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Flickr/Ei Katsumata

The adage should be familiar by now: Teens may have a Facebook profile, but they sure don’t think it’s cool anymore.

In a move on Wednesday afternoon, however, Facebook is starting to become a bit like its younger, hipper competitors.

Starting this afternoon, new Facebook teenage users age 13 through 17 will now be able to create public posts viewable by any other user, whether or not they’re connected to one another on Facebook. Heretofore, teenagers were only allowed to make posts viewable to friends, or people that were one-degree separated from in their direct network (“friends of friends”).

Also, teens can also let people “follow” them (a la Twitter or Instagram) instead of befriending them, a way to cordon off the crowd that you only want to see certain types of posts.

Facebook postures the move as no big deal – just like any other social network would allow for.

“While only a small fraction of teens using Facebook might choose to post publicly, this update now gives them the choice to share more broadly, just like on other social media services,” Facebook said in a company blog post (italics mine).

And that, in and of itself, is an interesting statement. Some could argue that the entire original point of Facebook is that it wasn’t like other social networks such as Twitter; Facebook was the place to go for personal interactions with people you know. Twitter was the “global town square” where you could talk with anyone you wanted.

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But this is just another in a series of recent moves by Facebook to become a more public-facing network, one that, perhaps, the teens will enjoy all the more.

A few quick caveats: Teens who are new to the network will begin posting to “friends” by default, and pop-up tutorials will explain how to change privacy settings in case they want to go public. I imagine that could help Facebook dodge some early flak from privacy watchdogs.

And to be fair to Facebook, that’s a greater degree of flexibility and control in terms of sharing audience than Twitter, which basically has only two settings – public or private.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what the Facebook of, say, a year from now will look like, how different it may be from the one of just a few years ago. Perhaps it’ll be one that the kids think is pretty cool.

Or perhaps not.

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Unsubtle reminder from Facebook to media companies: We’re really big, and we can send you a lot of traffic.

The longer version comes here, via a Facebook blog post boasting about all the eyeballs they have passed along to sites like BuzzFeed and Bleacher Report recently, in an experiment to boost referral traffic.

Facebook said it got those sites and 27 others to increase by 57 percent the number of articles they posted to the social network, and that those sites saw their referral traffic jump by 80 percent.

The bigger picture is that Facebook is making a renewed effort to get media companies to distribute their stuff on the site.

Today’s blog post is specifically about Web publishers. But Facebook has been making a particular push to engage TV programmers and networks to use the site, in the way that Twitter has been doing for a couple of years.

Twitter on Tuesday announced it would add a service to its mobile apps that will suggest new users to follow or tweets to view based on increased activity in your network. For example, if many of the people you follow start following a new user like, say, Madeleine Albright, the new service would send a push notification to your phone to suggest that you, too, should follow her on Twitter. The service was born out of Twitter’s experimentation with its employee-run @MagicRecs account.

20131007 181739 520x245 Twitter embraces Gmails quick actions. Now you can respond to notifications without opening each email

Back in May, Google announced new quick action buttons, letting users respond to emails without opening them. So, for example, if you want to let the sender know that you’re attending an event, you can do so directly from your inbox. No typing required.

Now it seems that Twitter has signed up, letting those who receive email notifications carry out actions with a single click. As you can see here, @mentions let you click ‘View Tweet’, which opens the message in the browser.

Untitled 11 Twitter embraces Gmails quick actions. Now you can respond to notifications without opening each email

The same applies to other actions too. For example, Simon Owens first brought this feature to our attention earlier when he tweeted this out, and it clearly shows

MzSa4hS Twitter embraces Gmails quick actions. Now you can respond to notifications without opening each email

a ‘Follow Back’ quick action in response to notifications for new followers.

Other users, including Abraham Williams and HTeuMeuLeu, have reported seeing this feature in their inbox too, so this covers the US, France and the UK at least, meaning it’s likely this is probably available globally, though it’s perhaps being tested with a select number of users in a handful of countries.

