TIME twitter

Your Twitter Favorite Button Just Got a Lot More Powerful

Social Media Site Twitter Debuts On The New York Stock Exchange
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This is why mysterious tweets are showing up in your Twitter timeline

If you’ve noticed tweets from people you don’t follow popping up on your Twitter timeline, you’re not going crazy.

Twitter has updated its help document with information explaining why new tweets, in addition to sponsored tweets and ads, now show up in your timeline, in addition to the regular digest of tweets from Twitter accounts that you follow.

“When we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting,” says the updated document.

Importantly, favoriting something is not the sole decider in whether the new tweet shows up on your timeline.

TIME could not immediately confirm with Twitter what, exactly, qualifies a tweet as “popular or relevant,” but it seems to involve how many retweets and favorites something gets–meaning that the once relatively impotent little star next to a tweet has just been given new–if rather ambiguous–life.

TIME Internet

Think Tank Says It’s Sorry for Telling Amnesty International to “Suck It” on Twitter

An intern wrote it

In response to the ongoing chaos in Ferguson, Mo., Amnesty International posted on Twitter that the United States “can’t tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won’t clean up its own human rights record.”

Well, in response to that tweet, the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Amnesty, and we quote, to “suck it.”

Behold:

CSIS’s original tweet was deleted shortly thereafter, but not before some screenshots were snapped. Turns out it was a classic case of somebody thinking they’re logged into their personal account and really being logged in as their brand. (If you’ve ever handled social media for anyone other than yourself, this is probably your worst nightmare.)

“It was sent by a CSIS intern who had access to our account for monitoring purposes,” Andrew Schwartz, senior vice president for external relations at CSIS, told Talking Points Memo. “Apparently he meant to send something reflecting his personal views from his personal Twitter account.”

Soon, the think tank sent out an apology tweet:

Well, technically it’s this intern’s human right to tell people to suck it, so maybe we should cut him some slack.

TIME Executives

Rupert Murdoch Is getting Hammered for This Tweet

Business Leaders Gather For B20 Summit In Sydney
Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman News Corporation looks on during a panel discussion at the B20 meeting of company CEO's on July 17, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Pool—Getty Images

Media mogul says Google is worse than the NSA when it comes to privacy

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Tom Huddleston, Jr.

Twitter users have spent the past day or so letting Rupert Murdoch know that a billionaire media mogul who has been forced to shutter a newspaper over a phone-hacking scandal might not be an appropriate moral authority when it comes to privacy issues.

Murdoch’s Twitter feed is often full of one-off pieces of commentary on people and events in the news, but the CEO of News Corp and 21st Century Fox lighted upon a fairly touchy subject on Sunday when he fired off the following tweet:

Twitter users quickly took to the social media platform to accuse Murdoch of hypocrisy in criticizing another company’s policies regarding privacy after his former newspaper, the News of the World, endured a phone-hacking scandal that landed more than one editor in prison over the past decade. Several of the replies to Murdoch’s tweet yesterday included some variation on the words “irony” and “hypocrite,” along with references to the News of the World scandal.

Several other users replied by pointing out the trouble with Murdoch’s comparison of the NSA and Google, namely that Google has publicly admitted that it scans users emails to be used in targeted ads, while the NSA has denied charges of domestic spying. Not every Internet user may be thrilled with Google’s practices, but they are still able to choose whether or not to use the company’s products.

TIME

The Difference Between ALS and Ferguson Is That One Ill Can Be Cured

Tampa Bay Rays' David DeJesus gets a bucket of ice dumped on his head from video coordinator Chris Fernandez as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge before a baseball game against the New York Yankees on Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tampa Bay Rays' David DeJesus gets a bucket of ice dumped on his head from video coordinator Chris Fernandez as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge before a baseball game against the New York Yankees on Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Chris O'Meara—AP

The road that led America to Michael Brown's killing could be fixed--if only we acknowledged its miserable logic

Over the last week and a half, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Ferguson, Missouri protests have spread over social media almost simultaneously, yet entirely discretely: twinned channels of wildfire blazing through quadrants of your attention that barely touch. The Ice Bucket videos took off around July 29; Michael Brown was shot on August 9.

