KillSwitch Makes Break-Ups Easier to Cope With

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 5.57.55 PMWhat happens when a person starts a new relationship? They share it on social media! They make it clear they are no longer “single”. Photos of the happy couple, at the places they visited together, clutter up both parties Facebook pages. Suddenly, each person’s Facebook page is filled with lovey-dovey comments, (which at least one of them will “like”).

What happens if that couple breaks-up? At least one of them is going to be really upset and emotional about the loss of the relationship. Unfortunately, when the newly broken-up visit Facebook, they are instantly confronted with photos, comments, and status that are painful reminders of what once was. Ouch!

A company called ClearHart has created an app for this exact situation! It is called KillSwitch. The app seamlessly and discretely removes all traces of your ex from your Facebook profile, including pictures, videos, wall posts, status updates, and anything that has been tagged with your ex. You won’t have to deactivate your Facebook account, and it doesn’t require de-tagging. Tell the app who your ex is, and it will do the rest.

What if that couple decides to get back together? No problem! The app stores all the deleted pictures from when life was lovely in a hidden album on your Facebook page. They can be put back.

The purpose of KillSwitch is to help people who have ended a relationship to move on. A portion of the proceeds from the app are being donated to the American Heart Association of New York. The ClearHart website says this is “So broken hearts can help broken hearts”. I highly recommend you check out the KillSwitch website (even if your relationship is going well) because the graphics are delightful!

Zynga No Longer Requires Facebook

ZyngaThose of you who have wanted to play Farmville2, Chefville, Hidden Chronicles, or several of the other Zynga games, but who do not have a Facebook account, are now able to play them. You can create an account at Zynga.com with your email address. Facebook is no longer required.

This update which was announced in March, has now taken effect. Zynga posted a blog a few weeks ago to let current players of their games know what to expect. To me, the best part of the update is that I can play Zynga games again even though I do not have a Facebook account. (I do not want a Facebook account).

Gamers who were already playing Zynga games through Facebook, or who created an account at Zynga.com that was connected to their Facebook account, need not worry. You will not have to start your games from scratch, you won’t lose the friends you play with through Facebook, and your game will continue on as expected. The difference is that you now have the option of choosing to start from scratch. Which, as Zynga notes, can be a good thing! Either way, the games are free to play.

Players who live in the UK may be interested to hear that Zynga has recently released Zynga Plus Poker It offers online poker, slot machines, blackjack, and other gambling type games. You cannot play these games for free. Part of the fine print at the Zynga Plus Poker website reads:

Play for real money, win for real at our poker tournaments and cash games with your mates and meet new friends who share your love for poker along the way.

Clearly, Zynga has taken a step towards “real money” gaming with its Zynga Plus Poker. It my understanding that you cannot participate unless you are in the UK. I expect we will see more types of “pay to play” games from Zynga in the near future. Could Farmville2 one day require a paid subscription? We will have to wait and see.

Zynga Will No Longer Require Players to Use Facebook

ZyngaThis is exactly what I’ve been waiting to hear from Zynga! As you may recall, Zynga and Facebook changed their relationship status in November of 2012. It marked the beginning of changes between the two companies. To make a long story short, it appeared that there was potential that there would come a day when people who did not have a Facebook account could access Zynga games through the Zynga website.

Today, we get more details how that is going to work. Zynga wrote a blog that describes the update. It reads:

So what’s new? Starting next week, when you visit Zynga.com you will see a streamlined setup that lets you create your own account just for playing games. We also wanted to make sure that existing Zynga.com players continue to have the best experience possible so you don’t have to start from scratch. All players will have the option to connect with Facebook and keep your game friends and game progress, while deciding what you will share with your gaming community.

Basically, this means that next week, players who do not have a Facebook account will be able to play Zynga games through Zynga.com. It also means that people who have a Facebook account and have been playing games both at the Zynga website and on Facebook won’t lose access to their fellow gamers on Facebook once this change starts.

