Category Archives: Facebook

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.


Facebook is Working on a “Dislike” Button



Facebook Q&AMark Zuckerberg held a town hall Q&A at Facebook in Menlo Park. He answered questions from people around the world. It has been revealed that Facebook is working on a “Dislike” button.

The question came from a person who lives in Egypt. It was: We need to have more options than just a “Like” button. Why don’t we have other options like “I’m sorry”, “Interesting”, or “Dislike”?

I’ve seen many people discuss this idea on social media, so it’s great that the question was presented to Mark Zuckerberg himself. In his response, he pointed out that he did not want Facebook to become the type of website where people “downvote” other people’s posts. The potential for that to happen appears to be why Facebook doesn’t currently have a “Dislike” button.

Mark Zuckerberg also expressed that he understood that when people ask for a “Dislike” button, it is because they want to use it to convey their sympathy in regards to someone’s post. There are times when a person posts something emotional that is inappropriate to “Like”.

For example, a person might post about a current event – such as the refugee crisis. Their friends don’t want to click “Like”, and may not find the right words to type as a comment. A “Dislike” button could express that they, too, are unhappy and upset about the news their friend posted about.

When it comes to how people chose to use social media, I tend to have a cynical outlook. I can see the “Dislike” button being used by a family member who doesn’t happen to agree with the political slant in an article their relative posted. People could choose to be mean and “Dislike” someone’s selfie. It will be interesting to see how Facebook manages to add a “Dislike” button in a way that prevents it from becoming the equivalent of a “downvote”.


One Billion People Used Facebook in One Day



Facebook logoToday, Mark Zuckerberg took to his verified Facebook account to announce that Facebook had passed an important milestone. For the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day.

Part of his statement read: “We just passed an important milestone. For the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day.

On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family.

When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world.”

TIME points out that the one billion number is the total number of people who used Facebook on that one day. That number is different from the Daily Active User figure the company posts with its financial earnings that reflects a 30-day average.

Gizmodo notes that if one billion people used Facebook in one day, it means that over six billion people did not use Facebook at all that day. How you present things is important. Put one way, the one billion milestone sounds huge. Put the other way, it gives you some perspective about what that number really means.

What were the six billion people who didn’t use Facebook that day doing? One can only speculate. They might have used a different social media website instead. Or, they could have been spending time with their loved ones “in real life”. It is summer right now for half the planet, so it’s entirely possible that people were on vacation, going outside, and enjoying the weather.


Facebook Gives You More Control Over What You See



Facebook Newsfeed PreferencesFacebook has made some changes that will let you improve your News Feed experience. Surprisingly, it is going to let people select what they want to see first. Pick the friends who create posts that you actually want to see.

Product Manager Jacob Frantz wrote a post on Facebook Newsroom about this change. Part of it says:

We’re always working to improve and personalize your News Feed experience. We know that ultimately you’re the only one who truly knows what is most meaningful to you and that is why we want to give you more ways to control what you see.

There is now an option to “Prioritize who to see first”. This gives you the opportunity to put the people, or pages, that are most important to you at the top of your News Feed. Who are you hoping to read posts from when you go on Facebook? Those are the people you should prioritize. No more scrolling through a bunch of stuff you don’t care about before finding what you came there to see.

The same post by Jacob Frantz mentions the Unfollow option. It is as though he is reminding users of that option (since it isn’t new). Use the Unfollow on that person who keeps posting political articles that you are tired of seeing. You can Follow them again later, after they calm down. To do that, just select them from your list of people you have Unfollowed.

The new ability to prioritize your Facebook feed is available on iOS and will be rolling out on Android and desktop over the coming weeks.

I find these changes interesting, even though I don’t use Facebook myself. I cannot help but wonder if the ability to pick what you want to see first, and to Unfollow people – without Unfriending them, or giving them any way to know that you have stopped Following them – is a form of triage.

Giving people more control over what they see could make a person’s Facebook experience more pleasant and less aggravating. It might be what prevents people from getting tired of, or frustrated with, Facebook and quitting it forever.


Is Your Facebook Feed an Echo Chamber?



facebook-logoFacebook recently did some research in order to discover exactly how much individuals could be, and are, exposed to ideologically diverse news and information in social media. People are increasingly turning to social media for news. Is it your selection of friends, or Facebook’s algorithms, that have the most influence on what you see in your News Feed?

