Tag Archives: Facebook

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One simple change that can fix social media

On Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything podcast: Kathy Sierra was bullied off social media twice by vicious death threats, for her opinions about user interface design. (Yes, UI design). Now she proposes one simple change that could fix social media. And Chris discloses the secret origin of Facebook.

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Dave Winer: Less Facebook is OK

Dave is my blogging spirit animal. I like blogging, and I like sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and Medium. Of those platforms, I get the most return from Facebook. But blogging AND sharing to Facebook and Google+ are just too much work. So I’m going to start focusing mainly on the blog, and just automatically share links to Google+ and Facebook, until those platforms become easier to deal with in conjunction with a blog.

I’m working on figuring out a way I can share short updates directly to those services and to the blog simultaneously. This will involve automated email and plenty of duck tape.

You’re welcome to leave comments here, or on Facebook or Google+. Or just stop reading, even if you’re a close friend or member of my immediate family. I do not require other people to participate in my peculiar hobby.

I will revisit this decision when it doesn’t seem to be working for me, or when the tools for sharing blog content to social media get easier to work with.

I’ll keep mirroring my posts to Tumblr and Medium because that’s easy.

And I’m still trying to figure out what to do about Twitter.

How to unplug when you should

Do you obsessively fiddle with your phone all the time? Win back some mental space with these tips – Michael Duran, Wired

I see many articles like this. They all recommend similar steps. Don’t put your phone in your pocket, keep it in your desk where you have to make some effort to get it. Go a couple of days without connectivity.

These tips are not helpful. Keeping my phone out of reach would create more problems than it’s worth, because it’s a legitimate inconvenience when my phone is out of reach. The problem is that I fiddle with the phone at times when I should be doing something else. THAT’S what I’m looking to control.

Going a few days without connectivity is like going without electricity. It’s doable. People call that “camping.” And it’s good for you. But it’s kind of a big deal. Not to be entered into casually.

One tip that is helpful: Turn off nearly all your notifications. You do NOT want to be notified when you get new email, a mention or comment on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You just don’t.

Facebook, Twitter join network to tackle fake news

The coalition includes 30 media and technology companies, including Google, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and more.

Billion-dollar companies are openly conspiring to make sure we only find out what they decide is legitimate news. But it’s for our own good, so that’s nothing to be concerned about.

(Angela Moon, Reuters)

Ulysses vs. Scrivener

In a brief Reddit discussion, users of both writing apps ding Ulysses for relying on Markdown for formatting, while Scrivener uses rich text.

That surprises me. I find Markdown quite natural, which goes a long way to explaining why I do most of my writing in Ulysses.

I’m writing this post in Markdown, and if you’re reading it on Facebook or Google+, that’s how you’re reading it. But I’m not writing this post in Ulysses; I’m composing it directly in WordPress, which is how I do most of my writing for the blog and social media.

Via the Mac Power Users podcast, which compares Scrivener and Ulysses. I’m listening to the episode now.

Yep, Facebook censored me when I posted the ‘napalm girl’ photo

I actually posted it twice, in connection with two separate articles. The first article is still up, and it’s also here on the public web.

However, Facebook deleted a second instance, which is here on the public web.

Facebook also issued me a warning. I think it suspended my account briefly — not sure; the notices went by quickly.

And Facebook required me to go through my photo album to be sure I don’t have any more nude photos in there. I did not look at each one, just thought for a second about whether I remembered posting any nude photos, decided I hadn’t, and clicked OK.

This is a big reason why I consider mitchwagner.com my home on the web even though far more people interact with me on social media. Social media is fickle.

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What Facebook gets wrong about that napalm-girl photo

Facebook is partly right: That is a disturbing photo.

But what’s disturbing about it isn’t the nudity.

What’s disturbing is that it’s a photo of a child who’s been severely burned in a napalm attack. A napalm attack by an American ally in an American war.

And it’s disturbing that Facebook thinks it’s the nudity that’s the problem.

