Category Archives: Facebook

Facebook Imposes Restrictions on Ads and Pages



Facebook announced changes to the way the company manages ads and pages on Facebook and Instagram. The purpose is to increase transparency and accountability – and to prevent election interference.

Last October, Facebook announced that only authorized advertisers would be able to run electoral ads on Facebook and Instagram. Now, Facebook is extending that requirement to anyone who wants to show “issue ads”.

Facebook describes “issue ads” as “political topics that are being debated across the country.” To get authorized by Facebook, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location. Advertisers will be prohibited from running political ads – electoral or issue based – until they are authorized.

Those kinds of ads on Facebook and Instagram will be clearly labeled in the top left corner as “Political Ad”. Next to that label, Facebook will show “paid for by” information. Facebook users who live in the United States will start seeing the label and additional information on those kinds of ads later this spring.

Facebook has invested in artificial intelligence and has added more people to find advertisers who didn’t go through the authorization process. Facebook users who see an unlabeled political ad will be able to report it.

In Canada, Facebook has been testing a new feature called View Ads. It allows users to see the ads that a Page is running – even if that Page is not in your News Feed. This applies to all advertiser Pages on Facebook and is not limited to Pages that are running political ads.

The View Ads feature will launch globally in June, along with a public, searchable, political ad archive. It will contain all ads with the “Political Ad” label, and show the image and text, as well as additional information like the amount spent and demographic audience information for each ad.

In addition, Facebook is now requiring people who manage Pages with large numbers of users to be verified. Those who manage large Pages and do not clear the process will no longer be able to post. This is intended to make it harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account. Facebook will now show additional context about Pages, including whether a Page has changed its name.


Mozilla Created a Facebook Container Extension



Mozilla has created the Facebook Container Extension It functions similarly to Mozilla’s Multi-Account Containers. The Facebook Container Extension was designed specifically to help Firefox users have more control of their data on Facebook.

The Facebook Container Extension helps people who are using Firefox to control more of their web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. Mozilla says this makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies.

Rather than stop using a service you find valuable and miss out on those adorable photos of your nephew, we think you should have tools to limit what data others can collect about you. That includes us: Mozilla does not collect data from your use of the Facebook Container extension. We only know the number of times the extension is installed or removed.

When you install the Facebook Container Extension, it will delete your Facebook cookies and log you out of Facebook. The next time you visit Facebook, it will open in a new blue-colored browser (the “container tab). In that tab, you can login and use Facebook as you normally would. If you click on a non-Facebook link, it will load outside of the container.

I think this is a useful tool for people who value their privacy but do not want to stop using Facebook. It can be difficult to quit using Facebook if it is the most reliable way to contact members of your family.

It should be noted that the Facebook Container Extension is for Firefox. It won’t work on other browsers. The Mozilla blog points out that if you click on any Facebook Share buttons or other browser tabs it will load within the Facebook container. When you use those buttons, information will be sent to Facebook about the website that you shared from.


Facebook to Add More Staff to Monitor Facebook Live



When I first heard about Facebook Live, I thought it would be a good thing for people who like to play video games and livestream it in a way that made it easy for their Facebook friends to watch. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who have been using Facebook Live to commit acts of violence. Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook will hire more staff to monitor Facebook live.

In a Facebook post on his verified Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg makes it clear that he is aware of the bad things that have happened on Facebook Live – and states what Facebook will do about it.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen people hurting themselves and others on Facebook – either live or in video posted later. It’s heartbreaking, and I’ve been reflecting on how we can do better for our community.

If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner – whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down.

Over the next year, we’ll be adding 3,000 people to our community operations team around the world – on top of the 4,500 we have today – to review the millions of reports we get every week, and improve the process for doing it quickly.

These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don’t allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation. And we’ll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it – either because they’re about to harm themselves, or because they are in danger from someone else.

In addition to investing in more people, we’re also building better tools to keep our community safe. We’re going to make it simpler to report problems to us, faster for our reviewers to determine which posts violate our standards and easier for them to contact law enforcement if someone needs help. As these become available they should help make our community safer.

