New changes in how Facebook shows users newsfeeds

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Who knows best what content users of social media want to see? According to Facebook in statements accompanying the roll out of their latest news feed update, users themselves.

“We know that ultimately you’re the only one who truly knows what is most meaningful to you and that is why we want to give you more ways to control what you see,” said Facebook’s product manager Jacob Frantz.

“Today we are announcing even better tools for you to actively shape and improve the experience. We’ve redesigned and expanded Facebook’s News Preferences to give you more control.”

With the new algorithm, Facebook users will choose their own top 30 friends or pages. This will leave all the others further below when users check their newsfeeds.

For businesses, this could be boon or misfortune, according to social media expert Dionne Lew, whose remarks were reported by SmartCompany. “I think this is a really good change to the algorithm,” said Lew.

“People have been unhappy about the decline in reach as a result of the changes with the last news feed update and there’s been general unhappiness — from people using it personally, but also businesses who have seen a significant decline in organic reach.”

The companies that have the best relationships with their customers will have the best chances of rising to the top in the new newsfeed, Lew predicted.

“It’s going to work really well for those brands who’ve put the effort into building relationships.”

In order to get prioritized, though, businesses on Facebook may need to ask for it.

“For some brands it might be appropriate to ask directly for some people to prioritize them,” said Lew.

“But it’s a bigger ask. When it was a click of a button [to like a page] it was just click and off you go. But what you’re saying here is we know you have limited space and you’re actually going to have to find that option in your settings. It’s not something that’s as easy as clicking a button – it needs to be a more thoughtful ask and you need to give them a bit of a reason and a call to action.”

By Andy Stern

‘Joujou’ is another name for hope in the Brazilian wetlands

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A male jaguar named Joujou has returned to his home sweet home in the wild.

In Brazil he has become a symbol of the efforts of environmentalists, volunteers and firefighters to protect and restore a much affected strip of the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area, which was ravaged by the fires last year.

Little by little, vegetation returning to the Serra do Amolar, a chain of mountains considered an environmental treasure because of the large number of species it houses.

Before the fires, 62 jaguars had been monitored in the region. Today, researchers are unable to say how many have survived and how many have returned to their habitat, which was scorched in the worst sequence of fires in 14 years. Between January and September of 2020, 2.3 million acres have been on fire, an area which is two times as big as the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Joujou the catJoujou has become a symbol of hope because he was shown on national TV with his paws burned. Some Brazilians said they cried in front of the screen when they saw the big cat suffering so much. In November, two jaguars were rescued. They could barely move. One of them didn’t make it. Joujou was taken to a center for housing and treatment of wild animals in the city of Campo Grande, capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

After months of intensive care, this example of the Americas’ biggest feline has recovered entirely and was flown back to Pantanal. Joujou now has a tracking collar and will be monitored for a year. He reached the hospital weighing just a hundred pounds. He now weighs almost 180 pounds.

Many other animals – including anteaters, armadillos, snakes, alligators and other jaguars – did not survive the blaze. However, Joujou, beautiful and strong, has been returned home safe and sound.

By Jorge Valente

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The priest who left no sharp stones

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SAO PAOLO, Brazil – One of the most iconic figures in the fight for the homeless in the city of São Paulo has been in the spotlight since the beginning of February.

Father Julio Lancelotti learned that the City Hall’s authorities had decided to cover the ground under a bridge with pointed stones, a move to prevent the homeless from sleeping underneath.

A reputed advocate of human rights, father Lancelotti had no second thoughts about the line of action he was about to take.

With a sledgehammer in hand, he took to the streets and positioned himself right below the bridge. And then attacked and destroyed furiously what he considered another serious breach of human rights in a city already plagued by many other violations.

On social media he later posted a picture showing the result of his action and wrote, “Outrage against oppression”.

São Paulo is believed to have more than 24,000 homeless living below the poverty line, according to a 2019 survey. But Human Rights Watch groups say this number skyrocketed during the pandemic.

City Hall authorities said that the decision to put the stones under the bridge was an “isolated action” and had already fired the employee who was in charge of the task.

Father Lancelotti, however, was skeptical about this take on things, and said another similar action had already been done, commenting, “It’s inhuman, looks like a concentration camp.”

By Jorge Valente

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Tourists damage 1500-year-old Gate of the Sun and rock monoliths in Bolivia’s ancient city of Tiwanaku

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Four women and one man from the eastern city of Santa Cruz were charged with damaging the carved stone relics of the civilization that flourished for five centuries on the site, forerunner of the Inca empire. The pre-Columbian ruins are part of the country’s most important archaeological treasures.

After seeing what they described as “suspicious activity,” caretakers said the group splashed the structures with an oily substance that stained surfaces and that experts say would attract gases into the stone, causing internal changes and deterioration.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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Myanmar university students rally near Chinese embassy, protest SEAFOOD

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YANGON, Myanmar – University students in Yangon rallied near the Chinese embassy Feb. 27 and called for the Chinese government not to cooperate with the Myanmar military.

Protesters in Myanmar suspect that China is transporting hardware devices to build a firewall for controlling the internet in Myanmar. When the protesters asked the question, the embassy told them that China was sending SEAFOOD to Myanmar. “SEAFOOD” is defines as Software Engineering Approaches for Offshore and Outsourced Development.

There are three main telecommunication companies in Myanmar: MPT, Ooredo and Telenor have provided faster internet connections since 2014.

At present, there is an internet blackout between 1am to 9am daily throughout Myanmar, and when it is available, internet connections are slower than before the military grabbed power from the democratically-elected government.

By Htay Win
Featured image credit: Sit Htet Aung

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Japan’s ruling party to allow women to watch its board meetings, but no talking

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Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party will invite up to five of its female members of parliament to board meetings, but they should not speak. This was announced by the party as it took what it said was a step toward equality.

“It’s important to fully understand what kind of discussions are going on,” said Toshihiro Nikai, the LDP general secretary. “Look. That’s what it’s about.” Nakai added that women should not have a say in the proceedings but can submit suggestions in writing after the meetings have concluded.

The party’s action has sparked criticism from the opposition, which charges male chauvinism and discrimination against women is ingrained in the LDP, which depends on the voices of Japan’s strong nationalist circles with their traditional role models. They are tentative in grappling with women-friendly ideas, according to women’s groups, and progress is slow. The party’s make-up is 40% female, but women only hold 10% of its parliamentary seats, a figure far below the 25% global average.

According to the World Economic Forum 2020 report, Japan ranks 121 out of 153 countries in its gender parity global ranking.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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