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Monday, July 29, 2013

Twitter Will Make It Easier to Report Abusive Posts

Twitter announced on Monday that it would add a button to report abusive tweets to all major versions of its software, making it easier for users to report offensive messages that have been posted on the site.

The company’s announcement follows an online petition campaign urging Twitter to make such changes. The petition began after a British social activist, Caroline Criado-Perez, complained publicly last week that she had been the target of a stream of nasty posts, including rape threats, for her work trying to get more women featured on British banknotes. (The police have arrested one suspected harasser, according to the BBC.)

In a blog post titled “We hear you,” Del Harvey, Twitter’s senior director for trust and safety, said it would be impossible for the company to monitor all of the 400 million tweets posted to the service every day. “That said, we are not blind to the reality that there will always be people using Twitter in ways that are abusive and may harm others,” Ms. Harvey wrote.

She noted that Twitter already had a system for reporting complaints of abuse or other violations of its terms of service. But that requires filling out a laborious form.

Three weeks ago, the microblogging service added a “Report tweet” button to the iPhone, iPad and mobile browser versions of its site to make it easier to report abusive or spam tweets or block users. Now, she said, the company will extend that function to the desktop Web and Android versions of Twitter.

A Twitter spokesman, Jim Prosser, declined to discuss Ms. Criado-Perez’s personal situation.But he said all complaints of abuse were reviewed by a person on Twitter’s trust and safety team.

“We’ll always provide some kind of resolution,” he said. If abuse is found, the service will contact the person who posted the item and ask for it to be removed, or in more extreme cases, temporarily suspend the account or shut it down.

Twitter also offers other suggestions to its users for dealing with abusive tweets, like blocking individual users or unfollowing offensive accounts. In cases of threats, the company recommends that users go to the police, which Ms. Criado-Perez did.

Twitter, which has worked to establish a reputation as a forum for anonymous free speech, has been reluctant to silence users who post items that are unpopular. “We hope the public understands the balances we’re trying to strike as we continue to work to make our systems and processes better,” Ms. Harvey wrote.

Video of the Pope’s ‘Gay Lobby’ Remarks

Video of a news conference given by Pope Francis on Monday, as he traveled back to the Vatican from Brazil.

During a news conference on his flight back to Rome from Brazil on Monday, Pope Francis was asked about his much-reported acknowledgement last month that there is “a gay lobby” inside the Vatican hierarchy.

“Quite a lot has been written about the gay lobby. I have yet to find someone who introduces himself at the Vatican with an identity card marked ‘gay,’” the pope joked. “But we must distinguish the fact that a person is gay from the fact of lobbying, because no lobbies are good.”

“If a person is gay,” he added, “and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

As my colleague Rachel Donadio explains, the pope’s remarks seemed startling to some observers since his predecessor, Benedict XVI, wrote in 2010 that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not become priests.

Twenty four years earlier, in his position as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the previous pope, who retired in February, worked to correct what he called “an overly benign interpretation” of “the homosexual condition itself,” which he insisted should not be considered “neutral, or even good.” The man known then as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1986:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.

Protesters in Rio Keep Asking, ‘Who Threw the Molotov?’ and ‘Where Is Amarildo?’

A police edit of video recorded during a protest in Rio de Janeiro on July 22 compared the T-shirts of a masked man who threw a Molotov cocktail and a man identified as an undercover officer.Rio de Janeiro Military Police, via YouTube A police edit of video recorded during a protest in Rio de Janeiro on July 22 compared the T-shirts of a masked man who threw a Molotov cocktail and a man identified as an undercover officer.

Seeking to refute allegations that an undercover police officer had thrown a Molotov cocktail at a demonstration last week in Rio de Janeiro, sparking violent clashes, the city’s military police force released slow-motion video of the masked bomb-thrower, the newspaper O Globo reported Friday.

The police video, which included footage previously posted on YouTube and then mysteriously deleted from a government channel, showed the T-shirt of the man who hurled the explosive in more detail and close images of the tattooed wrist of an accomplice, who was seen lighting the fuse.

