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The backlash against curated Insta-perfection has been a hot topic for quite some time now. It would seem that authenticity is the new currency among influencers. But when people start being 'real' because they feel they have to, is it really real? Or is it just doing more damage?

Let's look at some examples of what "authenticity" translates to in the social media age.

1. An appropriate response to tragedy.

It has become almost compulsory to post on social media in the wake of tragedy. And there's been a lot of tragedy of late. I caught myself after the Manchester attacks thinking about what the right thing to post would be. I eventually didn't post at all - I had no words that wouldn't seem thin and empty in the face of such horror. I had the luxury of my silence going unnoticed but I know others with large social followings who've been criticised for staying quiet, accused of not caring. So if you're that person, what can you do except force out something that in no way comes close to reflecting what you're feeling or what you want to say - a hashtag, a broken heart emoji, a photo of a sunset with some generic quote plastered across it.

2. A demonstration of body positivity.

It has become the done thing in the fitness industry to post bad lighting / bad angle / just eaten selfies - initially with the good intention of "keeping it real", but increasingly as a way to generate likes and follows. Whilst the positive intent may still be there for some, in other cases it seems to be publicity-driven rather than about promoting any real message. And I suspect in many cases, there's the fear of what message it sends if you don't jump on the bandwagon. It's also very important that you love your body - though bonus points if you used to struggle with body image and have come out the other side. A nice balance of relatability and aspiration. You can, very carefully, discuss a recent knock in body confidence if you ensure your post ends on just the right note of positivity. I know people who genuinely have incredible body confidence - but I know more people who don't and who worry about the backlash from their audience if they say as much. Not loving your body sends the wrong message.

3. Careful reference to mental health.

I am very passionate that there should be more open discussion about mental health - but whilst progress has been made, it seems that there are still only select 'approved' conditions that can be referenced on social media. If you're suffering from depression or anxiety, these are now totally ok to talk about, up to a point (i.e. social and physical debilitation is fine but suicidal thoughts are not). It's also ok if you used to have an eating disorder but it's important that you don't have one anymore. Within these select 'safe zones', honesty and authenticity around mental health are rewarded by social media. Authenticity is not so accepted if you any other type of condition. Something that requires lifelong daily medication is definitely too uncomfortable for Instagram. And if you're male, even the safe zones above are largely out of bounds - unless you have a predominantly female following.

4. Political campaigning or political silence.

It's important that you fall into one of these camps and you'll quickly discover which one is right for you, depending on your viewpoint. If you have the correct social-media approved viewpoint, option 1, being extremely vocal, is a great way to show your audience how 'woke' you are. Right now this is probably the pinnacle of authenticity. If you don't share the correct viewpoint, or perhaps just don't feel it extremely enough to voice, the best bet is either to, option 2, stay completely silent and hope your audience doesn't raise it, or, option 3, maintain that whilst you have strong views, you don't want to influence anyone to feel a certain way and so will be keeping your views to yourself. Whilst not quite as authentic as option 1, option 3 is probably your best bet here if you want to keep your political leanings under wraps.

In summary, it seems we can't actually be authentic. We need to be a pleasing type of authentic. The type of authentic that gets likes and follows, that keeps our audience on side. And I can't help but think this is setting us back even further than something we all knew was a carefully curated fake world.

Written by Charli Cohen

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Anonymous Global have claimed that NASA is “on the verge” of telling the world that they have discovered alien life in the cosmos.

And not just “little micro-organisms floating around” but “advanced space-faring civilisations” who will resemble humans, but much larger.  

A YouTube account that is officially affiliated with the network of hackers posted a video detailing their claims about the space agency.

The video starts by explaining that it was only a couple of decades ago that we had no intelligence about any planets beyond our solar system, and now we’ve tallied up over 3,000 celestial bodies out there.

