socialmedia

Auto Added by WPeMatico

Woman Arrested for Posing as High Schooler To Get Instagram Followers

A Florida woman, and former police officer, was arrested on a litany of charges after allegedly sneaking into a high school and posing as a student in an attempt to gain Instagram followers.

28-year-old Audrey Nicole Francisquini was arrested after she allegedly snuck onto the campus of American Senior High School in Hialeah, Florida. She was initially able to “blend in” with the students because, according to Law and Crime and Local 10 News, she wore a backpack and carried a skateboard in one hand and a painting in the other.

While on campus, she allegedly passed out paper fliers with her Instagram handle printed on them and asked students to follow her. When a security guard approached her the first time, she said she was simply looking for the registration office. After receiving those directions, however, she allegedly walked past the office door and continued passing out fliers and “harassing students” with follow asks. She was approached a second time by school security who she this time ignored and was then branded as a “potential threat” and the police were called.

As Fstoppers notes, she ignored school security guards and police instructions to stop and fled the premises, but officers later used her social media information to match her description with her driver’s license and address. She was then arrested at her home in Miami Beach.

“I legit have I don’t know how many cops outside right now of my house,” Francisquini reportedly said in her final Instagram story before she was taken into custody. Her Instagram account is now private. “I’m not going outside at all.”

“This is an unfortunate incident involving a female who trespassed on school grounds under false pretenses,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson Jaquelyn Calzadilla said. “As always, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will continue to work tirelessly to protect the safety and well-being of our students and employees.”

In 2017, Francisquini was charged with violating a revenge porn statute after allegedly stealing and posting nude images of another officer for which she was placed on administrative leave and then fired.

As of publication, Francisquini has been ordered to stay away from the high school and has been charged on three counts: one for burglary of an occupied dwelling with a bond of $15,000, one for trespassing an educational institution/interference with a bond of $500, and one for resisting an officer without violence to his person with a bond of $1,000.

44 State AGs Call on Facebook to Abandon Instagram for Kids

In early March, a report alleged that Facebook was working on a version of Instagram designed specifically for children. In the two months since, the company has faced repeated pressure to abandon the program, the latest comes from a swath of State Attorneys General (AG).

As noted by Engadget, the AGs allege that social media in general is harmful to the emotional and mental well-being of children and that building a platform that specifically targets them would worsen the cyberbullying problems that already plague youths.

“Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” said Attorney General Letitia James of New York. “Not only is social media an influential tool that can be detrimental to children who are not of appropriate age, but this plan could place children directly in the paths of predators. There are too many concerns to let Facebook move forward with this ill-conceived idea, which is why we are calling on the company to abandon its launch of Instagram Kids. We must continue to ensure the health and wellness of our next generation and beyond.”

The letter is signed by the AGs of Massachusetts, Nebraska, Vermont, Tennessee, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

“The attorneys general have an interest in protecting our youngest citizens, and Facebook’s plans to create a platform where kids under the age of 13 are encouraged to share content online is contrary to that interest. Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account.” the letter reads. “The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon these plans.”

The letter also states that Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its existing platforms, a statement that echos previous notes from U.S. Senators and 35 Children’s and Consumer groups.

The AGs express various other concerns over Facebook’s Instagram for Kids proposal, including that the platform could be used by predators to target children and that children lack the capacity to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online, such as advertising, inappropriate content, and relationships with strangers.

“It appears that Facebook is not responding to a need, but instead creating one, as this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account. In short, an Instagram platform for young children is harmful for myriad reasons. The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform,” the letter concludes.

With this letter, 83 total public figures and organizations have come out against Facebook’s plan to make a version of Instagram for kids including four U.S. Senators.

“We’re early in thinking through how this service would work,” Zuckerberg said in a congressional hearing on social media disinformation in March and noted by Mashable. “There is clearly a large number of people under the age of 13 who would want to use a service like Instagram… Helping people stay connected with friends and learn about different content online is broadly positive.”

When asked about concerns parents and groups have with how Facebook and Instagram handle social media addiction, bullying, and the effect on mental health posted by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Zuckerberg simply responded, “Congresswoman, I’m aware of the issues.”

