All posts in “Social”

Facebook is clamping down on posts that shamelessly beg for your engagement


A lot of crap gets shared on Facebook, but coming soon the volume may be a little less after Facebook made a move to penalize content that shamelessly begs people for engagement.

The social network giant said today that it will penalize Page owners and people who resort to “engagement bait,” which means posts that encourage users to like, comment or tag people in the comments section in order to gain wider visibility of their content.

The incentives — such as “Share with friends to win a free trip” or “Like if you’re an Aries” — gets content shared through engagement, ultimately helping the post, and the Page owner/author, grow its reach as users interact and it shows up on their friends’ Newsfeeds.

Not so now. A new tweak to the Newsfeed algorithm will mean “stricter demotions” for Pages, and/or individual, who adopt engagement bait tactics. Starting in a couple of weeks, offenders will have the total reach on all of their posts reduced if their content is begging or baiting users to interact. As you’d expect, serial offenders will be hit hardest.

But, Facebook is extending an olive branch and — initially, at least — engagement baiters can earn their original reach back with good behavior, i.e. less of the sludge and ‘better’ content all round.

Three examples of “engagement baiting” shared by Facebook

Facebook did specify that there are some exceptions to this clampdown, and that includes examples like a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, to quote the company directly.

The crackdown itself is led by a machine learning model that the social network said has been fed “hundreds of thousands of posts” to detect different kinds of engagement bait.

This push to close down some of the spammier types of content follows a clampdown on sites with crappy web experiences — for example those caked in advertising — and moves to weed out clickbait in multiple languages.

Facebook is, of course, still answering tougher question about the overall impact that its service is having on society across the world. In addition to explaining how Russian actors used the site to try to manipulate the U.S. general election and the UK’s Brexit vote, it is also being criticized from former executives who accuse it of “destroying how society works.”

A totally doable, not so intimidating self-care survival guide to 2018

After an October week from hell — when allegations against Harvey Weinstein first began to unravel, Donald Trump threatened to take aid away from Puerto Rico, women boycotted Twitter, and historic wildfires destroyed California — I splurged on a large Blue Raspberry Icee and sat alone in a 12:15 p.m. Saturday showing of Marshall. I turned my phone all the way off, and over the course of the next two hours I ugly cried in the dark.

Afterwards, I drove to a bookstore and spent $82.47. I went home, applied a face mask and collapsed onto my bed, escaping into the pages of one of my new books for hours. I met my friend for dinner, cherished every single bite of a cheeseburger, rushed back to my pillow, and fell asleep before watching re-runs of The Mindy Project.

This was my own personal form of self-care.

For so many, self-care has been the unsung savior of 2017. You’ve probably heard the term thrown around daily, but learning exactly what it means and why it’s so essential will help to better practice it in the new year.

Am I doing this thing right?

Self-care methods — personalized rituals that allow people to take a step back from this messy world to prioritize their well-being and preserve their mental health — differ for each individual and in each scenario, so there’s really no right or wrong.

For Hillary Clinton self-care could mean anything from frantic closet cleaning, long walks in the woods, and playing with her dogs, to yoga or sitting down to enjoy a glass of wine. For Michael Phelps, who’s conquered the pressures of Olympic competition but has struggled with depression and anxiety over the years, it’s working out or heading to the golf course. The only constant is that methods of self-care must benefit and focus on you.

“A lot of times people will say ‘I spend time with my kids,’ which is great and meaningful but that’s still taking care of somebody else,” said Monnica Williams, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate professor at University of Connecticut’s Department of Psychological Sciences. “When you self-care it’s really about you recharging.”

Self-care isn’t selfish

Some people abstain from self-care for fear that their behavior would come across as selfish. They simply can’t resist the urge to put other people first.

According to a 2017 “Women’s Wellness Report” from Everyday Health, which studied 3,000 women from ages 25 to 65 in the U.S., 76 percent of women said they were were more likely to put their own personal needs after someone else’s. However, more than half of the participants said that taking time for themselves was the greatest factor in achieving wellness. (Disclosure: Mashable and Everyday Health are owned by the same company, Ziff Davis.) 

“You can’t be the best you in any other contexts if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

“It’s essential for your mental health and your physical health,” Williams said, noting that self-care is anything but selfish. “You can’t be the best you in any other contexts if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

“I heard someone say that it’s like putting on your own oxygen mask in an airplane emergency before putting one on a child,” added Crystal Park, another professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Psychological Sciences. 

