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Design’s dirty secrets and how to address experience bias – TechCrunch

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I had a conversation recently with a huge technology company, and they wanted to know if their work in human-centered design guards against experience bias. The short answer? Probably not.

When we say experience bias, we’re not talking about our own cognitive biases; we’re talking about it at the digital interface layer (design, content, etc.). The truth is that pretty much every app and site you interact with is designed either based on the perceptions and ability of the team that created it, or for one or two high-value users. If users don’t have experience with design conventions, lack digital understanding, don’t have technical access, etc., we’d say the experience is biased against them.

The solution is to shift to a mindset where organizations create multiple versions of a design or experience customized to the needs of diverse users.

Going back to this tech company I was talking with, any company’s investments in empathetic design are essential, but, as someone who has launched and runs design functions, we need to address a few dirty secrets.

The first is that UX and design teams are often instructed on very limited target users by a strategy or business function, and experience bias starts there. If the business doesn’t prioritize a user, then a design team won’t have the permission or budget to create experiences for them. So even if the company is pursuing human-centered design or employs design thinking, they’re often just iterating against a user profile based on commercial interests and not aligned with any definition of diversity in terms of culture, race, age, income level, ability, language or other factors.

The other dirty secret is that human-centered design frequently assumes humans design all of the UX, services and interfaces. If the solution to experience bias is to create tailored variations based on users’ different needs, this hand-crafted UI model won’t cut it, especially when the teams making it often lack diversity. Prioritizing a variety of experiences based on user needs requires either a fundamental change in design processes or leveraging machine learning and automation in creating digital experiences — both necessary in a shift to experience equity.

How to diagnose and address experience bias

Addressing experience bias starts with understanding how to diagnose where it might appear. These questions have been helpful in understanding where the problem can exist in your digital experiences:

Content and language: Does the content make sense to an individual?

Many applications require special technical understanding, use jargon oriented to the company or industry, or assume technical knowledge.

With any financial services or insurance website — the assumption is that you understand their terms, industry and nomenclature. If the days of an agent or banker translating for you are going away, then the digital experiences need to translate for you instead.

UI complexity: Does the interface make sense based on my abilities?

If I have a disability, can I navigate it using assistive technology? Am I expected to learn how to use the UI? The way that one user needs to navigate an interface may be very different based on ability or context.

For example, design for an aging population would prioritize more text and less subtle visual cues. In contrast, younger people tend to do well with color-coding or preexisting design conventions. Think about terrible COVID-19 vaccine websites that made it your problem to understand how to navigate and book appointments — or how each of your banks has radically different ways to navigate to similar information. It used to be that startups had radically simple UIs, but feature upon feature makes them complex even for veteran users — just look at how Instagram has changed in the past five years.

Ecosystem complexity: Are you placing responsibility on the user to navigate multiple experiences seamlessly?

Our digital lives aren’t oriented around one site or app — we use collections of tools for everything we do online. Almost every digital business or product team aspires to keep users locked into their walled garden and rarely considers the other tools a user might encounter based on whatever they’re trying to accomplish in their lives.

If I’m sick, I may need to engage with insurance, hospitals, doctors and banks. If I’m a new college student, I may have to work with multiple systems at my school, along with vendors, housing, banks and other related organizations. The users are always to blame if they have difficulty stitching together different experiences across an ecosystem.

Inherited bias: Are you using systems that generate content, design patterns built for a different purpose or machine learning to personalize experiences?

If so, how do you ensure these approaches are creating the right experiences for the user you’re designing for? If we leverage content, UI and code from other systems, you inherit whatever bias is baked into those tools. One example is the dozens of AI content and copy generation tools now available — if those systems generate copy for your site, you import their bias into your experience.

To start building more inclusive and equitable experience ecosystems right now, new design and organizational processes are needed. While AI tools that help generate more customized digital experiences will play a big role in new approaches to front-end design and content in the coming years, there are five immediate steps any organization can take:

Make digital equity part of the DEI agenda: While many organizations have diversity, equity and inclusion goals, these rarely translate into their digital products for customers. Having led design at large companies and also worked in digital startups, the problem is the same across both: a lack of clear accountability to diverse users across the organization.

