Vine app: Twitter’s first standalone product
In October of last year, Twitter acquired Vine, a smartphone app that users can create videos with, which when edited, becomes a six second animated gif that loops and is embedded in a tweet, sticking with the brevity of the 140 character limit of Twitter.
The Vine app is Twitter’s first standalone product, much like Facebook has Facebook Messenger and Facebook Poke, and is a hybrid of photo sharing and video sharing, with an advantage over animated gifs – sound. This could be the sweet spot that bloggers and social media users have been looking for, because while it hits that space in between photo and video, it does auto-play, but the sound is automatically muted and can be turned on, which we believe to be the perfect approach.
Examples of the Vine app in the real world:
— Rukes (@rukes) January 27, 2013
My new favorite mug. vine.co/v/bJqg3YYjT7W
— Reed Murray (@reedmurray) January 27, 2013
— Brady Smith (@texeyes) January 27, 2013
— Econsultancy (@Econsultancy) January 24, 2013
“They’re quirky,” says Vine Co-Founder Don Hofmann
Don Hofmann, Co-Founder and General Manager of Vine said on the company’s blog, “Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special. We’re also happy to share the news that Vine has been acquired by Twitter. Our companies share similar values and goals; like Twitter, we want to make it easier for people to come together to share and discover what’s happening in the world.”
“We also believe constraint inspires creativity, whether it’s through a 140-character Tweet or a six-second video,” Hoffman added. “Although we’ve joined Twitter, you don’t need a Twitter account to use Vine (but signing up is a little quicker if you do!). We are thrilled to be part of Twitter, and look forward to the opportunities we can pursue together in the future.”
Vine app: off to a bad start, what happened?
Vine officially launched on Thursday for iPhone and iPod Touch users, which instantly alienated half of their potential users, and although the company says they are quickly working on the Android app, critics say they launched prematurely having only one of the apps completed.
That’s technology these days though, and a common complaint. That’s not all that went down, though, as users began seeing posts in their name from the Vine app and it was uncovered that there was a tech glitch allowing users to sign into accounts that weren’t theirs. Instantly, many people got a bad taste in their mouth and said they would opt out, but the glitch has been repaired, and the company was proactive in their public relations push, and rather than blaming users, they simply said it was a problem, they’d fix it, and they did.
Additionally, one of the standard methods of connecting with other users within any new social network is the “find friends” feature which allows you to see which of your Twitter or Facebook friends are already on the network. But Facebook blocked the Vine app from that data, so only Twitter friends are searchable. Some openly mocked Facebook for not sharing their data, but the company has openly blocked competition, and it should be noted that Twitter has recently done the same by blocking Instagram (owned by Facebook), highlighting a growing chasm between the two competitors.
The Vine app will definitely lead to some embarrassment for users who have any temporary lapse in judgment, and we predict a few celebrities will have some shameful moments. We noticed that while a user can delete a tweet, or even a Vine video, the tweets with the Vine videos in them can be grabbed by Storify, which essentially memorializes the moment, as deleted content is not necessarily deleted by Storify.
Lastly, as with any internet site, tool, or app, the porn showed up, turning many users off, and while it is no surprise, it is of concern. Samantha Murphy at Mashable reports, “Videos saved via the Vine app with hashtags such as #porn, #sex and #penis revealed even more graphic videos, many of which had a warning that the following content contained sensitive content. Twitter and Vine have not yet responded to a request for comment.”
Analysis: Vine app proves Web 2.0 movement was a farce
While the primary concerns have been resolved with the Vine app’s rocky launch, it is an interesting moment in social media history, highlighting not only the increasingly heated competition between Facebook and Twitter, but revealing that the Web 2.0 movement was a farce, a practical joke.
Five years ago, the mentality of the general web was that of mashups – everyone should openly collaborate, all services should share their data, and the world online should be completely transparent. The tech world acted like a hippie co-op with open doors, but they’ve grown up and realized that’s no way to do business – Coke doesn’t share their recipes with Pepsi. Now, and companies like Facebook which are publicly traded, are having to do business like big boys and protect their incomes, but boy, all of that “transparency” companies were talked into sure helped some companies to get big while others withered – therein lies the practical joke.
This moment in time, this butting of heads between Twitter and Facebook is one of the final nails in the Web 2.0 coffin, an ending of an era where startups sang kumbaya together, even while they competed against each other. The two biggest social networks (Facebook and Twitter) are now innovating as an ad play, not for the excitement of thrilling users and growing their legions of loyal fans, and they’re here to do business.
Will some criticize? Of course, these companies are making money on the backs of content generated by users, but that’s never been a secret, so maybe it’s time to focus on the next era which is a world filled with billions of disparate data points that businesses are trying to figure out how to piece together and make sense of as a means of making money.
Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions
(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.
In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.
In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”
Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.
Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.
Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.
New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)
(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.
Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.
Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.
“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.
Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.
On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.
From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.
Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.
Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”
Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers
(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!
Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.
In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”
Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.
To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.
Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.
This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.
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