Tag: twitter

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Twitter blames bug for accidentally banning a bunch of accounts

What's allowed and isn't allowed on Twitter isn't always clear. Even though the company has come out with a hateful conduct policy and has unverified and banned some of those who violate it, it still makes a lot of mistakes, like suspending accounts in error. Well, it seems like Twitter has made yet another boo-boo. In the past 24 hours, the company has "banned" over a dozen accounts by accidentally marking them as "withheld" from the whole world.

According to Buzzfeed News, over 21 accounts were affected. Instead of being suspended or outright banned, their accounts were marked as "withheld: worldwide." This is part of Twitter's "country withheld" program, where certain accounts are barred from being viewed in certain countries, usually because it violates the country's laws of expression. Being "withheld worldwide" would, however, effectively ban your tweets from being seen by everyone.

Buzzfeed News notes that one of the users that was hit with the "withheld worldwide" ban had been critical of J.K. Rowling. But according to Twitter, it was all a mistake. According to a Twitter spokesperson: "We have identified a bug that incorrectly impacted certain accounts. We have identified a fix, are working to resolve the issue, and anticipate it will be fully resolved shortly."

Be that as it may, this isn't good news for a company already beleaguered with problems that include Russian trolls, broken searches and, unfortunately, hate speech.

Source: Buzzfeed

Russian Twitter bots are reportedly helping #NoRussiaNoGames push

It's both terrifying and fascinating how well Russia uses Twitter to influence the perception of world events. Operatives from the country have supported Trump and Brexit and positioned propaganda that was eventually shared by major news outlets. Now it seems that Russian propagandists are hard at work amplifying an actual hashtag campaign (#NoRussiaNoGames) against the ban of Russian athletes from the upcoming Olympic games.

Researcher Ben Nimmo of Washinton, DC-based Digital Forensic Research Lab analyzed the traffic around the issue and found that while initially genuine, the huge upswell in the number of posts with the hashtag is likely thanks to Russian state-sponsored bots and trolls. The hashtag first appeared on a Russian social network as an appeal by a St Petersburg boy protesting lifetime bans on his country's cross-country skiers for alleged violations of Olympic doping policies. It exploded on Twitter after the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from the upcoming games this past week.

"What we've got here is a small but genuine hashtag campaign, which is being exaggerated and amplified by Russian state propaganda outlets to make it look like the campaign is huge and an upwelling of popular anger," Nimmo told Reuters. "It's a good human interest story, it's an emotional boy saying how terrible unfairly Russia is being treated. It fits the state narrative perfectly." We've reached out to Twitter for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

Source: Reuters

Change, tragedy and chicken nuggets ruled Twitter in 2017

It's been one heck of a year, and nowhere has that been more visible than Twitter. The platform became a bigger stage than ever given Trump's preference to introduce policy through tweets, turning the social network into even more of a political battleground. Today, Twitter released its year-in-review of the most impactful tweets that gave a balanced view of the year's events. The year's top tweets ranged from reacting to terrorist-caused tragedy to banding together for disaster relief -- with the most retweeted message coming from one man's quest to get endless chicken nuggets.

Unsurprisingly, the most retweeted message of the year came when an everyman infamously begged fast food chain Wendy's for a lifetime of nuggets. But also topping the list of retweets and likes were reactions to tragedy, like Barack Obama's message advocating against hate after the Nazi march in Charlottesville and murder of protester Heather Heyer. Another was Ariana Grande's devastation-filled tweet after a suicide bomber killed 23 outside her Manchester Arena concert. Likewise, Penn State's tweet pledging money for every retweet racked up interactions.

Trump was the most-talked-about politician, but none of his tweets made the lists of most interacted messages. Barack Obama, on the other hand, had three of the top ten globally retweeted posts on Twitter.

The most shared TwitterMoments were more lighthearted, including NASA's discovery of 7 Earth-like new planets and Beyonce iconically announcing her pregnancy with a much-imitated photoshoot. For entertainment, Wonder Woman was the most-tweeted-about film of the year, while the Korean boy band BTS took the crown for musical artist (both globally and in the US, beating out Nicki Minaj and Harry Styles in the latter). Most-tweeted-about TV shows included releases from a mix of mediums, including Game of Thrones, Stranger Things and The Walking Dead. But nine Netflix shows made the top ten list of most popular streaming television shows on Twitter.

Sure, the review of top Twitter interactions for the year is skewed by the platform's perspective, but it showcases what users talk about -- and which voices they amplify.

Twitter is making excuses for allowing hate speech

Twitter sure is having a hard time explaining and enforcing its policies around hate speech. Earlier this week, the company responded to Trump's retweet of violent anti-Muslim propaganda, telling Engadget that some videos may remain up if they are newsworthy or of public interest. Today, Twitter changed that position, saying that, instead, the tweets in question are still on the service because they are permitted based on the company's current media policy.

However, Twitter's policy against hate speech clearly states that "You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories."

The media policy today's tweet references says that "Some forms of graphic violence or adult content may be permitted in Tweets when they are marked as sensitive media. However, you may not include this type of content in live video, or in profile or header images. Additionally, we may sometimes require you to remove media containing excessively graphic violence out of respect for the deceased and their families if we receive a request from their family or an authorized representative."

