Bytes: What’s new in tech
Attack of the Twitter clone
Frustrated Twitter users are migrating to a new social network called Mastodon, said Casey Newton in TheVerge.com. The service, which launched six months ago, has added tens of thousands of users since Twitter changed the way it handles replies—the latest in a series of controversial design tweaks. Mastodon “is almost identical to the platform it’s based on, but with key differences: Posts can run 500 characters rather than 140, and users can make individual posts private.” So far, more than 41,000 users have authored nearly a million posts on the site, which is the creation of a 24-year-old German software developer. The ad-free network is supported by crowdfunding, and users can build their own Mastodon app or host their own version of the service.
Stopping ‘revenge porn’
Facebook is stepping up its fight against “revenge porn,” said Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post. The social network has created new privacy tools that stop users “from reposting intimate images shared without the subject’s consent.” The company says it will now keep a database of images reported as revenge porn and use photo-matching software to keep them from being posted on the site again. Facebook already forbids revenge porn, but victims “often find it very hard to get images of themselves removed from the internet, because it’s so easy to share photos that have been removed in other places.” The crackdown comes amid increased scrutiny of Facebook’s policies after male Marine Corps members were caught using a private group on the site to share nude pictures of female Marines.
Smart cameras for cops
America’s largest maker of police body cameras is going all in on artificial intelligence, said Dave Gershgorn in Qz.com. Axon, formerly known as Taser International, will let police departments use its cameras and software free of charge for one year, hoping to sell them on its vision of AI-assisted policing. The company’s software catalogs and analyzes bodycam footage, helping departments sort through hours of video more easily. Right now, the platform is fairly basic. But “down the line, Axon envisions an automated system of police reports.” Artificial intelligence could be used to transcribe interviews, and to generate descriptions and timelines, cutting down on paperwork. The software could also be used to spot abusive police behavior, by flagging footage in which officers use racial epithets, for example. ■