For pretty much its entire history, Facebook has been afraid of losing touch with the kids.
Well, maybe not since its inception, as it came to prominence by superseding former youth champ MySpace. But likely because of how it overtook MySpace as the cool place to be, Facebook knows that it too can be trumped by the next big app, if such an option manages to gain significant traction among younger users. And that’s a fate that Facebook is desperate to avoid.
Enter Facebook’s latest attempt to stay cool with younger folk:
These screenshots are from a new app called Whale, which is now available to Canadian users via a company called NPE Team LLC. NPE – which stands for ‘New Product Experimentation‘ – is actually part of Facebook’s experimental app division, which is headed by former Vine GM Jason Toff.
Whale enables users to create their own memes with simplified templates and tools.
As per Whale’s App Store description:
“No distractions, no hidden subscription pricing. Use your own images or choose from our stock photo library and get creative with text, tools, effects, and more right inside the app.”
To use Whale, you first pick an image you want to use as your template – either your own or from the stock library. You can then add text, emojis and filters to turn your image into a meme. You can then save and share the image to various social networks direct from the app.
The functionality is fairly basic, but it may work as a means to help more people get involved in meme trends. If Whale offers up the latest meme templates, and simple ways for users to add their own spin, that could come in handy, and it could gain traction among younger user groups.
Which, as noted, Facebook would love. You can look to the growing list of Facebook’s previous youth app failures as an indicator of their enthusiasm for staying in touch with the next generation.
- Snapchat clone Poke (2012 – 2014)
- TikTok challenger Lasso (2018 -)
- Snapchat copy Slingshot (2014 – 2015).
- Cool kids app Lifestage (2016 – 2017)
- Houseparty replicant Bonfire (2017 – 2019)
- Snapchat messaging-like Threads (2019-)
You can also add the aforementioned AUX and Bump, and a range of others which have appeared then disappeared just as quick. It’s not entirely clear what Facebook gains from these experiments – but really, it only needs one to catch on, or even catch on a bit, in order to slow the momentum of the competition.
Whale doesn’t appear to have a direct comparison, though its likely aimed at the evolving tools of Giphy (which claims to have 300 million daily active users) and/or a range of other meme creation apps.
So will it work? As noted, it could have functional value, it could help more users lean into meme trends. It’s hard to say whether it’ll gain momentum, but Facebook will start by testing it out with Canadian users, then growing it from there if it makes sense.
More interesting, however, is to note what youth trends Facebook is looking to tap into. AUX is about sharing music, Bump is about connecting students through Q and A style messaging. Whale is about making memes. These are the areas that Facebook feels it can facilitate, either because there’s a gap in the market for such tools, or there’s a way that it can build apps which exceed similar offerings from the competition.
That could provide some indication of where The Social Network will look next in its mains apps also.
Best Practices for Designing Great Messaging Experiences on Messenger
We recently reminded our community of the upcoming policy changes to the Messenger platform that will go into effect on March 4, 2020. These policy changes were designed to improve the messaging experience between people and businesses by driving timely and personally relevant conversations — prioritizing conversations started by people and related follow-up communications.
To help businesses best adapt to these new policy changes, here are some tips on the best practices to adopt when designing messenger experiences:
1. Respond quickly and set customer expectations on response times
People expect businesses to respond quickly and provide timely updates. We have found a strong correlation between responsiveness and successful business outcomes.>
2. Make it short and sweet
Make sure to communicate your key points succinctly and early on in your message. This aligns with people’s expectations for messaging as a channel and increases readability. Messages that are short and to the point can also be read clearly in message previews.
3. Leverage Messenger features to send high value messages outside the 24 hour standard messaging window
Successful businesses know the options available to send messages outside the standard messaging window and use them effectively.
- Message tags – use tags to send personal, timely and important non-promotional messages. Businesses can use tags to send account updates, post purchase updates, confirmed event updates, and human agent responses.
- One-Time Notification – allows a page to request a user to send one follow-up message after the 24-hour messaging window has ended. This can be used for cases such as back in stock alerts where a person has explicitly requested the business to send out a notification. Make sure that the message matches the topic the user agreed to receive the notification for and this message is fully communicated on the first attempt. You may also want to prompt people to interact with your notification in order to restart the standard messaging window.
