Tag: social media

Elon Musk may create social media platform

Source: Bloomberg

South Africa-born entrepreneur and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said in tweets that he is giving serious thought to creating a social media platform because Twitter is “failing to adhere to free speech principle”.

“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk tweeted Saturday.

He said in an earlier tweet on Friday that “free speech is essential to a functioning democracy,” and he questioned if Twitter “rigorously adheres to this principle.”

Last week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission told a judge that Musk’s tweets about Tesla would remain a valid subject for government investigation even if a court throws out his 2018 agreement with the SEC.

Musk is seeking to end oversight by the SEC of his Twitter posts, claiming the agreement is being used to “trample” his rights to free speech.

The Tesla chief executive is also asking the court to block a subpoena by the securities regulator for documents relating to the review of his tweets.

Under the SEC settlement agreement, the regulator will distribute funds from the company and Musk to investors who lost money buying Tesla shares after Musk claimed on Twitter he was thinking about taking the company public.

Source: IOL

Former president Donald Trump, a longtime critic of how Democrats debuted healthcare.gov, is facing a bungled website launch of his own.

His long-promised social network, Truth Social, has been almost entirely inaccessible in the first days of its grand debut due to technical glitches, a 13-hour outage and a 300 000-person waitlist.

Even Trump supporters made jokes about the early slog. Jenna Ellis, a former member of his legal team, posted to Instagram a photo showing Trump with his finger hovering over a laptop, “letting us on to Truth Social one at a time.”

One year after being banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Donald Trump’s Truth Social app launched on Feb. 21. A limited number of preorder subscribers were able to download the app from the Apple App Store.

The site had been heralded for months as the crown jewel of Trump’s post-presidential business ambitions, with allies pledging it would revolutionise social media and take down the mainstream social networks where Trump is banned.

But early glimpses at Truth Social suggest its offerings are almost identical to what Twitter and other sites have offered for years – except tweets are called “Truths,” and retweets “ReTruths. The site’s early struggles also have fuelled doubts that Trump’s company will be able to handle tougher long-term challenges, such as policing for dangerous content and guarding against cyberattacks.

“The basic thing they needed to actually get right to get someone in the door, they couldn’t get right,” said Bill Fitzgerald, a privacy researcher. The “ineptitude of the rollout,” he added, could be a warning of future issues ahead: “There is no better sign of a rushed implementation than the fact that you can’t onboard anybody. So I’m hard-pressed to understand why anyone would trust that these people would keep their information safe.”

As former President Donald Trump’s new social media venture, Truth Social, surpasses 170,000 downloads, observers are watching to see how this new platform gets used as Trump returns to the digital sphere after being banned from other platforms last year.

The site’s problems extend beyond its waitlist: Its logo – a broken capital ‘T’ with a period – is identical to the logo of Trailar, a British seller of truck solar panels. A company executive told The Washington Post that it is “seeking legal advice to understand next steps and options available to protect our brand.”

Though Trump has criticised social networks’ “wildly aggressive censorship,” his site’s “terms of service” mark some extensive restrictions for acceptable speech. People are banned from trying to “trick” or “mislead” other users, violating anyone’s “privacy or publicity rights,” or posting messages that “depict violence” or include messages related to “sexual fetishes”, “sugar babies” or “sexually suggestive” phrases. People are also forbidden from posting anything “false”, “indecent”, “misleading”, “profane”, “obscene”, “filthy” or “otherwise objectionable.”

Trump’s company, the Trump Media & Technology Group, also prohibits anyone from attempting to “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.” Truth Social has already banned an account named for a Twitter parody that targeted former Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned from Congress to become the Trump company’s CEO.

The site’s terms of service also show it is designed to benefit from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Trump has said should be “completely terminated” because it protects tech companies from being sued for what their users post.

Truth Social’s problems were evident from the start, even though the site’s developers have had months to retool already-used software for the site’s launch.

On Sunday, people who’d “preordered” the app from Apple’s App Store were sent an alert that it was available, sending it sailing to the top of the free-app download charts.

