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Inside Social

Inside Social (Aug 14th, 2019)

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1. The issue of Facebook listening in on users' private conversations has arisen again, and the company this time admits that it was doing this in order to provide human review of its AI transcription service. While Facebook may not be eavesdropping on us through our phones, as CBS's Gayle King and many others believe, the company has been letting third-party contractors listen to private voice memos that users have sent via Messenger, in cases when the receiving users have Facebook's transcription service turned on. The purpose was to help improve the AI behind the service and have these contractors recheck the auto transcriptions, and Facebook says it has now "paused" this human review of private audio — which it says was all anonymized — after the EU's privacy agency began an investigation into the practice. Apple, Google, and Amazon all provide similar transcription services with human review, but Apple and Google said they'll no longer be using people for the task — Amazon is letting users opt out. – BLOOMBERG

2. The hilarious story of a teen girl addicted to Twitter who ended up using an internet-connected refrigerator to tweet after her mom took her phone away has gone viral. The hashtag #FreeDorothy has been trending (and the @twitter account even used it) after a 15-year-old Kentucky girl named Dorothy has found increasingly elaborate ways to tweet messages to her friends and fans following the confiscation of her cellphone. It began with her tweeting from her Nintendo 3DS and her Wii U, until her mom found her out, and so she turned to her mom's LG smart fridge. As she tells New York Magazine, "My mom uses it to google recipes for baking so I just googled Twitter." She managed a brief interview via DM with New York Mag, via "her cousin's old iPod." While this could be some well-executed marketing gambit or hoax (Dorothy's Twitter account only dates to July), the internet remains hooked, and amused. – NEW YORK MAGAZINE

3. A group of LGBTQ YouTubers has filed suit against Google and YouTube claiming that discrimination against them and their content is "embedded in the business model" of the platform. Multiple LGBTQ content creators say that they saw their income from YouTube drastically decline when the company began using keywords like "gay," "lesbian," and "bisexual" to put videos behind an age-restriction barrier — and consequently shrinking their viewership and demonetizing them. Additionally, one of the plaintiffs, Lindsay Amer, who runs a channel aimed at LGBTQ youth called "Queer Kid Stuff," has been targeted by neo-Nazis and anti-gay users with hate speech in her comments sections, and with videos that openly mock and denigrate her, neither of which YouTube has done anything to curtail. The suit also touches on antitrust concerns, as the plaintiffs say that YouTube has a monopoly on online video content. – WASHINGTON POST

4. Facebook is making a change to Groups, simplifying settings to just "public" and "private," and "visible" or "hidden." As Groups product manager Jordan Davis writes in a blog post Wednesday, "We know people have needs for both public spaces where you can share with a wide audience and private ones where you can share more intimately." The change does away with the former settings that included "public," "closed," and "secret," instead grouping the latter two under "private," and giving admins the ability to choose whether the group is discoverable by the public or not. Facebook says that all groups will still be subject to the same Community Standards as the rest of the platform, but the change does not address the proliferation of hate-filled Groups in which members freely share hate-filled content and choose not to flag it. – ENGADGET

5. A married pair of art collectors, Jessica and Evrim Oralkan, have launched a social media site devoted to making private art collections viewable to the public. The site, called Collecteurs, is based out of the New Museum’s NEW INC., the school's cultural incubator project, and they're calling it, "The Collective Museum of Private Collections." The couple was inspired to create the site when they realized the difficulty of making their own collection accessible, and when they met other collectors who believed there was a public good in letting their collections be seen by people outside their own circles. – NEW YORK TIMES

6. A police department in Pennsylvania has put out a warning to parents warning of the dangers posed to kids by 15 mobile apps, including Snapchat and TikTok, as well as several dating apps. The Bensalem Township Police Department put out this PSA poster describing how TikTok leaves kids open to bullying and explicit content, and how the apps Bumble, Holla and Whisper are being used in illicit ways by teens. "We're dealing with a lot of criminal investigations where we see a lot of these apps pop up," says Lt. Jim Donnelly. – KGO / ABC 7

7. Movie ads on Facebook will now come with premiere reminders and the ability to buy tickets. If users click on "Interested" next to an ad for a movie, Facebook will give them reminders about the movie's opening date, and provide local showtimes and a ticket-buying button. – THE VERGE

8. Twitter is pushing users to following "Topics," which will feature tweets from a curated list of reliable sources of content on a given topic. At a press event, the company unveiled the new push toward finding better content, and also revealed that it's testing allowing users to snooze certain topics — say a TV show they're behind on — so that they don't get flooded with spoilers. – TECHCRUNCH

9. As TikTok has emerged as a major player in the social space, the scammers have begun flocking to it. The app, popular with kids and teens, now has a flood of scammers pushing adult-dating sites and the like. – TENABLE

10. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian penned an op-ed this week discussing the benefits and joys of his 16-week paid paternity leave. Making an argument for paid family leave in general, Ohanian says that he remains "ambitious" coming back from it, and the break allowed him both to bond with his new daughter and to be with his wife, Serena Williams, after she suffered severe complications giving birth. – NEW YORK TIMES

Inside Social is written and curated by Jay Barmann. Jay has spent a decade covering the social media space and the tech world in general for, the San Francisco branch of Gothamist. As editor of Grub Street San Francisco, he also covered the food world around the Bay Area. As a freelance writer he has written for SF Weekly, 7x7, Curbed SF, Eater SF, Eventbrite, New York Magazine, and San Francisco Magazine, among others. Follow him on Instagram at @conflator or Twitter at @jaybarmann.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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