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Twitter announces new 280-character limit for almost everyone

Most of the world’s Twitter users will soon be able to post 280-character tweets, company product manager Aliza Rosen announced in a blog post Tuesday.

Rosen said expanding the character limit from 140 characters to 280 will give users more space to fit in their thoughts. 

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Historically, Rosen said, nine percent of tweets typed in English hit the character limit, which results in a lot of time spent editing a single tweet or eventually abandoning tweets before sharing them. 

In September, Twitter launched a test for select users to have access to the expanded 280-character limit. As a result of the experiment, researchers found only one percent of tweets in English hit the character limit. 

Related: Twitter announces test of new 280-character limit for tweets

“People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall,” Rosen wrote. 

However, tweets in Japanese, Korean and Chinese will continue to have the 140-character limit, because cramming characters is not an issue for the languages due to the density of their writing systems, she said.

For users concerned about their timelines being flooded with 280-character tweets, Rosen said the experiement showed that didn’t happen.

“Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters,” Rosen wrote. “As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you’ll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline.”

Rosen encouraged users to give Twitter feedback on the change.

“We’re always listening to your feedback, so try it out and let us know what you think,” she tweeted.

Zuckerberg slammed after Facebook censors posts

Espen Egil Hansen is the editor-in-chief of Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper. And he's just one of many people upset with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg after the social media site censored an iconic Vietnam War photo. It showed a young girl named Kim Phuc running naked down a road after her village was hit by napalm.

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"Mark, I believe you impair our ability to do our job," Hansen said in a video on Aftenposten's website.

It all started a few weeks ago when Norwegian author Tom Egeland got on Facebook and shared the photo along with several others that he said changed the history of warfare.

Facebook's moderators removed the photo from his page. 

And when he tried to repost it along with an interview with Phuc criticizing Facebook's attempt to censor the image, he says his account was suspended for 24 hours.

SEE MORE: How a fake news story about Megyn Kelly wound up trending on Facebook

When Hansen heard about the ordeal, he decided to post the photo and an accompanying article on Aftenposten's Facebook page.

He says he got this email from Facebook demanding the post be removed, and that Facebook took it down before he could respond.

On Friday, Hansen penned an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg echoing what many critics are saying about Facebook's decision.

The letter reads, in part: "Facebook has become a world-leading platform for spreading information, for debate and for social contact between persons. You have gained this position because you deserve it. But, dear Mark, you are the world's most powerful editor."

Facebook said in a statement Friday it has reviewed its community standards in this case and "decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed."

Beware of a fake coupon circulating on social media

A fake coupon for retail store Kohl's is spreading on social media, and reads as being too good to be true.

WBAY reported that the coupon offers $75 off of any purchase of $80 or more.

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The coupon also says the offer is valid until "May 31-Tuesday 2016."

Even the writing of the date seems questionable, as most coupon experiences have the day of the week written before the month, date and year.

WBAY reported that one way to spot the fake coupon is by looking at the web address on the coupon. In the one above, it says

This is only the latest in a string of fake coupons promising big savings at popular stores.

With any offer online that promises a good deal, it helps to read the fine print and pick apart the details.

Fit more in a tweet with Twitter's new changes

To the dismay of many social media users, Twitter will not expand its 140-character limit.

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But the networking service will allow users to fit more into each message. 

The company announced changes Tuesday, including the news that attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls and Quote Tweets will no longer take away from the character count.

Responding to tweets will become easier too. The @ sign and a user's Twitter handle will no longer take away from the character count.

Plus, users will also be able to retweet themselves -- an action called Quote Tweet -- that could come in handy if you want to expand upon a thought you previously sent out.

Bloomberg Technology previously reported that links posted in tweets would not count towards the character count. Twitter said Tuesday that characters in links will still count towards the 140-character limit.

Twitter said the updates will become available in the coming months. 

Read more here.

Belgian police: Don't use Facebook reactions if you value privacy

Police in Belgium are raising privacy concerns over Facebook's six reaction emojis, arguing the buttons allow the social media company to chip away at users' privacy.

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Facebook released the reaction feature to users worldwide in February after testing the emojis in select markets.

"We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in (the) news feed makes you feel," wrote Facebook product manager Sammi Krug in an announcement of the release in February. "That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way."

Authorities in Belgium, however, say the relatively new feature can provide more information to the company than users meant to share.

"By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective," Belgium's federal police force wrote in a news release Wednesday. "The icons not only help to express your feelings, they also help Facebook assess the effectiveness of the ads on your profile."

Authorities said the reactions help Facebook determine the ideal space for companies to advertise on the site and also help zero in on what a user is most likely to be drawn toward.

It's not the first time officials in Belgium have come up against the social media giant. Late last year, Facebook was forced to stop using a cookie that tracked non-users who visited the site, according to BBC News.

Senate committee launches probe of Facebook over trending news controversy

A Senate committee launched an inquiry Tuesday into Facebook after allegations surfaced that the social media company suppressed conservative news topics in its highly visible trending news section.