A police edit of video recorded during a demonstration last week in Rio de Janeiro.

By comparing their own footage of the bomb-thrower to video of undercover officers recorded by witnesses, the police hoped to undercut a theory put forward by video bloggers sympathetic to the protesters, who have suggested that police infiltrators threw the bomb just to give the authorities a pretext for shutting down the protest last Monday near the governor’s palace in Rio.

The authorities were offered a helping hand by Brazilian bloggers who discovered that the photographer Ana Carolina Fernandes had posted an image on Facebook that offered a clear view of the pattern on one undercover officer’s shirt.

A screenshot from the Facebook page of the Brazilian photographer Ana Carolina Fernandes shows man who was later identified as an undercover police officer wearing a T-shirt and jeans during a protest in Rio last week. A screenshot from the Facebook page of the Brazilian photographer Ana Carolina Fernandes shows man who was later identified as an undercover police officer wearing a T-shirt and jeans during a protest in Rio last week.

As a reader of The Lede in Brazil pointed out in a comment, one of the officers who infiltrated the demonstration by posing as a protester was wearing a familiar biker shirt, with the words “Last Stop Gasoline” printed on a red oval with a white star, above an image of a motorcycle and a woman in a bikini.

While the new version of the police video, and the Ms. Fernandes’s photograph, did appear to show that the bomb-thrower’s T-shirt was different from the one worn by the undercover officer, the same footage also seemed to prove that a protester who was arrested and charged with throwing the Molotov that night was not guilty.

As The Lede reported last week, a police spokeswoman in Rio said that a protester named Bruno Ferreira had been arrested and “accused of having thrown the Molotov cocktail that left two officers with burns on their bodies.” The police also claimed that Mr. Ferreira was in possession of more explosives when he was detained.

However, footage of Mr. Ferreira’s arrest, which was recorded from multiple angles by journalists and protesters, showed that he was not wearing a black T-shirt with a white design on it, but a green jacket with a zipper, and was not carrying anything at the time.

A photograph of a protest in Rio de Janeiro on July 22 taken before clashes broke out, showed Bruno Ferreira, a protester who was arrested later, standing on a barricade with his arm raised.Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse â€" Getty Images A photograph of a protest in Rio de Janeiro on July 22 taken before clashes broke out, showed Bruno Ferreira, a protester who was arrested later, standing on a barricade with his arm raised.

After his arrest, two video bloggers released annotated edits of the footage of Mr. Ferreira at the protest that seem to offer convincing proof that he was standing right at the front of the crowd when the Molotov was thrown over the barricades between protesters and the police on Rua Pinheiro Machado, away from the spot further back where the bomb-thrower was located.

An annotated video edit of footage from a protest in Rio last week showing that a man who was arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail was in a different location when the bomb was hurled at police officers.

A video blogger’s edit of footage showing the arrest of Bruno Ferreira, a Brazilian protester, last week in Rio.

While the first video blogger mistakenly asserted that the pattern on the bomb-thrower’s shirt was identical to the one worn by the undercover officer, the footage highlighted in the two edits does seem to suggest Mr. Ferreira was falsely arrested. (One of the bloggers also suggests that a black backpack worn by one of the undercover officers might have contained Molotov cocktails displayed for television cameras by the police later, but that remains conjecture.)

Since video evidence seems to clear both the undercover officer in the red-patterned shirt and Mr. Ferreira, that leaves the question of who did throw the Molotov unresolved. The police maintain that it was without doubt a protester, but protesters claim that there were other undercover officers in the crowd, one of whom might have thrown the bomb.

While conclusive proof has yet to emerge, there is evidence in another long video of the protest that shows most of the events unfold to suggest that there might have been at least one more undercover officer on the scene. At the 5-minute mark in this footage, just after the undercover officer in the black and red shirt tries and fails to tackle Mr. Ferreira, who is then shot with a stun gun and arrested, a bare-chested man in jeans can be seen speaking to him as if to a colleague.

