Social Networking

Facebook Adds Instant Games to Messenger to Get People More Interested in Using Messenger

pac-manOne of the newest updates for Facebook was one that added some great new games to Facebook’s Messenger app. While Facebook experimented in the past with some basketball and soccer games, they have now extended this so that there are 17 games to choose from. Through Messenger, friends can challenge each other to games and see if they can beat each other’s scores. This offers Facebook users with a new way to interact through social media.

 

The new games come as part of the newest version of the Messenger app which people can download now. The update has been rolled out to people in 30 countries already and should go out to others soon. Among the great games that people can play with their friends are classic games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders. These different arcade games make it easy for Facebook users to compete with their friends to get the best score.

 

Facebook initially rolled out two basic games in March to discover if people would be interested in games like these within the Messenger app. The soccer and basketball mini games that appeared at this time, were played more than a billion times, making it clear that games like these were a success. While Facebook currently has launched 17 different games for users to try out, they plan on adding different games in the future to keep things interesting.

 

To play games with your friends using the Messenger app, you simply have to open an existing conversation that you have with them or start a new one. If you have the new version of messenger, you’ll notice a game controller icon below where you type messages. Click on this to select a game and type a message to go with it. You can also do this in a group message to challenge multiple friends. While you are playing these games video and voice calls are available as well, so that you can further interact while playing these games.

 

Facebook’s interesting new update is already gaining popularity as people start to test out all of these new games. It will be interesting to see how this new type of interaction works for Facebook and whether this will be something that people enjoy doing with friends or if it becomes an unnecessary annoyance.

Twitter Takes a Stand Against Online Abuse

twitterIt is no secret that Twitter is a platform that has been experiencing a lot of problems with online abuse. A lot of recent data has come out showing just how badly this problem has started to effect Twitter users. In many cases, this causes Twitter users to leave the platform entirely.  In response to these problems, Twitter has started to roll out an anti-harassment update that will hopefully be the first step to getting control of this situation.

 

Twitter’s new update influences a few specific pieces of Twitter. Centered on the fact that many users said that abuse coming to them through notifications was the most disheartening, Twitter has updated its “mute” feature. While this feature previously made it so that specific accounts could be muted to specific users, it has now been extended so that users can select keywords and phrases that they don’t want to see in their notifications. This does not remove these items from the news feed yet, but does limit personal attacks. It also provides a way for users to drop out of ongoing conversations where they have been tagged.

 

Another update has been made directly to the way that tweets can be reported as abusive. Twitter is working to make this process much simpler by allowing users to choose from a few options to further elaborate on why a post is abusive. They have also trained their support teams to help them deal with harassment reports in a quicker and more sensitive way. The goal is to make the process of reporting tweets faster and more friendly.

 

Twitter’s new update is just one step toward getting control of abuse that happens over this platform. This social media site faces a common problem that comes from allowing open discourse and free speech while trying to avoid creating a hostile environment for everyone. The goal of this update is to help to make Twitter a much more welcoming platform. While they don’t expect major changes to come as a result of this first update, they are hoping that it will be the first step to much bigger changes.

Using Social Media to Predict Elections May Be a New Trend

social mediaAfter the surprising results of the election on Tuesday, many people were blindsided as the results were quite different from those predicted by traditional polls before the election. With this stunning turn of events, many have started to question the validity of traditional polls, turning instead to different ways of predicting upcoming results in elections. Some are suggesting that social media could be the best way to predict elections in the future.

 

Prior to the election, several articles came out suggesting that Trump would actually make a stunning win in the election. These articles used evidence gathered from different sources all connected to social media. In one case, a professor said that an algorithm he created predicted a win by Donald Trump. This algorithm utilized data available from Twitter that showed what people were talking about prior to the election. He had used this algorithm before with 95% accuracy to predict the 2013 Australian federal election and the 2015 Queensland election.