The Facebook researchers looked at individuals who use Facebook and who self-identified as either a liberal or as a conservative. They found that 9% of Facebook users in the United States classified themselves as either a liberal or a conservative.

The researchers wanted to find out how much people were being exposed to “hard news” (articles about politics, world affairs, and the economy), rather than “soft news” (stories about entertainment, celebrities and sports). They also wanted to know whether the information in the articles were aligned primarily with liberal or conservative audiences.

The researchers found that, on average, 23% of people’s friends claim an opposing political ideology. They found that 29% of the hard news content that people’s friends share cuts across ideological lines. It turned out that 28.9% of the hard news that Facebook users saw in their News Feed cut across ideological lines. The researchers also found that 24.9% of the hard news content people actually clicked on cut across ideological lines.

What does all this mean? Facebook says that the composition of a person’s social network is the most important factor affecting the mix of content encountered on social media. Individual choice also plays a large role. Facebook says the News Feed ranking has a smaller impact on the diversity of information a person sees from the opposing ideological viewpoint than does who they have selected as friends.

In other words, Facebook says that the friends you choose have more of an influence on what you see on Facebook than does the News Feed algorithm. You could be, intentionally or unwittingly, creating an echo chamber by only friending people who match your ideological viewpoint.

On the other hand, there’s an interesting article on Medium that takes a look at Facebook’s study. Eli Pariser points out that the Facebook research was done on just 9% of Facebook users (a small number of overall users), and that those users could behave differently on Facebook than people who don’t identify themselves as either liberal or conservative. He also notes that since this was done by Facebook scientists, the study is not reproducible – at least, not without Facebook’s permission to reproduce it.


Facebook’s Messenger Platform Adds New Ways to Connect With Friends & Businesses



facebook f8One of the main announcements from Facebook’s F8 Conference yesterday was the launch of Facebook’s new Messenger Platform, which will open the Messenger SDK to third-party apps and services, as well as a new customer service initiative that allows customers connect with businesses directly over Facebook Messenger.

Users will be able to access third-party Messenger content apps via a button next to the options for adding photos or stickers. Using these apps, users can create custom GIFs, videos, and other personalized content and send their creations to friends and family through Messenger. The recipient will receive a link to download or open the third-party app to view and respond to the message with their own content. Facebook’s David Marcus emphasized that the content apps will not be included within Facebook Messenger, but will remain standalone apps that link to Messenger:

“If we added a 10th of the capabilities [directly to Messenger] that we’ve added with partners today, it would make it really slow… If you don’t want to use those things, you’re not forced to… because those experiences don’t live inside of Messenger. It’s not like the overall experience of the app is getting very bloated.”

The Messenger platform will launch with support for a wide range of popular apps, including ESPN, Bitmoji, JibJab, Legend, Ultratest, Ditty, Giphy, FlipLip, ClipDis, Memes, PicCollage, Kanvas, Action Mobile FX, Boostr, Camoji, Cleo Video Texting, Clips, Dubsmash, Effectify, EmotionAR, EMU, Fotor, Gif Keyboard, GifJam, Hook’d, Imgur, Imoji, Keek, Magisto, Meme Generator, Noah Camera, Pic Stitch, PingTank, Score on Friends, Selfied, Shout, StayFilm, Facebook Stickered, Strobe, Tackl, Talking Tom, Tempo, The Weather Channel, to.be Camera, and Wordeo. More apps will undoubtedly follow as developers have a chance to experiment with the SDK.

Facebook also hopes to improve interaction between customers and businesses by bringing the intuitive Messenger experience to the marketplace. Facebook has partnered with businesses like Zulily and Everlane to allow customers to cancel, modify, and track orders directly within Messenger. Integration with ZenDesk and other customer service platforms will let businesses to respond to customer inquiries through Messenger as well. In addition, businesses will be able to send push notifications to consumers’ devices, even if the business itself does not have its own app.

Although no monetization strategy has been announced for Messenger’s new business features, it’s likely that the information Facebook gleans from these customer-to-business interactions, such as where users shop and what products they buy, will allow for improved ad targeting, perhaps leading to more profits from Facebook’s ad platform down the line.

