Facebook Is Gobbling Less of Users’ Time

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The social media industry may have to struggle to rehydrate in light of some surprising and troubling metrics Facebook released on Wednesday. In addition to a pause in user growth, there have been signs that user engagement may have reversed course.

The decline may have something to do with Facebook’s efforts to recover from accusations that it has provided fertile ground for fake news. CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month promised to steer the company toward refocusing on the user experience.

Facebook Is Gobbling Less of Users’ Time

Facebook is re-sculpting our memory

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For much of history, the only way to chronicle life was to write about it. Now, many of us take selfies on our smartphones to share on Facebook, and create picturesque albums of our daily meals on Instagram. And as the mediums we use to recall and review the past change, so do our very memories.

Daniel Schacter, a psychology professor at Harvard University, first established the effects of photographs on memories in the 1990s. In one experiment, he showed that it was possible to implant false memories by showing subjects photos of an event that they could have conceivably experienced, but didn’t. In another, he found that not only did looking at photos boost the memory of that particular event, but also impaired memories of events that happened at the same time and were not featured in the photographs. The primary focus of Schacter’s lab is on how memory relates to other cognitive abilities. His research has shown that weaknesses in our memory are positive attributes in allowing us to think meaningfully about the future.

Facebook is re-sculpting our memory

Facebook says it shouldn’t have to stay mum when government seeks user data

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Facebook is fighting a court order that prohibits it from letting users know when law enforcement investigators ask to search their political communications — a ban that Facebook contends tramples First Amendment protections of the company and individuals.

Most of the details of the case in the nation’s capital are under wraps, but the timing of the investigation, and references in public court documents, suggest the search warrants relate to demonstrations during President Trump’s inauguration. More than 200 people were detained and many have been charged with felony rioting in the Jan. 20 protests that injured police and damaged property in an area of downtown Washington.

Facebook says it shouldn’t have to stay mum when government seeks user data

Traversing the Social Media Minefield

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Mainly because of the amount of money they bring in, many people expect celebrities and other prominent figures to have thicker skins than the average Jane or Joe. However — as evidenced by the numbers of celebrities who’ve forsaken social media, or who have handed the keys to their accounts to their PR teams — fame and fortune are not effective defenses against an all-out assault by faceless trolls.

Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones temporarily unplugged her Twitter account after being bombarded by racist and sexist attacks. Girls star Lena Dunham quit Twitter after being body shamed and verbally abused. Filmmaker Joss Whedon fled Twitter last year, after being targeted with verbal abuse for his portrayal of Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Count the likes of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Jennifer Lawrence among the celebs who simply don’t care to join social network, as least not using their given names. And Sia doesn’t even want the public to get a good look at her face.

Some of the prominent celebs to speak about social media’s potential for inflicting harm include Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Keira Knight, who has said that sharing with the public opens you up to “a lot of criticism and a lot of people telling you they hate you.”

Traversing the Social Media Minefield

Facebook photo-sharing app Moments expands to web, adds support for full-res photos

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Facebook Moments, the company’s private photo-sharing application which took the place of mobile photo sync late last year, is now expanding beyond the confines of your mobile phone and your personal network. While previously, the app allowed you to share your photos with select Facebook friends, the new version allows you to share a web link to your private album with anyone – even those you’re not connected with on the social network. They can then join the album, and proceed to add their own photos.

This makes Moments more useful at larger events where not everyone may be connected on Facebook, such as baby showers, weddings, parties, and more.

Facebook photo-sharing app Moments expands to web, adds support for full-res photos

Facebook reinstates Vietnam photo after outcry over censorship

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Facebook Inc on Friday reinstated a Vietnam War-era photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, after a public outcry over its removal of the image including harsh criticism from Norway’s prime minister.

In a clash between a democratically elected leader and the social media giant over how to patrol the Internet, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Facebook was editing history by erasing images of the iconic 1972 “Napalm Girl” photograph, which showed children running from a bombed village.

The company initially said the photo violated its Community Standards barring child nudity on the site.

“After hearing from our community, we looked again at how our Community Standards were applied in this case,” Facebook said in a later statement, adding it recognized “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.”

Facebook reinstates Vietnam photo after outcry over censorship

Is Snapchat planning to build an AR device?

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Speculation that Snapchat may be planning a piece of hardware has been building for several months. CNET reported in March that Snapchat had hired several wearable technology experts, while in 2014, the company acquired Vergence Labs, a start-up which develops wearables similar to the Google Glass.

As opposed to virtual reality, which immerses a user in a computer generated environment, augmented reality overlays the real world with computer graphics and information. The best example of augmented reality is the Pokemon Go app, which made headlines over the summer.

Is Snapchat planning to build an AR device?

Facebook test highlights what your friends are talking about

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Facebook’s new experimental feature shows you status updates you might have missed otherwise. Mashable has spotted a box marked “What friends are talking about,” which lists a few of your friends’ posts in a single box on top of your feed, in the company’s Android app. We weren’t able to replicate the experience on either Android or iOS (or even on a computer), but that’s not exactly surprising. Only very few people get access to the social network’s features in their experimental stage, so you’ll have to check your own apps to see if you’ve been chosen.

The company has been making changes to the News Feed for months in order to bring status updates you’d actually want to read closer to the top. This test feature, which could change the way you interact with your friends’ posts, is most likely part of that effort. As always, Facebook could eventually give this feature a wider release, but the company could also pull it down, depending on whether it does well during the test period.

Facebook test highlights what your friends are talking about

Instagram Opens Snappy New Events Channel

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Instagram last week announced a new Explore video channel that gives users an easier way to find and watch events.

The channel aggregates videos from concerts, sporting events and more, and its personalization features flag events that might be a good match for users’ individual interests.

The new channel initially will be available only to U.S. users.

“One of the fundamental limitations of Instagram is that you only see content from people you explicitly follow,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

“The timeline is strictly limited to people you’ve chosen to see — with the exception of ads,” he noted.

“One of the challenges is always how to get people to see and engage with content from additional users,” Dawson told TechNewsWorld. “The Explore tab has always been a way for Instagram to do this, and adding event-driven content to the tab provides new ways for people to find additional content they might be interested in.”

Instagram Opens Snappy New Events Channel

How to spot an Instagram scammer

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As a general rule, anyone who posts pictures of money and talks about investment opportunities is probably trouble. Those are the hallmarks of the “money flipper” scam, a criminal scheme that’s been troubling Instagram for years. The accounts boast a mysterious investment system, posting cash and other luxury goods as proof that it works. Then, in a direct message, they’ll offer to cut followers in on the deal. Sometimes the offer is to split a money order, other times it’s for access to an empty debit card account — but either way, the scammer abruptly walks off with a few hundred dollars and the mark is left to pick up the tab.

It’s a simple scam, but it’s become remarkably popular on Instagram. A report released today by the threat intelligence firm ZeroFox found a total of 4,574 unique instances of the scam on Instagram since 2013, spread across 1,386 different accounts. That’s just a fraction of the 2 million posts scanned by ZeroFOX, and an even smaller fraction of the 30 billion posts on the platform itself. Still, it suggests the scam has found a persistent niche on Instagram, and according to ZeroFox, it could present a long-term problem for any financial companies looking to use Instagram for more than just marketing.

How to spot an Instagram scammer