The ALS challenge seeks to raise awareness and money for Lou Gehrig’s disease, a death sentence for the approximately 30,000 Americans who are at any given time afflicted. News of the Ferguson protests spreads in the interest of highlighting the brutal, unjust degree to which the state may still protect a white man who kills an unarmed black man.

In both instances, social media serves as an essential channel. It is the way we talk to each other now.

This is purely anecdotal, but try it on for size: the ALS challenge is almost entirely confined to Facebook, the Ferguson protests to Twitter. Furthermore, there appears to be an extraordinarily small overlap in terms of people who are seriously interested in both.

I don’t believe in zero-sum games and I don’t write this to imply that neurodegenerative disease and human rights abuse have been put in direct conflict. Rather, I’m fascinated with what appears to be the opposite. The contemporaneity of these waves in social communication have revealed these ills — as well as the advocates for their solutions — to not just be non-conflicting but also emblematic of two separate paths of identifying and addressing unfairness, two roads that are inherently miles and miles apart.

Ferguson, unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge, is an opt-in situation, and the demographic division between those who have chosen to get involved in one or the other cause is startling. Tibetan monks on the one hand, Mark Zuckerberg on the other; Amnesty International in Missouri, the Kennedys in Hyannis Port. Maybe for your own social networks the divide is starkly blue and red; it is, very much, for me.

The world is flooded with injustice in two rough forms: random and systematic. The less privileged experience both kinds as a matter of breathing, but the privileged experience mostly one.

Conversely, those who have experienced significant structural gaps in their advantage understand that our country reserves its right to deliver justice. Michael Brown was shot six times from a distance, once through the top of his skull; by any accident of birth and looks and circumstance, he could have been me or you.

There is a Mary Oliver poem called “The Summer Day”: I don’t know exactly what a prayer is/ I do know how to pay attention.

Ice Bucket videos have raised more than $13 million for the ALS Association in just the last month. The presuppositions behind this good work are clear and palatable and apolitical: here is an ill that comes at random; here are 30,000 people suffering who didn’t do anything wrong; here is a death that could be prevented; here is my face and my dollar trying earnestly to help.

No matter the cause or the victim, it seems an excellent use of social media to draw people’s attention to the bone-grinding hideousness of having someone’s life taken away right in front of you, and there being nothing you can do to stop it except to show people, over and over — this happens, this keeps happening, let’s make it stop.

And yet the capricious visitation of deadly disease exists side by side with an entire American history of killing black people and stealing from them and getting away with it — a terror that, unlike disease, is miserably logical in terms of its victims and could be fixed by a path that is right in front of us: having people in power, from patrol cop to supervisor to governor to president, advocate for systematic justice or racial reparation or even honest admission of the homegrown genocide we’ve been stuck with for centuries.

For both social media movements, sharing implies responsibility. We are complicit, by our inaction, in the lack of a working cure. But the tacit acknowledgment that there is blame to be shared and apportioned in Ferguson cuts much deeper and stops right at a telling, crucial boundary. We can’t call our friends to action on a target that remains simultaneously the plainest and most disputed evil in America, a target that many people refuse to believe exists. We’re not tagging three friends in each picture we see of a black woman whose “looter” friends broke into McDonalds to pour milk on her tear-gassed face. We’re not indicting our aunts and nephews and forcing them to acknowledge the millions of lives lost to racist policing.

It would be gauche to “challenge” our friends to deal with police-sanctioned murder, particularly when so many of our “friends” may believe what many cops have believed before us: that black bodies insinuate a crime.

And all of this makes sense. There are different devils behind these two ways a man can die in America. ALS is the devil that leaves us blameless, and Ferguson is the devil that is us, the one we dance with every day. In both cases we bow down and get shot in the skull regardless, but one road to deliverance has been open for 150 years.

Still, to which challenge did President Obama respond more quickly? The sickness in Ferguson is curable, will last.

Jia Tolentino is a former editor of the Hairpin whose work has also appeared in The New York Times.

MONEY health

WATCH: Facebook, Twitter CEOs Take The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS ice bucket challenge has gone viral with Facebook and Twitter execs adding their own videos to raise money to combat the disease.

