February 2016

Empower Your Teen

I've been hanging out online since I was a kid. It became even more important when I hit high school and I was suddenly spending a lot of time alone. I know you're probably thinking that you don't care, you're not interested in hearing another sob story but that isn't what this is. Social media was as important to me as a teenager as it is to so many girls (and boys) today, but all I'm seeing in the press is a negative view of it and it felt fundamental to share both sides of things with you.

I want to start by saying that I'm not suggesting that nothing negative ever happens. Photos get leaked, girls get preyed on, bullied and humiliated and people for some reason seem to forget that you need to be certain a person is real before you agree to meet them and that you always make sure you have someone with you. But some of the issues people blame social media for have been hounding teenagers for generations in other forms. I'll never forget that most teenagers in my high school had seen an explicit photo because because someone sent it to a crush or partner but it got leaked through text or blue tooth. That was before Snapchat and Instagram so excuse me if I'm not shocked because some of these things have been happening for years.

There's a whole other side to social media for teenagers who may feel alone, who are bullied or maybe they have to move away from their friends. With social media it's easy to keep in contact with friends, even at a distance, and while it's not necessarily easier to make new friends, you do at least have more opportunities to. Social media can be a safe space to talk about different topics, from trying to understand sexuality to just finding people who have similar interests to you. You do have to be careful of fake accounts but if you can get them to Snapchat you or talk to you on webcam or something that allows you to see they are as they appear in their pictures, it can make you and your parents more comfortable. My Mum had to have a conversation with another friend’s Mum when I was 16 before we met up; just to prove we were who we said we were. My friend gave me a joke predator name because to us it was hilarious as we'd checked up on each other.

If you have a teenager who you know doesn't get out much and they spend a lot of time on social media then chances are that it's where their friends are. You see joke posts on Tumblr all the time about teenagers not wanting to leave their bedroom but for some it’s a reality. And I've had friends awkwardly try to explain to me why they need to have this long conversation on Facebook with their crush rather than having it face to face because they're too embarrassed. The scaremongering reports seem to forget that teenagers are still teenagers; some might feel like they have to be on it but for others it can be a sigh of relief as they're so awkward. They can be someone else for a little while and have conversations they actually care about rather than just about celebrities or what so and so did at that party the other night.

Another worry is that some teenagers might get humiliated for their choices on social media but it would be happening in the corridors at school or written on the toilet walls even without the internet. Teenagers can get the chance to learn almost anything thanks to social media like Youtube, can ask any question thanks to other sites and can be treated older than they are, which is what they want. You have to think, if its 8-12 year olds actually reading books for younger teenagers as the older teenagers start to read adult books, why wouldn’t their social media show the same phenomenon?

People are judging social media for all the wrong reasons. Yes, there are lots of unfortunate examples but I bet if a lot of parents sat down and just asked what they did on social media and to see some of it, you'd be surprised by how tame most of it is but how much fun they have. They can stalk the celebrities they read about in magazines on Instagram and Twitter, they can share funny photos on Snapchat, can spend hours watching stupid videos on Vine and YouTube or hours laughing about stupid memes on Tumblr. They can learn who they are on there just as much as they can with their friends in real life. As long as they're careful, which a lot of teenagers know to be.

Statistic from end of 2014 | BBC
So don't demonise something that you use a lot yourself, there are horrible crimes happening to people of all ages because of it but that doesn't make it a living nightmare. It's only destructive if you let it be. Yes, social media is still very new and we are still working the kinks out but we can all do that together.

LinkedIn aren't having the best time right now, their stock recently took the worst nosedive in company history, their valuation dropped and investors have started leaving in droves. The sprawling social network cum job hunting database hasn't given up the ghost just yet, and now they're doing what they can to encourage more people to sign up.

It's difficult to predict how social media companies will approach TV advertising, there's no one way of doing it. Facebook tried to basically define themselves as friendship incarnate, whilst Twitter just kind of went meme crazy. LinkedIn's approach is a little more ambitious - it's all about outer space. The slickly produced ad, which will air on TV during the Academy Awards, claims that 3 million LinkedIn members are qualified to be astronauts. Given that NASA is currently looking for one, that's an intriguing statement.

In a related blog post, the company's Vice President of Marketing, Nick Bartle, states that LinkedIn are actively working with NASA on their search, using the site's deeply detailed roster of users to figure out who the best candidates might be. The notion that as many as 3 million users are actually qualified is exciting because it suggests that the ideal job might find you, rather than you having to find it. Moreover, you might actually be qualified for bigger, better things than you ever imagined.

Every kid dreams of being an astronaut at some point or another, you just have to hope that Gravity doesn't put them off it for good. It certainly did me, there's little point in surviving an ordeal like that if you were indirectly responsible for the death of George Clooney. Anyway, it will be interesting now to see how this kind of advertising, along with the recent brag that the platform now has 414 million members affects LinkedIn, and whether it can pull them out of the fire.

Yubl is such a strange sounding name, I'm not even sure how to pronounce it but it belongs to the latest social media app in town. It's only been available for a couple of days worldwide but man; it looks like the new app to be on.

