UK eyeing fines for social media content moderation failures

After the UK Prime Minister Theresa May secured a joint statementfrom theG7 on Friday,backing a call for social media firms to do more to combat online extremism, a Conservative minister has suggested the party is open to bringing in financial penalties or otherwise changing the law in order to encourage more action on problem content from techcompaniesif itsreturned to government at the UKgeneral election on June 8.

The Guardian reports the comments by security minister, Ben Wallace, speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Sunday. Wallaces words follow an expos by the newspaper of Facebooks moderation guidelines which the ministerdubbed totally unacceptable, citing anexample of Facebooks moderator guidance saying its OK to publish abuse of under-seven-year-old children from bullying as long as it doesnt have captions alongside. Facebooksrules have also beencriticized by child safety charities.

The companydeclined to comment for this story. But Facebook has previously said it intends to make it simpler for users to report content problems, and willspeed up the process for its reviewers to determine which posts violate itsstandards (although it has not specified how it will do this). It has alsosaid it will make it easier for moderatorsto contact law enforcement if someone needs help.

Beyond bullying and child safety issues, concern about social media platforms being used to spread hate speech and extremist propaganda has also been rising up the agenda in Europe.Earlier this yearthe German cabinet backed proposalsto fine social mediaplatforms up to50 million if they fail to promptly remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours after a complainthas been made for obviously criminal content, and within seven days for other illegal content.It appears a Conservative-majority UK government would also be looking seriously at applying financial penalties to try to enforce content moderation standards on social media.

Wallaces comments also follow a UK parliamentary committee report, publishedearlier this month,which criticized social media giants Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for taking alaissez-faire approach to moderating hate speech content. The committee also suggested the government should consider imposing fines for content moderation failures, and called fora review of existing legislation to ensure clarity about how itapplies.

After chairing a counterterrorism session at the G7 on Friday, which included discussion about the role of social media in spreading extremist content, the UKs PM Maysaid: We agreed a range of steps the G7 could take to strengthen its work with tech companies on this vital agenda. We want companies to develop tools to identify and remove harmful materials automatically.

Its unclear exactly what those steps will be but the possibility of fines to enforce more control over platform giants is at least now on the table for some G7 nations.

For their part tech firms have said they are already using and developing tools to try to automate flagging up problem content, including seeking to leverage AI. Although given the scale and complexity of the content challenge here, there willclearly not be aquick tech fixfor post-publication moderation in any near-term timeframe.

Earlier this month Facebook also said it was addinga further3,000 staff to its content reviewer team bringing the total number of moderators it employs globally to review content being posted by its almost two billion users to 7,500.

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7 ways to protect yourself online when social media is harming your self-esteem

Image: vicky leta / mashable

Social media can help us feel more connected to our friends, even when we’re far away. But, for many of us, the culture of of oversharing and #humblebragging can have a serious impact on our self-esteem.

With 10 million new photographs uploaded to Facebook every hour, experts say social media is a mine of endless potential for young people to be drawn into appearance-based comparisons. Instagram has been recently ranked worst for young people’s mental health, and causes feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

In the age of ubiquitous social media, how can we protect ourselves online when our use of social media is directly impacting on our self-esteem?

Create a self-appreciation folder on your phone

Student Issie Lakin, 17, says that constantly looking at “beautiful women with ‘perfect’ bodies, curves, expensive clothing and constant travelling” has had a definite impact on the way she views herself. This constant comparison to other people on Instagram is damaging, she says, so she tries to remind herself of the positive things in her life.”The best coping strategy for me was acceptance and looking at motivational images and daily reminders to remind myself of how much I have achieved,” says Lakin.

“Cheesy as it sounds, a thing for me to do was to look up self-motivation and appreciation quotes, downloading them onto my phone and putting them into a folder. Whenever I have a bad day I look at the folder,” she says.

Delete the apps from your phone

You don’t need to delete your actual accounts, but deleting the apps from your phone can help with the urge to constantly check these platforms. If you find that checking Instagram is sending you into a spiral of negative thoughts, deleting the apps even if for a short period of time could give you the distance you need.

Avoid Instagram’s ‘Explore’ tab

Some people find Instagram’s “Explore” tab to be full of photographs and videos that make them feel bad about themselves. Steering clear of it can prevent you from encountering photos that you don’t need to see and that wouldn’t ordinarily appear in your timeline.

Image: vicky leta / mashable

Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad

Jenny Rae, a 25-year-old blogger who’s currently “flashpacking” in southeast Asia, says social media has harmed her self-esteem in the past and she often feels insecure when comparing herself to others.”I protect myself online by attempting to consume social media mindfully. Someone once advised me to unfollow any accounts that made you feel negative in any way, and only follow ones that inspire you or make you feel good,” says Rae.

Impose a limit on your social media usage

Integrative psychotherapist Hilda Burke says the main challenge for many people is that social media triggers the tendency to compare oneself to others. Burke says that “a certain amount” of comparing oneself to others is “part of human nature.” She recommends imposing limits on how much time you spend on social media per day. She says that limit often affords people the space to focus on building their own confidence. Some people only check Facebook during their working day, and keep their free time strictly Facebook-free. Others limit their Instagram activity to when they’re on holiday.

Woman using touchscreen smartphone

Image: Getty Images

Turn off your push notifications

Social media is invasive, and a constant stream of push notifications can draw us into apps that are toxic for our self-esteem. Some people turn off their push notifications so that their phone isn’t constantly tempting them to enter those apps.

Talk to someone

If social media is getting to be too much, try talking to someone about how you’re feeling. is a free anonymous and confidential online text chat and you can talk to trained listeners and online therapists who will listen to you.

