The New Web Presence of Twitter and Vine

January 16, 2014 · Written by Andrew S

Picture 1-16-2014Though most people are using social networks through mobile phone applications these days, there is still room to grow and evolve when it comes to the actual web presence of social networks. This is something that Twitter has recently embraced with its new web design, as well as with the first web profiles for Vine, its popular video-sharing service, which until now has been exclusively available for usage on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms, rather than being accessible via a computer.

Twitter’s new web design launched on Tuesday and according to Twitter, the site has been designed to reflect the look and feel of the iOS and Android apps. One of the larger non-aesthetic changes to the website is the built-in ‘compose’ box that is on the left side of the page. The intention of this box is to encourage users to tweet more rather than just browsing the Twitter pages of other people. Though the official launch occurred on Tuesday, the new design has not yet appeared for all users.

Additionally, full web profiles were launched on Vine in early January. The Vine website allows for easier browsing of videos posted on Vine and also includes a feature called TV Mode that lets users watch videos in full screen on their computers, which plays through videos one after the other instead of looping the same video over and over. Though the Vine website is still very new, there are plenty of potential ways that the social network’s web presence can be utilized, such as filming Vines through a webcam. As Vine develops, it is likely to add new features to both the mobile app and the website.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

Inventor of Twitter Launches Jelly, a Q&A Social Media App

January 9, 2014 · Written by Andrew S

Picture 1-9-2014The social media world has recently been buzzing about the launch of Jelly, a new social media app that integrates existing social networks to help answer the questions of its users. The app has been launched by Biz Stone, who is best known as the co-founder and co-inventor of Twitter, who also worked on popular websites such as Xanga and Blogger over the course of his career. Stone has been working on Jelly since 2012, where the nature of the application was kept mostly under wraps.

Jelly was launched for iOS and Android on Tuesday and aims to compete with existing Q&A services such as ChaCha and Quora. There are a few features that separate Jelly from these other question and answer services. For one, users are able to post images alongside their questions (“What is this?” is frequently mentioned as a way images and questions can be used together). The social media app will allow friends on existing social networks — as well as friends of friends — to help answer questions that are posed on the Jelly platform.

Some people are very excited about the potential of Jelly. One blogger referred to the types of questions one would pose for Google compared to the questions that were meant for Jelly — “How much is this new video game?” versus “Is this game appropriate for my ten year old?” The ability to gain this sort of knowledge from someone a Jelly user knows directly or indirectly is exactly the appeal of the social media app.

However, while some have embraced Jelly since its recent launch, others are a bit more skeptical. One journalist mentioned a number of problems that Jelly users may run into. He described that many questions posed on Jelly are snarky or obviously ridiculous or pointless (“Should I drink coffee or tea?”) whereas others are clearly stealth marketing questions that may irk new users of the app. Even when genuinely interesting questions are posed, the answers are usually immediately available via existing search engines. Considering the application is merely days old, there is still a lot of room for growth, but the direction that growth ends up taking remains to be seen.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

Recent Security Breaches for Social Networks

January 2, 2014 · Written by Andrew S

Picture 1-2-2014In early December, it was revealed that there had been yet another massive breach in social network security, as 2 million passwords were stolen in a hack that affected accounts for Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and more. The hackers, who are believed to have originated from the Netherlands, were using a virus that allowed them to access information for more than 93,000 websites, including many major social networks.

More recently, it appears that the security of Snapchat has also been compromised. A recent hack resulted in information regarding 4.6 million accounts getting posted on a website known as SnapchatDB.info. Though the site has since been suspended, the hackers were able to get information regarding phone numbers and passwords for all of these individual accounts.

According to the people behind Snapchat, the hole that allowed for this security breach has been sealed. However, some people believe that Snapchat’s response to the hack is evident of their existence as a very young startup company. One particular issue is that a group of ‘white hat hackers’ – people who find holes in security so that companies can prevent these kinds of breaches – had explicitly told Snapchat that there were holes that could be exploited. Yet Snapchat ignored this and didn’t even admit to their mistake in not listening when they released a brief statement regarding the breach.

Though these breaches in security have been unfortunate for a lot of people, one website is trying their hardest to help people find out whether or not their account has been compromised. The website ‘haveibeenpwned‘ allows people to enter their e-mail addresses that are used for these accounts to find out if theirs are among the accounts that have been compromised by any of these recent breaches. The website checks Adobe, Snapchat, Stratfor, Gawker, Yahoo!, Vodafone, Pixel Federation, and Sony accounts.

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Tags: Search News,Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

Instagram Direct: Private Picture Messaging

December 26, 2013 · Written by Andrew S

Picture 12-26-2013Instagram’s most recent update has included the launch of a private picture messaging system that is being referred to as Instagram Direct. The service allows Instagram users to send each other private messages that can include photos or videos; this contrasts Instagram’s previous features, which only allowed the public posting of photos and videos to a user’s profile. Instagram Direct allows for special messages and private photos to be sent to up to 15 people at once.

