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Have a haunted holiday and win a chance to watch ‘The Babadook’ for free

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The holidays are here, and with them come a little extra time to sit back, relax and catch up on the year’s best movies

This fall, Mashable announced the launch of MashFlix, our online and offline film club. For our first feature film, we screened horror flick The Babadook at New York City’s IFC Center. The film proved to be hauntingly entertaining, and left more than a few of us cowering in our seats

Couldn’t make it to the screening? Don’t worry — here’s your chance to watch The Babadook at home. We’re offering promo codes for a free download of the movie on SundanceNow. After all, what are the holidays without a little extra spook? Read more…

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Use hands to tell a story for our photo challenge

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Hands are usually used to create art, but they can also be a beautiful subject

So much of what we do on a daily basis involves our two hands. Whether you’re carrying an object, petting an adorable kitten, writing a notes or signing a document, most tasks require you to flex your palms and wiggle your fingers.

For this week’s Mashable Photo Challenge, share a photo of a hand (or two, or more!). Each one tells a different story — some of age and wisdom, some of hard work, some of love.

Tua Marika, a photographer known for her artistic images of hands, will guest host the challenge Read more…

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Facebook now auto-enhances photos posted from iPhones

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Facebook is taking a page out of Google+‘s playbook, and is now automatically editing photos posted to the social network from mobile devices.

Smartphones and apps have made photographers out of everyone; the problem is that many of us still don’t have pro-level photo-editing skills. Now, when a Facebook user posts an image using the iOS app, it is automatically “enhanced” for clarity, lighting and shadow. What’s more, they won’t have to decide between individual filters, like on Instagram. The feature launched for iOS on Tuesday, and is coming to Android soon, according to Facebook.

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The countries with the most and least Internet freedom

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Internet freedom around the world has declined for the fourth year in a row, as more countries introduce aggressive online censorship measures, according to a new report.

Freedom on the Net 2014, the fifth-annual report released by independent watchdog organization Freedom House last week, found that of the 65 countries assessed, 36 experienced a negative trajectory in online freedom between May 2013 and May 2014. This was due to factors such as blocked social networks, aggressive online surveillance and cyberattacks, and the intimidation and arrests of journalists and digital activists.

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14 photos that pop with color and light

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Everyone can take photos in color, but it takes some extra skill to capture stunning, vibrant images. If you look at the very best photographs, there’s usually a wow-factor involved — whether it’s a unique angle, extreme minimalism, focus on one shade or an unconventional subject.

Last week, we challenged you to share photos that pop with color. Parisian Instagrammer Aurélie Cerise, who is known for her colorful, minimalistic images, was our guest host.

“I was pleasantly surprised to have seen much more than the classic rainbow shot,” Cerise said. “I think the theme worked out well. It was a good, wide topic for a challenge because colors are accessible to everyone, everywhere.” Read more…

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Massive Instagram update adds 5 new filters

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Instagrammers: You’re getting new filters for the first time in two years.

The company rolled out a massive update to its iOS and Android app Tuesday that adds five new filters and the ability to rearrange how filters appear within the app.

Instagram’s new filters, Crema, Slumber, Ludwig, Aden and Perpetua, will now appear first in the filter tray of the updated app. It also made the filter tray itself smarter as the filter choices now display mini previews of what that filter would like if applied to your photo.

Users also now have the ability to reorder the app’s filters or hide the ones they don’t use. Scroll to the end of the filter tray to find the new “Manage” setting, which allows you to quickly personalize how and where your favorite filters appear in the Instagram app Read more…

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Can I really take a social media vacation?

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Stories about unplugging for the holidays abound at this time of year. Most deal with shutting down email and counsel leaving the computer behind. They also tend to skirt the whole issue of social media. It’s attached to your mobile devices, after all, so it’s pretty hard to leave it all behind.

I speak from experience. When I took a two week vacation in London, my Twitter, Instagram and Vine followers were along for the ride. I could almost hear their plaintive cries from the iPhone in my pocket.

“Hey, what are you looking at? It sounds interesting out there. Can we see? Just for a minute? Please?” Read more…

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Facebook drops Bing in favor of its own search tool

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Facebook has quietly removed Microsoft-owned Bing as its primary search engine, according to a new report.

The social network pulled Bing search from its Graph Search platform in exchange for its own search tool that will allow users to find information related to friends’ posts and comments, Reuters reported.

Facebook was using Bing to produce search results as its in-house search engine, allowing Facebook users to look for more information about their friends. Selecting Bing as a partner was also a way for Facebook to keep rival Google’s search engine away from the social network. Read more…

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YouTube finally lets you make GIFs without leaving YouTube

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This story was updated at 11:52 a.m. ET to include comments from YouTube and PBS.

Without any fanfare, YouTube has introduced a built-in GIF creation tool for selected videos and channels.

Andy Baio, a former CTO of Kickstarter, first spotted the update on Thursday.

The rollout is limited for the time being. The option appears on videos in the PBS Digital Studios‘ Ideas channel, as pointed out in the tweet above, under each video’s “Share” option. The option is not available on Mashable‘s channel or several others that we checked.

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Image: Screenshot, YouTube Read more…

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Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook is ‘thinking about’ a dislike button

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Facebook is considering ways users can express their feelings beyond the Like button, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a Q&A at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park Thursday

“We’re thinking about it,” Zuckerberg said when asked whether the social network would ever add the long-requested dislike button.

He quickly clarified that such a button likely wouldn’t say “dislike” on it. Instead, he said, people often want to react to posts they see on Facebook with sentiments other than “like.”

“Everyone feels like they they can just push the Like button, and that’s an important way to sympathize or empathize with someone,” Zuckerberg told the audience. But there are times when you may want the simplicity of a one-click response but a “like” doesn’t feel appropriate, he added. Read more…

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