Facebook Pages gone wild
Zaraguza Digital, a Slovakian digital firm, has claimed to have launched the first ever live, updating Facebook cover photo, allowing anyone to see updated webcam videos of their office. They play hangman with fans, and even leave messages for fans, encouraging people to simply refresh the page for a newly updated image.
“In Zaraguza Digital we experimented a bit. Namely with Facebook cover photo feature and a webcam. After a few tweaks, our regular Facebook cover became a real-time Facebook cover. Zaraguza live cover was launched on July 30th 2012.”
Setting the stage for a new trend
Although Zaraguza is one of the best uses around so far, it was not the first to have a live, updating cover photo. They are, however, at the forefront of what will likely become a new trend, giving them and others a way to be interactive in a static environment such as Facebook.
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If Zaraguza wasn’t first, who was? French startup, LiveCover! has been in beta for several months now, boasting users like television shows, concert halls, and even a city, mostly marking countdowns and teasers.
Here are a few live, updating Facebook Page cover photos to give you an idea of how the feature is being used. Simply refresh the Facebook Page for a new image:
- Zaraguza Digital
- Secret Story – reality show that looks to only update when the show is on
- Ville de Besancon – French city with a constantly updating clock as the cover photo
- Operation Hermes – has an hourly countdown clock as the updating image
- Assassin’s Creed – France
Now, how do you get in on the trend?
The LiveCover! startup appears to be the first company to formally offer this as a service, which at a cost of a few hundred dollars, will offer a brand a live, updating Facebook page cover photo based on triggers such as hitting a certain number of followers, or a live event going on, or by offering a countdown.
But if you’re the DIY type and want to jimmy rig your own, or you’re a small business on a budget, there are free ways to automate your Facebook Page cover photo to update live, based on a series of functions, for example, you can use IFTTT (“if this, then that”), a startup that acts as the duct tape of the internet (if you’re unfamiliar, get into the details here, it’s worth the two minutes it will take to read).
Through the ridiculously simple IFTTT tool, you can automate your efforts through a few clicks, called “recipes” (think adding a little bit of Instagram as an ingredient to a dash of Facebook Page, and you’ve got a recipe). For example, if you take a photo through Instagram, set your webcam up to upload pictures to Flickr every 30 seconds, then you can connect it to the Facebook Page album for Cover Photos.
Take some time dissecting IFTTT, as it offers options for actions connected to Dropbox, Posterous, Blogger, Flickr, RSS, email, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, and even WeMo Automation tools.
Ideas for creative uses
We would like to see some of the following uses of live cover photos:
- Developers/builders should set up a webcam that updates and shows progress at a work site
- Any company can follow Zaraguza’s lead and webcam the inside of their offices
- Events, conferences, happy hours, can use photos tagged on Twitter as their updated cover photo in real time
- Retailers can set up an Instagram photo booth for people to show off what they’ve just bought, and each photo updates the brand’s Facebook cover photo
- Any time a team member takes a photo from their phone and shares it on the company’s Flickr page, it can then instantly and without extra effort, become the brand’s cover photo on the Facebook Page
- Companies can use it as a teaser and make visual announcements, so for example, “we’ll announce our new VP on Tuesday at 9am, tune in here,” and not only visually introduce, but show that person’s reactions to comments, write notes to users in real time, etc.
Tip: remember, Facebook has extremely strict rules that are arbitrarily enforced and may result in the permanent and irreversible deletion of your Page, for example, you cannot have any calls to action, be the contact instructions, a “buy now,” or even a “share this,” so make sure you know the rules before investing too much time. Breakdown of rules can be found here.
Twitter experiments with “dislike” button in the lamest way possible
(MEDIA) Not that we would expect innovation from the halls of Twitter, but their dislike button is even less interesting than we could have predicted.
For as long as there have been “Like” buttons on social media, the idea of a “Dislike” button has existed – if only as a concept. Recently, however, Twitter is toying with bringing the fabled “Dislike” button out of the metaphysical realm and into reality, though not for the reasons one might expect.
Twitter will be adding an “I don’t like” button to content in the coming months – but the number of dislikes something receives won’t be publicized as likes are.
