Category Archives: Twitter

“High elf” arrested in Oregon, battling Morgoth

A sword-wielding elf spotted in Portland, Oregon by a local smartphone-wielding human, told police that he was “battling Morgoth,” who apparently had made his way back through the Door of Night and returned to Middle Earth in the form of a red BMW.

Morgoth is the evil higher being whose fall from grace as Melkor  in J. R. R. Tolkein’s mythical universe parallels that of Satan in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”  Sauron, who the general public knows from “The Lord of the Rings” movie epics, was one of Morgoth’s chief lieutenants.

Fingolfin_and_Morgoth

The fact that the young man in Oregon was wearing chain mail is a sign that he might just know what he was talking about: high elves in Tolkein’s universe wore mail, unlike the lightly armored wood elves in the Dungeons and Dragons universe and subsequent worlds.

In this case, however, it appears that he was a different sort of “high elf” — the man admitted to officers that he’d taken LSD before his epic battle with the Beamer – and that he wielding a machete, not an ancient elven blade forged in Gondolin.

According to KPTV, after treatment and release from a local hospital, the young human has been charged with criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and menacing as a result of the elfscapade.

[IMAGE CREDIT: "The duel of Fingolfin and Morgoth," by Silentwitness97 at the LOTR Wiki]

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White House goes direct on Instagram in advance of “Zillow Town Hall”

Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will be answering questions about housing during a live event with Zillow. Today, President Obama went directly to Instagram to ask the American people for questions about housing.

obama-instagram

In some ways, this is old hat. The source for the questions, after all, is the same as it has been many times over the past five years: social media. As I commented on Tumblr, five years into this administration, it would be easy to let these sorts of new media milestones at the White House go unremarked. That would be a mistake.

The novelty in the event tomorrow lies in two factors:

1) The White House is encouraging people to ask the president questions using the #AskObamaHousing hashtag on Twitter, Zillow’s Facebook page or with their own “instavideo” on Instagram.

2) It’s being hosted by Yahoo! and Zillow, a online real estate market place that has been a prominent supporter of the administration’s open data efforts.

As for Tuesday at 5:50 PM ET, there were only around a dozen videos tagged with #AskObamaHousing on Instagram, so if you have a good one, the odds are (relatively) decent for it to be posed. (Twitter, by contrast, is much livelier.)

Such informal, atomized mobile videos are now a growing part of the landscape for government and technology, particularly in an age when the people formerly known as the audience have more options to tune in or tune out of broadcast programming. If the White House is looking to engage younger Americans in a conversation about, Instagram is an obvious place to turn.

Today, politicians and government officials need to go where the People are. Delivering effective answers to their questions regarding affordable housing in a tough economy will be harder, however, than filming a 15 second short.

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Under pressure, Twitter prepares to extend reporting abuse to all users

Under increased scrutiny, Twitter will be extending the ability to report tweets to all of its hundreds of millions of active users around the world.

A statement from Twitter, emailed to the BBC and GigaOm, urged users to report abusive behavior and violations of the relevant policy and Twitter Rules using an online form and shared plans to “bring the functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web.” Twitter hasn’t shared timelines for that extension yet, but aggrieved users in Britain and beyond should gain the ability to flag tweets with a couple of taps eventually.

report-tweet-button

Twitter users have been able to report violations and abuse for years, with decisions by the service’s Safety team as tickets or law enforcement interest comes in. Twitter’s Safety team, headed by Del (@delbius) Harvey, has been quietly, professionally handling the ugly side for many years.

Adding reporting to individual tweets, however, is a relatively new change that was not announced on the Twitter blog or through the @Safety or @Support accounts.

Here are the relevant details from Twitter’s FAQ:

You can report Tweets that are in violation of the Twitter Rules or our Terms of Service. This includes spam, harassment, impersonation, copyright, or trademark violations. You can report any Tweet on Twitter, including Tweets in your home timeline, the Connect or Discover tabs, or in Twitter Search.

To report a Tweet:

  • Navigate to the Tweet you’d like to report.
  • Tap the ••• icon to bring up the off-screen menu.
  • Select Report Tweet and then one of the options below.
  • Select Submit (or Next if reporting abuse; see below for details) or Cancel to complete the report or block the user.