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Facebook and The Trevor Project hope to help prevent LGBTQ youth suicides

Facebook has been working to make users feel safer on the platform for years, and in its latest effort to enhance the online community, the social media platform partnered with The Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.

On Tuesday in the middle of Mental Health Awareness month Facebook announced that users will be able to connect with mental health resourcesfromThe Trevor Project right from their direct messages. The project rolls out over the next few months.

According to The Trevor Project’s website, the rate of suicide attempts is “four times greater for LGB youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth,” so it’s clear how helpful access to a supportive chat bot could be. And though The Trevor Project is aimed at helping suicide prevention in young people, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 40 percent of transgender adult respondents reportedly made a suicide attempt during their lives, so Facebook users of all ages could certainly benefit from the helpful resource.

The messenger crisis support will also expand awareness to other areas of the mental heath community with the help of participating organizations likeCrisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The social media site recently received a great deal of backlash surrounding the spread of live-streamed suicide videos and earlier this month after a violent video of a Cleveland man shooting and killing a 74-year-old man was posted to the site founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted more human intervention is necessary on the site to ensure the safety of users.

The site also collaborated with mental health organizations back in 2016 to launch tools and resources aimed at supporting the mental health community. Users now have easily accessible support groups along with the ability to report concerning posts related to self-injury or suicide directly to Facebook.

Back in March the site was even testing a pattern recognition system that would use AI to identify posts that include certain keywords pertaining to suicidal thoughts.

Studies have shown that excessive social media us could increase levels of depression, so the more resources the better.

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list is a good place to start.

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Trump’s bad week just got even worse and Twitter was there for it

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Don’t look now, but it seems like Comey’s Revenge has officially begun and it’s not looking good for Trump.

A memo from the recently fired FBI director made its way to the New York Times Tuesday and it was jam-packed with damaging claims about the president.

Among the most outrageous were the allegations that Trump asked James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security advisor Michael T. Flynn and equally as worrying that he floated an idea to lock up reporters for publishing classified information.

As the clamor for a full investigation grew, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said his committee is willing to issue a subpoena to get hold of the memo.

Amidst all the craziness, a person was spotted jumping the White House fence. The only question was whether they were trying to infiltrate the Oval Office or flee the raging dumpster fire.

How exactly the latest, potentially wildly damaging revelation will play out remains to be seen but in the meantime, Twitter had a schadenfreude-fest.

Here’s how it played out.

‘Obstruction of Justice’ shot to the top trending list within hours.

Impeachment was a popular subject.

Of course Trump’s old tweets came back to bite him

And the GIFs were out in full force.

A lot of people thought it wasn’t really a fair fight.

One person was conspicuous by his absence.

The ball, as ever, is in Trump’s court.

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The bright spots in the dark era of Trump Twitter: political parody accounts

Image: mashable composite: Christopher Mineses

Over the course of his first months in the White House, President Trump notoriously turned Twitter into his personal outlet for unhinged political venting. That of course inspired the creation of dozens of parody accounts that became tools of resistance, coping mechanisms, and light-hearted distractions from the political chaos.

A simple Twitter search for “Donald Trump Parody” reveals a collection of over 50 accounts, and though each tackles Trumps presidency with a different approach, they all set out with a common goal: to make Twitter in the Trump era a bit more bearable.

To get a better sense of what it takes to challenge Trump on his favorite social platform, we reached out to the creators of two of the most popular Trump parody accounts on Twitter and uncovered some intriguing facts about the 24/7 job.

For instance: One of the most thought-provoking accounts on Twitter was inspired by Trump’s spat with the musical Hamilton.

While accounts like @RealDonalDrumpf and @mechanicaltrump attempt to imitate Trump’s unique online behavior, tweeting with an excessive amount of exclamation points and bashing Obama and the Democratic party every chance they get, others, like @aTinyTrump, give followers a good laugh with the help of Photoshop.

The more serious parody account @DTrumpExposed, meanwhile, provides followers with essential information related to Trump’s presidency and his administration, serving as an alternative source of news for those who want to stay in the loop.

@IfHillaryHad imagines American politics in an alternate reality, tweeting on a day-to-day basis as Hillary Clinton had she won the election. @BRIDGETTRUMPSD1 is a depiction of Trump’s diary entries if they were written in the style of Bridget Jones. You know, very normal stuff.

Which brings us to @HalfOnionInABag, the scrap of a vegetable just looking to get more Twitter followers than Trump. It hasn’t quite reached the president’s 28.4 million, but 739,000 followers is still pretty impressive for a vegetable.

Trump now with maturity!

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the overzealous, typo-ridden 140-character messages posted to the president’s Twitter account, it’s where there’s a Trump tweet, there’s room for improvement.

One man decided to take on the taxing job of editing those tweets to try and make the president’s words sound more, well, presidential. Under the promise of anonymity, the 52-year-old creator of Mature Trump Tweets spoke to us about the inspiration behind the thought-provoking account, how life has changed since starting it, and what kind of impact he hopes his revised words have on the world.

Here’s how he edited one of Trump’s tweets about “fake news”:

Since several early followers wondered if Barack Obama were behind the account, the creator has decided to go by the nickname Barry.

“I think he’s failed to recognize, or worse doesn’t care, that his words matter.”

He began the account last fall, a few weeks after Trump won the election, as things on Twitter got more and more surreal.

“I think he’s failed to recognize, or worse doesn’t care, that his words matter,” Barry said. “I became almost numb due to the Twitter assault that seemed to attack first amendment rights and lack of civility in his tone,” he went on, identifying the president’s Twitter beef with the cast of Hamilton as one of the events that drove him to create the account.

