Twitter Introduces Troll Blocker Feature

Twitter has introduced a new feature that will hopefully combat trolls and make the site a more “friendly” environment for its users.

Twitter user safety engineer Xiaoyun Zhang believes that “this new, advanced feature makes blocking multiple accounts easy, fast and community driven.”


The feature will allow harassed users to block multiple accounts with ease, and it will also allow that user to share a list of trolls with others. A feature of this magnitude would allow good users to weed out the troublemakers and possibly make Twitter enjoyable for everyone.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has admitted that Twitter is not very good when it comes to tackling online trolls.

In a leaked memo to staff, Costolo said that “we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret that the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

This is just the first step of many. In recent months, the company has banned the use of “Revenge Porn” aimed at embarrassing past lovers.

On many social networking sites, trolls have become so rampant that many people avoid using the site altogether. Twitter has to realize that its site is no place for the unnecessary hate.

Facebook Drops Another Microsoft Service, Proving It May Have Outgrown the Relationship

As Facebook continues to roll out new features and make slight adjustments to its social media behemoth, it’s clearly placing a higher priority on in-house services. While this is allowing Facebook to gain more independence, it’s also forcing it to sever ties with some of the tech giants that helped it become the unstoppable force it seems to be today.

Facebook users probably didn’t notice any major changes when they logged on to chat with their friends or scroll through cat photos, but the site had just ended its relationship with Microsoft’s Skype service.

It’s been roughly four years since Microsoft and Facebook announced that they would be partnering on bringing video calling to Facebook Messenger.

Throughout the time there never seemed to be any real signs that the relationship wasn’t going well and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg insisted that he and then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer were “really aligned on this.”

Things have changed since then, and it all centers around a key question in the world of business — why pay someone else to do what you can do yourself?

Facebook unveiled video calling in Facebook Messenger via its iPhone and Android apps, a sign that Facebook will stick with in-house development for its new technology rather than relying on third parties like Microsoft.

That was all but confirmed after Facebook discreetly stopped using Skype technology for their video call service on desktops, according to Business Insider.

“This change was made because Skype-powered video calls required users to install a browser plug-in, while the technology Facebook whipped up works without one — important for call performance, video quality and letting Facebook more quickly make changes and upgrades to video chat,” Business Insider reported.

While Microsoft and Facebook have typically always had a positive relationship, this actually isn’t the first time Facebook severed ties with Microsoft.

Back in December, Facebook decided to stop relying on Microsoft’s Bing for Web search results on the platform.

It essentially seems like a tale of the baby bird outgrowing the need to remain in the mother’s nest. Microsoft invested $240 million into Facebook back in 2007 before it was the giant it is today.

Now Facebook has no need to rely on Microsoft for funding or services.

While the change doesn’t mean much for Facebook users, it was far from unnoticed for Skype users.

A plethora of features on Skype that incorporated integration with Facebook will no longer be available such as being able to message Facebook friends within the Skype app.

New App Helps Social Media Users Keep Their Online Profiles ‘Clear’ of Offensive Posts

Ethan Czahor may have lost his dream job due to the resurfacing of some offensive tweets, but now the well-known techie has launched an app to help other people clean up their social media before it lands them in a compromising position.

Czahor decided to resign from his position as Jeb Bush’s chief technology officer back in February when a series of tweets referring to women as “sluts” and accusing gay men of undressing him “with their eyes” in the gym resurfaced on the Web.

Bush’s team stood behind Czahor, but he ultimately still decided to step down and embark on a journey to protect social media users from the nightmares of their digital past with a new app called Clear.

The app uses an algorithm to scan through users’ social media posts and dig up all the posts that could be offensive and get them in trouble with employers and other professionals.

The app will present users with a complete list of tweets that contain racial slurs or other types of offensive language and give them the option to erase the post forever — if screenshots aren’t already floating around on the web.

Czahor said after his own tweets ended in a career tragedy, he received messages from a lot of people who were afraid the same thing would happen to them.

“Right after what I went through I received a lot of messages from people worried what happened to me would happen to them,” he told BuzzFeed.

Now a “Clear score” can help people figure out if they are truly at risk or not.

It sounds like a handy app, but it’s also come with a lot of backlash considering the fact that it is essentially helping people hide what could be sexist, racist or otherwise incredibly offensive social media posts.

“How about you just don’t use offensive language,” one Twitter user wrote as a response to the app.

That’s how many people felt about the new app, but in all fairness there are cases where the app could truly help people who don’t deserve to be fired or miss out on job opportunities.

In today’s spectrum of political correctness and self-appointed offensive police filling social media, there actually are instances where social media messages are taken out of context and cost people their jobs.

