Tag Archives: Twitter

Twitter’s New Policy is “Freedom of Speech, Not Reach”

Twitter Safety posted about a new policy that it described as “Freedom of Speech, Not Reach: An update on our enforcement philosophy”. From the update:

“Our mission at Twitter 2.0 is to promote and protect the public conversation. We believe Twitter users have the right to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship. We also believe it is our responsibility to keep users on our platform safe from content violating our Rules.

These beliefs are the foundation of Freedom of Speech, not Freedom of Reach – our enforcement philosophy which means, where appropriate, restricting the reach of Tweets that violate our policies by making the content less discoverable.

Today, we’re excited to share an update on our approach to policy enforcement that better aligns this philosophy with our commitment to transparency.

Restricting the reach of Tweets, also known as visibility filtering, is one of our existing enforcement actions that allows us to move beyond the binary “leave up versus take down” approach to content moderation. However, like other social platforms, we have not historically been transparent when we’ve taken this action. Starting soon, we will add publicly visible labels to Tweets identified as potentially violating our policies letting you know we’ve limited their visibility.

These labels bring a new level of transparency to enforcement actions by displaying which policy the Tweet potentially violates to both the Tweet author and other users on Twitter. Tweets with these labels will be made less discoverable on the platform. Additionally, we will not place ads adjacent to content that we label. You can learn more about the ways we may restrict a Tweet’s reach here. https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/enforcement-options …

…While these labels will initially only apply to a set of Tweets that potentially violate our Hateful Conduct policy, we plan to expand their applications to other applicable policy areas in the coming months. This change is designed to result in enforcement actions that are more proportional and transparent for everyone on the platform…”

The Verge reported that one of the actions Twitter can take is to limit the reach of hateful tweets. The tweets remain online but become less discoverable as they’re excluded from areas like search results, trends, recommended notifications, For You and Following timelines and more.

TechCrunch reported that one of the actions Twitter can take is to limit the reach of hateful tweets. The tweets remain online but become less discoverable as they’re excluded from areas like search results, trends, recommended notifications, For You and Following timelines and more.

Personally, I’m going to take a “wait and see” approach to this. In general, labeling tweets with hate speech is something Twitter should be doing. My concern is that the labels regarding hate speech could be used to harm marginalized people, or be posted more often on accounts who favor one political party over the other.

Elon Musk Shut Down National Weather Service Alerts

Since acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk maintained that one of his major objectives was to eliminate the bots. Last night, Twitter did just that. One problem, though: The bots blocked are the good ones, Mashable reported.

According to Mashable, numerous public service Twitter accounts have lost their ability to automatically post breaking news and events. Twitter has been removing API access, which allows many of these accounts to post in an authorized way by the platform, as it switches to Musk’s new high-priced paid API system.

Many of these affected Twitter accounts have automated updates, but they aren’t the type of hands-off bot accounts that some may think of when they hear the term “bot.”

For example, numerous National Weather Service accounts that provide consistent updates, both automated and manually posted by humans, shared that they could no longer provide their up-to-the-minute, potentially life-saving updates.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Wilmington, Ohio, tweeted: “Twitter is now limiting automated tweets and as a result this account can no longer post warnings as we have done so in the past. We will continue to provide general updates, but always ensure that you have multiple means for receiving weather information & alerts.”

NWS Tsunami Alerts tweeted: a thread of tweets. The first tweet said: “Twitter is now limiting automatic tweets and as a result, this account can no longer post all #Tsunami Warnings, Advisories, Watches, and Information Statements as they are issued. We will make every effort to continue manual posts [thread emoji] (1/5)”

“During a #tsunami event, our primary mission is to message our Warning Points through official @NWS channels- this serves the most people in the fastest way possible. Social media posts are automated to speed up the posting process until more help can arrive [thread emoji] (2/5)”

“We encourage you, as always, to have redundant notification methods for #tsunami alerts: @NOAA weather / all-hazards radio, the free @fema app, 3rd-party & enterprise apps, and other can serve you in this way [thread emoji] (3/5)”

“In the event of a worst-case scenario where #tsunami inundation / flooding will happen, the Emergency Alert System on tv/radio and Wireless Emergency Alerts on your cell phone will work as a mass notification service. [Thread emoji] (4/5)”

“Finally, remember your natural warning signs. We appreciate your trust and will work toward a solution for this issue. Have a good weekend. – Your National Tsunami Warning Center Team. [Thread Emoji] (5/5).

