“Social Media Roundup” is a weekly roundup of news pertaining to all of your favorite websites and applications used for social networking. Published on Sundays, “Social Media Roundup” will help you stay up-to-date on all the important social media news you need to know.
Follow Up To Congressional Hearing
Facebook had received over 2,000 questions from the Senate and House Committees when CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared for congressional hearings back in April. Since Zuckerberg could not provide the specific answers for many of those questions, Facebook provided a follow-up in the form of two documents.
One of the documents is 229 pages long and is addressed to Chairman John Thune, Ranking Member Bill Nelson and members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. And the other 225-page document is addressed to Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein and the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Two of the most noteworthy questions that Facebook answered pertains to eye tracking and mouse movement tracking patents.
Eye Tracking Response
On page 188 of the 229-page follow-up, Facebook responded to the question about how it plans to potentially use technology outlined in patents related to eye-tracking technology (“Dynamic eye tracking calibration” and “Techniques for emotion detection and content delivery“).
“Like many companies, we apply for a wide variety of patents to protect our intellectual property. Right now we’re not building technology to identify people with eye-tracking cameras. However, we’re always exploring how new technologies and methods can improve our services, and eye-based identification is one way that we could potentially reduce consumer friction and add security for people when they log into Oculus or access Oculus content,” said Facebook in the statement. “If we implement this technology in the future, we will absolutely do so with people’s privacy in mind, just as we do with movement information (which we anonymize in our systems).”
In the same document mentioned above, Facebook acknowledged that it collects data from actions taken on computers such as mouse clicks and movements in order to personalize content. And Facebook also said that it tracks mouse movements so that its algorithms to determine if the user is a real person or a bot. Facebook says that it obtains operation information from devices such as “whether a window is foregrounded or backgrounded, or mouse movements (which can help distinguish humans from bots).”
And Facebook also collects other details like the operating system, software versions, hardware, browser type, battery level, available storage space, file names, plugins, device signals, IP addresses, time zones, mobile phone numbers, connection speed, etc.
Facebook said that it has launched TTC Labs, a design innovation lab to improve user experiences around personal data. TTC stands for Trust, Transparency and Control. Based in Dublin, Ireland, TTC Labs is working with over 60 other organizations on the privacy initiatives.
TTC Labs will be an open platform for sharing and innovation and it will feature insights from academic and law experts. And TTC Labs will also feature “prototype designs from the design jams, template services and open-source toolkits for people-centric design for transparency, trust and control of data.”
Advertisers Required To Gain Consent For Email And Phone Targeting
Facebook is adding a new requirement for advertisers, which will require them to gain consent for email and phone targeting. This new rule applies to businesses that use the Custom Audiences feature for targeting users with ads based on email addresses and phone numbers.
On July 2nd, advertisers will have to start declaring whether the email addresses and phone numbers they collected are directly from customers, from customers and partners or directly from the partners.
When an advertiser shares Custom Audiences from a customer file with an ad agency, both parties will have to establish an audience-sharing relationship through Business Manager and agree to the Custom Audiences Terms as well.
For each ad, there will be a drop-down menu that says “Why am I seeing this?”, which will show the source of the information whether it is an advertiser or partner and whether the advertiser was able to reach them through the phone number or email address. Users can decide whether they want to stop seeing certain ads in the Ad Preferences section.
Massive Data Center In Alabama
This past week, Facebook said that it is building a 970,000 square foot data center in Huntsville, Alabama. According to Business Insider, Facebook is spending $750 million on the Alabama data center project. The average salary at the data center will be $80,000 and it is expected to create 100 new jobs.
“As a growing tech hub, Huntsville seemed like a natural fit for Facebook. The site, located in Northern Huntsville, is shovel-ready and allows us to break ground this year. It also provides reliable access to renewable energy, strong local infrastructure, a great set of community partners, and very importantly, an outstanding pool of talent,” said Facebook in a news post. “This 970,000 square foot facility will host many of the videos, photos, and news articles you see on your Facebook feed every day. And once it becomes operational in 2020, it will help us continue to provide a great experience for people here in Alabama and people around the world.”
This past week, I wrote about a new feature called Facebook Memories. Facebook Memories is essentially a central place to see “On This Day” content. This feature will also showcase the friendships you made on Facebook on that day — which are known as “friendversaries” — in the past with collages and videos.
“We know that memories are deeply personal — and they’re not all positive. We try to listen to feedback and design these features so that they’re thoughtful and offer people the right controls that are easy to access,” said Facebook product manager Oren Hod. “We work hard to ensure that we treat the content as part of each individual’s personal experience, and are thankful for the input people have shared with us over the past three years.”
You can filter out certain people, dates or date ranges within the Preferences if you don’t think it would be a positive experience. And Facebook also attempts to filter out negative memories based on certain keywords and post reactions automatically. The Facebook Memories feature can be accessed by going to the Memories bookmark on the mobile app or by going to facebook.com/memories.
