Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Internet Advice from Ann Landers in the Mid-1990s

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1990s, advice columnist Ann Landers sensed the rising tide of the Internet. She wasn't exactly an early adopter, and Landers made her wariness of the web known by highlighting a long series of letters from readers who shared their online horror stories. Starting around 1994, her column began to feature more and more tales of marriages destroyed by pornography or chat rooms, people lost to full-out Internet addiction, and legitimately frightening accounts of violence and abuse perpetrated by online "friends" when in-person meetings were arranged.

Even in the early days of the modern Internet, a sizable amount of "netizens" voiced their disapproval of what they perceived as unfair and selective depictions of the World Wide Web. Landers, to her credit, didn't really care what they thought. What follows are eight tidbits of wisdom about the net from one of America's favorite advice columnists.

1. To Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, who wrote to Ann Landers to defend the Internet and the people who use it:

"You are a superb senator...As an advice columnist, however, you aren't so hot. The Internet is tailor-made for con men, the lonely and the bored. The word from here is 'beware.'"

2. To a woman who lied about being a man in a chat room and accidentally struck up a romantic relationship with another woman:

"Many people find it easy to reinvent themselves as attractive, rich and young over the Internet. At least you have the decency to be ashamed of yourself for the deception."

3. To "Larry in Monterrey, California" who wrote "in defense of the computer buff who had a thing going with a girl who, unbeknownst to him, turned out to be 12 years old.":

"You’ve made a good case in defense of the computer junkie who was on-line with the 12-year-old-girl. It’s good to remember that strangers always put on their best face when they are trying to make a good impression. Beware."

4. To "Surfers in Basking Ridge, N.J.," who simply asked Ann to reprint an AP article about how people who meet people on the Internet are prone to compulsive behavior:

Ann excerpts 6 paragraphs from that AP article and adds, "Dear readers, if you or someone close to you is an Internet junkie, please consider seeing a physician about prescribing chemical help."

5. To "D.I.S. in Minneapolis," whose husband was addicted to pornography, "gets up at 4 or 5 in the morning to log on," and has joined a support group for help:

"Your husband needs more help than he is getting. Ask your group leader to recommend a competent psychologist."

6. To an L.A. Times reporter who asked Ann if she used the Internet:

"I have no particular interest at all. I do not have a computer. I'm not interested in that sort of thing at all."

7. To a group of "netizens" who convinced Landers to try the Internet to see if she likes it:

"It's a nice toy, as far as I'm concerned."

8. On the benefits of the Internet:

"It's wonderful for the lonely. There are a great many lonely people out there, and it makes them feel that they're a part of the living world. They can talk to somebody. Somebody will talk to them. And I think it's wonderful."

Facebook Just Made It Easier to Tell the Difference Between Fake News and Real Reporting

On Facebook, fake news stories "reporting" international conflicts over Toblerones can appear alongside fact-checked journalism from trustworthy outlets. This leads to some bogus stories racking up thousands of shares while real news stories are deemed "fake" by those who disagree with them. With its latest news feature, Facebook aims to make the distinction between factual and fictional posts clearer.

As The Verge reports, articles shared on Facebook will now display a "trust indicator" icon. Clicking on it reveals information about the publisher of the piece, including their ethics statement, corrections policy, fact-checking process, ownership structures, and masthead. By providing that context, Facebook hopes that more users will make better decisions about which news outlets to trust and which to disregard.

The social media network is launching the feature with a handful of publishers and plans to open it up to more down the road. But unless it becomes mandatory for all media pages, it won't be the end of Facebook's fake news problem: Phony sites and real publishers that leave this information blank will still look the same in the eyes of some readers. Additionally, the feature only works when people go out of their way to check it, so it requires users to be skeptical in the first place.

If you want to avoid the fake news in your feed, looking for trust indicators is a good place to start. To further sharpen your BS-detecting skills, try adopting the CRAAP system: The American Library Association has been using it to spot sketchy sources since before the Facebook era.

[h/t The Verge]

Live Smarter
How to Stop Instagram Photos From Automatically Posting to Facebook

If you have Instagram photos you don’t mind sharing with your aunts, exes, and former high school classmates, Facebook is the perfect place to post them. But some pictures are better suited to more intimate audiences: For those scenarios, you’ll want to unlink your Facebook from your Instagram account. The Daily Dot put together a simple how-to guide.

To keep your Instagram photos from automatically showing up on your Facebook profile, head to the Instagram app. Go to your profile, tap the gear icon next to Edit Profile, and then scroll down to the Linked Accounts option under Settings. If every photo you share through Instagram is published on Facebook, you should see Facebook highlighted in blue with a checkmark next to it under Linked Accounts. After tapping this, hit the Unlink Facebook button and Unlink a second time when the app asks you to confirm your decision.

Once that’s taken care of, any new posts you share through Instagram will only be seen by your Instagram followers (unless your account is linked to Twitter or some other social media site, in which case you can follow the same steps above). To undo this action, just return to Linked Accounts and tap Facebook to join the two accounts again.

This is a smart way to limit your social media presence or curb potential damage if hackers ever access your Instagram. But if you’re looking to distance yourself from Facebook because of issues you have with the site itself, simply unlinking it from Instagram won’t cut it. Facebook owns Instagram, so any information you post to either profile goes to the same place. There are better ways to control how Facebook handles your personal data. Read this to learn more about the social media giant’s ad targeting practices and what you can do about them.

[h/t The Daily Dot]


More from mental floss studios