Twitter's two policies are vague and confusing at best, if not outright conflicting. It's certainly not good for a platform that continues to be ripe for abuse and similar instances occur regularly. We've reached out to the company for further comment and will update this post when we hear back.

Source: Twitter

Periscope’s stream tipping is available outside the US

Periscope's livestream tipping system is no longer a US-only affair -- the Twitter-owned service has expanded its Super Broadcaster program to Canada, Ireland and the UK. As before, livestreamers who've received enough Super Hearts (which viewers pay for with in-app purchases) can apply to become Super Broadcasters and trade those Hearts in for real money. Periscope will only take a $1 cut. Effectively, it's a spin on Twitch's cheers or YouTube's Super Chat. You're rewarding streamers you like and encouraging them to treat it as more of a business than a hobby.

Periscope will widen the program to more countries "as soon as we can."

The Super Broadcaster initiative is a way for Twitter to improve Periscope's viability as a business, but it's also a bid to prevent the brand from sharing Vine's ignominious fate. Vine was popular to the point where it had stars known primarily through their short looping clips, but there was no easy way for them to get paid. They eventually drifted to other, larger services where it was easier to rack up advertising deals. While Periscope's move won't necessarily stop some streamers from preferring services like Instagram (its 800 million-plus users are hard to ignore), it may be ideal for broadcasters who want to make an income from fan support rather than ad deals.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Periscope (Medium)

Twitter’s Lite app reaches 24 more countries

Twitter's data-saving application has landed on the local Google Play stores of 24 new locations. The social network has released its Lite app in Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Malaysia, Nigeria, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Serbia, El Salvador, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, Tanzania and Venezuela after a successful test run in the Philippines.

Twitter launched the app in the Philippines back in September to conduct some on-the-ground user research, which yielded positive feedback. People appreciated its small size, its ability to use minimal amounts of data and to load quickly in a country not exactly known for blazing fast internet speeds. "Based on these positive results," Twitter product manager Jesar Shah said, "we have decided to bring it to more people around the world."

Twitter apparently saw a 50 percent increase in the number of tweets ever since it debuted Lite earlier this year. That was likely due to the data-saving version's quick loading times even on 2G and 3G networks, 3MB install size, offline mode and data saver mode that only loads images and videos you actually want to see. All those features make it especially ideal for people in developing nations where not everyone has data plans or constant access to WiFi, though you can access it anywhere you are through its mobile website.

Source: Twitter

Twitter contractor turned off Trump’s account by ‘mistake’

Earlier this month, the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account disappeared for about eleven minutes, however, the company never revealed who the employee was that deactivated it. Now TechCrunch has talked to Bahtiyar Duysak, a 20-something contractor from Germany who now describes the event as a mistake. Duysak worked in customer support with the Trust & Safety division and says that towards the end of his final shift, an alert came in that someone had reported Trump's account. Although he put things in motion for it to be deactivated, he says he didn't expect for that to actually happen.

Since the incident, Twitter said it has implemented safeguards that would prevent this from happening again, even as people continue to take issue with some of the President's tweets that appear to violate the company's rules. As for Duysak, he's back in Germany where he said "I want to continue an ordinary life. I don't want to flee from the media." He's not being investigated by the FBI and says he didn't violate any rules, but hopes that people in the media will stop pursuing him via his friends and family.

Source: TechCrunch

Trump retweets violent anti-Muslim propaganda

This morning, President Trump retweeted violent anti-Muslim propaganda videos that were originally tweeted by verified user Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF on Twitter). We are not linking to the tweets or the videos because they contain graphic content; one of the videos appears to be of a person's murder.

It's no secret that Twitter has an abuse problem, and despite the service's continued promises to improve how they deal with these issues, users haven't seen much improvement. The service also got into hot water recently because it verified the account of a white supremacist. The Twitter team later acknowledged that verification could be seen as validation of a user's beliefs, and paused the process to put together rules to address the situation. They now will supposedly remove the verification of anyone who "promot[es] hate and/or violence against, or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease."

Twitter's terms are clear when it comes to violent and graphic images. It prohibits graphic violence, which includes "any form of gory media related to death, serious injury, violence, or surgical procedures." Additionally, Twitter prohibits "hateful conduct": "You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."

It's pretty clear that Fransen is engaging in both of these behaviors. Why hasn't Fransen's account been suspended? How is it still verified? This user is clearly tweeting racist, bigoted content that violates Twitter's terms of service. Fransen, who is the deputy leader of Britain's far-right party Britain First, was arrested back in August for using threatening and abusive language during an anti-terrorism demonstration in Belfast. Her "political party" is well-known for racist anti-Muslim stunts, such as invading mosques.

And now the president of the United States is retweeting this hateful anti-Muslim propaganda. Trump has violated Twitter's terms before, spewing bigoted comments and violent threats, and the service has done nothing. In fact, the support team has tripped over themselves to explain why his tweets are "newsworthy" and therefore will not be removed.

We've reached out to Twitter for clarification on both Fransen's Twitter account status, as well as if they will take any action on President Trump's retweets. Even if Twitter suspends Fransen's account, it doesn't solve the Trump Twitter problem. If the president of the United States is tweeting this racist propaganda, and Twitter won't do anything about it, it's hard to imagine that it will ever fully solve its abuse problem.