In some cases, being “offensive” has been redefined as expressing a different opinion that doesn’t fit the status quo, which sometimes seems to be in direct opposition of America’s so-called loyalty to the freedom of speech.

While it’s easy to see that Czahor’s own tweets stepped well beyond that boundary, the Clear app could still be a handy tool for those who maybe haven’t learned the correct etiquette for social media postings.

More often than not, those bits intended to be comedic relief can land people in serious trouble down the road or the daring decision to question a widespread belief could leave people being labeled as intolerant or ignorant. Clear helps flag down such messages so users can make the final call on whether or not they would feel comfortable defending their social media posts in the public eye.

Either way, people will have to wait quite some time to test the app out as it has already garnered a waiting list well beyond 10,000 people.

No word out yet on how long it will take for those on the waiting list to finally get their Clear report.

As Social Media Grows in Popularity, So Do Cyberattacks That Could Potentially End in Tragedy

social media abuse

If you were to ask most parents about their feelings toward social media, they would likely express some disdain toward the way the youth interact online. They may express their concerns about teens being too engulfed in such sites or discuss the unhealthy relationships that could form in cyberspace.

What some parents fail to realize, however, is just how mentally and emotionally devastating social media can be for teens as they navigate through middle school and high school.

Social media abuse is far from something that happens in occasional isolated incidents, and it is by no means something users can protect themselves from by toggling privacy settings or blocking certain users.

Whether it’s a classic example of one person bullying another or more extreme cases of “expose pages” that dedicate an entire social media profile to exposing a teen’s alleged promiscuous behaviors or slamming his or her physical appearance, social media abuse is extremely prevalent even after years of warnings and initiatives aimed at improving the digital landscape for young people.

The abuse of social media is even using “games” as a disguise. Users will start group messages rating different users’ appearances and share screenshots of the often-insulting conversations with their social media followers.

With a plethora of social media sites to pick from, online attacks are now rampant, especially among middle school and high school-aged children, and have even been the cause of many teenage suicides.

According to a survey led by Poco Kernsmith, an associate professor of social work at Wayne State University, roughly 54 percent of students at low-risk schools, which tend to be in wealthy areas with low crime rates, admitted to misusing social media.

Roughly 45 percent of students in high-risk schools admitted to the same thing.

Kernsmith believes the difference is simply caused by the different levels of access students have to new technology that connects them to social media but ultimately proves that cyberbullying and social media abuse plagues teens of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

One 14-year-old from Allen Park, Michigan, Taylor Goodwin, said she witnesses the negative effects of social media abuse all the time.

She told researchers that talking trash online “causes all kinds of drama” and incidents of “throwing shade” have frequently sparked bigger brawls in person.

“It spreads around the school like wildfire,” she said of the subliminal social media attacks that refer to a specific person but doesn’t necessarily include that person’s name.

“It gets pretty nasty out there,” Chad Gross, an 18-year-old who graduated from Annapolis High School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, told USA Today. “Everyone feels invincible behind a computer screen.”

That feeling of invincibility is quickly eradicated once some students come face to face with their online attackers.

Students admit to seeing how online attacks sparked fights at school or influenced suicide attempts by classmates.

“These kids don’t think about the very real impact that these little messages and s**t have,” said one Georgia mother who chose not to be identified.

Her daughter, a 14-year-old girl who attends a middle school in Gwinnett County, was subjected to cyberattacks after an ex-boyfriend spread rumors about her throughout the school.

“She refused to go to school. … I asked her why and she showed me her [Twitter] account,” the Georgia mother said. “I mean there were pictures, videos, messages everything. Kids were making like edited images of her and they thought it was funny. This little knucklehead lied about my daughter, and it took so long for her to get past it.”

She went on to express concerns about the fact that social media has helped to divert students’ attention away from learning and forced them to focus on what kind of personas they have to take on in order to avoid falling victim to cyberattacks.

As the popularity of social media continues to grow and certain platforms inadvertently make it easier to facilitate online bullying and sexting, parents are scrambling to find a solution.

For some parents, they host frequent conversations with their teen about the proper way to behave online and trust their child to follow the rules presented to them during such discussions.

Others may have the same talks but also insist that their children hand over their social media passwords and usernames.

“I only go in there if I suspect something is wrong,” Melissa Goodwin, Taylor’s mother, told USA Today. “I try to give her her privacy… We have conversations about what you can and can’t do.”

Kernsmith urges parents to remind their kids that “nothing is private online, remember nothing online can be taken back, be aware of pressure and coercion, consider the reaction and feelings of others and remember nothing is truly anonymous.”

She hopes that with those tips in mind fewer teens will engaged in the harmful behaviors that lead to bullying, sexting and other negative trends that could push some young social media users into the depths of depression.

