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.

public_private (1)

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 TV Has Arrived

Facebook’s push into becoming a destination for original TV shows began today with the launch of its redesigned video tab.

The new tab is called, “Watch,” and will showcase a slew of shows from the likes of BuzzFeed, Tastemade, Condé Nast Entertainment, and ATTN, people familiar with the matter said.

Facebook officially confirmed the impending launch of Watch on Wednesday afternoon following the publication of this report. The company didn’t specify a date for the launch but said it would happen “soon.”

Facebook sees high-quality, scripted video as an important feature to retain users, particularly a younger demographic that is increasingly flocking to its rival Snapchat. It also views such video as a means to rake in brand advertising dollars traditionally reserved for conventional TV.

“We hope Watch will be home to a wide range of shows — from reality to comedy to live sports,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “Some will be made by professional creators, and others from regular people in our community.”

facebook-watch

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.”

facebook-magnifying-glass-600

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:

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-4-07-34-pm

Cha-Ching! Social Commerce is on the Rise

Recently, there’s been a plethora of new marketing products like “buy buttons,” product pages and other commerce-oriented features from social players. From Pinterest and Instagram launching essentially identical features on the same day to YouTube’s efforts to drive traffic from video ads, it’s been an interesting month to watch social commerce unfold. It will also be worth keeping tabs on the platforms that pay off the most for brands this year, especially during the holiday shopping season that starts in a few months.buying-platforms-illo-hed-2015

Here’s a peek at the latest and greatest:

Twitter
Twitter rolled out product pages last week, which are like mini e-commerce hubs that live on the microblogging site.

By pulling together tweets about brands and products, Twitter hopes people will spend a little extra time researching products before buying something based on social chatter.

The San Francisco, Calif., company’s new effort also incorporates Twitter’s buy button that launched in September so people can check out straight from the site.

Pinterest
The San Francisco-based platform’s “buyable pin” buttons let users purchase anything they see on the site.

It’s a feature that’s been in the works for a long time to help brands understand how their content drives online sales outside of Pinterest.

Facebook
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company started testing buy buttons with a handful of retailers last year and recently expanded the program to include more brands.

The click-to-buy button is powered by Shopify, a company that runs e-commerce for small merchants like Tattly and Packer Shoes.

Brands can use Facebook e-commerce in posts they upload or in their ads. To buy something, people either type their credit card number directly into Facebook or store their payment information to check out more quickly.

Instagram
Brands asked for e-commerce, and the Facebook-owned app finally pulled the trigger earlier this month with “Shop Now” buttons.
E-commerce is only open to advertisers initially, so brands that solely use Instagram to post photos and videos can’t test it out. The e-commerce button connects ads to websites where users can shop, making it a seeming gold mine for fashion and luxury brands that regularly promote individual products.

YouTube
The Web video giant is betting that people will shop instead of skip ads if they are given the choice.

In May, YouTube rolled out a souped-up version of its TrueView product that places a shopping button directly across the screen from an option to skip a pre-roll ad.

Clicking through on the shopping button leads to a website featuring the products in the ad, and people can then put products into a shopping cart.

Mark Zuckerberg “Shares” Philanthropic Plans.

In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated 18 million shares of the company’s stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. They reported  that they would direct money from their foundation fund, then valued at nearly $500 million, to unspecified education and health causes.

Since then, Facebook’s stock price has doubled, so the couple’s original donation is worth nearly $1 billion now, assuming the foundation has sold little or none of the stock. Now they are revealing more details about the priorities for that billion-dollar fund.

Zuck has a big heart.

Zuck has a big heart.

Today, a Massachusetts start-up called Panorama Education plans to announce that Mr. Zuckerberg, through his foundation Startup: Education, will co-lead a $4 million round of seed funding to help the company expand its business. Panorama uses surveys of teachers, parents, students and staff to give school districts feedback about various issues and says it is currently working with more than 4,000 schools.

The investment was billed as the first national project backed by Startup: Education, which was started by Mr. Zuckerberg to handle the $100 million donation he made in 2010 to improve education in Newark, N.J., public schools. The bulk of the Newark money was dedicated to low-tech initiatives, such as merit bonuses for high-performing teachers.

Mr. Zuckerberg has also begun distributing some of the newer, $1 billion fund through other nonprofits focused on technology in education. Last week, for example, he joined numerous other tech leaders, including the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, in pledging time and money to Code.org, an organization that is trying to bring computer science education to every school.

Zuckerberg and his wife have pledged to eventually give away half their fortune, which is estimated at $26 billion in Facebook stock alone based on holdings disclosed in Facebook’s most recent proxy statement.

Good Game.

Games are good. Gaming for good is even better.

I’m really excited for the release of, “Half the Sky Movement: The Game” on March 4th. Released via Games for Change as a supplement to the book, “”Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” the game will focus on raising awareness of issues like female genital mutilation and child prostitution.

The central character, an Indian woman named Radhika, faces various challenges with the assistance of players, who can help out with donations of virtual goods, for example. The players can then make equivalent real-world donations to seven nonprofit organizations woven into the game.

Ten dollars, for example, will help buy a goat for Heifer International; $20 will help support United Nations Foundation immunization efforts.

To further engage players, those who reach predesignated levels unlock donations from Johnson & Johnson and Pearson, which have each contributed $250,000 to buy real-world operations from the Fistula Foundation and books for Room to Read, respectively.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely cannot wait to play this game. In the meantime, check out a preview:

 

I Just Might Get A Facebook Account

I don’t care how many ba-zillion folks have signed on or who from my network uses it or any of the other crap that the folks at Facebook have sold as reasons as to why everyone must have an account. I refused to get one.

Perhaps it is because I am a bit of a rebel and don’t like to do what everyone else is doing. Perhaps it is because Facebook constantly tweaking the site annoys the hell out of me (one day I am a ‘fan’ the next second I ‘like’ you). Maybe I don’t want you to stalk me online. It has been all of those reasons and more.

But, there may be hope for me to drink the Kool-Aid afterall. I am supremely impressed by Mark Zuckerberg’s move to donate 100 million dollars to improve the Newark public school system. That’s a hell of a lot of cash and the kids of Newark really deserve it. While I’m at it, super-shouts outs to Mayor Cory Booker who is truly an innovator and gets things done by any means necessary.

Remember the film Lean on Me? It was the movie where the troubled Eastside High School was depicted and Pricipal Joe Clark was forever immortalized. That school was located in Newark and yes folks, it was THAT bad and still suffers from high drop out rates and low test scores. That story is one of many for the Newark school system.

Now, I, like most, am not sure exactly why Zuckerberg chose Newark. Clearly, it is far removed from where he grew up and his experiences at Harvard could never prepare him for living the day in the life of a Newark public school student who deals with the pressures of not only a poor school system but several other issues tied to poverty, discrimination and much more.

It could be publicity for The Social Network. Or not. I will say that I am proud of what he has done and hope that the gift is the beginning of more of our social media start ups doing good work right here at home where there are many pressing matters that need to be addressed. Furthermore, I challenge MZ to take it a step further: start a summer or after school program at Facebook where inner-city kids get to learn more about social media technology so that they can become prepared to enter into the field where diversity is still lacking (I will leave this for another blog post).

This philanthropic move of the week has inspired me greatly. I ‘like’ it. So, when I sign up for my Facebook account you’ll be the first to know and have the full background on what it to to convert me into a believer.

Maybe…