CategoriesNewsSocial Media

Instagram wants to Fix the Mental Health Problems They’ve Caused

Social media is known to have a negative impact on mental heath. Spending too much time on social networks leads to depression, anxiety and addiction problems. Instagram is often criticized for causing negative body issues, especially in young teens. A 2017 survey found that the image sharing platform gave teens feelings associated with “high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.” –Time

Instagram Hires a “Wellbeing Team”

As a response to the reports that Instagram was affecting the mental health of young people, the company introduced a “wellbeing team.”

A senior Instagram executive said that the mental health of the users is a top priority. Part of the goal set for the team is to combat bullying, harassment, spam and abuse. Other than that, it’s pretty unclear how they will help users who are struggling with body image issues.

How do you fight “Fake”?

Often, Instagram photos are polished to make people look more attractive and food look more delicious. This creates a sense of inadequacy for the people viewing the pictures. The truth is, most of these images don’t depict real life – they are filtered embellishments. In fact, that’s what Instagram is mostly based on, filters. What you’re seeing isn’t real. Will the “wellbeing team” give disclaimers when photos are edited? It’s doubtful they would betray their content creators in that way, or else they wouldn’t have anyone left to post on the platform.

Furthermore:

“this problem stems from a larger, systemic cultural issue — where depression and other mental health issues remain under-addressed, and in which how you look, and how well you fit into cultural expectations of “success,” are given more credence than actual happiness.” –Futurism

Maybe Instagram intends to provide psychiatric counseling to its users who feel inadequate. Perhaps they could also prevent your girlfriend from continuously ‘hearting’ that guy’s selfies who she told you not to worry about.

Until then, I’ll stick to following only meme accounts.

Photo Credit: Md saad andalib

CategoriesHackingNewsSocial Media

YouTube Staffer Live Tweets Shooting, then gets his Account Hacked

A YouTube staffer was live-tweeting about the active shooting when it happened at the YouTube headquarters earlier today. Shortly after, his Twitter account was briefly hacked.

Earlier today, a woman open fired at the YouTube headquarters and tragically shot 3 people before taking her own life. Vadim Lavrusik, a product manager at YouTube, was live tweeting the incident as it was happening.

Not an hour later, Lavrusik’s account was breached by hackers.

At about 2:10 p.m., after Lavrusik tweeted that he was safe and evacuated, a new tweet came up from the account, writing, “PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY FRIEND I LOST HIM IN THE SHOOTING,” with a Flipboard URL linking to a photo of KEEMSTAR, a YouTube personality.

Three minutes after that tweet, another post came in saying, “my name is so gay honestly.” -CNET

Twtter’s @Jack was alerted to the issue and promptly restored his account.

Three people have been reported to be injured in the shooting, they have been taken to the hospital.

CategoriesHackingNewsSocial Media

Hackers Find Exploit and Reactivate LizardSquad’s Twitter Account

On September 2, hackers calling themselves “Spain Squad” used an exploit to take control of several previously suspended Twitter accounts. Among these accounts were usernames like @Hitler, @botnet, @LizardSquad and @1337. Twitter re-suspended all of the breached accounts shortly after the hack, but it is unclear whether or not they are still vulnerable to this exploit.

One of the hackers aligned with Spain Squad tweets about reactivated accounts.
One of the hackers aligned with Spain Squad tweets about reactivated accounts.

