Twitter wants help measuring healthy online interactions

Twitter, which some people use to abuse, harass and manipulate others, is soliciting proposals from the public to help the social network capture, measure and evaluate healthy interactions on the platform. This is part of Twitter’s commitment “to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted earlier this morning.

Twitter did not “fully predict or understand the real-world consequences” of instant, public and global conversations, Dorsey tweeted. In an effort to combat these unhealthy interactions, he said, Twitter is looking to build a framework to encourage healthy interactions. The idea to measure healthy interactions came from some conversations with team members from nonprofit research organization Cortico.

“They came up with four indicators: shared attention, shared reality, variety of opinion, and receptivity,” Dorsey tweeted.

It’s not clear if those are the right metrics for Twitter, Dorsey said, but what is clear is Twitter must “commit to a rigorous and independently vetted set of metrics to measure the health of public conversation on Twitter.”

In order to accomplish that, Twitter says it intends to partner with outside experts. Interested parties can submit proposals that describe proposed health metrics, and methods for capturing, measuring, evaluating and reporting them. Those selected will work with Twitter’s team, and get access to Twitter’s public data and funding to carry out the research.

Twitter’s efforts to figure out how to make the platform a safer, healthier place for everyone comes in tandem with Facebook’s efforts to ensure time well spent on the social network. Facebook’s current work entails prioritizing news from trusted publishers and focusing more on information that is relevant to where people live.

Twitter, of course, has been trying to get its act together for years. In October, Twitter announced its plans to crack down on hate symbols and violent groups. Just last month, Twitter also updated its policies on tweets that encourage self-harm and suicide.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/01/twitter-wants-help-measuring-healthy-online-interactions/

The world is watching: How Florida shooting made U.S. gun control a global conversation

AR-15 "Sport" rifles on sale at deep discounts in an Arizona store.
Image: john moore/Getty Images

When you move to America from a country with more effective gun control laws, one of the first things you learn is how hard it is to talk to Americans — even on the sympathetic side of the political divide — about the gun issue. 

It was particularly difficult when I arrived on these shores in 1996, direct from living in Scotland during its (and Britain’s) worst-ever school shooting. In the tiny town of Dunblane, a 43-year old former shopkeeper and scoutmaster brought four handguns to a school gymnasium full of five-year-olds. He shot and killed 16 of them and their teacher, then turned his handgun on himself.

After Dunblane, the British plunged into a state of collective mourning that was at least as widespread as the better-known grieving process for Princess Diana the following year. (Americans don’t always believe that part, to which I usually say: the kids were five, for crying out loud. Five.)

In a country where nobody would dream of pulling public funding for studies into gun violence, the solution was amazingly rational and bipartisan. After a year, and an official inquiry into Dunblane, the Conservative government passed a sweeping piece of legislation restricting handguns. Then after Labour won the 1997 election, it passed another. Britain hasn’t seen a school shooting since. (Same with Australia, which also passed major gun control legislation in 1996). 

But trying to talk about all that in America over the last two decades, I’ve learned from experience, has been like touching the proverbial third rail: only tourists would be dumb enough to try it. Even gun control advocates now think they’re dealing with an intractable, generational problem. Many tell me that we need to tackle mental health services or gun fetishization in Hollywood movies first. The legislation route couldn’t possibly be that easy, they say.

But what if it is that easy? What if the rest of the world also loves Hollywood action movies and has mental health problems, but manages to have fewer shootings simply because it has fewer guns available? What if the rest of the world has been shouting at America for years that gun control is less intractable than you think — you just have to vote in large numbers for the politicians that favor it, and keep doing so at every election? 

If that’s the case, then perhaps some powerful, leveling international marketplace of ideas could help the U.S. see what everyone else has already seen. Something like social media. 

In one sense, Wednesday’s massacre in Parkland, Florida — a school shooting as shocking and senseless as Dunblane —  was evidence that America was further away from a gun control solution than ever. In 1996, buying an AR-15 assault rifle was illegal under federal law. Now, in Florida and many other states, a 19-year old can walk into any gun store and walk out with this military-grade weapon of mass destruction. 

Yet anecdotally, I have noticed one glimmer of hope. Since the last American gun massacre that got everyone talking, there has been a small shift in the online conversation. It has become a little more global. The students of Parkland have been broadcasting to the world via social media, and the world is taking notice. 

I’m not suggesting some kind of slam-dunk situation where every American on Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat has an epiphany about gun control because they’re more frequently interacting with people from other nations with different laws. 