But many who tried to actually sign up to use the app faced obstacles immediately. People reported they’d been given error messages or “failure to register” warnings when they entered their birthday. Or they submitted their email address as requested, then never received a sign-up response.

The site was unavailable for most of its first day, Presidents’ Day, and its operators reported that “overwhelming demand” had triggered an outage lasting more than 13 hours. During that time, even the company’s terms of service were offline.

The developers wrote on an internal updates page Monday afternoon that they had “stabilized the account creation process.” But on Tuesday, many were still reporting that they were around 300,000th in line. (Some even went backward: One person reported they’d gone from no. 215,406 on the waiting list Monday night to no. 295,046 by Tuesday afternoon.)

There were other signs that Truth Social’s growing pains were just getting started. The app for now is available only for iPhones in the U.S. On a ‘help’ page, the site’s own name is misspelled.

The truthsocial.com website, which allowed for early sign-ups, got about 350 000 visits last week, down from 2 million visits the week of its announcement in October, according to estimates from Similarweb, an analytics firm that tracks and estimates Web traffic. Facebook and Twitter each get hundreds of millions of visits a week.

Company representatives have not responded to requests for comment. On Sunday, CEO Nunes predicted the site would be “fully operational” by the end of March. Last week, he told Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, “We’re having to build this from scratch to make sure we can’t be canceled and can’t be shut down.”

But far from being built from scratch, the site’s code shows it is based heavily on the open-source software Mastodon, which provides free, prebuilt social-networking sites that users can then edit and customize. Truth Social also depends on code from eight other outside development teams to handle text, images, security and other data, its own documentation shows.

The glitchy debut also suggests Trump will face big challenges as he scrambles to secure his place in the online spotlight and build an alternative social media platform that can compete with similar sites, including Gab, Gettr, MeWe and Parler – the latter of which Trump’s wife, Melania, said earlier this month she would make “Her Social Media Home.”

During the months of waiting, several copycat sites also beat Trump’s social network to the punch, including a totally unaffiliated “social app for truth” that charges users $4.99 a week. Another “Truth Social” look-alike showed a Trump rally photo next to boxes asking for people’s email addresses and passwords.

But those sites offered something the real Truth Social could not: They worked. Even a copycat site, TMTGSocial.com, which someone unaffiliated with Trump registered after Trump’s allies first announced Truth Social in October, now has hundreds of users – posting pro-Trump content, seemingly under the impression they’ve joined the real thing.

For months, many of them have been posting comments and photos, friending each other and following fake Trump accounts. Others have voiced their excitement that Trump is, as one said, about to “let the TRUTH PREVAIL.”

The site gives no indication that it’s phony and has a fake Trump profile that includes the former president’s birthday, photos and location (“Mar-a-Lago Club”). When Trump’s son posted last week that his father had shared his first message on the Truth Social beta site, someone at the fake site quickly copied it: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!”

The fake site’s code shows that it uses WoWonder, a $125 set of basic tools anyone can use to make their own social network. But the fraudulent site doesn’t say who actually runs it, and questions sent to the site’s leadership in recent days have yielded no response.

One user, Stuart Fletcher, a 46-year-old unemployed house painter in England, said he’d joined believing the site would be “a place for honest conversations and debate without the censorship.” He said Facebook had put him in “Facebook jail” for more than 250 days last year for breaking its “misinformation” rules. On the fake site, he created a profile listing his name, birthday, current city, high school and a short biography (“Seeker of Truth.”) He said he’s still waiting to join the real site.

Consumer purchasing behaviour has changed, and as a result, businesses’ strategies for providing personalised customer experiences have shifted. With changing consumer buying behaviour, in-store and online purchasing experiences are merging, and more companies are exploring social commerce, and including it as a key strategy in their commerce plans.

According to the fourth edition of Salesforce’s Connected Customers Report, 25% of shopping will occur outside of a retailer or brand’s website, app, or physical store by 2023. During the 2021 Christmas season, social media apps accounted for 4% of global mobile digital sales, while individuals browsing social media accounted for 10% of mobile traffic.

