Twitch, Ad Council and Others Partner to Bring Suicide Awareness Livestreams

The Ad Council is partnering with game streaming platform Twitch to offer livestreams in support of the Seize the Awkward campaign, which encourages young people to speak out about mental health.

The Seize the Awkward campaign encourages teens and young adults to have difficult conversations about mental health by prompting them to reach out to friends or peers who may be at risk for suicide.

From Sept. 18 to 20, Twitch streamers Achievement Hunter, MissKyliee, Natalie “ZombiUnicorn” Casanova,” negaoryx, OMGitsfirefoxx, schviftyFive, and others will hold charity fundraising streams on their Twitch channels and will encourage donations for the Seize the Awkward campaign.

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Square Enix will also host a livestream of “Life is Strange: Before the Storm” featuring voice actors Rhianna DeVries (Chloe), Kylie Brown (Rachel), and Katy Benz (Steph) from the game on the stream. The episodic game deals with adolescent friendships, mental health, and social issues, making it an ideal title to stream for the conversations taking place around the campaign.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and as the common start of the back to school season it is notably “characterized by transition as young adults return to school or depart for college for the first time, making the Seize the Awkward message of checking in with a friend especially timely and relevant,” according to the press release.

Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council commented on the Twitch partnership as well as the other Seize the Awkward campaign movements with other digital partners like Reddit, Shine, and Tumblr.

“This extraordinary group of leading digital, social and experiential partners will give us the opportunity to reach teens and young adults where they are at a time when they may need to hear this critical message most,” said Sherman. “Each of our September activations offers a unique opportunity to authentically connect with young adults and provide the necessary resources to start important and potentially life-saving conversations.”

 

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Facebook Group Admins Get Comment Pin Power

Here’s a small, but relevant update – Facebook is now letting group admins pin comments in discussion threads.

According to Social Media Today, the option will enable group admins to highlight the best comments, or new angles of interest, which could help spark further discussion around a specific element, and boost engagement and interaction.

It’s the latest in Facebook’s ongoing efforts to make groups a more critical element of The Social Network. That push comes as more social interactions are switching to private or enclosed forums, with messaging apps seeing the biggest shift.

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With engagement moving away from the main social feed, Facebook’s looking to capitalize on the fact that more than a billion of its users are engaged in groups, with a significant number of those in what Facebook calls ‘highly meaningful’ communities.

If Facebook can help maximize groups, that could help them ensure users stay engaged, despite the trend away from public sharing. That’s why Facebook’s rolled out a heap of new groups tools in the last 12 or so months, including groups for Pages and group analytics tools.

Adding the ability to pin specific comments may not seem like much, but as noted, it does provide another way for admins to guide the conversation, helping to prompt further comment on the most engaging elements without users needing to scroll through everything else. If a specific comment is sparking discussion, putting it front and center will only help to generate more of it, which could make it a valuable tool for group admins to consider.

Facebook Goes Back to Its Roots

Welp…it was cute while it lasted.

Today, Facebook began to change the way it filters posts and videos on its News Feed, the start of what CEO Mark Zuckerberg said would be a series of changes in the design of the world’s largest social network.

In a sweeping post, Zuck said the company would change the filter for the News Feed to prioritize what friends and family share, while reducing the amount of non-advertising content from publishers and brands.

Facebook, which owns four of the world’s most popular smartphone apps including Instagram, has for years prioritized material that its complex computer algorithms think people will engage with through comments, “likes” or other ways of showing interest.

Zuckerberg, the company’s 33-year-old co-founder, said that would no longer be the goal.

“I‘m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The shift was likely to mean that the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement would go down in the short term, he wrote, but he added it would be better for users and for the business over the long term.

Advertising on the social network would be unaffected by the changes, John Hegeman, a Facebook vice president, said in an interview.

The company has been criticized for algorithms that may have prioritized misleading news and misinformation in people’s feeds, influencing the 2016 American presidential election, as well as political discourse in many countries.

Last year, Facebook disclosed that Russian agents had used the network to spread inflammatory posts to polarize the American electorate. Congress is expected to hold more hearings this month, questioning the role social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) YouTube play in spreading propaganda.

Zuckerberg said an overhaul of the company’s products, beginning with changes to the algorithms that control the News Feed, would help to address those concerns. Similar changes will be made to other products in the coming months, he said.

With more than 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is the world’s largest social media network. It is also among the world’s largest corporations, reporting $36 billion in revenue, mostly from advertising, during the 12 months that ended on Sept. 30.

Facebook Is Hiring 3,000 People to Monitor Content

According to AdWeek, Facebook is hiring 3,000 more people for its community operations team, which reviews sensitive material to keep violence, hate speech and child exploitation off the platform. The move brings the division up to 7,500 employees.

In response to a string of disturbing videos that have surfaced on the social network in recent weeks, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is expanding its global community operations team.

Zuckerberg said employees will be tasked with reviewing the “millions of reports” the platform receives every week. He said reviewers will help the company more quickly remove content that violates Facebook policies while working with local law enforcement to respond when needed.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen people hurting themselves and others on Facebook—either live or in video posted later,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It’s heartbreaking, and I’ve been reflecting on how we can do better for our community. If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner—whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down.”

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Last month, it announced it’s exploring the use of machine learning to prevent offensive videos from being shared.

“No one should be in this situation in the first place,” he wrote. “But if they are, then we should build a safe community that gets them the help they need.”

Today, community activists and civic leaders in Chicago met with Facebook officials Thursday to urge more aggressive action to curb violence on Live as the social media giant faces a backlash from users traumatized by grisly images of shootings, suicides and murders on the streaming service. The meeting came in response to a call from Rev. Jesse Jackson and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin to shut down Live for 30 days following last month’s murder of Cleveland grandfather Robert Godwin Sr.

Facebook Officals

Facebook and Rainbow Push Officials Meet. Credit: USA Today. 

Facebook Takes a Stand Against Fake News

Today, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said  that the company was exploring new ways to fight the spread of “misinformation” on its social platform amid criticism of its role in amplifying so-called fake news during the presidential campaign.

It is “technically and philosophically” difficult to determine what is fake and what to do about it, Mr. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible,” he wrote.

Many observers have attacked the prevelance of made-up headlines on Facebook, arguing that they swayed votes in the election Nov. 8 and are continuing to distort reality.

Mr. Zuckerberg said new steps might include:

– Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.

– Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.

– Third party verification. There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.

– Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.

– Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.

– Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We’re looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.

– Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.

The company earlier this week said it will stop serving ads to sites it decides are misleading or deceptive.

Let’s see how this goes. Take a look at this fake piece of ‘news’ which got over 10K shares in a matter of hours:

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#SXSL: Lit with Idealism

Earlier this year, President Obama traveled to South by Southwest® for a conversation on civic engagement. In Austin, he called on creative thinkers and entrepreneurs from across the country to help tackle our toughest challenges.

Today, POTUS is celebrating that spirit of innovation at South by South Lawn, a White House festival of ideas, art, and action.

The promise?  At SXSL, we’ll call on every American to roll up their sleeves and discover their own way to make a positive difference in our country. And it’s an opportunity to celebrate the inspiring work so many Americans have already accomplished.

Take a look at the feed below and join the conversation using #SXSL: