TIME apps

Facebook Adds Caller ID to Messenger App

New feature helps screen messages from new contacts

Facebook is making it easier to figure out who’s trying to contact you.

The company announced a new Caller ID feature for its Messenger app that will give users more information when people try to contact them. The revamped interface will show a larger photo of the person sending the message, as well as pull context about their occupation, city of residence and who your mutual friends are. If the person contacting you isn’t your Facebook friend, only the information they share publicly will be viewable. The upgrade will be available for the iOS and Android versions of Messenger in the U.S., U.K., France and India in the next few weeks.

Facebook

Facebook released an app with similar functionality in April called Hello. The Android app serves as a replacement for the generic phone app and uses Facebook data to provide users information about incoming callers.

[Mashable]

TIME Management

Why Monitoring Employees’ Social Media Is a Bad Idea

Quote tweet feature
Nick Ansell—PA Wire/Press Association Images Quote tweet feature. File photo dated 10/02/15 of the Twitter bird logo. Twitter has overhauled its "frustrating" quote tweet feature to allow people to say more about text they want to comment on. Issue date: Tuesday April 7, 2015. The social media giant had faced criticism that users barely had any characters left to add a comment when they quoted a tweet because of the 140-character limit. See PA story TECHNOLOGY Twitter. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire URN:22671665

there is a vast difference between asking for employees to exercise good judgment and hovering over their Tweets like Big Brother

People today live in a virtual online aquarium, and chances are good that one of the people watching you is probably your current or potential employer. According to job site CareerBuilder, 52% of companies now check job applicants’ social media profiles before hiring them, up from 43% just a year ago.

On one hand, it’s understandable. After all, it can be embarrassing for a business if one of its representatives posts offensive content or does something illegal via social media. Employers can even get into legal trouble for their workers’ actions. Advocates of the practice say that it’s necessary to protect companies’ reputations, confidential information, and is an inevitable byproduct of the Internet age, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But does monitoring of employees’ social media really protect a company or can it do more harm than good?

First, the argument that companies need to keep tabs online to ensure that their employees refrain from inappropriate or illegal behavior doesn’t really hold. While it’s conceivable that some low level silliness, such as posting a picture of yourself dancing on a table, could be prevented by employer monitoring, more serious infractions are unlikely to be shared on social media and therefore never appear on the radar of the company anyway.

In addition, when job candidates or employees know that they are being watched, they can restrict access to certain posts, set up dummy profiles to fool companies, or otherwise throw up smokescreens. This is particularly true of millennials, who are technologically adept at controlling and manipulating their online avatars. The point is, the limited preventative effect of social media monitoring may not be worth the time and expense required for companies to do it.

There is also the problem of bias. Americans today are arguably more socially and politically conscious than previous generations and actively use social media to convey their thoughts, debate important topics, and fight for causes. In some cases, employers may even be supportive, such as if a job candidate works tirelessly to raise money for breast cancer research, but in other cases, there is a real danger of people being penalized for their personal views on things like politics, race, or religion.

Even if a company itself is neutral, the subjective feelings of the person tasked with monitoring employees’ social media could easily lead to discrimination, especially in the highly polarized environment of the U.S. People should be able to share their views on gay marriage, for example, with their friends on social media, without running afoul of an employer who disagrees with them. Recognizing that in essence this is an inadvertent violation of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, political preference, gender etc, employers should at the very least factor this into their social media policies and put safeguards in place to prevent against it. The harm caused by bias to workers is immense but so are the potential legal consequences for companies.

Finally, by looking over workers’ shoulders, companies could stifle the most important trait that can benefit a business: creativity. As innovation becomes increasingly necessary in a hyper-competitive business landscape, this factor can be crucial for a company’s success.

Social media, for those who use it avidly at least, can be a medium to express our personality – for who we are – which is naturally linked to our creativity. Companies that foster creativity are more profitable and 50% more likely to be market leaders than their peers, according to the Harvard Business Review. Yet some businesses fail to make the connection between suppressing their employees’ online freedom and restricting their creativity.

There is no doubt that companies are within their rights to expect compliance with some common-sense social media etiquette. However, there is a vast difference between asking for employees to exercise good judgment and hovering over their Tweets like Big Brother. The latter can erode a necessary sense of trust between companies and their workers and undermine loyalty. Just as an employee or a job candidate needs to trust that a company has integrity and is worth working for, the company needs to show its people that it trusts them to behave like responsible adults.

