Friday Social: Facebook ‘Portal’, Snapchat’s new shows and the end of Google+

  • Social Media

Our #FridaySocial is a weekly round-up of the key social media news stories from the previous seven days.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter – @Umpf

Facebook Finally Launches ‘Portal’

After a pretty devastating year (namely the Cambridge Analytica scandal followed by the biggest data breach in its history), Facebook has decided to go ahead with the launch of Portal – the latest rival for Amazon’s Echo.

The voice-controlled, webcam-equipped 10-inch smart screen had reportedly been delayed by six-months to allow the Cambridge Analytica situation to dissipate before asking people to trust Facebook with personal details once more.

Portal has similar functions to Alexa, and even has the Alex features built-in. Users have to say ‘Hey, Portal’ to engage it, and it’s being marketed as a tool to encourage video chats with friends and loved ones, and make it feel like you’re in the same room.

It can also play music from Spotify, videos from Facebook Watch, and can act as a photo frame when not in use. Its videoconferencing features also link into Facebook and Messenger – an added bonus compared to its competitors.

Most interestingly, it has built-in technology that allows the webcam to track and pan around the room to keep the caller in-frame without requiring them to remain in the same position, or constantly readjust the device.

In a bid to reassure users, it has no facial recognition technology, a built-in physical shutter for the camera, and the camera and microphone can be disabled.

It’s not been received well by everyone… would you let Facebook’s Portal into your home?


Instagram’s New Tools to Tackle Bullying

Artificial intelligence is being used by Instagram in a bid to spot the signs of bullying.

The algorithm, which is due to roll out across the social network in the coming weeks, will automatically scan images and captions for any content that violates the company’s community guidelines, according to reports.

The AI will be able to detect if a photo is ‘criticising a person’s appearance or character’, or if it ‘is making a threat to someone’s wellbeing’.

Once an image is flagged by the algorithm, it is then sent to Instagram’s Community Operations team to be evaluated by a human moderator, which could be the key to its success.

They’ve also teamed up with dancer Maddie Ziegler to launch a new ‘kindness’ filter as part of their anti-bullying initiative.

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“Bullies are the worst — and I know firsthand,” says Maddie Ziegler (@maddieziegler). “Being social online should be a positive, fun experience. I’m glad that Instagram is committed to stopping bullies with tools like the bullying comment and photo filters. I’m proud of their commitment, and I’m also proud of the new AR effect I helped work on that spreads kindness. Whether you’re shouting out your BFF or a person you admire, I hope this new Instagram feature is a force for positivity all over the world.” Today, we’re announcing new tools to help combat bullying on Instagram. Check out the link in our bio to learn more, and watch today’s story to see Maddie’s face filter in action.

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Snapchat Announces New Shows

This week, Snapchat announced a new plan for self-produced programming in a bid to lure back users.

The 12 new MTV-style shows, which are part of the ‘Snap Originals’ series, include a mix of scripted series and reality shows and will premiere on the ‘Snapchat Discover’ tab.

If successful, the shows could promote more conversation within the app while drawing new viewers into Snapchat.

Episodes will be around five minutes in length and new episodes will premiere daily.

The End is Nigh for Google+

For those of you who used Google+, it may be sad to hear the social network is shutting down.

Following a bug in its software, the user data of 500,000 people was accessible by third parties.

According to reports, the company knew about the issue in March but did not disclose it.

Google+ has taken the step to shut down following the news, and claims low usage and engagement were factors.

Google+ was launched in 2011 and was seen by some as a failed attempt to compete with the likes of Facebook.

Private Google+ powered networks will still be available for businesses currently using the software.

And finally…

It’s not even Halloween yet but the big Christmas debate is already under way… and by that, we mean Christmas sandwiches, of course.

Boots and Tesco are amongst the first to announce their festive offerings, with Boots’ range including a ‘Pigs Under Blankets’ sandwich as well as a ‘Christmas Triple’ sandwich with turkey and stuffing, ham hock, plum chutney and cheddar and red onion chutney.

Meanwhile Tesco is offering a three-roll selection with fillings including posh prawn cocktail, turkey and stuffing and (a rather questionable) chocolate and cherry.

If sandwiches aren’t for you, there’s always Brussel Sprout or Pigs in Blanket-flavoured tea…