TIME Social Networking

You’re About to Get News on Facebook in a Whole New Way

Facebook Announces New Launcher Service For Android Phones
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A Facebook employee holds a laptop with a "like" sticker on it during an event at Facebook headquarters during an event at Facebook headquarters on April 4, 2013 in Menlo Park, California.

News outlets will start publishing stories directly to Facebook

Facebook users are no strangers to seeing and sharing news stories in their News Feed, especially on mobile devices. But they’re about to experience them in a whole new way.

The social networking giant will begin publishing articles from nine partner publications directly onto its mobile platform starting Wednesday, the company announced. Instant Articles, as the long-rumored new product is called, will include content from the New York Times, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Guardian, The Atlantic, National Geographic, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.

“As more people get their news on mobile devices, we want to make the experience faster and richer on Facebook,” product manager Michael Reckhow wrote in an introduction. “People share a lot of articles on Facebook, particularly on our mobile app. To date, however, these stories take an average of eight seconds to load, by far the slowest single content type on Facebook. Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles.”

Facebook says the platform will offer a rich multimedia experience including high-resolution photos and auto-play videos. However, the deal has also raised questions and concerns about whether the new publication method will undercut media partners’ business models.

TIME Social Networking

Here’s What You Can (and Can’t) Post on Facebook

Facebook Removes Feeling Fat
Bloomberg via Getty Images The Facebook Inc. logo is seen on an Apple Inc. iPhone in London, U.K., on May 14, 2012.

It turns out defining nudity is more complicated than you might expect

What constitutes hate speech? When does the portrayal of violence become the glorification of violence? Does a bare buttocks count as nudity? What about if it’s blurred? Thoughtful people may have different answers to these questions. After complaints mounted about unclear policies and inconsistent enforcement, Facebook now has answers for its 1.3 billion users. The company clarified its community standards for posts on the platform in a post Sunday.

“It’s a challenge to maintain one set of standards that meets the needs of a diverse global community,” wrote head of global golicy management Monika Bickert and deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby. “For one thing, people from different backgrounds may have different ideas about what’s appropriate to share.”

So here are a few things you should know:


Facebook has never allowed nudity, but users have had difficulty interpreting what that means. Now the company says posts with “genitals or fully exposed buttocks” will be taken down. “Some images” of breasts are restricted if they show a nipple, but photos of women breastfeeding will always be ok.

Hate speech

Hate speech is pretty much always prohibited, unless you’re posting about hate speech to “challenge ideas, institutions, and practices.” If you do plan to post hate speech to educate your friends, make sure to “clearly indicate” that’s your goal or else risk having it taken down. Facebook also allows you to make make humorous posts about hate speech if you want to ridicule it.

Regulated goods (like drugs, alcohol and guns)

Facebook says “unauthorized dealers” cannot buy or sell marijuana and other drugs via the platform, which seems to still leave some ambiguity over who qualifies as authorized. Alcohol and guns are OK to market, but you can’t collect payment via Facebook tools.

Criminal activity

This is a no-brainer. You can’t promote a crime, threaten a public figure or participate in terrorist activity on Facebook. The site will turn you over to the authorities.

Read next: Facebook Is Facing a Massive Lawsuit Over Online Purchases Made by Kids

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TIME Social Networking

Twitter Investigating ISIS-Related Threats Against Employees

Leon Neal—AFP/Getty Images File photo dated September 11, 2013 shows the logo of the social networking website 'Twitter' displayed on a computer screen in London.

After Twitter blocked several ISIS-related accounts

Twitter is investigating threats made against its employees by people claiming ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

A message appeared online Sunday calling on ISIS supporters to kill Twitter employees, apparently in response to the company’s efforts to block ISIS-related accounts.

“You started this failed war,” reads one post in Arabic. “We told you from the beginning it’s not your war, but you didn’t get it and kept closing our accounts on Twitter, but we will soon come back.”

One message singled out Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in particular, showing an image of crosshairs overlaid on Dorsey’s face. Dorsey is now CEO of mobile payments company Square.

“Our security team is investigating the veracity of these threats with relevant law enforcement officials,” said Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser.

