Posts tagged with "Facebook"

A beginner’s guide to Mastodon, the Twitter alternative that’s taking off

November 10, 2022

If you’ve heard the word, “mastodon,” a lot since Elon Musk took over Twitter in late October, here’s why: The extinct mammal is also the name of a relatively small, formerly little-known social network that has skyrocketed in popularity, as many Twitter users try it out as an alternative for connecting with others online, reports CNN.

Mastodon is a decentralized social network that enables users to join a slew of different servers run by various groups and individuals, rather than one central platform controlled by a single company like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

While all of these social networks are free to use, Mastodon is also free of ads. It’s developed by a nonprofit run by German software developer Eugen Rochkov, who created Mastodon in 2016. The site is supported via crowdfunding, as well as by individuals and groups who operate servers.

Users have been fleeing Twitter for it in recent days—or at least seeking out a second place to post their thoughts online during a time when the much more well-known social network faces layoffs, controversial product changes, an expected shift in its approach to content moderation, and a jump in hateful rhetoric.

In a Mastodon post late on Sunday, November 6, Rochko said the social network gained 489,000 users in the less than two weeks, and now boasts over one million active monthly users. (For perspective, Twitter reported in July that it had nearly 238 million daily active monetizable users.)

“That’s pretty cool,” Rochko said of the milestone.

But while it can be exciting to seek out a new social network, it can be tricky, too. Mastodon and Twitter have some similarities, yet they’re quite different — both in how they work and how they’re operated. Whether you’re interested in leaving Twitter or just want to check out something new, read on to find out how to sign up and thrive with Mastodon.

Things are the same, but also very different

A lot of Mastodon’s features and layout (particularly in its iOS and Android apps) will look familiar to current Twitter users, with some slightly different verbiage. You can follow others, create short posts (there’s a 500-character limit, and you can upload images and videos), favorite, or repost other users’ posts, and so on.

Mastodon is quite different though, and the sign-up process, in particular, can trip up new users. That’s because it’s not as simple as opening an app or webpage and setting up a username and password. You also need to choose a server where your Mastodon account will live.

First, don’t panic: There is no technical knowledge required to sign up, but you will have to follow a few steps to create your account—and you may have to be patient, as the influx of new users has put a strain on many servers.

Go to this webpage, and, if you want to get started quickly, click the little drop-down menu that says “sign-up speed” and set it to “instant” to see servers you can sign up with right away.

Then, pick a server. There are general-interest servers such as mastodon.world; regional servers like sfba.social, which is aimed at people in the San Francisco Bay Area; and ones aimed at various interests, too (many servers review new sign-ups before approving them—such as by asking potential users why they want to join—so you may need to wait if you want to join one in particular).

You’ll also need to decide how you want to access Mastodon—on a smartphone, you will want to try the iOS or Android app, but there are also many other free and paid apps that will do the trick. On the web, I can access Mastodon via the server I’m signed up with.

Finding friends

One of the trickiest aspects of joining Mastodon could be finding people you know and discovering people you want to follow. In part, that’s because there are no algorithmically generated suggestions of who to follow, no scanning your contacts for people you know, and you may not know who among the people you follow on other social-media networks is already using Mastodon (or what handle they’re using if they’re already there).

Similar to Twitter, you can use hashtags on Mastodon to seek out topics and people (“#TwitterMigration” is currently popular for newcomers). There are also some tools you can use to find Twitter friends on Mastodon, such as Twitodon.

Once you’ve settled in with a server and a handful of people to follow, you’ll want to start reading others’ posts and posting yourself. You’ll quickly notice many subtle differences from Twitter. For instance, users’ updates are sorted chronologically, rather than algorithmically as they are on Twitter and many other social networks.

There also isn’t a Mastodon equivalent to Twitter’s quote-tweet feature, where you can repost another user’s post and append your own thoughts to it. The closest you can get is copying and pasting a link to a user’s post into a new post and adding your own comments—although anyone seeing your post will have to click that link if they want to understand what you’re talking about.

These differences aren’t bad, and some of them actually may be good: It can make posting on Mastodon feel a little less reactive than Twitter, which is great for anyone prone to getting fired up by other people’s social media posts. And many of the people trying out Mastodon seem ready for a change.

Research contact: @CNN

Facebook parent Meta will notify employees of large-scale layoffs, starting this week

November 9, 2022

Meta Platforms is planning to begin large-scale layoffs this week, according to people familiar with the matter, in what could be the largest round in a recent spate of tech job cuts after the industry’s rapid growth during the pandemic, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The layoffs are expected to affect many thousands of employees and an announcement is planned to come as soon as Wednesday, November 9. Meta reported more than 87,000 employees at the end of September. Company officials already told employees to cancel nonessential travel beginning this week, insiders said.

