November 2017

According to new research published in Heliyon and given the rather lengthy title of ‘Materialists on Facebook: the self-regulatory role of social comparisons and the objectification of Facebook friends’, those with a materialistic nature are likely to be far more frequent and intense users of Facebook than those with a less possession-orientated outlook. They also tend to have more online friends, though they seem to view them in a less-than-ideal light.

By this I mean that rather than taking a healthy view of said connections, materialistic people attempt to ‘collect’ Facebook friends as a form of possession or validation, fuelled in part by a need to compare themselves with others and compete.

“Materialistic people use Facebook more frequently because they tend to objectify their Facebook friends - they acquire Facebook friends to increase their possession,” said lead author Phillip Ozimek.
“Facebook provides the perfect platform for social comparisons, with millions of profiles and information about people. And it's free - materialists love tools that do not cost money!”

In order to reach this conclusion the research team gathered a pool of 242 Facebook users via campus-wide emails, flyers and Facebook invitations at Ruhr-University of Bochum, where the study was conducted. These participants ranged from 17-52 years old with a ratio of 54 males to 188 females, though the biggest part of the sample was represented by people between 17 and 28 years (90.1%), giving a mean age of 22.91 years.

Participants were then asked a series of questions in order to first gather demographical data-sets containing information regarding age, sex, highest degree of education, nationality, native language, relationship status, and university course. These were followed up by 62 items relating to Facebook use, social comparison orientation, materialism, and objectification and instrumentalisation via Facebook. For example respondents were asked to indicate how much they agree with statements such as “my life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have” and “having many Facebook friends contributes to more success in my personal and professional life”, as reported by The Independent.

The team ultimately concluded that there is indeed an apparent link between high levels of materialism and frequent/intense use of the Facebook platform. Furthermore in a repeat of the experiment conducted with a second sample of 289 Facebook users, the researchers ended up with the same conclusion, which certainly adds to the validity of the findings.

Despite this Ozimek and his team are in no way suggesting that Facebook use is a negative act in general, rather they are simply preaching caution in the way we use it.

“It seems to us that Facebook is like a knife,” concluded Ozimek, “It can be used for preparing yummy food or it can be used for hurting a person. In a way, our model provides a more neutral perspective on social media.”

YouTube TV, while not nearly as well-known as the flagship YouTube app, is a decent standalone app which offers users the ability to stream content from around 53 popular cable TV channels including the likes of the BBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, AMC and more for a monthly subscription fee of $35. Since the app was launched by Google back in April it has been praised as one of the best video streaming services available when it comes to major broadcast networks, and now they have released an update which capitalises on new features added into the Android Oreo OS to improve upon the service’s offering further still.

YouTube TV has now joined a select group of applications which currently support the picture-in-picture feature incorporated into the Oreo version of the Android OS, which allows users to continue watching video content while they crack on with other tasks using separate functions and applications. Other apps which already support the feature include the standard YouTube app, Netflix, Chrome, VLC, and Facebook. Most importantly in the minds of those over at Google/YouTube – major rival services such as Hulu and Sling TV are not among this group.

To make use of the new feature simply press the home button while a program is playing; the player window will then shrink and pop out to let you do other things. While using picture-in-picture, controls remain in place allowing you to easily rewind, fast-forward, pause, and return to full screen.
That being said those who dislike the feature and would rather be shot of it can easily disable it via the app’s settings menu.

While the YouTube TV app itself is available on iOS, this latest update as it stands is not.

When thinking of the biggest players in the tech world people tend to gravitate towards the likes of Apple, Google, and of course Facebook. However one company often overlooked by the Western world is Tencent, the Chinese tech giant who rose to decidedly dominate China’s social media market with their ever-popular mobile messaging app WeChat. Well now nobody can really argue that they don’t have a place among the aforementioned companies as Tencent shares closed 2.4% higher in Hong Kong on Tuesday, valuing the conglomerate at around $522 billion. Facebook, for comparison, is currently worth approximately $519 billion.

Tencent’s success can admittedly be attributed at least in part to the fact that many of their rivals, such as Facebook and Twitter, are blocked in their home country; though credit must also be given to the company themselves who have found success not only with their own products and subsidiaries, but also a number of overseas investments. These investments include acquiring a 12% stake in Snap Inc. and 5% in Tesla, to name just a couple prominent examples.

As previously stated Tencent is best known for being the company behind the popular mobile messenger WeChat, which currently boasts close to 1 billion users who rely on the service for tasks ranging from basic communication to making payments and so much more. The company have made a point of turning WeChat into a widely-comprehensive service in order to increase its appeal and usefulness, and this has proven to be a wise strategy. Despite their success however they do still pale in comparison to Facebook in terms of worldwide users, the latter remaining the world’s most popular social network with around 2 billion users.

In spite of their smaller user base Tencent have nonetheless managed to overtake Facebook as far as market value is concerned, bolstered as they are by their forays into the mobile gaming and video streaming markets. Investors are betting big on the company’s success in these fields, as evidenced by the doubling of Tencent’s share price over the past year.

This sharp rise in market value led to a milestone moment for Tencent, as they have become the first ever Chinese company to surpass $500 billion – a fact sure to disgruntle those over at Alibaba, their greatest Chinese rival which currently has a value of approximately $480 billion.

It must be stated however that Tencent still have a battle on their hands if they are to overtake the giants of the Western tech world such as Apple, Google’s parent Alphabet, and Amazon, which are valued at $870 billion, $710 billion, and $543 billion respectively.

Think back to the last significant milestone of your life, be it a wedding, a birth, a graduation or any other moment you consider to be important. Did you share it on social media?

