Social Media Saturday: Facebook's Hoax-Killing Machine & Google+ Still Exists (No Hoaxing), But Barely
This week in social media, Facebook began cracking down on hoaxes, Twitter launched a new feature for infrequent iOS users, and -- this just in -- Google+ still exists!
It's time for Social Media Saturday!
Cracking Down on Hoax Stories
Hoax news stories: You've probably seen them before in your News Feed, whether you were aware of it or not. And so have lot of other users, many of whom unwittingly boost the hoaxes' credibility and exposure by sharing them with their friends.
Now Facebook is doing something to stem the tide of viral hoaxes -- some of which are just ridiculous and benign (other than being untruthful, of course) -- and others which may be engineered with a hidden, nasty motive behind them or are just clearly harmful, libelous fabrications.
Users could already report spam in their news stories, but Facebook announced this week it was going further, adding an option to the spam-reporting feature where users can specify that a story as false. Once enough people have reported the same thing about a story, the post will show up in feeds with an annotation added reading, "Many people on Facebook have reported that this story contains false information."
Stories reported as a hoax may not show up in your news feed at all though, as Facebook's algorithms will now reduce the post's distribution in News Feed automatically.
It sounds like a good idea, but any use of pure inhuman code to censor information isn't without its perils. Here's hoping Facebook makes a special exception for The Onion.
While You Were Away Launches
As we previously reported, Twitter had been testing some new Facebook-like tweaks to users' timelines, including paying less attention to the concept of time. Months ago, it began testing a highlights feature for infrequent users called "While You Were Away" -- pinning what Twitter thinks are the most important tweets at the top of the app when the user finally reopens Twitter.
Now that feature has officially rolled out to iOS version of Twitter. While it is yet another step towards "Facebookization," Twitter promises that feeds will still generally focus on real-time trends and chronology, unlike Facebook's News Feed. And it shouldn't annoy frequent users (i.e., hardcore veteran Twitter users) because the feature only targets the casual tweeter.
Keeping Verified Users Off Instagram
One thing that might annoy veteran Twitter users is a new push the company is making to get verified users (the ones with the blue checkmark next to their names, often celebrities or people of note) to post photos to Twitter, rather than cross-posting from Instagram.
Twitter now comes with a warning message, when verified users try to post from Instagram, telling them to post photos directly to Twitter -- or else followers won't be able to see a preview in their timeline. Twitter isn't trying to poach Instagram users; their move comes after Instagram removed support for photo previews outside of its network.
So now if you want followers on either network to see your photos, you have go to the trouble of post them twice. Thanks Facebook and Twitter -- Another win for the users!
Original Content On Its Way
It's not enough to have a wildly popular social network anymore. Now you need exclusive content as well. That's at least what Snapchat's Evan Spiegel seems to think, as the company is reportedly working on offering users original editorial content from traditional news outlets like CNN and ESPN, as well as more viral sources from the web.
The content will be available in a separate section of Snapchat called "Discover," according to a New York Times report. This isn't the first time we've heard Snapchat was working on a content section called "Discover." The company originally was thought to use the section for branded posts back in August of 2014, but that never materialized.
The current report comes as Snapchat is currently working to coax advertisers to the ephemeral photo messaging network -- at a reportedly unbelievable rate of three-quarters of a million dollars per day.
Google+ Still Exists
But barely, according to a recent study. Analytics blogger Kevin Anderson (via Business Insider) looked up data on the often-ignored social media brand, finding that while there are about 2.2 billion Google+ profiles, only about 9 percent ever posted anything publically.
The most activity Google+ profiles get is when people use them to comment on YouTube videos, after Google forced the world's most popular video site to push commenting through Google+ profiles. In fact, it appears the move doubled Google+ activity, though only vicariously. Excluding YouTube, the total share of Google+ users actively posting anything so far this year is between 0.2 and 0.3 percent.
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