It's easy to think that we don't need any new social media services out there these days. We have services for almost anything we want to share and then Facebook or Tumblr for when we want to pool everything together. But what we didn't have is a service that brings a few of the social media services together in fun new ways. And that's exactly what Yubl does, in concept it's pretty simple. You have three different tabs that allow you to share with different people. Private allows you to share with certain friends or groups only, public means anyone who follows you can see it and Explore allows you to see endorsed and celebrity posts. Some of the posts you can even interact with; from stickers you tap on to see move, to voting buttons and maps so you can see where everyone is or just one specific location. All together this might sound like a lot but it's also kind of exciting.

As said the private section allows you to message people or groups. You can send messages as normal text if you want or you can send a more typical Yubl with a different coloured background, photos, videos, stickers and so on. You can also send the stickers on their own so they're not taking up a huge portion of the screen. If you're someone who likes the stickers on things like Facebook Messenger then you'll be glad to know that all the stickers they have will remain free, even when adding new ones. The message threads themselves will appear in a normal message list with the user or group's names on so they're easy to access. The groups can have as many members as you like and the app has practically been built to easily organise events. A few of the clickable buttons you can choose including the voting one which provides two options, a counter option so you can count how many people are attending as well as the location and pinpoint buttons that open up a map so people can see where they are or where they're going. There's also a button to post links to things on the internet.

The Evening Telegraph
The public section is somewhere you can basically do anything you do above, but everyone will see it. It's kinda like adding a snap you take to your story rather than sending it to a select few. The public section could be great for keeping people entertained and gathering opinions. Not sure how you look in your new shirt but don't just want to ask people who'll be soft on you? Then ask everyone! The only issue here is that too many big and brightly coloured posts one after the other could be a little bit of an overload so I wouldn't post publicly too often. But generally it looks to be a lot of fun.

The explore section is the only place you'll see advertising on the service and it is integrated. There won't be banners or random ads thrown in, but instead a Yubl post that is clearly advertising something. All the example images of the service are showing bags and coffee so it shows you how the advertising is going to be aimed at a younger generation, in a way that is at least a little fun.

The Evening Telegraph
Generally I think this looks like amazing fun and I think it's something I personally might try getting into, if I can find other people who want to use it with me. It's bright, simple to use and very interactive. It's more what people are looking for if they're going to be forced to try a social media service so hopefully it's one that will do well. The app is currently available on both iOS and Androidso get downloading! Oh and if you want a more animated preview of how it works first? Then check out Yubl's website, it looks pretty cool.

Have you ever wondered what Twitter looks like through somebody else's eyes? Me neither, but now you can do it anyway. TV producer Rob Dubbin, best known for his work on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert created an algorithm for this on GitHub. He was inspired to do so when news broke that the feed would start to become more algorithmic than chronological. He wanted to be able to control his feed to the extent that he didn't have to worry about sponsored content which he wasn't interested in.

To use it, you have to have Python and access to Twitter's API. With that done, you just run the script and then you can switch seamlessly back and forth between your standard feed and one with somebody else's preferences in place. It does have applications beyond mere curiosity, it can help with finding new people to follow, market research, or guideline on how to better retrofit the preferences of your own account.

This isn't the first tool built to enable such snooping. An app called Being enables users to view Instagram as if they were a different person, for instance. TweetDeck allegedly also played around with a similar idea at one stage, but the feature quickly vanished.

It can be easy to forget just how tailored the Twitter experience is in this day and age, new data is being collected constantly and then applied to your account, changing what you see and the way you see it. The thing is, such algorithms might purport to know what you want to see, but that isn't always true. No social media platform is completely custom, and most of them are moving increasingly away from that, rather than towards. Facebook might claim to have a vested interest in showing you only the content that's relevant to your interests, but it also wants to throw as many ads under your nose as it can. Same with Twitter.

Twitter might not ever directly back something like this, but if enough marketers show an interest in it, it could become a vital part of audience research.

Tech Crunch
What has always been one of the most annoying forms of adverts on desktop computers? Pop Ups. The idea of an advert taking up your full screen is the most annoying thing, especially if you click one open by accident. Facebook's Canvas ads aren't going to pop up but if you do accidentally click on them, they will fill your entire phone screen.

Facebook are always looking for new ways to advertise. The more innovative their ad space, the more advertisers they'll be able to make money off of. It makes sense and at this point we're used to ignoring adverts on Facebook but it seems as if Facebook are planning on making them more intriguing to click on. The new Canvas ads will appear in the news feed as normal adverts do. They won't randomly open up or take over your experience but if you do click on them then they'll open to a full screen page.

The idea is to make adverts more interactive. These pages could have slideshows, videos and anything interactive or scrollable that would allow you to discover more about the content the advert is sharing with you. It could work quite well if the advertisers are just as innovative as Facebook and the ads continue to be targeted. It's going to be no good if someone who can't drive is being shown a car ad and so on. You want to grab people on a first look and give them a reason to find out more, just like with an article preview. The ads are easy to make within an ad building interface and there's even a live preview like you would have for a webpage which makes it even more practical.

