Facebook cuts down annoying “now connected on Messenger” alerts

“‘You Are Now Connected On Messenger’ Is The Worst Thing On Facebook’ Buzzfeed’s Katie Notopoulos correctly pointed out in a story yesterday. When you friend someone on Facebook or Messenger, or an old friend joins Messenger, you often get one of these annoying notifications. They fool you into thinking someone actually wants to chat with you while burying your real message threads.

Luckily, it turns out Facebook was already feeling guilty about this shameless growth hack. When I asked why, amidst its big push around Time Well Spent, it was sending these alerts, the company told me it’s already in the process of scaling them back. A Facebook spokesperson gave TechCrunch this statement:
We’ve found that many people have appreciated getting a notification when a friend joins Messenger. That said, we are working to make these notifications even more useful by employing machine learning to send fewer of them over
Continue reading "Facebook cuts down annoying “now connected on Messenger” alerts"

How Facebook’s new 3D photos work

In May, Facebook teased a new feature called 3D photos, and it’s just what it sounds like. However, beyond a short video and the name, little was said about it. But the company’s computational photography team has just published the research behind how the feature works and, having tried it myself, I can attest that the results are really quite compelling. In case you missed the teaser, 3D photos will live in your news feed just like any other photos, except when you scroll by them, touch or click them, or tilt your phone, they respond as if the photo is actually a window into a tiny diorama, with corresponding changes in perspective. It will work for both ordinary pictures of people and dogs, but also landscapes and panoramas. It sounds a little hokey, and I’m about as skeptical as they come, but the effect won me over quite
Continue reading "How Facebook’s new 3D photos work"

Facebook alerts 14M to privacy bug that changed status composer to public

Facebook has another privacy screwup on its hands. A bug in May accidentally changed the suggested privacy setting for status updates to public from whatever users had set it to last, potentially causing them to post sensitive friends-only content to the whole world. Facebook is now notifying 14 million people around the world who were potentially impacted by the bug to review their status updates and lock them down tighter if need be. Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote to TechCrunch in a statement:

We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts. We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time. To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before – and they could still choose their

Continue reading "Facebook alerts 14M to privacy bug that changed status composer to public"

Cambridge Analytica’s Nix said it licensed “millions of data points” from Acxiom, Experian, Infogroup to target US voters

The repeat grilling by the UK parliament’s DCMS committee today of Alexander Nix, the former CEO of the now ex company Cambridge Analytica — aka the controversial political and commercial ad agency at the center of a Facebook data misuse scandal — was not able to shed much new light on what may or may not have been going on inside the company. But one nugget of information Nix let slip were the names of specific data aggregators he said Cambridge Analytica had bought “consumer and lifestyle” information on US voters from, to link to voter registration data it also paid to acquire — apparently using that combined database to build models to target American voters in the 2016 presidential election, rather than using data improperly obtained from Facebook. This is more information than Cambridge Analytica has thus far disclosed to one US voter, professor David Carroll, who in January last
🦅
Continue reading "Cambridge Analytica’s Nix said it licensed “millions of data points” from Acxiom, Experian, Infogroup to target US voters"

Facebook is funding news programs from CNN, Fox News, Univision and others

Facebook has unveiled its initial lineup of news programming that will be airing in a dedicated section of Watch, the original video content initiative that the social network launched last year. While these shows are being produced by outside media organizations, it’s actually Facebook that’s funding them. In a blog post, Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown described this as an extension of the company’s announcement in January that it would prioritize meaningful social interaction over publisher content. While that decision took a toll on digital publishers, Brown echoes CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rationale for the move, saying that while there will be less news in users’ feeds, what remains should be “trustworthy, informative, and local.” Here’s how Brown describes the news initiative:
This first lineup of funded shows includes news publishers from broadcast to digital native, national and local. The shows will be hosted by award-winning
Continue reading "Facebook is funding news programs from CNN, Fox News, Univision and others"

Facebook introduces new bidding support for in-app ads

Facebook is expanding its support for header bidding, a technology that allows publishers to auction off ad impressions through real-time bidding between ad networks. The company announced its support for header bidding on the mobile web last year. Today, it’s adding something similar for in-app advertising. That means app publishers who use header bidding can include ads from Facebook’s Audience Network in their auctions. To enable this, Facebook is partnering with Fyber, MAX and Twitter’s MoPub. Here’s how Facebook’s Vijay Balan laid out the benefits of the new approach:
Currently, ad networks are called one-by-one until an app ad is filled, determined by historical average CPMs rather than which buyer is willing to pay the most. This method often overlooks a network willing to pay more for an impression because it is lower in the chain. App bidding enables app publishers and developers to establish an impartial and open
Continue reading "Facebook introduces new bidding support for in-app ads"

Washington sues Facebook and Google over failure to disclose political ad spending

