North Korea Pledges to Dismantle One Nuclear Site If U.S. Takes 'Corresponding Measures'

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North Korea pledged to shut down one of its nuclear test sites in a meeting today between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang. What does the North want in return? “Corresponding measures” from the United States. Unfortunately, we don’t know what that means yet.

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Now Tesla could face criminal charges for Musk's 'taking Tesla private' tweet

Elon Musk's infamous take-private tweet is still going strong.
Elon Musk’s infamous take-private tweet is still going strong.
Image: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweet from more than a month ago keeps biting him in the… well you know.

When Musk mused on Twitter on Aug. 7 about “taking tesla private at $420” it sent everyone into a tizzy.

And then there were the real consequences like a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and lawsuits from shareholders. 

Eventually Musk called off the privatization talks, but now the electric car maker is reportedly facing possible criminal charges for fraud based on that same tweet. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the company. 

A Tesla spokesperson said last month the DOJ requested documents in a “voluntary request” and Tesla has “been cooperative in responding to it.” The statement went on, “We have not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process. We respect the DOJ’s desire to get information about this and believe that the matter should be quickly resolved as they review the information they have received.”

A DOJ spokesperson wrote in an email, “The Justice Department generally does not confirm, deny or otherwise comment on the existence or non-existence of an investigation.” The DOJ’s “fraud section” says it investigates “complex white collar crime cases.”

The fact that the DOJ is investigating Tesla doesn’t guarantee any criminal charges will be filed. 

Tesla stock Tuesday morning was at $280, after a precipitous drop based on the news about the looming criminal charges.

Tesla's stock plummeted after the news.

Image: GOOGLe/SCREENGRAB

Add the possible criminal suit to the pile of lawsuits Musk and Tesla are dealing with, including the latest from the cave diver Musk called a “pedo guy.”

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Twitter will make it super easy to switch back to a chronological timeline

Twitter will soon give you the option of viewing its classic reverse chronological timeline.
Twitter will soon give you the option of viewing its classic reverse chronological timeline.
Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Since 2016, Twitter decided it was better to show you the best tweets first, based on an algorithm. 

Not everyone was a fan of the algorithmic timeline, though, and in a surprise decision, Twitter announced that it will allow users to easily switch to a view that shows the classic chronological timeline.

Twitter has updated its app so you have this capability now, but it’s a bit of a chore. If you go into Settings and switch off “show the best tweets first,” tweets will show up in reverse chronological order. Previously when unticked this option, your timeline would show tweets that you’d miss, and also recommended tweets from accounts that you don’t follow.

In coming weeks, Twitter will introduce “an easily accessible way” to allow users to switch between algorithmic and chronological timelines.

The announcement comes after Twitter users have come up with ways to try and circumvent the algorithmic timeline.

As per a viral tweet, Kickstarter’s Andy Baio circulated a URL, which included a search string which filtered out retweets, liked tweets, or as he puts it, without “any algorithm nonsense.” 

Launched in 2016, the best-tweets-first timeline was the dreaded step toward what rival Facebook had been doing with its news feed for years. 

The move, which came when Twitter’s stock struggled, aimed to help to boost engagement, and keep people on Twitter, thus make the platform more attractive to advertisers and potentially boosting the company’s yo-yo stock price.

But the change also had the effect of sometimes upping old tweets that had high engagement, which in the fast-moving world of Twitter meant the content would often be stale by the time many users saw it. 

The bigger breakthrough with this announcement: Twitter actually appears to be listening. So how about that edit button…?

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Twitter is bringing back the chronological timeline

Your Twitter prayers are answered! Well, maybe not the prayers about harassment or the ones about an edit tweet button, but your other prayers.

Today in a series of tweets, the company announced that it had heard the cries of its various disgruntled users and will bring back a form of the pure chronological timeline that users can opt into. Twitter first took an interest in a more algorithmic timeline three-ish years ago and committed to it in 2016.

Some users were under the impression that they were living that algo-free life already by toggling off the “Show the best Tweets first” option in the account settings menu. Unfortunately for all of us, unchecking this box didn’t revert Twitter to ye olde pure chronological timeline so much as it removed some of the more prominent algorithmic bits that would otherwise be served to users first thing.  Users regularly observed non-chronological timeline behaviors even with the option toggled off.

As Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour elaborated, “We’re working on making it easier for people to control their Twitter timeline, including providing an easy switch to see the most recent tweets.”

