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Whitmire: 44 Attorneys General called out Instagram. Alabama’s AG wasn’t one of them. –



This is an opinion column.

Something bad is happening to our kids. Something awful enough that somebody really ought to sue over it.

But where is Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall? Once again, he’s looking in the wrong place — or rather, looking out for his political interests, not Alabama interests.

But before we get to Marshall and where his attention has wandered, let’s look at the right place.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported something social scientists have been ringing alarm bells over for some time: Depression, loneliness, self-harm and suicide have risen among teens, especially among teenage girls — a distinct increase researchers have traced back to 2012. Those same researchers have blamed the rise on smartphones and social media, and one platform in particular — Instagram.

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But what’s new in the Journal’s story is that Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, knew about these effects. For the last three years, the Journal reported, the company has conducted its own research and secretly come to the same conclusions, even as it denied them publicly.

Facebook internal documents obtained by the Journal showed that nearly a third of teenage girls said Instagram made them more ashamed of their bodies. Some said it caused them to consider suicide.

Again, Facebook knew this, but as recently as May, the company has downplayed the effects it has on adolescents, calling them “small.” In a statement following the Journal’s story, the company said the Journal “focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light.”

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In short, the company said one thing internally, and something completely different to the rest of the world — a degree of duplicity not seen since tobacco companies said that Joe Camel ads weren’t targeted at kids.

In a decent world, where responsible adults run things, Facebook executives would ask, “How do we put a stop to this?”

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But in this world, Facebook executives apparently asked, “How can we do Instagram — but for little kids?”

Instead of adding new age restrictions to Instagram or building social incentives safe for mental health, Facebook began development of a new version of Instagram — one made for even younger, more vulnerable children.

It’s not hard to come up with words for such behavior — indecent, sociopathic, reckless, vile … It’s harder to know where to stop.

Earlier this year, a group of state attorney generals had words for Facebook, too.

In a letter written in May, 44 attorneys general cited the pile of public research showing Instagram is bad for kids, and they told the company it should abandon its new Instagram-for-kids project.

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“Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms,” the National Association of Attorneys General wrote in the letter. “The attorneys general have an interest in protecting our youngest citizens, and Facebook’s plans to create a platform where kids under the age of 13 are encouraged to share content online is contrary to that interest.”

That’s a good start. At least they’re putting their attention in the right place.

Unfortunately, Alabama’s attorney general isn’t one of them.

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Two weeks before those other AGs signed their names to that letter, Marshall withdrew from the National Association of Attorneys General. The organization, he said, had moved too far to the left.

Marshall said his annual dues, paid for by the state, could be better spent on consumer protection, which would be fine, except for what happened next.

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Last month, Marshall took aim at the social media giants, too. Only his interest isn’t the detrimental effects on children and teens, but on political censorship.

“Big Tech is not the Ministry of Truth,” Marshall said in a press release.

Let’s be clear. The First Amendment protects against government interference in speech. There is no constitutional protection against being barred by a private company from publishing something on a company’s website that violates its user agreement.

Marshall is smart enough to know this. But leveling with angry conspiracy theorists and aggrieved anti-vaxxers doesn’t sell well in Alabama, so he’s using state resources to indulge their fantasies, instead.

Last month, Marshall’s office created a website where the public can file complaints against the tech giants. It’s unclear what Marshall intends to do with those complaints once he has them. Legal experts have said he can’t do much.

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But that’s not his point.

Marshall isn’t really fighting for Alabamians with his online complaint box any more than he’s saving money by ditching his national peers.

Being effective means less to Marshall than being popular. Alabama’s attorney general cares less about what he does for Alabama than how he looks to voters.

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It’s strained and phony. It’s superficial. It’s all for show.

It would be perfect for Instagram.

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Kyle Whitmire is the state political columnist for the Alabama Media Group, 2020 winner of the Walker Stone Award, winner of the 2021 SPJ award for opinion writing, and 2021 winner of the Molly Ivins prize for political commentary.

You can follow his work on his Facebook page, The War on Dumb. And on Twitter. And on Instagram.

More columns by Kyle Whitmire

Convicted Alabama House speaker apologizes — for his conviction

Vaccine mandates too much? You know we still have a Selective Service, right?

Bodycams reveal a good cop, a bad cop and a mayor who picked the wrong side

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The South walked kids into a COVID buzzsaw. Don’t repeat our mistakes, America.

Alabama state school board reacts to COVID — by banning Critical Race Theory

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August





Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …





Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android





Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly


We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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