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11/07/2013

Facebook changing the Like button

Like_button_FacebookEveryone knows the Like button that Facebook made popular back in 2010.

If someone's status interested you, you could 'Like' their status.

If someone posted a great picture, you would 'Like' the image.

If someone got married, you would 'Like' the update.

If you read a cool article about Rob Ford admitting he smoked crack cocaine, you would 'Like' the article.

Well, in a way you probably wouldn't actually 'Like' it, but you would – on Facebook.

In the past three years, the Like and Facebook Share button can be seen more than 22 million times a day across 7.5-million websites.

The world's most popular social network, however, is changing up how we Like things online.

So, what's changed? Gone is the thumbs up. The button is now a fuller, deeper blue. The Facebook “f” logo is now more prominent. It still says “Like” but the thumb is gone.

Facebook is also ramping up the use of the Share button. The difference is that the Like button will post a piece of content to your wall, wile the Share button will let you add a comment or a piece of context.

According to the Verge, the whole effort to redesign the Like button and to ditch the thumbs up has been about six months in the making.

It's not known why Facebook dropped the thumbs up and added the F logo, but as it gets more competitive with Twitter, one can only imagine that Zuckerberg and crew want people to know they're engaging with content on Facebook – and not the other social network that just launched an IPO.

What do you think of the new Like button? Will you miss the thumbs up?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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11/01/2013

Facebook hurting with fewer teen users? Probably not

Facebook blew the barn doors of its latest quarterly results, sending the stock price surging in after-hours trading Wednesday after the numbers were released.

The company posted quarterly earnings of $425-million. Revenue was up $1.8-billion. Profit margins are up to 37 per cent. And most of all that growth was from mobile.

Plus, there are more than 800 million active users on the network.

Traders responded well, initially, as FB soared more than 14 per cent in after-hours trading.

But then, they digested a little more of the social network's quarterly report, and were less impressed. The stock price dipped in after-hours trading by 3 per cent.

Why? A small caveat that Facebook now faces – fewer younger users are active on Facebook.

One analyst told the Globe that they may be on Twitter, and these young teens could be seeing Facebook as the ghost of MySpace (shudder).

Instead, these teens are spending their time on Instagram and Snapchat.

But what many people don't realize – even some analysts seem to be forgetting this – but Facebook owns Instagram.

Oh, and Instgram hasn't even been monetized yet, despite Facebook's purchase of the photo-heavy social network for $1 billion.

So while teens are turning to Instragram feeds over Facebook feeds, there are no ads in Instagram to make Zuckerberg & Co. any money – yet.

It's no secret that advertising is coming to Instagram next year, and Instagram is as mobile-dependent as water is critical to the survival of fish.

With this in mind, it seems as though mobile advertising revenue has the potential to pick up even more steam for Facebook.  

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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10/16/2013

Facebook opens public posts to teens

Facebook just became both more private and more public at the same time, for teenaged users. 

The social networking giant has changed the rules for teenagers between 13 and 17. Previously, they could only publish status updates visible by friends of friends, rather than by the general public. Now, Facebook is giving them the option to post publicly, meaning that complete strangers with no connection to them at all can read their stuff.

The company is also allowing users between 13 and 17 to turn on the 'Follow' option, so that their public posts can be seen in people's newsfeeds. This enables someone who is not friends with a teenager, but wants to keep track of what they are doing, to read about it in their own timeline. They will be able to find and track teens who post publicly.

Facebook is trying to be somewhat responsible for teen privacy, by changing the default sharing settings on teenaged accounts. Previously, any post made by a teen user would be automatically visible by their friends, and their friends' friends. Now, however, posts are automatically set to be visible only by friends. Teens can change that setting manually to make it public, but if they do that, they are warned twice before being allowed to go ahead.

“Teens are among the savviest people using social media, and whether it comes to civic engagement, activism, or their thoughts on a new movie, they want to be heard,” said Facebook.

That's a bit of a blanket statement, though, isn't it? Sure, there are plenty of teens out there who are sensible and safe. But there are lots of others who haven't got a clue.

In spite of all the warnings and privacy measures, this could create problems for teens at risk. Even without the option to post publicly, plenty have fallen into trouble. One teen was stalked by a man in his thirties on Facebook, while another was flashed by a man who tracked her down via status updates on the social network. And then there’s murderer Peter Chapman, who used Facebook to stalk his victims.

Sure, teens want to be heard. But sometimes, the wrong people hear them, and even when privacy settings were higher, they were still in danger. It's up to the parents to teach them how to use social networking properly, but of course, many parents don't have the first idea about social media, or don't care – and even those that do may be trying to teach kids who don't want to listen. There are lots of 13-year-olds who think that they know everything.

What do you think? Should Facebook be opening up public posts to people under 18?

