In recent weeks, some people have begun to question how much they use Facebook. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many have felt a little uneasy about how much information Facebook obtains.
It’s important to note, though, that many (probably most) other social media platforms are gathering a fair amount of your data. They may handle it differently, but there is likely quite a bit of your information stored when you use any social media platforms at all.
Still, you might be wondering if there are other ways to enjoy using social media without actually using Facebook. Facebook is one of the most popular, active, and widely used social media sites out there, and it might seem like your only option. But there are other platforms that you might like just as much (or more).
If you’re thinking about leaving Facebook, or if you enjoy Facebook but want even more ways to stay connected, here are just some of the other social media platforms you can give a try!
Instagram is, of course, a hugely popular app that focuses on images. You can use it to keep up with your friends’ lives through photos and videos. It also has built-in messaging, so you can share things directly with other people and discuss them privately. You won’t necessarily be getting the same insight into your friends’ thoughts, and it currently doesn’t let you share other peoples’ content, but it’s still a good way to keep in contact with your favorite people.
Pinterest is still typically for inspiration and DIY ideas. But you and your friends can share content together and keep in touch through your different boards. This platform is certainly less focused on updates about peoples’ daily lives, so don’t rely on it for that. But you can at least see what your friends are interested in.
Reddit isn’t really a social media platform. But you can follow friends on the service, and if you actually are looking to drop Facebook, Reddit can help replace your need for a stream of interesting content and news shared by groups and people you subscribe to.
Snapchat is another photo- and image-based way to keep connected to friends and family. It’s likely that most of the people you’re close with already use Snapchat. You can follow them through their Stories, have private chats with them, communicate through short video clips, and more. You can’t easily share other peoples’ content or write medium to long text images, but you can still communicate pretty well with this app.
Tumblr lets you set up your own blog and then create your own posts or share posts from others. You can add others and gain subscribers. Tumblr is often seen as being primarily used by a younger crowd, but there’s certainly a space for everyone. It’s also pretty hugely driven by fandoms (many people on Tumblr use their accounts to post primarily about shows, movies, and other things they’re fans of). It’s not quite as focused on simply keeping up with a friend’s daily life. But if you want to keep up with your friends’ interests and make new friends based on things you both enjoy, Tumblr might be for you.
Twitter is a nice way to keep up with others using smaller text snippets. Though it’s grown most popular for its use in getting news out quickly, you can also form your circle of friends and keep up with each other via tweets. You can retweet, which adds another level of personality to someone’s feed, and now that tweets can be longer than before, it’s easier to write more detailed, lengthy updates.
With all the discussion of Facebook’s recent data scandal, third-party data is a major topic of discussion among social media services. (Find out more about Facebook’s difficulties, referred to as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in my article from last week.) Facebook is bringing a number of changes due to the scandal, most of which will restrict access to users’ data. Meanwhile, another social media giant is in the news for a somewhat puzzling reason, as it may soon be making third party access possible.
Here’s a rundown of just some of Facebook’s updates, as well as Snapchat’s recent news.
Facebook is ending their Partner Categories
Facebook is now ending their Partner Categories. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is going to stop using third-party data in its targeted advertising. With targeted ads, a number of different tools are used. Until now, Facebook had used data collected from third parties as one way to accurately target ads toward users. After the recent data scandal, though, Facebook is ending the practice. According to Entrepreneur, companies like Axciom and Experian were part of Facebook’s Partner Categories. TechCrunch notes that Facebook has said the decision is in place permanently, not just while they try to work their way through their current issues.
Facebook wants your help spotting data mining apps
Facebook is focusing heavily on finding apps that could misuse data gathered from their users. In fact, according to CNET, they will now pay users who find “data mining” apps. Facebook already had a program in place that rewarded people for finding other issues on the site. With this program, people could get paid for reporting apps that are using data in a way that breaks Facebook’s policies. CNET also notes that some “bug bounty programs” can offer rewards of up to $100,000.
Snapchat may let third party apps connect to your account
With the flurry of news around Facebook’s handling of third party data, news has come out that Snapchat may be planning to let third party apps connect to users’ accounts. Mashable has reported that the current beta version of Snapchat has a new feature called “Connected Apps.” Bitmoji and Shazam have already been able to connect to Snapchat accounts. But if this setting in Snapchat’s beta is any indication, more apps will soon be able to connect. Of course, just because it’s in beta doesn’t mean it will actually be released in full. Whatever happens, news of its inclusion in the beta app has come at a strange and unfortunate time.
Snapchat is adding a feature to its app. The new feature being added to Snapchat, called Map Explore, brings an interesting new way to keep up with (and locate) your friends.
The Verge is reporting that Map Explore has now been introduced. Map Explore, according to The Verge, lets users find out where their friends are, see where some breaking news is happening, and more.
Snap Map, the maps feature on Snapchat, was introduced last summer. With Snap Map, people could move around and see Snaps that were being posted in various locations. This included being able to see your friends’ Snaps on the map. Though Snap Map is a popular feature, it’s important to point out that users can choose to hide their location. So if you’re someone with privacy concerns (and who might not have gotten around to noticing Snap Map yet), no worries—location sharing is optional with Snapchat’s map feature.
If you don’t mind sharing your location and checking out where other people are, Map Explore could improve your Snapchat experience. With Map Explore, The Verge explains, you can be alerted to what’s happening on the Snap Map. Snap is quoted as saying that this update was introduced because users previously had to search around to find things. This update will make it easier to find interesting Snaps instead of wondering where to look. Alerts about updates will be based on your friends doing something (posting a Snap or a Story, for instance) with location turned on. After 8 hours of inactivity, their location won’t be shown on the map anymore.
Breaking news and other interesting happenings will also be easier to find. Users will be able to get updates about Our Story content. This means you’ll be able to find out quickly when interesting things are happening anywhere in the world (as long as someone is Snapping it).
The Verge mentions that the new update will be arriving for people through the coming weeks. So if you don’t have the update yet, don’t panic—it will be coming soon.
Snapchat has been in the news for a number of different reasons this past week. Some news seems fun, while other news isn’t so great. Here’s what you might have missed from Snap!
Snaps can now include GIPHY gifs
Now when you’re posting a snap, you can tap on the stickers icon and search through animated stickers with a feature powered by popular GIF provider GIPHY. There are plenty of cute, fun, and interesting animated stickers to add, so you should be able to find something that adds a little flair to your snaps.
Snapchat redesign won’t be leaving, despite complaints
Snapchat’s recent redesign (which rolled out to some countries weeks ago and recently reached the US) is continuing to frustrate users. The redesign included mixing Stories in with peoples’ Snap messages, along with other changes, and people have not been happy about it. Unfortunately, no amount of negative feedback seems to be of use—Snap will not be reverting back to its previous design.
Snapchat users have vented their frustration in many ways. Conversation about the redesign on Twitter has revolved around how to avoid receiving the update and how to potentially switch back to an old version. A Change.org petition has been making the rounds, asking Snap to get rid of the new update. And too many jokes to count have been made at the expensive of Snap’s redesign; many Facebook news feeds have been peppered with sarcastic, funny memes about the frustrating new design.
Snap has now responded officially to the signers of the petition (and other annoyed users). Their response, unfortunately, is to tell users the update is here to stay. They do also mention that they’ll be releasing a new update that introduces tabs that make things a little more organized. However, the overall redesign won’t be going anywhere, no matter how irritated Snap users may be.
Did Kylie Jenner’s negative tweet cause Snap’s stock to drop?
Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, Kylie Jenner tweeted about Snapchat. On Thursday, Snap’s shares fell. Now people are questioning whether Jenner’s tweet led to the drop.
Kylie Jenner tweeted, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.” As of Friday morning, the tweet had over 60,000 retweets, hundreds of thousands of likes, and thousands of comments. Jenner has over 24 million followers on Twitter, and they quickly responded to her tweet.
Though Jenner soon wrote another tweet, saying, “still love you tho snap … my first love,” many news sites are speculating that her tweet led to Snap’s stock dropping. Business Insider reports that shares dropped by as much as 8.5%. Though there doesn’t seem to be confirmation that the tweet led to the drop, it does raise the question of how much of an effect a simple tweet can have.
If you’ve ever wished you could create your own filter on Snapchat, your time has come. Snapchat will now let you pay to make your own Snapchat lenses.
If you’ve used Snapchat, you’ve certainly used some of their lenses. Lenses have given Snapchat users cat ears, large and sparkly eyes, and of course, the infamous puppy ears and flower crowns. Now you can customize your own for any occasion. Using either their website or the iOS app, you can choose from one of the many premade lenses and customize it. Customization mostly focuses on the displayed text. You can choose what the text says, and you can choose from many different fonts and colors.
You then further your customization by setting up how long the lens will last and where the lens will be active. Your location can be set in a certain area, and you can drag the edges of the active area to make the area as large as you want. The larger the active area and the longer the lens is available, the more it costs. For instance, making your lens available for just one day in an extremely small area could only cost $5. As you expand the “fence” for your lens, you can watch the price go up on the screen, making it easier to stay within a budget.
There are currently over a hundred different lenses to choose from. They’re sorted into five categories right now: Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Weddings, Celebration, and Greatest Hits. The Valentine’s Day special category features a lot of hearts and pink tones. In the Greatest Hits section, you can find popular past lenses, like the dancing grandma, various different flower crowns, and colorful sunglasses. And under the Weddings category, you can find some past lenses with tweaks like hanging lights across the top and birdcage veils attached to flower crowns.
Being able to customize aspects of Snapchat isn’t a new concept—you can already create your own custom filters, which works in a similar way. You can choose from borders and text, as well as add Bitmoji characters, then set up when and where the filter will work.
Customizing lenses, though, gives Snapchat users even more freedom to take personalized Snaps during special occasions. Lenses are an incredibly popular part of Snapchat, so it only makes sense to give users the opportunity to customize them for a fee.
Mashable points out that you should make sure to buy your lens at least three hours before an event. This way it will be sure to be ready in time. If you have an event coming up, take a look at Snapchat’s website or try out lens customization in iOS!
(Featured image: Snapchat)
The Snapchat app has been redesigned in an update released in some select countries, and so far, the news isn’t great. In fact, it’s pretty bad. TechCrunch is reporting that 83% of the App Store reviews have a negative response to the new update.
TechCrunch also notes the most used words in those reviews include “new update” and “please fix.” Some users are asking how to go back to a previous version (Snapchat Support says they can’t), and overall, users of the new update are suggesting the redesign is unnecessarily confusing.
The Independent notes that one major complaint among users is how Stories are now laid out. If you want to see your friends’ Stories, you must now swipe right (instead of left) and find the Stories jumbled in with your messages. And TechCrunch adds that autoplaying Stories is no longer possible in the update. Instead, users have to tap to get to the next Stories, adding extra (and seemingly unnecessary) steps to the process.
Users are letting their feelings out in more areas than just the App Store. The Twitter hashtag #snapchatupdate is full of Tweets about the update. Some people are tweeting about ways people with the update might be able to revert to a previous version. Others are venting their frustration, while some are cracking jokes and mocking Snap’s redesign decision. @WakehamNick jokes, “User: I believe that the Apple Watch has the worst user interface. Snapchat: hold my beer. #snapchatupdate,” while @SheriannemilleR warns, “DONT UPDATE YOUR SNAPCHAT APP. DONT DO IT. ITS HORRIBLE. #snapchatupdate.”
Facebook is also filled with posts about the update. Many users are sharing articles with negative responses to the update. Even more users are discussing ways to remove the update, and like Twitter users, they’re begging Snap to change back to the previous design. There are, of course, some positive responses to the update—but these comments are few when compared to the negative reviews.
Right now the update is only in a few countries, including U.K., Australia, and Canada, says TechCrunch. It’s not currently available in the U.S., which means there could potentially be time for Snap to listen to its users and change back. Unfortunately, there’s no suggestion this will happen—in fact, they’ve addressed the response by suggesting users just need time to get used to the change and come to enjoy it.
In any case, when this update does come to the U.S. and other countries, the overwhelmingly negative response from this past week gives many people the chance to decide whether to install the new update.
