Each week, Social Circles brings you the biggest news from behind the social networks. Keep up to date with the latest trends, breaking news, and expert analysis from across the web.
This week’s wrap-up includes Facebook’s new anonymous capabilities, a Tinder for partying, and Instagram’s community guidelines under scrutiny.
5. YouTube videos lead to clown ban
Vendargues is a small town of just over 5,400 residents in southern France. A short hop from Montpelier, you’re sure to find decadent cuisine, canoe or kayak trips, and a number of tours to see the various vineyards in the region. One thing you shouldn’t expect to find, though? Clowns. Just three days before Halloween, mayor Pierre Dudieuzere announced a ban on clown costumes for anyone over the age of 13. The ban went into effect on Halloween and will last for a full month. The move comes following a spur of charges in the country against individuals (or groups) dressed as everyone’s least favourite circus attraction. The incidents, according to testimony from some of those arrested, stem from clown prank videos found on YouTube, whereby clowns scare passersby or where groups “chase the clown.” Anyone violating the ban, said Dudieuzere, would be arrested and prosecuted.
4. Tweeting across America
Muffin Labs is the product of Massachusetts-based Colin Mitchell, known for creating Twitter bots that serve all kinds of functions (from tweeting out events that happened on this day in history to responding to people saying Beetlejuice three times) has opened up his latest bot to the general public. The Earth Rover Bot was established with the goal of journeying from Whiting, Maine to San Diego, California, about a 5,361 km trip. The catch? The bot is controlled only by Twitter commands, to move the bot a certain number of metres and to rotate it a certain number of degrees. Every 12 minutes, the bot makes a move and snaps a pic, sending it out to Twitter. So far, the bot has traveled 281 miles to the town of Dover, New Hampshire.
3. Instagram becomes centre of nudity debate
Chelsea Handler is a comedian not afraid of pulling punches. On Thursday, she uploaded a photo of herself to Instagram in which she is riding a horse topless, in mockery of the iconic Vladimiar Putin stunt. In the days since, it’s become the centre of a heated debate surrounding censorship and female nudity. The photo was taken down for violating Instagram’s community guidelines – namely, the prohibition of sharing nudity and adult content, and after the third exchange of uploading and deletion, Handler deactivated her account in protest. “If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it’s ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?” she said. “If instagram takes this down again, you’re saying Vladimir Putin Has more 1st amendment rights than me.” In the days since, Instagram’s community guidelines have been the centre of a vibrant debate.
2. Party crashing goes mobile with KickOn
What Tinder is to dating, KickOn is for partying. The app new to the U.S., which comes via Australia, aims to connect party-goers with the biggest and besth bashes in the area. As such, it works just like Tinder: the phone pulls GPS data and finds parties in the areas. From there, you can swipe left if you’re interested in attending, or swipe right if you want to take a pass and see what else is out there. Once you share your interest, the party host has the option of accepting you and sending you a ticket, or swiping right and keeping you off the guest list. How is a random party host supposed to decide whether you’re a worthy attendee? The app also includes an Uber-like rating system, where hosts rate party-goers, and vice versa, at the end of the night on a 5-star scale. Those with 5-stars are “MVPs”, while those with 1 are “Party Poopers.” Sound extremely frat-bro/sorority house-y? Pretty much.
CEO and founder Charlie Stewart sums it up in one sentence:
We want to change the way the world parties forever.
1. Facebook allows anonymity with Tor
Facebook, the social media platform that demands you use your real name, is singing a different tune this week. The social networking giant launched a version of its website that runs on the anonymity network Tor, which may be best known in the media as the “dark web,” including its relationship with Silk Road, the online black market for illegal drugs. The real mandate behind the free software, though, is that it helps conceal users’ locations and usage from network surveillance. And though Tor users signed into Facebook will still be known to the Zuckerbergs, they will remain anonymous to everyone else. One area that this may benefit users is in countries with censored or heavily monitored Internet connections, especially with the role Facebook and social media has played in social uprisings like the Arab Spring. Overall, the implementation of Tor is a further security measure for Facebook users, in addition to the default SSL encryption standard on most social media sites.