasutra: “Yes, some titles are being held. We will have more info on this soon”. Despite appearances, this isn’t about outright censorship — Valve says it’s refining tools that would give users more control over what they see in the store.

We’ve now been updated by Valve in regards to Shining Song Starnova, the summary is that they are working on new features to give people more control over the content they see and SSS has been identified as needing these features in place before it can go live on Steam. [1/2]

— Love in Space (@Love_In_Space) July 12, 2018

Still, the company is yet to provide official guidelines as to what kind of content passes the litmus test — and as a result, many developers like Love in Space are stuck in limbo. Valve hasn’t issued a timeline that explains when affected games will be allowed to go live on Steam again, however, it’s likely we’ll hear more regarding Valve’s filtering process in a forthcoming Steam Blog update.

Tech News

Spotify drops artist conduct policy following backlash

June 1, 2018 — by Engadget.com0


That didn’t take long. After Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said it was working with civil rights groups and folks within the music industry to retool its “bad behavior” framework this week, the streaming service has scrapped it wholesale. “While we believe our intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines,” a statement from the company reads.

In so many words, the statement continues that the company never intended to become the morality police. “Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists,” it says. “Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.” Spotify says that some artists were worried that mistakes they made in their youth could come back to haunt them, and that allegations could affect an act’s chance of being included in a playlist, regardless of genre. “That’s not what Spotify is about,” it says.

Spotify first came under fire for this after pulling music from R. Kelly from its playlists, following years of allegations that the singer was guilty of sexual assault, statutory rape and other crimes. Previously, it’d worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League to develop the rules.

This doesn’t mean that the streaming service will drop its policy regarding hate speech, though. It noted that it will continue to not permit music, podcasts or videos that aim to incite “hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation” on the service.

“We’re not talking about offensive, explicit or vulgar content — we’re talking about hate speech,” the blog post concludes.

Tech News

Spotify CEO on new content policy: 'We rolled this out wrong'

May 31, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitted the service handled its policy to limit promotion for artists based on their conduct poorly. “We rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job,” Ek said at the Code Conference, according to Deadline. He said that the company never intended to serve as the “morality police” with the policy, and conceded that the framework was too vague at its inception.

Early this month, the streaming service pulled R. Kelly’s music from its playlists following years of allegations that the artist was guilty of sexual assault, statutory rape and other crimes. At the time, Spotify said it worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League to develop the rules. Spotify said it would nix promotion for any artist who does something “especially harmful or hateful,” which includes sexual violence.

Ek said that the streaming service was working with the music industry and additional civil rights groups to adjust the guidelines, and that the policy was changing as a result.