Quoting statements made by NASA’s associate administrator, Thomas Zurbuchen, at a US congressional hearing on ‘Advances in the Search For Life’ in April, Anonymous says: “Taking into account all the different activities and missions that are specifically searching for evidence of alien life we are on the verge of making one of the most profound and unprecedented discoveries in history.”

The video discusses a number of recent findings, including the presence of hydrogen in Saturn’s moon, located by the Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble telescope confirming the existence of oceans on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, to indicate that we aren’t alone. 

“Both discoveries are potential evidence of life... and while we have not found signs of life elsewhere, our search is making remarkable progress,” said the spokesperson.

They also reference the discovery of a star system near to our own via the red dwarf TRAPPIST-1, which may have seven planets like Earth orbiting it.

And argue that President Trump’s signing of the ‘NASA Transition Authorization Act 2017’ just last month, with a primary goal of developing a planet exploration strategy, was proof that they already know something is out there.

Referring to a statement made by former NASA astronaut Brian O’Leary, the speaker, who is wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, says: “There is abundant evidence that we are being contacted, that civilisations have been monitoring us for a long time...we’ve been visited by beings from another dimension.”

They also used a video of an alleged UFO in Dubai sighting as further evidence to support their claims, which have not been met with a response from any official agencies in the country.

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This isn’t Anonymous’ first interaction with NASA, back in March 2016 they claimed to take down their website. Later it was revealed that the actual hack was allegedly carried out by a group who call themselves ’New World Hacking as they believed the space agency was hiding information about Islamic State. 

They claimed the agency’s site and email servers went down as a result of a DDoS - a distributed denial of service attack - a standard technique used to crash websites by overwhelming it with too much traffic.

Anonymous UK, a branch of the global organisation, are renowned for appearance on marches across the world. Anonymous has no leaders, it has no central committee or public relations department, it is a hive-mind of everyday people.

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The term 'luddite' originally referred to those who opposed the job losses brought on by the Industrial Revolution.  So, are those that oppose the threats to jobs from advances in technology the luddites of today? 

Of course, no-one wants to see job losses and we should do all we can to prevent that occurring. But neither does anyone want to prevent progression.  If history has taught us anything, it's that it's futile to try to stop the advancement of invention - in all its forms.  

We happen to be living in a time when that advancement is coming thick and fast and arguably, with respect to employment, at a pace not seen since the Industrial Revolution.  

But, if the Industrial Revolution taught us anything, it's that vast change spurs innovation - and, just as happened in the 18th and 19th centuries, we are already seeing a host of new industries emerge.

Are there lessons that history can teach us so we can better ride this change, creating new jobs to replace those that could be lost?

During the 18th and early 19th century whereas much of Europe was undergoing political upheaval Britain was, by contrast, politically stable. Our unique relationship between monarchy and parliament meant the national interest as opposed to the interest of the monarch had more sway. For example, taxes were (on the whole) for country, not King.

Of course, the reasons behind the Industrial Revolution and Britain's success during that time are considerably more complex than can be covered here, but the importance of the right framework from which new industries could emerge and conquer the world can't be overstated. Most importantly, in the 18th and early 19th century that framework was a mixture of both accident and design. For example, on one hand Britain benefitted from a constitution that ensured the national interest overrode that of the King. On the other, the new jobs created by the factories absorbed those workers thrown off the land by the agricultural revolution and the enclosures. This, and much more, led Britain to become one of the richest countries in the world.

Our circumstances may have changed, but again we have that unique mix of accident and design that is spurring growth: a leading financial sector; free movement of people causing talent to flock to our shores; world renowned universities around which new businesses emerge; a culture of invention and innovation; generous funding schemes, and, with regard financial technology, an innovative regulator that is the envy of the world. With financial technology and its close relative regulation technology, the UK leads the way.  

The British heritage for entrepreneurship is a strong as ever. In fact, it continues unabated with data showing a record 657,790 new businesses were registered with Companies House in 2016, up from 608,110 in 2105. Despite some dire predictions, M&A activity also held up in 2016 at £144bn.

