There’s confusion about whether a meeting between Facebook
founder Mark Zuckerberg and the European Union’s parliament — which is due to take place next Tuesday — will go ahead as planned or not.
The meeting was confirmed by the EU parliament’s president this week, and is the latest stop on Zuckerberg’s contrition tour, following the Cambridge Analytics data misuse story that blew up into a major public scandal in mid March.
However the discussion with MEPs that Facebook agreed to was due to take place behind closed doors. A private format that’s not only ripe with irony but was also unpalatable to a large number of MEPs. It even drew criticism from some in the EU’s unelected executive body, the European Commission,
which further angered parliamentarians.
Now, as the FT
reports, MEPs appear to have forced the parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani, to agree to livestreaming the event.
Guy Verhofstadt — the
Continue reading "EU parliament pushes for Zuckerberg hearing to be live streamed"
next money-maker could be this tool for connecting marketers to social media creators so they can team up on sponsored content Facebook ad campaigns. The Branded Content Matching search engine lets advertisers select the biographical characteristics of creators’
fans they want to reach, see stats about these audiences, and contact them to hammer out deals.
Leaked screenshots of Facebook’s promotional materials for the tool were first attained and published in german by AllFacebook.de. TechCrunch has now confirmed with Facebook the existence of the test of the search engine. Facebook first vaguely noted it would build a creator-brand tool in March, but now we know what it looks like and exactly how it works.
Even though Facebook will not actually broker or initially take a cut of the deals, the tool could equip brands with much more compelling and original marketing content. That could in turn encourage them to
Continue reading "A leaked look at Facebook’s search engine for influencer marketing"
After 14 months of silence since launching
, Facebook Stories has finally announced a 150 million daily active user count for its Snapchat Stories clone. And now it’s time to earn some money off it. Facebook
Stories will start testing its first ads today in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.
They’re 5- to 15-second video ads users can skip, and while there’s no click-through or call to action now, Facebook plans to add that in the coming months. Advertisers can easily extend their Instagram Stories ads to this new surface, or have Facebook automatically reformat their News Feed ads with color-matched borders and text at the bottom. Facebook also plans to give businesses more metrics on their Stories performance to convince them the feature is worth their ad dollars.
No, it’s not a “regram” option. Sorry! But today, Instagram
is officially launching a new feature that will allow users to re-share someone’s Instagram post with their friends via Instagram Stories
– something it confirmed
was in testing earlier this year.
The idea with the new re-sharing option is to give users a way to add their own commentary or react to a post, without repurposing it as their own – the way a regram (reposting to feed) feature would have permitted.
For example, you can now re-share something you saw posted by a brand or influencer on Instagram that you like, or add your own comments on top of a funny meme, or even tag a friend on a post you want them to see.
In fact, tagging friends through Instagram comments had become so common on the social network over the years, that it rolled out a
Continue reading "Instagram officially launches re-sharing of posts to Stories"
work around accessibility took center stage in 2016 when it
launched something called automatic alt-text for people using screen readers to identify what’s displayed. AAT uses object recognition technology to generate descriptions of photos on Facebook. But what Facebook deployed in 2016 represented the mere beginning of its efforts, Facebook Accessibility Specialist Matt King told me ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
“It was about as simple as you could get and still be valuable,” King said about version one of AAT, which initially launched for News Feed, profiles and groups. It later became available in 28 other languages before adding 17 different activities to the descriptions, like walking, running and so on.
“So we’re getting closer to being able to do a sentence, which is a long-run goal, instead of just having, you know, a list of words or concepts that describe a photo,” he said.
Then, last December, Facebook
Continue reading "Facebook’s accessibility ambitions"
Last year, Facebook was reportedly scouting for office space in San Francisco
in order to find a space suitable to house some 100 Instagram employees. Today, the company is officially confirming its San Francisco plans with an announcement that it has leased four floors at 181 Fremont in San Francisco. It will initially house its under-200 person Creation & Communication team, which builds for Stories, Direct, Live and more, but plans to expand its San Francisco headcount in time.
TechCrunch had reported
last summer that the Fremont location was being considered, among others. At the time, the 70-story tower wasn’t yet open, and no lease had been signed.
Today, Instagram confirms its lobby will be on the 7th floor of the Fremont building and will be connected to the TransBay Transit Center City Park.
Employees started moving in on May 7th, but that transition remains in progress. It’s also still putting
Continue reading "Instagram opens a San Francisco office"
Who says privacy is dead? Facebook’s
founder Mark Zuckerberg
has agreed to take European parliamentarians’ questions about how his platform impacts the privacy of hundreds of millions of European citizens — but only behind closed doors. Where no one except a handful of carefully chosen MEPs will bear witness to what’s said.