“The problem is that you know it,” Castor said in response. “You know that the brain and social development of our kids is still evolving at a young age. There are reasons in the law that we set that [13-year-old age limit] because these platforms have ignored it. They’ve profited off of it. We’re going to strengthen the law.”


Image credits: Photos licensed via Depositphotos.

Rejoice! Twitter Finally Rolls Out Full-Size Images in Mobile Feeds

Twitter is finally rolling out bigger images in your feed after almost two months since it began testing the feature. Photographers who want to share their photos on the social network now don’t have to worry about Twitter’s cropping algorithm, and photos will be shown in all their glory by default.

While it might not show for all users quite yet, Twitter has announced that its “bigger and better images” on both iOS and Android are now available to everyone.

Prior to this change, Twitter cropped all non-16:9 images to maintain uniformity on timelines. This change now makes it so that images that are not specifically 16:9 aspect ratio would not have to be tapped in order to reveal them in their entirety. This may result in a more streamlined browsing experience and will no doubt add greater value to images shared on the platform.

The larger image update should also pair well with 4K image support that Twitter announced in late April. Images are currently compressed by default to at most 2048 x 2048. The increase to 4K would nearly double that, allowing photos to display at up to 3840 pixels on the long end. As smartphone displays are becoming higher resolution, this change will make looking at images a superior experience on mobile. This does have a downside, however, as loading larger photos takes more data, which is why the feature needs to be enabled manually in settings.

For some, Twitter may now be a viable alternative to Instagram, a company that relies heavily on its ability to track you across apps in order to better target its advertising and that recently subtly threatened to charge for its services due to Apple’s most recent iOS update.

As noted by The Verge, the one downside of this rollout will be the “open for a surprise” style posts that have become popular on the platform over the years. While fun, it is a small price to pay for larger, prettier images.

Instagram Adds Auto-Caption Feature to Stories, Will Soon Add to Reels

Instagram has announced that it is rolling out an auto-captioning feature to Stories that will allow English-speaking users to add auto-generated captions to videos via an announcement on Twitter.

Following in the footsteps of TikTok who recently added the same feature to its platform, Engadget reports that Instagram will now allow users to enjoy content with or without audio. The feature is especially helpful to the hearing impaired, such as those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Additionally, it’s a nice feature for those who want to pass the time in the app but may not be in an environment where having audio play is desired or socially acceptable.

The same can be said for Instagram’s implementation here. The captions are auto-generated by the app, but users can edit them before publishing the Story to fix any spelling or punctuation issues to better reflect what is being said. Once the captions are generated, users can also adjust the style and color of the text.

According to Instagram, the feature is launching in Stories but will come to Reels next, and soon.

“Now you can add a captions sticker in Stories (coming soon to Reels) that automatically turns what you say into text,” the company writes. “We’re starting in a handful of countries and hope to expand soon.”

Instagram initially tested this feature in early March and as Engadget reported, it came as accessibility features were becoming more common across multiple platforms including YouTube, and are expected to come to Zoom and Twitter. However, the early version of auto-cations wasn’t available to the public and was only being tested in closed groups.

Below is an initial tweet from March 9 posted by Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, who demonstrated the feature.

Auto captions will be available to English-speaking users starting today with support for more languages and additional countries coming soon.

Like, Comment, Follow: Thoughts on Social Media as a Photographer

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is about social media likes and followers and how to ‘boost’ those numbers.

There are a few questions I will always ask:

1. Why? Simple first question. What is your goal? Why do you want more likes or followers? Is it for personal reasons (for example an ego boost or a feeling of validation) or is it about making a living (you are looking to sell your brand and need those numbers to maximize potential sales)?

2. What are you currently doing to work towards this goal? This could be a simple question such as, “how often are you on social media ?” because we all know Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. are businesses and a business wants to make money. They need to see you as a bankable asset, and engagement by you equals return.

Also when you are online how are you interacting with others, are you just spamming on images, or are you making meaningful connections? Think about if you were to pass someone in the street and mutter “hi” (the equivalent of a like) or you were to stop and talk to them about their day or compliment them on an item of clothing they were wearing (the equivalent of a comment)? Which do you think would mean more to that other person and which could potentially lead to a deeper friendship?

3. Finally, depending on your goal, how are you managing your content, and is it “good enough” to reach your goal? Now ‘good enough’ is very subjective. However, I have seen people who have sent me images that would be categorized more as ‘snapshots’, with little consideration to composition or subject, and have asked me why they aren’t getting attention.

Now you need to remember you are in a sea of millions upon millions of images, so you need to be doing something to stand out — the image needs to grab you in some way. There does come a point when you have ‘loyal fans’ (which I will touch on later) when the support becomes more personal, but initially, looks do matter. It’s like that first date — you need to attract the opposite person.

Do ‘Likes’ Matter?

We all want to be liked as individuals, going back to those childhood days of being in the playground and having that awkward feeling of trying to join a new group and make new friends, feeling that joy if you are accepted, or worse the disappointment to find that your friendship is not wanted. It can be a tough time and that feeling never really disappears.

We are social creatures. We want to mix and share our lives, our hobbies, and interests with others. We also put a lot of time into our art, so we want to know that people are liking what we are doing. Therefore, I understand completely why people want to see a high number of likes against their work, it brings a sense of achievement (but is that achievement of value? More on that later).

But the question needs to be, what does being ‘liked’ more offer to you as a photographer? Does it make you a better photographer if you have 500 likes on an image? Do you think, “Well, 500 people like this, therefore I am an amazing photographer”? Because to be brutally honest, it does not mean what you feel it may. Likes are not a resource you can use to measure quality.

Now if we focus for the rest of this article on Instagram, as this is the only platform I am active on, let’s discuss something that a lot of people forget when it comes to the number of likes an image gets, and that is reach.

Instagram has something called reach, which is the number of accounts that have seen your image. You have the functionality in Instagram to see what the reach of your posts are and if you look at this it is very obvious to see a correlation between the number of likes an image gets and the reach it hits.

Remember when I said Instagram is a business? This is exactly where this comes into play, because if your image is generating initial interest then Instagram is going to put it out there in front of a lot of people.

Let’s create a scenario where you have taken a photograph and you print it out. You then hang it in your hallway. Over the next two weeks you have 30 visitors (your reach) and from those visitors 26 said they liked the photograph. Now you take the same image and put it in the middle of a high street for 4 hours and over that time it is seen by 3,000 people. Statistically, there is much more chance of more people liking the image because more people have seen it.

For ease, let’s say that 1,000 people from the high street like the image. More likes. However another way to look at it is that from the 3,000 only 1,000 liked it (33%) however from the 30 that saw it in your hallway, 26 liked it (87%), so which is the most successful? It is the same image, yet the size of the audience has dictated the number of likes because of its reach.

My own images work exactly the same as this. I have images that have had a reach of over 18,000 accounts and received say 3,000 likes (what a talented fella), yet some images receive 500 likes but only reach just over 1500 accounts (having a bad day). But again, the ratio of likes to reach would say that actually the image with the lower number of likes is liked by more who saw it.

You also need to consider the ease with which people ‘like’ an image and the reason why they click that little heart. Maybe they just follow the photographer and want to support anything they produce, or maybe they are just trying to show Instagram they are engaging on the platform to help boost their own images and just ‘spam like’ anything posted on a hashtag over the past 20 minutes without even looking at the image.

Roll all of this together, reach and if a ‘like’ is genuine or not, and really think how much weight that number actually has.

Follow Me… PLEASE

The flip side of likes is followers. Again it is another quantitative measure that people put a lot of focus on. Similar to likes, it can be seen as being popular. “400,000 people have chosen to follow me! They are all sitting, waiting for me to upload my next image, they idolize me… I am a genius.”

Well, hold that thought.

First of all, how many of those followers are genuine? How many are bots or people who made an account, followed a bunch of people, and then never returned to Instagram again? How many of those people are following you for a totally different reason to you being a photographer? Maybe they like you as an individual, maybe you have a YouTube channel, or you are a famous person and you drum up followers because of you, not your photography.