Facebook and Google were paid millions for political advertising purposes in Washington but failed for years to publish related information — such as the advertiser’s address — as required by state law, alleges a lawsuit by the state’s attorney general. Washington law requires that “political campaign and lobbying contributions and expenditures be fully disclosed to the public and that secrecy is to be avoided.” Specifically, “documents and books of account” must be made available for public inspection during the campaign and for three years following; these must detail the candidate, name of advertiser, address, cost and method of payment, and description services rendered. Bob Ferguson, Washington’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging that both Facebook and Google “failed to obtain and maintain” this information. Earlier this year, Eli Sanders of Seattle’s esteemed biweekly paper The Stranger requested to view the “books of account” from both companies, and another
Continue reading "Washington sues Facebook and Google over failure to disclose political ad spending"

Facebook announces Oculus Connect dates Sept. 26-27

The Oculus Connect developer conference is back for its fifth year of chasing the VR dream. Facebook VP or VR Hugo Barra announced that the company’s virtual reality-centric conference would be returning to San Jose on September 26 and 27. In past years, Oculus has used the conference to reveal its latest prototype hardware and to announce new software upgrades. This year, VR took center stage at Facebook’s F8 developer conference with the company using the event to launch the $199 Oculus Go standalone headset while also showcasing its latest prototype “Half Dome”. It will be interesting to see what VR announcements are saved for Oculus at its own developer centric event and whether they use the opportunity to talk more about prototypes like its positionally-tracked “Santa Cruz” standalone which they have discussed the development of for the past two years. Registration details for OC5 aren’t available yet but the
Continue reading "Facebook announces Oculus Connect dates Sept. 26-27"

Europe’s top court takes a broad view of privacy responsibilities around platforms

An interesting ruling by Europe’s top court could have some major implications for data mining tech giants like Facebook and Google, along with anyone who administers pages that allow platforms to collect and process their visitors’ personal data — such as a Facebook fan page or even potentially a site running Google Analytics. Passing judgement on a series of legal questions referred to it, the CJEU has held that the administrator of a fan page on Facebook is jointly responsible with Facebook for the processing of the data of visitors to the page — aligning with the the Advocate General’s opinion to the court, which we covered back in October. In practical terms the ruling means tech giants could face more challenges from European data protection authorities. While anyone piggybacking on or plugging into platform services in Europe shouldn’t imagine they can just pass responsibility to the platforms for ensuring they are
🇪🇺
Continue reading "Europe’s top court takes a broad view of privacy responsibilities around platforms"

The erosion of Web 2.0

It seems quaint to imagine now but the original vision for the web was not an information superhighway. Instead, it was a newspaper that fed us only the news we wanted. This was the central thesis brought forward in the late 1990s and prophesied by thinkers like Bill Gates – who expected a beautiful, customized “road ahead” – and Clifford Stoll who saw only snake oil. At the time, it was the most compelling use of the Internet those thinkers thought possible. This concept – that we were to be coddled by a hive brain designed to show us exactly what we needed to know when we needed to know it – continued apace until it was supplanted by the concept of User Generated Content – UGC – a related movement that tore down gatekeepers and all but destroyed propriety in the online world. That was the arc of Web
Continue reading "The erosion of Web 2.0"

Apple got even tougher on ad trackers at WWDC

Apple unveiled a handful of pro-privacy enhancements for its Safari web browser at its annual developer event yesterday, building on an ad tracker blocker it announced at WWDC a year ago. The feature — which Apple dubbed ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’ (IPT) — places restrictions on cookies based on how frequently a user interacts with the website that dropped them. After 30 days of a site not being visited Safari purges the cookies entirely. Since debuting IPT a major data misuse scandal has engulfed Facebook, and consumer awareness about how social platforms and data brokers track them around the web and erode their privacy by building detailed profiles to target them with ads has likely never been higher. Apple was ahead of the pack on this issue and is now nicely positioned to surf a rising wave of concern about how web infrastructure watches what users are doing by getting
Continue reading "Apple got even tougher on ad trackers at WWDC"

Facebook data misuse firm snubs UK watchdog’s legal order

The company at the center of a major Facebook data misuse scandal has failed to respond to a legal order issued by the U.K.’s data protection watchdog to provide a U.S. voter with all the personal information it holds on him. An enforcement notice was served on Cambridge Analytica affiliate SCL Elections last month and the deadline for a response passed without it providing a response today. The enforcement order followed a complaint by the U.S. academic, professor David Carroll, that the original Subject Access Request (SAR) he made under European law seeking to obtain his personal data had not been satisfactorily fulfilled.

Facebook’s latest privacy blunder has already attracted congressional ire

The news that Facebook offered to partners until just recently a form of the friend-scraping capability it claimed to have discontinued back in 2014 has, within hours, brought rebuke and a call to action from the House of Representatives. “It’s deeply concerning that Facebook continues to withhold critical details about the information it has and shares with others. This is just the latest example of Facebook only coming forward when forced to do so by a media outlet,” reads a statement from Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). Indeed, the question of whether and how a user’s friends’ data was being shared with third parties was brought up during Zuckerberg’s testimony. It is, after all, likely that this is the vector by which millions of users’ data was exfiltrated by agents both malicious and benign.