But I am saying it’s noticeably harder for pro-gun accounts to spread lies about the situation in other countries without people from those countries chiming in. 

Meanwhile, there is a mountain of evidence that Russian bots and troll accounts are attempting to hijack the online conversation using the same playbook from the 2016 elections — manufacture conflict to destabilize American discourse. That means taking the most trollishly pro-NRA position they can think of, in a bid to counteract the large majority of Americans who want sensible gun control. 

So the voices from other countries are chiming in just in time. If anything, we need more of them to balance out cynical foreign influence in a pro-gun direction. 

How effective gun control can happen

Twenty years of trying to have this debate in the U.S. have worn me down. As you might expect, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of Second Amendment-splaining from the pro-gun lobby. (Yep, I’m very familiar with the two centuries of debate over the militia clause, thanks.) I’ve been told I didn’t understand the power of the NRA (which, again, I’m quite familiar with: the organization supported sensible gun restrictions until it was radicalized in 1977).

I’ve heard every argument you could imagine: the notion that British police must now be lording it over the poor defenseless population; the blinkered insistence that there must have been a rise in crime with illegal guns and legal knives now all the good people with guns have been taken out of the equation. (Violent crime is still too high in the UK, but it is a fraction of America’s total — and has declined significantly since 1996.) 

I no longer have the dream that a UK-Australia-style handgun ban would work here. There are as many as 300 million firearms in private hands, according to a 2012 Congressional estimate; even though most of them are concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of owners, it’s simply impractical to talk about removing a significant percentage of them from the equation. 

But if anything, I’m more aware of creative legal solutions: laws that require gun insurance the way we require car insurance, or tax ammunition, or hold manufacturers responsible for gun deaths. I’ve seen my adopted state of California implement some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, laws that just went into effect. The fight to prevent future massacres is just getting started.

And any time you want to talk about how it can happen, the rest of a shrinking world is listening — and ready to talk. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/17/gun-control-social-media/

Yale psychiatry professor who wanted President Trump ‘contained’ vanishes from Twitter

Yale assistant professor of psychiatry Bandy X. Lee made a huge splash in the media last week after meeting with a handful of Democrats in Congress to sound the alarm over the president’s mental fitness to serve. Lee has appeared on MSNBC and SiriusXM, and pieces about her appeared in Vox, Politico, and The Guardian, all of which she retweeted, having just joined Twitter “to inform people where they may have questions.” Lee tweeted over the weekend that she was demanding a correction to a “wildly speculative and inaccurate article” in The Weekly Standard questioning her “meeting” with a Republican senator, but that tweet has disappeared, along with her entire Twitter account. The whole thing’s been shut down.

She writes in her last post:

Dear All, I was told that Twitter would be a good way to respond to mistaken notions, but I have a full-time job (also, “followers” jumping from the 20’s to the 600’s overnight is a lot to manage). So I am abandoning the idea. Please excuse–it has been nice to try this out!

So that’s all she wrote. After all, she does have a day job — not that it kept her from editing “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” or traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with a handful of representatives about her concerns.

Looks like the Twitter asylum was too much. Oh well … at least people can still tweet about her:

Read more: https://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2018/01/08/yale-psychiatry-professor-who-wanted-president-trump-contained-vanishes-from-twitter/

Donald Trump defended his mental stability and Twitter has some thoughts on that

Image: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

2018 sure is off to a running start in Trumpland.

The 45th President of the United States kicked off a busy weekend of meetings at Camp David on Saturday with a brief, fiery tweetstorm that — even at this early point in 2018 — is already a surefire candidate for the year’s most memorable.

In three tweets, Donald Trump addressed his intellect (“being, like, really smart”), his mental stability (“a very stable genius”), and his successful presidential election campaign (“on my first try”). He doesn’t come out and say it, but the tweets are likely a response to Michael Wolff’s upcoming book, in which Trump insiders question the president’s stability on the record, and/or recent meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss the president’s mental state.

In typical Trump fashion, the three-tweet tirade blows past known facts in favor of creating a particular narrative. The “first try” election claim, for one, is hogwash; Trump ran in 2000, and even won a couple of primaries — though only after he left the race, in Feb. 2000. 

He ran under the Reform Party banner, and ultimately blamed his exit on the political organization being a “total mess.” The Reform Party countered at the time with the contention that Trump’s bid had never been serious.