It was truly no surprise that Instagram launched Instagram Direct this month, as there had been rumors regarding a direct messaging service for quite some time. It seemed like the obvious step that Instagram needed to take to become a more effective social network. Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, tried out a postcard service last year that would allow users to send paper prints of photos to their friends; the service never generated much interest and was quickly shut down. Physical printing and sharing was not what users wanted; they were simply looking for private messaging.

Though it was generally agreed upon that Instagram needed Instagram Direct in order to further evolve, responses to the new service have been lukewarm. One of the primary issues with Instagram Direct is that it does not do very much to separate itself from competing social networks and messaging apps such as the features available through Snapchat and Twitter.

Considering Facebook tried and failed to purchase Snapchat earlier this year, their foray into private picture messaging is going to inevitably be compared to Snapchat and Instagram Direct needs to do a little bit more to separate itself from the herd. It has been stressed, however, that the feature is currently in its earliest stages, so it remains to be seen if there will be new features revealed that may allow Instagram Direct to make a name for itself.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

Facebook’s New Video Advertisements

December 19, 2013 · Written by Andrew S

Picture 12-19-2013Advertising is truly what generates the money for social networks and they are always trying to find new and innovative ways to advertise to their users. Since so many people use social networks in this day and age, brands are always striving to advertise to them and cater to potential customers based on their interests. Facebook’s most recent addition to their advertising repertoire comes in the form of auto-playing video advertisements.

The video advertisements are intended to not be entirely distracting from the social network itself. The videos will play automatically without sound within the News Feed, but if they are clicked on, they will extend to full screen and sound will begin to play. When the video is finished, the same advertiser will also offer two additional videos that can be potentially viewed by the Facebook user if they are interested in whatever is being advertised.

Interestingly, this method of advertisement may challenge marketers to take a new approach when it comes to finding new ways to make potential customers interested in their products. Because the video ads are not particularly intrusive, are soundless to begin with, and can be easily scrolled past, advertisers will need to find catchy ways to intrigue the interest of Facebook users without using sound in the short period of time that it will take for someone on Facebook to scroll past the ad.

Though the Facebook video advertisements have already been launched this week, they are still in the testing phases. They will initially only appear for some Facebook users, before they are gradually rolled out to the entirety of the social network’s user base. Facebook’s stock has already seen a 2% increase, based on the belief that these video advertisements will continue to boost the company’s revenue.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

YouTube and Social Networks

December 12, 2013 · Written by Andrew S

Picture 12-12-2013YouTube is one of the biggest websites on the planet. In fact, in terms of page views in the United States, the website is second only to Google, narrowly beating out major websites like Facebook, Yahoo!, and Amazon. However, the Internet is a volatile realm where updates are constantly required in order to keep websites current, as evidenced by YouTube’s recent attempts to delve into features that are typically associated with popular social networks.

Back in August, YouTube decided to launch MixBit, their attempt at a direct competition with instant video sharing apps like Facebook’s Instagram service and Twitter’s Vine mobile app, though MixBit is a little bit different than these services. The way MixBit stands out on its own is by allowing all MixBit videos to be used for editing, splicing, and mixing with other videos. Though MixBit videos can only be 16 seconds in length, they can be edited together into a larger video that’s up to an hour long.

Another way that YouTube has moved into social networking territory is their recent decision to require a Google Plus account to post comments on the site. With interest in Google Plus recently dwindling, it’s likely that this partnership with Google was done in an attempt to increase usage of their floundering social network. However, it appears that the fickle users of YouTube are not particularly happy with the requirement of a Google Plus account to comment on videos.

People on the Internet can often be resistant to change and it appears that petitions have already been created and tens of thousands of people have commented on a YouTube blog post announcing the change with angry complaints, obscenities, and demands to change the commenting system back to what it once was. Some don’t wish to have a Google Plus account at all, while others are reluctant towards having their real name posted on their YouTube comments. Either way, these changes appear to be here to stay, as YouTube is quite used to angry comments and they have made no movement towards pulling back from Google Plus support.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

What Lies Ahead for Snapchat

December 5, 2013 · Written by Andrew S

Picture 12-5-2013Snapchat is reaching all-time highs in popularity at this time. According to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, there are 400 million snaps shared a day, which exceed s the number of photos that are shared through both Facebook and Instagram, proving once and for all that Snapchat is here to stay and it’s huge. To compare, Snapchat was seeing 350 million snaps a day in September and 200 million a day in June, meaning that the social network is growing at a shocking rate.

Needless to say, it’s no surprise that investment analysts are saying that Snapchat has a very long-lasting and lucrative future. The social network has more funding and a higher valuation than Instagram and even YouTube did when they were at Snapchat’s stage in their lifespan. It’s not too much of a shock that there have been rumblings of a $3 billion offer from Facebook hoping to purchase Snapchat. Many attribute Snapchat’s popularity to its lack of permanence, referring to the way snaps disappear after an allocated amount of time.

Facebook is not the only massive company that is interested in Snapchat, however. There are other rumors abound that Tencent, an enormous Chinese corporation involved in the biggest Chinese social networks, has already made a major investment in Snapchat. A partnership between the two companies is likely to be mutually beneficial, as it allows Snapchat to extend into Asia and Tencent to have their first American subsidiary.