“The healthier and more resilient we are, the more effective we can be in our lives.”

Heading into 2018 with some solid self-care guidelines will help you better manage your stress and survive whatever challenges are in store, so here are a few to keep in mind.

Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day

Your mental health is important, but it’s also extremely easy to ignore. When your job gets too overwhelming or events in your personal life prevent or distract you from doing your best work in the office it’s time to take a step back.

For inspiration, look no further than one of 2017’s viral personal tales: the story of Olark CEO Ben Congleton advocating for his employee after learning she’d taken time off for mental health reasons.

After Congleton’s understanding email sparked discussion about mental health in the workplace, he wrote a post on Medium further emphasizing the need to normalize it.

When you are at work, take additional steps to make your environment a place of comfort. Personalize your desk with a plant, a framed photo of something that makes you smile, or set the mood with a tiny lamp. 

And every so often, book a conference room for lunch with your coworkers to share pizza and a cake you buy for the sole reason of craving cake. Work will still be there when your lunch break ends, but taking time to clear your head is crucial.

Give social media and screens a rest

Social media usage often starts with the intention of getting caught up on current events and quickly spirals into a black hole of negativity.

“So many people are plugged in and instantly alerted to everything that is happening in the news in ways that weren’t possible 10 years ago,” said Dr. Carolyn Mazure, director of Women’s Health Research at Yale.

While platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been proven to take a toll on self-esteem and mental health, social media isn’t all bad.

Here are a few ways to make online communities safer spaces for you:

  • Follow encouraging accounts like Janelle Silver‘s, who promotes her self-care-themed Etsy store.

  • Unfollow people on Facebook. (This helps you to remain friends with them but hides their posts from your timeline.)

  • Turn off push notifications.

  • Use Twitter’s mute feature to shield yourself from triggering words.

Transform your cell phone into a self-care hub 

While it’s healthy to disconnect from technology every so often, when you do have your phone by your side these tips can help make the experience more enjoyable.

  • Make use of your Do Not Disturb function.

  • Free up some storage space by parting with old text messages you have no intention of ever revisiting, deleting unused apps and contacts, and loading all photos and videos onto your laptop so you’re left with an empty album.

  • Download self-care apps related to deep breathing, meditation, list-making, and maybe even a relaxing game or two, like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

  • Create empowering or soothing playlists so you can easily listen to mood-lifting music on-the-go.

Treat Yo Self, but treat others, too

No matter how small, make a daily attempt to treat yourself to an experience or a purchase that’ll brighten your mood.

Get a pedicure or massage, take a hot bath, go for a walk around the block, go out with friends, or cancel plans to stay in on a Friday night to recharge and binge-watch mindless television, if that’s what you need.

And while being good to oneself is key, Park noted “balance is important” in self-care, and making an effort to give back to others often helps people feel better. Consider volunteering, or clean out your closets and drawers to donate unwanted items to charity.

Put positivity on display

One form of self-care can be as simple as not being so hard on yourself all the time. It sounds simple, but it can be a serious challenge at times. Visual reminders can help.

When in doubt, turn to this handy self-care printable, titled “Everything is Awful and I’m Not Okay.” The checklist presents 16 questions for you to answer and serves as a helpful reminder to stay hydrated, shower, participate in physical activity, and be kind to yourself.

Keep a copy of the printout in your bag for comfort or hang it somewhere you know you’ll see it.  (Mashable HQ has one on the wall of the women’s restroom.)

Affirmations are another great way to be kind to yourself and can serve as help. Glancing at inspirational quotes, uplifting doodles, or a few words of positivity can lift your spirits. The Mashable women’s restroom also has a few on display. (Very good restroom.)

Image: nicole gallucci/mashable

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Though the term self-care sounds like an isolated practice, it doesn’t have to be.

If you’re someone who struggles to commit to individual self-care routines, or simply takes enjoyment from the company of others, spending time with and opening up to a friend, loved one, therapist, or even reaching out to the Crisis Text Line could be extremely beneficial.

Just know that you’re not alone in your stress and professionals are out there to help. 

“Certainly, if possible, try to see a stressful situation as an opportunity to grow, and consider the power of reorienting how you confront a stressful situation when it arrives,” Mazure said.

