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Tag Archives: social

Inside Facebook Dating, launching today first in Colombia

Does deeper data produce perfect matches? Facebook is finally ready to find out, starting today with a country-wide test in Colombia of its Dating feature. It’s centered around an algorithm-powered homescreen of Suggested romantic matches based on everything Facebook knows about you that other apps don’t. There’s no swiping and it’s not trying to look cool, but Facebook Dating is familiar and non-threatening enough to feel accessible to Facebook’s broad array of single users. Originally announced at F8 in May , Facebook has hammered out details like limiting users to expressing interest in a maximum of 100 people per day, spotlighting personal questions as well as photos, and defaulting to show you friends-of-friends as well as strangers unless you only want to see people with no mutual connections. If the test goes well, expect Facebook to roll Dating out to more countries shortly as the social network pushes its mission to create meaningful connections and the perception that it can be a force of good. “The goal of the team is to make Facebook simply the best place to start a relationship online” Facebook Dating’s product manager Nathan Sharp told me during an expansive interview about the company’s strategy and how it chose to diverge from the top dating apps. For starters, it’s not trying to compete with Tinder for where you find hookups by swiping through infinite options, but instead beat eHarmony, Hinge, and OKCupid at finding you a life partner. And it’s all about privacy, from its opt-in nature to how it’s almost entirely siloed from Facebook though lives within the same app. “We wanted to make a product that encouraged people to remember that there are people behind the profiles and the cards that they’re seeing.

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Facebook plans voter drive, partners with Democratic/Republican Institutes

Facebook will push users to register to vote through a partnership with TurboVote, has partnered with the International Republican Institute and International Democratic Institute non-profits to monitor foreign election interference, and will publish a weekly report of trends and issues emerging from its new political ads archive. Facebook has also confirmed that its election integrity war room is up and running and the team is now ‘red teaming’ how it would react to problem scenarios such as a spike in voter suppression content. These were the major announcements from today’s briefing call between Facebook’s election integrity team and reporters. Facebook’s voter registration drive will also partner with TurboVote, which Instagram announced yesterday will assist it with a similar initiative Much of the call reviewed Facebook’s past efforts, but also took time to focus on the upcoming Brazilian election. There, Facebook has engaged with over 1000 prosecutors, judges, and clerks to establish a dialog with election authorities. It’s partnered with three fact-checkers in the country and worked with them on Messenger bots  like “Fátima” and “Projeto Lupe” that can help people spot fake news. The voter registration drive mirrors Instagram’s plan announced yesterday  to work with TurboVote to push users to registration info via ads. Facebook says it will also remind people to vote on election day and let them share with friends that “I voted”. One concern is that voter registration and voting efforts by Facebook could unevenly advantage one political party, for instance those with a base of middle-aged constituents who might be young enough to use Facebook but not so young that they’ve abandoned it for YouTube and Snapchat. If Facebook can’t prove the efforts are fair, the drive could turn into a talking point for congressional members eager to paint the social network as biased against their party. The partnerships with the Institutes that don’t operate domestically are designed “to understand what they’re seeing on the ground in elections” around the world so Facebook can move faster to safeguard its systems, says Facebook’s Director of Global Politics and Government Outreach Team Katie Harbath

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Instagram will promote mid-term voting with stickers, registration info

Facebook is getting ready to purposefully influence the U.S. mid-term elections after spending two years trying to safeguard against foreign interference. Instagram plans to run ads in Stories and feed powered by TurboVote that will target all US users over 18 and point them towards information on how to get properly registered and abide by voting rules. Then when election day arrives, users will be able to add an “I Voted” sticker to their photos and videos that link to voting info like which polling place to go to. Combined, these efforts could boost voter turnout, especially amongst Instagram’s core audience of millennials. If one political party’s base skews younger, they could receive an advantage. “Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, we are helping our community register to vote and get to the polls on November 6th” Instagram writes. “From today, Instagram will connect US voters with the information they need to get registered.” In 2010, a non-partisan “Get out the vote” message atop the Facebook News Feed was estimated to have driven 340,000 additional votes. The study by Nature suggested that “more of the 0.6% growth in turnout between 2006 and 2010 might have been caused by a single message on Facebook”. That’s significant considering the 2000 election had a margin of just 0.1 percent of voters. You can watch Instagram’s video ads for voting below, which feature a cartoony purple Grimace character and are clearly aimed at a younger audience.