Out of curiosity, I checked Twitter to see if any of the earthquake apps were still running. The USGS ShakeAlert account, which is run by the U.S. Government, seems to be still running.

That said, if you live in California, you don’t need to worry about earthquake warnings. Tons of people will tweet about a potential earthquake, or one they recently experienced, and it always ends up in “What’s Happening”.

NPR Quits Twitter

CNBC posted an article titled: “NPR quits Twitter, becoming first major U.S. news outlet to do so”. NPR said Wednesday it will stop sharing content on Twitter after the social media company labeled NPR “state-affiliated media,” a term also used for Russia- and China-based propaganda outlets.

CNBC reported that the news outlet’s organizational accounts will no longer post new content on its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major U.S. news organization to do so since Elon Musk took over Twitter late last year.

NPR was surprised by Twitter’s decision to label the company “state-affiliated media,” according to a report by the outlet. Here is part of what NPR wrote about that:

…The decision by Twitter last week took the public radio network off guard. When queried by NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn, Twitter owner Elon Musk asked how NPR functioned. Must allowed that he might have gotten it wrong.

Twitter then revised it’s label on NPR’s account to “government-funded media.” The news organization says that it inaccurate and misleading, given that NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. It receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

By going silent on Twitter, NPR chief executive says the network is protecting its credibility and its ability to produce journalism without “a shadow of negativity.”…

NPR did not immediately respond to requests for comment by CNBC. Twitter responded to a request for comment with a poop emoji.

NPR plans to shut down its official Twitter accounts, saying a recent decision by the Elon Musk-owned platform to label it as “government-funded media” undermines its credibility, NBC News reported. NPR said that Twitter was “falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.”

“We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public’s understanding of our editorial independence,” NPR said in a statement Wednesday.

In a separate statement, NPR CEO John Lansing said, “Actions by Twitter or other social media companies to tarnish the independence of any public media institution are exceptionally harmful and set a dangerous precedent.”

According to NBC News, Twitter and Musk did not immediately return requests for comment.

The decision to label NPR’s account as “government-funded media” came after Musk and Twitter initially labeled NPR’s account “U.S. state-affiliated media,” a designation customarily used for media outlets with direct ties to government entities, like Russia Today, or RT, and China’s Xinhua.

On April 12, Elon Musk tweeted a screenshot from Bobby Allyn, who wrote: “Re: why state label” Because of the label, NPR is quitting Twitter across all of our 50+ accounts. Our executives say the government-funded media label calls into question our editorial independence and undermines our credibility.

Some wonder if this will cause a chain reaction among news orgs.

What’s your reaction?

Elon Musk responded with “Defund @NPR”.

In my opinion, it appears that Mr. Musk has not only labeled NPR as “government-funded media” but also labeled the BBC that way. It is unclear to me why Elon Musk keeps making that mistake over and over again.

Substack Introduces Substack Notes

Substack has launched Notes to everyone. Notes is a new space where you can publish short-form posts and share ideas with other writers and readers on Substack.

Notes helps writers’ and creators’ work travel through the Substack network for new readers to discover. You can share links, images, quick thoughts, and snippets from Substack posts. As well as being lightweight and fun, we hope that Notes will help writers grow their audience and revenue. Notes lives in a tab beside Inbox at Substack.com and in Substack’s mobile apps. Unlike an Inbox post, a Notes post does not get sent to subscribers by email.

Notes also marks the next step in our efforts to build our subscription network – one that puts writers and readers in charge, rewards great work with money, and protects the free press and free speech. This work is at the core of the Substack model, and we believe it will be an important part of a new economic engine for culture. But what you see today is just the beginning. Notes is a long-term project, and success will ultimately be determined by trust expressed by writers and readers over the course of years. We do not take that trust for granted.

Mashable reported that Substack Notes comes “in the middle of one of the dumbest social media battles to date”. The day after Substack announced their Notes feature, Twitter began blocking likes, retweets, and comments on tweets that include a link to a Substack newsletter and blocked Substack writers from embedding tweets in their newsletters.

The Verge reported that Substack’s Twitter-like feature for shorter posts, called Notes, is launching for everyone on Tuesday. Notes could prove to be a worthy Twitter alternative for some, especially Substack writers who have already built audiences on the platform and are looking for a new place to post after Twitter throttled Substack links and marked them as unsafe.

