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Twitter is starting to label bots and automated accounts – Fast Company



The Twitter account NYT_first_said tweets words from The New York Times that have never appeared in the newspaper before. Even though the Times itself has disclosed that the account is an bot, not the opinion of an attentive reader, the fact that the account is automated isn’t necessarily obvious when its posts show up retweeted in your timeline.

So that users no longer have to guess which accounts are automated bots and which are run by humans at keyboards, Twitter is testing the addition of a label that will appear alongside bot account names indicating the account is automated and providing a link to the Twitter account of the person who runs it.

The new feature comes after the company’s research revealed that users are a bit confused about the role of automated posting on the platform, says Twitter product management director B Astrella. It’s part of a general push to help people understand special types of accounts that customers have found confusing, including bots, he says. Astrella indicated that Twitter may also soon offer special labeling for memorial accounts that are preserved after a person’s death.

The goal isn’t so much to ferret out malicious bots trying to mislead users, he says, but to point out how “good” bots work. Astrella says such good bots include automated accounts that post realtime earthquake data, share ASCII art, share information about what’s in the newspaper, or just remind people to stay hydrated.

While the system is currently being tested with a few hundred accounts, Astrella expects that it will ultimately be required of all bots on the platform, which as of last year are already supposed to disclose in their profiles that they’re bots and indicate who made them. The new system will standardize that label rather than making people parse it out of the account description field and will publicize that accounts are bots where their tweets appear in user timelines, not just when people click through to their profiles.

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[Image: courtesy of Twitter]

Good bots and bad bots

There isn’t a hard-and-fast definition of what counts as a bot: Astrella said it’s generally an account that posts more than half its posts automatically, but that other accounts might require the label if they, say, periodically post bursts of automated material.

Not all bots are good. Automated accounts have been used in the past to share misinformation and propaganda on the platform: A study last year, for instance, found that nearly half of users then sharing information about the coronavirus pandemic were bots. Various research has over time suggested that between 5% and 15% of accounts on the site are fake and Twitter has previously taken down swaths of bots and other fake accounts used by governments for political manipulation.

The company says it has rules to make sure automated accounts don’t try to manipulate conversations on the social network or annoy users. For instance, bots aren’t allowed to send bulk, unsolicited direct messages, and they’re not allowed to automatically like content on the platform. The company has invested in rooting out such “inauthentic behavior” on the platform, which includes users posting commercial spam and bots attempting to drive conversations through tweeting or popularizing posts. That will continue, Estrella says.

Bots that currently try to masquerade as non-automated accounts may try to violate the new rule, perhaps even taking advantage of the policy to mislead users who assume all bots will be labeled as such. Astrella says he doesn’t currently see a lot of bots masquerading as real users.

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“In the places where I’ve seen folks not disclosing, it’s mostly just because they don’t know that they’re supposed to,” he says.

Astrella says the feedback he’s heard from developers has generally been positive, especially since it gives them a more official way to take credit for their bots.

“This gives their ownership of the bot a little bit higher status on the profile,” he says.

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Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream




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At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”

On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.

Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.

Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.

The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.

Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.

The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.

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The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.

Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.

In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.

Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.

Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.

But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.

“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.

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© Thomson Reuters 2021

Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Twitter Bans Sharing Personal Photos, Videos of Other People Without Consent




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Twitter launched new rules Tuesday blocking users from sharing private images of other people without their consent, in a tightening of the network’s policy just a day after it changed CEOs.

Under the new rules, people who are not public figures can ask Twitter to take down pictures or video of them that they report were posted without permission.

Beginning today, we will not allow the sharing of private media, such as images or videos of private individuals without their consent. Publishing people’s private info is also prohibited under the policy, as is threatening or incentivizing others to do so.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 30, 2021

Twitter said this policy does not apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”

“We will always try to assess the context in which the content is shared and, in such cases, we may allow the images or videos to remain on the service,” the company added.

The right of Internet users to appeal to platforms when images or data about them are posted by third parties, especially for malicious purposes, has been debated for years.

Twitter already prohibited the publication of private information such as a person’s phone number or address, but there are “growing concerns” about the use of content to “harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of individuals,” Twitter said.

The company noted a “disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities.”

High-profile examples of online harassment include the barrages of racist, sexist,and homophobic abuse on Twitch, the world’s biggest video game streaming site.

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But instances of harassment abound, and victims must often wage lengthy fights to see hurtful, insulting or illegally produced images of themselves removed from the online platforms.

Some Twitter users pushed the company to clarify exactly how the tightened policy would work.

“Does this mean that if I take a picture of, say, a concert in Central Park, I need the permission of everyone in it? We diminish the sense of the public to the detriment of the public,” tweeted Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York.

The change came the day after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced he was leaving the company, and handed CEO duties to company executive Parag Agrawal.

The platform, like other social media networks, has struggled against bullying, misinformation, and hate-fuelled content.

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Twitter likely to roll out ‘Reactions’ feature soon




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After unveiling several features this year, micro-blogging site Twitter is reportedly readying new features, including Reactions, Downvotes and Sorted Replies for iOS users.

According to reverse engineer Nima Owji, the Reactions feature, which started being tested a couple of months ago, is set to launch soon, reports 9To5Mac.

With four new reactions, “tears of joy,” “thinking face,” “clapping hands” and “crying face,” this feature is designed to give users the ability to better show how conversations make them feel and to give users “a better understanding of how their Tweets are received”.

Citing the reverse engineer, the report also mentioned that the micro-blogging site is now able to store data about the downvotes feature, which is another indicator that this function will be released sooner rather than later.

The report also notes that the company changed the downvote position as well. It has even added a new tab explaining how downvotes work.

This month, the company has rolled out its in-app tipping feature to all Android users above the age of 18, following the iOS launch in September.

Twitter said the “Tips” feature is geared toward users looking to get a little financial support from their followers through Cash App, PayPal, Venmo and Patreon directly through the app.

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