At the young age of 10, Mark was already bored with school. His father noticed and introduced him to the computer. Together they wrote a program that connected the computer at home with the computer at his father’s office. And the rest, as they say, is history.
In this day and age, it’s hard to live a full life without logging onto Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every now and then. The problem is that they can become a huge waste of time.
There are a couple of easy ways to prevent yourself from squandering hours looking at cat photos. Here’s how you can tighten up your social networking by several notches. There’s also one surefire way to prevent social media from ruining your life: delete everything. More on that in a second.
Turn Off Push Notifications (or uninstall your mobile apps)
You might be surprised at how much control you have over the notifications pushed out by the social media apps on your phone. Take Facebook, for example. Head to notification settings and you can turn alerts on or off for wall posts, comments, friend requests, photo tags, photo invitations, messages, and more.
The next time you’ve got five minutes spare at lunchtime, rather than aimlessly scrolling through your feeds, cut down on the notifications these apps are allowed to send, which should cut down on the number of times they pull you into their reach.
You can adjust notifications at the system level too—on Android or iOS, head to Settings then tap Notifications to make changes to specific apps. The available options vary between the mobile OSes of Google and Apple, but you can silence notifications (if you still want to know when something happens) or turn them off altogether.
If you want to take a really drastic step then you can uninstall these apps from your phone, but that might be a step too far for some, especially if you get important messages through Facebook or Twitter.
Be Ruthless With Who You’re Following
Based on our experiences, severely limiting the number of people you follow on social media makes a real difference to how often you’re tempted to dip in and out of your feeds. If those feeds are updating much less regularly, you can leave them for a day or more without a nagging doubt that you’re missing out on something.
Every social network makes it easy to unfollow or unfriend people from the web or through the official apps, so take some time to cull your friends list every time you open up the app. On Twitter you can probably ditch a few celebrities and company accounts too and not notice any difference.
There are various utilities around promising to help you mass unfollow a bunch of people at once but we’d be wary of connecting anything to your accounts that doesn’t come with a substantial user base or a personal recommendation from someone you trust.
Remember a lot of networks—from Twitter to Tumblr—come with very effective search tools, so you can always join in on the action if something new is happening online, whether it’s a political scandal or a new episode of Game of Thrones. You don’t necessarily have to be following huge numbers of people to stay involved.
Get Alerts Over Email, Not On Your Phone
Despite the rise of the smartphone, email clings on as a means of communication method that pretty much everyone has access to. If you’re simply logging into your social media apps to see if anything’s happened, get email alerts instead, then you can simply glance over the highlights at the end of the day to check for anything vital.
For example, open up Facebook Settings on the web and click Edit next to Email under the Notifications heading. From here you can specify what type of email alerts you want (and unsubscribe from the ones you don’t). On the Twitter Settings page on the web, click Email notifications and you can configure alerts in a similar way.
Of course this isn’t going to work for everyone. There’s not much point in switching to email alerts if you waste even more time browsing your inbox than you actually would on Facebook or Twitter. But it’s one way of making sure you’re not missing anything urgent, like a tweet from your favorite movie star, while you stay off the platforms in question. Just flick through your emails at the end of the day and if there’s nothing of note then you don’t need to hit any social media sites at all.
You can use the always-helpful IFTTT (If This Then That), too. It lets you create applets that activate when specific users tweet, or when you’re tagged in a photo, for example, so you can customize your alerts outside of Facebook and Twitter without having to log in and check for updates every fifteen minutes.
Don’t Rely On Willpower Alone
Judging by the number of applications and utilities around to help you limit your time on sites like Facebook and Twitter, there are a lot of people who feel it’s a problem. If you’re having trouble staying away from the pull of your social media feeds, then you can get help from a variety of sources.
Some of them are simple: TomatoTimer is a twist on the Pomodoro approach and splits your time into chunks so you can stay productive. Other options, such as StayFocusd for Chrome or LeechBlock for Firefox, let you specify certain sites you want to avoid at certain times. Of course you can easily uninstall these restrictions, but they might help you stay away from social media a little longer.