According to The Verge, each Notes post can include up to six photos or GIFs, but video isn’t supported. Notes you share won’t go into subscriber inboxes; they’ll just live on the Substack website and app. And you can interact with other Notes with like, reply, and “restack” (retweet) buttons.

Engadget reported that Substack has officially launched Notes for all users. The new product takes a lot of cues from Twitter and joins the long list of services looking to lure away users from Elon Musk’s beleaguered social network.

At first (and second) glance, Substack Notes looks a whole lot like Twitter. Instead of tweets, you have notes. Instead of retweets, you get restacks. You can post external links, images, videos and whatever strikes your fancy.

According to Engadget, Substack Notes already caused a fair bit of controversy straight from its first announcement last week. Upon that announcement, Twitter began blocking engagement with Substack-related tweets, though the social media giant has paused the whole bully routine.

Personally, I think the more spaces were writers can post their ideas for other people to read is a good thing. Substack Notes appears to be giving writers who are already on Substack a means by which to attract more subscribers.

Twitter Circles Made Semi-Private Tweets Public

Twitter Circles is leaking, with users reporting that posts meant for a limited audience are instead being pushed out to millions of strangers. You should always think twice before you tweet, but it’s a good idea to be extra cautious now, Mashable reported.

According to Mashable, Twitter Circles was introduced in 2022. Its a feature that (when it’s working) allows you to restrict certain tweets to a carefully curated list of pre-approved followers. It’s a useful tool for people who would like to vent about their partner, scream about K-pop idols, or share some tasteful nudes, but don’t necessarily want their ramblings seen by the wider public.

Unfortunately, an apparent bug has resulted in Twitter Circles tweets appearing in the For You feeds of users who weren’t given access to them. In some cases, these users weren’t even following the original poster. It’s an unexpected and alarming violation if privacy for anyone who trusted Twitter’s assurances that only approved Twitter Circle members can see these posts.

Gizmodo reported that if you are a regular Twitter Circles user, you should probably stop posting things you wouldn’t want seen by the wider public. Numerous tweeters are reporting that their supposedly private Twitter Circle posts are accessible to the whole Twittersphere, letting their more private thoughts or pics loose on the wider community.

According to Gizmodo, since at least this past weekend, multiple Twitter users have reported strangers being able to read and even like their private tweets. Users not in these circles have recently been able to sometimes see and then interact with these tweets.

Gizmodo could not independently confirm that Circles was broken, but multiple other users all seemed to have the same problem, where Circles tweets appeared in non-followers “For you” tabs.

BuzzFeed News reported that when Twitter Circles launched in August 2022, it promised users “the flexibility to choose who you can see and engage with their content on a Tweet-by-Tweet basis.”

The ability to limit posts’ access to a small number of people “makes it easier to have more intimate conversations with select followers,” the company said in a blog post announcing the feature. Among the voices praising Circles in the post was Belong To, which supports young LGBTQ+ people in Ireland. The group hailed the feature for putting “power into the hands of people on Twitter by creating a new way for them to control how they show up online and feels safe expressing themselves,” BuzzFeed News reported.

According to BuzzFeed News, eight months and one ownership change later, Circles’ secure functionality appears to have broken. A number of users are publicly warning those who use the feature that their supposedly secure posts – oftentimes nudes – are leaching into the main For You feed, the algorithmically driven homepage of Twitter.

I have never used Twitter Circles, but it is clear that many other people do use it. In my opinion, Twitter should immediately fix this problem and prevent people’s Twitter Circles content from ending up in the For You feed (where strangers can access it). That said, both Gizmodo and Mashable reported that trying to reach out for a comment from Elon Musk results in a poop emoji response.

Twitter Labeled NPR as “State-Affiliated Media”

NPR reported that Twitter CEO Elon Musk said the platform’s recent labeling of NPR as “state-affiliated media” might not have been accurate during a series of email exchanges that provided a glimpse into the billionaire’s thought process on decisions that reverberate far beyond the social network.

Regardless, as of late Tuesday, the designation remained.

According to NPR, on Wednesday, press freedom advocates and the network itself were taken aback to see that Twitter had placed NPR in the same category as government-aligned propaganda outlets in China and Russia – despite the network’s federal support, in the form of competitive grants, accounting for about 1% of its annual operating budget.

