Archives for Social Media

Facebook bringing Canadian children their own Messenger app

According to The Vancouver Sun, Facebook is bringing the adolescent version of its popular Messenger app to children in Canada. The app has proved controversial in the United States since it launched last year, with health experts worrying continued exposure to “digital devices and social media is harmful to young people.”

Messenger Kids is an app which allows kids too young for a Facebook account – which means under thirteen years old – to video call and message with selected contacts. Parents can control the contacts their children access, and messages cannot be hidden or deleted.

As The Vancouver Sun explains, “The app allows them to call or message adults on their Facebook Messenger, so those 13 years or older and with a Facebook account don’t have to download the separate app.”

There has been push in the United States to remove this platform, for the safety of children. The question is how much exposure to social media a thirteen year old or under really requires, and what long-term consequences it can lead to.

Do you think Messenger Kids will receive the same pushback in Canada? Would you let your children use the platform?

Source: vancouversun.com – Facebook launches Messenger Kids app in Canada
Published: June 22, 2018

Facebook data center coming to Utah

On May 30th, Facebook announced it had plans to build a data center on a 490-acre site in Eagle Mountain, Utah. The center is expected to open in 2020, and will create around 30 to 50 full-time jobs and additional contract opportunities on an as needed basis. The City of Eagle Mountain has said that the project “represents a $750 million investment in [the city],” according to Fox Business.

Facebook has announced it will invest $100 million in local infrastructure in Eagle Mountain. This includes roads and a new electric substation. To make this investment appealing for Facebook, the company is “set to receive $150 million in property tax incentives.” Tax exemption legislation in Eagle Mountain was actually passed in 2016, with the exact purpose of attracting data centers.

“After a thorough search, we selected Eagle Mountain for a number of reasons – it provides good access to renewable energy, a strong talent pool, and a great set of partners,” said Rachel Peterson, vice president of data center strategy at Facebook, in a news release. Facebook’s decision to put its center in this region does not come as a huge surprise, because it will be located 15 miles south of another data center, belonging to the National Security Agency.

Source: foxbusiness.com – Facebook plans to build huge Utah data center
Published: May 30, 2018

200 Facebook apps suspended over privacy concerns

In the latest addition to the post-Cambridge Analytica Facebook saga, the social media giant has suspended 200 third-party applications after a privacy audit. According to SlashGear, Facebook’s “data misuse investigation found signs that they may have been acting improperly.”

Cambridge Analytica has closed its doors following the scandal, but it was likely not the only company abusing data it collected from the platform. This is where the investigation of all apps that “had access to large amounts of information” became necessary. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised that all suspicious apps, as well as developers that refused to comply with the audit, would be banned.

On May 14, Facebook Vice President of Product Partnerships, Ime Archibong, confirmed that “thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended.” The apps will be investigated to ensure that they really did misuse data, and if they are found to have done so, will be permanently banned from Facebook.

If you are interested in learning more about this process, SlashGear says Facebook will be posting the results of its audit on a support page.

Source: slashgear.com – Facebook suspends around 200 apps in privacy audit
Published: May 14, 2018

What exactly do advertisers know about you? Facebook reveals the truth.

Ever since the Cambridge Analytica story broke, the world has been frenzied over a fact that we already knew before this scandal arose: Facebook makes money from advertisers, and part of that is selling our data so that they can target ads directly to us.

As TechSpot explains, “In the early days of the Internet, advertisers were essentially fishing with a blindfold on – they’d cast a wide net in the form of a static banner ad and hope the product or service they were pitching would be of interest to a site’s visitors. These days… advertisers utilize all sorts of metrics to hone in on a very specific demographic … This targeted advertising is – at least, in theory – beneficial to both advertisers and consumers.”

Of course, the fear has become that advertisers will know too much about us, and that we have a right to privacy which is perhaps being violated. To help ease our minds, and its own problems, Facebook has shared with us just what advertisers actually know.

In a piece for Facebook’s Hard Questions series, VP of Ads, Rob Goldman outlined how advertisers use Facebook to reach consumers. The piece discusses three main ways your data is used.

TechSpot explains that the first way “involves information you choose to share about yourself when using the social network such as your age, gender or hometown. Other data such as posts you like or articles you read can also be used to build a profile about you. For example, if a bike shop aims to target female cyclists in Houston, Facebook can show the company’s ad to women in the Houston area that visited or liked a page about bicycles. In this instance, Facebook provides the advertiser with reports about the types of people seeing their ad and how the ad is performing but not personally identifiable information about you.”

The second method works by “the advertiser bringing information about a customer to them.” The example TechSpot gives is if you made a purchase somewhere online, thus giving an advertiser your email address in the process. “Facebook can find accounts that match that data although it says it doesn’t tell the advertiser who matched,” TechSpot explains.

The third method involves using Facebook tools to reach out to users. TechSpot says “if a retailer uses Facebook Pixel, they can have the social network show ads to people that looked at a certain style of shoe or those that may have placed a pair of shoes in their shopping cart.”

And what if you don’t want to be the recipient of this kind of attention? Goldman reminds users that they can visit the ‘ad preferences’ section of their Facebook settings. Here, “you’ll be able to see the “interests” assigned to your account and remove them if you choose, view which advertisers have your contact information and are currently running campaigns, hide ads from certain businesses and even disable some shared data used in targeted ads.”

Source: techspot.com – Facebook shares what advertisers know about you
Published: April 23, 2018

Was your Facebook data accessed by Cambridge Analytica?

If you’re one of the 87 million Facebook users who might have been involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, you’ll soon find out. Facebook will be sending all the implicated users – including 622,161 Canadians – a detailed message in their newsfeed. Over 70 million of these individuals are based in the United States.