By allowing workers to live their personal lives without intrusion, smart businesses can make a powerful statement; namely, that they accept them for who they are, treasure their professional contributions to the company, and want them to be happy and fulfilled outside as well as inside the office. This, in turn, would inspire loyalty and boost productivity in the workforce, and make those companies more profitable.

Kumar has worked in technology, media, and telecom investment banking. He has evaluated mergers and acquisitions in these sectors and provided strategic consulting to media companies and hedge funds.

TIME Aviation

These Airlines Get the Most Hate on Social Media

airplane-landing
Getty Images

American Airlines and United Airlines rank at the top

Love to hate the airlines? Sure you do. And a new study by Crimson Hexagon suggests you’re not alone. Raging against airplane travel is becoming a serious national pastime.

The research, which analyzed Twitter posts over three months, finds negative sentiment towards the airlines is significantly higher than positive sentiment, at least on social media. Of the five domestic airlines studied by Crimson Hexagon, average negative sentiment is 47%, while positive sentiment averages just over 20%. And we can’t stop talking about airlines. The firm also found a 209% increase in brand mentions since 2012, confirming that more and more consumers are turning to social media to discuss airlines.

“Social media provides customers an avenue to share frustrations and express disappointment,” says John Donnelly, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Crimson Hexagon. “Since air travel inevitably brings headaches, it’s no surprise that negative sentiment toward airlines is commonplace on social channels.”

What are passengers saying? Here are a few of the social media callouts mentioned by the report:

“And to top this day off @AmericanAir lost my bag in a gigantic fail of travel arrangements. #worstairlineever #nothingtowear” tweeted Camille S.

(To its credit, the #worstairlineever responded and started looking for her bag.)

“Got yelled by the representative at the desk and she wasn’t even right, made me loose (sic) my flight 😡 #deltasucks @DeltaAssist stuck at HPN,” lamented Jose Sella.

Delta’s response? “Ask a supervisor.”

“love flying @SouthwestAir! Best airline ever, they make traveling to visit my fiancé much more bearable,” raved Nate Carlson.

Southwest didn’t reply to the tweet.

The report, based on data from Jan. 1 through March 23, finds JetBlue has the highest “positive” rating. But that isn’t saying much; only 33% of the total posts were considered positive and 45% of its posts were negative.

American Airlines and United Airlines were tops in the “negative” rating, each with 56% of their total posts. American had only 10% of its posts in the “positive” category and United barely made it past 20%. American and United are also the most talked-about airlines, according to the study.

American Airlines held the largest presence on Twitter, with 594,000 posts during the study. The next-closest airlines are United Airlines, with 406,000 posts, and Delta Air Lines, with over 239,000 posts, according to the report.

For passengers, these numbers tell us what we already know: When it comes to air travel, there’s plenty to complain about.

But for Crimson Hexagon, these findings suggest there’s a missed opportunity for air carriers. “What airlines need to understand is that every tweet from a disgruntled customer is an opportunity to also connect with that customer and strengthen the relationship,” says Donnelly. “Simply replying to a tweet with a canned corporate apology isn’t enough anymore.”

If airlines want to improve — and who doesn’t want that? — they need to adopt a more human tone and consumer-focused approach, both in their companies and through social media.

“Then airlines can genuinely connect with customers and ultimately increase brand loyalty and affinity,” says Donnelly.

If that happens, maybe passengers will have to look for a new hobby.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Security

People Seeking Love Are Leading Target of Internet Fraud, FBI Says

Looking for love online can lead to heartache and fraud

Social media scams and cruel cons that target lonely hearts to rob them blind were the leading drivers of Internet fraud in 2014, the FBI reported Tuesday in a survey of computer crime.

In its annual online fraud report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, said total financial losses to online fraud reported to the federal government last year topped $800 million.

But that’s just a drop in the bucket of what’s presumed to be the real cost of online fraud, much of which doesn’t go reported. Citing industry data, the National White Collar Crime Center, which coordinates IC3 with the…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Barack Obama

President Obama Now Has His Own Twitter Account

President Obama gets his own Twitter account

Two Twitter accounts weren’t enough for President Obama. On Monday, he signed up for a third.