Reporting options:

Spam: this is the best option for reporting users who are using spam tactics. Please reference the Twitter Rules for information about some common spam techniques, which include mass creation of accounts for abusive purposes, following a large number of users in a short time, and sending large numbers of unsolicited @replies.
Compromised: if you think the user’s account has been compromised, and they are no longer in control of their account, select this option, and we will follow up with them to reset their password and/or take other appropriate actions.
Abusive: for other types of violations, including harassment, copyright or trademark violations, and impersonation, select this option. When you select “Next’”, you’ll be taken to a form where you can complete and submit your report to Twitter.
Block account: instead of reporting a user, you can select this option to block the user. If you block a user, they will not be allowed to follow you or add you to lists, and you won’t see any interactions with the user in your Connect tab.

Icebergs ahead

Twitter has successfully scaled the ability to flag media to all of its users. They’ve kept the Fail Whale from surfacing by vastly increasing the capacity of the service to handle billions of tweets and surges in use during major events. They’ve already rolled out tweet reporting to Twitter to iPhone users. Now, they’ll simplify reporting of abuse tweets for everyone.

There may be hidden tradeoffs in adding this function, as Staci Kramer pointed out on Twitter: previously available options, like “tweet link,” “mail link” and “read later” aren’t in the new version of Twitter’s iOS app.

What may prove more difficult than adding this function to other official apps and the Web, however, will be adding the human capacity to adjudicate decisions to suspend or restore accounts.

Twitter will be doing it under increasing scrutiny and a fresh wave of critics who are taking the company to task for being slow to respond to threats and abuse. More than 18,000 people have signed a petition at Change.org demanding that Twitter provide a an abuse reporting button. The petition was filed after a stream of rape threats were directed at Caroline Criado-Perez on Twitter for 48 hours.

Criado-Perez, a freelance journalist and self-described feminist campaigner, was in the public eye because of her successful efforts to keep pictures of women on paper money. She began receiving abusive tweets on the day that the Bank of England announced that author Jane Austen would appear on its newly designed £10 note.

The signatories on the petition were asking for a function that already exists for the millions of Twitter users that access the service on an iPhone, as the head of the social networking service’s United Kingdom office tweeted earlier today, responding to heated criticism in the British press.

To mollify critics and offer a users a better experience, Twitter staff will need to proactively detect waves of abuse, aided by algorithms and adjudication systems, and make judgements about whether tweets break its stated policies or represent threats that must be reported to law enforcement.

“I don’t know what proportion of posts are abusive, nor do I know the volume of complaints handled by Twitter staff and their response time, which are obvious factors in how and when abuse reports are handled,” commented veteran journalist Saleem Khan. “If there’s a problem with complaint-handling, Twitter needs to examine its processes and staffing. That said, if abuse and/or non-responsiveness by staff are perceived to be a problem, then it is a problem.”

To state the obvious, this will be an ongoing headache for Twitter.

Like other social media companies, Twitter has been navigating deep, troubled currents of censorship, privacy and suspensions in recent years.

Creating systems that offer fair, efficient moderation and adjudication of reports is a conundrum that code alone may not be able to solve. That challenge is extended by the presence of organized campaigns of humans and bots that game governance systems by flagging users en masse as spammers, leading to suspensions.

That may well mean that Twitter, like other social networks with millions of users, will need to expand its safety team and train the rest of its public-facing employees to act as ad hoc ombudsmen and women, as aggrieved users inevitably turn their ire upon staff using the network. They’re well positioned to do so, perhaps better than any other social network, but the service is inevitably going to face tough decisions as it operates in countries do not have legal protections for freedom of expression or the press.

As Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan Zuckerman and others have highlighted, what we think of as the new public square online is owned and operated by private companies that are setting the terms and conditions for expression and behavior on them. Giving users the capacity to report abuse, fraud or copyright infringement is a natural feature for any major website or service but it comes with new headaches. If Twitter is to go public, however, it will need to develop more matures to handle being a platform for the public.

“The question remains,” commented Khan: “What rights and powers do we delegate to private, for-profit, unregulated platforms that increasingly mediate the majority of our discourse, and where is the line that we draw in that deal?”


Editor’s Note: I sent Twitter a series of questions regarding the new reporting function on Sunday morning. On Sunday night, Twitter declined to comment further than the statement they have released. On Monday afternoon, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responded to tweeted queries. Following are the questions I posed over email. If you have answers, feel free to comment or contact me.

When was this added? Was there an official blog post or tweets from staff, @safety and @support about it?

