A federal judge’s preliminary injunction means the app stores can continue offering the video app for downloads for now.
A federal judge’s preliminary injunction means the app stores can continue offering the video app for downloads for now.
The platforms must not tolerate voter disinformation.
In analyzing footage involving fatalities or accusations of brutality, the Visual Investigations unit pursues the truth, frame by frame.
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A transparent and egalitarian society like ours isn’t susceptible to “kompromat.”
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, America’s roughly 640 billionaires have seen their fortunes soar by $845 billion in combined assets or 29% collectively, widening the already yawning gap between the very richest and the rest of the U.S.
Many of those billions were made by tech founders, including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, whose companies have soared in value and, in tandem, their net worth. In fact, so much has been made so fast and by so few relatively, that it’s easy to wonder if greater equality is now forever out of reach.
To talk about the question, we reached out earlier this week to Ananad Giridharadas, a former New York Times correspondent whose 2018 book, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” became a best-seller
Giridharadas’s message at the time was largely that the generosity of the global elite is somewhat laughable — that many of the same players who say they want to help society are creating its most intractable problems. (Think, for example of Bezos, whose company paid zero in federal tax in 2017 and 2018 and who is now on the cusp of opening a tuition-free preschool called the Bezos Academy for underserved children.)
Given the aggressive escalation over the last six months of the same trends Giridharadas has tracked for years, we wondered how he views the current situation. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.
TC: You have a weekly newsletter where you make the point that Jeff Bezos could give every one of Amazon’s 876,000 employees a ‘pandemic’ bonus of $105,000 and he would still have as much money as he did in March.
AG: There’s this way in which these crises are not merely things that rich and powerful survive. They’re things that they leverage and exploit, and it starts to raise the question of: are they even on the same team as us? Because when you have discussions about stimulus relief around what kind of policy responses you could have to something like the 2008 financial crisis or the pandemic, there’s initially some discussion and clamor for universal basic income, or substantial monthly checks for people, or even the French approach of nationalizing people salaries… and those things usually die. And they die thanks to corporate lobbyists and advocates of the rich and powerful, and are replaced by forms of relief that are upwardly redistributive that essentially exploit a crisis to transfer wealth and power to the top.
TC: Earlier in the 20th century, there was this perception that industry would contribute to solving a crisis with government. In this economy, we just didn’t see a lot of the major tech companies, or a lot of the companies that were benefiting from this crisis, really sacrificing something to help the U.S. Do you see things that way?
AG: I think that’s right. I’m always wary of idealizing certain periods in the past, and I think there were a lot of problems in that time. But I think there’s no question that it was not as difficult back then, as it is today, to summon some kind of sense of common purpose and even the need to sacrifice values like profit seeking for other values.
I mean, after 9/11, President George W. Bush told us all to go shopping as the way to advance the common good. Donald Trump is now 18 levels of hell further down that path, not even telling us that we need to do anything for each other and [instead describing earlier this week] a pandemic that has killed 200,000 people as being something that doesn’t really affect most people.
So there’s just been a coarsening. And that kind of selfish trajectory of our culture, after 40 years of being told that what we do alone is better than what we do together, that what we do to create wealth is more important than what we do to advance shared goals — that quite dismal, dull message has had its consequences. And when you get a pandemic like this, and you suddenly need to be able to summon people to all socially distance at a minimum or, more ambitiously, pull for the common good or pay higher taxes are things that might even cost them a little bit, it’s very hard to do because the groundwork isn’t there.
TC: You’ve talked quite a bit over the years about “fake change.”
AG: Silicon Valley is the new Rome of our time, meaning a place in the world that ends up deciding how a lot of the rest of the world lives. No matter where you lived on the planet Earth, when the Roman Empire started to rise, it had plans for you one way or another, through your legal system, or your language, or culture, or something else. The Roman Empire was coming for you.
Silicon Valley is that for our time. It’s the new Rome [in] that you can’t live on planet Earth and be unaffected, directly or indirectly, by the decisions made in this relatively small patch of [of the world]. So the question then becomes, what does that new Rome want? And my impression of having reported on that world is that it’s an incredibly homogeneous world of people at the top of this new Rome. It’s white male dominated in a way that even other white male dominated sectors of the American economy are not . . . and it’s a lot of a certain kind of man who often is actually more obtuse about understanding human society and sociological dynamics and human beings than the average person.
