September 2017

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that Rihanna has launched a make-up range which has, as expected, been hugely popular with make-up lovers everywhere.With Fenty Beauty selling fast, her successful collaboration with sports brand Puma, as well as topping the charts with hit after hit; Rihanna is on top of the game as a musician, fashion icon and influencer.

One of Fenty Beauty's biggest selling points is the diversity of the range; the Soft Matte Longwear Foundation boasts an impressive 40 shades which Rihanna herself says will suit every skin tone, from extremely pale to the most beautiful black. The shade range has proved revolutionary on both ends of the spectrum; it's known that people of colour are not properly catered for in the beauty industry, and likewise with the paler community, including those with albinism.

Fenty Beauty has "shed light on black buying power" as Vibe beautifully puts it, and has been extremely influential to one Albino beauty-lover who has struggled to find the right shade for years, as seen below...

The diversity of Fenty Beauty outshone many other leading beauty brands who don't provide enough shades for POC in their face products, and many responded through marketing in a bid to compete with Rihanna's success.

The most talked about response was a rather direct one from Make Up For Ever, captioning their Instagram post "40 shades is nothing new to us..." followed by a rather sassy use of the Lips emoji.

The best part about this post is Rihanna's comment in response with a short, straight to the point "lol. still ashy". This then caused a bit of a debate in the comments as to whether Rih's response was petty, childish or downright hilarious.

From where I stand, the singer was simply responding to a brand clearly attempting to put-down her efforts and success in a jealous, petty attack. A marketing response could've been done with more subtlety, grace and professionalism like the ones to follow.

On the days following Fenty Beauty's launch on September 8th, we saw these more subtle efforts from competitors to show how diverse and inclusive their shade-ranges are. Esteé Lauder shared an image on 11th September showing their  wide shade range...

And L'Oreal, who already run their True Match campaign promoting a large and inclusive shade range, announced they'd extended the range on September 12...

See below Marc Jacob's Beauty's Instagram feed dated from the 8th-11th of September:

Img: Marc Jacobs Beauty Instagram
Of course, this could just be a coincidence, but the large amount of POC models in a block of posts sticks out pretty far compared to the rest of the feed  (which normally includes POC models every once in a while amongst other beauty images of white models and make-up products).

While most attempts to gain exposure around the time of Fenty's launch didn't appear as malicious and sassy as Make Up For Ever's, it's clear they didn't go unnoticed and some Fenty-loving Twitter users weren't having any of it, one user dubbing the efforts as 'pathetic' - which made me and clearly 46,000 other users laugh.

In the game of digital marketing, these responses were, of course, expected when Fenty's competitors realised they need to step up their diversity-game and ultimately catch up with the successful new-kid-on-the-block, Rihanna.

Of all the social media platforms, Facebook is one of the leaders which is much more than just a network by adding features to truly make a positive difference. In the past, Facebook have ran campaigns to raise awareness for organ donations, suicide prevention, mental health and fake news, as well as constantly redefining the Crisis Response feature to be as effective as possible.

Facebook's most recent appeal is recognising the safe-blood shortage in India, by making blood donation easy, accessible and efficient across the country. Blood donations can often be short of demand due to those wanting to donate being unsure of the process, where to go and how to help, but with Facebook bringing the campaign onto the easy-to-use, popular platform, it's likely to boost reach and awareness and ultimately, save lives.

From the 1st October, which is India's National Blood Donation Day, Facebook will allow users in the country to register as a blood donor and specify their blood-type on their profile. Like with all information you give, privacy settings are available; blood-type and donor-status can then be made private by selecting the 'Only Me' setting, or visible if the individual wishes.

Img: Facebook
Users will also get the option to request a certain blood type where it's needed through a special type of post, whether it be an individual or organisation e.g. a blood bank. From these appeal-posts, Facebook will notify local qualifying donors with the correct blood type to see if they can help.

The features will be accessible on Android devices and mobile-web first, as these platforms are the most popular in India at the minute. It will then ultimately be available on iOS so even more people in India can help and if the campaign is successful and makes enough of a difference, it could be rolled out to other countries with healthy blood-shortages.

Facebook Newsroom concludes the campaign announcement with the following:

"We hope this new feature helps people come together in ways that weren’t possible before. By raising awareness and growing the number of blood donors in India, we want to make it easier for people and organizations to give and receive blood."

Another day, another new feature for social media users to we bring you Twitter's latest shenanigans regarding Tweet character limits. 

Twitter is a place for people to Tweet news, thoughts and nonsense in a concise, of-the-moment matter. The character limit has always been at 140 characters to keep tweets of a concise, short nature and it's never really had any complaints before - apart from when you are forced to make a grammatical crime (goodbye comma that should 100% be in this sentence...) to fit your tweet into the limit. 

If users wish to express views in a longer, paragraph style, they can do so by heading to Facebook, using things like TwitLonger, or sharing a screenshot of what they want to say on Notes for example.
Twitter are trialling something which many didn't think would ever happen (and something people haven't actually asked for, unlike other features *cough* Edit Tweet button).

The app are trialling a 280-character limit on a select few accounts, and the post on Twitter's blog announcing the potential change reads: 

"We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we're doing something new: We're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean)."

Upon discovering the trials of the new feature, it's safe to say the people of Twitter have voiced their opinions. Some are being pretty funny with their responses...

And some are downright against the idea...

What are your thoughts on #280Characters?

With the announcement of the new iPhone, the new iOS update is here - iOS 11. The new update boasts lots of cool new features including Screen Recording and a customisable Control Center. With lots of articles revealing the 'secret' and 'hidden' features of the update, we'd like to focus on just one, which looks to be pretty useful, with the potential to make a difference.

