Snapchat’s New Feature Is Freaking People Out

Snapchat has been fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant while social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and even Whatsapp replicate features that once made it unique. Snapchat’s latest feature has certainly got people talking, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

Snap Maps, allows your followers to find you by your location. According to Snapchat, the addition is meant to help users see what’s happening, find their friends, and get inspired to go on adventures.

The concept could be particularly useful to explore locations or tourist destinations, for example. Imagine being able to see unedited videos from people in London while you’re in South Africa. You could also experience events as they happen, like a Nicki Minaj concert or see real-time content from users at an event on the news.

Since the announcement on 21 June 2017, the internet has been peppered with articles about the new feature. Some media sources have hyped up the addition and commented on the possibilities, especially for marketers. Although there are certainly pros to the feature, articles have largely been negative and focused on concerns about compromised privacy.

While the idea is cool in theory, the reality is that your followers can see where you are at all times – even when not using Snapchat. This is pretty creepy for anyone, but parents are particularly concerned about the safety of their children, and rightly so.

In a recent video, YouTuber Joey Salads did a social experiment where he added a young girl he’d never met to Snapchat. See what happened for yourself:

Location settings on Snapchat
Upon activating Snap Maps, users can decide who can see their location.
Although you can select whether or not to share your location and with whom, the reality is that children and teenagers are not as social media savvy as they think they are. Anyone is at risk though – a stranger could quite easily learn your routine by tracking your movements and target you when you least expect it.

After being live for less than two weeks, Snapchat has removed the promotional video from YouTube, which suggests they’ve second guessed the update. This is, of course, just speculation but the addition could potentially lead to more trouble than it’s worth at what is an incredibly critical time for Snap Inc.

In my opinion, we can’t keep shifting the blame to someone else. At some stage, we need to step up and take responsibility. Parents need to continueously educate their children about the dangers of social media, and we need to be more discerning with who we allow to see our information as well as be more aware and protective of the information we share on the internet. Technology and social media are constantly evolving and the onus is on us to keep up.

Question: What are your thoughts? Should Snapchat remove this feature or is the onus on the user to be selective with who they share their information with?

Resources and Additional Reading

Facebook Copies Snapchat Again

Find Wi-Fi Hotspots With Facebook’s Latest Feature

Facebook has recently launched its latest feature that allows you to find venues that provide public and free Wi-Fi. Introducing ‘Find Wi-Fi‘. 

How Does It Work?

If a business has shared that they provide Wi-Fi on their Facebook Page, the business will be added to the Find Wi-Fi map, where users can find out more about the business and navigate to the venue.

Find WiFi Menu
‘Find Wi-Fi’ can be accessed on your iPhone or Android device under the Menu tab on the Facebook app

Who Can Use ‘Find Wi-Fi’?

The feature was tested in some countries in 2016, but as of 30 June 2017, Find Wi-Fi is now available globally. The feature is available to all iPhone and Android users.

How Do You Find Wi-Fi Hotspots?

On the Facebook app, click the ‘More’ icon and scroll down to ‘Find Wi-Fi’. If the option isn’t there, select ‘See More…’ and the option should appear. Once in the ‘Find Wi-Fi’ tab, enable the service and you will now be able to explore available hotspots on a map and learn more about businesses hosting them.

Who Benefits from the Feature?

Find Wi-Fi is a wonderful feature that is helpful to practically all Facebook users:

  • Particularly in South Africa where costly mobile data is a constant struggle, being able to find free Wi-Fi would significantly help people who have limited access to the internet. Students and entrepreneurs and students, in particular, could really benefit from this feature.
  • Businesses can enhance the chance of discoverability by firstly providing (preferably free) Wi-Fi, and making sure to add this detail to their Facebook Page. This can be a persuasive offering when considering a business meeting spot or study group location.

Facebook is an absolute innovation machine that is constantly releasing features to improve the user experience. With features like this, it’s no wonder Facebook is the largest social media platform with 2 billion monthly active users.

Additional Reading

Vlogger Accidentally Kills Boyfriend in YouTube Stunt

19-year-old YouTuber Monalisa Perez has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after a YouTube stunt went horribly wrong.

Monalisa Perez Fatal Tweet

Monalisa Perez and boyfriend Pedro Ruiz started their channel in March 2017 and have grown their subscriber base very quickly earning over 2,000 subscribers in just a few months. The focus of their vlogs was to show “real life of a young couple who happen to be teen parents.” Their videos were your typical internet couple kind of videos raking in thousands of views. But on Monday 26 June 2017, one video ended tragically after Perez shot Ruiz dead.