Nostalgic users who want regular old Twitter back can expect to see the feature in testing “in the coming weeks.”

We’re ready to pull the switch, just tell us when.

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Twitter will revive the purely chronological timeline


Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ever since Twitter started mucking with the timeline to insert tweets people “might have missed” or things supposedly “liked” by people they follow, some have complained they miss things. Now, Twitter has announced that in the coming weeks it will start testing a “way to switch between a timeline of Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets.”

A change that’s in place now, is Twitter’s “Show the best Tweets first” setting. Starting today, if a user has it turned off it will also eliminate the “In case you missed it” roundups and suggested tweets from people you don’t follow. It sounds like exactly the change people have been looking for, and even pursued by setting up filters on their own like the one found at RealTwitter.com. Now, if Instagram could just get the same memo…

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This is what Americans think about the state of election security right now

A wide-ranging new poll yields some useful insight into how worried the average American feels about election threats as the country barrels toward midterms.

The survey, conducted by NPR and researchers with Marist College, polled 949 adult U.S. residents in early September across regions of the country, contacting participants through both landlines and mobile devices. The results are a significant glimpse into current attitudes around the likelihood of foreign election interference, election security measures and how well social media companies have rebounded in the public eye.

Attitudes toward Facebook and Twitter

As the most recent dust settles around revelations that Russia ran influence campaigns targeting Americans on social media platforms, just how much do U.S. voters trust that Facebook and Twitter have cleaned up their acts? Well, they’re not convinced yet.

In response to a question asking about how much those companies had done since 2016 “to make sure there is no interference from a foreign country” in the U.S. midterm elections, 24 percent of respondents believed that Facebook had done either “a great deal” or “a good amount,” while 62 percent believed the company had done “not very much” or “nothing at all.”

When asked the same question about Twitter, only 19 percent thought that the company had made significant efforts, while 57 percent didn’t think the company had done much. Unlike nearly every other question in the broad-ranging survey, answers to this set of questions didn’t show a divide between Republicans and Democrats, making it clear that in 2018, disdain for social media companies is a rare bipartisan position.

When it comes to believing what they read on Facebook, only 12 percent of voters had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence that content on the platform is true, while 79 percent expressed “not very much confidence” or none at all. Still, those numbers have perked up slightly from polling in 2018 that saw only 4 percent of those polled stating that they were confident in the veracity of content they encountered on Facebook.

Midterm perspectives

In response to the question “Do you think the U.S. is very prepared, prepared, not very prepared or not prepared at all to keep this fall’s midterm elections safe and secure?,” 53 percent of respondents felt that the U.S. is prepared while 39 percent believed that it is “not very prepared” or not prepared at all. Predictably, this question broke down along party lines, with 36 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans falling into the “prepared” camp (51 percent of independents felt the U.S. is prepared).

An impressive 69 percent of voters believed that it was either very likely or likely that Russia would continue to “use social media to spread false information about candidates running for office” during the midterm elections, suggested that voters are moving into election season with a very skeptical eye turned toward the platforms they once trusted.

When it came to hacking proper, 41 percent of respondents believed that it was very likely or likely that “a foreign country will hack into voter lists to cause confusion” over who can vote during midterm elections, while 55 percent of respondents said that hacked voter lists would be not very likely or not at all likely. A smaller but still quite significant 30 percent of those polled believed that it was likely or very likely that a foreign country would “tamper with the votes cast to change the results” of midterm elections.

Election security pop-quiz

Political divides were surprisingly absent from some other questions around specific election security practices. Democrats, Republicans and independent voters all indicated that they had greater confidence in state and local officials to “protect the actual results” of the elections and trusted federal officials less, even as the Department of Homeland Security takes a more active role in providing resources to protect state and local elections.

A few of the questions had a right answer, and happily most respondents did get a big one right. Overall, 55 percent of voters polled said that electronic voting systems made U.S. elections less safe from “interference or fraud” — a position largely backed by election security experts who advocate for low-tech options and paper trails over vulnerable digital systems. Only 31 percent of Democrats wrongly believed that electronic systems were safer, though 49 percent of Republicans trusted electronic systems more.

When the question was framed a different (and clearer) way, the results were overwhelmingly in favor of paper ballots — a solution that experts widely agree would significantly secure elections. Indeed, 68 percent of voters thought that paper ballots would make elections “more safe” — an attitude that both Republican and Democratic Americans could get behind. Unfortunately, legislation urging states nationwide to adopt paper ballots has continued to face political obstacles in contrast to the wide support observed in the present poll.

