Facebook Lasso app lead Brady Voss leaves for Netflix right after launch

Facebook Lasso has a steep uphill climb ahead as it hopes to chase the musical video app it cloned, China’s TikTok (which merged with Musically). Lasso lets you overlay popular songs on 15-second clips of you lip syncing, dancing, or just being silly — kind of like Vine with a soundtrack. It’s off to a slow start since launching Friday, having failed to reach the overall app download charts as it falls from #169 to #217 on the US iOS Photo and Video App chart, according to App Annie.

Forme Facebook Lead Product Designer Brady Voss

And now one of the Lasso team’s bosses Brady Voss is leaving Facebook for a job at Netflix. He’d spent five years as a lead product designer at Facebook working on standalone apps like Hello and major feature launches like Watch, Live, 360 video, and the social network’s smart TV app. He previously designed
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Facebook takes on LinkedIn as a career portal with e-learning, expanded mentorship and jobs features

With the launch of a way for people to connect with each other in mentoring relationships, and to look for jobs, Facebook has over the last year or so slowly been encroaching on LinkedIn’s territory as the go-to platform for people who want to leverage their networks of contacts to expand their career prospects. With one million jobs now secured through the social network, Facebook today took the next step in that strategy: it has launched a new education portal, Learn with Facebook; and it is expanding features for two services it had already launched that are adjacent to that, Mentorships and Jobs.

Mentorships will now be opened for users to make their own matches; and those posting Jobs will now be able to post them in Groups where they are members. Together, today’s news is a strong signal of how Facebook is continuing to work on ways of diversifying
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Facebook bug let websites read ‘likes’ and interests from a user’s profile

Facebook has fixed a bug that let any website pull information from a user’s profile — including their ‘likes’ and interests — without that user’s knowledge.

That’s the findings from Ron Masas, a security researcher at Imperva, who found that Facebook search results weren’t properly protected from cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks. In other words, a website could quietly siphon off certain bits of data from your logged-in Facebook profile in another tab. Masas demonstrated how a website acting in bad faith could embed an IFRAME — used to nest a webpage within a webpage — to silently collect profile information. “This allowed information to cross over domains — essentially meaning that if a user visits a particular website, an attacker can open Facebook and can collect information about the user and their friends,” said Masas. The malicious website could open several Facebook search queries in a new tab, and
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YouTube VR finally lands on the Oculus Go

Today, Google’s YouTube VR app arrives on the $199 Oculus Go, bringing the largest library of VR content on the web to Facebook’s entry-level VR device.

YouTube brings plenty of content in conventional and more immersive video types. It’s undoubtedly the biggest single hub of 360 content and native formats like VR180, though offering access to the library at large is probably far more important to the Oculus platform. One of the interesting things about Oculus’s strategy with the Go headset is that gaming turned out to be the minority use case following media consumption. If you find it hard to believe that so many people are out there binging on 360 videos it’s because they probably aren’t. Users have kind of co-opted the device’s capabilities to make it a conventional movie and TV viewing device, there are apps from Netflix and Hulu while Facebook has also built Oculus
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Airbnb ends forced arbitration days after Google, Facebook did the same

The Google employee walkout on Nov. 1 is leaving a lasting impact on the tech industry.

In the immediate aftermath of the walkout, which saw thousands of Googlers across the globe protest the company’s mishandling of sexual harassment and misconduct claims, the search giant said it would put an end to its policy of forced arbitration for employees claiming workplace harassment. Facebook followed suit, announcing the next day that it would allow its employees to pursue claims of sexual harassment in court. Today, Airbnb and eBay confirmed to TechCrunch they too would no longer require sexual harassment claims to be settled through private arbitration. Their announcements follow a BuzzFeed News article exploring which tech companies were updating their policies in light of the Google protest.

Thousands of Google employees protested the company’s handling of sexual harassment & misconduct allegations on Nov. 1.

“We are a company who believes that in
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Facebook to let French regulators investigate on moderation processes

Facebook and the French government are going to cooperate to look at Facebook’s efforts when it comes to moderation. At the start of 2019, French regulators will launch an informal investigation on algorithm-powered and human moderation. Facebook is willing to cooperate and give unprecedented access to its internal processes.

This announcement is the result of informal talks between Facebook’s top executives and the French government that started with the Tech for Good Summit back in May. Former British Deputy Prime Minister and Facebook Vice President for Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg unveiled the program during a lunch reception at the Élysée. “It is in that context significant and welcome that the French government and Facebook are going to announce a new initiative,” Clegg said. “That model of co-regulation of the public tech sector is absolutely key.” French President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of tech regulation can be summed up
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Facebook Portal needs more. At least it just added YouTube

To offset the creepiness of having Facebook’s camera and microphone in your house, its new Portal video chat gadget needs best-in-class software.  Its hardware is remarkably well done, plus Messenger and the photo frame feature work great. But its third-party app platform was pretty skimpy when the device launched this week.

