Social Media News Brief

Facebook Steps Up Measures to Stop Discriminatory Advertising

facebook policiesAfter Facebook was criticized for having different advertisements for housing and employment that were excluding people of ethnicities visible on their site, Facebook announced in November that they would be making changes to fix this. We are finally beginning to see the new changes rolling out now. Facebook has updated rules for advertisers stating that ads should not be discriminatory. They’ve also added some new tools to prevent discriminatory ads from going out on their website.

 

The first part of Facebook’s update actually changes the advertising policies for the website to make it clear to advertisers that this kind of advertising practice will not be allowed. They have added a section which not only outlines the new anti-discriminatory policy, but also provides advertisers with a range of resources from government agencies and civil rights groups to help further educate advertisers on the subject. As advertisements for housing, employment, and credit opportunities that exclude groups on the basis of ethnicity are in violation of federal anti-discriminatory laws, these are the ones that Facebook is currently targeting the most.

 

In addition to the changes to advertising policies, Facebook has implemented some new tools that will flag advertisements that might be in violation of the policy. These tools evaluate the ad to see if it is about employment, housing, or credit opportunities and prevent the ad from appearing on Facebook if it is found to be an ad like this that is using multicultural affinity targeting as well. The information about the violation is then sent to the advertiser.

 

While these new tools target specific ads and keep them from showing up on Facebook if they are in violation, advertisers still have ways to appeal these decisions. Since these tools might not identify the subject of the ad properly, advertisers will be able to request a manual review if they feel that their ad is being wrongfully blocked. Facebook’s new policies and tools are just the start to preventing discrimination in advertising on their website.

New Update to Facebook Allow Users to Search for Photos Using AI Technology

image searchFacebook has just begun to roll out a new feature that will allow users to search for photos within the platform. This new feature can be used by searching for keywords that describe the image. The search will then return pictures from your friends that match that description in some way. In addition to using captions and comments on photos as clues to help the search bring back relevant results, Facebook is actually using special software that will allow its search function to actually return result based only on the image itself.

 

Releasing this update comes after updating Lumos, a piece of AI technology that Facebook had already been using to help recognize individuals and to tag them in various photos. This new update to the technology being used allows Lumos to actually look at photos on the pixel level so that it can describe the photo in various ways. This new AI technology is highly innovative as previously search engines relied on captions and descriptions to search images.

 

The new features show a big change in search technology on the whole as previously even image searches relied on text surrounding pictures to identify them. Of course, this method was flawed in that a person could write anything down as a caption and in other cases images didn’t correspond to surrounding text or didn’t have a caption at all. With the new ability to use image understanding, Facebook’s search feature is able to return more relevant results. Although it still seems to use keywords in descriptions and comments for more abstract searches, it is able to also use information that it has gathered from the photos themselves. This makes it so that photos that might not have any comments or a caption will still show up in the search.

 

While Facebook has been using Lumos already to identify faces and landmarks that can label who is in the photo and even where it is taken, the new update allows Lumos to extend its abilities to identifying what is actually happening in the photo as well. By doing this, Facebook has made it so that they can offer a search function that can help users find pictures that they would like to see again whether it is images of a pizza that they cooked a few months ago or of their friends playing in the snow. Users will be able to have access to this function right away as Facebook is currently rolling out image searches to all users whether they use Facebook on the computer or on a mobile device.

Twitter to Launch Additional Features Targeting Harassment in the Following Weeks

verbal abuseOn Monday, Twitter announced that Twitter users will be seeing a series of new features that will be used on the platform to limit abuse and harassment. Among the top feedback that Twitter received about the use of the website, was the fact that abuse and harassment makes Twitter a lot less fun on the whole. In a platform focused on the flow of conversation and opinion, such abuse halts the natural flow and discourages users from participating. For this reason, Twitter has renewed its dedication to weeding out this kind of behavior.

 

This week Twitter announced that they are going to be taking a completely new approach on abuse that occurs on their website. Over the coming days and weeks, they are planning to launch fixes to existing features and to add new ones to prevent abuse. These will include fixing the mute and block features and adding new ways to prevent repeat offenders from creating a new account when their account is suspended. By approaching safety on Twitter in a more aggressive way, the website hopes to break the pattern of abuse on Twitter.

 

One of the first changes to Twitter has already been rolled out, although it is a relatively minor one. Twitter will now allow users to report any Tweet that mentions them even if that user has blocked them on Twitter. This will prevent the common problem of people being unable to stop the flow of abuse from a user who hides behind the shield that blocking provides. While this isn’t too big of a change, it is a step in the right direction.

 

Preventing abuse and harassment on Twitter is of top importance to the company. Since they have received so much feedback about the abuse on Twitter and how inhibitive this can be, they are finally taking many steps to stop the harassment that is flowing through Twitter. While Twitter has tried some things in the past, they are promising much bigger changes in the future. By changing the climate for abuse and harassment on Twitter, they are hoping to make their website a place that is more welcoming to new and existing users.

