Second #FacebookDown Outage In Recent Weeks – Is Your Data Safe?

Last night the users of a social network were once again separated from the content they’d created and the conversations they’d had, after another outage restricted access to the site. The #FacebookDown hashtag spread across other social networks after users were subjected to the second Facebook outage within a few weeks.

Dislike. Thumb down sign on white background. 3d

It wasn’t an overwhelmingly long outage, with Facebook working again for most users within half an hour. Facebook later confirmed that the cause of the problem was caused by and error the team encountered while making an infrastructure configuration change. Short outage or not, if there is crucial information locked within a social network – and think of all the messages that you might need to refer to – then these sorts of outages can become very problematic:

Others took a slightly more comedic stance at the news:

The point remains that whenever you don’t have a copy of your content, then you can never be fully in control of it. Yesterday’s outage – along with other recent instances of social network downtime – only serves to highlight the importance of keeping a backup of your content.

SocialSafe allows you to download your social network posts, pictures, messages and more, directly to your own PC or Mac. Once there, you have the freedom to browse, view, search and do more with that content. The built-in features such as Collections, Insights and PDF Export really do put you in control of your content.

To start backing up your content now, download SocialSafe for free.

Like Instagram? Like Tweetdeck? Then You Need ‘Picdeck’ In Your Life

While Instagram is a predominately mobile based service, there are a few desktop applications that add value or enhance the user experience. Obviously there is Instagram.com, the official website for Instagram that allows you to view your feed as if it were on your phone, as well as letting you leave comments and like photos. And of course there is SocialSafe, which allows you to back up your Instagrams and use the Insights feature to see which of your photos are the most popular, and discover more about your use of filters.

But now a new desktop app is tracking the same approach to Instagram as Tweetdeck did to Twitter.

Picdeck allows you to set your own columns of feeds on a web-based dashboard, based on either users or hashtags, as well as your own feed as you’d normally see it within the app (or on the desktop version). All you need to do is to go to Picdeck.co and sign in with your Instagram login ID, then start creating feeds!

picdeck for instagram

As you’ll see, the aesthetic is very similar to other social media dashboards such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, so it should be comfortably familiar for most people. Picdeck does however lack the posting functionality that is a hallmark of the aforementioned social media dashboards, nor does Picdeck allow you to add more than one account (giving you multiple instances of ‘My Feed’.

These features may well appear in the fullness of time, and it’s worth pointing out that Picdeck is the product of a one-day hack-day project by London-based company Marvel. So given more development time, this could easily go a lot further, and according to The Verge, Marvel already has plans to add location-based columns and other features.

Have you used Picdeck? What are your first thoughts? Comment below, let us know!

How To Back Up Your Instagram Hyperlapse Videos

Instagram has just released Hyperlapse – a standalone app allowing you to create simple time-lapse videos – and with SocialSafe you can back these up to your own library, along with any comments and likes.

Hyperlapse is pretty much as simple as point, shoot, share, except you get to choose the speed at which the movie plays. Aside from the variable clip speed, the only other frill is the automated video stabilisation that should hopefully avert any motion sickness you might encounter from particularly shaky camera work. If you choose to share the video in Instagram, then you can add as filters as you would with any other Instagram video.

In a blog post announcing the new app, Instagram said: “We designed Hyperlapse to be as simple as possible.”

There’s no need to sign up either.  Once you’ve recorded your clip and chosen the speed (you can choose from 1x, 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, 10x, or 12x), the video is saved to your camera roll and you then have option to share it to Facebook or Instagram. So there’s no need to worry about building up your followers/friends on a new platform.

Want to see Hyperlapse in action?

20 Creative Hyperlapses From Instagram’s New App

What this also means is that if you publish your videos to Instagram, you can back up Hyperlapse videos with SocialSafe! Just as existing Instagram photos and videos can be downloaded to your SocialSafe library, any Hyperlapse videos you publish to Instagram will also be backed up – along with the comments and likes.

If you’re using our Instagram companion app ‘Likes’ (available in the app store – only for iOS at this moment), you’ll also be able to save to your iPhone any Hyperlapse videos from other users that you have liked on Instagram.

You can back up your own Instagram account, as well as your content from a number of other social networks, by downloading the SocialSafe desktop app.

Celebrities Taking On #ALSIceBucketChallenge Raise Millions For Charity

Earlier this year the world of social media came under fire for ease with which it allowed the #neknomination drinking challenge to spread. Critics said it promoted reckless and irresponsible drinking, and this was sadly proven correct by several deaths due to instances of accelerated and excessive consumption of alcohol in acts of one-upmanship.

However, this month we are seeing the same social mechanism of publicly nominating friends and peers put to an altogether better use in the form of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. ALS is a form of motor neurone disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads, and then to make a donation to the ALS Association.

The viral spread is one again achieved by nominating other participants once you have been covered in icy water. As well as having deep pockets, celebrities also have an unfathomably large social reach, especially when combining their audiences.

