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How Social Media Warps Democracy

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Facebook and the Web of Trust

Here’s a long read to put on your list as you head into the weekend. It examines social media and its impact on democracy and our psyche.

The problem may not be connectivity itself but rather the way social media turns so much communication into a public performance. We often think of communication as a two-way street. Intimacy builds as partners take turns, laugh at each other’s jokes, and make reciprocal disclosures. What happens, though, when grandstands are erected along both sides of that street and then filled with friends, acquaintances, rivals, and strangers, all passing judgment and offering commentary?

Apple Clips 2.1 Brings Animoji and Memoji

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Apple’s Clips app lets people create and share fun, short videos for social media. Updated yesterday Clips 2.1 brings Animoji, Memoji, and more. Record clips as your favorite Animoji including unicorn, owl, dragon, and others; Create videos featuring the same Memoji that you make in Messages; Apply filters to stylize your Animoji and Memoji with watercolor, monochrome, and comic book looks; Track any sticker, text, or emoji to your face and watch it follow your movements across the screen; Choose from seven new animated stickers featuring classic illustrations of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse; Add the animated Let It Snow poster to your winter videos; Includes performance and stability improvements. App Store: Free

Inactive Twitter Accounts to be Removed in December

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Inactive Twitter accounts will be removed in December, freeing up these usernames for reuse.

Twitter is sending out emails to owners of inactive accounts with a warning: sign in by December 11th, or your account will be history and its username will be up for grabs again. Any account that hasn’t signed in for more than six months will receive the email alert.

Twitter hasn’t yet said exactly when recouped usernames will be made available to existing users. The account removal process “will happen over many months — not just on a single day,”

Report Twitter Lists With This New Feature

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You can now report Twitter lists with a new feature that the social media company is rolling out. People can create a list of Twitter users and other people can subscribe to it. Certain people have used Lists as a way to harass minorities and/or women, but they can now be reported for abuse.

Similar to reporting an abusive tweet, Twitter users will tap on the three-dot icon next to the List in question, and then choose “Report.” From the next screen, you’ll select “It’s abusive or harmful.” Twitter will also ask for additional information at that point and will send an email confirming receipt of the report along with other recommendations as to how to manage your Twitter experience.

Private Social Network MeWe Reaches 6 Million Members

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Private social network MeWe has reached six million members in 2019 and was named the Best Entrepreneurial Company for this year.

MeWe expects over 100 million members by the end of 2020, having achieved 405% growth in 2018 and growing twice as fast on a daily basis in 2019. 60% of MeWe’s traffic is international and 35% of members are active—exceeding industry standards.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t used MeWe since I reviewed it. But I’ll gladly promote alternatives to Facebook, especially if privacy is the number one focus.

DuckDuckGo Survey Shows People Taking Action on Privacy

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A recent survey (n=1,114) by DuckDuckGo found that 79.2% of U.S. adults had taken privacy measures in the past year, like adjusting privacy settings on social media or just using social media less.

43.1% (± 2.9) removed personal information or posts that they didn’t want the network or others to see.

35.0% (± 2.8)made their profile completely private.

34.8% (± 2.8) stopped adding location tags to their posts.

38.2% (± 2.8) changed which data they allow the network to collect and share about them.

I think it’s great to see more people paying attention to their privacy. For most people, privacy is something that you don’t notice often until you start losing it.

Facebook Refuses to Fact-Check Politicians

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Facebook moves to hold politicians to lower standards than the rest of us, saying that politicians will be exempt from its fact-checking system.

Facebook uses independent third-party fact-checking organizations to help identity fake news, misleading claims and misinformation. However, it said posts made by politicians would not be fact-checked. It said it did not want to be the “referee” in political debates or prevent politicians’ posts from reaching their intended audience. However, it did not define who it counted as a politician.

Mark Zuckerberg won’t fact-check politicians but he’ll gladly take their political advertising money.

Instagram from Facebook, Fake Story Views, and Russian Growth Hackers

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Some Instagram from Facebook users have noticed views on their Story from accounts that don’t follow them and seemed to be Russian. Instagram said it’s aware of the issue.

It also said this inauthentic activity is not related to misinformation campaigns but is rather a new growth hacking tactic — which involves accounts paying third parties to try to boost their profile via the medium of fake likes, followers and comments (in this case by generating inauthentic activity by watching the Instagram Stories of people they have no real interest in in the hopes that’ll help them pass off as real and net them more followers).

White House Drafts Order to Investigate Alleged Social Media Left-Wing Bias

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The White House is drafting an executive order that would address alleged left-wing bias by social media companies, with an official saying:

If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system. But look, we also think that social media plays a vital role. They have a vital role and an increasing responsibility to the culture that has helped make them so profitable and so prominent.

A WH official actually used the phrase “liberal cesspools of venom.” What a trashy administration.

Twitter Web Redesign Rolls Out For All Users

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A Twitter web redesign is rolling out for all users, simplifying navigation, a sidebar, profile switching, and more.

The update is designed to make it easier to move around Twitter. Before, you’d have to click on your Profile icon to access features like Lists, Themes, Settings, and other options. Meanwhile, getting to Moments was available both in this Profile dropdown menu and in the main Twitter navigation at the top of the screen, next to Notifications and Messages.