Facebook Improves Safety Check

Yesterday Facebook announced that it was updating its Safety Check feature, making it easier to find and more useful for people in dire need. It will now have its own dedicated tab with all information consolidated there.

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According to Facebook’s Disaster Response page:

There’s now a single place to go to see where Safety Check has recently been activated, get the information you need and potentially be able to help affected areas.

Safety Check isn’t perfect — sometimes it prompts people far outside the crisis area to check in.. When it originally debuted, it was for natural disasters, but has since expanded to include multiple different kinds of crises, including terror attacks.

It’s a sad state of affairs that the Facebook Safety Check needs to be more prominent because, in an age of consistent and frequent global crises, more people need it more than ever. But at least Facebook is trying to help..

Facebook will be rolling out the feature over the next few weeks.

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Disabling Facebook’s Comments Tab

When you comment on a Facebook post, whether that of a friend or someone in a group, you’re automatically subscribed to receive notifications for every single new comment. If you aren’t a fan of this, you won’t like what Facebook added to this feature.

From Facebook:

To ensure that you don’t miss a single comment on certain posts, you’ll now see a popup tab with new comments on posts that Facebook thinks you care about. The tab mimics a chat window, but instead is a series of threaded comments on the original post.

It’s unclear how Facebook determines which posts matter to you, but you can disable this feature if you want. And even if you have yet to see this popup appear, you can preemptively stop Facebook from deciding for you what matters most.

To disable this feature, click the gear icon in the bottom-right corner beneath your chat sidebar and click Turn Off Post Tabs.

This option should appear whether you have chat turned on or off, but if you’ve hidden the Facebook sidebar, you’ll have to click the gear icon twice – once to turn on the sidebar, and again to pull up the menu.

If you change your mind and find that you really do need these notifications after all, you can easily turn them back on in the same menu.

If you really don’t want to engage at all, you can also disable notifications for posts you’ve commented on, but unfortunately you have to do that each time you comment. After you comment on a post, scroll to the top of the post, click the little arrow in the right hand corner and click Turn off notifications for this post from the menu.

You can always keep track of what you’ve commented on in your activity log instead. To view your activity log, just follow this URL:

http://facebook.com/me/allactivity

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Facebook’s Updates It’s Look

Facebook’s mobile apps are getting a new look, though blink and you might miss some of the changes.

The most obvious update is coming to comments, which now look a lot more like a conversation in your average messaging app rather than than a series of posts. This falls in line with Facebook’s recent desktop tests, which display comment threads a bit more like group chats.

The idea is to make comments a bit more readable, and make it easier to see who’s replying directly to another person.

Facebook might also be trying to subtly make conversations with strangers a bit more friendly. The text bubble’s resemblance to a messaging app could make it feel more like you’re actually having a personal conversation with participants, rather than replying to a random internet thread.

Less obvious are the changes to the News Feed. Facebook is using a brighter shade of blue and has increased color contrast overall to make text more readable. The link previews are slightly larger – they now take up the entire width of your screen – and the Like, Comment, and Share buttons are now larger.

Throughout the new design, Facebook has also replaced it’s silhouette style icons with more iOS-like wireframes – for better or for worse. I like them, but your mileage may vary.

There are also other small tweaks like a more prominent back button and the ability to see where a link will take you before clicking on it.  The whole shebang looks a fair bit more like Instagram now.

Oh, and Facebook pulled a Twitter, switching perfectly fine square profile photos for circular ones.

Facebook will be rolling out the new design “over the coming weeks,” so you may not see it just yet. The new look certainly isn’t the most dramatic overhaul Facebook’s ever seen, but seems to mostly be for the better.

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Viewing Your Activity on Facebook

You know that feeling when you’ve liked a link on Facebook but can’t find that link again? Luckily, it’s really easy to find every link, post, and even comment that you’ve liked.

There are quite a few ways you can find anything on your Facebook timeline, but to find everything you’ve ever liked on Facebook, the easiest way to do this is to head over to your profile and click View Activity Log. In addition to seeing your likes, you can see pretty much everything you’ve done on Facebook: what you’ve posted, commented on, saved, and more.

If you want to drill down just to your likes, there’s a menu on the left that allows you to view just one type of interaction. In this case, you’ll want to click Likes. A small submenu will appear that allows you to drill down even further to either posts and comments or pages and interests.

Using the calendar to the right of the screen allows you to view all the content on Facebook you’ve liked from the day you joined the social network.

You can also use the activity log to unlike content without having to go back to someone’s profile or page.

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Saving Data Usage with Facebook

Are you a Facebook addict? Aside from needing to break the addiction as soon as possible (seriously, it’s not a healthy way to live your life), you should give some serious consideration to your data usage. Facebook like other apps just loves to use data – even when you are not looking at the app.

If you’ve had a few “shock” bills from your carrier, Facebook could be to blame. Between high-resolution images and auto-playing videos, the app can burn through data in no time.

Of course, you can turn off auto-playing videos by going to More (the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner of the screen) > Help and Settings > App Settings > Auto-play.

But there’s a better way: use the Data Saver tool.

What Does Data Saver Do?

Data Saver not only prevents videos from playing automatically but importantly, it also reduces the resolution of any images in your feed.

To set it up, head to the More menu in the top right-hand corner or your screen. Scroll down until you find Data Saver. It’s in the Help and Settings section.

On the next screen, make sure you slide the toggle next to Data Saver on into the On position. When you enable the setting, a new option will appear. It allows you to disable the Data Saver feature while you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Other Options to Save Data

To further reduce your data usage, there are a couple of other hidden settings you might find useful.

Go to More > App Settings and turn off the toggles next to Upload photos in HD and Upload videos in HD.

As a last resort, you can install Mobile Protect. Navigate to More > Mobile Data to get started.

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Facebook Continues it’s Fight Against Fake News

Facebook on Thursday began offering additional links to news stories as another method to help users discern false news and misinformation.

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The changes are seen in Facebook’s “related articles” feature, and are meant to better restrict inaccurate news without requiring the social media site to censor material.

The change will affect Facebook pages in the United States, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook was criticized for failing to rein in the spread of deliberately false information on the social network. After first resisting potential changes, Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook’s responsibility to deliver legitimate news stories.

Facebook has partnered with fact-checking website Snopes.com, which labels some stories as false from a Facebook-built database.

Also, Facebook said its machine learning algorithm has improved its efficiency, meaning it will now send more potential false news to fact-checkers.

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Fake Facebook Message Spreads – Do Not Be Fooled!

Do not panic Facebook friends! Your account has NOT been “hacked”.

A fake Facebook warning is urging users to avoid accepting a friend request from a user named Jayden K Smith because he is a hacker. Longer versions of this hoax claim accepting the user will result in your account getting hacked.

Image result for Fake Facebook message warns users not to accept Jayden K Smith hacker

This appears to be the latest in a string of fake hacker warnings, none of which have any validity. Such warnings are popular on social media – those that warn of a nefarious hacker who will compromise your security should you accept them into your digital life.

These types of warnings make little sense. You cannot be “hacked” just for accepting a friend requests, and if such warnings were true, why wouldn’t Facebook remove such offending accounts before such warnings had a chance to go viral?

It should also be noted that there are genuine accounts with the name Jayden K Smith but we’ve also seen a surge of fake accounts using this name claiming to be “hackers” pop up as a result of this viral rumour. These accounts belong to pranksters looking to exploit this rumour, not “hackers” or cyber-crooks.

Samples of these warnings include:

 Please tell all the contacts in your Messenger list, not to accept Jayden K. Smith friendship request. He is a hacker and has the system connected to your Facebook account. If one of your contacts accepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it. Thanks. Forwarded as received

 Don’t accept Jayden K. Smith , she is a hacker and will get into all your friends accounts on your friends list and hack them also so if you get a friend request from her name delete!!!

 To all!
Do not accept friends request from Jayden K. Smith! He is a hacker and if you accept, you and all your friends will be hacked!!!!!

These types of warnings have been around long before Facebook, affecting users of now defunct services such as MSN Messenger, where users would pass on warnings of phantom Messenger hackers trying to add themselves into your contact list. Such warnings were equally as spurious as their more recent Facebook counterparts.