Another recent news update for Snapchat is the recent hire of Emily White, who was formerly the director of business operations for Instagram. She will now be working as the COO of Snapchat and it’s very possible that this may be a way that Snapchat will be moving forward with advertisements and monetization. Instagram itself revealed its new ads in October, leading some to believe that White’s hire may lead to a shift in the marketing of Snapchat as well.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

Vine and Instagram Make It to Windows Phone

November 21, 2013 · Written by Andrew S

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People who are using phones with the Windows Phone smartphone platform, such as the Nokia Lumia series or the Samsung ATIV series, have been a bit behind when it comes to some of the most popular social networking applications. Though Windows Phone has been compatible with a number of the basic social networks like Facebook and Twitter, it has been missing major applications such as Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and more, until recent weeks.

Vine, Twitter’s popular video-sharing application, initially launched on the iOS platform in January and was eventually brought over to Android in June. It was finally released in early November for the Windows Phone platform, with all of the features included for the iOS and Android versions, as well as special exclusive features, such as the ability to pin favorite Vine accounts to the home screen.

Instagram’s launch on Windows Phone came about a week after Vine was launched, but it was received quite a bit more poorly than Vine. While Vine has only been around since the beginning of the year, Instagram has had three years to be working on a version for Windows Phone. Yet the application that was released appeared to be heavily limited and did not feature many of the basic functions that were available in the iOS and Android versions.

In particular, many users found themselves annoyed with the fact that Instagram cannot be used to take photos within the application, which has been one of its most primary and basic functions on the other platforms. Additionally, Instagram on Windows Phone cannot capture or share videos. Currently, Instagram on Windows Phone can only be used to share existing photos that have been taken through the phone’s basic camera application, which keeps it a long way from Instagram’s intended full functionality. At the time, the application is being referred to as a beta product, meaning it is still in the testing process.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

Facebook Changes the Way We ‘Like’ Things

November 7, 2013 · Written by Andrew S

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Facebook has long been embedding its functionalities on popular news websites, to the point where the Facebook Like and Share buttons are seen more than 22 billion times every day on more than 7.5 million websites. For the first time since the Like and Share buttons were developed to be embedded on these pages, Facebook has decided to update the design of the buttons, removing the iconic ‘thumbs-up’ that has long been associated with the Like button and replacing it with Facebook’s ‘f’ logo.

The new design has reportedly come about in order to be optimized for high-resolution screens. Additionally, the Share button is replacing Facebook’s Send button, which was tested and ultimately deemed too confusing. The old buttons were blue on white, while the new ones are white on blue, allowing for a crisper look that can be better seen on the high-resolution screens that Facebook is apparently aiming for.

In addition to changing the design of the Like and Share buttons, it also appears that Facebook is testing the usage of star ratings for Pages. According to some screenshots and videos of live testing, it appears that Facebook is intending to employ a five-star rating system that users can use to rate certain Pages, taking things a bit beyond simply being able to Like a certain Page. Though no official announcements have been made, it is likely that this is something Facebook intends to launch in the near future.

The replacement designs of the Like and Share button began their official launch yesterday. Gradually, over the coming days, the new designs for these buttons will be ubiquitous on the websites that use Facebook’s embedding options.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Web 2.0

Kids and Teens are Getting Sick of Facebook

October 31, 2013 · Written by Andrew S

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Back in May, the results of a survey were released, revealing that teens were starting to grow a bit tired of Facebook, finding a number of reasons to instead be drawn to other social networks such as Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat. Part of this is because of adults — including parents and grandparents — having an ever-growing presence on Facebook, which keeps Facebook from remaining ‘cool’. Other issues that were brought up included oversharing by their friends and ‘drama’ that would happen in real life because of Facebook.

Though Facebook repeatedly denied that teens’ interest in Facebook was waning, their recent quarterly financial statements have shown Facebook’s first-ever decrease in teenage daily users. Facebook continues to defend itself in regards to the fact that Facebook is still the highest-used social network by teens in the United States, but this admission led to a slight drop for Facebook in the stock market.

Apart from cyber-bullying and oversharing reasons, some news sources suggest that it could be Facebook’s mobile app that is holding it back by being so cluttered and full of options that it can be overwhelming and result in ‘decision paralysis’. When compared to simpler mobile apps that teens have been drawn to in recent years, it’s quite noticeable how much less clutter can be found on services like Instagram and Snapchat.

One of the reasons that teens appear to be drawn to Snapchat in particular is for the same reasons adults who use Facebook wouldn’t put certain information on LinkedIn. For instance, in the way that adults wouldn’t want to look like slackers by posting vacation photos on their LinkedIn profiles, kids and teens don’t want to have any of what they post permanently recorded on Facebook. Instead, they choose to share silly images and videos that are only temporary with their friends, so that their posts aren’t scrutinized and used against them at a later date.

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Tags: Social Bookmarking,Social Media,Social Media News Brief,Social Networking,Studies & Stats,Web 2.0