Facebook Now Lets You Put Stickers On Pictures From Your Phone

Goodbye, lame Facebook photos. Hello, photos filled with cartoon characters!

Starting Thursday, you’ll be able to add stickers to your photos from Facebook’s mobile app on iOS and Android. You’ll see a new sticker icon when you upload a photo to Facebook on mobile; when you add a sticker, you can drag it to wherever you want, change the size and rotate it. You can keep or remove the stickers before you decide to upload the photo to Facebook.

As an example, check out this sticker collection based on Mark Zuckerberg’s dog Beast. Here’s what it looks like to add Beast stickers to your pics:

facebook stickers photos

You will probably recognize Facebook stickers from Messenger, where you can send them to your friends. As of last October, you can put them in comments too.

Facebook’s got a lot of different kinds of stickers to choose from, including images of famous characters like Hello Kitty, Power Rangers and Peanuts. You could previously ad stickers to photos, but you had to use a separate app to do it.

This new feature is yet another sign that Facebook is targeting mobile users significantly more than desktop ones. Last month the site told The Wall Street Journal that 85 percent of its users access the site on mobile at least occasionally and more than a third of users access it exclusively on mobile.

Mobile’s making money, too, since Facebook charges more for mobile ads. Facebook’s revenue rose to $2.5 billion last quarter, thanks, in part, to mobile advertising.

The 25 Apps You Must Download First on Your Hot New iPhone

The 25 Apps You Must Download First on Your Hot New iPhone

The 25 Apps You Must Download First on Your Hot New iPhone

So, some superstar family member or significant other gifted you an iPhone for the holidays, huh? Congrats!

Now it’s time to download some great new apps. Here are the ones recommended by Yahoo Tech:

1. Facebook: The social networking app for posts, pokes, and polemics is a great time-waster.

Facebook logo


2. Twitter: 140-character bursts of knowledge, humor, news, and more. “Never be bored again,” as Twitter once put it.


3. Instagram: A photo-sharing app that’s all about filters. Filters and puppies. And coffee.


4. Google Maps: Apple’s Maps, though improved a bit this year, is still — how do we say? — in development. Stick with Google’s trusty app instead.

Google Maps logo


5. Seamless/GrubHub: These apps take the “call-in” part out of getting great eats delivered to your home.


6. Amazon Kindle: Bring your Kindle ebook collection to your iPhone by simply installing this app and signing in.


7. YouTube: The most popular video site on the planet. Download this app to your iPhone and never miss out on the latest and greatest music video or cute animal clip.


8. Vine: Addictive looping six-second videos. Funny, cute stuff.

Vine logo


9. Evernote: Create, save, and sync notes across all your mobile and desktop devices with the Evernote iPhone app.


10. Venmo: A cool, easy, and social way to send money to online friends. Essential for splitting the bill.


11. Gmail: These days, if you have a pulse, you have a Gmail account. And now, with the improvements Google has brought to its iOS Gmail app, iPhone owners can finally enjoy the full Google mail experience the same way Android phone people always have.

Gmail logo


12. Facebook Messenger: Facebook has made it necessary to download a second app for sending and reading private Facebook messages on your phone. So you might as well just download it.


13. Hyperlapse: From the makers of Instagram, this app is probably the best mobile tool for easily creating professional-looking time-lapse videos.

Hyperlapse logo


14. Spotify: The iPhone app for the best streaming music service around is a must. Stream virtually any song you can think of (aside from anything in the Taylor Swift discography) while you’re on the move.

Spotify logo


15. Feedly: Use this gorgeous RSS reader app to catch up on all your news in one place.


16. Heads Up! You may recognize this Password-like game from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but the iPhone/iPad app version topped the App Store’s 2014 “Top Paid Apps” list, too.

Heads Up game


17. Chrome: Google’s Web browser is preferred by some over the iPhone’s default, Safari. The mobile version will sync with all your Chrome desktop browsing history and bookmarks, too.


18. Yelp: Read and post ratings on this wildly popular business-rating service while on the go.

Yelp logo


19. Foursquare/Swarm: These apps connect you to Foursquare’s popular social “check-in” service. Its new Swarm breakout makes it easier to see what your friends are up to.