The planned layoffs would be the first broad head-count reductions to occur in the company’s 18-year history. While smaller on a percentage basis than the cuts at Twitter this past week—which hit about half of that company’s staff—the number of Meta employees expected to lose their jobs could be the largest to date at a major technology corporation in a year that has seen a tech-industry retrenchment.

A spokesman for Meta declined to comment, referring to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent statement that the company would “focus our investments on a small number of high-priority growth areas.

“So that means some teams will grow meaningfully, but most other teams will stay flat or shrink over the next year,” he said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call on October. 26. “In aggregate, we expect to end 2023 as either roughly the same size, or even a slightly smaller organization than we are today.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that Meta was planning to cut expenses by at least 10% in the coming months, in part through staff reductions.

The cuts expected to be announced this week follow several months of more targeted staffing reductions in which employees were managed out or saw their roles eliminated.

“Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here,” Zuckerberg told employees at a companywide meeting at the end of June. 

Meta, like other tech giants, went on a hiring spree during the pandemic as life and business shifted more online. It added more than 27,000 employees in 2020 and 2021 combined; and added a further 15,344 in the first nine months of this year—about one-fourth of that during the most recent quarter.

Meta’s stock has fallen more than 70% this year. The company has highlighted deteriorating macroeconomic trends, but investors also have been spooked by its spending and threats to the company’s core social-media business. Growth for that business in many markets has stalled amid stiff competition from TikTok; and Apple’s requirement that users opt in to the tracking of their devices has curtailed the ability of social-media platforms to target ads.

Last month, investment firm Altimeter Capital said in an open letter to Zuckerberg that Meta should slash staff and pare back its metaverse ambitions, reflecting the rising discontent among shareholders.

Much of Meta’s ballooning costs stem from Zuckerberg’s commitment to Reality Labs; a division of the company responsible for virtual- and augmented-reality headsets, as well as the creation of the metaverse. Zuckerberg has billed the metaverse as a constellation of interlocking virtual worlds in which people will eventually work, play, live, and shop.

The effort has cost the company $15 billion since the beginning of last year. But despite investing heavily in promoting its virtual-reality platform, Horizon Worlds, users have been largely unimpressed. Last month, the Journal reported that visitors to Horizon Worlds had fallen over the course of the year to well under 200,000 users, about the size of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I get that a lot of people might disagree with this investment,” Zuckerberg told analysts on the company’s earnings call last month before reaffirming his commitment. “I think people are going to look back on decades from now and talk about the importance of the work that was done here.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Hungry pup on a train is hilariously desperate to get his human’s snack

Augsut 17, 2022

What would you do if you saw this sweet face peering back at you on the train? For ‘pawrent’ Ursula Aitchison, her pup Huxley’s desperation was not enough for her to give up her tasty snack, but it resulted in some adorably hilarious images, reports My Modern Met.

Aitchison recently shared photos of the Golden Retriever realizing that his mom was rudely refraining from sharing her Walker’s brand prawn cocktail-flavored chips—and trying to do something about it. In an image carousel on Instagram, the first photo shows him innocently peering through the narrow view between the train seats.

Then, Huxley uses an innocuous technique: just barely putting his paw through the opening. The following photos showcase a more distraught side, with the pooch shoving his muzzle in the gap, using all his might to get as close as he can. He tries angling his snout closer, then he uses his tongue. Once that proves fruitless, the determined pup bares his teeth and continues to push forward.

This mighty battle of canine versus upholstered seating sadly did not seem to end with a prize of crispy potato goodness, but it did make thousands online smile. Aitchison’s Instagram post has over 10K likes, and seemingly endless comments supporting the pup’s attempts to get closer.

Huxley’s antics recently went viral again on Twitter when four of the stills were posted with the caption, “A story about crisps in 4 parts.” Walker’s crisps ambassador, and former professional footballer, Gary Lineker even re-shared it.

Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Aitchison’s puppy has gotten such adoration and attention online. Back in 2019, a very similar situation happened on Huxley’s first flight from London to Ibiza. Huxley was seated next to her, until “he got in a mood which he often does when I don’t pay him enough attention,” Aitchison said. He then opted to trade his spot for the empty seat next to a nice man in the row in front of them.

Soon though, she said, “he quickly changed his tune when he heard me eating my crisps.” The images she captured garnered a lot of attention on both Instagram and Facebook.

