Friday Social: Facebook launches wellbeing trial, Uber records audio and does social media make the news worse?

Bekki Asquith

October 4th, 2019

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Our #FridaySocial is a weekly round-up of the key social media news stories from the previous seven days.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter – @Umpf

Facebook launches wellbeing trial

Facebook has this week responded to concerns that likes, reactions and viewing numbers may be affecting the mental health of its users by opting to hide these metrics on other people’s posts in a new trial.

This comes after studies conducted by mental health professionals found that such tools can spark an unhealthy competitive streak in many, as people try to keep up with each other and feel genuinely deflated in a post doesn’t do as well as they’d hoped.

The trial is being rolled out across Australia to begin with, and Facebook Australia’s director of policy said: “It is just taking the number out of the equation so that people can focus on the quality of their interactions and the quality of the content rather than on the number of likes or reactions.”

Instagram has already been trialling this since July and we’d consider the fact this a good step in the right direction for the mental wellbeing of users online.

Uber tests ‘record audio’ feature for users’ safety

In Uber’s next step to ensure the safety of their customers, the app has begun testing a feature that gives riders the option to record audio during their trip if they are feeling uncomfortable or unsafe.

Uber has recently rolled out several other safety features including an optional PIN number to authenticate your ride, and it is tipped to be rolling more out soon.

Unfortunately, this won’t be tested worldwide as some countries require the consent of both parties before audio can be recorded.

More info to come!

Whatsapp tests ‘self-destruct’ feature

Continuing with the new feature trials this week, Whatsapp are joining in with a ‘self-destructing’ feature for your chats.

The new feature will allow users to set a timer for messages in a conversation which will disappear after the specified time – good for sending sensitive information that you wouldn’t want anyone else to access!

Study reveals Americans believe social networks makes the news worse

Over on the other side of the pond, the outcome of a study has indicated that 62 per cent of American adults believe that social media companies have too much control over news and 55 per cent believe that they make it seem worse through their editorial choices.

88 per cent of those in the study believed that social networks favoured news outlets with attention-grabbing titles, and 79 per cent thought the companies favoured news with a specific political stance.

Even though these were definitive outcomes of the study, it also showed that people are actually more reliant than ever on social networks for news than ever before.

YouTube takes on Spotify with new personalised features

In musical news, it seems that YouTube Music is preparing to challenge Spotify with the launch of three new personalised playlists, which pretty much mirror Spotify’s current offerings.

Discover Mix will be Youtube Music’s version of Discover Weekly, New Release Mix is their version of Spotify’s Release Radar, and Your Mix is their version of Spotify’s Daily Mix’s, which are of course based on users’ listening habits.

These additions come at a time when Google is preparing to transition its Google Play Music users over to YouTube Music, making it a much bigger threat to existing music streaming services.

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