On one last election security competence question, respondents again weighed in with the right answer. A whopping 89 percent of those polled correctly believed that online voting would be a death knell for U.S. election security — only 8 percent said, incorrectly, that connecting elections to the internet would make them more safe.

For a much more granular look at these attitudes and many others, you can peruse the poll’s full results here. For one, there’s more interesting stuff in there. For another, confidence — or the lack thereof — in U.S. voting systems could have a massive impact on voter turnout in one of the most consequential non-presidential elections the nation has ever faced.

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Dad attempts a nice – but absurdly unsuccessful – panoramic photo of his daughter

Dads and technology don’t always mix.

Just ask Simran, a 21-year-old Twitter user whose father recently tried to show off his photo skills using his iPhone X’s panoramic feature, but failed miserably.

On Saturday, Simran tweeted two panoramic photographs her dad took of her on their family vacation. While the panoramic feature is most often used to capture especially wide landscape shots, Simran’s Hip Dad doesn’t play by the rules.

“My dad told me to stand by the apples because he said he discovered a new way to take pano pics vertically. I agreed to it and this was the result,” Simran told Mashable via Twitter.

“My dad trying to take panoramics of me. I’m mad asf,” Simran tweeted alongside two photos of herself looking like an optical illusion.

“When he saw them he said ‘they look great’ and then I saw them and completely lost it. I mean, are you kidding me? I look like an Alien,” she said, noting that several people on Twitter have compared her to Kanye West and Lil Pump in their music video for “I Love It.”

To see how truly distorted the shots were, here’s what Simran looks like through a regular lens.

Nice try, dad, but in the future, leave the fancy photo tricks to the pros.

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Facebook is finally making progress against fake news

A recent study sheds a light on just how successful Facebook has been at curbing the spread of fake news.
A recent study sheds a light on just how successful Facebook has been at curbing the spread of fake news.
Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It looks like Facebook’s actions to stop the spread of fake news might actually be working.

A new study titled “Trends in the Diffusion of Misinformation on Social Media” from researchers at Stanford University and New York University have discovered that Facebook engagement — shares, likes, and comments from users interacting with articles on the platform — dramatically dropped 50 percent between the 2016 election and July 2018.

Researchers Hunt Allcott, Matthew Gentzkow, and Chuan Yu used data from over 570 sites classified as fake news from sources such as Poltifact, FactCheck, and Buzzfeed. Using data compiled by BuzzSumo, a marketing analytics firm that tracks “user interactions with internet content on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms,” the researchers discovered that the Facebook engagement of all the sites combined sat at 70 million as of this July. That’s a huge drop from its height in 2016 when the sites had totaled 200 million monthly engagements. 

The study also took into account that this might not just be relative to fake news content. Facebook is always making adjustments to it’s algorithm with effects that echo through the entire site. To make sure the falling Facebook engagement trend is unique to outlets peddling misinformation and not just a result of a platform-wide algorithm change, the study also looked at legitimate news, business, and culture websites. The results were encouraging. “We see no similar pattern for other news, business, or culture sites, where interactions have been relatively stable over time and have followed similar trends […] before and after the election.”

While Facebook is headed in the direction when it comes to combating misinformation, unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Twitter. The same study discovered that engagement on Twitter, such as retweets, has actually gone up when it comes to fake news — from 4 million engagements in 2016 to 6 million in 2018.

Mark Zuckerberg and company may be on the right track when it comes to fighting fake news, but as you can see from those engagement numbers, it’s not a success story quite yet. Even with the downward trend over the past 2 years, Facebook is still responsible for much more of the spread of fake news than a social platform like Twitter. The company may have a much larger user base than the little blue bird, which certainly accounts for the higher engagement numbers, but it also has many more resources. Along with technology to fight fake news, Facebook has been able to recruit human beings to moderate and monitor the site for misinformation whereas Twitter has made it clear via it’s CEO Jack Dorsey that they don’t want to partake in being “arbiters of truth.” Twitter also likely can’t afford to either.

There isn’t yet cause for celebration, as there’s still much more work to be done in the battle against fake news. The researchers of this study are also open with the fact that additional research is needed even on its findings. However, the study does enforce that these first steps taken by Facebook to curb fake news are indeed having some affect.

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