We've previously covered topics surrounding the area of mobile-phone use whilst driving, including some shocking statistics and dangerous trends, potentially prompted by our addiction to social media and features like the speed photo-filter available on Snapchat. Many also use their mobile phones for the Maps feature which is extremely handy and eliminates the need to fork out on a seperate device, however with notifications coming through while in your view, distractions - and accidents - can quickly occur.

With road safety becoming increasingly important and rules getting tougher (rightly so) surrounding the use of mobile phones when behind the wheel, Apple have introduced a way to minimize distraction and temptation when driving.

On the iPhone (and other Apple devices), the Do Not Disturb feature has been around for a while, and comes in handy when sleeping, busy or working. The new iOS update has introduced an extension of the feature; the 'Do Not Disturb While Driving' feature is accessible via the Do Not Disturb section on settings, and is customisable from there too. Take a look.

You can set the feature to be activated Automatically, - when your device picks up you're traveling at speed - through Bluetooth - when connected to your car - or Manually - leaving you to switch it on yourself before setting off on your journey. The Automatic option is great if you're the driver a majority of the time, but if you're a passenger a lot it may become irritating having to turn it off on journeys, so be sure to set it to suit you best.
The Auto-Reply option is also great; anyone who sends you a text when you're driving can recieve a customisable reply letting them know that you're unavailable. If you're normally quick at replies, this means you won't leave your mates hanging if you don't reply for a while, so you won't have to worry about anyone thinking you're ignoring them etc.
Like the normal Do Not Disturb feature, any notifications you receive won't flash up when you're driving and the screen will stay blank, meaning the temptation to take your eyes off the road will be gone. Only if a message includes the word 'Urgent' will it come through, in the case of emergencies. 

Additionally, if you do choose to set the feature to Manual, you now have the option to add the mode to your Control Center, which will make it easier to access and hopefully prompt iPhone owners to make use of the feature.

This new feature has the potential to massively increase road safety concerning mobile phone use - what are your thoughts?

Finally, an update Instagram users actually want. After our previous post concerning Instagram's potential new layout causing nothing more than a sh*tstorm on Twitter amongst grid-perfectionists, it seems that there is some good news surrounding the app. Instagram is trialling the 'Follows you' feature on Android devices - one that's been wanted for a while after being popular on Twitter profiles.

While it may not seem so significant, being able to see who follows you (and most importantly follows you back) is something a lot of users want. It's great for when you want to nosey at whether someone's following you back and want to even out that Follower-to-Following ratio. You could unfollow those friends-of-friends, acquaintances or companies who unfollowed you as soon as you politely followed them back in the first place - that sort of thing.

The feature is an easy alternative to downloading those 'Who Unfollowed Me?' apps, which ask for £1.29 to actually unlock the 'who's unfollowed me' feature once you've downloaded it for free...deceiving. So, now we can all save our £1.29's and find out who's snaking us on the Insta-follow-back game easily - win-win eh?

As mentioned, the feature is being trialled on Android devices only at the moment, appearing in user's bios under the 'Followed by' section but due to it's apparent popularity, it's likely iOS users will want it too.

This Instagram update is a goodun; now all we need is our chronological feeds back.

This past Tuesday, YouTube announced via blog post that they will be ending their paid channels service which first launched back in 2013 to somewhat limited success. Less than 1% of creators use the service today, so YouTube have finally accepted that it may be time to pull the plug, but of course they are now offering an alternative of sorts to content creators producing videos for their YouTube Gaming arm.

Img: YouTube Gaming

This alternative comes in the form of an expansion of the company’s sponsorships programme, whereby users can purchase digital goods such as custom badges and emoji directly from their favourite channels/creators via monthly recurring payments of $4.99 USD. This offers fans a chance to support their favourite gamers while feeling like they’re getting something of value in return.
The custom badges allow sponsors to stand out from the crowd when engaging with creators and other fans via the live chat function, while the creator-designed emoji serve to brighten up the dialogue in a way that makes sense for the channel in question. The more sponsors a channel gains, the more of these emoji they are able to offer.

The benefits of signing up to a sponsorship programme extend further than a simple badge or emoji however, as appealing as they may be. Sponsors will also get access to an exclusive sponsor-only chat and immunity from ‘slow mode’ (a feature which limits how often any given user can post on a live chat). On top of that, creators will be able to offer additional benefits via third-party services, meaning the perks on offer could soon become highly diverse across different channels.

Early tests of the sponsorship model for YouTube Gaming channels have looked promising. The company included in their blog post announcing the change that, “GameAttack makes most of their channel revenue via sponsorships and Super Chat. Rocket Beans earned 1,500 sponsors in their first day. And ONE_shot_GURL’s monthly celebratory wall of sponsors is getting so full, it’s running out of room.”

To be eligible for Sponsorships on YouTube Gaming, you have to meet these requirements: 
  • You have a “Gaming” channel
  • Your channel is enabled for live streaming
  • Your channel is monetized
  • Your channel has over 1,000 subscribers
  • You are over 18 years old
  • You are located in one of the available locations
  • You are in compliance with our terms and policies
Eligible gaming channels can activate the feature via this link.

Sponsorships for non-gaming channels are currently in a closed beta stage, but interested parties can sign up here to try it out.

Earlier this week a tattoo-shop owner from South Wales, identified simply as Hayles, appeared on BBC Radio 5 live to discuss the growing struggle she faces with alcohol advertisements on social media platforms. As a recovering alcoholic who recently celebrated 100 days of sobriety with a ‘sober mama’ tattoo, Hayles described how such advertisements, while benign to the average user, act as a trigger for her “binge-aholic” tendencies, making what is already an uphill struggle even more difficult to beat.

