Social media and blogging updates: Yahoo account hack, Twitter's going 280 characters, social media and democracy...

Yahoo! admits to all its accounts getting hacked in 2013

In one of the worst hacking attacks in history, the world first learned that 500 million Yahoo accounts had been compromised. Yahoo then admitted that hackers had in fact stolen data from a billion accounts. Now, it is reported that some 3 billion accounts had indeed been hacked - all the accounts that were is use at the time of the attack.

Facebook and other IT giants a silent threat to democracy?

An interesting debate is going on these days on the role of Facebook and other social media in political discourse and advertising. I give a glimpse of the major threads here; if you are interested in points and counter-points in detail, do check the links.

Jon Snow, Channel 4 newscaster, blames Facebook for not doing enough to check 'fake news' and rues that Google and Facebook together control majority of world news flow and their algorithms decide what people should know. Telegraph story on Jon Snow's views on Facebook

Bloomberg reports that there is growing perception in Europe about American social media giants that their targeted advertising can be a threat to democracy. EU antitrust official, Margrethe Vestager has been quoted in the report as having argued thus: If political ads only appear on the timelines of certain voters, then how can we all debate the issues that they raise? How can other parties and the media do their job of challenging those claims? How can we even know what mandate an election has given, if the promises that voters relied on were made in private? You can read the report here: Democracy never faced a threat like Facebook

In the US itself, starting with the role of social media in the 2016 Presidential elections, there has been a lot criticism, and some of it was reported by ITB earlier. Now, the 'misdirection of public opinion' and fake news on Facebook and its peers have come for heavy criticism. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has his own explanations on the matter. You can read a good New Yorker piece on it here: The failure of Facebook democracy on use and abuse of social media for political purposes.  

This one gets punished for milking sympathy and identity theft on social media

On social media, emails and chat groups, you often get messages asking you to help people in distress. You resist, as you feel that it could be a fake. But some persons - gullible, very sensitive or  burdened with guilt - open their purse-string. 

Kati Ringer, a woman in the UK, did just that and made money before she caught up with the law. She stole photos of babies from at least two Instagram accounts, called them her own and approached people saying she needed money for one's treatment and the other's funeral.

Worse, when confronted by real mothers, she threatened the worst for the babies.

She has been served a severe punishment of  a suspended jail term, legal costs, a community work order and a ban on her using any social media account.

Twitter's little birdie to become fat?

Twitter has already rolled out its 280-character format to a few chosen ones. The facility is going to be given to more people in the coming weeks before Twitter decides about its universal use. 

People wrote a script and found a workaround to make their own 280 character tweets but that has been fixed by Twitter.

Twitter says, its data shows that about 9% tweets in English face the 140-character limit - which can be frustrating while trying to express oneself on Twitter, so this experiment. Interestingly, Chinese, Korean and Japanese tweets hardly ever go to even 140-character length!