Video recorded by a witness to the protest last week in Rio, showing the impact of an explosive and the arrest of a protester.

In the footage that surfaced last week, both of the other men identified as undercover officers were eventually seen stripping off their shirts and walking bare-chested as they retreated back across police lines.

Video recorded that night by Tamara Menezes, a journalist with the Brazilian magazine Istoé, did show riot police officers inspecting a backpack with Molotov cocktails they said they found near a newsstand.

Video shot by the Brazilian journalist Tamara Menezes last Monday in Rio showed riot police officers inspecting a backpack filled with Molotov cocktails.

But a map of the location where Ms. Menezes recorded her video shows that the backpack was discovered on a street about 600 yards away from the protest on on Rua Pinheiro Machado where the bomb was thrown and Mr. Ferreira was arrested.

View Rio protest in a larger map

While protesters in Rio would like to know who threw the Molotov last week, they do have a more pressing question for police that they have been asking at demonstration after demonstration: “Where is Amarildo?”

In an image posted on Facebook, Amarildo de Souza's daughter Milena held a sign asking where her father was. Her mother, Elisabeth, stood behind her near their home in Rocinha, one of Rio's notorious favelas.Observatório do Trabalho no Brasil, via Facebook In an image posted on Facebook, Amarildo de Souza’s daughter Milena held a sign asking where her father was. Her mother, Elisabeth, stood behind her near their home in Rocinha, one of Rio’s notorious favelas.

As Vincent Bevins explained in The Los Angeles Times on Friday, Amarildo is Amarildo de Souza, a bricklayer and father of six from one of Rio’s notorious slums, “who disappeared after, residents say, military police took him away from the Rocinha favela on July 14.” Although the man’s family insist he is not a criminal, they told the Brazilian media the police took him away unexpectedly that Sunday night, and said later that he had been released. “Yet no one has heard from him since,” Mr. Bevins reported.

The case has become a focus of protests and online activism since the disappearance. In a YouTube video recorded at the protest in Rio last Monday before the violence, protester after protester tried to draw the attention of Pope Francis to the case, asking, “Where is Amarildo?”

A YouTube video made to raise awareness of the case of man who went missing after he was detained by the police in Rocinha, one of Rio de Janeiro’s notorious slums.

After a series of protests demanding answers, Rio’s governor, Sérgio Cabral, who oversees the military police, met with Amarildo’s family late last week. After the meeting, the governor posted a message on Twitter promising to “mobilize the entire government to discover where Amarildo is and to identify those responsible for his disappearance.”

As the journalist Kety Shapazian reported on Twitter, despite that promise, protesters were still demanding answers at a demonstration in Rio Sunday night.

Reporting was contributed by Taylor Barnes in Brazil.

Longtime Apple Leader Drops Out of Executive Team

Bob Mansfield, a longtime top executive at Apple, has switched to a role outside the executive team, the latest change in management at the company.

Over the weekend, several tech blogs noticed that Bob Mansfield, Apple’s former senior vice president of technologies, had disappeared from the company’s roster of executives published on its Web site. The company has confirmed that Mr. Mansfield is no longer part of the executive team, but will still work under Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive. The reasons for the change are unclear.

“Bob is no longer going to be on Apple’s executive team but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to Tim,” said Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman. He provided no further details on the reasons for the switch.

At Apple, Mr. Mansfield was a star hardware engineer who was instrumental in leading the company’s Mac computers through a transition to chips made by Intel, away from Apple’s own PowerPC processors. When new products were introduced on stage at Apple’s media conferences, Mr. Mansfield frequently appeared on video talking about some of the major hardware changes.

Mr. Mansfield had previously announced his retirement in June 2012. But months later, amid a shakeup of Apple’s executive team, Mr. Mansfield rejoined the company to lead a group that would combine Apple’s wireless and semiconductor teams.

Though it is unclear what he will do in his new role, Mr. Mansfield has had strong interest in wearables, an Apple employee previously said. That suggests he could be focusing on the company’s so-called smartwatch.