The private meeting will take place on May 22 at 17.45CET in Brussels. After which the president of the European Parliament, Antonio
Tajani, will hold a press conference to furnish the media with his version of events.
It’s just a shame that journalists are being blocked from being able to report on what actually goes on in the room.
And that members of the public won’t be able to form their own opinions about how Facebook’s founder responds to pressing questions about what Zuckerberg’s platform is doing to their privacy and their fundamental rights
Because the doors
Continue reading "Zuckerberg will meet with European parliament in private next week"
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary committee
today as part of the ongoing investigation of Cambridge Analytica and various forms of meddling in the 2016 elections, former employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie said that the company and its then-VP Steve Bannon were pursuing voter suppression tactics aimed at black Americans.
Although Wylie insisted that he himself did not take part in these programs, he testified to their existence.
“One of the things that provoked me to leave was discussions about ‘voter disengagement’ and the idea of targeting African Americans,” he said. “I didn’t participate on any voter suppression programs, so I can’t comment on the specifics of those programs.”
“I can comment on their existence, and I can comment more generally on my understanding of what they were doing,” he explained under questioning from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
“If it suited the client’s objective, the firm [SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s
Continue reading "Bannon and Cambridge Analytica planned suppression of black voters, whistleblower tells Senate"
trampling over laws that regulate the processing of sensitive categories of personal data by failing to ask people for their explicit consent before it makes sensitive inferences about their sex life, religion or political beliefs? Or is the company merely treading uncomfortably and unethically close to the line of the law?
An investigation by the Guardian
and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation has found that Facebook’s platform allows advertisers to target users based on interests related to political beliefs, sexuality and religion — all categories that are marked out as sensitive information under current European data protection law.
And indeed under the incoming GDPR
, which will apply across the bloc from May 25.
The joint investigation found Facebook’s platform had made sensitive inferences about users — allowing advertisers to target people based on inferred interests including communism, social democrats, Hinduism and Christianity. All of which would be classed
Continue reading "Facebook faces fresh criticism over ad targeting of sensitive interests"
Facebook’s future rests on convincing the developing world to adopt Stories. But just because the slideshow format will soon surpass feed sharing
doesn’t mean people use them the same way everywhere. So late last year, Facebook sent a team to India to learn what features they’d need to embrace Stories across a variety of local languages on phones without much storage.
Today, Facebook will start rolling out three big Stories features in India, which will come to the rest of the world shortly after. First, to lure posts from users who don’t want to type or have a non-native language keyboard, as well as micropodcasters, Facebook Stories will allow audio posts combining a voice message with a colored background or photo.
Facebook Stories will get an Archive similar to Instagram Stories that automatically saves your clips privately after they expire so you can go back to check them out or re-share
Continue reading "To make Stories global, Facebook adds Archive and audio posts"
Something about Facebook’s transparency report doesn’t add up to the numbers it has previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As part of its new transparency report, Facebook today announced that it shut down 538 million fake accounts.
And the question is how did this become such a big problem?
Continue reading "538 Million: Why did Facebook’s Fake Account Problem Got So Big?"
has once again eschewed a direct request from the UK parliament for its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg,
to testify to a committee investigating online disinformation — without rustling up so much as a fig-leaf-sized excuse to explain why the founder of one of the world’s most used technology platforms can’t squeeze a video call into his busy schedule and spare UK politicians’ blushes.
Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about where the balance of power lies in the global game of (essentially unregulated) U.S. tech platforms giants vs (essentially powerless) foreign political jurisdictions.
At the end of an 18-page letter
sent to the DCMS committee yesterday — in which Facebook’s UK head of public policy, Rebecca Stimson, provides a point-by-point response to the almost 40 questions the committee said had not been adequately addressed by CTO Mike Schroepfer
in a prior hearing last month — Facebook
Continue reading "Zuckerberg again snubs UK parliament over call to testify"
just installed its VP of Internet.org as the new head of WhatsApp
after its CEO Jan Koum left the company. And now Facebook is expanding its mission to get people into “meaningful” groups to WhatsApp. Today, WhatsApp launched a slew of new features for Groups on iOS and Android that let admins set a description for their community and decide who can change the Groups settings. Meanwhile, users will be able to get a Group catch up that shows messages they were mentioned in, and search for people in the group.
