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Foes united vs Facebook over Instagram’s effect on teens – News4Jax

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WASHINGTON – Political adversaries in Congress are united in outrage against Facebook for privately compiling information that its Instagram photo-sharing service appears to grievously harm some teens, especially girls, while publicly downplaying the popular platform’s negative impact.

Mounting public pressure over the revelations have prompted Facebook to put on hold its work on a kids’ version of Instagram, which the company says is meant mainly for tweens aged 10 to 12. But it’s just a pause.

For some of the Instagram-devoted teens, the peer pressure generated by the visually focused app led to mental-health and body-image problems, and in some cases, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. It was Facebook’s own researchers who alerted the social network giant’s executives to Instagram’s destructive potential.

Those revelations in a report by The Wall Street Journal, based on internal research leaked by a whistleblower at Facebook, have set off a wave of anger from lawmakers, critics of Big Tech, child-development experts and parents.

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Facebook’s head of global safety, Antigone Davis, has been summoned to testify Thursday by a Senate Commerce Committee panel digging into Instagram’s impact on young users.

She’s expected to tell the lawmakers that Facebook works to prevent children under 13 from gaining access to platforms that aren’t suitable for them. The company is developing features to protect young people on its platforms, using research and consultations with outside experts to make the users’ experience positive, Davis is set to testify.

She says Facebook has a history of using its internal research as well as outside experts and groups to inform changes to its apps. The goal is to keep young people safe on the platforms and ensure that those who aren’t old enough to use them do not.

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The committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and its senior Republican, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, sit on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Blumenthal is a leading liberal, a former federal prosecutor who has pursued powerful industries over consumer protection issues and stressed civil rights. Blackburn, a solid ally of former president Donald Trump, is an outspoken conservative and abortion foe who has repeatedly accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of censoring those viewpoints.

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The Instagram revelations have brought them together to call Facebook to account.

“This hearing will examine the toxic effects of Facebook and Instagram on young people and others, and is one of several that will ask tough questions about whether Big Tech companies are knowingly harming people and concealing that knowledge,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Revelations about Facebook and others have raised profound questions about what can and should be done to protect people.”

Blumenthal and Blackburn also plan to take testimony next week from a Facebook whistleblower, possibly the person who leaked the Instagram research documents to the Journal.

A preview of the grilling Davis faces came last week, when, in a separate Senate hearing, Blumenthal told another Facebook executive regarding the Instagram research, “You’ve been sent here to defend the indefensible.”

“Accountability is coming,” Blumenthal said. “And it will be bipartisan.”

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Facebook has criticized the Journal story as cherry-picking from its research, though it didn’t dispute the authenticity of the documents.

Despite the well-documented harms, Facebook executives have consistently played down Instagram’s negative side and have forged ahead with work on Instagram for Kids, until now. On Monday, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a blog post that the company will use its time out “to work with parents, experts and policymakers to demonstrate the value and need for this product.”

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Already in July, Facebook said it was working with parents, experts and policymakers when it introduced safety measures for teens on its main Instagram platform. In fact, the company has been working with experts and other advisers for another product aimed at children — its Messenger Kids app that launched in late 2017.

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The focused outrage transcending party and ideology contrasts with lawmakers’ posture toward social media generally, which splits Republicans and Democrats. Republicans accuse Facebook, Google and Twitter, without evidence, of deliberately suppressing conservative, religious and anti-abortion views.

Democrats train their criticism mainly on hate speech, misinformation and other content on the platforms that can incite violence, keep people from voting or spread falsehoods about the coronavirus.

The bipartisan pile-on against Facebook proceeds as the tech giant awaits a federal judge’s ruling on a revised complaint from the Federal Trade Commission in an epic antitrust case and as it tussles with the Biden administration over its handling of coronavirus vaccine misinformation.

Meanwhile, groundbreaking legislation has advanced in Congress that would curb the market power of Facebook and other tech giants Google, Amazon and Apple — and could force them to untie their dominant platforms from their other lines of business. For Facebook, that could target Instagram, the social media juggernaut valued at around $100 billion that it has owned since 2012, as well as messaging service WhatsApp.

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Follow Marcy Gordon at https://twitter.com/mgordonap

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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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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