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Censorship of Free Speech a Political Landmine for Tech Platforms

According to The New York Times, Facebook and other social media platforms are struggling to balance freedom of speech and hate speech, as well as the abundance of fake news that circulate their platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now asking outside parties, including the US government, to help moderate content and filter out what is inaccurate and harmful. Zuckerberg’s comments have opened up a minefield of commentary by those worrying this movement means limiting free speech.


How to Create a Video that Goes Viral

Ever wondered about the secrets of creating a viral video? Viral videos have a foundation in quality content, Laura McLeod writes on the Business 2 Community site. To increase a video's chances of going viral, target a specific audience, use an emotional hook, offer value to the viewer, stand out from the crowd and have a solid marketing plan, she writes.


Snapchat Encouraging Kindness

As reported in The Drum,  Snapchat is continuing its partnership with the Ad Council (public service announcement creator), to roll out a new "Because of You" anti-bullying campaign. The campaign, aimed at teens, encourages Snapchat users to use the Lens Carousel feature (part of the app) to share a moment on how another individual made a positive impact in their life.  ‘”Because of You” is a movement that encourages teens to reflect on the power of their words and actions, and consider how they are affecting others – for better or worse. The campaign encourages a more empathetic, inclusive culture by asking users to consider the impact of their actions.

Snapchat and the Ad Council will also co-host a ‘Creators for Good’ summit as part of Snap’s ongoing Creator’s Lab workshop series, inviting creators to the Santa Monica Creator’s Lounge to learn how to use their creative talents to promote social good initiatives.



Accessible Digital Books Campaign Expands

There are currently more than 711,000 books in Bookshare, a digital reading platform for people with reading barriers including dyslexia, blindness or cerebral palsy, and that number is growing every day. Working with more than 850 publishers across the world, the library adds as many as 100,000 titles every year, according to Brad Turner, vice president and general manager of global education and literacy at Benetech, the nonprofit that runs Bookshare. But with more than 1 million books published each year, it would be impossible for Benetech to keep up with conversions, so Benetech is now working directly with publishers such as Macmillan Learning to embed accessibility features into all e-books at the time of publication. These resources can useful to all readers, not just those with reading impairments or disabilities, and Benetech argues that having the publishers add them to the books as they are published makes good business sense.


Influencers Get Real on Instagram

An article in The Atlantic online notes that Instagram influencers have spent the past several years perfecting masterful shots of everything from perfectly staged avocado toast and lattes to beautiful, photo-worthy restaurant bathrooms, but that look of perfection is going out of fashion. Today's younger influencers are opting for a more authentic vibe with unfiltered and even low-production photos, longer captions and the sharing of money-making ideas, all of which appear to be resonating with viewers. It will be interesting to see if this style of posting spills over into Facebook, Snapchat and other apps popular with teens. Experts have consitently made note of the tendency for adults and teens to only post about the perfect aspects of their life, which can often make others feel dissatisfied or feeling that their lives don’t measure up. This trend could potentially counteract those negative feelings.


Libraries Find Social Media Useful to Reach New Audiences

Libraries from New York City to England and Singapore are using social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to overcome the stereotype of being stuffy, dusty places, and boost engagement among patrons and entertain book lovers. In one example, the New York Public Library gained 100,000 Instagram followers after launching "Insta Novels," Marguerite Reardon writes for CNET. Insta Novels are digitized versions of classics designed for teens to be read on a smartphone. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was the first classic to get the treatment.



Fraudsters Target Mobile Apps

A recent article in Adweek reports that from 2017 to 2018, the number of fraudulent apps increased more than 150%, according to a DoubleVerify report. Since 2017, invalid ad impressions on mobile devices has doubled year-over-year. Security experts are calling on developers and app stores to help fight fraud in the mobile space.


Two Internets?

Should there be a separate Internet for children?  Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic reminds parents that the Internet is “a place where the violence is more graphic than any R-rated movie, the sex is more salacious than any strip club, and the bullies get 24-hour access to kids’ bedrooms.” He proposes instead a “youth net” for kids younger than 15, with content similar to a PG movie and where decisions about content moderation are made with children in mind, freedom of speech is not paramount, and everything is delivered on special youth friendly devices. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube would all be banned and would be seen as the equivalent of getting a drivers license. What are your thoughts?


Mueller Report: Russians Relied On US Social Media For "Trolling"

Special counsel Robert Mueller's recently released, 400-page report includes details regarding Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA) and its coordinated use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to reach millions of Americans leading up to and after the 2016 presidential election. IRA-controlled online accounts were used to coordinate rallies, push deceptive memes and posts, and interact with influential conservatives in an effort to impact political conversations and fuel social divisions worldwide. These finding are perhaps the best case made yet for digital literacy classes to include misinformation in their curriculum.


Screen Time for 5 Year Olds Tied to Attention Deficit Issues

Five-year-olds that spend more than two hours a day in front of screens have 5.9 times and 7.7 times higher likelihoods of developing significant attention problems and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, respectively, compared with those who spent 30 minutes or less with digital devices, Canadian researchers recently reported. The findings were based on data involving 2,427 youths in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study. Parents of young children should keep this in mind as they monitor screen time.