She does not however suggest that these adverts should be banned from appearing on social media platforms; rather she would like to retain a little extra control over her feed, setting her preferences in such a way that allows her to avoid any material which may be detrimental to her newfound sobriety.
“Not only do I get told that it's Friday night and it's ‘wine night’ for mum when the kids are in bed, I also get told I should be out drinking flavoured vodka because that's the only way I can go dancing, I can only enjoy rugby if I have a lager… it's tiresome, if I'm honest,” explained Hayles. “To me, it's a trigger.

“You're always going to be faced with difficulties and I don't want to hide away from it, I don’t want it to look like [alcohol] doesn’t exist but I'd like my social media to be controlled by what I want to see, because it's mine, it's my page.”

In a move sure to delight Hayles and anyone else struggling with similar issues, Facebook have announced that they are trialling the use of a new tool which would allow users to block alcohol-related advertisements from appearing on their page or news feed. Participants of the trial will be able to block alcohol-related ads for six months, a year, or permanently, by selecting the desired option within the ‘ad preferences’ menu. This marks the first time that any of the major social media platforms have allowed users to proactively block adverts based on a specific topic.

Users will also be able to hide adverts related to parenting, and Facebook are currently asking for recommendations as to other topics to include.

Representatives from Alcohol Research UK have publicly praised the decision to trial the blocking of alcohol-related advertisements online, as they believe that social media is currently “saturated” with such adverts and that existing advertising rules are not “fit for purpose”.

Dr James Nicholls, director of research and policy development at Alcohol Research UK, told BBC Radio 5 live that the volume of marketing material on social media was a particular problem for those who had struggled with alcohol misuse.

“You'll often find that brands create a range of content: funny videos and memes, competitions, tie-ins with real-world events, that are designed to keep their brand visible in timelines,” he said.

“They can do this without breaking the rules on celebrating drunkenness, or showing people who look under 25, but still saturate the online environment with references to drinking.”

The charitable organisation is actually going one step further, calling for a comprehensive review of regulations regarding the advertisement of alcohol on social media platforms. However the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the body charged with the governance of such legislation, rejects any claims that current regulations require review.

Craig Jones, the organisation's spokesman, insisted that the rules were applied “just as stringently online - including ads on social media, user-generated content and vlogs - as they are in traditional media.

“The number of complaints we receive about alcohol ads has halved in recent years, but we're not complacent and keep the rules under constant review. If people see an alcohol ad they think is irresponsible they can make a complaint to the ASA. If an ad breaks the rules, one complaint can be enough to see it banned.”

The ASA’s stance is backed up by the British Beer and Pub Association, whose chief executive Brigid Simmonds told the BBC, “Our members adhere to the ASA's rules as well as the Portman Group's code.

“All our marketing is about brand awareness and not encouraging people to drink more. As an industry we also use advertising to deliver soft consumer messaging around alcohol awareness, linking to DrinkAware and providing responsible messaging.”

So what do you think? Do advertising laws need reviewing as they relate to the advertisement of alcohol on social media platforms, or do you feel that current regulations strict enough?

Twitter is a social media platform that, to me, stands out from the rest when it comes to news coverage. While Snapchat has their Explore section and Facebook shares articles and trending topics, Twitter is where I'll head to find extra information on news stories, from looking through relevant hashtags, filtering my search for news or viewing the Moments section.

The newest feature on Twitter is a hefty development of the original News tab which was launched in Summer 2015, which then became the Explore tab at the start of this year. Make way for Popular Articles, which you'll find on your Explore tab after scrolling down a bit.

It displays the top articles that you may be interested in, which people you follow are already talking about, as well as articles based on your location. As you can see below, it also displays which of your followers have been tweeting and sharing the articles you see.

This edition adds tailored, personalised news alongside general headlines, which I'm sure many Twitter users will get on board with. It's likely to draw in users who rarely tweet and use the app as a platform to see what's going on and who's talking about what.

Another plus of the feature is that if you choose to tap a Popular Article which interests you, the article opens within the app, being convenient and avoiding the sometimes-glitchy (owners of a sparkly new iPhone 7/ a handset with Android Oreo can't relate) transition to Safari/Chrome. When you've read the article, simply tap the 'Done' button and you'll be back on the Twitter Explore tab - this is a great way to keep users on the app while enjoying the feature.

Look out for the Popular Articles on the most recent version of the app, as a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the new feature is live on Android and iOS across the globe.

Politics is a touchy subject in the UK at present, regardless of your own personal opinions and affiliations. Controversy is rife in the political landscape and with the rise of social media, voters now have unprecedented access to their elected officials and parliamentary candidates. Unfortunately, all too often this access is squandered, with genuine political discourse, discussion and debate falling to the wayside as waves of abuse and trolling take over. This is exactly what happened during the most recent election, as a BBC survey has revealed that close to 90% of MPs were exposed to abuse during the 2017 General Election.

In response, the Electoral Commission is calling on the UK Government to consider introducing into law new measures designed to tackle politically-motivated abuse, and to tighten up and update election laws in general. Included in their recommendations is the outline of a plan to ban those social media trolls who engage in serious and hurtful abuse online from voting in future UK elections.
In fairness an update of election laws may be deemed necessary, as current legislation is often regarded by many as somewhat haphazard and confusing, full of loopholes and/or omissions, and in many cases outdated. The proposed bans however are decidedly more controversial.

Drawing upon existing electoral offences which carry with them the possibility of special sanctions including but not limited to the loss of an elected office, disqualification from voting, or a ban on standing for office in the future, the Electoral Commission are seeking the application of these same sanctions in the ongoing battle against online trolls.

