Tag Archives: Facebook

Blizzard and Facebook Team Up to Empower Streamers



Blizzard Entertainment logoBlizzard announced that it is working together with Facebook to give gamers new ways to connect and share their gaming experiences, and to bring more high-demand content to Facebook’s global platform.

The collaboration between the two companies will begin later this month with the integration of Facebook Login in Blizzard’s PC games. (The console games are unaffected by this collaboration). The integration of the Facebook login will enable players to sign up for and log into Blizzard’s games – including World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Diablo III, StarCraft II and Overwatch – using their Facebook accounts.

What do these two companies get from this collaboration? Blizzard gets a way to add new social functionality in their games. Facebook gets a means to highlight its platform for sharing, viewing, and discussing AAA game content.

Blizzard is in the process of incorporating Facebook’s Live API in order to create its own “Go Live” streaming functionality for its games. When that functionality is implemented, players will for the first time be able to livestream their Blizzard-gaming sessions directly through their Facebook timelines. The player’s Facebook friends will be able to subscribe and be notified when the player’s new streams are available.


Facebook and Twitter are Making Images More Accessible



image by Redd Angelo from StockSnapIt has been said that adding an image to your post in social media is a good way to get more people to look at it. People who are blind or visually impaired might not be able to see those photos. Facebook and Twitter have made changes that are designed to make the images more accessible.

Facebook posted a blog that explains the change they are making. “With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook. We want to build technology that helps the blind community experience Facebook the same way that others enjoy it.”

Facebook has introduced something called automatic alternative text. It generates a description of a photo using advancements in photo recognition technology. People who use screen readers on iOS devices will hear a list of items a photo may contain as they swipe past photos on Facebook. The change is a big one. Facebook states that before, the screen reader would describe a photo as “photo”. Now, the screen reader might say something like “image may contain three people, smiling, outdoors.”

This change was made possible due to Facebook’s object recognition technology. Facebook has launched automatic alt text on iOS screen readers set to English, and plans to add this functionality to other languages and platforms soon.

This follows a change made by Twitter that was designed to improve accessibility. As of March 29, 2016, people who use Twitter’s iOS and Android apps can add descriptions (also known as alternative text) to images in Tweets.

Users can enable that feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button. Tap it to see the image, and then add a description (of up to 140 characters). Doing so will help people who use screen readers to “see” your photo.


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.


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.


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.


Ello, Ello? Is there anybody NOT on there?



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By now you’ve probably at least heard about Ello. It’s the new “Anti-Facebook” social network. No ads, no name policies and well, no privacy either.

The simple platform is still in beta but over the past few days, the site has exploded, as users hand out invites to pretty much everyone. I signed up about a 16 days ago and there weren’t too many users at the time, relatively speaking. Very few that I knew, and a couple of celebs. It’s always interesting to see celebs post on a new network and have NO comments. However, Ello gained a
ton of traction following Facebook’s latest push to ban people not using real names. The drag queen nation led the march out of town, as most don’t use their birth names for performing. Following in their high heeled footsteps, were many other performers and people who feel safer using a pseudonym. Ello has no rule (as of yet) about what name you choose, so many people started going there.

What you find when you get there, however, is nothing like Facebook. It’s very bleak, very simple, and a little clunky at this point. There are no “Likes” or hearts or anything to indicate your agreement with a post, other than a comment box. The other thing to remember when you post – EVERYTHING YOU POST IS PUBLIC. You have a friend list and a “Noise” list, but what you post doesn’t go to just one list or the other, it goes to everyone who can look up your username. Ello has released a notice that more privacy settings are coming, including ways to block, and flag people. Also private messaging is supposedly on the way.

Something else that’s a little foreign to people who are used to the Facebook comment threads, is the way you’re notified (or not notified) when someone @’s you. You get an email. There doesn’t seem to be a way to find your mentions any other way, apart from reading every comment and post. And speaking of email notifications.. Ugh. My inbox over the past few days, has been nearly nothing but “so and so is now following you” messages from Ello. Most are people I don’t know, and I’m assuming a ton of them are spam or bots already.

But it’s not all bad. You can post large images (which I like), you can post animated gifs (which some people won’t like) and do some formatting with your text.  The simplicity is also sort of nice, compared to the million settings in Facebook and things Google makes you opt out of if you don’t like it on G+. The thing to keep in mind, is that Ello is still very new, and not even public yet. We’ll see if it survives liftoff or dies before the engines even fire.

You can find me at @thelangley on Ello.


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.


Facebook had an Outage



FacebookFacebook had a temporary outage that affected all traffic from the internet and apps to the social network. The popular social network was down for somewhere between ten minutes and about half an hour or so (depending upon which news resource you read and which country it was located in). At the time I am writing this blog, Facebook has returned to its usual service.

The Guardian reported that this was the longest outage that Facebook has had in four years. It also shared that there was a noticeable drop in the amount of Facebook referrals to The Guardian while Facebook was out of service.

About 1.28 billion users were suddenly unable to access Facebook while it was having the outage. TechCrunch reports that Facebook was unavailable in multiple regions around the world. This included the UK, France, Belgium, and parts of Asia (including India).

Personally, I noticed that my friends who live in Australia were posting Tweets in which they wondered why Facebook was down. It was rather amusing to see people from all over the world turn to Twitter to complain (and make jokes) about Facebook’s outage.

TechCrunch also reported that the outage affected not only the Facebook website and its smartphone and tablet apps but also some Facebook plug-ins that were attached to other websites. Those of you who use Facebook and have connected it to other websites may want to check and see how you were affected by the outage. Or, you may want to check your stats to see how Facebook’s outage affected traffic to your website.

What happened that caused Facebook to have an outage? That hasn’t been revealed. Several websites (including The Guardian) posted a statement that came from Facebook. It said:

Earlier this morning, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100%. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.