social media

There has been a lot of talk about potential Russian manipulation of the 2016 presidential election. Now there's concern about shadowy online electioneering filtering down to the state and local level. It comes in the aftermath of a high-stakes state Senate race in Western Washington.

The videos are an infamous genre unto themselves: "Mother Punches Her Daughter Dead in the Face for Having Sex in the House!" "Dad Whups Daughter for Dressing Like Beyonce." "Son Left In Bloody Mess as Father Forces Him to 'Fight.'" Their images stream from Facebook timelines and across YouTube channels, alternately horrifying and arresting: burly fathers, angry mothers, lips curled, curses flying, hands wrapped around electrical chords, tree branches, belts, slashing down on legs, arms, buttocks and flesh as children cry and plead and scream out in agony.

Being a prominent Twitter personality comes with its fair share of trolls. Trolls, as the Internet describes them, are users who bait others for their own amusement. So whenever Vann Newkirk, a writer at The Atlantic with a large following, gets a provocative clap back on his tweets about race, he usually ignores it.

For young adults, social media may not be so social after all.

Among people in that age group, heavy use of platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram was associated with feelings of social isolation, a study finds.

Here's the biggest understatement of the year: 2016 was the most disruptive moment the mainstream American news media have faced in a very long time.

That's not because so many media outlets misread the presidential election, although that is part of it. And it's not just because so-called "fake news" has become a genuine issue, prompting Facebook and other social media outlets to address fraudulent items formatted to look like legitimate news reports — a long-needed change.

Three days after winning the presidency in 2008, President-elect Barack Obama held a press conference, taking questions from reporters. Three days after winning the presidency in 2016, President-elect Donald Trump turned to Twitter.

When Katlyn Burbidge's son was 6 years old, he was performing some silly antic typical of a first-grader. But after she snapped a photo and started using her phone, he asked her a serious question: "Are you going to post that to Facebook?"

She laughed and answered, "Yes, I think I will." What he said next stopped her.

"Can you not?"

That's when it dawned on her: She had been posting photos of him online without asking his permission.

Despite having more than 300 million users, Twitter has struggled to make a profit and keep its investors happy. Yet, the service has arguably been good for public dialogues and news gathering.

So as Twitter considers a sale, maybe it's worth pondering the idea of Twitter getting out from under the pressures of Wall Street and turning itself into a nonprofit.

Twitter at crossroads

It sounds like a crazy idea. Convince a survivor of sexual assault to tell her story by filming herself with a fire-breathing dragon imposed on her face.

That's what Indian journalist Yusuf Omar did. He discovered that Snapchat, a mobile app that allows users to create photo or video "stories" that disappear after 24 hours, can be used to document a victim's first-person account while obscuring his or her identities.

Its built-in "filters" — illustrated or animated digital overlays — can transform a subject's face into anything from a flower child to a puppy.

When should police be able to deactivate your social media account?

The question is becoming more urgent, as people use real-time connections in the middle of critical incidents involving law enforcement.

In the case of Korryn Gaines in Baltimore County, Md., earlier this month, police said that a suspect actively using a social media connection makes a standoff worse.

Vincent Van Gogh's paintings might not make it obvious that he was an artist troubled with depression and mania. But a computer algorithm might be able to figure that out. Computer programs are getting pretty good at discovering health information by studying heaps of social media data.

A computer script analyzed galleries of photos posted to Instagram and accurately predicted if the users had depression, according to a study posted this month to the public online repository arXiv.com.

In the wake of last week's shootings, Facebook has seen a significant spike in flagged content, with users calling out each other's posts as racist, violent and offensive, according to Facebook employees, who say the company is having a very hard time deciding who is right or how to define hate speech.

Unpublished, and re-published

Editor's note: This story contains language that some may find offensive.

The Department of Homeland Security might start requesting some travelers' social media handles.

That's according to a proposal submitted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week.

The proposed policy — which is currently open for public comment — would ask for social media "identifiers," such as handles or usernames, from travelers entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

The number one song in the country right now is "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a rap group out of Seattle.

Their claim to fame: They got the song to the top of the chart by themselves, without being signed by a major label.

Even as authorities struggle to gather real clues in Friday's horrific attack, they're warning that those promoting misinformation about the case are subject to prosecution.

"Misinformation is being posted on social media sites," Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said at a news conference Sunday. "These issues are crimes. They will be investigated, statewide and federally, and prosecution will take place when people perpetrating this information are identified."

Dear college students across the U.S.,

Like millions of my colleagues who teach at universities and colleges, I'm working hard this week to put an updated zing into the syllabus for each of my fall classes. Describing the course content and readings for Biological Anthropology and Primate Behavior is the fun, mind-engaging part.

The FBI has raised eyebrows in the tech world with a public document that asks for advice on how to harvest information from social networking sites.

'OMG! Finalst 4 jury - just like American Idol! ;)'

In the age of the smart phone, courts throughout the state (and around the world really) are grappling with serious problems caused by jurors using social media sites or other online services during trials.

Now, Washington’s courts are trying new tactics to stop jurors from over-sharing.

Tacoma is cracking down on minors who stay out past midnight, and city leaders are counting on teens to get the word out.

They just kicked off a contest that asks kids to make mini-movies about the city's curfew law. While they want minors to know the curfew is no joke, they say they’d love to see funny videos about it.

Shizuka Yokomizo / Collection of Leslie Cohan, Minneapolis

The desire to be on the public stage is on display right now at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. It’s called “The Talent Show.” The exhibit raises a lot of questions ranging from how much should we put on display to what happens to our images once they are out there.

It’s easy to forget how much effort went in to trying to be seen by the public eye.

Paula Wissel/KPLU

Two pre-teen girls in King County have been charged with cyberstalking for allegedly posing as another girl on Facebook and posting sexually explicit pictures and messages.  If convicted of first degree computer trespass, the Middle School students face up to 30 days in juvenile detention.