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The Latest Trend in Literature? Twitter Fiction

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Some of today's most exciting new literature is being doled out 140 characters at a time. The Atlantic reports that more and more writers are publishing fiction on Twitter, embracing the challenge of the character limit and coming up with creative new storytelling techniques. 

Nick Belardes was perhaps the first person to write an entire Twitter novel. The author posted the story Small Pieces on the social media site periodically from 2008 to 2010. Since then, both new and established writers have increasingly started to create works specifically for Twitter. Some of the stories, like David Mitchell’s latest work, about computer hacker I_Bombadil, are, in part, promotional: The tale is being released to publicize his upcoming novel, Slade House, which also got its start on Twitter.

Others are just about embracing the challenges and creative opportunities the medium presents. In 2012, Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, published Black Box on the New Yorker’s Twitter, while Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, spent several months in 2013 tweeting the story of a friendly housefly named Jeffrey. 

Pullman and Mitchell’s stories, in particular, illustrate the various styles of Twitter tales. While Mitchell’s I_Bombadil piece is written in the first person, as the “real” Tweets of a fictional character (complete with cryptic abbreviations and slang), Pullman’s is more like narrative poetry, with a bit of humor mixed in:

Traditionalists might roll their eyes, but Twitter literature is just the latest in a long tradition of literary experimentation. “It’s the role of literature to play with forms,” Melissa Terras, professor of Digital Humanities at University College of London, told The Atlantic. “With Twitter fiction, people are taking the limitations of 140 characters and doing something creative.” 

[h/t: The Atlantic]

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

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How to Stop Instagram Photos From Automatically Posting to Facebook
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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]

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