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    It’s not just social media: Cable news has bigger effect on polarization / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 10 August, 2022 - 18:59

It’s not just social media: Cable news has bigger effect on polarization

Enlarge (credit: simonkr | Getty Images )

The past two election cycles have seen an explosion of attention given to “echo chambers,” or communities where a narrow set of views makes people less likely to challenge their own opinions. Much of this concern has focused on the rise of social media, which has radically transformed the information ecosystem .

However, when scientists investigated social media echo chambers, they found surprisingly little evidence of them on a large scale—or at least none on a scale large enough to warrant the growing concerns. And yet, selective exposure to news does increase polarization . This suggested that these studies missed part of the picture of Americans’ news consumption patterns. Crucially, they did not factor in a major component of the average American’s experience of news: television.

To fill in this gap, I and a group of researchers from Stanford University , the University of Pennsylvania and Microsoft Research tracked the TV news consumption habits of tens of thousands of American adults each month from 2016 through 2019. We discovered four aspects of news consumption that, when taken together, paint an unsettling picture of the TV news ecosystem.

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    Snap cuts off Yolo, LMK anonymous messaging apps after lawsuit over teen’s death / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 12 May, 2021 - 16:23

Snap cuts off Yolo, LMK anonymous messaging apps after lawsuit over teen’s death

Enlarge (credit: stockcam / Getty)

Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, yesterday suspended two apps that allowed users to send anonymous messages to other users on the platform. The move came in response to a lawsuit filed Monday against Snap and the two messaging apps.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status to represent all 92 million Snapchat users, and it demands that Snap ban both Yolo and LMK from its app store. The developers of both apps, the suit alleges, did not implement adequate safeguards against harassing and bullying behavior.

The suit was brought by Kristin Bride, the mother of Carson Bride, a 16-year-old who suffered from cyberbullying on the Yolo and LMK apps. Over half the messages he received on Yolo were “meant to humiliate him, often involving sexually explicit and disturbing content,” according to the lawsuit. After a particularly personal string of insults, 16-year-old Carson searched in vain for how to reveal the identity of his bullies. Just over two weeks later, he took his own life. His last search was “reveal Yolo username online.”

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    Parler CEO brings back website, promises service will follow “soon” / ArsTechnica · Monday, 18 January, 2021 - 21:40 · 1 minute

The bright screen of a notebook computer illuminates the face of the person using it.

Enlarge / A person browsing Parler in early January, back when it had content up other than vague promises to overcome being thrown off the whole Internet and return louder than ever. (credit: Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images )

Right-wing social media platform Parler, which has been offline since Amazon Web Services dropped it like a hot potato last week, has reappeared on the Web with a promise to return as a fully functional service "soon."

Although the platform's Android and iOS apps are still defunct, this weekend its URL once again began to resolve to an actual website, instead of an error notice. The site at the moment consists solely of the homepage, which has a message from company CEO John Matze.

"Now seems like the right time to remind you all—both lovers and haters—why we started this platform," the message reads. "We believe privacy is paramount and free speech essential, especially on social media. Our aim has always been to provide a nonpartisan public square where individuals can enjoy and exercise their rights to both. We will resolve any challenge before us and plan to welcome all of you back soon. We will not let civil discourse perish!"

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    Despite Facebook’s attempts, pro-Trump events, groups still flourish / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 12 January, 2021 - 20:57

A woman shrugs onstage.

Enlarge / Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg speaks during a Facebook Community Boost event at the Knight Center on December 18, 2018, in Miami, Florida. (credit: Joe Raedle | Getty Images )

Facebook executive leaders promise they are doing everything they can to prevent the platform from being a tool for an anticipated new wave of violence in the nation's capital in the upcoming days. At the same time, however, content threatening violence is still up on Facebook, and those same executives are downplaying how big a role the platform had in last week's events at the US Capitol .

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave a livestreamed interview with Reuters Monday in which she said President Donald Trump is not likely to get his Facebook account reinstated following the company's " indefinite " ban.

