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Facebook Home launches: why I won’t be using it

Facebook Home is a new homescreen and lock screen for Android users, injecting a major dose of Facebook into your life, and it is gorgeous, but here is why I won’t be using it.

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Facebook Home coming to an Android near you

Facebook launched “Facebook Home,” an app that replaces Android’s homescreen and lock screen with Facebook photos, notifications, and status updates. “We asked ourselves ­if sharing and connecting are what matter most, what would your phone be like if it put your friends first?” Facebook asked, noting that Home is their answer. “Home isn’t a phone or operating system, and it’s also more than just an app. Home is a completely new experience that lets you see the world through people, not apps.”

Android users with the most recent operating systems (Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, but not Gingerbread) have access to Facebook Home, and will come pre-loaded on the HTC First phone through AT&T. Complaints have already rolled in from Facebook devotees that the app doesn’t work on their Android, so it is not exactly a universal release, and it’s not yet available on tablets, but the company says that’s next.

Video demo of Facebook Home

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Why I won’t be using Facebook Home

Although I have a $600 HTC EVO 4G, I have learned that I do not have access to Facebook Home which is being hailed as an immersive app for high end phones (maybe mine’s not high end enough), but even before I discovered the incompatibility, I had already decided that I would not be adding the app to my phone for three main reasons – it’s too social, my friends are jerks, and it makes my use inefficient.

Facebook Home is perfect if you’re a 14 year old girl that communicates with friends and family exclusively through Facebook, or someone who is so addicted to Facebook that they need the digital equivalent of an intravenous drip, but for grown ups with grown up jobs, Sweet Brown said it best – ain’t nobody got time fo dat. My smartphone is a secondary workspace for me, and while the app truly is stunning and well designed, it doesn’t take much to hit one Facebook button to access all of the same information. This is just overdoing it.

But let’s say I’m a Facebook junkie and I download the app. That’s great, but what happens when I open my phone during a meeting and the photo that I have no control over is my friend who just got in a motorcycle accident posting pictures of his shredded face? What about when my friends tag me in a picture of my favorite politicians photoshopped onto fake sex scenes? You guys, this is Facebook – my friends are jerks, and if you don’t have jerk friends that post stuff on their walls that would embarrass someone passing by your innocent phone witnessing that, you’re unique.

I don’t want to open my phone in front of my kid so we can call the doctor and witness a full screen photo of semi-nude people making out while wearing squid hats just because my idiot friends posted it.

Let’s face it, I’m a jerk too – when I find out which of my close friends are using Facebook Home, I’m probably going to tag them in stupid stuff so when they open their phone, they’re embarrassed. The Facebook Home promo video isn’t lying – this guy with his friends right in the cabin with him are intrusive and have the power to embarrass:

[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”mx_GzNlQOxI”]

Facebook Home kills productivity

Not because it’s a distraction, but because it hides my widgets and adds extra clicks for me to get to any other app on my phone, Facebook Home has the power to kill my productivity. I already have a Facebook button, so I’ll be sticking with that.

If all you do is use your phone for Facebook, this is a winning app for you, and it looks fun and well designed, but most of you reading this will agree with me that this takes Facebooking to a whole new level and will probably put some people into rehab. Facebook crack is whack, take a step back.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Social Media

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Social Media

Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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