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June 21, 2018, 12:27 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: splinternews.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Marlee Baldridge   |   June 21, 2018

Yesterday, Gizmodo Media’s Splinter published a story that included the cell phone number of Trump advisor Stephen Miller. (“He’s a busy guy, but maybe you can get ahold of him long enough to have a productive discussion.”) People started tweeting out links to the story. And almost immediately, those accounts started getting suspended.

In fact, just about anyone who linked to the article, tweeted a screenshot of it, or published the phone number had their Twitter account locked down for 12 hours. (Twitter PR: “We are aware of this and are taking appropriate action on content that violates our Terms of Service.”)

Twitter indeed has a policy against revealing other people’s personal information, but this raised two questions. First, Twitter’s speed dealing with these tweets seemed at odds with the many other times it has seemed slow (or unwilling) to police hate speech and abuse on its platform. And second, it’s one thing to ban tweets that share private information — but banning tweets that merely link to an actual news source seems different. That would seem to position Twitter as policing news content that isn’t even published on its site. Meanwhile, tweets like this live on:

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Social Media Land, Facebook’s running into trouble with its new ad policy, which can inaccurately consider promotions of news stories “political ads” — while missing actual partisan ads.

When news stories are sorted into the “political ad” category, the page of the organization must go through a lengthy authorization and authentication process. This includes, according to ProPublica, “submitting Social Security numbers and identification that Facebook now requires for anyone running ‘electoral ads’ or ‘issue ads.'” The Financial Times and New York magazine have stopped paid promotion on Facebook in protest.

Publishers requested Facebook include a “whitelist” of established organizations, an idea Facebook’s head of news Campbell Brown flatly rejected. “An exemption or whitelist would directly negate the new levels of transparency we’re trying to achieve,” she said in a statement to Digiday.

Facebook and Twitter have been trying to fight fake news for a while now — but better understanding the difference between news and not-news would be a useful first step.

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