Also just because you have 400,000 followers doesn’t mean that every image you post will be seen by each and every one of those followers. If you head into your Instagram feed now and look within the ‘least interacted with’ section you will see a bunch of people who you follow but may not have seen their posts for months and there are even more than this within the account list of who you follow. The reason? Again, Instagram is a business and they will show you the content from the creators who you interact with most, also increasingly space is being taken up by advertising, promotions, etc. (got to keep the money coming in somehow) so that space is limited even more on your feed.

Now if you are a brand or selling a product, of course there are more benefits to having a large following. You could be seen as an ‘influencer’ (I hate that word) and you may get opportunities to try out products for reviews (usually biased in some way, or stated to be unbiased but then bias to keep the companies on board), and this, in turn, generates money or more companies to take interest and it could snowball.

Follower count can equate to positives. However, outside of the money side of things, how important is a follower count really?

When I first started on Instagram, I really wanted 1,000 followers. I have no idea why I chose that number — I just thought it sounded cool to be able to say 1,000 people follow me. Fast forward to when I hit 1,000 followers, and I remember waking up and seeing I had 1002 or 1003 or something like that and thought “YES!! I have 1000 followers… Ok, now what?” It was a totally empty celebration.

I hadn’t suddenly become a great photographer, the emails weren’t suddenly pouring in offering me sponsorships and book deals. It was a great eye-opener for me to see that actually what I had been chasing over those months was something that ultimately didn’t really matter if I thought long and hard about it. Actually, what had mattered over those months were the friendships I was making and seeing my work grow and my own style developing. This led me to realize two important things: the importance of loyal fans and that of value.

Loyal Fans

I mentioned earlier the concept of loyal fans. These are followers you have who love your work, they like your style, your ethics, maybe they have spoken to you a few times and a connection has been built up, they want to see you do well. There is an article online about how in order to make enough money to survive within photography (or any art form), you just need 1,000 genuine fans — 1,000 people who will buy whatever you create because they are invested in you.

Loyal fans play a huge role in, say, a YouTuber’s Instagram account and there is a feeling that a large YouTuber could post a photograph on their feed of a dog turd on a pavement and it would generate thousands of likes and receive multiple comments of “wow this is great” or “deep photography man, really made me think about life”, and that is because they love that person for who they are. It will be those people who buy every photobook they release or watch every video on their channel, and that is the fan base or following that (from a money-generating point of view) you want.

However, what about from a personal point of view? Let’s take money out of the equation. I love an analogy, so imagine you had a dinner party (because I am old and I don’t hold raves anymore). Imagine you had a dinner party and it was open door, during this dinner party you had 500 random people show up and they came, ate your food, and left. They didn’t really speak to you or to each other and just came, took for themselves, and left.

Now imagine the next evening you had a dinner party and hand-selected 30 of your friends or people you had come to know and you all sat and ate and talked about your interests and what was going on in your life and then they all left. Now for me, that smaller dinner party where I was making connections with people would hold so much more value than the party where I had more people show up but fewer people take any interest. I see followers in the exact same way.

I have people on my Instagram I speak to almost daily, we talk about photography, life, movies, Netflix recommendations, music, and even use each other as a sounding board to bounce ideas off or get advice from. I would say this core group is my loyal fans (actually I would say they are my friends and 95% of them I have never met in person, yet I love having them in my life).

I don’t want this to come across as ungrateful, as I am grateful for the following I have and I am grateful that so many people have chosen to add me to their own following. However, I would say that when choosing who you personally follow, focus on the quality they will bring in return be it in terms of friendship, inspiration, motivation, support, etc. and try to mold your following to your own needs.

It is nice to have a large following, but just as in the case of likes, it can be an empty number and interaction levels have much more value.

Value

I mentioned earlier the value of likes (and I suppose followers too). I have a few photographers who follow my work who I aspire to be like and to reach their level is definitely an ambition of mine. If one of those people takes the time to like and comment on an image of mine I am genuinely humbled. High value.

Beyond that, I also hold value in a lot of the comments and likes I receive when you know they are coming from a good place. It can be tough without the relationship to know if it is a ‘spam like’ or a genuine one, but you quickly become accustomed to those other accounts who start to see past your images and see something in you and your body of work that is inspiring them. This then builds value.