What’s the timeline for it rolling out to all users? Will Twitter for Windows and BlackBerry and get it?

Will it be added to the API, so that TweetBot and TweetDeck users, along with other clients, can use it after updates?

Will Twitter increase staffing at Safety and Support to handle an increase in reports? To what levels?

Will there be designated ombudsmen or women?

Will there be any transparency into the number of tickets received regarding abuse or someone’s status in the queue?

Will Twitter release aggregate data of abuse (or spam) flagging? How will Twitter deal with false positives or organized/automated campaigns to flag users or tweets?

Will there be any consequences for users that repeatedly abuse the ability to flag people or tweets for abuse?


Postscript

On August 3, Twitter responded with an update to its rules to help address abusive behavior, including extra staff to handle abuse reports.

“It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter,” said Twitter’s UK lead Tony Wang and Del Harvey, senior director for trust and safety, in a blog post.

We want people to feel safe on Twitter, and we want the Twitter Rules to send a clear message to anyone who thought that such behaviour was, or could ever be, acceptable.”

The updated rules apply globally. “As described in the blog post, this was a clarification of existing rules — we discussed harassment in our help center in connection with abuse, but this makes it explicit in the rules as well,” said Twitter communication lead Jim Prosser, reached by email.

Wang also tweeted an apology to the women who have been targeted by abuse on Twitter.

“I personally apologize to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through,” he said. “The abuse they’ve received is simply not acceptable. It’s not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter.”

So yes, there are limits to free speech on Twitter.

What are they? Well, that’s the sticky wicket. The updated rules now include a section that Harvey said already existed. Twitter “actually always had that as a note on our abusive behavior policy page; we just added it directly to the rules,” she tweeted.

Targeted Abuse: You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are:
*if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts;
*if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others;
*if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats

This was “no real addition, just [a] clarification,” tweeted Harvey. “Twitter “just added the explicit callout to our preexisting policy under the abuse & spam section.”

There is no functional difference in how Twitter’s Safety team will now assess abuse reports, she further clarified.

“We’ve been working on making the reporting process easier for users & clarifying our policies.”

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In defense of Twitter’s role as a social media watchdog

Mike Rosenwald is concerned that overzealous critics will make Twitter boring.

twitter is ruining

Rosenwald, who has distinguished himself in articles and excellent enterprise reporting at the Washington Post, appears to have strayed into a well-trodden cul de sac of social media criticism.

Writing in the Post, he quotes from series of sources and highlights a couple of Twitter users to arrive at a grand thesis: online mobs taking tweets out of context could chill speech. Rosenwald’s point was amplified by Politico chief economic correspondent Ben White, whose tweet is embedded below:

When I went to grab the embed code for the tweet above, however, I found something curious: I couldn’t generate it. Why? After I strongly but politely challenged White’s point twice on Twitter, he’d blocked me.

Here’s what I said: I am disappointed that the democratization of publishing and speech continues to be resented by the press. Celebrities, media and politicians will be criticized online by the public for inaccuracy and bias. It’s not 1950 anymore. And for that, a journalist blocked me.

Irony aside, I wish White hadn’t taken the nuclear option. I’m no absolutist: when George Packer slammed Twitter 3 years ago, I suggested that he take another look at what was happening there:

Twitter, like so many other things, is what you make of it. Some might go to a cocktail party and talk about fashion, who kissed whom, where the next hot bar is or any number of other superficial topics. Others might hone in on politics, news, technology, media, art, philosophy or any of the other subjects that the New Yorker covers. If you search and listen, it’s not hard to find others sharing news and opinion that’s relevant to your own interests.

Using intelligent filters for information, it’s quite easy to subscribe and digest them at leisure. And it’s as easy as unfollowing someone to winnow out “babble” or a steady stream of mundanity. The impression that one is forced to listen to pabulum, as if obligated to sit through a dreary dinner party or interminable plane ride next to a boring boor, is far from the reality of the actual experience of Twitter or elsewhere.

Packer clearly read my post but didn’t link or reply to it.

Given his public persona, I suspect Rosenwald will be much more open to criticism than Packer or White have proven to be, although I see he hasn’t waded into the vitriolic comments on his story at the Washington Post, which slam Twitter or the article — or both. Here’s what I’ve seen other journalists and Twitter users tweet about the piece:

For my part, I tend to lean towards more speech, not less. Twitter has given millions of people a voice around the world, including the capacity to scrutinize the tweets of members of the media for inaccuracy, bias or ignorance.

