Facebook Axes “Trending” Sidebar

Facebook is discontinuing the “trending” list. After the employees hired by Facebook to curate the trending news items were found to bury news they didn’t like, Facebook fired them all and tried to automate the process. If it matters to you whether their bias was liberal or conservative you can look it up, but my point is that a social media feed that adapts itself based on what you say…

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An interesting analysis of Trump’s rhetorical strategy.

In the Washington Post, Greg Sargent analyzes a pattern in Trump’s very effective rhetoric. As you’ll recall, after Trump made his “animals” comment, his defenders — and Trump himself — erupted in anger at news organizations that had not explained that it had come amid a discussion of MS-13 members. It’s not clear from the context that he was talking only about MS-13 members. His ramble suggests he might have been referring…

Facebook “Grid View.” Is this new? My first thought is that I rather like it.

I just noticed an option for viewing a Facebook timeline in “grid” mode. For the past several years I have been trying to add a square image to all my blog posts, and the style I created for my blog uses these square images (in different ways based on the width of the user’s screen). Part of me wants to view Facebook in a stylesheet that resembles Netscape web pages…

Twitter changes strategy in battle against internet ‘trolls’

Reducing the reach of abusive tweets is better than censorship on the one hand, and nothing on the other. Of course, this is another reminder that the social media titans can and do manipulate what we see. Reducing the impact of bullies benefits Twitter’s bottom line, which is the same reason for every change to the Twitter algorithm. Twitter Inc on Tuesday revised its strategy for fighting abusive internet “trolls,”…

Facebook shrinks fake news after warnings backfire

In its efforts to combat the spread of false news online (whether by malicious people who knew it was propaganda, or through the wishful thinking of overly-credible sheep who saw a post as confirmation of a value they already held), Facebook experimented with flagging stories as “disputed by third-party fact-checkers.” It turns out that a significant number of users were motivated by the “disputed” flag to share that item even…

How We Can Help Students Survive in an Age of Anxiety

Today’s students have also lived most of their lives in the shadow of a systemic financial collapse. Some of us can still remember the extent to which the worldview of our parents or grandparents was shaped by having grown up during the Great Depression. While the Great Recession was objectively not as severe, it has led to a level of economic anxiety among today’s college students that I did not…