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Facebook Outlines Coming Mental Health Support Tools



There’s no other way to put it – 2020 has been tough, and we still have three and bit months to go, which, ideally, will deliver some form of good news and/or relief. But nobody knows what’s coming, more so than ever, and that uncertainty has had significant impacts on the mental health of many people, as they work through the various concerns and try to manage the outcomes as best they can.

Really, we all need to give each other a break, and seek to reach out to friends where we can. The lack of in-person interaction takes its toll, in many ways, and while tensions and frustrations are running high, it’s worth trying to maintain a level of compassion, in all situations. Because it’s tough. People are facing major, ongoing challenges and battles, many of which you can’t possibly know about.

Recognizing this, Facebook, as part of World Suicide Prevention Day, has today announced a range of new mental health support tools that it’s looking to roll out in the coming months.

As per Facebook:

“Since the pandemic began, we have taken a number of additional steps to keep people safe, including providing people with tips we developed with global experts, localized resources and easy access to over 100 local crisis helplines through our COVID-19 Information Center. Experts have made clear that making these tips and resources easier to find is key to those seeking help.”

Expanding on this, Facebook will soon also be adding:

New rules around the sharing of self-harm related content

Facebook already has a range of rules in place in regards to self-harm related content, with Instagram expanding its ban on images of self-harm late last year. Now, Facebook’s also looking to implement restrictions on content that may relate to self-harm, but doesn’t violate the current regulations – “such as depressing quotes or memes”.

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“We’ll share our approach to address this content soon. These issues are complex and nuanced, but we are committed to doing all we can to address potentially harmful content without stigmatizing mental health.”

This is a difficult area – for some people, it could be that posting memes actually helps them deal with such challenges. But Facebook’s working with various mental health organizations to improve its approach on this front, which will see it extended its parameters around self-harm content in the next few months.

Crisis support via chat

Facebook’s also looking to provide a new, real-time assistance option via Messenger chat.

“Getting people help in real time is especially important when they are in distress. In the coming months, we’ll make it easier for people to talk in real time with trained crisis and mental health support volunteers over Messenger.”

This could be a critical initiative, with the non-invasive, and less confronting nature of a Messenger chat likely to be appealing to many people in need.

Combine this with the fact that some 1.3 billion people currently use Messenger, and that Messenger will also soon be integrated with Instagram Direct chats and WhatsApp, and it could facilitate connection with many at-risk individuals. 

Expanded resources to help young people

Facebook’s also expanding its online resources for educators to help them provide assistance for students in distress. 

“[We’re] adding Orygen’s #chatsafe guidelines on how to help young people talk safely online about suicide to Facebook’s Safety Center. These will be available first in English, and seven more languages next month.”

Facebook has continued to expand its digital literacy resources, which is crucially important given more students are now having to spend increasing amounts of time online.

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This is another key element for educators to watch for, and these new resources could be critical in connecting students with better support structures.

Instagram Wellness Guides

Facebook’s also looking to expand on its wellness guides on Instagram to cover more aspects of suicide prevention and mental health:

“We’re launching localized guides that address ways to prevent suicide and support those who might be struggling. For example, in the US, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention created a guide to help people understand the warning signs of suicide. In India, the Suicide Prevention India Foundation’s guide focuses on how to foster social connectedness; in Hong Kong, Samaritans HK’s guide shares ways to check in on your friends; and in Nigeria, Mentally Aware Nigeria’s guide focuses on having safe conversations about suicide.”

Evolving industry guidelines

Finally, Facebook’s also working with suicide prevention experts to continue to revise and improve its approach to suicide and self-harm content.

“We welcome the guidelines Samaritans launched today, which are designed to help the tech industry address these issues as sensitively and effectively as possible.”

Keeping constantly updated with the latest info is key amid the ongoing pandemic, and its impacts.

This is a key area of concern – in the US, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall, claiming the lives of more than 48,000 people every year. But more critically, in the case of Facebook, according to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. 

Younger users generally over-index on social platforms, which is especially true on Instagram, and with the pressures of comparison against people’s highlight reel updates online, coupled with the added impacts of COVID-19, this is something that needs more focus, and anything that can be done to assist is a positive.

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As such, Facebook should be praised for seeking new ways to help those at risk.

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Meta’s Developing the World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision



Meta's Developing the World's Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision

As it looks to a future in the currently theoretical ‘metaverse’, Meta will need to up its computing power and systems in order to facilitate simultaneous connection in wholly immersive digital worlds, while it’ll also need more advanced computing power to fuel the next stage of its AI plans, in various forms.

Which is why Meta is developing a new AI Research SuperCluster (RSC), which it says will eventually become the fastest AI supercomputer in the world, when it’s fully built out by mid-2022.

The advanced system will eventually be able to perform ‘5 exaflops of mixed precision compute’ at peak. Which, I have no real idea of what that truly means, but basically, Meta’s new, advanced computational system will be able to process huge amounts of data, facilitating development in a wide range of applications, with a specific view towards the next stage of its metaverse vision.