The truth is that at big and small companies alike, departments compete for impact and who is closer to the customer. The starting point for digital experiences or products is defining and prioritizing diverse users at the business level. If a mandate exists at the most senior levels to create a definition of digital and experience equity, then each department can define how it serves those goals.
No design or product team can make an impact without management and funding support, and the C-suite needs to be held accountable for ensuring this is prioritized.

Prioritize diversity in your design and dev teams: There’s been a lot written about this, but it’s vital to emphasize that teams that lack any diverse perspective will create experiences based on their privileged background and abilities.

I would add that it’s essential to cast for people who have experience designing for diverse users. How is your organization changing its hiring process to improve design and developer groups? Who are you partnering with to help source diverse talent? Are your DEI goals just check boxes on a hiring form that are circumvented when hiring the designer you already had in mind? Do your agencies have clear and proactive diversity programs? How well-versed are they in inclusive design?

A few valuable initiatives from Google are exemplary: In its efforts to improve representation in the talent pipeline, it has shifted funding of machine learning courses from predominantly white institutions to a more inclusive range of schools, enabled free access to TensorFlow courses and sends free tickets to BIPOC developers to attend events like Google I/O.

Redefine what and whom you test with: Too often, user testing (if it happens at all) is limited to the most profitable or important user segments. But how does your site work with an aging population or with younger users who don’t ever use desktop computers?

One of the key aspects of equity versus equality in experience is developing and testing a variety of experiences. Too often, design teams test ONE design and tweak based on user feedback (again, if they’re testing at all). Though it might be more work, creating design variations considering the needs of older users, people who are mobile-only, from different cultural backgrounds, etc. allows you to link designs to digital equity goals.

Shift your design goal from one design for all users to launching multiple versions of an experience: Common practice for digital design and product development is to create a single version of any experience based on the needs of the most important users. A future where there’s not one version of any app or site, but many iterations that align to diverse users, flies in the face of how most design organizations are resourced and create work.

However, this shift is essential in a pivot to experience equity. Ask simple questions: Does your site/product/app have a variation with simple, larger text for older audiences? In designing for lower-income households, can mobile-only users complete the tasks you’re expecting, as with people who would switch to desktops to complete?

This goes beyond simply having a responsive version of your website or testing variations to find the best possible design. Design teams should have a goal of launching multiple focused experiences that tie directly back to prioritized diverse and underserved users.

Embrace automation to create variations of content and copy for each user group: Even if we create design variations or test with a wide range of users, I’ve often seen content and UI copy be considered an afterthought; especially as organizations scale, content either becomes more jargon-filled or so overpolished that it’s meaningless.
If we take copy from existing language (say, marketing copy) and put it into an app, how are you limiting people’s understanding of what the tool is for or how to use it? If the solution to experience bias is variation in front-end design based on the needs of the individual, then one smart way we can dramatically accelerate that is to understand where automation can be applied.

We’re at a moment in time where there is a quiet explosion of new AI tools that will radically change the way UI and content are created. Look at the volume of copy-driven AI tools that have come online in the last year — while they’re largely aimed at helping content creators write ads and blog posts faster, it’s not a stretch to imagine a custom deployment of such a tool within a large brand that takes users’ data and dynamically generates UI copy and content on the fly for them. Older users may get more textual descriptions of services or products that have zero jargon; Gen Z users may get more referential copy with a heavier dose of imagery.

The no-code platforms show a similar opportunity — everything from WebFlow to Thunkable speaks to the possibility of dynamically generated UI. While Canva’s designs may feel generic at times, thousands of businesses are using it to create visual content rather than hire designers.

So many companies are using the Adobe Experience Cloud but seemingly ignore the experience automation functions that are buried inside. Ultimately, the role of design will change from handcrafting bespoke experiences to being curators of dynamically generated UI — just look at how animation in film has evolved over the past 20 years.

