TIME Social Networking

Facebook Is Just an ‘Ad Platform,’ Says CEO of Ad-Free Social Network ‘Ello’

US-IT-INTERNET-MEDIA-ELLO
The Ello website is seen on the monitor screen September 27, 2014 in Washington D.C. PAUL J. RICHARDS—AFP/Getty Images

"We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network."

Ello, an ad-free, invitation-only social network, has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook” after its August launch, but even that characterization might be giving Facebook too much credit, according to Ello’s feisty CEO.

“We don’t consider Facebook to be a competitor,” said Paul Budnitz in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network.”

That was just the opening shot in a wide ranging interview in which Budnitz opened fire on Facebook’s design, content and ad-based business model. Budnitz says that Ello can turn a profit by selling add-on features directly to a few users.

He claims to have tapped into a wellspring of discontent with Facebook, signing up users at a rate of 50,000 an hour after Ello suddenly skyrocketed in popularity last week. That’s just a drop in bucket compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion users, but Ello’s CEO insists that he only wants the users who share his team’s vision of what a social network should and should not be. The site requires users to agree to a manifesto that states, “You are not a product.” Those who select “disagree” are redirected to Facebook’s website.

[Bloomberg Businessweek]

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Wants Your News Feed to Reflect What’s Happening Right Now

Facebook Expected To File For IPO
A sign with the "like" symbol stands in front of the Facebook headquarters on February 1, 2012 in Menlo Park, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

In a move into Twitter's turf

“Facebook is for ice buckets, Twitter is for Ferguson.”

That was John McDermott over at DigiDay about a month ago, writing on something social media obsessives were noticing that week: While our Twitter feeds were covered with tweets and photos from and about the protests in Ferguson, Mo., our Facebook News Feeds were about 70% Ice Bucket Challenges, the viral sensation that successfully raised millions of dollars for ALS research.

Some people — mostly journalists — framed that observation as a complaint. Facebook’s news feed doesn’t really do a good job of showing us the latest posts, a function at which Twitter, with its mostly chronological feeds, excels.

The reason is that Facebook’s algorithm, the company’s complex magic soup that determines what shows up on your News Feed at any given time, has long been designed to show you the most relevant stuff, not the latest stuff. And in August, Facebook’s algorithm mostly determined that Ice Bucket Challenges were more relevant than Ferguson. That reinforced the idea that while Facebook’s great for staying in touch with classmates and sharing baby photos with grandma, Twitter’s the place to be for what’s happening right now.

Facebook must’ve picked up on these comments and criticisms, because the company announced on Thursday tweaks designed to make the News Feed more about The Now.

First, Facebook will do a better job of showing you “what your friends or favorite Pages are saying about the stories of the day,” which should help reverse the notion that Facebook isn’t a place for timeliness. And second, Facebook’s algorithm will start looking at “when people are choosing to like, comment and share” to determine which stories get moved from the depths of your News Feed to the very top, a change that should surface more immediate content.

Taken together, these changes could make Facebook a platform for breaking news — a big move into Twitter’s well-established turf.

“We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show,” reads Facebook’s blog post about the changes. “There are also times when a post that is a day or two old may not be relevant to you anymore. Our latest update to News Feed ranking looks at two new factors to determine if a story is more important in the moment than other types of updates.”

TIME Social Networking

You Might Actually Like Facebook’s New Changes

Facebook is making changes to your News Feed to make it less annoying

The era of clickbait may be coming to an end. Facebook says it’s taking steps to keep the hyperbolic headlines—about the unbelievable, amazing, overly-sentimental news that will restore your faith in humanity and leave you literally crying—out of your News Feed.

The problem with these kinds of stories is that they work—they tend to draw a lot of clicks and thus appear prominently in users’ News Feeds—but they rarely deliver meaningful content to live up to the headline in the first place, according to a blog post written by Facebook research scientist Khalid El-Arini and product specialist Joyce Tang. The social networking giant’s own survey says that 80% of users would prefer to have enough information to decide whether they’d read an article before clicking through.

So to identify and weed out clickbait (and to keep users coming back to the site), Facebook is evaluating News Feed content on two criteria. The first is reading time—if users are all clicking on a link and immediately returning back to Facebook, the story probably didn’t deliver on the promise of its headline. The second metric is engagement—if Facebook users are all clicking on a link without commenting, sharing or liking it, the story probably is low on substance.

The site will also prioritize articles that are shared as links, rather than as photos with with URLS tucked into a caption—a method of sharing that lets users and publications to draw clicks with less information and potentially misleading photos that aren’t actually in the story.

