TIME Social Networking

Facebook: World Cup Visitors Made 2 New Friends

According to data provided to TIME exclusively from Facebook

World Cup soccer is for making new friends, according to Facebook data, at least.

On average, a visitor who checked into a World Cup stadium on Facebook last month made on average one new Brazilian friend and one friend from another country, according to data provided exclusively by Facebook to TIME and charted in the graphs below.

new_friendships[5]

Americans seem to have been some of the most gregarious World Cup visitors, forming the most new friendships with Brazilians during the games and sparking web-relationships with visitors from Great Britain, Australia, Mexico, Colombia and Canada. Visitors from Australia, Argentina, Mexico and Great Britain rounded out the top five countries whose residents were actively forming friendships with Brazilians during the World Cup.

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An estimated 3.7 million people traveled throughout Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and as visitors from around the world hit the myriad stadiums where countries met their futbol fate, they checked in on Facebook over 1 million times. Arrival check-ins peaked on day one of the tournament, when Brazil toppled Croatia 3-1. World Cup stadium check-ins peaked on the tournament’s final day.

first_checkins[6]

The final match between Germany and Argentina on July 13 had the most overall check-ins, according to the data, though the opening match was a close second. In all, there were about 236,600 check-ins to Rio de Janeiro’s Maranca stadium.

stadium_checkins_viz_final[5]

MONEY Careers

Why You Should Consider Friending Your Boss On Facebook

Friending the boss on Facebook can help you have a closer relationship in the office. Well, maybe not this close... Christian Hoehn—Getty Images

Q: Should I friend my boss on Facebook? – Jude, Austin, TX

A: While many people assume this is a no-no, there can actually be advantages to including your manager in your social network.

It’s true that Facebook is still more often used to share personal information than professional, and it can be risky to give your boss a window into your out-of-office life. But so long as you manage it correctly, friending your boss on Facebook can help you build closer relationships in the office.

One third of workers who are connected with their supervisor on Facebook say the online relationship enables them to perform more effectively on the job, according to a study by marketing firm Russell Herder called “Making the Connection: How Facebook Is Changing The Supervisory Relationship.

“Connecting with your boss on a social level can improve communication,” says Jodi Glickman-Brown, founder of Great on the Job, a firm that coaches workers on improving at work. Social media gives you opportunities to bond in a way that’s more natural. “If you’re in a situation where you need to make small talk with your boss, you’re going to have a much more meaningful conversation if you can chat about his latest vacation or a fabulous restaurant she enjoyed,” says Glickman-Brown.

Likewise, the connection can enhance how your manager perceives of you. Your posting pictures from a volunteer experience or an athletic event in which you participated in may make your boss see you in a different light, says Glickman-Brown.

Still, you need to be careful. Not all higher ups are open to being friended.

A Robert Half International survey asked executives how comfortable they felt about being friended by people they manage: 57% reported feeling uncomfortable, while 37% were ok with it.

(These feelings can go both ways: A study out of The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school called “OMG, My Boss Just Friend Me found that some employees who’d had a manager reach out to them on a social network felt it was akin to a parent friending them.)

Take a cue from your company culture. If your company bans social media use in the workplace, it probably isn’t a good idea to send a friend request to your boss. But if your company encourages workers to use social media in their jobs and others are Facebook friends with the boss, reaching out to connect won’t be so awkward.

Use privacy settings and different friends lists to control what your boss sees. The settings aren’t fool-proof, though. So you’ll need to police your postings more if you are connected with colleagues and higher-ups. You don’t want drama in your personal life to become fodder for conversations around the water cooler.

Have a workplace etiquette question? Send it to careers@moneymail.com.

TIME Social Networking

Sheryl Sandberg Apologizes for Facebook News Feed Experiment

Sheryl Sandberg Facebook Apology
Facebook chief operating officer (COO), Sheryl Sandberg addresses an interactive session organized by the women's wing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi on July 2, 2014. Chandan Khanna—AFP/Getty Images

But it was a non-apology, really

After Facebook revealed that it secretly toyed with some users’ emotions for a science experiment, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has offered something of an apology.