Twitter Launches New Explore Tab on Their App

exploreYesterday, Twitter began to roll out a new feature on their app starting with iOS users. With the new Twitter update comes a brand new tab called Explore which replaces the previous Moments tab. This new tab groups a wide variety of features together to make it a lot easier for users to search for trends, popular topics, and the latest news. By adding a tab that groups many features, Twitter is hoping to have an app that is easier for people to navigate.

 

The new tab, placed between the Home and Notifications tabs, is going to include a number of different features that were previously spread around the app. Inside of this tab, users will be able to find trending topics, the search feature, live video, and moments that would previously be found under the moments tab. Twitter has stated that the purpose of this change is not to get rid of anything that the app already has but to make it so that everything is more organized and easier to find. As Twitter has long been facing problems with the organization of the app and the website, making an update like this should be a step in the right direction.

 

This update comes after months of testing various organizational versions of the Twitter app. Twitter has been focused on making it easier for users to move through the site in a hope that this will encourage new users to stick with the site and to start using it more. After many different tests, Twitter discovered that the Explore tab was what most of these people seemed to like most as it put a lot of information and features in one place.

 

As this new section has replaced the Moments tab, many people see the switch as a step away from the importance of Moments within the app. Instead, it seems clear that Twitter will be prominently featuring live broadcasts. Since Twitter has spent a lot of money and time on securing live broadcasts of popular events, focusing more on these broadcasts is the next step toward utilizing these within their platform.

Facebook Makes Updates to Its Trending Feature to Reduce the Prevalence of Fake News

fake newsIn the wake of the presidential election in November, Facebook received a great deal of criticism for spreading fake news that may have contributed to people’s views on different topics during the election. As a result, Facebook has been working on making some updates that are targeted at eliminating fake news and preventing the spread of fake news through Facebook. Some new changes have begun rolling out today that are made to control the spread of fake news through Facebook’s “trending” feature.

 

This feature was launched back in 2014 as a way for Facebook to help people find interesting and relevant discussions that were happening within Facebook. By making some changes to this feature, Facebook is hoping to avoid spreading fake news that many people are already discussing on their site by drawing further attention to it. They’ll be adding headlines that come directly from news sources and placing a line with the source below this to make it easier for people to see where the news is coming from.

 

In addition to adding clear statements about where the news is coming from, Facebook will stop targeting their “trending” topics at the individual and will instead be choosing topics that are more broadly targeted. This should make it so that the items that come up in this section are a lot more relevant to a larger number of people on the whole. It should also help to get the focus off of smaller articles that may be fake pieces of news.

 

One of the main ways that Facebook will now be working to block fake news stories is that they will have the “trending” feature ignore topics that come from a single news report in favor of ones that are covered by many media outlets. This is a good way for Facebook to prevent fake news stories from trending even if they are pieces that have a lot of people talking about them. By making these updates today, Facebook is hopeful that it can keep fake news out of the “trending” feature.

Facebook Incorporates Messenger into Facebook.com

facebook messageWhile Facebook has been using Messenger as a secondary app connecting to their platform for quite a while, they have yet to give many desktop and laptop users the ability to have the updates that have come with Messenger. The old Facebook inbox remained on their actual website until this week. Now Facebook has replaced this interface with a desktop version of Messenger.

 

With this new change comes a huge amount of new features for messaging through Facebook.com. Users will be able to enjoy many of the great features that have been rolled out to Messenger over the last several months. They’ll also have some customizable options for their conversations that make it so that they can change the color of the conversation, edit nicknames, alter which emoji can be used, and mute notifications about a conversation. They will also have the ability to make voice calls through Facebook.com.

 

It seems that the idea behind switching is to harmonize user experience between the Facebook apps and what people view on Facebook.com. Facebook knows that many users switch between their computer and their phone or another device regularly which is why it makes sense to make messaging the same on both devices. This hasn’t stopped the range of complaints that have been coming out about the new interface for messaging on Facebook.com.

 

Many users have already started to complain about the new update reacting partly to the fact that the change occurred with no warning in the form of a Facebook announcement. Some are calling for some way for users to choose which kind of interface they would like to use. Complaints about the new inbox include the most recent message being set to an automatic read status if a person goes into the inbox and photo uploads being sent immediately. While Facebook has been listening to complaints, it does seem that they are going to continue to use their new desktop version of Messenger from now on which means that users will just have to get used to it.

Instagram Brings Ads into Popular Instagram Stories

instagramSince the launch of Instagram stories back in August, this feature has grown a substantial following. Right around 150 million users work with this feature each day. With this area of Instagram enjoying such a high level of success, Instagram has decided to put in some ads that will show up as people are scrolling through stories. They are launching these new ads over the course of the next few weeks.

 

To test the ads that will be placed into Instagram stories, Instagram has joined with 30 large advertisers who would like to get videos and simple ads to appear for these users. Instagram hopes that by adding full screen ads that appear intermittently as users swipe through photos and videos they will be able to increase advertising revenue generated within their app.