TIME Social Media

Twitter Is Making Experimental Timeline Changes

Social Media Site Twitter Debuts On The New York Stock Exchange
Twitter announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London. Bethany Clarke—Getty Images

Basically, tweets that you favorite are no longer semi-private, but will be treated like retweets

Twitter appears to be experimenting with a change to user timelines, leaving some account holders dismayed.

The change means that a user can now see tweets favorited by people they follow, the Verge reports. Some users are also receiving notifications when someone they follow begins to follow a new user.

Previously, a user’s timeline only showed tweets and retweets from other accounts. The change is similar to Facebook’s practice of auto-posting what friends like or have commented on, through the Open Graph app, which connects activity on apps to the Facebook news feed — although the company recently drew back its use of the app in May, Verge reported.

The experimental Twitter change could transform the dynamic of the timeline from a list that users cultivate to one that marks what is most trending on the microblogging platform.

Other recent Twitter experiments have included embedding tweets into tweets, which has been relatively uncontroversial, but a search on Twitter reveals that many users do not welcome the new change.

Some users have joked that they could finally use the mute feature on Twitter — which allows users to make the tweets or retweets of others invisible without blocking them — to drown out the traffic now inundating their timelines.

[The Verge]

TIME russia

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Twitter Was Hacked

Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev holds a meeting with deputy PMs at the House of the Russian Government, Aug 11, 20014.
Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev holds a meeting with deputy PMs at the House of the Russian Government, Aug 11, 20014. Dmitry Astakhov—Itar-Tass/Corbis

No, he's not resigning to become a freelance photographer

The press office for Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev denied that he was stepping down Thursday after his Twitter account was apparently hacked, Bloomberg reports.

“The Twitter account of the prime minister was hacked and the recent posts about his resignation and plans to become a freelance photographer are false,” an unnamed government press official told Bloomberg.

On Thursday morning, a tweet from Medvedev’s account said: “I’m quitting. Ashamed of the government’s actions. Forgive me.”

That post, which has since been taken down along with others posted on Thursday, reflected a similar post made by Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov, who was fired last week after criticizing the government, according to Bloomberg.

Another post, according to the Moscow Times, read: “I’m going to become a freelance photographer!”

Still another took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is engaged in a showdown with the West over Ukraine and is largely seen as holding the reins of power in Russia. Using Putin’s nickname, the tweet said: “I wanted to say this long ago: Vova, you aren’t right.”

[Bloomberg]

TIME Media

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown and What Hashtag Activism Does Right

Social media protests have their limits, but one thing they're very, very good at is grassroots media criticism.

The injury, a deadly one, came first. Unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by police in Ferguson, Mo. Then came the insult: many news accounts used a photo of Brown that showed him, unsmiling, gesturing at the camera in a way that led to unsubstantiated claims that he was “flashing gang signs.”

This portrayal of Brown, who is African American, recalled the quasi-trial-by-photo of Trayvon Martin, another young black man shot to death. It became another racially charged statement in a controversial killing, as outlets illustrated their stories with pictures that–rather than show the dead teen smiling or in a family context–led commenters to call him a “thug” and thus to suggest that he brought his death on himself.

So as people protested in the streets of Ferguson, a meta-protest began on social media. Twitter users, especially African Americans, began a meta-protest, posting pairs of photos with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown: a young man in a military dress uniform, say, and the same poster flipping off the camera. If I got shot down, each post asked, which version of me would the media show you? (See more #IfTheyGunnedMeDown tweets here.)

The term “hashtag activism” has become a kind of putdown lately, with the connotation that it’s substituting gestures for action, as if getting something trending is a substitute for actually going out and engaging with the world. And sometimes the criticism is justified: no amount of social-media RT-ing managed to capture guerrilla leader Joseph Kony, for instance.

But #IfTheyGunnedMeDown was a simple, ingenious DIY form of media criticism: direct, powerful, and meaningful on many levels. It made the blunt point that every time a media outlet chooses a picture of someone like Brown, it makes a statement. It created identification: so many ordinary people–students, servicemen and women, community volunteers–could be made to look like a public menace with one photo dropped in a particular context. And it made a particular racial point: that it’s so much easier, given our culture’s racial baggage, for a teenager of color to be made to look like a “thug” than white teen showing off for a camera the exact same way.

