Facebook Launches VR Metaverse

Thursday afternoon marked the opening of their virtual MetaVerse “Horizon World”. The new Meta verse allows users to connect using the use of their speciality Oculus virtual reality headsets following the Facebook acquisition of Oculus back in 2014 for $2 billion. Facebook is looking to extend the Metaverse for $10 billion over the next year. This news comes after democratic push for a federal investigation into the claim that facebook is misleading advertisers as well as participating in illegal activities after the data breach of 2016. The Metaverse world “Horizon World” will allow users to interact with each other via virtual reality. This leaves many wondering the question of if this is the future of social media. Is every platform going to have their own way of interacting with each other via a digital version of themselves? We are all aware of the fact that VR is the new wave of entertainment. Guess we will have to see what is next from our favorite social media platforms.




Democratic Senators Pushing For Investigation Into Facebooks Misleading Information

Two Democratic senators,. Elizabeth Warren and Maria Cantwell are asking for a federal investigation into allegations that Facebook misled advertisers and investors about public safety concerns on their platform. Thursday warren pled with federal investigators to determine if Facebook violated U.S. wire fraud and securities laws. This news comes just a week after the senate Commerce Committee ran a investigation into the now Meta platform into if they violated agency law in the way in which they conduct their business practices.Warrens push for the investigation stems from the idea that facebook deliberately lied about illegal conduct taking place on of the world’s largest social media platforms. With Facebook already under fire for the handling of their data breach and their role in the 2016 election. This  does not come at a good time after their renaming of Meta formally named Facebook. One wonders, what else are they really keeping from us?



Facebook Launches New Tool For Creators, Just Before Winter Break

Facebook launched a new tool yesterday for creators on their platform to take full control of maximizing the winter break. Some of the new features, feature in comment broadcast reactions that allows the creator to have more interactions amongst their fan base. One of the main new features of the update is a better design on both their  desktop as well as mobile app version. Facebook has gone as far to simplify the navigation tools making things such as insight and tools, all while still staying on live. The strategic planning of this timely role out of such design comes right before the winter break for many colleges across the country. Facebook is well aware of this peak time that allows many to spend more time browsing and creating content for social media apps. One of my personal favorite features of this new role out is the ability for creators to share multiple links on the screen without ever having to stop the live stream.

Source: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-launches-new-tools-for-live-stream-creators-including-links-in-st/611279/


A kid’s version of Instagram is in the works

Source: Buzzfeed

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testified before Congress this morning, CNBC reports. Mosseri refused to cancel the plans to create a kid-friendly version of Instagram for users under the age of 13.

CNBC stated that “Mosseri told the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection that he is the ultimate decision-maker on the matter.” His plan is to create this version of Instagram to keep children under the age of 13 from downloading Instagram without their parent’s permission.

The day before this testimony, the company announced that it will be making new teen safety adjustments to the app, such as a “Take a Break” notifications, removing users’ ability to tag teens that do not follow them, and eventually options to allow parents to monitor teens’ Instagram usage.

The Congress hearing was about online child safety and protection, as too many underaged users have created Instagram accounts due to issues with age verification. Lawmakers have been unhappy with the speed of the plaform’s implementation of safety measures, feeling as if Instagram is not committed to the safety of children.

Instagram’s commitment to safety has been a hot topic since whistleblower Frances Haugen released documents from Facebook and Instagram, exposing Meta‘s tendency to ignore negative data. According to The Washington Post, data shows that Instagram negatively affects young users’ mental health and body image, with “17% of teen girls [saying] that their eating disorders got worse after Instagram use.”

The subcomittee now lacks trust in Instagram and Facebook, seeing how they ignored and hid negative data, rather than building solutions and implementing safety measures.

The day before this testimony, the company announced that it will be making new teen safety adjustments to the app, such as a “Take a Break” notifications, removing users’ ability to tag teens that do not follow them, and eventually options to allow parents to monitor teens’ Instagram usage.

With all of this new information about how Instagram plans to improve its safety measures, it leaves people wondering about the effectiveness and if something like a kid-friendly Instagram should even be created. Though it seems like a safer option at first, it could pose a new set of safety issues that could have been avoided.