According to the Q4 2017 Sprout Social Index, 79% of people have shared a life milestone on social media and 1 in 3 would mention a brand when doing so. I’m sure you have noticed too that these posts, given how they cover moments and accomplishments deemed significant, tend to achieve a high reach, plenty of likes, and a lot of comments and interactions as compared to the typical day-to-day status update. This presents marketers with opportunities.

When mentioning brands in these posts the index asserts that 1 in 3 individuals (34%) simply want to thank the brand for being part of the moment (rising to 41% among Millennials), while 50% are in fact taking the opportunity to recommend the brand to friends, family, and followers. Given how recommendations from friends and family remain the most credible form of advertising for 83% of today’s consumers, it is somewhat unsurprising that as many as 48% of the survey’s >1,200 respondents have made a purchase for a milestone after seeing it on social media. By properly utilising this influx of user-generated content in their social strategies, companies can gain much benefit from these mentions.

As for which platforms people turn to in order to find recommendations when planning major life events more than half of consumers (51%) use Facebook, ranking it above any other source. Following closely behind are Pinterest (42%) and YouTube (34%), likely due to their personality-driven and highly visual nature. Instagram, despite also possessing a highly visual nature, is used in such a manner by a surprisingly low 24% of consumers, though this figure does somewhat-expectedly rise to 35% among Millennials.

The key for marketers is to ensure that their brand/product is on the receiving end of these positive mentions and recommendations, allowing them to better tap into the massive pool of consumers who congregate on these prominent social media platforms. You may want to consider the use of incentives to motivate consumers to share in such a way, such as popping into the occasional comments thread to offer discount vouchers to those who have praised your brand. It is also essential to remember however that the defining trait of these platforms, as the name suggests, is ‘social’, and so it is important that you actively try to connect with your audience rather than spamming them with generic- copy-and-paste responses that reek of disingenuous interest.

In the wake of recent controversy surrounding the platform’s verification of an account associated with a prevalent white supremacist rally organiser, Twitter has announced a major overhaul to its verification system that with leave a number of once-verified accounts without the treasured blue tick.

The announcement was made in a string of tweets posted to the @TwitterSupport account on November 15th. Twitter had previously admitted that while they had initially created the verification system to “authenticate identity and voice”, it has become widely interpreted as an endorsement of the views expressed or the figure behind the account. The more recent string gave an indication of their intended remedial actions, stating that the verification system will change and as a result some users whose behaviour “does not fall within these guidelines” may be unverified.

Within their announcement Twitter acknowledge a few failures on their part; for example verified accounts have long been given visual prominence on the side, which added to the perception of endorsement. They also failed to act soon enough to remedy the situation and only succeeded in making matters worse by opening up the verification process to public submissions. As a result they have stopped accepting any public submissions for verification while they work towards correcting the aforementioned issues.

Their full statement can be viewed in the tweets embedded below:

While Twitter themselves did not outright announce the handles of any accounts that were likely to lose their verification status, Gizmodo reports that the overhaul is already beginning to take effect with accounts belonging to the likes of known white supremacist Richard B Spencer, alt-right activist and journalist Laura Loomer, and former EDL leader Tommy Robinson among those already stripped of the blue tick. That list is only set to grow further as the newly-updated guidelines take hold, but whether this will ultimately have the end result Twitter are hoping for remains to be seen.

Beijing Bytedance Technology Co. remains largely unknown to most western consumers, but that may soon change as the Chinese tech giant, which has a reported worth of around $20 billion and is both the creator and distributor of the ‘Jinri Toutiao’ news aggregation app, has acquired the popular social video network for an undisclosed sum, although various sources cite the figure as being somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion.

Founded in Shanghai in 2014, soon found popularity among Western teens, allowing users to sing along karaoke-style to their favourite songs before expanding their services to include live-streaming capabilities in response the shifting consumer demands. Five months ago they expanded again, this time making deals with Viacom, Hearst and NBCU for original content provided by popular channels such as MTV and E! Entertainment; appropriate choices given the generally youthful nature of their user base.

Bytedance’s flagship app, Jinri Toutiao, aggregates news and videos from hundreds of media outlets and has according to Bloomberg become one of the world’s largest news services in the span of five years. The two apps will continue to run as separate platforms, Bytedance have said, although they are sure to each incorporate features from the other as the workforces mingle and exchange ideas for future growth.

It remains unclear exactly how this shake up will affect both companies. One thing however is certain; by combining Toutiao’s 120 million-strong user base with’s own 100 million, you are left with a serious player in the social media scene that is sure to give the likes of Snapchat at least some cause for concern.

Social media now dominates many aspects of modern life, particularly among the youth, and as such it is of vital importance that we understand the true scope and possible effects of this cultural and technological phenomenon. To this end the Australian Pathological Society (APS) recently compiled a new report, titled ‘Digital Me’, which sought to identify how adults and teenagers make use of such platforms and explore the effect of social media and digital technology on Australians’ wellbeing.

The report surveyed 1020 adults and 156 teenagers on their use of social media and its subsequent connection to their wellbeing, finding that teenagers throughout Australia are spending as much as 1,200 hours on social media apps and platforms annually, amounting to full 50 days or approximately one-seventh of the year.

It also emerged that adults are nearly as bad, spending around 950 hours each year browsing through popular social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

However it is of course among potentially-impressionable teenagers that this is considered more of an issue, especially as 60% of parents admitted to never monitoring their child’s online activities and communications. While the majority of Australians do report a positive online experience overall, the link between an increased reliance on social media and in increase in cyber bullying, as well as subsequent drops in self-esteem levels, is worrying and cannot be ignored.

Even more alarming is the fact that according to the survey, 15% of teenagers reported being contacted by strangers daily, and nearly 10% said they actively communicated with, or responded to, strangers daily. This alone invites some rather disturbing possibilities.

APS spokeswoman and community psychologist Dr Lyn O'Grady advises that parents take a more active role in the digital lives of their children, whilst being careful not to be overly severe lest their son or daughter act out in rebellion. Instead, open communication and a lead-by-example approach are the recommended methodology.