ISIS has often used Twitter and other social media to broadcast its message, publish video of violent acts and recruit new followers. The group has shown a penchant for “gaming” Twitter by using automated accounts to make its online supporter base seem larger than it likely actually is.

Meanwhile, Twitter regularly deletes posts and suspends accounts showing executions or violent actions. The company’s terms of service ban posting “direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

TIME Social Networking

Microsoft’s New App Will Help You Stalk Your Friends


Location markers show who's around the corner in real time

Microsoft is reportedly working on a new app that can track the locations of your friends and family, displaying their movements across a map in real-time.

An early version of People Sense, which was unveiled by the Spanish-language news site Microsoft Place, overlays a select group of friends onto Bing Maps. The app mirrors the layout of Apple’s Find My Friends, which displays friends as roving markers inching through the streets.

But People Sense adds a number of features that makes communication a bit more seamless — tapping one of the markers will give the user options to message, call or pull up driving directions to the person of interest.

No release date has been set for People Sense, which is still under the development name “Buddy Aware.” A video review of the app, provided by Microsoft Place, shows an already robust set of features at work:

Read next: Madonna’s Most Memorable Social Media Moments

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Terrible Mistakes You’re Making in Your Job Search

Getty Images

These common pitfalls can sink your hunt

Job seekers are feeling more confident about the economy and about their prospects, and more of them—especially young adults—report that they’re keeping an eye out for new employment opportunities even if they already have a decent job.

In a new survey, recruiting software company Jobvite finds that 45% of job seekers are satisfied with their current job, but open to jumping ship — and half of currently employed people looking for work characterize their current job as a “stepping stone” or “entry level,” a figure which jumps to more than 70% of job-seekers under the age of 30.

Here’s the rub: These people might not have as much success as they imagine if they engage in some of the behaviors Jobvite’s survey highlights.

Today’s job hunters treat the pursuit of career advancement almost the same way as they would buying something on Amazon, says Jobvite CEO Dan Finnigan.

“It’s almost like purchasing a product online, where the one-click shopping experience is now the norm,” he says. This attitude is especially prevalent among job-seekers under 30, he says. “As millennials especially are working longer hours and leading busier lives, they’re not wasting any time missing out on competitive positions… the tech-savviest ones are leveraging mobile to job hunt when the have the time.”

In addition to the nearly half of job-seekers who say they’ve looked for work in bed, 21% who job-hunt during meetings and the nearly 20% who use bathroom breaks to find a job, almost 10% say they’ve searched for work while out at a bar.

Although searching for jobs on a smartphone makes it easier to check out the options and apply for work anytime and anywhere, happy-hour job-hunting isn’t without risks, Finnigan says. “[It] could put you in a position where you’re more prone to making a careless spelling error or forget a detail in your contact information,” he says. “It’s important to devote full attention during this process of the job search,” a task that’s harder after you’ve had a couple of drinks.

Jobvite also finds that the use of social networks to score job leads is rising. Aside from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, more people looking for work are hitting up Pinterest, Instagram and even Snapchat.

Again, while more avenues should mean a faster route to employment, job-seekers could create roadblocks for themselves if they’re not careful. “Any time you’re interacting with a company on social media, being professional, intelligent and careful is essential,” Finnigan says. While most professionals today treat LinkedIn as an extension of their “work self,” it might take a mental transition to think that way about a more freewheeling site like Snapchat.

And the temptation to exaggerate on social media spills over into people’s employment-related postings. Jobvite finds that 31% percent of job seekers inflate their skills on Twitter, and more than a quarter fabricate references on Facebook.

“People have been inflating and overstating their skills on their resumes for years, so it’s not too surprising — but it’s still a bad idea,” Finnigan says. “In today’s information-heavy age, this practice is even more risky,” he points out. With so much of our lives online today, it’s easier for people — such as hiring managers — to ferret out a fib.

TIME Social Networking

Get Ready for Virtual Reality Facebook To Be a Thing

'Noel De Geek' : Press Preview At Cite des Sciences Et De L'Industrie In Paris
Chesnot—Getty Images A gamer plays a game with the virtual reality head-mounted display 'Oculus Rift' during the 'Noel de Geek' at the Cite des Sciences et de l'industrie on December 23, 2014 in Paris, France.