Are South African businesses and consumers prepared for social commerce and the metaverse, and is this a necessary strategy for success in 2022? In this article we speak with industry experts and ask them to share their thoughts.

1. Consumers spend their time on social media during micro-moments

Over the past 15 years, commerce has been moving toward new and disruptive digital channels with increasing speed. This all accelerated further when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Seemingly overnight, every business had to operate digitally — immediately and effectively, and digital transformation became a matter of survival.

“One of these new channels for shoppers in both a B2C and B2B world is social media because that is where shoppers are spending their time,” says Robbie Kearns, Senior Regional Vice President at Salesforce. “In addition, social media is usually the first place people go when they pick up their mobile device during the ‘micro-moments’ that they have between their own daily routines, and it’s easy to anticipate this across the social networks.”

According to Kearns, Salesforce Commerce Cloud customers reported a staggering 66% increase in visitor traffic to their digital sites shortly after COVID hit, which resulted in a 127 % increase in cart size. “This ultimately resulted in a staggering 146 percent rise in year-over-year revenue,” Kearns says.

2. Social commerce brings brands up close and personal with customers

Reagen Kok, Hoorah Digital CEO, believes that the brands that ignore the impact and influence of social commerce today do so at their peril. “It’s well understood that social media has revolutionised the way businesses connect with their customers and now social commerce elevates that interaction into a transactional one that offers both parties great value. Social commerce brings the product to the customer at the exact point where it piques their interest – see it, shop it right there! On the other hand, social commerce also provides brands with useful data on things like customer preferences and their social habits more generally,” says Kok.

Significantly, social commerce allows brands access to data such as customer’s social profiles (with their consent, of course), adding to the dataset that enables brands to craft more personalised online experiences for their audiences.

Kok explains, “It’s the manifestation of the seamless, platform-neutral shopping experience that we’ve been anticipating for years now. And it’s happening in a way that’s creative, relevant, entertaining and set to ultimately revolutionise how we shop online.”

3. A multi-channel approach is key to ecommerce success

Ross Sibbald, Commercial Director of Striata Africa, however, warns businesses that although the metaverse may be the latest and greatest shiny ‘thing’ it is crucial that businesses focus on developing a relationship and loyalty with their clients. Sibbald says that, “A multi-channel approach is still incredibly useful now and in the future.”

“It is extremely likely that an increasing number of shoppers would abandon traditional brick and mortar stores in favour of alternate channels where the experience is less obtrusive, more smooth, and ultimately more convenient for the shopper, but it is also important to not force new technologies on to customers,” says Sibbald.

Rather than that, we must establish how and where they wish to connect and communicate. “eCommerce and email are really coming into their stride and are already widely used and welcomed by shoppers, and I don’t see that going anytime soon,” Sibbald adds.

Consumers are open to new methods

As retailers crop up in the metaverse, it’s apparent that consumers are prepared to make transactions through novel methods. Retailers are witnessing the emergence of a new business model in which physical and digital realities coexist and stores remain open 24 hours a day.

Source: BBC News

Mark Zuckerberg has laid out his vision to transform Facebook from a social media network into a “metaverse company” in the next five years.

A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.

The Facebook CEO described it as “an embodied internet where instead of just viewing content – you are in it”.

He told The Verge people shouldn’t live through “small, glowing rectangles”.

“That’s not really how people are made to interact,” he said, speaking of reliance on mobile phones.

“A lot of the meetings that we have today, you’re looking at a grid of faces on a screen. That’s not how we process things either.”

‘Infinite office’
One application of the metaverse he gave was being able to jump virtually into a 3D concert after initially watching on a mobile phone screen.

“You feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness,” he said.

Facebook is also working on an “infinite office” that lets users create their ideal workplace through VR.

“In the future, instead of just doing this over a phone call, you’ll be able to sit as a hologram on my couch, or I’ll be able to sit as a hologram on your couch, and it’ll actually feel like we’re in the same place, even if we’re in different states or hundreds of miles apart,” he said. “I think that is really powerful.”

Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality, spending $2bn (£1.46bn) on acquiring Oculus, which develops its VR products.