That’s not to say that a networked public can’t turn to an online mob and engage in online vigilantism, but the causality that Politico chief White House correspondent Mike Allen trumpeted regarding Twitter use in yesterday’s Playbook was painful to read on Saturday morning.

Twitter makes people online vigilantes? Come on. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and other social media platforms have taken nearly all of the friction out of commenting on public affairs but it’s up to people to decide what to do with them.

As we’ve seen during natural disasters and revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa, including protests in Turkey this weekend, an increasingly networked public is now acting as reporters and sensors wherever and whenever they are connected, creating an ad hoc system of accountability for governments and filling the gaps where mainstream media outlets are censored or fear to tread.

That emergence still strikes me as positive, on balance, and while I acknowledge the point that White and the sources that Rosenwald quotes make about the potential for self-censorship, I vastly prefer the communications systems of today to the one-to-many broadcasts from last century. If you feel differently, comments — and Twitter — are open.

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Jake Tapper honors veterans with a #MemorialMessage

CNN anchor Jake Tapper has long been adept with online media, going back to his work at Salon.com. On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, Tapper showed how powerful a platform Twitter can be for collective remembrance when he catalyzed an outpouring of family memories from his followers.
  1. Tapper introduced the premise to his followers with a single tweet, sharing a hashtag, #MemorialMesssage, to organize the replies and modeling the response himself.
  2. Our hashtag game today is for those who serve. Send us your Memorial Day message. Mine? Thank you. We will not forget. Use #MemorialMessage
  3. Tapper received just one reply, at first.
  4. @jaketapper #MemorialMessage Remembering Captain Jeb Franklin Seagle a dear friend and hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in Grenada.
  5. Then he came back to Twitter, and shared more personal remembrances of those who served.
  6. This Memorial Day weekend i’ll be thinking about fallen heroes such as Lt. Col. Joe Fenty, Lt. Ben Keating, and Capt. Tom Bostick.
  7. RIP heroes of COP Keating: Kevin Thomson, Justin Gallegos, Chris Griffin, Michael Scusa, Vernon Martin, Stephan Mace, Josh Kirk, Josh Hardt.
  8. RIP this Memorial Day to Captain Robert Yllescas.
  9. Another fallen soldier I will be thinking about this weekend, PFC Chris Pfeifer projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-pfc…
  10. And Pfc. Brian Moquin, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2006 projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-pfc…
  11. And SSG Ryan Fritsche sites.google.com/site/wryanfrit…
  12. And SGT Buddy Hughie projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-sgt…
  13. More of his followers began chiming in — and Tapper began retweeting their memories of fallen service members to his more than 1 million followers
  14. @jaketapper CPL Robert Taylor McDavid KIA March 10, 2008. OIF. My brother-in-law.
  15. @jaketapper I’ll remember CTO2 Steve TESMER the sole operator type on board the EC121 shot down by NK in 68. my room mate and friend
  16. @jaketapper My daddy 1SGT Robert Scholz Died 2/7/2010 Served Vietnam and Korea twice each. Not in action but served our country for 20 yrs.
  17. @jaketapper Remembering Maj Charles Creech who passed away 2yrs. Ago after a distinguished career flying for the US Air Force. Dear friend!
  18. @jaketapper My great-uncle, MAJ Stanley Holmes, US Army, POW in Philippines during WWII, killed aboard the hellship Oryoku Maru, 12-15-44
  19. Thank you to my late grandfathers John A Petersen, Harry Gabbard #wwiiVets #memorialmessage @jaketapper
  20. @jaketapper CPT David Boris … Commander, A TRP 1/91 CAV, 12 Nov 2007
  21. .@jaketapper My wife’s bro, @USArmy Cpt Shane Mahaffee passed in ’06. 4 mournful Mondays in a row: death, burial, Memorial Day, b’day. #hero
  22. @jaketapper My Uncle, Maj. Kenneth P. Tanner. Killed In Vietnam in last major battle, Operation Ripcord. Left 4 children behind.
  23. .@jaketapper I’m remembering LT John Valek, USN. Served ’38-’52 – WW2/Korea. Survived the sinking of the USS Wasp in ’42. Passed in 2000 RIP
  24. @jaketapper Two Flight School classmates. ENS Ryan Anthony USN, LTJG Robert Roch, USN. Great friends.
  25. @jaketapper Sgt. Josh Madden, December 6, 2006, Hawija, Iraq.
  26. @jaketapper SSG Lillian Clamens. Saddest one I ever encountered. She was leaving the next day. 10/10/07 projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-sta…
  27. @jaketapper I’m remembering my grandfather, Raymond Sanfilippo, who served on the USS Lake Champlain during WWII. #MemorialDayHeroes
  28. @jaketapper My Dad, Sgt William Lieder, served in US Army & Navy. Saw action in Korean War. Said he never should have left service, loved it
  29. @jaketapper Remembering Jerry Zovko. Killed in Fallujah. Still angry.
  30. @jaketapper RIP Jack Thurston-Bataan Death March survivor POW til MacArthur liberated-renaissance man from Corbin,KY #memorialmessage