The commission outlined this view in a recent statement in which they stated, “It may be that similar special electoral consequences could act as a deterrent to abusive behaviour in relation to candidates and campaigners.”

My worry here however is the exact criteria the commission would use to differentiate between those engaging in legitimate abuse, and those simply voicing disagreement or attempting to ignite a cordial debate. Incorrectly defining this distinction, or intentionally abusing the legislation, could lead to unjust sanctions being placed upon innocent parties who are guilty only of taking an interest in the political climate. If opposing views in general become discouraged, this would present a threat to the democratic principles on which our country is based.

The proposal was outlined by the Electoral Commission as part of evidence given to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is currently conducting an investigation into election abuse on the request of Prime Minister Theresa May.

A Downing Street spokeswoman commented, “She asked the Committee for Standards in Public Life to have a look at that and we'll see what they come back with.

“More generally, I think what she would say is that there is a clear difference between legitimate scrutiny and conduct that is fuelled by hate and personal abuse.”

While the above statement does seem to suggest that those responsible are aware that they must be careful not to punish genuine political scrutiny, I remain cautious of these plans. After all, history would suggest that if something can be abused for personal gain, somebody at least will try to do so.

Instagram themes and carefully planned feeds are all over Instagram at the moment, all displaying aesthetically-pleasing, uniform profiles of art, fashion, architecture, food and everything else. Previously we've ran through the app UNUM, and how grid-planning apps are extremely popular in achieving that follow-worthy feed (like these).

However, if you're a keen Insta-grid planner and perfectionist, the new update that Instagram appear to be trialling may make you throw your toys out of the pram, because all of that hard-work could be for nothing.

As we know it, your Instagram profile shows a grid with three columns, however on some accounts, the platform are trialling a fourth column, which if you've got order and layout to your feed, would mess it up entirely.

Here are some user's reactions to the change on Twitter...

For those who opt for splitting photos on their feed, it's bad news, as shown below...

By the looks of it, it's causing a lot of panic and upset among users, which is no surprise due to the popularity of planned grids. Organised feeds are especially popular amongst companies, brands and influencers who use their aesthetically-pleasing feeds for business and if the change was rolled out onto all new accounts, users could be back at square one (pun intended).

Many have also noted how Instagram's changes aren't what users want - when Instagram stopped displaying posts in chronological order in favour of an algorithmic alternative last year, it all kicked off... now it seems this potential 4-column update is another leaving users unimpressed.

So far, Instagram haven't mentioned anything about the trial on their networks or blog. Are you worried about the potential change or are you not bothered?

Instagram: the social media platform for happy-snappers, budding photographers, selfie-addicts and just about everyone else in-between. With an astounding 700 million monthly users (that's risen a huge amount since we last touched on this subject a couple of years ago), Instagram is the perfect platform to market your company, brand, product or service. Due to the platform largely developing with new features over the last two years, we thought we'd bring you an update on ways to use Instagram for marketing.

Do a little research

It's important to know your audience and potential clients down to a T. Take a look at what's already being said, shared and posted about your company on the app by searching for relevant hashtags and locations. If you get a new follower, take a look at their profile, learn their interests and note what hashtags they use - this way you can learn how to market to your specific audience.

Also, scope out the competition and see if their Insta-marketing techniques are successful or not - be sure not to copy your competitors' strategy; it's better to take inspiration from a few sources and find a method that works for you (and more effectively than theirs, hopefully). The main aim is to stand out from your competitors by doing it your own way.

Engagement is key

Encourage engagement through posting things that followers can interact and get involved with. For example, run competitions, offer discount codes or offers for when you hit a certain amount of followers, and ask questions in your captions. If you get comments and queries on your posts, reply swiftly through commenting back, or direct messaging, starting a conversation.

If someone tags you in a post, be sure to show acknowledgement through liking, commenting or even re-posting - giving credit of course. This is a fantastic way to boost recognition and share with followers your success and progress as a company, as well as showing appreciation for the tag and mention.

Explore all features of the app

As we mentioned, Instagram has grown hugely with the addition of new features - here's how to use them.

Instagram Live - Live-streaming is having a bit of a moment, being popular across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and of course, Instagram. This as-it-happens broadcasting is useful for a number of purposes and can be used effectively in marketing.
Try live-streaming events associated with your company that you may be attending or taking part in, and switch it up by perhaps doing less formal question-and-answer live streams to chat and engage with your followers. Be sure to post when you're going to live-stream before you do to let people know and build hype.

Stories - Instagram Stories is also a hugely popular feature on the app, with 250 million users updating their stories every day. Perhaps use Stories to share less-serious goings-on like what's going on in your office that day, throwing in a lunch-time selfie etc. The more light-hearted posts can allow you to connect with your followers and break up the formal posts.
Add hashtags or location tags to your Stories, which may end up on the Hashtag or Location Stories, potentially boosting your reach even further. Stories also allow you to add links, easily accessible to view in the app by swiping upwards on the story; this is convenient and an easy way to get your event page, website or similar out there.

Ads - If there's something you really want to push - an announcement, new product, a special offer - using Ads can really get your message out there. Investing in promoting posts can  pay off, as your ad will likely reach further than your current follower-base. Ensure what you're promoting is the best it can be; while you may want to share lots of information and include loads of text, take a leaf out of Facebook's book and ensure text takes up no more than 20% of the ad image for best results.

Hashtags - Hashtags are a fundamental part of marketing, making it easy to explore other posts with a similar theme. Consider creating a hashtag for your company, and explore what hashtags related to your industry are popular.

Instagram is a fun platform which can be extremely powerful for marketing to a wide range of audiences, which is why so many companies use the app for marketing purposes. Use trial and error to find what features work best for you and keep posts varied, relevant and engaging for the best results.