In 2019, it launched Facebook Horizon – an invitation-only immersive environment where users can mingle and chat in a virtual space with a cartoon avatar through Oculus headsets.

Zuckerberg admitted current VR headsets were “a bit clunky” and needed improving for people to work in them all day.

But he argued that Facebook’s metaverse would be “accessible across… different computing platforms” including VR, AR (augmented reality), PC, mobile devices and games consoles.

Metaverse origins
The concept of a metaverse is popular with tech companies who believe it could be a new 3D internet, connecting digital worlds where people hang out in virtual reality.

Its origins come from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where it served as a virtual-reality-based successor to the internet.

Tech firms have tried to implement metaverse elements in popular games including Animal Crossing, Fortnite and Roblox.

This includes planning live events such as concerts and tournaments where millions of players can interact from around the globe.

Behavioural data
“Part of the reason Facebook is so heavily invested in VR/AR is that the granularity of data available when users interact on these platforms is an order of magnitude higher than on screen-based media,” Verity McIntosh, a VR expert at the University of the West of England, told the BBC.

“Now it’s not just about where I click and what I choose to share, it’s about where I choose to go, how I stand, what I look at for longest, the subtle ways that I physically move my body and react to certain stimuli. It’s a direct route to my subconscious and that is gold to a data capitalist.

“It seems unlikely that Facebook will have an interest in changing a business model that has served them so well to prioritise user privacy or to give users any meaningful say in how their behavioural data in the ‘metaverse’ will be used.”

Tech giants like Facebook defining and colonising the space, while traditional governance structures struggle to keep up with the technological change could cause further issues, she added.

Trump to start own social media platform

Source: CNN

Former President Donald Trump is coming back to social media – but this time with his own network, a Trump spokesperson told Fox News on Sunday.

Jason Miller, a long-time adviser and spokesperson for Trump’s 2020 campaign told Howard Kurtz on Fox’s “MediaBuzz”, said that Trump will be “returning to social media in probably about two or three months.” He added Trump’s return will be with “his own platform” that will attract “tens of millions” of new users and “completely redefine the game.”

“This is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media,” Miller told Kurtz. “It’s going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what President Trump does, but it will be his own platform.”

Miller said during his appearance on Fox News that the former president has been approached by numerous companies and is in talks with teams about the new platform.

“This new platform is going to be big,” Miller said on Sunday. “Everyone wants him and he’s going to bring millions and millions — tens of millions — to this platform.”

The announcement comes after Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter and other social platforms, such as Facebook, following his incitement of the US Capitol riots on January 6 — where hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building, leaving five people dead.

Following Trump’s ban on Twitter, Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, intervened when other aides attempted to get Trump on fringe social media platforms such as Parler and Gab.


Consumers slate Discovery bank in survey

By Londiwe Buthelezi for Fin24

BrandsEye’s annual SA Banking Sentiment Index reveals that African Bank had the most positive social media mentions this year.
On the other hand, Discovery Bank had the worst.

BrandsEye also found that, in the early days of the lockdown, customer queries on social media spiked by 61%.

The social distance between banks and their customers, created by Covid-19, has left many unhappy as overwhelmed banks fail to keep up with their customers’ frustrations on social media, according to the latest South African Banking Sentiment Index.

The index, compiled by customer experience data provider, BrandsEye, reveals that, during the early phases of the lockdown, more customers used social media to reach out to their banks. It spiked conversation volumes by 61%, while banks’ response rate to customers over the same period fell by 39%.

“With the influx of customers seeking assistance on digital channels, banks struggled to keep up with the demand for support on social media. 47.3% of priority customer conversation (those which require the banks’ attention and action) on social media went unanswered by the banks,” wrote BrandsEye.

Policing banks’ conduct towards their customers

While BrandsEye has compiled the South African Banking Sentiment Index annually since 2015, this year’s index was more than just about determining which bank has the most unhappy customers on social media.

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) used the index to gauge banks’ Banking Conduct Standard, which the regulator launched in July.

The Standard is based on the six Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) outcomes.

In the past, TCF regulations only policed the conduct of insurers as the FSCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Board, did not regulate banks.