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Instagram will promote mid-term voting with stickers, registration info

Facebook is getting ready to purposefully influence the U.S. mid-term elections after spending two years trying to safeguard against foreign interference. Instagram plans to run ads in Stories and feed powered by TurboVote that will target all US users over 18 and point them towards information on how to get properly registered and abide by voting rules. Then when election day arrives, users will be able to add an “I Voted” sticker to their photos and videos that link to voting info like which polling place to go to. Combined, these efforts could boost voter turnout, especially amongst Instagram’s core audience of millennials. If one political party’s base skews younger, they could receive an advantage. “Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, we are helping our community register to vote and get to the polls on November 6th” Instagram writes. “From today, Instagram will connect US voters with the information they need to get registered.” In 2010, a non-partisan “Get out the vote” message atop the Facebook News Feed was estimated to have driven 340,000 additional votes. The study by Nature suggested that “more of the 0.6% growth in turnout between 2006 and 2010 might have been caused by a single message on Facebook”. That’s significant considering the 2000 election had a margin of just 0.1 percent of voters. You can watch Instagram’s video ads for voting below, which feature a cartoony purple Grimace character and are clearly aimed at a younger audience.

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Twitter is bringing back the chronological timeline

Your Twitter prayers are answered! Well, maybe not the prayers about harassment or the ones about an edit tweet button, but your other prayers. Today in a series of tweets, the company announced that it had heard the cries of its various disgruntled users and will bring back a form of the pure chronological timeline that users can opt into. Twitter first took an interest in a more algorithmic timeline three-ish years ago  and committed to it in 2016. 4/ So, we’re working on providing you with an easily accessible way to switch between a timeline of Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets. You’ll see us test this in the coming weeks. — Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 17, 2018 Some users were under the impression that they were living that algo-free life already by toggling off the “Show the best Tweets first” option in the account settings menu. Unfortunately for all of us, unchecking this box didn’t revert Twitter to ye olde pure chronological timeline so much as it removed some of the more prominent algorithmic bits that would otherwise be served to users first thing.  Users regularly observed non-chronological timeline behaviors even with the option toggled off. As Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour elaborated , “We’re working on making it easier for people to control their Twitter timeline, including providing an easy switch to see the most recent tweets.” Nostalgic users who want regular old Twitter back can expect to see the feature in testing “in the coming weeks.” We’re ready to pull the switch, just tell us when.

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Instagram Shopping gets personalized Explore channel, Stories tags

Instagram is embracing its true identity as a mail-order catalog. The question will be how much power merchants will give Instagram after seeing what its parent Facebook did to news outlets that relied on it.  In a move that could pit it against Pinterest and Wish, Instagram is launching Shopping features across its app to let people discover and consider possible purchases before clicking through to check out on the merchant’s website. Today, Instagram Explore is getting a personalized Shopping channel of items it thinks you’ll want most. And it’s expanding its Shopping tags for Instagram Stories to all viewers worldwide after a limited test in June , and it’s allowing brands in 46 countries to add the shopping bag icon to Stories that users can click through to buy what they saw. Instagram clearly wants to graduate from where people get ideas for things to purchase to being a measurable gateway to their spending. 90 million people already tap its Shopping tags each month, it announced today. The new features could soak up more user attention and lead them to see more ads. But perhaps more importantly, demonstrating that Instagram can boost retail business’ sales for free through Stories and Explore could whet their appetite to buy Instagram ads to amplify their reach and juice the conversion channel. With 25 million businesses on Instagram but only 2 million advertisers, the app has room to massively increase its revenue. For now Instagram is maintaining its “no comment” regarding whether it’s working on a standalone Instagram Shopping app as per a report from The Verge last month.  Instagram first launched its Shopping tags for feeds in 2016. It still points users out to merchant sites for the final payment step, though, in part because retailers want to control their relationships with customers. But long-term, allowing businesses to opt in to offering in-Instagram checkout could shorten the funnel and get more users actually buying.

