Facebook Officially Rolling Out ‘Explore Feed’ for Finding Non-News Feed Content

Facebook has been testing a new "Explore Feed" that's designed to help users discover relevant content outside of the standard News Feed, and now the feature is officially rolling out to users on both mobile devices and the desktop, reports TechCrunch. Facebook confirmed the rollout of the feature in a statement:
"We are beginning to roll out a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos, automatically customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them," the Facebook spokesperson said. "We've heard from people that they want an easy way to explore relevant content from Pages they haven't connected with yet."
On the desktop, the "Explore Feed" can be found on the left-hand sidebar under "Explore" by clicking on "See More." In the Facebook iOS app, it's also listed under "Explore" and can be accessed by tapping on the hamburger button at the bottom of the app.


In both instances, the new Explore Feed is rather buried among a long list of other options like Events, Pages, Moments, Town Hall, Buy and Sell Groups, Jobs, Recommendations, and more.

The Explore Feed houses recommended Facebook posts from companies and media sites that you might not otherwise see in your feed, with content based on topics you've previously liked or content that's popular with your friends.

Facebook is aiming to use the Explore Feed to surface fresh content to entice users to spend more time using the social network.

Some users began seeing the Explore Feed earlier this year as Facebook was testing the feature, but it is now rolling out to all users and should be available for everyone soon.


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Facebook Live Now Offers Built-In Screen Sharing Feature

Facebook Live, the feature that allows Facebook users to broadcast live video to followers and friends, was today updated with support for screen sharing.

As noticed by The Next Web, there's now a button for sharing your computer screen when broadcasting on Facebook Live.

Image via The Next Web

Using the screen sharing feature requires a Facebook Screen Sharing browser extension to be installed in the Chrome browser.

Facebook's built-in screen sharing feature lets users decide what to share based on application, with an option available to stream specific browser tabs.

Screen sharing was previously available in Facebook Live, but it required third-party Open Broadcaster Software to use, and it was more complicated to get running than Facebook's new solution.


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Facebook Begins Testing Résumé ‘Work Histories’ Feature on Mobile, Acquires Popular Teen App ‘TBH’

After announcing support for job applications within the Facebook app on iOS earlier in 2017, Facebook this week has been testing out a LinkedIn-like résumé/CV "work histories" feature for certain mobile users. Discovered by developer Jane Manchun Wong, and shared by The Next Web, the feature lets Facebook users share their work experience with potential employers without having to leave the app.

The update is an expansion to Facebook's standard "work and education" profile section, but not all aspects of a user's résumé are shared publicly. Although it's unclear, it appears that "detailed information" from this section could potentially only be shown to job hunters looking at a profile.

Images via @wongmjane and The Next Web

Users are able to list professional and educational background information, select start/end dates, and more. Facebook confirmed the feature's test, but as with any trial period, there's a possibility that this "work histories" update won't see an expansion to all users.
At Facebook, we’re always building and testing new products and services. We’re currently testing a work histories feature to continue to help people find and businesses hire for jobs on Facebook.
In other Facebook news, this week the social media company acquired popular teen app "TBH" in a continued effort to appeal to younger generations (via BuzzFeed). The app lets its users give one another compliments by sending and receiving brief quizzes, with the multiple choice answers randomly generating four friends who also have the app. Responses are anonymous, but users can choose to reveal their answers after the questions have been asked.

TBH originally launched in one high school in Georgia, then spread to more than 3,000 schools in just three days. More states will follow soon, according to the app's creator Midnight Labs, but an expansion timeline is unclear. Despite the limited area of support, TBH has been the top free app in the iOS App Store for more than three weeks.


Facebook told The Wall Street Journal that TBH will continue to operate as a standalone app, and not be rolled into any existing Facebook experience.
“TBH and Facebook share a common goal -- of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together," Vanessa Chan, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We’re impressed by the way TBH is doing this by using polling and messaging, and with Facebook’s resources TBH can continue to expand and build positive experiences.”
Facebook previously launched its own teen-focused iOS app called "Lifestage" in August 2016, which let users create short video clips and amass them into their own unique profile, which friends from their school could browse and comment on through direct messages. That app shut down after about one year, with Facebook removing Lifestage from the App Store this past August.

At the time, Facebook said that "teens continue to make up an important part of the global community on Facebook, and we've learned a lot from Lifestage. We will continue to incorporate these learnings into features in the main Facebook app.”


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You Can Now Order Food From Papa John’s, Five Guys, and More Within Facebook on iOS

Facebook today announced that you can now order food directly from within the Facebook app on iOS. Alex Himel, Facebook's vice president of local, explained that food ordering and delivery has "gotten complicated" within other apps and services, so the company aims to streamline that process by adding it to Facebook.

