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Facebook Tests New ‘Community Awards’ to Encourage Engagement in Groups

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Facebook’s trying out another way to boost positive contributions in groups, with a new feature called ‘Community Awards’ now in live testing.

Facebook Community Awards

As per this screenshot, posted by app researcher Radu Oncescu (and shared by Matt Navarra), Facebook’s Community Awards will enable group admins to give awards to ‘outstanding group comments’.

The new prompts are also being shown beneath group posts.

Facebook Community Awards

The idea is that by rewarding more engaging, more beneficial interactions, that you can encourage individual users to interact more often, while the awards will also highlight to other group members what types of comments you want to see, which could help to improve overall interaction.

Facebook’s tried similar group engagement markers in the past, with ‘Top Fan’ and other badge types to recognize key contributors.

Facebook Group Badges

Last year, Facebook also added a new ‘Group Expert’ designation, providing another way to highlight active members, while also providing a means to combat misinformation, by showing that this person is highly knowledgeable in their specific field.

Facebook Group Expert badge example

Community Awards aligns with both of these previous additions, and as Facebook works to make its app a more positive, welcoming environment, it could be another tool to help model ideal behaviors, and boost interactions in the app.

Which could be a bigger problem than it seems. As noted in the recent ‘Facebook Files’ series from The Wall Street Journal, The Social Network has been making various changes to address an overall decline in user activity, which some believe is due to the inherent division caused by political content in the app.

Facebook engagement data [chart]

Whether that’s perception or fact, the impact is largely the same – and as Facebook looks to reverse the flow of users away from time spent in its app, it’s been making various changes to better facilitate more positive discussion, while limiting the impacts of angst-inducing content.

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Which is what often drives engagement, and subsequently reach – but if Facebook can use tools like Community Awards to re-align user behaviors, and shift things back towards more positive interaction, that could help it get things back on track.

If, of course, Facebook really wants to do that. Another possible reason for increasing division on Facebook is that it does indeed drive more engagement, which makes Facebook’s numbers look better, and keeps its shareholders happy. It’s hard to know what truly dictates Zuck and Co.’s approach in this respect, but it does seem like Facebook is on an unsustainable trajectory if it can’t shift things back into a more positive light, while the success of TikTok also points to the demand for more joyful, entertaining content, free of accusations and deception.

Facebook hasn’t shared its actual engagement data for some time, in regards to the time each user spends in the app, but based on new features like this, it’s safe to assume that it’s still working to address the noted declines.

We’ve asked Facebook if there’s any info available on the Community Awards test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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Taking a swipe at social media: More safeguard controls are needed

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Instagram hits pause on kids' version after criticism

Social media – © AFP/File SAUL LOEB

Today, June 30th, is ‘World Social Media Day’. Does the world need a social media day? World Social Media Day was launched by Mashable on June 30, 2010. It developed as a way to recognize social media’s impact on global communication and to ‘celebrate it’.

Given the prevalence of social media, whether further publicity is needed is debatable. Also, not everyone is celebrating the contribution of social media for there are some who reman deeply concerned about online safety.

According to Miles Hutchinson, Chief Information Security Officer of Jumio, the event serves as a reminder to consumers and organizations of the importance of securing social media platforms to protect children from potentially harmful products and people online.

Hutchinson explains to Digital Journal about what the aims and objectives of the event are: “World Social Media Day reminds consumers and organizations of the importance of safeguards to protect children from potentially dangerous people, content and products on social media platforms.”

In Hutchinson’s view, a regulatory framework is needed: “Social media organizations, in particular, have an ethical obligation to protect children, and they can do so by leveraging age and identity verification methods to keep children from accessing mature content, purchasing age-restricted products, encountering predatory individuals or being exposed to privacy policies designed for adults.”

But do social media providers deliver?  Are they meeting this ethical obligation? The view of consumers suggests they are not.

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Hutchinson finds: “Recent survey data shows that 83 percent of consumers want social media platforms to verify their users and hold them accountable for their online activity.” This high number requesting support from social media firms suggests that this support is not forthcoming.

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Hutchinson finds that there are too many threats on social media: “Federal investigators estimate that there are over 500,000 online predators active every day, that they have multiple online profiles, and that more than 50 percent of their victims are ages 12 to 15.”

This means social media firms are failing. Hutchinson continues: “It is evident that crucial safeguards are missing from these social media platforms, which are failing to protect children in the digital age.” What Hutchinson recommends is a series of measures, such as: “By utilizing identity verification, biometrics and multi-factor authentication to verify the age and identity of their users, social media platforms can offer children a safer internet experience while allowing for the adaptability and flexibility to meet new threats, regulations and challenges as they arise.”

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