Teens Are Debating the News on Instagram

Screenshots of Instagram "flop" accounts

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Naturally, they’ve turned to Instagram. Specifically, they’ve turned to “flop” accounts—pages that are collectively managed by several teens, many of them devoted to discussions of hot-button topics: gun control, abortion, immigration, President Donald Trump, LGBTQ issues, YouTubers, breaking news, viral memes.

But as flop accounts grow by the thousands as teens seek refuge from the wider web, many of the internet’s worst dynamics have begun to duplicate themselves on Instagram. Some flop accounts are rife with polarization, drama, and misinformation. All the while, an increasing number of teens are turning to these types of accounts for news, seeing them as more reliable and trustworthy than traditional media.

The accounts post photos, videos, and screenshots of articles, memes, things, and people considered a “flop,” or, essentially, a fail. A flop could be a famous YouTuber saying something racist, someone being rude or awful in person, a homophobic comment, or anything that the teen who posted it deems wrong or unacceptable. Some of the teens who run a given account know one another in real life; more likely, they met online.

It Can Take As Little As Thirty Seconds, Seriously

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Now I want to re-share this with people, but I’d like to be a good net citizen as well. Good net citizens:

  • Source-check what they share
  • Share from the best source possible
  • Provide source/claim context to people they share with when necessary

To do that in this case we need to get to the source of the press release, on a site controlled by the American Psychological Association directly, and share that version of this. We also need to check that the American Psychological Association is the credible organization that we think it is. How long will this take?

Literally thirty seconds, if you know how to do it:

  • Select the headline, search on it.
  • First result up is from apa.org, that looks promising
  • Go there, look to make sure it’s the same release
  • Search Wikipedia for the site address. Find the article on the APA.
  • Check to make sure the APA is a real organization.
  • Check to make sure the APA web address matches

And you’re done.

This Is Probably The Only Story You Didn’t Hear About First From Bradd Jaffy And Kyle Griffin

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For those who follow his account, the tweet is vintage Griffin: a nugget of breaking news, packaged tightly with a line of inoffensive but somewhat incredulous analysis — as if to say, ‘omg, I know.’

He’s not alone. Bradd Jaffy — an editor and writer for the NBC Nightly News broadcast — has become a Twitter celebrity with a similar string of obsessive viral news posts. Jaffy boasts a larger following than Griffin, with about 245,000 followers. The two men, who at MSNBC and NBC Nightly News work in different parts of the company, are said to share something of a rivalry, according to sources. (NBCUniversal is an investor in BuzzFeed.)

Be it a press conference on Capitol Hill, cabinet meeting pool spray from the White House, Trump golf outing, or fiery segment on Morning Joe — you’ll see it first from Jaffy or Griffin. When a reporter in the NBC News operation has an exclusive, Jaffy or Griffin are often first to post the relevant details. Between the two, they somehow manage to tweet virtually every piece of news and opinion of the day — from a fact-check of that morning’s controversial Trump tweet, to a late-night Washington Post or New York Times bombshell report — and always with plenty of screenshots.

As news cycles grow faster and more overwhelming, Jaffy and Griffin have become feeds of record for obsessive political journalists and casual Twitter users alike. Their relentless output, which, in a different environment, might have felt exhausting, is now a mooring force for a growing number who feel bombarded by breaking news and fear they might miss the next bombshell.

This Guy Keeps Getting Killed in Terrorist Attacks

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If this face seems familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it associated with any number of recent terror incidents. This man has apparently died at least three times since January, most recently in the terrorist attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. So what gives?

… All these claims are, obviously, false. Regrettably, these social media shenanigans have been picked up by the media; the man’s photo is currently included in a New York Times video about the victims of the Orlando shooting. Following a BBC article about internet fakes and rumors, an investigative team at France24 decided to dig a little further to find out who this man really is and why this keeps happening to him.

It turns out this mysterious individual may be a bit of a scam artist—or at the very least, a very shitty friend—and this prank is how his victims are enacting their revenge. The social media users who crafted the fake posts all told France24 a similar story, that they knew the man and he had cheated them out of money, ranging from small sums up to $1,000. “Our goal is to ruin his reputation,” said one of the perpetrators, “We want the whole world to recognize his face.”