The only issue is that these ads are going to be big. They will take up your entire phone screen and it's so easy to accidentally click on something on mobile. If you can accidentally like something then you can accidentally open an ad. If this happens too often then people are going to be mad so the fewer ads, the better. It would also be good if people could opt out of them but that does seem unlikely. Facebook aren’t likely to risk losing money after all.

The new ads are rolling out globally using Facebook's power editor tool so if you're looking for an interesting way to advertise, this could be it.

Vaping is taking off in a huge way, with millions of people worldwide taking it up. Some are using it as a means to quit smoking, others are simply using it as a counterpart to it, but the numbers don't lie. In the UK, there are currently 2.2 million people vaping, which, while still significantly less than regular smokers (who comprise 19% of the adult population), is nothing to scoff at.

Big tobacco companies are scrambling to get in on the market, and dedicated shops for e-cigarettes are popping up everywhere, with hundreds of different kinds on the market, you can even get an official Wu-Tang Clan one. Don't, people will laugh at you, I say that even as a long time fan of their music.

The problem is, we simply do not know how harmful vaping is yet, nowhere near enough time has passed to demonstrate what long term damage it causes. Sure, there's far less nicotine in them than cigarettes, relatively speaking, and no tar, but the chemicals used to make the oil still have potentially harmful properties, and they have been known to explode in people's pockets from time to time.

In the UK, where you can actually use them is something of a grey area, there's no legal clause to ban them indoors, but some establishments do. In France, they're already banned in enclosed work spaces, public transport and areas with children, but they're now looking to extend that to restaurants, cafes and nightclubs.

The main reason France have been so tough on them is not necessarily because of the health risk, but because they can act as a 'gateway' to smoking, and because the marketing of them isn't yet restricted. They can be freely advertised, and some are concerned that they're being marketed to children. That's where Twitter comes in. Researchers at New York University's School of Medicine have started tracking vape-related key words on Twitter, in a bid to ascertain why people are using them, how they're being marketed and who to.

Hopefully, through this study, the researchers can better figure out what attracts people to vaping, whether it is largely a measure to quit smoking, or if it's about the flavours and different designs available, which would by extension suggest that they're being angled towards a younger demographic. The age range of people talking about vaping will also be clarified by the study.

Why Twitter? It's simple: vaping is a very new type of product, and social media plays a big role in its marketing. All the big brands have active Twitter pages and tens of thousands of followers, and they are the ones whose tweets are being most closely scrutinised. By extension, the tactics of the bigger brands can be explored, seeing which customer tweets they're most responsive to, and in what way.

Even generally speaking though, social media studies can be implemented more quickly and widely than standard surveys, since they require no direct input from the people in the sample pool, all the necessary information is already there, it just needs to be analysed and collated.

The problem with this, in terms of vaping, is that around 80% of all the tweets about it are spam, conjured up by bot accounts. That, to me, says something rather unsettling in and of itself, if a product which is supposedly designed to alleviate an addiction is being peddled in such a broad, disingenuous way. The key is brushing past all of that, and finding the data that can really benefit the development of health policies.

The Independant
If you've not stumbled across the Man Who Has It All on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook then you're missing out. These three satirical accounts are supposedly all run by one man, a working dad of three kids who's wife tends to be so busy she can't help out. Well, actually, she did cook them some toast once so he counts that as a good thing.

If that statement is at all familiar then that's because it's something you fairly often hear women saying about their husbands/boyfriends/baby-daddies because surely that's all you need to expect from them? These accounts are great because they show how completely ridiculous a lot of these statements are but for some reason, we only realise this when we hear it coming from a man's mouth. Maybe that should be a little worrying in itself but I'm going to take it as a gift that might encourage men to change, just so they don't get laughed at by women or, worse, their mates.

The accounts have been around since last year but didn't pick up much steam until recently which is kind of sad. The writer's contact details are for a publishing agent so chances are all these social media posts will eventually be gathered together in some kind of book which could be interesting. There is no way of telling if whoever is writing this is actually a man or if it's a womanwho's sick of being spoken to like she's special or wrong for working. I think it is most likely the latter but we'll have to see.

Each account has a different type of post on it with the Tumblr account having the fewest. The posts on there are basically just lists. It's described as being a "lifestyle blog for super busy working dads" and the links on the sides are for things like a facial shape test, affirmations to feel better about yourself and so on, all tailored for these working dads.

Then you have the Facebook which features pictures with the inane statements on that you'll find in some of his tweets. There areno statuses that are purely text or pictures of any of his 'kids' so in some way, this account feels less like a real account than the others but it's still amusing in a way that also makes you want to groan. The pictures and statements are similar to some of the annoying posts that do pop on working mums Facebook walls but once again, it feels even more depressing when you see it in this light.

Finally you have his Twitter which is regularly updated and the most talked about account. On it he "answers questions" posed to him by other working men, makes statements about his busy life and tries to offer advice. If you wanted to sit and read through it all then it would take you a long time and you'd probably be fighting the urge to cry by the time you get halfway through.

Still, this account is getting so much notoriety that you have to hope that some men are realising how ridiculous they are by not helping out and that women who share this advice maybe think it over before sharing it again. This article might be a light piece but that doesn't mean there isn't any accuracy in these accounts so please do laugh at them, but wonder why these things are still being said while you do.

