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social media

Facebook is a teenager tone deaf to its self-centred destructiveness. Also, happy birthday

Turning 15 is a drag. Just ask any teenager about this most awkward age of life and the pain of living through it. Imagine then that you’re Facebook. Last week as the largest social media network reached this milestone it seemed every bit the gangly kid trying to look cool while being beset by angst and self-doubt. And being hated by the rest of the class.

Fairy-tale social media fantasies can demolish your confidence, but it’s not all bad

If social media was a person, you’d probably avoid them. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are loaded with pictures of people going to exotic places, looking like they are about to be on the cover of Vogue, and otherwise living a fairy-tale existence. And, like all fairy tales, these narratives feel a lot like fiction. When you compare the “projected reality” to your lived experience, it would be ea...[Read More]

How Facebook went from friend to frenemy

As Facebook celebrates 15 years of virtual friendship, social science has compiled an expansive body of research that documents the public’s love-hate relationship with its best frenemy. What many once viewed as a confidant has devolved into a messy codependence, mired by ambiguity and mistrust. It’s a relationship that’s both taken for granted, yet extremely high-maintenance, leaving users to won...[Read More]

WhatsApp overtakes Facebook as the company’s most popular app

As we all know, Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, and it’s grown in popularity — enough to take the top spot from Facebook. It’s hard to imagine that there are people out there who don’t have Facebook. In fact, if you hear about an acquaintance who’s not on the platform, it’s a bit odd. But the reality is that many are opting to leave Facebook after a range of data scandals. And the social...[Read More]

Amazon, Facebook and Google don’t need to spy on your conversations to know what you’re talking about

If you’ve ever wondered if your phone is spying on you, you’re not alone. One of the most hotly debated topics in technology today is the amount of data that firms surreptitiously gather about us online. You may well have shared the increasingly common experience of feeling creeped out by ads for something you recently discussed in a real life conversation or an online interaction. This kind of ex...[Read More]

WhatsApp wants researchers to tackle its fake news problem – here’s an idea

Last February, Cadbury Chocolate fell victim to a hoax. The image below went viral in an Indonesian WhatsApp group called “Viral Media Johor”, and later in a Nigerian group. But the problem that this story and others like it pose is real. Rumours, hoaxes and misinformation find fertile breeding ground on social media. But as Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms increasingly c...[Read More]

TikTok: the world’s most valuable startup that you’ve never heard of

Anticipation has long been building about the impending takeover of the tech world by Chinese digital giants like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and JD. Efforts so far, however, have been largely disappointing. The most popular messaging app in the West is WhatsApp, not WeChat; people use PayPal, not Alipay, for digital payments; Google dominates the search market, not Baidu. Indeed, Google, Facebook, I...[Read More]

Message sent, received but no instant reply: how does that make you feel?

Your phone chimes, it’s a message from your partner. You reply instantly because that’s what you always do. Then you decide to add another message: “By the way, I love you ☺” You see the “read” status appear under the message, and you wait for her reply. An hour later you are still waiting, still checking. Has this ever happened to you? For most of us, there is an unwritten social contract that un...[Read More]

Clean up your cyber-hygiene – 6 changes to make in the new year

Data breaches, widespread malware attacks and microtargeted personalized advertising were lowlights of digital life in 2018. As technologies change, so does the advice security experts give for how to best stay safe. As 2019 begins, I’ve pulled together a short list of suggestions for keeping your digital life secure and free of manipulative disinformation. 1. Set your boundaries and stick to them...[Read More]

The defining tech story of 2018 is that social media is a modern-day version of slavery, using personal data for financial gain

When George Soros warned at the beginning of the year that social media had become a “menace” to society and “obstacles to innovation”, he could scarcely have known his admonitions would be proved so correct this year, as Facebook imploded in a privacy storm and he himself would became their target. By the end of this year, whatever niceties were left in our opinion of Face...[Read More]

3 ways Facebook and other social media companies could clean up their acts – if they wanted to

Facebook is in crisis mode, but the company can take major steps to fix itself – and the global community it says it wants to promote. Facebook founder, CEO and majority shareholder Mark Zuckerberg need not wait for governments to impose regulations. If he and other industry leaders wanted to, they could make meaningful changes fairly quickly. It wouldn’t be painless, but Facebook in particular is...[Read More]

How new media platforms have become powerful across Africa

Online platforms have become an important site for political and social engagement. On the one hand they have been praised for their progressive characteristics. This is because they offer great organising potential, enhance political accountability and disrupt old media practices that tend to exclude less powerful voices from important social and political discussions. On the other hand, they hav...[Read More]

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