Facebook Censors Iconic Vietnam War Photo Over Nudity – Mark Scott, The New York Times

Facebook censors iconic Pulitzer-prize-winning ‘napalm girl’ photo

A Norwegian newspaper published the photo as one of seven that “changed the history of warfare.” Writer Tom Egeland was suspended from Facebook. Now, the Norwegian prime minister published the photo, had it deleted by Facebook, and called on the social company to change its policies.

What if Facebook decides Trump is a monster who must be stopped, and starts censoring pro-Trump posts?

Facebook deletes Norwegian PM’s post as ‘napalm girl’ row escalates

Get Facebook (and Google+) to support the open Web

Dave Winer wants Facebook to support the open Web.

He wants Facebook updates to support embedded links, titles, enclosures, and styling such as italics and boldface.

I 100% agree. And it applies to Google+ too.

I create and publish my blog with WordPress, and syndicate it as far and wide as I can using the NextScripts Social Networks Auto Poster plugin. On Tumblr, the posts show up in very close to native format. The three social networks that are the worst for preserving original content are the three I care about most: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

I’d settle for less than Dave. I’d be happy if Facebook and Google+ supported embedded links and blockquotes. And let me post using that formatting with a third-party app, like WordPress.

Twitter is a lost cause. It’s always going to have that 140-character limit. Twitter flirted with changing that, but changed its mind.

All I want to do is share my posts in ways so that people who want to see them can easily and conveniently do so. Why does it have to be so goddamn hard?

More from Dave:

Why Notes are not the answer. Very few people read Facebook notes, and there isn’t a standard API for writing to notes using an external program like WordPress or Dave’s own 1999.io.

“All silos are not equally silo-y”: Twitter is a silo, but you can link to a tweet from elsewhere and someone else can read it even if they aren’t logged in. On Facebook, that’s confusing and often not true.

Mother with crying baby says she wasn’t kicked out of Trump rally, still supports him

A message from Devan Cierra Ebert, who other attendees confirmed to be the mother at the Ashburn rally, was shared on Facebook. In her statement, she said, “Mr. Trump NEVER kicked me or my child out of the Briar Woods High School, Trump rally.”

“The media has severely blown this out of proportion and made it out to be something that it wasn’t and is clearly using this as political gain for the Democratic Party. I hope this message sheds light to what really happened,” she said.

No one from the press spoke with the mother before running their stories, and if they did, they would have learned she is still a vocal Trump supporter. “I fully support Mr. Trump,” the statement reads.

She says she’d already left the rally voluntarily when Trump made the comment about kicking her out, and she understood him to be joking.

(Ron Meyer/Redalertpolitcs)

My blogging experiment: How I think about what and where to post

I’ve been blogging at my own self-hosted WordPress blog for a few months. Before that, I did it on Google+, and before that various other platforms. I simultaneously post to Facebook, Tumblr, Medium, Twitter, and Google+. Here’s how I think about what to post:

Almost all of my blog posts are links to external content, with comments of my own. They’re short, sometimes just a sentence or two. Many of my blog posts are just an embedded tweet, image, YouTube video, or Tumblr post.

This kind of thing used to be called “tumble blogging.” There used to be several services for tumble blogging. Tumblr is the last man standing there.

Tumble blogging means posting a lot of fast, frictionless, off-the-cuff posts. Just say what’s on your mind, no matter how long or short the post might be.

In the past few years, I’ve seen people say they don’t think they can blog because they don’t have the energy to write long, organized, coherent articles. That makes my teeth hurt. Long, organized coherent essays are not required for blogging. Those essays are called “articles,” and they go on “magazines” or “news sites.” Blogging can include long, coherent, thoughtful essays, but it’s meant to be fast and off the cuff.

Personal blogging has mostly moved to Facebook nowadays. Which is great, because it brings people together and opens up blogging to people who would not otherwise do it. But it’s not entirely great because it gives Facebook far too much control of the situation. Remember a short time ago when Facebook employees suggested the company should block a Donald Trump Presidency? And remember when Facebook said nope nope nope we don’t do that. What happens next time if Facebook says yes? And they do it to a candidate or issue you like?

