July 2017


Despite the fact that it is pretty much just a clone of the much-loved app Snapchat, Facebook's Stories feature hasn't exactly gained the same traction. I rarely see any friends posting stories when I open up Facebook, and even when they do appear it is generally the same 1 or 2 users making use of the feature, and many others have reported finding the same.

However Facebook's latest addition to the feature may finally give it the boost it needs to compete with its more established competition, as they quietly rolled out an update a few weeks back which allows for these stories to be shared publicly to followers, rather than being limited only to friends.

The update rather amusingly went largely undetected until very recently, first being pointed out by social media researcher Carlos Gill before a Facebook spokesperson finally confirmed the update to TechCrunch, telling the publication,  “This is something we rolled out a few weeks ago. The Public setting allows your Followers to see your story, in addition to your Friends.”

Given how public-sharing platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have emerged as a source of new stars and celebrities, Facebook are likely hoping that by enabling Stories users to do the same, they too can jump on this bandwagon. Instagram's equivalent feature has already performed well in this regard, but its parent platform does lend itself to this task better than Facebook, which lest we forget started life as a way to connect with friends, not celebrities.

To make your Stories available to the public-at-large, tap the three dots in the upper right of the Stories interface to open the 'more' menu; from there, simply open 'Edit Story Settings'  and select 'Public' rather than 'Friends'. Any content posted to your Stories in the past 24 hours will then be made public, as will any subsequent posts.

Due to reported engagement figures on publicly shared Stories, there is as-yet-unproven speculation that Facebook may be prioritising these over those posted by friends, but given how few people seem to be using the feature this is likely not an issue. In fact, seeing more regular usage of the feature, even if it is by celebrities rather than friends, may encourage the average Facebook user to try it out for themselves.

NurPhoto
One of the most common things to end up in spam folders - aside from pleas from Nigeria's seemingly endless line of princes - are ads for dating and relationship help sites. While the text usually claims to be able to help you find the right person, or even just get laid, the graphics and images coupled with these emails are often nothing short of pornographic.

Some social media style sites suffer from this problem too. If you have a Soundcloud account, you've more than likely been messaged by a number of different 'horny' women who are 'desperate' to get in touch with you, ditto Tumblr. Email spamming has always been the most popular haven for this kind of thing, and recent investigations have shown that a lot of it comes from compromised accounts, but it seems like with the advent of bots, the focus is shifting more towards Twitter.

A recent study uncovered a 'botnet' on the platform which comprised of more than 80,000 accounts, each one posing as an individual woman and touting the same sketchy sounding dating scheme. You would think that, this being 2017, such spamming would have gone extinct, and certainly it's not thriving, but the sheer scale of the Twitter operation suggests that the posts are garnering some sort of response.

The company which was linked back to in the investigation - Deniro Marketing - had also been linked to a similar email scheme only a month prior. In both cases, the posts linked out to subscription based dating sites, with the emphasis heavily on pornographic material and sexually explicit webcam activity. They use the same strategy as other bots - popular hashtags, @-mentioning popular influencers, nothing groundbreaking, but it shows that even when the accounts are this transparently fraudulent, Twitter doesn't spot them outright.

Ultimately, the investigation found that, in the space only 5 months, the botnet had managed to gain over 30 million clicks. While there's nothing strictly illegal about this, most of the promises made in the ads aren't kept, and one imagines that such sites commonly sell off payment info to other parties. The botnet has since been shut down, but it's a gloomy reflection on how easy it is for spammers to abuse Twitter, and it could lead to far more sinister approaches to the botnet scheme in the future.

Al Jazeera
Recently, a study by Oxford University revealed that trolls, both in human and bot form, were used extensively by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and his team during the election campaign. Rather than shy away from these allegations, Duterte had openly admitted that this is the case, stating that he used them during the election, but no longer has any need of them.

Transparency might not have been his intention - ironically he seems to have been aiming more towards self-preservation - but this admission is proof that political candidates will resort to mass trolling if they think it's necessary. As if we actually even needed proof of that. As far as Duterte is concerned, he's president now, and no longer has any need to defend himself from criticism online. 

Bots are used heavily on Twitter and other platforms to either amplify or muzzle particular ideas, but increasingly, political parties have taken to using groups of actual people to spread their messages and/or confront their critics. In either case, it creates the illusion of an idea being popular, when in fact it's just getting an engineered uptick in traffic. 

We're living in a 'headline culture' at present - the title of a news story is a lot more impactful than the actual content a lot of the time, so all you really need to do to create a stronger bias is get people (or bots) to keep sharing the same link. Once an idea, even a misinterpreted one, takes off, there's little anyone can do to stop it. The internet has a short attention span. 

Studies have suggested that Duterte's social media goons have continued to spread ideas beyond the election victory, despite Duterte's denial of this. The very fact that he was willing to admit not only to using a troll army during the election, but how much his team spent on it (roughly $200,000), unearths some sinister truths about the current political climate.

Autodesk Spark
It doesn't feel like that long ago that Facebook were facing harsh criticism for effectively encouraging video piracy on their platform. Many, including the popular 'In a Nutshell' YouTube channel, pointed out that it was easy for content to be lifted from other sites and posted on Facebook as if it was original, siphoning money away from the creators. Things have gotten better, but the issue certainly hasn't completely vanished, yet at the moment Facebook are more concerned with clamping down on piracy within the platform.

As such, they've picked up the rights to Source3, software technology which is designed to detect when intellectual property is being used without the permission of the owner. Not only have Facebook taken on the program itself, but they've also picked up several members of the development team. 

Facebook have come under fire numerous times for failing to effectively deal with content theft, even after they introduced the 'Rights Manager' system two years ago to flag such incidents. The option to simply make revenue off of your own content, even when it's stolen, was also brought in a few months ago, but that doesn't seem to have made much difference either.

It's not immediately clear what Facebook intend to do with the Source3 technology now that they have it, but it represents a commitment to better rights protection. This is more of an appeal to brands than standard users, Facebook have a great deal invested in the race for high quality video content, and a big part of that is assuring publishers that their content is completely secure. 

Source3 is being completely integrated into Facebook, the name and official website are being done away with, and the developers will work out of Facebook's New York office. Interestingly, this isn't the first time the development team have sold rights off to a tech giant - they sold RightsFlow to Google in 2011.

ICT Journal
If you haven't noticed, people seem to love stealing ideas from Snapchat. Whether or not it can be characterised as the sincerest form of flattery or straight up intellectual property theft, it just seems to keep on happening. Several higher ups within Snap Inc have commented on it in the past, particularly with regards to Facebook, and it now it seems that they're actively doing something about it - they've acquired the team behind Strong.Codes.