It’s not a huge development for sure, but it’s one designed to remove any semblance of friction from the Twitter user experience. You can read more about the these new Actions by following the link below.

Google | Actions in the Inbox

162642967 520x245 Does anyone still use Twitter #Music? Why the Web and iOS app are quickly fading into obscurity

It’s been a little over three months since Twitter #Music was launched on the Web and iOS. The release signalled Twitter’s desire to broaden its influence on the Web. To be more. To leverage the ever-increasing number of tweets to disrupt the status-quo.

Yet for all its hype, Twitter #Music has been a disappointment. The mobile app sits patiently in a folder on my iPhone, gathering virtual dust and a sense of increasing irrelevancy. I have no desire to open it. Perhaps that’ll change with a future update, but for now it remains rather useless.

It’s not just me either. I’ve asked friends and family what their go-to app is for listening to music on the move. Spotify, Rdio and the default iOS Music app rank high. Twitter #Music does not.

Admittedly, that’s a small group of people to poll. But a quick inspection of the top free music apps in the App Store tells a similar story. Alongside the apps I just mentioned are Deezer, Soundcloud and Shazam, as well as a bunch of emerging services such as Bloom.fm filling out the top 20.

Twitter #Music isn’t featured. Nor is it in the top 50. Top 100? Nope. Top 200? Nope. At the time of writing, the app sits ranked 285. Ouch.

So why is no-one using it?

The purpose of the Twitter #Music app is three-fold; help listeners discover new music; act as an overlay for playing said music; incentivize the music industry – particularly artists and labels – to continue engaging with their fans on Twitter.

To help users find a bunch of brilliant new records, the app offers five charts with rather ambiguous names such as ‘Emerging’, ‘Unearthed’ and ‘Hunted’. They all sound inviting, but I couldn’t tell you what the difference is between any of the three.

twittermusic1 Does anyone still use Twitter #Music? Why the Web and iOS app are quickly fading into obscurity

Tapping one reveals a very compact grid filled with tiny square display pictures. Each of them represents an artist and they’re ranked in accordance with their popularity. The interface is pretty terrible though and at times completely bewildering. The various images are the size of my fingernail and reveal next to nothing about the artist or the sort of music they play. Twitter has also chosen to show their Twitter handle by default – rather than the artist’s name – which only adds to the confusion.

Selecting a specific artist then reveals a jarring profile page that tries to blend both their Twitter account and more of these tiny cuboid images. It’s the same story in the app’s ‘Suggested’ and ‘#NowPlaying’ sections. Everything feels unrefined and lacks consistent aesthetics.

Too many alternatives that are just better

Discovering new music should be a visually stunning and frictionless experience. Soundwave, Bloom.fm and even the ‘Discover’ tab in Spotify do a much better job of this than Twitter #Music by keeping their respective interfaces refreshingly simple and uncluttered. Twitter’s mobile app just feels messy in comparison.

Twitter #Music would also be a novel proposition if it offered its own digital storefront or an on-demand streaming service. But it doesn’t do that either. Tracks are either 30-second previews from iTunes with direct store links – another bid to get music labels and artists on side – or only supported with an active Spotify or Rdio subscription.

twittermusic2 Does anyone still use Twitter #Music? Why the Web and iOS app are quickly fading into obscurity

It begs the question though: why would a Spotify or Rdio subscriber leave their dedicated mobile app for this? There’s no way to create custom playlists, queue tracks or access premium features offered by these more robust and expansive services. The idea, presumably, is to reinforce Twitter #Music’s discovery options by giving users the ability to listen to new tracks in their entirety.

Twitter #Music lacks a defining feature or hook to keep users engaged. It’s an odd blend of ideas that never seem to mesh or offer a significant value proposition to the listener. There’s some potential here though and plenty of time for Twitter to turn it around – but no wonder it’s performing so poorly in the App Store at the moment.

Image Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images

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