The aftermath of the Parkland mass shooting exemplifies the ugly side of social media

Bots. Conspiracy theories. Bullying. We’re seeing it all.

Want a perfect example of the kind of content challenges Facebook and Twitter are up against? Just look at what happened over the past few days in the aftermath of the mass shooting last week in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead and has reignited discussion about gun control in America.

In the week since, we’ve seen the worst social media has to offer.

Russian bots on Twitter tried to create animosity among critics and advocates of the Second Amendment. High school students who survived the shooting have been mocked online for standing up to politicians and calling for gun control. And now conspiracy theories are circulating on Facebook and Twitter to try and tear down those same students, calling them “crisis actors” and suggesting they’re puppets for liberal politicians.

What we’ve learned from Parkland is that, even in the wake of tragedy, divisive and troubling content still thrives on social media platforms. No one is safe from mockery and ridicule, including children and teenagers. And it’s not entirely clear what anyone can do about it.

Here’s one example: Conservative political commentator and author Dinesh D’Souza mocked grieving Parkland High School students on Twitter.

Here’s another, calling Parkland student David Hogg — who has been identified as one of the most vocal and visible students from the school — an “attention whore.”

The tweets are insensitive and embarrassing. Are they against Twitter’s user guidelines? Probably not. But Twitter is full of tweets like these, stuff that feels gross or mean or uncomfortable, but doesn’t merit any formal action from the company because it’s not necessarily threatening or abusive.

It’s one of the tough challenges Facebook and Twitter deal with, and one of the reasons social media can feel like such an ugly and discouraging place.

We’ve also seen conspiracy theories run rampant. One Facebook user posted that Hogg was a “crisis actor” and not an actual Parkland student. The conspiracy post was supposedly shared more than 110,000 times in six hours, according to a screenshot from NBC News’s Micah Grimes. (It appears that Facebook has since removed the offending account.)

This other Facebook video, which calls Hogg a “crisis actor scumbag,” has more than 20,000 views. Even the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr, liked a tweet that suggested Hogg was “running cover” for his father, who is apparently a former FBI agent.

The harassment got bad enough that Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida, had to come out on Twitter in defense of Parkland’s students.

Part of the problem is that Facebook’s and Twitter’s algorithms are set up to reward posts that receive lots of shares or comments — “engagement” that is considered a signal to show those videos to even more people. Even if Facebook can catch videos on the same day they’re posted, the Hogg video is evidence that misinformation can and will still spread like wildfire before anyone has the chance to take it down.

The Parkland shooting has created a perfect storm for the social media world we now live in. There have been positives — Facebook and Twitter have given high school students an incredible megaphone to come out and push for stricter gun control regulations. Teenagers who might otherwise be ignored are sending messages that are reaching millions and, in some cases, publicly challenging elected officials in an effort to get something done.

But it’s hard to have to witness the ugly side of social media. And in the wake of tragedy, it looks uglier than ever.


Recode – All

Highly Atmospheric Zombie Shooter ‘Aftermath’ Updated with 64-Bit Support

Aftermath [$ 2.99] is a very atmospheric dual-stick zombie shooter that’s near and dear to my heart, and I’m so thrilled to be reporting today that this incredibly niche little game has received iOS 11 support in its first update in nearly four years. This probably ties with Rogue Touch as the most surprising updates in my collection. Anyhoo, we first talked about Aftermath way back in March of 2010 just after it launched, when our own TouchArcade co-founder Arn reviewed that version of the game. Boy, our review process sure was different back then!

That was just a few weeks before I began writing for TouchArcade, and Aftermath was one of the games I adored during that time. It’s no wonder then that I’ve been the torch bearer for covering the game in the years since. The first major update to Aftermath arrived in October of 2011. The game originally launched a few months before the announcement of the iPhone 4 and the arrival of the Retina Display resolution. It took more than a year but Aftermath finally did get in on the high-resolution goodness with that update, and it added in 5 brand new levels, a new control scheme, and some other nice additional features making an already good game even better. Our main gripe with the original release was that it was too short, and even though it still was on the shorter side, the additional levels really helped alleviate that feeling.

Aftermath’s next update would come a little over a year later when full Universal iPad support was added. Being that it launched in March of 2010, it just missed out on the arrival of the iPad, and much like the Retina Display support even though it took a while to come having full support for the iPad meant the game could appeal to an entirely new segment of the iOS gaming audience. Also the then-new widescreen of the iPhone 5 was also supported with this update, and it also added in some more new quality of life features and replaced the defunct OpenFeint with Game Center.

The game’s last update prior to today’s was a simple no-frills compatibility update for the latest devices of the time. I guess looking back it’s not that crazy that Aftermath ended up being updated for the 32-Bit Appocalypse, seeing as how there was precedent for compatibility updates, but it had been SO LONG since we’ve heard anything from developer TwoHeads Games and in the back of my mind I kind of thought this would be the end for my buddy Aftermath, especially as it was taken off the App Store at some point this year. Updates like this make me so happy, especially with so much uncertainty surrounding the longevity of games amidst Apple’s plans with their platform and the ability for developers to continue support.

One fun fact about TwoHeads Games is that the studio is in fact developer Peter Pashley who works for Ustwo games and has worked on such titles as Whale Trail and Monument Valley. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m guessing Aftermath might be a passion project of Pashley which might be what has pushed him to keep it updated over the years, even though I highly doubt it makes much money. So, if you’ve missed out on Aftermath these past 7(!) years and enjoy a good old-fashioned creepy zombie shooter, I can easily recommend picking this one up for three bucks not just to say thank you for a developer going above and beyond in terms of supporting his product but also because it’s still one of my favorite games on my iPhone.

TouchArcade