Here’s an example of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, courtesy of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, who nominates actor Tim Robbins, music legend Bruce Springsteen, and – at the behest of his young daughters – Niall Horan from 1Direction, before being drenched in freezing water:

When celebrities start challenging each other publicly on social media, the content will inevitably have a viral spread reaching far and wide. So it should come as no surprise to hear that as of August 18th, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge had raised $15.6m (in the US) since July 29th.

To give you an idea of how much of an impact the social media campaign has had on the ALS Associations fundraising efforts, the amount received in the same period last year was less than $50,000.

As well as creating one of the platforms enabling the challenge to spread so effectively, Mark Zuckerberg was also just one of many tech leaders to find themselves beneath a bucket of icy water. The Facebook founder went on to nominate Bill Gates, who took an amusingly engineered approach to his own drenching.

There are plenty of amusing videos appearing each day from film stars, chart-toppers, sporting heroes and business leaders alike. Which #ALSIceBucketChallenge has been your favourite? Comment below, let us know…

Twitter Experiment Displays Other Users’ Favourites In Your Timeline

Twitter is experimenting with a new feature on the timeline, however users don’t  appear to be best  pleased with it so far. This latest tweak is to do with Favourites, and it essentially treats them in a similar way to retweets, as far as the main timeline is concerned.

Users have now reported seeing tweets in their timeline that users they follow have favourited, or further separated still, popular tweets from accounts that other users follow.

As the example above shows, Peter Kafka is seeing content on his timeline that he didn’t ask for, but is being shown purely on the basis of other users’ actions, while TheNextWeb’s Martin Bryant captured a much more ironic example of Twitter’s latest feature experiment:

The new feature – if implemented across the board – might change the way we use Favourites. Retweets are an intentional act of broadcasting other users’ content to your own followers, whereas Favourites are a way of marking things for your own personal reflection or posterity. When the things you mark for later attention are broadcast to your followers it puts an entirely different spin on things, as people researching topics will often favourite tweets/links to content that are completely against their beliefs or position.

With social networks most changes to the norm are generally met with a certain degree of discontent or mistrust, and this latest experiment from Twitter appears to be no different. While the company is yet to comment on the most recent changes, it did release a statement last year that does provide an overview on how Twitter goes about conducting its product experiments.

Have you experienced any of Twitter’s feature experiments? What are your thoughts on seeing other people’s favourited tweets in your timeline? Leave a comment below with your views.

Likes and Recover Instagram Apps For iOS Now Released!

Anyone who uses Instagram will be painfully aware that it doesn’t have a ‘favourites’ feature that would allow you to easily mark things for future reference. Nor is there a way to save images directly to your phone.

Well in the last few weeks our we’ve been quietly working away on a couple of separate iOS app projects alongside our main SocialSafe app development, and the fruits of these labours are now ready to be enjoyed!

These will be of interest to anyone who uses Instagram on an iOS device, and so we are proud to unveil Likes and Recover for iOS.

Likes and Recover

Likes [App Store Link] allows you to view a stream of all the Instagrams you have liked, and download any them to your iPhone’s Camera Roll with a single tap. Holding down on an image will take you back to the original on Instagram. It’s as simple as that!

Likes - Effortlessly save the Instagrams you’ve liked to your Camera Roll

Unlike Twitter, Instagram doesn’t have a ‘Favourites’ feature that allows you to easily mark things for future reference.  With Likes you can view all of the photos that you personally liked, without having to scroll back through weeks or months worth of other photos.

All you need to do to get started is download Likes to your iPhone/iPod touch, login through Instagram and the app will show you all of the Instagrams you have liked!

Recover  [App Store Link] works in the same way as Likes, but applies to all of your own Instagram photos. So with a single tap you can save any of your photos to your camera roll, or you can press to view that photo – and any comments etc – on Instagram.

Recover - Effortlessly save your Instagram photos to your Camera Roll

By being able to save Instagram photos to your camera roll, you can do things that you simply cannot on Instagram, such as zooming in on photos, or sending the images privately to non-Instagram users via other messaging apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage, WeChat etc.

These apps are both available NOW in the app store, so please download, rate and review them!

Facebook Supported By Google, Microsoft & More In Privacy Case

You may recall back in June that Facebook had been issued with a court order demanding that it hand over the data of some 381 users who were being investigated as part of a fraud trial. The social network lodged an ultimately unsuccessful appeal, and had to release the personal data – including photographs and private messages – to the authorities.

The story has now resurfaced after several large tech firms in the US have argued that the original search warrant was a breach of the US Constitution. In court documents filed in New York, companies including Google, Microsoft, Dropbox and Twitter  have thrown their support behind Facebook, claiming that the original process violated the First Amendment, which protects against persons’ belongings falling subject to “unreasonable searches and seizures”.

The BBC has seen the documents submitted to a New York court, and reports that the following tech firms have declared their support for Facebook:

  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Yelp
  • Dropbox
  • Pinterest
  • Foursquare
  • Kickstarter
  • Meetup
  • Tumblr

Google and Microsoft said that they had “a strong interest in the resolution of the issues in this case”, as they have had to deal with similar issues in the past. This also seems to be a case of the strong looking after the weak, with a lawyer representing some of the medium-sized companies saying that “smaller entities, such as start-ups and other developing companies, may not always have the resources to litigate”.

