Social Media News | The Professor’s Pick

WhatsApp to help combat Ebola misinformation

The BBC has launched a new public health information service via popular messaging app WhatsApp. In a bid to provide the people of West Africa with accurate health information to help combat the spread of Ebola, WhatsApp will be used to share audio, image and text message alerts in a digestible manner.

Content shared via the service will be available in both English and French, as well as in mixed-media format for users who may not be able to read. The free service will send messages three times per day to subscribers.

With WhatsApp the biggest chat app in Africa and the BBC a trusted source of information, the director of BBC World Service, Peter Horrocks, believes that the collaboration will “literally save lives”.

Whisper responds to privacy revelations

Whisper, an app that allows users to send and receive anonymous messages has come under fire as The Guardian reveals it has been tracking the location of users, including those who have opted-out of geolocation services.

The app, which encourages users to share intimate details about their lives, receives a reported 3.5 billion monthly page views, with users currently publishing as many as 2.6 million messages a day.

After initially hitting back at the findings as “not true”, Whisper has since rewritten its T&Cs. These now allow Whisper to establish the broad location of people who have disabled the app’s geolocation feature. In addition, Whisper’s Chief Executive has now stated that: “we realise that we are not infallible.”
Having previously billed itself as “the safest place on the internet” and a platform for whistleblowers, some privacy experts are calling for a federal inquiry into the company which was recently valued at over $200 million.

Facebook introduces safety check for disaster victims

Facebook has launched a new feature to make it easier for people to check that their loved ones are safe during a disaster.

The Safety Check app will use GPS to send notifications to users in range of unfolding disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, asking them to click a button and confirm that they are safe.

This status will then be shared on Facebook, helping to ease concern from friends and family.

Safety Check will work on Facebook’s desktop version and is available via its Android and iOS apps.

Snapchat gets its first ad

The first ever advert to appear on Snapchat raised goosebumps this week, scaring users with a 20-second trailer for horror film Ouija.

Making a first foray into monetising the app through adverts, Snapchat, which is valued at $10 billion has recently stated that: “we need to make money”.

Snapchat is, however, keen not to turn-off its 100 million active users and has promised to avoid being over intrusive with any advertising.

Adverts will appear in a user’s Recent Updates but will disappear after a set period, whether it has been viewed or not.

Despite a lack of revenues, Snapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition bid from Facebook last year to remain independent.

Twitter to offer more tools for developers

Hosting its first developer conference in four years, Twitter seems keen to appeal to developers with the announcement of a suite of tools to make it easier for them to build Twitter related apps.

Twitter had previously upset the developer community by introducing strict rules that made it difficult for programmers to create third-party apps that integrate into the social media platform.

The move is intended to help restore goodwill between developers and Twitter, leading to the creation of new apps that could improve the overall Twitter experience, and potentially be monetised.

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