Twitter CEO Announces Ban on Paid Political Ads and On Tweets Promoting Political Issues

Last week, Twitter CEO and co-founder, Jack Dorsey, announced the company’s decision to bar politicians from using Twitter accounts in publishing political ads; including political issue contents that aim to circumvent Twitter’s political ad ban. The ban becomes effective on November 15, 2019; but will extend to November 22, 2019 for advertisers, to give them extra time to adapt to Twitter’s new policy.

 

The new policy of course earned praises and approval from members of the Democratic caucus. although Forbes noted that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have the biggest spending for Twitter political ads. Nonetheless, this refutes the Conservative’s claims that CEO Dorsey is biased, and that his approval of the political campaign ban is aimed at silencing Conservatives; asserting that the ban will allow the liberal media to run unchecked in publishing contents that attack Republicans.

Obviously, the main Republican persona affected by Twitter’s new policy is no less than president Donald Trump. After all, Trump has taken quite a liking to Twitter as demonstrated by the massive daily political issues he tweets and retweets regardless of the veracity or falsity of contents.

Twitter CEO Explains that Ban Applies to Paying for Political Reach and Not on Freedom of Expression

The Twitter CEO said that the ban is not about suppressing freedom of expression. It is about not paying for political ads in order to broaden the reach of political campaign speeches. In being well aware that the ban can be circumvented by expressions of political issues, the ban also includes paid ads for pushing such issues. According to Jack Dorsey, they believe that garnering massive reach without having to pay for political ads, is the right way to move forward.

To give additional clarity, Twitter’s legal lead, Vijaya Gadde, gave a working definition of political ads as those advocating for or against legislative matters of national importance, e.g. healthcare, immigration, climate change, taxes and national security.

YouTube’s Rounding-Off of Subscriber Count Takes Effect

The announcement made by Google last May 2019 about YouTube subscriber counts being rounded off to the nearest whole number, took effect Monday, September 02, 2019. The video giant intends to gradually phase out the reporting system of giving the exact-number-of-subscriber count on individual Youtube channels. However, the change will apply only to those with more than 1,000 in actual number of subscribers.

According to Google, the rationale behind the change is to promote better consistency across media places where subscriber counts are on display; accessed by way of either desktop or smartphone app. Although not a few contend that the change is mainly focused to deter comparisons made based on subscriber counts, the Google-owned video giant asserts that it is more about wanting the creators to focus largely on narrative content as a means of reaching fans; rather than just publishing something aimed at yielding hour-to-hour fluctuations in subscriber counts.

As it is, subscriber counts are regarded as veritable bases in gauging collective approval for Youtube video creators. A concept that tends to distort evaluations based on genuine user engagement and interest in viewing the video content.

Mechanics of the Round-Off Method in Reporting Subscriber Counts

Accounts affected by the modification in reporting subscriber counts, will not include those whose number of followers is less than 1,000. This denotes that if the subscriber count for a YouTube channel is 998, the number stays at 998. Rounded-off counts in thousands will start only when the number hits 1,000 or higher.

YouTube’s change has implications for third-party measurement companies like Social Blade and Tubular Labs. YouTube gives assurance that third parties using proprietary application programming interface (API) as a service, will not have access to the actual numbers because they will also be seeing, only the public-facing, rounded-off subscriber counts.

Tik Tok Faulted by UK’s ICO and NSPCC for Lack of Child Safety Controls

Tik Tok Faulted by UK’s ICO and NSPCC for Lack of Child Safety Controls

Tik Tok, the leading video-sharing app that enables users to create short videos from their smartphones, and at the same time livestream their videos via Musical. Ly, is now under scrutiny of UK media and child safety watch dogs.

In February this year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Tik Tok was slapped a fine amounting to $5.7 million (£4.2 million) for collecting personal information of children below 13 years old without securing parental consent.