One day you could access Facebook via a virtual reality platform

Facebook is building virtual reality versions of its apps that would allow users to share their current environments with other users.

“We’re working on apps for VR,” Facebook’s Head of Product Development Chris Cox said Tuesday at Recode’s Code Media conference. “You’ll do it. Beyoncé will do it,” he added, using Beyoncé as a generic example of a celebrity who might use the platform.

Facebook bought virtual reality startup Oculus VR for $2 billion last year, saying at the time that Oculus would be part of Facebook’s plan to share experiences with friends. “Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures,” Mark Zuckerberg said at the time.

But it may be a long time before Facebook gets you into accessing its apps via Oculus or some other virtual reality platform. How long? “A while” is as specific as Cox would be, according the Verge. “We’re a long way away from everyone having those headsets,” Cox said.

Read next: Facebook Thinks Some Native American Names Are Inauthentic

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Social Networking

What Everybody Feared About Twitter Turned Out to Be True

Twitter IPO Raises $1.82 Billion With Value Topping Facebook
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Richard "Dick" Costolo, chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., speaks on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013.

Twitter's user growth was slow, but investors don't seem to mind

For investors, user growth is one of the most important figures in figuring out a social media company’s long-term viability. On Thursday, Twitter released its latest figures, and the results aren’t encouraging.

Twitter only added 4 million monthly active users in the last three months of 2014, for a new total of 288 million. That’s just a 1.4% increase from the previous quarter, the company’s slowest user growth since at least 2010. And that growth came almost entirely from outside the United States.

Analysts say the number of people who are thumb-flicking their iPhones screens and reading tweets today will determine Twitter’s strength next year. “They need to demonstrate the ability to broaden its user base and become profitable,” said James Gellert, CEO of Rapid Ratings. “Twitter is running out of patience from investors to demonstrate this.”

Still, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo remains optimistic about next quarter’s user numbers, saying on a call with investors Thursday that the company’s “user numbers in January indicate that our monthly active user trend has already turned around.”

Costolo also said Twitter lost 4 million users due to changes Apple introduced in iOS 8 and its Safari mobile browser.

(Read more: Twitter is Pulling Out All the Stops to Wow People Ahead of Earnings)

Despite Twitter’s shoddy user growth, the company’s stock shot up more than 12% in pre-market trading Friday. Why? Revenue growth. Despite bringing in relatively few new users in the fourth quarter of 2014, Twitter saw $479 million in revenue in the same period. That’s nearly double 2013’s revenue figures, coming thanks in part to a hefty growth in ad sales.

The takeaway here? Twitter’s user growth may be slowing, but it’s finding new ways to squeeze more cash out of its existing users — and investors are OK with that.

TIME Social Networking

Google and Facebook Have Already Solved Twitter’s Trolling Problem for It

Twitter To Report Second Quarter Earnings
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A sign is posted outside of the Twitter headquarters on July 29, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

You have to employ some human monitoring to keep out the bad actors

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said this week his company has to do more to combat the bullies—or trolls—that can make expressing an opinion on Twitter so disheartening. The renewed focus on trolling is intended to prevent users from throwing their hands up and quitting the service out of frustration or disgust.

In an internal memo obtained by The Verge, Costolo wrote to employees, “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

The problem isn’t unique to Twitter. Technology companies including Google, Facebook, Tumblr and others rely on a vast network of employees who work behind the scenes, scrubbing inappropriate and illicit content off search results and posts. Google spends millions of dollars wiping pictures of child sexual abuse from the Internet, and Facebook has a massive campus in the Philippines where workers scrub inappropriate content like nude photos or violent videos, Wired reported in a recent feature story. Tumblr screens hate speech, gory photos, and sexually explicit content.

As the Wired piece out it:

As social media connects more people more intimately than ever before, companies have been confronted with the Grandma Problem: Now that grandparents routinely use services like Facebook to connect with their kids and grandkids, they are potentially exposed to the Internet’s panoply of jerks, racists, creeps, criminals, and bullies. They won’t continue to log on if they find their family photos sandwiched between a gruesome Russian highway accident and a hardcore porn video.

