social media

8 AI tools that change how you create content for social media

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A young woman influencer works to produce video content.
AI can help you make better social media, faster.
Photo: CapCut

The AI craze is in full swing, with more and more easily accessible AI technology available online for free. One of the ways you can use AI tools yourself is for creating engaging social media content. Deep-learning algorithms can intelligently create and edit content, increasing its quality and shortening the creative process.

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Today, we’ll take a closer look at eight popular AI tools you can use to enhance your social media presence and create more trending posts.

Judge blocks government from pushing social media censorship

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Social Media
A federal judge blocked federal government contact with social media sites.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

A federal judge in Louisiana issued a broad injunction Tuesday limiting federal government contact with social media sites over what the Biden administration may see as disinformation spreading out of control.

The ruling is one of many upcoming that frame a fight over the constitutionality of curbing social media’s influence in light of the First Amendment’s right to freedom of expression.

How to get started using Mastodon

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Leave Twitter, join us! …please
Mastodon is a good Twitter clone, but it needs some more active users like you.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Perhaps you, like many others, would like to move away from Twitter. If you read news, webcomics or blogs, you can follow all the same stuff with an RSS reader. But if you want to follow people in your community and talk to others online with the same interests, there’s a Twitter alternative you may have heard about: Mastodon. It’s a full-blown Twitter clone that a lot of people you may know are moving to.

Recent changes at Twitter did not instill confidence in the platform’s future. That’s about the shortest and most diplomatic way I can summarize the cavalcade of poor decision-making that has trickled down from their new CEO, he-who-shall-not-be-named, Rocket Car Tunnel Guy. It’s the last straw for a lot of people.

Despite the memes you may have seen, signing up for Mastodon isn’t that hard. There are just a few things you need to consider. Let me show you how to use Mastodon.

Apps to simplify music discovery, baby care and journaling your life [Awesome Apps]

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Awesome Apps iPhone and headphones
Regardless of what you’re trying to do, apps can help make it easier, faster, or more fun.
Photo: Unsplash

Apps can be useful for a a countless number of things. From making a new parents life easier to finding new music, there’s are apps fit to help make things nearly effortless. This week, we have a couple great new (to me, at least) apps, and a really solid update to one of my favorites. As usual, I’ll put out the call for other suggestions as well. If you have something you want us to check out for a future Awesome Apps post, be sure to email your suggestion or tweet them over!

Forget blur: How to cover faces and add emoji to photos

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The emoji in this picture are accurate representations of every picture of me until I was about 8. I didn't know how to smile for pictures and I did not care to learn.
The emoji in this picture are accurate representations of every picture of me until I was about 8. I didn't know how to smile for pictures and I did not care to learn.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

There are lots of times when you might want to cover up faces before posting pictures: Teachers often want to censor the faces of their students. Boudoir photographers (Google it) can censor explicit portions of their photography for social media. Foster parents who are legally prohibited from posting identifying pictures of children in their home can quickly cover them up. Forget trying to blur faces — there’s an app that makes covering up faces dead easy: MaskerAid.

If you’ve ever wanted to hide a face before posting a picture, MaskerAid (a pun on “masquerade”) will quickly censor faces with emoji. Unlike apps like Snapchat, MaskerAid will preserve the full quality and resolution of your pictures.

MaskerAid is the latest app by independent podcaster and developer Casey Liss. You can download MaskerAid here on the App Store for iPhone (there is no Android version). The app is free to try out with your own pictures, but to use the full set of emoji, you must pay a one-time purchase of $2.99.

How to make Twitter fun again

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Twitter can be… fun? Preliminary research suggests it can.
Twitter can be ... fun? Preliminary research suggests it can.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Twitter: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. People have been talking quite a bit about Twitter lately.

When friends of mine complain about how they don’t enjoy using Twitter, I used to be confused. Twitter is what you make it. If you don’t like Twitter, you can simply follow different accounts and get a completely different experience.