  31. @jaketapper #memorialmessage Remembering my late Grandfather Edward and late Uncle Ricky; Ed – WWII, Marine Corps. Ricky – Korea, Air Force
  32. @jaketapper My father, SFC. Benjamin Davis Sr. US Army. 30yrs. WW2 Vietnam
  33. @jaketapper Specialist Theodore Matthew Glende – K.I.A. July 27, 2012 in Afghanistan. (23 years old. Husband of my best friend.)
  34. @jaketapper CPL Pruitt Rainey, 173rd ABCT, Chosen Company. One of 9 US KIA 7/13/08 at the Battle of Wanat. #ChosenFew
  35. @jaketapper my bro 1stLT Travis Manion USMC and his best friend SEAL Brendan Looney. Buried next to each other in Arlington. @TMFoundation
  36. @jaketapper My grandfather: Lt. Col. LeRoy Skaith. Passed in 1997. Bronze Stars WWII: Battle of Hurtgen Forest and Battle of the Bulge
  37. @jaketapper Uncle Al, 1st infantry division, Normandy, the Bulge, Germany
  38. @jaketapper My “Grandpop” Lt Walter Catanzarita. Wounded WWII, passed 1980.
  39. @jaketapper CIA Paramilitary Officer & former USMC Johnny Spann, KIA 11/25/01, Qala-I-Jangi, Afghan;1st KIA in country & a great guy. RIP
  40. @jaketapper RIP Jimmie “Sonny” Davis…Korean Conflict
  41. @jaketapper Remembering my great grandpa, Jesus Briseno – Navy – Pearl Harbor survivor. RIP.
  42. @jaketapper my grandfather, SSgt James Reynolds, 3rd US Army, Battle of the Bulge
  43. @jaketapper I’ll be remembering my friend, Capt Matthew Mattingly, Army 82nd Airborne, KIA in Iraq, 9/13/2006
  44. @jaketapper #memorialmessage remembering my CA grandpa, Captn (marines) WWII-Pacific & the brave woman he wrote love letters to back home.
  45. @jaketapper Remembering my Great Uncle, Salvatore Sanfilippo, Purple Heart recipient, Battle of the Bulge, WWII. #MemorialDayHeroes
  46. @jaketapper My Uncle Billy Knight, who died in ’82 from cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Our memories are warm & vibrant.
  47. @jaketapper Spc Ross McGinnis, December, 4 2006 – Medal of Honor
  48. @jaketapper Remembering my dad. He was so proud to have served in the Navy in WW2. Love you, Daddy, and thank you. #MemorialMessage
  49. .@jaketapper Anthony Marangiello, Glen Cove, NY. Bataan Death March, WWII. Came back with the respect of all. #memorialday
  50. @jaketapper H.S. classmate Lance Cpl. Howard March killed in Iraq 9/24/06
  51. @jaketapper TY for sharing all these memories, very powerful. My late grandfather served in WW2. Father-in-law served in USN Korea(surgeon)
  52. @jaketapper Remembering my grandpa, James C. Evans – Navy – Pearl Harbor survivor. #memorialday
  53. @jaketapper RIP my grandpa Robert W. English. Navy. Battle of Midway survivor. 1918-2013
  54. @jaketapper CW4 Phil Garvey died flying a rescue mission that wasn’t supposed to be his.He volunteered so pilots w young kids didn’t have to
  55. @jaketapper remembering my Pappy: James I “Jack” Martin. Combat Medic, US Army WWII – Pelilieu and other hot rocks. Never talked about it.
  56. @jaketapper : I honor Lance Cpl Bob W. Roberts. Died OIF Fallujah. May 2004. Childhood friend.
  57. @jaketapper I #GoSilent for SSG Christopher Cutchall, KIA Baghdad Sept 2003. Best scout, wonderful father, husband, & friend ever.
  58. I’m remembering my grandpa, Carl Conrad, Army, WWII, both Pacific & European Theatres. @JakeTapper pic.twitter.com/CC9VJmgAK3
  59. @jaketapper Cpl George Anthony “Tony” Lutz II, killed December 29, 2005, 6 weeks into his first deployment.
  60. @jaketapper my great uncle Leslie Fleming 200th Coast Artillery. Survivor of the Bataan Death March.
  61. @jaketapper in memory of my grandfather, Hugo Smith, survived the Battle of the Bulge
  62. @jaketapper Remembering my grandmother Rifka Frank, Yeoman First class, enlisted May 1, 1918 WWI. 1900-1986.
  63. @jaketapper My dad – Army Air Corps Flight Engineer – China, Burma, India WWII. I still wear his wings as a bracelet. He died in 1990
  64. @jaketapper My mom Sgt. Ellen Shanahan, Women’s Army Corp, WWII. Very proud of her service.
  65. @jaketapper my dad, CWO Hank Meadows, Headquarters Company, 8th Air Force, Bushy Park, London, England
  66. @jaketapper remembering my father, Stanley Caplan, WWII 1922-2011
  67. @jaketapper : CPL Wesley Wells, 2-27th Infantry USA Libertyville,IL KIA Naka, Afghanistan 09/04 #memorialmessage
  68. @jaketapper Remembering my dad, Leslie N Webster, served in WWII with 535th Engineers building bridges. Miss you Dad.
  69. @jaketapper my father PFC John T Henley WW2 Mindinao Philippines. Henley Wilson Merrills marauders
  70. @jaketapper Remembering both my papaws & hubby’s grandad-all served our country. Grateful 4 & blessed because of their service @JustinDOwen
  71. At the end of that outpouring, Tapper signed off and suggested that his followers use the hashtag if they continue to share memories, sustaining the distributed conversation he’d sparked and empowered.
  72. Signing off now tweeps… Use #MemorialMessage if you tweet more remembrances so we can all follow by clicking on the hashtag… God bless
  73. And they did:
  74. @jaketapper #MemorialMessage thinking of Patrick V. Needham, #USArmy in Korea, 31 yrs #ChicagoPolice, passed away 1984, too young.
  75. @jaketapper Miss WWII dad; taught us 2 “police the area” -clean the yard & sing Army songs(Dirty Bill lived on Garbage Hill)#MemorialMessage
  76. This was one of the best uses of Twitter I’ve seen this year. Well done, Mr. Tapper.