As explained by Meta:

RSC will help Meta’s AI researchers build new and better AI models that can learn from trillions of examples; work across hundreds of different languages; seamlessly analyze text, images, and video together; develop new augmented reality tools; and much more. We hope RSC will help us build entirely new AI systems that can, for example, power real-time voice translations to large groups of people, each speaking a different language, so they can seamlessly collaborate on a research project or play an AR game together.”

AR is clearly a key focus, with Meta developing its own AR-enabled glasses that will expand the use cases for the technology. The RSC will provide increased capacity to develop more complex AR systems, which could advance Meta’s tools beyond what’s currently available, which would ideally see its AR glasses become the top of the line, most advanced model available, helping Meta potentially dominate the space over rivals Snapchat and Apple.

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Unless, of course, Snap and Apple team up, which is my prediction. But even so, with the additional computing power of the RSC behind it, Meta could still be well ahead, which could be a key step in bridging our current online experience to the next stage.

Which is where Meta is really focused:

“Ultimately, the work done with RSC will pave the way toward building technologies for the next major computing platform – the metaverse, where AI-driven applications and products will play an important role.

It’s worth noting here that Meta specifically notes that the metaverse will take years to develop, it’s not something that’s happening overnight, nor will it become an all-immersive, integrated world by next year. Which is why any company or project that’s pitching itself as ‘metaverse ready’ is kidding itself – the metaverse, as it’s broadly envisioned, will require massive collaboration between platforms, in order to transfer your digital identity between virtual worlds, and take your avatars, skins, digital items, and more with you.

Meta is keen to reiterate that it won’t own that space, as such:

No one company can (or should) build the metaverse alone. It will be built by people and businesses all over the world. And it’ll be important that experiences built by different companies or people, like avatars or virtual worlds, work together.

But really, Meta is best-placed to host the party, via its industry-leading consumer VR tools and advanced computing systems like RSC, which will give it a significant advantage in dictating what the metaverse will be, and who will be able to sign up.

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Eventually, this will require industry agreement on schemas and systems that will likely enable any service to join. But they’ll still need a host platform, along with software/hardware connection. Meta will be at the forefront of that aspect, which, again, will see it well-placed to define the rules of the space, and dominate the next stage of digital connection – whether it technically ‘owns’ it or not.

But it is worth noting that the metaverse does not exist yet, not in any form, and any platform or project that claims otherwise is ultimately misleading. Those NFT projects that claim to be ‘metaverse-ready’, yeah, no, maybe avoid them.

Eventually, Meta’s RSC will give it significant advantages in developing new systems for everything from combating harmful content on its platforms to building entirely new user experiences. The potential here is massive, and while it will take time to see the results of these developments, it’ll be interesting to see how Meta’s processes evolve in turn, and whether these advanced systems result in a significant acceleration in its development cycles.

You can read more technical details on Meta’s RSC project here.

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TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement



TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement

TikTok has partnered with brand suitability platform Zefr on a new brand safety post-bid measurement solution for in-feed ads, which will enable advertisers to ensure that their TikTok promotions don’t appear alongside potentially offensive material.

As you can see here, using Zefr’s dashboard, which provides insights into each campaign by mapping it against the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) Suitability Risk categories, advertisers will now be able to ensure that their TikTok ads are not shown next to content that they don’t want to be associated with.

As explained by TikTok:

“This solution will provide advertisers with campaign insights into brand safety and brand suitability for their TikTok campaigns. These insights provide clients with third-party impartial reassurance that their investment is delivered next to content suitable for their brand, protecting brand reputation and mitigating risk.”

Zefr’s advanced ‘Cognition AI’ process utilizes audio, text, and frame-by-frame video analysis, along with scaled human review, to determine brand safety, and provide full assurance on potential ad placement.

With TikTok’s challenges and posts sometimes veering into dangerous territory, the option will help to reassure brands that their campaigns won’t end up being associated with potential harm, which could help TikTok secure even more ad spend.

Though it could be difficult to 100% guarantee success here. For example, the recent ‘Milk Crate Challenge’ on TikTok started off innocently enough, but eventually lead to increasingly risky and dangerous behaviors, which resulted in serious injuries to some participants. Other TikTok challenges could follow a similar evolution – though the additional assurance of Zefr’s systems will ideally help to catch these out before they become a potential brand risk, or at the least, as soon as they’re identified as a problem.

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It’s a good integration, and another key step in TikTok’s broader expansion of its ad tools.

The new TikTok Zefr integration is available to advertisers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.

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How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]



How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]

Looking for ways to improve your social media marketing efforts in 2022?

As we head into the new year, it’s worth revising your business goals, and establishing a clear direction for your digital marketing process. Maybe you’re happy with the growth and interaction you’re seeing, and how that’s then leading to conversion, but over the past two years, in particular, there’s no doubt been some level of disruption to your marketing plans.

With that in mind, this infographic from the team at Click Dimensions could help. They’ve put together a simple overview of how to establish your social media marketing goals, including which metrics to focus on, how to increase engagement, and the importance of adapting as things progress.

It could help to spark some new thinking in your approach – check out the full infographic below.

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