A flurry of social media news stories hit the airwaves this past week from Google, Facebook and Snapchat. Here are the ones most of interest to parents and educators:
- Snapchat: The Federal Trade Commission has apparently been wanting Snapchat to be much clearer about just how ephemeral its disappearing messages really are. The Commission filed a complaint and reached a settlement with Snapchat for misleading users, Gigaom reported. “As part of the agreement,” reports my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid in Forbes, “Snapchat will have to change its messaging to make it more clear that messages don’t necessarily disappear.“Meanwhile, Snapchat has changed a lot, adding text messaging and video calls. Even though these features seem to be moving away from the classic Snapchat, Gigaom reports that “there’s still a hint of ephemerality to them. For example, text messages disappear once a user leaves the conversation (users have to take a screenshot for later viewing)” and video chats only continue for as long as the user presses down on the little video icon on the screen.
- Google: News from the search giant focused on schools. Even as the company pulled all advertising from its Apps for Education program, it added another app to the mix. The new app, called Classroom, “weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease” and to help students “organize their work, complete and turn it in, and communicate directly with their teachers and peers,” according to Google. That’s the productivity side. On the protection side, when Classroom, Gmail, Drive, Docs, Slides, spreadsheets, etc. are used in schools, there will be no ads and no gathering of students data, Larry reported. He cited Google as saying that more than 30 million students, teachers and administrators use Apps for Education.
- Facebook: The news from the social media giant was about more user control over privacy in the apps on its platform. The move was partly aimed at giving users more confidence about clicking the little blue “Login with Facebook” button in other services (see Larry’s post for more). Facebook users will also be able to log in anonymously now – so the app won’t know who you are if you want to try it out and play with it for a bit. See Larry’s post for details. And there’s plenty more Facebook news at TechCrunch.
[Disclosure: ConnectSafely.org, a nonprofit organization that I co-direct, receives financial support from a number of Internet and media companies, including Facebook, Google, Trend Micro and Yahoo.]