9 Major Changes You Should Know About That Transformed Social Media This Year

twitterlogoandbirdTwitter and Tumblr’s social impact in topics ranging from Ferguson, Missouri, to immigration reform has revolutionized and revitalized social activism in the United States.



New App: Twitter Small Business Planner.



Apple iCloud was shown not to be a very safe way to store photos and other personal items. Celebrity nude photos that were leaked earlier this year may lead to changes that can help to improve the security of the product.

Romona Foster, Social Media Marketing Expert, Talks to Blerds About Finding Her Niche

Romona Foster, a Pennsylvania native, never imagined that her skills as an events planner would lead her to have a strong role in the tech field as a social media consultant. She is revered for her training style and her expertise in social media management and marketing. Foster shares her unexpected journey to becoming a social media trainer and consultant.

Q: What are three words you would use to describe your professional journey?

The first word that I would use to describe this journey is unimaginable. I would have not imagined in a million years that I would be doing what it is that I’m doing today. And I love what I do.

The second word would be difficult. When I first started doing social media management and marketing, I was out of work. Getting to this place where I am now was hard, and many people admire where I am and often think it just happened. It took a lot of hard work.

The last and final word would be amazing. When I look back at the times when I was down and out, I think about how far I have come, and the journey has been amazing. To know that people are looking for me, asking me to be places to help them, are excited about what I have to offer after all this time is still amazing to me. I thank God for the opportunity. Without Him, I wouldn’t be here.

Q: Social media management is definitely a fairly new profession in the technology industry. How far back would you date it?

For me personally, I would say 2003. This is from what I have seen. When I teach my classes, it’s important for me to share facts, and one that I share is that LinkedIn started in 2003. At that time, I didn’t know it even existed. It wasn’t until 2006 that I created a profile. Someone sent me a request. I opened an account and then didn’t look back until about 2010. According to Tom Standage (digital editor of the Economist), social media is actually 2,000 years old. He talks about his philosophy on why it is so old in an article on Tech Crunch. It’s very interesting. You should check it out.

Q: ‘Difficult’ was one of the words you used to describe your journey. What was difficult about it?

Well in 2007, I left my real job, as they would say. I was going to George Washington University for event planning and management. The program required that students do a full-time internship and 160 practicum hours. I completed everything in 2008. Unfortunately, when I was done, I couldn’t find a job; 2008 — that was when the economic crash happened, and so jobs were scarce.

Naturally, I was concerned about what I was going to do about making money. During my internship and practicum, I was building websites, doing email marketing and administrative work. So while I was unemployed, I began to assist people with those things.

Many of the [projects] I received were by request. I would go online and look things up, and then I would teach myself how to do it. I would do a lot of research, a lot of reading, and sometimes I would sign up for free trials for different programs and platforms just to gain skills to effectively help my clients.

About a year after doing this, my pastor asked me to build a Facebook page for the church. I said OK, but, in my mind, I was skeptical about doing it. Most of what I knew about Facebook was that people tend to post their personal business on the site, and that turned me off.  After I did the page, other people started coming to me and asking me about how to use Facebook and LinkedIn. I had no picture on my LinkedIn page, but I updated it and started showing people how to do things but for free.

A couple of years later, I had an idea. I wondered if I did teach a class on social media management and marketing would people come. I decided to try, and so I secured a small venue and advertised the class via email and through an online calendar.

Five people showed up. When the class ended and I did the math of what I made in two hours from five people, I was amazed. The cool thing was that the people who came were people who didn’t know me at all but were interested in what I could teach them. One of the five participants expressed the class was too short and she would have liked more. So I did another class for three hours, and the feedback from that was that that class was too short. So I started a boot camp course that lasted six hours. I could not believe that I could hold people’s interest for six hours. That’s how I got started with the training component of my work. I have to give my pastor credit because if he hadn’t asked me to create that Facebook page, I might not have ever done it.

Q: You mention that you did a lot of research and reading to learn more about social media marketing. Would you say that the time you put into researching exceeded the profits you made when you started?

Yes. In the beginning, I was doing a lot more research than I was making money. Looking back now, I can say that all that reading, researching and learning was all worth it. And now, I don’t have to do that much research, but I do keep informed by reading articles and stay up to date on changing trends and new platforms.

Q: Would you consider yourself an entrepreneur in the technology field?

Yes, I would consider myself an entrepreneur of sorts — or more specifically an independent consultant.

Q: What does a typical workday look like for you?

The first thing I do when I get up at around 5 in the morning is to start posting on various platforms for my clients. My workday consists of meeting with clients, conducting webinars and trainings.

