Facebook recently announced that it now has over 2 billion monthly users. This makes its “population” larger than that of China, the US, Mexico and Japan combined. Its popularity, and with it the influence it has in society, is beyond dispute.

But for many the experience of actually using the site fluctuates somewhere between the addictive and the annoying. Our new research shows that the reason for this is very simple. It’s all to do with other people, and how we feel about them.

For Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and colleagues, the ethos behind the site is straightforward. It aims to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. By offering individuals the chance to connect with friends and share meaningful content, it aims to strengthen relationships and community ties.

The fact that this is a rather idealistic picture of society hasn’t prevented the site from flourishing. Yet, examining what people actually do on the site, how they interact with each other, and what they feel about the behaviour of friends and acquaintances, shows that the truth is rather more complex.

Silent watchers

We surveyed and selectively interviewed a network of over 100 Facebook users. Our findings show how we continue to use the site and remain connected to people through it even though they often annoy or offend us. But instead of challenging them or severing ties, we continue to use Facebook to silently watch them – and perhaps even take pleasure from judging them.

In other words, Facebook reflects the dynamics at the heart of all real human relationships. Just as in their offline life, people try to open up and bond with each other while simultaneously having to cope with the everyday frictions of friendship.

One of the most notable things we found in our research was the high number of people who said that they were frequently offended by what their friends posted. The sorts of things that caused offence ran the gamut from extremist or strongly-held political opinions (racism, homophobia, partisan political views) to oversharing of daily routines and acts of inadvertent self-promotion.

For example, one interviewee wrote of how she had “a particularly hard time with pro-gun posts”:

I really, really wish guns were significantly less accessible and less glorified in American culture. Still, I don’t think Facebook is really the place that people chose to listen to opposing views, so I usually ignore posts of that nature.

At the other end of the spectrum was this interviewee:

I wrote to a friend about how my two-year-old was counting to 40 and was saying the alphabet in three languages. This made a Facebook contact write passive aggressively on her wall about overachieving parents who spend all their time bragging about their children. I felt the need to de-friend her after that incident.

Why do we put up with this?

The reason these reactions happened so often was due to various factors native to the sort of communications technology that Facebook represents. First, there’s the specific type of diversity that exists among people’s online networks. That is, the diversity created by people from different parts of your life being brought together in one space.

On Facebook, you write your message without knowing who precisely will read it, but in the knowledge that the likely audience will include people from various parts of your life who have a range of different values and beliefs. In face-to-face conversations you’re likely to talk to you father-in-law, work colleagues or friends from primary school in separate contexts, using different styles of communication. Whereas on Facebook they’ll all see the same side of you, as well as getting to see the opinions of those you associate with.

Navigating relationships. Shutterstock

This means that people are engaging in personal conversations in a much more public space than they did before, and that the different value systems these diverse friends have can very easily come into conflict. But the nature of the ties people have on Facebook means that often they can’t just break loose from people they find annoying or offensive in this way.

For example, if a work colleague or relative offends you, there are likely to be reasons of duty or familial responsibility which mean you won’t want to de-friend them. Instead, people make discreet changes in their settings on the site to limit the views they find offensive from showing up in their feed, without provoking outward shows of conflict with people.

As one interviewee explained:

I remember de-friending one person (friend of a friend) as she kept posting her political opinions that were the complete opposite of mine. It frustrated me as I didn’t know her well enough to “bite” and reply to her posts, equally, I didn’t want to voice it on a public forum.

None of the people in the study, however, said that they’d reduced their use of Facebook because of the frequent offence they experienced from using it. Instead, we can speculate, it’s this opportunity to be slightly judgemental about the behaviour of your acquaintances that proves one of the compelling draws of the site.

Similar to the “hate-watching” experience of viewing television programmes you don’t like because you enjoy mocking them, this can be seen as a mild form of “hate-reading”. Logging onto Facebook gives you the chance to be indignantly offended (or maybe just mildly piqued) by other people’s ill-informed views and idiosyncratic behaviour. And there’s a surprising amount of pleasure in that.

Philip Seargeant, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, The Open University and Caroline Tagg, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and English Language, The Open University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Telecommunication companies in Nigeria may block calls made on instant messaging applications like WhatsApp and Skype, in a bid to increase their revenue.

According to The Punch, the telcos are seeking to address their loss on international calls and are looking to raise a revenue of N20trillion. This may lead to subscribers being unable to carry out voice and video calls on WhatsApp, Facebook and some other Over-The-Top (OTT) services.

“It is an aggressive approach to stop further revenue loss to OTT players on international calls, having already lost about N100tn between 2012 and 2017,” a manager at one of the major telecoms companies in the country said. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he added: “If we fail to be pro-active by taking cogent steps now, then there are indications that we may lose between N20tn and N30tn, or so, by the end of 2018.”

The source also revealed that the proliferation of apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, BlackBerry Messenger and Viber, was taking a big chunk of the voice revenue of telcos in the country. In reaction to the news, the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said: “We don’t have any evidence of that. We do not regulate the Internet.”

