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Facebook’s Controversial ‘Messenger Kids’ App Arrives On Android

Social Media Week





Facebook’s controversial Messenger Kids chat app, which first came out on iOS in December, is now available on Android.

Messenger Kids is a dedicated app designed to help children socialize with others, and it specifically targets children ages six through 12. Some detractors saw the creation of the app as a means for Facebook to ingratiate younger users on the platform sooner. In 2017, Facebook saw a decline of teenage users for the first time ever.

The app’s debut also sparked conversations around the influence of technology in our everyday lives, and more specifically, the potentially negative effects it can have on children’s development. Studies have shown that social media can weaken young people’s self-esteem, for example.

That said, there’s no denying the positives that smartphones and technology have brought with them: increased connectivity, for one, although this sometimes can be paired with feelings of loneliness and isolation. It’s a complex issue and one we’ll be exploring in-depth at SMWNYC this spring.

Facebook has gone out of its way to try to ease the concerns of parents about the app, which is designed to let users talk and video chat with their friends and family. According to CNN, Facebook claims that before the app was released, it worked with a committee of experts and more than 250 online safety organizations throughout the app’s development.

Facebook also says that parents have full control over who their kids can talk to and children are able to flag inappropriate content. In an attempt to alleviate concerns even further, Facebook doesn’t automatically turn Messenger Kids accounts into regular Facebook accounts once a child turns 13, so parents are still in full control of when their children are mature enough to handle regular Facebook.

While Facebook has taken some steps to ensure Messenger Kids is a safe environment for kids, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood raises legitimate concerns about how the app may affect young children.

The organization recently wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, which contained input from more than a dozen organizations and approximately 100 health experts. The note references a 2018 study published in Clinical Psychological Science that found social media use is linked to significantly higher rates of depression in teens as well as another study that found eighth grade students who use six to nine hours of social media per week are 47 percent more likely to be unhappy with their lives than their peers who use social media less often.

In a world where on average, kids get their first smartphone shortly after their tenth birthday, the fact that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Tim Cook, all giants of Silicon Valley, strictly limited or want to limit the amount of time the children in their family spend on social media serves as an additional red flag. However, most parents don’t have the luxury of saying “absolutely not” to technology and are forced to face the reality that their kids are already on social media.

TechCrunch reporter Sarah Perez recently published an article titled, “Why I decided to install Messenger Kids,” which explores why parents are apprehensive about the existence of the app. Many have already tried other messaging options because they don’t want their kids lying about their age for Snapchat access and want to teach their kids how to be responsible online, but they also admit that they don’t know if letting their kids have access to social media is the right decision and fear it could be the wrong one.

For more information on Facebook Messenger Kids, visit

Join us at SMWNYC (April 24-27) where we’ll explore the tension between community and individualism as part of our global theme, “Closer,” alongside leading platforms, publishers and brands. Claim your pass today.

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.



Facebook Faces Flak Over 'Sexual Images' From Minors Survey




The survey asked Facebook users whether it’d be OK for adults to use the platform to ask a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures.

2 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Facebook made a rather questionable decision this weekend. For some reason, it asked whether users approved of the sending pedophilic material on the platform.

According to The Guardian, Facebook issued the survey to a select group of users on Sunday.

“How would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14 year old girl for sexual pictures,” the question asked. Respondents were given four answers, including: “This content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it.”

A follow-up question asked who should decide this Facebook rule. Answers included the company itself, third-party experts or the users.

However, the survey doesn’t appear to point out that asking for sexual pictures from minors is illegal. Answers to the two survey question also fail to mention contacting law enforcement or child protective services as options, The Guardian said.

“I mean, this is not the kind of topic you should be determining policy on by surveying your readers. Facebook so out of touch with the real world,” tweeted Jonathan Haynes, digital editor for The Guardian.

In response, Facebook called the survey a mistake. “We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies. But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on FB,” said company’s VP for product management, Guy Rosen, said in a tweet.

“We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn’t have been part of this survey. That was a mistake,” he added.

It isn’t clear how many users were exposed to the survey or in what regions. Facebook simply told PCMag: “We sometimes ask for feedback from people about our community standards and the types of content they would find most concerning on Facebook.”