Strong.Codes was developed as a way of concealing web code so that it couldn't be lifted and used elsewhere. Snap first brought in the co-founder, Laurnet Balmelli, at the beginning of the year, and as the months have gone by, they've gradually picked off one team member after the other, and now they have the complete set. As a result, Strong.Codes is no more, and now the team are fully committed to their work with Snapchat.

It's not entirely clear what the Strong.Codes team are doing for the platform, but reports suggest that it's one arm of an elaborate effort to keep Snapchat's developments a much more closely guarded secret. The copycatting issue has become so pronounced of late that Snapchat's ideas are appearing on other apps before they've even had the chance to include them, and Instagram has started overtaking them in several key areas, despite only very recently embarking on their mission to emulate the yellow ghosts.

With their financial future looking so uncertain/unstable, it's understandable that Snap would want to do everything they can to protect their assets. The issue is, no matter how closely Snapchat's code is guarded, Facebook are bigger, richer and have a legion of expert programmers at their command. If they want to copy something, they'll do it, with or without the blueprints. Even with that in mind though, by acquiring the Strong.Codes team, Snap have increased their European presence (they're based in Switzerland) and broadened the talent base of their staff. Both important steps.

Campaign US
Whether you're networking online, looking for recommendations or just updating your CV, for women all over the world, the glass ceiling is a looming threat. Despite the fact that we're literally one year away from catching up with Blade Runner, gender politics still feel like they're stuck in the past, and the prickly issue of maternity leave is no exception. Women should not have to explain to anyone, least of all a prospective employer, why there's a lengthy, childbirth-related gap in their job experience, but somehow it's still an issue.

This is as much the case on LinkedIn as it is anywhere else, and for this reason Mother New York are championing the 'Pregnancy Pause'. Essentially, it behave the same way as a normal job listing, but it's there to represent the time the person in question had spent off work on maternity leave. By doing this, women are be able represent childcare as what it is - a full time job, rather than taking the standard "don't ask don't tell" approach.

It doesn't even require any active input from LinkedIn themselves. Pregnancy Pause has already been listed as an active employer on the platform, and all mothers need to do is put it on their profile, listing their position as Mum/Mom/Mother/Mommy/Parental Unit and then under duration put the length of time they spent on maternity leave. Any prospective employer who clicks on the link will be lead to the official website.

Studies in the US have shown that many women feel immensely pressured to get back to work as soon as possible after childbirth, with more than 50% of new mothers taking only five months before going back to work, according to results taken in 2015. In tandem with this, there is a reluctance for women to actually talk about maternity leave during the job-hunting process, which could be directly detrimental to their prospects. Sad but true.

The Pregnancy Pause is actively encouraging discussion surrounding maternity leave, and while mothers shouldn't be expected to challenge such an outmoded, prejudiced issue, it's a positive step. The site even encourages mothers to seek out other people with Pregnancy Pause on their profile and congratulate them. If LinkedIn are smart, they will shed some more light on this campaign.

Diario La Tribuna
The future of social media-driven TV is looking more and more comprehensive. Snapchat already boasts a number of different news sources, and now they're throwing a daily news roundup program into the mix. To to this, they've partnered up with NBC, and together the pair have created a kind of 'alternative' approach to newscasting. No suits, no awkward paper shuffling credits crawls, this is news broadcasting for 2017.

From next Wednesday onwards, Snapchat users will be able to watch 'Stay Tuned' twice a day, each episode covering all the biggest news stories in bitesize three-minute chunks. With this show, Snap Inc are hoping that Snapchat will ultimately become the first port of call for users who are keen to stay up to date with what's going on in the world. It's a tall order, but not an unreachable one.

The cadre of publishers Snap has recruited for Discover since it launched two years ago has continued to grow and diversify, and the feature itself has only gotten more popular. Meanwhile, the 'Our Stories' feature, which pulls together curated collections of user-generated content surrounding current events, has also gone from strength to strength. In this sense, Snap don't have to put in much more graft to show the world that Snapchat is capable of being a reliable, quality news source, because it already is.

NBC are currently the dominant forces in Snapchat's exclusive TV content section, having invested have a billion dollars in their IPO in order to get in on the ground floor. Stay Tuned will be the next in a line of several shows the network have already premiered on the service, with others including counterparts to successful full length programs like The Voice and The Rundown. NBC reporters also took to Snapchat to cover the 2016 presidential election, uploading content on their accounts in the hopes of getting it featured on the Our Stories section.

NBC have dedicated 30 staff members to Stay Tuned, including two anchors - Savannah Sellers and Gadi Schwartz. Sellers worked with a reporting team which received an Emmy for a piece about heroin addiction in 2015, while Schwartz spent ten years as a co-anchor and lead investigator for an NBC affiliated news team in Albuquerque. This will be a big step up for both of the relatively young reporters.

As for how the style of newscasting will different from the established TV style, aside from being shorter, is hard to say until the show actually comes out, but judging from the statements from Snapchat and NBC themselves, it's just going to be a relatively unglamorous info-share. No pomp, no standing on ceremony, just news presented as clearly as possible, and formatted to fit the Snapchat model, because that's how you appeal to a younger audience, not by speaking their language, but by speaking clearly.

Tubefilter
One of the issues with censorship is that it only prevents ideas from spreading, it doesn't attack the source. If you cut the head off of a weed without pulling up the roots, it will only grow back. This is part of the reason why, despite the best efforts of Google, Facebook, Twitter and others, extremist content continues to appear on their platforms. There is another way, and for some time now all these major tech companies have been discussing a more active approach to counter-terrorism - actively discouraging recruitment. Now, finally, Google are putting it into action on YouTube.

Google partnered up with Jigsaw some time ago to develop the project and now it's seeing the light of day for the first time. YouTube have come under major fire recently not only for hosting extremist content, but for unwittingly allowing advertising to appear on it. Many major brands threatened to pull their content from YouTube unless the issue was rectified, something which Google had to make a lot of promises to cope with. This was one of them, and it may well have been the most significant.

Here's how it works - when users are detected using search terms relating to known extremist content or propaganda, those users will be redirected to videos which contest and deconstruct terrorist ideas. At the moment, ISIS is very much the focal point, which makes sense given the breadth of their online presence, but the long term plan is to expand the 'Redirect Method' further still.

In order to make Redirect Method work, 320,000 volunteers spent eight weeks sifting through content to identify key words associated with ISIS, as well as what constitutes effective counter-terrorist content. They found that accounts from ISIS defectors and independent civilian journalism were particularly effective, whilst more direct anti-ISIS message content often failed to hit the mark. In terms of topics, religious debates also fared particularly well.