All in all, the improvements to Messenger seem to confirm that Facebook is continuing its efforts to differentiate from the competition and protect its substantial market share. The emphasis they’re placing on keeping third-party functionality separate from the core Messenger app also coincides with Facebook’s gradual transition from an all-in-one app to multiple apps for specific functionalities.

What do you think of Facebook’s F8 announcements? Which of Messenger’s new features are you excited to try out?


Facebook to Add Suicide Reporting



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Let’s face it, social media has become the main way we communicate with each other today. We have all seen posts from friends in good times but also in bad. When it comes to bad, it’s hard to say how bad things are, but places like Facebook can often be where troubled people reach out. Now Facebook intends to do something to help.

Over the next few weeks Facebook will be rolling out a new tool to allow users to flag posts made by someone they are concerned about.

The tool will allow users to report someone they think might be suicidal or hurt themselves in some way.  After flagging the post, you will be given information on how to deal with the person, or let a trained team at Facebook get in touch with the person. You will be given the option to send message to the person, or a mutual friend or even talk to a Facebook team member to advise you on what to do next.

CNET has a full gallery walkthrough of how to use the tool.


Atlas Lets Advertisers Track you Online and Offline



Atlas by Facebook logoThere is an old saying that goes something like “You aren’t paranoid if they really are out to get you.” Many people have expressed concern about the amount of information that Facebook has and whom they might share it with. Now that Facebook has launched Atlas, it is clear that your information really is being given to corporations.

Facebook just announced that they have launched Atlas. They wrote: “We’ve rebuilt Atlas from the ground up to tackle today’s marketing challenges, like reaching real people across devices and bridging the gap between online impressions and offline purchases”.

Facebook then points people toward the Atlas blog The blog post discusses something called “people-based marketing”, which is described as “helping marketers reach real people across devices, platforms, and publishers”.

In short, Atlas is going to enable advertisers to track people across the internet from one device to the next and across platforms. A unique feature of Atlas is its ability to track not only what ads a person sees online, but also to bridge the gap between online and offline Atlas is going to connect offline purchases – that’s right, purchase not made via the internet – with the ads that a person viewed.

The purpose, of course, is to help companies to find out how well their ads are doing. It’s all about helping big companies make more money. There isn’t anything about Atlas that benefits real people. Instead, it invades the privacy of people who happen to use Facebook by letting companies track not only what ads the person saw online but also the things that person later went out into the real world to purchase.

In addition to Facebook, the Atlas blog says that Instagram is also a “publisher”. That means it is “now enabled to measure and verify ad impressions”. Atlas is looking for more companies to become partners with them right now. You can find a list of the current companies that have partnered with Atlas on their blog.


Could You Quit Facebook for 99 Days?



99 Days of Freedom logoCould you go 99 days without Facebook? It is a question that is worth asking yourself, especially if you are someone who checks into Facebook several times a day. A group called Just wants to encourage people to give up Facebook for 99 days. They are calling this effort 99 Days of Freedom.

What would your life be like without Facebook? Would you feel uncomfortable about not visiting the popular social media website every day? Would you miss it? Maybe your life is so busy that you wouldn’t really notice the absence of Facebook. That might be true for those who use Facebook infrequently.

There is a bigger question to consider. Would you be happier without Facebook? That is the question that Just is focused on. Just launched this experiment in response to Facebook’s controversial mood experiment. Unlike Facebook, Just is not interested in manipulating your mood. Instead, they are interested in determining how life without Facebook impacts user’s happiness.

Joining the “99 Days of Freedom” experiment is easy. Change your profile picture on Facebook to the icon you see at the top of this blog. Share your last link. Don’t use Facebook for 99 days. That means no logging in, no messenger, and no sharing.

Just will contact you after day 33, 66, and 99 to see how you are doing. Give Just your email address if you would like to join their happiness survey. You can put a countdown on your Facebook page to let your friends know when you will return (as well as why you are taking a break).

The selection of 99 days was intentional. Just feels that participants would lose interest in the experiment if it ran longer than 99 days. They also felt that a smaller number of days would make it harder to assess behavioral change.

To be clear, this experiment is not a protest against Facebook. Instead, it is viewed by Just as a way for people to experience the emotional benefits of moderation. Those who take part will help Just discover if people truly are happier without having Facebook in their lives.