If you’ve spent much time on Snapchat this year, you might have quite a few photos and videos saved in your Memories. If so, you can now look back on 2017 with Snap’s new feature called “A Look Back at 2017.”
With 2018 about to kick off, some platforms are giving their users a way to look back at the past year. Perhaps most well-known is Facebook’s feature called “Year in Review.” This feature lets users share a video that collects fun or important moments from the past year. Facebook users can edit their videos before sharing to make sure some of the best content is included. In my experience, my feed becomes flooded with videos from people looking back on the year, and it’s a lot of fun.
Instagram users can also wrap up their year with the popular #bestnine2017 hashtag. Users share a photo collage of the nine most popular shots they posted over the year. You can’t actually create this photo directly inside the Instagram app, but you can use a website like 2017bestnine to generate your collage of popular photos, or you can do it yourself with Instagram’s Layouts app.
Snapchat’s feature is interesting when you consider what previously made the app so appealing—its disappearing images. Many people were drawn to the app because Snaps quickly disappeared, never to be seen again. Since that time, though, Snapchat’s popularity has continued even as they’ve added the ability to save your Snaps into your Memories and let people view your Snaps for much longer than before. Their year-end review feature further shows that having Snaps disappear forever is not necessarily as important anymore. You can not only save your images, but you can collect them all together and show others your Snaps from across the year.
To share your end-of-the-year Snap review, simply open the app, go to your Memories, and look for the “A Look Back at 2017” feature. Then follow the prompts. The Verge mentions that if you don’t see this feature, it might be because you don’t have enough Snaps saved to your Memories to generate your year-end review. But if you do, you can take yourself and your friends back to your past Snaps to recall the fun times you’ve had in 2017 (and to reminisce about your favorite face filters).
Communication has certainly changed dramatically over the years. When email entered our lives, it changed the way we could communicate. When SMS (‘Short Message Service’) texting, the form of texting we all know and love, became more accessible and cost-friendly, its popularity exploded. Since then, we’ve used many different ways to communicate. Email may not be the most popular way to communicate these days, though it’s of course common in the business world. Texting is obviously still popular, but there are far more options. Over the years, more and more messaging options have come onto the scene. Since there are so many different apps to choose from, it might seem difficult to decide which one you actually want to stick with. If you’re not sure which one you want to use, or if you’re not sure what people are talking about when they say ‘kik,’ this article might just help you figure out which app you’ll enjoy the most—or if you even want to use a messaging app.
What are the pros?
There are a lot of reasons to download a messaging app. Here are just a few reasons to consider:
- Messaging apps can have special features that are better than typical SMS text platforms
- Many messaging apps also include video chat and calling, which can streamline your communication
- Most apps have fun things like extra (or different) emojis and stickers
- You don’t have to exchange phone numbers with someone to keep in contact
- You can feel freer to casually message people, because you know they chose to connect with you
What are the cons?
Here are a few reasons you might not want to go with an app:
- Downloading another app takes up more space on your device
- Your contacts might all be using different apps, because there are so many apps to choose from
- Apps might glitch or start crashing, while the typical SMS text platform is generally fairly steady
- Messaging apps use some of your data, while standard SMS texts don’t (as long as you have SMS texting in your phone plan)
What should you consider?
If you weigh the pros and cons and want to use a messaging app, or if you have one now but aren’t sure if it’s the right one for you, here are a few questions you could ask:
What purpose do you have?
Do you want a messaging app for business? School? Family? Friends? Some mix of these groups? Your purpose might change which app you go with. If you want a messaging app to keep up with co-workers and communicate in the workplace, you might need less bells and whistles, and it might need to be more practical (unless you have a really cool workplace). If you’re looking for an app so you can work with your classmates, you’ll probably need an app that lets you clearly define groups. If you just want a messaging app for your friends and family, you’ll likely want more of the fun features that can keep you all entertained and is pretty informal.
Is it easy to use?
When you’re choosing a messaging app, you should definitely look for one that you can easily use. Depending on your experience with smartphones, different apps, and messaging in general, you might need something different from everyone else. You’ll want to make sure it’s intuitive (you don’t have to go searching all over the place to find basic features). You can also consider whether it’s similar to other things you’ve used in the past.
