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Facebook v8 For iOS Shoots At Snapchat With Extra Private One-To-Few Photo Sharing

Don’t want all your friends to see your photos? That’s a big reason Snapchat has become so popular, and now Facebook wants to capitalize on more private sharing. Facebook for iOS 8.0, released today, offers an easy “Share with only these friends” option, allowing you to select specific people who you want your photo to appear to in News Feed. The selector works and even looks a bit like Snapchat.

Now whenever you go to share a status update or photo, you’ll see the audience of that post at the top. For most people that’s set to “Friends,” but a tap reveals the selector where you can choose from your pre-made friend lists or individuals to share with by tapping their Snapchat-esque bubbles. To do this before, you’d have to make a new friend list each time you shared, which I doubt anyone was doing.

Since 2007, Facebook has been trying to push the concept of “microsharing”. The theory is that you’ll be willing to share a wider variety of content and post more frequently if only a subset of your friends can see it.

The problem is that Facebook wanted users to pre-make these lists or groups, which can feel like an arduous and stressful chore. “Does this guy belong in my super close friend list, my wider set of local buddies, my going-to-the-bar list, or what?” As a result, Mark Zuckerberg said in 2010 that “Almost no one wants to make lists…The most we’ve gotten is 5% to make lists, and most don’t make more than one.”

This is partly why Facebook relaunched Groups that day, which Zuckerberg recently said have 500 million users. Groups are great for sharing about a certain topic to people who are interested, but not really for sharing to a select set of friends. Facebook has also tried offering Smart Lists that have functions like notifying you whenever anyone on your Close Friends list posts. It even began suggesting people you should add to an Acquaintances list who would then show up less frequently in your News Feed.

Path tried to address the microsharing lists problem by having you start a whole new social graph of just your closest friends, but people typically over-added friends and still didn’t want to share to that many people. Snapchat nailed it by letting you choose exactly who to share each post to.

Facebook's new Share With feature on the right, Snapchat on the left

Facebook’s new Share With feature on the right, Snapchat on the left

Now Facebook does the same. While the new feature isn’t ephemeral messaging or photo chat (Facebook already has that in Messenger), it could be seen as a successor to Facebook’s failed Snapchat clone Poke. If it’s a success, people might become more comfortable sharing silly or racy photos because they can easily make them visible to only their favorite people or those who will find them fun. That could help Facebook soak up more engagement time and user data, as well as foster closer relationships between friends.

USA Today

But it’s also quite possible that no one will notice the new “Share With Only These Friends” feature and people will just keep sharing to their default audience. Adding new ways to share hasn’t gone so well for mobile apps recently. Instagram Direct, a photo messaging feature, flopped, while Snapchat’s Stories method of sharing publicly hasn’t made too many waves, either. You can teach an old app new tricks, but it’s a lot harder to get people to remember to use them.

[Image Credit: iOSVlog]

Link: Facebook v8 For iOS Shoots At Snapchat With Extra Private One-To-Few Photo Sharing

TechCrunch Giveaway: Free Tickets To Box’s 2014 #BoxDev Event

Happy Friday! We have something special to give away. Box is hosting its developer conference, Box Dev, on Wednesday, March 26, in San Francisco, and we have some free tickets for you.

The company has some killer speakers lined up. Box CEO Aaron Levie kicks things off, followed by a fireside chat with Ben Horowitz. Other speakers include Steven Sinofsky, Joe Lonsdale, Phil Libin and Christine Herron. This one-day event has two tracks: Build (a deep dive into Box’s platform and APIs) and Innovate (insights on building for the enterprise from founders, VCs and CIOs). And of course there will be an after party, featuring DJ Dojah, and an open bar.

We’ll give two tickets, valued at $100 each, to 10 winners, so you can bring whomever you’d like. Want to go? Here’s what you need to do to enter:

1. Become a fan of the TechCrunch Facebook page

2. Tweet or RT this post (making sure to include the #BoxDev hashtag).

3. Follow @BoxHQ on Twitter so they can DM you if you win.

Easy!

The contest starts now and ends Wednesday, March 19, at noon PT. Box will make sure you follow the steps above and choose winners once the giveaway is over. Please note the prize is for two tickets per winner only and does not include airfare or hotel.

boxdev

See more here: TechCrunch Giveaway: Free Tickets To Box’s 2014 #BoxDev Event

Facebook Launches Its 15-Second, Auto-Playing Video Ads

Facebook just announced that it’s starting to run the video ads that it started testing last fall.

