Facebook re-invents poke

CALIFORNIA-Facebook has introduced a new feature to let users send a variety of ‘greetings’. Reviving memories of those long-forgotten ‘poke-wars’, you will now be able to send a wink, a high-five, a hug and a wave as well as the old faithful poke. Each greeting interacts with your friend’s profile in a unique way, with a hug embracing their profile picture and a poke prodding it. The options are being trialled in UK, Thailand, Australia, Canada, Columbia and France to find out if the world can rediscover its love for the poke.  Under the ‘Hello’ button on their profile, summon the new options by just holding the button and they will appear. On a desktop, hover over the hello button to see the alternatives. In a similar way to the reactions on a photo or status, the extra options build on an established feature. Facebook introduced the ‘Hello’ button in June which is at the top of people’s profiles. As another quietly introduced extra, a lot of people complained regarding the unfortunate location of the button. People kept clicking on it by accident  instead of the other features in close proximity, leaving a few individuals red-faced as they revealed their stalking habits.

The new feature has been released in line with the tenth anniversary of the poke, a feature that was becoming a relic among the new methods of communication both on Facebook and other social networks.

The new greetings have an undo button for an accidental send – it can be cancelled by quickly tapping the hello button.

The latest update follows news last week that Facebook is stepping up the use of artificial intelligence to identify members of the leading social network who may be thinking of suicide.

Software will look for clues in posts or even in videos being streamed at Facebook Live, then fire off reports to human reviewers and speed up alerts to responders trained to help, according to the social network.

‘This approach uses pattern recognition technology to help identify posts and live streams as likely to be expressing thoughts of suicide,’ Facebook vice president of product management Guy Rosen said in a blog post.

Signs watched for were said to include texts by people or comments to them, such as someone asking if they are troubled.

Facebook already has tools in place for people to report concerns about friend’s who may be considering self-harm, but the software can speed the process and even detect signs people may overlook.

‘There have been terribly tragic events – like suicides, some live-streamed – that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner,’ Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said early this year in a post at the social network focused on building global community.

‘Artificial intelligence can help provide a better approach.’

Facebook is rolling out the artificial intelligence tool outside the US and planned to make it eventually available everywhere except the European Union, where data usage is restricted by privacy regulations.


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