The UK has also proved itself a prime location for start-ups, young businesses that not only create new jobs but attract significant investment. Not only has the UK built up a strong economy around franchising, agency and distribution commercial set ups, many of these businesses have capitalised on brand development through the UK's first-rate IP protection system. What is interesting is that 80% of franchise brands in Britain are UK-owned and developed. It is therefore important IP protection is preserved so the UK can remain competitive with the EU and the international community.

Moreover, institutions have thrived due to a first-rate regulatory environment combined with the many start-ups exploiting new technology resulting from investment, innovation, and collaboration with world renowned universities. The strength of our university sector is ensuring that some of the most exciting start-ups and university spin-outs aren't just in London, but are UK wide.

It is easy for these young companies, the major players of the future, to launch elsewhere. We must keep them here. Ensuring the free movement of people is key to that.

If we are to offset inevitable job losses following AI and automation, we must allow our burgeoning new businesses to thrive.  And as we re-define our relationship with Europe, ensuring the framework that has proved and is proving so successful for spearheading innovation, attracting the best minds from all over the world as well as inward investment is crucial.

If history can teach us anything, it's that much of Britain's success has been down to circumstances near impossible to artificially create. So, as we look to the future, our priority must be to preserve that framework that has made us the success we are today.

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Wind the clock back twenty years or so, and booking a holiday required a significant amount of work. A good few hours of research, perhaps a few trips to a travel agent, and a handed down copy of common Spanish phrases to help you order four Sangrias when your flight touched down in Costa del Sol. The business of how we organise holidays has changed significantly in the wake of mobile internet and smartphone technology.

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Such is the revolution, you could organise an entire holiday in the time it would take you to drive to the airport. The regular practice is for the major airlines to have their own apps, filled with information about routes, pricing and even check-in. Once you've booked this same app will even contain your boarding pass, meaning you just need to flash your phone at check-in, rather than fumbling with bits of paper.

Over the last five years, a number of small, tech-focussed start-ups have become major players in the travel industry. Web-based services like Skyscanner and Air B&B offer the user tens of thousands of different options when it comes where you want to stay and how you might want to get there. This massive increase in the amount of choice that the user gets, and encourages hotels, airlines and other parts of the sector to be more competitive.

Even when you reach a foreign land, you don't even need to bother to learn the local language, thanks to some of the apps on the market. The market is now full of different apps you can download onto your smartphone that are capable of making fairly accurate translations of street signs and the like. For the more traditional traveller, who might want to try their hand at local dialects, coaching apps like Duolingo.

Back in the UK, larger hotel chains are making changes to try and accommodate the ever more tech-savvy traveller. In 2017, it would be deemed as quite unusual to go into a hotel room and for there not to be any kind of Wifi connection, at the very least. Larger chains like Hotel du Vin have recognised what else we are beginning to see and what we might see in the very near future. Getting room service through your smartphone, Bluetooth activated locks, etc. are now being tested across the country.

Obviously, with all these changes, we are seeing some more traditional channels struggling to see where they fit in. The aforementioned travel agents like Thomas Cook and STA Travel have got involved in their own way with apps to make the process easier. Additionally, it's also fair to say that many people, particularly the older generation, find that going through a travel agent is more suited to their needs as a lot of the process has you sitting opposite a person who can answer questions directly.

How the more traditional travel businesses will continue to develop with the pace of app-based travel companies remains to be seen. What is a certainty is that for many of us, all the information we need to go across the world at the drop of a hat can fit comfortably into the palm of your hand.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Let me ask you a question: why do you use social media?

If it's to keep up with what your friends are doing, get news and current affairs updates or simply kill time, then you're supremely normal. These are the top three factors motivating people to engage with social media.

But what about the rest of the world? As a social media entrepreneur, I'm fascinated by the role played by different social platforms across the globe.

And it's becoming increasingly clear to me that the way people use social isn't really shaped by the technology itself, but by culture and circumstances. Let's take a closer look.