"Even the president is not above the polices we have," Sandberg said. "We have no plans to let him [back] in."

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    Twitter permanently bans Donald Trump’s account from the platform / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 January, 2021 - 23:41

Twitter permanently bans Donald Trump’s account from the platform

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Twitter has permanently suspended President Donald Trump's personal Twitter account due to repeated incitement of violence, the company announced Friday night.

"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them—specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter—we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter said in a company blog post this evening.

On Wednesday, in the wake of the insurrectionist violence at the US Capitol, Twitter gave Trump a 12-hour suspension and required him to delete three tweets that it saw as continuing to promote, endorse, or glorify the violent event.

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    Ajit Pai abandons plan to help Trump punish Facebook and Twitter / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 January, 2021 - 18:07 · 1 minute

Ajit Pai backs slowly away from President Trump.

Enlarge / Ajit Pai backs slowly away from President Trump. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Photo by Gage Skidmore )

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said he is dropping his plan to help President Trump impose a crackdown on social-media platforms and offered mild criticism of Trump's incitement of a mob that stormed the US Capitol in a failed bid to overturn the election results.

In October, Pai backed Trump's proposal to limit the Section 230 legal protections for social-media websites that block or modify content posted by users. At the time, Pai said he would open an FCC rule-making process to declare that companies like Twitter and Facebook do not have "special immunity" for their content-moderation decisions. But Pai hasn't moved the proposal forward since Trump's election loss and has now stated in an interview that he won't finalize the plan.

"The status is that I do not intend to move forward with the notice of proposed rule-making [to reinterpret Section 230] at the FCC," Pai said in an interviewed published yesterday by Protocol. "The reason is, in part, because given the results of the election, there's simply not sufficient time to complete the administrative steps necessary in order to resolve the rule-making. Given that reality, I do not believe it's appropriate to move forward." Pai announced shortly after Trump's election loss that he will leave the FCC on January 20, President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration day.

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    Former Facebook manager: “We took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook” / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 24 September, 2020 - 19:22

Former Facebook manager: “We took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook”

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Speaking to Congress today, the former Facebook manager first tasked with making the company make money did not mince words about his role. He told lawmakers that the company "took a page from Big Tobacco's playbook, working to make our offering addictive at the outset" and arguing that his former employer has been hugely detrimental to society.

Tim Kendall, who served as director of monetization for Facebook from 2006 through 2010, spoke to Congress today as part of a House Commerce subcommittee hearing examining how social media platforms contribute to the mainstreaming of extremist and radicalizing content.

"The social media services that I and others have built over the past 15 years have served to tear people apart with alarming speed and intensity," Kendall said in his opening testimony ( PDF ). "At the very least, we have eroded our collective understanding—at worst, I fear we are pushing ourselves to the brink of a civil war."

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    Defying crackdowns, QAnon continues its relentless global spread / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 12 September, 2020 - 15:58

BOSTON—A man wearing a QAnon vest held a flag during a No Mandatory Flu Shot Massachusetts rally held outside of the State House in Boston on Aug. 30, 2020, to demonstrate against Gov. Charlie Baker

Enlarge / BOSTON—A man wearing a QAnon vest held a flag during a No Mandatory Flu Shot Massachusetts rally held outside of the State House in Boston on Aug. 30, 2020, to demonstrate against Gov. Charlie Baker's order for mandatory influenza vaccinations for all students under the age of 30, an effort to lower the burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic. (credit: Boston Globe | Getty Images)

The online phenomenon known as QAnon is evolving beyond its pro-Trump roots and spreading rapidly into new global communities, despite efforts by social media platforms to stamp out the world’s most persistent conspiracy theory.

Cryptic posts by the group or individual known as “Q” first began appearing on the imageboard 4chan in 2017, propagating a theory that swiftly gained traction online in which the US president is leading a battle against a “deep state” that wields control over the country.

In July, TikTok blocked several hashtags, while Twitter banned thousands of accounts. Last month, Facebook launched a sweeping crackdown on the movement, including shutting 790 QAnon-related groups.

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