David Bowie's final album Blackstar has been transformed into a 16-part miniseries that will be posted on Instagram.

The miniseries has been called Unbound, will feature music from Bowie's 28th album and will star Tavi Gevinson and Patricia Clarkson.

On Thursday night the first chapter in the series was posted online.

I had no idea what to expect from Unbound, but as it was something to do with the iconic David Bowie, I knew it would be an innovative and artistic feature.

The miniseries kicked off with Unbound One. A 15 second looped video of a group of people sitting in a dimly lit library. The period setting contrasts with the group of modern day "characters", who share books, spin globes and embroider as though they are Victorian ladies-in-waiting.

The music is lifted from the albums opener and adds to the old fashioned and slightly haunting atmosphere that the setting and props are creating. The eagle eyed among you may also have noticed the black star on the book on the table, a nod to the album's title and cover image.

Within one hour the obscure clip had over 300 likes which grew to over 1,300 in under 24 hours. I suspect as word gets out and as more of the clips begin to piece together, these likes and comments will increase.

The general reaction thus far seems to be of confusion and discontent. But that's mainly because we're a greedy culture, who can binge on full seasons of dramas by watching them all on Netflix in one go. Maybe it would do us some good to wait and ponder between episodes every once in a while.

The @InstaMiniSeries account is made exclusively to air these "shorts" and not just Unbound but other series too! Unboundepisodes will continue to be aired on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday - so we haven't got too long to wait for the second installment.

Bowie's website released a statement saying that the miniseries features "evocative images inspired by the moods suggested in the album's music, lyrics and artwork."

Director, Nikki Borges, says their plan was to homage Bowie's music and demonstrate that "his innovations have influenced our own work as we transform a social media platform into a creative outlet."

This is one of the most creative things we have seen since "Snapchat art" began and I am curious to see how it evolves. Hopefully it will encourage movie makers to get creative too! It is the cinematic version of Twitter Fic and I am excited for its future.

Facebook have a habit of open sourcing the data sets and development programs they use. It's a way of encouraging other people to start their own DIY projects in such a way that Facebook can cite themselves as leading the charge. It's no different with AI, particularly when they are so closely pitted against Google.

Last week, they published data sets which showed how they train their big AI neural networks. It was all fairly standard, binary laden fare, but one thing in particular stood out: they were using children's books. You can't program an understanding of language directly into an AI system, it needs to be taught, bit by bit, and what better way of doing that than children's literature?

One of the data sets released was a set of formatted children's books, including Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, A Christmas Carol and Peter Pan. There are around 100 stories total, all taken from a library called Project Gutenberg and reformatted so that the system can more easily read and process them. Once read, the system is tested on the stories, but, in an interesting twist, they were tested on the books which they hadn't read.

An example of one of the tests (via New Scientist)
The test lists incomplete passages, and gives a number of options for how to finish them. The idea is that if the AI reads other books, it will be able to learn the patterns in the language and apply that knowledge accordingly. Being able to draw from a wider context like this is an important part of AI processing, since it means the system can react to unique situations, based on a kind of pastiche of previous learning input.

The same AI has also been tested on things like general knowledge and relationships between objects in stories, all of it designed to make the system more situationally versatile. You can see how that kind of development could apply to things like Siri, but Facebook has far higher ambitions for it, let's just hope they approach them with some measure of caution.

As one of the youngest social media platforms, Pinterest is notoriously more difficult to crack. Since its inception in 2010 the way Pinterest works has changed again and again. But there are some things that remain difficult. Finding a following is one of them.

Gaining followers on Pinterest is a slow process, especially if you don't know what you're doing. I find more often that not, people go on to Pinterest, find their Facebook friends and leave it at that.

In order to get the most out of Pinterest and reach the biggest audiences, follow these steps.

Once your account is filled out completely and you've verified it, you may begin.

1. Pin Original & Beautiful

80% of posts on Pinterest are repins. That means that a lot of the same stuff is floating around. Posting some original content can work in your favour.

Remember the more visually stunning a pin is, the more likely it is going to catch somebody's eye and start getting repinned.

When it comes to giving your pin a description, try to include up to 4 hashtags and make the description long and interesting. The more key words you can include in a description, the more likely it will be found.

Top Tip: When posting original content, even the file name (as it is saved on your phone/desktop) can have an effect. Change the name from IMG_97248 and you will be found by more pinners.

2. Pin Socially

Not every pin has to be your own. In order to gain followers on Pinterest you want to be pinning all the time, and that wouldn't be possible if we expected you to do all the hard work yourself. For that reason, we say you should always try to repin content from others too.

We recommend 25 repins a day. But try to split up your repinning sessions in to two lots. This way you don't clog up your followers news feeds and you will be more likely to reach followers from different walks of life.

As you repin, follow the suggested board that comes up at the bottom of the screen.

Get your pinning presence known too. I mean, try to like a few pins as you go through and comment on the popular pins that are at the top of a search. This way, when people view them, they might see your profile and visit you too. It helps to come across like you're passionate and knowledgeable about a certain subject and that will always increase your following.

