Articles about Social Web

Tracking and tackling Ebola using mobile phone surveillance

Tracking and tackling Ebola using mobile phone surveillance

Mention web or mobile surveillance, and you're sure to raise a few hackles. But the current Ebola outbreak is showing that the data collected from handsets can be extremely useful. The idea of tackling a disease with 'big data' gathered from mobile phones might seem a little odd, but it's actually an incredibly valuable source of information. Telecom firms such as Orange have been working with data scientists, using anonymized data gathered from phones to track population movement in regions affected by Ebola.

The BBC points out that even in relatively poor countries in Africa, mobile phone ownership is still high. Experts have been able to use this data to determine the best places to set up treatment centers, and it's an idea that has been pounced upon by the CDC.

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The battle to wipe out revenge porn continues

The battle to wipe out revenge porn continues

In the wake of the Fappening, online porn and nudity has been thrust into the public consciousness once again. But porn is about much more than titillating celebrity photos -- even if research shows that we're finding it easier to waste our time online when we should be getting on with work. Revenge porn is on the rise, and steps are being taken to try to thwart its progress. As the Fappening showed us, taking saucy pictures of oneself or partner is far from uncommon. This is fun and exciting in the middle of a relationship, but if that relationship should break down, there's no knowing what could happen to those pictures and videos.

Disgruntled partners may decide to get revenge on their former lovers by sharing those intimate photos and movies online, or it may be obtained by a third party and used as a tool for bribery. Many US states have outlawed the practice, and now the UK is following suit.

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Imgur reinvents the GIF with Project GIFV

gif video

The GIF was first introduced to the world by CompuServe in 1987 and despite all of the technological advancements that have occurred since then -- including the creation of the web itself -- the ancient graphics format remains as popular today as ever.

With Project GIFV, Imgur has taken what’s great about animated GIFs, but modernized the format. The platform-wide upgrade will automatically convert uploaded GIF files into MP4 video on-the-fly. The resulting .gifv will offer better quality in a smaller file size and load much faster. But that's not all.

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In a terrifying future, Facebook could venture into healthcare

Healthcare

Facebook gets bashed about privacy concerns, its real name policy, and the proliferation of ads that litter the social network. It's easy to complain about who has access to your photos and status updates, but how would you feel about handing over your private health details to Zuckerberg's baby?

In a move that will strike fear into users of the social network, Facebook is apparently considering branching out into healthcare by providing what are being described as "support communities". The news comes from Reuters which quotes three sources who requested anonymity.

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Facebook admits it screwed up, but its proposed research guidelines are meaningless

Facebook commits to changing its user research techniques

Facebook is no stranger to controversy, nor is the social network unfamiliar with upsetting its users. It seems as though Zuckerberg's baby has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately, and it's not all that long since users vented their fury after it was revealed that their newsfeeds had been manipulated in the name of research. Now the social network says that it was "unprepared for the reaction the paper received when it was published and have taken to heart the comments and criticism" and is now implementing new user research guidelines.

"There are things we should have done differently" may seem like something of a half-hearted admission that mistakes were made, but it's the second semi-apology from Facebook this week. Research into how people use the social network will still continue, but Facebook now says "we want to do it in the most responsible way." So what does this actually mean?

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Facebook rolls out mobile Like button to iOS and Android app developers

Facebook rolls out mobile Like button to iOS and Android app developers

As any Facebook user knows, 'liking' content online has become almost second nature. Facebook has Likes, Google+ has +1s, and various other variations exist. But it is Facebook's Like button that reigns supreme -- regardless of the privacy concerns it may raise. Today Facebook is expanding its Like feature so that mobile app developers can take advantage of it. Not just content with giving web users the chance to indicate their approval of a particular Facebook post or online article, it is now possible to 'like' any piece of content within a supported app on iOS and Android.

It's a feature that is likely to be picked up very quickly by game developers, so you can expect to see notifications in the near future letting you know that your Facebook friends like level 118 of Candy Crush Saga. The feature was previewed earlier this year, but is now being made available to any developer who wants to use it. Facebook says:

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Facebook apologizes to LGBT community, 'backs down' on real name policy

Facebook apologizes to LGBT community, 'backs down' on real name policy

Facebook has issued an apology to "drag queens, drag kings", and the LGBT community for forcing users of the social network to reveal their real names or face having their pages suspended. The social network also bowed to pressure, saying that users will not necessarily have to use their real names in the future. Chris Cox, Facebook's Chief Product Officer, made a statement in an online post that admits the negative response to the policy "took us off guard". Why the sudden interest in real names? It seems that one person may have been to blame.

Facebook caused something of a storm of controversy recently when it forced many users to reveal their real names. Large groups of people were affected by this, but it was a number of drag artists who were most vocal in their complaints -- numerous petitions and campaigns, including #MyNameIs, started up. While it was drag queens who hit the headlines, Facebook's sudden enforcement of its long-standing real names policy also affected performers such as musicians -- fans and friends were confused when seemingly new people appeared in their friend list. Despite the backlash Facebook faced, the social network stuck to its guns, remaining adamant that the policy was here to stay, and dismissing complaints out of hand.

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Microsoft launches Sway -- Office's new idea collection tool

Microsoft launches Sway -- Office's new idea collection tool

Having unveiled Windows 10 yesterday, Microsoft today welcomed a new addition to the fold in the form of Sway. This is the latest member of the Office family and it's being billed as a way to "reimagine how your ideas come to life". What does this actually mean? In many ways, Sway is an extension of OneNote. It's a web-based way to collect content, store images and text, add videos, and generally piece together everything you might need for a presentation, project, or idea. Sway is currently a preview product and, in keeping with Microsoft's "mobile-first, cloud-first world" there's a strong focus on cross-platform compatibility and cross-device syncing.