 

For now, these ads and videos are limited to still photos lasting five seconds and videos up to 15 seconds. These ads will also be skippable, which means that Instagram users will be able to pass them by rather than waiting for them to finish before moving on to look at the content that they are interested in. Businesses will be able to look at analytics surrounding their ads so that they can see which ads are more interesting to users and which are skipped often. This will allow businesses to target their ads at the content people want to see and the items they would like to buy.

 

The overall goal of adding these different ads to stories is to create a space where businesses are able to more easily connect personally with their customers. Businesses will be able to target their ads toward people who have specific interests so that their ads are really reaching the people who are most likely to purchase their product. By providing businesses with the tools to reach their customers, Instagram is making itself into a social media site that is better for businesses.

Snapchat Makes It Easy to Make Connections by Adding a Search Bar

searchFor a long while, users of Snapchat have been waiting for some kind of tool that they can use to easily go through snaps and find the ones that they might be interested in. While the app has been criticized in the past for having a confusing layout, it is clear that Snapchat is now making progress toward creating an app that is a lot more organized. On Thursday, a new update rolled out a new search function to many Android users.

 

While other social media features have had search bars for a very long time, Snapchat is new to the search function. By adding a search bar to their app, they have put themselves in line with the standards of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Users will now be able to look for friends, media companies, and search the app for things that might interest them on the whole. This feature adds a new level of accessibility to the app by allowing people to more easily use the app to connect with friends and with their favorite brands.  

 

The universal search has made it a lot easier for people to find new people to follow on Snapchat and to make it so that followers can find them as well. By using the search function, users are able to find people making different snaps about subjects that interest them the most. Snapchat hopes to use this new feature to encourage new users who may have been previously discouraged by the lack of a search feature.

 

In addition to this search function, Snapchat has been working on creating a much more organized layout on the whole. Part of this update has meant changing the layout so that Snapchat users are able to access their profile from any screen by tapping the ghost icon or Bitmoji. This makes it easier for Snapchat users to continue using this app without getting lost in the app altogether. With the new features as a part of this app, Snapchat may be able to quell complaints that focus on their layout being overly complicated or confusing.

An Edit Button for Twitter? It Might Happen in 2017

editWhile Twitter made a lot of different changes during 2016 one of the main criticisms by users was the fact that they didn’t make changes on highly requested items, such as an edit button that would allow users to make changes to tweets after these had been posted. Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey decided to start the new year by asking users what they want to see on Twitter. Of course the edit button was one of the main things to come up as usual. What is new, is Dorsey’s response to the idea.

 

In responses to several different Tweets about the edit button, Dorsey asked further questions about what users would like to get from this button and whether they wanted long term editing or just short term. He suggested that the edit button was something that he had been thinking a lot about and talked about perhaps allowing a short window of time for editing or a revision history for edits done later on. This makes it seem like Twitter is taking the possibility of this update seriously.

 

This has of course caused a great deal of excitement among Twitter users just because this is something that they have been asking for regularly. Users have stated that the edit button is necessary to help fix grammar and spelling mistakes and also for clarifying information that may get misconstrued while trying to stay within the 140-character limit. At this time, users are able to delete tweets, but often this is a bit of a hassle for a misspelled word.  

 

Now that Dorsey has admitted that the edit feature is something the site is beginning to consider, many people are starting to get excited over the idea. Some are theorizing that Twitter might be more open to user suggestions due to a disappointing year in 2016. With low user growth and job cuts within the company, it is clear that Twitter has been looking for changes. The edit button just might be a good one to add as it is a feature that competitors including Instagram and Facebook already have.  

Facebook’s Messenger Update Seems Ready to Challenge Snapchat

facebook messengerFacebook recently made the decision to add some great new features to Facebook Messenger which allow people to communicate using pictures complete with stickers, filters, and more. This new update adds many features similar to those popular on Snapchat including masks and filters that can be used for pictures or for video as well. Unlike Snapchat, the pictures and videos that are sent don’t have any kind of time limit, so people can view them however they want.

 

With the new update to Facebook Messenger, users can add masks, effects, stickers, and frames on their photos and videos captured with the in-app camera. To use the new camera features, users just have to open the app and tap the camera button. This will then show you the different types of items that can be used on the photo that you’ll be taking. The new update also makes it so that users can draw on images and add their own text.

 

Prior to this update, Facebook Messenger did have a camera feature, but this was one that was fairly plain and boring. Facebook has now added a camera that offers all of the frills and editing features that have been proven successful in other platforms like Snapchat. They hope that by adding these items they’ll be able to encourage people to spend more time sharing videos and pictures with each other through Facebook Messenger.

 

The update represents a part of one of Facebook’s recent goals which is to make Messenger something that exists in real time and is a lot more visual than it has been. This new update also makes it so that Messenger can compete more directly with Snapchat and other applications. Some are already claiming that Facebook’s new messenger update helps to make it better than Snapchat since Facebook’s version allows users to place text and stickers before a picture is even taken, making it easier to line up items in the picture and streamlining the process of creating and sharing these items. This update is definitely one that brings Facebook into a space to compete with Snapchat more easily.