“Social media is an asset for teens, but they are less able to identify risks and more likely to act impulsively compared to adults,” Dr O'Grady asserts.

“[They] need boundaries, rules and the guidance of parents to help them make good decisions - just as they do offline. If [parents] become too controlling they lose that opportunity to influence.”

Among teens, 29% said they had been a victim of online bullying via social media platforms in the past year, but the survey also revealed that the issue extends beyond children and teens and in fact affects adults too, with one-in-five Australian adults experiencing online bullying in the past year. Furthermore those adult respondents who were classified as heavy mobile phones users, which amounts to 54%, were found to be more likely to use their phones immediately before bed, which research has shown has a negative impact upon sleep. They were also far more likely to check their phones within minutes of waking up.

These individuals are more likely to check their phones while walking, while eating, while in the company of others or even for no discernable reason at all, and this constant state of connectivity has been linked to bullying, trolling, and low self-esteem among adults just as it has with teens.

Among adults the worst culprit in terms of damage to self-esteem appears to be Instagram; 21% of Instagram users were classified as having low self-esteem, as compared to 13% of non-users. Overall, heavy mobile phone users in both age groups admitted that they felt an increased pressure to look good online, and this is likely the source of many of the aforementioned issues.

Img: Screenshot - Pippa Akram 

Last week, social media consultant Pippa Akram (@Social_Pip) took to Twitter to share a screenshot of an as-yet-undiscovered update to the Instagram app, which was apparently being trialled unbeknownst to many on a few select accounts.

The update in question, first reported by The Next Web, allows users to follow individual hashtags rather than just accounts on the Instagram platform. While this may seem like a minor addition it is sure to prove useful for those with an interest in more-niche topics, as well as journalists and other researchers looking for information and imagery relating to a particular subject.

Having said that the update will likely be enjoyed by users from all walks of life, as Instagram have been criticised of late for the manner in which their algorithms prioritise content, which this additional avenue of ‘following’ may go some way towards alleviating as it allows users to better tailor their feeds to their own interests.

It is worth noting however that given the popularity of some hashtags, if you were to follow the entire thing your feed would soon be drowned in such content, which likely motivated Instagram’s decision to limit the feature to “top posts and recent stories” as indicated by the tooltip within Ms Akram’s screenshot.

There is no word as yet on any official release date for the additional function, with Instagram themselves declining to comment, and the feature remains visible on just a small number of accounts (my own unfortunately not included). We will however endeavour to keep you updated as more news emerges.

On November 9th Facebook proudly announced their latest PR stun humanitarian effort, dubbed ‘Community Boost’, which will travel to 30 US cities during 2018 in an effort to “work with local organizations to provide digital skills and training for people in need of work, to advise entrepreneurs how to get started and to help existing local businesses and non-profits get the most out of the internet.” The aforementioned US cities will reportedly include Houston, St. Louis; Albuquerque, Des Moines; and Greenville, South Carolina, among others.

In explaining the reasoning behind this initiative Facebook cited research conducted by Morning Consult in partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center and Facebook themselves, which indicates that “62% percent of US small businesses using Facebook said having digital or social media skills is an important factor in their hiring decisions - even more important than where a candidate went to school.”

Additionally as much as 80% of US SMEs reportedly stated that Facebook helps them to connect with people in their local community, and one-in-three assert that the platform has helped them to grow their business.

According to Facebook the ‘Community Boost’ program will provide assistance in the following areas:
  • If you’re looking for a job, we’ll provide training to help you improve your digital and social media skills.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, we’ll have training programs on how to use technology to turn an idea into a business or show you ways to create a free online presence using Facebook.
  • If you’re a business owner we’re going to offer ways your business can expand its digital footprint and find new customers around the corner and around the globe.
  • If you’re getting online for the first time or you want to support your community, we’ll provide training on digital literacy and online safety. And we’ll also help community members use technology to bring people together, with features like Events and Groups.
The thing is, for all of Facebook’s talk about providing a comprehensive digital skills training program, there seems to be a heavy focus on their own platform rather than the digital landscape as a whole. This, as noted by Josh Constantine of TechCrunch in a summary I whole-heartedly agree with, makes the entire endeavour seem a little too self-serving to be interpreted as true altruism.

Despite this however the initiative has been welcomed by representatives of the included cities and states, with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner commenting, “We’re happy to welcome Facebook to Houston to boost our residents’ digital skills and make sure our vibrant community of entrepreneurs and small businesses gets more out of the internet. I’m glad that Facebook recognized that one of the first five cities to benefit from this program should be Houston, the most diverse city in the nation, the largest economic engine of Texas and a proving ground not only for innovation in tech, energy, medicine and space exploration but also for mom-and-pop small businesses that reflect all the cultures of America and the globe.”

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry also praised the program, stating, “As the City of Albuquerque is the second most digital city in nation, we are excited and welcome Facebook to Albuquerque for its new community boost! This initiative will help train our residents in developing key skills to help them thrive in our ever evolving digital world. We look forward to working closely with Facebook in coordinating the weeklong event to ensure Albuquerque and New Mexico small businesses are aware and can participate to the fullest extent. We hope this will help bring more tech skills and better job opportunities to our wonderful community.”

When describing your business to potential and existing customers, you want to make sure you are portraying yourself in the correct light. Trust and loyalty are difficult to secure and can be just as tricky to retain, and so your exact choice of terminology is highly important in communications in both the digital world and the physical.

Tired clichés and hollow phrases get thrown around all the time, and customer expectations are constantly evolving; these two factors combine to create a situation whereby the simple choice of a single word can mean the difference between success and failure in your marketing efforts.