Cold Turkey (free for basic use) and Freedom (which will cost you but offers a free trial) run at the desktop level on macOS and Windows to give you even more control over which sites you do and do not want to be able to visit, and at which times. We also like KeepMeOut!, which is basic but effective, and works in your web browser by replacing your regular social network bookmarks with newly guarded ones.
There will be plenty of you who can get by fine without a browser extension but some people will appreciate the extra help, even if it’s just in measuring the time devoted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest throughout the day. The good news is, when you do log back in, there’ll probably be a backlog of interesting stuff to check through.
For The Love Of God: Delete Your Accounts
If all else fails, there’s one really easy step you can take to ensure that you’re no longer distracted by these sites: Delete your social media accounts. All of them.
The only issue with this route is that the social networks don’t make it easy to leave their services. The option is usually tucked away deep in the account settings. For example on Facebook, you’ll need to go to Settings > Security > Deactivate Your Account. On Twitter, visit to the Account Settings page. At the bottom you’ll see an option: Deactivate my account. Click the tiny link, and it should walk you through the deletion process. Then, throw your laptop or phone out of the highest window you can find and get back to living a normal, productive life.
After a breakout 2015, is Amazon(AMZN) losing its luster? While its stock price is likely to tick higher, narrowing margins could weigh on investors, analysts told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Monday.
At $593.19, shares of the tech-driven retailer are 12 percent lower so far this year after a January earnings reportsent the stock tumbling. Now the company’s dominance in cloud computing is facing more competition as industry laggard Google (GOOGL) poaches customers.
Raymond James internet analyst Aaron Kessler downgraded the stock last month, calling for a price target of $655, down from more than $700.
“We’re still positive, but I would say we see the pace of margin expansion to slow,” Kessler said Monday.
While Amazon’s disruption of the retail and cloud space has been “phenomenal,” there are concerns, said Bob Peck, internet equity analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, who has a price target of $600 on the stock.
“[Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos has recently given you several quarters of margin expansion, letting it flow to the bottom line,” Peck said. “Investors love to see that. If you look back historically, he then tends to reinvest … you’ll see margins under pressure as we go forward here.”
Peck values Amazon’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, at $100 billion and said his research shows that the business is positioned well in spite of competition. Still, Google and Facebook (FB) are Peck’s top stock picks in the internet sector, while Kessler recently upgraded Twitter (TWTR).
Amazon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
“[Amazon is] going to see a little more competition on the AWS side, so I think just the perception of more competition could be a concern,” Kessler said.
Online fashion retailer Nasty Gal has laid off 10 percent of its staff, as the purveyor of edgy women’s clothing cuts costs amid an uncertain financing and retail environment.
CEO Sheree Waterson told the company in an email that the cuts were necessary as the “market in which we operate is changing, both in retail broadly and apparel specifically.” Nineteen employees across several departments were let go. Nasty Gal also laid off some staff in 2014.
The layoffs underscore the difficulty mature e-commerce startups can encounter as they transition from being a hot new brand to the long slog of building a more traditional retail business. In short, building a retail brand is really hard and technology can only afford you so many shortcuts along the way. Online beauty brand BirchBox announced layoffs of 15 percent of its staff last week, as startups in e-commerce tighten belts as investors become more wary of unprofitable growth.
Nasty Gal was founded by Sophia Amoruso in 2006 as a vintage shop on eBay. Over the years, she grew the Los Angeles-based company into an online business with more than $100 million in sales, fueled by a passionate customer base among millennial women and a strong social media presence where it boasts more than one million Facebook followers and nearly two million on Instagram. The company sells its own line of clothing as well as those of other brands and designers.
Amoruso turned over the CEO role to Waterson in early 2015, saying at the time that the company needed a more experienced leader. Re/code reported at the time that Amoruso had been telling potential investors that 2014 revenue growth would be flat or up slightly. She declined to give an update on 2015 sales figures when asked on Thursday.
