Social Media News | The Professor’s Pick

Facebook to help tackle Ebola

Supporting charities working to combat Ebola in West Africa, Facebook has launched a new feature that lets users make donations directly from their homepage. The donation prompt, which will appear at the top of the newsfeed for a limited time, currently supports the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Medical Corps and Save the Children.

Facebook has also invested in West Africa’s communication network, donating 100 mobile terminals to provide internet and voice-calling access to medical and aid workers in affected areas such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In addition, Facebook is collaborating with Unicef to deliver messages to users, helping to “focus on Ebola detection, prevention and treatment”.

Last month the BBC launched a new public health information service via popular messaging app WhatsApp, helping to combat Ebola misinformation.

Facebook helps you to ignore annoying friends

In less serious Facebook news, a recent tweak to the newsfeed will soon allow app users to avoid those annoying friends and family members, without the social minefield of ‘unfriending’.

The changes, which are imminent, will let users hide posts from specific people, simply by clicking a grey arrow next to the offending posts. The customisable newsfeed, which is already available on mobile and desktop versions of Facebook, is part of larger plans to make user feeds more relevant.

There are currently approximately 1,500 different stories that can appear in a user’s feed on any given day. While Facebook has been pulling out all the stops to ensure its algorithm delivers the most interesting content possible, the updated settings menu will allow users to input their own preferences into the process. Additional customisation features are also expected to be rolled out over the coming weeks.

Twitter makes it easier to Tweet

In the latest of a long line of changes, Twitter has moved the “What’s happening?” box from the left-hand side of the screen to directly above the timeline. The new design applies only to the desktop version of the micro-blogging platform.

While no rationale has been provided by Twitter for the tweak, it’s believed that the new Facebook style layout has been introduced to make it easier for people to tweet.

Users so far seem nonplussed, with many tweeting that the move is a change for change sake, rather than having any genuine user benefit.

Snapchat valued at $12 billion

Photo messaging app Snapchat is currently talking to a number of potential investors in its latest fundraising round. The start-up, which has virtually no revenue is reportedly in talks with Yahoo and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, amongst others. Sources report that the latest cash injection could see SnapChat valued at between $10 and $12 billion.

Last year Snapchat rejected a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook.

WhatsApp lets senders know when their messages are read

Popular messaging app WhatsApp has introduced a new feature letting users know if, and at what, time their messages are opened.

Using “blue tick marks”, one tick will indicate when a message has been successfully received, with a second appearing when the message has been read. Clicking on an info tab will also show the precise time the recipient read the message.

Where a message has been sent to a group, the second tick will only appear when all recipients have read the message, with more detailed information on group messages also available via the info option.

The update will only work if both parties have the latest version of WhatsApp installed.

Some users have been critical of the new feature, arguing that it makes it difficult to ignore messages, or at the very least, respond to them at a more convenient time. One thing’s for sure, it will certainly be harder for WhatsApp users to claim that they haven’t seen their messages!

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