 

In another example, an artificial intelligence system predicted that Trump would win the election as well. This particular AI system takes a wide number of data points from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to create predictions on who will win. Earlier in the election process, the system was able to predict correctly the results of the presidential primaries. Since 2004 when this AI system was created, the system was able to predict the last three U.S. presidential elections. Now has correctly predicted this one as well.

 

There has been a great deal of success with just using social media alone as a predictor of who will win the election. While polls failed miserably at predicting the results of the election, other systems were able to predict the results by comparing the number of pro-Trump and pro-Clinton tweets in the months leading up to the election. There are some small failings in this kind of a predictor since computers are not always best at judging whether a tweet is for or against a specific candidate. Still there was much more success in predicting Tuesday’s election this way than through polling.

 

Analysts monitoring social media were able to predict the outcome of the election months in advance, while polls were still predicting an easy win for Hillary Clinton. Their data suggested that those who were responding to the polls may not be answering truthfully when confronted by a stranger on the phone. While these people may not have claimed to be voting for Trump or may have refused to answer polls, on social media they were able to speak their mind. This evidence suggests that in the future, social media may actually be the place to start when attempting to predict elections.

Looking to the Effects of Social Media in the Wake of Election Results

american flagAfter an unexpected win by Donald Trump in this year’s election, many people are starting to look into the way that social media played a role. Trump was a candidate with an undeniably large social media presence from the beginning. He received the most attention for his interactions on Twitter, but he was also present on other social media sites during his campaign. Reports from those tracking the campaign show that many supporters were able to find each other through social media and to follow campaigns through Facebook, Twitter, and even Snapchat.

 

Information after election day now shows us how social media has changed the way that people follow the election results and how they enter the discussion on candidates through social media. One of the key sites for election day interactions was Twitter. Between the start of election day and 3am the next day when Trump claimed his victory Twitter saw more than 75 million tweets that were related to the election. This is up from 2012, when there were only around 31 million tweets that were related to that election. It is clear from these statistics alone that more people are turning to social media when it comes to coverage of important events.

 

In a study that was conducted on how social media actually changes people’s opinions on a political subject, it was clear that social media can do more than just get people interacting with one another. The study discovered that 20% of social media users said they had changed an opinion about a social or political issue because of something they saw on social media.  Additionally, 17% reported that social media had changed their view on a political candidate. In the majority of cases, the view had changed for the worse rather than for the better.

 

Many people worry about the way that social media can effect discourse on different political subjects just because of the format of social media itself. Some argue that there is no room for educated and civil discourse when social media users are communicating in memes and in 140 character bursts. The interactions between people on either side of the political spectrum within social media, appear in general to be negative interactions that degrade quickly to name calling. There is also concern that social media gets people to focus more on scandals rather than on the policies of the candidates.

 

One thing is certain, social media appears to make political opinions and interactions much more present in people’s everyday life, making it harder for people to avoid looking at the different sides of the argument. Candidates and average citizens alike have the ability to interact in completely new ways throughout this discussion. Whether this is beneficial or problematic for political discourse in our country remains to be seen.

Twitter Begins to Tests Safari Reader Mode As a Default for Links

twitterTwitter is testing the use of Safari reader mode as their default for links within their site. Essentially what they have done is made it so that links from Twitter on some iOS phones default to open these links with the Safari reader mode this is already on the phone. This mode removes links, ads, and comments from these pages to simplify the page for reading. Twitter is still just in a testing stage with this and does not yet plan to release this to all iOS phones.

 

One of Twitter’s main claims about why they are working on testing this specific kind of a feature is that they would like to make opening links simpler for their users. Unfortunately, there are some flaws with the Safari reader mode itself. In many cases, when reader mode removes the visual formatting of a website it leaves behind text that is broken up oddly and awkwardly spaced. As Twitter is working to connect users to news sites, the mode may not be an ideal solution.

