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DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images
DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

New Twitter Features Aim to Stop Harassment

DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images
DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter’s abuse problems are notorious. Its reputation as a haven for people who want to use the platform to harass others is so bad that British members of parliament proposed fining the platform (and others) almost $2.5 million if it doesn’t take reasonable measures to curb the kind of misuse that has played a major role in events like GamerGate and the 2016 election. Now, the tech company is finally taking action against its hordes of trolls.

Today, February 7, Twitter announced changes that would make it easier to weed out problematic accounts and tweets, both from individual timelines and the site as a whole. First, it will make it harder for users who have been banned for abusive behavior to create new accounts. However, Twitter doesn’t say how exactly that will work. The company’s statement just says it is "taking steps to identify people who have been permanently suspended and stop them from creating new accounts." Presumably, this could include blocking particular emails or IP addresses from being used to create a new account, but it’s not clear.

The company is also launching a function called "safe search" that removes tweets from accounts you’ve muted or blocked and tweets with "potentially sensitive content." If you don’t mind seeing those tweets, you can turn off the function.
 

Twitter

 
Third, potentially abusive tweets will be collapsed in reply threads (the animation above shows what this looks like). The idea is that you’ll only see the most relevant replies unless you choose to expand all of them, though again, Twitter didn't reveal the criteria they'll use to determine whether a reply is "low-quality."

Twitter’s trolls probably aren’t going to disappear because of these few new functions, but at least you can expect to see fewer hateful, anonymous accounts in your mentions.

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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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