In a company blog post, Facebook says it’s working with “a select group of advertisers,” and that users can expect to start seeing the ads “over the next few months.” The 15-second videos will start auto-playing without sound as they enter your screen, and if you tap, they’ll expand and un-mute.

Apparently the ad-buying process (which Facebook has been trying to simplify in other areas) will be “similar to how advertisers already buy and measure ads on TV.” The idea is to “reach a specific audience over a short period of time,” with ad delivery measured by Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings.

It’s probably safe to assume that not all users will be thrilled to see the new ads, particularly since the auto-playing aspect will make it easier for them to grab your attention. However, Facebook executives have said that introducing more ads into the News Feed has had a “limited or negligible impact” on user engagement.

Facebook is also emphasizing the quality of the videos (and it’s only these premium video ads that will autoplay). It says it will be working with Ace Metrix, a company that allows advertisers to test the effectiveness of their videos, to assess the content of each ad before it appears in News Feeds. The post concludes:

With Premium Video Ads, brands now have another way of engaging people on Facebook with compelling video experiences. We’ll roll out Premium Video Ads slowly and monitor how people interact with them. This limited introduction allows us to concentrate our efforts on a smaller number of advertisers with high-quality campaigns to create the best possible experience on Facebook.

You can look at an earlier, leaked pitch deck for advertisers here and read the official post, along with a demo video, here.

Here is the original post: Facebook Launches Its 15-Second, Auto-Playing Video Ads

Amid Bullying & Threats Of Violence, Anonymous Social App Yik Yak Shuts Off Access To U.S. Middle & High School Students

Anonymous communication platforms and the pre-teen-to-teenage brain are two things that don’t mix all that well. Just look at Ask.fm, for example, the social Q&A platform whose shield of anonymity led to cyberbullying that was later cited as a contributing factor in well over half a dozen suicides. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The founders of an up-and-coming anonymous messaging app called Yik Yak, that began to take off among the middle school and high school crowd where it has been linked to both bullying and threats, have taken the unprecedented step of actually blocking younger users from accessing its application while on school grounds.

What’s A Yik Yak?

Yik Yak was launched by two Furman University students, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, as something of a hyperlocal Twitter aimed at college students. Students could post about campus happenings and events, voice complaints, share news, and, at least in one case, update fellow classmates about weather-related closings when an official alert system had failed.

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The platform, which connects nearby users automatically, doesn’t require that people identify themselves by name, but instead allows users to post anonymously or use an alias.

Initially, the company introduced the app at South Eastern college campuses in the U.S., but it later spread through word-of-mouth to other universities across the country, and then down to both high schools and middle schools.

Yik Yak Becomes Home To Threats, Vicious Bullying

Though the nature of anonymous sharing leaves room for the unwanted element of cyberbullying, the issue worsened in the hands of these younger users. Soon, Yik Yak was causing trouble in schools, leading to vicious bullying that some students equated to, according to an article by CNN, “a virtual bathroom wall where users post vitriol and hate.”

I’d say it was far worse than that, with posts that, for example, actually saw some students bullying a girl for getting raped. In another case, an Alabama teen was arrested after threatening to shoot someone via a post on Yik Yak. And then there were the anonymous bomb threats , which saw schools going on lockdown.

The company began to realize the severity of the problem as the app was banned at a number schools, and even became the subject of police investigations.

yikyak-bomb-threats

“In a small handful of cases – probably three or four – we dealt with local authorities in terms of threats that have been issued on Yik Yak…A few of them actually resulted in arrests,” Buffington tells us. “Anonymity is a great thing – the whole reason why we made it is because when you’re anonymous, no one can judge you. But you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. There’s a line to be drawn,” he says.

Buffington claims the company hadn’t been keeping exact track of how many times Yik Yak was referenced in terms of being the cause of bullying, threats or other complaints. But the startup was well aware of the general problem, if caught a little off-guard. “We definitely didn’t expect it to take off on high school campuses like it has,” he says, noting that the app already had a 17-plus rating on the App Store, so parents could easily block it on kids’ phones.

But user ratings are not enough, says Anna Mendez, Executive Director at the National Association of People Against Bullying, explaining that Apple’s system requires parental involvement, and is difficult to use. Her organization reached out to Yik Yak following the bomb threat at San Clemente High School, asking the company to disable the app at middle and high schools, where anonymous applications are likely to be abused.

Yik-Yak-app

“Certain things should always be kept out of children’s hands,” Mendez tells TechCrunch. “Kids are at a different developmental level than adults. Physically, the frontal lobes of their brains aren’t fully developed. That’s the part of their brain that helps them recognize future consequences from current actions. At the same time, their hormone levels are escalating. Middle school and high school are some of the toughest years where kids begin having self doubts and bullying starts becoming more violent,” she says.

