Royal Caribbean Will Pay You to Quit Your Job, Travel The World and Take Instagrams

Have you ever spent the day scouring your city for that perfect shot, when the sky is a dreamy pink and the setting sun bounces off the glowing skyscrapers in just the right way? Then, after a days worth of work and only a few dozen likes to show for it, you think to yourself “Damn. If only had gotten paid for that.” If so, then put down your smartphone, and listen up.​

Royal Caribbean is looking to hire a master Instagrammer for a paid summer “intern-ship,” for which you’ll be required to snap and post eye-popping shots from a three-month trip around the world. Okay, now that you’ve regained consciousness, here’s how it works:

If you’re over 21 and have “extensive knowledge of all 23 filters,” you can earn £3,000 (almost $3,700) as an amateur photographer on three cruise ships that’ll take you all over the globe—for free. All you have to do is position yourself as a “hybrid between a photographer, documentary maker and a storyteller” to land the summer job of your dreams.

If the panel of travel experts happens to choose you, you’ll be tasked with posting three photos on Instagram each day; one of a breathtaking view, one of an awesome person found on board, and one of a mind-blowing experience. If that sounds like something you’d be into, just post your most incredible travel photos from now until January 31 and include @RoyalCaribbeanUK and #ExtraordinaryExplorer in the caption. 

Just make sure you send us a postcard. 

Democrats Are Three Times More Likely to Unfriend People Online Post-Election

In a study published this week by the Public Religion Research Institute, three times more Democrats than Republicans reported blocking, unfriending, or unfollowing people with whom they disagree politically online. While only 13 percent of all respondents across the political spectrum said they actually engaged in this removal of friends, 24 percent of the Democrats surveyed said they did it. Republicans, on the other hand, were less likely to unfriend people over politics, with only 9 percent of those surveyed reporting that they did it.

That’s a major skew in the direction of Democrats. Even absent specific party identifications, the trend held — the margins actually got wider. “Political liberals are also far more likely than conservatives to say they removed someone from their social media circle due to what they shared online (28 percent vs. 8 percent, respectively),” says PRRI. And, in case you were wondering whether these numbers translate into tangible, real-world relationships, the answer is yes. PRRI also found that during this holiday season, Democrats are “five times more likely than Republicans to say they are trying to avoid certain family members due to their political views (10 percent vs. 2 percent, respectively).”

When considering these findings, it must be remembered that it was Donald Trump and the Republicans who came out on top during the election. The results may have left liberals feeling particularly bitter and disenchanted, with Republicans feeling rather magnanimous toward their defeated counterparts.

The fact remains, however, that these findings are consistent with earlier reports in which Trump supporters had been complaining, in the days immediately following the election, that their friends were removing them on social media. They also fall in line with a similar study conducted two years ago by the Pew Research Center that examined the same types of behavior.

More broadly, the PRRI study provides further evidence of what some have identified to be an emerging trend among today’s liberals, particularly young people. Liberals, some say, have become host to what can be called an “intolerance for intolerance” in pursuit of eliminating racism, sexism, and other discriminatory attitudes.

Laudable as that goal is, one has to question whether heightening Americans’ current ideological isolation by unfriending people is really the most effective method of combating these social forces. Systems like racism are bred in isolation and ignorance, and now more than ever, it may become important for liberals to engage with those views, rather than tune them out.

For some, though, unfriending may be born out of more than a simple disinclination to engage with conservative perspectives. The PRRI study found, additionally, that there is a significant gap between genders in this area. “Women are twice as likely as men to report removing people from their online social circle because of the political views they expressed online (18 percent vs. 9 percent, respectively). Three in ten (30 percent) Democratic women say they removed an individual from their online social network,” compared to only 14 percent of Democratic men. For women, many of whom have been made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable because of Trump’s misogynistic rhetoric, there may be something more at stake than intellectual pride.

One Quarter Of The World Is Using Facebook

Facebook’s path to world domination is no joke. According to the social media company’s latest quarterly report (which also shows massive gains in income), there are now 1.79 billion Facebook users logging on every month. As New York Magazine notes, this is equivalent to almost a quarter of the Earth’s population.

Even more incredible is the fact that almost 66 percent of those active Facebook users that log onto the platform every single day. That’s a lot of birthday notifications.

While this monumental milestone may seem shocking — it reflects a 16 percent increase in monthly Facebook users since Q3 2015 — it’s the result of a sharp increase in people accessing the social media site on their phones across the world. And given that more than half of all the world’s internet users are on Facebook, it’s pretty on par with Facebook’s mission, as Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly proven in his expansion initiatives.

One such project is Free Basics, a Facebook-backed project run by Internet.org that aims to promote universal internet access. So far, it has helped make Facebook more widely available in 38 countries.