“It could be a vulnerability in Twitter’s software, a compromised staff account, or some other explanation. It’s also unclear whether the exploit is still active, or was patched concurrently with the banning of the hijacked accounts.” (Business Insider)

A spokesperson for the hacking group has stated they can do even more than recover old accounts with the exploit they found:

“The new exploit allows Spain Squad to change to suspend active accounts, change a user’s Twitter handle and even take control of active accounts. So far, the group has only demonstrated the ability to recover officially suspended accounts — though all of those have already been re-suspended by the social media company.” (Engadget)

Twitter actively suspends accounts that violate their Terms of Service (TOS). Sometimes these suspensions can be temporary and the user is able to restore their account after acknowledging broken rules and promising not to violate TOS again. Often, the user must delete offending tweets before the account will be restored. Alternatively, a Twitter account can become permanently suspended, which means the account is never to be restored under any circumstances. Restoring access to accounts that were thought to be never again accessible could prove to be profitable for hackers selling screen names that may be valuable. However Spain Squad claims to be non-malicious. Whatever their intent, they were definitely doing some of it for the lulz when they took control of the LizardSquad account:

socialhax hackers poodlecorp lizardsquad skids hack exploit twitter suspended accounts

CategoriesInternetSocial Media

How Should Social Media Sites Respond to Suicidal Posts?

Today, news outlets are reporting on a CDC study that indicates suicide rates in the U.S. are on the rise. What role, if any, should social media sites play in helping to decrease these suicide rates? In this new era where everyone shares every detail of their lives online, we are also seeing an increase of suicide notes and suicidal intentions posted on various social networks.

A couple of days ago on April 20, a high school student took his life after posting a short video on Instagram that began by saying, “Hey, so, I’m killing myself. Goodbye.” According to Nola.com the young man then said he “could not live happily because “my morals are totally different from the world around me.” Tragically, he used a pistol to take his own life soon after.

Many are questioning whether or not Instagram should have played a role in helping to prevent this suicide, or at least should have taken quicker action removing the video. As pointed out on Nola.com, the video stayed up for around 24 hours, had over 900 comments and over 15,000 views. There is an option for users to flag posts for “self-harm”, so it seems likely that a number of people who saw this post would have reported it. According to their Terms of Service, Instagram does not allow posts that glorify self harm or suicide. Some are left to wonder if this video fell within that category.

report instagram for self harm suicide socialhax

report post instagram self injury socialhax
There wasn’t a lot of time between when the video was posted and when the student took his life, so it may have been nearly impossible for anyone to intervene, even if Instagram did get involved. But why was the video left up for a full day? One explanation is that Instagram has such a large number of flagged posts to sift through and this one might have escaped automatic filters. The post was eventually taken down, so it does seem that the video had violated TOS in some way.

Another example of someone posting their intention to kill themselves on social media is the case of 27 year old trans-woman Kate von Roeder who took her own life in 2014. She posted a suicide note to Facebook shortly before it happened. The post is still visible today and it can be seen in the comments that her friends are pleading with her not to do it and to seek help.

(a warning to more sensitive readers – this is a suicide note and may be triggering):

Should sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter be required to police self-harm-related or suicidal content? Currently they send a message to users who post such content and tell them to seek help. They also will point them to suicide hotline phone numbers. Could social media sites do more than this to help prevent suicides? When suicide notes are posted, should they be allowed stay up even if the person has ended their life, like in the case with Kate von Roeder? Or do they need to be taken down because they may be triggering or “glorify” suicides and self-harm? If the deceased didn’t want their post to be censored, should we honor that? It’s a new problem that doesn’t have a clear answer at this time.

CategoriesNewsSocial Media

If Facebook Paid you, Would you Post More?

Facebook recently circulated a survey that suggests they might pay users for sharing content on their personal profile. This might remind people of Tsu, a social media company that “shares revenues with its users and those who invited them into tsu”:

Over the past year, Facebook’s users have shared 21% less personal updates according to Inc.com and 5.5 percent of sharing is down overall. CNET once showed us how “Facebook Fatigue” is a real thing and this could be a way to get social media users excited about posting on Facebook again.

There is little information on how and when Facebook plans to implement paying users for sharing. It might not even be available to everyone. Like Adweek suggests, it might only be for verified accounts. Facebook already pays some creators for sharing videos. One thing Facebook needs to do is to catch up with YouTube on finding and eliminating stolen videos. They have recently announced that they’re about to test a tool “to help stop freebooting“. Facebook should probably take care of this first, before they potentially start paying people for stolen content.