Also, any comment that is beyond the usual ‘great shot’ or a smiling emoji is also valuable as someone has taken the time to stop their day and make that comment about how your image has made them feel. I receive direct messages, very supportive and encouraging direct messages, that hold value again in that someone has taken the time to send me those kind words. Those moments have so much power and carry so much more weight than any others on Instagram.

I would try and think more about the value of the likes, comments, and followers you have rather than the quantity. If you lose 100 followers who never interact with you and you have never seen their work either is that such a loss? Chances are they are only there for the wrong reasons.

A Few Quick Points

A couple of other quick thoughts regarding a few topics that always come up;

1. Follow / Unfollow. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel that quantity outweighs quality and therefore are in it just for the numbers. Personally, I find that shallow and very unfulfilling but each to their own. To that end, there will be people who will follow you and then either unfollow you because you didn’t do the same or unfollow you as soon as you follow back. It is a side effect of the platform and for many it is frustrating but again think about the value that person was bringing to you anyway. Is it as big a loss as you think?

2. Why don’t you follow me back? I receive messages almost daily from people wanting to know why I won’t follow them back. Now first of all having my account and managing a different account, not to brag, but I receive hundreds of notifications an hour on Instagram and I have zero chance of checking through each and every one of them. Therefore I do not see every notification for every comment or every follow so I don’t always get a chance to check them out.

I have actually recently found accounts that have been following me for months and I have loved them and returned the follow. It can be tough to keep up. Another reason could simply be the type of photography you shoot is not for me, not that it is bad or whatever (I controversially believe there isn’t bad photography if an image is presented as it was meant to be by the photographer, just not to your taste photography). And in order to ensure I am seeing work from photographers who shoot what I am looking for, I don’t want to fill up my feed with other work. It 100% isn’t a personal thing, just a subjective art thing.

3. Should I buy followers and likes? Just no. Why? That is like entering a photography competition and winning because you are the only participant. As much as I don’t believe all likes are from genuine people saying ‘I love this,’ a majority of them will come from a good place, so earn that love and trust me it is much more satisfying.

Conclusion

If you made it this far I commend your stamina and I hope that this has given you some insight into my thoughts on the topic of likes, comments, and followers. If you are just an ordinary photographer picking up your camera and going out into the world to share your vision then focus on that, focus on the enjoyment of pressing that shutter and freezing time. Focus on coming home and uploading your latest work to your little corner of the internet where you have your own loyal fans who love to see what you have been shooting, no matter how big or small that audience is.

The numbers really don’t matter if what you are doing you are getting pleasure from. The best feeling I believe you can get is from sitting in front of that computer at the end of a shoot and being proud of the images you have taken.

In summary:

1. Don’t equate the number of likes to the quality of an image.

2. Don’t focus on having a large, faceless following (unless you are looking to grow your following for possible financial benefits).

3. Build a valuable community with people who respect and support you and want you to succeed.

4. Interact with others, don’t just spam that like button or drop generic emoji comments, and take the time to connect.

5. Finally, don’t put too much pressure on that side of photography, your enjoyment is far more important and the satisfaction with your images should always outweigh the numbers.


About the author: Lee Thirkellson is a photographer and writer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Thirkellson is the founder of The Northern Street Collective. You can find more of Thirkellson’s work on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.


Image credits: Stock photos licensed from Depositphotos

Twitter Rolls Out 4K Image Support on iOS and Android

Following last month’s announcement that it was testing full-size images as previews in timelines, Twitter today announced that both iOS and Android users can choose to upload and view images in 4K.

As reported by Engadget, enabling the feature can be done through the “Data usage” section of the settings menu. From there, you can choose to update the selection on the high-quality images option. As expected, loading higher resolution images will affect the app’s loading speed and the amount of data your phone will use both on WiFi and with data, so you can choose not to enable the feature if you are afraid of hitting limits or slowing down your scrolling.

For photographers, hearing the term “4K” being used to describe the resolution of photos may not be language that they are used to, as it’s normally reserved for discussions on monitor resolution or videos. Perspectively, images are currently compressed to at most 2048 x 2048. The increase to 4K would nearly double that, allowing photos to display at up to 3840 pixels on the long end. As smartphone displays are becoming higher resolution, this change will make looking at images a superior experience on mobile.