Q: You will be facilitating a workshop at the Code(Her) conference Sept. 13 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. What are some things that attendees can look forward to?

They can look forward to learning new tips and tricks that will help them manage their social media platforms in 60 minutes or less. Many of the people I train are often social media managers, so I hope that if that is the audience for the conference that they walk away learning something new. What I hope happens is that they feel more empowered about the work they are doing and realize that social media management and marketing does not take forever.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring social media managers?

My advice is to learn as much as you can in school about social media management and marketing. However, understand that even after you gain formal training in your school, don’t assume the learning stops there. Many people consider me an expert in this field, but I don’t. Simply because I know there is always some knowledge to be gained, hence why I am always reading about new changes each and every day. I would also encourage them to get into the habit of creating a content calendar.

Q: What is a content calendar?

A content calendar is similar to an editorial calendar for a magazine. Where the editors have each issue planned out a year in advance. For me, I usually create a content calendar for my clients 30 days out. That doesn’t always work depending on how often information is coming in. So some clients need updating every day because of how quickly the information comes in.

Q: What are your overall thoughts about women, specifically women of color, in the STEM fields?

I feel like I can only talk about the technology piece, but as far as technology is concerned, know that there are a lot of women of color in the tech industry, but I have to say that I don’t run into them. And the only reason I know this is because I see them on Twitter and Facebook. I don’t see a lot of women in my region doing what I do. Many of my trainees tell me that they don’t see anyone that looks like me doing what I do.

I hope that more women of color will surface in this field. This is a great profession. It is constantly evolving.


More Than Fun & Games: The True Power of #BlackTwitter

With well over 600 million active users, it was always apparent that Twitter would become a powerful social vehicle, but in recent years it has been a niche community inside the social media giant that has unveiled itself as being unbelievably and undeniably powerful.

Every now and then you may see the hashtag — #BlackTwitter — but most of the time you will find yourself unknowingly stumbling upon Black Twitter’s hilarious antics or growing social movements.

Black Twitter is the name that was given to the community within Twitter that has always held Black popular culture, news and controversies at the center of its timeline.

While it initially became famous for outrageous jokes and sparking worldwide trending topics in a matter of minutes, it has recently become the latest and perhaps one of the most effective tools for social justice and racial equality.

Black Twitter’s list of accomplishments includes the cancellation of a book deal for a juror in the George Zimmerman case; Reebok’s rejection of rapper Rick Ross’ endorsement deal after his infamous date rape lyrics; and more recently,  promoter Damon Feldman’s withdrawal of a George Zimmerman celebrity boxing match.

The community has managed to use clever hashtags to gain support from other Twitter users across the globe to achieve commendable goals, all through the use of 140 characters and countless numbers of retweets.

“It’s kind of like the Black table in the lunchroom, sort of, where people of like interests and experiences and ways of talking and communication, lump together and talk among themselves,” said Tracy Clayton, a blogger and editor at BuzzFeed.

In fact, if anyone knows the power of Black Twitter, it’s BuzzFeed.

During Zimmerman’s trial, Black Twitter began sending out its own BuzzFeed-type lists with the hashtag #BlackBuzzFeed, which put BuzzFeed’s social media to shame.

“Black Twitter made this the No. 2 hashtag worldwide,” BuzzFeed later tweeted about the #BlackBuzzFeed hashtag. “Our wig has thoroughly been snatched. *Bows down.*”

Even the NAACP realized the momentum and power behind Black Twitter and made the community a part of its strategies.

The NAACP used hashtags like #TooMuchDoubt to gain support for halting the execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, and the #OscarGrant hashtag trended nation wide, leading to support for the film “Fruitvale Station.” The film documented the life of the young Black man who was unjustly killed by a police officer.

“We realized more than anyone that we had to go in that direction and we’ve done it,” NAACP interim President Lorraine Miller said of the organization’s social media use.

Perhaps the real magic behind Black Twitter is the combination of fighting for justice and captivating comedy.

Black Twitter gains attention through humor, while also bringing attention to major issues.

For example, when celebrity chef Paula Deen admitted to using racial slurs in the past, Black Twitter created the hashtag #PaulasBestDishes, which began trending nationwide.

The hashtag earned tons of laughs with imaginary recipes like “Massa-Roni and Cheese,” “We Shall Over-Crumb Cake,” “Three-Fifths Compromise Cheesecake,” “Coon on the Cob” and “Swing Low, Sweet Cherry Pie.”

At the same time it garnered attention to Deen’s remarks, created a national discussion via Twitter about the use of the N-word and led to the cancellation of several of Deen’s endorsement deals.

In short, Black Twitter has stepped to the forefront as the lead watchdog when it comes to racial injustice and other controversial issues.