Facebook is increasingly relying on its smart display competitors to boost Portal’s capabilities. It already comes with Amazon Alexa inside. And now, Google’s YouTube is part of the Portal app platform. “Yes, YouTube.com is available through an optional install in the ‘Portal Apps’ catalog” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. You can open it with a “Hey Portal” command, but there currently seems to be no way to queue up specific videos or control playback via voice.

The addition gives Portal much greater flexibility when it comes to video. Previously it could only play videos from Facebook Watch,
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Facebook simulates itself up a better, more gradual product launch

When you’re launching a new social media product, like an image-sharing app or niche network, common wisdom is to make it available to everyone as soon as it’s ready. But simulations carried out by Facebook — and let’s be honest, a few actual launches — suggest that may be a good way to kneecap your product from the start.

It’s far from a simple problem to simulate, but in the spirit of the “spherical cow in a vacuum” it’s easy enough to make a plausible model in which to test some basic hypotheses. In this case the researchers crafted a network of nodes into which a virtual “product” could be seeded, and if certain conditions were met it would either spread to other nodes or “churn” permanently, meaning this node deleted the app in disgust. If you’re familiar with Conway’s Game of Life it’s broadly similar but not so elegant.
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Limiting social media use reduced loneliness and depression in new experiment

The idea that social media can be harmful to our mental and emotional well-being is not a new one, but little has been done by researchers to directly measure the effect; surveys and correlative studies are at best suggestive. A new experimental study out of Penn State, however, directly links more social media use to worse emotional states, and less use to better.

To be clear on the terminology here, a simple survey might ask people to self-report that using Instagram makes them feel bad. A correlative study would, for example, find that people who report more social media use are more likely to also experience depression. An experimental study compares the results from an experimental group with their behavior systematically modified, and a control group that’s allowed to do whatever they want. This study, led by Melissa Hunt at Penn State’s psychology department, is the latter — which
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Facebook launches Lasso, its music and video TikTok clone

Done cloning Snapchat, Facebook is now chasing Chinese short-form video sensation TikTok with the launch of its knock-off Lasso. Available now for iOS and Android, Lasso is Facebook’s answer to the zany mobile lipsyncing playground that’s gained ground with young users, both in China and in the West.

The release confirms TechCrunch’s scoop from last month that the company was building an app called Lasso to let people share short videos with soundtracks. With TikTok looking like the next big thing, it’s not surprising to see Facebook playing chase, much like it did, successfully, when Snapchat posed an existential threat. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the launch of Lasso on iOS and Android is in the U.S. only for now, telling us “Lasso is a new standalone app for short-form, entertaining videos — from comedy to beauty to fitness and more. We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be
Lasso, Facebook's TikTok clone
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Children are being “datafied” before we’ve understood the risks, report warns

A report by England’s children’s commissioner has raised concerns about how kids’ data is being collected and shared across the board, in both the private and public sectors.

In the report, entitled Who knows what about me?, Anne Longfield urges society to “stop and think” about what big data means for children’s lives. Big data practices could result in a data-disadvantaged generation whose life chances are shaped by their childhood data footprint, her report warns. The long term impacts of profiling minors when these children become adults is simply not known, she writes. “Children are being “datafied” – not just via social media, but in many aspects of their lives,” says Longfield. “For children growing up today, and the generations that follow them, the impact of profiling will be even greater – simply because there is more data available about them.” By the time a child is 13
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Facebook Portal isn’t listening to your calls, but may track data

When the initial buzz of Portal finally dies down, it’s the timing that will be remembered most. There’s never a great time for a company like Facebook to launch a product like Portal, but as far as optics go, the whole of 2018 probably should have been a write-off.

Our followup headline, “Facebook, are you kidding?” seems to sum up the fallout nicely. But the company soldiered on, intent to launch its in-house hardware product, and insofar as its intentions can be regarded as pure, there are certainly worse motives than the goal of connecting loved ones. That’s a promise video chat technology brings, and Facebook’s technology stack delivers it in a compelling way. Any praise the company might have received for the product’s execution, however, quickly took a backseat to another PR dustup. Here’s Recode with another fairly straightforward headline. “It turns out that Facebook could in fact
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Facebook Dating arrives in Canada and Thailand

On the heels of Tinder’s plans to go more casual, Facebook is today expanding access to its own dating service, Facebook Dating. First launched two months ago in Colombia for testing purposes, the social network is today rolling out Facebook Dating to Canada and Thailand. The company is also adding a few new features to coincide with the launch, including the ability to re-review people you passed on and take a break by putting the service on pause, among other things.

If that latter feature sounds familiar, it’s because it’s also something dating app Bumble recently announced, as well. Bumble in September launched a Snooze button for its own app, which addressed the problem many online daters have – the need for a detox from dating apps for a bit. Sometimes that’s due to frustration or just being busy; while other times it’s because they’ve matched with someone and
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So I sent my mom that newfangled Facebook Portal

“Who am I going to be worried about? Oh Facebook seeing? No, I’m not worried about Facebook seeing. They’re going to look at my great art collection and say they want to come steal it? No, I never really thought about it.” That’s my 72-year-old mother Sally Constine’s response to whether she’s worried about her privacy now that she has a Facebook Portal video chat device. The gadget goes on sale and starts shipping today at $349 for the 15.6-inch swiveling screen Portal+, $199 for the 10-inch Portal, and $100 off for buying any two.

