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How Different Internet Platforms Collaborate Using APIs

Ever wonder how it is that you can share photos from Flickr to sites like Facebook? Ever wonder how a Google map can pinpoint your geo coordinates in Yelp? Or that your tweets can be simultaneously published to Facebook? Or, simply, that we’re able to show you YouTube videos on the mental_floss blog?

All these types of collaborations are done through what’s called an API, or application programming interface. It’s sort of like how we humans interact with Web and mobile app, only south (reference? reference?) APIs let different platforms, apps and servers communicate with each other over the Interwebz.

So let’s take an example and see how a simple API works. There’s a cool site called InstantWatcher.com that lets you see what’s hot on Netflix at any given moment. They organize for you the most recent additions to the Netflix library and movies that are getting streamed the most. How do they do it? Simple! Netflix has various APIs that are accessible to application developers. In this case, InstantWatcher is doing a simple call to the Netflix database and querying based on criteria, like, what movie ID numbers have been added in the last 24 hours? What movie ID number are being streamed the most over the last 24 hours? And so forth. All InstantWatcher is really doing is organizing and presenting the information back to you in a way that’s easily consumable.

Now, you might say to yourself: Why doesn’t Netflix provide this service too? Why do they need to develop an API so that someone else can make money from such a service (it’s free to users, but ad supported)? Those are good questions! I wondered the same thing myself! But remember, the API allows developers to interact with Netflix’s data in myriad ways. InstantWatcher is simply calling the API to get the most basic info and ignoring all the other stuff that doesn’t interest them.

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Narcissists Are More Likely to Be Compulsive Facebook Users
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Updating your Facebook status throughout the day is probably a sign you need a different hobby, but according to a new study, the habit can also indicate something else. As PsyPost reports, people with Facebook addiction are also likely to be narcissists.

For their recent study published in the journal PLOS One, scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany followed the Facebook activity of 179 German students over the course of a year. They were looking for cases of so-called Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) based on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, a system developed by University of Bergen researchers that measures factors like mood modification, withdrawal, and relapse in relation to Facebook use.

They wanted to find out whether FAD was linked to other mental health problems. In addition to gauging Facebook compulsion, they also surveyed subjects on their depression and anxiety levels, social support systems, physical health, narcissism, and general satisfaction with life. The results showed a strong correlation between FAD and narcissism. Rather than Facebook making its users more narcissistic, the researchers state that people with narcissistic personalities are at a greater risk of developing the social media addiction.

"Facebook use holds a particular meaning for narcissistic people," they write in the paper. "On Facebook, they can quickly initiate many superficial relationships with new Facebook-friends and get a large audience for their well-planned self-presentation. The more Facebook-friends they have, the higher is the possibility that they attain the popularity and admiration they are seeking; whereas in the offline world they might not be as popular since their interaction partners can quickly perceive their low agreeableness and exaggerated sense of self-importance."

The researchers also found a connection between Facebook addiction and higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety.

Studies investigating Facebook Addiction Disorder have been conducted in the past, but there’s still not enough research to classify it as an official behavioral addiction. The researchers hope their work will lead to similar studies pinning down a link between FAD and mental health consequences.

[h/t PsyPost]

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Facebook Is Changing Their Algorithm—Here's How to Keep Your Favorite Content on Your Feed
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Even if you "like" all your favorite artists, follow only the most trustworthy outlets, and cleanse toxic people from your friends list, you're still at the mercy of the programmers when it comes down to what shows up on your Facebook Feed. And if you've finally gotten comfortable with your feed, you may not be happy to hear about the latest change from the social media site: Facebook has tweaked their algorithm yet again, this time to prioritize content from friends and family over public pages. That means more pictures and statuses from people you actually know, but less links and videos from the sites you enjoy.

If you want a feed that better reflects your tastes and interests, surrendering to the new algorithm isn't the only option. Facebook has a tool for picking and choosing which pages are most important to you, but it requires some navigating to get there. According to Travel + Leisure, you can make the changes by selecting the drop-down arrow in the upper-right corner of Facebook on desktop. From there, click "News Feed Preferences," and then select "Prioritize who to see first." In the mobile app, you can get there by clicking the menu icon in the bottom-right corner, scrolling down to "Settings," and tapping "News Feed Preferences."

The window that pops up will show you a list of the friends and public pages you follow. Click a profile to highlight it and it will show up at the top of your feed whenever you log on. You can do this with close friends or family members you want to keep up with, as well as media sites like Mental Floss. If you already "like" Mental Floss on Facebook, the page should show up in the "Prioritize who to see first" list. If you have trouble finding it, visit our Facebook page to make sure you’ve hit "Liked," and then drop down the "Following" option and select "See First."

If the quality of your News Feed fluctuates from day to day, sharing your preferences with Facebook should give you more of what you want to see. And if fake news and political posts from old high school classmates continue to be a problem, you can take the opposite approach: Click the icon at the top of the post to hide or snooze that page's content.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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