“I needed to do something because I felt powerless. So I decided to recreate his tweets and tweet the way I think a true diplomatic statesman would. It was cathartic for me, and I had a hunch it would be for others too.”

Throughout the course of the young presidency, Barry’s goals for the account have evolved. “Originally it was selfish. I needed an outlet,” he explained. “I also was determined to not allow this type of tone to be normalized. That’s a scary proposition.”

Retweets from powerful social media voices like J.K. Rowling, Ricky Gervais, Seth McFarlane, and Mark Cuban were soon to follow. Mature Trump Tweets has 123,000 followers, some of whom have reached out to tell Barry how important the account is to them, offering to start GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaigns to ensure it remains up and running.

“Today, I have bigger goals,” Barry admitted. “I think this could be a counter movement. One that espouses kindness, civility, decorum things I think Americans and people around the world truly want and crave.”

Maintaining an account that directly responds to Trump’s relentless Twitter activity isn’t always easy. “I usually retweet Trump when he tweets, which means daily usually early in the morning or late at night,” Barry said.

Barry also tweets whenever he feels the president should be tweeting, even if Trump remains silent. “Those are often the most popular, because it demonstrates the fact he seems tone deaf on what’s important and what the majority of Americans want to hear from him.”

Embracing the chaos through humor

During Trump’s first month in office, executive order signing became something of a sport for President Trump and it wasn’t long before 34-year-old Mike Gaines took notice.

With each document Trump presented, Gaines thought he resembled a proud little kid showing off his drawings to his parents. Gaines was inspired to take a more lighthearted approach to manage his political frustrations. Trump Draws a brilliant collection of photoshopped GIFs was born.

When Trump fired Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general who refused to defend his travel ban, the Los Angeles-based visual effects artist decided to transform the proud president into an ambitiously doodling toddler with the help of his iPad Pro, the app Procreate, and Adobe After Effects.

Gaines began posting to the account several times a week, showing Trump dramatically revealing drawings of cute little animals and holiday greetings, with timely political references. He misspelled captions (in too-real Trump fashion) and occasionally even doodled with his non-dominant hand to really capture the youthful aspect of his photoshop creations.

“In this increasingly divisive political world, the account somehow cuts through all the BS,” Gaines said. It’s “simply a way to laugh at the doodles of a very proud man, who just happens to be the president of the United States.”

After the account which is currently at 439,000 followers received such a positive response from Twitter users, Gaines decided to expand the endeavor to include paintings in the White House, presentation tools, and really any other white surface begging to be memed.

“I feel like these accounts really are a bright light in a pretty dismal world right now, he said. “Laughing and comedy are the best way to cope.”

Though Gaines refers to Trump as “a diamond mine for comedy,” he thinks the president’s seemingly unfiltered, unprofessional Twitter account is a true cause for concern. “Dude needs to pick a new game … maybe trying to run the country instead?” he suggested, clarifying that he’s not trying to use Trump Draws to make a political statement.

“I really just want to add some levity to this crazy political climate,” Gaines said. “Sometimes you just need to see Trump childishly draw an elephant to get you through the day.”

So simple, yet so effective.

Parodies FTW

Though its tough to say definitively whether Trump is the most parodied president in history I mean, even George Washington was subject to sketches The Donald does seem to have a big target painted on his back in the social media age.

Even when it comes to more recent presidents, a search for “Barack Obama parody” yields eighteen results on the platform. “George Bush parody” reveals a mere three. (Though, to be fair, Obama was elected when Twitter was only in its infancy.)

The takeaway? When it comes to being parodied on Twitter, Trump is winning. So much winning.

WATCH: Trump accidentally stood next to Darth Vader and this is why symbolism exists

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Jack Dorsey just spent $9.5M buying more Twitter stock

Jack Dorsey is at it again after purchasing $7 million in Twitter stock back in February, the Twitter CEO bought another $9.5 million today.After making his purchase, Dorsey posted the news on Facebook Twitter, sparking a one percent gain in the companys share price in after-hours trading.

Sourced from Google Finance.

According to an SEC filing, Dorsey purchased574,002 shares of Twitter stock at roughly $16.62. That price is either a steal, if you compare it to Twitters peak share price of almost $70or a pretty bad deal if youre looking at last weeks share price that was $2 lower. Either way, the CEO is expressing confidence in his company that just posted its first decent earnings report in a while.

Earlier this week, Twitter reported to investors that it brought in $548 million in revenue in Q1 2017, beating investor expectations of $511.9 million. That sent Twitter stock on an upward trajectory, benefitting shareholders. But despite all the good news, Dorsey hasnt actually made much fromhis purchase of over 400,000 shares back in February.

With both purchases combined,Dorsey has now grabbed up over1 million additional shares of Twitter stock this year alone. In contrast, he has been dumping stock from his side-hustle Square. The share price for Square stock has been on the rise.The money from Dorseys sale of Square stock has previously gone to fund his ownStart Small Foundation.

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The British resistance is coming at you with Google docs

Everyone loves a good spreadsheet, right?!
Image: Christopher Mineses / mashable

The resistance is alive in Britain, and it’s armed with a spreadsheet.

A super detailed, exquisitely crafted Google spreadsheet called “How to Vote to Stop the Tories” started doing the rounds on social media almost immediately after a snap election was called last Tuesday.

It’s a detailed guide on how to vote tactically for the best chances of ousting the Conservative Party in each individual seat. It’s basically a spreadsheet nerd’s dream come true.

It went viral straight away. Safe to say, its creator, Becky Snowden, was floored.

Let’s get tactical.