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In a letter to Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Republican Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, asked for Facebook staff to brief the committee on how the site moderates its "Trending Topics" section.

Thune also asked the company whether "news curators in fact manipulated the content of the Trending Topics section, either by targeting news stories related to conservative views for exclusion or by injecting non-trending content."

"If true, these allegations compromise Facebook's 'open culture' and mission 'to make the world more open and connected,'" Thune wrote.

The inquiry was launched a day after Gizmodo reported Facebook had a tendency to downplay conservative news, even when such topics were trending organically on the site, citing unnamed former Facebook news curators. Employees also sometimes put stories into the site's Trending Topics section when they were not trending to give issues that they deemed important higher visibility, according to the report.

"Facebook has enormous influence on users' perceptions of current events, including political perspectives," Thune wrote. "If Facebook presents its Trending Topics section as the result of a neutral, objective algorithm, but it is in face subjective and filtered to support or suppress particular political viewpoints, Facebook's assertion that it maintains a 'platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum' misleads the public."

It was not clear whether the alleged manipulation was still going on, as the curators quoted by Gizmodo had left Facebook.

Facebook acknowledged Tuesday that it had received Thune's letter. In a statement, the company said it "look(ed) forward to addressing his questions."

First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams told The New York Times that Facebook could comply with the request or refuse on First Amendment grounds.

"The notion of Congress looking into or investigating how a medium of communication decides what to say threatens on its face First Amendment rights," Abrams told the newspaper.

Harvey Silvergate, another First Amendment attorney, told the Boston Herald that Facebook's purported moderation was likely legal, though ethically questionable. It could be argued that, as a major distributor of information, Facebook could be "compared to telephone companies that are bound to neutrally relay communications," the Herald reported.

Thune's request for answers from Facebook appeared to mark a shift in position for the South Dakota senator. In 2007, he spoke out against a Federal Communications Commission rule that required broadcasters to provide equal air time to all sides while discussing controversial issues, calling it "Orwellian."

"I know the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear government officials offering to regulate the news media and talk radio to ensure fairness," Thune said.

5 Facebook tips you didn't know about

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Facebook is more than a place to connect with friends and share baby photos. There a numerous tips and tricks to make the social network platform fun and helpful to use. Here are five tricks and tips on Facebook you may not know about

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Find Facebook messages you didn't know you had

Facebook Messenger has two inboxes: One users receive notifications about and one they don't. The latter filters messages from people you may not know or don't have added as friends. For desktop and mobile, there are different ways to access the inbox. On desktop, click on the messages icon at the top of the screen in the blue bar, go to message requests and then see filtered requests. On mobile, users can go to settings, then people, message requests, then see filtered requests.

Related: Here's how to find Facebook messages you didn't know you had

Play basketball with friends

For those using the Facebook Messenger app on mobile, you can challenge your friends to an online game of basketball. Start the game by sending a basketball emoji in Messenger. Tap the emoji to start the game. Swipe your finger to shoot the basketball into the goal and see how many baskets you make. Your score will be sent to to your friend for them to beat.

Play chess with your friends on Messenger

In addition to basketball, you can play chess with friends on Messenger, but it is a little more complicated. To start, open a conversation with the friend you want to play with and type "@fbchess play." The game starts when a chessboard appears. Instead of dragging your mouse or moving arrows on your keyboard users have to type different text commands into Messenger to move pieces. For example, to move a queen to a space, users would type "@fbchess Qe4" to move the piece to the corresponding spot on the board, which is labelled by letters and numbers.

Let people know how to pronounce your name

Additions to the "about" section of Facebook allow users to let their friends and anyone who views their profile know exactly how to pronounce their name. Users can edit this section by clicking on their name in the top blue bar, going to "about" and selecting "details about you" on the left column. From there users can select Facebook-generated ways to pronounce their name or type their own.

Hide your Facebook friends list

Users can hide who can view their friends list whether someone they have friended or a member of the public views their profile. To do this, users can click on their name to get to their Facebook page, click "friends," and at the top of the "friends" box, click the button in the top right corner to "edit privacy." Select options from the drop-down menu to choose who can see the list.

Pope Francis is now on Instagram

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It's official: the pope is now on Instagram.

Unlike previous reports that have herald Pope Francis' appearance on the social media site, his "franciscus" account was verified before his first post went up Saturday morning.

A photo of the pontiff solemn and praying garnered thousands of comments and likes within just minutes of going live.

Pray for me Rezad por mí Pregate per me صلوا من أجلي Priez pour moi Módlcie się za mnie Rezem por mim Betet für mich Orate pro me A photo posted by Pope Francis (@franciscus) on Mar 19, 2016 at 4:24am PDT

The new account is likely to further bolster Pope Francis' social media presence. He already has an active Twitter account, which he used to announce his “new journey” on Instagram Saturday.

It's unclear whether the move will bring the pope around to Facebook. He previously declined to join the social media site due to fears over people posting abusive comments, according to Quartz.

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