Twitter Lite with lower data usage becomes available in 24 new countries

 Twitter is rolling out its “Lite” version, after a successful trial in the Philippines. The Android app will become available in two dozen countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Not too different from Facebook Lite, Twitter has also built a version of its app that’s optimized for developing countries. Twitter Lite minimizes data usage,… Read More

Facebook and Twitter to provide Brexit disinformation reports soon

 A UK parliamentary committee that’s investing fake news has been told by Facebook and Twitter they will provide information relating to Russian interference during the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum vote in the coming weeks.  Read More

Extreme digital vetting of visitors to the US moves forward under a new name

This article originally appeared on ProPublica on November 22, 2017. It has been lightly edited.

The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of US visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk.

The comments provide the first clear blueprint for ICE’s proposed augmentation of its visa-vetting program. The initial announcement of the plans this summer, viewed as part of President Donald Trump’s calls for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, stoked a public outcry from immigrants and civil liberties advocates. They argued that such a plan would discriminate against Muslim visitors and potentially place a huge number of individuals under watch.

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Twitter testing a feature that shows how many are ‘talking about’ tweets

 Twitter is experimenting with a new feature that will show how many people are “talking about” individual, popular tweets. The metric shows up under some embedded tweets when they appear elsewhere on the web, and seems to replace both the retweet and replies totals with one, cumulative total. The new look for embeds as seen above is just a small experiment according to Dan Jackson,… Read More

Facebook’s ad system shown failing to enforce its own anti-discriminatory policy

 Results from a new ProPublica investigation suggest the tech giant is failing at even simple self-policing. Read More

YouTube returns to the Amazon Echo Show

 When the Amazon Echo Show first debuted, it included a YouTube feature, as is right and proper for a device with a screen capable of playing video and connecting to the internet. But Google quickly nixed the Echo Show YouTube player, since it was a non-standard presentation of the company’s stuff which did not comply with their terms of use. Now, YouTube is back on Echo Show (via… Read More

Unusual experiment reveals the power of non-mainstream media

Pundits and activists have long blamed the “mainstream media” for having an outsized effect on public perceptions. Whatever side of the political spectrum you’re on, some people say, it seems as if large media outlets like the New York Times or FOX News exert too much power over the national conversation. Ideas from non-mainstream media, according to this logic, get drowned out. But a new long-term study reveals that small media outlets have a far greater effect on public discussions than anyone realized.

To be more precise, it only takes three or more stories from small news outlets covering the same topic to make discussions of that topic go up by 62.7 percent on Twitter.

It took a group of Harvard researchers five years to reach the conclusion. They did it by tracking the effects of stories covered by 48 small media outlets, measuring how they affected conversations on Twitter. Harvard political scientist Gary King and his colleagues explain in the journal Science that they honed in on 11 broad topics in public policy, ranging from refugees and race to food policy and domestic energy production.

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Amazon expands its Influencer Program to include Twitter and Instagram, in addition to YouTube

 Amazon is expanding its Influencer Program beyond YouTube to also include Twitter and Instagram, the company announced on Thursday. First launched into beta earlier this spring, the program initially targeted YouTube stars by offering them a way to make money from the products they promoted in their videos through an affiliate-like relationship with Amazon.
Many of today’s influencers… Read More