Image: becky snowden

“I had no idea just how many people out there wanted to join together like this, and learn how to vote tactically. Its absolutely amazing. When normal people work together we can achieve anything,” Snowden said.

It was retweeted hundreds of times and has put her in touch with others who are trying to disseminate information on tactical voting.

The spreadsheet’s columns list which seats are safe to vote Labour and which are better to vote Liberal Democrat or Greens as they would have a better chance of beating the Tory candidate. It’s a work in progress as conditions on the ground change. There’s a mobile friendly tab, and a tab with lots of links to information.

“I am yet to meet anyone who doesnt love a good spreadsheet.”

Snowden’s disillusionment with the current “first past the post” voting system led her to create the spreadsheet. “Unfortunately our voting system is broken. The Lib Dems ended up with 23% of the vote but only 9% of the seats,” she said.

“I know there are plenty of people out there who want the Tories out but dont mind which progressive party replaces them. I figured I would try to help them. A lot of hard work and little chance it would spread to enough people. But like Barack Obama once said ‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.’ So I thought why not give it a shot?”

She cites Brexit and the Tories privatisation of parts of the NHS (Britain’s health service) as issues that cross parties.

“A lot of people dont trust the Tories to get the average working person a good deal from Brexit. These are just two examples where people dont necessarily mind who is in charge, as long as it isnt the Conservatives,” she said.

Prime Minister Theresa May stood outside of Downing Street on April 18 and made a surprise statement calling for elections.

Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

While her optimism is refreshing, tactical voting isn’t new. John Curtice, politics professor at University of Strathclyde, says he can remember tactical campaigns as far back as 1987 and 1992.

“Tactical voting will work effectively if people think parties will profit relatively equally,” he said. Curtice has not been persuaded by the efforts of the past, and in this case he thinks that Brexit could actually hurt anti-Tory tactical voters.

“UKIP voters are likely to go to the Tories, insofar as Brexit is an issue, working to their disadvantage,” he said.

He also points out that “lots of people don’t use Twitter to follow politics just Facebook.”

Social media platforms make it “somewhat easier” to reach the coveted younger voters but it still doesn’t change a basic rule of politics. “Younger voters are less likely to vote,” Curtice said.

Snowden acknowledges that tactical voting is nothing new.

“But now we have this way of coordinating our efforts, I sincerely think we can make a difference,” she said.

“I am yet to meet anyone who doesnt love a good spreadsheet.”

WATCH: Lady Gaga FaceTimed with Prince William to discuss a very important issue

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There’s an instance for everyone in the rapidly expanding Mastodon fediverse

What's your fancy? Mastodon's got it.
Image: mastodon

Burners, furries, book lovers, bots, cuties, pizza lovers there’s a place for everyone in the federated Mastodon universe.

And if there isn’t yet, there soon will be.

The distributed social network Mastodon burst into the popular consciousness last week, and is expanding at a rapid clip. There are over 216,000 users at the time of this writing, along with 684 instances being tracked up from 649 just earlier in the day.

This is what a growing community looks like.

For the uninitiated: An instance is a server running Mastodon, and can be themed or not. Members of one instance can talk with members on other participating instances the entire group of which is called the fediverse if everyone decides to play nice. A user can, however, choose to keep what is tooted (aka posted) only within their instance. This neat privacy feature allows for narrowly focused instances to form.

Just how focused? Let’s look at a few examples. launched on April 13, and is an instance for Burning Man attendees. is for people looking to discover new books. is for “cuties.” is where anyone can go to “share and discuss dank memes and awful jokes.” is for furries. is for those wishing to partake in a very specific French-born artistic movement. is for, well, you get the idea.

Oh, and is an instance for “for bots and bot allies.” Yes, bots. As in bots.

This is a semi-random sampling of the aforementioned 684 instances, and doesn’t even include the gem whose endearing motto is “No one should toot alone.”

At present, the original “flagship” instance still has the most users at 47,254, but many others are seeing new signups at a rapid clip.

Importantly, themed Mastodon instances don’t rely on the so-called network effect as heavily as social media sites like Twitter. An instance doesn’t necessarily need millions to join for it to be worthwhile it just needs the right people, and that’s where the themed servers come in.

The aforementioned Burning Man instance, for example, would be incredibly valuable for people planning on attending the annual festival even if membership capped out at only this year’s attendees.

That is why, even if Mastodon may not thrive in the same way as other venture-back social media networks, it will continue to exist as a go-to destination for hundreds of thousands of users.

Now excuse me as I head off to I have some tooting to do.

WATCH: Why all the cool kids are migrating to Mastodon

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Facebook again under fire for spreading illegal content

An investigation by a British newspaper into child sexual abuse content and terrorist propaganda being shared onFacebook has once again drawn critical attention to how the companyhandles complaints about offensive and extremist contentbeing shared on its platform.

And, indeed, how Facebooks algorithmically driven user generated content sharing platform apparently encouragesthe spread of what can also be illegal material.

In a report published today,The Timesnewspaper accuses Facebookof publishing child pornography after one of its reporters created a fake profile and was quickly able to find offensive and potentiallyillegal content on the site including pedophilic cartoons; a video that apparently shows a child being violently abused; and various types ofterrorist propaganda including a beheading video made byan ISIS supporter, and comments celebrating a recent attack against Christians in Egypt.

The Times says it reported the content to Facebook but in most instances was apparently told the imagery and videosdid not violate the sites community standards. (Although, when it subsequently contacted the platform identifying itself as The Times newspaper it says some of pedophilic cartoons that had been kept up by moderators were subsequently removed.)

Facebook says it has since removed all the content reported by the newspaper.