Looking at data that BrandsEye collected from over two million social media posts about South African banks between September 2019 to August 2020, the FSCA’s divisional executive of regulatory policy, Caroline Da Silva, said 90.7% of customer complaints on social media included issues that touched on fair or unfair treatment of customers or TCF compliance themes.

These ranged from complaints about unauthorised debit orders to complicated product structures and misleading advertising.

“Social media is indeed a rich source of conduct-related conversation that banks ought to pay close attention to. As the regulator, we are concerned with the volume of complaints that BrandsEye has identified,” wrote Da Silva in the report.

The FSCA and BrandsEye said the fact that almost half of customer conversations that required the banks’ attention and action went unanswered “should be alarming for the industry” because had banks paid more attention to these, they would have avoided reputational damage and escalation of complaints to the regulator.

But because they are missing out on doing something when these complaints surface, “they risk facing heavy fines from the regulator as well as significant reputational risks that such sanctions would generate”, read the report.

African Bank scores highest and Discovery Bank the lowest

According to the report, Nedbank and African Bank were the two most responsive banks and Discovery Bank the least responsive.

It said Discovery Bank only replied to about one out of every 10 interactions that required its attention and action.

Overall, African Bank received the most positive posts on social media over the period of data collection, followed by Capitec. Discovery had the most negative customer sentiment, scoring the lowest in net sentiment, after FNB.

On the positive side, the net sentiment score for all eight banks included in the report – which include the big four, Capitec, TymeBank, Discovery Bank and African Bank – improved by 0.9% percentage points compared to 2019.

The net sentiment score tallies the percent of positive sentiments on social media posts, minus the percent of negative sentiments.

The sentiment score around all banks’ turnaround time – which is usually the biggest source of social media users’ frustrations – also improved, a phenomenon that BrandsEye attributed to the increased adoption of digital channels by banks as a result of Covid-19.


Donald Trump versus social media

The President has had multiple posts on social media removed or blocked for violation of the terms and conditions, and for spreading “fake news”.

Twitter blocked the President’s account
Twitter locked Donald Trump’s account on Tuesday after he shared the email address of a New York Post columnist.

The US President’s account was locked for posting private information without consent, the social media giant confirmed to Business Insider on Wednesday.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump praised and quoted columnist Miranda Devine for her Sunday column in the New York Post.

In the column, Devine applauded Trump for overcoming his battle with COVID-19, saying he will “show America we no longer have to be afraid”.

In the now-deleted tweet, Trump followed up his praise by posting Devine’s email address, which is against Twitter’s privacy information policy.

Twitter removes posts

Following his departure from the Walter Reed Medical Center, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday had a restful first night at home, and reported no symptoms of COVID-19, confirmed White House physician Dr Sean Conley. In a Twitter post, the President wrote that the flu season is coming up and “many people every year, sometimes over 100 000, and despite the vaccine, die from the Flu.”
The US President added the Americans had “learned to live with” flu season, “just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Twitter hid Trump’s tweet behind a warning about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information”.

Facebook removes posts too

Meanwhile, Facebook Inc removed the Trump post for breaking its rules on COVID-19 misinformation, according to CNN. According to media reports, this is the second time that Facebook has deleted a post from Donald Trump whereas Twitter has intervened more often with deletions and warnings.

By Brian Fung for CNN

President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to “strongly regulate” or even shut down social media platforms after Twitter applied a fact-check to two of his tweets this week.

Trump did not elaborate on what actions he could take. But the threat is Trump’s clearest expression of intent to use the power of government to target his perceived political enemies in the private sector — businesses that already enjoy wide latitude under the law to moderate their platforms as they see fit. And it raises the stakes for Twitter and Facebook as they grapple with Trump’s misleading claims about mail-in voting and his baseless insinuations that a cable TV news host had a hand in an aide’s death decades ago.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. He went on to accuse the tech industry of trying to interfere in the 2016 election, before repeating an unfounded claim about voter fraud stemming from mail-in ballots.

“We can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country,” Trump tweeted. “It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment Wednesday.