These changes will help Facebook turn its News Feed into a more enriching a experience: a place to catch up on well-reported news stories, expand horizons with insightful op-eds, stalk exes and find out which high school classmate is having a baby.

TIME How-To

5 of the Biggest Facebook Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

Facebook
Andrew Harrer -- Bloomberg / Getty Images

The world’s biggest social network turned 10 this year. With 57% of the American population — and 73% of teenagers — among its user base, Facebook has morphed from a way for college undergrads to communicate to a multi-tentacled service that has become an integral part of our everyday lives, from connecting us with long-lost friends to serving as the Internet’s de facto photo-sharing service to doubling as a universal login to thousands of sites and apps across the Internet.

But with regular introductions of privacy-flouting new features and different sets of etiquette for connecting with colleagues, friends and family, it can be all too easy to make a Facebook misstep that sends the wrong message into the world.

Below are five of the most-common Facebook faux pas – and how to avoid them.

1. Not putting a professional face forward

If you haven’t been keeping an eye on your privacy settings, photos and posts intended for friends can end up on your boss’s newsfeed. A CareerBuilder study found that nearly 39% of employers use social media to screen job candidates, and a 2012 report from technology research company Gartner predicted that by 2015, 60% of employers will be monitoring employees on social networks.

If your boss is your Facebook friend, you can prevent them from seeing what you post by going to Settings > Privacy > “Who can see my future posts,” selecting “Custom” from the dropdown menu and adding their names. To keep them from seeing posts and photos you’re tagged in, go to Settings > Timeline and tagging > “Who can see things on my timeline,” select Custom from the dropdown menu and add their names.

If your boss or potential employer isn’t your Facebook friend, simply go to Settings > Privacy then select “Friends only” as the audience for “Who can see my future posts” and “Limit past posts.” On the same page, you can also edit who can look you up — public, friends of friends, or friends only — and disable Google and other search engines from linking to your Facebook profile.

Finally, you can create a Restricted list — anyone on this list can only see the information and posts you make public. This can be an effective way to avoid looking suspiciously absent from Facebook, without giving up too much information. Head to Settings > Blocking, and edit “Restricted List.”

In all cases, if you and your boss have mutual friends, he or she will still be able to view any posts or photos you may be tagged in with those friends.

2. Oversharing, oversharing, oversharing

We’ve all done it, but now there’s proof that oversharing is the easiest way to get unfriended on Facebook. A study by Christopher Sibona at the University of Colorado Denver found that the top four reasons people delete friends are because their posts are frequent or trivial posts, polarizing, inappropriate or too mundane.

“Share things that are meaningful, witty, newsy or interesting — and be discriminating in how often you post on Facebook,” recommends Jessica Kleiman, a communications specialist and co-author of the book Be Your Own Best Publicist.

Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an audience for that polemic on national politics (or what you had for breakfast). If there are particular people you think would appreciate more controversial — or more mundane — statuses, you can customize the audience for individual posts. Below the status box, click the tab next to “Post” and select Custom to bring up options for “Who Should See This?”. You can then select a specific audience such as Close Friends, or a custom list (if you made one), say for your sports league. You can also select Custom and manually enter friends that can or can’t view the post. You can make this setting your default to avoid future oversharing.

However, Kleiman cautions, “Even if you use filters on Facebook to keep your posts only visible by ‘friends,’ one of your 850 closest friends online is probably friends with someone you wouldn’t want to see that post.”

3. Allowing Facebook apps to overshare for you

Along with posts about that ham and cheese toastie you were eating, oversharing may take the form of posts by apps you’ve linked to Facebook.

Privacy protection company Secure.me found that 63% of apps request the ability to post on the user’s behalf. While giving this permission may allow your info to be shared where it shouldn’t, more irking is the fact that, say, Spotify can post what ‘80s pop ballad you’re listening to, or Candy Crush Saga can update all your friends on your progress.

You can allow or disallow third-party apps to post to Facebook when signing up, but if you didn’t do that, you can edit all permissions from a single page. Select Activity Log from the top right dropdown menu on your profile or news feed, then All Apps (on the left) to view posts made by apps.

To prevent individual apps from posting, hit More (under All Apps), scroll to the offending app, then click the top-right arrow to customize where the app can post to on your behalf — certain friends, all friends, or not at all. You can also tweak the audience for each post by clicking its lock icon. Click the neighboring pen icon to remove the post from your Timeline, mark it as spam or delete the app from your Facebook profile entirely.

4. Allowing others to post content about you that you don’t like

A Pew Research Center survey found that one of the aspects users most disliked about Facebook was that friends can post personal content, such as photos, about a user without his or her permission.

If you’ve been tagged in an unflattering photo, you can remove the tag by clicking on the photo, hovering over its base, and selecting Options / Remove Tag, so that the picture will not turn up in “Photos of You.” To stop it from appearing on your profile page, you must separately toggle “Allow on Timeline” to “Hide from Timeline” in the top-right of the window. However, the photo can still be viewed in other people’s News Feeds and the poster’s albums page, so if you abhor the picture, contact your so-called friend and ask them to take it down.

You can also disable certain — or all — people from posting on your Timeline. Go to Settings > Timeline and Tagging > “Who can add things to my timeline” and select “Only Me.” *(Friends will still be able to view your Timeline.)

To block particular people, head to Settings > Blocking, and add the names to the Restricted list. Then go to Settings > Timeline and Tagging > “Who can add things to my Timeline,” and select “Friends.” Friends on the restricted list won’t be able to post on your Timeline, or view it unless you have set it to be public.

5. Being resigned to a boring news feed

Does it feel like you’re reading more and more posts from friends you don’t really care about? You’re probably not imagining it. In December, Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm to push up posts with links and push down memes. Links with more comments were also favored. Stories that show up are also influenced by which friends you interact with the most.

Meanwhile, a Stanford University study found that user posts that aren’t liked or commented on tend to be viewed by fewer people, so you may find that your college buddy’s engagement announcement floats to the top of your feed, while your best friend’s gripe about the cost of daycare is nowhere to be seen.

To get around this, head to your feed, click on “News Feed” in the top left, and toggle the option to show Most Recent instead of Top Stories. To ensure particular friends’ posts pop up on your feed, add them to your Close Friends list. On your news feed, scroll down the left-hand menu, hover over Friends and click More > Close friends, then add their names in the right-side text bar. Hit Manage List in the top right to select the particular types of updates you get — for example, photos and status updates, but not games or comments.

If someone’s status updates are getting on your nerves but you’re not quite ready to unfriend them, you can unsubscribe from their updates entirely by clicking in the top right of the offending status in your news feed, then selecting “Hide All.”

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME celebrity

WATCH: Hollywood Reacts to Death of Robin Williams

Comedians, actors and entertainers pay tribute to the late star

Like the rest of the nation, actors, comedians and entertainers were shocked by the sudden death of superstar talent Robin Williams. Celebrity reactions to his apparent suicide have flooded media both social and traditional, with many paying tribute to their own personal relationships with the late star.

Steve Martin referred to him as a great talent and a genuine soul. Kathy Griffin tweeted of how every moment shared with Williams was a pivotal one, and that it was a comic’s dream to be in his presence. Judd Apatow wrote about the lengths he went to simply be near the legendary comic, saying that he took an internship at Comic Relief at the age of 18 in order to work with Williams.

Billy Crystal wrote poignantly, “No words.”

Other comedians such as Jimmy Kimmel and Chelsea Handler marked the tragedy by attempting to raise awareness of depression, telling those in need of support to not be afraid to reach out for help, and to remain strong.

TIME medecine

The Hot New App That’s Full of Really Gross Photos

Courtesy of Figure 1

It's not what you think...

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

A word of warning: the photographs found on the mobile application Figure 1 may make your stomach turn. They include—and you should skip to the next paragraph if descriptions of medical injuries will nauseate you—a swollen bloody thumb, recently reconstructed after a fireworks injury; a 17 year-old’s foot charred black by an electrical burn; and a worm pulled from a patient’s anus. Yes, really.

This is the stuff that medical professionals don’t see everyday, which is exactly why they’re flocking to this photo-sharing app. Though tiny, it has proven extremely popular since it launched two years ago. The app now counts an audience of 125,000, and its parent company, which shares its name, estimates that 15% of medical students in the United States use it. Which may be one reason why investors are interested: on August 6, the Toronto-based startup will announce that it raised $4 million in funding led by Union Square Ventures.

Figure 1 essentially offers a visual shorthand for healthcare professionals looking to compare notes. In my opening essay for Fortune‘s The Future of the Image series, I made the case for the rise of visual literacy as people increasingly substitute photos for text. This trend will have a huge impact on business. As pictures replace words, tools that allow professionals to take and compare photos have an increasingly important role to play in the enterprise.

Already, a host of software applications are emerging to support this. Architizer invites architects to uplioad and share projects, for example. FoKo offers a secure, private enterprise photo-sharing app designed for companies and counts Whole Foods as a customer.

For the rest of the story, go to Fortune.com.

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.

10517501_10101315639065567_6475386842851700303_n

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

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:

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser