Tag Archives: social

How to Delete Facebook [Brian X. Chen/The New York Times]

If you’ve been very active on Facebook, deleting your account isn’t easy.

I have avoided using Facebook — or Google, Twitter, or anybody else — to log in to other sites. Bad idea to trust my logins to a third party. It’s not hard to create a separate login for each site and use a password manager (I use 1Password) to track them all.

Facebook ends platform policy banning apps that copy its features [Josh Constine/TechCrunch]

Facebook will now freely allow developers to build competitors to its features upon its own platform. Today Facebook announced it will drop Platform Policy section 4.1, which stipulates ‘Add something unique to the community. Don’t replicate core functionality that Facebook already provides.'” I’d love to see an add-on that turns the News Feed into a real blogging platform, that I can publish to from WordPress. A boy can dream, can’t he?


One simple change that can fix social media

On Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything podcast: Kathy Sierra was bullied off social media twice by vicious death threats, for her opinions about user interface design. (Yes, UI design). Now she proposes one simple change that could fix social media. And Chris discloses the secret origin of Facebook.


October 15, 2016

Dave Winer: On mixing short-form Twitter/Facebook blogging with longer posts.

For me, a big problem is that posting to Facebook or Twitter to share things is far easier than blogging. Blogging is more work. Particularly when posting a short blurt like this one. Particularly when posting from a phone, as I am now. Particularly when sitting on a daybed with a dog who has decided it is time for me to pay attention to her. Maybe that last bit is not a problem for most people, or one that internet technology will solve.

Vox: Wall Street’s unrealistic expectations created a crisis for Twitter

No sympathy for Twitter here. Twitter chose whether and when to go public. If Wall Street is being mean to Twitter, tough nuts. It should have been no surprise; this is how Wall Street works.

With Disney and Google supposedly bowing out of the negotiations, Apple uninterested and Salesforce tepid at best, perhaps the best option would be for Twitter to go private with owners that are happy with the company as it is now — a middle-sized Internet global media platform, rather than a Facebook-killer. But could such buyers be found? Or would any buyer expect meteoric growth?

(Timothy B. Lee, Vox)

How to unplug when you should

Do you obsessively fiddle with your phone all the time? Win back some mental space with these tips – Michael Duran, Wired

I see many articles like this. They all recommend similar steps. Don’t put your phone in your pocket, keep it in your desk where you have to make some effort to get it. Go a couple of days without connectivity.

These tips are not helpful. Keeping my phone out of reach would create more problems than it’s worth, because it’s a legitimate inconvenience when my phone is out of reach. The problem is that I fiddle with the phone at times when I should be doing something else. THAT’S what I’m looking to control.

Going a few days without connectivity is like going without electricity. It’s doable. People call that “camping.” And it’s good for you. But it’s kind of a big deal. Not to be entered into casually.

One tip that is helpful: Turn off nearly all your notifications. You do NOT want to be notified when you get new email, a mention or comment on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You just don’t.

It’s Tough Being Over 40 in Silicon Valley

Older workers are finding it harder to get jobs in Silicon Valley, say Carol Hymowitz and Robert Burnson at Reuters. So they take steps to seem younger and fit in. They hang around the parking lots of companies to see how their prospective colleagues dress, They study Reddit and other social platforms to get up to date on the latest pop culture references. They hang up their business suits and bowties. And they even go in for plastic surgery and lawsuits.

I’m 55. I haven’t personally encountered age discrimination. I’m fortunate. Or oblivious.

Facebook censors iconic Pulitzer-prize-winning ‘napalm girl’ photo

A Norwegian newspaper published the photo as one of seven that “changed the history of warfare.” Writer Tom Egeland was suspended from Facebook. Now, the Norwegian prime minister published the photo, had it deleted by Facebook, and called on the social company to change its policies.

What if Facebook decides Trump is a monster who must be stopped, and starts censoring pro-Trump posts?

Facebook deletes Norwegian PM’s post as ‘napalm girl’ row escalates

Marie Manning wanted to be a crime reporter. Instead, she invented the advice column.

Fresh out of finishing school, with a name that appeared on the social registry of Washington D.C.’s debutante parties, Marie Manning was fascinated by true crime stories. She got a job as a newspaper reporter in 1892, but was soon sidelined to the “Hen Coop” to work on the “women’s page.” There, they received letters from people looking for advice, and Manning cooked up the idea to run the letters and answers as a regular column.


Twitter is opening account verification to everyone. I suppose I will apply eventually. But for now my snobbery and anti-snobbery are holding me back.

My snobbery is saying, “Now that it’s open to ANYONE, I certainly don’t want it!”