Though Obama has been an avid user of social media — and by one study is the most followed world leader on Twitter — his other accounts @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama are controlled by the Administration and Organizing for Action, the nonprofit that succeeded his presidential-campaign arm.

The new account, @POTUS, looks like more of a personal account, perhaps to allow him to continue running it after he leaves the White House.

The account rapidly added followers, going from zero to almost 100,000 in less than half an hour and growing by the minute.

Obama made some interesting choices setting up the account. The short bio reads: “Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States.” And the header photo at the top of his account page is a picture with his family crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the anniversary of the iconic civil rights march in Selma, Ala., in March.

The White House says the new account is a way for the President to engage directly with the American people.

“President Obama is committed to making his Administration the most open and participatory in history, and @POTUS will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them,” wrote a White House blogger announcing the account.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

You Asked: Are My Devices Messing With My Brain?

You Asked: Are All My Devices Messing With My Brain?
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Yes—and you're probably suffering from phantom text syndrome, too.

First it was radio. Then it was television. Now doomsayers are offering scary predictions about the consequences of smartphones and all the other digital devices to which we’ve all grown so attached. So why should you pay any attention to the warnings this time?

Apart from portability, the big difference between something like a traditional TV and your tablet is the social component, says Dr. David Strayer, a professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah. “Through Twitter or Facebook or email, someone in your social network is contacting you in some way all the time,” Strayer says.

“We’re inherently social organisms,” adds Dr. Paul Atchley, a cognitive psychologist at Kansas University. There’s almost nothing more compelling than social information, he says, which activates part of your brain’s reward system. Your noodle is also hardwired to respond to novel sights or sounds. (For most of human history, a sudden noise might have signaled the presence of a predator.) “So something like a buzz or beep or flashing light is tapping into that threat detection system,” he explains.

Combine that sudden beep with the implicit promise of new social info, and you have a near-perfect, un-ignorable stimulus that will pull your focus away from whatever task your brain is working on. And while you may think you can quickly check a text or email and pick up that task where you left off, you really can’t.

“Every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, there’s something called a switch-cost,” says Dr. Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Your brain stumbles a bit, and it requires time to get back to where it was before it was distracted.”

While this isn’t a big deal if you’re doing something simple and rote—making an omelet, say, or folding clothes—it can be a very big deal if your brain is trying to sort out a complex problem, Miller says.

One recent study found it can take your brain 15 to 25 minutes to get back to where it was after stopping to check an email. And Miller’s own research shows you don’t get better at this sort of multitasking with practice. In fact, people who judged themselves to be expert digital multitaskers tended to be pretty bad at it, he says.

“You’re not able to think as deeply on something when you’re being distracted every few minutes,” Miller adds. “And thinking deeply is where real insights come from.”

There seems to be an easy solution to this: When you’re working on something complicated, switch off your phone or email.

That could work for some people. But there’s evidence that as your brain becomes accustomed to checking a device every few minutes, it will struggle to stay on task even at those times when it’s not interrupted by digital alerts. “There’s something called ‘phantom text syndrome,’ ” Atchley says. “You think you hear a text or alert, but there isn’t one.”

While phantom texts can afflict adults, Atchley says this phenomenon is pretty much universal among people under the age of 20—many of whom wouldn’t recognize a world that doesn’t include smartphones. Even if you don’t hear phantom alerts, you may still find yourself reflexively wanting to check your device every few minutes for updates, which disrupts your concentration regardless of whether you ignore that impulse.

Your ability to focus aside, a 2014 study appearing in the journal PLOS One found that people who spend a lot of time “media multitasking”—or juggling lots of different websites, apps, programs or other digital stimuli—tend to have less grey matter in a part of their brain involved with thought and emotion control. These same structural changes are associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders, says that study’s first author, Kepkee Loh, who conducted his research at University College London.

Atchley says more research suggests lots of device use bombards your brain’s prefrontal cortex, which plays a big role in willpower and decision-making. “The prefrontal cortex prevents us from doing stupid things, whether it’s eating junk food or texting while driving,” he explains.

He says this part of the human brain isn’t “fully wired” until your early 20s—another issue that has him worried about how a lot of device use may be affecting children and adolescents.

So what’s the antidote? Spending time in nature may counteract the focus-draining effects of too much tech time, shows research Atchley and Strayer published in 2012. Meditation may also offer focus-strengthening benefits.