As someone who has gotten quite tired of Facebook, I have to admit I am excited to start playing Zynga games again. I’ve been wondering if Farmville 2 is as fun as the original version. Looks like I will soon have the opportunity to find out! You cannot log in without a Facebook account just yet (I checked) but it will happen soon.

This change matches what Playdom has been doing for quite some time – allowing players to access their games through Playdom.com without requiring them to have a Facebook account. Since leaving Facebook, Playdom has gotten all of my attention when I was seeking a quick, simple, game to play. Zynga wasn’t getting any, as I could not access their games. It will be interesting to see what happens after next week.

Is the New Pope Using Social Media?

PontifexWe live in a world where the Pope can Tweet. Pope Benedict XVI was on Twitter. His handle was @Pontifex which sent out Tweets in English. There was also @Pontifex_ es (which was in Spanish and was the one I was following). All told, there were 8 different language versions of @Pontifex on Twitter.

Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope to use Twitter. Although he was not the first Pope to retire, he was the first do so in the past 600 years. This brings up the question: What does one do with the Twitter accounts of a retired Pope? This was not a question that anyone had to think about before, as there was no Twitter, or internet, 600 years ago.

Here’s what ended up happening. Pope Benedict XVI decided that the next Pope would have to decide for himself whether or not he wanted to Tweet. The @Pontifex accounts became inactive during the interim between Pope Benedict XVI retiring and the election of his successor, Pope Francis I. The Tweets sent out by the retired Pope were deleted.

On March 13, 2013, the @Pontifex account(s) sent out identical Tweets in Latin that said: HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCIUM. Now, was this sent out by Pope Francis I, or by someone else in the Vatican on his behalf? The word on the internet is that it was from the newly elected Pope. Now, we wait to see if he decides to continue to Tweet.

Meanwhile, several cyber squatters swooped in to buy every possible iteration of Pope Francis domain names. That was probably to be expected. The unexpected story, though, involves a Chicago lawyer named Chris Connors who somehow bought the domain name popefrancis.com from GoDaddy.com in 2010 – long before there was any expectation that there would be a Pope Francis I. Lawyer Chris Connors has started the process of giving the domain name to the newly elected Pope.

As far as I can tell, Pope Francis I is not on Facebook (at least, not yet). There is a Pope Francis page written entirely in English that says “Not an official page”. There also is one called Cadenal Jorge Bergoglio that entirely in Spanish. It was set up by two women to respectfully support him, and is also not an official page.

Facebook Revamps its News Feed

Newsfeed Facebook introduced an update to News Feeds today. The idea behind News Feeds is to have a personal newspaper with all the content you are interested in one place. When it was first introduced according to Facebook, the News Feed was mostly text, with some images. Now News Feeds are primarily visual with images and videos becoming increasingly important. Facebook is trying to redesign News Feeds to meet what people are looking for today.

The first thing they announced was that images are now going to be front and center and more vibrant. This also means that ads will be more prominent, which is something businesses have been looking for. When a video shows up on your timeline, it will show who of your friends have shared the video. Facebook will also allow you to have choices of news feeds, so now you can just see all the music your friends are sharing and also the post from artist that you are interested in one news feed and another feed for all the public pages you are following. The sidebar will have a list of your feeds, the feeds will be listed by how you use them, with the most used at the top. Facebook News Feeds will also be consistent on how it looks and works over various devices. It will also be more responsive to the size of the device.

Facebook is letting a few people see the new News Feed first and then as is usual for them they will slowly release over time to the public. You can request to get in early by signing up on the wait list, however I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting to get in. I have to admit I looking forward to the ability to choose various feeds based on what I want to see at that time. I do wonder how they are going to integrate interest list into the new news feeds, they might have said but I missed it. I do know one thing that once it is released to the public there will be people complaining about the changes and those who will complain because it hasn’t changed enough.

Facebook’s Announcement: Big News or Much To Do About Nothing?

Facebook Today Facebook announced the new Graph Search. This is not a keyword search like Google it is more of an asked a question search. For example you might ask; “what disaster movies do my friends like”.  Facebook will then come back with an answer to that query. It will only give you information that has been shared publicly and with you by your friends. I thought it looked interesting and it had possibilities but until I actually get to try it myself I will not make a final judgment on it.