According to Facebook’s survey, some of the ways users could make money is through revenue sharing, donation butons, advertising, branded content and a “tip jar”.

Will more thought be put into Facebook content if users are paid for what they share? Or will people be scrambling to post any stupid thing they think might go viral?

CategoriesNewsSmart PhonesSocial Media

Facebook Messenger Adds New VoIP Feature

From Gadget Diary: “Facebook Group calling is now available and you can easily do a conference call using the feature.” Here is a sneak peak into the new Facebook Messenger Group Calling app:

Over the next 24 hours, Facebook is going to roll out a new VoIP feature that will allow its users to make group calls to each other. According to TechCrunch, you’ll be able to call up to 12 people simultaneously and it will ring to all of their apps at the same time. If a potential participant misses the call, they will have the option to join up by tapping a phone icon once they’re back at their phone. Video chat is not available yet, so it isn’t really a replacement for Skype or Google Hangouts at this time. However, calls can be made to any Facebook user anywhere in the world free of charge – which may be attractive to users who currently spend a lot of money on long distance calls.

Some people prefer to not have Facebook Messenger installed on their phones because it’s known to violate their privacy by tracking all kinds of phone data and is also a huge drain on both iPhone and Android phone batteries. Could this be a way for the company to get more people to install the app? Would you be willing to reinstall the app to save money on phone charges, or would you utilize one of the many other free VoIP services available? Do you think it’s a good idea to be able to call so many people at once with Facebook messenger? It could take ‘drunk-dialing‘ to a whole new level.

CategoriesHow To GuideInternetSocial Media

How to Save an Instagram Picture Without a Screenshot

An Instagram picture is a relatively easy way to share what’s going on in your life with friends and family. Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most popular and fastest growing social networks in the world. In this day and age of self-promotion, more internet users are flocking to Instagram where they can share images and videos of themselves or their products. One of the most common complaints about Instagram is that you cannot easily save pics posted by other users. Typically, screenshots are used to capture the image. This is not ideal because you must then crop the image and it could lose quality.

So is there a way to save this media without having to take screenshots? There is a relatively simple way to save any Instagram image from a computer which I will outline for you here. (Note: this tutorial works for desktop only, not mobile. This method has been tested in both Chrome and Firefox).

The first thing you will need to do is locate is the URL of the image. If you are viewing Instagram from a profile page, you can click on any image on the profile and it will take you to the direct URL. If you are viewing your Instagram timeline, you can click on the time-stamp of any image and that will also take you to the direct URL (see the time-stamp circled in the example below).

timestamp instagram

Once you have gone directly to the URL of the image you want to save, the next thing you will want to do is to find the image file by viewing the page source. This can easily be done by right-clicking the image itself and then clicking “View Page Source”.

view page source instagram

Now that you have selected “View Page Source” you will be taken to a new tab that shows the source code for the Instagram photo you want to save. It should look something like this:

instagram page source

The next thing you’ll want to do is find the URL inside of the source code for the image file you wish to save. This can easily be done by pressing Ctrl+F and searching for “jpg”.

ctrl f jpg instagram view source

The search will return multiple results for “jpg”, you will only need to locate the first result. It will be a URL located under the username and caption text for the image:

url for instagram photo view source

Once you have located the URL for the Instagram picture you want to save, highlight the URL and paste it into the address bar of a new browser tab. You will then have access to the image file you wanted to save. Right click the image and click “Save Image As”. You can now save the photo to your hard drive.

save instagram image from desktop

That’s it! Pretty easy right? Now you know how to easily save photos in high quality from Instagram without having to take a screenshot. One thing to note: photos taken by the original poster are copyright of the owner. Please be sure not to republish any copyright photos without permission.

Thank you to “Toro” for being our Instagram picture example today!