Perhaps most importantly, Redirect Method's blueprint is open-source, and Google are encouraging any and all online platforms to adopt it, especially with so many extremists migrating over to smaller social media platforms who lack the funding or means to deal with them effectively. Google's task now is to wait and see how the content is engaged with on YouTube; this information will be vital to how they move forward.

Use of Technology
It's easy to forget sometimes that for all the Snapchat copycatting, rehashed ideas and general, well, Facebook-ness, the company is actually doing a lot of under the radar tech development. Building 8, their ominously named R&D department fronted by a former DARPA director, is the centre of all of this. What little news does find its way out of there is often enticing, and in this case it's that they've been doing some development work on modular mobile phone technology.

Modular phones have been on the horizon for a while now, talk of them had begun even before the first iPhone debuted, but we've yet to see an actual model, or even a convincing prototype. Given the success Google has had with mobile phones of late, it's a logical target for Facebook. All they've done so far is file for a patent for a "modular electromagnetic device" designed to eliminate the need to upgrade your hardware every 1-2 years, as is the current standard.

Of course, a patent filing doesn't necessarily suggest any kind of immediate progress, it could be that Facebook are just putting it on the backburner and keeping the competition at bay, but that's never been their style. It's also worth considering that Regina Dugan, director of Building 8, had previously headed up a modular technology project for Google called Project Ara (although it was ultimately abandoned).

Facebook have also hoovered up a number of other people with past experience on modular technology and put them to work in Building 8. All this points to the project, whatever it actually is, being a significant one, and if it comes to fruition it could really shake up the mobile technology market.

They aren't the only company working on it, but with Project Ara having been shelved, it seems like they're the ones focusing on it the most. The disadvantage Facebook have here is that they haven't entered the mobile race yet, so they have to play catch up with Apple and Google while they develop the concept further.

BBC
After much maligning, some of it very recent, Twitter have hit back against their critics and claimed that they're actually winning the fight against bad conduct on the platform. No social network's reputation has suffered more for the existence of trolls, hate speakers and extremists than Twitter, and for the most part, they've been unable to quash any of the accusations thrown at them about it.

Typically, any statement Twitter make on the subject amounts to either "we're working on it" or the introduction of a feature that purports to deal with the issue, but really just redirects it. On Thursday, they made a statement with a little bit more heft to it - they claim to have identified and disciplined ten times as many abusive accounts as they did a year ago. They also said they're getting fewer resurrected hate accounts and fewer accounts being blocked by other users.

They didn't release any exact figures, or even ballpark figures, which is a wise move on their part but may arouse suspicion amongst the more skeptical critics, and they also haven't revealed any information about the effectiveness of the new features they've brought in to deal with abuse in past 12 months. It should also be pointed out that the increased number of accounts being muzzled might not necessarily just suggest that Twitter are getting better at identifying said accounts, it might also mean that more of them are springing up.

Regardless, progress is progress, and this is the biggest single push Twitter have made against this issue since launching. Jack Dorsey has shown himself again and again not only to be committed to prioritising the safety of the users, but also completely open to their criticisms and suggestions for improvement. This milestone, if it is indeed as progressive as it seems, feels like an affirmation of that ethos.

Even though celebrities are still quitting Twitter, and horror stories about abuse behaviour are frequent, there are positive signs. Nothing has spiralled out of control in the way GamerGate did since then, and enforced limitations on abusive accounts have proven to be far more effective than simply blocking or banning them, which has become tantamount to social media whack-a-mole.

The one concrete figure Twitter were forthcoming with was the number of accounts being blocked by other users - a 40% decline in the last four months. That, in and of itself, does represent positive change, but what matters is keeping that consistent. In the past, encouraging trends have swiftly given way to the status quo, as trolls have found ways to negotiate the obstacles placed in their way. It's not enough to push things forward, Twitter will have to keep the momentum going if they ever hope to turn the platform into a legitimately civil environment (and/or get Ed Sheeran back).

Twitter
On Thursday the 13th of July, renowned literary critic, activist, Nobel Prize laureate and perpetual thorn in the side of the Chinese government Liu Xiaobo passed away in custody Following his death, the government led a huge censorship campaign, removing all but the most basic, perfunctory information about his death from the internet, but particularly from social media. Anything which mourned or memorialised his death in any way, however vague, was taken down, and continues to be.

Both WeChat and Weibo have been so heavily censored that even the anglicised spelling of his given name is enough to warrant a takedown. Meanwhile, out in the real world, Liu's widow's house has been surrounded by plainclothes officers who are determined to keep reporters at bay. Germany, France, America, the UN and others are calling for China to allow her to leave the country, thus far to no avail.

Controversial isn't even the word, and despite the government's best efforts, Chinese citizens are still finding ways to mourn Liu's death and celebrate his achievements. How, you ask? They've taken to Western social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all lit up with images of an empty chair by the sea, affixed with the hashtag #withliuxiaobo. The locations and chairs vary, but the message remains the same, and it's turning into something of a global memorial movement.


Participants from the Chinese mainland are taking a huge risk by involving themselves. Several people have already been detained for questioning since the movement started on Wednesday - seven days after his death (in Chinese tradition that's when the soul of the deceased returns to say final goodbyes). Many known associates of Liu are currently under heavy surveillance, but vigils are being organised all over the world via social media, some of them outside Chinese embassies.

The authorities did not report that Liu was even in ill health until just two days before his death from multiple organ failure. Following his death, his family was pressured to scatter his ashes into the sea, forgoing any large scale funeral service or gravesite. That's half the reason for the chair image, the sea represents the scattering, while the empty chair is a reference to the empty chair he left when he was not allowed to go to Oslo to accept his Nobel Peace Prize.

Marketing Land
Ever wish that a fan page on Facebook could double as a forum? Comment sections on posts are all well and good, but they often descend into chaos too quickly for any real discussion to get going, with hundreds of people all throwing their hats into the ring. Now, Facebook are letting Page administrators create their own 'sub-groups' within the Page to allow users to chat to them, and each other.

The idea is to create 'fan clubs' within Facebook to make it easier for people to talk about all their most beloved topics without having to seek out specific groups. For those wishing to promote themselves, their band, their company or their project, this could be an invaluable resource, and bring a welcome touch of Reddit logic to the Facebook experience. Live streamed Q&As are all well and good, but once again, the comments section is not the most effective format for them.