I have to say that my first thought when I was following the live blog this morning was that this was just another way to get people to stay on Facebook even more. In another word this is just another brick in the wall.  The fact that this graph search will be integrated with Bing makes this even more so. A question just occurred to me if I should share something to a friend does that information then become available to their friends in a search query. I believe it will, which is all the more reason to be careful on what you share on Facebook. I also think that people need to retrain themselves on how to do search. They are going to have to learn how to search by asking questions. Some analyst see this as a challenge to Google and Amazon

Julien Blin, an analyst covering consumer electronics and mobile broadband for Infonetics, took the argument a step further. He told CNET that Graph Search could become a major threat to Google and Amazon once it becomes available on mobile phones and incorporates the Facebook Gifts product.
“We could imagine a case where a Facebook user is searching for ‘friends who bought shoes in San Francisco.’ Then [Graph Search] would pull up a list of shoe stores with comments and reviews from friends,” he said. “The Facebook user would have the option to click on the Facebook ‘Want’ button to buy the items, or even gift the item to other users via Facebook Gifts. This type of service would compete directly with Amazon.”-Cnet.

I am skeptical, I may search Facebook for the local restaurants my friends like, but I am going to also see what the critics say about it. I love my friends but their idea of what is good and mine are definitely not the same.

There is a limited beta rolling out on January 16 a limited number of English-speaking Facebook users. It will take several months before becomes available to the general public.

Time to De-Clutter Your Social Media

bigstock-Window-cleaner-using-a-squeege-30983438Happy New Year! Now is a time when many people make New Year’s Resolutions. This year, instead of making one that you know you won’t follow through with, try something that you can easily achieve. Clean up your social media!

Social media can be fun, but it can also be a time waster. One way to make it work for you is to do a little gardening. Keep the healthy “plants”, and get rid of the “weeds”. When you get done, you will have crafted your social media into a more pleasant and enjoyable place to visit.

Start with your Facebook account. There are a couple of helpful apps that can quickly remove or replace unwanted posts from your Facebook page.

Tired of looking at countless photos of the brand new baby of your friend from high school? Unbaby Me will replace the baby photos with cat photos. (You can select something other than cats if you prefer).

Social Fixer got a lot of use during the recent presidential election, as people used it to eliminate all those political posts. If your Facebook friends are still stuck in November, you may want to give Social Fixer a try. You can set it to remove posts that contain a series of words of your choosing, (which could be something unrelated to politics if you prefer).

My way of de-cluttering my Facebook account was to completely and entirely delete it. Those of you who are still on Facebook might want to read a Forbes article that was written by Elisa Doucette. She walks you through a variety of ways to use the tools within Facebook to tailor what you see from your Facebook friends.

I’ve learned a lot about how to make my Twitter experience a happier one. Go to a particular Twitter user’s page. Find the button with the silhouette of a person on it. This is where to find the helpful tools in Twitter.

Got a friend who re-tweets a bunch of stuff that you have absolutely no interest in? You can turn off their retweets. There is also a button that you can use to block Twitter users whom you do not wish to hear from – ever.

I use this one when I find a Twitter user who appears to be using his or her account specifically to start fights, encourage drama, and to generally be a person who “does not play well with others”. How do I find these people? Usually, they get re-tweeted into my Twitter feed. The people you block lose the ability to communicate with you on Twitter.

You can also make lists on Twitter. Put all of your family members into a list. Check that instead of your main feed for important news and updates from your loved ones. Make a list of podcasts that you listen to, or of the Twitter friends who all play a certain video game. Narrowing down what you see can save you a lot of time!

Image Stock Photo Window Cleaner Using a Squeegee to Wash a Window by BigStock

This Message Will Expire in Ten Seconds

Poke AppFacebook has a new app called Poke. The name was inspired by the Facebook feature called Poke that has been a part of Facebook since 2004. The functionality of the app, however, is something that people are comparing to SnapChat.

