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Twitter is Testing a Range of New Control Options, Including Auto-Archiving Old Tweets and Hiding Likes

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Twitter is considering a range of new features designed to provide more protection and control for users, giving you more capacity to manage your in-app interactions and protect your content, in order to avoid being held to account for outdated views that you may have shared.

As reported by Bloomberg, Twitter is considering the new additions to help users feel more open in the app, without fear of judgment and criticism.

Among features being considered, according to Bloomberg’s report, are:

  • Archive old tweets – This option would enable users to archive their old tweets after a certain period of time so that they’re no longer visible to others. Users would be able to manually set a time as to when the archive would kick in, with 30, 60, and 90-day thresholds, or hiding tweets after a full year, being tested as potential options.
  • Remove individual accounts as followers – This has recently been spotted in testing, with Twitter working on an option that would enable users to remove specific profiles from their Follower list, without having to use the current block and unblock workaround. That could make it a less confrontational way to avoid certain users in the app.
Twitter remove follower
  • Remove yourself from a conversation – Also spotted in testing last month, this option would enable users to untag themselves from any discussion, and keep them from being mentioned again within that thread. The option was originally called ‘unmention yourself’, but Twitter says that the updated wording better clarifies what the function is.
Twitter Unmention Yourself
  • Hiding tweets that you’ve liked – Likes have always been a little confusing for Twitter users, with some seeing them as a level of endorsement, and others using them as a marker of things they want to read later, or similar. By hiding your liked tweets, that could remove any confusion, while also letting users feel more free in what they do on the platform, without consideration of judgment for such.

Which is the real focus of all of these updates – Twitter wants to give users more options to feel free and open in how they share and engage on the platform, without fear of being torn down by Twitter mobs or having their old comments come back to haunt them, which may cause people to hold back on posting tweets and engaging in the comments.

Because that can be a problem. As we’ve seen with various high-profile cases, your past, ill-advised tweets can come back to haunt you, and can be used against you, particularly if you end up taking on a prominent, public-facing role.

Film director James Gunn, for example, lost his job as director of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ sequels back in 2018 after his old tweeted remarks were re-surfaced, while just recently, newly appointed ‘Jeopardy’ host Mike Richards was fired after offensive remarks he’d made in the past were discovered, make his position untenable.

The short, sharp nature of Twitter, aligned with real-time response, can be perfect for those off-the-cuff, in-the-moment replies and comments, but cases like these highlight the dangers of such, and that could make more people more hesitant to share in the app, which could be limiting further tweet engagement.

That’s why Twitter tried out ephemeral Fleets as a less binding way to share your thoughts in the app, and a timed auto-delete option for your tweets would also align with this.

Along a similar line, Twitter has also added a new ‘Safety Mode’ option this week, which aims to offer a level of protection from tweet pile-ons and ‘Cancel Culture’, which can also cause people to be more hesitant about sharing their thoughts in the app.

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Essentially, Twitter wants users to comment and engage as much as possible, and elements like these are an impediment to that, which is why it’s now exploring new ways to help users feel more free in what they tweet, while also giving people more ways to avoid the more negative elements, and ending up unwitting targets of abuse and scorn in the app.

Will that work?

Certainly archiving tweets makes sense – though there is always the Wayback Machine and other resources that will help online sleuths uncover old comments, if they really want to look.

But it could provide another level of assurance for users, and a better sense of freedom – because yes, some of the dumb things we tweeted in years past will be just that; dumb, ill-informed opinions that we’ve now moved past, as part of our evolution and education, which really should be commended, rather than used as a bat to beat you with.

This is especially true for younger people, who’ve grown up online, and have gone through their upbringing with social media as an outlet. People are going to have posted stupid things, which, in retrospect, they’ll wish that they hadn’t.

An auto-archive option would definitely provide benefit in this respect, while more controls over who follows and mentions you, and removing Liked tweets from view, also seem like potentially helpful, beneficial considerations.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Meta Launches New Legal Proceedings Against Data Scraping, Helping to Establish Precedent Around Misuse

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Meta Implements New Changes to Housing, Employment and Credit Ads to Eliminate Potential Discrimination

Meta has launched two new legal actions against data scraping sites, which have extracted user data from both Instagram and Facebook for unauthorized use, while it’s also seen a new victory in its battle against platform misuse, with a court ruling in its favor in another case related to clone sites.