It also protects staff from online attack, as it means that if, say, a magazine wanted to create a group, they wouldn't have to use a staff member's private account to do it. Beyond this, it could also be extremely helpful for pages seeking to do more than promote a brand. Self-help and health awareness pages, for instance, could have a lot to gain from using groups to create helplines and advice networks. Enabling people to share their stories and discuss their issues with experts could really boost the value of Pages which are framed around a specific cause.

Facebook claim that there are currently more than 70 million Pages out there, in various different shapes and seizes, with a huge amount of potential for creating groups to operate within them. Looking further to the future, new Pages could be set up with groups in mind from the outset, paving the way for better promotion for movies, emergent brands and even things like music and film genre appreciation, which itself could tie in with pre-existing Pages.

In short, there's a lot of versatility on offer with this. Pages are one of the most active, engaging aspects of the current Facebook experience, so it's nice to see the company using them to create a real bridge between users and brands.

NDTV Gadgets
It's impossible to deny at this point that LinkedIn is a real heavyweight in the social media game. The career-focused platform now boasts well over half a billion users, and as such, they're setting their sites on emerging markets. Accordingly, they've just released a stripped down mobile version of the service - LinkedIn Lite - for Android, and the plan is to make it available in more than 60 different countries who have yet to become part of the LinkedIn family.

The app is already available in India, which tends to be the proving ground when platforms are looking to expand in this way. The app itself only takes up 1MB of storage space and has a significantly reduced data footprint, but still allows you to access all the most essential functions of the LinkedIn experience, including messaging and network access. The only real concession is that it isn't as eye-catching as the standard version of the platform.

LinkedIn has some 42 million users in India, one of the biggest markets in the world for the service, and when it was originally designed and launched last September, Lite was made specifically with Indian users in mind. This, and the expansion into a more global market, are both products of the new business plan put in place by Microsoft, with the ultimate aim being to create a kind of global economic graph, similar in structure to the social data Facebook have been gathering.

In some ways, it makes more sense for LinkedIn to expand into emerging markets than any other platform. LinkedIn exists, at least in part, to help people find work, and that kind of networking capability could help people in countries with less advanced internet options find jobs they would never have otherwise known about, as well as fostering more remote and international contracts. 


Time Out
It's easier now that it has ever been to keep track of a music festival without being there. Major festivals like Glastonbury will broadcast live from their main stages and big shows often surface on social media mere minutes after the final track draws to a close. With live-streams on social media gaining traction by the day, it was really only a matter of time before a festival got the exclusive platform stream treatment.

As it turns out, the platform is Twitter and the festival is FYF. Short for, ahem, F*** Yeah Fest, FYF has been going strong since debuting in LA in 2004. Since then, the 3 day event has attracted crowds in excess of 30,000 people. This year, the lineup includes heavyweights like Frank Ocean, Bjork, Missy Elliot, Nine Inch Nails, A Tribe Called Quest, Solange, Iggy Pop, MGMT and Anderson .Paak.

At $329 for a weekend pass (which doesn't include any kind of camping), it's not the cheapest festival in the world, which is probably why some will be glad to discover the new Twitter partnership. All US residents will be able to stream the festival from their official account page, and the footage will include interviews and behind the scenes footage as well as stage shows.

There's a catch, though, only the Saturday and Sunday shows are being streamed, so if you were dead set on catching any of the Friday acts, you're out of luck. As stated above, only American users will be able to see the stream, so anyone separated from the festival by, say, the Pacific/Atlantic Ocean will have no option to view it.

Regardless, it's a good idea, and partnering with Twitter was a canny move on FYF's part. They've had more success with streaming music than any other platform, and FYF probably won't be the last festival to enlist their services for it.

Facebook

Digital media has been struggling to find the ideal way to stay lucrative. Ad-blocking has done a lot to stand in the way of the standard ad-revenue model, and as a result many publications have turned to subscription paywalls as an alternative. It has not been a particularly successful or well-received approach, in the broad strokes, and you would expect Facebook to avoid anything which is under risk of becoming irrelevant, but they're doing it anyway.

In response to requests from several different publications, Facebook are set to start testing a paywall which would limit unsubscribed users to 10 articles a month on whichever publications are opted in. It's an almost identical model to the one which publishers use online, with the only different being that the number of free articles varies from site to site, whereas it would always be 10 for Instant Articles, in the name of fairness.

The partners would still have control over which articles appeared behind the paywall, as well as total access to subscriber data. The latter is probably of particular importance to partners, as it means that analytical data from subscribers will help them to figure out how to manage their paywall in order to make it as effective as possible. Reading data is also useful for that, although it's not clear whether or not that's also part of the deal.

As well formulated as this paywall format is, it doesn't detract from the fact that paywalls are still largely unproven as a format. They can be sidestepped relatively easily (private browsing, for example) and few publications offer a unique enough range of content to warrant a paid subscription. The internet is pretty damn big, there's almost nothing on there that you won't find a way to access without paying.

Add to this the fact that Instant Articles is distinctly more limited than standard news browsing, and the decision makes even less sense. Facebook have also implied that they will introduce a new, standalone web payment service to take subscriptions, which will make people even less likely to get on-board. All in all, this has all the hallmarks of a concession on Facebook's part, they're bowing to external pressure and bringing in something which runs almost directly against the media model they've set up. They might even be hoping that it does badly in testing. It's slated for a broader release in 2018, so we'll just have to wait until then.

Huffington Post
Earlier this week, the BBC published a full list of the salaries of their biggest stars in an annual report, and even before it went out, they stated that they were going to allow their highest paid presenters to respond to criticism on social media. This decision was made the fact that the BBC were expecting a pretty significant backlash following the reveal.

What they ended up getting was a tidal wave of controversy, as the report revealed an enormous gender pay gap within the BBC, with the highest paid female presenter, Claudia Winkleman, making less than a quarter of the earnings of their highest paid man - Chris Evans. It also revealed that seven different presenters were earning more than half-a-million pounds a year, more than the director-general of the entire service.


Also noted was a distinct lack of people of colour in the higher pay brackets, but generally speaking the vibe on Twitter was centred around the fact that salaries as high as £2.2 million (Chris Evans) are far too high for anyone, let alone presenters being paid a salary by a tax-funded public service like the BBC.


As you might expect, few of the higher paid presenters have accepted the BBC's proposal of a free debate on Twitter, but a few have stepped into the ring, most notably Gary Lineker. At £1.7 million, the ex-footballer turned pundit has the second highest salary of any BBC presenter, and following the report he was quick to quip sarcastically that he was 'outraged' that Chris Evans earned more than him. At time of writing, he's only responded to one reply with little more than a joke about the British public, but the worst is probably yet to come.