It seems this golden has had a weak spot for snacks for years now, and the pattern will continue as long as there are moments of boredom on public transportation.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Are you a humble-brag parent?

August 16, 2022

“As soon as I’d posted the picture I regretted it,” said writer Hazel Davis, in a HuffPost UK story several years ago. “Of course, I didn’t regret the picture of my darling, gorgeous, beautiful daughter—but the supposedly funny comment beneath it: “My poor child, covered in dirt. Call Social Services.”

Naturally I didn’t mean I was a bad parent. Far from it, in fact I wanted everyone to look at the picture, admire my daughter, and then admire how earthy and outdoorsy we all were. I regretted it because it was a perfect example of the humble brag.

Social networking site Twitter has been awash with examples of celebs and wannabe-celebs’ humble brags—one of the best and most perfectly concise being, “I just stepped on gum. Who spits gum on a red carpet?”

Parenting humble brags might take the following form: I (parent) am so bad because insert not bad/really quite enviable thing here. Sit back and wait for reassurance/praise and/or both.

Sometimes a humble brag will be an innocuous enough comment but contain some killer information such as, “Tripped over on my way home from collecting Jemima from her GRADE SEVEN cello exam. What an idiot.”

But nobody does it better than parents. “OMG,” Facebooked one friend of mine recently, “Jay fell off the bottom stair this morning. He is so advanced, I sometimes forget he’s only ten months old and still a baby.”

“Well we didn’t, love,” says Davis. “You keep reminding us every five minutes that he’s “only” ten months.

“Silly Jay trying to use a knife and fork when he’s only been feeding himself for a few months…”

A good friend of mine, Barry, is a master of the humble brag. His son, Peter, is three years old and Barry is “worried” about his development. He’s worried because Barry appears to be streets ahead of his peers and might be having a hard time at nursery. No, he’s not. YOU’RE having a hard time at nursery because the staff don’t recognize little Petey’s genius.

“I do SO worry that he will end up being bored,” sighs dad, when instead we’d all just rather he ran around the playground shouting “My kid’s cleverer than your kid. Ner ner ner ner ner,” which, to be honest, is what he really would rather be doing.

Another friend’s little darling has been doing some modeling work. “OMG totally forgot to take Scarlett’s shoot makeup off this morning,” she will opine, “poor little thing.”

Oh yes, what shoot was that? Because you hadn’t mentioned that your daughter was a model. Well not for the last three hours anyway.

The humble brag is entirely different to the genuine and refreshing brag.

“OMG my child is simply just fricking brilliant” or the genuinely humble (as favored by my friend Hannah, who adorably has NO idea how this parental bragging thing works), “Whoops. I think my child might actually ACTUALLY be dim.”

The humble-brag is sly, it’s disingenuous and it’s almost impossible not to do if you’re both British (ergo reserved) and a parent (ergo proud and smug as pants), opines Davis.

“Now, excuse me,” she writes, “while I go and get the baby’s dinner. She is SO boring, ALL she wants to eat is broccoli all the time. She’ll turn into one if she’s not careful ….”

Readers are invited to list the humble brags they use, or hear from friends.

Research contact: @HuffPostUK

Dad wows the Internet by modeling his daughter’s crochet crop tops

August 8, 2022

This dad loves to model his daughter’s crochet designs—from cool crop tops to beautiful bucket hats. But he’s not just any dad. He’s Jeff Beaver of Arkansas, reports ABC News.

Across several social media platforms—including  Instagram,  TikTok  and more—the dedicated dad can be seen dancing, twirling, laughing, and posing in looks from the LoveBeav product line.

Emily has been crocheting since 2015, but started noticing her business really take off during the summer of 2021, thanks to social media. When she began scouting her parents to model her designs, the business saw an immediate upswwing.

“My dad has never been afraid to look silly, especially if he’s having fun doing it, so there was never any hesitation on his part,” Emily told ABC’s morning show, Good Morning America. “The most important thing for me and my parents is that we are spending quality time laughing and enjoying what we are doing.”

“We could care less what other people think about how silly it might look,” she added.

After noticing how well a video performed that featured her mother, Amy Beaver, wearing one of her crochet designs, Emily thought, “Why not try including Dad, as well?”

“The Internet totally ate it up and every time I included my parents, I knew that there was something special about the concept of a family wearing crochet tops together,” Emily said.

Since making the decision to include her parents in content creation, Emily’s business has continued to grow at a rapid rate and she has seen a large increase in followers.

The 28-year-old crochet artist and content creator was able to quit her previous day job to solely focus on art and content creation full-time because of the increase in engagement and sales.