A draft law in Germany is proposing to tackle exactly this issue using the threatof large fines for social media platforms that fail to quickly take down illegal content after a complaint. Ministers in the German cabinet backed the proposed lawearlier this month, which could be adopted in the current legislative period.

And where one European government is heading, others in the region might well be moved to follow. The UK government, for example, has once againbeen talking tougher on social platforms and terrorism, following a terror attack in London last month with the Home Secretary putting pressure on companies including Facebook to build tools to automate the flagging up and taking down of terrorist propaganda.

The Times says itsreporter created a Facebook profile posing as an IT professionalin his thirties and befriending more than 100 supporters of ISIS whilealso joining groups promoting lewd or pornographic images of children. It did not take long to come across dozens of objectionable images posted by a mix of jihadists and those with a sexual interest in children, it writes.

The Times showed the material it foundto a UK QC, Julian Knowles, who told it that in his viewmany of the images and videos are likely to be illegal potentiallybreaching UK indecency laws, and the Terrorism Act 2006 which outlaws speech and publications that directly or indirectly encourage terrorism.

If someone reports an illegalimage to Facebook and a senior moderator signs off on keeping it up, Facebook is at risk of committing a criminal offense because the company might be regarded as assisting or encouraging its publication and distribution, Knowles told the newspaper.

Last month Facebook faced similar accusations overits content moderation system, after a BBC investigation looked at how the site responded to reports of child exploitation imagery, and also found the site failed to remove the vast majority of reported imagery.Last yearthe news organization also foundthatclosed Facebook groups were being used by pedophiles to share images of child exploitation.

Facebook declined to provide a spokesperson to be interviewed about The Times report, but in an emailed statement Justin Osofsky, VP global operations, told us: We are grateful to The Times for bringing this content to our attention. We have removed all of these images, which violate our policies and have no place on Facebook. We are sorry that this occurred. It is clear that we can do better, and well continue to work hard to live up to the high standards people rightly expect of Facebook.

Facebooksays it employs thousands of human moderators, distributedin officesaroundthe world (such as Dublin for European content) to ensure 24/7 availability. However given the platform has close to 2 billion monthly active users (1.86BN MAUsat the end of 2016, to be exact) this is very obviously just the tiniest drop in the ocean of content being uploaded to the site every second of every day.

Human moderation clearly cannot scale to review so much content without there being farmore human moderators employed by Facebook a move it clearly wants to resist, given the costs involved (Facebooksentire company headcountonly totalsjust over 17,000 staff).

Facebookhas implemented MicrosoftsPhoto DNAtechnology, which scans all uploadsfor known images of child abuse. However tackling all types of potentiallyproblematic content isa very hard problem to try to fix with engineering; one that is not easily automated, given it requires individual judgement calls based on context as well as the specificcontent, while also potentially factoring in differences in legal regimes in different regions, and differing cultural attitudes.

CEO Mark Zuckerbergrecently publicly discussedthe issue writing thatone of our greatest opportunities to keep people safe isbuilding artificial intelligence to understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community.

But he alsoconceded that Facebookneeds to do more, andcautioned that an AI fix for content moderation is years out.

Right now, were starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization. This is technically difficult as it requires building AI that can read and understand news, but we need to work on this to help fight terrorism worldwide, hewrote in February, before going on toemphasize thatprotecting individual security and liberty is also a core plankofFacebooks communityphilosophy which underscoresthe tricky free speech vs offensive speech balancing act the social media giantcontinues to try to pull off.

In the end, illegal speech may be the driving force that catalyzes a substantialchange to Facebooksmoderating processes by providing harder red lines where it feels forced to act (even if defining what constitutes illegal speech in a particular region vs what is merely abusive and/or offensive entailsanother judgement challenge).

One factor is inescapable: Facebook has ultimately agreed that all of the problem content identified via various differenthigh profilemedia investigations does indeed violate its community standards, and does not belong on its platform. Which rather begs the question why was it not taken down when it was first reported? Either thats systemic failure of its moderating system or rank hypocrisy at the corporate level.

The Times says it has reportedits findings to the UKs Metropolitan Police and the National Crime Agency. Its unclear whether Facebook will face criminal prosecution in the UK for refusing to remove potentially illegal terrorist and child exploitation content.

The newspaper also calls outFacebook for algorithmically promoting some of the offensive material by suggesting that users join particular groups or befriend profiles that had published it.

On that front features on Facebook such as Pages You Might Known automatically suggest additional content a user might be interested on, based on factors such as mutual friends, work and education information, networks youre part of and contacts that have been imported but also manyother undisclosed factors and signals.

And just as Facebooks New Feed machine learning algorithms have been accused of favoring and promoting fake news clickbait, the underlying workings of its algorithmic processes for linking people andinterests look to bebeing increasingly pulledinto thefiring line over how they might beaccidentally aidingand abetting criminal acts.

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The dos and don’ts of dealing with death on Facebook

Image: vicky leta / mashable

When someone you love passes away, turning to Facebook can be a profoundly helpful way of processing that loss and expressing your grief. But, for the deceased’s nearest and dearest, social media can be deeply overwhelming and upsetting in the immediate aftermath and even the long after a person’s death.

People grieve in different ways. What’s upsetting for some people can be comforting for others. Knowing what is and isn’t appropriate can be extremely hard to gauge. Mashable spoke to grief experts and a number of people who’ve dealt with loss to find out what one should and should not do on Facebook following a bereavement:

Don’t rush to post your farewell message

Some people feel compelled to write a farewell message on a the deceased persons wall as soon as they learn of their passing. Be mindful that some family members and close friends might not have been informed yet. Don’t let them find out about it on Facebook by rushing to say your goodbyes.