If you log into your Facebook account you can select a friend to Poke. I’ve never entirely understood the purpose of this function, but I suspect it is used as a means to let someone you have “friended” … I suppose be reminded that you still exist and want to communicate with them. Whatever happened to a friendly message that starts with “hello”?

The Poke app, is not the same as the Poke feature in Facebook. The Facebook Poke app was released on December 21, 2012, and is a mobile app. Right now, it is only for iOS devices. One might assume that there could eventually be an Android version, (but there isn’t one right now). You can download it onto your iOS device for free.

The Poke app allows users to send a message, a photo, or a video to their Facebook friends who also are using the Poke app. Which, I suppose, can tell you which of your “friends” are using iOS mobile devices.

The message, photo, or video you send will last for a specific time that you set. You can have it appear for 1 second, 3 seconds, 5 seconds, or 10 seconds. Your friend (or friends, as you can choose to send something to multiple users, or groups, at the same time), must press the screen and hold it in order to see the message you sent. After the time expires, the message disappears.

It is easy to see why Poke is being compared to SnapChat. There is some concern that people will use Poke to send messages, photos, and videos, that are of the “not safe for work” variety, (since it has been said that people use SnapChat specifically for that purpose). Facebook sort of acknowledges this potential. It says:

If you ever see something you’re uncomfortable with, you can click the gear menu and report it.

Facebook adds new features to its Android app

This morning Facebook quietly pushed a fairly major update to it’s Android app. The company has been largely taken to task over it’s mobile app due it’s lack of functionality and poor performance. This new update certainly doesn’t fix all of the problems and it won’t make customers suddenly happy, but there are a few nice new functions added.

First up there is the ability to share items from your news feed. It’s about time! You will now see a small share button at the bottom right of each item. You can click this and then write a comment to go along with your share.

You can also create albums now by clicking the “Photo” button above the timeline. This brings up a page that displays all of the photos stored on your device. By default all of them are checked, which is a bit of a hassle because it means you need to uncheck most before getting started.

Finally, Facebook has made some improvements to photo tagging and included a fix for a status update failure affecting some users.

The changes do help to improve the experience, but the app still doesn’t feel native to Android. In fact, Facebook has recently been coaxing it’s employees to begin using Android phones in order to better know how the app works with hopes of making more improvements.

Judge Approves Facebook “Sponsored Stories” Settlement

There has been an interesting update to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that was about Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories”. This is the lawsuit that was filed in federal court in San Jose, California, by five Facebook members who were upset after seeing their likenesses appear on one of Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” without their permission.

In short, the five people said that Facebook violated California law by publicizing when a user clicks “like” on pages of certain advertisers and when Facebook puts that information into its “Sponsored Stories” feature. At the time, Facebook was not giving users a way to opt out of having their likenesses included in advertisements in this way, and it was not paying users whose likenesses or opinions were placed into an ad.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided that the Facebook users who filed the lawsuit were able to show “economic injury could occur through Facebook’s use of their names, photographs, and likenesses”. The result was that Facebook was going to have to pay $10 million dollars to a charity. As far as I can tell, the exact charity was never named.

Today, the details of the settlement have been changed. Instead of Facebook giving $10 million dollars to a charity, Facebook is going to have to set aside $20 million.

That money is to be used to provide payments of up to $10 dollars to each Facebook user who has objected to being included in the “Sponsored Stories”. Facebook has also agreed to create new controls that will give users the ability to opt out of being put into “Sponsored Stories”.

The new details of the settlement have been approved by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg. Both Facebook and the users who filed the class-action lawsuit have agreed to the new settlement.

The story is not completely over, though. Attorneys for the Center for Public Interest Law want Facebook to be required to obtain affirmative consent from parents before Facebook uses the name or photo of any Facebook user who is under the age of 18 in the “Sponsored Stories”, (or anywhere else). The current settlement does not include that protection. There is the possibility that an objection to this settlement will be filed.

Image: Stock Photo Ten Dollars by BigStock