Yik Yak, she adds, became “a weapon for them to use freely, a huge platform for horrific bullying and serious threats that we as an adult community need to get control of for everyone’s sake.”

Yik Yak Blocks Access To Students Across The U.S.

For a number of startups, rapid user growth within a young demographic would be considered a great problem to have. After all, Yik Yak was swiftly climbing up the App Store charts, where it’s was ranked #63 Overall in free applications, and #12 in Social as of yesterday. (Today, it’s #98 and #13, respectively.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 3.53.20 PM

But Yik Yak didn’t want its community to turn into another Ask.fm, where kids bullied each other to such levels that many students even took their own life. (More cynically, one could also point out that being associated with such a community would be a big risk in terms of growing its company – outside investors could be hesitant to fund Yik Yak if it became known as the “most popular” mobile bullying platform, and the subject of school bans.)

So the team at Yik Yak came up with a technological, and rather creative, solution: block younger students from using the application by way of geo-fencing. Initially, these were handled on a one-off basis, as was the case in Chicago, where the app was blocked at area schools.

yikyak-chicago-ban

Yik Yak applied geo-fences around middle schools and high schools using their GPS coordinates, that would actually prevent the app from working while students were on school grounds. Of course, students could still use the app at home and elsewhere outside of school, but it puts an immediate damper on all the so-called “fun.”

To implement these same sort of bans nationwide, the team approached third-party data provider Maponics in order to license GPS data for a total of 100,599 public schools across the U.S. as well as 28,111 private schools.

“They have 85% of the GPS coordinates for American high schools and middle schools,” says Buffington. “The message [to students where the app is blocked] is something along the lines of, ‘it looks like you’re trying to use Yik Yak on a middle school or high school grounds. Yik Yak is intended for people college-aged and above. The app is disabled in this area.’”

Maponics tells us this is the first time their data has ever been used to help a company exclude traffic across such a wide scope. Typically, their GPS data is used for targeting purposes, not blocking.

As of early this morning, Yik Yak has applied the Maponics-based geo-fences across the U.S., and says that now the app is inaccessible on a large majority of U.S. high school and middle school campuses. ”If for some reason the app is still accessible on a school’s grounds, all they need do is email us at yikyakapp@gmail.com and we’ll look into is ASAP,” notes Buffington.

As for how the blocks will affect Yik Yak’s user growth, the company isn’t concerned, saying that the app is still doing “very well” at colleges and the publicly cited user numbers have been grossly under-reported. (When TechCrunch first covered Yik Yak in February, the app had 100,000 monthly actives, for reference’s sake.)

Growth At All Costs Not Worth It

At the end of the day, the company says the goal is making a sustainable product. “We want to make sure that, two years down the line, Yik Yak is what you use when you’re in a new location – it’s what you pull up to see what’s going on around you,” says Buffington.

Though it’s fair to say that Yik Yak should have considered the ramifications of releasing an anonymous, social application into the wild in a post-Ask.fm era, it’s also good to see they’ve fairly quickly addressed the problem, even if it cuts off the second-largest group of users on its service. (College students are the largest, of course).

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 3.41.28 PM

“Most [startups] are concerned about grow, grow, grow, grow. We want to grow and we want to be huge, but we also want to make sure that we’re creating sustainable, good communities, too. That’s number one our list. We didn’t create Yik Yak so that people could target other individuals,” says Buffington.

Now it’s time to see how addicted, or fickle, Yik Yak’s newly blocked students are, and whether or not they’ll turn to the next soon-to-be launched anonymous social application to fill the void.

Image credits: Fox10tv; ABC (WLS-TV); Yik Yak

Originally posted here: Amid Bullying & Threats Of Violence, Anonymous Social App Yik Yak Shuts Off Access To U.S. Middle & High School Students

iOS Update Reportedly Includes New Capability For iAd Attribution

As part of iOS 7.1, the recent update to its mobile operating system, Apple appears to have added a new feature to its iAd program. This should allow the company to take credit for the app downloads driven by its ads, and allow advertisers to get a better sense of whether campaigns are paying off.

In a company blog post, mobile ad attribution startup HasOffers says there’s no mention of these changes in Apple’s documentation, but there is API code that seems to indicate a change. Here’s how HasOffers interprets the code:

Based on our interpretation, we believe this method will provide insight into whether a user engaged (impression or click) with an ad from iAd, in specific, prior to installing the app. If the user did engage with an ad specifically from iAd, then the “determine App Installation Attribution with Completion Handler” method will return a value of 1 for yes. If the user didn’t engage with an ad from iAd (perhaps the user engaged with an ad from another channel like Google Adwords or didn’t even engage with any ads at all), then the function will return a value of 0 for no.

