Mozilla News Beat, January 29, 2021
Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
Save That Cat!
Sometimes it’s the simple things. Take this cat bed for instance. On the surface it’s nothing of note, but add a couple eyes to the front and it suddenly becomes an endless source of entertainment. We won’t blame you if you choose to do the same to your kitty’s napping spot.
Free Twitter Archive
Remember all the mundanity you’ve tweeted over the years from the sandwich you had for lunch to that dumb thing your cat did? Well it’s being archived for all to see and, now, academia can access the archive for free. Twitter will make its vast archive of public tweets available to students and those part of academic institutions at no cost. For history majors wondering how they can access Donald Trump’s tweets, The Verge notes that while Twitter’s archive will not include the banned ex-president, other independent parties like Pro Publica and the Trump Twitter Archive offer their own repositories for that.
The internet never forgets, but one publication is challenging that in a unique way. Like many newsrooms, The Boston Globe supports the principle that people’s mistakes shouldn’t haunt them. Combine this with the fact that the criminal justice system disproportionately affects people of color. With this in mind, the Globe presents their “Fresh Start” program, which offers to update or anonymize old stories that continue to haunt those trying to move on with their lives.
Many (Mozilla included) have called for Facebook to stop recommending Facebook Groups. Facebook’s own research shows that Group recommendations, while a seemingly innocuous feature, play a role in radicalizing users and leading to real-world violence. Now, the social network says it will make permanent its pause on political group recommendations. We’ll be watching this one closely.
GameStop is a meme stock now, apparently. Also stocks can be memes? It’s all very complicated. The struggling video game retailer’s stock price increased 1,500% after Redditors on r/wallstreetbets drove the price up, leading to major losses for rich hedge funds that bet against GameStop. Robin Hood meets Robinhood.
All In Moderation
The r/wallstreetbets section of Reddit that turned GameStop stock into a meme was banned from Discord. A spokesperson for Discord said that the group continued to “allow hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings.” A moderator of the subreddit addressed the ban, commenting on the group’s sudden increase in size and admitting to not having the tools needed to properly moderate the forum.
Signal’s surge in new users came at a price in Iran. After Signal tweeted that it was working to get around Iranian censorship, the Iranian government ordered the app to be removed from the country’s app stores. This puts Signal in the same company as Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and YouTube — which are also banned by Iranian authorities.
Don’t Shoot, Messenger
Telegram usage is spiking, with 25 million new users joining the encrypted messaging app. While some arrived thanks to changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service, many are refugees who have been banned on other platforms for posting extremist, insurrectionist content. While Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov initially criticized social media platforms for bans placed after the U.S. Capitol attack, Durov and his team found themselves banning hundreds of posts promoting violence leading up to the U.S. presidential inauguration.
An Apple a day may not keep the doctor away, turns out. Remember MagSafe? Apple’s former cable solution has become a magnetic accessory system for the newest iPhones. Well, if you make use of an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator, watch out. The magnets in the new iPhone are reported to have an effect on these medical devices and should not come in close proximity with them. Ask your doctor if “iPhone” is right for you.
Agriculture protests in India have seen farmers speak out against new policy that would affect their livelihood. In response, many users took to Twitter to say that the farmers should be shot. The hashtag “Shoot” remained a trending topic on the service for hours before Twitter removed it — but not before public outcry in response to the hashtag and a message from BuzzFeed News. Yet another reason Twitter should get rid of Trends.
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