 

Reader mode isn’t something that comes from Twitter itself. This is something that Apple users could have enabled on their phone for many years now. It is a part of the Safari browser that is integral to the iPhone system. What Twitter is currently testing, is a way to enable this mode automatically when a link is clicked on within their social media site.

 

There has been some backlash about this testing from some of the news sites. These sites worry about loss of ad revenue because this mode eliminates the different ads from the page. Website owners are also concerned because they cannot customize specifically what people will see in this mode. Twitter users are also frustrated to hear of this testing because Twitter seems to once again be focusing on something that isn’t a main concern of their users. Twitter users still want to see an edit button for tweets and more control on abuse and trolling. The disconnect between what users want and what Twitter is up to is starting to become a big concern for Twitter users.

Instagram Update Brings Instagram Stories to The Explore Tab

instagram photoIn a recent update, Instagram added their Instagram stories to the Explore tab within their app. The Explore tab allows users to see a variety of different types of stories and posts that relate to their interests, but don’t necessarily come from people they are following. Instagram released an update that created Instagram stories back in August. Adding these stories to the Explore tab will help to make them more prevalent on the site.

 

The goal of adding Instagram stories to the Explore tab was to boost engagement and accessibility for users on Instagram. With this tab to work with, users will be able to see stories related to their interests and through this process discover more people that they may want to follow. This is a great way for Instagram users to find accounts that are posting what they are most interested in. The update has already gone out globally among all of the iOS users. To start seeing these stores in the Explore tab, Android users have to update to Instagram version 9.5.0 or above.

 

There are mixed reviews on this particular update, which is no surprise since many Instagram users were already not too happy with the addition of Instagram stories. While having these posts show up in the Explore tab could help users to gain more followers, many people are annoyed since there are stories from random accounts on their page. Those who follow only a select group of people often don’t want to be seeing these new accounts popping up all of the time.

 

Most people recognize that this further update to Instagram is just one more way for it to compete with Snapchat. Adding the Instagram stories which are very similar to Snapchat stories to the Explore tab just makes these stories even more prevalent within the Instagram community. Further updates are likely to come out as these different apps continue to compete.

Facebook Updates Action Buttons and Adds Recommendations For Businesses

facebookIn a recent update, Facebook made a couple of changes to help make it easier for businesses and their customers to interact without even leaving Facebook. The main parts of the update focused on adding new action buttons that make it easy for customers to place orders, get quotes, and even buy tickets to events without ever leaving the Facebook app. In addition to this, Facebook has added a recommendations feature that will make it easier for people to get recommendations from their friends.

 

Facebook’s new action buttons make it easy for customers to interact with businesses through Facebook. The Start Order, Buy Tickets, See Showtimes, and Book Now buttons make it easy for customers to make purchases and set up appointments right away through their Facebook app. Other buttons link in with messaging allowing customers to easily get quotes and request bookings through a business Facebook page. All of these buttons make it easy for customers to connect directly to the businesses, performers, and restaurants that interest them.

 

On top of this, there is a new recommendations feature designed to make it simple for Facebook users to get recommendations from their friends. This feature is focused specifically on allowing users to ask friends for recommendations within certain areas for restaurants, hair stylists, and much more. The feature makes it so that recommendations are then plotted on a map with links to the business page. Users can then visit these pages and use the action buttons to make a booking, buy tickets to an event, or order food to be delivered to their door.

 

With these new features as a big part of Facebook, many business owners will want to make sure that their business pages have features like these enabled. To do this simply update the call-to-action button on your business page. This can either link to third party apps that can then take orders or schedule appointments with these customers or link to messaging so that customers can contact your business directly. Setting up these buttons is key to building a great relationship with your customers through Facebook.

Facebook’s Voter Registration Reminder Proved the Importance of Social Media

voteAt the end of September, Facebook proved that social media is not just a great place to talk about politics, it is a great way to change the political climate. Facebook launched a brief campaign that encouraged people to register to vote by popping up a special message saying, “Are you registered to vote? Register now to make sure you have a voice in the election.” They then offered a link to online voter registration so that people could register freely. We have just seen what the results of this campaign were.