“Instead of thinking, ‘Oh no, not again,’ perhaps a good self-care perspective might be, ‘I’ve seen stress before. I’ve got this.'”

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources. 

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f10%2fd18dbf23 7852 3e8c%2fthumb%2f00001

Facebook made a game with Porgs and that’s really all you need to know

If there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on about The Last Jedi it’s most definitely the Porgs

Now, Facebook is helping you relive all the best Porg moments from The Last Jedi and then some, thanks to the social network’s new Porg Invasion game. 

Playable on Facebook’s app and website, as well as Messenger, the adorable — and spoiler-free — game puts you on board the Millennium Falcon as it’s quickly being overrun by Porgs. Switch off between BB-8, who must frantically snatch each critter out of the air, and Chewie, who has to fix the destruction the Porgs leave behind.

Image: disney

Image: Disney

If you can keep the Porgs at bay and fix the damage before the time is up, then you can advance to the next level. 

Officially, the game falls into Facebook’s “Instant Game” platform, so don’t expect anything too complex, even though Porg Invasion is admittedly much more fun than most of Facebook’s lightweight gaming offerings. 

Of course, the real reason you’ll want to play, though, is because if there’s one thing The Last Jedi taught us, it’s that there can never be too many Porgs.

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f12%2f6a89458c 84ef 7814%2fthumb%2f00001

EyeEm’s new products aim to understand brand aesthetics


EyeEm is unveiling new tools to help the brands and marketers using the site to source their images.

Underlying these tools is a technology called EyeEm Vision, which we described in-depth earlier this year. The goal is to expand image recognition so that it’s not just identifying the objects in the photo, but also its aesthetic qualities.

EyeEm’s co-founder and chief product officer Lorenz Aschoff described EyeEm Vision as an extension of the photography marketplace’s broader mission to address “the content crisis” — namely the fact that when EyeEm was founded in 2011, Aschoff felt that there was a “massive flood of images” that had “completely destroyed the visual aesthetics of the web.”

EyeEm aims to fix that by helping brands find beautiful photographs. And Aschoff said EyeEm Vision has been trained to identify many of the visual elements that make for a good photograph — it is, in his words, “technology that understands, in general, beauty.”

At the same time, he acknowledged, “What I think is beautiful might be different from what you think is beautiful.” Plus, individual brands are going to have their own specific standards and guidelines that go beyond beauty. So each customer can upload photos that train EyeEm Vision to identify photos that match their own aesthetic — Aschoff said EyeEm’s analysis is looking at around half a million different factors.

EyeEm personalized search

One of the ways EyeEm is actually deploying the technology is by launching a new Missions Dashboard. Brands use Missions to crowdsource campaign photos from the EyeEm community, and the new dashboard allows them to track how their Mission is going — how many photographers are participating, how many photos have been uploaded and so on. EyeEm says that the average Mission results in more than 100,000 photos, which why it’s important to use EyeEm Vision to surface the photos that best match the brand’s style.

EyeEm is also incorporating Vision into a personalized search product, where marketers can search the EyeEm image library, filtered based on their own brand guidelines. For example, BCG’s 11,000 consultants can now search for images to use in their presentations and marketing materials, and EyeEm will only show the images that are a good fit with the BCG brand.

And while this is less directly related to Vision, EyeEm is also announcing a new program called Custom, where brands can work with EyeEm photographers on custom shoots.

Lastly, if you’re curious about Vision, you can try it out for yourself on the EyeEm website.

Featured Image: Eunice Eunny/EyeEm

AIM is officially dead


Say “goodbye” (in the AOL voice, if possible) to Aol Instant Messenger.

Back in October, Oath (the combined entity of Yahoo and Aol) announced that it would shutter AIM on December 15. Yes, today is the day.

While there is no shortage of means to communicate online, AIM holds a special place in many of our hearts.

For some of us, it was the first place we talked to our crush. It was our internet playground, where we grew accustomed to online acronyms and first learned about the very healthy habit of internet stalking.

AIM is the first place we ever wrote a web bio, likely in Comic Sans, with outrageous text and background colors.

AIM never stood a chance at keeping up with the pace of innovation on the web, which is why its sun has set, but that doesn’t change what it meant to us.

So today, pour one out for teenage you typing furiously on the computer in your parents’ office. LOL. AFK. BRB. ROFL.

Creaky door closing sound effect

Disclosure: Oath owns TechCrunch.