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Twitter explains why it will not ban Donald Trump from tweeting

Twitter Inc. cleared the air regarding controversial world leaders and how they use Twitter about a week ago. Not pointing the finger at anyone in particular, the social media company posted a fairly short blog post titled World Leaders on Twitter, explaining how its service “is here to serve and help advance the global, public conversation. Elected world leaders play a critical role in that conversation because of their outsized impact on our society.”

If we were to take a wild guess, Twitter may have been referring to tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump, as he may have put his citizens in danger of a perceivable nuclear attack.

Even alleged derogatory remarks are fair game for the U.S. President’s Twitter.

“We are working to make Twitter the best place to see and freely discuss everything that matters,” continued Twitter. “We believe that’s the best way to help our society make progress.”

Obviously, these outrageous tweets will likely continue, and Twitter simply cannot infringe on any user’s freedom of speech on the platform.

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Litterati app makes strides in ending global litter problem with NSF grant

 

It’s endearing to see mobile apps make strides to make the world better. Jeff Kirschner, founder of Litterati, made it his goal to create an app that helped end the global litter problem, and so far he’s seen success.

After a successful round of funding through a Kickstarter campaign, the National Science Foundation happily announced it would be making a substantial contribution of its own, promising this will be the next big step in making the earth a cleaner place to live.

“[Litter] is a massive problem,” Kirschner told Business Insider. “It impacts the economy, the environment, it degrades community pride, it decreases property value, it kills wildlife, and now with the plastic pollution in the ocean situation, it is literally poisoning our food system.”

The $225,000 grant will go towards developing an improved app allowing for more communities to come together in the fight against litter. Rather than tracking progress on a solo level, Litterati will allow users to keep track of how their own communities, schools, and other larger organizations are impacting global sustainability.

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Why net neutrality isn’t as necessary as many people claim

The argument that we are given Internet access by only a few companies who cooperate and divide up the land among themselves is totally valid. But there may be a silver lining we’re not seeing that is staring us right in the face. The potential of the free market. Specifically, Google Fiber.

Google entered the scene in the 90s solely as a search engine and its assets and capital at the time were no where near what they have today. Google is a brand people trust and depend on and they decided to start introducing fiber optic Internet access simply because it grew to a size where it could afford to begin laying down its framework.

Google did this on its own, seeing potential in drawing/stealing consumers in from other ISPs (and the other ISPs definitely took notice). Granted, Google Fiber is only in a select number of cities right now, but it literally had zero cities at the time of its inception. Google is just one example of a powerhouse that started small and then entered new markets we never saw coming.

Amazon started off as an Internet retailer for books. It now has its own streaming service, 2-day delivery for the things we want, potential drone delivery, and Alexa. Walmart also had its humble start as a retailer. It now offers banking, cell phone plans, 2-day delivery, and sell groceries.

These services were not within the companies’ visions at inception. Netflix used to only sell physical media and competed with Blockbuster, eventually eliminating them from the picture altogether. Now Netflix’s capital is through the roof. These companies and potentially more (Apple, Microsoft, Cricket Wireless, T-Mobile, Uber, Disney) have the potential and the capital to enter the ISP market and undercut what the current big guys are offering.

Google Fiber is already doing this, and no one told them to. It saw an open market and decided to act because it wanted to make more money. That is just how the free market works and we are better off if we let that dictate who wins and loses.

We cannot predict how the Internet will evolve and prosper. We probably could never have imagined that a ton of people could be walking around with Internet connected devices in their pockets back in the day. The free market created these innovations without government intrusion. So why are people so adamant about using the government to stop the big guys from doing what they know how to do when they can just fight among themselves and offer lower prices and better services to undercut their competition or raise its profits?

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U.K. politician Ben Wallace imposes taxes on Facebook, Google for data on terrorism

British Conservative Party politician Ben Wallace recently accused tech companies Facebook and Google for not taking effective action toward removing speech aiming to radicalize people, terrorizing the innocent community. In order to combat online extremism, Wallace believes certain taxes should be imposed if companies like Facebook and Google refuse to give up this harmful information, especially considering they are happy to sell data to advertisers for profit.

“We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers,” Wallace said. “They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government.”

“Because content is not being taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalize people who have been radicalized. That’s costing millions,” continued Wallace. “They can’t get away with that and we should look at all the options, including tax.”

These tech-giants are doing everything they can to develop powerful technologies to combat online terrorism, including the initiation of algorithms to strategically remove violent speech before it is even flagged. But is relying on machine learning to end this issue enough action?

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New York City-based apartment to accept bitcoin as rental payments

In an effort to modernize and become a bigger player in the real estate market, New York City-based Brookliv has begun to accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

Brookliv’s owner, Ari Weber, has stated that he hopes bitcoin will help them attract more young clients. The ability to predict new trends in an ever-changing market is another reason they decided to make that move.

“The market is changing, whether we like it or not. We foresee the norm will be cryptocurrencies being used for rental market and beyond in the near future,” Weber says.

