The story behind Facebook’s new iconic thumb stickers

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Facebook didn’t have to look far for inspiration for one of its newest sticker packs. A team of designers and engineers at a hackathon took Facebook’s iconic thumbs-up like logo and turned it into sticker form, adding sparkles, flowers and champagne. Within a couple days of launch, more than 6 million people had already used the new sticker pack.

Not bad for a 24-hour turnaround.

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Facebook tests bubbles on desktop chat

ChatBubblesFacebook has been testing tweaks to the desktop version of chat, and many users are seeing the latest test right now — bubbles. Facebook has tested bubbles before, and we’ve reached out to Facebook to see if this is another test or something that the site is working on rolling out.

Update: A Facebook spokesperson responded, saying that it is a test that was rolled out to all users.

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Facebook’s chat sidebar tells whether friends are active online or mobile

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 6.52.53 AMMany Facebook users noticed that the chat sidebar now has active icons for web and mobile, as well as the mobile icon.

This was a change by Facebook showing whether or not the user is actively on their phone or web — similar to the newest version of Facebook Messenger.

If there’s just the mobile icon, the message will go to their phone and they will see it when they engage with their phone again.

A Facebook spokesperson described the new feature:

This feature gives you a better understanding of where your friend will receive your message.

Readers: Have you seen this?

Facebook tests link preview in desktop chat boxes

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Facebook is apparently testing a new addition to desktop chat boxes: link previews. Now, just like when a user shares a link to their News Feed or on a page, they can remove the URL from the message.

When a user pastes a link into the chat prompt, a small link preview shows up below (see above left). Users can then delete the URL text and send a cleaner link (above right), with their own message.

This can help cut back on unwanted text within messages, as URLs can be unwieldy and ugly when they get too long.

Readers: Have you noticed this?

Facebook reportedly testing chat room feature

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Facebook’s group messaging feature could use some work, but it seems like a solution may be on the horizon. It appears that the site is building a chat room function, according to TechCrunch. Facebook confirmed to the site that it is working on a chat room feature that would allow users to join a chat without a direct invitation.

Facebook told TechCrunch that this was more of a test of a feature rather than something the company is ready to roll out, noting that “we do test things from time to time with a small percentage of users.” TechCrunch compared this feature to AOL chat rooms, which were wildly popular in the days before Facebook and other social media site.

It appears that Facebook is trying to find some way to build messaging products. After Facebook’s Snapchat-like iOS app Poke largely fell flat, a chat room feature that differs from the site’s group messaging feature could be interesting, if implemented properly on mobile.

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Facebook begins supporting emoji in posts and comments on desktop and mobile

friendsFacebook has started to roll out support for emoji in all posts and comments on desktop and mobile, a company spokesperson tells us.

Previously, emoji — a standardized set of emoticons and picture characters – were available for Facebook Messenger, but not within status updates, comments or other posts. Facebook started offering some chat emoticons in comments on desktop last year, but this wasn’t the full emoji set. Now, users have more flexibility in sharing smileys and other icons across Facebook, whether it’s a check-in, photo caption, group post or some other message or comment.

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The social network has made a number of moves recently to bring more ways for users to express themselves through small pictures. There are the new structured status updates where users can share what they’re feeling, eating, drinking, watching, reading or listening to. And the new stickers for mobile messages.

These features, along with emoji, help users communicate in new ways or say things that might be difficult otherwise. They can also add a bit more fun into the service, which at points has been seen as a cold or sterile platform compared to the flash and flexibility of other social networks. When Facebook released the Poke app, which was sillier than its typically utilitarian features, we wondered if it was a sign of more to come. So far this year it seems that Facebook is lightening up and giving users new options that are popular in other apps.

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The latest emoji support for posts and comments was built at a Facebook hackathon last week and began rolling out to users on Tuesday. To create emoji characters, a user must enable the emoji keyboard on their phone and in their web browser. For example, ShowMeEmoji is a useful extension for Chrome users.

Facebook News Feed now shows whether friends are online to chat

conversationFacebook has added a new icon to News Feed posts to indicate whether the user is available to chat.

If a user is online, a green dot will appear next to their name along with their post. Users can click the green dot to open up a chat window and start a conversation. This could encourage users to start private messages with friends after they see one of their posts in the feed.

For now the feature applies to News Feed posts but not those on a user’s Timeline.

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Facebook is putting increasing emphasis on its chat and messaging system. The new mobile Chat Heads feature in Facebook Home and Messenger makes it easier for users to read and respond to messages even when they’re in the middle of other tasks on their phone. This latest desktop feature also deeper integrates chat into another popular activity: browsing News Feed.