“Donald Trump came in, promoted his hotels, he promoted his book, he promoted himself at our expense, and I think he understands fully that we’ve ended the possibilities for such abuse of our party,” party leader Patrick Choate said at the time.

Predictably, Trump’s tweets drew a disbelieving response from social media. 

By all means, laugh at Trump’s ridiculously transparent feelings of inadequacy if it helps you get through the day. But don’t let it draw you away from staying informed on news items of actual import.

This week alone: G.O.P. legislators asked the Justice Department to investigate Christopher Steele, the former British spy behind the infamous Trump dossier; the White House renewed its demand for a border wall; the U.S. cut off security aid to Pakistan; and the Justice Department moved to imperil the country’s burgeoning marijuana industry.

Among other things.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/06/donald-trump-very-stable-genius-tweetstorm/

Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino just tastes like sugar and regret

Please drive this away from me.
Image: STARBUCKS

Nothing says Christmas like a cold cup of sugar. 

At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I took a sip, and another one of the Christmas Tree Frappuccino. It’s Starbucks’ latest concoction that has people running out to corporate coffee shops, where they spend $5 and most likely take a bunch of smartphone photos to later post on social media. 

Like this: 

Like any good business reporter, I jumped on the trend Sunday. After my editor shared a piece by The Denver Post reviewing the drink and some tweets of people’s reactions, I asked if I could go get one and try it myself. Because that, my friends, is reporting. 

Well, I’ve been wanting to get one ever since my sister shared the Starbucks ad in our family group Thursday morning. 

Three hours later, my mom shared a picture of hers. Her review: “It is delicious.” Her favorite part was the candied cranberry topping. 

Image: screenshot

Image: screenshot

I had participated in two of the previous limited-edition Starbucks drinks. 

The Unicorn Frappuccino, a trend debut, was actually not too bad in my biased opinion. Though I think I was on an emotional high because I drank them with Chloe the Mini Frenchie (RIP). 

important coffee meeting with @kerrymflynn who you would share a unicorn frappuccino with? 🦄☕️

A post shared by Chloe The Mini Frenchie (@chloetheminifrenchie) on

The Zombie Frappuccino was strange, but I was also in the middle of emceeing an event in Columbus, Ohio. 

I definitely couldn’t let this one escape me. 

And so that’s how I ended up drinking 420 calories on a Sunday morning. Fortunately, I live four blocks from a Starbucks, so it wasn’t too burdensome to put on a jacket and walk out in the cold weather for a frozen beverage. 

The most embarrassing part was probably ordering when I asked for a “Christmas Tree Frappuccino” and the barista replied, “What?” So then I had to repeat myself over a cringeworthy order while the person in front of me just sipped her cup of hot coffee. 

I waited to take a sip until I could take photos. Because, of course, that’s exactly what Starbucks wants us all to do. All of our tweets are free ads. Actually, they’re not just free. We’re not getting paid. We’re paying them. Starbucks is making money having us all make ads for them. It’s brilliant, and I’m happy to be part of it. 

I got home and looked at the drink on my counter. The Matcha whipped cream had melted to half its height from before. I finally noticed that there was no candied cranberry topping. But I regretfully took a sip. And oh man, it was not good.

Thin Mints are great (Disclosure: I’m a Girl Scout). Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream is awesome. 

The Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino is not either of those things. Every sip of this beverage is an overload of sugar. I’d rather crush up a bunch of Thin Mints and mix them with some ice and milk in a blender than continue sipping this. 

I’m not going to tell you not to get a Christmas Tree Frappuccino because you can probably make your own decisions. But this is not good and you can spend $5 on something else. If you need the picture, go to Starbucks and just wait for someone else to order one. But be good to yourself, and don’t drink it. 

Please. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/10/starbucks-christmas-tree-frappuccino-review-sugar-regrets-photos/

A timeline of the rogue Twitter employee’s last day at work before deleting Trump’s account

Image: mashable composite. max knoblauch; shutterstock

This post is a part of Mashable Humor. It is not real. We drew the bird, though, and think it’s pretty good.

A Twitter customer support employee is responsible for temporarily deactivating the account of President Trump for 11 minutes on Thursday night, just before 7:00 p.m. EST. According to a statement from the company, it was said employee’s last day, and they acted without the approval of anyone else at Twitter.

What follows is a comprehensive timeline of the “rogue” employee’s infamous last day at Twitter HQ.