 

During the time that Facebook had this message up on their site, a huge number of people ended up registering to vote. Many of the people who registered were within the age 17-25 demographic and the 26-35. This means that many young voters have now been registered who may not have registered otherwise. Among the states that saw the most results were California, Minnesota, and Indiana.

 

The number of people who registered to vote during the four-day period that Facebook’s message was up for is incredible, showing just how social media sites can have an influence on people. Facebook says that their reason for posting the message was to try and get better voter turnouts than we saw in the last presidential election. Their specific goal was to get many younger people to vote in this election so that they can have a say in the political climate of their world.

 

While many people are talking about how wonderful it is that Facebook has been able to create such a large number of people registering to vote, others worry that this isn’t something that companies should be able to do. Some people are concerned that by influencing young people and telling them to vote, Facebook can have actually made a change to what candidates may be favored as well.  Some are pointing to this as a problem with a profitable company and social media site being an influence within the political sphere.

Instagram Gives Perfectionists More Time to Work On Posts by Saving Drafts

instagram draftsLast month, Instagram announced that they were finally going to be adding a much desired update that would allow users to save drafts. Since then, this update has been rolling out to Instagram app users. Before this update, many Instagram users had to find unique ways to save posts they were working on. Some would turn their phones to airplane mode even. The trouble was that hitting the back button or closing the app would mean you had to start your post all over again. For those who spend a lot of time on their Instagram posts and are likely to be interrupted as they work on their posts, this was really impractical.

 

Many users are very excited about the new feature that Instagram is using since it will allow them to tweak with their posts until they are completely satisfied. Now when editing a post, if you hit the back button a prompt will appear asking if you would like to save the post as a draft. This means that if you get distracted or have to stop working on a post for now, you’ll be able to have Instagram save it for you.

 

Once you have the time to work on the post again, you’ll be able to find the post that you were working on in a special new section of your pictures library. You’ll be able to find these conveniently located above other photos. You can then open these drafts and continue working on them to your heart’s content, until you either save them as drafts again or post them. In this section, you will also find a “manage” button which will allow you to delete drafts when you don’t want them stored anymore.

 

There are a few restrictions to how these drafts are used that some users aren’t entirely happy about. One is that you cannot save anything to a draft until you have made visual edits, tagged someone, or started to write a caption on the post. This one is relatively minor compared to the other one which is that no more visual edits can be made to the image in the post. These aside, the new feature is a great one for many users of Instagram who would like to spend a great deal of time working with their posts.

Instagram Update Provides Users With a Way to Block Abusive Comments

taking instagram picturesWith a groundbreaking update, Instagram is striking back against trolls and internet abuse. This particular social media site has been having many troubles with internet abuse because many of the users can stay largely anonymous. This has led to people commenting on photos with rude and hurtful comments that often include harsh language. Now these users won’t be able to get away with this so easily since Instagram has launched a filter that will block this type of language.

 

While Instagram will be providing a premade list of offensive words that people can block, users will be able to personalize this list so that they can block words and even emoji that they feel are offensive or inappropriate. This will allow each user to choose which words will not appear in the comments, allowing them to create a safer space to express themselves.

 

The main reason for Instagram being one of the first social media sites to try something like this is largely because Instagram has had many problems with abusive comments. In some cases, users have had to delete their accounts because of the level of abuse. Instagram doesn’t want to lose users of course, so they are doing what they can to make sure that users aren’t discouraged from being on the social media site because of the level of abuse they might have to endure.

 

Instagram’s plan is to allow users to implement these filters so that the users can post more freely. The idea is to make it so that people don’t have to worry about expressing themselves in unique and individual ways and receiving a lot of backlash because of it. The hope is that Instagram will be able to keep experiences on their social media site a lot more positive.