A Day in the Life of My iPhone

Each morning at 7 a.m., I am awakened by the sound of a spaceship next to my bed. I reach my arm from under the covers, flail around blindly looking for my glasses, then grab my iPhone to silence my alarm. But it’s not any normal alarm clock; it’s an app, Walk Up!, which requires you to get up and walk around until the alarm stops its annoying blares.

Like most people I know, I haven’t used a real alarm clock in years. Apps have replaced almost everything that once served a single purpose in my life. Cash, travel, sleep and work â€" all revolve around a folder of applications on my phone.

People often ask me which apps I use on a daily basis, so here are a few of my go-to ones:

First, I check how well I have slept using an app that syncs with the Jawbone Up wristband. The app gives me a readout of how many times I woke up, or didn’t, throughout the night. Then I sift through the news on Twitter and my e-mail using the free Gmail app.

Because I live in San Francisco with its bizarre microclimates, I check the weather using a hyperlocal app, SF Climates. This app shows the forecasts for 17 of the city’s neighborhoods, which can vary in temperatures by as much as 30 degrees at any given time.

For my calendaring, I use two different apps. To create an appointment I have Fantastical, which is more like a personal assistant than a calendar. If you type “Lunch meeting on Thursday with Bob,” the app figures out what that means and sets up an appointment for noon on the next upcoming Thursday.

Another app, Donna, takes my calendar appointments and figures out when I need to leave to get to the meeting on time. It does this by looking at my current location and the location of the upcoming appointment, then checks the traffic and alerts me when it’s time to go. If I need to, Donna will also let me order an Uber or taxi from the app.

When I arrive at my meeting I no longer pay the parking meter with coins. Instead, I use the PayByPhone app. PayByPhone lets you pay for your parking spot by inputting a series of numbers on the side of the parking meter, then paying with a credit card. It’s clunky and slow, but it has a killer feature: It will alert you through text message when your meter is up and allow you to refill it remotely.

If I need to take a note during a meeting, I use Captio, a simple text-based app that sends an e-mail of the memo to my inbox. I also sometimes use SimpleNote, which syncs all my notes with my iPad and laptop computer. If I edit or add a new note, it updates across all of these devices.

For lunch, I use Foursquare’s “Explore” feature to search for new and interesting places in the neighborhood. The app looks for the restaurants that have been rated highly by my friends and then recommends the best of what’s nearby.

I try to avoid paying for things with cash â€" that’s so 2012 â€" so I often go to coffee shops and restaurants in San Francisco that use Square Wallet. This app allows me to walk into an establishment, order and then tell the person at the register to charge my phone â€" I don’t even need to take it out of my pocket.

If I go for a run after work â€" which is a rarity these days â€" I load up MapMyRun or RunKeeper, which uses the GPS in my phone to track my distance and pace. Cardiio can be used to track your heart rate before and after exercising, too. You hold the phone’s front-facing camera up to your face while Cardiio monitors your blood flow and gives you an accurate reading in seconds.

While exercising I use Rdio to listen to music. I also sometimes stream Pandora Web radio.

I keep track of my fitness routines and other habits using Lift, which encourages people to build better habits in their daily life by allowing their friends to give them props. Several friends use Lift to track meditation, reading habits, or how many times a day they have done a good deed.

For dinner, I make reservations on my phone using OpenTable’s app. If I don’t want to drive because I might be drinking, I’ll use a ride-sharing app, including Uber, Sidecar or Lyft. If I need to see around in the dark when I get home I use iHandy Torch Free, which makes a phone into a flashlight.

Before I go to bed, I’ll read a few articles I’ve saved throughout the day on Instapaper, or a few pages of a book using the Kindle app. I sometimes go to Digg’s new app, which has a built-in RSS reader. If I am going to watch TV instead, I use Apple’s Remote app to control my Apple TV. Remote allows you to navigate the interface and type from your phone onto the television.

Then, when it’s time to call it a day, I turn on my Jawbone Up, set my alarm to the spaceship sound, slip off my glasses and go to sleep.

Today’s Scuttlebot: Sizing Up Google

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