Maybe they didn’t spend a lot of time negotiating human dynamics at sleepovers, which is fine. But when you end up with a new Rome and it’s hyper dominated by people of one race and one gender, many of whom are disproportionately socially unintelligent, running the platforms through which most human sociality now occurs — democratic discourse, family community, so on and so forth — we all start to live in a world created by people who, frankly are just quite limited. They are smart at the thing they’re smart at and they’ve become in charge of a lot of how the world works. And there’s simply not up to the task. And we see evidence of that every day.
TC: Are you speaking about empathy?
AG: Empathy is absolutely one of [the factors]. The ability to understand the more amorphous, non technological, non quantifiable things . . . it’s so interesting, because it’s people who are clearly very smart in a certain area but just honestly do not understand democratic theory. There’s just so much work that’s been done — deep, complicated thinking going back to Plato and Aristotle, but also modern sociological work, including why a safety net and welfare is complicated. And there’s a certain kind of personality type that I have found very dominant in Silicon Valley, where it’s these men who just don’t really have a lens for that.
They’re often geniuses. It’s a certain kind of particular personality type where you care a lot about one thing and you go deep on that one thing, and it’s probably the same personality type that Beethoven had. It’s a great thing, actually. It’s just not great for governing us, and what these people are doing is privately governing us, and they have no humility about the limitations of their worldview
TC: We’re talking largely about social media here. Is it reasonable to expect some kind of government action. Do you think that’s naive?
AG: It’s absolutely essential that the tech industry be brought into the same kind of sensible regulatory regime. I mean, you have kids, I have kids. If you’ve ever read the side of their car seats or any of the other products in their lives, you understand how much regulation there is for our benefit. . . I often say that the government at its best is like a lawyer for all of us. The government is like ‘Why don’t we check out these car seats for you and create some rules around them and then you can just buy a car seat and not have to wonder whether it’s the kind that protects your child or crumbles?’ That’s what the government does for all kinds of things.
TC: You’ve talked about billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes yet don’t hesitate to make a donation because they have control over where their money is spent and they get their name on a building, and it’s true. Many companies whose founders also consider themselves philanthropists, like Salesforce and Netflix, paid no federal tax in 2018, which amounts to billions of dollars lost. If you had to prioritize between taking antitrust action or closing the tax loopholes, what would you choose?
AG: They’re both important. But I think I would prioritize taxation.
One way to think about it is this pre distribution and redistribution. The monopoly issue in a way is pre distribution, which is how much money you get to make in the first place. If you get to be a monopoly because we don’t enforce antitrust laws, you’re going to end up making pre tax a lot more money than you would otherwise have made if you had to compete in an actual free market.
Once you’ve made that money, the tax question comes up. So both are important, but I think you can’t overestimate the extent to which the tax thing is just totally foundational. If you look at the report that the 400 richest families in America pay a lower effective tax rate than the bottom half of families, it’s appalling.
We live in a complicated world. A lot of different things have been going on, including just in the last few months. But if you have to really summarize the drift and the shift of the last 40 years, it’s been a war on taxation. And it’s been a massive redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top of American life through taxation. Since the ’80s, the top 1% has gained $21 trillion of wealth, and the bottom half of Americans have lost $900 billion of wealth on average — and much of that was prosecuted through the tax code.
Awkward! Above, Giridharadas shaking hands with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at a Wired event in 2018.
Speaking to Congress today, the former Facebook manager first tasked with making the company make money did not mince words about his role. He told lawmakers that the company “took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook, working to make our offering addictive at the outset” and arguing that his former employer has been hugely detrimental to society.
Tim Kendall, who served as director of monetization for Facebook from 2006 through 2010, spoke to Congress today as part of a House Commerce subcommittee hearing examining how social media platforms contribute to the mainstreaming of extremist and radicalizing content.
“The social media services that I and others have built over the past 15 years have served to tear people apart with alarming speed and intensity,” Kendall said in his opening testimony (PDF). “At the very least, we have eroded our collective understanding—at worst, I fear we are pushing ourselves to the brink of a civil war.”
The actor is also dedicated to her podcast, “Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best,” and her dog, Gina Linetti.
In June, Twitter introduced a test feature on Android to promote “informed discussion” on the platform — something social media’s staccato conversational bursts are rarely conducive to.
The experimental prompt appeared for users who went to retweet an article they hadn’t clicked to open, and suggested they read before they retweet.
Twitter says the prompts worked, and users opened articles before sharing them 40% more often than they did without the nudge. Users in the test group apparently opened an article and then retweeted it 33% more than they did without the test prompt.