Mark Zuckerberg goes on to point out that Facebook got a report that someone on Facebook Live was considering suicide. They were able to reach out to law enforcement, who helped prevent that person from harming himself.

I read some of the comments left on Zuckerberg’s post. Some people are very happy to see these upcoming changes take effect. Others would like Facebook Live shut down so that no one can use it to try and get attention by engaging in violence. Those comments inspired other people to insist that Facebook Live should not be shut down because they are using it to connect with family members who live far away.

In some ways, I feel like we’ve heard this before. A few of the commenters said that they have been reporting hate speech, and that Facebook doesn’t do anything about it.  Forbes points out that Facebook has long had a problem with people using the platform for illegal gun sales.  Facebook’s Community Standards specifically state that users are prohibited from selling firearms or ammunition on Facebook.


Facebook Introduced Live Location in Messenger



Facebook has introduced a new way to share your location in Messenger. The new Live Location feature makes it simple and seamless for you to choose to share where you are in the real world with your friends and family. This is rolling out globally and is available on both iOS and Android.

In a blog post, Facebook said:

We’ve been testing this for a little while, and people tell us that Live Location is helpful when trying to coordinate with friends, telling people how close you are when you’re on your way to an appointment, or even sharing where you are with your roommate when you’re on your way home at night. You can share your Live Location with a group of friends in Messenger or just with one person – it’s up to you!

The most important thing to know is that Messenger is not going to suddenly start sharing your Live Location with your friends. You have to actively click a few things when you want to share your Live Location with a friend (or friends).

Once you share your Live Location, the person or people you share it with will be able to see where you are on a map for the next 60 minutes. Users have the option to stop sharing their location at any time – by tapping a button called “Stop Sharing”.

This new feature also enables people to share a static point on a map (instead of sharing their Live Location). It is useful for when a group of people want to meet at a specific place. I can see people making use if this feature at crowded conferences or cafeterias.

The Live Location feature is still rolling out. You can check to see if it is available where you are by visiting the Facebook Help Center.  The last sentence on that post might say “Live Location isn’t available in your area yet.”


Facebook Announced New Ways to Watch Facebook Video



Facebook announced some updates that will give Facebook users new ways to watch Facebook video. It appears that the idea is to give users more flexibility on how and when they watch videos on Facebook.

Previously, Facebook users would have videos in their News Feed that silently played. Those that wanted to hear the sound had to click on an individual video. The new update, which is slowly being brought to users, will have sound automatically start playing on the videos in your News Feed. The sound will fade in and out as you scroll through videos in your News Feed.

If you don’t like that idea, there is a way to disable it. Go into your Facebook Settings and switch off “Videos in News Feed Start With Sound.” If you view Facebook on your phone, and your phone is set to silent, the videos will not play with sound.

Facebook is now offering a larger preview of vertical videos in News Feed on mobile. The larger format is now available on both iOS and Android.

It is now possible to watch a Facebook video and scroll through your News Feed at the same time. Users can minimize the video that they want to watch to a picture-in-picture view that plays in the corner of the screen. Users can drag the video to any corner of the screen they want to. People who view Facebook on an Android device can keep the video playing as they exit the Facebook app to do something else on their phones.

The biggest part of the update is the announcement of a Facebook video app for TV, which will roll out soon to app stores for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV (with more platforms to come.) This is an expansion upon an existing ability to stream videos from Facebook to your TV.

The Facebook video app for TV will let you watch videos shared by friends or Pages you follow. It will show you top live videos from around the world, and will recommend videos based on your interest. You can also catch up on videos that you’ve saved to watch later, or to revisit videos you already watched, shared, or uploaded.


Locked out of Facebook



So this morning I got locked out of Facebook for reasons unknown. They asked for a security check and I had to provide a Government ID!

During the security check, where I provided my ID to get my account unlocked, they said my DOB did not match. I think when I set my FB account up years and years ago I used an alternative birthday, as I did not trust the security there.