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” Sandberg said during a meeting with potential advertisers in India, according to the Wall Street Journal. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

Note that Sandberg did not say sorry for the study itself, which involved seeing if users became unhappier when they saw a greater proportion of negative posts, or happier when they saw more positive posts. (They did, in both cases.)

Sandberg didn’t say how Facebook would better do a better job of “communicating” in the future, or what that would look like. (Maybe the solution is not to communicate.) Basically what we have here is a variant on the classic corporate non-apology: Sorry if we upset you.

Note that the study–regardless of the communication around it–was designed to upset people, or at least see if it was possible to do so. And as Sandberg notes, Facebook does this type of research all the time. What the study brings to light is the idea that Facebook has immense power to model peoples’ emotions through algorithms. It’s a frightening notion, and one that not easily dismissed with a halfhearted apology.

Sandberg’s apology comes a few days after a Facebook researcher involved in the study also offered an apology.

[WSJ]

TIME Social Networking

The Author of a Controversial Facebook Study Says He’s ‘Sorry’

But he also defends his research into the transmission of emotional states

One of the authors of a controversial Facebook study into emotional states published this month has apologized for anxiety caused.

Facebook tweaked the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 users by displaying disproportionately positive or negative statuses for one week in January 2012, to help its researchers understand how emotional states are transmitted on social media. More than 3 million posts were analyzed in the experiment.

“My co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety,” wrote Adam Kramer, one of the three authors, in a Facebook post.

But Kramer also defended the social network’s study. “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out,” he wrote.

Controversy swirled around the social media giant’s ethics because users were not explicitly asked or notified that they were part of the experiment. Instead, Facebook relied on its terms of service that all users agree to when signing up and allows them to conduct studies like this.

You can read the full post by Kramer here:

TIME Social Networking

Meet the Brothers Behind the Web’s Most Controversial Social Network

Ask.fm founders and brothers Ilya Terebin and Mark Terebin photographed at the Hotel Alberts top floor terrace and rooftop bar in Riga, Latvia, overlooking the city, May 2014.
Ask.fm founders and brothers Ilya Terebin and Mark Terebin photographed at the Hotel Alberts top floor terrace and rooftop bar in Riga, Latvia, overlooking the city, May 2014. Rafal Milach for TIME

In their first extensive interview, Ask.fm's co-founders talk about the deaths of teenagers who used their site and what they are doing to keep the anonymous social network safe

Ask.fm is one of the Internet’s biggest social networks. It also happens to be one of the least understood. Since its founding in 2010, the site has grown to 120 million registered users around the world, with 15 million in the United States alone. But it is best known for unflattering attention. Its critics call it an incubator for cyberbullying and even suicide.

In this week’s magazine, I wrote about Ask.fm’s founders and the rise of anonymous, mobile-optimized social networking, an innovation that has within the last five years overturned the life of the average American teenager. As part of the reporting for that story, I visited brothers and Ask.fm cofounders Ilja and Mark Terebin in their home city of Riga, Latvia for their first-ever extensive interview. Over the two days we spent together in late April, the brothers talked about life, their business, and their responsibility for the adolescent and teen suicides for which the site is especially well known in Europe.

The site is especially popular with teenagers: 42% of its users are under the age of 17. On the site, you can anonymously ask questions of registered users, shrouding your own identity in hopes of getting the most honest answer with the least judgment. There, millions congregate trading mostly harmless gossip. But on some pages, the site teems with vitriol, as teenagers anonymously harass and insult their classmates and neighbors. Since 2012, press reports have described Ask.fm as a factor in at least 16 adolescent deaths.

In in their interview with TIME, the Terebin brothers pushed back against critics who say their site is dangerous for kids. “I know of no case of suicide because of bullying on Ask.fm,” Ilja said. Instead he blames society. “We teach people to bully. Look at the media. Do you have muscles? You’re a cool guy. Are you fat? You’re a loser. Do you f-ck girls? You’re a cool guy. Do you not f-ck girls? You’re a loser. We can’t do anything about it, if parents are drinking beer, watching TV and reading celebrity magazines.”

“The media takes this story and bullies us,” Ilja says.