“It’s easy for articles to go viral on Twitter. At times, this can be great for sharing information, but can also be detrimental for discourse, especially if people haven’t read what they’re Tweeting,” Twitter Director of Product Management Suzanne Xie said.
It seems like a small product change, but steps like this — and ideally much bigger ones — could be key to shifting the social media landscape to something less toxic and reactionary. Other test prompts on Twitter and Instagram warn users before they share content that could be harmful or offensive.
After building platforms tuned to get users sharing and engaging as much as possible, introducing friction to that experience seems counterintuitive. But inspiring even just a moment of pause in user behavior might address a number of deeply entrenched social media woes.
Ridding platforms of their problems won’t be easy, particularly for companies that are seldom motivated to make meaningful changes. But reprogramming user behavior away from impulsivity could help undermine the virality of misinformation, harassment, hyper-polarization and other systemic issues that we’re now seeing seep across the thin barrier between online and offline life.
While President Trump has blessed a deal for TikTok, the video app filed to stop a ban of its service that is set to go into effect on Sunday.
Meme accounts like @dankrecovery and @brutalrecovery use dark humor to help those struggling with addiction.
Instagram is today rolling out a few changes to its TikTok competitor, Reels, after early reviews of the feature criticized its design and reports indicated it was failing to gain traction. The company says it’s responding to user feedback on a few fronts, by giving Reels users the ability to create longer videos, extend the timer, and by adding tools to trim and delete clips for easier editing.
TikTok helped popularize the short, 15-second video — its default setting. But its app also allows videos up to a minute in length, which is a popular option. Reels, however, launched with support for only the 15-second video. Not surprisingly, the Reels community of early adopters has been asking for the ability to create longer videos, similar to TikTok.
But Instagram isn’t giving them the full one minute. Instead, it’s adding the ability to create a Reel up to 30 seconds long. This could force users to create original content for Reels, instead of repurposing their longer TikTok videos on Instagram.
The company says it will also now allow users to extend the timer up to 10 seconds and will allow users to trim and delete clips to make editing simpler.
“We continue to improve Reels based on people’s feedback, and these updates make it easier to create and edit. While it’s still early, we’re seeing a lot of entertaining, creative content,” said Instagram Reels Director, Tessa Lyons-Laing.
The tweaks to the video creation and editing process could help to simplify some of the more troublesome pain points, but don’t fully address the problems facing Reels.
What makes TikTok so easy to use is that you don’t have to be a great video editor to make what appear to be fairly polished, short-form videos synced to music. With TikTok’s Sound Sync feature, for example, the app can automatically find music that synchronizes with your video clips, if you don’t want to take full control of the editing experience.
On Reels, there’s more manual editing involved in terms of locating the right music and matching it up with your edits — which you have to do yourself, instead of leaving it up to the tech to do for you.
And despite being a shameless attempt at being a TikTok clone, Reels lacks other TikTok features, like duets or its “Family Pairing” parental controls. It also makes it difficult to figure out how to share videos more privately. Reels can be posted to Stories, where they disappear, or they can appear on your profile in their own tab — which is a confusing design choice. Plus, the integration of Reels in the Instagram app contributes to app bloat. TikTok is an entire social network, but Reels is trying to squeeze that broader creative experience into a much smaller box alongside so many other features, like Stories, Shopping, Live Video, IGTV, and more standard photo and video publishing. It feels like too much.
That said, Reels has managed to onboard a number of high-profile users. Today, it’s touting top Reels from creators like Billy Porter, Blair Imani, Doug the Pug, Prince William and Kate, and Eitan Bernath as examples of its creative content.
Even though TikTok’s fate is still a big question mark in the U.S., it’s not clear, at this point, if Instagram will be poised to absorb the TikTok audience in the event of a ban.
Instagram says the option to create 30 second Reels is rolling out today, while the new trimming and editing features are live now. The Timer extension will also roll out in the next few days.
The features will be available in the 50 countries worldwide where Reels is available and elsewhere, as Reels expands to new markets.
With the most uncertain election in modern American history fast approaching, social networks are doing a final big push to get their users registered to vote.
The efforts align with National Voter Registration Day, which punctuates ongoing efforts from companies like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat to get people to the polls, whether IRL or through mail-in voting.
Snapchat, which says it has helped 750,000 U.S. users get registered to vote, announced new voter-focused programming with an eclectic slate of celebrities that included Snoop Dogg, former President Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The social network is also launching some new Snap Originals (the company’s short form pieces of content) themed around the U.S. election. Those include a “Good Luck Voter!” miniseries by Peter Hamby a special election-focused episode of “While Black with MK Asante.”
