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Less political content coming to your feed soon

Mark Zuckerburg has recently announced that Facebook users will be seeing less of discouraging ‘ divisive conversations’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday announced that the company will no longer recommend civic and political groups to its users.

The change comes in the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

“This is a continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations,” Zuckerberg said in a call with analysts following the company’s fourth-quarter earnings.

This comes after the company temporarily decided to stop recommending these groups to U.S. users in October in the lead up to the 2020 U.S. elections. 

Additionally, Zuckerberg said that the company is now considering steps to reduce the amount of political content that users see in their News Feed.

“One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” Zuckerberg said.

Onions too sexy for Facebook

There are regular onions, and then there are onions too sexy for Facebook, a Canadian seed and garden supply store recently discovered. 

The Seed Company by EW Gaze, in St John’s, Newfoundland, had wanted to post a seemingly innocent advert for Walla Walla onion seeds on Facebook. 

But to their surprise, it was rejected for being “overtly sexual”. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the social media company apologised for the error made by its automated technology. 

The ad flagged by Facebook showed Walla Walla onions, known for their size and sweet flavour, piled in a wicker basket with some sliced onion on the side. 

It took store manager Jackson McLean a moment to realise what the issue was with the posting, he said. 

Then he figured out that “something about the round shapes” could be suggestive of breasts or buttocks.

He knew his customers would find the ad rejection funny, and posted the photo, along with the automated Facebook message warning “listings may not position products or services in a sexually suggestive manner”, to the company page.

“listings may not position products or services in a sexually suggestive manner”, to the company page.mistakes…you’re Doing Something. “

Mr McLean said some clients have been posting images of potentially suggestive carrots and pumpkins in reply. 

He also appealed the decision to Facebook. 

“We use automated technology to keep nudity off our apps, but sometimes it doesn’t know a Walla Walla onion from a, well, you know,” Facebook Canada’s head of communications, Meg Sinclair, told BBC. 

“We restored the ad and are sorry for the business’s trouble.” 

The company is in the process of digitising its whole inventory to make shopping online more accessible amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mr McLean said, and that included boosting some advertisements, like the onion one, on Facebook. 

The Walla Walla onions, “an older onion variety”, had recently brought back in stock by customer request, and are now selling fast due to their newfound notoriety, he said. 

“We’ve sold more in the last three days than in the last five years,” said Mr McLean, adding they are also now listed under “sexy onions” on the company website.

Sexy Onions

Facebook has launched a Bitmoji competitor

Facebook has made an avatar feature, which is the Facebook version of Snap’s Bitmoji. Avatars were first introduced last year and have been since made available in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada.

Based on early feedback, Facebook is also today expanding its range of Avatar customizations to include a variety of new hairstyles, complexions and outfits.

Avatars may seem a little silly, but they allow for a form of self-expression that extends beyond the capabilities of text and emoji alone. On digital platforms, using an avatar can be a helpful way to indicate the tone of your comment, so you’re not misinterpreted. Plus, many people like having the option of crafting a digital character that looks like them — meaning their candy-coloured hair, piercings, glasses, goatees, sense of style or anything else doesn’t come across when using just an emoji alone.

Initially, Facebook users will be able set up their Avatar from either the Facebook or Messenger comment composer. From here, you’ll click on the smiley face icon that takes you to stickers. You’ll then see a new option: “Make Your Avatar.”

After completing your Avatar, you can return to edit it at any time from Facebook’s Bookmark section (the three horizontal lines in the bottom-right of the Facebook mobile app.) You’ll need to click on “See More,” then “Avatars,” in the list that appears.

Today, the Avatars can be used with Facebook comments and Messenger conversations, and they can be used on your Facebook Gaming profile. But soon, Facebook says Avatars will be able to be used in text posts with backgrounds.

The company isn’t yet sharing any metrics on the feature’s adoption, but did say Avatars have become particularly popular with the gaming community.

However, the source of inspiration for the feature, Bitmoji, has seen widespread adoption.

In January, Snap said 70% of its daily active users, or 147 million of its then 210 million, had made themselves a Bitmoji. The company first bought its way into the “digital persona” business back in 2016 when it picked up Bitmoji’s parent company Bitstrips for $62.5 million. It more recently launched Bitmoji TV, a Snapchat show that puts users’ Bitmoji avatars into animated situations.

Facebook hasn’t yet detailed any grand ambitions to make its Avatars more of a platform or a monetizable feature. Instead, it seems to be playing a game of catch-up with its rivals.

Though Snapchat popularized the concept, many companies have since cloned the Bitmoji phenomenon. Apple in 2018 introduced a customizable persona called Memoji to complement its existing Animoji characters, for use in iMessage and FaceTime. Samsung and Google also rolled out their own take on Bitmoji in 2018.

But despite its delayed arrival, Facebook hasn’t broken any new ground — for example, by introducing Avatars created automatically from your Facebook profile photo or those that move and react as in the popular Gen Z app, Facemoji.

Facebook says its Avatars feature will roll out to the U.S. starting today. You may not see it yet — as rollouts can take time — but should soon.

FACEBOOK LIVE AND INSTAGRAM LIVE UPDATES

Facebook is making some swish changes to enhance their live experience on not only Facebook but Instagram as well.

For Facebook the features are as follows, Facebook ‘Live With’ is back (the ability to bring a guest on via mobile); this feature was there in the past and for some odd reason Facebook quietly removed it), Paid Facebook Live is coming (viewers access via ticketed FB Events); it’s not clear yet if FB will charge a fee and how much, Audio only option for your audience on some FB Pages (shows a toll-free number; I’m seeing this option in Facebook Live Producer); ideal for low bandwidth areas and Donate button coming to FB Live. 

Annnnnnd for Instagram, Instagram live, you can now watch Instagram live via any desktop and you have the ability to save your IG Lives to your IGTV is coming (yay!)

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