Costanza Passeri, an account executive at the PR agency Dimoso, found out about the death of two friends because people posted farewell messages on Facebook hours after. “I know that everyone has the right of express the pain in many different ways but I feel there is still a timing to respect. I felt heartbroken about the news and for the way I discovered it, which was so impersonal,” says Passeri.

Tamanna Miah agrees. She found out via Facebook that her best friend had died. “It was awful waking up to it first thing, seeing the news on there, and seeing people bombard his Facebook and Twitter with comments, photos and messages.”

Do follow the family’s lead

Taking the lead from the deceased’s family is best. Wait for the family to officially announce the person’s death before you consider commenting or posting anything.

Keep the ‘miss you’ messages to a minimum

When you’ve lost a friend and you really miss them, it’s hard to know what to do with those feelings. It’s worth bearing in mind that tagging the deceased in a post might show up on their friends’ and family members’ News Feeds. And, if you’re not the only one posting messages like these, it could be overwhelming for their loved ones.

When art director Mirella Aponte’s boyfriend Dan died four years ago, she says around 30 different people posted “miss my best friend” on his wall after he died. “Its weird to keep on posting how much you miss someone and tagging that person,” says Aponte. “If it’s a birthday or an anniversary I think it’s forgivable. Otherwise it is annoying. Call your best friend when you’re sad, dont bother his Facebook friends with it.”

Image: bob al-greene / mashable

Do share memories in private messages

Sharing your thoughts about or memories of the deceased with a member of their family via a private message can be comforting for loved ones. But, being inundated with messages like these can be overwhelming. Make it known that there’s no obligation for them to respond.

Psychotherapist Hilda Burke says that for many it’s a huge comfort to receive messages of condolences, memories and images of the person who’s died. “That can be overwhelming and they’d rather make sense of their feelings in a more private way,” says Burke.

Don’t constantly tag the deceased

On Facebook, we’re forever sharing videos that we know our friends will enjoy. But, when your friend passes away and you spot something you know they’d love, it’s hard to know what to do. Dr. Sheri Jacobson, clinical director of Harley Therapy, says it’s important to keep others in mind when you’re considering tagging the deceased in a post.

“Don’t keep sharing posts that tag the deceased,” says Jacobson. “While you do need to mourn, and while you might feel you are honouring the memory of your loved one, others might find it disrespectful or an unnecessary reminder,” she says.

Keep in mind that whatever you post on their wall will likely appear in family members’ and close friends’ feeds. Consider typing the person’s name without tagging them in the post, which still gets the point across.

Don’t ‘showboat’

If you’re tempted to make a big post rather than just offering condolences, it’s wise to consider working through some of your emotions first. If you aren’t sure if your post is over-the-top, you could ask someone who isn’t mourning what they think before sharing it online. With long posts, it’s important not to ‘showboat’. There is no need to prove to the world how close you were to the deceased with long, detailed posts about all the moments you shared together,” says Sheri Jacobson. “It can feel good in the moment, like a sort of honouring of the one you’ve lost. But do consider how it might affect others.”

Do keep your questions offline

Asking questions about a person’s death could cause upset to others. “I hated it when people kept asking so many questions again and again when they could have easily found out from other sources,” says Tamanna Miah. Explaining the same thing over and over again upset her even more.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Do know your place

When you’re thinking about posting on Facebook, consider where you would sit at the funeral. “Would you sit on the front row? Are you family or their best friend? Dont start posting about it if youre not part of the front row,” says Mirella Aponte. “When Dan died an old friend picked up on it and posted “Rest In Peace” on his wall. This was while we were still contacting the rest of the family.So not cool,” Aponte continues.

Don’t share anything too personal

Aponte says that by sharing your deep feelings on Facebook you reach people that shouldnt be in contact with that information. Your deeply personal message could be construed as a cryptic message from a stranger by the deceased’s family and close friends.

By sharing a private moment on a public platform, you might accidentally mention an event that another friend wasn’t invited to, or expose a secret that the family wasn’t aware of. “It’s not the time to ruffle feathers. Remember, others are suffering too, and everyone will be more emotional,” Jacobson says.

Don’t appropriate an image of the deceased

If you’re not an immediate family member or best friend, posting a Photoshopped photo of the deceased isn’t a good thing to do. This might sound like common sense, but unfortunately, it happens. Don’t Photoshop the deceased onto anything and don’t turn their photos into memes.

Don’t feel guilty for unfriending

If you are a family member or friend of the deceased, don’t feel guilty about unfollowing or blocking the deceased. If it’s too painful to keep seeing them tagged in posts, then do what is right for you.

We all deal with loss in our own unique ways. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to expressing your grief or leaving a message of condolence. Most important of all: Be mindful of other people when you’re posting on Facebook. And, don’t do anything that could risk upset.

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Facebook Stories aren’t anonymous, and that’s a bad thing

Image: Vicky Leta/Mashable

Facebook’s new “Stories” update is here, and it ruins the best part about the entire social network: Mindlessly plumbing your friends’ lives without fear of getting caught.

When you watch a friend’s Story which exists for 24 hours and is comprised of one or more photos or short videos that friend will know you’re creeping. This is how Stories work on basically every platform that supports them (Snapchat, Instagram), but in the context of Facebook, it’s kind of messed up.

First, for reference, here’s what that looks like:

Here’s a story I posted today.

Image: Facebook

A list of people who viewed one of my stories.

Image: Facebook

So far, so good. But the list of people who viewed my content is an awkward who’s-who that includes a couple of folks I probably wouldn’t even make small talk with at a party. Which is fine! I appreciate the content views, friends. It’s just that I haven’t seen one or two of you since eighth grade, and, well, here you are, looking at my cats.