Despite all of this, development of the app has been paused and there is no projected release date at this time.

In Defense of Social Media

Image courtesy of jakartapost.com

It would seem like public opinion regarding social media has certainly been on the decline in the last few years. With no shortage of platform controversies and new data about its negative impact on mental health, more and more people have been preaching the idea that the best way to set yourself free, is to just quit. Say goodbye. Log off. Go outside. But is going “cold turkey” really the solution? In a recent Forbes article, John Brandon explained why cutting all ties from social media could actually have a negative impact if not properly thought out. This article was in response to a TED Talk by Professor Cal Newport, where the professor highlighted a variety of negative effects from platform usage. Since the TED Talk was from 2016, not all the issues we’ve come to know now were covered. In the past few years, social media has been associated with causing depression and negative self-image, addiction and lessening attention spans, spreading misinformation and disinformation, selling private data, and causing further divisiveness among a society in the midst of social/political turmoil… to name just a few issues.

That list alone could be enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel on social media for good, but Brandon explained how that could be a recipe for disaster. “Quitting is not the same as controlling” he wrote. Brandon’s take on social media usage is similar to how we would talk about drinking or eating junk food in moderation. Most things that are done in excess tend to have negative side effect regardless of their original intention, and social media is no exception. As much as some of us would like to believe it, a platform is not just some wicked entity; it’s a tool (as Brandon put it), and as autonomous individuals, we have the power to decide how we utilize this tool. And similar to vices like drinking or junk food, if we feel we’ve abused it, quitting cold turkey tends to backfire.

More than anything, I worry about the “cold turkey” approach because people eventually get sucked back into using the apps. “I’m deleting my account” says the person who is not able to control usage, and hasn’t dealt with a tendency to overuse the apps. A few weeks or months later, that person is back using the app again, maybe even more than ever before.

John Brandon, Forbes Magazine 2021

This is not to say that you shouldn’t leave social media if you truly want to. Heck, I was offline for most of 2019 and have no regrets about it. It’s just important to remember all the benefits that having these accounts comes with if used responsibly and in moderation. Being connected to world means an endless stream of discovery and inspiration. It means having a direct way of communicating with friends and family that may live across the world. It means more opportunity to promote your passions. I’m not ashamed to say that I won’t leave social media out of fear of general FOMO. I understand how rapidly networking technology is accelerating, and I don’t want to miss out. Though, it does need to change for the better. It will be interesting to see what type of regulations are put in place on the web in the coming years, if any. Though until then, our best course of action to avoid the negative implications of living online is to get a better sense of ourselves, look within, and be honest about if we’re using these tools responsibly.

Lush Cosmetics quits social media

Will their business plan start a trend among others?

While many companies are ramping up their social media presence this Black Friday, Lush Cosmetics has removed their Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok accounts. According to Lush’s official site, this change is a result of the revelations from the Facebook’s whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who exposed how Facebook prioritized profit over the safety of their users.

“The serious effects of social media on mental health are being ignored by these platforms. It’s time to stop scrolling and be somewhere else.”

This was no doubt a difficult decision for the cosmetic company- they even admitted that they have attempted to remove themselves from social media before, but were held back by FOMO. Though at the end of the day, they want their customers to know that all their business decisions are in line with their mission. A statement from Lush’s Chief Financial Officer read,

“As an inventor of bath bombs, I pour all my efforts into creating products that help people switch off, relax and pay attention to their wellbeing. Social media platforms have become the antithesis of this aim, with algorithms designed to keep people scrolling and stop them from switching off and relaxing.”  

Lush has vowed not to return to these platforms until they address and resolve all the issues with their users. The question that’s on everyone’s minds: Will Lush continue to be successful despite the change? Well, so far the news of their leaving social media has created a lot of positive buzz for the company’s reputation. And it is worth mentioning that they will still have a small presence on Twitter and YouTube as they explore healthier ways to connect with their audience. According to ABC News, Lush is planning to invest more into opening stores in more locations, hosting physical events, community activation, and more traditional forms of marketing; that means you may star seeing those paper catalogs in your mail.