The future of design variation powered by machine learning and AI

The steps above are oriented toward changing the way that organizations address experience bias using current state technology. But if the future state of addressing experience bias is rooted in creating design and content variations, AI tools will start to play a critical role. We already see a huge wave of AI-driven content tools like Jarvis.ai, Copy.ai and others — then there are automation tools built into Figma, Adobe XD and other platforms.

AI and machine learning technology that can dynamically generate front-end design and content is still nascent in many ways, but there are interesting examples I’d call out that speak to what’s coming.

The first is the work that Google released earlier this year with Material You, its design system for Android devices that’s intended to be highly customizable for users as well as having a high degree of accessibility built-in. Users can customize color, type and layout, giving them a high degree of control — but there are machine learning features emerging that may change the designs based on user variables such as location or time of day.

While the personalization aspects are initially pitched as giving users more ability to customize for themselves, reading through the details of Material You reveals a lot of possible intersections with automation at the design layer.

It’s also important to call out the work that organizations have been doing around design principles and interactions for how people experience AI; for example, Microsoft’s Human-AI eXperience program, which covers a core set of interaction principles and design patterns that can be used in crafting AI-driven experiences alongside an upcoming playbook for anticipating and designing solutions for human-AI interaction failures.

These examples are indicators of a future that assumes interactions and designs are generated by AI — but there are precious few examples of how this manifests in the real world as of yet. The point is that, to reduce bias, we need to evolve to a place where there is a radical increase in variation and personalization for front-end designs, and this speaks to the trends emerging around the intersection of AI and design.

These technologies and new design practices will converge to create an opportunity for organizations to radically change how they design for their users. If we don’t begin to look now at the question of experience bias, we won’t have an opportunity to address it as this new era of front-end automation takes hold.



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Twilio gets hacked, teens ditch Facebook, and SpaceX takes South Korea to the moon – TechCrunch

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Hi again! Welcome back to Week in Review, the newsletter where we quickly recap the top stories from TechCrunch dot-com this week. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here.

Is Facebook for old people? If you’ve got a teenager around the house, you’ve probably heard them say as much. The most read story this week is on a Pew study that suggests this generation of teens has largely abandoned the platform in favor of Instagram/YouTube/TikTok/etc.; whereas in 2014 around 71% of teens used Facebook, the study says in 2022 that number has dropped down to 32%.

other stuff

Mark Cuban sued over crypto platform promotion: “A group of Voyager Digital customers filed a class-action suit in Florida federal court against Cuban, as well as the basketball team he owns, the Dallas Mavericks,” writes Anita, “alleging their promotion of the crypto platform resulted in more than 3.5 million investors losing $5 billion collectively.”

A troubling layoff trend: While tech layoffs might, maybe, hopefully be showing signs of slowing, Natasha M points out a troubling trend: some companies are announcing layoffs only to announce another round of layoffs just weeks or months later.

SpaceX launches South Korea’s first moon mission: South Korea has launched its first-ever lunar mission — a lunar orbiter “launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket” ahead of plans to land on the surface some time in 2030.

Twilio gets hacked: While it’s unclear exactly what data was taken, Twilio says the data of at least 125 customers was accessed after some of its employees were tricked “into handing over their corporate login credentials” by an intense SMS phishing attack.

Amazon’s bizarre new show: Think “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” but made up of user-submitted footage from Ring security cameras. By now most people probably realize their every step is recorded on a security camera or three — but doesn’t embracing it as Entertainment™ like this feel kind of…icky?

Haus hits hard times: Haus, a company that ships specialized low-alcohol drinks direct to consumers, is looking for a buyer after a major investor backed out of its Series A. The challenge? Investor diligence for an alcohol company can take months, and Haus just doesn’t “have the cash to support continued operations at this time.”