Strayer says putting your phone on silent and setting your email only to deliver new messages every 30 minutes are also ways to use your devices strategically and “not be a slave to them,” he adds.

Of course, there are plenty of benefits associated with the latest and greatest technologies. Ease and convenience of staying in touch with friends is a big one. But many open questions remain when it comes to the true cost of our digital distractions.

“Imagine Einstein trying to think about mathematics at a time when part of his brain was wondering what was going on with Twitter,” Atchley says. “People make incredible breakthroughs when they’re concentrating very hard on a specific task, and I wonder if our devices are taking away our ability to do that.”

TIME Basketball

Watch High School Dunk Sensation Derrick Jones in Action

Like dunks? Here you go

Pennsylvania High School senior Derrick Jones is making the case that the NBA dunk contest should not be restricted to, well, NBA players.

In a video making the rounds on social media, the 6-ft. 6-in. UNLV commit not only pulls off Michael Jordan’s iconic free-throw-line jam but he one-ups the legend by adding a smooth windmill move to the mix.

Jones is considered by many to be the best dunker in high school basketball and his victory in an absolutely mind-boggling high school dunk contest in April may have cemented that status. But if out-jamming His Airness isn’t convincing enough, here some other examples the kid’s capabilities.

He’s looking down into the rim on this one.

Normal players can’t dunk over four other people, can they?

Blake Griffin and Zach LaVine better watch out; there is a new cat in town.

TIME Social Media

Check Out How Much Fancier Facebook’s New Digs Are

Facebook's sprawling new building takes the open workspace to a whole new level

Correction appended

Facebook started in a college dorm room, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems to be trying to recapture the kind of spontaneous collaboration that can happen in those spaces with the social networking giant’s new building.

Dubbed by the company as the “largest open floor plan in the world,” the new 430,000-square-foot, single story facility in Menlo Park, Calif. places thousands of workers — Zuckerberg included — in a single giant room. Product teams are clustered together throughout the sprawling space, which resembles an aircraft hangar. Atop the building is a 9-acre park with walking trails and seats to host outdoor meetings.

The design of the new workspace, intended to encourage collaboration, is also supposed to reenforce Facebook’s overall mission of connecting the world. “We wanted our space to create the same sense of community and connection among our teams that we try to enable with our services across the world,” Zuckerberg said back in March when he and his employees moved in.

The building, called MPK 20 and designed by celebrated architect Frank Gehry, is a far cry from the more pedestrian office complex that used to be the base of their operations — although the company still uses that building as part of its campus. Here, we offer some comparison shots between the older and newer spaces.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly described the purpose of Facebook’s new facility. It is an extension of its headquarters.

 

TIME Social Media

How to Turn Off Everything You Hate About Facebook

Facebook logo on an iPhone 5s.
Lukas Schulze—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Facebook logo on an iPhone 5s.

Because we all need a break

Facebook can be a real hassle. It lets your friends spam you with annoying app invites, tells all your contacts when you’re online so they can harrass you, and bugs you about your old coworkers’ birthdays even though you haven’t seen them in three years. Facebook is a classic oversharer.

The good news is there’s a way to get Facebook to quiet down. The bad news is, well, there isn’t any bad news. In fact, all of these things might get you to love Facebook; it’s really an invaluable utility for most of us—and one that can be enlightening, funny, and interesting. But before it can be those things, you have to turn off all the things that annoy you. Luckily, that’s just a click of a few buttons away, so let’s get started.

App invites

Invitations to install apps or join games are the number one most frustrating feature of Facebook. Depending on how addicted your friends have become to the time-sucking titles on the site, you could be bombarded with invites on a daily basis, and most apps make it way too easy to spam an entire friends list with annoying alerts. It’s time to put an end to this nightmare.

Open your Settings screen on the Facebook Web client and click on the “Blocking” tab on the left sidebar. Under the heading “Block App Invites,” type in the name or names of anyone on your friends list who needs their app invite privileges revoked. You may also laugh maniacally while doing this, though that is entirely optional.

You can use this same page to block specific apps from contacting you entirely (goodbye forever, Mafia Wars!), and even prevent your friends from sending you event invitations, though those are typically far less frequent than the app invites we all know and loathe.

This story was originally published at the The Kernel, the Daily Dot’s Sunday magazine. Read the rest of the story at The Kernel.

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