In April, Snapchat's parent company Snap inc. introduced World Lenses to the app, which allowed you to place animated figures - the rainbow with a face, the famous dancing hot-dog, you know the ones - into the real world through your in-app camera.

Snapchat was the first to bring such an advanced take on augmented reality through social media, with the animated figures remaining static as if they were really in front of you, being able to be viewed by different angles as you moved, and allowing you to move the figures around.

Now, they've decided to combine two features into one to step up their augmented reality game even further, as well as set themselves apart from competitors Facebook and Instagram after they released their own versions of Snapchat's original Stories and face filters.

You can now place your personalised Bitmoji into the real world!

Bitmojis were first introduced to the app about a year ago after Snap bought BitStrips, and have since been incorporated into quite a few features on Snapchat, such as stickers and Snap Maps. The little avatars have proven popular and fun with users, and so this new development with World Lenses is a pretty exciting one.

With the recent update of the Bitmoji app (version 10.16 on iOS and version 10.17.309 on Android), you can place your Bitmoji into your surroundings and there's a few actions you can choose from; make your Bitmoji dance on your desk, stand by a water cooler in the hallway or perform yoga in your living room - since it's launched my Snap story section has been full of friends trying out the feature, and I have to say I'm well impressed.

Like with the animations first introduced, you can move your Bitmoji about and bring it closer or further away from you to make them appear to be reacting to the real world environment.

A spokesperson from Snap comments on the new update, telling Business Insider: "Bitmojis have an emotional, playful appeal. Our community often uses them daily on Snapchat and elsewhere as a personal extension of themselves."

Facebook are always bringing out new features to allow users to customize their experience; we have control about what we see on our feed, who we interact with and overall how enjoyable the platform is to use. The latest feature currently being trialed is a Snooze button, which kind of does what it says on the tin.

It's comparable to the Unfollow feature, which was introduced in 2014, allowing you to remove a friend's or page's posts from your timeline, without Unliking or Unfriending - a great way to remove stuff from your timeline that you don't care about without hurting anyone's feelings. Clicking the Unfollow button means you won't see posts from said friend or page, unless you choose to re-follow them.

The Snooze feature works similarly, allowing you to filter who's posts you see, however it's temporary (like a snooze button). The feature allows you to snooze an account's posts for 24 hours, 7 days or 30 days, as seen below.

At first, the feature made me question when it'd come in useful, as surely you'd just unfollow all together, right? However, after a little research, its clear that the Snooze feature could be pretty useful:

Perhaps one of your friends is continuously posting about an event they're going to, which have no interest in whatsoever, and its beginning to become a bit annoying and flooding your timeline. Simply take note of when said event is, and snooze their posts until the event is over (or until a little after to avoid the inevitable mass of photos which you're also uninterested in seeing).

Or maybe you know one of your mates - who's a fellow Game of Thrones fan - is likely to post spoilers of the episode you haven't seen yet. Easy - snooze that mate's post for a bit.

For pages, it may deter them sharing too much spam or unrelated content, in fear of being snoozed by those who have liked the page. This is also relevant for the unfollow feature, however judging from the amount of spam I see on my timeline from pages I liked way back when I was in school, it perhaps isn't so effective in this respect.

A spokesperson from Facebook told TechCrunch on Friday: “We’re testing new ways to give people control over their News Feeds so they can stay connected with the stories they find most relevant.”

Will you be using the feature?

A trip away is always a treat; it gives us time to relax, get away from work and recharge your batteries. It's often frowned upon when people spend a lot of time on social media while on holiday - but how much time is too much?

A study from Expedia looked at 2,000 holidaymakers' social media habits while away, and revealed that the average person on a week-long trip spends a total of nine hours glued to a screen. Almost half of respondents admitted to missing out on "vital holiday experiences" due to using social platforms, and 44% said that social media had actually ruined their holiday.

Is posting an hour-long Snapchat story of your sight-seeing day really worth it, or necessary? While your friends may want to keep updated on your exciting holiday, there is no real urgency, and photographs can be posted and shared on Facebook, Instagram etc. once you've returned home. 

Three-quarters said they actually felt like they needed to post social media updates while holidaying, as well as check platforms through fear of missing-out. 

It could be argued that it depends on the type of holiday an individual is on, which can determine what an 'acceptable' time to spend on social media is. A beach holiday is primarily for relaxing, so there shouldn't be much harm in checking your feeds or posting a classic 'legs or hotdogs' photo while topping up your tan.

Spending a majority of the time glued to your smartphone on an action-packed, sight-seeing city break could be deemed less-acceptable upon due to the possibility of missing out on activities and experiences. You'll be doing most of the sightseeing through a screen when updating Snapchat or live-streaming - if that's the case, you might as well be at home like your mates seeing everything through the screen.

Social media use on holiday could also bring more stress than relaxation, especially if you're chatting to work colleagues and get sucked into the goings-on at your workplace. The whole getting-a-break-from-work concept backfires and could defeat the whole point of your relaxing getaway. 

Of course, chatting with a loved-one or posting a jealousy-imposing beach photo does no harm and is expected. And, it's likely that social media-use while on holiday will become less frowned-upon and more of a norm than it already is, as social media and technology inevitably continue to advance.

Are you glued to your screen while away? Or do you leave your smartphone at home?

The data collection techniques employed by Facebook have long been the subject of controversial debate as concerns continue to arise regarding their storage and use of said data. Now, their data-harvesting activities have landed them in hot water once again as the Spanish data protection authority, known as the AEPD, have issued some substantial fines against the social media giant in response to recent investigations which uncovered multiple breaches of privacy laws.