Who's the most social?

Data from earlier this year reveal that the most socially connected country in the world is the Philippines, where people spend a whopping four hours and seventeen minutes on social media every day. Brazil comes in at a not-too-distant second, clocking a daily three hours and forty-three minutes of use.

Despite my earlier denial, I'm convinced that the reason Brazil and the Philippines embrace social so enthusiastically is partly technological. Both countries have a sizeable proportion of mobile-only internet users, and, as we all know, mobile makes it easy (often too easy!) to keep engaging throughout the day.

But there's more to the story than tech, a story which starts to emerge when you look at the favourite social platforms of Brazilians and Filipinos.

What drives social media uptake...

In both countries, Facebook and YouTube top the chart of the most popular platforms, and messaging or chat apps are prominent in the top twelve.

At first, the picture in both countries looks broadly similar. Not so surprising, since both are large and have dispersed populations. But my hunch is that what drives social media uptake in the Philippines is very different from what drives it in Brazil.

...in the Philippines?

As I learned some time ago, an astonishingly high number of overseas workers come from the Philippines: approximately one tenth of the 2015 population. It's such a huge diaspora that their government even has an official department dedicated to its overseas citizens.

Filipinos work in international shipping, domestic service, and skilled and professional roles all over the world. Many have very little leisure time.

I've often been told that social media and mobile internet are not luxuries but essentials to this population; social helps them relax, and maintain close bonds with friends and family at home.

...and in Brazil?

The story behind the statistics is a little different in Brazil, and is centred on WhatsApp. We in Britain may know it as a simple cross-carrier messaging platform, but as I recently found out from a team of marketers from Curitiba, for Brazilians it's a way of running their lives.

Fuelled by the expensive cost of text messaging, WhatsApp was embraced by the Brazilian population from its launch in 2009. Pretty soon, though, businesses and services got creative. Now, nearly every provider--from doctors through estate agents and government agencies--views WhatsApp as the primary line of communication with their clientele.

But what stops people engaging?

Take another look at the graphic showing time spent on social media in different countries, and you'll see that last place is occupied by Japan. Despite ranking averagely for mobile internet use and enduring lengthy commutes, Japanese internet users spend a scant forty minutes each day engaging with social media.

When the Japanese population does use social, the list of preferred platforms differs from those favoured by Filipinos and Brazilians.

Sure, YouTube is still king (looks like no culture can resist the lure of cat videos), and Twitter comes second. But the most revealing platform here is Line.

Set up as a method of emergency communication after the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, Line has evolved into a celebrity-endorsed, gamified social environment.

Why does Japan prefer to interact via Line rather than Facebook Messenger, even though Facebook is fairly popular?

My best guess would be because Line is a network where people can communicate privately. In Japan, it seems, social media interaction is something which happens more between real-world friends than virtual ones.

Bringing it back home

Knowing more about the way different countries use social media helps me find creative uses for social here in the UK. My research and travels inspired me to develop an app called Loose Ends, which helps busy people get together with their friends.

It's totally okay to use social media to kill time or browse the news, but as I hope I've shown here, it can do so much more. And I think social gets really exciting when it helps us make the most of our offline lives.

Now we've seen the world through fresh eyes, let me ask a slightly different question: how will you use social media in the future?

Daniel Lewis is founder of Loose Ends App.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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VR still hasn't caught on, but Google's VR 180 may change that. With affordable, easy to use cameras, Google wants to make VR video production easier than ever.
Source: tech times

Answer me this. Can you get through this entire article without checking your phone? Try it and see how far you get. At average reading speed it will take about five minutes. Can you go five minutes without checking your email, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If not, you need to seriously ask yourself if your attachment to your social media is messing with your head and your relationships.

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Many of us are finding that we can't go long with out checking. And it's not just about social media - it's about our smartphones too. Rewind to just over a decade ago before the first iPhone arrived on the scene. You actually had to be at home or work to check your Facebook (or MySpace, remember that?). Before smartphones, social media was something that was done on computers where breaks from it were naturally enforced. Not so today.