The brothers, who are surrounded by a small handful of young executives, run their 58-employee company together. Ilja, 35, is the CEO. Mark, 29, is executive board member and co-founder. They share an office—and most everything else, really. (They both dress like French film students; they both turned vegetarian after watching a documentary together.) It’s been this way since their childhood in Jelgava, a small city 25 miles southwest of Riga. There the boys, their parents, and their grandmother squeezed into a two-room apartment, typical, they say, of the austere Soviet days. Midway through Mark and Ilja’s formative years, the family relocated, with elation, to a two-bedroom apartment. And a clunky PC powered by a Pentium 120 did eventually make its way into their home. But the Terebins weren’t young techies. They were entrepreneurs.

Ask.fm offices in Riga, Latvia. Rafal Milach for TIME

 

Here’s our interview with the Terebins. It has been edited and condensed from multiple conversations.

So how’d you wind up starting Ask.fm?

Ilja: Mark was spending all his time on the Internet. I can’t say the same about myself. When we started Ask.fm, I hadn’t even used a social network. But I was in about it, because it’s the present, and of course the future.

Mark: I’m not a tech guy at all. But in Bulgaria, when the [real-estate] crisis was beginning, we were thinking what’s next? And we thought the Internet was something we could participate in. We didn’t know how to code, but we knew we could find people who think like us.

Ilja: It’s not necessary to be a cook to like food, you know?

Do you feel responsible for the bullying on the site?

Ilja: It’s like with the police. You can’t put a policeman in each apartment. But you need to install police that people can call whenever they have an issue. This is our responsibility, to have this available for our users, if they have bullying issues, if they see someone else being bullied. They can press a button, and we can punish whoever sent the bad comment or question.

What do you make of people who say the site should be shut down?

Ilja: This website, if you close it down, you will not have stopped bullying. It’s everywhere. It’s offline. It’s in schools. The bullying is by SMS, too, other social networks. And of course it happens on Ask.fm as well. But you can’t just close everything. Even if you close everything, you take down the Internet, you take down mobile phones—if the child is going to school, there still will be the problem of bullying.

But there’s a difference, isn’t there, between bullying that ends at the end of the school day and bullying that goes on whenever?

Ilja: So what do you want to do? Close down the Internet? The bullying would still happen. Why would you think the bullying would stop? And people say anonymity is a problem. But don’t forget about the people who need anonymity. Teenagers, especially, are afraid that their opinions will be judged by others. It’s sometimes important that they can ask questions anonymously. So don’t forget about these people as well. They need it.

Mark: Our audience values anonymity a lot.

When you see coverage that says the site contributes to the problem, how do you react?

Ilja: We’re doing our job. We’re making the system more and more safe for the user. We can be unhappy about many things that are written in the press; we disagree with many of them. But for the last year, it’s been our priority No. 1, the thing we’ve spent the most time on. We take it very seriously, safety. But we understand that there will still be problems with Ask.fm or any other social network. The media will always make a lot of noise about it. Very often the things that are written are not really fair or not really true. It’s written that there’s no report button—it’s been there since day one. There’s always been the possibility to switch off anonymity, to block an abusive user.

Do you get tired of what people are writing about Ask.fm?

Ilja: A little tired, of course. They bully Ask.fm. For example, the Malta case. Did anyone read the profile of this girl Ask.fm supposedly killed? There was no bullying on the profile—there was no bullying at all. But the media takes this story and bullies us. We’re an easy target. I know of no case of suicide because of bullying on Ask.fm. The Hannah Smith case, the Izzy Dix case—we gave the inquests all the logs, all the information. And we were not found responsible in either case. Sometimes people just want attention. Some people don’t have enough people caring about them, and so they scream for help. Please help me. People don’t realize, this is good for parents and teachers. When you read the profile of your child or your student, you can find out information that you don’t know. If you take the site down, the child would still be bullied, and no one would be able to know.

You seem to think it’s a societal problem.

Ilja: It is. We teach people to bully. Look at the media. Do you have muscles? You’re a cool guy. Are you fat? You’re a loser. Do you f-ck girls? You’re a cool guy. Do you not f-ck girls? You’re a loser. We can’t do anything about it, if parents are drinking beer, watching TV and reading celebrity magazines.

What would you want to say to parents whose kids have killed themselves?

Ilja: There’s nothing we can say to them; it’s too late to bring their children back. But we cooperate with the police on a regular basis. Do the Internet, cellphones and social media make it easier to bully people? Yes. But the problem is not where it happens. It’s about the people who make it happen.