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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10/15/2013

Hotels using your social media information to customize visits

The next time you check into a hotel, look to see if there's a family photo on the night table. Or maybe there will be baseball cap with your favourite team waiting on the bed.

In some ways, it might seem creepy. But these are just some of the ways high-end hotels are going the extra mile to tailor their service to your stays.

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10/10/2013

Over on your data? Instagram lets you scale back

Ok, two Instagram posts in a short amount of time. Sorry guys, but it's what many people are using these days.

And because so many folks are scrolling through a pure stream of photos and videos, they eat through as much data as Sebastian Vettel burns through fuel.

Because Instagram is such a visually-heavy social network, it was easy to load up images and videos as you scroll through your feed and see your friends' content.

I mean, photos are one thing. But the 15-second videos are something different altogether.

With the latest app update, however, Instagram seems to think it can scale back on the amount of data you draw through your cellular connection.

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09/18/2013

Facebook rolls out suicide prevention tools

FB_SuicideAwareness_finalThe world's largest social network is rolling out tools and resources to help people who may be dealing with mental illness and contemplating suicide.
Now, if you think a Facebook friend may be contemplating suicide, you can help them connect with things that could help.

Facebook users can now use the Report button attached to posts to report a friend's post as something that's concerning.

If you flag a post that you think may be about suicide, you'll get a list of resources that can help with suicide prevention.

The user that reports the post will also be able to call a local suicide prevention hotline, or pass that contact information on to the friend that is the subject of their concern.
Facebook says it will also give the concerned user a "suggested message" to send directly to the friend they are concerned about.
But the suicide prevention process doesn't just end with some phone numbers and a pre-written message.
Facebook says it will review messages reported as potentially suicidal, and the social network says it could even attempt to contact local law enforcement for a safety check.
These are just some of the tools and resources that Facebook says it is making available for suicide prevention. There's a handy infographic that explains all the various options and possible outcomes for starting to deal with mental illness.
Suicide and social networks, unfortunately, have close ties. The Toronto Star reports how teens are using social networks to leave a "digital suicide note."
The resources that Facebook is offering appear to be a move in the right direction - but is it enough? What else could be done to prevent suicide?
- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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09/12/2013

Facebook testing videos that automatically start playing

Facebook_automatically_playing_videos_adsThe jarring and surprising experience of dealing with videos that automatically start playing without you even having to hit the play button is coming to Facebook.

And it might just be the warm-up act to video advertisements that play without you event asking for it.

Facebook is testing out a new feature with some mobile users in the United States, which will trigger videos to start playing without someone having to hit the play button.

So it doesn't matter if you meant to watch the twerking fail video or not, it will start playing as you scroll down your feed – no matter what.

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09/09/2013

Ads coming to Instagram next year: report

One of the world’s most popular social networks could soon be shoving ads to users.

Instagram could be showing ads to users “within the next year,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Considering that they have more than 150 million monthly users and no direct source of income, Instagram seems like a bank machine just waiting to dispense money to its owners.

Injecting advertising into that social network’s streams would be a first for that platform, which consists of photos and videos from users who apply special filters and effects.

But with Instagram owned by Facebook, and with Facebook keen to make money off a social network it bought for $1 billion, ads seem like a no-brainer.

Advertising within Instagram is a bit of a touchy subject, however.

Remember how users were outraged last December when Instagram’s new terms of service policy hinted at the possibility of advertising?

Instagram's very wordy terms of service seemed like the company could soon sub-license and sell photos, and use the images in advertising.

Many people – even National Geographic – went as far as closing and suspending the use of their Instagram accounts until the service cleared things up and said it actually wasn’t going to take people’s pictures and sell ads with them.

Ads will need to be unobtrusive, but noticeable. They’ll also need to be tasteful. And if they are as loud and as jarring as a Lady Gaga outfit, the Instagram community will become so polluted that it’ll become just another Facebook.

But advertising is inevitable for Instagram. Both Facebook and eventually Twitter have already gone down the ad-supported path, so it’s a matter of time before Instagram starts bringing in the dough.

How should Instagram make money? Are ads the right route?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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09/04/2013

Students use electric shocks to cure Facebook addiction

Are you addicted to Facebook? How about some electric shock therapy to help you kick the habit? Two MIT students have developed a device that deliberately shocks them if they spend too much time on the time-sucking site.

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08/30/2013

Facebook could expand facial recognition function - can you opt out?

Photo_facebook_facial_recognitionFacebook is preparing to possibly start expanding its face recognition program to include more than one billion of its users, reports suggest.

Already, the social network uses face recognition to suggest tags in pictures. After all, billions of photos have been uploaded to the social network anyways - so they know a thing or two about finding patterns and identifying similar faces.

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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