Only last week of the date of this article another fake hacker warning was being spread warning of a hacker called Anwar Jitou, and much of these current warnings are penned exactly the same only with the name of the alleged perpetrator changed. It is likely that many of these warnings start as jokes but take a life of their own when users take them too seriously.

With that said, adding strangers on Facebook isn’t a good idea, and can potentially lead to compromising your privacy and your security, albeit not in the manner described in this warning. Accepting strangers gives them access to more of your personal information which can lead to issues such as identity theft.

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Facebook Helps You Find Free Wi-Fi

Last year, Facebook began testing a feature that made it easy to find public Wi-Fi networks around you. It was only available in iOS, and only in select locations.

Now Facebook is rolling out the feature to everyone on its mobile apps. Just tap on the ‘More’ tab, and then select ‘Find Wi-Fi’. You’ll see nearby Wi-Fi locations on a list or map, as well as information about the businesses hosting them.

It’ll come in handy if you’re travelling internationally and don’t have cellular data/can’t afford roaming. There’s often Wi-Fi  somewhere around you, but getting a consistent signal can be a pain if you don’t know where the network is originating from. 

Likewise, it comes in handy if you’re on a limited data plan and wan’t to use Wi-Fi as much as possible to avoid being capped or paying extra fees.

Keep in mind, the tool only lists Wi-Fi networks that businesses have chosen to share their information on Facebook, so you’re probably not going to find every possible connection through the tool. Also note that Facebook will turn on its Location History tracker if you enable Find Wi-Fi, which keeps tabs on all the places you’ve visited:

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Facebook Improves Trending Topics

Today Facebook introduced a couple of changes that make it easier to spot trending topics and the coverage around them. This is good news to me because I find Facebook’s newsfeed incredibly frustrating.

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The first change is that there’s a bit of a visual redesign. Previously, clicking on a trending topic would highlight a story from one publication, and you’d have to scroll down past a live video section to view related stories. Facebook is replacing that system with a simple carousel, which does a better job of showing you different coverage options.

To be clear, the change doesn’t affect how stories are sourced, according to Facebook. It’s still the same algorithm picking out some of the most popular stories about the topic. Facebook’s is simply making it easier to see other options, which is certainly an improvement.

Second, Facebook is now putting trends right in your News Feed on mobile devices. Previously, they would be hidden within search, which isn’t exactly intuitive. Instead, Facebook will now just display the top three trending topics on your News Feed, after which you can click through to see other trends. Thankfully, Facebook gives you the option to remove it if you’d rather avoid trends altogether.

The new trends carousel is rolling out to iOS today, and will arrive on Android and desktop soon. Meanwhile trends in your News Feed is just a small test on mobile devices for now, so not everyone will see it, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it roll out widely in the future.

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Manchester Terror Highlights the Power of Social Media

Tragedy almost always brings out the best in people. Social media services often get bad press and perhaps this criticism is deserved sometimes. However as we found out during last evening’s tragic act of terror in Manchester social media often steps up and provides help to those caught in terrible events.

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Last night, shortly after the terror attack in Manchester Facebook began helping people connect to those who were impacted by the tragic events at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena.

Hours after the incident unfolded, the Greater Manchester Police confirmed that there were 19 fatalities (this number rose to 22) and as many as 50 people injured in an explosion just as Grande wrapped up her set at the 21,000-seat sports and music venue.

Police and emergency services quickly began working at the scene to evacuate those trying to flee the arena and others who’d been injured in the blast.

Police at Manchester Arena

To help those impacted by Monday’s explosion get in touch with their loved ones, Facebook quickly initiated its Safety Feature for anyone in the Manchester area. I have reported on this a couple of times in the past and you can read the earlier articles here.

All you need to do is click this link, and then tick the box for Safe if you are indeed safe. The Safety Check also lets you connect with friends or loved ones who were also in the area.

The service has been used by Facebook in the aftermath of natural disasters, and incidents like the November 2015 terror attack inside Paris’ Bataclan concert hall.

Tragic events bring out the best in most people and as you can see the same is true for social media services like Facebook.

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