Back then when Blackberry smartphones were still a thing they were jokingly referred to as "Crackberry". Looking back, it's astonishing to think that something so basic (and so ugly) could so addictively catch our attention. Today's smartphones make the Blackberry about as exciting as a calculator. Today's brightly-lit smartphone's addictive appeal goes right to the basic operating systems of our brains.

The Venn Diagram of Attention and Novelty

The combination of the portability of a smartphone and the draw of social media creates a heady mix that is irresistible. It's like nachos and cheese, waffles and syrup, salted and caramel. Imagine two sets of a Venn diagram. In one set you have "novelty" and the other you have "validation". Where those two overlap you have the sweet spot that makes social on your mobile so irresistible to your brain.

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Now think, what's a notification? Something new and unexpected on your phone (n0vel) that's all about you (validation). That gets your attention - and it fires up the dopamine reward centres of your brain like a pinball machine.

(Have you checked your phone yet? That's why you check)

Though we are wired to check because those notifications indicate that somebody is thinking of us, all that checking doesn't actually make us feel good. Further, while feel compelled to check emails, most of them bring us the opposite of bliss. We keep close to the conversation on each other's walls, despite the fact that we're continually red in the face at our friends' political views or posts in bad taste.

Your brain's desire for validation and novelty gets hijacked by social media, texts and emails, even though we often feel worse for having looked at them. Paradox.

It's not social if it gets in the way of your relationship with yourself and others

If you haven't made it this far without checking, your habit may be seriously threatening the quiet reflection you need to have a degree of mental rest in your life. Being in a constant state of distraction can seriously detract from a general sense of wellbeing.

While the "social" aspect of networking does indeed keep us connected to others, it does this best with secondary and tertiary relationships (friends and acquaintances). But if it starts to replace complex "real life" face-to-face moments with loved ones, you are replacing attention from a living breathing person in front of you for a notification on your phone. Validation isn't the same thing as love, and we need love more.

The thing about face-to-face relating is that it's complex and requires a lot of attention from you and the other. This complexity is like a nutritious meal for your psyche - full of vegetables and good stuff that keep you satisfied for hours. You might not like every bite, but you know it does the body good. Social media is more like a tasty cheeseburger. Sometimes it's the only thing that hits the spot, but you wouldn't want to rely on them for every meal.

Same old psychology deployed through new technologies

While researching my book The Psychodynamics of Social Networking I found that the reason why social media is so successful is that it operates on some of the most basic components of our psychologies. We are essentially social animals and the need to relate is paramount. Further, the way we "show up" to others is essential to our survival, so we can get pretty hung up on how we feel we appear in others' minds.

Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram capitalise on these basic desires and hook us into over-concern with our own appearances and those of others. Further, they reduce the complexity of social interaction in a way that can later make face-to-face communication scary and awkward. Sure, it's easy to meet someone on Tinder and charm them with your witty texts - but it's what happens next that counts - moving it online to offline. Often, when offline gets too hard, we go back online again for comfort - only it's frequently the comfort of that cheeseburger, which might be starting to make us sick.

Reclaim your life by making active choices

Don't get me wrong, tech can be great, the trouble is that most people are passive in how they use it. If their phone rings, they answer it; if the notification flashes, they check it; if emails ping, read them. In this approach tech controls us, rather than the other way around.

If you've been unable to get through a five-minute article without checking, who's in charge? If you're more interested in your likes and re-tweets than your loved one across the table, then what's more important? Isn't it time we all got more intentional about our tech use?

Acknowledging the challenges of distraction today, Stillpoint Spaces London recently opened its "Lab," an "open-source psychology" co-working hub in Clerkenwell offering a place for those interested in thinking psychologically about their work and their lives. Co-working space by day and event-space by night, we offer the conditions for psychological engagement with modern life.

