The Hand Has Its Social Media Moment

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The disembodied hand has a sinister cinematic reputation. In horror films, it can be seen scampering across the screen, enacting nefarious deeds — murder, usually. But on social media, the hand has been cast in a new role, as a symbol of artisanal craftsmanship and entrepreneurial zeal.

The online video hand is just as driven as the horror movie version — both appear to have minds of their own. But this time it’s a helping hand, channeling its energies toward cooking party foods and executing creative household hacks. And it’s extending its reach across the internet. A quarter of video views on the Facebook pages of media companies go to these sorts of instructional videos, according to the digital video analytics company Tubular Labs. No faces. No bodies. Just hands.

How you take selfies has everything to do with who you think will see them

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Anastasia Makhanova, a psychologist at Florida State University, compared the profile images of users on dating sites with those on professional networking sites and noticed something strange. Women on dating sites took photos mostly from above, while men on professional networking sites took them from below. Makhanova thought it might have something to do with how humans attempt present themselves to their advantage—depending on who they think is looking at them.

Feeling stuck in your social media bubble?

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Now the KIND Foundation is trying to bring more diversity to Facebook feeds — so people can try to understand each other better. Its “Pop Your Bubble” tool, …matches Facebook users with at least 10 people who have a different political perspective, and who live in another part of the country or represent a different generation.

The tool is one of several that have appeared in recent months to help social media users become more exposed to other perspectives. Flip Feed, a chrome extension designed my MIT researchers, allows people to see what a Twitter feed looks like for someone with different political leanings. And Escape your Bubble, also a Chrome extension, inserts posts in your Facebook feed with a news article representing a differing political perspective. The posts are deliberately upbeat and friendly, intended to contrast with the way opposing viewpoints often are presented on-line, via argumentative comments.