I’ll spare you my attempt to squint at the code and tell you whether HasOffers’ interpretation is plausible. Instead, let me point out that through its MobileAppTracking product, HasOffers is a leader in mobile ad attribution (though it has also run afoul of Facebook), so this is an area where I’d trust their interpretation.

I’ve reached out to Apple and other companies that work on mobile attribution, and I’ll update this post if any of them get back to me.

ios screen shot

Following iAd’s announcement in 2010, the program seemed to fall off the radar, and pitching advertisers supposedly remains a “tough slog” for Apple.

However, recent reports suggest that Apple is looking to revamp iAd, with an ad exchange (focused on monetizing iTunes Radio) and full-screen ads reportedly in the works. Together with ad attribution, these developments suggest that Apple is expanding beyond the high-end brand advertisers that it initially targeted with iAd, and it’s catching up with the ways in which the mobile ad landscape has evolved.

Continued here: iOS Update Reportedly Includes New Capability For iAd Attribution

Google Adds Full Restaurant Menus To Its Search Results Pages

Here is a small but nifty update to Google Search: if you ask it to find a restaurant menu for you, it will now often just show you the menu right on the search results page. Try this for a search like “show me the menu for fogo de chao” and the menu will be right there.

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As far as I can see, this doesn’t work for every restaurant yet and it’s unclear where Google is getting this data from. Right now, the number of supported restaurants also seems to be limited. Most of my attempts to trigger the menu listings were actually unsuccessful, so your mileage may vary. The searches that did work tended to be for restaurants that are also listed on AllMenus.com, so chances are this is where Google is getting its data from.

The only way to trigger this feature right now is to type (or speak) “show me the menu for [restaurant name].” Just typing “menu [restaurant name]” doesn’t seem to do anything right now.

This feature was first spotted earlier by Search Engine Land earlier this month, which also suspects AllMenus.com as the source for the data. At the time, Google said it was just one of its many tests. Today, however, it made it official with a post on its Google+ page.

Given that restaurant websites are often quite antiquated (and many still have an annoying Flash intro), having the information you need right on the search results page is pretty cool (when it works). I don’t know how sites that specialize in showing you restaurant menus feel about this addition, but once Google adds more restaurants, I’m pretty sure I’ll use this feature pretty regularly.

Read the original: Google Adds Full Restaurant Menus To Its Search Results Pages

TSA Reportedly Demands To Inspect Man’s Luggage For Bitcoin [Updated]

Davi Baker wasn’t quite sure how to comply with the TSA’s demands to inspect his bags for Bitcoin. Baker had found himself in a testy exchange with airport security personnel during an enhanced screening, and they wanted an additional search of his belongings.

“We saw Bitcoin in your bag and need to check,” he recalls the TSA agent saying in a lengthy blog post about the ordeal.

The problem is, of course, Bitcoin is a completely digital currency; it’s like if Delta banned you from traveling with your Facebook profile. Baker was admittedly snarky in response, asking “What did the Bitcoin look like?”, thinking it would be impossible to describe a nonexistent physical object.

The agents had a response: the alleged Bitcoins looked like tokens and since they told him it was illegal to travel with more than $10,000 in cash, the probe was warranted. It might be easy to mistake this request for simple ignorance, but one of the security agents, according to Baker actually had a grasp on some Bitcoin facts.

When Baker asked how much he thought his alleged tokens were worth, the agent responded, “It fluctuates all the time.”

That’s very true: the digital currency has become notorious for wild swings in value, on top of being a tool for purchasing illicit goods.

Whatever the legality or contorted logic of the added inspection, it appears there’s a knee-jerk negative reaction to the notorious currency.

The TSA was not immediately available for comment on this story. You can read the full blog post here.

Update: A TSA spokesman says they have been unable to find the agents in question or verify the incident. I’m told Baker’s story is complicated by the fact that protocol would be to contact law enforcement if someone was taking large amounts of cash for a suspected purpose, rather than request additional screening.

[Image Credit: Flickr user PerfectHue]

Go here to see the original: TSA Reportedly Demands To Inspect Man’s Luggage For Bitcoin [Updated]

Facebook tweaks News Feed to show Page posts tagged with other Pages you like or follow, just like for friends

Facebook today announced a change to the News Feed algorithm that will treat Pages even more like people. If one Page tags a second Page you like or follow, you may see that post in your News Feed even if you don’t like or follow the first Page.