In an effort to ascertain with more solidity the words and phrases which appeal to the modern customer base, ADLER Manufacturing Ltd. queried the opinions of five business and marketing experts from a range of industries including technology, luxury retail, travel and business marketplaces, presenting them with a list of promotional words and asking them to highlight which ones they would recommend, and which they think are likely to turn customers away. This allowed them to subsequently categorise each as either ‘Bad’, ‘Poor’, ‘Okay’, or ‘Good’, according to their effectiveness.

These five experts (pictured below & listed left-to-right) consisted of: Barry Ryan from Tactus Group, Huib Maat from Pairfum, Robb Young from XperienceDays, Sean Mallon from Bizdaq, and Tatyana Kozhevnikova from Artefact London.

Img: ADLER Manufacturing Ltd.

The analysis of these results proved to be rather telling, as it shows that oft-used words such as ‘Strategic’, ‘Well-rounded’, and ‘Visionary’ are considered more likely to do harm than good. Sean Mallon provided more detail on the rationale behind his dislike of ‘Well-rounded’ in particular, explaining that “businesses exist for a purpose and that purpose is to provide goods or services. By describing your business as ‘well-rounded’, you’re not telling anyone about the goods or services you’re providing, and nothing about how you provide them”.

‘Strategic’ meanwhile is considered to be unclear in its meaning and impossible to measure, while ‘Visionary’ is criticised for offering no real benefit to the consumer. Words/ phrases including ‘Adaptable’, ‘Game-changing’, ‘Hands-on’, and ‘Passionate’, among others, fared little better and are considered ‘Poor’ on ADLER’s hierarchy of terminology.

Img: ADLER Manufacturing Ltd.

At the other end of the scale sit the better-received terms of ‘Efficient’, ‘Innovative’, and ‘Unique’, which are considered to be most effective in building customer trust and loyalty regarding your brand with a classification of ‘Good’.

‘Efficient’ was singled out by Tatyana Kozhevnikova was a particularly effective term as “this means less cost within the business, better price, [and] faster delivery for the customer”. Barry Ryan and Huib Maat respectively asserted that ‘Innovative’ and ‘Unique’ are in fact the best words to use when describing your business; given that Barry Ryan works in the technology industry and Huib Maat deals in luxury fragrances, the appeal each phrase holds to the aforementioned individuals makes perfect sense.

For a little more detail regarding the outcome of ADLER’s queries, as well as a breakdown of each expert’s individual responses, follow this link to the company’s original feature.

Following on from their recent integration of LinkedIn profile data with the Outlook email platform, Microsoft have now begun to roll out their latest integration feature, this time providing assistance to Office 365 subscribers when attempting to compose a compelling resume on MS Word.

Rather appropriately named “Resume Assistant”, the software provides users with valuable insights gleaned from popular professional networking platform LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired back in 2016 for an astounding sum of $26.2 billion.

Explaining the apparent need for such software in the modern professional landscape, Microsoft said the following:

“The workplace is changing, impacting not only how people work, but also the frequency with which they change roles, introducing new challenges for job seekers. Nearly 70% of people say they have difficulty portraying their work experience effectively, and 50% struggle to tailor their resume to a specific job opportunity. Furthermore, job applications on LinkedIn have increased 40% year-over-year, signalling increased competition for jobs.”

The above factors, combined with the fact that over 80% of CVs are reportedly updated using Word, make the integration of the two popular applications a valuable asset for any job seeker looking for help in how to showcase their accomplishments and secure their ideal job.

As summarised by Microsoft within their official blog post, the Resume Assistant tool will:
  • Leverage relevant examples - See how top people in a field represent their work experience and filter by industry and role for a personalised experience.
  • Identify top skills - Find the most prominent skills for the type of job you’re seeking so you can more easily increase your discoverability.
  • Customise a resume based on real job postings - People can see relevant job listings from LinkedIn’s 11 million open jobs and customize their resume to appeal to recruiters.
  • Get professional help - Easily connect to ProFinder, LinkedIn’s freelance platform, to get additional hands-on resume writing, interview, and career coaching.
  • Let recruiters know you’re open - Candidates can quietly let recruiters know they are open to new opportunities with Open Candidates.
The Resume Assistant tool for Microsoft Word will begin rolling out for Office 365 Subscribers enrolled in the Office Insiders program on Windows Desktop, providing they also use English display language, as of this week. Initially available in the countries of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, and The United States, the tool will be made available for more platforms and markets over the coming months.

In news that is sure to delight those in the digital marketing industry, an in-depth new study conducted by Kantar Millward Brown and Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, which sought to examine the effectiveness of social media campaigns in terms of metrics including brand awareness, perception, and customers’ motivation to buy, has found that campaigns which were run on Facebook and Instagram had a mostly-positive impact.

The researchers assert that the study is “unique” due to the depth of analysis used, combing through Kantar data regarding a total of 235 campaigns across 110 separate brands for the Facebook and Instagram arm of the report alone. While the report did incorporate data from global campaigns, most of those included ran in the US, UK, and Canada; 49% of the 235 campaigns were run on Facebook exclusively, 48% made use of both Facebook and Instagram, and just 3% ran on Instagram alone.

“Most campaigns that ran on Facebook and Instagram had a positive outcome on brand saliency, associations and motivations for consumers,” stated Professor Andrew Stephen, Associate Dean of Research and L’Oréal Professor of Marketing at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

There were found to be few recorded cases of campaigns which had no effect at all on customer perception, although some did admittedly have a negative impact overall. It is the considerable difference of up to 35% between the most- and least-effective of the analysed campaigns which is most telling however, as it shows that content and style do in fact have a remarkable impact on how a customer will ultimately react to an online campaign.