Allowing tenants to pay for rent in bitcoin is a calculated risk, as there is still a chance that bitcoin could crash at any moment. Weber states that this is a negligible risk, as bitcoin has largely stabilized around $13,500. He believes that attracting new tenants that want to pay in bitcoin is worth the small losses he’ll take if bitcoin dips slightly.

“We can take a little bit of a hit if it does dip, but it’s worth it,” Weber added.

This is no doubt a big step forward for owners of the cryptocurrency, as many mainstream vendors still do not take it as payment, but this is proof that it is becoming more widely accepted.

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Google machine learning helps predict voting patterns in U.S.

From the digital assistants like Siri in our phones to the algorithms that recommend us things to buy on Amazon, artificial intelligence is truly ingrained in the function of our technological society. Some of the most innovative forms of media exist because machine learning has exponentially become more prominent, and it is no surprise researchers at Stanford University use it to learn more about humans and their political patterns.

These researchers identified a unique association among U.S. voters and the type of cars they own. If a city has a higher percent of sedans than pickup trucks, then there is an 88% chance the city will vote Democrat in the 2020 presidential election. And vice versa, if a city has a higher percent of pickup trucks than sedans, then there is an 82% it will vote Republican.

Ultimately, the power of tracking data has proven to be of the utmost value for marketing, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to see machine learning applied in academic contexts. The researchers simply want to push the technology and explore the depths of what deep learning can be.

“For the first time in history, we have the technology to extract insights from very large amounts of visual data,” Harvard’s Nikhil Naik said on the New York Times. “But while the technology is exciting, computer scientists need to work closely with social scientists and others to make sure it’s useful.”

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Blockstack’s virtualchain technology helps accelerate blockchain development

Blockchain technology was a hot topic in 2017, as the ledger system saw exponential innovations added to its mainframe. Blockstack, founded in 2013, has put forth effort to creating a decentralized system for users to consume media content.

“We’re living in a time period where the new incumbents like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have firmly established themselves, and are near monopolists in their markets,” venture capitalist Albert Wenger told MIT Technology Review. “If we want a long-term, open playing field for innovation, we’re going to need new, decentralized infrastructure.”

This is why Blockstack is designing its decentralized architecture around user control, implementing virtualchain technology to help achieve this goal, at least according to the white paper.

“We’re trying to turn the existing model on its head,” added Ryan Shea, CEO and cofounder of Blockstack. “You can try to work with the existing model from within, but sometimes it’s easier to step outside of it and build something new from a clean slate.”

Blockstack introduces new decentralized apps that you access through the Blockstack Browser. With Blockstack, users can own their data to better maintain privacy, security and freedom.

Mess around with the browser and jump on the blockchain bandwagon in 2018. This could be the first big player in media entertainment becoming a key component of blockchain’s infrastructure. With apps like Ongaku Ryoho‘s music player and Guild‘s journalism services, the sky is the limit for new innovations on this decentralized network.

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Switzerland head of Foreign Affairs deletes a slew of his old tweets

Ignazio Cassis, an Italian born citizen, was recently chosen to hold the position of Switzerland’s newest cabinet minister, serving as the head of Foreign Affairs. With this new title, Cassis has taken the time to scrub his Twitter feed clean of any tweets that may make him seem unfit to be Switzerland’s foreign affairs minister.

Politwoops, a tweet archiving website designed to track politician’s deleted tweets, accounted for over 500 tweets that were meant to never be seen again. Luckily, data on the web will always be available for archiving, as it is very clear Cassis removed over 90% of his posts almost two weeks ago.

“I will take my political values as a Radical Party member to the cabinet, but I’m prepared to listen to other opinions and reserve the right to change my mind if need be,” Cassis said at a news conference a few months ago.

According to a report from Tages-Anzeiger, Cassis is focused on using his social media platforms to promote business operations within his department.

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Facebook provides tool to check if you interacted with Russian propaganda

The social media landscape was in a frenzy during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with alleged misinformation and fake news distributed in large quantities to many different users. Facebook, arguably the most popular social media website in our human history, was a huge platform for this propaganda to spread, making its way into people’s news feeds and advertisements.

Facebook became aware of this disinformation, most notably data from the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian distribution channel infamous for spreading fake news in its reporting.

To help users alleviate any worries on whether or not they were subject to fake news, Facebook created an online tool in the Help Center to let people login and check if they ever liked or followed any pages or accounts from the IRA.

According to CBS News, Facebook shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in the United States alone. Hopefully this is the onset of the social media giant cracking down on illegitimate news and information being shared on its network.

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Facebook Inc. admits to offering user data to major governments worldwide

Believe it or not, Facebook Inc. can relinquish your user data to the government at its request, at least according to Facebook’s latest Transparency Report.

In a graphic compiled by Bloomberg Law (seen in the newdle above), the United States ranks the highest in frequency with which Facebook Inc. requests data from users.

The United Kingdom, Italy, and France follow suit as major developed countries to request analysis of their social media using citizens. Apparently, most of the data requests involve criminal cases.

This information is readily available in Facebook’s semi-annual report, so hopefully the government will never feel inclined to breach user data for its sole benefit.