20. Google Hangouts: Google’s Hangouts lets iPhone owners text, send pictures, and video chat across other computer and mobile device platforms, and without a carrier texting plan.

Google Hangouts logo


21. WhatsApp: WhatsApp has more users around the world than any other mobile texting app. Join the largest instant messaging party on the planet!


22. 2048: Drive yourself mad with this incredibly popular puzzle game. (We promise it’s a good time.)


23. Snapchat: The most popular way to send sneaky messages on iPhone, Snapchat is a staple. Get silly or get scandalous; just download this app.

Snapchat logo


24. CamScanner: Pack that bulky, power-wasting scanner away and import documents painlessly using just this app and your iPhone’s camera.


25. RunKeeper: Strap your iPhone on and track all your walking, jogging or biking miles. Compare workouts with friends right from the app, too.

RunKeeper logo


Facebook Debuts a ‘Privacy Checkup’ Tool to Help You Better Control Your Data

Facebook Debuts a ‘Privacy Checkup’ Tool to Help You Better Control Your Data

Image via Reuters.

On Thursday, Facebook released a new tool to help you understand and control your privacy settings on the site. 

First announced back in April, the Privacy Checkup tool lets you see and adjust who can view your data, as well as which apps can access it. It is navigated, curiously, with the help of a nameless blue dinosaur –– let’s call him Clippyosaurus –– who pops up now and then and reminds you to review your privacy settings to “make sure they’re set up the way you want.”

Per the company’s blog post:

“Today, we’re starting to roll out Privacy Checkup, which helps you review and control who you’re sharing with.

“We know you come to Facebook to connect with friends, not with us. But we also know how important it is to be in control of what you share and who you share with.”

The release is likely a move for Facebook to improve its public image, which has been marred by several privacy scandals in the past several years.

The Privacy Checkup tool attempts to both simplify the process of changing your sharing settings and demystify whom you’re sharing with.

The tool isn’t a cure-all. While it might help you better understand what you’re sharing and with whom, for example, it doesn’t change the fact that Facebook farms out your detailed personal data to advertisers for profit by default. (Click here to find out how to turn off that lovely feature.)

Anyway, below is a quick run-through of how the tool works:

When you access your privacy settings via the lock symbol in the upper-right corner of Facebook’s navigation bar, your (Mac-using?) dinosaur friend will appear and be like, “Hey, privacy, blah blah blah.”

Facebook’s Privacy Checkup

After you click Privacy Checkup, a box will pop up on your screen. Via this tool, you can monitor Your Posts, Your Apps, and Your Profile.

The first page is a basic run-through of who can see the updates you write on your page.

Facebook Privacy Checkup screenshot

The second is a survey of which apps are connected to your Facebook. I’ll admit it’s nice to have quick access to this, as I often try out an app once or twice and then forget about it. With this tool, I can remove its access to my data with one click. You can also adjust who sees your activity on the app.

Facebook Privacy Checkup screenshot

Finally, you’re shown all the basic personal info on your profile and given the choice to adjust what it says and who sees it.

Facebook Privacy Checkup screenshot

That’s all it does! At the very least, this simplifies the convoluted process of adjusting your privacy that’s caused so many problems in the past.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter


Facebook Reveals Search Warrant of Hundreds of Accounts


Facebook revealed that since last summer it’s been fighting a court order that required it to disclose social-media information involving hundreds of people.

“This unprecedented request is by far the largest we’ve ever received — by a magnitude of more than ten — and we have argued that it was unconstitutional from the start,” Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, wrote in a statement Thursday.

The situation raises concerns over privacy in the digital age, when much of a person’s sensitive information is often available online and on mobile devices. This week, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected warrantless searches of cell phones, saying the practice went against the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The court added that modern cell phones are “not just another technological convenience.”

Facebook said 381 people’s accounts were subject to warrants out of an unspecified New York court, though only 62 were later charged in a disability fraud case. The company said it was under a gag order, preventing it from discussing the case or notifying the people affected until recently.