In an effort to understand the factors which contributed to this sizeable difference in effectiveness, Prof. Stephen and his team at Saïd Business School first eliminated factors including; the format type, number of ad units, number of creative types, industry, geography, and the recorded disparity between Facebook as a sole platform vs. Facebook and Instagram used in unison, from the equation.
“None of these variables significantly explained the differences we were seeing in campaign effectiveness, so we decided to examine a hypothesis that it was the brand’s behaviour that made a difference,” explained Prof. Stephen.

“We did natural language processing on texts from the brands’ owned media on Facebook, and classified each brand as to whether they were more personable, emotional and/or functional.”
The team subsequently found that brands classified as being more personable and emotional yet less functional, i.e. more human, had a more positive impact in regards to brand awareness; this ‘human-like’ behaviour however had little to no correlation with brand association or motivation to buy, although Prof. Stephen speculates that these factors may be indirectly impacted.

The team also scoured through Kantar’s database of 8,811 global campaigns run over the past seven years in order to ascertain the difference in effectiveness between desktop and mobile platforms in terms of brand lift.

“We found that desktop has a constant 2-4% impact on effectiveness. Mobile, on the other hand really spiked in the earlier days but with the maturity of the medium, it’s now basically the same level as desktop,” said Prof. Stephen.

“This decline is either organic, as people get more familiar with the platform and it loses novelty, or commercial environment forces change,” added Jane Ostler, Managing Director of Media and Digital at Kantar Millward Brown.

When asked point-blank if he thought social and digital advertising was worth the time and money spent on it, Stephen replied, “Yes, but a cautious yes. I think it’s good for advertisers to experiment with any different kind of media channel. Plus you need to be where your consumers are.”

Ms Osler said in conclusion, “We’ve found that consumers do have expectations of campaigns based on the formats used and they are quite sensitive in their reactions to it. And of course, none of these campaigns run in isolation, they are contributing to a broader cross-media execution.”

Tech entrepreneur Nathan Cram, who claims to have developed a world-first technology with the software behind his new app Brolly, has secured the opportunity to put his tech to a serious test as the start-up company recently locked in deals with the Australian government for the use of his app, designed to monitor and capture all social media correspondence between a client organisation and the public.

Mr Cram was first inspired to create the application, which not only scrubs social media platforms for data regarding posted communications but also takes screenshots of linked websites and downloads any associated media, when he was forced to rely on Twitter updates during a 2014 bushfire. He recounted the story to The Australian Financial Review:

“I was holidaying in Lorne with my family and we could see these plumes of smoke over the escarpment and we were following all the crisis communication channels, listening to the sirens and talking to neighbours about updates, but it was a single tweet sent by the CFA that influenced my decision to get the hell out of there,” he said.

“It got me thinking … even things like email are automatically backed up for compliance records and I could see a lot of value in the conversations these organisations were having with citizens via social media … but I was wondering what measures were in place to protect the organisation. What would happen if that tweet from the CFA was ill-advised and wasn’t approved?

“The tweet could just be deleted … but what about the ethics from a citizen perspective, or what would happen if I raised an FOI request?”

So Mr Cram set about developing the technology himself, spending the next few years researching the publishing process within public organisations in the hope of creating automatic, ceaselessly-operating software designed for the creation of a social media compliance record for these organisations. Apparently his endeavour was something of a success, as the resulting app will now be utilised by not only the Department of Immigration and Border Control, but also WorkSafe Victoria, the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and Sciences, and the City of Albany council in Western Australia.

While the app does capture sensitive information such as when a post was originally made, shared, edited or deleted, it claims to “safeguard privacy” in the way it operates, only capturing two-way conversations between a government body and citizen, in addition to any standalone posts issued by the agency in question. Remarks made regarding any given organisation will also only be recorded if said organisation is tagged.

WorkSafe social media manager Lysandra Godley commented on how above all, the app is a valuable time-saver for herself and her team. She told the Australian Financial Review, “The volume of customer interaction is steady and the public usually connect with us for advice reactively rather than proactively. WorkSafe needs a lot of information when managing these reports so we use social media as a gateway to connect through traditional communication. I’m confident that we can retrieve this information because Brolly captures these conversations for us.”

When YouTube announced the inclusion of HDR support on their platform, it was praised as another example of the company’s desire and apparent attitude for remaining at the cutting-edge of video technology, so cutting-edge in fact that those wanting to make use of the feature require a HDR-compatible device of the highest specifications available on today’s market. Gamers used to experiencing the very-best visuals a modern graphics card is capable of providing were particularly pleased with the addition, as it enabled both developers and professional streamers alike to broadcast their games as they were intended to be seen.

Much to the disappointment of the aforementioned users, YouTube have now been forced backtrack - at least to some extent - as the ability to stream HDR video at 1440p on the YouTube app has been removed on Android devices.

This is speculated to be a result of performance issues as even flagship devices with the fastest processors available reportedly struggled to play HDR content at such a high resolution. Whatever the reasoning behind the feature’s removal however, Android users will have to make do with 1080p as the maximum resolution for HDR video, at least for the time being.

How long it will be before the feature returns to Android devices is uncertain, as it may transpire that today’s flagship Android devices are simply not capable of such high-resolution streaming, meaning Google has to wait for more powerful devices to hit the market.

On the bright side, at least this removes the frustration of having to manually drop the resolution every time a video starts to struggle and drop frames at 1440p, as the option won’t exist.

There are a number of reasons that some of your more-intimate snaps, should you choose to take them, may fall into nefarious hands; maybe your phone was stolen or hacked, or perhaps you’re worried in the aftermath of a bitter breakup. In these situations the biggest fear is that those pictures may be shared on online platforms, be that publicly or privately, bringing untold misery, humiliation and embarrassment upon the subject.

You would hope that this would be a rare occurrence if it indeed happened at all, but current figures and recent headlines both tell a very different story. This fact has not escaped the notice of Australian e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who told ABC, “We see many scenarios where maybe photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly.”