Do you worry about your reputation?

Ilja: The bad PR has hurt us a little bit. But a lot of it isn’t true. They say we’re like Russian playboys, buying sportscars and yachts. That we’re millionaires. It’s all bullsh-t.

When you have the Prime Minister of England saying something needs to be done about your website, that must make you feel strange.

Ilja: It’s not strange. We understand why it happened. People are looking for someone to blame all the time, and we look like an easy target. We’re in Eastern Europe, without a huge budget or proper lawyers. So why not bully us and get some credit?

Do you wish you had thought about safety more in the early days of the site?

Ilja: This is not a good way of thinking, I-wish-I-had. You should think about the present, not about the past.

So what is the present like?

Ilja: We have many people who enjoy our product. And we do a good job for them. We help them discover themselves—not others, but themselves. I think it’s very, very important.

Are you sure you’re having that impact?

Ilja: It’s Eastern philosophy. The human being has everything inside him. But he should discover himself. Ask.fm helps young people to discover themselves. They will become more open-minded, they will have more freedom in the future. It’s very, very important for the present society. Everything society is trying to do right now is put the person in the box. And this is also the reason society is so much against Ask.fm. Because Ask.fm helps people put their heads out of the box. Young users especially. Older people, they’re f-cked up already. They’re interested only in silly things. Who will be the next president of Russia? Who will be the next president of the U.S.? The discussion is a waste of time. And their opinion doesn’t matter at all. It will happen without them. And it will not change their lives. Most things people spend their time thinking about are like this.

When did you develop this philosophical notion about what the site was?

Ilja: Not from Day One. It came step by step.

Mark: When you see how people interact on the site, you see how they start discovering themselves. Even us. Sometimes you get questions you have never asked yourself before, and you start thinking about these things. You enjoy life more than when you’re watching TV or movies or reading magazines.

But aren’t websites part of the intellectual narrowing you’re talking about?

Ilja: Yes, but not Ask.fm! It’s a very important thing to go deeper inside yourself. Everything around you doesn’t make you think. Most of what’s around you is created to keep you from thinking. Eat chips, buy beer, and watch football! But when you answer a question, you have to think. You have to bring your own thoughts about a topic, not just share something someone else wrote, or a video from YouTube that someone else created. You create your own thoughts about important things. Like, “When was the last time you smiled?” That’s an important thing. It’s way more important than, When will the next iPhone come out? This is crap. That’s a very stupid thing to think about, when the next version of some computer or telephone will come out.

Let’s go back to the beginning, how’d you decide on the concept?

Ilja: There was this website, Formspring. The idea, uh, it was their idea. We just liked the idea. We thought we could do it even better.

Mark: It’s not only because there were a lot of users there. We liked the concept of asking questions. This is how you explore the world.

Did you have a sense of how you were going to grow the site?

Ilja: At the beginning, because we had so little experience, we didn’t think about many things you need to think about before you start an Internet company. But that also makes it easier to start. We had some ideas about what to do.

How much did you guys put into the company?

Ilja: Me, Mark, and our cofounder Oskars Liepins, we put in around half a million dollars. That was all we put in for the first year and a half. Then Rubylight, an investment firm, came in, and invested an amount I cannot disclose. And they helped us with technology, too.

As a business, how are you doing?

Ilja: We became profitable a couple months after Rubylight’s investment, two years after we started. That’s pretty fast when you compare with U.S. companies. But they’re in a different situation–they know that there are funds that will give them money. For us, it was more difficult. There’s not a lot of venture capital coming to Latvia. But we did some valuation with experts, and the company’s worth more than a hundred million dollars.

What do you make of the big valuations for American companies and the market conditions that allow Snapchat to turn down $3 billion from Facebook?

Ilja: The market’s overrated. Of course it’s good for us. But social media has not proven its success yet as a business. It’s too early.

What do you anticipate happening in the sector?

Ilja: There won’t be one all-encompassing social network, like Google is in search. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Ask.fm, we’ll all have places for different types of communication.

How have your lives changed since you started Ask.fm?

Ilja: Not a whole lot. It’s not like we woke up one day and had money; the process is very slow. We didn’t invent an application or anything.