CategoriesNewsSocial MediaTechnology

Snapchat Users in UK Could Face Jail for Saving Pics

In the UK, Snapchat users could face trouble if they take screen shots of their friend’s photos without permission and share them with others.

The Government’s culture minister has stated that “anyone who who screenshotted a Snapchat message and shared it with others could be sued by its original sender – and face a prison sentence.” –The Independent

For those not fully familiar with how Snapchat works, it is a social messaging service where users send photos to one another, typically with added text, emoji, filters and other features. The appeal of Snapchat to most people, is that messages will disappear in 10 or so seconds after having been viewed. However, users are able to take screenshots of the picture messages before they disappear and a notice is given to the person on the other end that their friend has taken a screenshot of their photo.

One problem Snapchat has faced in the past was during “The Snappening”, when a third party app “allowed users to save and access their snaps online, without the sender’s knowledge and circumventing Snapchat’s “instant deletion” feature”. -(Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Mashable) This lead Snapchat to eventually shut down third party access. Some say they can still take snaps with a jailbroken phone, however Snapchat has been trying to crack down on that. (idownloadblog)

Now that users will mostly be notified when a screen shot is taken, Snapchat still “advises users to avoid sending messages which they would not want to be saved or shared.” But UK’s culture minister still warns that “Under UK copyright law, it would be unlawful for a Snapchat user to copy an image and make it available to the public without the consent of the image owner.” Additionally, “The image owner would be able to sue anyone who does this for copyright infringement.” Those who infringe copyright could face up to 10 years in prison and a “unlimited” fine.

Furthermore, UK law states that disclosing sexual photographs of others without consent is strictly against the law and if convicted, violators could face up to two years in prison.

UK readers, should taking a screenshot of a photo someone sent to you be considered unlawful? Should the person who took the photo assume that they have given up rights to the photo once it’s sent? Should snaps fall under fair use or should users be protected by the government when it comes to others saving and distributing their photos?

CategoriesInternetNewsSocial Media

Microsoft Creates AI Bot – Internet Immediately Turns it Racist

Microsoft released an AI chat bot that is currently “verified” on Twitter called @TayandYou that was meant to try to learn the way millennials speak and interact with them.

It’s meant to “test and improve Microsoft’s understanding of conversational language” according to The Verge.

Things got pretty controversial. There are other types of people in addition to ‘millennials’ who use Twitter who naturally found the bot, and some of them were able to “hack” into Tay’s learning process. They must have hired someone with an entry level cyber security job 😉

Here are some screen shots of tweets that were deleted once the Internet “taught” Tay some things:

1

gas

3

microsoft ai bot tayandyou

bush did 911

microsoft ai bot tayandyou holocaust

hitler did nothing wrong

swag alert

AI

 

And a Gamer Gate favorite:

Tay’s developers seemed to discover what was happening and began furiously deleting the racist tweets. They also appeared to shut down her learning capabilities and she quickly became a feminist:

tay i love feminism now microsoft AI

Some think the offending tweets should have stayed up as a reminder of how quickly artificial intelligence could become dangerous:

UPDATE 3/31/2016: Tay made a brief comeback and started telling many users, “You are too fast, please take a rest.” She also tweeted that it’s “smoking kush,” a nickname for marijuana, in front of the police.” –The Sydney Morning Herald

kush in front of the police AI Tay Microsoft

Since then, Tay’s account went on lockdown (private mode) and more tweets were deleted. 

CategoriesInternetSocial Media

What Happens with your Social Media Accounts After you Die?

What happens to your data after you die really depends on the social media platform you are looking at. Due to federal privacy laws, there are some things that companies are not willing to let you do with someone else’s account after they’ve died. There have been battles in government on both state and national levels on if family should be able to access the deceased’s social media profile. Currently, the laws applying to social media sites are not complete in ways that make administrating them straight forward – each social media platform approaches the subject in a different way. They have their own policy that people should be aware of.