3. Pin on Trend

Just like with Twitter, if you hashtag or, in this case, pin on trend and with the seasons, your potential audience is a lot larger.

Whether it's a Christmas Crafts board or a Best Dressed at the Golden Globes board, it is all about finding that healthy balance between what interests you and what everyone is talking about.

Top Tip: Don't be afraid of making too many boards. We recommend you make 2-3 new boards PER WEEK. So you have no excuse not to be bang on trend.

Coming up we have Spring, Easter, Mother's Day & Father's Day to think about....

4. Follow Fellow Pinners

As I mentioned in point number 2, you should get into the habit of following the boards that come up as suggested when you repin. If you do this for all 25 of your repins, I'd suggest only following a further 50-75 boards a day.

Currently, following boards seems more effective than following actual users.

Top Tip: You mustn't follow too many, or your account will get temporarily frozen.

5. Share Pinterest

Share a link to your Pinterest profile on other social networks and to your email contacts. You can share individual boards or your entire profile, so if you have one board in particular that is on trend, try sharing that to gather interest.

The first 1,000 followers are the hardest to get, so don't feel ashamed for relying on those nearest and dearest to you to bump you up there.

You can also add a Pinterest button or a 'Most Recent Pins' tab to your blog or website to keep fresh faces discovering your profile.

It's strange how people can react when someone's account is suspended on Twitter. For many people it might be annoying but it doesn't matter, for others it's an issue as they either don't know why or feel they don't deserve to have their account deleted. Whatever the reaction, once you've gotten that email your account is gone.

Recently self-proclaimed anti-feminist writer Robert Stacy McCain had his account suspended from Twitter. It's unknown what exactly he posted for people to report him but Twitter cited that he had been participating in targeted abuse. I hadn't heard of this McCain until this reaction blew up over his account so I can't even gather an opinion on whether the suspension was right or not, but I think I can safely assume that his account wasn't suspended just because he was a conservative or anti-feminist.

Yes, that's what many people, including actor Adam Baldwin, are saying has happened. Back in January another conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos lost the tick on his account that verified him and was overjoyed with the backlash this caused Twitter. He made jokes and ranted about how it was unfair and how this was down to feminists and liberals not liking what he said. Since then Twitter have brought in their Trust and Safety Council, something that was a big help and is supposed to help keep users safe, especially some of the younger users. Many people worried that all this would do is lead to targeted suspensions of anyone who says anything against the groups they protect so you can see where this outcry has come from. But it does seem unlikely. The Twitter team follows the rules and guidelines, the council are just there to help them make a decision. If someone really didn't do something wrong then chances are that they won't get deleted just because someone didn't like what they said.

Twitter have a tough time because they do want to encourage people to say what they like. They've made it clear recently that they aren't necessarily giving into the government so they aren't preventing free speech - which is, as you should remember, just when the government says you can't say something - but there's a fine line in letting someone speak their opinion and letting them say something abusive. Many people use Twitter and you don't know all their opinions and life stories, many conservative writers aren't going to say anything hateful and their accounts will be fine. And if liberal writers say something abusive, they'll get in trouble too. There's no political affiliation because if there was Donald Trump probably wouldn't have an account any more, no matter how much money and power he has. Twitter have said themselves that is difficult to decide who they can suspend and who maybe just didn't think before hitting enter and you have to forgive them if maybe they don't always get it right.

Maybe it's a good thing that so many of these enraged people are leaving Twitter because it would be better for them to leave and be happy than stay and be upset over things that don't really matter. Many accounts are sharing their support for McCain butthough he'll miss Twitter a little, he's not really all that bothered about being suspended. The way he sees it, he'll still be able to get his voice on Twitter because he's a writer and he has a point there. The issue doesn't appear to be with Twitter or with Jack Dorsey - as again, people seem to think - but with transparency. It might help if Twitter shared the tweet they were suspended for in the email or if people with other political allegiances held their hands up and said, hey, I got removed too so it's not just you guys. Once again it's a fine line between what can be shared and what can't but Twitter seriously need to figure it out before more people turn against the service.

You might remember a few months back, DJ Khaled used Snapchat to broadcast his rather tense battle with the elements as he got lost at sea on his jet ski after dark. It was an unusual, dramatic and surprisingly compelling tale of self-reflection and adversity. Even then, Khaled's little wisdom nuggets were prime fodder for sites like BuzzFeed and Sick Chirpse, but now he is claiming himself to be the 'King of Snapchat', and while the title is grandiose, it's not necessarily inaccurate.

Khaled has around 6 million followers, which isn't the highest count on the app, Kylie Jenner tends to be considered the most followed person on there, but what sets Khaled apart is that Snapchat has actually had a pronounced effect on his career. His Snaps range from chronicling his daily exploits and standing up against 'they', which is basically the millennial iteration of 'the man'. The trends he sets on Snapchat are so popular that they're being adopted by other celebrities, even the ones with bigger fanbases than Khaled.

On Thursday, ABC spoke to him on the Nightline segment of their news program, and asked him what he owes him Snapchat stardom to. He attributes it to his honesty. Often times, famous faces are encouraged to pull a facade over themselves before stepping out into the spotlight, but Khaled maintains that everything you see on his Snapchat is 100% him, no gimmicks. When he encounters his fans, he's neither flanked by bodyguards nor cocooned in a limousine, he's just out in the world.