Facebook and Facial Recognition

Source: The New York Times

Facebook has been making headlines all October long in lieu of leaked reports from former employee, Frances Haugen. On November 2nd, Facebook’s parent company, newly coined ‘meta’, announced that it would be terminating their decade old facial recognition software and all the data that came with it. Facebook may be cutting their losses with this elimination, as the technology has sparked many conversations about privacy concerns.

Vice President of Artificial Intelligence at Meta, Jerome Peseti, attributed the change to “many concerns about the place of facial recognition software in society because every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern and we want to find the right balance.”

The introduction of this technology came in 2010 and satiated people’s obsession with time saving features. The application could automatically identify friends and family in photos using facial geometrics and link all the photos to their personal account. “Facebook now has built one of the largest repositories of digital photos in the world, partly thanks to this software.” Questions have come up in recent months, wondering what exactly Facebook is doing with all this information.

A decade later, and many are more concerned about their privacy being infringed upon then they are about saving time. Similar technologies have been recently misused in countries like China to control minorities. In the United States, the government employs this technology to help with policing, but many wonder if this feature is seamless enough to avoid problems such as mistaken arrests.  The algorithm used to make this feature possible is called DeepFace and has yet to be sold to any third parties. Despite all of this, Meta has not promised they won’t use this software in future products.

The Facebook Papers

Photo Via T.J. Kirkpatrick from The New York Times


Former Facebook product manager, Frances Haugen, has come forward with a cache of internal messages, research, and documents that present internal concerns about the social media platform’s failure to regulate dangerous content and its adverse effects on children. Widely known as the Facebook Papers, include tens of thousands of pages and files collected by Haugen as well as redacted versions of news and articles from the Associated Press, The Atlantic, CNN, the Financial Times, Fox Business, Le Monde, The New York Times, NPR, Reuters and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Multiple US and European news outlets have followed suit and have published stories, research, documents, and presentations on Facebook and their failure to regulate the platform.

Haugen supplied the documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission before testifying at Congress and the UK Parliament on how the Facebook knowingly failed to filter misinformation, hate speech, and dangerous content across the platform. Haugen claims that the collection of data and internal documents prove that Facebook’s leadership continuously withheld information to maintain public image and profitability. Facebook declined to make an official statement but claimed that the internal documents are misleading and paint a “false picture” of the social media platform.

Among many experts, Haugen urged senators to implement regulations and antitrust initiatives to reduce the power the social media platform that is used by nearly half the world’s population. Several experts have suggest the formation of an independent regulatory agency and legal penalties for major media companies. This agency would include industry leaders and federal representative that would enact behavioral and privacy policies and well as regulations on the use of collected user data and information. For Facebook, this would require more transparency on internal affairs and policies and changes to its algorithms.

Meta: The New Name of Facebook and Why

Source: CNBC

Facebook announced that the company changed its name to Meta on Thursday at the Facebook Connect virtual reality conference, according to CNBC. The sudden rebrand came about in the midst of legal turmoil that the company has been combatting.

The name “Meta” refers to the “metaverse,” a virtual world where users can interact with each other no matter where they are located in the real world.

“The next platform will be even more immersive — an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build,” wrote CEO and Founder of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, in a founder’s letter.

The social media app that the company is known for will remain as Facebook, but the company no longer wants the app to be the face of the company.

It is highly spectated that the name change was created as a distraction from ex-employee whistleblower Frances Haugen, who, according to the Washington Post, “sent tens of thousands of internal company documents to Congress and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.” This garnered a negative reputation for Facebook, along with a multitude of legal issues that arose after the documents were exposed.

It was revealed that the company has been well aware of issues its platforms have been causing but decided to ignore it.

Despite all of this, the company claims this name change comes from a shift in focus of energy. Meta aims to move towards being known as a metaverse company, rather than a social media company. The company has been forming a team whose goal is to create the metaverse.

Zuckerberg gave a demonstration of what the company wants the metaverse to look like at the Facebook Connect conference. CNBC described this as a “Pixar-like animation of software the company hopes to build some day.” The demo showed how users will be able to interact with each other using cartoon-like avatars within virtual spaces.