Yet the UK’s Information Commissioner’ s Office (ICO) is currently investigating Tik Tok beyond the data protection concerns raised by the FTC. The ICO is currently scrutinising the safety controls available on the app’s direct messaging system, in the wake of separate investigations being conducted by the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC),

The NSPCC has been receiving reports that young female users of Tik Tok and its Musical.ly website, are regularly receiving intrusive replies to their video posts from individuals they do not know, whom complainants described as “creepy.”.

ICO’s scrutiny of the TIK Tok social media site confirms that its app opens avenues for adults to send private messages to children who do not even know them.

Main Issue about Tik Tok App and Its Musical.ly Social Media Site

ICO’s investigation of Tik Tok’s Musical.ly is that unlike other social media sites, which prioritises and controls feeds according to user’s privacy settings, the site by way of its “For You” feature, regularly sends feeds that practically steer users toward posts of other Tik Tok live streamers. As a result, Tik Tok users who send “creepy” messages continue to find and like more posts of younger girls, streaming similar videos, soundtracks or using similar hashtags.

According to the NSPCC, since they record a daily average of as many a 22 cyber-related sex crimes committed against children, it is quite apparent that sex offenders continue to target children by getting in touch with them through live streaming apps like Tik Tok.

NSPCC’s research found that about 10,000 of every 40,000 children ranging in ages between 7 to 16 years old, have live streamed online with people they do not know or have never met. Of those 10,000 children, one in every 20 who has live streamed online with someone they have never met had received request to take off their clothes, via live streaming.

New Pew Research Shows U.S. Teens and Parents Alike Suffer from Smartphone Addiction

A recent Pew Research Center survey involving teens ages 13 to 17 indicate that they now acknowledge their addiction to their smartphones. Fifty-two percent (52%) of those who admitted to having spent too much time engaged in online activities, said they have tried reducing mobile phone use, while fifty-seven percent (57%) said they have made attempts to limit their visits to social media sites. Recognition of the problem though also came with admitting inability to control their smartphone dependency.

Of the 743 US teens interviewed between March 7 and April 10, 2018, fifty-four percent (54%) have become self-aware that they are devoting much time on their smartphones, while forty-one percent (41%) admitted to having spent much of those smartphone time on social media. Further analysis of the survey revealed the following:

* Girls more than boys (47% vs. 35%) are inclined to focus on social media sites during smartphone online engagements.

* On the other hand, forty-one percent (41%) of the boys involved in the study, spent much of their time online playing video games using their smartphones. In contrast, only eleven percent of (11%) of girls surveyed engaged in video games.

* Forty-four (44 %) percent of all teens surveyed have formed the habit of checking for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up. Only twenty-eight percent (28%) claim that they do this only occasionally

* Of the teens surveyed, forty-two percent (42%) admitted to suffer from anxiety and loneliness when deprived of phone use, to which the study shows more girls (49%) than boys (35%) experienced such emotions.

* Thirty-one percent (31%) admitted that their use of smartphones can distract them from focusing on their study, although only eight percent (8%) say that it happens frequently.

* Half of the number of teens surveyed think their parents are also distracted from work because of cellphone use. Fourteen percent (14%) thinks that their parent’s own tendency to lose focus on work occurs often.

What U.S. Parents and Experts Say about Teen Smartphone Addiction

In conjunction with this particular teen study, Pew Research also surveyed 1,058 parents of American teens. Approximately two-thirds or 65% parents expressed worries over the excessive number of hours spent by their children on their smartphones. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of the worried parents claim they either put limits on their kids’ online engagement, or on the use of their smartphone.

However since a number of the teens involved in the study have observed that their own parents have a tendency to lose focus on their work when engaged in online activities, MIT professor Sherry Turkle said the finding raises the issue even more. She said that parents themselves must start recognizing their own problems at smartphone addiction, as their technological behavior poses as example to their children.

 

Former Google in-house ethicist Tristan Harris, explains that teen addiction stems from the very way tech companies designed their products. During a conference about technology addiction, Harris, who co founded the Center on Humane Technology, said that the tendency of parents and kids alike, once they click on Youtube, is to keep watching as many Youtube videos as possible. The tendency often overpowers actions they need to take in meeting whatever goals they have thought of during their waking hours.