Part of the reason the BBC released the report was to actively highlight the gender pay gap. At the press conference, Tony Hall pledged to have completely removed the pay gap by 2020, but in the mean time, the presenters are being left to fend for themselves. They would have faced a backlash either way, but the BBC are taking a step back from it and allowing them to defend themselves.

There are a few different ways to interpret this. On the one hand, it's very trusting of the BBC to allow presenters like Lineker to speak for themselves about a sensitive internal topic like this, but on the other, it risks seriously damaging their credibility. In either case, Channel 4 and ITV both offer higher salaries than the BBC, and the likelihood of them releasing a transparency report like this is slim to nil.

The Pool
Twitter have done a great deal to try and make their platform a safer space. Repeated updates, added features and improved blocking/reporting systems have been brought in again and again, but every few months, a fresh wave of media backlash breaches and it feels like little to no progress has been made. One of the most consistent complaints against Twitter in this regard is that a lot of reports get ignored, and unfortunately it looks like that has yet to improve.

Worse still, many completely legitimate reports are being dismissed with the all too familiar automated response stating that the reported user has done nothing to violate Twitter's terms of service. A recent article by BuzzFeed revealed the plight of a user named Maggie H., during which a particular abusive user implied that they knew where she lived, and then posted an image of her with a target superimposed over it. Twitter suspended the account and removed the image, but only after BuzzFeed reached out to them for comment.

This isn't callousness on Twitter's part, it comes back to one simple, oft-repeated adage - algorithms cannot do this kind of work. It's an issue which both Facebook and Twitter have been called out for, and despite all the countermeasures Twitter have brought in to make life more difficult for abusers, their terms of service will always be easy to sidestep for as long as they are being enforced by an automated system, a system with no concept of a 'grey area'.

The rule of thumb seems to be that any time a threatening tweet fails to make it past the reporting stage, and some journalistic platform or another takes the issue up with Twitter directly, then in goes away. This suggests two things - firstly that Twitter are more likely to take abuse reports seriously under the threat of negative press, and secondly that a lot of abusive content would get taken down if a living, breathing human had ever clapped eyes on it.

Studies have shown that many of Twitter's terms of service are clearly violated in tweets and messages on a regular basis, but they either aren't reported or the security system doesn't recognise them as infractions. In one particular case noted by BuzzFeed, a writer reported an account which had only tweeted 78 times, every single one a direct attack against her. Many of these tweets violated the hateful conduct policy, yet the complaint was dismissed.

Twitter are regularly called out and forced to apologise for incidents like this, but they keep occurring. On the one hand, Twitter couldn't possibly hire enough personnel to deal with every report case-by-case, but on the other some would argue it's better to make the system more strict, risking complaints about freedom of speech being muzzled, than to continue ignoring people who are being threatened. The system needs an overhaul, plain and simple.

Webware.io
Google may still have yet to put their name to a successful social media platform, but even without one, they've found plenty of ways to rival all the big hitters. Facebook have tried to act as arch-nemesis to almost every other major platform out there, but it could be argued that Google is their true adversary, and the giant they need to bring down if they ever really want to monopolise the internet.

Even without a social network, Google remains the dominant news resource, and now they're making it even better by bringing in a news feed to rival and even perhaps outmatch Facebook's. Once introduced, the feed will appear in Google's apps next to the search function, before eventually being introduced to the browser search page itself. It will take into account every single bite of data Google have gathered, as well as the implications of said data, big and small.

Facebook might know a lot about you, but in many cases and in many areas Google still knows more. What you search for is often more telling than how quickly you scroll, which brand pages you visit or which ads you click. Add to that all the other sites and applications Google owns and you have a terrifyingly comprehensive activity monitor, one which has the potential to deliver a truly tailor-made news feed.

Recently, Facebook have received far more criticism than praise for their news feed, largely owing to the fact that it continues to deliver fake news stories, but also because it works with a range of parameters which some argue have resulted in an 'echo chamber' which limits people to the things Facebook things they want to see. It's an easy cycle to break out of, it just requires a slightly more active approach to Facebook, but since Google is already a more active experience than Facebook, they may sidestep this issue entirely.

It won't just be the headline though, Google are proposing a kind of card-based feed featuring news stories, new videos, recipes and anything else it thinks you might be interested in based on search history and all the other aforementioned parameters. Think of it as your one-stop shop for all things Google related. If this sounds familiar, it's because Google have tried it before, in the form of 'Google Now', but it didn't take.

Google have a habit of bringing out new features and applications which fall flat on their faces, but in this case, they're claiming that the interface has become so intelligent that it can figure out not only what you're interested in, but why you're interested it, thus differentiating between more than just categories. If you're actively doing something, like planning a party, Google will figure it out and start showing you relevant links, for example.

We won't see any of this until later this year, and Pixel users will be the first to really get to grips with it. It probably won't lure anyone away from Facebook, but it may force them to further rethink their approach to news delivery.

Emojipedia

Monday was, believe it or not, World Emoji Day, and to celebrate, Facebook released a couple of small infographics showing which emoji were the most popular, and where they were the most popular. As it turns out, the 'crying with laughter' face is the most popular, followed by the 'heart eyes' one and then the 'blowing a kiss' one, with a second, slanted laughter crying face in fourth. The only emoji with any negative connotations to make the cut was the actual crying face, which came in at number nine.

In terms of international spread, the heart eyes face was more popular in Mexico and Brazil, which the cry-laugher dominated the USA, UK and Indonesia. The winking face was the most popular in France. Make of that what you will. Of course we're trusting Facebook entirely here, but there's no actual data to go along with the infographics, so any further information like the actual numeric frequency of emoji use remains shrouded in mystery.

Facebook
What's also unclear is whether or not these results are pulled purely from public content like status updates and comments, or from private content like chats as well. In either case, it seems to suggest that while the library of emoji has become mind-bogglingly vast in the past few years, the way people use them has not become that much more sophisticated. If you were expected to see meme favourites like the aubergine or umbrella emoji on the list, you're in for disappointment.

While Facebook were doing that, Apple introduced a few new emoji into the ever-growing pantheon. Well, introduced might be a strong word, more like gave us a closer look. The emoji keyboard will be updated when iOS 11 arrives, and Apple used the bizarre international celebration to 'preview' a few, including the highly anticipated 'breastfeeding' emoji.

Sprout Social
In the wake of some fairly unpleasant news about their dwindling stock valuation, Snap are still doing everything they can to demonstrate their value to advertisers. Slowly but surely, they've been broadening the advertising options on Snapchat and now they've released the ad creation tool - Snap Publisher. They've been teasing this for a while now, as well as improving metrics and analytics, and now we get to see what the app looks like when advertisers are given all the tools they need to tailor their content.

