Twitter Expands to 280

After a brief trial, Twitter is officially rolling out 280-character tweets to everyone starting today. You should be able to tweet out double the amount starting now using both Twitter’s website as well as its mobile app.

Image result for twitter 280 characters

Twitter originally test-drove the feature with a small group of users this September. During the trial, it was looking to see how the longer tweet length affected how and when people tweeted. In a blog post announcing the update, Product Manager Aliza Rosen commented that the goal was to give people more characters to tweet with while ensuring that it kept the “speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter.”

After looking at the data, it found that even people who had the 280-character limit more often than not still tweeted under 140 characters. The longer length was only used when it was needed, and according to Twitter, made people tweet more easily and more often.

“Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters. As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you’ll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline,” Rosen said in her post.

If you want to try out the new 280-character limit for yourself, you should have the ability now on Twitter’s website and mobile app. If for some reason you don’t, try refreshing the website or updating your app. The feature should be available for most soon.

Japanese, Korean, and Chinese tweets will continue to have a 140-character limit because Twitter says “cramming is not an issue in these languages.”

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Happy 10th Birthday Like Button!

The Like Button, made famous by Facebook, has officially hit its 10th anniversary — and it’s so abundant that it’s hard to imagine our internet without it.

Image result for like button 10 years

There is a quite a history with our little Like Button.

In case you don’t remember the dark, wild time of 2007, let me give you a quick crash course: Facebook didn’t create the Like button. The button originally debuted October 30, 2007 on a platform called FriendFeed. At the time, it just looked like a blue hyperlink with the word “Like” as anchor text.

FriendFeed, which was acquired by Facebook in 2009 and shut down in 2015, may have been the first to debut the feature, but Facebook engineer Andrew Bosworth later claimed something similar had been in the works at Zuckerberg’s company earlier. Still, it was Facebook which popularized the feature.

I don’t think you can overstate how much the Like button has changed human communication. It’s a marker of social esteem, an expression of solidarity, and often an adequate replacement for trifling niceties — all in one.

Nowadays, it’s pretty much the norm for any form of social media to have a button to deliver shorthand approval — hearts, thumbs ups, Facebook’s own catalog of Reactions. If a site doesn’t have one, they’ll just borrow Facebook’s. It’s the beginning and end of digital discourse in one blue button.

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Removing Apps in Facebook

Your Facebook account isn’t just a social account. It’s an online ID much like a Google Account. There was a time when developers of both apps and services asked users to sign up for an account with them. Not only did this mean a longer on-boarding process it also meant users had more account to keep track of and more passwords to remember. Developers now give users the option to sign up for apps or services with their Facebook account. Unfortunately, none of these services give you an option to disconnect the service from your account. If you want to remove an app or service from your Facebook account, you have to do it via Facebook.

Remove App Or Service From Facebook – Web

Sign into Facebook and click the dropdown arrow at the top right. Select Settings from the menu.

On the Settings page, select Apps from the left column. If you want to revoke specific permissions for an app, click the edit button next to an app. If you want to remove an app or service from your Facebook account, click the close button on it.

Remove App Or Service From Facebook – App

Open the Facebook app and tap the hamburger button, scroll down the screen, and tap Settings. There are several types of settings but for this purpose, you need to tap Account Settings.

Scroll down the Account Settings screen and tap Apps. On the Apps and Websites screen, tap on ‘Logged in with Facebook’.

Here, you can see a complete list of all apps and services that have access to your Facebook account. Tap the service or app that you want to remove. On the app’s own screen, you can edit the information it has access to. To remove it, scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen and tap the ‘Remove App’ button.

When you remove an app or service from your Facebook account, you stop the app from accessing any future information. Apps still have access to your email account and removing it from Facebook won’t undo that. If you want to remove the personal information that’s been collected so far you should look for an option to delete your account with the app or service you removed.

If you think removing an app or service is pointless because it doesn’t wipe all your personal data from the app/service’s database, that’s not true. If you have a malicious app on your hands, you don’t want it accessing any more information than it already has. If it still has access to your account, it might post on your behalf or spam your friends.

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Facebook Improves Your Memories

Facebook is making its Timehop-style feature, On This Day, bigger and better. This means that Facebook will show you more memories than ever, filter out bad memories likely to upset or annoy, and show you friendship milestones. All of which will be great for fans of nostalgia.

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On This Day is a nice feature that adds a touch of nostalgia to Facebook. On This Day basically reminds you what you were doing one, two, or even 10 years ago, based on what you posted on Facebook. And now Facebook is expanding its reach, and improving how the feature works.

Memories, Milestones, and Moments

First, Facebook wants to show you even more memories. So, now, it won’t just be individual memories from specific days, but rather whole collections of memories from particular months of seasons. The two examples Facebook cites are “Your January Memories” and “A Look Back At Your Summer”. Both of which offer photos and updates posted within that timeframe.

Secondly, Facebook wants to celebrate your friendship milestones. This involves you getting a pat on the back when you make a notable number of friends or have your posts liked a certain number of times. At the moment these will only be visible to you, but they will become shareable in the future. Which means Facebook is about to get gamified.

Finally, Facebook wants to help you filter out bad memories. On This Day already boasts some controls and preferences to ensure you’re happy with the memories being surfaced. However, Facebook claims it has developed new ways to filter out memories that may spark negative feelings. Which include failed relationships or people who have passed away.

Helping Ramp Your Nostalgia Up to 11

I must admit I enjoy having Facebook remind me of what I was doing on this day years ago. Memories good and bad can come flooding back. And these changes, which add more memories while helping you filter out those likely to upset you, should ramp up the nostalgia effect.

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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.

Image result for facebook safety check

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:

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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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Fake News, YouTube & Aliens Collide

NASA is making great strides at learning and explaining the complexities of not just the planets in our celestial backyard, but also the makeup of our galaxy and the universe as a whole. It seems that new planets, some that can even sustain life are being discovered regularly. This is where science ends and the problem with fake news and how it can be distributed via social media begins.

About a week ago, a video surfaced on YouTube claiming that NASA was about to reveal the first hard evidence of alien life, and what happened next is probably going to make your shake your head in disbelief at the wonder of fake news and how many people continue to fall for it.

The You Tube video, which was uploaded by someone calling himself “Anonymous Global,” is just a collection of old stock footage and an (of course) obscured voice claiming that NASA has found alien life and was going to announce it soon. There is nothing here but a bunch of nonsense. In fact, the person in the video reading the paper doesn’t even appear to be speaking the words heard in the clip, and it’s likely just a looped clip of a previous video being reused for the umpteenth time.

Because this is the internet, this means someone is going to share it, others are going to watch it, and some people are going to believe it. What is amazing is that the entire thing began to snowball, hitting sites like Daily Mail and eventually even Newsweek, crediting “Anonymous” with having evidence that NASA is poised to reveal the discovery of aliens, with absolutely nothing in the realm of reality to back it up.

Setting aside the obvious issues with various news outlets referring to Anonymous as a “group” — when in reality the entire concept of Anonymous is that there is no structure or members in the traditional sense. The video is very clearly nothing more than an attempt to generate some ad revenue. Ads play in the middle of the video as well as the beginning, which is hilarious, and since the video has now gained over one million clicks, it’s probably making a decent chunk of change.

This is a clear example of the travesty of fake news. People often believe anything – even when they know better.

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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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