Facebook isn’t the only blogging platform, of course. It’s not the only social media platform either. But Facebook has the vast majority of users. Everybody else is by comparison a niche.

Earlier:

My blogging experiment: The history (which some of you already know about) and a status report

I’m blogging again. Blogging is cool.

 

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We look to the journals, notebooks, and private letters of past generations to find out what people were really thinking and doing. Now, social media serves that purpose. But preserving it is tricky, both technically and ethically.

Jenna Wortham, The New York Times:

In August 2014, Bergis Jules, an archivist at the University of California, Riverside, traveled to Washington for the annual meet-up of the Society of American Archivists. The day before the conference began, Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Jules, along with millions of others, found himself glued to Twitter for news, reactions and commentary. In the days that followed, hashtags like #IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenged the narratives presented by the mainstream media and prompted a national dialogue about racial stereotypes and police brutality. Jules teamed up with Ed Summers, a software developer in attendance, and started collecting tweets that included the word “Ferguson.”

As an archivist, Jules was struck by the way Twitter — and all social media, for that matter — is permanently altering the way we think about history. “We’re thinking ahead to how we’ll look back,” Jules says. He offered the example of how their project, DocNow, collected tweets tagged with #SayHerName, a campaign that emerged within the Black Lives Matter movement to make the movement more gender inclusive. For now, DocNow is focused mainly on Twitter, but Jules hopes it may be built out in the future to work elsewhere.

Social media might one day offer a dazzling, and even overwhelming, array of source material for historians. Such an abundance presents a logistical challenge (the total number of tweets ever written is nearing half a trillion) as well as an ethical one (will people get to opt out of having ephemeral thoughts entered into the historical record?). But this plethora of new media and materials may function as a totally new type of archive: a multidimensional ledger of events that academics, scholars, researchers and the general public can parse to generate a more prismatic recollection of history.

In March, I participated in a talk at the Museum of Modern Art about racial and gender disparity among Wikipedia contributors and how it influences the texture of the site. (Roughly 80 percent are men, and minorities are underrepresented.) Print out everything about the “Star Wars” universe, and you’ll have a heavy tome, but many notable abolitionists and female scientists are practically nonexistent. Considering that Wikipedia is the sixth-­most-­visited site in the world and increasingly treated like the encyclopedia of record, this problem seems worth considering. After the discussion, Kyra Gaunt, a professor and social-­media researcher, approached me. In her spare time, she maintains the “twerking” entry on Wikipedia, which is embroiled in a never-­ending debate about how to define the dance move. Is it more crucial to highlight its roots in black culture or Miley Cyrus’s impact on its mainstream popularity? Even new historical records like Wikipedia can be derailed by old biases reasserting themselves. At least Wikipedia publishes each page’s edit history, so as long as it can keep its servers running, there will be a rich catalog for future historians to see what we argued about and why.

The internet is pushing us ­— in good ways and in bad — to realize that the official version of events shouldn’t always be trusted or accepted without question. And historians are constantly updating the record by looking for primary sources that were overlooked in earlier eras, often from marginalized figures.

How an Archive of the Internet Could Change History

Closing the Web to keep it open

The Forrest Gump of the Internet

Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic profiles social media's least-well-known billionaire, Evan Williams. Williams founded Medium, and co-founded Twitter and Blogger.

Williams wants to keep Facebook and other closed, for-profit media silos from eating the Internet. So Williams launched Medium — a closed, for-profit social media silo. But Medium is attempting to preserve the freedom of the open Web.

The dangers of corporate consolidation dominate [Williams'] metaphors. A favorite idea is that the web’s current state resembles the factory-farmed food system. “If your job was to feed people, but you were only measured by the efficiency of calories delivered, you may learn over time that high-calorie, high-processed foods were the most efficient ways to deliver calories,” he says. They would be the most margin-friendly way to deliver calories. But the food still wouldn’t be good—because the original metric didn’t take into account “sustainability, or health, or nourishment, or happiness of the people.”

