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Technology: Twitter's upcoming tools aim to fuel research, fight hate speech

Facebook ad boycott: How big businesses 'hit pause on hate'

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Twitter said Thursday that it plans to release new tools for developers that could make it easier to create a variety of features and apps to combat hate speech, help businesses better understand customers, and help users find information more quickly.

a close up of a computer: Twitter plans to unveil a revamped API next week. Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET © Provided by CNET Twitter plans to unveil a revamped API next week. Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

The company expects to launch a new version of its application programming interface next week. The new API was originally scheduled to be introduced Thursday, but Twitter delayed the release after hackers took control of the accounts of high-profile users including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former President Barack Obama to tweet out a bitcoin scam. A Twitter spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company hasn't found any evidence that the incident involved the company's API but that Twitter is prioritizing the safety and security of its users when it comes to the launch of the new tools.

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Twitter unveiled a revamped API on Thursday. © Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

Twitter unveiled a revamped API on Thursday.

An API allows two pieces of software to interact with each other, making it possible for developers to build new apps, features and bots through the use of Twitter's public data.

Academic researchers have also used the social network's data to understand what users are saying about COVID-19, learn more about hate speech and analyze topics such as climate change. Developers have tried tackling Twitter's harassment problem by creating an app that can filter out users who are more likely to send you unwanted tweets. There are social media management tools and bots on the site that will share drawings and combine emojis.

Developers have had a hand in some of Twitter's early features, building the mobile app and a search engine for the site. More than 10 million developers have used Twitter's API to build new tools but the social network envisions that its partners will do more.

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  Report: Big Ten might not play football this fall There has been a lot of talk about starting the college football in the spring, and some conferences could opt to go that route. With all of the major conferences heading toward playing conference-only schedules, it’s possible for them to begin their seasons at different times. Schedules would also be shorter if schools drop non-conference games, which would allow teams to begin their seasons later.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily.

Twitter last year started allowing users to hide replies to their tweets, a feature that could help cut down on hateful comments or spam. Hiding replies, though, can be a tedious process.

"Part of our hope with making the API available, is that developers can build tools that help scale that kind of behavior and even let people for instance like use an algorithm or build some rules that would hide replies for them automatically so they don't see hateful speech," said Ian Cairns, who oversees product for Twitter's developer platform, during a virtual press conference.

But the company has also had a complicated relationship with developers. Twitter revoked API access by Politiwoops, which tracks deleted tweets from politicians, in 2015 only to restore it months later. The company has also upset other developers by restricting access to Twitter data numerous times in the past including in the wake of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, which raised privacy concerns about social networks.

The revamped API will include new features such as conversation threading, poll results in tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles and spam filtering. The company also said it built a new foundation for the API for the first time since 2012, which allows Twitter to add more features more quickly. Twitter also said it will be easier for developers to create new apps more quickly through the API because it redesigned an online portal and plans to introduce a separate "product tracks" for businesses and academic research.

Mauritius races to contain oil spill, protect coastline .
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thousands of students, environmental activists and residents of Mauritius were working around the clock Sunday, trying to reduce the damage to the Indian Ocean island from an oil spill after a ship ran aground on a coral reef. An estimated 1 ton of oil from the Japanese ship's cargo of 4 tons has already escaped into the sea, officials said. Workers were seeking to stop more oil from leaking, but with high winds and rough seas on Sunday there were reports of new cracks to the ship's hull.Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has declared a state of emergency and appealed for international help.

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