But there has been resistance to Facebook’s expansion into less-developed territories. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg was foiled in his plan to bestow free internet access to users in rural India. The Free Basics offer eschewed the tenants of net neutrality, putting stipulations on which the sites Indian users would be able to access. Naturally, Facebook was among the sites that would have been most easily available to users.

This summer, Facebook also began testing a solar-powered drone that, according to Zuckerberg, aims to “help more of the 4 billion people who are not online access all the opportunities of the internet.” (Those opportunities very likely being Facebook-related.)

Yes, People Are Ignoring Your Political Social Media Posts

If you had the sneaking sensation someone blocked or ignored you on Facebook for posting about your political views, you’re probably right: A new Pew Research Center survey of 4,500 adults found that 83 percent of people flat-out ignore your political posts when they disagree with you. Meanwhile, 39 percent of respondents admitted to blocking, unfriending, or curating their feed to see fewer posts from someone. The reason? It’s mostly because the posts are offensive (61 percent), or you simply post too much political content (43 percent).

Such results fit with the polarizing political climate and its attendant avalanche of political hot takes, livestreams, memes, and smoking guns that appear daily, demand our attention, and crowd out most of our feeds. We read, we ignite, we take to social media to say so. And many of us make no attempt to play to our crowd.

So it’s no surprise that 51 percent of those surveyed feel the resulting discussions from such content are less respectful, or less civil (49 percent), and also angrier (49 percent) than they used to be. Over half (51 percent) surveyed think such discussions are truly hopeless causes that will not result in anything like a resolution.

In other words, more than ever, our Facebook and Twitter feeds are basically a typical family’s Thanksgiving dinner with that racist uncle. That’s likely true for the 39 percent of those surveyed who said online political discussions are pretty much as disrespectful online as anywhere else they run into them.

One obvious takeaway in the report is that, as anyone might have guessed, not everyone is jazzed about seeing nonstop political sparring all day long. Only about 20 percent of those surveyed said they enjoy all those Bernie or Bust posts, the latest Trump sexual allegation, or a new report about Clinton’s corruption, and find the resulting discussions in the comments enjoyable. But over a third, 37 percent, find them utterly fatiguing.

Other folks try to engage in political discussions online, but come away with a bad taste. 59 percent say the interactions they have on social media about politics, particularly with those they don’t agree with, are “stressful and frustrating,” and 64 percent say they leave such encounters with the pervasive sense that they have less in common than previously thought. This was true of those on both sides of the political spectrum.

This is not necessarily a bad thing though, because it means that our social media feeds, whether we follow people we know or complete strangers, tend to be less of an echo chamber than we might assume of others and are at least pushing disparate views our way, whether we follow friends or strangers. About a quarter of those surveyed who use both platforms say they see “a lot” of politics, and its coming from a mix of friends and strangers.

What’s more, in spite of how terribly many political discussions tend to go online, 57 percent of people surveyed still think social media does “somewhat well” getting people involved in issues they care about, while 53 percent feel it does the same job bringing new voices into the discussion. Another 45 percent think social media does alright at helping people learn about candidates.

None of this is particularly groundbreaking news: Yes, too much politics will wear you out, and many political discussions are a major bummer. But you can still find views that mirror and challenge your own, and there’s good information out there if you’re looking for it. And if not? Ignore. Block. Hide. Move on. Just as you’ve been doing.

You’ll Finally Be Able to Post Longer Tweets Starting September 19

Twitter is about to say bye to the 140-character limit by cutting down on what type of content will count towards the said limit. For example, media attachments such as GIFs, videos, images, polls, etc. and quoted tweets will no longer count. It will offer up ample room for extra text for users to express themselves. While this news was announced earlier in the year, Twitter just confirmed that the changes will rollout beginning September 19.

Another novel adjustment is that usernames will no longer count when they’re at the beginning of replies. “This is the most notable change we’ve made in recent times around conversation in particular, and around giving people the full expressiveness of the 140 characters,” CEO Jack Dorsey said earlier this year, “I’m excited to see even more dialog because of this.”

Instagram Will Let You Filter Comments On Your Photos

It’s always nice to get positive, and even constructive, feedback on your Instagram photos. It’s not so nice when someone takes the time to hurl insults or make threats in the comments. Soon, Facebook-owned Instagram will give users new anti-harassment tools that let them hide unseemly messages left on their photos.

Instagram plans to introduce new anti-harassment tools in coming weeks. They will allow users to filter comments on posts or turn them off all together, The Washington Post reports.

The tools will roll out to “high-profile,” account users — those with high traffic, likes, and comments — first, with everyday users receiving the options later.

Although Instagram already has some policies in place regarding acceptable speech, the new tools enable users to weed out terms or comments they find personally offensive on a post-to-post basis on their own accounts.

