Social media use is now mainstream
When you wait in line at the store, what do you do? You whip out your phone to busy yourself. You’re on hold with your cable provider, what do you do? Whip out your phone to busy yourself. You’re riding the train to work in the morning, what do you do? You whip out your phone to busy yourself.
Our world has become highly connected, and while this is an amazing benefit to expanding our culture, knowledge, business, and so forth, it is also an addiction for many.
Are you addicted? How long could you go without your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and computer? How long could you go without internet before itching to see what is going on in your email, on your Facebook, with your marketing stats, your Twitter, or your feed reader?
Not long, we bet. You’re not alone. It is said that workers are interrupted by technology every three minutes, and while we are all better connected, we are also highly distracted.
A two minute film
The following short film follows a South Korean man as he goes about his day, imagining our natural landscape is digitized and covered with social media updates, and while this film primarily looks at the addiction to Facebook, it makes a broader statement about the world’s social media addiction, highlighting some fun positives while showcasing the negative:
The Millennial generation’s addictions
Some would say that Millennials, having grown up with this technology, are the most tapped in, the ones who can’t separate from their devices, and while other generations are becoming equally addicted, this youngest generation is commonly known as addicted. Some say this is bad, others good.
On Pivot.tv recently, on the Raising McCain show, host Meghan McCain dives into the Millennials’ binge culture, focused not only on addiction to technology, but substances, and more. Here’s a preview, and for a deeper look, check out the full episode which will rerun on Pivot (listings here):
WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?
(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.
WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.
“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.
WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.
The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”
This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.
Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”
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.”
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