First off, on its new actions – Meta has launched legal proceedings against two companies that offer data scraping services, which illegally use people’s uploaded info for unintended purpose.

As explained by Meta:

The first action is against a company called Octopus, a US subsidiary of a Chinese national high-tech enterprise that claims to have over one million customers. Octopus offers scraping services and access to software that customers can use to scrape any website. For a fee, Octopus customers can launch scraping attacks from its cloud-based platform or hire Octopus to scrape websites directly. Octopus offers to scrape data from Amazon, eBay, Twitter, Yelp, Google, Target, Walmart, Indeed, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.”

Meta says that Octopus’ system is able to extract data about people’s Facebook Friends ‘such as email address, phone number, gender and date of birth, as well as Instagram followers and engagement information, such as name, user profile URL, location and number of likes and comments per post’.

That’s information that users never intended to be utilized in this way, and Meta’s looking to establish clearer legal standing on this type of misuse.

The second company that Meta has launched legal action against is managed by a single operator in Turkey, and has been using automated Instagram accounts to scrape data from the profiles of over 350,000 Instagram users.

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“These profiles were viewable to logged-in Instagram users. The Defendant published the scraped data on his own websites or “clone sites.” A clone site is a website that copies and displays Instagram profiles, posts and other information without authorization.”

Both seem like fairly clear-cut violations of Meta’s terms of service, but the legal technicalities of online data scraping are not so definitive, with LinkedIn currently engaged in a years-long battle over a similar data-scraping case, in which users’ publicly available LinkedIn info is being used to power an external employee database and recruitment site.

In the most recent finding in this case, the Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruled that scraping data that’s publicly accessible on the internet isn’t in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, despite users not explicitly providing consent for their information to be utilized by third-party providers in this way.

That case will no doubt also be used in the defense against Meta’s latest legal actions – but as Meta outlines, there is a variance here in that the information gathered by these tools is not publicly accessible, as such, which is part of the reason why Meta has gradually locked down Facebook and Instagram data more and more over the years, giving the company more definitive legal grounding in any such misuse.

That could lead to a new legal precedent for such, which may not necessarily help in LinkedIn’s case – but then again, LinkedIn has also been moving to lock down more of its user data to combat the same, which could eventually see any ruling apply to all such cases.

Either way, the misuse of user data in this way is clearly a violation of privacy, as it’s taking people’s personal info without consent. One way or another, it seems that the laws around such need to be updated – and maybe, these new cases from Meta can advance the argument in this respect.

Which is what Meta’s been trying to do with its various legal cases against platform misuse. And recently, it had a victory, with a court ruling that another operator that had been scraping Instagram user data to fuel clone sites was guilty of misuse.

As per Meta:

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In 2020, we filed an action against a defendant scraping people’s publicly-visible information from Instagram in order to create a network of clone sites. This was a violation of our Terms of Service and we filed a lawsuit in order to protect our users. The Court recently issued a final judgment in our favor and found Defendant liable for scraping data from Instagram users and republishing it on his clones sites. The Defendant was ordered by the Court to pay over $200,000 and is banned from using Facebook or Instagram.”

Each ruling in Meta’s favor helps to establish clearer precedent, and as it continues to launch new legal proceedings in order to reiterate the significance of data scraping and misuse, that, ideally, will further build Meta’s broader case load to solidify legal standing.

Which will see more of this type of activity outlawed and penalized, and will ultimately disincentive fraud in the space. It takes time, as each case needs to go through the legal process (as per this recent ruling), but Meta continues to establish stronger foundations for future cases with every step.

Which is another way to evolve the laws around such, embedding rulings by proxy, which will help to address such as clear legal violations in future. 

There’s a way to go, on several fronts, but Meta’s legal procedures help to build the foundations of law around these evolving forms of data misuse.

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