Facebook takes on Snapchat with Slingshot app
As part of Zuckerberg’s dream to be the epicenter of all smartphone social interactions, Facebook has launched Slingshot for iOS and Android phones after “accidentally” releasing the app in a handful of countries last week. Going head to head with Snapchat, the app lets you instantly share what you are doing with one friend or a group of friends, done by snapping a photo or video, adding text, an emoticon, or drawing, and “slinging” it to your network, never requiring a Facebook account.
What differentiates Slingshot from the Snapchat clones is that friends can’t see the image or video until they send one of their own back to you, and when you receive a pic, you can either swipe the image and it disappears, or you can reply. Consider this Facebook’s answer to Snapchat’s rejecting Facebook’s $3B offer to buy them out, but also recall that Facebook has tried to compete before with the launch of the Poke App which flopped and was removed from the App Store.
Slingshot will operate as a separate startup, marking the second app from Facebook’s “Creative Labs,” wherein team members experiment with developing apps. Facebook hints that more will come from this endeavor of creating standalone apps under the Facebook umbrella.
The idea is that friends share experiences back and forth and creativity is stimulated rather than just thumbing through feeds and browsing without interacting (which Slingshot has a real shot at fixing).
The Verge’s Ellis Hamburger asserts that the app is much more than a Snapchat clone, rather acts as a feed instead of a messenger. Hamburger observes that the app appeals to people that want less formality than Facebook but more formality than Facebook-owned Instagram.
“I think most other people are going to stop dead in their tracks when they find out about Slingshot’s unique requirement: you have to send a photo before you can open the one you’ve received,” Hamburger notes. “This will be especially confusing because the app feels so much like Snapchat that it’s easy to forget how you’re supposed to be using it. Slingshot’s trademark feature will certainly incentivize sharing, but has Facebook considered that you might not always have something to share?”
So will Slingshot succeed?
Slingshot’s functionality is designed well, and the aesthetics are beautiful, but as many startups have proven – just because you build it, doesn’t insure that they will come. If it catches on and the community grows, the app will succeed, but if it goes the way of the Poke app, the design matters not.
Incentivizing sharing gives Slingshot an edge up, because requiring engagement in order to uncover content is not only unique, but taps into gamification without stupid points or levels, rather natural actions. But on the other hand, the reply-to-unlock could be too much effort for some people – why not just text or email “where are we drinking tonight?”
Nicole Lee at Engadget opined, “We’ve only had a brief few minutes with the Slingshot app, but from what we’ve seen of it, it strikes us as a tremendously fun one, with animations and sound effects peppered throughout to make it as playful as possible. It remains to be seen if we can convince our friends to get on board the Slingshot train — one of our coworkers already mentioned that being forced to respond with a photo sounds more like a deterrent than an encouragement.”
New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting
(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.
It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:
“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”
The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:
- Pinterest Creator Code
- Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
- Pinterest Creator Fund
For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:
- Be Kind
- Check my Facts
- Be aware of triggers
- Practice Inclusion
- Do no harm
The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.
Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.
- Positivity Reminders
- Moderation Tools
- Featured Comments
- New Spam Prevention Signals
Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.
The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.
Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.
Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor
(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.
Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.
Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.
The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.
Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.
Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.
The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.
“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.
According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.
An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.
Brace yourselves: Facebook has re-opened political advertising space
(SOCIAL MEDIA) After a break due to misinformation in the past election, Facebook is once again allowing political advertising slots on their platform – with some caveats.
After a months-long ban on political ads due to misinformation and other inappropriate behavior following the election in November, Facebook is planning to resume providing space for political advertising.
Starting on Thursday, March 4th, advertisers were able to buy spots for ads that comprise politics, what Facebook categorizes as “social issues”, and other potentially charged topics previously prohibited by the social media platform.
The history of the ban is complicated, and its existence was predicated on a profound distrust between political parties and mainstream news. In the wake of the 2016 election and illicit advertising activity that muddied the proverbial waters, Facebook had what some would view as a clear moral obligation to prevent similar sediment from clouding future elections.
Facebook delivered on that obligation by removing political advertising from their platform prior to Election Day, a decision that would stand fast in the tumultuous months to follow. And, while Facebook did temporarily suspend the ban in Georgia during the senate proceedings, political advertisements nevertheless remained absent from the platform in large until last week.
The removal of the ban does have some accompanying caveats—namely the identification process. Unlike before, advertisers will have to go to great lengths to confirm their identities prior to launching ads. Those ads will most likely also need to come from domestic agencies given Facebook’s diligent removal of foreign and malicious campaigns in the prior years.
The moral debate regarding social media advertising—particularly on Facebook—is a deeply nuanced and divided one. Some argue that, by removing political advertising across the board, Facebook has simply limited access for “good actors” and cleared the way for illegitimate claims.
Facebook’s response to this is simply that they didn’t understand fully the role ads would play in the electoral process, and that allowing those ads back will allow them to learn more going forward.
Either way, political advertising spots are now open on Facebook, and the overall public perception seems controversial enough to warrant keeping an eye on the progression of this decision. It wouldn’t be entirely unexpected for Facebook to revoke access to these advertisements again—or limit further their range and scope—in the coming months and years.
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