It was a brilliant media critique, and while Twitter and other platforms may have no magical power to stop shootings or catch warlords, one thing they are very good at is catching the attention of the media. Journalists pay attention to Twitter–disproportionate attention, maybe–and that makes it a very, very good place to deliver the modern version of a letter to the editor. You could say similar of #YesAllWomen, or of the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag of earlier this year: no, it didn’t have the power to free the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, but it did put the story on homepages and newscasts often resistant to overseas news, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown is not going to stop anyone from being gunned down, but it most likely lodged in the memory of editors and producers who make judgments every day. Sure, many of them are already aware of the power of image choices, but #IfTheyGunnedMeDown chose its own images to make a powerful statement–one that people are likely to remember the next time “if” becomes “when.”

TIME Race

Twitter Users Ask What Photo Media Would Use #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

The hashtag emerged as a response to the media portrayal of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black male who was fatally shot by police in Missouri Saturday

The streets of Ferguson, Mo. erupted in protest this weekend following the fatal police shooting of unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown on Saturday. But an organized form of protest quickly emerged on social media as well, aiming to address a rhetorical question that resonates among some in the African American community: “If they gunned me down,” what picture would the media use to represent me?

The viral #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag was a response to how Brown was initially portrayed in the media. Rather than using photographs of the 18-year-old, reportedly known to his friends as a “gentle giant”, in a graduation picture or in a sports team, many outlets used the following visual:

The photo led to unsubstantiated tweets calling Brown a “thug” who was flashing “gang signs” — with many noting that similar images of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Feb. 2012, elicited a similar response after they were used by the media.

In frustration at what they see as media reliance on menacing stereotypes, Twitter users have been posting contrasting images of themselves on social media, tagged with #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. So a photo of a minority male reading to children in army fatigues, for example, might be juxtaposed with that same man in a chain necklace mugging for the camera. Men and women of color have been posting images, but the message is being spread by concerned people regardless of race.

Here’s a collection of some of the trending tweets:

TIME selfies

Our Bodies, Our Selfies: The Feminist Photo Revolution

The Taxonomy of a Feminist Selfie
Illustration by Anna Sudit for TIME

How young women are turning a symbol of narcissism into a new kind of empowerment

As far as selfies go, the photo of 17-year-old Grammy winner Lorde was a coup. “In bed in paris with my acne cream on,” the singer wrote on Instagram, captioning herself in a black T-shirt and messy bun, white splotches visible on her face.

Twenty-four hours and 95,000 Likes later, fans couldn’t stop gushing. “Lorde’s No-Makeup, Acne-Cream Selfie Only Further Proves Her Awesomeness,” the Huffington Post declared. “RESPECT” and “Love u,” commenters screamed. “Finally a celeb who doesn’t have seemingly flawless skin.”

The scene was utterly ordinary — the way most teen girls go to bed each night — which was precisely what made it so out of the ordinary. How often do you see a celebrity looking like a regular awkward teen? (Answer: almost never.)

Over the past year, the selfie has pushed its way into our collective consciousness like a pop song you can’t get out of your head. It was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. It has spawned think pieces about think pieces. It will earn you nine points in Scrabble.

Yet when it comes to selfies and girls, much of the conversation has been judgey: selfies are narcissistic, humble-braggy, slutty, too sexy, a “cry for help,” or yet another way for girls’ to judge each other (or seek validation for their looks).

But the Lorde acne-cream selfie is just a tiny example of the ways young women like her — and even, yes, some socially conscious celebs — are using the self-portrait to turn that narcissism notion on its head. In small pockets all over the Internet, women are celebrating their flaws. They’re making silly faces (ugly selfies!) and experimenting with identities. They’re owning their imperfections (whether it be full hair or wrinkles or — dare we say it — fat) and contradicting old stereotypes (for instance, that “#FeministsAreUgly,” as a new Twitter campaign has it). In a culture that places immeasurable value on a woman’s beauty, women are using selfies to show what women really look like — no makeup, acne cream and all.

I’ve spent a good portion of the last year looking at the ways that imagery can impact our perception of women, and how we can overturn sexist tropes through mass media. But the selfie is doing the same thing through mass culture. Here are nine ways the selfie is empowering women.