In fact, Twitter maintains that the presence of this button is less of a social experience and more of a way to tailor your experience on the app to see what you want to see. This will feasibly help Twitter “??understand the type of responses that you consider relevant in a conversation, in order to work on showing you more of those types of responses.”
The button will reportedly take one of two forms: either a thumbs-down icon (next to a thumbs-up icon for likes) or a downward-facing arrow a la Reddit.
The “I don’t like” feature is currently limited to iOS users, and certainly not all of them–as an avid Twitter user, I have yet to receive the option to voice my dissent outside of the usual reporting channels. As with experiments like Fleets, voice tweets, and increased character limits, Twitter seems to be rolling out this option in small increments.
Interestingly, Twitter already has a similar feature that is available to all users, though it requires a small amount of menu digging. The “Not interested in this Tweet/Ad” option can be used to prevent tweets either from certain creators or on certain topics from appearing as frequently in your feed.
The option to block users or report tweets also still exists in case anyone needed to be reminded of that.
As long as the option to dislike tweets remains private and for optimization only, many of the concerns commonly associated with a dislike button – cyberbullying, declination of mental health, all-out civil war – are relatively moot; but, so it seems is the feature itself, given that the “Not interested” option also exists.
It wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest to see this feature eventually become public after its successful implementation.
India’s government still pushing social media platforms to nix COVID posts
(EDITORIAL) Whomsoever controls the information controls the people, and India is proving that censorship is a dangerous path.
Let’s take a walk through recent history, shall we? The timing is late April and the world is still attempting to control the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. Certain countries have succeeded in administering vaccines and keeping down the spread. Other’s have not. People are dying. Families are being stripped of their securities. What’s the saving grace for the majority of these people? Social media.
Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have turned into the news distributors and social lifelines. Our generation has gotten used to things like cable news outlets being entirely one sided with their distributed factoids. It’s easier to trust people than a news monolith, even though they are typically just as biased.
Personally, I believe that we are more accepting of a person being biased because they are supposed to be, whereas companies that report news, we feel should be unbiased and when they aren’t, it’s less forgivable. However, I digress.
Social media has become the new source of news for the younger generations. We go out and take in information either from real life or from other sources and send it out into our own little virtual worlds. Every piece of this information should be taken with a grain of salt and double checked, of course. At least if the person actually wants to spread real news. They then interact and disperse news through instant communication online.
Which leads us to India, 2021.
From the standpoint of this generation, what’s been happening there is deplorable. The Government of India demanded that both Twitter and Facebook begin removing COVID-related posts. Their reasoning? These posts are “deemed posed potential to incite panic among the public.” They are restricting the freest form of communication that has ever existed in to the human race.
Now this could be something that’s innocuous, or a genuine care for the country’s people. I’m sure there are posts out there that may have incited panic. However, some of the previous actions taken by the Indian government tend to make me think otherwise. Pointedly, requests for the blocking of Twitter accounts which criticized the countries policies have gone out. They’ve even threatened jail time for employees and users in this case.
They keep claiming the country’s good but if they are only silencing dissenting voices, they’re actually just protecting their right to govern. Leading to a darker place in mind for any future actions. There are certain facts which stand however.
The Indian government has failed in a number of ways this year. The culmination of which is their unprecedented collapse of their nation’s health infrastructure. One of the only ways that some people are getting their health supplies is through social media as people communicate locations that have supplies available so they can save their lives.
The restrictions that the government is putting forth isn’t helping people. It has the potential to kill them.
How news outlets are positioning Trump’s lawsuit against Big Tech
(MEDIA NEWS) As Trump’s lawsuit against Big Tech hits the airwaves, media outlets act less predictably than some would think. And most are missing what we believe will be the ultimate outcome.
In a bold move against “Big Tech,” former U.S. president Donald Trump is suing social media organizations that banned him earlier this year. The class action lawsuit, led by Trump himself, hopes to address the increasing impunity exhibited by these tech companies; there are multiple avenues of coverage that all predict different outcomes, the most likely of which is stronger regulation for tech companies.