More Companies are Screening What Kids Do on Their School Issued Tech

An article in The Outline discusses the double-edged sword of having outside companies screen what students do on  school issued technology devices. Gaggle and Securly represent the extreme end of the monitoring today’s students are growing up with. Email, calendars, documents, search history, and other typically private online activities are monitored by these apps. They scan for bullying, bad language, suicide warning signs, and more, reporting any concerns to school administrators or parents. While these kinds of technology can protect kids, some fear it will “undermine students’ expectation of privacy” forever.


What to Do If Your Toddler Locks You Out of Your iPad

Stories seem to abound about toddlers dropping phones into water. But what happens if your toddler locks you out of your passcode on your iPhone or iPad? For one thing you might want to print out or bookmark this story on CNBC about a toddler who locked his dad out of his iPad for 48 years. Lucky for you it comes with a practical twist - a solution for what to do if it happens to you.


Digital Literacy: Taking a Closer Look at Close-Read Politics

Want to help your children understand more about the digital images they are exposed to in political campaigns? Read what media literacy expert Frank Baker says about stagecraft and the "polioptics" that will be an important part of everything digital citizens see and hear. Learn how you can help your children "pull back the curtain on visual techniques used by professional image manipulators" and build their citizenship skills. 


Social Media Use Remains Unchanged

It looks like privacy concerns are not chasing away social media users, according to Mashable .The share of adults in the United States on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest has remained basically unchanged since 2018, according to a Pew Research Center report, even though consumers have voiced concerns in other Pew studies regarding data privacy and censorship. YouTube won the popularity contest with 73% of overall users, while younger demographics favor Instagram and Snapchat.


App Helps Manage Privacy on Social Media

As reviewed in The Verge, the new privacy app “Jumbo” on Apple’s iOS is designed to take the guesswork out of user data protection protocols on social media sites. Although some social media sites have restrictions on what the app can do, Jumbo can help manage your privacy on Twitter, Facebook, Alexa and Google search, and plans are afoot to add Tinder and Instagram. So how does it work? For example, connect to your Twitter account, and Jumbo will delete tweets from the time frame of your choosing, let’s say after a month. Your Twitter password is saved to the iOS keychain, not Jumbo itself — part of the company’s effort to collect as little data about its customers as possible. The app is currently free, but eventually we all may end up paying to protect what little is left of our privacy.


Apple’s New Emphasis on Privacy

You may have seen a new Apple ad touting their emphasis on privacy. Skeptics warn not to be lulled into a false sense of security, and say this is just part of Apple’s advertising plan. The company understands that, right now, people desperately want more control over their personal information. And so they are using privacy — this time, the idea of it, not the lack of it — to sell you more devices and streaming services. However, while Apple may collect less about you than some of the other tech giants, they still collect plenty of info, so be sure you understand the privacy settings on your Apple (and other brand) devices. You are the last line of defense on your privacy and that of your children.


Speaker Culture

Voice activated technologies are rapidly emerging and young consumers are increasingly speaking to their devices. The smart speaker is gaining the most traction as a voice-activated device and platform. Already, almost two in five 13-36-year-olds report owning a smart speaker. Voice activated technologies are becoming more mainstream with Gen Z and Millennials—and Millennial parents, the earliest adopters of the tech. Of course there are many privacy concerns that go along with this trend so be sure you are aware of the privacy controls on these devices.


Netflix Has Plans to Monopolize Your Kids’ Screen Time

A recent article in Fast Company states that sixty percent of Netflix’s members are watching kids’ programming, a clear reason why Netflix is investing so heavily in the animation space by developing their own animation studio. The company has also recently developed enhancements for children to learn more about characters and content on the platform. For example, kids can scroll through character images of Curious George, Phineas and Ferb, or Spider-Man and use those visuals to click into a series or movie. The company is also experimenting with a concept that would allow users to explore not just shows but characters through a trailer-like video about the character. All of these features and enhancements prove that Netflix is striving to be a top player in the children’s entertainment market.


Your iPhone Keeps a List of Your Every Location

There is a feature on your iPhone that keeps track of not only everywhere you have traveled and how you got there, but how many times you have been there. The phone even interprets that data to know, for example, that your dog goes to doggy day care every Wednesday morning.  If you no longer want this feature (although you may want to keep on your kid’s phones for other reasons), you can read the full story on how to get rid of it – with step-by-step instructions - on the Business Insider site.


LEGO Continues to Make it Easier for Kids to Learn Engineering

LEGO steering kids toward STEM learning is nothing new, a recent article in Wired reminds us. But now the company is offering Spike Prime, a new set of tools and bricks, which caters specifically to middle-schoolers, and aims to teach the basics of coding and robotics. The Spike Prime set aims for accessibility, opting for bright colors, friendly shapes, and drag-and-drop coding tools that gently nudge students towards coding. Spike Prime will, at least at first, be available only to schools so it may be something you want to bring up at your next parent teacher conference.