The sticking point for most technology reporters — that it’s creepy or scary to have a Facebook camera and microphone in your house — didn’t even register as a concern with a normal tech novice like my Mom. “I don’t really think of it any different from a phone call” she says. “It’s not

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Facebook Portal+ review

The Portal is a head scratcher. It’s a chat app that manifested itself into a hardware through sheer force of will. The first commercially available product from Building 8 isn’t as instantly iconic a piece of hardware as Snap’s Spectacles. In fact, at first glance, the device seems like little more than an Echo Show/Google Home Hub competitor.

And then there’s the matter of timing. In a meeting with TechCrunch ahead of launch, Facebook’s hardware team was quick to list the various ways the company is proactively protecting user privacy, from a camera button to a physical lens cap. The social media giant has always been a lighting rod for these issues, but 2018 has been particularly tough, for reasons summed up well in Taylor’s simply titled post, “Facebook, are you kidding?

What’s most peculiar, however, is in this age of multi-tasking devices, the Facebook Portal and Portal+

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Facebook starts shipping Portal, clarifies privacy/ad policy

Planning to get in early on the Portal phenomenon? Facebook announced today that it’s starting to ship the video chat device. The company’s first true piece of devoted hardware comes in two configurations: the Echo Show-like Portal and the larger Portal+ . Which run $199 and $349, respectively. There’s also a two-fer $298 bundle on the smaller unit.

The device raised some privacy red flags since it was announced early last month. The company attempted to nip some of the those issues in the bud ahead of launch — after all, 2018 hasn’t been a great year for Facebook privacy. The site also hasn’t done itself any favors by offering some murky comments around data tracking and ad targeting in subsequent weeks.

With all that in mind, Facebook is also marking the launch with a blog post further spelling out Portal’s privacy policy. Top level, the company promises not to

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Facebook is facing an EU data probe over fake ads

The UK’s privacy watchdog has asked Facebook’s lead EU regulator to look into ongoing data protection concerns about its ad platform — including how its platform is being used to target and spread fake adverts to try to manipulate voters.

Facebook’s international HQ is in Ireland so the regulator in play here is the Irish Data Protection Commission. The ICO noted the action in a 113-page report to parliament yesterday giving an update on its long-running investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns — writing:
We have referred our ongoing concerns about Facebook’s targeting functions and techniques that are used to monitor individuals’ browsing habits, interactions and behaviour across the internet and different devices to the to the IDPC. Under the GDPR, the IDPC is the lead authority for Facebook in the EU. We will work with both the Irish regulator and other national data protection authorities
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Where’s the accountability Facebook?

Facebook has yet again declined an invitation for its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer international politicians’ questions about how disinformation spreads on his platform and undermines democratic processes.

But policymakers aren’t giving up — and have upped the ante by issuing a fresh invitation signed by representatives from another three national parliaments. So the call for global accountability is getting louder. Now representatives from a full five parliaments have signed up to an international grand committee calling for answers from Zuckerberg, with Argentina, Australia and Ireland joining the UK and Canada to try to pile political pressure on Facebook. The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has been asking for Facebook’s CEO to attend its multi-month enquiry for the best part of this year, without success…

In its

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Facebook connects Russia to 100+ accounts it removed ahead of mid-terms

The 115 accounts Facebook took down yesterday for inauthentic behavior ahead of the mid-term elections may indeed have been linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, according to a new statement from the company. It says that a site claiming association with the IRA today posted a list of Instagram accounts it had made which included many Facebook had taken down yesterday, and it also has since removed the rest. The IRA was previously llabeled as responsible for using Facebook to interfere with US politics and the 2016 Presidential election.

Facebook’s head of cyber security policy Nathaniel Gleicher issued this statement to TechCrunch:

“Last night, following a tip off from law enforcement, we blocked over 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts due to concerns that they were linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) and engaged
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China’s obsession with short videos has its internet giants worried

Take a subway ride in China and expect to see a lot of commuters’ eyes glued to TikTok videos on their phones.

Video clips like TikTok’s are now consuming nearly nine percent of Chinese people’s time online, a 5.2 percent jump from 2017, according to app analytics firm QuestMobile. Apps such as TikTok — which is operated by ByteDance, the world’s highest valued startup at $75 billion — have become popular among previously camera-shy users. Those who lack editing experience can now easily add beautifying filters and music to spice up their work.
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Elderly couple having a moment on Douyin / Credit: Douyin ID @淘气陈奶奶

It also helps that smartphone data became cheaper and internet penetration kept growing in recent years — China now has 800 million smartphone users, according to government data. In 2013, just under 40 percent of China’s online population streamed videos on their phones, according to
tiktok douyin
tiktok douyin
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