“I am not aware of this development but globally, operators and network equipment makers don’t really embrace Skype,” the Managing Director, TechTrends Nigeria, Mr. Kenneth Omeruo, said. “They liken Skype to an individual who takes undue advantage of other people’s generosity without giving anything in return.

“Globally, there is this apprehension among telecoms operators that Skype only steals their customers, while they invest billions of dollars to build, expand and upgrade networks”, he added.

You already get your news, gossip and cat videos from Facebook.

Could you find your next job there too?

Starting this week, Facebook users in the United States and Canada can search and apply for jobs directly from the social-media platform. It's one more way Facebook is trying to expand its reach, particularly among low-wage, hourly workers who may not have profiles on job-search sites such as LinkedIn or Monster.com.

Analysts say the new jobs feature is yet another way the social media site is testing how much privacy its 1.86 billion users are willing to sacrifice for the sake of convenience.

"Facebook is pushing the limits to see what people are willing to do on the site, and jobs is a natural step," said R "Ray" Wang, founder of Constellation Research, a Silicon Valley technology research and advisory firm. "It's an area where people will say, 'Oh, this makes a lot of sense.' Facebook is covering a very important gap."

Social media is increasingly playing a role in job searches. Roughly 14.4 million Americans say they have used social media to find employment, according to a recent survey by ADP. In addition, the survey found, 73 per cent of companies said they had successfully hired employees using social media. Facebook executives said they are also hoping to target users who may not be actively looking for a new job by flagging nearby opportunities in businesses they may frequent or support.

"Two-thirds of job seekers are already employed," Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of ads and business platform, told Tech Crunch. "They're not spending their days and nights out there canvassing for jobs. They're open to a job if a job comes."

Businesses can post jobs free through their profile pages. Users, meanwhile, can search for nearby listings and quickly apply for jobs by clicking an "Apply now" button. Facebook automatically fills in basic information, such as a user's name, location and photo, into the application, which is sent to the business via Facebook Messenger.

A recent search for Washington-area jobs turned up a doughnut-making position at Duck Donuts in Fairfax, Va., an engineering job at Tenable Network Securities in Columbia, Md., and a part-time bartending gig at Killarney House Irish Restaurant and Pub in Davidson, Md. Blue Feather Music in Arlington, Virginia, meanwhile, was looking for piano, guitar and voice instructors. Pay: $50 per hour.

"I thought this would be a great way to find a big audience," owner Laura Peacock said of the job posting, which went live Thursday morning. "I'm hiring, I need people and they're already all on Facebook."

But not everyone is convinced the plan will work in the long run. Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research in Provo, Utah, says users are likely to be wary of combining their personal profiles with professional pursuits. Although most applicants know potential employers may look through their social media accounts, he said that's different from linking a user's Facebook profile to their job application.

"This is something many people are going to be very uncomfortable with," Dawson said. "Ultimately people are on Facebook to connect with their friends and to watch funny videos. They're not there to apply for jobs."

 

Source: Washington Post

Facebook is challenging developers across the Middle East and Africa to create innovative bots in the Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge. This aligns with Facebook’s commitment to promote innovation in the Middle East and Africa by providing developers and start-ups with the tools they need to build, grow, monetize, and measure products and services.

Facebook grew out of a hacker culture and thrives by promoting innovation on new platforms. That's why Facebook is launching the Bots for Messenger Challenge, a contest to recognize and reward developers who are able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger.

Developers, in teams of up to three people, are invited to create bots in three categories: gaming and entertainment; productivity and utility; and social good.

Prizes
Finalist Teams
The 60 finalist teams (10 per category in each region) will win a Gear VR and mobile phone, one hour of Facebook mentorship and tools and services from FbStart, a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile start-ups build and grow their bots.
All student teams who make it to the finals will win an additional $2,000 (students will be verified against their registration via their government accredited school email accounts).

Runner-Up Teams
For each region, three runner-up teams (one from each category) will win $10,000 and three months of Facebook mentorship.

Winning Teams
For each region, three winning teams (one from each category) will win $20,000 and three months of Facebook mentorship.

Dates

  • Submissions open: 15 February at 09:00 GMT
  • Deadline for entries: 28 April at 11:59:59 GMT
  • Finalists announced (30 teams each in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East/North Africa): 19 May at 09:00 GMT
  • Deadline for entries from finalists: 2 June at 11:59:59 GMT

Winners announced: 19 June at 09:00 GMT (three winners and three runner up teams in the Middle East and North Africa; three winners and three runner up teams in Sub-Saharan Africa)

Facebook is creating an app for television set-top boxes, including Apple's Apple TV.

The world's biggest online social network is also in discussions with media companies to license long-form, TV-quality programming, the Wall Street Journal reported. An app for set-top boxes would bring Facebook closer to live video and video advertisements.

Getting advertisers to buy more video ads is key to Facebook's continued revenue growth as such ads fetch higher rates from advertisers than text or photo-based ads. Live video is also becoming a highly competitive feature on social platforms, with companies competing to stream major sports events and exclusive video components from high-profile events such as the Oscar and Grammy awards shows.

In April, Facebook expanded its live video product, Facebook Live – a potential threat to broadcast television, giving it prominent placement on its app and rolling out features to make it easier for users to search and comment in real-time.

 

- Reuters

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