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, asserted that the search was “overly broad” and allowed the government to keep the seized photos, private messages, and other information indefinitely. It has called for the government to return the data and claimed the search ignored the Fourth Amendment.

Facebook, as well as other tech companies like Google and Apple, discloses data on the number of search warrants, subpoenas, and emergency disclosures requests it receives from government bodies. Facebook said that from July to December 2013, it received 12,598 total requests from US law enforcement, requesting information from 18,715 users or accounts. In all, some data was produced from 81 percent of the requests, Facebook said.


Facebook is cutting back on spammy auto-posts

Don't care what level your friend finished in
Don’t care what level your friend finished in “Candy Crush?” Facebook wants to make such posts rarer in your News Feed.

(CNN) — For the second time in just over a week, Facebook has done an about-face on a feature that has bothered some users for a while.

Fewer automatic posts will be showing up in your News Feed telling you what a friend is listening to on Spotify, which level they just defeated on “Candy Crush” or when they’ve posted a filtered selfie on Instagram.

The social-media giant has announced it will be giving those posts less clout in its News Feed algorithm — the tool that decides which posts you’re mostly likely to want to see — while giving extra emphasis to actions your friends choose to share.

So, to use the Spotify example, you’ll be less likely to see an automatic post when a friend listens to a song but more likely to notice when they share a playlist they just created.

“We’ve found that stories people choose to explicitly share from third party apps are typically more interesting and get more engagement in News Feed than stories shared from third party apps without explicit action,” Facebook’s Peter Yang wrote in a post on the company’s blog for developers.

“We’ve also heard that people often feel surprised or confused by stories that are shared without taking an explicit action. In the coming months, we will continue to prioritize explicitly shared stories from apps in News Feed over implicitly shared stories.

Yang said that app creators will have to start specifically request that actions from their app be automatically shared.

“If your app is currently publishing stories implicitly, we encourage you to consider these options instead,” Yang wrote, listing tools that let users tell their friends what they’re up to.

They include a new tool that lets app users share their activity directly in Messenger chats (say, with all your friends who still play “FarmVille?”) and the ability to add the “Like” button, already appearing on more than 10 million Web pages, to mobile apps.

And Facebook is walking the walk, too. Instagram, which Facebook purchased in 2012, was among the first third-party apps to get rid of automatic posts.

Reactions on social media have been largely positive, even if many posts have a “What took you so long?” feel about them.

“Great news to start my day. I am truly happy,” wrote Lynda Appell, a Twitter user from Philadelphia.

“Hope Farmville’s in there,” Sarah-Jane Boden, founder of marketing group Soul Providers, added on the networking site.

The change came less than a week after Facebook announced that all new users will have their privacy settings default to “Friends Only” and that existing users will get messages urging them to make sure their settings are where they want them.

Critics have questioned Facebook’s commitment to privacy over the course of its 10-year history, claiming the company would prefer users share as openly as possible — which advertisers like — than adjust their settings to be more private.

But changes in recent months suggest the social platform has decided on a different tack.

Last month, Facebook rolled out the ability to log in “anonymously,” preventing other websites and third-party apps from collecting data about you.

Facebook Reportedly Working on Snapchat Competitor

Facebook Said to Be Building a Snapchat Competitor, Again

Mark Zuckerberg himself is allegedly supervising the creation of Slingshot, Facebook’s direct competitor to Snapchat. After a failed attempt to purchase Snapchat last year for $3 billion, it only makes sense for Facebook to try to eliminate the competition by creating a better product. Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social media apps, a clear competitor to both Facebook and Instagram. 

The new app could be released as early as this month, according to a report in the Financial Times. Not much is known about the product, but it seems it will be a video messaging app, in which pictures and videos will disappear after one view. (Presumably, one view means no option for replay.) 

In 2012, Facebook attempted a video sharing app, Poke, which failed and Zuckerberg even called “a joke” (or just a really poorly executed idea.) Poke was removed from the service a few weeks ago, potentially to make room for Slingshot. 