According to reports, Perez was urged to shoot a hardcover book Ruiz held in front of his chest, which was meant to stop the bullet. Unfortunately, the bullet penetrated the book as well as 22-year-old Ruiz. Perez claims she was initially reluctant, but Ruiz was insistent. After being convinced to do it for the views on YouTube, she succumbed to the pressure.

Although the incident was an accident and regardless of her reluctance, Monalisa Perez, who is seven months pregnant, now faces up to 10 years in prison and or a fine of $20 000.

This is an incredibly tragic story and is a result of society’s unhealthy obsession with likes, followers/subscribers and views. No matter how badly you might want to be famous on the internet, there are some things that are simply not worth the risk.

Resources and Additional Reading

#SocialMediaBlackout Stats

On 14 June 2017, South African mobile operator, MTN announced that their free Twitter service will be limited to 100MB per subscriber per day. The news was not well received by users and sparked a public campaign against telecommunication companies to reduce the cost of data.

As a result, the #DataMustFall trend, first made popular by Tbo Touch in September 2016, started to increase.

Data Must Fall Trend
The above graph shows how many times #DataMustFall has been used in South Africa.

Despite being announced on 14 June, the public only started noticing the changes in the following couple of days.

Data Must Fall posts June 2017
Online mentions of #DataMustFall from 1 to 21 June 2017.

Although triggered by MTN, other network giants have been involved in #DataMustFall mentions. In June, MTN was the most mentioned telco in #DataMustFall conversation and was found in 14% of mentions, followed by Vodacom with 11% and Cell C and Telkom accounting for 6% each.

South African mobile operators Data Must Fall Stats
Since 1 June until 21 June 2017, there were 70 369 mentions of #DataMustFall on the internet.

Not only was #DataMustFall being used, but #SocialMediaBlackout was introduced in retaliation. The hashtag was reportedly introduced by activist Ntsiki Mazwai on 19 June and encouraged the public to not use social media on Wednesday, 21 June 2017 in an effort to get the attention of mobile operators and reduce data tariffs.

Despite intentions, ironically, the hashtag was trending again yesterday and was the second most used hashtag on Twitter over the 24-hour period.

The most used hashtags on Twitter on 21 June 2017
The most used hashtags on Twitter on 21 June 2017.

The hashtag was most used on 20 June totalling 27 635 online mentions and accounted for 56% of all #SocialMediaBlackout posts. The hashtag received 18 989 mentions on 21 June – 31% fewer mentions than the day before.

#SocialMediaBlackout Statistics
#SocialMediaBlackout started on 19 June 2017 and saw a significant increase in usage to promote the initiative.

#SocialMediaBlackout was a trending topic and was the second most used hashtag during the tracking period and accounted for 2% of total tweets and retweets in South Africa on 21 June 2017.

#SocialMediaBlackout Data
#SocialMediaBlackout and #DataMustFall were popular hashtags used in mobile data-related posts from 19 to 21 June 2017.

Although the main hashtag was #SocialMediaBlackout, #DataMustFall and #SocialMediaShutdown were also used.

#SocialMediaBlackout Related Hashtags
Other hashtags used that relate to #SocialMediaBlackout.

The protest wasn’t taken seriously by the public nor telcos however, Afrihost and Telkom who took the opportunity to capitilise on the negative sentiment.

https://twitter.com/Afrihost/status/877451093688668161

 

It is doubtful that the #SocialMediaBlackout had any impact, but the latest Twitter user statistics suggest that the drive was a fail.

Find out how many people were on social media and did not participate in the data fight here.

Twitter Activity in South Africa June 2016 to 2017

Additional Reading

YouTube Is Getting a Facelift

YouTube has recently unveiled the new design of their desktop website to enhance the user experience. With 4 major changes and more on the way, YouTube is certainly doing all they can to keep users on the platform. Here’s what you need to know about the latest developments on the video site.

What's Different?

1) Clean Design – YouTube has simplified the design for a much cleaner look. There is noticeably more blank space, which makes the interface easier to navigate and is a sleeker, more modern look.

New YouTube Design 2017
I tested out the new design on my channel and I love the new look!
2) Endless Timeline – YouTube has finally caught up with all the other social platforms and introduced endless scrolling on the timeline, which means that you can discover new content more easily.

3) Dark Theme – YouTube is known for being white and red, however, a black version has been introduced to reduce strain on viewers’ eyes. In addition to reducing glare, the Dark Theme also lets you see true colours of the videos you watch. This is certain to be a favourite for many. To find out how to activate Dark Mode, click here.

Polymer Dark Theme
The YouTube interface using the Dark Theme. Source: The Verge
4) Faster Framework – The new framework, Polymer, was developed by Google and is an open-source JavaScript library for building web applications using web components. By using this, the new site has been designed for development optimisation, meaning that we can expect a lot more features being added a whole lot quicker.

