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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.

New Facebook Update Makes It Easy to Add Color to Text-Only Statuses

facebook colorsThis week Facebook launched a new feature to add color options that can show up behind text-only posts. With their new update, some people are going to begin seeing a lot more colorful posts appearing on their news feed as their friends share statuses with new color schemes. The idea of this new color addition is that these colors will help to make text only posts more visually appealing.


For now, the update is only going out to Android users, but soon the feature will be released to iOS and web browsers as well. Users who have access to the new feature will be able to write their posts as they always did, but they will notice a color menu appearing under the box that they can type their post into. By selecting one of these colors or color gradients, the user will be able to have this color background appear with their post.


While the feature will not work with links, pictures, or videos, it does open up a wide range of options for those who are posting text-only statuses. Users will be able to select from a range of colors including the standard white as well as yellow, yellow orange gradient, red orange, green blue gradient, pink purple gradient, and grey. Facebook’s purpose is to make it so that text-only statuses don’t end up getting lost in the sea of links and videos that are being shared on Facebook.


Beyond just keeping these statuses from getting lost, Facebook is probably hoping to make it so that users are more interested in posting text-only content on their site. Over the last several years, they have seen a significant decrease in the number of original sharing posts that have appeared on their site. Since many users like to use Facebook as a way of keeping track of what their friends are doing, encouraging these kinds of posts rather than viral videos and news shares just makes sense. Whether the colored text-only posts significantly increase the number of posts like this remains to be seen.

Twitter Finally Launches Internal Live Video

live video streaming While Twitter was early to start on the development of live streaming within their social media platform, they just now have integrated this live video into Twitter itself. Twitter users can now broadcast live video directly from Twitter without installing Periscope or even having a Periscope account. This new update puts Twitter’s live video feature within Twitter in a way that makes it much more convenient to Twitter users.


In the past, there was some reluctance toward live streaming on Twitter as the process was over complicated. Users had to install the Periscope app and use this app to create live streaming videos. These would be shown on Twitter as well, but people watching the broadcasts couldn’t interact with the video. The new update changes this to make it so that Twitter users create live videos directly from Twitter.


One of the big changes with the update that rolled out earlier this week was not only to make it so that the video could be streamed live directly from Twitter, but also that viewers of the video would be able to interact with it more. Members of the audience can now respond to the video by making comments and sharing emoji. Tweets containing live streams may also be retweeted and shared making them a whole lot more versatile.


By adding this live streaming to their platform, Twitter is finally joining other social media sites in real competition for the live video market. Despite their head start with the acquisition of Periscope, the app was losing momentum long before the new update. This is because other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram released live video updates that made the live video streaming an internal feature that was easier to work with. Now that Twitter has integrated Periscope within its own app, they may be able to become more competitive in this area once again.

Facebook’s New Feature Allows Users to Create Their Own Frames

frameIn a new move last week, Facebook decided to release an update that would allow users to actually start making their own frames for pictures and videos displayed on the social media site. While custom frames have been available on other social media sites before now, Facebook is just now starting to allow people to create their own frames. Facebook has created frames in the past that users can add to their pictures, but for the first time Facebook is handing over the reins to the users on the site. For now, the feature is only available in some countries.


If you are in Colombia, Mexico, Taiwan, the UK, or Ireland, you may already be able to create frames for the pictures that you post on Facebook. The new feature makes it so that you can choose from dozens of profile frames or even use a special feature to create your own frames to go around your pictures. These frames will be ones that you can share with others who use the social media site as well so in time a vast selection of frames will be available.


While the tool is sure to be fun for normal users who want to create exciting frames to share with their friends, the main target of this tool is actually businesses and people who are planning special events like weddings and parties. The frames will allow related pictures and videos to go together in a completely new way or add advertisement to a standard photo. The application of this new feature should be very helpful for certain individuals.


One concern about these different types of frames is that some of these might break Facebook policies. However, Facebook is already on top of this. While frames can be shared with others, they must first be submitted for approval. Facebook will then check them to make sure that they adhere to Facebook terms before they are allowed to go live. The company will also be able to take down frames identified as inappropriate after they’ve been posted. The custom frame feature is not coming to the U.S. just yet, but hopefully we’ll see this feature sometime soon.

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.

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.

Twitter Makes Changes to Direct Messaging

messagingIn a recent move, Twitter released an update for their direct messaging application. The new changes to this particular feature of the website include adding typing indicators, read receipts, and also content previews beneath links that are sent over this messaging program. Many of these changes are ones that put this messaging program on a similar level to others used by different social media sites.


As part of the new changes to their direct messaging, Twitter has implemented read receipts. These make it so that users are able to see when the person who receives the message has looked at it. In addition to this, Twitter also has added typing indicators which are small boxes that pop up to let you know when the other person is typing. This can help you to avoid typing at the same time. These different features are all part of Facebook messaging already so there is nothing especially innovative about them.


Many people don’t really like having it so that the other person can tell if they have read a message. Luckily, Twitter has a solution for this. Users that don’t want to have read receipts sent to other users they are talking to can turn off this feature in the settings of the Twitter application. If they turn off read receipts, they will then be unable to see when people have read their messages in addition to other people not being able to see when they have read theirs’.


Twitter is continuing to add different features as they are struggling to compete with different social media sites. Many users are complaining that while Twitter continues to add updates, these are not the updates that Twitter users have been asking for. One update that Twitter users would like to see is a lift on the limit of how many direct messages can be sent in one day. For now, it looks like Twitter isn’t interested in making these user requested changes.

Further Changes Come to Facebook Live Streaming

video streamingWhen Facebook released live streaming, it was with the intention that there would be many tweaks coming in the future. Now, Facebook is making some further updates with the intention of making live streaming better for both the viewer and the person streaming. The major change in this update will be allowing longer sessions that are targeted both to the viewer and the streamer in completely new ways.


The main part of this update right now is that Facebook will now allow streams to last up to four hours, around twice as long as was possible before. This should allow more time for those who want to teach through their live stream. It will also make it so that viewers will be able to get more out of the live stream whether they are tuning in to just a small part of it or watching the entire stream.


To help those streaming stay focused more easily on what they are streaming, there is now going to be a way for the person streaming to hide the comments and reactions that they may otherwise see popping up as they are trying to stream. By hiding these comments until a specific point in the stream, someone who is creating this stream can save questions for the end of a presentation and feel a lot less like they are being watched and talked about by so many people. Along these same lines, Facebook is making it possible for both viewers and streamers to change their video to full screen, allowing them to see details more easily.


In addition to these current changes, Facebook plans to release several other updates in the coming months. Users will be able to block viewers from their stream based on location, age or even gender. As new updates come out, Facebook live will continue to change and grow. The goal of all of this is to make the streaming more appealing for a wide range of people.