The AEPD’s investigation into Facebook’s handling of user data reportedly identified three serious infringements, with one of the three being particularly severe. In response, the authority has issued Facebook with sanctions totalling €1.2million, broken down to €300,000 for each of the two lesser charges and a €600,000 fine for the more-substantial breach.

The data collection techniques employed by Facebook gather a wealth of information relating to a user’s ideology, sex, religious beliefs, personal tastes, and online navigation. This takes place both directly via an individual user’s use of Facebook services, or indirectly via third party pages. The AEPD argue that this takes place without “clearly informing the user about the use and purpose”. It is this lack of transparency that led to one of the supposed breaches of privacy laws, as not obtaining express consent of users to process sensitive personal data is classified as a very serious offense under local data protection laws.

Facebook are also in trouble over their use of browser cookies, as the regulator asserts that users are not informed when browsing non-Facebook sites that incorporate their ‘like’ button that their information will be processed through the use of such cookies.

“This situation also occurs when users are not members of the social network but have ever visited one of its pages, as well as when users who are registered on Facebook browse through third party pages, even without logging on to Facebook. In these cases, the platform adds the information collected in said pages to the one associated with your account in the social network. Therefore, the AEPD considers that the information provided by Facebook to users does not comply with data protection regulations,” the AEPD noted.

The final breach relates to the social media company’s use of harvested data once its intended use has been fulfilled, specifically the fact that said data is retained rather than deleted. Worryingly, this was found to be true even when the company had received a specific request from the user to delete their data.

The AEPD said of the issue, “Regarding data retention, when a social network user has deleted his account and requests the deletion of the information, Facebook captures and treats information for more than 17 months through a deleted account cookie. Therefore, the AEPD considers that the personal data of the users are not cancelled in full or when they are no longer useful for the purpose for which they were collected or when the user explicitly requests their removal, according to the requirements of the LOPD [local data protection law], which represents a serious infringement.”

The investigations being carried out by the AEPD and various other data protection authorities throughout Europe began following changes to Facebook’s terms and conditions in 2015. The privacy policy used by Facebook is deemed to contain “generic and unclear terms”, with the AEPD asserting that a user of the platform “with an average knowledge of the new technologies does not become aware of the collection of data, nor of their storage and subsequent treatment, nor of what they will be used”. This seems to be the root of much of Facebook’s legal troubles.

Facebook have since issued a statement in which they make known their intention to dispute the decision, all while falling back on their old defence relating to the location of their Ireland HQ and the subsequent laws to which they should abide. Their statement read as follows:

“We take note of the DPA’s decision with which we respectfully disagree. Whilst we value the opportunities we’ve had to engage with the DPA to reinforce how seriously we take the privacy of people who use Facebook, we intend to appeal this decision. As we made clear to the DPA, users choose which information they want to add to their profile and share with others, such as their religion. However, we do not use this information to target adverts to people.

“Facebook has long complied with EU data protection law through our establishment in Ireland. We remain open to continuing to discuss these issues with the DPA, whilst we work with our lead regulator the Irish Data Protection Commissioner as we prepare for the EU’s new data protection regulation in 2018.”

While the fines may seem substantial to most, to a company on the scale of Facebook who turn over ridiculous figures each year, the monetary expense will hardly be noticed. Facebook’s decision to appeal therefore is more to do with their reputation and users’ perception of the company, as they would not want to be seen as compromising the privacy of their sizeable user-base. Money is not really an issue for the social media giant, but if users start leaving the site due to such concerns, every part of the business will suffer.

Having that blue tick next to your social media accounts is something to be proud of. Nowadays, a mass of Facebook and Twitter users are verified due to their popularity, follower-base and influence, with everyone from David Beckham to a YouTuber with a couple hundred-thousand subscribers sporting the check-mark. On these platforms, anyone can apply for verification as a way to gain legitimacy, interest and a higher ranking on Search results.

As well as the potential to boost following and attract potential business, that tick is a status-symbol, so it's no wonder that, with all these benefits, users are paying thousands of dollars to get verified on Instagram, which has a more exclusive and strict verification policy. Yep, thousands of dollars.

Mashable reported at the start of the month of Instagram's 'black market', where users hope to gain a tick, as well as the benefits that come with it, by paying middlemen to send an application. The middlemen in question are sellers who have contacts who work for Instagram, and it's clear to see it's a very risky but powerful business to be in.

While me or you could apply for a Twitter or Facebook tick, the Instagram application form is only accessible to current and former Instagram employees, along with big names/companies in the media. Buyers will approach those who are willing to submit verification requests in exchange for a whole load of money.

Mashable reports on a seller they spoke to called James and found that "His contact at Instagram charges $1,200 per blue check-mark, and then James will tack on another fee based on the user's apparent interest or other needs. "

"I’ve sold verifications anywhere from $1,500 to $7,000," James comments. He's only actually had three verification applications approved, meaning the whole risky process could be (and has been) for nothing. The likelihood of applications being approved is based on current follower base of the user, as well as any press on the account already out there.

Some sellers are also using bots, with the Mashable report explaining how seller Alejandro Rioja has set prices for each platform with Instagram costing the most. "The cost for verification is the highest on Instagram because it's the most coveted. That's in part because it is the strictest, several sources told us." See a screenshot of his currently-inactive bot below:


When Instagram employees send off the paid-for verification forms, they do have to put their name on it, which can be risky.

"That's one way Instagram can hold employees accountable to not misuse their privileges for things like paid verification, according to several sources." Mashable continues. If caught, employees could lose their jobs, as previously seen when an ex-employee charged owners of shut-down cannabis accounts up to $7,500 to reactivate them.

Instagram are aware of the present goings-ons and are working to shut down the 'black market' completely, however haven't had much success so far.

Spectacles by Snap Inc.
Summer may be nearing it's end with our good-old cloudy, rainy weather recently making a return, but with Snap Inc.'s Spectacles arriving to the UK and Europe, many keen Snapchatters won't be putting their sunnies away any time soon.

Announced in October last year, Snapchat's bid to stand out in the technology industry is headed by this fun piece of hardware. Many have compared them to Google Glass: being a cheaper (at £129.99), less-sleek but more trendy alternative, compatible with everyone's favourite quick photo-sharing app.

The Specs are now available in the UK and across Europe, and you can get your hands on a pair online or at Snapbots, which are essentially big yellow vending machines - find them at London's Westfield shopping centres. They come with a handy charging case and cable, and they're available in a simple black design, or bolder teal and coral colourways.

So, how can you use them?

For work

The Specs are proving popular at business events, with the Specs often being available to visitors as a way to document, share and boost coverage - ultimately increasing the reach of said event.

They can also be used to capture behind-the-scenes footage exclusive to Snapchat followers - a range of companies or even celebrities/musicians could use this as a way to gain reach and share perspectives.

As Eventbrite reports, Ned Lampert, Creative Director at agency Space150, comments: “Looking directly at a celebrity’s face, both literally and figuratively, through the eyes of a makeup artist can be very interesting.”

Despite not being the use you'd think of initially, the Specs could be a very influential and useful piece of kit in the world of marketing - who doesn't want to see their favourite celeb getting their eyeshadow expertly done?

For play

Of course, a large amount of those who purchase the Snap Specs will have the intention of using them for fun. The whole premise of the glasses is to be able to 'make memories from your perspective' as Snap Inc. puts it. The POV, hands-free recording gives a world of possibilities for fun and interesting video-styles (squashed into 10-seconds that is), which then save to your account's Memories section.

They're the kind of thing you wish you were wearing when you see your friend comically trip over and don't have time to fumble with your smartphone to capture the moment. Or, how about when an unexpectant friend enters their birthday party - film it with your Specs without having to witness their reaction through your phone screen. That sort of thing.

Despite being a big step in Snap Inc.'s technology advances, the Snapchat Spectacles haven't been as successful as hoped, so far.

TechCrunch reported on their US sales in May, noting how Snap revealed that their "“Other revenue” category that’s mostly from Spectacles brought in around $4.5 million in Q4 2016, and over $8.3 million in Q1 2017.

Ignoring other possible revenue drivers in this category, at the $130 price point this revenue means Snap would have sold around 34,600 pairs of Spectacles in Q4 and 63,800 pairs in Q1."

The Specs do have some cool features, a trendy design and a world of interesting uses; will you be running out to buy them, or are you happy with the smartphone Snapchat format?

Have you ever sat and taken a proper look at Facebook’s claims concerning the reach of advertising on the platform and thought it seems somewhat optimistic? While the platform is certainly a valuable tool for advertisers and is undoubtedly effective in expanding the reach of your brand and attracting new business, it does appear that we were right to take their claims with a little pinch of salt, at least according to the recent findings of American analytical firm Pivotal.

The major problem - and a major one it certainly is - is that Facebook’s claims regarding their reach within a certain market or demographic appear to be downright impossible, as they assert they can reach figures which exceed those which actually exist according to official census data.

For example, Facebook claims to be able to reach 7.8 million users between the ages of 18 and 24 in the UK, while the Office of National Statistics says that only 5.8 million people exist within that age group throughout the entire country (as of 2016).

Over the pond in the US the issue is similarly prevalent; data from the 2016 US Census places the number of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 at 31 million; Facebook claims a potential reach within that demographic of 41 million. Among 25-34-year-olds in the US the same is apparent; Facebook claims a reach of 60 million people, while the census reports 45 million.

That’s just a couple of notable examples, but Pivotal have said that the discrepancy is apparent throughout not just the UK and US, but also Australia, Ireland, and France, at the very least.

Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal, commented in a research note that the issue has not been widely known among ad executives, but now it has been brought forward the revelation may increase demand for third-party measurement services. He said, “While Facebook’s measurement issues won’t necessarily deter advertisers from spending money with Facebook, they will help traditional TV sellers justify existing budget shares and could restrain Facebook’s growth in video ad sales on the margins.”

Facebook have already been facing increased scrutiny from advertisers as of late, largely driven by a combination of measurement errors regarding the platform’s video arm and the prevalence of fake news sites appearing alongside legitimate ads, which is sure to have a negative effect if an affiliation is made between the two. From a business point of view, this is a bad time for such revelations to come to light.

“This is yet another self-reporting error by Facebook that doesn’t help it re-establish confidence with advertisers and the market,” commented Michael Karg, group chief executive of media and advertising auditing firm Ebiquity. “They have been trying to improve things like transparency, but once again they are having issues.”

Facebook have since released a statement regarding the apparent issue, in which they asserted that reach estimates did not match census data by design as the given numbers are “designed to estimate how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad a business might run. They are not designed to match population or census estimates”.

The company added, “This is just an estimator and campaign planning tool. It’s not a business’ actual reach or campaign reporting, and is not billable.”

While I see their point to some degree (these figures are stated as estimates after all), such a wide gap between their given figures and the number of people that actually exist gives the impression of a desire to mislead for financial gain. After all, the fact remains that an estimate is inherently flawed when those behind it know that it is unattainable. Facebook should make urgent steps to correct this discrepancy, or they may find themselves even further out of favour in the eyes of their advertising partners.