Though the plan for the metaverse has been revealed now, with $10 billion being designated for its development in the next year, it will be over 5 years before the metaverse technology is ready for the public, Zuckerberg said.

Of course, users of Facebook (now Meta) and its other platforms have many opinions about this sudden change. Some are excited about the approaching metaverse technology, while others fear what may become of society with technology like this.

Companies have already begun preparation for this new technology. For example, Nike has created several trademarks to sell products within the metaverse.

Facebook has opened up a new chapter in social technology. Now, it is just a waiting game until the technology is ready for the public.

Social medias’ uphill battle with eating disorder-related content

Image courtesy of BBC.com/news

In these past couple weeks after whistleblower, Frances Haugen, testified before congress regarding how Facebook’s algorithm has been feeding harmful content and misinformation to the masses, the topic of how social media perpetuates eating disorder-related content has reached the mainstream. Internal documents revealed how Instagram’s algorithm has perpetuated content that is normally associated with the more toxic realm of body, weight, and health related material. This has resulted in “proana” (short for pro-anorexia) as well as other disorder eating related content being exposed to users. This has been incredibly problematic for younger demographics whose sense of self and esteem are so vulnerable.

For many people reading this, this is old news. Content that glamorizes eating disorders have been prevalent on social media platforms long before the birth of Facebook and Instagram. Myspace and Tumblr were especially notorious hotbeds for all things “thinspiration” in the early to mid-2010s. As the years went on, tech companies have been more proactive in taking down profiles and posts that included any keywords associated with eating disorders, while subsequently making sure that anyone who searched up these terms was given direct access to helplines and psychiatric support. Facebook has been slammed in the last month with outrage from a public demanding to know why these algorithms would continue to promote content so dangerous to young people. Is it a shameless cash-grab within the weight loss industry? A miscalculation in a technical code? How could they let this continue to happen? Well, while those questions are still valid to ask, its important to note that identifying harmful content is not as simple as it may seem. In a New York Times article, authors Kate Conger, Kellen Browning and Erin Woo referenced an important quote about this topic:

“Social media in general does not cause an eating disorder. However, it can contribute to an eating disorder,” said Chelsea Kronengold, a spokeswoman for the National Eating Disorders Association. “There are certain posts and certain content that may trigger one person and not another person. From the social media platform’s perspective, how do you moderate that gray area content?”


From an outsider’s perspective, it may be easy to look at one profile and categorize it as “harmful” while viewing another as “health-related”. However, that perspective can differ drastically depending on the individual. There is a plethora of content that was never intended to be viewed as “proana”, but, unfortunately, is worshipped that way. Think models, influencers, or fitness gurus. How is an algorithm meant to understand what reaction a user will gauge? It becomes even more difficult when we look at how many people use social media as a place to tell their story about their eating disorder recovery. One of the most beautiful aspects of the modern age is how we can use these platforms to connect with other people who are struggling and offer them support. Unfortunately, like influencers, accounts meant to promote recovery can also be viewed in a toxic mentality that further perpetuates disordered thinking. Is Instagram supposed to shut down these survivors’ accounts as well? The accounts that really perpetuate these toxic ideologies are often hard for social media to identify; the hashtags will normally be one letter off from the keyword that would get them shut down, while any wording in posts is carefully crafted as to avoid them as well.

Instagram and Facebook have made a lot of progress in taking these accounts down compared to the past. However, these new reports have also exposed the flaws in their system. They are not without fault, but it is important to remember how difficult paroling this type of evading is on a scale of over a billion users. No one (not just girls) should be exposed to accounts that promote EDs, but for those who wish to seek it out, can always find a way to hide in the shadows. It will be interesting to see how Facebook address this situation, and whether or not they will make changes in their technology and AI to more accurately identify the nature of these accounts. Though, they may want to consider that the best course of action, for vulnerable people to truly avoid coming across these triggers to their mental health, is to denounce their platform; to not assume that everything can be fixed from within, and for once, just suggest that their platform is not suitable for some people to use.