I proposed that Medium is trying to be the Whole Foods of content. He laughed.

“Maybe we are,” he said. “Not that Whole Foods is perfect, and we’re not perfect either, but we are trying to figure out how to optimize for satisfaction and nourishment, not just activity or calories.” …

Williams still comes off like a cheerleader for this better world. He told me that a Medium user wrote an open letter to him, saying that though they had posted to the site every day for a month, they had not gotten more than 100 “recommends” on their post yet. (Every social network has its atomic unit of dopamine-like recognition: Facebook has likes, Twitter has hearts, Medium has the recommend.) He said he wanted to reply and tell the guy to step back.

“Think about what you’re doing,” he says. “You’re playing this game for attention that half of humanity is playing. And you’re competing for not only the thousands of people who publish on Medium the same day, the millions of people who publish on websites that have ever published, the billion videos on YouTube, every book in the world, not to mention what’s on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, everything else, right now—it’s amazing any people are reading your stuff!”

That this can still happen—that any subset of readers can still find and read an amateur writer’s work—is what excites him most about Medium. Talking about the centralization of the web, he continually returns to the “bad world.”

“The worst world, the scary version, is if the tricks to get attention are a skill developed and owned primarily by profit-driven companies,” he told me. “I’d go back to the food analogy. What are people going to be consuming most of the time? They’re optimizing for clicks and dollars. Can a person who has a unique perspective play that game? Are they just going to get trounced?”

In response to this article, Dave Winer says the open Web is like Central Park, and Facebook, Twitter, etc. are like the exclusive, expensive apartment buildings that surround it.

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Google, Amazon, and Facebook are betting big on AI and virtual assistants. If those are the wave of the future – and it seems likely they are – then Apple is screwed, says Marco Arment. Apple is lagging badly in those areas, and it’s not the kind of thing you can develop in secret and spring in a keynote.

Arment is not only a smart industry observer, but he’s also an Apple enthusiast and iPhone app developer. He’s the opposite of an Apple hater.

In 2007, BlackBerry was the pinnacle of mobile email and voice devices, which was what mobile phones were for. But the market moved on and BlackBerry didn’t. Apple is at risk of the same here in 2016, Arment says.

Avoiding BlackBerry’s fate – Marco Arment

Related: I recently had my first experience with Apple CarPlay and was delighted. Pairing your iPhone to the car is accomplished with a single tap, and after that you can get your Maps, messaging, phone calls, and listen to podcasts on the screen on the car’s dashboard and using the car’s speakers. Like the Apple slogan used to go: “It just works.” And, quoting another old Apple slogan, “you already know how to use it” – even if, like me, you’ve never used it before, have never read about it, and have had no training.

And that reminds me of how so many Apple tools don’t “just work” anymore. My MacBook Air freezes up sometimes. It seems to not do that if I don’t use Safari and I reboot every day. Not sure though. Haven’t found a cause. And recently I was getting quite exasperated figuring out how to share an album in Apple Photos. I’m still not sure I did it right.

Hence the title of this post.

I’m still on Facebook double secret probation

Facebook isn’t letting me post links most of the time. It does let me post them some of the time. I don’t have time to deal with this right now so I’m just going to wait it out and hope Facebook takes me off its naughty list on its own.
 
I’m pretty sure I don’t have malware. I’ve scanned my Mac twice using two separate products, and it comes up clean. Nor do I see any other clear indications that I’m infected. There has been some weird behavior — including one incident that might indicate a possible failed attack — but I don’t THINK this machine has malware. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
 
I think that what’s going on here is that I’ve been trying some automated tools for posting to Facebook and Facebook has interpreted that behavior as a possible infection, like how your credit card company will flag your account if you take a sudden trip out of town and try to use your card there.
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I’m on Facebook double secret probation!

I just got flagged for abuse by Facebook, in a message that doesn’t explain what my behavior was or how I need to change it.

