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Tech this week: Elon Musk unveils humanoid robot plans and Facebook faces calls to sell Instagram

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Tesla boss Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a humanoid robot that will use some of the same technology as the company’s famous electric vehicles.

It will also perform repetitive tasks that Musk claims people do not want to do themselves.

The entrepreneur promised a first prototype of the “Tesla Bot” next year.

“Tesla is certainly the most important robotics company in the world, because the cars are semi-conscious robots on wheels, with an on-board computer dedicated to autonomous driving,” Elon Musk argued in an online event about his group’s advances in artificial intelligence.

“It makes sense to give this a humanoid form,” he added.

The aim of the presentation, which focused on the development of autonomous driving technologies, was to attract new engineers.

Tesla is currently under investigation over its Autopilot and Full Self Driving (FSD) technologies. The carmaker is being accused of misleading motorists into believing that vehicles can drive themselves.

The Tesla Bot will be “friendly” and you will be able to “run away from it by running faster than it does,” joked Elon Musk.

He also spoke of “profound implications for the economy,” since “the economy is based on work”. He envisages a world where physical effort will no longer be compulsory but “a choice”.

Twitter is redesigning its redesign

Twitter has announced it will be redesigning its new redesign after users complained it was causing them headaches.

The company introduced a revamped version of its website and app last week, claiming it would make it more accessible, less cluttered and easier to use.

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However, it appears to have done the opposite for some users.

Among the changes was the introduction of Twitter’s new original font called Chirp.

It also updated its colours to be “high contrast and a lot less blue — a change made to draw attention to the photos and videos you create and share”.

And it is this change in particular that has jarred many people as the high contrast has caused headaches and problems, particularly for those with accessibility needs.

Twitter now says it will introduce some new contrast changes to make the design “easier on the eyes” as the company recognised user complaints that “the new look is uncomfortable for people with sensory sensitivities”.

The company also added that it had identified issues with the Chirp font for Windows users and was “actively working on a fix”.

Some have suggested that the social media platform gives users the option to choose a site design that suits them as there is no one size fits all solution for those with accessibility needs.

US regulator continues Facebook crackdown

Federal regulators have sharpened their bid to break up Facebook, alleging in a revised complaint on Thursday that the social network giant pursued a laser-focused strategy to “buy or bury” rivals to suppress competition.

It is the Federal Trade Commission’s second antitrust run at the company. A federal judge in June dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook due to a lack of evidence.

“Facebook has today, and has maintained since 2011, a dominant share of the relevant market for US personal social networking services,” the complaint says, pointing to time spent and active-user metrics on the daily and monthly scale.

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“Individually and collectively, these metrics provide significant evidence of Facebook’s durable monopoly power in social networking services”.

The FTC is asking that Facebook sell Instagram and WhatsApp in a bid to remove its monopoly.

The agency’s lawsuit last December alleged Facebook engaged in a “systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

Facebook said the FTC was attempting to revive a meritless lawsuit and said it will vigorously defend itself against what it said was an effort to rewrite antitrust laws.

“There was no valid claim that Facebook was a monopolist — and that has not changed,” the company based in Menlo Park, California, said in a prepared statement.

“Our acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp were reviewed and cleared many years ago, and our platform policies were lawful”.

The company has until October 4 to formally respond.

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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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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