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Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline

Twitter will now put live streams and broadcasts started by accounts you follow at the top of your timeline, making it easier to see what they’re doing in realtime. In  a tweet , Twitter said that that the new feature will include breaking news, personalities and sports. The social networking giant included the new feature in its iOS and Android apps, updated this week. Among the updates, Twitter said it’s now  also supporting audio-only live broadcasts , as well as through its sister broadcast service Periscope. Last month, Twitter discontinued its app for iOS 9 and lower versions , which according to Apple’s own data still harbors some 5 percent of all iPhone and iPad users. Twitter launches audio-only broadcasting feature on its iOS app and Periscope

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Snapchat enlists 20 partners to curate Our Stories from submissions

Themed collections of user generated content chosen by news publishers for viewing on and off Snapchat are the teen social network’s next great hope for relevance. Today Snap launches Curated Our Stories with the help of 20 partners like CNN, Cosmopolitan, Lad Bible, and NowThis. Instead of sifting through and selecting submissions to Our Story all by itself around events, holidays, and fads, these publishers can create slideshows of Snaps about whatever they want. They’ll both be featured in Snapchat Discover that sees 75 million Our Stories viewers per month, but also on the publishers’ own properties thanks to Snap’s embeds that have been underused since their January launch. To entice partners, Snap has built in monetization from day one, splitting revenue with publishers from ads run in the Our Stories they curate. That’s in sharp contrast to Snap’s work with independent creators, where it still won’t split revenue with them directly, though at least it’s finally connecting them with brand sponsors . Snap’s head of Stories everywhere Rahul Chopra tells me that in exchange for its cut, Snap provides a content management system that publishers can use to search through submitted Snaps using a variety of filters like keywords in captions and locations. A human at Snap will also moderate Curated Our Stories to ensure nothing objectionable slips through. Snapchat shares hit all-time low as search acquisition Vurb’s CEO bails The new revenue stream could help Snap offset its declining user count by squeezing more cash out of each user by exposing them to more content and ads, or score it new users through embedded Curated Our Stories on its partners’ apps and sites. Snap beat revenue expectations last quarter but it still lost $353 million, contributing to a share price decline that hit an all-time low yesterday . Snap first created Our Stories in 2014 to let people get the perspectives of tons of different attendees to music festivals and sporting matches. With time it expanded to creating college-specific Our Stories and ones of more relatable activities like enjoying Fridays.

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HQ Trivia nabs Target to sponsor game with biggest ever single winner prize of $100K

HQ Trivia is aiming to attract more players following a slight decline in  downloads with a new, large prize. The company announced today it has bagged Target to sponsor to sponsor a special Emmy-themed game featuring its biggest-ever single winner prize of $100,000. The game will air on Monday, September 17 at 9 PM ET, but will be played in a different fashion than usual. Typically, HQ Trivia players compete to win or split a cash prize, which often doesn’t amount to much more than enough for a cup of coffee. But this time around, HQ Trivia will run in a “one winner takes all” format, meaning only one individual will earn the winnings from the game. Instead of a normal 12-question round with 10 second to answer, the game will continue until only one winner remains. Players can still use their extra lives, but only until question number 15. After that, they won’t work. The game’s content will be Emmy Awards-themed, featuring questions about shows, actors, the Emmy telecast, and other historical facts. Target is stepping up as the game’s sponsor for this winner-takes-all milestone game. The game itself will also be branded, but the exact nature of the creative is something Target is keeping under wraps for the time being as it’s a first for the retailer. HQ Trivia has worked with a number of other big-name brands in the past through its game, including Warner Bros, Nike, MillerCoors, National Geographic, Chase, Viacom, and NBCUniversal

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Dealers remain on Instagram as it pushes drug searchers to treatment