Part of the larger issue is that the word “tech” is inherently misleading in the context of companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – all of which are named in Trump’s lawsuit. While others waffled on understanding the difference between tech and media, we have insisted that one can only be categorized as a “technology” company if its primary product is hardware or software; “media” companies involve the dissemination of content using a digital platform.
But companies that might otherwise qualify as solely media-based have been blurring the lines for years, leading to a dearth of understanding regarding their very categorization – and how to enforce the laws that accompany that denomination.
Classifying companies like Facebook and Twitter as tech companies, therefore, is problematic in that the regulation often applied to media companies cannot be applied to them, despite a clear need for regulatory consistency.
In any event, the lawsuit itself alleges that these companies formed a monolithic stance, one whose “status thus rises beyond that of a private company to that of a state actor,” subjecting the companies in question to legal scrutiny under the first amendment – a right that Trump’s attorneys argue was violated when the former president was banned from using these sites.
There are several trains of thought regarding this lawsuit, the majority of which follow the expected party lines; however, one consistent player is Section 230, which is legislation that prevents social media companies from being held accountable for the content that their users create, publish, or share.
Right-leaning news outlets are focusing on possible infringement of free speech and the increasing prominence social media companies play in dictating real-world outcomes, with Fox News quoting Mark Meckler (former interim Parler CEO) as saying the lawsuit could “break new ground.” Trump himself pointed to Twitter’s continued entertainment of violent foreign “dictators” in his absence, alleging support for the idea that conservatives are being censored on social media.
Trump is also quoted as referring to social media as “the de facto censorship arm of the U.S. government” in light of companies like Facebook and Twitter enforcing policies against misinformation, largely at the behest of left-leaning government officials.
This aligns with the “state actor theory” in which social media companies are held with the same regard as government agencies in recognition of the power they wield.
A social media company’s status as a private entity, Trump argues, does not protect it from liability in an ecosystem in which these companies have as much influence as they do, arguing instead for the abolishing of Section 230.
Conservative news outlets are predominantly optimistic about the lawsuit’s success, with sources such as Meckler pointing out that this constitutes “a developing area of the law” that could result in a crackdown on Section 230 – something that would change the way social media companies operate for the foreseeable future.
Left-leaning news outlets are more focused on the flaws in the lawsuit, however, with The Daily Beast asserting that “constitutional law experts almost laughed at the legal arguments presented in the suits.”
“The argument here that Facebook should be considered a state actor is not at all persuasive,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Jaffer also points out inconsistencies in the lawsuit’s motivations: “It’s also difficult to square the arguments in the lawsuit with President Trump’s actions in office. The complaint argues that legislators coerced Facebook into censoring speech, but no government actor engaged in this kind of coercion more brazenly than Trump himself.”
These outlets similarly reference Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter cooperating with the CDC to prevent the spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 – something that Trump’s legal team has cited as evidence that social media companies were colluding with Democrats.
Left-leaning sources acknowledge that the lawsuit could be damaging should it succeed in repealing or altering the parameters around Section 230, but they primarily view this lawsuit as more of a fundraising attempt than a legitimate gripe with the law.
“They know that they’re going to lose and this is a fundraising, publicity stunt that maybe lets them take a section 230 case up the appellate ladder,” says Ari Cohn, a lawyer with TechFreedom.
Cohn also asserted that the argument about Facebook as a state actor is old news, and other sources explained that the lawsuit is most likely a distraction from other stories more than anything else.
There are some fringe takes regarding this lawsuit as well, with Daily Wire calling the lawsuit a “publicity stunt” that is “dead on arrival” due to misinterpretations of Section 230 and the inaccurate logic that led up to the portrayal of Facebook as a “state actor”.
Similarly, centrist news org, The Hill, emphasizes that “the case is frivolous, and… will almost certainly be dismissed in court because private companies are not subject to comply with the First Amendment, which upends the basis of the complaint’s argument.”
Whether or not this lawsuit finds traction, the most reasonable outcome to expect is a closer look at how social media companies are classified, what their role is in public dealings, and which laws pertain to them while they occupy the liminal space between technology and media dissemination.
“Tech” companies have operated without proper regulation for far too long, and while the context here is divisive, the idea of holding these companies accountable to consistent legal expectations should not be.
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