It’s important to note that none of my friends have tens of thousands of followers and/or are regularly harassed on Twitter. That can be a very different experience outside of one’s power to control, to put it lightly.

Twitter has changed, and now, the people you follow might have very little bearing on what you actually see on Twitter at all. Here are my tips on how to take back control of your timeline and make Twitter enjoyable.

Hate Tumblr ads? Now you can pay to make them go away.

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If you hate Tumblr ads, now you can be free of them. For a price.
If you hate Tumblr ads, now you can be free of them. For a price.
Photo: Tumblr

Tumblr founder David Karp has said he never wanted advertisements on his social network and microblogging platform, Tumblr. But they came in after a sale of the company in 2013. A lot of people find them tacky and annoying.

Fortunately for those who hate the ads, Tumblr said Thursday you can now pay to make ads go away.

Reddit updates let you see how others are reacting right now

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New features in Reddit should drive engagement across the site, the company said.
New features in Reddit should drive engagement across the site, the company said.
Photo: Reddit

Social media site Reddit unveiled several new features Wednesday that let users immediately see how others are reacting to content in various ways. The changes should give users a better idea of what’s most popular — or unpopular — on the site. The company said they should increase engagement across Reddit.

Share your memories, think creatively, and enjoy photography again [Awesome Apps of the Week]

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Awesome Apps of the week text in front of face down iPhone 12
With roughly 2 millions apps available in the App Store, sometimes all you need is something to tell you what’s good.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Whether you like great time-wasting games, want to experience the beautiful photography that was once popular on Instagram, or want to preserve your favorite memories in video, this week we have some awesome apps to check out.

Yik Yak is back: anonymous, local social app returns to iOS

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The anonymous, local Yik Yak social media app is resurrected.
The anonymous, local Yik Yak social media app is resurrected.
Photo: Yik Yak

When the social media app Yik Yak debuted in late 2013, it was a hit at colleges. Users remained anonymous and only posts in their immediate area showed up for them. But then the app lost what made it unique and the company disbanded. Now the app is back with new ownership and something like the original formula.

How to easily share tweets to Instagram Stories in iOS

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Now it's easy to share tweets in Instagram Stories.
Now it's easy to share tweets in Instagram Stories.
Photo: Instagram

Twitter rolled out an update to its iOS app earlier this week that lets users quickly and easily share tweets to their Instagram Stories. It’s now nearly a one-click operation, but not quite.

Naturally, users have always been able to take a screenshot of a tweets and manually upload it to an Instagram Story. But the new interface takes some of the manual labor out of the process, making it simple and fast. And the results look good!

Social audio app Clubhouse’s growth appears to stall

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Clubhouse
Clubhouse attracted a whole lot of buzz earlier this year.
Photo: Erin Kwon/Clubhouse CC

It’s not just teen-focused social media apps that face the fickle habits of their users. Clubhouse — the invite-only social audio app that pulled in enough celebrities, influencers and business professionals to make it the most buzz-worthy app of 2021 — seemingly faces the same challenge.

According to a report from Business Insider, Clubhouse is already hitting a hurdle when it comes to growth. After racking up 9.6 million installs in February, just 2.7 million people downloaded the app in March. That number fell to only 922,000 new users last month.

Apple lets Parler return to the App Store after promises of moderation

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Apple lets Parlor return to the App Store after promises of moderation
Parler is expected to be back on the App Store after changing moderation policies.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The controversial social-networking service Parler will soon reappear in the App Store. Apple reportedly un-banned the service Monday after it promised to start moderating content.

Then service was banned from the iOS and Android software stores after it was used to plan the attack on the U.S. Capital in January.

Apple joins other tech giants in banning Parler

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Google, Apple and Amazon exercise their rights as private companies to refuse to do business with Parler.
Google, Apple and Amazon exercise their rights as private companies to refuse to do business with Parler.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

Apple followed though on its warning to remove Parler from the App Store this weekend. Google already banned the social-networking app from the Android software store, and Amazon is cutting off Parler’s cloud-hosting service.

