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Inside Facebook (Mar 3rd, 2017)

Facebook has created an algorithm that tries to flag people at risk of committing suicide. The social networking company wants to spot warnings signs in users' posts, along with comments their friends might give in response. Facebook's "human review team" will then contact those who might be at risk, and offer tips to help. The algorithm will look for words that convey sadness and pain. Responses from friends with phrases such as "Are you OK?" or "I'm worried about you," would also be identified. "We know that speed is critical when things are urgent," Facebook product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch told the BBC. – BBC

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Facebook users might soon have two news feeds to click and scroll through. Facebook is testing a second news feed in the mobile app for Android and IOS that would appear under a new "Explore" tab, and would include photos, videos and articles geared toward the users' interests. Pages or sites that people have already liked would not appear in the news feed, but sites similar to those would show up. The additional news feed would also aggregate videos, articles and memes popular with their Facebook friends. – MASHABLE

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Facebook is adding a new travel feature called "City Guides," which could serve as a challenge to Foursquare. The feature will show a list of cities that your friends have visited, along with various recommendations of places to go and things to do. Profile photos of your Facebook friends will appear when you click on a certain city and you can learn about what hotels, restaurants and events they attended. Although Facebook users have long had the ability to check-in via their status updates, the data has never been formally used to inform other Facebook users, as is the case with Foursquare. – TECH CRUNCH

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An unseemly Facebook post has cost an assistant principal his job. Bob Bullock was the assistant principal at Chippewa 7-8 School in Wisconsin, but was accused of making racist remarks on Facebook. He retired suddenly a week ago. A parent complained that several of Bullock's Facebook posts were racist because they used terms such as "thugs," "your people" or "perps and pimps." Several of the posts focused on news reports of crimes. "The comments were his personal thoughts and were certainly not representative of the values and beliefs of the Okemos Public Schools, the Board of Education or our school community," Okemos Superintendent Catherine Ash said. – DETROIT FREE PRESS

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Facebook is soliciting creators of scripted and unscripted video content, according to the Wall Street Journal. Facebook wants to create TV-like original programming that would air weekly for 30 minutes. Facebook wants content in several genres, including sports, science, pop culture, lifestyle, gaming and teens. The company's push toward video serves as a departure from 2016's partnership with media companies for news content. Facebook plans to offer a “premium digital rate” for scripted content, in the low- to mid-six figures per episode. The company also intends to share ad revenue. The shows would appear under the video tab in the Facebook mobile app. – WSJ

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A Purdue University communications professor says that Facebook drives people apart rather than bringing them together. Glenn Sparks said that the site doesn't let people talk with nuance or express their true feelings. “In face-to-face communication you don’t blast a political message in someone’s face; you have a conversation,” Sparks said. “Facebook is not a platform that fosters careful dialog, nor is it a place to thoughtfully listen to other people." Sparks added that posts are often formed impulsively and there can be great disappointment when people don't take the time to respond to a post. She said many "Facebook Friends" are not friends at all. "Facebook encourages people to be friends with lots of people. But it then turns out that they are exposed to people they don't really know and end up having vastly different political beliefs from." – INDEPENDENT

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A 17-year-old girl has gained international attention after sharing the details of her battle with anorexia in an emotional Facebook post. Phoebe Bretell posted: "This demon took over my mind and pushed me off the edge, where it turned into a beast and lead to anorexia nervosa.” The Melbourne teen said she believed she was fat and saw someone larger than what she was when she looked in the mirror. Over time, Bretell said she found it difficult to focus and her body suffered. “I was constantly cold as I hardly had enough fat to protect me, I was miserable and made life hell for my family.” She also began to exercise excessively. Eventually her therapist referred her to an eating disorder clinic. She said she posted on Facebook to help others: “For anyone that is going through it, trust me I know that you may feel embarrassed or ashamed to speak up or get help, but I just want to get the message out there that seeking help was the best thing I had ever done physically and mentally." – THE SUN

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