According to The Guardian, the same survey also asked similar questions about content that glorifies extremism, and whether Facebook’s polices were developed in a fair, transparent manner.

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Facebook Ditches Plan for 2 Separate News Feeds




Don’t expect Facebook to roll out a Snapchat-like redesign any time soon.

2 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

In what is perhaps a veiled jab at Snap’s new redesign, Facebook on Thursday announced that people don’t want two separate News Feeds.

In October 2017, Facebook launched an “Explore Feed” trial in six countries to separate content from friends and family from Page posts; it’s similar to what Snap did with its recent, much reviled redesign. Now, Facebook is scrapping the idea.

“In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family,” Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri wrote in a blog post. “We also received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information.”

So, don’t expect Facebook to roll out a Snapchat-like redesign any time soon.

“We constantly try out new features, design changes and ranking updates to understand how we can make Facebook better for everyone,” Mosseri wrote. “Some of these changes… work well and go on to become globally available. Others don’t and we drop them.”

When Facebook first announced the trial, some were concerned it would cause Pages to see a drop in engagement since people would have to proactively click to access that content. That ended up happening anyway, though, since Facebook in January started showing users more posts from family, friends and groups they are part of, and less content from businesses, brands and media organizations.

Meanwhile, Snapchat’s redesign separates content from friends and content from publishers. Since the update went live, users have complained that Snapchat is “too over complicated,” that it’s harder to find friends in the app, and that some contacts aren’t even showing up. In response, Snap recently said it’s planning to add tabs in Friends and Discover that will “make it easier to find the Stories that you want.”

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When Is the Best Time to Post on Facebook?




The simple answer? It depends on your audience.

2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When is the best time to post on Facebook? Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), there’s not one magic answer. Instead, in this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Neil Patel explains why the optimal time to post on Facebook is different for everyone: because everyone’s audience is different. If you are targeting customers in California, you probably shouldn’t be posting your content at the same time as someone targeting an audience in New York or Europe — even if your businesses are located in the same place.

Patel recommends using Facebook Insights, which shows when people are on Facebook by tracking the engagement on your page, to help you identify some likely times that might work best for you.

He also recommends testing posts in three- or four-hour windows to get a general sense of what time of day your audience responds best to. Do they like seeing your content early in the morning, at lunch, after work or just before they go to bed? When you get a broader understanding of what your audience likes, you can then narrow that time of day to a specific hour and get the best reach for your Facebook post.

Click play to learn more.

Related: How to Find Out Who’s Talking About You Online

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Here's What You Can Expect If You Want to Get Hired at Facebook




‘We want more than 70 percent of your time doing work that you really enjoy,’ the company’s VP of HR says.

7 min read

Working at Facebook means access to resourceful colleagues, cutting-edge technology and the opportunity to make a global impact. With more than 25,000 employees and 2.1 billion users worldwide, the company attracts top-notch talent and provides them with luxurious perks, from meals and other on-campus services to generous parental leave. 

It’s this perfect storm of features, and more, that’s landed Facebook the title of Best Place to Work among large companies on Glassdoor’s annual list. This marks the third year Facebook has earned this distinction in the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s resolution for 2018 is to “fix Facebook,” so people may assume that working at the company right now — amid findings of Russian election interference and fake news, backlash from publishers and efforts to make Facebook use “time well spent” — would be extremely challenging, but the company is spinning it into an opportunity to attract people who are looking to solve big problems.

To shed more light on what Facebook does to maintain its reputation, Facebook VP of HR Janelle Gale and recruiting director Liz Wamai spoke onstage at the Glassdoor Best Places to Work Tour on Tuesday.

“While the perks are awesome, they are not the most important thing,” Gale said. “We want [employees] working on the biggest issues, the biggest problems, and we want them doing it in their areas of strength, where they feel like time is flying by.”

Related: Why These People and Brands Are Fed Up With Facebook

Here are some insights Gale and Wamai shared into Facebook’s recruiting and retention strategies.

Facebook engages in ‘structured interviewing.’
Facebook organizes the interview process so that candidates meet with a variety of existing employees. It also trains those employees to ask questions and vet candidates with their biases in mind so that they can overcome those biases and make fair hiring decisions.