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Facebook roundup: Nielsen report, site governance, Blackberry app and more

Nielsen reports stats on Facebook’s dominance in U.S. – Facebook continues its reign as the most-visited social network in the U.S., according to Nielsen. The service has an estimated 152.2 million visitors via PC, 78.4 million mobile app users and 74.3 million mobile web visitors in the U.S. This is multiple times the size of the next largest social sites across each platform. Facebook is also the top U.S. web brand when it comes to time spent on site. About 17 percent of all time spent online via personal computer in the U.S. is on Facebook.

Facebook puts new policy to a final vote – Facebook this week put its proposed Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to a user vote, likely for the final time. Part of the social network’s proposed changes include the elimination of the voting mechanism. Unless 30 percent of users participate in the vote and vote against the changes, Facebook will remove the voting option from its governance policy completely. Voting ends on Monday at noon PST.

New Facebook app available for Blackberry - Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones version 3.3 was released this week with BBM integration, faster photo browsing and an option to unfriend people, as well as an overall refreshed look and feel. BlackBerry users can now initiate BBM chats from the Facebook app, add BBM friends to Facebook, share their BlackBerry pin more easily and see which Facebook friends are also on BBM.

Facebook tries customer service via chat - Facebook is testing a way for businesses to receive customer service over Facebook Chat rather than with a phone call. The program has been in testing for a few months, but was first covered by TechCrunch this week. The system is powered by Salesforce, which Facebook uses internally. Some customers will be pleased by the convenience of chat, while others might find it impersonal and frustrating. Overall, it will reduce call center costs for Facebook.

Judge approves Sponsored Stories settlement – A federal judge has approved a $20-million settlement for a class-action suit over Facebook’s Sponsored Stories advertisements. The company will provide a cash payment of up to $10 to Facebook users who objected to the use of their name and photo in Facebook ads. Facebook will also give users more control over these ads, including a way to opt out of being included in them.

Facebook comments now support chat emoticons

Some users today are noticing that Facebook comments now display illustrated images when users type emoticon symbols.

Emoticons do not work in status updates or other posts, but users and page owners can use them in comments. Depending on a company’s brand voice, emoticons may or may not be appropriate for exchanges with fans on a page, but it’s worth noting they are an option now. There are a number of smileyfaces and animal images available. For example, users can type (y) to create a thumbs-up symbol. A more list of icons and how to make them can be found here.

Previously, emotions were available in chat and messages, but appeared as punctuation or letters and numbers elsewhere around the site. Facebook recently added emoji to its mobile messenger apps, but these are a different set of images that do not seem to be able to be recreated in web chat or comments.

Facebook introduces ‘listen with friends’ for real-time music sharing

Facebook today announced the “Listen With” button, which will allow users to listen to the same song simultaneously. The feature will roll out over the next few weeks, starting with Spotify, then adding other Open Graph music services.

From the chat sidebar, users can see which friends are currently listening to music. Clicking “Listen With” will open the music player and begin the song at the same point the person’s friend is now at. It also launches a new chat window so friends can comment about the songs they share. Listening to music with friends in this way will publish a News Feed story about the activity, according to Techcrunch. Facebook has never shared chat activity with a users’ friends before, but this is similar to how Google+ shares stories when users video chat with each other.

One problem with Listen With is that users will have to use the same app. If someone is using Spotify, friends can’t click to listen to the song in Rdio. According to AppData, Spotify is by far the leading Open Graph music player with 4.6 million daily active users to MOG’s 10,000 DAU and  Rdio’s 7,000 DAU. The Listen With feature is likely to only increase this disparity and make Spotify the defacto music service of Facebook.

The new feature is similar to Turntable.fm and Google+ Hangouts, which facilitate synchronous listening or viewing experiences. Turntable.fm has users choose avatars and join virtual rooms where people take turns playing DJ. The service is more about discovering music through strangers with similar tastes than sharing with friends. Google+ lets users join video chats called “Hangouts” and share YouTube videos that friends can watch at the same time.

If Listen With takes off, Facebook could add a similar option for video streaming services. We could also imagine Listen With activity becoming an option for Sponsored Stories in the future. Promoting a shared listening experience could be quite meaningful for artists.

If Facebook ever made Chat available between users and subscribers, rather than just between friends, Listen With could be an interesting way for fans and artists to interact. Turntable.fm has seen activity spike when popular artists like Diplo, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Talib Kweli joined rooms. However, since opening Chat to users with asynchronous relationships might be tricky for Facebook, celebrity partnerships could end up being Turntable.fm’s way to survive after the launch of Listen With.

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