“I went from barely any sales at all, to usually selling out my entire restock each month,” Emily said. “The biggest win for me, however, has been the opportunities I’ve had to partner with some of my favorite brands, like Michael’s Craft Store. I’ve been shopping at Michael’s since I started crocheting, so to be able to partner with them and create videos for them has been an absolute dream.”

When it comes to the Beaver family’s newfound Internet fame, Emily said they are all “loving it,” adding, “I’m still not sure we have even processed it completely.”

Emily recalls attending the Electric Forest Festival and finding it absolutely mind-blowing how many fans they met. “We were getting asked for pictures about every five feet. It has been such an awesome experience to do this together, and we are looking forward to seeing where this leads.”

From cool crop tops to beautiful bucket hats, all of Emily’s crochet designs can be found on her company’s website. However, social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and  Facebook are the best way to find her and her family’s latest viral moments.

Research contact: @ABC

Japanese village of Inakadate is famous for its rice paddy art

August 2, 2022

Every year since 1993, the Japanese village of Inakadate transforms its fields into living works of art. Tapping into its history as a farming area, the farmers create incredible rice paddy art by planting seven different varieties of rice in intricate designs. This summer’s project depicts two famous female portraits from western and eastern art history, reports My Modern Met.

On one side is the iconic  Mona Lisa  by Renaissance master  Leonardo da Vinci ; and on the other is Japanese 19th and 20th-century artist Seiki Kuroda‘s painting,  Lakeside, which features a portrait of his wife Taneko Kaneko.

Both of these figures are rendered by planting seven different types of rice that, when in full bloom, help produce the necessary amount of contrast to imitate the colors and depth of the real works of art.

Due to the scale of rice paddy art, it requires a fair amount of planning to execute it properly. Former high school teacher Atsushi Yamamoto has been responsible for all of the complex designs in Inakadate. To create them, he uses a computer to translate the color schemes of the original image into something reproducible with just seven colors of farm field rice.

This year’s rice paddy art can be viewed from mid-June until early October. You can follow Inakadate Village on Facebook to see more photos of rice paddy art. They also have a page set up on their website that shares the natural changes in color of the crops—with a picture each day through the end of October.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Meet Murph, NERF’s first-ever official mascot

July 21, 2022

Rhode Island-based Hasbro is expanding the NERF team with the brand’s first-ever mascot, named Murph, reports The Toy Insider.

 Made entirely of NERF foam darts from head to toe, Murph personifies the playful spirit that kids can unleash through NERF. Murphy is a natural athlete, an expert at surprise NERF Super Soaker ambushes, and a fantastic trick shooter with any NERF blaster.

 Hasbro is placing Murph in the center of NERF’s new advertising campaign launching this  summer  to drive the new brand mnemonic: “Unleash the Play in You.” The campaign encourages families to get up and get active with NERF and Murph to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

 During the multi-year campaign, fans will begin to see Murph appear more and more, including in stores where NERF toys are available, pop-up surprise moments, and on social media. Stay tuned for Murph’s next moves on NERF’s official social media channels on TikTokInstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

 

Research contact: @TheToyInsider

Allstate, Progressive drop company over racist Juneteenth sign

June 28, 2022

People in the town of Millinocket, Maine, found their own ways to observe Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Yet, a sign posted in the window of an insurance company has received the most attention after it not only dismissed the new holiday but also included a racist trope regarding Black people and fried chicken, reports The Washington Post.

“Juneteenth, it’s whatever … we’re closed,” the sign read outside of the Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency, according to a photo posted to social media. “Enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens.”

As the firm has faced backlash over the sign, insurance giants Allstate and Progressive announced this week they are dropping the Maine company, after days of national headlines. An Allstate spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post that the company had terminated its contract with the Harry E. Reed agency, which Allstate described as an “independent agent.”

“Our commitment to Inclusive Diversity and Equity is nonnegotiable and we take action when individuals violate our code of conduct,” a statement from Allstate said.

Progressive spokesperson Jeff Sibel told the Post that the company was “appalled by the sign recently posted at the Harry E. Reed Agency” and that Progressive was also terminating its relationship with the firm.

“We’re committed to creating an environment where our people feel welcomed, valued and respected and expect that anyone representing Progressive to take part in this commitment,” Sibel said in a statement. “The sign is in direct violation of that commitment and doesn’t align with our company’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.”

Melanie Higgins, who helps run the insurance firm with her mother, wrote in a Wednesday letter posted to Facebook that she had posted the sign. Higgins apologized “for any misunderstanding or hurt that has arisen out of my usual, snarky office closure signs and content” and said she had been reprimanded for her actions.