Asked if it’s possible that Nasty Gal has hit its ceiling of growth, Amoruso toldRe/code, “We believe that future growth comes from being where our customer is, and that is not purely online. We have two stores and a lot of room to grow.”
The company has raised more than $60 million in venture capital from investors including Index Ventures and former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson.
Mark Zuckerberg just became the sixth-richest person on Earth.
The Facebook founder saw his fortune rise by $5.5 billion in early trading Thursday as the world’s biggest social network delivered another quarter of record revenue. That gives the 31-year-old a net worth of about $47 billion, enough to surpass the $45.3 billion holdings of brothers Charles and David Koch, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Facebook reported on Wednesday that fourth-quarter sales were up 52 percent to $5.84 billion and net income had more than doubled to $1.56 billion from a year earlier. More than 1.59 billion users are now logging on every month, according to the company.
Thursday’s surge turned a year-to-date decline of more than $4 billion for Zuckerberg into a $1.2 billion gain for the year and pushed him above the Kochs, whose industrial holdings have been hit by lower oil prices.
The five billionaires that remain above the tech entrepreneur in the ranking — Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Carlos Slim– have lost a combined $24 billion so far this month through Wednesday trading as global equities slump amid dimming investor expectations of global growth.
Zuckerberg is now one of only three billionaires among the 20 richest people to see an increase this year, according to the Bloomberg index, a daily ranking of the world’s 400 richest people. The billionaires had a combined net worth of $3.7 trillion as of Jan. 27, a 14 percent decline from their peak of $4.3 trillion on May 18, 2015.
Facebook reported a 51.7 percent jump in revenue for the final quarter of 2015 as new advertising formats and an improved mobile app drove a sharp rise in ad sales.
The company’s total revenue rose to $5.84 billion from $3.85 billion a year earlier, with ad revenue increasing 56.8 percent to $5.64 billion in the holiday shopping period, when spending on advertising typically spikes.
Net income attributable to common shareholders rose to $1.56 billion, or 54 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31 from $696 million, or 25 cents per share in the same period of 2014.
Facebook, which has the world’s most popular smartphone app, has also been benefiting from a surge in video views that has attracted advertising dollars.
Written by Malathi Nayak and Abhirup Roy of Reuters
The more ubiquitous Facebook becomes around the world, the more likely you are to one day have an ex-boyfriend, -girlfriend, or -spouse using the service. So what happens when you break up, and you continue to see the trail of their life without you all over the News Feed? Until now, you’ve had to hide that person, unfriend them, or block them outright. But that won’t sever the connection altogether — you may be still tagged in your ex’s old photos, for example, or see their name pop up as a suggestion when you write a message.
That starts to change today with new tools that will pop up when you go to change your relationship status. The tools have three major components: limiting how much of your ex you see on Facebook; limiting how much your ex sees of you on Facebook; and limiting people’s ability to see past posts where the two of you are together. “This work is part of our ongoing effort to develop resources for people who may be going through difficult moments in their lives,” Facebook product manager Kelly Winters wrote in a blog post. “We hope these tools will help people end relationships on Facebook with greater ease, comfort and sense of control.”
Much of the effect the new tools have could be accomplished simply by hiding your ex from the News Feed. But not everyone knows that, not least because Facebook’s privacy settings regularly change in ways that are not always apparent to users. What’s interesting here is how the company is proactively reaching out to users at the time they go to make their breakup Facebook official, walking them through ways they can shield themselves from their ex online.
Technically, the changes are part of a test that begins on mobile devices today in the United States. Facebook says the tools, which are optional to use, will roll out more widely based on user feedback.
Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR won’t result in a commercial product for at least a few more months. In the meantime, it’s giving users a little taste of the kind of content they can expect.
Facebook will start publishing more 360-degree video content into your News Feed — and it’s also going to start including 360-degree video ads. You don’t need a virtual reality headset to watch these videos, but they simulate what it’s like to look anywhere in a scene.