    And thanks to all those who have served and sacrificed.

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Hi! Click here to stop from getting phished on Twitter

Today, Twitter finally started rolling out dual-factor authentication for its users. Twitter will allow users to use text messaging to a mobile phone to confirm their identity upon log-in.

In a post and accompanying video on the company blog, Twitter product security team member Jim O’Leary (@jimeo) explained how Twitter’s version of 2-factor authentication will work:

…when you sign in to twitter.com, there’s a second check to make sure it’s really you. After you enroll in login verification, you’ll be asked to enter a six-digit code that we send to your phone via SMS each time you sign in to twitter.com.

To get started, visit your account settings page, and select the option “Require a verification code when I sign in”. You’ll need a confirmed email address and a verified phone number. After a quick test to confirm that your phone can receive messages from Twitter, you’re ready to go.

Twitter has lagged behind Google, Microsoft, Facebook and institutions that allow online banking in providing this additional layer of protection. It’s showed: Twitter has been plagued by phishing scams for years.

Recently, however, high profile hacks of Twitter accounts at the Associated Press, the Financial Times and The Onion have put more focus on adding this feature. As Twitter adds more e-commerce deals and becomes more integrated into politics and business, improving security will only become more important.

Today’s announcement is a much-needed improvement. Here’s hoping it gets rolled out quickly to the hundreds of millions of users who can’t get someone at Twitter on the phone after they clicked on the wrong link.