If the bigger firms are able to establish a precedent that may protect smaller businesses in the future, then that will be of benefit to the tech community as a whole.

Financial Conduct Authority Says Firms Should Keep Offline Records

New guidelines published by the Financial Conduct Authority have specified the importance of keeping a record of social media communications and interactions. Many industries have their own rules and regulations regarding the appropriate use of social media, and what systems companies and operators should have in place in terms of records keeping.

This new release from the FCA details some of the pitfalls of using social media to communicate with customers, and offers advisory remarks based on the different formats and norms of various social networks. On the subject of record keeping, we’d like to reproduce two of the points from the FCA document:

2.23 We remind firms of their obligations to have an adequate system in place to sign off digital media communications. This sign-off should be by a person of appropriate competence and seniority within the organisation.

2.24 Firms should also keep adequate records of any significant communications. As well as helping to protect consumers, these records enable the firm to deal effectively with any subsequent claims or complaints. Firms should not rely on digital media channels to maintain records, as they will not have control over this: social media in particular may
refresh content from time to time, with the consequent deletion of older material.

The important point to pick up on here is that firms “should not rely on digital media channels to maintain records, as they will not have control over this”. When you don’t hold the data yourself, you can never be 100% certain that nothing will happen to it, or that the ones holding the data won’t change the accessibility or ease of use.

Only by owning your own copy of the content you post  - and any subsequent interactions  - can you be fully in control of your data. SocialSafe is one such application that allows social media users to download, store, search and do more with their own copy of all the things they have said on their social networks.

Even if there are no legally binding regulations that apply to your business or industry, the FCA’s document is well worth taking a look at as it contains plenty of useful advice that can be heeded by any business, or indeed any individual. Click here to view the Financial Conduct Authority’s Guidance Consultation for Social Media and Customer Communications.

Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook Gathers Momentum In Europe

Facebook is facing another class action lawsuit over user privacy, originating in Europe. Earlier this year a case was brought against Facebook claiming that the social network had been reviewing users’ private messages “for purposes unrelated to the facilitation of message transmission”. This time the class action is being spearheaded by the Austrian law student Max Schrems, and more than 17,000 people have now signed up to join.

The group – headed by Schrems – claim that Facebook has been engaging in following “unlawful acts”:

  • Data use policy which is invalid under EU law
  • The absence of effective consent to many types of data use
  • Support of the NSA’s ‘PRISM’ surveillance programme
  • Tracking of Internet users on external websites (e.g. through ‘Like buttons’)
  • Monitoring and analysis of users through ‘big data’ systems
  • Unlawful introduction of ‘Graph Search’
  • Unauthorised passing on of user data to external applications

If you’ve not actually heard of Max Schrems before, you may well be familiar with the Europe vs Facebook group that he heads up. He is also the sole named claimant in this case, meaning that anyone else participating in the action will be free from the risks of having to pay any associated costs. Schrems is seeking to claim damages of €500 per user for the alleged data violations by Facebook, and with tens of thousands of users joining the class action, the bill levied at Facebook would be well into the millions if successful.

More details on this legal movement and the Europe vs Facebook group can be found on the FB Claim website set up by Schrems.

We’d just like to take this opportunity to reiterate that while SocialSafe is an application that allows you to download your personal data from Facebook – and other social networks – we never see nor store this data ourselves. Everything you choose to back up with SocialSafe is entirely yours and 100% private – we never hold your data and you can always access it.

Why Are You Seeing So Many Random Videos In Your Facebook News Feed?

Have you noticed an increase in the number of videos that you’re seeing in your Facebook News Feed lately? Well there’s an explanation for that based on your own behaviour and those pesky ol’ Facebook algorithms that seem to polarise audiences.

You should be aware of Facebook’s auto-play function, introduced last year, that starts playing videos (admittedly silently) regardless of whether or not you’ve clicked on them. The algorithm detects when you pause your scrolling to watch them, and will then deliver even more videos. This was confirmed in June by Facebook’s Product Manager, Brett Welch:

People who tend to watch more videos in their News Feed should expect to see more videos near the top of their Feed. Conversely, people who tend to skip over videos without watching them should expect to see fewer videos.

However, these subtle tweaks to the News Feed algorithm that determine the frequency and type of content that is served up in your News Feed can be subject to abuse and exploitation.

Mashable’s Annie Colbert describes the situation as a “sneaky viral video spam problem“. Her article looks at the example of a handful of pages with nothing in common sharing the same irrelevant viral video content (without the appropriate rights to license the footage, incidentally), purely to get their pages into more and more people’s News Feeds by virtue of the fact that the video itself has proven to be popular elsewhere.

So what can we do to avoid seeing ‘spam’ videos appearing in our News Feeds? Well, short of not watching any videos in an attempt to adjust Facebook’s algorithmic  measure of us, it seems as though we’ll just have to be patient while Facebook works on ironing out these creases.