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Inside Social (Sep 4th, 2018)

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1. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has overrode decisions by his executive staff on content decisions, including the decision to allow Alex Jones to remain on its platform, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Twitter rejects the claims that Mr. Dorsey personally overruled his staff. “Our service can only operate fairly if it’s run through consistent application of our rules, rather than the personal views of any executive, including our CEO,” said the company’s chief legal officer, Vijaya Gadde. Questions surrounding content policies and policing will likely be a critical topic when Mr. Dorsey testifies before Congress on Wednesday alongside Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg. — WSJ

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2. As of Monday, Facebook has been blocked in the Libyan capital of Tripoli and other cities in the North African nation, as fighting between rival groups has escalated. Facebook is the primary platform for news in Libya but has also been used by “keyboard warriors” to post fake news, hateful comments and battlefield tips. One user last Thursday posted directions to set off hidden bombs at a rival’s airbase. The Libyan utility LPTIC, which owns the two state telecom firms, said that a lack of security has led to the outages, although there has been no clear response from government officials over the decision to block Facebook. Tripoli has seen more than a week of fighting between rival groups, the latest clash in the North African country since Muammar Gaddafi’s ousting in 2011. — REUTERS

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Mycroft AI, the leader in open source and privacy-centric Voice Assistant Technology, is running a crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine

We’re innovating voice command for your phone, car, speakers, and more. There’s a reason why 500 startups, Jaguar Automotive, and Siri Software invested in us and now you can too for as little as $250. Check out our campaign and learn more here>>

3. Leading broadcasters and internet service providers in the UK called for the government to introduce independent oversight of social media content. The letter posted in the Sunday Telegraph was signed by the leaders of BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT and TalkTalk and noted an “urgent need for independent scrutiny of the decisions taken, and greater transparency. This is not about censoring the internet, it is about making the most popular internet platforms safer.” More countries, including the US, are calling for the regulation of social media platforms. Germany was the first country to do so last year, as it instituted fines to social media companies for any hate speech posts that were not removed within a given amount of time. — TC

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4. Twitter is testing two new features to make the platform more conversational, according to tweets from CEO Jack Dorsey on Friday. Reply threading shows responses as nested and indented tweets with color coding, similar to Facebook replies. The status indicator, called “presence,” puts a green circle next to a user’s profile picture signaling that they’re online and looking to converse. Response to these new features seems to be lukewarm, and some argue that they’ll have more negative effects than positive ones. “Twitter works best because it's asynchronous. It's not your 'friends' like Messenger,” wrote journalist Charles Arthur in response to the announcement. — CNET

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5. Much of the Alex Jones’ empire was removed by Facebook this summer, though a private Infowars Facebook group with 110,000 members continues to thrive, according to a New York Times report. The group posts news stories, Infowars videos and the type of offensive content that got Mr. Jones suspended — attacks against Muslims, transgender people and other groups. Facebook has taken many actions to clean up its public platform, but some experts worry that in doing so, more toxic content will move into private channels like Facebook groups, WhatsApp and Messenger. Mr. Jones, who’s suspension expired last week, returned to the private Infowars group, saying: “My 30-day Facebook ban is up!” — NYT

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6. Benin has become the latest African country to start taxing its citizens for accessing the internet and social media apps. In late August, the government passed a decree that implements a fee of 5 CFA francs ($0.008) per megabyte consumed through apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. Citizens and advocates have started using the hashtag #Taxepamesmo (“Don’t tax my megabytes”) in protest. Benin joins other African nations — including Zambia, Uganda and Kampala — that have introduced new fees for accessing digital spaces, which digital rights advocates say is a decision to silence government critics and other vibrant conversations happening online. — QUARTZ

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7. Snapchat launches "Bounce," a video looping feature similar to Instagram’s Boomerang. 

8. A beginner’s guide to using Reddit. 

9. Ahead of the 2018 midterms, it remains unclear whether social media companies or the US government are in charge of ensuring another election is not compromised. 

10. Cystic Fibrosis advocate and social media star, Claire Wineland, died on Sunday at the age of twenty-one. 

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Exclusive interview with Brizzly founder and former head of platform at Slack, Jason Shellen 

Content for premium users only

Today's Inside Social was written by Nick Bastone. He also covers politics for Inside.com. Nick currently lives in San Francisco, California.

Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies), Krystle Vermes (Breaking news editor at Inside, B2B marketing news reporter, host of the "All Day Paranormal" podcast), and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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