Bytes: What’s new in tech
Gen X’s love of social media
Move over, Millennials, said Polly Mosendz in Bloomberg.com. Despite the popular belief that 20-somethings are addicted to their phones, it’s actually Generation X that “lavishes the most time on social media pages.” Americans ages 35 to 49 years old spend an average of six hours and 58 minutes a week on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, compared with six hours and 19 minutes for Millennials, according to a report from Nielsen. Boomers spend about four hours a week e-socializing. Gen Xers also spend more time than any other age group consuming all kinds of media, from the internet to TV, at about 32 hours a week. That’s compared with 27 hours for Millennials and about 20 hours for those 50 years and older. Given such numbers, it’s fair to ask whether Gen X parents should “really be telling their kids to get off their phones.”
Facebook takes on fake news
Facebook has overhauled its “trending topics” feature to help fight the spread of fake news stories, said Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Deepa Seetharaman in The Wall Street Journal. In an effort to weed out hoaxes and conspiracy theory–driven articles, the social network’s trending box—which appears at the top right of desktop users’ News Feed— now features “only topics that have been covered by a significant number of credible publishers.” Topics will also no longer be personalized to each user, in order to avoid creating echo chambers among like-minded friends and to expose people to a “variety of different news sources and events.” Facebook said its algorithm now takes into account how long certain news publishers have had a presence on the social network, so that the newer fake news sites will receive less weight.
Lyft’s big expansion
Ride-hailing service Lyft is coming to 100 additional U.S. cities this year, said Andrew Hawkins in TheVerge.com. The expansion means the app will work in up to 300 locations by the end of the year, covering 72 percent of the U.S. population. Even with this domestic expansion, “Lyft has a long way to go to catch up” with its chief rival, Uber, which operates in 560 cities around the globe. But if the growth plan proves profitable, many analysts expect Lyft to eye international launches next year. The service has a more “driver friendly” reputation than Uber. “Thanks to higher earnings and an in-app tipping option, drivers say they are happier with Lyft.”