With so many communication methods available on social media, it’s no wonder our preferences for the medium keep changing: one week it looks like messenger apps are taking off, next week ephemeral photos and videos are in vogue, and during the third, independent “anti-”social networks emerge.
As the world of social media changes, so does our social news roundup—after all, you can’t be a leader in social relationships if you don’t keep up with the times. This is why this week’s news summary will be the last, in this format.
When one chapter closes, a new one starts—and we have some exciting things planned for you to get your fill of social media news. Stay tuned! In the meantime, let’s get you caught up.
Latest from the Big 4
Despite the initial hesitation to migrate to the standalone Messenger, Facebook’s new smartphone app has made its way to the top three messaging apps, the recent study by GlobalWebIndex found out. It’s second only to another messenger joining the Facebook family—WhatsApp. It seems that now users have learned how to turn off the persistent push notifications, and found out the advantages offered by the iOS 8 update, they have made peace with the unbundling act.
The amount of information contained within the report qualifies for our long read section; in summary, it’s a report describing the number of times the government or law enforcement authorities have requested a LinkedIn member’s data, and what percentage of those requests have been accommodated. While most countries average two requests a year, over 1000 accounts of United States users have been subject to request. LinkedIn’s blog notes another anomaly observed in the report, saying that government requests spiked 150% compared to the last five reporting periods combined; and the professional social network is looking into reasons for the increase.
Next big thing
By now, the mysterious Ello has probably come up in one or two conversations. What’s this invite-only social network, and why should you join it? The question has titillated the imaginations of reporters on social media and tech beats, with heralding it as the next big thing. What those of us without the privilege of an invite know is that Ello is an ad-free, independent social network that prides itself on anti-commodification—not collecting user data. Its manifesto concludes with a declaration, “You are not a product.” Ello’s Beta design is simple: grayscale page theme with a monospace font, with a symbolic black-and-white eyeless smiley face for a logo. Whether the rapid user switch to Ello will place the social network on par with giants like Twitter and Tumblr, or fizzle out to join the ranks of many other predicted Facebook rivals, it’s certainly a social media phenomenon worth tracking.
Prime Internet real estate for selfie-related needs has been bought a while back, with no hint at what the service may look like. Recently, the website revealed itself as a landing page for Selfie, a smartphone app that allows users to send video selfies. The videos can run up to 24 seconds, and can be shared with select friends privately by @mentioning them, or send to the whole network. Creators of the app mentioned a hope to bring back face-to-face interaction—even if it mediated by the smartphone screen.
A question we ask with every new smartphone release is, Who actually talks on the phone anymore? The question of why we no longer like using our voices to communicate with others (Siri doesn’t count) bothered former Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie. Talko, a group call app, is the result of his research. Conversations via the app are recorded and stored by default; they can be bookmarked and tagged by subject. Users can also illustrate points in conversation with text and photo messages in the app, instead of switching between interfaces. The app is primarily geared for business organization, but can easily be used to call friends and family—to accompany the latest Facebook photo with a story.
Long Read: Real merit in fake news
Rumours of Facebook introducing fees for their services are nearly as old as the social network itself. And despite many explanations of why the social network will never charge its users, they just keep coming back. Over. And over. They have become such an inseparable part of our Facebook experience that the latest Facebook-fee rumour that took over the News Feed originated from a satire news source.
Taking obviously false headlines seriously is not necessarily a result of gullibility, explains the author of this DailyDot article. News like Facebook’s introduction of monthly fees are believable because of how plausible it is. The phenomenon is known as confirmation bias, or a tendency to interpret or seek out information that confirms one’s existing beliefs and expectations. Plainly speaking, it means that every time a Facebook friend shares an article from the Onion, believing it to be a description of real-life events, it means the satire hit close to home. Enjoying Facebook services gratis all these years, and knowing full well the likely source of free cheese, is enough to work even a notorious skeptic into a panic.
Social media played a large part in fueling the spread of fake news, so much that Facebook has tested the ‘Satire’ tag for trending news stories to address the growing confusion. But even this is, I think, is a Band-Aid to the jugular kind of solution: there are much more effective things we as readers and consumers of online information can do to avoid falling prey to rumors and bad humour. This is why it always helps to check the source of the articles, watch the tone, and, for goodness sake, read the whole thing.