Like other newly added services -- including local weather and jobs search -- "Order Food" will now be on the Explore tab of the Facebook iOS app. Facebook said this section of its app combines options from "a number of food ordering services" and accumulates them into one place. This way, you'll be able to browse restaurants near you that take orders from EatStreet, Zuppler, Slice, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, and Olo.


You'll also be able to order food directly from Jack in the Box, Five Guys, Papa John's, Wingstop, TGI Friday's, Denny's, El Pollo Loco, Chipotle, Jimmy John's, and Panera, as well as some "local spots."
Ordering food for takeout or delivery is supposed to be simple. That’s the point. But somehow it’s gotten complicated. First you need to decide what to eat, then you have to sift through a bunch of options and services.

Today, we’re taking the time out of finding what you want to eat by officially launching the ability to order food for pick-up or delivery, directly on Facebook. People already go to Facebook to figure out what to eat by reading about nearby restaurants, and seeing what their friends say about them. So, we’re making it even easier.
Using Facebook's social aspects, you can check out restaurant reviews on their pages, and see if your own friends have left reviews before you order. Once you find the restaurant you want to order from, it'll say if it has takeout or delivery, and from there you can choose which of the food ordering services that the location supports.

Facebook said existing accounts with these services will be supported, and if you don't yet have an account you can sign up for Delivery.com, DoorDash, or any of the previously listed services without leaving Facebook.

Facebook's Order Food option in the Explore tab is rolling out now to everyone in the United States on iOS, Android, and desktop.


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Facebook Testing Mac and PC Apps for Workplace

Facebook quietly launched two official Facebook Workplace desktop apps for the Mac and PC, TechCrunch discovered this afternoon. Workplace is Facebook's enterprise collaboration software designed to compete with Slack and other similar business apps.

The apps are available as a beta, with download links located in the Help section for Workplace. The apps are designed to allow users to communicate with their coworkers through chat, messaging, and screen sharing features. A Workplace spokesperson told TechCrunch that Mac and PC apps were a highly requested feature.

Workplace by Facebook spokesperson Vanessa Chan confirmed the launch of the desktop app to TechCrunch, saying "This was one of the most widely requested features by customers, so we built it. The desktop app is still in beta and being tested by Workplace customers who are providing feedback that we'll use to improve the product before a wider rollout."
Prior to the release of the Workplace desktop apps, Workplace by Facebook was only accessible via a browser window, and as TechCrunch points out, it's easy to lose a single browser tab among many other tabs.

While the Facebook desktop apps are limited to Workplace, it's possible Facebook could be testing the waters for an official Facebook or Facebook Messenger desktop app in the future.


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Instagram Widely Rolling Out Ability to Post Your 24-Hour Stories Directly To Facebook

After beginning as a small test in Portugal in September, Instagram this week is beginning to roll out a feature that lets you automatically share the same Instagram Story to your Facebook Story with the tap of a button. TechCrunch spotted the cross-platform Story syncing, and Instagram parent company Facebook subsequently confirmed the feature's rollout will be coming to all United States users this week.

Instagram Stories has grown to become a big success for the company in the 14 months since it launched, with 250 million users interacting with Stories every day as of last June. In April, Instagram Stories surpassed rival Snapchat in terms of daily active users. The feature is the same across platforms, allowing you to post a picture or a video that disappears after 24 hours.

Image via TechCrunch
“You now have the option to share your Instagram Stories to your Facebook Stories. We’re always working to make it easier to share any moment with the people who matter to you” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.
While Stories on Instagram have been a hit, Facebook's launch of its own Stories tab has been less successful, with many users pointing out that little to none of their friends share on the platform. Likely because of this, Facebook soon after the feature's launch began populating the Stories tab with grayed-out profile pictures of friends so this section of the app wouldn't be as empty.

With the new update, Facebook Stories should see an uptick in user engagement since it'll be easier than ever to share a quick picture or video Story from Instagram, without having to open Facebook. For now, however, you won't be able post to Instagram Stories from Facebook Stories, but the company "hasn't ruled out" introducing such an update in the future.

Besides its main app and Instagram, Facebook has also added disappearing Story-like abilities into Messenger and WhatsApp.


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Facebook Testing Pre-Loaded ‘Instant Videos’

Facebook is testing a new mobile app feature called Instant Videos that downloads video clips for later viewing whenever a user's phone is connected to Wi-Fi, to save from burning through their mobile data plan.

First spotted by The Next Web's Matt Navarra and later confirmed by TechCrunch, the feature will identify pre-loaded and cached videos in the news feed with a lightning bolt icon so that users know they can watch them for free while on the go.


The Instant Video feature is in a similar vein to Facebook's Instant Articles, the hosted content format that loads much faster than mobile websites and negates the need to wait for a separate web app to load the content. Likewise, publishers could see the new feature as a way to get their video clips maximum exposure on the social network.