Star power aside, a Snapchat tool prompts users make a plan to vote with friends and also allows them to request a mail-in ballot through the app itself. Any account featured on Snapchat’s Discover page can also embed the platform’s voter registration tool directly into their content.
Twitter’s own efforts also put voter registration front and center. On September 22, all U.S. Twitter users were sent a prompt asking them to register or confirm their voter registration through TurboVote. The prompt and an accompanying push alert were sent in 40 languages. The new reminders join the company’s existing voting info hub and its #YourVoiceYourVote campaign, which recruited popular accounts like Marshmello and Chrissy Teigen to promote a link to Vote.org’s registration check page along with original voice notes. Twitter also added new hashtag emoji linked to #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and #VoteReady.
Adding to its existing efforts, like the launch of its own election info hub, top-of-newsfeed prompts and Instagram reminders, Facebook roped in celebrities Alicia Keys, Gabrielle Union, Jada Pinkett Smith and others for a special “Vote-A-Thon 2020” series of livestreaming educational PSAs around voter registration. Facebook says it’s helped 2.5 million people get registered to vote across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger
Facebook’s top-of-feed notifications reminding users to register will run on the Facebook app, Instagram and Messenger through Friday September 25. Users who use a new set of Instagram stickers for National Voter Registration Day will have their story featured in a special voter registration-themed story on the social network.
YouTube and the apparently still-in-limbo TikTok didn’t appear to be holding their own voter registration drives Tuesday, but Google, Reddit and Discord all featured prominent homepage banners reminding users to register to vote.
The decision to narrow the case to search could set off separate lawsuits from states over Google’s power in other business segments.
Banned apps, nefarious theories, trade wars, voiceless users. The case of TikTok isn’t news to most of the world.
The social media campaign was small but targeted all sides of the debate. Officials said Beijing had not decided whether to wade more directly in the American presidential race.
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Companies involved in a deal to resolve TikTok’s future publicly clashed over the arrangement, while President Trump threatened to block any deal that left the service in Chinese hands.
You’ve probably seen the screenshots going around that show iOS home screens that differ considerably from the stock options that Apple provides. Yes, if you’re an Android user you’re probably laughing at iPhone owners for finally (nearly) catching up to the customization features they’ve had for years, but if you’re an iOS fan, you probably just want to know how to join in. It’s actually relatively easy – provided you’ve got some time to spare, and you don’t mind a few slightly hacky workaround (don’t worry, no jailbreaking required).
The big new addition that’s prompting all the shared screens across social media are home screen widgets, which are supported under iOS 14 for the first time. These can be either first- or third-party, and are included with apps you download from the App Store. There are a number of developers who pushed to ensure they were ready at or near the launch of iOS, and Sarah has created a growing list of some of the best for you to check out if you’re not sure where to start.
One of my personal favorite widget apps is Widgetsmith, an app that, as its name suggest, was created pretty much entirely for the purpose of making them. It allows you a range of customization options, has a number of handy, useful functions including calendar, weather and clock, and comes with different font choices to best suit your style. I’ve always aimed to create a clean, single tone look with iOS as much as possible, and Widgetsmith is the best I’ve found so far for creating homescreen displays that look like they’re borderless (provided your iOS wallpaper is a solid color that matches one of those the app supports).
Widgets are great at providing at-a-glance information that you don’t typically want to dive into an app to retrieve, right on your homescreen where you need them. Some can shortcut to useful features, like the search widget built into Google’s iOS app, but most are made primarily to reduce the amount of time you spend actually inside the apps themselves.
While Widgets are new, another big component of this customization push is not – that’s the ability to create custom homescreen icons for iOS apps. That’s been around ever since Apple introduced its Shortcuts app on iOS a couple of years ago, but many people are discovering the feature for the first time as a result of the increased attention around homescreen customization with the introduction of Widgets in iOS 14.
Creating custom icons on iOS isn’t actually doing that, strictly speaking – what you’re in fact doing is creating new Shortcuts that trigger the launch of an app, and using a custom image for that bookmark that then lives on your homescreen instead. This is not an ideal solution, because it means that A) you won’t have any notification badges on your ‘apps,’ and B) the system first directs you to Apple’s Shortcuts app, which opens for a split-second before bumping you into the actual app you selected for the shortcut.