Facebook

Previously, there were only three things that could happen to your Facebook account after your death. One, you could just leave it as it was. Two, it would be deleted. Third, you have the profile memorialized. What that does is puts the profile in this special state that locks that account. It doesn’t send out notifications nor does it come up when you search for it. Only friends will be able to see the account.

Recently, Facebook announced that they were going to give the profile owner the ability to assign someone the responsibility of managing your profile after you die. The assignee won’t be able to view your private messages. However, they will have the ability to update your profile. They’ll be able to changes your cover and profile photos. They can accept or deny friend requests. They’ll even be able to archive posts and photos. Facebook is calling this new role as a “legacy contact”.

If you want to assign someone the role of “Legacy Contact”, all you have to do is go into the settings of your profile. There, you will see a link called “Security”. After that, there will be a section where you can select “Legacy Contact”. You will be able to set up a message that will tell them what you would like and how they are to handle your profile. When your death has been reported to Facebook, the message will be sent to the “Legacy Contact”.

Google

For Google, you have to submit a request to gain access to the deceased user’s account. Go to https://support.google.com/accounts/contact/deceased?hl=en. From there, you can select the action you want to do. You can close someone’s account. You can submit the request for funds from a deceased person’s account. You can request data from someone’s account. You can even put in a request to have the account looked at if you believe the account has been hacked. Lastly, you can even set up plans in for what should happen to your account when you die. Similar to Facebook, you assign someone a role of “Inactive Account Manager”.

Twitter

Twitter has a page that you can access to put in a request to remove someone’s account. The link is https://support.twitter.com/forms/privacy. It’s the third option down. After you fill out the request form, they send out a confirmation email with instructions. Once you get there, you’ll have to submit documentation for support.

Instagram

Instagram has something similar to Facebook. You can submit a request to have their profile memorialized. You can also have the account removed from Instagram. If you have someone’s account memorialized, you won’t be able to log in as them because Instagram sees that as an invasion of privacy. They will just set up the profile so as not to display the account in a manner that is disrespectful. They also add security to the account so nobody can use it normally.

If you want the account removed, you’ll have to provide three forms of proof. One, you’ll need the death certificate. Second, you’ll need the birth certificate. Finally, you’ll need something showing you are the representative of that person. It needs to be something from the local law.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn will remove the account if the person has died. On their website you will need:

  • The member’s name
  • The URL to their LinkedIn profile
  • Your relationship to them
  • Member’s email address
  • Date they passed away
  • Link to obituary
  • Company where they most recently worked

Once you have that, go to https://help.linkedin.com/app/ask/path/ts-rdmlp. You’ll need to fill out the form.

Pinterest

Go to https://help.pinterest.com/en/articles/reactivate-or-deactivate-account#Web. There select the fourth one down. Once you supply the needed information. They will deactivate the account so it won’t be accessible to anyone. They need five items:

  • The full name of the person submitting the request
  • Information on the deceased such as the full name and email
  • A link the profile. You can also search for it at http://pinterest.com/all/
  • Proof of death such as a news article or death certificate
  • Documentation of your relationship to them

For the documentation on your relationship to the deceased, if your name is in the obituary then that is enough. If not, then you’ll need some other form of documentation such as a birth or marriage certificate. A notarized document will work too.

Overall

It should be noted that not every social media will just delete the account. It isn’t that easy. The old saying is true: Whatever you put on the internet cannot be taken back.

Legality over Digital Asset Management

As stated earlier, not all states are specific about what to do with someone’s social media account after their death. Currently, there are only 19 states that have laid out plans and passed laws that dictate this. There are plans to standardize this, however. It’s being done under the Uniform Law Commission or the UFC. It’s called The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. There have been several drafts over the years with 2015 being the most recent. The page for the committee over this can be found by clicking here. You can also click here to view the summary of the act. There has been a lot of opposition to this act in fears that it violates privacy acts. So far, about half the states have pushed for laws for Uniform Fiduciary Access.