Snap Publisher offers a small array of different templates, each of which is fully customisable with all the content types users are able to upload, as well as company logos. Once the ad is built, it gets published on Ad Manager, another business feature which Snap recently brought out. In both cases, small to middle sized businesses with less budget and resources for advertising are being targeted.

Bringing in brands with shallower pockets might not seem like the best move for a company with stock valuation which is moving the wrong way, but a general increase in brand interest and activity can still look good on an earnings report, such as the quarterly one Snap are due to publish in about a month's time. It bodes well for the future, and at present Snap don't really have much to show off, so it makes sense to focus on things which look set to boost ROI further down the line.

The second part of that is user growth, which is even more critical. There's little benefit in a more versatile advertising space if there isn't anybody there to advertise to. Snapchat's user growth rates aren't what they used to be, but the hope is that all the recent new additions have brought in more users, but more specifically, that they've withstood the attempts by Facebook to lure their clientele to their platforms.

As far as brands are concerned, this will be an important test, internal advertising tools are great but they have to be more versatile and more convenient than any other third party options. More than that though, Snap need to prove that it's worth making the effort to create specific ads within Snapchat. If the engagement figures don't ad up, little will change.

Mashable
MySpace has been essentially defunct for the better part of a decade, but unless you've taken the time to delete your account, it's still there. If you're a little bit more unlucky, it might even be active - being used by somebody else. A gaping hole in account security has opened up the way for people to easily take over the accounts of others, to the point where inactive users (ie almost everyone) are being urged to delete their accounts permanently.

If you try and access your MySpace account now, you may well find that you can't remember your password, or even the email address you used to sign up. MySpace clearly took this into consideration, so they implemented a recovery system which only requires three things: a full name, username and date of birth. It's a pretty safe bet that, for many, that information exists somewhere else online.

The odds are that you don't have any truly sensitive information stored on your MySpace, but there are still ways that people could use it nefariously. There's a market for them, and last year the details of some 360 million accounts were shared. The same thing has happened on Tumblr and LinkedIn in the past, to the point where the phenomenon even has its own scary-sounding name - a 'historical mega-breach'.

This is a huge oversight on MySpace's part, especially considering that they brought the recovery system in precisely because a lot of people were trying to regain access to their old accounts, presumably for nostalgic purposes. MySpace was put up for sale in 2011 after a few years of tumultuous ownership by News Corporation. They were subsequently bought by Time Inc, and until now things had been relatively quiet, with the site being gradually redesigned into a music platform.

This is the most news coverage the site has had since then, and it has the potential to damage their reputation even further. MySpace have pledged to improve the system, but it probably won't do much to salvage the PR nightmare that this has become.

Tribunist
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the swiping app format works far better for functions other than dating than it does for, well, dating. While we might have Tinder to thank for the format, and while it may remain just about the most popular app to employ it, there are far better opportunities out there and it's been fascinating to watch developers tinker. Now, a new one has emerged which hopes to tackle a very serious, very current issue - fake news.

Factitious was developed by American University and it works very simply - you're presented with real, published news stories and you have to swipe right if you think they're correct and left if you think they're fake. It's fairly easy to cheat, you can just type the name of the article into Google and if Snopes suddenly appears at the top of the search results, that's probably everything you need to know.

That's not really the point though, the app is designed to teach you to identify the difference even at face value. In some cases it's as easy as recognising the outlet, but if you don't know it, there are other signs. After using the app enough, American University hope that people will develop a better nose for bogus news. Additionally, gathering data on which kinds of stories trip people up more commonly could be useful in researching the kinds of fake news which need to be monitored more carefully.

If you're on Facebook a lot, you'll probably recognise some of the stories, but even someone who literally gets paid to research social media news like me didn't get everything right. Facebook and other platforms have a responsibility to regulate the news on their site, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't educate ourselves. The way much of society views and consumes news has shifted - now more than ever, headlines dominate public perception, and it's causing ever greater problems. Factitious is an amusing distraction, but it's serving a larger, greater purpose.



Last month, we filled you in on the brand new Skype update that brought a massive redesign to the instant messaging app. With a new set of features reminiscent of Snapchat, Skype looked like it was going to slot itself in alongside the other popular messaging apps, however things haven't quite gone to plan.

Everyone hates it.

Perhaps not everyone, but the majority of the feedback that Microsoft has received over their new update has been pretty negative. You just need to take a look at their iTunes rating, which is only at 1.5 stars for the current version, to see that people aren't responding to the app the way that the company hoped they would.

The majority of hatred towards the redesign has been focused towards the loss of previous features that apparently meant more to users than Microsoft realised. People were particularly upset about the removal of the status display which showed whether or not contacts were online. The company obviously thought that such a small detail wouldn't be missed, but it was enough to cause a huge uproar.

In response to the backlash, Skype have now come out and said in their latest press release that they're prepared to improve upon the problems that have arisen. They wrote:

"We want you to know we've been listening, updating, and responding to your feedback. We're committed to providing you with an amazing experience we know only this newest generation of Skype can deliver."

Yes, this does mean that they're reinstating the status display so everyone can rest easy.

Although this feature has yet to be brought back, Skype have already rolled out some updates to improve the ability to delete contacts and conversations, as well as fixing multi-tasking while on a call. Further down the line, there are also plans to add more themes and colour options to the app to improve the ability to personalise your Skype however you want. There will also be an update to the interface that makes navigation a great deal easier.

Skype closed out their press release by reminding everyone that:

"The goal for this next generation of Skype is to bring people in your world closer together than ever before, and we know - especially with your help - it'll continue getting better and better. We're excited for you to see what's next."

Let's hope that whatever the future brings, it stays well away from everyone's beloved status display.

The FutureLaw Initiative
For the past few years, Netflix and other streaming services have been dominating the Emmys, and we're long beyond the point of needing proof that streaming services have locked down the television industry. Social media streaming, however, is still developing, and its future is uncertain. Now, a Facebook Live program has gained an Emmy nod for the first time, and it could be a telling sign of things to come.

In any other format, the show which received the nomination is exactly the kind of program you'd expect to get Emmy attention - a star-studded live broadcast to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union, hosted by Tom Hanks. The more interesting thing is that it wasn't even the only social media platform to be nominated in that category - they got another nod for Oscars All Access and Snapchat were also nominated for their The Voice companion show.

The category, named 'Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within an Unscripted Program' is new for this year. That comes as no surprise, categories like Interactive Media are revamped almost on a yearly basis, but the very fact that Facebook and Snapchat programs have received nominations alongside things like E! Entertainment's in-house 'Live 360' service gives you a pretty clear idea of the direction things are moving in.

