Rebecca Heilweil
Rebecca Heilweil
Rebecca Heilweil is reporter for Open Sourced, covering artificial intelligence, algorithms, and automation. She has written for Wired, Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among other outlets. She has spoken on Marketplace and iHeartRadio.Source
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Experts say Instagram for kids is a terrible idea

Experts say Instagram for kids is a terrible idea

Facebook is working on a new version of its popular app that’s targeted at children under 13.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Public health experts are urging Facebook to leave behind its plans for a new version of Instagram targeted at kids under 13. Such a plan, these groups said sent on Thursday, would “put young users at great risk,” arguing that Facebook isn’t ready to introduce and oversee an app that could have such a powerful influence over young children.The new app, which Facebook says will not include ads, is being designed for...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Apr 15
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You can finally ask Facebook’s oversight board to remove bad posts. Here’s how.

You can finally ask Facebook’s oversight board to remove bad posts. Here’s how.

It’s a long shot, and you can’t appeal to remove ads.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Starting Tuesday, Facebook and Instagram users have a new way to try to get offending Facebook posts removed. The oversight board, that the company has created to handle its trickiest content moderation decisions, has announced that users can now appeal decisions made by Facebook to leave posts up.It’s a big expansion in scope. For the first few months of the oversight board’s operations, users were only able to appeal to the board if they thought Facebook had...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Apr 13
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How the Covid-19 pandemic broke Nextdoor

How the Covid-19 pandemic broke Nextdoor

Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.David Leblond, a computer programmer based in Durham, North Carolina, decided in December to post on his local Nextdoor feed about participating in a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine trial. He was almost positive he didn’t get the placebo, and he thought talking about his experience on the hyper-local neighborhood social media platform could reassure people in his community about the new vaccine.“So you can read this knowing that you know at least one person who got it and is fine,” concluded his post on his local...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Feb 9
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A big hurdle for older Americans trying to get vaccinated: Using the internet

A big hurdle for older Americans trying to get vaccinated: Using the internet

Not all seniors have what’s needed to quickly snag a vaccine appointment: a computer and an internet connection.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.The United States is , but online appointment registration systems are slowing down or preventing access to vaccinations for some of the people : older Americans.Many across the US are offering online tools like websites and apps as the primary way to register for vaccine appointments. There are usually options for registering for vaccination via phone lines, but those can be overloaded with calls. That...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Jan 27
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Facebook is lifting its political ad ban — in Georgia only

Facebook is lifting its political ad ban — in Georgia only

An extended pause on political ads had complicated the Senate runoffs.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Less than a week after Joe Biden secured a victory in the , it looked like Facebook’s post-election plan was backfiring.In November, the company announced it would extend its ban on political ads for at least another month, and possibly longer, in an attempt to quell confusion over an election that President Donald Trump lost but still hasn’t conceded. Google similarly told advertisers it was unlikely to lift its political ad ban in November or...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Nov 12
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Parler, the "free speech" Twitter wannabe, explained

Parler, the "free speech" Twitter wannabe, explained

Conservatives are flocking to a site where they can post things that Facebook and Twitter don’t allow.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.In recent weeks, you may have been hearing more about a site called Parler, which conservatives are touting as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook. From to the , right-wing influencers are asking those frustrated with alleged Big Tech censorship to join them on Parler, a two-year-old app and website that promises free speech online. It’s social media — minus the curation algorithms and content...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Nov 24
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No, Joe Biden did not mysteriously gain 130,000 Michigan votes all at once

No, Joe Biden did not mysteriously gain 130,000 Michigan votes all at once

False claims, retweeted by the president, about the Michigan vote tabulation exploited a counting error that’s been resolved.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.While votes are still being , President Trump retweeted a claim that an update in Michigan’s vote count yielded 138,339 votes for Joe Biden and 0 for Trump. The tweet that the president amplified — which was later deleted — included side-by-side screenshots from the Decision Desk election map that appeared to show an unusual jump. In reality, though, there was no conspiracy: A data glitch...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Nov 4
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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

On Tuesday, the president yet again spread misleading information about voting on Twitter and Facebook.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the and said those searching wanted to change...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Oct 27
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The messy politics of Nextdoor

The messy politics of Nextdoor

Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Ray Wang is bothered about what’s happening on Nextdoor lately. As a moderator for his neighborhood in Cupertino, California, he has been watching the conversation closely.“It’s descending into a cesspool of bad conversation,” Wang told Recode. “A lot of folks are very emotionally charged. They’re feeling very vulnerable and anxious at the moment, and it’s only amplifying that anxiety.”Though it’s best known for wanting to help neighbors locate missing dogs, connect with babysitters, and find fellow hobbyists,...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Oct 26
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Amy Klobuchar takes aim at 12 vaccine misinformation influencers

Amy Klobuchar takes aim at 12 vaccine misinformation influencers

Senators have written to Facebook and Twitter to ask about vaccine misinformation superspreaders.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.As the Covid-19 vaccine rollout continues across the US, some lawmakers are concerned that ongoing misinformation and disinformation campaigns are exacerbating . Now, two senators are turning their attention to the vaccine misinformation superspreaders that push the bulk of conspiracy theories and lies on social media — and asking the social media giants to take more aggressive action.“For too long, social media...

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Rebecca Heilweil
Apr 19
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