According to Ms Inman Grant, one-in-five Australian women aged 18-45 and one-in-four Indigenous Australians are victims of such abuse.

Now in an effort to prevent such private images from being shared online in an act of what has become known as ‘revenge-porn’, the Australian Government’s e-Safety Department is partnering with Facebook to launch an initiative whereby users who may be worried about their intimate photos being shared online can contact the e-Safety Commissioner, who may then make the rather unexpected suggestion that they act pre-emptively and send the images to themselves via Messenger.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to upload private photos to an online social media platform in an effort to stop them being spread on, well, an online social media platform (in many cases the same exact one), there is a little more sense behind the idea than it may first appear.

“It would be like sending yourself your image in email, but obviously this is a much safer, secure end-to-end way of sending the image without sending it through the ether,” Ms Inman Grant explained.

Once received, the image will then be “hashed” by Facebook and converted into a code or digital fingerprint, while the photo itself is not saved. If another user subsequently tries to upload the same image Facebook’s algorithms will recognise the digital fingerprint and not allow it to be posted, so you can proceed without worry that your privacy may be violated on the platform.

“They’re not storing the image; they’re storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies,” clarified Ms Inman Grant. “So if somebody tried to upload that same image, which would have the same digital footprint or hash value, it will be prevented from being uploaded.”

Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety at Facebook, told ABC that Australia is in fact one of four countries participating in the “industry-first” program, which utilises “cutting-edge technology” in an effort to prevent the re-sharing of images on its platforms.

“The safety and wellbeing of the Facebook community is our top priority,” concluded Ms Davis.

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Taryn Hinton, legal adviser and co-ordinator of Media Monitoring Africa’s ‘Reporting on Children in the Media’ course, has become the latest figure to join the chorus of voices preaching warnings to parents regarding what they choose to share online, specifically where their children are involved. It may seem like a relatively-minor issue, but the rise of ‘Sharenting’, as the phenomenon has become known, carries with it some potentially damaging ramifications for the future.

“If you wouldn’t put it up on a billboard on the N1 or M3, don’t put it up on social media,” warns Hinton. “People seem to think there’s a different set of rules that apply online. If you defame someone online, it’s the same as in print but you are more likely to reach a far broader audience on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. There’s no such thing as anonymity - you’re always able to be tracked. Once it’s out there, it’s been seen and it can be shared, reposted or screen-grabbed.”

Hinton is far from alone in her concerns as Simon Colman, executive head of digital distribution at SHA Specialist Underwriters, has expressed a similar worry. He warns that, “Increased usage of social media platforms on mobile phones has further increased the ease of with which people can post to any social media platform. It simply takes one, usually unintentionally, offensive post to spark an outrage on social media platforms, which can lead to major defamation or invasion of privacy legal actions.

“Just because you’ve restricted access to friends and family doesn’t mean they won’t pass on the info without permission,” he continues. “If it’s private, don’t post it.”

With 16 million people using Facebook, 7.7 million on Twitter and 6.1 million on LinkedIn in South Africa lone - according to the Ornico SA Social Media Landscape report for 2018 - that makes for a lot of vulnerable people.

The consequences of these unintentionally-offensive posts can be devastating for both the person posting and the one posted about, and the problem is certainly not restricted to South Africa. One notable example involves a teen in Austria who just last year sued her parents as a result of them posting hordes of images to Facebook without her consent, which she found to be humiliating due to their nature (the pictures included images of nappy-changing and potty-training). The parents refused to take the pictures down as they believed they had every right to post the pictures which they had taken, even after the teen in question outright requested the photographs’ removal from the platform.

The unnamed teen told Austrian publication The Local, “They knew no shame and no limit - and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot - every stage was photographed and made public.”

Authorities in France have gone so far as to make it illegal to post pictures of children online by way of strict privacy laws, with parents facing heavy fines and a year’s jail time for posting intimate pictures of their children without permission. Investigations conducted in America have also found evidence of the issue, with one recent study from the University of Michigan finding that children aged 10 to 17 were “really concerned” about how freely their parents shared details of their lives.

“It’s been described as a digital tattoo,” says Simon Colman. “(Think about the) long-term impact of a social media reputation. Kids are posting inappropriate content of themselves, not considering the ramifications on future relationships, job applications etc.”

Ms Hinton concluded with a stark warning: “Just because it’s true, doesn’t make it not defamatory. You’re also putting your kids at risk. People don’t realise that you can access the photo and find its location - you’re putting them at physical risk. If you put anything online that identifies them, you put them at risk from paedophiles.

“Parents are not always educated. They don’t realise their children could access their profiles etc. If a parent is sharing that their kids are drinking, bunking or doing something else they shouldn’t, you don’t know who is seeing it and they could be getting into trouble at school. There’s no anonymity. It can be linked to you. Once it starts, it’s hard to stop.”

On November 5th, Twitter were forced to issue an apology after it was discovered that terms relating to sexuality most often used in perfectly innocent circumstances, such as “bisexual”, were being blocked in search results on the platform. The omission inspired calls of discrimination at the hands of Twitter, who were seemingly refusing access to not just news and other content, but a whole community on which many struggling against the stigma often imposed upon the LGBTQ population have come to rely.

Further adding to the outrage was the fact that while terms like “bisexual” were blocked, “Hitler” and “Nazi” remained fully-searchable, and if you have to ask which of these terms is more likely to be associated with sensitive or inappropriate content you have issues with which I am not qualified to help.

Twitter have since reiterated their apology and offered an explanation as to why the terms were blocked, and in the company’s defence this does seem like a genuine mistake rather than an intentional act of discrimination. According to Twitter the terms were blocked as they appeared on an outdated list of terms that frequently appear alongside adult content, which is used as a signal in the identification of sensitive media; they have now admitted that that the list “incorrectly included terms that are primarily used in non-sensitive contexts” and promised to implement changes which should resolve the issue by the time of this article’s publication.