- Sponsored Messages – use sponsored messages for broadcast promotional updates to customers you’ve interacted with in Messenger. Sponsored messages support Facebook ads targeting and have built-in integrity controls to help us safeguard the user experience in Messenger.
4. Focus on customer value
Ensure your messages clearly communicate customer value – especially notifications sent outside the standard messaging window. Sending out low value messages makes it more likely that customers will tune out or block messages from your business altogether. Businesses using Messenger’s platform should consider adjusting push parameters for valuable messages that don’t require immediate action.
5. Provide audiences with options to choose from
Consider giving your audience additional control over the type of content they will receive via Messenger. For example, you may allow the user to select specific types of account alerts or post-purchase updates provided they comply with the Messenger platform policies.
We believe following these simple guidelines will help to ensure a businesses’ messaging efforts will be effective and drive outcomes, while providing customers with pleasant and valuable interaction experiences that encourage them to continue engaging with the business on Messenger.
Two Billion Users — Connecting the World Privately
We are excited to share that, as of today, WhatsApp supports more than 2 billion users around the world.
Mothers and fathers can reach their loved ones no matter where they are. Brothers and sisters can share moments that matter. Coworkers can collaborate, and businesses can grow by easily connecting with their customers.
Private conversations that once were only possible face-to-face can now take place across great distances through instant chats and video calling. There are so many significant and special moments that take place over WhatsApp and we are humbled and honored to reach this milestone.
We know that the more we connect, the more we have to protect. As we conduct more of our lives online, protecting our conversations is more important than ever.
That is why every private message sent using WhatsApp is secured with end-to-end encryption by default. Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals. Messages are only kept on your phone, and no one in between can read your messages or listen to your calls, not even us. Your private conversations stay between you.
Strong encryption is a necessity in modern life. We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe. For even more protection, we work with top security experts, employ industry leading technology to stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues — without sacrificing privacy.
WhatsApp started with the goal of creating a service that is simple, reliable and private for people to use. Today we remain as committed as when we started, to help connect the world privately and to protect the personal communication of 2 billion users all over the world.
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Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: Government forcing companies to protect you online
Although many of the details have still to be confirmed, it’s likely the new rules will apply to Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Instagram
We often talk about the risks you might find online and whether social media companies need to do more to make sure you don’t come across inappropriate content.
Well, now media regulator Ofcom is getting new powers, to make sure companies protect both adults and children from harmful content online.
The media regulator makes sure everyone in media, including the BBC, is keeping to the rules.
Harmful content refers to things like violence, terrorism, cyber-bullying and child abuse.
The new rules will likely apply to Facebook – who also own Instagram and WhatsApp – Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, and will include things like comments, forums and video-sharing.
Platforms will need to ensure that illegal content is removed quickly, and may also have to “minimise the risks” of it appearing at all.
These plans have been talked about for a while now.
The idea of new rules to tackle ‘online harms’ was originally set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in May 2018.
The government has now decided to give Ofcom these new powers following research called the ‘Online Harms consultation’, carried out in the UK in 2019.
Plans allowing Ofcom to take control of social media were first spoken of in August last year.
The government will officially announce these new powers for Ofcom on Wednesday 12 February.
But we won’t know right away exactly what new rules will be introduced, or what will happen to tech or social media companies who break the new rules.
Children’s charity the NSPCC has welcomed the news. It says trusting companies to keep children safe online has failed.
“Too many times social media companies have said: ‘We don’t like the idea of children being abused on our sites, we’ll do something, leave it to us,'” said chief executive Peter Wanless.
“Thirteen self-regulatory attempts to keep children safe online have failed.
The UK government’s Digital Secretary, Baroness Nicky Morgan said: “There are many platforms who ideally would not have wanted regulation, but I think that’s changing.”
“I think they understand now that actually regulation is coming.”
In many countries, social media platforms are allowed to regulate themselves, as long as they stick to local laws on illegal material.
But some, including Germany and Australia, have introduced strict rules to force social media platforms do more to protect users online.
In Australia, social media companies have to pay big fines and bosses can even be sent to prison if they break the rules.
For more information and tips about staying safe online, go to BBC Own It, and find out how to make the internet a better place for all of us.