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Instagram is rolling out pronouns on user profiles
by Paul Hill
Instagram users in a few countries can now set their preferred pronouns on the platform, according to the product’s Twitter feed. Any pronouns that you pick will appear next to your name and can be shown to all users or just followers if you want to maintain privacy on the matter. Instagram did not say which countries the feature is available in but it is live in the United Kingdom.
Users can select up to four pronouns to add to their account and can only pick them from a pre-defined list that Instagram has come up with. If you prefer very obscure pronouns they may not be available but many of the more popular ones are. Some of the pronouns that users can pick include: his, he, him, she, her, hers, hir, e, ey, em, eir, they, them, theirs, thon, thons, per, pers, fae, faer, ze, zir, zie, xe, xem, xyr, co, cos, ve, ver, vis, vi, vir, ne, nir, nirs, nee, ner, ners, mer, and mers.
Instagram says that while the feature is only available in a few countries right now, it does plan to roll it out to more in the future. It’s unclear if the feature is only available for those who speak English right now or whether pronouns in other languages are available too.
Over the last several years, more and more people have been declaring which pronouns they use in their social media bios to avoid any confusion. Instagram is one of the first platforms to build a multitude of pronouns directly into its profile pages.
By Jay Bonggolto
Facebook now asks you to read an article before sharing it
by Jay Bonggolto
Social media sites have been trying to address misinformation on their platforms in various ways. At the end of March, Twitter announced a round of updates that included a new prompt asking you to read a news article before retweeting it. The goal was to encourage users to give some thought to the article's actual content beyond its headline.
Facebook is now following suit. The social networking giant introduced today a new feature that will help you make sure you understand the content you're trying to share with others. This comes in the form of a prompt that pops up on your screen when you hit the share button.
The prompt appears only when Facebook detects that you are sharing a news article you haven't read yet. It will then ask you to open the link first and read it before sharing it to your news feed or via a direct message. The prompt warns you about the risk of missing key facts if you choose to share content without reading. Facebook announced the new feature in a tweet today.
That said, you still have the option to skip reading an article and continue to share it anyway by hitting the "Continue sharing" button. It's worth noting that the prompt is not live yet for everyone, as it's still being tested with a limited number of users.
By Jay Bonggolto
Facebook is testing Neighborhoods to let users connect with local communities
by Jay Bonggolto
Facebook started working on a Nextdoor-like feature late last year aimed at letting users socialize with people that live nearby. Dubbed Neighborhoods, it was initially tested in a limited capacity in Calgary, Canada, and now its availability is expanding.
The social media giant announced today that it is testing Neighborhoods in Canada and will launch it soon in the U.S. as well. It is essentially a new destination within the Facebook app meant to connect people living in a neighborhood and curate local goings-on in the news feed. You can even get recommendations for places, such as the best coffee shop around. There's an option to join a Neighborhood comprising your own locality or another nearby Neighborhood.
Neighborhoods is open to users 18 years of age or older. To join, you must set up a profile that's different from your main Facebook profile. You can then select your interests, create a custom bio, answer questions from your neighbors, and interact with local groups, among other features. Further, groups can be created within the new section, or admins of existing Facebook Groups can add that group to Neighborhoods. You can also block other users which removes you from the blocked user's Neighborhoods directory.
Finally, each Neighborhood will have moderators to ensure members adhere to the standards and guidelines for posts and comments. The moderators can also hide a post that violates the rules and Facebook will take action to review the flagged content. The new feature is optional, of course, although Facebook will share your activity within a Neighborhood to serve you targeted ads when you sign up for it.
Facebook's Oversight Board says it was right to suspend Trump
by João Carrasqueira
Facebook's Oversight Board has decided to uphold the suspension of former President Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts enacted in January, the social network announced today.
The suspension of Trump's accounts was made in light of the attack on the Capitol building on January 6, when Congress was set to count the electoral college votes that certified the results of the presidential election, in an attempt to overturn it. Following the attack, various social media platforms banned the then-President in fear of potential attempts to encourage further violence.
While some believed that the ban should have taken place earlier, many found that Facebook overstepped its boundaries and accused it of censorship. Because of that, the social network referred the case to the Oversight Board, a relatively recent entity created to challenge or validate Facebook's decisions.
With today's announcement, Facebook says that the Oversight Board "recognized that the unprecedented circumstances justified the exceptional measure we took". However, the social network wasn't free of criticism. The Oversight Board says that the suspension was "indeterminate and standardless", and that Facebook should have been clearer in its duration.
As such, the company will be reviewing its course of action and try to determine an appropriate penalty. We'll have to wait for further announcements to be made on that front.
By Jay Bonggolto
WhatsApp restores digital payments in Brazil a year after it was blocked
by Jay Bonggolto
Just a few days after it launched a digital payments feature in Brazil, WhatsApp had to comply with an order from the country's central bank and antitrust regulator to halt the service. The suspension was intended to maintain competition in the country's payment system.
Almost a year later, WhatsApp is now allowed to resume digital money transfers in Brazil. The Facebook-owned firm has relaunched the service only for peer-to-peer transactions. The rollout will be done in phases, meaning it won't be immediately available to everyone from the very start.
Initially, only a small number of users will be able to transfer funds through the chat service, with the ability to invite other users into the payment service as well. They can send up to 5,000 Brazilian reais (~$918) per month at no charge. Moreover, there are limitations to the daily transactions: users can process only up to 1,000 Brazilian reais (~$184) for each transfer and they won't be able to make more than 20 transfers per day.
For now, the digital payment feature only works for peer-to-peer transfers, although WhatsApp had originally targeted the service at small and micro businesses that use its platform to run their daily operations. Brazil's central bank has yet to approve digital transactions with merchants, and it could come with additional charges. At the moment, Facebook is in talks with the central bank, with the merchant payment service expected to launch sometime this year.