Later Wednesday morning, Trump teased a “big action” regarding social media but declined to elaborate on what that could be.
Trump’s Twitter outburst followed an unprecedented decision by the platform on Tuesday evening to apply a fact-checking label to Trump’s content for the first time.

The label, which Twitter has designed to combat misinformation and unverified claims, linked to a curated page with links and
summaries of articles describing how Trump’s claims on mail-in ballots are unfounded.

Shortly after the labels were applied, Trump took to Twitter to claim the company “is interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifling FREE SPEECH.” He added that he “will not allow it to happen!”

But Twitter’s fact-checking decision raised further questions about whether it would apply the same treatment to Trump’s misleading claims about Lori Klausutis, the aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough, a prominent critic of Trump. In recent days, Trump has leveled unsubstantiated allegations at Scarborough suggesting he was responsible for Klausutis’s death. The claims have been undermined by the official autopsy, which found Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition. Klausutis’s husband, Timothy Klausutis, reiterated that in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week, saying that Trump’s claims denigrated the memory of his wife for perceived political gain.

Twitter has told CNN Business that it will not be removing the tweets about Scarborough.

Long-standing complaints from conservatives

Trump and conservatives have long complained that tech platforms algorithmically censor right-wing voices. The claims derive from a perception that Silicon Valley’s largely left-leaning workforce has designed social media products to discriminate against conservatives, though the companies strongly deny the allegations.

Some executives, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have sought to accommodate conservative voices by meeting with them privately, and even meeting with Trump himself.

Trump has previously suggested that the US government could take action against media he dislikes. Last year, the White House set up a website to solicit complaints from the public about tech companies’ perceived political bias, and Trump has called for an examination of NBC’s television license, even though it does not have one.

Earlier this month, Trump tweeted: “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” and promised, without specifics, that his administration would “remedy this illegal situation.” Following that tweet, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump has considered establishing a White House commission to study allegations of conservative bias.

Privately, officials from the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have expressed concerns about a prior proposal from the White House to appoint those agencies as direct regulators of political content on social media.
Meanwhile, major tech industry players remain under federal and state antitrust investigation. But antitrust probes tend to be highly technical and are usually limited to the impact of corporate conduct on competition in the marketplace.

David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former top FTC consumer protection official, said any government push to restrict how private platforms moderate their websites could raise First Amendment questions.
“This is just another example of Trump thinking that the Constitution makes him a king, but it doesn’t,” he said.

By Dalvin Brown for USA Today

Facebook kicked off its annual developer conference on Tuesday where the tech giant announced the big changes coming to its family of apps.

At the multi-day conference, the social networking giant unveiled a redesign for Facebook, updates for Instagram and a new dating feature called Secret Crush. Facebook also said Messenger will eventually take up less of your smartphone’s storage and the company says it’s diving deeper into the world of augmented reality.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Facebook redesign

Facebook is overhauling the mobile app for the fifth time ever.

The company is calling the redesign “FB5,” and it will roll out over the next few months. One of the most visible changes so far is the elimination of the big blue bar at the top of the screen that Facebook has been known for.

The company is also reinventing the way users engage with Groups and Events.

Groups will be easier to find and easier to participate in, Facebook said in a blog post.

The tech giant also said that the social networking app is home to tens of millions of active groups that users find “meaningful.”

“With this in mind, we’re rolling out a fresh new design for Facebook that’s simpler and puts your communities at the center. We’re also introducing new tools that will help make it easier for you to discover and engage with groups of people who share your interests,” Facebook said in a blog post.

There’s also a fresh Events tab that will make it easier for users to see what’s going on around them, discover local businesses and get recommendations.

Instagram updates

The photo-sharing app has a new camera mode, and it’s testing out features to “lead the fight against bullying.”

Create Mode will let you create a post for Stories that isn’t a photo or video, something that is sure to be popular with users who want to add text to a solid color background. The camera in Instagram Stories is also becoming easier to spot as it has been hard to figure out for some users.

Another new feature will enable any influencer or celebrity to tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy them within the Instagram app.