Image Credits: Haus

audio stuff

How clean is the air you breathe every day? Aclima co-founder Davida Herzl wants everyone to be able to answer that question, and sat down with Jordan and Darrell on this week’s Found podcast to explain her mission. Meanwhile on Chain Reaction, Jacquelyn and Anita explain the U.S. gov’s crackdown of the cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, and the Equity crew spent Wednesday’s show discussing whether the turbulent market conditions of late will mean we see fewer early-stage endeavors in the months ahead.

additional stuff

What lies behind the paywall? A lot of really good stuff! Here’s what TechCrunch+ subscribers were reading most this week…

Building an MVP when you can’t code: Got a great idea but can’t code? You can still get the ball rolling. Magnus Grimeland, founder of the early-stage VC firm Antler, lays out some of the key principles to keep in mind.

Are SaaS valuations staging a recovery?: “…the good news for software startup founders,” writes Alex, “is that the period when the deck was being increasingly stacked against them may now be behind us.”

VCs and AI-powered investment tools: Do VCs want AI-powered tools to help them figure out where to put their money? Kyle Wiggers takes a look at the concept, and why not all VCs are on board with it.



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Digital pensions platform Penfold raises $8.5M Series A led by Bridford Group – TechCrunch

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Penfold, a digital pensions platform, has closed a £7m ($8.49m) Series A funding round led by Bridford Group, an investment group.

Also participating in the round was Jeremy Coller, Chief Investment Officer and Chairman of Coller Capital. Penfold also raised additional funding via a crowdfund amongst its customer base. The cash will be used to expand Penfold’s workplace pension division.

Chris Eastwood, Co-Founder at Penfold, commented (in a statement): “It’s been a big year for Penfold – from launching our workplace pension offering, to reaching £100m AUA.”

Bridford Group, lead investor, commented: “The pensions industry represents a huge market – with £8trn in savings in the UK alone. Despite this, many people remain uninterested and unengaged in their pensions. With so many people not saving enough, there’s a real opportunity for a new provider to step in.” 



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After the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, online threats quickly turn into real-world violence – TechCrunch

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Threats of violence reached a fever pitch — reminiscent of the days leading up to the Capitol attack — following the news that the FBI raided Trump’s Florida beach club to retrieve classified documents the former president may have unlawfully taken there.

After Trump himself confirmed Monday’s raid at Mar-a-Lago, pro-Trump pundits and politicians rallied around declarations of “war,” and Trump’s ever-fervent supporters called for everything from dismantling the federal law enforcement agency to committing acts of violence against its agents. The situation escalated from there in record time, with online rhetoric boiling over quickly into real-world violence.

By Thursday, an armed man identified as Ricky Shiffer attempted to force his way into an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, brandishing a rifle before fleeing. Law enforcement pursued Shiffer and he was fatally shot during the ensuing standoff with police.

Analysts with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a nonprofit that researches extremism and disinformation, found evidence that Shiffer was driven to commit violence by “conspiratorial beliefs related to former President Trump and the 2020 election…interest in killing federal law enforcement, and the recent search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.” He was also reportedly present at the January 6 attack — another echo between this week’s escalating online threats and the tensions that culminated in political violence at the Capitol that day.

Shiffer appears to have been active on both Twitter and Truth Social, the platform from Trump’s media company that hosts the former president and his supporters. As Thursday’s attack unfolded, Shiffer appeared to post to Truth Social about how his plan to infiltrate the FBI office by breaking through a ballistic glass barrier with a nail gun had gone awry. “Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t,” the account posted Thursday morning. “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops…”

In posts on Truth Social, the account implored others to “be ready to kill the enemy” and “kill the FBI on sight” in light of Monday’s raid at Mar-a-Lago. It also urged followers to heed a “call to arms” to arm themselves and prepare for combat. “If you know of any protests or attacks, please post here,” the account declared earlier this week.

By Friday, that account was removed from the platform and a search of Shiffer’s name mostly surfaced content denouncing his actions. “Why did you censor #rickyshiffer‘s profile? So much for #truth and #transparency,” one Truth Social user posted on Friday. Still, online conspiracies around the week’s events remain in wide circulation on Truth Social and elsewhere, blaming antifa for the attack on the Ohio FBI office, accusing the agency of planting documents at Mar-a-Lago and sowing unfounded fears that well-armed IRS agents will descend on Americans in light of Friday’s House passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“‘Violence against law enforcement is not the answer no matter what anybody is upset about or who they’re upset with,’ FBI director Christopher Wray said in light of emerging threats of violence this week. Trump appointed Wray to the role in 2017 after infamously ousting former FBI director James Comey.”