Meanwhile, in the 'scripted' version of the same category, several VR-based experiences were nominated, including one which was released to promote Stranger Things. The Emmys have always recognised advances in media production and consumption, and it seems now that they've introduced an entire sub-category for social media live streams. The question is, does this signify that live-streaming will continue to be successful?

Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter certainly seem to think so. They're battling fiercely for the rights to different national and international sports, as well as stacking up an ever growing list of original content. Aside from AI and VR, it's one of the most front-facing enterprises of every major platform. Despite this, it's taking time for audiences to adjust to it.

At the moment, brands are committing much more to the cause than audiences, and a lot of the returns are theoretical. There have certainly been success stories - the search term 'Facebook Live Stream' has seen more than 330% more searches since Live launched, and they're on track to rise beyond 50 billion views per day before the year is through, but at the moment the most impressive figures are either speculative, or just huge sums of money paid by Facebook and others to get networks and influencers on board.

Even with the Emmys on side, it's a gamble. Facebook Live's most watched video is still the 'Chewbacca Mask' video from last year, which doesn't do much for Facebook's revenue, considering it was user generated and could have very easily ended up on YouTube instead. On the darker side of that spectrum, Facebook and Snapchat have both struggled to deal with broadcasts containing violent, disturbing, criminal or even murderous behaviour.

Platforms, media companies and academies can throw as much weight behind it as they want, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still theoretical. Things look on track for continued success now, but any kind of fluctuation in the way social media functions (like, say, the fake news scandal) could set it back majorly, or cause the people bringing the money to rethink their approach. Award nominations or not, live streaming still has a long way to go.

Get More Traffic
Not even a week after announcing that ads would be appearing inside Messenger, Facebook have given the ad treatment to another one of their arms - Marketplace. For the unfamiliar, Marketplace is Facebook's internal seller's market/Gumtree/Craigslist clone. It's been quietly chugging away for a while now, and it seems that Facebook have decided that it gets enough traffic to warrant some extra revenue.

At time of writing, the ads are only being tested in a limited capacity, and even for those who can see the ads, they're just being migrated over from other parts of the platform. Once the testing phase is over, barring incident, the plan is to sell advertising space specifically for Marketplace. The ads won't be dissimilar to the ads you see on News Feed in shape and appearance even then, but the thing to bear in mind is that people use Marketplace with shopping in mind, which theoretically should mean a better engagement rate.

Marketplace is still rocky territory. A lot of products are posted, millions every month, but there's little to no guarantee of quality or fair pricing. This is largely because Marketplace is very young, so there hasn't really been time to establish a trustworthy buyer/seller vetting system yet. With time, it should be easier to figure out which sellers are legit and looking further forward, eradicate untrustworthy sellers entirely.

That's no reason to hold back from advertising though, and in fact it might actually make Marketplace more viable even as it finds its feet. The mark of seller quality might not be there, but if shoppers can still count on targeted advertising linking them out to similar products on other sites, it's more of an incentive to stick around. Like or hate it, Facebook has some the best targeted advertising of any platform, and placing it somewhere which is a logical fit for it, rather than shoehorning it into places which get the most traffic (cough, Messenger, cough) is good business sense.



Your friend says something funny, what do you do? Respond with a GIF of someone laughing, of course. What about if they suggest you go on a night out? Pretty much any GIF of Karen Walker should make it pretty clear how down you are for that idea.

There's nothing that can't be appropriately reacted to with a GIF. That's why Facebook are now testing out a new feature that allows you to make your own straight from their app.

It's a somewhat unexpected turn of events given that the company have always been slightly behind the times when it comes to incorporating these animated images into their mobile apps. It was only two years ago that they added GIF support to Facebook's Messenger app and News Feed feature, having originally referred to them as being "too chaotic" for the latter, while their addition to comments has only happened within the last few weeks. Although they were late to the party, at least Facebook have finally decided to immerse themselves in the GIF culture.

As the new feature is only in the test phase, it's not available to everyone and may well go through some changes before it inevitably gets approved for full release. It's only available on iOS devices where a quick swipe to the left will reveal the Facebook camera and the new option to generate a GIF. The available duration is only a few seconds long, but you have the full-range of effects that the Facebook camera already offers so you can add a bit of pizzazz to your new creation.

Until the feature is fully released, the GIFs can only be utilised on the app where they can be added to your Facebook story or posted on your page. While you can save them to your iPhone camera, they won't be stored there as GIFs, and there is currently no option to send them directly to other services like Whatsapp either.

However, what matters most right now is showing Facebook that this new addition to their ever-growing mobile app is essential. If you find the feature available on your phone, why not give it a try? The more use it gets, the quicker it will be rolled out for everyone to use, and then you can always have the perfect GIF of yourself to respond to friends and family with.

Disney Wikia
As a Westerner in China, there are a few things it's worth steering clear of, if you want to avoid offending people: finishing your plate, saying 'no' in public, avoiding personal questions, and if you're learning Mandarin, be sure to remember that there's only a very small tonal difference between the words for 'mother' and 'horse'. Generally speaking though, any kind of governmental criticism is a major no-no, especially on social media.

Pretty much anything which could be construed as a negative attitude towards the government will either be pulled or even result in a full account ban, and as of last week, this includes Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne's most famous character obviously has little to nothing to do with China, the Hundred Acre Wood was not an elaborate allegory for the CPC, but as ever, the internet finds ways to connect things, accidentally or otherwise.

In this peculiar case, it was meme-related. An established trend saw Chinese users uploading an image Pooh and Tigger walking side by side next to another of Obama walking with Chinese president Xi Jinping, the idea being to illustrate that Xi is short and has a bit of a paunch. As a result, all the Winnie the Pooh stickers have been removed from WeChat, and his Chinese name - Little Bear Winnie - has been blacklisted on Weibo.

It's still possible to upload some images and GIFs of the character, or reference him by his proper, anglicised name, but the Chinese authorities may chance that before too long if the meme persists. This isn't the first time that the online watchdogs have tried to silence it, in 2015 an image of Xi in a parade car was paired with an image of a Pooh-branded toy car. It was the most censored photo of the year.

Users are still testing the boundaries of the blacklisting, and for the time being it looks like they still have a few different options for professing their love for everyone's favourite honey-addicted bear, but much like actual bears, the Chinese government don't like being poked.

HostAdvice
Facebook, Google and Twitter have been making headlines again and again this year over their attempts, failures and promises to respond to the spread of extremist ideas on their platforms. They've brought in new ideas, policies, software upgrades and even staff departments to deal with the issue and while it certainly hasn't gone away, some marginal progress has been made.