What kind of messages do you want to be able to send?
If you want to just send text-based messages, most of the following apps will work great for that. If you want to focus on communicating through photos, other apps will do the job better. If you want video capabilities, many apps offer this option, but some are better than others. Make sure to see whether your app offers all the kinds of messaging you want to use.
Is the app safe and secure?
Most of the chat apps you’ve heard about are considered safe, but be careful not to add a random app that just looks cool without looking into it first. Scam apps could steal your data or do worse. Also, some apps are built entirely on the premise of being more secure than SMS texting and other apps out there. One app, called Signal, is based entirely on this idea. It’s slightly different from other messaging apps, though, in that you still send texts to peoples’ phone numbers. If you want to be extra careful with your messages, keep in mind that some apps offer more protection than others, though they might not work the same way as the typical messaging app.
Is it convenient?
Some messaging apps might be more convenient for you than others. If space is an issue, some take up less space, so take that into consideration. Also, some apps are connected with other social media platforms you might already be on, so that can be an added layer of convenience.
What are your options?
Here are just 7 of the messaging apps you might want to choose from. There are many, many more out there, so consider asking around to learn what your friends and family prefer. These are just some of the apps that are widely discussed and used!
Offers texts, photos, videos (including video calling), and voice calling
Facebook Messenger is, obviously, Facebook’s connected messaging app. Messenger is separate from the Facebook app, so you do have to download another additional app to use it. Messenger has a lot of different options, like making group messages with fun group names, sending photos with face filters and other decorations, and using Facebook’s stickers. Facebook Messenger is interesting because there are so many things you can do with it. One thing people may not be as aware of is the ability to play games through the app, like Word Streak with Friends. There are other games, too, built into the Messenger app. It seems like you can do just about everything with the app, even send money and share your location. You and most of your connections are probably on Facebook already, so you’ll know you can contact just about everyone here. If you want to send just about any kind of message and you have Facebook, try this app out. Facebook Messenger is free to download—check out their website to get started!
Offers texts, photos, and videos
GroupMe lets you connect with groups of people to keep in touch for whatever purpose. It’s certainly popular in the college world and in the workplace. You can create as many different groups as you want. It has its own set of emojis, which are pretty cute and keep things a little interesting. GroupMe has a nice gallery view, so if you’re in a group that sends a lot of media, it’s easy to flip through what’s been sent. It also easily lets you send your location, quickly inviting group members to join you where you are. GroupMe really relies on its usefulness in communicating with groups, particularly if you don’t want to share your number (though users without the app can still receive GroupMe messages, which is convenient). If you want to be able to message groups easily (like for a group project or work event), this is a great app for it. GroupMe is free to download—check out their website to get started!
Offers texts, photos, and videos
Instagram Direct is Instagram’s answer to a messaging service. Instead of just posting your Instas and liking your friends’ photos, you can also message people directly through the app. Like Snapchat, your photos and videos will automatically disappear after a while (though not all of your messages disappear—just your photos and videos). You can send all sorts of media through Instagram Direct. Also similar to Snapchat, you can add face filters to your photos, and you can add cool effects to your videos. Boomerang is an especially popular video feature; you can make a short video clip loop back and forth. If you already have Instagram, you already have Instagram Direct, which makes it more convenient than some other messaging apps might seem. Of course, if you want to connect with people who aren’t on Instagram, this isn’t the app for you. If most of your friends and family are connected with you on Insta, though, this app might be just perfect. Instagram is free to download—check out their website to get started!
Offers texts, photos, and videos (including video calling)
Kik is a pretty popular messaging app that people often use if they don’t yet feel comfortable giving their phone number to someone (though this isn’t its only use, of course). You can’t make regular voice calls, but you can do pretty much everything else, so it’s a good option no matter what kind of messages you’d like to send. You can send all sorts of GIFs and stickers, and you can create group chats. Kik also has a pretty nice, clean interface, so it’s not really confusing. Kik also has some interesting special features. For one thing, you can interact with Kik bots to kill time if you’re not sure who to talk to. Also, you have a Kik code that others can scan in order to connect with you, which is convenient. Quite a few people are on Kik, so it might be a good option for you. Kik is free to download—check out their website to get started!