Friday is also the five-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, which saw white nationalists clad in Nazi imagery marching openly through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. The ensuing events left 32-year-old protester Heather Heyer dead and sent political shockwaves through a nation that had largely grown complacent about the simmering threat of white supremacist violence.



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Diagnostic Robotics has AI catching health problems before they take you to the ER – TechCrunch

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A stitch in time saves nine, they say — and a blood thinner in time saves a trip to the emergency room for a heart attack, as Diagnostic Robotics hopes to show. The company’s machine learning-powered preventative care aims to predict and avoid dangerous (and costly) medical crises, saving everyone money and hopefully keeping them healthier in general —  and it’s raised $45 million to scale up.

It’s important to explain at the start that this particular combination of AI, insurance, hospital bills, and “predictive medicine” isn’t some kind of technotopian nightmare. The whole company is based on the fact that it’s both better for you and cheaper if you, for example, improve your heart health rather than have a heart attack.

That’s why your doctors tell you to cut down on red meat and maybe even take a cholesterol-maintenance medication instead of saying “well, if you have a heart attack just go to the ER.” It’s just common sense, and it also saves patients, hospitals, and insurance companies money. And don’t worry, this kind of prediction can’t be used to raise your premiums or deny care. They want you making monthly payments — they just don’t want to have to shell out for a $25,000 operation if they can help it.

The question is, what about less obvious conditions, or ones that patients haven’t had specific tests for? This is where machine learning models come in; they’re very good at teasing out a signal from a large amount of noise. And in this case what the AI was trained on is 65 million anonymized medical records.

“We see how people look before the problems — everything we do is preventative care,” said Kira Radinsky, CEO and co-founder of Diagnostic Robotics. “It’s all about offering the right intervention, at the right time, to the right patient.”

She noted that providers often focus on the most expensive patients in order to reduce costs — for example, someone with advanced heart disease. But while acute and maintenance care continues to be important for them, that money has already gone out the door. On the other hand, if you diagnose someone with early signs of congestive heart failure, you can stop it from advancing and save money and possibly even a life. And the technique applies beyond things that can be detected in labs.

“Say the challenge is to find patients suffering from depression or anxiety, but aren’t taking any medications,” Radinsky proposed. “How do you identify someone with depression or anxiety based on medical records? We identify the entropy of their visits — lots of providers, lots of complaints — that’s a strong signal. Then you do specific questions, a medical triage, and you get them connected to a psychologist or psychiatrist, and they’re no longer deteriorating.”

The company claims it can reduce ER visits by three quarters, which is important beyond the immediate benefits for a person and their provider; ERs and urgent cares are overwhelmed in the U.S., paradoxically due to the pervasive fear of incurring huge medical expenses.

Example of a tablet interface showing a patient’s info as sorted by Diagnostic Robotics’ models.

In many cases, she said, medical providers or insurers will offer medications or treatment for free or at nominal cost, since they know they’re saving themselves a bigger bill down the line. Sure, it’s all out of self-interest, but that means you can trust them.

The Tel Aviv-based Diagnostic Robotics just raised a big $45 million B round, led by StageOne investors, with participation from Mayo Clinic, Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and Bradley Bloom. Radinsky said this will help the company start working more directly with providers, taking on more holistic health goals in addition to specific high-risk conditions. (The company currently tracks around 20.)

A pilot test of this broader approach was recently validated in a study of a few hundred patients, in which the AI-prepared health plan was statistically indistinguishable from a clinician’s. The company is already serving millions of patients in some capacity, in Israel, South Africa, and in the U.S., with Blue Cross Rhode Island.

If they expand to your provider, don’t expect some kind of robotic examination, though the name obviously suggests this.