You don’t have to search too hard to find Xanax and Fentanyl dealers posting their phone numbers all over Instagram, but at least it’s starting to push people toward addiction recovery resources. Backlash led Instagram to perform a cursory blocking of exact drug name hashtag searches in April, which did little to solve the problem, as sellers just moved to unblocked hashtags like “#XanaxLife” and “Oxycontins.” Facebook and Instagram could share some of the blame for 2017’s massive spike in synthetic opioid deaths that skyrocketed from 10,000 to 30,000, according to The Center for Disease Control. So last month, Facebook began redirecting users searching to buy drugs toward a  “Can we help?” box explaining that “If you or someone you know struggles with opioid misuse, we would like to help you find ways to get free and confidential treatment referrals, as well as information about substance use, prevention and recovery.” The box displayed a  “Get support” button that opens The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website. But I criticized the company for allowing accounts like “Fentanyl Kingpin Kilo” to keep operating, even after it removed posts of some Pages and profiles for violating its drug rules. But the problem is that some people searching for drugs on Instagram are actually seeking help. “Blocking hashtags has its drawbacks. In some cases, we are removing the communities of support that help people struggling with opioid or substance misuse,” Instagram tells me. Now Instagram will start pointing users searching for words like “opioids” or “uppers” toward treatment options too. The most abused and previously blocked hashtags will remain unsearchable, but new ones like phrases and synonyms of drug names will still be available with this dismissible interstitial. An Instagram spokesperson tells me “As part of Instagram’s commitment to be the kindest, safest social network, we’re launching a new pop-up within the app that offers to connect people with information about free and confidential treatment options, as well as information about substance use, prevention and recovery.” The interstitial reads “Can we help? If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid or substance misuse, find ways to get free and confidential treatment referrals, as well as information about substance prevention, and recovery.” However, users can opt to “see posts anyway,” which makes the interstitial little more than a speed bump for those adamant about finding drugs. At least Instagram tells me it’s testing type-ahead blocking so users won’t be able to easily discover drug synonyms and phrases that would surface dealers. These pop-ups will appear when users search for opioids, prescription drugs or illegal drug hashtags, and the company will add more hashtags to the list over time. They’ll show up today in the U.S.

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Europe to push for one-hour takedown law for terrorist content

The European Union’s executive body is doubling down on its push for platforms to pre-filter the Internet, publishing a proposal today for all websites to monitor uploads in order to be able to quickly remove terrorist uploads. The Commission handed platforms an informal one-hour rule for removing terrorist content  back in March . It’s now proposing turning that into a law to prevent such content spreading its violent propaganda over the Internet. For now the ‘rule of thumb’ regime continues to apply. But it’s putting meat on the bones of its thinking, fleshing out a more expansive  proposal  for a regulation aimed at “preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online”. As per usual EU processes, the Commission’s proposal would need to gain the backing of Member States and the EU parliament before it could be cemented into law. One major point to note here is that existing EU law does not allow Member States to impose a general obligation on hosting service providers to monitor the information that users transmit or store. But in the proposal the Commission argues that, given the “grave risks associated with the dissemination of terrorist content”, states could be allowed to “exceptionally derogate from this principle under an EU framework”. So it’s essentially suggesting that Europeans’ fundamental rights might not, in fact, be so fundamental. (Albeit, European judges might well take a different view — and it’s very likely the proposals could face legal challenges should they be cast into law.) What is being suggested would also apply to any hosting service provider that offers services in the EU — “regardless of their place of establishment or their size”. So, seemingly, not just large platforms, like Facebook or YouTube, but — for example — anyone hosting a blog that includes a free-to-post comment section. Websites that fail to promptly take down terrorist content would face fines — with the level of penalties being determined by EU Member States (Germany has already legislated to enforce social media hate speech takedowns within 24 hours , setting the maximum fine at €50M). “Penalties are necessary to ensure the effective implementation by hosting service providers of the obligations pursuant to this Regulation,” the Commission writes,  envisaging the most severe penalties being reserved for systematic failures to remove terrorist material within one hour.  It adds: “When determining whether or not financial penalties should be imposed, due account should be taken of the financial resources of the provider.” So — for example — individuals with websites who fail to moderate their comment section fast enough might not be served the very largest fines, presumably. The proposal also encourages platforms to develop “automated detection tools” so they can take what it terms “proactive measures proportionate to the level of risk and to remove terrorist material from their services”. So the Commission’s continued push for Internet pre-filtering is clear.

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