Hat tip: The Verge

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Tweaser: noun — a movie teaser cut into a 6 second Vine video and tweet

I never expected to associate a “tweaser” with The Wolverine. (I assumed Wolverine’s healing powers would always extrude any splinter.)

That changed yesterday, when James Mangold, the director of the most recent cinematic treatment of the comic book hero’s adventures, tweeted the first “tweaser” of the new century. He used Twitter’s new Vine app to share the short clip, a tightly edited 6 seconds of  footage from the upcoming film. You can watch Vine’s big moment in tweet embedded below.

Twitter certainly has come a long way from txt messages. As Lily Rothman quipped at Time, the emergence of a 6 second tweaser that can be retweeted, tumbled and embedded gives “new meaning to the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.”

Jen Yamato has the backstory behind 20th Century Fox’s debut of a 21st century tweaser over at Deadline, including credit to Fox executive Tony Sella for the coinage:

Last week FilmDistrict was the first studio to use Twitter’s new looping app as a marketing tool. Here’s an even buzzier use of Vine: A 6-second “tweaser” (that’s Twitter teaser, or “TWZZR”) previewing Fox’s July 26 superhero pic Wolverine.

I suspect that at least a few of the tweasers that go flickering by on Twitter, Vine and blog posts will lead people to do what I did: become aware of the upcoming and film and look for a longer version of the teaser trailer elsewhere online. If a tweaser comes with a custom short URL, so much the easier.

To that point, If you want to watch a higher quality “full-length” version of the teaser, there’s now a teaser trailer available on the iTunes Store and a YouTube version:
… which, it’s worth pointing out, can also be embedded in tweets.

Hopefully, history remember will remember “The Wolverine for more than being the subject of the world’s first “tweaser.” Then again, our attention spans may not be up to it, particularly if the length of the interactive media we consume continues to shorten at this rate.

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Can journalists change their social media avatars to political symbols?

Nisha Chittal asked a number of journalists (including me) about where they stand for on using same-sex marriage symbols on their social media profiles.

Here’s what she found: “The answer is a multi-layered one: it depends on the journalist, the outlet they work for, the social media platform, and whether the journalist is covering this week’s Supreme Court hearings.”

hrc-fb-page

I was honored to see that Nisha gave me the “kicker quote” at the end. If you’d like to weigh in on your stance on this ethical issue, comment away.

Here’s the statement I submitted to her inquiry:

In general, the consensus answer amongst the journalists I respect is that changing your avatar to a symbol like this is not OK, based upon the ethics policies of places like the AP, WSJ, NYT, PBS or NPR.

I think the capacity to demonstrate support for one side of a contentious social issue like this varies, depending upon the masthead a journalist is working under, the ethics policy of that masthead, the role of the journalist and the coverage area of the journalist. Staking out positions on a reporter’s beat is generally frowned upon.

Opinion journalists who regularly take positions on the issues of the day as columnists have often already made it clear where they stand on a policy or law. Advocacy journalism has an established place in the marketplace for ideas. Readers know where a writer stands and are left to judge the strength of an argument and the evidence presented to back it.

If a reporter takes on overt, implicit position on an issue that she is reporting on, however, will it be possible to interview sources who oppose it?

On the other hand, there are a number of social issues that may have had “sides” in past public discourse but have now become viewpoints that few journalists would find tenable to support today.

How many journalists were able to remain neutral or objective in their coverage of slavery in the 1860s? Womens’ suffrage in the early 20th century? Civil rights in the 1960s? Child slavery, sex trafficking, so-called “honor rape” or the impression of child soldiers in the present?

Interracial marriage was illegal in some states in the Union, not so many years ago. That is not the case any longer. It seems to me that gay marriage is on the same trajectory. The arc of the moral universe is long indeed, but I tend to agree with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on its trajectory: it bends towards justice.

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Want good online comments? Create communities and moderate them.

I’ve been clear that about why I value blog comments before. If you’ve spent any time online, however, you know how bad many comment sections are. Why is that the case? Read Bora Zivkovic on commenting threads, in easily one of the best posts on the topic that I’ve ever read. It’s a long post, but it’s well worth your time. Zivkovic links to a forthcoming paper [PDF] that anyone in charge of comments should read, regarding how the tone of comments affects readers.The short version is that unmoderated, acidic comment sections polarizes readers and can lead them to believe in science less.