“This is only the beginning — you can look forward to more powerful new features coming soon.” – Brian Marquardt (Product Lead at YouTube)

How Do I Get The New Design?

A major consideration for YouTube has consistently been to gain insights from its users and so they’re relying on feedback from the YouTube community before the new design is implemented across the board.

Although not available to everyone just yet, select groups of people from all parts of the world have been given a chance to preview the upcoming change. But if you’re just dying to try it out yourself, you can preview the new and improved site here.

YouTube is constantly innovating the platform with multiple new features being introduced in the last few months – arguably, the most notable additions being the Community Tab (September 2016) and YouTube Messenger (January 2017). The golden thread tying these developments together is the user experience, which very clearly demonstrates the core purpose of keeping users on YouTube for longer. With the implementation of the new framework, it will be interesting to see what changes the developers have in store for the near future, and whether or not it will lead to a significant change in the social media landscape.

References & Additional Reading

Facebook Copies Snapchat Again

Facebook has just launched their latest feature, which allows users to share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. This is the fourth time the giant has mimicked Snapchat after introducing the feature on other Facebook-owned entities – Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Stories:

  • The feature is only available on iOS and Android mobile devices and is essentially a second Newsfeed.Facebook Stories Screen
  • It is accessible as soon as you login to the app and can be found at the top of your screen, much like on Instagram.
  • Navigation is easy and works just as Instagram Stories, allowing users to skip stories or move forward and backwards in a story.
  • To add your own story, you can click on the plus icon or simply swipe across to access the camera.
  • The camera comes with a number of filters, including filters that use facial recognition – arguably Snapchat’s key differentiator.
  • The pen feature is also a nice touch, allowing users to choose the colour, width and texture of the pen.
  • Photos and videos can be shared publically or directly to one, or a few, of your friends.
  • Direct messages allow the recipient to view the file one more time within 24 hours after opening the photo or video.
  • Comments on Stories are kept separate from Messenger
  • At this moment, you are able to see who has viewed your story but not if they have taken a screenshot.
  • Your content can be downloaded and stored on your phone as with the other platforms.

The topic of Snapchat being on borrowed time has been a popular opinion for some time now. Is this the last nail in the coffin?

It is already available to all users, but for more information on Facebook Stories, you can visit their website here.

Additional Reading and References

SA Government Considers Regulating Social Media

In a press briefing on 5 March 2017, State Security Minister David Mahlobo indicated that the South African government is considering the regulation of internet usage in the country, with a particular interest in social media activity.

“We are contemplating to regulate the space. Even the best democracies that are revered, they regulate the space” – Mahlobo

According to Mahlobo, the primary reason for the drive is to restrict the amount of fake news shared via social media channels. He highlighted misrepresentation of oneself and other people on social media, and photoshopped images being main areas of concern in perpetuating fake news. While Mahlobo acknowledged that the campaign would be met with resistance, he claimed that even the best democracies regulate internet usage. However, as a reporter for The Citizen pointed out, “It’s unclear which “democracies” do this, since the foremost country that controls the use of the internet, China, is not a democracy in any sense of the word.”

This is not the first time the possibility of internet monitoring has been discussed. In October 2016, the South African government approved the submission of the Films and Publications (FPB) Amendment Bill, which restricts South Africans from uploading videos to online channels, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, unless they have registered as a distributor and have paid a registration fee. The bill was aimed at curtailing child pornography and revenge porn. There have been no notable developments on the bill since then.

Read more: Internet Censorship Restricts Video Uploads in SA (2016)

#HandsOffSocialMedia

 

#HandsOffSocialMedia trending topic
Twitter mentions of #HandsOffSocialMedia on 6 March.

Numerous South Africans have taken to social media to voice their outrage at the recent news, resulting in #HandsOffSocialMedia being a trending topic for several hours on 6 March 2017. The majority of mentions were in the form of retweets from news sources reporting on the update, while others provided their commentary on the subject. Negativity towards the African National Congress (ANC) was the most popular theme in this conversation.

Unfortunately, fake news exists and the implications cannot be ignored, but is government involvement necessary when the likes of Google and Facebook are working towards filtering questionable news? I say no. Internet censorship is unconstitutional and as consumers of information, the onus is on us to ensure that the ‘news’ we believe and share is real. Hopefully, nothing comes of this, but it’s scary to think the conversation is even being had. What are your thoughts?

References and Additional Reading

 

Introducing YouTube’s New Messaging Feature

Social platforms are constantly looking for ways to add new features that keep them relevant. YouTube is no exception and has aggressively been testing and adding new features to enhance the popularity of the platform. Their latest addition is sure to be a hit.