“We apologize for anyone negatively impacted by this bug. It is not consistent with our values as a company,” Twitter said.

“One of the signals we use to identify sensitive media is a list of terms that frequently appear alongside adult content. Many of these words on the list are not inherently explicit, which is why they must be used alongside other signals to determine if content is sensitive. Our implementation of this list in search allowed Tweets to be categorized based solely on text. The list was out of date [and] had not been maintained.

“We have audited the list and removed terms that should not have been included. We are making changes during the next 24 hours to correct this mistake.”

You can read Twitter’s full statement, courtesy of a thread posted to their official support account, below:

You may remember that back in September we reported on how Twitter were trialling an increased character limit of 280 characters on a few select accounts, and I think it’s safe to say the decision invited some criticism. Users expressed frustration with the platform, saying the change would simply serve to make Twitter more like Facebook and sacrifice the concise, micro-blogging nature of the site which has long been cited as a major appeal of the platform.

Well cue the angry tweets because regardless of the apparent opposition to the change, Twitter announced in a blog post on Tuesday 7th November that they’re going ahead and rolling out the new 280-character limit to all users anyway. While this announcement is sure to annoy some users, Twitter insist that the increased character limit while make it easier to tweet while keeping the platform’s brevity intact.

The answer given to those still concerned regarding the change is that while Twitter’s data from the trial suggests that when needed the increased character limit allowed people to express themselves more freely, cutting down the time spent composing tweets while reducing the proportion of tweets written in English which hit the character limit from 9% to 1%, the number of tweets which in fact exceeded the past limit of 140 characters was surprisingly low.

Img: Twitter

In fact despite a seemingly-widespread concern that longer tweets would clog up timelines following the increase, Twitter report that only 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and just 2% were over 190 characters, occupying less space than the average image or poll.

The increase also made an impact in terms of engagement, with Twitter insisting that once given more space in which to tweet, users experienced heightened numbers of likes, retweets and mentions, got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter overall.

The change will be rolled out immediately and will affect all languages for which ‘cramming’ is considered to be an issue. Japanese, Korean, and Chinese will not be included and will retain the past limit of 140 characters; according to Twitter this is because “cramming is not an issue in these languages. In fact, these languages have always been able to say more with their Tweets because of the density of their writing systems.”

On Monday 6th November 2017 at World Travel Market, the UK’s most prominent tourism trade exhibition, Peru’s tourism body, PROMPERÚ, officially unveiled their new international marketing campaign - ‘Peru, The Richest Country in the World’.

Peru, The Richest Country in the World’ hopes to embrace embrace a new concept for the term ‘wealth’ and re-imagine what ‘being rich’ is really about. The campaign moves away from one-dimensional destination advertising and aims to disrupt the marketplace by presenting a contemporary creative strategy based on a current trend – the new perception that being rich is based on experiences, including travel, not acquiring more material possessions.

The marketing campaign is presented in the form of a documentary-style film following Peru’s “trail of riches” to enjoy Peru in all its glorious guises; ancient history, adventure, nature and culture. The campaign’s promotional film will be rolled out via digital and social media advertising, with teaser trailers to entice viewers to watch the full inspirational video.

Peru is a country blessed with an abundance of natural, cultural and historical attractions offering visitors genuinely fulfilling experiences. The goal of the campaign is to further position the country as a multifaceted and diverse world within a world where wealth is not measured in cash, but in experience, discovery and happiness. Peru’s ‘neo-wealth’ proposition fits into the premise that the most valuable things in the world are those hardest to come by.

Peru, The Richest Country in the World’ seeks to capitalise on the reputation the country has already gained as a world-class cultural and culinary destination. The campaign is part of a long term international tourism promotion strategy which began in 2008 with the campaign ‘Peru, Live the Legend’. Peru then launched ‘Peru, Empire of Hidden Treasures’ in 2012 and ‘Peru, Land of Hidden Treasures’ in 2015 with the slogans “Don’t watch the movie, live it for real” and “Discover the you you never knew, discover Peru.”

The UK is a key international market for Peru, with arrivals in 2016 increasing 9.6% year on year, and so PROMPERÚ selected WTM, one of the world’s most prominent travel trade exhibitions held each year in London, to launch its new international campaign.

On Monday 6th November the new campaign went live in 20 countries across the globe; namely the United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Japan, Australia, Korea and China.

For more information on ‘Peru, The Richest Country in the World’ visit:

Clearly eager to capitalise on their recent acquisition of popular teen-orientated polling app ‘tbh’, Facebook have wasted little time in bringing a newly-improved polling feature to their users at large, as announced late last week.

Img: Facebook

Many Facebook-owned platforms, including Instagram and Messenger, have incorporated a polling feature for quite some time now, with a basic text-based version of the feature even available for Pages on the main platform, so it is a little surprising that this new feature has taken so long to emerge on the main app. It is worth noting however that Facebook’s newly-enhanced Polls feature is a very different beast to its predecessor.

While the polling feature available to Facebook Pages until now was limited to purely text-based responses, the new version carries a decidedly more eye-catching aesthetic that is sure to increase engagement as compared to its plainer cousin. To create a poll all you need do is select “What’s on your mind?” as you would to post a standard update and find “Polls” in the subsequently-revealed drop-down menu. You will then be presented with a blank box in which to type your question, for which there is no upper character limit, and spaces to add two, but only two, responses each with an upper limit of 25 characters. These polls can then be enhanced via the application of photos, GIFs or other images in order to add to their visual appeal and attract more users to partake in the poll itself.

It is somewhat strange that Facebook have chosen to limit the polling feature to a maximum of two potential answers – Engadget speculate that this is likely due to Facebook’s desire for a more image-orientated approach for which the mobile layout lends itself better to a two-option limit.