“You’ll get phone calls from care managers offering additional treatments, for free or almost for free,” Radinsky said. The AI will already have done its work, and maybe your test results and location suggest you’re at risk for something — and you’d do well to take these recommendations seriously. AI may have a lot of room to grow still but it’s good at sniffing out statistical correlations.

She was careful to add that they are also actively working on finding, defining, and mitigating bias in the algorithms, whether it results from biased data or human error somewhere else along the lines. “What the algorithm is trying to do is see who will benefit the most,” Radinsky explained, but as with other forms of AI and machine learning, only careful monitoring will tell whether its idea of who benefits matches the real world.



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Amazon-owned MGM makes a viral video show with surveillance footage from Amazon-owned Ring – TechCrunch

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MGM (which is owned by Amazon) is making a viral video show based on footage from Ring security cameras (also owned by Amazon). The syndicated television show, “Ring Nation,” is poised to be a modern-day, surveillance-tinged spin on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” with Wanda Sykes as host.

According to a report in Deadline, the show will feature Ring footage of “neighbors saving neighbors, marriage proposals, military reunions and silly animals.” Ring is also known for activities like accidentally leaking people’s home addresses and handing over footage to the government without users’ permission.

Between January and July of this year, Amazon shared ring doorbell footage with U.S. authorities 11 times without the device owner’s consent. Ring has been critiqued for working unusually closely with at least 2,200 police departments around the United States, allowing police to request video doorbell camera footage from homeowners through Ring’s Neighbors app. Like Citizen and Nextdoor, the Neighbors app tracks local crime and allows users to comment anonymously — plus, Ring’s police partners can publicly request video footage on the app.

An Amazon-owned police surveillance network is bad enough, but Neighbors users have also faced repeated safety and security issues.

An executive at MGM, Barry Poznick, praised the new show: “From the incredible, to the hilarious and uplifting must-see viral moments from around the country every day, Ring Nation offers something for everyone watching at home.”

But perhaps what viewers at home really want is data privacy.

Ring only started disclosing its connections with law enforcement after fielding demands for transparency from the U.S. government. In a 2019 letter, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said that the company’s relationship with police forces raise civil liberties concerns.

“The integration of Ring’s network of cameras with law enforcement offices could easily create a surveillance network that places dangerous burdens on people of color and feeds racial anxieties in local communities,” Sen. Markey wrote. “In light of evidence that existing facial recognition technology disproportionately misidentifies African Americans and Latinos, a product like this has the potential to catalyze racial profiling and harm people of color.”

Amazon bought the smart video doorbell company in 2018 for $1 billion, then bought MGM for $8.5 billion earlier this year. Now, these two investments — which seemingly have nothing to do with each other — are merging to create a late-capitalist dystopian spectacular that we couldn’t have imagined in our worst nightmares. Amazon also just spent $1.7 billion on iRobot, maker of the Roomba vacuum, but we will not dare to imagine how that acquisition may one day inspire a horrifying TV show.



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Teens have abandoned Facebook, Pew study says – TechCrunch

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Gen Z internet use is on the rise, but the rate at which teens use Facebook is rapidly declining. A Pew Research Center study on teens, technology and social media found that only 32% of teens aged 13-17 use Facebook at all, but in a previous survey from 2014-2015, that figure was 71%, beating out platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Jules Terpak, a Gen Z content creator covering digital culture, told TechCrunch that teens just don’t find value in Facebook anymore.

“There are now well over five strongly positioned social media platforms to endlessly scroll through, and it isn’t sustainable for our minds to compartmentalize nor prioritize our relationship with all of them,” Terpak said via email. “For the sake of time and sanity, people have to eliminate platforms that begin to lack a value-add incentive.”

Terpak thinks that Facebook, which teens often associate with their parents, has little to offer Gen Z.

“The culture cultivated by the average Facebook user is very disconnected from what attracts Gen Z to a platform today, instead exuding the energy of a spam email,” she said.

Even in 2013, when 77% of online teens used Facebook, young users still felt negatively about the platform.