After all, you don't need a full digital detox when you can have a simple strategy. Think about how your social media engagement makes you feel, and start making informed choices about how you engage with it. By doing it on your terms you'll find that your personal and interpersonal worlds become much calmer, richer, and more nutritious.

Dr. Aaron Balick is a psychotherapist, cultural theorist, author and the Director of Stillpoint Spaces London, a new psychological hub, co-working, and events space where we explore psychology, in depth, inside and outside the consulting room.

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The RegTech Revolution and Why it Matters

It may be far from the theatrical thrill of the great train robbery or the sheer chutzpah of the Hatton Garden raid, but today's financial crime is a huge global problem, one that costs the UK £52 billion a year. To put that in context, that's nearly half the annual budget of the NHS.

The seeds of RegTech were sewn during the financial crisis but it's only now that it's truly coming to the fore. Regulation Technology, or RegTech to use its shortened name, utilises the latest technologies to fight financial crime, and it's playing an increasingly important role.

The roots of RegTech go back to the 1990s when a global regulatory framework was first put in place to help combat financial crime. But it wasn't until the financial crash of 2008 that things really took off.

To combat the ever-sophisticated art of money laundering and terrorism financing, authorities have had to create an increasingly complex set of regulations, regulations that are constantly evolving. It's kind of like a game of cat and mouse: those engaged in financial crime become more sophisticated; regulations evolve accordingly to combat this crime. Added to this is that regulations need to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change.

The by-product of this is a regulatory burden that is, for many, too complex to handle. And that's where technology has come to the rescue.

The solutions that some of the best minds have come up with are pretty ingenious; out of complexity has come simplicity and the results are surprisingly artistic. Moreover, RegTech has fostered collaboration across the financial world.

That RegTech has been able to take off so rapidly is also down to more common data standards and the adoption of the cloud. With blockchain and AI now hitting the mainstream, RegTech will rapidly evolve.

RegTech is also a uniquely British success story. It challenges the notion that the US is the always the holy grail of digital world because, with RegTech, the UK leads the way. Kudos needs to be given to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for their innovative approach to regulatory sandboxes as well as financial regulation in general is currently the envy of the world.

It's not just the FCA that has put the UK at the forefront of this burgeoning new industry. We have some of the best innovative minds clustered not just in London, but also in many of our leading university towns. Plus generous investment and impressive enterprise schemes ensure the very best startups get off the ground.

Of course, there are still loopholes that criminals exploit, and regulators and RegTech firms are doing what they can. In RegTech's favour, it fosters collaboration, the sharing of data and information making the compliance process more robust. Currently one area of greatest potential is intelligent learning which is already being utilised to spot suspicious behaviour in a way that an individual cannot.

The challenges of fighting financial crime in today's geopolitical landscape are immense. The evolution of RegTech and its associated technologies is paramount if we are to have any chance of keeping one step ahead.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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In the summer of 2016, you likely opened Instagram to quite a surprise: colourful bubbles, full-screen videos, stickers galore...all of it vanishing after 24 hours and looking suspiciously familiar.

Before then, the ephemeral photo and video platform par excellence was, without doubts, Snapchat; thanks to the launch of Stories, its rolling compilation of narrative snaps disappearing after a day, the yellow-ghost has indeed become a real phenomenon.

But although Instagram was quite late to the party and first reactions to the clone were not exactly positive, engagement quickly started to grow in its favour. With more than 200 million users, Instagram Stories has now fully outpaced its rival, creating a new competition in the world of social media platforms.

So why is Instagram taking over and how are brands and influencers reacting to this battle?

At a glance, Instagram and Snapchat have a lot in common as they both enable users to express themselves through visual content, and have steadily started to integrate similar features and the distinction between the services is now becoming more blurred. Let's make a comparison.

Audience and reach

With its 700 million active users, Instagram has hit 200 million people using Stories every day and surpassed the last count of 158 million, which Snapchat announced alongside its IPO. Also, while Snapchat primarily appeals to a younger audience, thus is suited for specifically targeting teenagers, Instagram seems to cast a wider demographic and is making bold moves to secure its dominance over the 20-45 age range.