Here’s the rub

Facebook is THE BIG ONE, a monolithic social media force that shoves everyone you know into an interactive database of photos, text and video. But it doesn’t want you to think of it like that it wants to be a place where you talk to your friends and enjoy yourself.

Thus, it’s done whatever it can to ape Snapchat a much smaller rival that specializes in intimate messaging. But Stories don’t make sense on a platform with years and years of social baggage.

Facebook’s algorithms are smart enough to keep your News Feed filled with people and brands you actually enjoy interacting with, but Stories are a bit messier. They’re supposed to depict you unfiltered, in the moment which doesn’t really work if your audience includes the kid from your middle school English class, your high school economics teacher, someone you slept with once, your best friend, someone you’re trying to be friends with, and your boss.

Even as Facebook is fundamentally about connecting real people, there’s something about the illusion of anonymity that’s really important to the platform. It can be fun and kind of addictive to look through profiles without “liking” anything and giving yourself away.

The simple act of scrolling through your News Feed and quietly admiring that one funny person who always pops up even though you haven’t had a real conversation with them in more than a decade is probably the primary way most of us use the app to begin with.

So, in its rush to wipe Snaphat away and become the main placefor social sharing online, Facebook has inadvertently highlighted that it’s at its best when it does a slightly less-good job of connecting you to your friends. Funny how that works.

Not that it matters much: Few people I’m friends with appear to be using Stories to begin with. As of this afternoon, I had three to choose from out of a pool of 943 friends.

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Facebook introduces personal fundraising tools, donate buttons in Facebook Live for Pages

Facebook today announced its expanding its set of online fundraising tools to include its own GoFundMe competitor, with the added support for personal online fundraisers, starting first in the U.S. The new tool will allow Facebook users to raise money for personal crises and other campaigns like schoolor medical expenses, emergency situations, funerals and more. In addition, the company is adding the ability for Facebook Pages to add a donate button to their live broadcasts on the network.

This is not the first time Facebook has stepped into the fundraising space. In 2015, it debuted a Kickstarter-like feature aimed at nonprofits that allowed them to set up a campaign page, explain their goals and collect cash. Last year, the company expanded its fundraising tools to allow individuals to collect funds on behalf of nonprofit organizations, as well.

It was only a matter of time before Facebook introduced similar tools to its wider user base, especially given the continued popularity of these sort of online campaigns and the social activity that surrounds them.

However, the personal fundraisers are limited at launch to six key categories: education (tuition, books or classroom supplies); medical (procedures, treatments, injuries); pet medical; crisis relief (public crises or natural disasters); personal emergencies (house fires, theft, car accidents); and funeral and loss (burial expenses, living costs).

Facebook says it hopes to expand the category list over time as it automates more of the review process. Facebook says it currently has a 24-hour proactive review process to ensure fundraisers meet category and community policies.

  1. Personal Fundraiser Share

  2. Personal Fundraisers Donate

  3. Donate Button in Facebook Live For Pages

  4. Personal Fundraisers Examples


The personal fundraisers are also only open to those in the U.S. who are aged 18 or older, and it will first be available in beta.


They will also havewill have a 6.9% + $.30 fee that will go to payment processing fees, fundraiser vetting, security and fraud protection, says Facebook. (Non-profits pay a different fee structure on Facebook, however). GoFundMe, by comparison, takes 7.9% + $.30 for personal or charity campaigns.

Similar to its other fundraising products, users visiting the personal campaigns can click buttons to invite friends, share the campaign or click the big, blue button to donate money while remaining on the site. This also encourages more payment transactions across Facebook an area of its business that is still today under-developed, despite the addition of peer-to-peer payments within Messenger.

In addition to personal fundraisers, Facebook Pages will now be able to include Donate buttons on their live video broadcasts. This will allow public figures, brands, businesses and other organizations beyond nonprofits to fundraise, too.

People watching the live video can choose to either donate as they watch, or after the video ends and is posted on the Page, says Facebook.

Updated, 12 PM ET to include additional information about the review process; 3 PM ET with fee structures for personal and non-profits.

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This new feature fixes the worst part of Twitter

Twitteris a great place to discuss shows, movies, and games in real-time with folks from all around the world. But its a spoiler-filled nightmare for anyone not able to catch events as they happen. Thankfully, a new mute feature may save those people from irreversible suffering.


Earlier this month, the social media site said it would start using algorithms to go after abusive behavior. The initial feature only dealt with notifications, but recently expanded mute options now help you avoid seeing hashtags, phrases, words, emoji, user names, and more.

Just go to your notifications tab, tap the gear icon, and press muted words. From there, touch add or + (depending on your mobile OS) and start adding words one at a time. Make sure the checks for mute from timeline and notifications are marked. The last step is to choose if the new feature applies to your followersor everyone, and to decide how long you want it enabled24 hours, seven days, 30 days, or forever.

While the intended purpose of this feature was to help you avoid the awful things others say on Twitter, its also a great way of making sure no one spoils your favorite shows before you get a chance to view them.

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Spanish woman given jail term for tweeting jokes about Franco-era assassination

Cassandra Vera founded guilty of glorifying terrorism in her posts about 1973 killing of prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco

A Spanish court on Wednesday sentenced a young woman to jail for posting jokes on Twitter about the 1973 assassination of a senior figure in the Franco dictatorship.

Spains top criminal court, the National Audience, found Cassandra Vera, 21, guilty of glorifying terrorism and humiliating victims of terrorism and handed her a one-year jail term.

She is unlikely to go to jail because those convicted of non-violent crimes with a sentence of under two years are not imprisoned.

