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Social media platforms continue to evolve, change

Published: Friday, Dec. 13 2013 11:28 p.m. MST

Recently, some of the major social media mediums — like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — are making changes to their product.

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As if to demonstrate that social media platforms are ever changing, several of the major social media mediums —Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — are tweaking important aspects of their technologies.

On Thursday, Instagram announced it will be adding a private messenger function that allows users to share photos between at most 15 other users, according to The New York Times. Currently, all Instagram posts shared are seen by all of a user’s followers.

Called Instagram Direct, the addition to the photo-sharing application was shown at an event in New York on Thursday, The Times reported.

“For us, communication is very core,” said Kevin Systrom, the company’s chief executive, to The Times. “It’s not about photography necessarily.”

TechCrunch writer Matthew Panzarino said that he wasn’t sure whether the latest update to the Instagram app will allow photos to disappear over time or not, as do the photos on Snapchat, another photo-messaging app that deletes photos after a time delay. Snapchat recently turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook, which owns Instagram.

Facebook is making its own changes, too. Although less dramatic as a complete interface update, the social media networking site is now auto-playing videos, according to The Huffington Post. Facebook’s videos only play automatically when Wi-Fi is enabled and when users scroll past them. This is in anticipation for playing auto-ads, The Huffington Post reported.

Facebook is also considering adding a “Sympathize” button for statuses that are less likeable and ones that might include “breakup, a death or even just a bad day,” The Huffington Post reported.

Currently, the button is being tested out internally at Facebook, The Huffington Post reported. Several other ideas by Facebook have been tested out internally, too, but never surfaced, The Huffington Post said.

"It would be, 'five people sympathize with this,' instead of 'five people ‘like’ this,'" said Dan Muriello, a Facebook engineer to The Huffington Post. "Which of course a lot of people were — and still are — very excited about. But we made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product. Yet."

ABC News also released its wish list for other Facebook button additions, including a “Dislike” and “Seriously?” button.

Twitter made some updates, too. Twitter not only gave its iPhone and Android apps a bit of a makeover, but it also added image sharing in private messages, according to Digital Trends.

What is this saying about social media and the Internet? The Atlantic published an article on Thursday declaring 2013 is the year the Internet began to change from a wide amount of Web pages to what writer Alexis Madrigal calls, “The Stream.”

“The Stream represents the triumph of reverse-chronology, where importance — above-the-foldness — is based exclusively on newness,” wrote Madrigal.

But Madrigal wrote that things are coming in too fast, and it may mean the Internet needs another restructuring.

“Wouldn't it be better if we just said ... Let's do something else?” she wrote. “Let's have the web be a museum or a curio box or an important information filter or an organizing platform.

“Or maybe let's just let the web be the web again, a network of many times, not just now.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com, Twitter: @hscribner

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