Different features

Within the last year, we've witnessed Snapchat constantly updating its popular filters and effects, making the app still very attractive for all the tongue-out dog lens lovers. Instagram's response? "Face Filters" for Stories! From rabbit ears to flower crowns, the selection is already interesting and I have no doubt there is more to come in the future.

Instagram also offers other creative tools such as adding clickable hashtags to a Story, links to other accounts and a "swipe up" function to access content outside the platform; this means that, unlike Snapchat, Instagram Stories also directs traffic to a site, blog, or any other Instagram page.

Measuring analytics

When it comes to analytics, Snapchat offers the bare minimum while Instagram allows to track many metrics that become essential when developing a social media strategy.

Snapchat's Analytics include:
• Story views
• Number of screenshots

Instagram's Analytics include:
• Followers
• Impressions
• Reach
• Engagement
• Demographics
• Website clicks

When looking at these differences, it comes as no surprise that many brands and influencers are almost entirely jumping ship from Snapchat to Instagram.

The simple fact that Instagram has such a large user base, instantly makes it an attractive Snapchat competitor. Many brands and influencers already have a big number of followers on Instagram, who can all be addressed using the Stories function. Therefore Instagram Stories has the advantage of plugging into an existing social network, whereas Snapchat Stories is primarily used to communicate to a small network of users, making it more difficult to build a community within the app.

Because Instagram allows users to add links to a Story, users also have the ability to drive more traffic to their websites and landing pages. This undeniably makes the platform more compelling for brands and influencers that seek to build up and engage followers.

Compared with Snapchat's complicated mechanism of sharing and watching content, Instagram is also a lot more intuitive for first-time users, and so is its Stories feature. The user-friendly visual platform has made it much easier to share Stories, reply to Stories and increase the reach.

But can Snapchat still hope to come out of this battle unscathed?

Despite the platform suffering from a big decline and the #RIPSnap hashtag trending everywhere on social media, it's not too late for Snapchat to get back on its feet.

In order to become a better investment opportunity, the platform may have to broaden its audience and try to target an older market. This would mean attracting more users possessing a higher disposable income and, therefore, making brands keener to engage with the platform.

Enhancing the customer experience and facilitating the process of building a profile in the app is the main thing Snapchat should focus on. If it wants to play in the same space as Instagram, the little ghost platform must come up with a few new hooks, ideally beyond its not-so-cool-anymore lenses.

If you want to know the latest Instagram trends and updates, head over to the Hopper HQ blog, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic on Twitter! @Hopper_HQ

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Your pee is actually pretty amazing.

Not only can it create electricity but a major scientific breakthrough means that it can also kill pathogens.

Researchers at the University of the West of England have created a revolutionary new urinal system that can not only generate renewable electricity but can also kill bacteria harmful to humans.

The team created a special process where wastewater flowed through a series of cells filled with electroactive microbes, upon which the microbes were able to kill a pathogen, in this case the potentially deadly Salmonella.

The hope is that once perfected the system can be used to create a urinal for the Developing World which can not only generate electricity but clean the waste water before it enters the municipal sewage system - thus reducing the strain on the water companies themselves.

It had already been shown that microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology could use urine to generate electricity and clean water, but in order for the system to be viable in the Developing World the team felt they needed to go further.

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This is believed to be the first time that pathogens have been destroyed using this method.

John Greenman, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology, said: “The wonderful outcome in this study was that tests showed a reduction in the number of pathogens beyond the minimum expectations in the sanitation world.”

The system is being developed with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

The foundations work has not only focused on how electricity can be generated in the Developing World but also how to create clean water.

The team’s prototypes will once again be making an appearance at Glastonbury Festival 2017 where the electricity generated will be used to power many of the large signs dotted around the site.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Source: huffingtonpost