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Facebook shuts down anti-vaccine influencer campaign

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San Francisco (AFP)

Facebook on Tuesday said it shut down a disinformation operation which sought to spread Covid-19 vaccine hoaxes by duping social media influencers into backing false claims.

The leading social network labeled the operation a “disinformation laundromat” which sought to legitimize false claims by pushing them through people with clean reputations.

Influencers who caught onto the sham turned out to be the undoing of a deceitful influence campaign orchestrated by marketing firm Fazze in Russia, according to Facebook.

“The assumption was the influencers wouldn’t do any of their own homework, but two did,” Facebook global threat intelligence lead Ben Nimmo said while briefing journalists.

“It’s really a warning — be careful when someone is trying to spoon feed you a story. Do your own research.”

Facebook said that in July it removed 65 accounts at the leading social network and 243 accounts at photo-centric Instagram that were linked to the campaign, and banned Fazze from its platform.

Fazze is a subsidiary of a AdNow, an advertising company registered in Britain, according to media reports.

The operation targeted primarily India and Latin America, but also took aim at the United States, as governments debated approving vaccines to fight the pandemic, according to Nimmo.

Late last year, the network of fake accounts tried to fuel a false meme that the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 would turn people into chimpanzees, Facebook reported.

After going quiet for five months, the organizers attacked the safety of the Pfizer vaccine and leaked what it billed as an AstraZeneca document stolen by hacking, Facebook said.

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The campaign took advantage of online platforms including Reddit, Medium, Change.org, and Facebook, creating misleading articles and petitions then providing “influencers” with links, hashtags and more to spread vaccine misinformation, according to Nimmo.

“In effect, this campaign functioned as a cross-platform disinformation laundromat,” Nimmo said.

– Campaign fell flat –

The operation was exposed by influencers in France and Germany who questioned claims made in email pitches from Fazze, prompting journalists to dig into the matter, according to Facebook.

Facebook does not know who hired Fazze for the anti-vaccine campaign, but has shared its findings with regulators, police, and internet industry peers, according to head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher.

The campaign appeared to fall flat, with almost none of the Instagram posts receiving “likes,” and English and Hindi language petitions at Change.org each getting fewer than 1,000 signatures, Facebook said.

The security team at the social network has seen a trend of deceptive influence operations targeting multiple social media platforms and trying to recruit established personalities with followings to spread false messages, according to Gleicher.

“When these operations turn to influencers, they often don’t give them full context on who is behind it,” Gleicher said during the briefing.

“And when influencers find out, they are eager to blow the whistle.”

The news comes amid a spat between Facebook and the US administration over reining in virus misinformation, and government efforts to enlist popular social media characters to promote vaccinations.

© 2021 AFP

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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5-apps-for-scheduling-instagram-posts-on-iphone-and-android-–-mashable

Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?

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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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