So now it appears I may have lost my account! For reason yet unknown to me. I have thousands of FB friends and an active FB profile where I have done live streaming etc.

This came at a critical time we where sharing info from my mother-in-laws death with relatives. Now Facebook has cut that critical flow of information off. Serious bastards.

So if anyone has a friend at FB, I would appreciate a hand in getting my account unlocked. Sending them 3 forms of ID has not helped.

While its Facebooks right to lock me out because I did not use my correct birthday at least let me update it. For Christ sake the account is not fake.

I am sure I am dealing with a robot at this point, so maybe someone with a pulse will see this. My dead Facebook page is at Facebook.com/cochrane

The real in the flesh Todd Cochrane, podcaster, blogger, podcast hall of fame member and I thought good guy.


Facebook’s Recent Changes Are Bad For Low-Vision Users



FacebookNothing seems to get the internet’s collective ire up more than changes to Facebook. The social network has changed its layout and functionality many times over the years. Whenever it does this, my News Feed lights up with plenty of complaints. People even start special groups, pages, and petitions designed to convince Facebook to change things back to how they worked before. And while I guess all of that organized venting helps some of these users feel better, it rarely causes Facebook to do an about face (no pun intended). Every time one of these incidents becomes the meme du jour, I just ignore it and move on with my life. Because getting mad about Facebook is an exercise in futility. Facebook isn’t beholden to users since (despite commonly circulated rumors) none of us are paying to use Facebook, and the platform is now so big, it isn’t really concerned with the loss of a couple, or even a couple thousand, users.

But now the tide has turned for me. I’m legally blind. When I look at Facebook using Safari on my iMac, I use the pinch-to-zoom function available thru my wireless trackpad. This allows me to blow up the News Feed to a size that’s comfortable for me to read. I’ve done it this way for years without incident. Until yesterday. I logged in to Facebook and used the zoom function, just as I have been doing. The result was this:

Facebook zoom

The right-hand sidebar now “floats” to the left and partially covers the News Feed. Zooming in more increases the problem.

I posted about this on Twitter:

And I sent a message thru Facebook’s feedback form, which generated this reply via e-mail:

Hi,

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. We’re constantly trying to improve Facebook, so it’s important that we hear from the people who use it. Unfortunately, we can’t respond to your emails individually, but we are paying attention to them. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

If you’re having any problems with your account, please visit the Help Center (http://www.facebook.com/help) where you’ll find information about Facebook as well as the answers to many of your questions.

Thanks again for your feedback,
The Facebook Team

I don’t really expect to receive a response from Facebook thru either medium. But I do hope that at least one human actually sees the tweet and/or the feedback message, and that person is able to forward it to someone who will also look at it and at least consider it before tossing it away forever.

I don’t necessarily expect Facebook (or any platform) to make changes for me. I don’t expect them to make changes to suit what is assuredly a minority user base (low-vision users). But this change really has no merit. I understand that Facebook delivers a lot of ads thru that sidebar, and Facebook relies on these ads. I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m guessing they added the “floating” capability to the sidebar in order to ensure those ads would move with users who scroll thru their News Feeds. But there must be a way to set the sidebar so it doesn’t have to float to the left like this.

After all, it didn’t do this two days ago.


Facebook Will Allow Videos in Comments



facebook-logoFacebook is rolling out a new feature that will allow you to upload a video into comments and replies on posts. Apparently, the ability to respond to something with a link, photo, sticker, emoji, or a well written comment wasn’t enough. Soon, the post you make about … anything at all… could end up with a bunch of videos posted as comments.

Bob Baldwin, who works for Facebook and who has been involved in many Facebook Hackathons, is among the people to thank (or grumble at) for this. He points out that the ability to upload a video into comments and replies on posts was something he and others prototyped at Facebook’s 50th Hackathon (which took place earlier this year). That particular Hackathon was called the “Global Jubilee”, and had all Facebook engineering offices hack together.