Apple clearly didn’t design this Shortcuts feature for this use (opening a target app is meant to be the start of a string of automated actions), but Apple also hasn’t really ever seemed interested in letting users choose their own custom icons, so it’s the best we can do for now. Luckily, the process is relatively simple. Unluckily, there are a lot of steps involved, so it’s pretty time-consuming to customize your entire homescreen.
Here’s a video of how to do this as simply as possible:
There are some fantastic examples out there of what creative individuals have been able to do with this, given a little time and some elbow grease. With more widget options coming online all the time, we’ve probably only begun to see the limits of testing the boundaries of what’s possible under Apple’s rules, too.
Social media sites cracked down on terrorist recruitment. Imagine what they could do about QAnon.
The EU wants to arm itself with new powers to take on big technology companies, including the ability to force them to break up or sell some of their European operations if their market dominance is deemed to threaten the interests of customers and smaller rivals.
EU commissioner Thierry Breton told the Financial Times that the proposed remedies, which he said would only be used in extreme circumstances, also include the ability to exclude large tech groups from the single market altogether.
In addition, Brussels is considering a rating system that would allow the public and stakeholders to assess companies’ behavior in areas such as tax compliance and the speed with which they take down illegal content.
Technological progress has outpaced the political debate again. What will happen when the next TikTok arrives in the United States?
The agreement for the social media app falls short of President Trump’s promises.
A scene from a state-sponsored show extolled men who volunteered but played down women’s contributions. Internet users are calling for the show to be pulled from the air.
From an office building in Russia, an army of “trolls” tried to wreak havoc all around the internet — and in real-life American communities.
The approval delays President Trump’s threat to block a popular Chinese-owned social media app from the United States until it receives investment from American partners.
The opposition leader jokes that he has recovered enough from being poisoned to scroll Instagram and know where to put the likes.
He says that they are a security threat. If so, it is time to show the world the evidence.
When downloads of the Chinese-owned messaging service are barred in the U.S. starting at midnight on Sunday, the feud between the countries will hit home for millions of people.
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The social network tried cracking down on the spread of the conspiracy theory and other extremist material. But QAnon groups are still flourishing on the site.
The Commerce Department announced that it was prohibiting downloads of WeChat and TikTok in U.S. app stores. Here’s what you need to know.
The Trump administration issued new rules Friday morning that will cripple the operation of two popular Chinese-owned apps in the United States.
The program aims to counter social media that bombards young people with images of perfect bodies.
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The video app is also looking for a new chief executive and has talked to candidates including a founder of Instagram.
Facebook this morning launched a new app designed to make it easier for businesses to manage their pages and profiles across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger in a single place. The app, Facebook Business Suite, combines access to the business’s key updates and priorities, and offers a way to draft and schedule feed posts for both Facebook and Instagram, view insights and create ads.
To use the new app, business will first need to link their Facebook and Instagram business accounts, if they hadn’t already.
Once logged into Facebook, the Business Suite can be accessed on the desktop at business.facebook.com. On mobile, users of the existing Pages Manager App will see an option to join Business Suite instead. The app will also become available as a standalone download for both iOS and Android.
Inside Business Suite, business owners will be able to see critical alerts, messages, comments and other activity taking place across Facebook and Instagram right in the new app’s homescreen. They can also set up personalized saved replies here, in order to respond to common customer inquiries.
The app offers tools for creating feed posts for Facebook and Instagram, scheduling posts, and provides insights on what’s working. Here, businesses can view their posts’ reach, engagement and performance across both Facebook and Instagram. They can also choose to create an ad to help boost that engagement and grow their audience, if needed.
Facebook says it’s initially building Facebook Business Suite with the needs of small businesses first, as so many have been forced by the pandemic to find new ways to reach customers and sell online. However, the long-term plan is to build out a set of tools that can be used by all businesses, including larger ones. The company aims to address that market sometime next year. Business Suite will also expand to include WhatsApp in the future.
Related to the news, Facebook published two surveys offering insights on small business trends. One, the monthly Global State of Small Business Report, produced in partnership with the World Bank and OECD, found that businesses that make more than 25% of sales online are more likely to be reporting higher sales this year, and are less likely to have laid off employees.
A second study details the impact of COVID-19 on consumer purchasing patterns and use of digital tools. Nearly half of respondents said they spent more money online overall since the outbreak, and 40% increased their use of social media and online messaging for product and business recommendations, Facebook says.