The issue is that extremism and hate speech doesn't die off, it just changes shape, and when you plug one hole it finds another. At a recent conference in London, the founder and sole operator of image sharing site Justpasteit.com detailed his struggles with an unexpected and intolerable influx of terrorist activity.

When this kind of thing happens on large scale platforms, there are a myriad of countermeasures in place to deal with it, from reporting to blocking to account removal. When it's just one guy sat in his home office fielding complaints in languages that he doesn't speak, it's not quite so straightforward. A healthy intake of active users doesn't guarantee a sophisticated system, and in many cases sites get popular long before they get any kind of real funding, office space or full-time personnel. Clearly, terrorist groups are starting to twig to that.

Another issue that Mariusz Żurawek (Just Paste It's founder) raised was that if he's asked to get law enforcement involved, he has little way of knowing, nation to nation, if he's helping or hindering the situation by doing so. Żurawek is running a website, he is not an international diplomat, but those are the kind of pressures that are being placed on him and other small time digital platform owners. It's a deeply unpleasant and unfair situation.

So what's the solution? Allow extremists to operate on larger platforms where they can be monitored? Obviously not, but really this issue has no immediately obvious solution, the internet cannot be policed, and sites with less funding will always suffer from inferior security.

The image-hashing database developed jointly by Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google may provide an answer, though. It's a sophisticated system with a proven record of identifying extremist content. If that technology were open-sourced and offered to smaller sites, as well as a system of legal aid and general advice on how to deal with issues like this, this spread of hate onto sites that can't manage it could well be contained. 


BBC
Teenagers love Snapchat and Instagram, and as we well know, teenagers don't do social media by halves. Many of them discuss, broadcast and investigate every little detail of their lives online, and according to a recent investigation by the producers of an upcoming BBC Three program, that includes buying and selling drugs.

The makers of the program spoke to dealers as young as 15, who claimed that online sales had become the majority income source for a lot of groups, and that an individual dealer could earn £300 or more in a single day. Of course, Snapchat and Instagram both have a strict reporting system to prevent illegal activity on their platforms, but reporting only works when there's something recognisable to report, and in this case the dealers have found a way to ply there trade very discreetly.

The kids selling the drugs use a complex system of emojis to communicate to those in the know what they're offering, and once the upfront sale gives way to private messaging, there's no way to monitor it without an actual warrant. Even if a report goes through, it can take days for the report to be processed and evaluated, and even then the platforms may not find sufficient evidence to take things any further.

This kind of dealing usually comes out of large scale operations which ship in huge amounts of drugs to be sold on a weekly basis. When an outfit that size says that 75% of their profit is coming from kids selling on Snapchat, it's worth taking seriously. There's low level drug dealing and then there's full scale drug trafficking. Based on the evidence the BBC have gathered, this looks very much like it's the latter.

When reached for comment, Snapchat and Instagram gave more less the exact same answer: if you see something sketchy, report it. The dating app Yellow, who have also been under scrutiny for increased drug activity, admitted that they could be doing more to deal with it, but on some level it's beyond them.

Could these platforms be doing more to directly combat the sale of illegal drugs? Possibly, but it's an issue in society, not social media. The fact that Snapchat and Instagram have become popular platforms for young drug dealers is an unfortunate side-effect of a societal structure which allows teenagers to be brought into a dangerous, criminal underworld.

India Times
In days past, it was common to see screenshots of people foolishly lambasting their managers, supervisors and bosses on Facebook, forgetting that they actually added them at some point of another. It was during that period when Facebook was evolving from a platform for closed social circles to a platform for every kind of connection. Now that we're a bit further along, mistakes like that are less common, but harsher questions about privacy are being raised.

Now, EU data regulation authorities have asserted that it should not be permissible for employers to 'screen' their staff's social media profiles on a regular basis. Additionally, they stated that neither job applicants nor staff members should ever feel forced to accept a friend request from a superior, or any other incentive to hand over access to their profile pages.

This isn't just a suggestion though, this is an official declaration by a group of data watchdogs from all across the EU, including the UK. Next year, a set of new regulations will make it that much more difficult for companies to misuse personal social media data. Those who do will face hefty, potentially crippling fines.

While cases of people stupidly insulting their employers on Facebook and Twitter have died down, they've given way to bigger problems, such as employees being fired or applications being rejected purely on the basis of social media activity. This has raised concerns that social media is blurring the lines between personal and professional lives, and that people who are more active or open on social media might be treated unfairly, compared to people who are more guarded.

This new declaration is more based around the idea that bosses are tracking their staff's activity using Facebook and other platforms, and using that to evaluate their professional performance. Doing this, it opens up the chance for employees to be treated less fairly based on irrelevant things like their beliefs, lifestyle and opinions. Essentially, it's another form of favouritism, albeit more invasive. To add to this, the regulators have said that job applicants' social media profiles can only be scanned where it's applicable to the job they'll be doing.


Formula One's history with social media has always been a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

When Liberty Media acquired F1 earlier this year there was hope that the new management would bring about change to the falling interest in the sport. Although the company's more relaxed approach to social media came across a few bumps in the road, it seems like they've finally found their feet in the online world.

This week, Formula One announced its new partnership with Snap Inc., the company behind popular visual messaging service Snapchat. They revealed their intention to make use of the app's Discover feature which allows fans to add their pictures and videos to a curated stream of event-specific content. This partnership is set to debut at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire this weekend for the British Grand Prix.

On why they chose this venture to be their first major foray into social media, Formula One said that:

"Our stories allow Snapchatters at the same event to contribute their unique perspectives through video and photos Snaps to one collective Story, capturing the atmosphere and excitement.

"We want to work with partners to bring fans closer to the amazing show that is Formula One, an incredible mix of technology and individual talent - and Snap fits that bill."

Although they're highly complementary of Snap Inc. - for which the feeling's mutual according to the company's vice president - this is just the first step in Liberty Media's plan to develop the sport across social media. With other more popular networks like Facebook and Twitter waiting to be utilised, it's likely that Formula One will soon see its interest revitalised by a generation of  fans who may not have been too familiar with the sport in the past.

F1's partnership with Snap will continue throughout the rest of the season, with races in Singapore, Brazil and Abu Dhabi all set to receive the same treatment on race day. Whether the two companies will continue to work together further into the future is currently unknown, however Snap's declaration that "working with Formula One has been at the top of our wish list for a long time" does indicate that there would certainly be interest in continuing this partnership.

For now, we'll just have to wait and see how the online world reacts to this weekend's Grand Prix and whether F1's presence in Our Stories is a rousing success or an unfortunate mistake. I'm almost certain it will be the former.

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