Mark: Yes, It’s not like we created Flappy Bird.

But you do have more money, right? What do you spend it on?

Ilja: Vegetables, fruits. I have a nice apartment, too. The rent is about $2,500 a month.

Mark: I travel more than I used to. I went to Thailand, I go to the U.S. occasionally. It’s nice to escape yourself.

TIME Internet

Study: Teens Aren’t Fleeing Facebook After All

US-FACEBOOK-MENLO PARK
A thumbs up or "Like" icon at the Facebook main campus ROBYN BECK—AFP/Getty Images

Kids are actually using the social network more than they did a year ago

Facebook isn’t dead yet. Far from it, in fact.

In October 2013, Facebook’s CFO admitted that young teens were visiting the social network less frequently. Following that announcement, anecdotal reports and a few different studies suggested that teens—the arbiters of cool—were fleeing Facebook en masse. Even if they kept an account, it wasn’t their primary social network. Teens in the U.S. especially were supposedly opting out of Facebook and into networks like Twitter and Tumblr.

But Facebook is making a comeback. Nearly 80% of U.S. teens still use Facebook and are more active on the social networking site than any other, according to a Forrester Research report. The survey, which polled 4,517 U.S. teens and tweens, found that almost half of the respondents (aged 12 to 17) said they use Facebook more than they did a year ago. And 28% of respondents say they’re on Facebook “all the time” (as opposed to “about once a day” or “at least a few times a day”), a higher percentage than any other service.

The results are actually consistent with a comScore report from earlier this year that found even though there was a three-percentage-point drop in Facebook usage among college-aged adults, 89% of those college kids still use the site. That is, again, better than any other social network is doing in that demographic.

Instagram was runner-up to Facebook in terms of time spent on the network, followed by Snapchat, Twitter, Vine and WhatsApp. That’s great news for Facebook: the company owns Instagram and is in the process of acquiring WhatsApp.

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Went Down Across the World While You Were Sleeping

Most people in the Western hemisphere slept through the longest Facebook outage since 2010.

Facebook went down for about 30 minutes early Thursday morning—and still the world kept turning.

Users around the world were greeted with the notification: “Sorry, something went wrong.”

It was among Facebook’s longest outages since 2010, when servers went down for 2.5 hours, according to Bloomberg. But Facebook now says it’s back up to 100 percent. The cause of the outage was not immediately known.

Of course, #Facebookdown began trending on Twitter with apocalyptic tweets like this:

and this:

And the media fretted, too:

The Guardian’s Erin McCann brings up a good point, though: Facebook referrals drive so much traffic on the web that while Facebook outages are a mere inconvenience for most users, they’re a much bigger problem for brands and media outlets.

TIME facebook

Facebook Seeks EU Approval of WhatsApp Deal to Avoid Antitrust Headaches

The $19 billion acquisition isn't done just yet, as Facebook still needs regulatory approval in Europe.

Facebook has asked the European Commission to perform an antitrust review of its $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition, the Wall Street Journal reports. Such approval could help Facebook avoid dealing with numerous antitrust probes from European countries.

By getting approval at the EU level, Facebook may be able to avoid probes by individual countries, where national telecom companies may lobby aggressively to break up the deal. WhatsApp, which lets users exchange unlimited messages for $1 per year, has been hugely disruptive to the traditional text messaging business, especially outside the U.S.

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission approved the deal in April under the condition that Facebook and WhatsApp give notice and get permission to share information beyond their existing privacy settings.

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Changes Default Share Setting to Private

The social network tightens default settings amid criticism of its privacy practices

New Facebook users will start out with tighter privacy settings, Facebook announced Thursday in a post that laid out out several privacy-related updates. This reverses the social network’s 2009 decision to make the default setting “Public,” which allowed everyone on the Internet, not just individual users’ friends, to view users’ content.

Existing users will be offered a “privacy checkup,” a pop-up which reminds them of their current privacy settings and shows them how to select a specific audience before posting content.

We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse,” said the company in a post.

The company has previously been criticized by privacy advocates for making its settings too complicated, and is currently under scrutiny by European and U.S. privacy officials. Facebook previously settled privacy claims with the Federal Trade Commission in August of 2012.

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