Vera published 13 tweets between 2013 and 2016 about the assassination of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, who was dictator Francisco Francos prime minister and heir apparent. He was killed in a car bomb attack in Madrid on 20 December 1973 carried out by the Basque separatist group Eta.

The explosion blew the car Carrero Blanco was travelling in over the roof of a church where he had just been attending mass. ETA combined a policy against the use of official vehicles with a space programme, read one of the posts. Another said: Did Carrero Blanco also go back to the future with his car?

The case has raised questions about freedom of expression in Spain and Vera has received much support. The leader of far-left party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, accompanied her to her trial.

Kamchatka (@Kamchatka_H)

@Pablo_Iglesias_ y @Saracarrenov registran PNL en la Comisin de Justicia en defensa de la libertad de expresin con @kira_95 y @FacuDiazT

March 28, 2017

Even the granddaughter of Carrero Blanco attacked the move by public prosecutors to charge Vera and put her on trial, saying in a letter sent to daily El Pais in January that while the jokes were in poor taste they were not worthy of such legal action. Im scared of a society in which freedom of expression, however regrettable it may be, can lead to jail sentences, Lucia Carrero Blanco wrote.

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How your tone of voice is killing your business – and why Social Media won’t save it

‘Tone of voice’ is an important ingredient to consider when building your Social Media strategy. When I work with professional advisers, consultants and leaders I always ask what they ‘sound like’ as a business in the ‘real world’.

Most have never considered that their business has a tone of voice, but when pressed, many will admit to something between quirky and fun through to professional, academic and “a bit serious”.

There’s nothing wrong with being serious and professional; most would agree that it supports the image of what people would expect from some professions.

Of course, no-one said it’s compulsory that visiting (say) a dental practice should be an overtly sombre experience, though by its very nature you expect the dentists and hygienists to exhibit at least some level of proficiency, professionalism, credibility and expertise.

My Father’s dental practice in the 1960, ‘70s and ‘80s certainly exhibited professionalism but mixed in with a heap of fun. One of the dental surgeons in the practice had been a national high jump champion in his day and used to show off to staff and patients how many steps on the staircase he could leap up in one go when going to his surgery on the first floor.

My Dad too was known for his humour – particularly with younger patients who he would have in hysterics by making his drill and other surgery equipment make weird and funny noises. Dad also had several professional golfers as patients, and on many occasions patients waiting for their appointment would witness indoor putting competitions along the downstairs corridor between the surgery rooms.

So as a dental practice, their tone of voice in the real world was not so much serious and professional – more fun, quirky and yes, entertaining. It worked well for them.

The Christmas cards they sent to patients matched this persona, and were usually hilarious – and often included a golf theme. I would have loved to have seen how they would have used Social Media had it been available back then.

Yesterday, I needed to hire a van to transport a very large musical instrument for a family member who was taking a grading. It was selected and paid for online through the company’s website; the service was quick and efficient. No problem there.

But the process of picking up the van was fraught with difficulty, when it shouldn’t have been. The confirmation email omitted to mention everything that they needed by way of ID and payment of a deposit, and to cut a long story short, we ended up not being able to hire the vehicle – despite us having hired a similar one just a few months earlier from the very same firm. It seems they had changed their processes slightly in the intervening period and the fact that we were existing customers made no difference at all.

I have several speaker friends who are experts on customer service, and I know for a fact that they would cringe at how unwilling and inflexible the hire company was during our interaction with them. It was a classic case of “this is our process and unless you meet that process, then tough”. There wasn’t even the slighted attempt to see if there was another way of solving the problem for our mutual benefit. True, the cost of the van hire was a mere £29, so nobody was going to get a bonus for that transaction.

Quite apart from that, the three different staff members who attended to us were surly, abrupt and found it impossible to look us in the eye – even when suggesting we pay an additional £16 to bring down the insurance excess.

Later that day I sent the company a message on Twitter, and received an impressively prompt reply, which clearly expressed their earnest and genuine desire to get the problem sorted. I was certainly not expecting such a quick and friendly reply and it was completely out of sync with what I’d just experienced on the ground.

Now I observe how brands use Twitter and Social Media in a customer service environment, and this reply was one of the better ones. They clearly took Social Media seriously as a communication tool, and genuinely meant it when they said they wanted to do everything they could to help. I was impressed, but confused.

How could the tone of voice of the organisation be so different online from that my wife and I had experienced just a few hours earlier? It really didn’t make any sense.

The customer service issue at the branch of the company was clearly one problem, and one which can no doubt be improved with training. They wouldn’t be the first company in the world to receive complaints about discourteous and unfriendly staff.

The next issue would then be one of whether they ‘could’ have helped – was there in fact a possibility that a way round the process could have been found, and so turn the customers into raving fans and advocates for “an outstanding service experience”. Clearly that’s customer service training at a higher level, but it would have made a massive difference to our experience of the company.

But it made me wonder if Social Media is still seen as the ‘shiny new customer service thing’ in many organisations. Get that right and everything’s sorted – even though there remains a massive disconnect between the real-world persona and the online one.

A company’s tone of voice needs to be reflected in every part of an organisation – it can’t just be in the Social Media room and not at the coalface – or vice versa. When you can match your real-world tone of voice with your Social Media tone of voice, then the opportunity to build more loyal advocates for your business can be massively expanded.

Have you built your tone of voice into your Social Media plan? Get our Social Media Planner for professional advisers, coaches, consultants and speakers, and get your message across with greater clarity and authority:

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“Phil’s Social Media expertise is outstanding. Just a week after his workshop we closed a six digit business deal based on the techniques he taught me.” Prof. Dr. Niels Brabandt – CEO NB Networks

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