Sway is an interesting blend of existing Microsoft products, but it also brings in some new ideas. It's integrated with OneDrive, and has the note-taking features of OneNote. The various templates that can be used to present the data that is collected gives it something of a feel of PowerPoint, but it could also be used for very simple planning and project management like a cut-down, accessible version of Microsoft Project. It's all web-based and Microsoft is touting it as a "new way for you to create a beautiful, interactive, web-based expression of your ideas".

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eBay and PayPal to split into separate businesses in 2015

eBay and PayPal to split into separate businesses in 2015

A giant of the modern web is to be cleft in twain. eBay Inc is set to split its online payment service PayPal into a separate, independent, publicly traded company; eBay and PayPal will be divided into two in the second half of 2015.

By keeping the auction and payment services at arm's length from each other, eBay will be hoping to breathe new life into the beleaguered selling site. The move comes after a review of the company’s structure and growth strategies by the board of directors, and is described as providing "shareholders with more targeted investment opportunities".

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There is no escape -- with Atlas, Facebook ads follow you between devices

There is no escape -- with Atlas, Facebook ads can now follow you between devices

How much do you hate ads? How much do ads piss you off? Well prepare to turn into an even bigger ball of hate-filled pissed-off-ness when you hear about Facebook's latest ventures in advertising. Few people would argue against the suggestion that Facebook has all but given up any pretence of being a social network and has become little more than a huge cog in a massive advertising machine. Claims have been made that ads are being made more relevant to users, but the truth of the matter is that users are being made more relevant to advertisers. And Facebook now has a whole new way to follow you around the web to make sure you are delivered even more better-targeted ads.

Facebook has been criticized for forcing users to reveal their real names -- information which is as valuable to advertisers as it is anything to do with security -- and there have long been concerns about privacy settings on the site. Users of Facebook may complain that their newsfeeds are cluttered with news and posts at the wrong time, but one of the biggest issues people have with the site is with ad delivery. Last week we learned that Facebook was on the verge of revealing something "more powerful than what Google can currently do" in terms of user tracking. Facebook has now launched Atlas, an ad platform that can track users as they move from desktop to mobile devices -- and it's sure to raise plenty of privacy hackles.

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Bye bye, Facebook. Hello, Ello?

Bye bye, Facebook. Hello, Ello?

It's very easy -- some would say fun -- to bash social networks. MySpace was a very easy target, and Twitter comes in for criticism from time to time, but it's Facebook that tends to bear the brunt of people's ire. Mark Zuckerberg's social (advertising) network hits the headlines quite frequently, but it's been on the lips of many in recent weeks after starting to aggressively implement its "real name" policy. It's something that initially upset drag artists around the world but it's also something that affecting musicians and other artists who have opted to use a stage name. In recent days another name has bubbled to the surface. It's not brand new, but Ello has been hard to avoid over the last few days. What’s going on?

It's clear that the fallout from the drag artist incident that social network users have been seeking out new homes where they are free to be whatever they want to be. This is something that Ello seems to offer. If you want to hide behind a pseudonym, adopt a different online persona, run multiple account under different names, pretend to be someone else, or just smirk at the fact you can call yourself Farty McPoopButt if you feel so inclined, you're onto a winner here.

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Social media becomes a critical marketing channel for holiday sales

Social marketing

Driving sales and increasing the reach of their brand is seen as key to the marketing success of companies, and many are turning to social media to pursue their strategy.

New survey data from marketing software platform Offerpop shows that brands are increasing their investment in social media and focusing on using it to drive sales in the run up to the holiday season.

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Panic over! Twitpic is given a stay of execution after a buyer is found

Panic over! Twitpic is given a stay of execution after a buyer is found

Twitpic will no longer close on 25 September as the photo sharing service has found a buyer. There's not yet any word on who is behind the acquisition, but the takeaway news is that photos should be safe as Twitpic will live to fight another day.

Just a couple of weeks ago, founder Noah Everett posted the news that Twitpic was to close following something of a legal tussle with Twitter. But things have taken a turn for the better. After users scrabbled to download their images to ensure they were safe, it now transpires that the service is not going anywhere.

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Cirqle gives you more control over sharing photos and videos

Cirqle

We all have photos and videos that we want to share with other folks. We do it all too often on Facebook, sometimes without even considering that it's a broad audience we are sharing them with, who may not want to, or should not, see all our intimate moments on display.

And let's be real for a minute: not all of us are in awe about someone drunk dancing on video, baby pictures, or mirror selfies (sorry that you had to hear that now) -- some of us may be, sure, but others may be more interested in, just as a totally and completely random example, seeing photos of fast cars (guilty as charged!). For those who want to fully control who can see their photos and videos, there is new app to consider, and it's called Cirqle.

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CEOs take to social media to gain business benefits

Executives CIO CTO CDO CEO E-I-E-I-O

A new infographic created by social insight tool company Refresh looks at over 1,300 CEOs on social media to determine how they use the technology.

Not surprisingly it's younger CEOs that are most likely to embrace social media, with 61 percent being under 40. Some 89 percent are male though that perhaps reflects the low number of female CEOs rather than their willingness to use social tools.

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