WhatsApp’s new Group descriptions
WhatsApp Group participant search
Group improvements will help WhatsApp better compete with Telegram,
which has recently emerged as an insanely popular platform for chat groups, especially around cryptocurrency. Telegram has plenty of admin controls of its own, but the two apps will be competing over who can make it easiest to digest these
Continue reading "WhatsApp revamps Groups to fight Telegram"
may be jumping into the time well spent movement, following the unveiling of Google’s new time management controls
last week. Code buried in Instagram’s Android app reveals a “Usage Insights” feature that will show users their “time spent”. It’s not exactly clear whether that will be your total time spent in Instagram ever, which could be a pretty scary number to some users, or within some shorter time frame like a day, week, or month.
By being upfront with users about how much of their lives they’re investing in their favorite apps, tech giants could encourage people to adopt healthier habits and avoid the long, passive, anti-social browsing sessions that can harm their well-being. These features could also help parents keep track of what their kids are doing online. Both might lead people to spend less time on apps like Instagram, but they could be happier with companies like
Continue reading "Instagram has an unlaunched “time spent” Usage Insights dashboard"
There’s probably an important gap in attention being paid at internet companies to young kids that are good targets for parental controls and older ones who are having to learn to use the internet in a responsible way on their own.
is releasing a new Youth Portal
that offers some guidance to teens on how to navigate the service, how to stay secure, while also helping them understand how their data is used. Facebook says that that they began showing tips for teens in the newsfeed earlier this month related to some of these topics.
While many of the sections in the portal are devoted to basic topics like how to unfriend or block someone, a bit of the information is structured in more of a journalistic format focused on helping Gen Z users start their internet usage off on the right foot in a way that older generations
Continue reading "Facebook launches Youth Portal to educate teens on the platform, how their data is being used"
In reaction to criticism around the use of Messenger
in some countries worldwide, particularly Myanmar, Facebook has introduced new tools
that it allow users of the app to report conversations that violate its community standards.
A new tab inside the Messenger app lets users flag messages under a range of categories that include harassment, hate speech and suicide. The claim is then escalated for review, Facebook
said, after which it can be addressed. Previously, Messenger users could only flag inappropriate content via the web-based app or Facebook itself, that’s clearly insufficient for a service with over a billion users, many of whom are mobile-only.
Facebook said the review team covers 50 languages. It has been widely criticised for its small team of Burmese language reviews, most of which is based in Ireland — with a six-hour time gap — although it has pledged to staff up on Burmese experts.
Continue reading "Facebook adds option to report conversations in Messenger following widespread criticism"
A dataset of over 3 million Facebook
users and a variety of their personal details collected by Cambridge researchers was available for anyone to download for some four years, New Scientist reports
. It’s likely only one of many places where such huge sets of personal data collected during a period of permissive Facebook access terms have been obtainable.
The data were collected as part of a personality test, myPersonality, which according to its own wiki
(now taken down) was operational from 2007 to 2012, but new data was added as late as August of 2016. It started as a side project by the Cambridge Psychometrics Centre’s
David Stillwell (now deputy director there), but graduated to a more organized research effort later. The project “has close academic links,” the site explains, “however, it is a standalone business.” (Presumably for liability purposes; the group never charged for access to the data.
Continue reading "Anyone could download Cambridge researchers’ 4-million-user Facebook dataset for years"
In your everyday life, a minute might not seem like much.
But when it comes to the vast scale of the internet, a minute of time goes much further than you ever could have imagined. That’s because the internet has a degree of scale that our linear human brains are unaccustomed to operating on.
An Internet Minute in 2018
Today’s infographic is from Lori Lewis and Chadd Callahan of Cumulus Media
, and it shows the activity taking place on various platforms such as Facebook or Google in each 60 second span.
It really helps put an internet minute in perspective.
Just a Minute, Please
The numbers for these services are so enormous that they can only be shown using the 60 second time scale.
Any bigger, and our brains can’t even process these massive quantities in any useful capacity. Here are just a few key numbers scaled to a
Continue reading "What Happens in an Internet Minute in 2018?"
Did you just notice a Facebook
app has gone AWOL? After reviewing “thousands” of apps on its platform following a major data misuse scandal that blew up in March, Facebook has announced
it’s suspended around 200 apps — pending what it describes as a “thorough investigation” into whether or not their developers misused Facebook user data.
The action is part of a still ongoing audit of third party applications running on the platform announced by Facebook in the wake of
the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal where a third party developer used quiz apps to extract and pass Facebook user data to the consultancy for political ad targeting purposes.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg
announced the app audit on March 21
, writing that the company would “investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we
Continue reading "Facebook suspends ~200 suspicious apps out of “thousands” reviewed so far"