In one email exchange, Musk appeared to be unclear about the difference between public media and state-controlled media when he decided to affix a state-affiliated media label on NPR’s account.

NPR provided Musk publicly available documentation of the network’s finances showing that nearly 40% of its funding comes from corporate sponsorships and 31% comes from fees for programming paid by local public radio stations. NPR also covers the news free of any government influence – something that should mean it does not receive state-affiliated labeling, according to Twitter’s own rules. 

NPR also reported that since Musk took over the platform in October, Twitter has at times taken a hostile stance toward the national press. Musk’s row with NPR is just the latest instance of the Twitter CEO’s increasingly confrontational stance toward the mainstream media, which often covers Musk and his companies critically.

The Guardian also reported that Twitter on Tuesday evening labeled the account of National Public Radio (NPR) as US state-affiliated media, drawing fierce criticism from the news organization’s leadership. 

Other publications with the label include Russian propaganda network RT and China’s Xinhua News Agency, The Guardian reported.

According to The Guardian, the change to NPR’s designation appears to be in violation of Twitter’s own original policy on how the social media platform determines which companies receive this label. “State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution,” the policy reads.

The Guardian noted that Twitter explicitly listed NPR along with the BBC as exceptions to this categorization. The policy noted that while both organizations receive state financing,NPR derives less than 1% from its annual operating budget from government programs – they have editorial independence, according to screenshots posted by NPR reporter David Gura.

By Wednesday morning, however, the policy had been changed to remove the mention of NPR. The designation of the BBC’s Twitter account remained unchanged, and the organization was still included as an exception in the policy. 

The Guardian also reported that the Twitter accounts of other publications that recieve various degrees of state-funding, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the FlemishVRT NWS, have also been left untouched. 

To me, it sounds like one of two things have happened. Elon Musk doesn’t understand the definition of “state-affiliated media” – but allowed it to be added to NPR despite his misunderstanding. Or, it is possible that Elon Musk has decided to discriminate against news organizations that he doesn’t like. These kinds of snap decisions are not good for Twitter, and certainly aren’t good for Twitter’s users.

Twitter Cuts Off Substack Embeds

Writers trying to embed tweets in their Substack stories are in for a rude surprise: after pasting a link to their site, a message pops up saying that “Twitter has unexpectedly restricted access to embedding tweets in Substack posts” and explaining that the company is working on a fix, The Verge reported.

The unfortunate situation comes on the heels of Substack announcing Notes, a Twitter competitor.

According to The Verge, the issue could cause problems for writers who want to talk about what’s going on with Twitter in their newsletters or about thing that are happening on the platform. While screenshots of tweets could work in some cases, they’re less trustworthy because they don’t provide a direct link to the source. Screenshots also won’t help you if you’re trying to, say, embed a video that someone posted on Twitter.

Engadget reported that Twitter has finally shut off its free API and, predictably, it’s breaking a lot of apps and websites. The company had previously said it would cut off access in early February, but later delayed the move without providing an updated timeline.

According to Engadget, after announcing its new paid API tiers last week, the company seems to have started cutting off thousands of developers relying on its free developer tools. Over the last couple days, a number of app makers and other services have reported that the Twitter API is no longer functioning.

Mashable reported that when Twitter rolled out the pricing for its paid API tiers last week, many indie developers announced they would have to shut down apps they had made for the platform. These distraught devs included those that had created service making hundreds to thousands of dollars a month, as the new API subscription tiers from Twitter would even priced them out.

Now, according to Mashable, the Elon Musk-owned company has seemingly cut off API access to even some of the largest Twitter-based apps – including some that wanted to pay the exorbitant new fees which start at $42,000 per month.

Mashable also reported that unlike Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific, which Musk banned earlier this year, none of the apps replicate Twitter’s platform. Users still have to regularly go to the company’s own website, mobile apps, or clients. What these apps do is help facilitate more content creation for Twitter and encourage usage of the platform. By destroying its third-party app ecosystem, Twitter is essentially shooting itself in the foot.

Considering all of this, it seems to me that Twitter – under Elon Musk – is intending to push people off the platform. I find it hard to believe that app developers are going to be able to come up with $42,000 a month to keep their apps alive on Twitter.

That said, I think there it is very likely that the priced-out app creators could do well by modifying their apps for Mastodon.