People appreciate transparency, more so among the rich and famous than anyone else. It can be easy to forget that they're people too, but Khaled is clearly keen to keep that consideration at the front and centre. Sure, he's loaded, lives in a gigantic house and has produced a string of hit songs, but if his Snapchat is to be believed, he doesn't see himself as better than anyone else.

It's cheesy, sure, but since around 50% of his hulking fanbase are newcomers, it works a treat. The thing about Snapchat in paricular, more than any other social network, is that it puts everyone on the same level. Whether you're DJ Khaled or Daryl from Coventry or Diane from accounting, it's just you, your phone, and whatever happens to be going on at the time. It's relateable by its very nature and popularity seems to depend on capitalising on that. Khaled has gotten that down to a fine art. Just know.

iTunes Store
If you haven't heard of Hinge then basically it's another free to use dating app but what makes it stand out is that it's supposed to only show you friends of friends. Though it may also show you friends of your friend’s friends... I feel like I may have overused that word now.

In general Hinge is sort of a good idea but only if you don't have a lot of friends in different countries. To find your friends then you need to connect your Facebook account to the app and it pulls through the information of your friends list as well as your profile info. Your profile will have your name, where you live, your last school, work etc.

It also allows you to describe yourself with a few tags so people know who you are and what you like. If the tags aren't enough then you can write an about me too. The app sort of works like Tinder in that you can swipe through matches but there are limited matches and after two weeks the ones you had will disappear, whether you had a conversation or not. Users you said no to before can pop up again in your matches because I guess they think you might give them a second chance and find true love.

However Hinge seems to think that the Tinder like way of swiping through users encourages hook ups rather than relationships which is what they aim to create. Swiping too often can mean that you run out of users to look at for a bit which will only cause people to stop using the app. Hinge feel they need to do something so people stop and actually think before they match with someone. And they feel that if they get rid of the swiping and make people pay, they'll only be left with users who are serious about dating.

Back in 2014 Hinge did say that they planned to start charging people in 2016 so this possibility isn't all that new. What is strange is that they have said they're still thinking their possible options over. So what's changed their mind? Fact is Hinge has both a low rating in the Google Play and iTunes stores, in the Play store its average rating is 2.5 but it has over 1000 reviews rating it only 1 star which is almost double the second and third highest ratings.

Hinge is a good idea but the app is known to be buggy and it isn't available everywhere. It might be available widely across America but other countries only have one city where you can really use it. Not to mention they have this most eligible section on their website which lists the most eligible users in different cities and work sectors, plus a joking 12 Donald's who are better than Donald Trump. It sounds somewhat amusing but how much more awkward is it going to be if you run into someone considered so eligible on the app? I wouldn't know whether to poke fun at them or feel tongue tied that someone so worthy wanted to match with me.

Apparently this app is fairly popular and the staff does want to keep those users coming with more meaningful ways to find relationships using their apps. I'm personally not sure that making users pay for it will do that. Instead it might be an idea to roll the app out everywhere, make what you have to do on there a little clearer or put some more information on their actual website. Seeing as they're still deciding what to do, it is possible they could come up with a new feature that's worth paying for.

IBN Live
The problem with giving out your details on the internet is that they can be leaked. Most of the time when we register to social media we don't worry as much, they're supposed to be secure and most of the time they just have our email addresses but with more social media services going mobile and two factor authentication being a thing, now we have the possibility of revealing more.

Twitter has revealed this week that their systems experienced a 24 hour bug within the password recovery systems. Nearly 10,000 accounts were affected and the bug could have revealed these users email addresses and phone numbers which could be used by hackers for more nefarious purposes. The bug has since removed and the accounts are as safe as they can be again. If your account has been affected then Twitter will message you on there and if they come across anyone who used the bug to access anyone else's information then they will suspend them. That might not seem like much of a threat, but it should control them for at least a little while.

This bug shouldn't have occurred but it did and now Twitter is telling users to be even more careful with their information. They do have a two factor verification feature so if you wish to have "good security hygiene" as they put it then they recommend you use that. It does mean that you will be providing more information but if someone gets a hold of yours then at least they might not be able to access your account and you'll know they tried. Twitter also suggest that you get rid of any third party applications that can connect to Twitter if you don't know what it is. They could be some sort of virus of their own and you don't want anything that you're not aware of on your phone. This is probably good practice for any third party applications you're unsure of.

Finally Twitter do have an extra security feature for when you do forget your password. You can select that you need to provide additional information then requesting a password reset. This should mean that only you can request a new password but of course, it isn't perfect.

Most Twitter accounts will have been unaffected but it is important to keep an eye on your accounts. If you're suspicious of any account activity you don't know about then there should be ways to find out who has been accessing your account and for them to get suspended if they have required your information illegally. But whether your accounts are safe or not, be aware that a bug like this could happen again so do your best to be secure.

When I started writing screenplays, one of the first rules I learned about was the Bechdel test. It's not something you have to follow if your screenplay is going to work, structurally speaking, but if you have any interest in making your female characters as strong and compelling as everyone else, it should be taken into account. Basically, it's framed around these two questions:

Are there at least two female characters in your script?

