Got a hobby or an interest you want to learn more about? Facebook Groups are a great place to connect with other people all over the world who might be interested in the same things.
Facebook groups dedicated to specific interests, like Harry Potter, are a great way to connect with like-minded people from all over the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Screenshot by Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
Social media is a double-edged sword.
I appreciate that apps like Facebook allow me to keep up with my family in other states and give me a good laugh from time to time, but on the other hand, I’m guilty of getting sucked into the comment section on controversial posts and coming out with my blood boiling. That’s especially been an issue over the past year with, what with the COVID-19 pandemic, a big presidential election and all the other chaos that was 2020.
Throughout the pandemic, though, I managed to find more positives in Facebook than just funny memes and adorable pictures of my nieces and nephews. I found a new community of people who I’ve never met before but now consider friends. I found a fun way to spend some of my free time instead of camping out in front of the TV.
Through Facebook Groups, I’ve found a new hobby of sorts, and it’s really helped pass the time while having to quarantine and social distance.
There’s pretty much a Facebook group for everything. If you have a specific hobby or interest, you can more than likely find a group of people on social media who share that same interest and want to talk about it. Being the self-proclaimed nerd that I am, I joined a Harry Potter group a few months back that has come to take up more and more of my time in the best way possible.
It’s a group of about 1,600 adults who share a love of all things Harry Potter. Members join one of the series’ four “houses” and compete each month for what’s called the “house cup.” Those familiar with Harry Potter know what I’m talking about. For those who aren’t, let’s just say it’s a big prize. We compete for this imaginary prize (and bragging rights) through various Harry Potter-themed games and activities like trivia, bingo, crosswords, word scrambles and jigsaw puzzles. I eventually became a moderator and then an admin, which is Facebook speak for one of the people who’s more or less in charge of the group. There are 20 moderators and admins in this group — five from each of the four houses — and along with that status comes a group chat where we facilitate daily operations of the group. But it’s more than just that. We get to know one another on a personal level and share stories and jokes and whatever else might be going on in our lives. These are people from all across the country who I’ve never met in person but still feel like I know to some degree. It’s been great to feel like I’ve made new friends from afar without having to leave my apartment or break COVID-19 protocols.
I’m also in a Facebook group for fans of Jane Austen and other Regency era literature and entertainment. I’m not as active in this group, but it has given me some good suggestions for books, movies and TV shows to get me through the quarantine — not that I don’t have enough unread books on my shelves already, but that’s another matter.
The Jane Austen group also offers opportunities for in-depth discussions about books and their characters, which is also a positive, especially for those who might not have people in their immediate circles of friends or families with the same interests. The ability to have intellectual conversations about your favorite books with people from other parts of the world is both stimulating and eye opening.
I’ve talked with friends who have joined various groups to assist with new hobbies taken up during the pandemic, too. Whether it’s gardening, maple syrup making, knitting or any other hobby or interest, connecting with like-minded people is just a click or two away.
I understand that as vaccines become available to more people, more businesses are opening up and people are starting to get out of the house more than they were a year ago, but even so, I think it’s important to recognize and understand the tools we have at our fingertips. For those who still aren’t 100% comfortable venturing out into the outside world — or for those who are just natural homebodies — making connections through technology from the comfort of your home is still a possibility and something I think should be celebrated.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.
Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey
Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.
Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.
However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.
On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.
Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal
In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.
In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.
Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws
It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.
Russian social media laws
As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.
Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses
Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.
The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.
With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.
Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.
Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to email@example.com.