My anti-snobbery (which is really just another species of snobbery) is saying, “I don’t want to sit at the cool kids’ table. They’re all a bunch of jerks. It’s better to eat lunch here by the restrooms.”

And the practical part of me is saying I don’t see much value to that blue checkmark, and I have other things to do with my time than apply.


Los Angeles police are investigating Playboy model Dani Mathers after she snapped a photo of a woman in a locker room shower at an LA Fitness exercise center, then posted the photo to Snapchat “with disparaging comments about the woman’s body.”

Mathers sparked a public backlash after she shared the photo of the naked woman in the gym’s locker room with the caption: “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”

Critics accused Mathers of body-shaming the woman. Others said her actions were illegal.

LA Fitness on Friday responded to Mathers’ action by permanently revoking her membership at all of its health clubs.

“Her behavior is appalling and puts every member at risk of losing their privacy,” said Jill Greuling, the company’s executive vice president of operations. The company would not say at which gym the incident occurred.

“Our written rules are very clear: Cellphone usage and photography are prohibited in the locker rooms,” Greuling said. “This is not only our rule, but common decency.”

Mathers apologized on Snapchat and deleted her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“That was absolutely wrong and not what I meant to do,” she said. “I know that body-shaming is wrong. That is not the type of person I am.”

Why do they always say “that’s not the type of person I am”? You did it. It’s who you are.


Attackers, victims, and bystanders livestream the attacks, and everybody else gets bombarded with instant outrage, says John Robb.


We look to the journals, notebooks, and private letters of past generations to find out what people were really thinking and doing. Now, social media serves that purpose. But preserving it is tricky, both technically and ethically.

Jenna Wortham, The New York Times:

In August 2014, Bergis Jules, an archivist at the University of California, Riverside, traveled to Washington for the annual meet-up of the Society of American Archivists. The day before the conference began, Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Jules, along with millions of others, found himself glued to Twitter for news, reactions and commentary. In the days that followed, hashtags like #IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenged the narratives presented by the mainstream media and prompted a national dialogue about racial stereotypes and police brutality. Jules teamed up with Ed Summers, a software developer in attendance, and started collecting tweets that included the word “Ferguson.”

As an archivist, Jules was struck by the way Twitter — and all social media, for that matter — is permanently altering the way we think about history. “We’re thinking ahead to how we’ll look back,” Jules says. He offered the example of how their project, DocNow, collected tweets tagged with #SayHerName, a campaign that emerged within the Black Lives Matter movement to make the movement more gender inclusive. For now, DocNow is focused mainly on Twitter, but Jules hopes it may be built out in the future to work elsewhere.

Social media might one day offer a dazzling, and even overwhelming, array of source material for historians. Such an abundance presents a logistical challenge (the total number of tweets ever written is nearing half a trillion) as well as an ethical one (will people get to opt out of having ephemeral thoughts entered into the historical record?). But this plethora of new media and materials may function as a totally new type of archive: a multidimensional ledger of events that academics, scholars, researchers and the general public can parse to generate a more prismatic recollection of history.

In March, I participated in a talk at the Museum of Modern Art about racial and gender disparity among Wikipedia contributors and how it influences the texture of the site. (Roughly 80 percent are men, and minorities are underrepresented.) Print out everything about the “Star Wars” universe, and you’ll have a heavy tome, but many notable abolitionists and female scientists are practically nonexistent. Considering that Wikipedia is the sixth-­most-­visited site in the world and increasingly treated like the encyclopedia of record, this problem seems worth considering. After the discussion, Kyra Gaunt, a professor and social-­media researcher, approached me. In her spare time, she maintains the “twerking” entry on Wikipedia, which is embroiled in a never-­ending debate about how to define the dance move. Is it more crucial to highlight its roots in black culture or Miley Cyrus’s impact on its mainstream popularity? Even new historical records like Wikipedia can be derailed by old biases reasserting themselves. At least Wikipedia publishes each page’s edit history, so as long as it can keep its servers running, there will be a rich catalog for future historians to see what we argued about and why.

The internet is pushing us ­— in good ways and in bad — to realize that the official version of events shouldn’t always be trusted or accepted without question. And historians are constantly updating the record by looking for primary sources that were overlooked in earlier eras, often from marginalized figures.

How an Archive of the Internet Could Change History


A problem that Obama must face down him-selfie

Obama embarrassed himself in 2013 when he attended a memorial ceremony for his longtime hero, Nelson Mandela, and took a grinning selfie with the Danish and British prime ministers. Later, the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz took a selfie with Obama, Samsung retweeted the photo with a plug for the Galaxy Note 3, and the White House objected.

The White House has also used selfies’ viral powers to promote policy, for example in a Buzzfeed feature last year to encourage young people to sign up for Obamacare.