Sonar Tool Gets Open Sourced
Facebook has open sourced one of its internal debugging tools called Sonar. Facebook software engineer Emil Sjölander made the announcement in a blog post. Sonar is used by Facebook engineers for creating new features, eliminating bugs and optimize performance.
“With Sonar, engineers have a highly flexible, intuitive way to inspect and understand the structure and behavior of their iOS and Android applications,” wrote Sjölander. “We believe Sonar improves on current tools by providing a more visual and interactive experience that is extensible to fit engineers’ specific needs.”
Elliot Schrage Stepping Down
Facebook head of communications and policy Elliot Schrage is stepping down as he announced in a Facebook post. Schrage had joined Facebook back in 2008 after working for Google for a few years.
“After more than a decade at Facebook, I’ve decided it’s time to start a new chapter in my life. Leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy — but it’s also intense and leaves little room for much else,” said Schrage in his Facebook post. “Mark, Sheryl and I have been discussing this for a while. I’ll lead the search to identify someone new to oversee our communications and policy teams. We expect to find someone with the same passion, integrity, determination and energy that our teams bring to Facebook every day. Mark and Sheryl have asked me to stay to manage the transition and then to stay on as an advisor to help on particular projects – and I’m happy to help.”
Stories To Contain Shopping Links
In an announcement, Instagram said that it is adding shopping links in the Stories feature. If you see a shopping bag icon, then you can tap on it to see more details about the product.
Instagram said that 300 million users are using Instagram Stories every day and people have been finding products from brands they love through the feature. Some of the brands that currently have shopping links in Instagram Stories include Adidas, Aritzia and Louis Vuitton.
Ability To Delete Snaps After Being Sent
Snapchat has added the ability to delete chats after it was sent. The delete chat feature works for group and one to one conversations. And it can be used for deleting text, voice notes, stickers, photos and videos.
In order to delete something you sent in a Snap, tap and hold on the content and then tap on Delete. Even though the content will be deleted, users are still able to detect that something was removed. And screenshots still work in conversations so viewers can still capture content before it gets deleted.
New Spectacles Now Available
Snapchat’s second generation of its Spectacles device is also now available for purchase in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. And it will be released in several European markets soon. In the U.S., the new Spectacles are priced at $150.
Snapchat has also announced a new developer platform called Snap Kit. Snapchat said that Snap Kit does not compromise yet private account data. There are four Kits that Snapchat offers.
– Creative Kit enables developers to integrate stickers, filters, links and highlights into the Snapchat camera.
– Login Kit allows users to unlock need features on Snapchat and other apps along with the ability to use your Snapchat account as a secondary way to log in.
– Bitmoji Kit makes it possible to create animated Bitmoji stickers while messaging on other apps.
– And Story Kit adds the ability for developers to filter and embed public Snapchat Stories to other apps and services.
In a blog post, Twitter announced several new features — which will make it easier to track posts. The new features apply to the Explore section, your Timeline, personalized news and event notifications.
– Explore: Twitter received feedback from users that the Explore section would be easier to navigate if it was organized by topic rather than content type (video, articles, etc.) So Twitter is exploring a topic tabs feature in Explore so that it will be easier to see content that is relevant to you. This feature will be rolled out in the coming months in the U.S. for Android and iOS.
– New Timeline Feature: Twitter is also expanding its “Happening now” Feature at the top of the timeline for sports. This way you can follow tweets about the game and score of your favorite teams. Plus you will see news that is relevant to you along with “surrounding Tweets and videos.” This feature will be available in the coming months to U.S. users on Android and iOS.
– Personalized News And Events: Twitter is now experimenting with a feature that sends breaking news notifications to you based on your interests such as who you follow and what you tweet about. You will be able to turn off these notifications by going to your recommendation settings and toggling it off so that you don’t see the news. This feature will also be available in the coming weeks to U.S. users on Android and iOS in the coming weeks.
– Vertical Moments: Twitter said that users currently swipe horizontally to read Moments. However, Twitter found in its research that Moments are easier to read vertically just like in your timeline. “In our tests of this new look, we saw significantly more people using and returning to Moments. So, we’re starting to introduce this new vertical timeline experience for Moments,” said Twitter in the announcement.
Age Limit Issue Fix Coming
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that the company is looking to resolve the age limit issue that came up as it worked to comply with GDPR rules. What had happened was that some Twitter users got locked out of their accounts off they registered to join the service before they were age 13 even though they are older now. This issue also affected brand accounts that registered its age as below 13.
“There have been questions and concerns about accounts being locked because of age restrictions. We wanted to let you know what happened here, and what we’re doing about it,” said Twitter in a tweet. “We’re reaching out to people impacted with options to unlock their account and continue to use Twitter. Instructions from us will come during the coming week.”