“While Facebook is still deeply integrated in teens’ everyday lives, it is sometimes seen as a utility and an obligation rather than an exciting new platform that teens can claim as their own,” Pew’s report from 2013 said. In that nine-year-old study, Pew found that teens expressed more enthusiasm for other platforms, even if they weren’t using them as much as Facebook. That trend has remained constant — as new generations of teens join social media, they’ve almost abandoned Facebook altogether.

Pew’s new findings are also consistent with Facebook’s own internal reporting, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. A Facebook researcher found in early 2021 that teenage users on Facebook’s app had declined 13% since 2019 and projected that the figure would continue to plummet 45% over the next two years. Overall, Facebook usership has remained somewhat stagnant, but this drop-off in a key demographic is bad news for Facebook’s ads business, which makes up the bulk of its revenue.

“Most young adults perceive Facebook as a place for people in their 40s and 50s,” said the 2021 internal Facebook document obtained by The Verge. “Young adults perceive content as boring, misleading, and negative.”

Instagram is not far behind TikTok

Even if teens are tired of Facebook, they haven’t given up on Instagram, another Meta platform. Sixty-two percent of teens use Instagram, up from 52% in the 2014-2015 survey. But TikTok, which wasn’t even released at the time of the last study, is now used by 67% of U.S. teens. Ninety-five percent of teens say they use YouTube, which may make it seem like it’s the dominant social platform — but many users interact with the platform simply to watch videos, rather than as a place to connect with others online. For example, a teen who uses YouTube to listen to music would be included in that 95%.

But as TikTok inches above Instagram and Snapchat — which are used by 62% and 59% of American teens, respectively — it makes sense why these older platforms are so desperate to mimic their newer competitor.

Pew also asked the 1,316 surveyed teens about the frequency with which they use these apps. But TikTok still earned a greater share of teens’ attention than any platform aside from YouTube, which 19% of teens say they use “almost constantly.” TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat earned this “almost constant attention” from 16%, 10% and 15% of teens respectively. Only 2% said this about Facebook.

These “almost constant” admissions might seem alarming, but teens are aware that social media usage may not always provide the social connection they hope for. Thirty-six percent of teens think that they spend too much time on social media. Conversely, only 8% of teens said that they think they don’t use social media enough.

If you think Gen Z is full of phone-addicted zombies, though, you might be wrong. Forty-five percent of teens said that they wouldn’t have trouble giving up social media. More power to them.



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Google Meet’s new feature lets users consume YouTube and Spotify together – TechCrunch

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As Google continues the great merger between its Duo and Meet video communications apps, the company today announced that it’s introducing new Apple SharePlay-like live-sharing features to Meet, making it easier for call-participants to engage with content together in real time.

It’s worth noting that Google already introduced some live-sharing features (e.g. watching YouTube videos together) to Duo back in February, and now it’s bringing them to Meet as the part of the merger.

The live-sharing feature will let users watch YouTube videos together, for example, and listen to songs on Spotify or play games such as Heads Up!, UNO! Mobile or Kahoot!.

These new features will be available under a new Activities tab — which also hosts Q&A and polls options — and is accessible through the three-dot menu. From there, users can start a shared activity — for instance, if they want to listen to a Spotify track together, they would tap on the Spotify icon and Meet redirects them to the Spotify app where they can join a group session. Notably, the group session feature is only available for Spotify Premium customers, with support for two to five participants.

Last week, Google took the next step of merging both video calling apps by updating the icon for Duo and renaming it Google Meet. As for Google Meet, it will be now called “Google Meet (original),” with a green icon — yes, it’s all very confusing. The tech giant has been adding other new features to Meet, too, such as instant and schedule meeting options, in-meeting chat, and virtual backgrounds.

While these latest updates work well for Meet calls across different platforms, consumers embedded in Apple’s ecosystem will already be familiar with this type of social content consumption through SharePlay, which works across a broader array of apps such as Apple TV+, TikTok, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, NBA, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, ESPN+, Paramount+, Pluto TV, Apple Fitness+, and Apple Music.



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