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Potluck at the park brings Eating Through the Pandemic Facebook friends together in real life

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Potluck at the park brings Eating Through the Pandemic Facebook friends together in real life


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Claire Larson brought her sourdough bread — and her parents — to the Eating Through the Pandemic potluck on Saturday.

They made their way through the line of homemade everything laid out on a long table at Antelope Park.

Pasta salads and three-bean delights, deviled eggs and scones and fruit crumbles and chocolatey concoctions.

“Your sourdough is beyond awesome,” said Darren Keen, the guy in line behind Larson, one of 9,870 worldwide members of the Facebook group started in the early days of lockdowns.

Keen came to the potluck that kicked off the holiday weekend with his “elevated beanie weenie” to meet some of the people he knew only through tiny online profile pictures and shared dinner photos.

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“It’s such a fun group,” he said. “People would be making awesome gourmet stuff, and I could be, ‘Look, I made a waffle sandwich!’”

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The group started with a food photo in March 2020. Alisa Kushner took a picture of her dinner and joked that she was going to start a Facebook photo album. A way to share recipes and commiserate.

She did.

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The group took off. Friends and friends of friends. Foodies and fans of foodies. People with connections to Lincoln living abroad. Their friends and friends of their friends. Strangers in Canada and the U.K. Two members in Nepal. Two in Morocco. One each in Sierra Leone and Malta.

When I first wrote about the food porn and friendship phenomenon in May 2020, the group had topped 7,000 members.

They were hosting pandemic Iron Chef competitions. Local businesses handed out gift cards.

It became a force of friendship.

They celebrated that Saturday.

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Kushner described it as “pretty awesome.”

Members of the group were ready to see each other face-to-face, she said.

“People had been asking all through the winter that, when summer came, they wanted to have some sort of get together.”

COVID-19 cases were in free fall as people lined up for vaccinations.

It felt safe.

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And the Fourth of July weekend felt like a good time to gather.

Nikki and Tony Menard were all in. The Lincoln couple joined right away, friends of Kushner. They brought a pesto pasta salad to the potluck — pesto made with ingredients from their garden, pasta from a box.

“Watching the group grow was fabulous,” Nikki said. And the potluck was fabulous, too, Tony said.

“A little less international than the feeling you get online.”

Nonetheless, Facebook members Zoomed in from Iowa City and Chicago and Perth, Australia.

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Kushner wore a sundress and sat at a long table at the park shelter with the crowd overflowing onto the grass. People sat on camp chairs in the shade or on blankets spread on the grass. Pedro, the pet rabbit, was in attendance.

Samantha Carr came with her Celtic harp and played when the band — Back Alley Betties — took a break.

Carr joined the group when she was living in Pasadena, California, where she taught high school French. Two weeks ago, now retired, she moved back to her hometown. She saw the invitation to the potluck on Facebook.

“They said they were looking for musicians but couldn’t afford to pay anyone.”

That was fine by her.

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She figured it was a good way to get to know some of the people she knew through recipes and fancy table setting.

Deb Urbanek-Arends came Saturday, sitting at a shady table with fellow foodies.

“It’s too bad we don’t have name tags,” she said. “It’s hard to know who people are from those tiny pictures on Facebook.”

Maybe next time.

They are already talking about a fall potluck, Kushner said. She’d been nervous about the gathering — would anyone come? — but they did, more than 100 in all, with $80 in donations for Matt Talbot Kitchen and the Little Free Pantry program.

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She called the whole affair “pretty awesome.”

So did Parsla Lasis-Weeder, who filled — and emptied — a plate of potluck fare surrounded by members of the group who had buoyed each other’s spirits with food through the pandemic.

They haven’t stopped.

“I actually just posted a selfie with a plate of food a few minutes ago.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or clangekubick@journalstar.com.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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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.

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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.


For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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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 tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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