The new Android update is here, and is described as "the superhero to have by your side (or in your pocket!)." With the branding being fun and likely to make you fancy an Oreo or two, the update looks pretty impressive: let's take a look at some of the new features...

Android have categorised the new features into two; 'Fluid Experiences' and 'Vitals'. All of the tweaks and updates are to ultimately make your mobile phone experience easy-to-navigate, fast and safe.

Fluid Experiences

The most significant and arguably useful new feature is 'Picture-in-Picture', which allows you to become a multi-tasking maestro. If you're video-chatting with a friend and need to check a text or your calendar, you can still do so, making your video-chat screen smaller and still visible. Or maybe you're enjoying Netflix or YouTube on your phone; if you need to answer a message you can do so without completely switching apps.

Instant Apps is another unique feature in Android Oreo. It allows you to 'teleport' (verb courtesy of Android) to different apps from your browser, without needing to install it. This cuts out the redirection to the Google Play Store, making your experience quick and 'fluid'.

Google Assistant is also included in the update too, with it being easily accessible from selected third-party apps, meaning you can ask a question or look something up without opening a separate app.

Oreo has a great memory too - with the updated Autofill feature, with users' permission can remember information like email addresses, passwords, and phone numbers and autofill forms with a touch of a button. This again makes the whole experience quicker, easier and more efficient.


Android Oreo claims to have a boot speed 2x faster than Google Pixel, and overall performance is increased. There's nothing worse than buffering, long load times or a frozen phone, so this improved, faster runtime will be beneficial.

Oreo is also said to have a more powerful, longer-lasting battery, Android dubbing it the "super power you can't even see. By monitoring and recognising your less-frequently-used apps, the background usage will be cut and managed to ensure battery isn't eaten up by apps you aren't even using. So, you could be saying goodbye to that clunky portable charger you carry everywhere with yoy if you get the update.

The safety and security has also been upped, with Google Play Protect allowing users to scan newly downloaded apps for security threats. This gives piece of mind, safety and ensures performance can remain high without bugs or threats.

So, there you have it. Oreo is going to be available on Google's own Pixel and Nexus devices first, and will then make it's way to some HTC, OnePlus and Nokia models too.

 I'll leave you with Android's promotional video which carries on the fun superhero theme:

Anyone else fancy an Oreo?

Twitter’s ‘Night Mode’ may seem like a simple aesthetic tweak, but it does in fact serve a purpose, and a highly useful one at that. The Night Mode function is designed for use in low-light situations such as night time browsing, shifting the platform’s colour scheme in order to make it more visible.

This is achieved in a very straight-forward manner, shifting the background to a dark navy colour while the text itself becomes white. This increased contrast makes the text-dominated website much easier to browse at a glance when lighting is insufficient.

For some however, Night Mode is used despite its intended functionality, as many opt to enable it as they simply prefer the darker, arguably-sleeker look.

Night Mode first launched for Android back in 2016 with the iOS version following shortly after; it is one fact one of the few rare examples of a Twitter update arriving on Android devices prior to its appearance on iOS.

While admittedly the addition of night mode does make more sense on Android and iOS devices as you are more likely to use them away from the house than you are a laptop or full-on desktop pc, Twitter have nonetheless now rolled the update out on their web client. Users yesterday began reporting en masse the appearance of the option within their options menu, although some do appear to have seen it earlier while others still, myself included on at least one of my accounts, have yet to see the option when logging in via pc. Gradual rollouts are nothing new in the tech and social media industries however, so bide your time and the option should appear shortly if it has not already.

The option will appear on the drop-down menu opened by selecting your own icon in the upper right of the screen.

Instagram has come a long way since it first launched; gone are the days of our feeds solely consisting of low-quality square photographs. Now, there's features like Boomerang, Stories, Layout, Instagram Live, Direct Messaging...all that good stuff: making the app a fun, interactive and creative one.

Over the past week, Instagram have brought two new updates, here's the low-down...

The first update is to the Albums feature. Launched way back in February, the feature went down pretty well, allowing users to share up to 10 photos or videos in one post, easily viewed by swiping across.

img Instagram
The feature is great for when you want to share more than one photo from your crazy night out last weekend, without flooding your friends' feeds. Or perhaps you're a bit of a Insta-grid perfectionist, and so this feature is  a great way to post lots of photos at once, without it being messy with collages or ruining your grid or 'theme'.

So, sharing a collection of photos from an event is easy with the Album's feature. The one thing people weren't a fan of, is that if you chose to post an album, all of the photos had to be kept square - the feature didn't allowing you to zoom in or out to make the photo portrait or landscape, like you can on a regular, single-photo post.

However, the new update of the app - version 12.0 on iOS and Android fyi - fixes this. Kinda. Good news is, you're no longer restricted to squares when creating an album. However, don't be fooled like I was when testing this out - you have to choose a photo orientation, and stick to it. Instagram say this is to "keep the experience smooth and consistent", but this can be a little irritating if the series of photos you want to post consist of both landscape and portrait pics.

While some may be unimpressed that they're still limited in the format of their album photos, Instagram has done a few other things to update the feature. You can now edit your tags after publishing your album, and you can also save them as drafts on iOS.

The second and most recent update is concerning Stories.
img Instagram
Instagram Stories are pretty cool - I see them as Snapchat's cooler, edgier, older brother (ironic as Snapchat came up with the idea, but we've already covered that drama). The Stories feature is extremely popular and advanced, - Instagram reports that 250 million people use it every day - with new filters and features added regularly.

The new update means that they're now available to view on mobile web on The press release also notes that you'll also be able to post stories from mobile web in the coming weeks.

So, if you prefer to use Instagram on a mobile web browser like Chrome or Safari, instead of directly through the app, you can now access stories!

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