Facebook offers an example: this post below by the Bleacher Report might be shown in the News Feed to people who follow or like Dwight Howard, in addition to people who follow or like the Bleacher Report.

4 Facebook tweaks News Feed to show Page posts tagged with other Pages you like or follow, just like for friends

As you can see, Dwight Horward and James Harden are both tagged in the above post. If you haven’t liked or followed either, and you also don’t like or follow the Bleacher Report, the algorithm won’t consider showing you this Page post. This is exactly how updates from friends work: if a friend tags you in a photo, your friends may see the photo in their News Feed even if they’re not friends with the person who tagged you. If you’re not tagged, your friends won’t see it unless they are friends with the person who posted the photo in the first place.

Unlike on social networks like Twitter, where you see every update, there is still no guarantee you will see all such posts in your News Feed. Facebook still uses an algorithm that attempts to show you the best posts:

We look at many factors to make sure the most relevant stories appear in News Feed, including which posts are getting the most engagement (such as likes, comments, shares and clicks) across all of Facebook. We also consider which posts are getting the most engagement from people who like both the Page that posted and the Page that was tagged.

For example, if many people who like Dwight Howard also like the Bleacher Report, it suggests that these two Pages are connected. If we see that people who like both the Bleacher Report and Dwight Howard are liking the post above, that’s an indication that it may be relevant for people who only like Dwight Howard.

Facebook says it tested this feature for Pages and found that people liked seeing this type of content in their News Feeds. The company ran surveys and found these stories received “high scores.” Now the social network will undoubtedly be looking to see how the rest of its 1.23 billion users react.

Top Image Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/GettyImages

Read more from the original source: Facebook tweaks News Feed to show Page posts tagged with other Pages you like or follow, just like for friends

Microsoft releases Office 2013 Service Pack 1, improves compatibility with Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2

Microsoft has released Office 2013 Service Pack 1, which includes new updates that improve security, performance, and stability of the company’s flagship productivity suite and also rolls together all previously released updates. You can download SP1 for Office 2013, SharePoint 2013, and Exchange Server 2013 now directly from the Microsoft Download Center: 32-bit (643.6MB) and 64-bit (774.0MB).

The download links were first noticed by WinFuture; back in November, we heard the company was planning to release the service pack “early next year.” Microsoft has yet to post an official announcement on its Office Blogs, though the download links were apparently published on February 18. We have contacted Microsoft for more information and will update this post as we learn more.

Update: Microsoft has now officially announced the service pack. The company says Office 2013 customers will be notified to download SP1 through Windows Update within the next 30 days.

Here’s the Office 2013 SP1changelog (full list of SP1 fixes):

  • Compatibility fixes for Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11.
  • Better support for modern hardware, such as high DPI devices and the precision touchpad.
  • New apps for Office capabilities and APIs for developers.
  • Power Map for Excel, a 3D visualization tool for mapping, exploring, and interacting with geographical and temporal data in Excel, is now available to Office 365 ProPlus subscription customers.
  • Improvements to the Click-to-Run virtualization technology that installs and updates Office 365 desktop applications.
  • SkyDrive Pro is now OneDrive for Business.

If you’re running Office 2013, you’ll want to install SP1 as soon as possible. For more details, check out the two engineering blog posts linked below.

Announcing the release of Service Pack 1 for Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013 and Released: Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1

See also – Microsoft announces general availability of business intelligence tool Power BI for Excel and Office 365 and Microsoft: Office 365 passed 1m subscribers in just over 100 days, making it the best-selling Office yet

Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble

See more here: Microsoft releases Office 2013 Service Pack 1, improves compatibility with Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2

Steve Jobs Is Getting A Postage Stamp

stampThere are few canvases harder to find yourself portrayed upon than the US postage stamp. Unless you’re a state bird, a beautiful wild flower, or a historic/cultural icon, it’s pretty unlikely that your mug will ever act as proof-of-payment on a piece of mail.

Joining the ranks in 2015: the late Steve Jobs.

According to a list of upcoming subjects obtained by The Washington Post, Steve Jobs is set to get a limited release stamp in 2015 alongside the likes of Johnny Carson, Elvis Presley, James Brown, and an as-of-yet unnamed group of Science Fiction writers.

The Steve Jobs stamp is listed as “In Design” — so there’s no image of what the actual stamp will look like just yet. The one pictured above is, of course, just a quick mockup.

Update: I’m intentionally leaving this post sans commentary. Except for this:

Read the original: Steve Jobs Is Getting A Postage Stamp