If you don’t receive a specific message saying your data was accessed by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook still will be reaching out. According to CBC, “all 2.2 billion Facebook users will receive a notice titled ‘Protecting Your Information’ with a link to see what apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps. If they want, they can shut off apps individually or turn off third-party access to their apps completely.”

This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified before US Congress, answering some ever-present questions about what is considered to be the “worst privacy crisis in history.” Although the number currently stands at 87 million people implicated, whistleblower Christopher Wylie told NBC’s Meet the Press that the number could be even larger.

Source: cbc.ca – Facebook users can find out if they were part of privacy scandal
Published: April 9, 2018

Twitter finishes in the black for the first time since going public in 2013

Since going public in November of 2013, Twitter had never finished a quarter in the black – until now. According to Forbes, Twitter “announced fourth-quarter net income of $91 million on Thursday. Last year, the firm reported a loss of $167 million in the same period.”

CEO Jack Dorsey was happy to share his thoughts alongside the earnings. “Q4 was a strong finish to the year,” Dorsey said in a statement. ““We returned to revenue growth, achieved our goal of GAAP profitability, increased our shipping cadence and reached five consecutive quarters of double digit [daily active user] growth.”

It took Twitter cutting costs by 28 percent in that quarter to make that income. But it seems it was worth it. Following the announcement of it earnings, Twitter shares surged 27 percent. Forbes explains that the company also saw some increased revenue in other areas: “Advertising revenue in the quarter increased 1% year over year, totaling $644 million. Revenue from data licensing and other operations, meanwhile, was $87 million, gaining 10%.”

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Twitter saw 330 million monthly average users, which was about a four percent increase from the same time in 2016.

Source: Forbes.com – Twitter Records First-Ever Profit, Shares Surge In Pre-Market Trading
Published: February 8, 2018

Instagram will now archive your stories

Have you ever wanted to look back on your past Instagram stories? Be it for nostalgia purposes or engagement analytics – the feature would be nice to have. According to The Verge, this will be possible with Instagram’s new service, which starting now will “add your expired stories to the archive feature.”

Until now, Instagram archives have only been used to store photos and videos you no longer want to display publicly. Now it will include all your past stories for both Android and iOS users. If you don’t want to have your stories archived, you can opt out of this feature.

This is another example of Instagram borrowing from its wildly popular competitor, Snapchat. Snap added its own archive feature, Memories, to its popular social media service last year. However, it’s not a total copy –  according to The Verge, Instagram Stories will let you do one key thing Snapchat doesn’t: “Post old stories to your profile in a feature the company is calling Highlights.” You will be able to choose from your archived stories, group them as you like, give them a themed name, and share them to your profile, where they will appear above your other posts.

Stories have revolutionized Instagram, gradually becoming one of the most popular features the service has to offer. This is evident from their position at the top of your newsfeed, and now with archives, at the top of your profile as well. The Verge reports that Instagram made the move to archive stories after a significant number of daily users were downloading their stories, and others filed complaints that they intended to but forgot.

Instagram has passed 800 million users!

Instagram has had some great news this month. According to SlashGear, the social media platform recently revealed it now has 800 million monthly users, growing an incredible 100 million since April of 2017. Perhaps even more impressive is the company’s 500 million daily active users.

To put that number in perspective, Instagram’s closest competitor Snapchat announced in August it has 173 million daily active users – a huge number of users, yet still dwarfed by Instagram’s platform.

According to SlashGear, “This acceleration in Instagram’s daily active user count is likely thanks to the roll out of Instagram Stories. That’s somewhat ironic, because Instagram Stories certainly borrow a lot from Snapchat Stories, which have been a cornerstone of Snapchat’s service for quite some time.”

This perspective certainly has merit, given that despite the bad press Instagram Stories received upon release, the feature reached 250 million daily active users in a year.

Instagram is expected to hit a billion users sometime in 2018.

Introducing Watch, the Netflix of Facebook

Facebook announced earlier this year that it was making a push into video streaming, focusing on both licensed shows and original content. This came to fruition this month with the introduction of Watch, a new video streaming platform that will available to a limited group of Facebook users in the United States.

According to BGR, “Some of the shows available at launch include Nas Daily, a daily show where a creator makes videos with his fans; Gabby Bernstein, a show from a motivational speaker who answers questions and gives advice; and Kitchen Little, a show about kids who try to instruct professional chefs on how to cook a meal. Also, Facebook has a deal with MLB to broadcast one baseball game a week.”

The content streamed on Watch will each have its own “Show Page” on Facebook where users can learn about the show, watch episodes, and interact with the community. Additionally, if you follow a show, Facebook will notify you every time an episode it released. Facebook hopes to one day monetize these shows through ad breaks, but is currently self-funding some shows to kick start the platform.

Watch will have an app for mobile, desktop, and certain Smart TVs.

Instagram bug outrages users

According to the Verge, angry Instagram users have been taking to social media over running into difficulties logging into their accounts, blaming the company for deleting them without explanation or warning. In the midst of its users’ fury, Instagram had the chance to speak out and explain the situation.

“We’re aware of a bug that is causing some users to be logged out their accounts,” a spokesperson from Instagram said. “We’re working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

The accounts that are currently malfunctioning appear to be disabled, so it’s no wonder users were panicked. If someone with a working account were to try to visit one of the affected accounts, they would see a “Sorry, this page isn’t available” message. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any pattern or similarities between the accounts affected – some are business related while others are personal.

According to The Verge, “In every case we’ve seen documented online, users were unable to recover their accounts and received no notice on why theirs were disabled. Some users claim that Instagram prompted them to enter their phone numbers to verify their accounts, though they never received a confirmation SMS and had their accounts disabled anyway.”

If you’ve been having troubles like this with your Instagram account, worry not. The problem should be resolved soon, and your account has not been deleted.