Twitter originally tested this feature in early March and was shortly joined by the announcement that it was planning to play nice with YouTube by allowing videos to play natively in timelines. For as long as many can remember, Twitter hasn’t allowed YouTube videos to act like the rest of the gifs, images, or uploaded videos that appear on timelines and instead required you to navigate away from your feed to watch a tweeted YouTube video. The videos have also not displayed as well as other content and are instead confined to a small thumbnail. Expanding its support for YouTube is only something users would enjoy, and adding the feature sounds like a no-brainer.

This rollout is related but separate from Twitter’s test of uncropped timeline images that it announced in March. For those not actively in Twitter’s test, all non-16:9 images are cropped to maintain uniformity on timelines. Twitter is currently determining if they should change this so that images that are not specifically 16:9 aspect ratio would not have to be tapped in order to reveal them in their entirety. This may result in a more streamlined browsing experience and will no doubt add greater value to images shared on the platform.

Combined with the higher resolution images that are being rolled out today, image viewing is looking to become a vastly improved experience on the platform.

Instagram Tests Letting Users Toggle Post ‘Likes’ On and Off

Instagram plans on testing three options that allow its users to choose whether to hide or show like count on posts, with Facebook said to follow suit.

The Verge reports that back in 2019, both Facebook and Instagram began tests in various regions that hid the publicly available “like” count on posts. The goal was primarily aimed to research and garner feedback on whether such a change would improve users’ wellbeing and overall social media experience.

In Instagram’s case, certain users chosen for the test did not have any control over the hidden likes because the company wanted to shift the focus on the visual material — photographs and videos — shared on users’ feeds, not how many likes each post garners.

The initial feedback for this test was positive, although many online-content creators and business owners initially expressed their concern about having to navigate the new setup and navigating how to prove their account’s worth in brand deals and partnership discussions. For its part, Instagram promised to find a solution to this.

Today, Instagram announced that it is further building on its initial 2019 test by rolling out trials with three options for a select number of users. The three options will let users choose to fully disable seeing likes on anyone’s posts, turn them off for their own posts, or keep the original experience as it is.

On social media, no user experience is the same or can be expected to be the same, so giving the option to choose between the different settings, instead of applying a blanket removal of all likes, could appeal to those who want to reduce the negative effect social media “like” counter has on their mental health while still allowing businesses, professionals, and others to benefit from a visible number of likes on their content.

The link between social media interactions and their subsequent effect on people’s mental health has been a researched matter for several years now. The University of Rochester reports that in the results of a study titled “Getting Fewer “Likes” Than Others on Social Media Elicits Emotional Distress Among Victimized Adolescents”, it found that not receiving an expected amount of validation from the online community can cause anxiety and depression, especially for easily impressionable and vulnerable parts of the population.

The Verge also reports that Facebook plans on conducting a similar test by building on its initial research where it hid likes, reactions, and video view counts on certain users’ news feeds, but the new test is not live yet and no further details were available at the time of publication.

Facebook Tests Hotline, A Mashup of Clubhouse and Instagram Live

Facebook has launched Hotline, a question and answer-style app that combines the features found in the popular app Clubhouse along with Instagram Live features, into a public beta test.

TechCrunch reports that Hotline, led by product developer Eric Hazzard, has been launched into beta testing by Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, which develops, releases, and tests new products to find out how they are perceived by the public. This new social media app takes certain features from the invitation-only audio chat room app Clubhouse — which is currently only available on iOS — and also from Instagram Live, where participants can use both video and audio functionality when communicating with others.

During a Hotline live stream, a listeners’ section is divided between those who are just watching and those who are participating by asking questions. Participants can also upvote or downvote questions that have been asked, which can help the presenter in making a decision on which question to answer next based on what the audience is interested in. The event host can also include listeners in the conversation by pulling them onto the stage area, a popular Clubhouse feature.

When audience members join the presenter on the stage, only their profile icon and audio are enabled. A setting that switches on video has been added but is not yet functioning in the beta test according to reports. Meanwhile, the rest of the audience can react by using different emojis or by typing in new questions. Hosts can moderate the conversation by removing unwanted questions from the queue or unwanted audience members.