Do at least two of them have at least one conversation that isn't about a man?

If the answer to both of those is yes, you're golden. Sometimes it's not applicable, your film might only have 4 characters and they might all be male, say because it's set in a prison and never leaves the confines of a single cell, but in many cases there's no excusing it. It can be applied to mediums other than film, but film tends to receive the most scrutiny for poorly formed gender politics. You'd be surprised how many films don't pass, even in this day and age. The latest Coen brothers film, Hail, Caesar!, for instance, does not pass, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, despite having a female protagonist, only just scraped through.
Is it essential to make sure all fiction has equal representation? No. Is it important to break out of old, outdated patterns? Yes. Which is why the Bechdel test has a new sibling - the Jane test, and for this one, Twitter is the proving ground. It's hard to say how many screenwriters actually apply the Bechdel test on their work, but through the @femscriptintros Twitter, writers are being encouraged to apply the Jane test during the drafting process, and it's catching on big time.
It works like this - take a female character's intro sequence and compare it against the ones that are posted on @femscriptintros. All the ones they post are from real screenplays, all the names are changed to Jane and each intro is metered out in 140 character chunks. It's run by producer Ross Putman, who obviously has access to a huge litany of scripts. The results are rather alarming - they are nearly always appearance focused and within the 20-30 age range. What this reflects, above and beyond all else, is that a lot of scripts are written with either casting, sex appeal or both at the forefront of the consideration, consciously or otherwise. That is not OK.

The page has caught the attention of a number of Hollywood screenwriters, some of whom have pledged to rethink the way they write women and girls as a result, having been through their old scripts and realised that they weren't up to snuff. Gary Whitta, for instance, was critical of his character writing for The Book of Eli and After Earth, but optimistic about his more recent work, which bodes well for Rogue One, the Star Wars spinoff he's currently working on.
Reading through the feed, the most important thing to take away is this: character traits are the thing writers should be establishing early on. With film, what they look like might not necessarily truly come into play until later, during casting and development, unless it's an adaptation, in which case you already know, so there's no need to lean on it. For male characters, this is often a given, so there's no reason it shouldn't be the same story when there's no Y chromosome involved.

This isn't the first time a social media page has been used to highlight the prejudices in modern cinema. Last year, Welcome to Nightvale's Dylan Marron started a YouTube and Tumblr channel devoted to editing down Hollywood films so that the only dialogue left was spoken by people of colour. The results were shocking, Titanic clocks in at 54 seconds, American Hustlelasts 42, Midnight in Paris goes for 10 seconds and Noah and Into the Woods shoot straight from title to end credits.

Should people be cast purely based on increasing diversity? No, but the general standard of casting in Hollywood in particular is unfairly weighted toward white men (and white women, so long as they're pretty). Somebody has to do something to buck that trend, and the best way to gain momentum is to make these criticisms public.

The Next Web
With the Snapchat Discover feature we get to view the latest news and must have items with a few quick swipes and with the now defunct Snapchat store we've seen how people could buy lenses to spruce their snaps up. Now, with the store closed and some Snapchat only publications under their belt it looks like Snapchat are getting ready to take e-commerce to the next level. This is a surprising step as once the lense store shut down Snapchat said they'd be focusing on bringing in income from their promoted lenses and advertising.

At a conference held by Re/Code on Wednesday, Joanna Coles, a member of the Snapchat board and the editor in chief at Cosmopolitan talked about how Snapchat are planning on taking on the e-commerce market this time. On the Discover platform currently there is a publication called Sweet, which popped up in November of last year.

The publication was to be posted on Snapchat only and was a brainchild of Hearst, who publish Cosmopolitan among other magazines, and Snapchat themselves. The tag line of the publication is to find something new to love every day and the posts tend to be about anything from fashion and lifestyle articles to food and music. It takes everything that people want in the magazines they publish usually aimed at young people and it brings it into the digital age. According to Coles, however, this isn't all that Sweet aims to do.

At some point in the future you'll be able to buy things off of the app. There isn't a clear plan as to how you'll be able to buy things yet, but it's likely that they'll add a buy now button. This could be vital for the people who were maybe unsure about subscribing to the digital only publication when they have their preferred multi-media publications also by Hearst but wish for a more accessible way to buy the shown items.

This isn't Hearst's first foray into an app that would allow users to not necessarily buy items but to at least be able to find the items featured in the magazines easier. Back in 2012 Hearst released their Cosmo Shopping Genie app that allowed readers to scan the items they liked in the magazine if they had the right symbol next to them, so they would know where they could get it and be reminded.

That's the only problem with finding an item of clothing online or in a publication is that sometimes you forget where you can actually buy it. Being able to buy clothing, beauty products and who knows what else within the Snapchat app will be a lot more convenient for people. For the teenagers reading the publication though there could be an issue because it could become a little too easy to buy things as a lot of teenagers do use Snapchat but that might have to be something Snapchat sorts out.