The “Videos in Comments” ability is being rolled out worldwide. Those who are interested in, or amused by, this option can upload videos as replies to posts made by people and by pages, and also within groups and events. It is supported on desktop web, iOS, and Android.

Judging from the comment section on the Facebook post about “Videos in Comments”, it appears the feature is intended to be used by people who want to make short video posts of themselves expressing a particular emotion or sharing something – and to use that video as a response to someone’s post. To show how this works, Bob Baldwin added a short video of himself as a comment to a post he made. The video briefly showed people around Facebook’s new Seattle office.


Facebook Realizes Users Don’t Like Hoaxes



facebook-logoWhat do you want to see in your News Feed? Facebook is currently focusing on viral stories in an effort to show you more posts you are actually interested in (and less stuff that you don’t want to see).

One thing Facebook has figured out is that people don’t enjoy seeing News Feed posts that are hoaxes. Facebook defines hoaxes as follows:

Hoaxes are a form of News Feed Spam that includes scams (“Click here to win a lifetime supply of coffee”), or deliberately false or misleading news stories (“Man sees dinosaur on hike in Utah”).

What ends up happening is interesting. Someone posts an article that is a hoax. The person probably doesn’t realize that the story isn’t real. The post gets a lot of reshares (from people who also don’t realize it is a hoax).

A bunch of other people comment on that post to let the original poster (and everyone else) know that the story is a hoax. Some of those corrective posts include links to “hoax-busting websites”. Eventually, most people delete the hoax post (and feel foolish for posting it, I suspect).

In the meantime, all those comments and shares are making the Facebook News Feed algorithm think that a whole bunch of Facebook users want to see that particular post. It ends up going viral – for all the wrong reasons. That post is getting tons of attention because people don’t want to see it.

As a result, Facebook is asking users to take quick surveys where they are shown two posts and are asked which one they most want to see. Ideally, the result will be that the hoaxes that have gone viral will be placed lower down in people’s News Feeds in the future.


Facebook Doesn’t Like Tsu



Tsu logoIn general, Facebook is happy to have its users posts content. All those status updates, photos, and links to news articles, are more than welcome. That being said, Facebook doesn’t seem to like links to a website called Tsu (which is pronounced Sue). Facebook deleted more than 9.5 million posts that included links to Tsu. The reason why depends on which side you want to believe.

We all know what Facebook is. I used to have a Facebook account, but deleted it after realizing that the things I saw posted on Facebook made me angry. This could be due, in part, to some of my relatives that aren’t very tactful and who have a tendency to say mean things (even offline). Your experience may vary.

Tsu allows users to share photos, videos, and other content with their friends and followers, much like Facebook does. The difference between the two sites is that Tsu pays its users a percentage of ad revenue in the form of royalties generated by the content they posted. One cannot join Tsu until they obtain an invite (which is a short code that comes from a current user).

I’ve read quite a few news articles about the Facebook/Tsu situation. It seems to me that Facebook views Tsu as “unsafe”. Facebook prevents users from posting that content. According to NBC News, Facebook doesn’t let outside publishers pay users to post links on Facebook. More specifically, the problem, as Facebook sees it, is that Tsu pays users to post invite links onto other sites.

Tsu, on the other hand, appears to think that what is really going on is that Facebook doesn’t want its users to get the idea that the content they currently share on Facebook is worth getting paid for. Some feel that Tsu could become a competitor to Facebook.

I used to write for a website that paid users a small amount of the ad revenue that their content generated. It wasn’t Tsu. However, when the money dried up at the website I was writing for, some of the other writers switched over to Tsu. I’ve no idea how well they are doing because I didn’t follow them over.

What I do know is Tsu gives users a short code that they can share to invite new users to the website. It doesn’t actually pay users to post that code. Instead, it pays users for their content (based on ad revenues). Tsu takes 10% of the gross revenues. An individual user gets 50% of the revenue. The rest goes, in separate portions, to the user who invited that person, the one who invited that one, and so on up the chain.