Unlike with Clubhouse, all events hosted on Hotline are recorded. Additionally, throughout the initial beta testing stage, Facebook teams are moderating live streams, adhering to Facebook’s Community Standards, Terms of Service, Data Policy, and the NPE Team’s Supplemental Terms. After the event, the host will receive one mp3 and one mp4 recording of the event which can then be further uploaded to other media sharing websites.

The first person to test out Hotline in a real-life scenario was Nick Huber, a real estate investor who hosted a live stream on April 7. TechCrunch explains that Facebook chose Huber for the first test run because he fits the profile of the type of creators that Hotline is looking to appeal to, which is someone who provides value to the audience by sharing advice that can help others enhance their professional skills or finances. In this case, Huber delivered a live stream discussing investing in industrial real estate as a source of a second income.

As of now, anyone is free to join Hotline and there is no limit on the number of new members, however, this may change in the future. Facebook also notes that “NPE Team apps will change very rapidly and will be shut down if we learn that they’re not useful to people,” which helps avoid disruption to the billions of current Facebook apps users.

In comparison to its more casual competitor Clubhouse, Hotline is presented by Facebook as a more professional question and answer app which focuses on experts and industry leaders starting a conversation that can serve the audience by providing advice in different aspects of professional and personal life, while the presenter receives the benefits of increasing their brand and business presence digitally.

This is just one of the recent products that Facebook is developing to rival well-known social media apps. Earlier in February, Facebook also launched apps that resemble certain features of TikTok in BARS, a video sharing app aimed at rappers, and also Collab, which enables musicians to deliver performances virtually. That is not to mention the many additions to Instagram, such as Live Rooms. It is yet to be seen whether Hotline and other recently developed NPE Team apps pass the beta testing stage and become either publicly available stand-alone apps or are integrated within existing Facebook products.

While Hotline’s look and feel strongly resembles Clubhouse’s, it has some notable differences in user experience. For example, signing in requires a Twitter account — an odd requirement considering it is a Facebook entity — and your identity is further confirmed with a text message. These additional login steps may raise some eyebrows, as only a few days ago it was discovered that in 2019 over half a billion Facebook users’ personal data was leaked. Facebook then said it would not notify those users about the breach and instead put the burden of responsibility to safeguard personal data onto its users.

Clubhouse and Stripe Team Up to Allow Anyone to Send Speakers Cash

Clubhouse has teamed up with Stripe to launch Clubhouse Payments, a monetization feature that will allow anyone to send money directly to speakers on the platform. Even better, 100 percent of the money sent via Clubhouse Payments will go to the selected creator.

Announced by Clubhouse on its blog and tweeted by Stripe CEO Patrick Collison, the Clubhouse Payments is the first monetization feature launched by the social media upstart. While all Clubhouse participants can send money immediately, only a small test group will be able to receive them as the feature is slowly rolled out.

“All users will be able to send payments today, and we’ll be rolling out the ability to receive payments in waves, starting with a small test group today,” Clubhouse says. “Our hope is to collect feedback, fine-tune the feature, and roll it out to everyone soon.”

You can read how to access payments and send speakers money here.

Clubhouse itself doesn’t seem to be monetarily benefitting from this feature, at least at launch, and promises that all the funds sent to speakers on the platform are for the participant, minus Stripe’s processing fee. That said, Engadget notes that the company did stop short of promising that it would never take a cut of the transactions once the feature becomes more widely available.

The company also says that this is one of “many” upcoming features in the pipeline that will allow creators to be paid directly in the platform, though specifics were not provided.

“It’s cool to see a new social platform focus first on participant income rather than internalized monetization/advertising,” Collison tweeted. “Excited for the burgeoning creator economy and next era of internet business models.”

Clubhouse launched as a fun, more interactive way to host podcast-like sessions and has grown in popularity among photographers. Not to be ignored, Instagram was quick to launch its own version of Clubhouse a few months later. Called Live Rooms, the feature currently allows users to host a shared streaming session with up to three other people. To its credit, Instagram also announced that Live Rooms hosts would be able to monetize streams by encouraging listeners to purchase badges, but Clubhouse is taking that angle one step further by letting viewers send their favorite speakers straight-up cash.


Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.