Of course, these fairly upbeat reports on the state of small businesses in the midst of the pandemic don’t provide the full picture. In the U.S., for example, Yelp is reporting that 60% of the U.S. businesses that closed due to COVID-19 won’t be re-opening. As of August, 163,735 of U.S. businesses have closed since the start of the pandemic, the report said, up 23% since mid-July.
These closures could impact Facebook as well, as the majority of Facebook’s advertisers are small and medium-sized businesses. But Facebook’s global nature protects it. Even if the U.S. loses more small businesses due to its mishandling of the pandemic, there are far more advertisers are outside the U.S. that Facebook taps into.
Facebook says the Business Suite will gradually roll out during the month of September. The app joins several others Facebook offers today for its business customers, including Facebook Pages Manager, Facebook Analytics, and Facebook Ads Manager. However, Facebook notes that its new Business Suite isn’t currently designed to serve those who use Ads Manager.
Senate Republicans and others criticized the latest plan to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States, citing national security concerns.
President Donald Trump today nominated one of his administration officials to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in an attempt to push through his proposed crackdown on social media websites.
Trump announced the nomination of Nathan Simington, who is currently a senior advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Simington “played a significant role in the agency’s social media regulation agenda,” as The Verge reported last week when news broke that Trump was considering Simington for the FCC position.
Simington would replace Republican Michael O’Rielly, who apparently angered Trump by saying that the FCC must uphold First Amendment speech protections “that apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making.” O’Rielly’s comments signaled that he isn’t likely to support the Trump administration petition, submitted by the NTIA, that asks the FCC to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in order to limit social media platforms’ legal protections for hosting third-party content when the platforms take down or alter content they consider objectionable.
The social media platforms warn viewers that the Fox News host’s interview with a Chinese virologist contained “false information” about Covid-19.
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The new $300 virtual-reality headset works well and feels comfortable. But good luck finding games that will keep you entertained.
A teenager’s musings about math went viral, activating a whole ecosystem of online debate. It all said a lot less about her than about the world around her.
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Twitter debuted its election hub on Tuesday, introducing a set of tools to help Americans prepare for the most uncertain election in modern U.S. history.
The platform will add a new “US Elections” tab in the Explore menu, where the trending tab and other curated topic lists live. That tab will serve as Twitter’s central source for hand-picked election news, debate livestreams, state-specific resources and candidate information.
Twitter will also introduce what it’s calling a series of “public service announcements” to educate voters on critical election-related topics. Those PSAs will present information on voter registration, instructions on obtaining a mail-in ballot and suggestions for safe voting as the pandemic continues to rage across the United States.
“Twitter wants to empower every eligible person to vote in the 2020 US election, and we’re focused on helping people register, better understand the voting process during COVID-19 including early voting options, and feel informed about the choices on their ballot,” Twitter Public Policy Director Bridget Coyne and Senior Product Director Sam Toizer wrote in a blog post on the announcement.
Twitter took a number of measures early on to address concerns around misinformation and platform manipulation around the 2020 election. Unlike Facebook, which has taken more incremental steps, Twitter opted to no longer accept political advertising in a decision made last October. The platform also began aggressively flagging tweets containing election-related misinformation months ago, setting expectations for high profile serial platform rule-breakers like President Trump.
Twitter kicked off a political war with the president in May when the company added a fact-checking label to a pair of his tweets containing false claims about voter registration and mail-in voting security. In the last month and a half alone, Twitter locked the Trump campaign out of its Twitter account for sharing a video with the false claim that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19, hid a tweet from the president that discouraged voting and restricted a handful of tweets from Trump that encouraged Americans to vote twice, which is illegal.
Last week, in a foreboding sign of what Americans might expect from November’s election, Twitter expanded its misinformation rules to address what happens if a candidate declares victory prematurely. In that same update, Twitter also said it would take action against any tweets “inciting unlawful conduct to prevent a peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession.”
While Twitter is far from containing its own misinformation problem, it’s shown a proactive willingness to adapt to real concerns around the 2020 election, making policy changes on the fly and adjusting those choices somewhat fluidly as needed. By anticipating worst-case scenarios, Twitter will at least be going into the 2020 U.S. elections with its eyes open — and with so many unknowns in such a tumultuous year, let’s just hope that’s enough.
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If the president’s allies are talking about the moment “shooting will begin” and “martial law,” it’s not by accident.
Michael R. Caputo told a Facebook audience without evidence that left-wing hit squads were being trained for insurrection and accused C.D.C. scientists of “sedition.”
The Chinese-owned app designed a compromise to satisfy U.S. security concerns. The terms are now under review by the Trump administration.