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Facebook Adds New Features to Help Users Follow the Paralympic Games



The 2021 Paralympic Games begins next week (8/24), and ahead of the main event, Facebook has announced a new range of tools to help users participate in the Games, and stay up to date with the latest results and happenings.

First off, on Facebook, users will soon be able to access a new Paralympics hub, which will provide up-to-the-minute insights on the latest results, news, and highlights.

Facebook Paralympics Hub

As you can see in these example screenshots, the new Paralympic hub will also include athlete and team profiles and interactive elements – like a Games quiz to help maximize engagement. The hub will also feature related posts from your connections in order to highlight key conversations of interest.

Facebook’s Paralympics Games hub will be available from August 23rd, and will be accessible by tapping on the #Paralympics hashtag. 

Over on Instagram, the @Paralympics Instagram account is now hosting a new AR effect which enables users to attempt to mirror the movements of Someity, the official Paralympics mascot.

Instagram Paralympics Effect

The Paralympics account has also shared a range of content that explains the rules and history behind various events.

In addition to this, the @Wethe15 Instagram account is also now hosting a new AR effect which is designed to help fans promote the “We the 15” movement. ‘We the 15’ aims to end discrimination against people with disabilities, who make up 15% of the global population.

Facebook’s also hosting a range of exclusive Paralympics content, including live programming and highlights on the Paralympic Games Facebook Page, exclusive, behind-the-scenes clips via Instagram Reels and a new WebXR “visual and spatial audio experience which recreates phenomenal moments by Para athletes”.

And finally, Facebook’s also launched a new, four-part short film series, in conjunction with the IPC, which provides more context on the spirit of the Paralympic Games, and how the event has facilitated positive change for disabled communities around the world. The videos also highlight the role that Facebook plays within this shift.

As per Facebook:


“In support of #WeThe15, and available via the Paralympic Games Facebook Page, the series highlights how Facebook helps communities in the US, UK, Brazil and New Zealand come together online – and the real-world impact it has offline.”

The Paralympics is an important event, in both facilitating inclusion and providing opportunity for all athletes to compete and showcase their skills. As such, it’s good to see Facebook providing tools to encourage participation and engagement, while also giving Paralympic athletes a means to maintain connection with their supporter communities.



Instagram Confirms that Videos Under 60 Seconds in Stories will No Longer Be Split into Segments



Instagram Confirms that Videos Under 60 Seconds in Stories will No Longer Be Split into Segments

Instagram continues its gradual process of merging its video products into one, with the announcement that videos in Stories that are under 60 seconds in length will no longer be split into 15-second segments in the app.

As you can see in this in-app alert, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when you update your IG app, you’ll get a notification letting you know that your videos in Stories will no longer be cut up, making it a more seamless viewing experience.

Instagram’s been testing the update with selected users over the past year, as part of its broader process to integrate its video options, in line with the short-form video shift and general engagement trends.

Last October, Instagram retired its IGTV brand, as it combined IGTV and feed videos into one format, while in July, Instagram announced that all uploaded video under 15 minutes in length would be posted as Reels, further aligning its various video formats.

Instagram Reels update

The merging of its video options is aimed at simplifying the app, while it will also, ideally, help Instagram maximize user engagement, by making all of its video content, in all formats, available in more places where users are interacting.

By shifting its video content to a more aligned format, that’ll give IG more video inventory to insert into user feeds, which it’s increasingly looking to do via AI-defined recommendations, as it follows TikTok’s lead in making your main feed more focused on entertainment, as opposed to being restricted to only the latest posts from people and profiles that you follow.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently noted that just over 15% of the content in Instagram feeds now comes from people, groups, or accounts that users don’t follow, with its AI recommendations contributing more and more to the user experience. Zuckerberg noted that he expects to see that amount more than double by the end of next year.

Instagram’s been working towards this for some time, with Instagram chief Adam Mosseri noting back in January that: 


We’re looking about how we can – not just with IGTV, but across all of Instagram – simplify and consolidate ideas, because last year we placed a lot of new bets. I think this year we have to go back to our focus on simplicity and craft.”

The merging of its video formats will ideally facilitate more opportunities in this respect, while also making it much easier for users to understand where to find each different type of content – or increasingly, to not have to go searching for it at all, as it’ll be fed directly into your main feed, whether you follow the creator or not.

Which, of course, is a process that not all users are entirely happy with as yet, but still, Meta remains confident that they’ll come around as its recommendations algorithms continue to develop.

Instagram has confirmed the new Stories video expansion to TechCrunch, explaining that:

“We are always working on ways to improve the Stories experience. Now, you’ll be able to play and create Stories continuously for up to 60 seconds, instead of being automatically cut into 15-second clips.”

That’ll also make it easier to skip through those longer videos that you’re not interested in (as you’ll only have to skip once, as opposed to tapping through each individual frame) – though it may also have implications for creators who’ve structured sponsored content deals based on frame counts, as opposed to Story length.

That’s a relatively easy fix, longer term, with the focus shifting to length instead. But it may add some complications to the process in the immediate future, as the Stories eco-system evolves in line with the new process.

Instagram says that the new, longer video Stories are being rolled out to all users.


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