Google-owned YouTube has just released a new messaging feature that allows mobile users to message each other within the app. Users are now able to share videos with other people in their network, and to have private conversations about these videos without having to leave the platform. This is much less cumbersome than having to copy a link and share it via other social networks.

The new in-app feature has been tested since mid-2016 and is currently only available to users based in Canada. Although the addition will be made available globally, according to Google, Canadians share 15% more than users anywhere else in the world, which makes them the perfect guinea pigs for the initial implementation. There has been no word as to when the feature will be rolled out to other users, but for now, if you have friends and family in Canada, ask them to add you to a conversation using your Google account and you can try it out before other regions.

I think this is a brilliant idea for YouTube and it will no doubt boost engagement on the platform. This is quite clearly a key objective for YouTube, especially considering the addition of the community tab. This isn’t surprising with the popularity of video content increasing. I suspect this isn’t the last innovative feature for the platform we’ll see this year. What do you think?

References & Additional Reading

Macabre South African Social Media Trend #Deadpose

A trend that started on Facebook has made it’s way to Twitter and people are not impressed. Participants take picture of themselves posing as though they are dead, this the use of #Deadpose.

Individuals take pictures of themselves posing in unusual positions as though they are dead, thus the use of #Deadpose. The origin of the trend is unclear, however, it has been taken up by numerous individuals, particularly the youth, in South Africa. While those taking part in the trend seem to be getting a kick out of the movement, and others (for some reason) find it humourous, the majority of social media users have been left confused and angered by the craze.

See it for yourself – WARNING: graphic images:

https://twitter.com/mothapo_tshepo/status/817847500036014084

https://twitter.com/RohschaN/status/818204550310019073

https://twitter.com/AudreyDreezy/status/818383828997771264?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

It’s really a bizarre trend to have taken off, and like most trends, no one seems to get the logic behind why so many people are participating. I’m all for online fads, but this one is crossing a line in my opinion. What do you think?

Additional Reading

Facebook’s 5 New Copycat Features

Certain features and capabilities on the various social channels are bound to be similar. Although some overlap here and there in terms of what these platforms provide is to be expected, there are differentiators that give them a competitive edge. While there will always be competition, recently Facebook has aggressively been taking inspiration from other social media platforms to add to its own offerings.

Here is a brief look at how Facebook has been evolving over the past few weeks.

1 – Job Postings

News that Facebook was experimenting with a job posting feature came to light in early November, which poses a direct threat to the likes of LinkedIn, Jobscore and Workable. The feature allows page admins of business pages to drive traffic to their Facebook Page via the News Feed in the hope of recruiting new staff members. These positions will also be available via a Jobs tab on the business’ Facebook page. Users will then be able to apply via Facebook without having to type out all the specifics, as Facebook already has most of this information.

2 – Instagram Stories

Facebook-owned Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, which is basically the main point of Snapchat. Igers can now post photos and videos that expire after 24 hours. Users can apply filters, add text and draw over their content, much the same like Snapchat offers. Disappearing messages to other users is also now a feature. In addition, Instagram gives you the ability to tag people in your stories, which is not offered on Snapchat. Stories does not (yet) allow users to add filters that recognise facial features, however, Facebook has used facial recognition for years, particularly when posting photos, so it’s only a matter of time.

3 – Live Video Filters

There was much excitement about being able to use artistic filters in Facebook’s Live streaming thanks to third-party company, Prisma. This was short-lived as Facebook quickly blocked the app from being able to access its Live API as it did not comply with Facebook’s terms and conditions. The main reason was that the API is only for publishing live video from non-mobile devices such as professional cameras and drones. It has been argued that this is purely a bully tactic as Facebook is working on a style transfer filter feature of its own.

4 – Facebook ‘Collections’

Social media has become a popular source of information and news. The topic of fake news has been a hot topic lately as users consume news from media sources that seem to be legitimate, only to discover that the content is false. The repercussions of this on society and perceptions is a concern for many, including Facebook. The social brand has joined a network of more than 30 international media companies and organisations to filter out fake news and improve the quality of information being shared. Much like Snapchat’s Discover feature, ‘Collections‘ will be curated information from select media partners, inserted directly into users’ News Feeds.

5 – Instant Games

Facebook has just launched Instant Games, which enables users to play games against their friends via Facebook Messenger, however, WeChat has been offering this feature for years. The games will be available for Android and iOS users and will first roll out to 30 countries. The main reason for this feature is to encourage users to discover, share and play games without having to install new apps.

Despite having 1.79 billion active monthly users, Facebook is clearly doing all it can to be ubiquitous. Will any other social platform ever be as agile as the social network giant, or do any of them even stand a chance? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

References & Additional Reading