“We leverage people during the interview process that are in similar roles to the role that you’re interviewing for. And that maintains consistency in the process,” Gale said. “Usually, when you’re coming through, you’re going to be interviewing with either somebody who’s in a similar role, a cross-functional partner or peer, somebody who’s potentially a future direct report, as well as your hiring manager.”

Facebook plays the short, medium and long game on diversity and inclusion.
Facebook partners with Hispanic-serving institutions and other organizations to increase representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the interview process. This is a way to boost diversity in hiring in the short term, Wamai said.

In the “medium” term, the company partners with nonprofit organizations that are educating women and underrepresented minorities in computer programming and computer science, as well as careers in finance and analytics.

Through various programs, Facebook reaches out to students to help them gain exposure to technical training opportunities that would prepare them for a career at Facebook down the road.

“Facebook recruits in over 300 schools. There’s a perception that it’s Ivy League focused. It’s not,” Wamai said. She added that it’s not just about sending people to those schools to recruit, but who you send, to maximize diversity.

“Are the people you’re sending out for the career fairs for the events,” she said, “do they represent the workforce that you want to attract?”

Facebook says there’s a time and place for AI in recruiting.
“Recruiting is one of those [areas] where, you can’t completely use technology, because there’s a human connection in the interview and selection process,” Wamai said.

Facebook uses machine learning to narrow down large candidate pools. The tech also helps match candidates to other opportunities similar to what they’ve applied to to ensure they’ve found the best fit.

The company has an interview bot that reminds people to enter interviewer feedback immediately after the interview, for instance, keeping the process moving.

Internal recruiting at Facebook is like Amazon recommendations.
In addition to looking for outside talent, Gale said, Facebook is constantly recruiting internally to give employees mobility within the company.

She compared the placement strategy to Amazon’s recommendations engine: “People who’ve read this book might want to read books like this,” she said. “We’re trying to do that for people in certain jobs … a lookalike job that might be a good path for you.”

Facebook wants people to play to their strengths.
Facebook believes that if employees’ work aligns with their strengths, they’ll be more likely to enjoy their work.

“People who are in jobs where they’re playing to their strengths, they’re much more engaged, they’re much more productive,” Gale said. “They stay at Facebook longer.”

The company has internal training programs to make sure people are being self-reflective about “when time flies for them.” It asks questions such as, “Tell us about your very best day: What were you doing?”

During exit interviews, Wamai and Gale said they often find out that people are leaving because they weren’t playing to their strengths. But, Gale said, “If we’re waiting until then we’ve failed.”

The company conducts surveys partially designed to predict warning signs that someone might be thinking of leaving.

“We measure the percentage of time people spend doing work that they enjoy,” Gale said. “Our threshold is above 70 percent. We want more than 70 percent of your time doing work that you really enjoy.”

Technical teams at Facebook can spend a month trying a different job on for size to make sure it works for them and their potential new hiring manager before committing.

Mark Zuckerberg holds Q&A sessions.
Zuckerberg famously holds Q&A sessions with employees, and he answers questions honestly — even those that expose his vulnerabilities — as well as discusses how employees use Facebook’s own platforms.

“You ask it, he answers it,” Gale said. “The more relevant information you have, the better you can do your job.”

People get personal, talking about the biggest mistakes they’ve made at work and asking the same of Zuckerberg. Questions often center around self-reflection — it’s a learning opportunity.

Facebook wants supporters, not managers.
Gale has been with Facebook for six years and said that managerial roles used to be considered “side jobs” adjacent to employees’ primary “individual contributor work.”

“We quickly realized, we are not going to scale this organization without real investment in our managers and real strength in our management roles across the company,” Gale said.

Now, she added, Facebook’s managers “don’t lead from the front,” giving orders all day, but have more of a support role. It’s less of a “command-control” style, and more about listening, Wamai explained.

And if people find management isn’t their strong suit, Facebook doesn’t hold it against them.

“If they decide management isn’t for them, then they move off,” Gale said. “And it’s not a scarlet letter. It’s OK.”

Ultimately, Facebook wants people to be who they are.
Gale said she hopes prospective hires let go of any facades and just be who they authentically are.

“You can actually show up better at work and you can contribute faster,” Gale said. “There’s no personal you and professional you. There’s just you.”

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