Young people finally fleeing Facebook, say researchers

It's been predicted for years without much proof to show for it, but new data from Pew Research finally serves the pudding: young people are leaving Facebook for good.

From Pew:

There are, however, age differences in the share of Facebook users who have recently taken some of these actions. Most notably, 44% of younger users (those ages 18 to 29) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the past year, nearly four times the share of users ages 65 and older (12%) who have done so. Similarly, older users are much less likely to say they have adjusted their Facebook privacy settings in the past 12 months: Only a third of Facebook users 65 and older have done this, compared with 64% of younger users.

Chris Welch at The Verge:

Pew found that “Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to have taken a break from Facebook or deleted the app from their phone in the past year.” The recent swell of criticism directed at Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms over supposed censorship came well after the Pew survey was conducted, so it may be a factor the next time around.

It was to be expected that Facebook would age out of its original youthful user base, but it's odd that it aged so fast into being the social network of seething, racist seniors. Read the rest

Binky is a fake social network where nothing is real and nothing matters

Binky is an app equivalent of a baby pacifier. It presents an endless scroll of image posts that you can "like" or "re-bink" (which does nothing). It's easy to comment on a post, too. You just press random letters on your keypad to automagically generate words that write out coherent sentences. Read the rest

Former Facebook staff say they routinely manipulated trending news topics

Update: Facebook released a statement on Monday afternoon: “We take allegations of bias very seriously. Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum.”

Facebook workers "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers," reports Gizmodo, regarding the "trending" topics that are inserted in readers' feeds. This was apparently an issue of individuals working on their own initiative rather than the result of corporate policy, but they were directed to squelch news about Facebook itself and to manually inject "missing" stories into the trending topics.

These new allegations emerged after Gizmodo last week revealed details about the inner workings of Facebook’s trending news team—a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, who curate the “trending” module on the upper-right-hand corner of the site. As we reported last week, curators have access to a ranked list of trending topics surfaced by Facebook’s algorithm, which prioritizes the stories that should be shown to Facebook users in the trending section. The curators write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites. The section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users—167 million in the US alone—are reading at any given moment.

In short, Facebook's "trending" stuff comes out of a newsroom-like culture, with editorial direction and values. Which would be fine, except for the fact that Facebook claims that its trending topics are an organic or algorithmic representation of user interests and activities. Read the rest

An algorithm to figure out your gender

Twitter claims a 90 percent accuracy rate for the clever techniques it uses to learn the gender of any given user. Glenn Fleishman reports on the company's disconcerting new analytics tools, the research behind them, and how large a pinch of salt they come with.

Popular social networking service begins offering stock for public trading

Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen on a screen televised from their headquarters in Menlo Park moments after their IPO launch in New York. (REUTERS)

Shares of Facebook (FB) opened at $42.05 on today, up about 11 percent from the IPO price of $38. At this valuation, the company is worth around $115 billion. But shortly after the open, despite all the bubblicious hype leading up to FB's debut: share price dropped. At the time of this blog post, the price is hovering around $38.

The WSJ reports that trading volume was more than 375 million in first three hours of listing, more than 6.5% of total market volume. Trade volume is expected to set a new record in trading volume on IPO day.

STOCKENFREUDE (n): That feeling you get, as someone who loathes Facebook, seeing FB shares crap out on IPO day. Read the rest

Facebook launches a new game: Organ Farmville

Facebook announced today that the social network's 161 million members in the United States will be encouraged to begin displaying "organ donor status" on their pages, along with birth dates and schools. Some 7,000 people die every year in America while waiting for an organ transplant, and the idea here, according to this New York Times story, is to "create peer pressure to nudge more people to add their names to the rolls of registered donors." Absolutely nothing could go wrong. (via John Schwartz) Read the rest