The bans follow accusations that rioters used Parler to plan the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

Trump executive order targets social media’s ‘selective censorship’

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President Trump signs the executive order.
Pres. Trump signs an executive order that seeks to overturn protections for Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Photo: White House

Days after Twitter labeled a Tweet by President Trump as false, Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that seeks to overturn liability protections for social media services.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the president’s most powerful political opponent, called the move “a desperate distraction” on the day U.S. deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic reached 100,000.

Celebs join the COVID-19 fight by telling billions to stay home

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Selena Gomez shows us how to wash
If the singing thing doesn't pan out...
Screenshot: Selena Gomez/Instagram

Say what you will about celebrity influencers. They are using social media to tell millions of followers to stay home and “wash your hands.”

Taking a break from vanity and self-branding (well, sort of), influencers have answered the call by the United Nations to use their platforms to promote public health messages to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Instagram begins flying flags over fake photos

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new policy at Instagram flagging fake photos
Heavily altered photos on Instagram are now being policed.
Screenshot: mixsociety/Instagram

Instagram users are starting to see blurred-out posts the platform’s fact-checkers have flagged as potential fakes.

The popular photosharing app now owned by Facebook announced last month it was ramping up efforts to combat false information in photographs.

TikTok’s wild memes put hilarious spin on ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign

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Shot on iPhone
Apple's famous tagline has become a punchline.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s ‘Shot on iPhone‘ campaign is taking over TikTok, only probably not in the way Apple would like.

‘Shot on iPhone’ ads have been used by Apple for years to highlight the amazing quality of videos and photos that can be captured by normal people. Now TikTok users are reappropriating the term to show the type of dumb videos most people actually shoot on their iPhones and the results are absolutely hilarious.

Check out this compilation of funny ‘Shot on iPhone’ TikToks:

Spotify’s Tastebuds feature will show you what friends are listening to

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Spotify Premium update October 2018
Try it out today.
Photo: Spotify

Spotify is gearing up to add a new social feature to its apps that could give it another edge over Apple Music.

Prototype screenshots of an upcoming feature called “Tastebuds” were unearthed on Twitter this week. From the looks of it, Tastebuds will build off Spotify’s underlaying social networking features, giving users a new way to discover music through what their friends are listening to.

Ex-employees dish on why Instagram ‘Likes’ are dying

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Instagram's Twitter announcement on hiding likes
Instagram's announcement on hiding "Likes."
Screenshot: Instagram/Twitter

In hiding the number of “Likes” a post gets on Instagram, parent company Facebook is actually hiding another motivation for the grand experiment – making you post more.

Instagram said the hidden “Likes” test was one part of a strategy to reduce cyber-bullying. Removing the count would create a kinder, gentler experience and allow users to connect without the social pressure of feeling liked.

Chrome extension brings ‘Likes’ back to Instagram, sort of

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Instagram lawsuit
A Chrome extension can bring your hidden "Likes" out in the open.
Photo: Pixabay

The “Like”-minded Instagram influencer didn’t have to wait long to get a work-around to the social media app’s experiment with hiding the number of “Likes” on posts.

A company known as Socialinsider has created a free Google Chrome browser extension called “The Return of the Likes.”

Instagram’s hidden likes experiment goes global

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heart shapes
Your fans will know you are liked. They just won't know how much.
Photo: Iouri Goussey/Wikimedia CC

Anxious influencers worldwide opened their Instagram feeds to a new reality today: the “like” tally on their posts won’t be seen by their followers.

Instagram started removing public-face “likes” this summer as a test in a few countries. The test is now global and Instagram took to Twitter this morning in hopes of reassuring content creators who make money off their posts.

Reddit app gets a new BFF: Snapchat

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Reddit logo
Reddit may attract younger users with it new content sharing agreement with Snapchat.
Photo: Reddit

Regular users of Reddit’s iOS app and Snapchat can now share content between the two social media networks, both companies announced today.

Reddit has never partnered with another app but said it will expand the feature to other social media apps down the road.