9:05 a.m.: Employee arrives at office on their last day. Employee sits at desk.

9:15 a.m.: Employee’s manager approaches, asks employee if they received email. “I haven’t checked my email,” employee replies. “Oh, okay. Well, when you get a chance,” manager answers. The employee will not look at the email.

9:20 a.m.: Employee tells coworker Devin that his coffee mug is on their desk, technically, and has been every day for several months.

9:25 a.m.: Employee leaves for “early lunch.”

1:15 p.m.: Employee returns from lunch.

1:19 p.m.: Employee sends email recommending lunch spot’s Moscow Mules to full New York office.

1:25 p.m.: Employee forwards Moscow Mule email to global staff list with message, “In case any of you are ever in town.”

1:30 p.m.: Using Sharpie, employee writes, “This bread taste like DOGGGG SHIT” on a loaf of bread in the employee kitchen.

1:35 p.m.: Employee reminds coworker Devin about the coffee mug’s location, asking him, “Did you know?”

1:40 p.m.: Employee leaves for “late lunch.”

4:10 p.m.: Employee returns from late lunch.

4:45 p.m.: During team meeting, employee is asked to say a few words. Employee uses full time to again recommend the Moscow Mules. The employee has worked at Twitter for 4 years.

5:00 p.m.: Employee enters back room and adjusts office thermostat to 68 degrees.

5:03 p.m.: Employee arrives at HR for exit interview.

5:10 p.m.: Employee responds to HR’s question of, “How do you feel about your time here?” with simply, “Bad.”

5:12 p.m.: Employee responds to HR’s question of, “Is there anything you feel you have not been able to do in your time here?” with, “Delete the president’s Twitter.” Employee tells HR they think they will be deleting President Trump’s account later in the day. The HR representative chuckles.

5:15 p.m.: Employee returns to desk.

5:30 p.m.: Employee watches the first 25 minutes of Netflix’s What the Health at desk without headphones.

5:55 p.m.: Employee says, “Wow.”

5:56 p.m.: Employee messages manager that the office chairs are very uncomfortable. Manager replies with, “Well, I don’t furnish the office lol.” Employee replies, “I do not like you and I have not liked you for some time now.” Manager does not reply.

6:00 p.m.: Employee stands on desk and announces that they will be drinking Moscow Mules at the lunch spot nearby if anyone wants to go.

6:48 p.m.: Employee returns to office to retrieve coat.

6:49 p.m.: Employee throws Devin’s mug in the garbage.

6:50 p.m.: Employee deactivates the president’s Twitter account.

6:55 p.m.: Employee returns to lunch spot for Moscow Mules.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/04/rogue-twitter-employee-deletes-trump-timeline-satire/

91-year-old former congressman sets the Twitter bar in the Trump era

John Dingell has been owning Twitter for years.
Image: ambar del moral/mashable

91-year-old former congressman John Dingell has been quick, witty, and on fire with his 140 characters for years.

Despite his age, he knows how to use the tweet machine the way it was intended: biting commentary, playful retweets, and insightful and smart reactions. Time and again he’s shown he’s mastered Twitter.

After tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump was elected, Dingell’s Twitter game has become even more relevant and fiery.

After the violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s bumbling mess of a response to the anti-Semitism and white supremacy on display, Dingell took to Twitter in the days following. One particular tweet resonated, with thousands praising the longtime Michigan lawmaker for posting what the president struggled to say. 

Just look at those likes.

Once known as an imposing Democrat with strong opinions and determined to pass universal health care, he’s refocused his energy toward the Twittersphere, where he still speaks his mind loud and clear even if it’s not on Capitol Hill.

Sure, Dingell also spends a lot of his time tweeting about Michigan sports. But after retiring after nearly 60 years in office at the age of 87 (he was the longest-serving member of Congress in history), he’s kept a running commentary on the ridiculousness of the government and society in general.

In the Trump era, where the president uses a micro-blogging platform to announce policy, devise political strategy, and sling insults, Dingell’s reactions and responses are a go-to source of humor, insight, and reflection.

Dingell’s Trump tweets also have bite. Since inauguration day (and throughout the election, too, if you want to look back and laugh-cry) we’ve been treated to these gems that often encapsulate what a lot of us are thinking.

On resignation

On Trump’s staffing problems

On the health care fight

On Russia and lying

On Trump’s Middle East trip

On cake 

When Trump gave an interview about a missile strike on Syria he talked mostly about “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.” It was — weird. Dingell noticed.

On the wall

Dingell joined Twitter in 2010. In the seven-plus years since, he’s tweeted almost 5,000 times. Trump, 71, joined about a year earlier, but has racked up nearly 40,000 tweets — eight times the number of tweets, which seems like a good way to measure Trump’s Twitter obsession.

Dingell’s targets go beyond Trump. 

Years before the former reality TV show host joined the political circus, Dingell was posting sharp commentary on, well, everything. The Atlantic called his Twitter feed “the best” back in 2014. Some of Dingell’s earlier Twitter home runs include a post about Sharknado, excellent usage of the hashtag and term “YOLO,” and taking an internet meme to disparage himself. 

In recent days he’s brought down Sen. Ted Cruz with his wit. He’s plugged in to internet culture, whether it’s April the pregnant giraffe or the Kardashians.

With Dingell’s decades of insider knowledge, his posts go beyond your average snarky Trump commentary that poke at the thin-skinned president. Luckily, Dingell hasn’t gotten blocked, and maybe he won’t if he keeps up with his smartly crafted ripostes.

His tweets spark discussion, replies, and thousands of retweets and likes.

If this retired 90-something Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient can keep up with Trump and everything else on Twitter, there’s no excuse for the rest of us. Except for the fact that John Dingell has already won Twitter. Maybe the rest of us should just go home.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/16/john-dingell-twitter-trump/

New York Post says boobs are trendy again but, like, when were they not?

The New York Post is getting royally dragged after it tweeted an article declaring “boobs are back,” leaving women everywhere rolling their eyes collectively.

The article, which was originally published by The Sun said “bountiful boobs” are back in style, welcoming the “return of the out-and-proud cleavage”.

“A big-boob movement is happening, and we should embrace it,” read the article. “An uplifted chest means an uplifted mood, after all.” Wow, who knew that all this time boobs weren’t trendy?

Thankfully, the women of Twitter were on hand to proffer their thoughts on the purported new trend.

Anyone got any spare boobs lying around?

Some women were just really thankful they can finally put their boobs back on.

For those of us with “bountiful” breasts, it’s been a difficult time. Thankfully, it’s all behind us now.

Maybe this new trend needs its own anthem. How about a new version of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town?”

One smartypants had a very salient point to make about boobs being “back”.

Phew, thank goodness they’re back.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/08/02/new-york-post-boobs-back/

Will Neera Tanden’s call not to let Trump’s tweets distract penetrate Keith Olbermann’s bunker?

Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, is making a concerted effort to keep Obamacare in place, though the tactics such as forming a human chain around the Capitol in protest seem about as productive as “Handsmaid’s Tale” (or zombie) cosplay get-togethers or queer dance protests outside Mitch McConnell’s house.

On Saturday, however, Tanden gave some cogent advice that her field army in the mainstream media is unlikely to heed: don’t let President Trump’s tweets distract from the health care bill. We only wish the GOP had it together enough to make this scenario actually happen.

Read more: http://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2017/07/01/will-neera-tandens-call-not-to-let-trumps-tweets-distract-penetrate-keith-olbermanns-bunker/

Trump casually pre-games climate announcement with jazz band

While the world anxiously waited to hear whether or not President Trump would pull out of the Paris Agreement, a jazz band outside the White House kept things chill AF.

After much anticipation, Trump announced on Twitter that he would be making a statement about the country’s future with the major climate agreement on Thursday in the White House Rose Garden.

And what better way to pregame that very important speech than with a nice tasteful jazz performance, am I right??!

Before Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, which left the U.S. with only two other countries Nicaragua and Syria who also rejected the agreement, many business leaders, celebrities, and scientists publicly warned against the decision.

But hey, Trump knows that some nice, smooth jazz music can solve any problem.

As people waited for the president (who was more than 30 minutes late) to take the stage, the image of what appears to be the United States Marine Band performing jazz in the Rose Garden was all they had to mock.

Some people passed the time by thinking up some climate-friendly requests for the band to play! Fun!

In fact, with this romantic setting, some might even say Trump’s monumental climate announcement felt a bit like an episode of The Bachelor …

Though this random jazz band may seem a bit odd, Trump is certainly no stranger to oddly timed celebratory gestures. We learned this after the House Republicans voted on a health care repeal bill and definitely did not enjoy a cart full of beer.

Enjoy that Rose Garden while you can, Trump!

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/01/donald-trump-paris-agreement-jazz-band/