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Author: Julia Carrie Wong

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Twitter announces global change to algorithm in effort to tackle harassment



The system will use behavioral signals – how users react to a tweet – to assess if an account is adding to or detracting from conversations

Twitter is announcing a global change to its ranking algorithm this week, its first step toward improving the “health” of online conversations since it launched a renewed effort to address rampant trolling, harassment and abuse in March.

“It’s shaping up to be one of the highest-impact things that we’ve done,” the chief executive, Jack Dorsey ,said of the update, which will change how tweets appear in search results or conversations. “The spirit of the thing is that we want to take the burden off the person receiving abuse or mob-like behavior.”

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Zuckerberg testimony: Facebook CEO grilled by Congress over data misuse – as it happened



Mark Zuckerberg gives testimony to Senate committees in light of revelations that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to influence US voters

12.28am BST

Thanks for following along with our live coverage of Zuckerberg’s trip to Congress. If today’s five hours of Zuck weren’t enough for you, tune in tomorrow morning for Round Two: The House of Representatives.

In the meantime, you can read my colleague David Smith’s full report on the day here.

12.24am BST

Thune is closing things up by again bringing up concerns about conservative bias, and asks Facebook to err on the side of allowing speech.

Grassley jumps in to say that he spoke with another CEO of another platform yesterday who admitted to him that he was a liberal. Grassley is kind of rambling about media bias and partisanship.

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Apple’s Tim Cook rebukes Zuckerberg over Facebook’s business model



  • CEO criticizes monetization of customers’ personal information
  • Cook says the time for self-regulation is past

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, issued a harsh rebuke of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s business model on Wednesday, saying that detailed profiles of individuals compiled by internet platforms should not exist.

Related: Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | Dylan Curran

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Birth control app reported to Swedish officials after 37 unwanted pregnancies



Users of Natural Cycles, first app certified as contraceptive method in Europe, identified among people seeking abortions at hospital

A much-hyped birth control app has been reported to Swedish authorities after a hospital found 37 cases of unwanted pregnancies among women relying on the app for contraception.

Natural Cycles, a smartphone application that marries high-tech algorithms with the old-fashioned rhythm method, last year became the first app to be certified as a contraceptive method in Europe. The app requires women to input their temperature every morning, then calculates the users’ menstrual cycle and informs them when they can have sex without protection.

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New Year’s resolutions for big tech: how Silicon Valley can be better in 2018



Tech is one of the richest and most powerful industries in America – and it gets an awful lot wrong. So here’s some seasonal advice for Silicon Valley’s biggest beasts

New Year’s resolutions are crap. The entire exercise is rife with failure and self-loathing, and you, dearest, have no need to make any. You are already reading the Guardian. You are perfect exactly the way you are.

Infinitely more fun than reflecting on one’s own shortcomings is diagnosing the problems of other, richer, more powerful entities. It is in that spirit that we have created a list of New Year’s resolutions for the tech industry. Our resolution will be to continue doing our best to hold them to account, which, like the most successful resolutions, is what we were already planning to do anyway.

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Ten genuinely great things the internet gave us in 2017, featuring baby hippos



In a year filled with depressing news alerts and Trump tweetstorms, moments of sheer joy online were hard to come by – but there were a few

Unless you’re a corporation hoarding billions of dollars in offshore tax shelters, 2017 has not been a good year.

From Trump’s Twitter tantrums to the constant stream of alerts about natural disasters, the news has offered little in the way of happy distraction.

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Mark Zuckerberg taking parental leave for the month of December



‘I’m going to take advantage of Facebook’s option to take leave in parts,’ said the Facebook CEO, whose second daughter was born in August of this year

Mark Zuckerberg is taking parental leave for the month of December, the Facebook CEO announced Saturday.

Zuckerberg previously took a month-long leave immediately after the August 2017 birth of his second daughter, August.

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Ex-Twitter worker who ‘admires’ Trump says he was behind account deactivation



Bahtiyar Duysak of Germany tells CNN he made ‘a mistake’ in temporarily deactivating the president’s account, but the details remain murky

A German man who says he “admires” Donald Trump has claimed responsibility for the deactivation of the president’s Twitter account for 11 minutes on 2 November, though questions remain about how and why he did it.

Twitter said at the time that the temporary outage was caused by “a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day”. Many Trump opponents hailed the unknown employee as a hero.

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Richard Spencer and others lose Twitter verified status under new guidelines



Company announces new rules for blue-checkmarked verified accounts following criticism over status of Charlottesville rally organizer Jason Kessler

Twitter announced new guidelines for verified accounts on Wednesday, one week after the company was harshly criticized for granting the coveted blue checkmark to Jason Kessler, the organizer of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in August.

“We are conducting an initial review of verified accounts and will remove verification from accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines,” the company wrote on Twitter.

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Waymo puts focus on safety as it shows off ‘capable, reliable’ self-driving cars



The Google spinoff’s vehicles may not have the cool quotient of Tesla’s Model S, but they manage to navigate a minefield of potential accidents

Of all my recurring anxiety dreams, my least favorite is the one where I’m in a car. It always begins with me driving, but eventually I realize that for some reason I’m sitting in the back seat. My arms can’t reach the steering wheel, my legs can’t reach the pedals, and I’m stuck in a spiral of terror, careening around turns and accelerating toward obstacles until, gasping, I wake up.

This is a bit like the passenger experience in Waymo’s self-driving cars. You climb into the back seat of a minivan, and watch in awe – or horror – as the wheel turns itself above an entirely empty driving seat.

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