David Nakamura and Greg Jaffe, The Washington Post:

For decades, the traditional grip-and-grin photograph has been a standard part of most presidential meetings, and even today it has attributes that recommend it. Unlike the selfie, posed photos taken by the president’s official photographer are almost always in focus and sometimes include a presidential autograph.

“I always thought they were as important as the historical photographs I made,” said Eric Draper, President George W. Bush’s chief photographer. “There are thousands of them hanging in homes, offices and government buildings around the world.

On the other hand, selfies are more intimate and more appropriate for social media.

Now Obama seems to just find them annoying. People pester him for selfies when he goes out in public, when he’d really rather just shake hands and meet people. Or, if he’s working out in a hotel gym, he’d rather just be left alone.

At a fundraiser in Springfield, Ill., this year, he joked that he might not have run for the White House had smartphones and selfies been so prevalent in 2008.

“Folks just have their phones, they don’t want to shake my hand anymore,” Obama said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, I’m here, live, in front of you!’ ”

Closing the Web to keep it open

The Forrest Gump of the Internet

Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic profiles social media's least-well-known billionaire, Evan Williams. Williams founded Medium, and co-founded Twitter and Blogger.

Williams wants to keep Facebook and other closed, for-profit media silos from eating the Internet. So Williams launched Medium — a closed, for-profit social media silo. But Medium is attempting to preserve the freedom of the open Web.

The dangers of corporate consolidation dominate [Williams'] metaphors. A favorite idea is that the web’s current state resembles the factory-farmed food system. “If your job was to feed people, but you were only measured by the efficiency of calories delivered, you may learn over time that high-calorie, high-processed foods were the most efficient ways to deliver calories,” he says. They would be the most margin-friendly way to deliver calories. But the food still wouldn’t be good—because the original metric didn’t take into account “sustainability, or health, or nourishment, or happiness of the people.”

I proposed that Medium is trying to be the Whole Foods of content. He laughed.

“Maybe we are,” he said. “Not that Whole Foods is perfect, and we’re not perfect either, but we are trying to figure out how to optimize for satisfaction and nourishment, not just activity or calories.” …

Williams still comes off like a cheerleader for this better world. He told me that a Medium user wrote an open letter to him, saying that though they had posted to the site every day for a month, they had not gotten more than 100 “recommends” on their post yet. (Every social network has its atomic unit of dopamine-like recognition: Facebook has likes, Twitter has hearts, Medium has the recommend.) He said he wanted to reply and tell the guy to step back.

“Think about what you’re doing,” he says. “You’re playing this game for attention that half of humanity is playing. And you’re competing for not only the thousands of people who publish on Medium the same day, the millions of people who publish on websites that have ever published, the billion videos on YouTube, every book in the world, not to mention what’s on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, everything else, right now—it’s amazing any people are reading your stuff!”

That this can still happen—that any subset of readers can still find and read an amateur writer’s work—is what excites him most about Medium. Talking about the centralization of the web, he continually returns to the “bad world.”

“The worst world, the scary version, is if the tricks to get attention are a skill developed and owned primarily by profit-driven companies,” he told me. “I’d go back to the food analogy. What are people going to be consuming most of the time? They’re optimizing for clicks and dollars. Can a person who has a unique perspective play that game? Are they just going to get trounced?”

In response to this article, Dave Winer says the open Web is like Central Park, and Facebook, Twitter, etc. are like the exclusive, expensive apartment buildings that surround it.

Internet pioneers discuss ways to make it open again

The Fathers of the Internet Revolution Urge Today’s Software Engineers to Reinvent the Web

Organized by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, sponsors included the Ford Foundation, Google, Mozilla, and others, speakers included Tim Berners-Lee, who literally invented the Web, and Vint Cerf, co-author of the TCP/IP protocol that underlies the Internet.

Berners-Lee noted problems with the siloed web of today: It’s tough to do something simple like sharing between Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and other siloed services. “All they want to do is share the photos with the colleagues and the friends—and they can’t,” Berners-Lee said. “Which is really stupid. You either have to tell Flickr about your Facebook friends, or move your photos to Facebook and LinkedIn separately, or build and run a third application to build a bridge between the two.” He also criticized the need to trade privacy for access.

The Internet pioneers suggested some solutions.

[Tekla S. Perry/IEEEE Spectrum]


Culture clash

Iran cracks down on women posting with their hair showing. India bans face-morphing photo software. Russia stifles anti-Putin parody tweets. These are clashes between American and native cultures, says Buzzfeed News editor Katie Notopoulos.

Not so, says Mike Elgan. It’s not Americans these doing the forbidden sharing. It’s Iranians, Indians, and Russians. The tools were made in America, but that’s irrelevant. These are clashes between tyrranical governments and their own people.