But Internet abuse has been a particular stumbling block for Twitter, which allows its users to post anonymously, unlike other social media like Facebook and LinkedIn that tie accounts to a person’s real-life identity. The company has said this freedom helps foster a special kind of speech, even encouraging civil disobedience under censorious regimes, during events such as the Arab Spring and mass protests in Turkey in 2013.

Anonymous Twitter handles also make it easier for users to harass one another. Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams left Twitter last August after receiving insulting images after her father’s suicide, and an op-ed by feminist writer Lindy West published in the Guardian highlighted the near-constant torment some face on the social media site.

At an address in Manhattan on Tuesday, Twitter’s product counsel Laura Pirri reaffirmed the company’s commitment to anonymity on Twitter. “We believe very strongly in the value of speaking anonymously,” said Pirri. “We’ve seen this with human rights activists and journalists speaking in countries where there may be oppressive government regimes… This is a very deliberate policy choice we’ve taken as a company.”

Short of requiring users to tweet under their real names, it’s unclear at this point exactly what the company will do to discourage trolls. Twitter improved its tools in December for reporting abuse and partnered with an advocacy group in November to investigate harassment against women. The company has in the past looked to expand its user-protection policies, and could improve its response time time to reports.

At Twitter, the stakes are high: the company’s growth has been slowed by some users ditching the service out of frustration, or reducing their activity. At the end of the third quarter Twitter had 284 million monthly active users, an increase of less than 5% from the second quarter. That compares with Facebook’s 1.35 billion monthly active users in the same period. Investors will be listening closely during Twitter’s earnings call on Thursday.

TIME Social Networking

Twitter Is Pulling Out All the Stops to Wow People Ahead of Earnings

The social network's CEO is doing everything he can to chill everyone out

Twitter is a haven for conversationalists, but it’s been a disappointment to Wall Street. The company lost $175 million in the third quarter of 2014, despite more than doubling its revenue. Some investors have called for the ouster of CEO Dick Costello, blaming him for a lax company culture and tepid user growth. Twitter will announce its full-year earnings on Thursday afternoon (EST), and analysts are forecasting another quarter of losses. If earnings and user growth continue to disappoint, Twitter may come under real pressure.

Hence a flurry of announcements and advancements to Twitter, which may be intended to provide some good news before the bad. In the weeks preceding earnings, the social media company seems to have given its boosters plenty of ammunition to choose from should it need their defending. (Spaghetti, meet Wall.)

In the weeks ahead of Thursday’s earnings announcement, Costello introduced a bevy of shiny new features. Everything power users might have thought was missing from Twitter—group direct messaging, real-time video uploads, a missed tweet function—is being added. But one of the most significant new announcements—and the one most likely to please investors—is Twitter’s plan to sell ads outside of its own platform. The initiative will allow Twitter to profit outside of its core base of users through deals with the likes of news-reading app Flipboard and Internet portal Yahoo Japan. Another savvy deal reported this week will allow Google to access Twitter’s stream of data, allowing tweets to be featured more prominently in Google results and driving traffic to Twitter.

Some new features that have been added or that are still on their way include a feature that allows users to see a selection of tweets that they may have missed “while you were away,” as the heading says. Another feature shows new users an “instant timeline” to get them acclimated to the website more quickly. And in an effort to catch up with more developed messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook, Twitter has rolled out group direct messaging.

There’s no doubt that Twitter still holds a broad appeal. But whether all this will convince investors to invest and Internet users to sign up with the service remains to be seen. “I’m in wait-and-see mode because I want to see whether or not and how quickly these product enhancements have an impact,” Anthony DiClemente, an analyst at Nomura, summed it up the Wall Street Journal.

TIME Social Networking

You Asked: What Is Yik Yak?

Yik Yak
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images Yik Yak in the Google Play store.

This anonymous social media network is taking over college campuses

If you’re an early Facebook user like me, you remember when the site required that you had a college-supplied email address. For many users, those were the site’s glory days, a time when parents weren’t airing embarrassing throwback Thursday photos, people could post (nearly) anything they wanted, and there weren’t updates about the mundane nature of cubicle life.