It is expected that unlike Facebook’s other features, Slingshot will be a standalone app, completely usable without the Facebook app; though presumably not usable without a Facebook account. While Snapchat requires only a phone number for an activated account, Facebook will push the primary users of this service (teens) to sign up with their Facebook accounts. Facebook has been slipping in the teenage demographic for some time, and this could be an interesting ploy to win them back. On the other hand, a Facebook connection can hinder the anonymity and assumed ephemeral aspect of the app. 

While nothing is publicly known about the visuals of Slingshot, Facebook’s ownership of Instagram could come into play here. Snapchat offers limited filters, all of which require location services to be turned on. If Facebook offers the large variety of visual effects from the Instagram library, it could give Slingshot an added edge over Snapchat. Because, let’s face it, we all look better in sepia.


Facebook app will soon identify songs and TV shows just by listening to them

If you’ve ever wanted to tell your Facebook friends what you’re listening to — say, REM’s “It’s The End of The World And We Know it (And I Feel Fine)” — without having to spell the whole thing out, well, now you can. Facebook has just announced a new option in its mobile app that can detect the song, TV show or movie that’s playing in the background just by using the phone’s microphone. Once it names that tune (or show), you can simply insert that info into your post with just a few taps — no typing required.

Songs will appear as 30-second previews linked to Rdio, Spotify or Deezer depending on your preference (if you don’t have a preferred service, Facebook will select one at random), while TV shows will indicate not just the name of the program but also metadata like the season number and episode title. Once you choose to turn the feature on — and yes, it’s opt-in — the microphone will kick in whenever you’re in a compose window. You’ll know it’s working when you see a blue audio bar animation either in the top right corner or over the smiley icon at the bottom.

Having the app listen in to your environment sounds like a rather creepy proposition, but Facebook assures us that the app is only scanning for song and TV info and no sound is ever recorded or stored on its servers. You’ll also always have full control over your posts and can decide not to share what it detects. In other words, you don’t have to reveal that you were just watching My Little Pony if you don’t want to.

Aryeh Selekman, a product manager at Facebook, tells us that the audio recognition feature was born out of the “feelings and activities” selector tool that the company rolled out last year. “We’ve seen over 5 billion feelings and activities posted just in the past year,” he said. “We just wanted to make it faster and easier to do.”

The team at Facebook spent a little over a year dedicated to the project, eventually coming up with a unique audio recognition algorithm built entirely in-house and from scratch. A Facebook spokesperson tells us a lot of that time was spent establishing partnerships with content providers, resulting in millions of songs in its catalog and the ability to recognize programming from 160 TV stations.

When asked how the technology worked, Selekman said that it functions at a millisecond level. “As audio comes into the device, it immediately gets converted into these unique codes that we can use to identify properties that’s specific to the content […] It then looks up the code in the database and finds a match.” The technique appears slightly different from Shazam, another popular audio recognition service. “For every Shazam, the application analyzes the audio and generates a tiny unique fingerprint based on the audio characteristics found within the sample,” said Charles Henrich, Shazam’s Executive Vice President of Engineering. “It then uses this fingerprint to search against our database of tens of millions of audio tracks until it finds a match.”

I had a chance to preview the new song and TV show identification feature a few days ago, and I was overall quite impressed by its speed and accuracy — bearing in mind that I was testing it in a quiet conference room, which is very much an ideal setting. Identifying songs took mere seconds and naming TV shows didn’t take much longer. Indeed, the app only needed the first ten or so seconds of a Game of Thrones clip before nailing down that it was from the sixth episode of the fourth season. The audio recognition even works for live TV — it figured out we were watching CNN within a few seconds. Though we didn’t have a chance to test it, Facebook tells us it’s able to recognize live sporting events as well.

“This lets you add a soundtrack to your posts,” said Selekman, stating that you can use it to bundle photos with songs you heard at an event, like during a wedding or a concert. TV show recognition can also help foster conversation about a certain episode, and maybe help you avoid spoilers. Of course, we had to ask if Facebook’s thinking of using the feature for targeted ads, and the company told us that while that’s certainly a possibility down the road, it probably won’t happen just yet as it continues to test the service. Facebook plans to roll out the update to Android and iOS over the coming weeks, so keep a look out for it.