The feature could also benefit Facebook's own original content push, with video organized under the new Watch tab, allowing users to cache episodes for viewing on their daily commute.

According to TechCrunch, the Instant Video test is currently only available to a small number of Android users, as the company lays the groundwork for more budget-conscious users in the developing world. But it's likely the feature will eventually make its way over to Facebook's iPhone app if the mini rollout is deemed successful.


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Facebook Turns to Instagram to Drive Engagement of Facebook Stories

Instagram is currently testing a new feature that allows users to share new Instagram Stories directly to their Facebook account. The feature, first reported by Mashable, appears to be Facebook's latest attempt to increase the visibility of Stories in its main app, essentially by getting users of its more visual-oriented Instagram network to double-post stories as Facebook Stories.



As part of the test, which is likely only a partial rollout for now, Instagram users see a new option to share their newly captured photos and videos as a Facebook Story as well as an Instagram Story, according to screenshots posted to Twitter.

The experiment appears to suggest that Facebook Stories, which the company launched in April, have failed to be a hit with the social media network's users. Like Snapchat and Instagram Stories before them, Facebook Stories let users post a picture or video onto their feed, which disappears 24 hours later.

Facing poor adoption of a feature that appears at the top of the news feed, Facebook initially tweaked the UI to look less bereft by showing ghost-like, grayed-out profile pictures of friends, regardless of whether they've ever posted a Facebook Story. But it looks like that hasn't had much effect either.

By contrast, Instagram Stories enjoy high engagement and are reportedly used by 250 million people daily. In fact, Instagram's success has allowed it to remain largely free of encroachment from its parent company until now, so Facebook's attempt to siphon off some of that success to its core app implies this could be a last-ditch attempt to save Facebook Stories before the feature's removed for good.


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Facebook Testing Customizable Colored Comments on Mobile Devices

Facebook has begun testing out a new commenting feature on iOS and Android devices, allowing users to choose a custom colored background for their comment that all Facebook users will see underneath the original post. As of now, only "a small fraction" of users have noticed the new feature on mobile (via Evert Groot and The Next Web), so it appears this is just one of many early-on tests that Facebook performs in order to see how it might implement the new feature to a wider audience, or scrap it altogether.



The colorful comments are an extension of Facebook's custom post background feature, which lets users choose a colored background and write a text-only post on the social network. That feature was one that originally began as a small test in December of 2016, and eventually expanded to all Facebook users throughout 2017. Some Facebook tests make it through to become official features, like the new Reaction buttons, but others end up simply disappearing.

Most recently, Facebook launched its new "Watch" tab on mobile devices, the web, and in Facebook's TV apps. The tab is full of Facebook-exclusive shows that are "made up of episodes -- live or recorded -- and follow a theme or storyline." Discovery is encouraged with user-specific recommendations, and a Watchlist allows users to save videos to watch at a later time.

In a separate report this week by Bloomberg, Facebook is said to be aggressively pursuing contracts with major record labels and music publishers in order to allow its users to legally upload videos with copyrighted music in them. The social network is willing to spend upwards of "hundreds of millions of dollars" in seeking these contracts, with negotiations having been ongoing for the past few months.

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Facebook Expands Memory Features to Include Monthly and Seasonal Recaps

Facebook today announced a few updates and expansions coming to its popular memory features, one of which will present users with monthly and seasonal memory recaps instead of just memories that happened on one specific day. Similar to On This Day, monthly and seasonal recaps will appear on user News Feeds and can be shared with their friends.


The social network is also implementing new celebratory milestones for its users, with new messages that congratulate users for making a notable number of friends and when they receive a significant amount of post likes. In the future, Facebook said it plans to launch new milestones and accompanying messages for its users, as well as eventually make them shareable with friends, which they won't be as of now.
People come to Facebook to experience, share and talk about some of the most important moments happening in their lives, communities and around the world. Many of these moments are reminiscing past memories and moments between friends.

We’ve launched a new experience that packages your recent memories in a delightful way for you to enjoy and share. For related recent memories, we will bundle them into a monthly or seasonal memory recap story. Like On This Day, these memory recap stories will show up in News Feed and are shareable.
Other, smaller tweaks are also coming to the company's memory features, including ways that will make controls and preferences easier to access as well as officially launching the recaps to everyone on Facebook. The company has also developed new ways to discover content that it believes will be "the most relevant and enjoyable" to its users, filtering out negative memories in the process.


Recent Facebook updates include introducing the ability for users to take 360-degree photos in the company's iOS app, making "Safety Check" a permanent feature, introducing non-profit fundraisers for user birthdays, and tweaking and updating its News Feed for better navigation.

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