“My only explanation I can offer is I had a death in my family, and I just wanted to go home and I quickly wrote the note,” Higgins wrote, identifying herself as multiracial. “I can assure you all, truly, I would never in any facet of the word be characterized a racist. Nor would I purposely incite such acts.”

Messages left for the insurance firm were not immediately returned.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Chupacabra? Mysterious ‘unidentified object’ caught on camera near Amarillo, Texas, zoo

June 14, 2022

What appeared to be a mysterious-looking creature has been filmed lurking outside the Amarillo Zoo—leaving city officials baffled about what it might be, reports Chron.

In the “dark and early morning hours” of May 21, security cameras inside a perimeter fence captured a still image of a strange visitor outside of the zoo at approximately 1:25 a.m., according to a Wednesday, June 8, news release from the city.

Now city officials are asking the public for help in determining what it might be. “Was it a person with a strange hat who likes to walk at night? A large coyote on its hind legs? A Chupacabra? It is a mystery—for Amarillo to help solve,” city officials said in the release.

For those unaware of its origins, according to Britannia a chupacabra, in Latin American popular legend, is a monstrous creature that attacks animals and consumes their blood. The name is derived from the Spanish words chupar (“to suck”) and cabra (“goat”) and can be translated as “goat-sucker.” As a fearsome but probably nonexistent creature, the chupacabra has been characterized as the southern equivalent of the Sasquatch.

For now, the city is declaring the creature an “Unidentified Amarillo Object”— or UAO. City of Amarillo Director of Parks and Recreation Michael Kashuba said it’s important to note that there were no signs of attempted entry into the zoo, no animals or individuals harmed and no signs of criminal activity or vandalism.

“We just want to let the Amarillo community have some fun with this,” he said.. “It is definitely a strange and interesting image. Maybe Amarillo can help solve the mystery of our UAO.”

City officials are asking anyone with ideas about the visitor’s true identity to contact the City of Amarillo at publiccommunications@amarillo.gov or on its social media pages.

Some social media users have offered up their own theories. “Is this guy on the loose?” wrote one Twitter user with aGIF of a U.S. Capitol rioter wearing a horned headdress.

Another Twitter user responded with an image of a demogorgon, a tall and thin humanoid creature from the Netflix Original series Stranger Things.

Other guesses included Sonic the Hedgehog and Rocket Raccoon from the Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy.

Still, some would rather not dig any deeper into the mystery. One Facebook user wrote, “Oh wow! That looks like [none] of my business.”

Research contact: @chron

Dog sneaks into couple’s home during storm and snuggles her way into their bed

May 19, 2022

It could have been that a door was left ajar, or maybe a window. Julie Johnson from Tennessee isn’t sure; all she knows is that somehow, someway—a stranger was able to freely enter her house one night.

 This stranger however wasn’t trying to steal, but only to snuggle. A brown bull terrier with a golden heart and silent feet crept into the Johnsons’ house, jumped right into bed next to Julie and her husband Jimmy—and went to sleep, head on the pillows, reports Good News Network.

 “You could see light coming into our curtains in our bedroom and I feel my husband not just roll over—but kind of startled, like almost a jump roll over, and it woke me up,” Julie told NPR this week. “And in a quiet but stern voice, he said, ‘Julie, whose dog is this?’”

Despite the startle, in such a situation; it didn’t take long for Jimmy and Julie to realize the intruder meant them no harm, and was just “100% content being there.”

 How Nala the dog managed to enter their house without disturbing or garnering the attention of Jupiter, Hollis, and Zeppelin, the three dogs who normally sleep alongside the couple, the Johnsons will never know, and it must have made for an interesting chit-chat over morning coffee.

 Julie took to Facebook to see if she could locate the dog’s owners, posting a variety of selfies she took with the pup. Not long after, Nala’s owners contacted them to explain she had slipped out of her collar on a walk the day before just ahead of a serious thunderstorm.

She had escaped into the woods, and between the four dog parents, the working theory arose that Nala had entered the Johnsons’ house out of fear of the thunder and lighting.

“Our overly friendly pup, Nala, has hit an all-time record for ignoring personal space and added yet another trick to her long list of Houdini acts,” Cris Hawkins, one of Nala’s owners, wrote on Facebook.

“Shame [on] Nala for somehow breaking into a stranger’s house and invading their personal space. Thankfully, the couple thought it was hilarious and they aren’t even mad about it.”

Since the incident, the four pooches have had playdate in the park, celebrating their new, and entirely accidental friendship.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork