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The retweet designer compares his invention to a firearm

Mandy Boyd

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“We could as well have given a loaded gun to four-year-olds. This is how the creator of the retweet describes his invention in an interview with Buzzfeed News.

Chris Wetherell is the developer behind the retweet, the system that allows someone to tweet someone else to his own community on Twitter. This feature, which has been around for 10 years now, has become central to how to use the social network.

According to Buzzfeed News, Wetherell initially believed that the retweet button would provide a platform for less visible online communities.

And in the early days, the community seemed to give him partial reason. “[The button] did a lot of what it was designed for,” he explained. He had the power to multiply the reach of a message like no other.”

From hope to regret

Wetherell deeply regrets having designed it, and goes so far as to believe that the retweet is one of the sources of the problems facing social networks today.

Prior to the implementation of this button, Twitter users had to manually copy and paste the messages they wanted to share, in addition to adding themselves the letters RT designating a retweet and to indicate the author of the original message.

This relatively cumbersome process could be frustrating for Internet users, but it had the advantage of causing them to think longer before sharing a tweet. The retweet has replaced instantaneous thinking with rationality.

The same phenomenon occurred in 2012 on Facebook, when the social network was inspired by Twitter to create its “Share” button on mobile.

The CEO of Twitter reflects on the future of the retweet

In 2014, one of the most notorious examples of retweet drift in Twitter’s history came in the form of a smuggling and mystery harassment campaign dubbed Gamergate.

“Ask anyone who has been a target [of the Gamergate]; it’s the retweet that has helped [the stalkers] show a false image of someone [on Twitter] even before [the victims] can respond,” said Chris Wetherell at Buzzfeed News . We did not create a defense system. We only designed an attack conduit.”

Twitter’s chief executive officer Jack Dorsey and former product manager Jason Goldman who oversaw Chris Wetherell at the time also agree that it may be time to review the retweet’s operation.

“I’m thinking about the motives and ramifications behind all the actions, including the retweet,” Jack Dorsey told Buzzfeed News . “For example, retweeting with a comment might encourage [users] to think more before sharing something.”

“The biggest problem is the retweet quote,” says Jason Goldman.

Possible solutions

According to Wetherell, the solution may lie in the suspension of the retweet button for large parts of the Twitter community.

In his opinion, removing the right to retweet to all users would be counterproductive, since people who already have many subscribers would have too much power over others. On the other hand, targeting specific accounts no longer worth retweeting is not realistic, since it is almost impossible to detect all the toxic accounts.

Wetherell therefore proposes to monitor communities, groups of hundreds or thousands of accounts sharing the same content, and penalize those who participate in discussions exceeding the limits.

Buzzfeed News reports that Facebook has proposed another promising approach this year on its WhatsApp encrypted email service. People using this platform can now share only five of their contacts at a time.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher interviewed by the US news site suggests banning retweets containing a link if the person who wants to send it did not first click on the link in question.

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Apple, Google pause reviewing audio recordings from voice assistants

Mandy Boyd

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Following a complaint from a German organization, Apple, Google and Amazon all announced – to varying degrees – a suspension of their system of listening to conversations of users of their voice assistants.

A few weeks ago, Amazon and Google had admitted that they used subcontractors or employees to listen to certain conversations (less than 1% in general) of users of their voice assistants, in order to “improve their voice services.” Apple, it seems, did the same with Siri. The news shocked many observers, surprised that these companies can listen to potentially personal information without clear warning, or consent.

In this context, the Data Protection Authority of Hamburg has just announced that it has obtained a suspension of these practices that will apply for three months in the European Union for the voice assistant of Google, and in a definitive way for Apple, all over the world.

“These companies must transparently inform the persons concerned about the processing of voice commands, but also about the frequency and risks of nuisance tripping that they generate,” said Johannes Caspar, Commissioner for Data Protection and Privacy. freedom of information within the German authority.

Apple has indicated that it plans to put in place a prior authorization request system to its users to implement this listening process. Google has suspended its practices for 3 months from August 1 without explaining precisely what it intends to do to improve the situation. In the process, Amazon has announced that it will allow Alexa users to disable the listening system.

Everything is suspended for now. It remains to be seen, by the end of the year certainly, how these systems will be reintroduced in Europe to be more consistent with the RGPD.

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After El Paso, 8chan loses Cloudflare, and its founder calls for closure

Cam Potvin

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Cloudflare – which provides services for many Internet sites – announced that it was terminating its contract with the 8chan forum, on which the author of the El Paso, Texas shootings had published a manifesto racist. In addition, Frederick Brennan, the founder of 8chan, called Sunday for the closing of the forum, with which he cut the bridges last December.

In a blog post, Cloudflare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, on Sunday called the forum – prized by extremists of all kinds (extreme right, masculinists, conspiracy …) – of hay-filled bottom because the site not moderate the contents.

8chan is one of more than 19 million Internet businesses that use Cloudflare’s services. We have just announced the end of our services at 8chan as of midnight today , Prince wrote.

The reason is simple: they proved that they did not respect any law, and this anarchy caused many tragic deaths. Even though 8chan may not have broken the law by refusing to moderate his community full of hatred, he has created an environment that is pleased to violate the spirit of the law.

On Monday morning, 8chan suffered sporadic disruptions of service. His administrator tweeted that he was migrating the forum to a new service after Cloudflare’s decision, which made 8chan vulnerable in terms of its IT security.

A Line crossed

According to Prince, Cloudfare did not make a decision lightly.

“We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we do not accept platforms that have shown that they directly inspire tragic events and outlaw,” he wrote.”8chan has crossed this line.”

Shortly before the murderous shooting of El Paso on Saturday, the shooter, a white man identified by the media as Patrick Crusius, posted on 8chan a racist manifesto with regard to Hispanics and praising the massacre, in March, of 51 people in two mosques located in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The author of the Christchurch massacre had expressed his intentions on the political section of the 8chan forum. He then broadcast his attack live on Facebook Live for 17 minutes before the retransmission was disabled.

Close the site

On Sunday, 8chan’s founder, Frederick Brennan – who broke all links with the site – said it should be closed.

“As soon as I hear of a mass killing, I say to myself, “Well, we need to find out if there is a connection with 8chan,” Brennan told the New York Times=.

“Close the site,” he continued.

[8chan] does not bring anything good to the world. It is totally negative for everyone except for its users. And you know what? It is negative for them too. They just do not realize it.

Frederick Brennan

The site is currently managed from the Philippines by a US Army veteran, Jim Watkins.

A necessary measure, but not very effective

Ceasing to provide services to 8chan will not make the Internet safer or reduce hate online, Prince said.

Two years ago, after the death of a woman killed by a neo-Nazi woman during violent far-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Cloudflare stopped providing services to a neo-Nazi site. Daily Stormer.

Today, the Daily Stormer is always available and always disgusting. They boast of having more readers than ever before. They are no longer the problem of Cloudflare, but they remain the problem of the Internet, wrote Mr. Prince.

Unfortunately, the decision we make today will not solve the problem of online hate. It is almost certain that it will not even be able to chase 8chan off the Internet.

Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare

“But it’s the right thing to do. Online hate is a real problem,” he added.

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Study: 48% of consumers use voice assistants for general web search

Mandy Boyd

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Adobe has just published a new study on the use of voice enabled search in the United States.  The figures confirm that the advance of these technologies is very real

Every week or we come across another study on the phenomenon of voice assisted search, trying to convince us every day of the imminence of this new paradigm of communication with digital interfaces.

Today, it is now Adobe’s turn to offer a study of 1,000 users of these technologies in the United States. Here are the main results:

  • 94% of users believe that voice technology is easy to use and claim that it saves them more than time – it improves their quality of life.
  • But more than half of them say that the process of using voice technology is not intuitive: 49% say they do not always know where to start to do a voice task.
  • And while users are satisfied with the ability of voice assistants to work on multiple devices and respond to commands, less than half of them use voice technology on a daily basis.
  • People are already using voice for a wide range of simple tasks, including driving directions, phone calls, SMS, weather checking and music listening. But most say they would not use it for more complex tasks such as personal banking (61%) or travel booking (52%).
  • Many brands strive to design voice assistants who, like people, can hold conversations. But the respondents do not agree. Consumers are divided on whether voice technology should (51%) or not (49%) have human attributes, such as sympathy and humor, as it continues to evolve.
  • On average, users say that voice technology understands them and is accurate when given an order or asked a question only 69% of the time.
  • Nearly half of respondents (47%) said that they sometimes feel uncomfortable talking to a machine.
  • Smartphones are already the most used device for voice technology (85%) – far ahead of smart speakers (39%) – indicating that voice and screens are a winning duo. And most users (80%) agree that visuals would allow them to use voice technology for a wider variety of tasks, with 83% saying that a screen reiterating the command given to confirm understanding would be particularly useful. In short, indispensable screen!

According to this study, the main current uses of voice (mainly on smartphones) are:

  • Get Driving Directions: 52%.
  • Make a phone call: 51%.
  • Sending a text message: 50%.
  • Obtaining the weather: 49%.
  • Listening to music: 49%.
  • General search on the Web: 48%.
  • Setting various alarms: 41%.
  • Listen to the news: 27%.
  • Sending email: 17%.
  • Shopping: 16%.

On the other hand, it was also asked what potential uses voice enabled search could offer in the coming years. Here are the answers:

 

Of course, this study is specific because it concerns only respondents located geographically in the United States and the target is characterized by people already using voice search. But this is an additional study to add to the list already provided of the various polls already available.

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