This is the magic that new social network Yik Yak is trying to emulate, and so far, it has largely been a success.

A mobile, anonymous social network with apps for Android and iOS, Yik Yak launched in November 2013 and has been as hot as happy hour on college campuses ever since. “You can think of it as a local, anonymous Twitter or a local virtual bulletin board,” says co-founder Tyler Droll, who started the site with friend and fellow 2013 Furman University graduate Brooks Buffington.

On Yik Yak, users make text posts, also called “yaks,” that can be up- or down-voted by other “yakkers.” These votes help rank each yak: the higher the score, the more popular the post. Yaks can also be commented on, turning the posts into conversation threads. Every post or comment on the network is anonymous — users don’t even get a photo or avatar to distinguish themselves.

Buffington and Droll originally launched the network on their alma mater’s Greenville, South Carolina campus before it quickly spread to other schools. “People started sharing it at various spring break locations,” says Droll of the network’s 2014 surge. “We probably ended the spring semester at around 200 or 300 campuses.” Over the following summer, Yik Yak got even more popular, with college students heading home and telling all their high school friends about it. At one point in the fall, says Buffington, Yik Yak was effectively tied with Facebook for the amount of downloads.

Today Yik Yak is available on around 1,500 college campuses. “We’re starting to get a pretty good foothold into other English-speaking countries like Canada, the U.K. and Australia,” says Buffington.

The bathroom wall

One problem for the service is that it’s being used where it’s not supposed to be — namely, at high schools. “I hate Yik Yak, but I can’t quit Yik Yak,” bemoans my 16-year-old niece. The site’s trash-talking nature is what she dislikes most, but she says she can’t quit it because she feels like she’ll be missing out on conversations her friends and classmates are having. In that way, Yaks can also be like a nasty note scrawled on the bathroom wall. One person wrote it, some people are talking about it, but everyone saw it.

Anonymous social networks can be especially perilous for younger users, because they can be a hive of cyberbullying, racist barbs and hate speech. For instance, in an online petition signed by more than 78,000 people calling for the app to be shut down, one former Yik Yak user outlined how she was encouraged to commit suicide by other anonymous people using the app.

Yik Yak has made efforts to keep younger users off the site by geofencing off grade school campuses in each country it operates, effectively blocking the service from being used in those locations. But once kids leave school grounds, they’re able to open the app — and that’s where parents need to step in and help their children make safe choices on the Internet.

“We try to keep anyone who’s not college age or older off the app, just because the way our app is set up it requires a certain level of maturity,” says Buffington. “Right now I’d say at least 95%, if not more, of our users are college-age kids.”

And while Yik Yak is artificially tethered to college campuses, the app gives anyone the ability to peek at the local buzz, especially if they use it in a dense, urban area where several colleges overlap. Or to check out what the conversation is on a particular campus, Yik Yak’s “peek” feature lets users browse yaks at schools worldwide. It’s a great way to reconnect with your old college. For instance, I wasn’t surprised to see Syracuse University students are still complaining about the epic staircase leading to the dorms on “The Mount.” Or you can use it to see the unfiltered reaction to news emanating from campuses worldwide. For example, someone from Dartmouth College recently posted, “If your [sic] going to ban hard liquor, have the decency to put a Chipotle in town.”

While a great many of its posts are about sex, booze, and syllabi, Yik Yak can also be a great tool for those looking to connect to their community, whether that’s through getting support for LGBTQ issues (yaks about coming out are generally met with encouragement, and the few disparaging comments are generally attacked themselves) or even addressing safety concerns.

“We’ve seen campus alert systems brake, and they used Yik Yak to get the word out about snow days and iced roads,” says Droll, who also points out that Florida State used Yik Yak to alert students of a recent shooting situation.

But don’t expect Yik Yak to stay in school forever. Though Huffington and Droll declined to provide details, they said they plan to take it off campus in the future.

“We’ve seen it work really well at airports and Disney World and just anywhere in the world there’s a collection of people,” says Droll. “Right now we’re focused on colleges and starting there much like Facebook did.”

So, mom and dad, when the time comes, please yak responsibly.

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