It is also worth noting that these polls are not anonymous, meaning that both the creator of the poll and any who choose to answer it will also be able to see any response you may have given yourself.
That’s about all there is to say about this update, small as it is; though its potential applications may turn out to be wider-reaching than we first expect.

According to new data from the Pew Research Center, compiled as part of a study which aimed to explore the role of social media platforms among US citizens as a fast-rising source of news, 67% of US adults now turn to social media for this purpose, with just over a quarter (26%) of respondents acquiring their news from multiple social media sites, up from 15% in 2013 and 18% in 2016.

Facebook reportedly maintains the largest share of news consumers of any social media platform with 45% of US adults making use of the site in such a way; of those users approximately 50% use Facebook as their sole source of news, at least as far as competing social media platforms are concerned.

At the other end of the scale sit well-known platforms including WhatsApp, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Instagram, which area used as news sources by 2%, 5%, 5%, and 7% of the US population respectively. News users who utilise these platforms are also far more likely to find news across three or more social media sites, with more than half of their users doing so.

Reddit stands as something of an anomaly; while only 4% of US adults use the site as a news source, among those who do a surprisingly-low proportion of just 38% spread their search for news across three or more social media platforms, as compared to 68% among Instagram’s news users. Reddit’s small audience is apparently rather exclusive.

The report also offered insight into the demographical split of news users across various platforms, revealing that “US adults who get news from multiple social networking sites are more likely to be non-white and younger. About half (47%) of news consumers who rely on two or more social media sites for news are non-white (including Hispanics), compared with about one-fourth (26%) of those who use just one site. They are more likely to be under age 50: 77% are 18-49 compared with 56% of those who use just one site for news. Additionally, they are twice as likely to be ages 18-29 (37% vs. 18%).”

The data provided by the report could prove highly valuable to online news outlets that rely on said social media platforms in order to reach their audience, providing further clarity on who exactly they can expect to find scrolling through the feeds of each.

The decision-makers over at Facebook were likely pretty pleased with themselves on Wednesday night when their third-quarter earnings report was made public. The social media behemoth continues to enjoy an ever-increasing user base and continually-rising profits, with the company revealing a staggering 79% increase in quarterly profits which brings the figure for Q3 up to a more-than-healthy total of $4.7bn (£3.6bn).

Hidden within the small sprint however were a couple of figures of which Facebook are decidedly less proud, as it has emerged that the platform is littered with far more fake and duplicate accounts than previously stated with up to 270 million accounts on the social network deemed to be illegitimate in one form or another. The platforms number of fake accounts, which includes “user-misclassified and undesirable accounts”, tripled in relation to their July estimates, leaping from 1% to 3% in the time since. Similarly the number of duplicate accounts on the network rose from 6% to 10%, bringing the total number of illegitimate accounts on the platform up to nearly 270 million, which equates to roughly 13% of Facebook’s 2.1bn monthly users.

According to Facebook however this increase in the number of illegitimate accounts reportedly still active on the site is not due to an actual rise in fake or duplicate users; rather the increase is a result of “a new methodology for duplicate accounts that included improvements to the data signals we rely on.” Basically what they are saying is that the number of said undesirable accounts has not in fact increased - Facebook have just got better at identifying them.

The revelation may nonetheless have a negative impact upon the company’s perceived integrity, particularly in the wake of ongoing investigations into Russian election meddling via the use of advertising on their platform, and the recent questions raised regarding their advertising figures in which they claimed to be able to reach more people than actually exist within a given demographic, at least according to official census data.

There are plans in the pipeline intended to help deal with these issues however, as a spokesperson for Facebook told Business Insider that the same improved methodology updates which revealed the apparent uptick in illegitimate accounts will also be used in an effort to improve the accuracy of Facebook’s tools for advertisers; this improved accuracy should specifically affect Facebook’s estimates for the number of real people it can reach with an advertiser’s campaign, the source said.

In their endless quest for online vindication in the form of likes, retweets, and subscribers, some aspiring online personalities go to extreme lengths, but what many seem to forget is that there is and should be a distinct line that you do not cross purely in the name of YouTube views. When it comes to incidents which cross that line, I think most would agree that the endangerment of innocent animals makes the cut.

Apparently this was not common knowledge amongst a group of YouTube vloggers who filmed and posted footage of themselves trespassing within the grounds of Chester Zoo, during which time they allegedly caused alarm among some of the animals which subsequently led to a Grevy’s Zebra suffering an injury to its hind leg. While this may seem like a relatively minor incident, the consequences could potentially have been much worse, and as such Chester Zoo have publicly condemned the group and announced their intention to pursue legal action in a clear warning to other would-be trespassers in search of their 15 minutes of fame.

Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo's chief operating officer, said, “We’re aware of the small group who trespassed onto the zoo site a couple of weeks ago and we are taking legal action.

“There was damage to zoo property including a set of customer toilets following the trespass. It appears that the group also startled a Grevy’s zebra, an endangered species that we care for as part of a Europe-wide breeding programme, as the animal had an injury to its hind leg following the trespass. Thankfully the animal has since been making a good recovery, helped by our senior keepers and veterinary teams who were quickly on site.

“With over 15,000 animals in our care, including large carnivores and predators, trespass onto the site is both unacceptable and extremely dangerous. The members of the group appear to have little or no regard for their own safety, or the safety and welfare of the animals.

“We condemn the irresponsible actions of the group and are taking the matter extremely seriously.”

As for the intent behind the making of the now-deleted YouTube video, it is believed that the vloggers were taking part in some form of “overnight challenge” in which they were dared to partake in a series increasingly dangerous stunts, of which the incident at Chester Zoo was likely just one among many other potentially harmful and foolish activities, although that is admittedly pure speculation.

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