There's no set date for the change for Sweet or any information on any other publications that might also try and make some money out of this idea. All we know is that Snapchat obviously made a good decision with bringing someone from Hearst onto their board, and that it'll be interesting to see how they fare as an e-commerce platform when users are actually getting something tangible for their money as the lenses and re-plays never sold very well.

Here in the UK, many of us learned an extremely valuable lesson after the last general election - you cannot trust Facebook. Maintaining your social life online has many curious side-effects, and one of them is that conflicting opinions are often kept far away. Whether intentionally or otherwise, we often tend to largely associate with people who share similar views to our own, and Facebook ends up turning into a kind of political echo chamber.

What about when you look across the entirety of Facebook though? Well, if the election went ahead today, and went purely by Facebook's data, the next US President would be - Ben Carson. If you've been following the election, you know that Carson, while still very much in it, is trailing behind Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The odds makers currently have him at 300/1 to even get the candidacy, let alone the whole election.

This data, collected by the FiveThirtyEight project, is based on 'like' count, and 26% of them belong to Carson. Bernie Sanders is the most popular democratic candidate with 23%, which is also the figure which Donald Trump is sitting at. That means that there are two republican candidates sharing 49% of all the Facebook likes, while the next runner behind Sanders is Clinton, with a comparatively low 8%.

If anything, this just demonstrates how little Facebook activity has to do with the real electoral proportions. Most would agree that Ben Carson is decidedly unlikely to even become the republican candidate, let alone the president, but his campaign Facebook is so active and so savvy (posting pictures of cute animals, for example) that in those terms, he appears to be the strongest candidate. What this doesn't account for is how many of the people who have liked his page will actually be - or are even capable of - voting for him.

Moreover, if Donald Trump's ongoing success has made one thing clear, it's that the 'any publicity is good publicity' maxim applies even more strongly on social media. His tendency towards saying outrageous things during campaign speeches, or starting fights on Twitter has only served to extend his reach, to the same extend as Carson's, which was achieved with research and hard work. I think it's fair to say that we've yet to see any electoral candidate, anywhere in the world, who owes their success principally to social media activity.

It was announced yesterday that Facebook have two new Android features in the works: one that is being tested in the USA and another that is available worldwide. These features will encourage people to access the Messenger app more often.

The first of these features is SMS integration. This is the second time they have introduced this feature into the Messenger with the first time back in 2013 but they wound up getting rid of the feature with an update in the November due to lack of use. Now Facebook have stated their intentions to get rid of phone numbers, it sort of makes sense that they'd try to bring it back. It doesn't look as if sending text messages from Facebook will be any different to sending them from your regular text messaging client. The names will have little purple dots next to them on the message list to differentiate them and the text box will say type your SMS message here to confirm that you're in the right conversation. This is basically Facebook not doing anything special but instead saying once again that you never have to leave messenger. It's unlikely however that this will make more people start using Facebook Messenger. People aren't going to install the app just to text message people on it when they can already do so on their phone. It might open up a new market for SMS messaging but most people I've spoken to who use Messenger would still rather exit the app and text message people that way so how long this will be around again could be questionable.

Tech Crunch
If this feature does work out however it will probably stay Android only due to the deeper OS integration it requires. Apple aren't too keen on app developers changing things about the actual system within iOS devices so it's unlikely that Facebook would be allowed to release the feature.

The other feature they're now adding onto Messenger is multiple account access. Yes, like they did with Instagram last week, they've rolled out multiple account integration to some Android users across the world. This is apparently because some people share mobile phones and signing in and out to have separate Messenger conversations could be awkward. This could however also help people who make fake or business accounts because it means they can have a constant stream of all their messages. To do this all you have to do is to go into account settings and add new user. It couldn't be simpler and it's something that many people actually need when they use Messenger.

Both features add a deeper level of integration for Messenger in our everyday lives, but if you can't see them already and it's supposed to be possible for you to access them then you'll just have to wait and see what they're like.

GIFs are all the rage on social media these days and as many mobile apps as possible are trying to integrate them. From Tumblr to Facebook Messenger to Tinder, users are finally getting a chance to share how they feel through GIF form while on their phones.

At the moment you can post gifs on Twitter from your desktop or phone by uploading the image from your computer. It's one of the simple ways you can post gifs on most desktop websites. The other way you can share a GIF is that you can post a Giphy link and watch the image work its magic. But that tends to be a little different on most apps these days. Sites like Giphy have been partnering up with other services so people can use the gifs uploaded onto their site in their responses and conversations without having to copy and paste and URL or go into a separate app. These social media services tend to have a little GIF button that if you press you see a selection of the most popular GIFs and a search area so you can find the specific gifs you want. You just have to search the emotion you're looking for or the character/actor's name and you'll get a selection of GIFs tagged with that word or name.

Now it seems like Twitter is jumping on board finally. The button has only appeared for a select few users, people have all been sharing the news then complaining if it disappears. The response when you search gif button seems to be a pretty joyous one so I think we can safely say that Twitter are doing something right again.

When asked if they were testing a GIF button by the staff at Tech Crunch they just replied with this GIF:

I think that's a GIF I'd save as "I might be" which is pretty funny considering Twitter are definitely testing the feature out on some users. Now we just need to wait and see when they roll it out fully.

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