I received an email from Facebook that says I’m “temporarily restricted from creating Open Graph actions” until 9:54 am tomorrow. Apparently I’ve been abusing the privilege. The notice doesn’t say how I’ve been abusive and what behavior I need to change.

I know Open Graph is how Facebook decides what images to use with a post, and that it probably does other things too. I’m no Open Graph expert.

Also, why send the notice to me on email – where I might mistake it for a phishing attempt – rather than as a Facebook message?

Actually, I can’t swear that it’s not a phishing attempt. I’m pretty sure it’s not, but who can be 100% sure.

Really poor communications, Facebook.

Update 10:46 am: I also received the notice as a Facebook notification. Still, the main part of my complaint stands: Facebook doesn’t explain what I did wrong and how I should correct this behavior.

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The inside story of Facebook’s biggest setback – Rahul Bhatia, The Guardian

From Zuckerberg’s vantage point, high above the connected world he had helped create, India was a largely blank map. Many of its citizens – hundreds of millions of people – were clueless about the internet’s powers. If only they could see how easily they could form a community, how quickly they could turn into buyers and sellers of anything, how effortlessly they could find anything they needed – and so much more that they didn’t. Zuckerberg was convinced that Facebook could win them over, and even more convinced that this would change their lives for the better. He would bring India’s rural poor online quickly, and in great numbers, with an irresistible proposition: users would pay nothing at all to access a version of the internet curated by Facebook.

But where Zuckerberg saw the endless promise of a digital future, Indians came to see something more sinister. Seventeen months later, Facebook’s grand plans to bring India online had been halted by overwhelming local opposition – the biggest stumbling block the company had hit in its 12-year-history. In the end, it seemed, Facebook had acted as if it was giving India a gift. But it was not a gift Indians wanted.

From a business standpoint, Facebook wanted to get India online faster because growth in Europe and America was slowing down. People who were going to go online on those two continents were already online. China was a huge market where Facebook was blocked. That left India, with a potential of 700 million to 800 million new users.

Facebook conceived Internet.org, later renamed as Free Basics, as a way of getting India’s poorest citizens a limited version of the Internet for free.

Osama Manzar, of India’s Digital Empowerment Foundation, was initially enthralled with the plan.

But Manzar’s optimism soured when he saw what Internet.org actually looked like: a threadbare platform that only allowed access to 36 bookmarked sites and Facebook, which was naturally the only social network available. There was one weather app, three sites for women’s issues, and the search engine Bing. Facebook’s stripped-down internet was reminiscent of old search engines that listed the early web on one page, when it was small enough to be categorised, like books in a library.

Crucially, Facebook itself would decide which sites were included on the platform. The company had positioned Internet.org as a philanthropic endeavour – backed by Zuckerberg’s lofty pronouncements that “connectivity is a human right” – but retained total control of the platform….

“There was tone-deafness in the people who carried out the campaign,” Nitin Pai, the co-founder of an influential policy thinktank named the Takshashila Institution, told me. “You know that foreigners talking down to Indians and telling them what is good for them is going to backfire.”

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The rise and fall of FriendFeed, that social network that brought you the 'Like' button – Corinne Litchfield, The Kernel

Launched in beta in 2007, founded by four ex-Googlers – Bret Taylor, Paul Buchheit, Jim Norris, and Sanjeev Singh – FriendFeed's mission was to glue together other social networks, consolidating activity from 23 social networks into a single feed.

In addition to pioneering the Like button, it also pioneered the realtime feed, the ability to share or embed items from the feed in the wider web, and more. It had a thriving community too.

Facebook bought FriendFeed, incorporated many of its ideas in the News Feed, and killed FriendFeed in 2015.

I liked FriendFeed a lot.

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People are using messaging apps for updates from friends and family about their lives – in other words, people use those apps for “social networking,” says Mike Elgan on Computerworld. The former social networks are now social media, overwhelmed by professional media organizations sharing their content.

Another nail in the coffin for social networking: “the general world of online distractions, including YouTube videos, games, articles, podcasts and more.”