 

Teens are getting almost all of their news from Snapchat and Twitter these days

Snapchat Discover

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We know from recent research that teens ages 13-18 who are part of Generation Z are spending nearly nine hours a day consuming entertainment media. And believe it or not, a chunk of that time is spent on checking the news.

Through speaking with a few teens, Tech Insider discovered that they aren’t going to specific news sites to pick and choose articles to read, but rather checking certain apps where the news has been preselected for them.

And no, not Facebook — the majority of teens we spoke with said they rely on Snapchat and Twitter.

 

The dark side of Guardian comments

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How should digital news organisations respond to this? Some say it is simple – “Don’t read the comments” or, better still, switch them off altogether. And many have done just that, disabling their comment threads for good because they became too taxing to bother with.

But in so many cases journalism is enriched by responses from its readers. So why disable all comments when only a small minority is a problem?

At the Guardian, we felt it was high time to examine the problem rather than turn away.

We decided to treat the 70m comments that have been left on the Guardian – and in particular the comments that have been blocked by our moderators – as a huge data set to be explored rather than a problem to be brushed under the carpet.

This is what we discovered.

Is Facebook the enemy of truth and civic unity?

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Those on the left who worry that Facebook and Twitter have been a breeding ground for climate-deniers and Tea Party fanatics should remember that #occupywallstreet and #blacklivesmatter both began as hashtags on Twitter.

The same holds true in the Presidential race. Historically, the most striking thing about the campaign so far is not Trump’s ascension, but the fact that a self-proclaimed socialist is running a close race with heir apparent Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders has three times as many Twitter followers as Republican establishment candidate Jeb Bush, despite the hundred million dollars Bush has raised for his campaign. Sanders, much more than Trump, is a pure-bred social media phenomenon. Trump has obviously used Twitter effectively, but his name recognition derives from network television and his real estate empire.

But until that time, I think we shouldn’t be too worried by the noise of the new public sphere. There are more dividers with a soapbox thanks to social networks, but so far it is the uniters that are actually getting things done. The price of politics in the social media age is that the crazies get a place on the playing field. The test is whether they win.

From relationships to revolutions: seven ways Facebook has changed the world

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On Monday [August 24], one in seven people on Earth used Facebook – 1 billion people, according to founder Mark Zuckerberg. In a decade, the social network has transformed people’s relationships, privacy, their businesses, the news media, helped topple regimes and even changed the meaning of everyday words.

…These are just some of the ways his company changed everything – for better or worse.

Facebook has changed the definition of “friend”

“To friend” is now a verb. And unlike real life when the ending of a friendship can be deeply traumatic, it is easy to “de-friend”, a word invented to describe ditching a casual acquaintance when they are no longer enhancing your Facebook newsfeed.

Although the meaning of the words “share” and “like” are essentially the same, Facebook has brought an entirely new weight to the terms.

High school and university reunions have become redundant – you already know whose career is going well, whether the perfect pair have split and you’ve seen endless pictures of your schoolmates’ babies. You won’t be surprised by an ex in the street with a new girlfriend or boyfriend: you already know they’re dating someone else from the romantic selfies.

But unlike in real life, Facebook has no hierarchy of friendships. A classmate from one project at university who you haven’t seen in 15 years, a friend-of-a-friend from a stag do, or a colleague you’ve never actually spoken to in person – they are all Facebook friends in the same way as your closest mate, or your spouse, or your mum.

We care less about privacy

Political parties who focus on Facebook win

Facebook has been the tool to organise revolutions

Facebook makes news, breaks news, and decides what is news

Is it the Beginning of the End for Online Comments?

The Daily Dot recently became the latest news website to get rid of user comments

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Vibrant online communities? Or cesspools of abuse? Have comments had their day?

The debate about comment sections on news sites is often as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently outlets such as The Verge and The Daily Dot have closed their comments sections because they’ve become too hard to manage. And they’re far from alone.

That’s the downside. But it’s also worth remembering that many news organisations – including the BBC – have used comments sections to make real connections with audiences, find stories, and turn what was once a one-way street into a multi-headed conversation.

In our experience, our community hasn’t evolved in our comments. It’s evolved in our social media accounts. To have comments, you have to be very active, and if you’re not incredibly active, what ends up happening is a mob can shout down all the other people on your site. In an environment that isn’t heavily curated it becomes about silencing voices and not about opening up voices.