I discovered the post through NYT Journalism professor Jay Rosen, when he tweeted it:

Zivkovic, who is the blogs editor at the Scientific American, did nail it. I guessed that the answer to Rosen’s tweet was a lack of active participation by a moderator/author, and that’s more or less what I took away from this post. (I suspect he may have been directing his tweet at journalists who don’t — or can’t — spend the time moderating blog posts and social media profiles, along with the editors and publishers who employ them.) Rosen explained more about why he thought the post was important on a public post on his Facebook profile:

Nothing gets people pumped to denounce the Internet for destroying reasoned discourse like the state of online commenting. And it is difficult to deny that many comment sections are sewers. Also, it’s not true that to be a smart, web-smart publisher you MUST have comments. It’s a choice. There will always be good reasons not do have comments, and good reasons to have comments. But as to *why* the comment sections are sewers, we actually know a lot about this. We also know a lot about how to make them better. But many online publishers and newspaper journalists don’t want to know because they are looking for a “set it and forget it” solution that does not exist. Bora Zivkovic covers all of this and more in one of the best posts you will read about online commenting. Well worth your time.

I think good comments require persistent identity (not “real” identity), moderation tools and active moderation. Without that mix, you get the toxic stew that is pervasive across far too many forums online.

Agree? Disagree? Hey, let me know in the comments!

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I Heard It Through The App Vine

After surfing around a bit tonight, I’m not sure yet whether the new Vine App will be to video what Instagram is for pictures. (Vine went live last Friday, when I was on vacation in Anguilla.) The amount of buzz I’ve found upon returning from vacation suggests at least a few of the people I follow and read think it’s possible.

It sounds like the initial launch was a bit buggy for some users, though I had no issues when I downloaded and installed Vine tonight. I found it quite easy to join, find friends from Twitter and my address book (if not Facebook) and then to create and share a 6 second spot using the app, which I promptly deleted.

Vine is Twitter’s first standalone app, like Facebook’s Poke or Messenger. As is the case with tweets, vines have their own permalink and play in embedded tweets, like Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s tweet that shows how to make steak tartare:

A mobile social network that’s built around mobile sharing of videos from iOS devices and integrated into other media, particularly tweets and blog posts, could have legs online — along with many other body parts. Tonight, posts on multiple outlets suggested that Vine has a “porn problem.”

I’m not sure if this revelation will not shock many long-time observers of people’s behavior online, when faced with webcams. Exhibit A: Chatroulette. I instantly thought of Avenue Q’s classic assessment of what the Internet is for.

(With a little help from Twitter, I was able to source the quote to Ethan Zuckerman’s 2008 talk at ETech on the cute cat theory.)

I tend to agree with Joshua Topolsky’s assessment at The Verge: it’s Apple that has the porn problem, not Twitter or Vine. We’ll see how Apple responds. Steve Jobs was clear in 2010 when he wrote that Apple has a “moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” Apple does not, however, censor the websites or, critically, user-generated content (UGC) on them when users access them through the Safari mobile Web browser. Treating UGC platforms like Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ like Web browsers might make more sense to users. (I don’t know how that approach would sit in Cupertino or the Federal Trade Commission.)

Regardless of the larger issues surrounding Apple’s policies as a powerful gatekeeper for app makers, parents take note: letting young children search raw Twitter feeds or Vine apps for #porn is going to turn up media that’s NSFW, much less NSFK(ids).

While there’s certainly porn to be found, I didn’t see any when I watched the automagically randomized selection of vines at Vinepeek, which I found thanks to a tweet from Mitch Kapor. Despite inevitable flashes of crudity and banality, I found many of these glimpses of shared humanity endearing, just as YouTube can be at its best.

There are many other ways Vine can be used for business or other less salacious purposes, however, as Chris Brogan pointed out on Friday. Given my interest in cooking, I think creative spots that show how to make different recipes, like the one Costolo filmed, could be particularly interesting. While there are plenty of possibilities for media creation, for I’m not sure whether journalists will wholeheartedly move to quickly adopt Vine professionally, although there were certainly plenty of early adopters on Instagram.

I remember the idea of a social network of video shorts when it first floated to the top of my social stream: it was called Seesmic, and Loic Le Meur shuttered it in 2009. That said, the context for Vine is different, given the tens of millions of iPhones and iPads in people’s hands today.

I think Vine will be worth watching, so to speak. If Vine does catch on, expect “vining” and “vines” to become part of the tech vernacular.

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