By Amit Chowdhry
From Our Forbes Files: Social Media Roundup: Instagram Close Friends, YouTube Stories, Facebook Giving Tuesday Hits $125M
“Social Media Roundup” is a weekly roundup of news pertaining to all of your favorite websites and applications used for social networking. Published on Sundays, “Social Media Roundup” will help you stay up-to-date on all the important social media news you need to know.
Expansion Of Local Section
This past week, Facebook announced the expansion of a new local section on Facebook called “Today In.” Facebook is also starting a test for local alerts from relevant government pages. The “Today In” feature connects people to local news and information across more than 400 cities in the U.S. And now it is being tested internationally in Australia. Facebook is also running a test with over 100 local government and first responder Pages to help them distribute time-sensitive and need-to-know information for Facebook users. This may include major road closures, natural disasters, and blackouts. The alerts will be capped at 35 over a rolling 30-day period in order to prevent overuse. “The local alert label appears in News Feed and Today In, and we are also testing notifications, which participating Pages can target to people who live in the affected areas,” said Facebook Product Manager for Local News and Community Information Anthea Watson Strong in a blog post. If you live in a city where the “Today In” feature is available, then you can find it by opening the Facebook app, tapping on the three-line menu and then tapping on “Today In.”
Ability To Block Comments With Certain Words May Be Coming Soon
Facebook may soon add the ability to hide comments containing certain words. App developer Jane Manchun Wong discovered the feature being tested and posted a screenshot of it on Twitter: Facebook is working on letting users to ban words/phrases/emojis from showing up on their personal timelines Users will be able to ban certain words along with certain phrases and emoji. But users who post those words will still be able to see the full comment and their friends will also be able to see it. This feature could help prevent users from seeing hate speech and feeling bullied. Facebook also has a built-in spam filter for comments, but this feature helps in case malicious content passes through the spam filter. Facebook’s photo social network Instagram has the ability to filter out comments with certain keywords. And Twitter also has the ability to block certain keywords from appearing in the feed.
Watch Party Rolls Out For All Users
Facebook is rolling out the Watch Party feature for all users. This feature allows users to watch and comment on videos together through Pages and profiles. Pages and Groups can schedule a Watch Party in order to bring in more viewers. This could be helpful for product launches put together by brands. Facebook is also testing the ability for Watch Party hosts to go Live picture-in-picture so that they can engage with the community through Live Commentating. Since the Watch Party in Groups launched, there have been more than 12 million Watch Parties in Groups. And Watch Parties “garner eight times as many comments than non-live videos in Groups.”
$125 Million In Online Fundraisers For Giving Tuesday
“Giving Tuesday” took place on November 28th and fundraisers brought in $125 million for charities through the social network. As a comparison, Facebook saw $45 million in donations last year. This year, Facebook and PayPal partnered on a massive matching program for donations. The two companies agreed to match up to $7 million in contributions on a dollar-per-dollar amount and a first-come, first served basis. But each nonprofit was capped at $250,000 and each donor was capped at $20,000. Interestingly, the matching program happened rather quickly. The matching program launched at 8AM ET and the requirements for the full match was achieved within seconds, according to Fast Company. “Wow, that was fast! While the $7M million in matching dollars from Facebook and PayPal was met quickly this morning, every donor and every dollar will help make an impact. So keep up the good work!” said Facebook in a tweet.
An engineer at Facebook reportedly warned the company about a major data issue involving Russia back in 2014. According to a report by Business Insider, a UK lawmaker discovered these details in a cache of sealed Facebook documents. The engineer had warned that entities with Russian IP addresses were using a Pinterest API key (Ordered Friends API) and was pulling “over 3 billion data points a day.” At a hearing on Tuesday, UK Member of Parliament Damian Collins asked Facebook’s policy head Richard Allan if this potential data breach was reported. But Allan did not have an answer. After the hearing, Facebook said that it investigated the issue and did not find any evidence of specific Russian activity. The documents were being reviewed as part of an investigation between Facebook and an app development company called Six4Three. Six4Three founder Ted Kramer received the documents that Collins was referring to through a lawsuit he filed against Facebook in California. In the lawsuit, Six4Three claimed that its Pikinis app was shut down after Facebook stopped allowing app developers to access Facebook friend data in 2015.
Business Insider reported that Kramer was asked to turn the documents over to the government during a visit to London. Even though he refused at first, Kramer was told that he could receive a fine or imprisonment if he did not turn the documents over. The Wall Street Journal has reviewed unredacted internal Facebook emails between 2012 and 2014 that reveals the social network considered charging companies for access to user data. Since the company was struggling to improve its revenues following the IPO in 2012, a staff member at the company suggested shutting off data access to companies that were not spending “at least 250K a year.” Facebook also discussed requiring increased ad spending. Facebook does not charge for user data so this merely seemed like it was a brainstorming session. The emails might be made public as it was obtained by the UK Parliament through the aforementioned Six4Three case.
Messenger Bug Randomly Brought Back Chats From Years Ago
A bug in Facebook’s Messenger resurfaced the chats of users that took place years ago and placed it at the top as if they were new. Fortunately, the bug was fixed within a day. “Earlier today, some people may have experienced Facebook resending older messages. The issue, caused by software updates, has been fully resolved. We’re sorry for any inconvenience,” said Facebook in a statement via The Next Web.
There are more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairments. And so Instagram announced two new improvements that make it easier for people with visual impairments to use the photo social network. Instagram introduced automatic alternative text so users with visual impairments can hear the descriptions of photos through a screen reader as they use Feed, Explore and Profile. Instagram uses object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers so that users are able to hear a list of items that photos may contain as they browse the app. Plus Instagram is introducing custom alternative text so users can add a richer description of your photos when they upload it. And users who have screen readers will be able to hear that description. Now you can set up a Close Friends list on Stories and share them with just the people you have added. Instagram has been testing this feature for over a year and it is available on the iOS and Android version of the app. “Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn’t for everyone. With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose,” said Instagram in an announcement. You can add people to the Close Friends list by going to your profile and tapping on “Close Friends” in the side menu. Only you will be able to see the close friends list and no one can request to be added. After you share a story, you will see an option to share it with just the people on your close friends list.
Neeraj Arora, the chief business officer at WhatsApp, is departing from the company. Arora was reportedly in line to take over as chief executive officer following the departures of WhatsApp co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum. Acton left last year and Koum said that he was going to leave Facebook in April 2018. “I’m going to be taking some time off to recharge and spend time with family. I am deeply indebted to Jan and Brian, who entrusted me to be their business companion for so many years and I am thankful to each one of you who has supported me along the way and made this exciting journey possible,” said Arora in a Facebook post. Arora worked at WhatsApp for about seven years after Acton and Koum hired him from Google. And Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014.
Stories Feature Coming For More Creators
YouTube started rolling out its Stories feature for more creators this past week, according to The Verge. Video creators who have over 10,000 subscribers will be able to use this feature. Stories on YouTube last for seven days on the mobile app compared to the 24 hour period for Instagram. The Stories appear for subscribers and non-subscribers. And it appears in the “Up Next” sidebar next to videos. Through Stories, fans can write comments and ask questions. Then video creators can respond to their fans and the responses are displayed publicly.