The feds would like drone drivers and their devices to get a license plate and registration, please.
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Faced with stagnating user growth, Twitter needs to make itself more accessible to mainstream users. But is copying Facebook really the best way to do that?
Twitter replaced the star icon for "Favorites" with a heart on Tuesday. The feature, which has existed since 2006, will now be called "Likes."
"We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers," Akarshan Kumar, a Twitter product manager, wrote in a blog post announcing the change.
"You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite," Kumar wrote. "The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people. And in our tests, we found that people loved it."
Twitter is right: Everyone in the world understands what a heart means. As BuzzFeed pointed out, this shift represents prioritizing mainstream user growth over "power users," the base of core users who produce the majority of tweets on the site.
this heart thing is a totally sensible product decision for making a global consumer product that even the dumbest people can understand— Paul Ford (@ftrain) November 3, 2015
According to the company’s financial reports, Twitter’s monthly active users only grew by 4 million users last quarter, from a total of 316 million globally to 320 million.
Still, Twitter knows that alienating its longtime users is a business risk, as it acknowledged in its S-1 filing to become a public company in 2013. Yet the creation of the "like" feature -- which has already been criticized by journalists, other longtime users and at least one actual Twitter employee -- suggests the company is courting the masses at the expense of the people who made the platform into a global nervous system for information exchange.
Many of those power users, particularly women and minorities, knew for years that Twitter has had an abuse problem, and yet it was only until celebrities started fleeing the platform that the company's management did something real about it. Targets of abuse might not Like the Heart, either.
Also, idk, maybe a platform that has trouble with men harassing women shouldn't make it easier for them to send us hearts, can be creepy.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) November 3, 2015
The reactions of people I follow suggest that there are many other reasons longtime users do not Like the change.
Personally, I have used the Favorite feature to bookmark, acknowledge, wink or wave. It’s never been just a positive Like, despite what the word "favorite" might imply.
Vivian Schiller, Twitter's former head of news, said the same thing on Tuesday.
Sorry Twitter, but i used the "favorite" button in ways that did not always mean "like". So...now what?— Vivian Schiller (@vivian) November 3, 2015
The research on all of the reasons that people favorite tweets makes it clear that people have adopted and adapted the tool for a variety of reasons.
While the addition of "Like" doesn't change the core functionality and will not, I think, drive power users away, it will pose a particular quandary for journalists.
For instance, say there's breaking news about a nuclear power plant explosion. Members of the media will want to bookmark these tweets, perhaps as a way of saving or curating them. Now they'll have to Like the tweets instead. When considering news coming out of war zones or stories of abuse or natural disaster abuse, it's easy to see how this could be a little dicey.
Over the years, many of the best features on Twitter have been pioneered by users -- from the #hashtag to the retweet -- and later adopted into the product by the company itself. But the Like button was popularized by Facebook, while the Heart icon is a core feature of Instagram. By adopting both concepts, Twitter is swiping conventions from other platforms, rather than adapting user-driven innovations.
Still, in light of Facebook introducing more nuanced feedback options, moving to a Like button feels like adopting a feature from 2009, not 2015.
Did Twitter executives see Facebook users asking Mark Zuckerberg for a “Dislike” button for years and think, "Hey, we want that problem, too!"
Honestly, though, this is ultimately a small tweak to Twitter, not a fundamental change, like extending the famously short character limit or giving the option of making some tweets private. It's not a brand-new product, like an unbundled, dedicated messaging app. And it's not a new strategy, like acting as connective tissue for machines or as an identity provider for services or governments.
Turning Favorites to Likes won't sink or save the company. It does suggest, however, that Twitter executives still aren't using the product that much themselves, or interacting with the people who use it most.
Until that changes, Twitter continues to risk losing the qualities that, against all odds, have enabled it to...
The ephemeral messaging startup added some new features to its app on Oct. 28 and quietly updated its terms for using the service. After various news outlets dove into the text of the new policies and reported on some of the broadly worded changes, people became concerned that Snapchat was reserving the right to store and use people's private selfies and nude photos, even after that content disappeared from users' devices.
But Snapchat disagrees with the public's interpretation of its new terms and is now trying to calm people down by clarifying some of the changes.
Part of the confusion here stems from the fact that virtually no one reads the terms or privacy policies for the apps they download. It's far easier to tap a button saying you agree than to slog through those dense forms.
Another reason people got angry is that Snapchat, which claims to have over 100 million daily active users, didn't write a blog post, send an email or tweet about the changes to its user agreement. The company spoke up only after a backlash erupted on social media.
On Sunday, Snapchat published a post on Tumblr about "protecting your privacy" in which it tried to debunk rumors that it was storing private snaps. It also highlighted the post in a tweet that night.
"We never want to create any misunderstanding about our commitment to user privacy and we're going to keep working to communicate that to our community," a Snapchat spokesperson told The Huffington Post on Monday.
Below, we read between the lines of Snapchat's blog post to explain what's really going on with the updated Terms of Service.
Translation: After the FTC cracked down, we worked on addressing the complaint, cutting off access to the third-party apps that were saving updates. People can still take screenshots of your snaps or use other apps to record videos, though, so we can't claim that your snaps are more private now without getting in trouble with the feds.
Snapchat: "But the important point is that Snapchat is not—and never has been—stockpiling your private Snaps or Chats. And because we continue to delete them from our servers as soon as they’re read, we could not—and do not—share them with advertisers or business partners.”
Translation: We're relying on young people trusting us not to leak their private messages, so people freaking out over us keeping your snaps is a huge business risk. Users might still find ways to save your private messages, but we aren’t. Unless our business model changes, we won’t share them with advertisers.
Translation: We did a poor job of explaining this when we rolled it out. Now that you're all freaking out, let's try again.
Translation: We haven't actually changed that much. We just made how we're using your snaps clearer, but once we did that, you all got really upset.
Snapchat: "We added language to the Terms of Service regarding in-app purchases. We needed to do that now that we’re selling Replays—and have some other cool products and services we’re looking forward to bringing to you soon."
Translation: The feature where you can pay us to replay a message is going well, and we're planning on expanding ways to give us money, so we needed to make the rules clearer, with clauses like "it’s your sole responsibility to manage your in-app purchases." That means if you run up a huge credit card bill watching funny pictures or intimate videos from your ex again and again, it's not our fault. If you're under 18, you should really talk with your parents about buying things in apps, because we're going to be trying to sell you more, soon.
Snapchat: "To make it a little easier for friends to find you on Snapchat, we’ve clarified what info—like your name—will be visible to other Snapchatters and how you can modify that info."
This post has been updated with a comment from a Snapchat...
MEXICO CITY -- When Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told an open government conference Thursday that "Google was now Hillary's secret weapon," he provided ample fertilizer for a year's worth of conspiracy theories in this overheated election season.
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