“Our goal is to make Instagram a friendly, fun and, most importantly, safe place for self expression,” Instagram’s head of public policy, Nicky Jackson Colaco, tells the Post. “We have slowly begun to offer accounts with high volume comment threads the option to moderate their comment experience. As we learn, we look forward to improving the comment experience for our broader community.”

Now Anyone Can Apply For A “Verified” Twitter Account

For seven years, the process of obtaining Twitter’s blue “Verified” checkmark for your account has been shrouded in mystery. No formal criteria was ever given, no application process available, and no explanations from the company why some accounts got verified while similar accounts were not. Now the company has finally announced an actual application for users seeking verified accounts — but getting that little checkmark isn’t a given.

Twitter announced Tuesday that it will now allow anyone to request a verified account by filing out a form on its website.

Users must provide a verified phone number and email address, a profile photo, and additional information — such as birth date and associated websites — regarding why the verification is required or helpful to the user.

Users will also have to provide the company with information on why their account should be verified in order to “understand their impact in their field,” or if the account belongs to a business, “to let us know their mission.”

In some cases, Twitter says it may request users scan and upload a legible copy of their government-issued ID to confirm their identity.

“We want to make it even easier for people to find creators and influencers on Twitter so it makes sense for us to let people apply for verification,” Tina Bhatnagar, Twitter’s vice president of User Services, said in a statement. “We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience.”

Twitter first began account verification in 2009 and currently has about 187,000 verified accounts.

Why Insecure Narcissists Depend On Social Media More Than Anyone

Thanks to all the selfies and unironically #blessed hashtags, social media often seems like a playground for raging, egomaniacal narcissists. But a new study suggests it’s a different kind of narcissist—the shy, insecure, and hypersensitive type—that is most dependent on digital ego-polishing services like Twitter and Facebook.

Researchers from the University of Florence had 535 students take a series of tests to evaluate them for narcissism. Specifically, they looked at ratings on scales for grandiose narcissism, which is associated with arrogance and aggression, and vulnerable narcissism, which is linked with “a defensive and insecure sense of grandiosity,” as the study puts it.

The researchers also evaluated the participants for “problematic” internet usage, using a survey that measures things like difficulty refraining from going online and turning to the internet when feeling depressed.

The study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, found that vulnerable narcissists showed more problematic internet usage and a stronger preference for online (as opposed to IRL) social interaction than grandiose narcissists and non-narcissists alike. Past research has also shown that vulnerable narcissists are more comfortable with online social interaction.

Surprisingly, the researchers found no significant differences between grandiose narcissists and non-narcissists. This contradicts recent research suggesting that grandiose narcissists, which have been the focus of past research in this arena, are more likely than non-narcissists to engage in “problematic” internet usage.

“This suggests that [social networking sites] might be the preferred tool among vulnerable narcissists to gain approval and admiration, whereas they might be just one of many tools grandiose narcissists use to achieve narcissistic goals,” the researchers wrote. In other words, the internet is filled with narcissists—but some of them feel really bad about themselves, OK?

New Study Claims Following Fit Instagrammers Helps You Lose Weight

We tend to use Instagram for a lot of different reasons. We Instagram our food, our kids, our health and so much more. A new study conducted by Northwestern University claims that taking part in an online community helps us lose weight. This may seem bombastic, even crazy, but the study asserts that being online and engaging has become a crucial part of weight loss for many people. According to the study’s senior author, Luis A. Nunes Amaral, “we found that the frequency with which you report your weight is a good indicator of positive outcomes. If you monitor your weight, you are engaged. If you communicate online with other people, you are even more engaged. And when you need support, you might be able to get it.”

We all need a little support to get us through those long days of diet and seemingly endless cardio. Sometimes binging Netflix isn’t enough to get us through an hour on the treadmill. Instagram (amongst other online resources) seemingly might be a good place to find that support according to Northwestern’s study. Swiping through a thread of fellow people succeeding and struggling on Instagram may well be what we need to motivate us and keep us positive about our own image and fitness. Conversely, interacting with others online with a little anonymity seems to be a big part of what keeps us coming back and free of shame.

The study is called ‘Friending’ Your Way Thin and it may be a way forward for some people struggling with weight loss. At the very least, it’s an outlet to find motivation and a community. So let’s try, shall we?

Facebook Will Instantly Translate Your Posts into 44 Languages

Facebook will be providing its users with a new option to instantly translate their own posts into one of 44 different languages, allowing News Feed updates to show up in your native tongue. With 1.5 billion users, half of whom do not speak English, this new feature will help facilitate communication with other users from all across the globe, in effect making the social network more “social.” The system isn’t perfect by any means but other messaging applications such as LINE have successfully implemented this form of automated translation, so it was only a matter of time before Facebook figured out a way to apply it to its interface as well. Users also have the option of editing the translations as well, which will only provide the company with more data to improve this new feature down the line.