Offers texts, photos, and videos
Snapchat is the popular photo- and video-sharing app that makes your messages impermanent. Messages disappear after a short amount of time, and even the photos and videos in your personal story disappear after a short while. Snapchat centers specifically around photos and videos, though you can, of course, send text-based messages. You can use Snapchat filters to do things like weirdly distort your face and voice, give yourself cat ears, or put someone else’s face on your own. You can take short videos with these filters, too, and you can do other cool effects. You can also easily add text on top of your photos, communicating through your photos. If you want to message primarily through photos and videos, this is the app for you. Snapchat is free to download—check out their website to get started!
Offers texts, photos, videos (including video calling), and voice calling
WeChat is a messaging app that offers all the kinds of things you might expect. It lets you message in all kinds of different ways, but WeChat also has an interesting feel to it. The main page is very basic, sort of like your typical SMS chat setup, but once you’re in a chat, it can get as complicated as you’d like it to, with voice messages, the ability to match your step count with your friends (if you each have it enabled), group chats, and interestingly, broadcasted messages that go to numerous people but don’t share who all the people are. WeChat is also a nice choice if you have friends in China (as I’ve recently learned from experience). Some messaging apps are blocked in China, but WeChat is still available there. It also has a very strange bunch of animated stickers you can download, which keeps it very interesting. If you’re looking for an app that is slightly different from the rest, this one will do the trick. WeChat is free to download—check out their website to get started!
Offers texts, photos, videos (including video calling), and voice calling
WhatsApp is a hugely popular messaging app that has a lot of great features. You can send all different types of messages, you can create groups, and you can easily access it everywhere, including on your computer. It also has its own cute versions of the emojis you’re used to. The app is pretty clear and easy to use; it’s not really bulky or confusing at all. Honestly, it’s really a simple and straightforward way to message people. WhatsApp is an alluring choice, partly because it has so many nice features and partly because so many other people are already on it. It’s also nice because it’s easy to send files through the app. You can do pretty much all the things you’d expect with it. If you want a messaging app that a lot of people are on and that does all of the basics, this app might be your best option. WhatsApp is free to download—check out their website to get started!
In case you missed it, the iPhone X has been in the news pretty much every day recently, and so has iOS 11, the new update for the iPhone operating system. iOS 11 has a number of new and updated features, but the one a lot of people are talking about is its easy-to-use screen recording feature. It was possible to record your iPhone’s screen before, but iOS 11 makes it much easier to do—a fact that has had some people excited, but some people pretty worried.
Being able to record the phone screen on an iPhone can come in handy for many different reasons. Some people may want to record themselves going through a process on the phone so they can upload it and teach people how to do something. Others might want to use it for viral video purposes. Or someone might want to record themselves doing something big, like sending an important message and getting a reply, applying for college, or anything that might be a memorable moment. People have had plenty of reasons to record their phone screens in the past, and iOS 11 just makes it much more accessible.
Mixed in with the positive response, though, was a huge concern: what would happen on Snapchat? Rumors began to swirl that the screen recording feature would allow iPhone users to record peoples’ Snaps secretly, bypassing Snapchat’s feature that tells users when their photos have been saved and who saved them. One huge draw for Snapchat is that the photos aren’t permanent, and if someone screenshots something, the original photo-taker can know who saved their photo onto their device. The idea of people being able to save photos and videos without identifying themselves had some people panicked.
It seems there’s good news and bad news. Fortunately, it’s been shown that Snapchat does, in fact, notify users when their direct messages have been recorded with the iPhone’s screen recorder. It doesn’t specify how it was saved, but it does still say that the Snap has been screenshotted. However, MacRumors tested the screen recorder on Snapchat and found that while it does notify for private messages, it doesn’t quite work with Stories, so be aware that you might not know if your Stories are being recorded.
Also important to note is that MacRumors also tested on Instagram Direct—a feature of Instagram that lets users send non-permanent photos—and the screen recorder did not alert the other user that a screenshot had been taken of their content. So while the issue with Snapchat is not much of a concern, be careful with your Instagram Direct messages until more is known about their screenshot alerts.