Selfies Push Back Against Traditional Beauty Norms
Self-portraits have been an outlet for feminist expression, and subversion, for a long time. But when it comes to modern-day beauty representations, what we see daily is often a familiar spectrum of vanilla: white, gaunt, emotionless and airbrushed beyond recognition. Selfies are pushing back against that beauty ideal, through thousands of images of “real” women that they’ve created and shared themselves. “Selfies open up deep issues about who controls the image of women,” says Peggy Phelan, an art and English professor at Stanford University and the author of a recent essay about feminist selfies. “Selfies make possible a vast array of gazes that simply were not seen before.”

Selfies Take Advantage of a Platform That Girls Rule
It should be no surprise that, according to a recent survey by Dove, 63% of women believe social media — not print, film or music — is having the most pivotal impact on today’s definition of beauty. That’s because it’s a world where girls rule. Teens and young women use social media often and in more ways than men on almost every site, from Facebook to Instagram to Tumblr.

Selfies Allow Women to Own Their Flaws
Whether it’s Nicki Minaj sans makeup; the model Cara Delevingne modeling the grotesque; or Tavi Gevinson, the teen creator of Rookie magazine, noting the giant pimple on the “Upper West Side of my face,” there is something powerful in seeing normally flawless celebrities with actual flaws. On Twitter and Tumblr, the #FeministSelfie hashtag reveals an epic stream of women in all shapes and sizes, engaged in all sorts of activities, while #365FeministSelfie project — started by an administrator at the University of Illinois at Chicago — encourages women to take a snapshot of themselves each day for a year, no matter how they look. “We spend so much time trying to hide our flaws because the culture has set it up that you have to be ashamed if you’re not perfect,” Cynthia Wade, a filmmaker and creator of the short film Selfie told me recently, for an article about ugly selfies in the New York Times. “I think girls are tired of it.”

Selfies Give Girls Control
For centuries, we’ve watched as changing standards of beauty have shaped us: it was men, not women, controlling the photos. But selfies put the power in girls’ hands. “It allows you to have complete control over one moment in time,” 15-year-old Harper Glantz, one of the subjects of the film Selfie, told me a few months back. “In school, me and other girls sort of feel smothered just by social pressures that are hard to even detect sometimes. I think what a selfie does is that it really allows you to express yourself in a way that you feel comfortable with.”

Selfies Showcase Faces Not Normally on Display
“A huge swath of women and girls don’t see themselves portrayed in mainstream media,” explains Jennifer Pozner, a media critic and the founder of Women in Media and News, which aims to amplify female voices. And yet, through the sheer number of selfies uploaded daily — selfies that showcase women in all forms — women are upending notions about whose faces are beautiful, or mainstream, enough to be seen. “They’re breaking through the media gatekeepers,” says Pozner. “And they’re saying, ‘I’m great the way I am.’”

Selfies Are a Form of Social Currency
James Franco’s recent ridiculousness aside, the actor made a good point when he wrote, in an op-ed in the New York Times, that “attention is power.” “In a visual culture,” he said, “the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing. In our age of social media, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, ‘Hello, this is me.’”

Selfies Challenge the Notion That You Need a Reason to Be Seen
Narcissus may have drowned because he was too enchanted with his own reflection, but selfies challenge the idea that girls can’t revel in their own reflection — or feel good about a photo of themselves. “Selfies are one way for a female to make space for herself in the world: to say ‘I’m here, this is what I actually look like, my story counts, too,'” says Pamela Grossman, the director of visual trends at Getty Images, and my co-curator on a feminist photo-curation project. “They allow girls to shine on their own terms.”

Selfies Aren’t Just About What You Look Like, They’re About What You’re Doing
Whether it’s solving a math equation or crossing a marathon finish line.

Selfies Force Us to See Ourselves
To celebrate what we look like — flaws and all.

Bennett is a contributing columnist at TIME.com covering the intersection of gender, sexuality, business and pop culture. A former Newsweek senior writer and executive editor of Tumblr, she is a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s foundation, Lean In, where she curates the Lean In Collection with Getty Images. You can follow her @jess7bennett.

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