Facebook first launched 360-degree video in News Feed back in September — you can see how it works down below — and now it’s bringing that functionality to iOS devices and opening it up to advertisers for the first time.
It’s also creating tools to make it easier for people to share 360-degree content to their profiles. It added a resource hub so people can learn more about how to upload 360-degree videos, and it’s partnering with camera manufacturers like Theta and Giroptic to add “publish to Facebook” features directly into the camera. It also poached three Microsoft researchers last month to handle this very challenge — to get people sharing more VR-like content to Facebook.
All of this, if it goes according to plan, should mean more 360-degree video on Facebook. This should make News Feed more interactive, but more importantly, whet users’ appetites for the real VR content they’ll be able to watch with virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, launching later this month, or the Oculus Rift, launching next year.
Publishers like BuzzFeed, GoPro, and Felix & Paul (who created numerous videos for NBA megastar LeBron James) are all creating content for News Feed that may help Facebook sell more headsets.
Thursday is also the first time that Facebook has rolled out a 360-degree video ad. Initial ad partners include Nestle, Samsung and Walt Disney. This accomplishes two things. They give Facebook yet another video offering to entice advertisers with big ad budgets looking to experiment. And it also introduces advertisers to the idea of VR advertising — things like what it looks like and how it’s created — in preparation for VR expansion down the line.
Facebook is folding its facial recognition technology into its messaging app, Messenger. It’s the same tech used within Facebook to encourage users to tag their friends in photos. In Messenger’s case, the app will now look at your photos, identify who is in them, and encourage you to share those photos with those friends.
The whole point of this is to get people sharing more on Messenger, specifically within groups, explained Messenger product manager Peter Martinazzi. Facebook is building lots of artificial intelligence, and it’s starting to get more aggressive about integrating that technology into actual consumer products. The facial recognition tech, for example, was also folded into the company’s new photo storage app, Moments, a few months back. Messenger is also testing a virtual assistant to help people do everyday tasks like shop or manage their calendars.
The point of all this is to retain users. If Facebook Messenger can remind you to share photos with your friends or pick up your dry cleaning, you may be more likely to use it than other messaging apps or services.
“We like to look at the use cases for what people are doing now and what people could be doing, and how could we make it even easier,” said Martinazzi, who added that people used Messenger to send 9.5 billion photos last month. “Lots of times [artificial intelligence] can be a great tool for that.”
The challenge, though, will be making products that feel smarter without feeling too smart or creepy. If facial recognition technology inside your messaging app feels that way to you, you can turn off the feature in settings.
Messenger is only launching the new feature as part of an app update in Australia on Monday, but plans to roll it out more broadly in the coming weeks.
More than 45 million businesses have Facebook Pages, but only 2.5 million pay Facebook for advertising. That means a lot of businesses understand the importance of being on Facebook, but aren’t yet convinced the ad dollars are worth it.
Facebook is trying to fix that. One idea: Give small businesses more targeted advertising and a better idea of who’s walking around their stores. Literally.
The company is rolling out two new ad products intended to attract small business advertisers. The first is a new tool that can tell business owners the demographic info for people in and around their physical store. Assuming you have location settings turned on within the app, Facebook already collects info on your location. Now it will share that info with advertisers — in bulk, so no individual users are identified — so they can learn about the foot traffic near their shops, like gender and age demographics.
The first is a new localized ad that lets businesses with multiple locations create different ads for each site. So a coffee chain could easily show one ad to people in Brooklyn, and a separate one to users in Long Island.
Both features, while relatively incremental on their own, give a pretty good indication of how Facebook plans to grow its list of advertisers. The company is also thinking about in-store push notifications; it started handing out free beacons to retailers over the summer, although these new ad products aren’t related to that effort, according to Matt Idema, head of monetization product marketing at Facebook.
Still, you could see how they might complement each other down the road. And encourage more small businesses to start handing Facebook their money. The new features are rolling out to a small group of U.S. retailers beginning Thursday.