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This Week In Digital - 31st March 2017

Another Stories feature, Uber’s diversity report, and Twitter’s contentious changes

31Mar

Facebook rolls out Stories

It’s getting a bit tiresome now. Such is Facebook’s relentless attempt to both take down Snapchat and make sure that it doesn’t fall behind on its users’ behavioral trends, we are being treated to yet another Stories feature. As of this week, mobile Facebook users will be encouraged to add to their Story in a bar similar to that of Instagram, at the very top of the app. This now means that Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook boast effectively the same feature.

The danger with the mass proliferation of Stories functions is that users will be paralyzed by choice. Where do you post a story in 2017 so that most of your friends can see it? Part of Snapchat’s success with Stories was the notion that all of your Snapchat friends would likely see yours within its 24-hour lifespan. With so many Stories functions vying for users’ attention, how can any one app dominate?

Uber releases diversity report

Responding to mounting pressure, Uber has finally released its company diversity report. It’s been a difficult year for the ride-hailing giant, with allegations of a culture of sexism and ruthless competition spilling out all too regularly. Travis Kalanick has attempted to weather the storm by promising top to bottom change, and revealing its diversity point is clearly seen as a starting point.

The report may well do little to ease concerns about the company, though. As it stands, women make up only 36% of Uber’s workforce, while its tech jobs are overwhelmingly held by men (85%). 50% of Uber’s employees are white, while 31% are Asian and just 9% and 6% are black and Hispanic respectively. Kalanick has publicly acknowledged that the figures should have been released earlier than they were but, with more sexism allegations surfacing seemingly every week, the numbers will do little to improve Uber’s public image.

Twitter makes changes

As of this week, Twitter usernames will no longer appear in reply tweets. This is significant for a few reasons. Where previously usernames would appear in and be counted as part of the 140-character tweet, they now appear as metadata outside of the tweet. On paper, the change makes sense - why should a longer username mean less space for the tweet’s content? It should also make Twitter more accessible to those initially thrown off by the now defunct method of replying.

But, in practice, the update holds a serious downside. A Twitter canoe is essentially a situation in which numerous usernames are drawn into an ongoing conversation that develops to often bear no relevance to the majority of the usernames being carried along with it. With usernames counting towards the 140-character limit, users had to be selective with those they chose to direct their reply to. Now, up to 50 users can be replied to at once. The Twitter community is in uproar, and it will be interesting to see if Jack Dorsey and co. make any speedy amendments to the change. 

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