Instagram is also running a beta test to hide the like count from photos and view count from videos in an effort to get users to pay attention to the content itself and not engagement metrics that often cause people to compare themselves to others.

Instagram said that the “private likes” test would begin later this week for users in Canada.

Messenger changes
Facebook Messenger’s mobile app is getting smaller.

The company said it’s creating a new version that will use less of your smartphone’s battery power and take up less than 30MB of storage. The new app will also launch faster, in under 2 seconds to be exact, Facebook said.

Messenger will also be available on the desktop.

“People want to seamlessly message from any device, and sometimes they just want a little more space to share and connect with the people they care about most,” Facebook said in a statement.

WhatsApp for Business

The private messenger isn’t changing much.

The only notable addition is a new Catalogs for a business feature that’s launching in the months ahead. With that feature, people will be able to see what’s available from businesses participating in WhatsApp Business when the feature rolls out later this year.

“This is going to be especially important for all of the small businesses out there that don’t have a web presence, and that are increasingly using private social platforms is their main way of interacting with their customers,” said Zuckerberg onstage.

AR and VR expansion
Zuckerberg also announced that Oculus will start shipping two new virtual-reality headsets, the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, later in May. Each will cost $399.

Pre-orders for both headsets begin immediately.

Facebook also relaunched Oculus for Business with the intention of supporting an ecosystem of business administrators, developers and end users. Oculus for Business is designed to streamline and expand virtual reality in the workplace.

Social media is part of the modern fabric of interaction, with some reports suggesting that 66% of users spend time checking social media accounts while at work.

Industry tracker Mediakix suggests that popular platforms YouTube and Facebook consume one hour 15 minutes per day.

But when you leave your company, who owns your Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or even Gmail account? Legal experts in SA say the law is not clear.

“This is a grey area, and it would really depend on a thorough investigation of the history, purpose and origin of the social media account in question,” Pamela Stein, head of Employment Law at Webber Wentzel told Fin24.

“In order to demonstrate ownership, the employer would have to show that the social media account was clearly created for the purposes of promoting the growth of the business, and that this growth was achieved by social media activity generated during company time.”

Personal information

She added that factors over the ownership of a social media account would depend on whether the account had been created as part of the employment contract, or for the purpose of growing the organisation’s profile.

Unlike a company cellphone, computer or car, a social media account does not only exist on a mobile device, and the law assigns protections of personal information, as described in the Protection of Personal Information Act, which forbids unwanted sharing and exploitation of personal information.

“You have rights over your identity. However, if there was a clause in the contract of employment saying any personal account created during their employment is the property of the employer – perhaps the employer would have rights to it,” specialist technology attorney Russel Luck told Fin24, though he was careful to agree that the matter is not a settled one under South African law.

“If these accounts were set up so the employee could engage with the public as an extension of his work services, then perhaps the employer would have rights over it. Even more so if the email address used to verify the social media account is a work email, not personal one,” he added.

This reflects a US case in which Phonedog sued former employee Noah Kravitz over marketing on his Twitter account. The company alleged that 17 000 Twitter followers Kravitz had amassed was a customer list and demanded damages of $340 000.

A News24 survey revealed that 53% of social media users accessed the platforms while at while at work, and 3% said they would like to, but were not allowed.

Personal logins demand

Stein said that in SA, an employer seeking to claim a social media account would have to show just cause.

“Firstly, the employer would have to establish a basis for such a claim, and then sue the employee in the appropriate court depending on the cause of action.

“The employer could seek an order prohibiting the employee from any further use of the social media account and requiring the employee to take all reasonable steps to return the social media account to them.

“In addition, all social media sites allow users to report breaches et cetera and once such an order is obtained the social media platform could be notified and requested to assist.”

However, Luck argued that for a local company to demand personal logins to social media accounts would be a contravention of South African law.

“On the other side of the coin, SA law does follow international trends that you don’t need to give your employer your login details to your personal Facebook account – ie it’s unlawful to force an employee to do this.

“Where employers are making employment, promotion, dismissal or labour decisions based on access (or lack of access) to the personal Facebook account of an employee it would amount to unfair discrimination.”

Source: Fin24

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