In the same

Continue reading "Facebook’s latest privacy blunder has already attracted congressional ire"

Facebook says it “disagrees” with the New York Times’ criticisms of its device-integrated APIs

Facebook has responded to a New York Times story that raises privacy concerns about the company’s device-integrated APIs, saying that it “disagree[s] with the issues they’ve raised about these APIs.” Headined “Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends,” the New York Times article criticizes the privacy protections of device-integrated APIs, which were launched by Facebook a decade ago. Before app stores became common, the APIs enabled Facebook to strike data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, that allowed them to offer Facebook features, such as messaging, address books and the like button, to their users. But they may have given access to more data than assumed, says the article. New York Times reporters Gabriel J.X. Dance, Nicholas Confessore and Michael LaForgia write that “the partnerships, whose scope has not been previously reported, raise concerns about
Continue reading "Facebook says it “disagrees” with the New York Times’ criticisms of its device-integrated APIs"

It’s OK to leave Facebook

The slow-motion privacy train wreck that is Facebook has many users, perhaps you, thinking about leaving or at least changing the way you use the social network. Fortunately for everyone but Mark Zuckerberg, it’s not nearly has hard to leave as it once was. The main thing to remember is that social media is for you to use, and not vice versa. Social media has now become such an ordinary part of modern life that, rather than have it define our interactions, we can choose how we engage with it. That’s great! It means that everyone is free to design their own experience, taking from it what they need instead of participating to an extent dictated by social norms or the progress of technology. Here’s why now is a better time than ever to take control of your social media experience. I’m going to focus on Facebook, but much of
Continue reading "It’s OK to leave Facebook"

Dating app Hinge is ditching the Facebook login requirement

Hinge, the dating app that promised a better set of prospects by suggesting matches who share Facebook friends, is about to radically change its course: it’s ditching its requirement that users log in with Facebook. The change will go into effect on Monday, June 5th on Android, followed by a June 12th release on iOS. While the option to use Facebook won’t be fully removed, users will instead be able to choose to authenticate using their phone number, the company says. The decision was prompted by ongoing requests from users who have asked for a non-Facebook login option, Hinge founder and CEO Justin McLeod says. This is especially important to the company as people “move away from Facebook and onto other platforms,” he notes. This may refer to younger users’ preference for different social platforms, as reflected by a Pew Internet survey released this week, which found that teens are
Continue reading "Dating app Hinge is ditching the Facebook login requirement"

Facebook kills its ‘Trending’ section

Facebook really doesn’t want to be a media company. The social network announced this morning it’s removing its often controversial “Trending” section from its site next week, in order to make way for “future news experiences,” it says. These experiences include things like a dedicated section for news videos on its video hub Facebook Watch, a breaking news label publishers can use on their posts, and a dedicated section called “Today In” which connects people to news and information from local publishers in their city along with updates from local officials and organizations. Over 80 news publishers are currently testing the “breaking news” label, which allows them to opt to flag their Instant Articles, mobile and web links, and Facebook Live video as breaking news, the company tells us. Facebook says that the early results from this testing have led to a 4 percent lift in click-through rates, a
Continue reading "Facebook kills its ‘Trending’ section"

Pinterest gives advertisers a way to show promoted videos that take up the screen

Pinterest is continuing its push into video as a potential avenue for advertisers by today saying that it will offer advertisers a promoted video tool that takes up the width of the entire screen. While Pinterest normally offers users a grid that they can flip through — compressing a lot of content into a small space — taking up the full width of the screen with a promoted video would offer advertisers considerable real estate if they’re looking to get the attention of users. Pinterest pitches itself to advertisers as a strong alternative to Facebook or Google, giving marketers a way to reach an audience that behaves a little more differently than when on those other platforms and coming to Pinterest to discover new things.

The company also said it’s hired Tina Pukonen as an entertainment strategist and Mike Chuthakieo as an industry sales lead. Pinterest says more than 42

Continue reading "Pinterest gives advertisers a way to show promoted videos that take up the screen"

Google launches a Q&A app for neighborhood communities in India

Google is increasing its focus on India after it released a new social app that’s aimed at building neighborhood communities within cities in the country. The company’s ‘Next Billion’ team in charge of emerging markets has dedicated significant resources to India. Its initiatives include data-friendly versions of YouTube and other popular services, its Tez mobile payment app, a food delivery service and a national WiFi network initiative. Now it is adding one more to the list with the release of Neighbourly, a Q&A app for sharing local knowledge. The basic goal is to give local communities an outlet to seek answers to practical questions about local life, routine and more. Google believes that an increase in urban migration, short-term leasing and busy lives has changed the dynamic of local communities and made it harder to share information quite so easily. “Life happens close to home, in order the
Continue reading "Google launches a Q&A app for neighborhood communities in India"

Messenger Kids no longer requires the kids’ parents to be friends, too

Facebook’s Messenger Kids application, which allows children under 13 to chat with parents’ approval, is today rolling out a small, but notable change – it no longer requires that the children’s parents be Facebook friends with one another, in order for the children to connect. This solves one of the problems with the app’s earlier design, where it operated more like an extension of a parents’ own social circle, instead of one for their child. Of course, parents still have to approve every contact their child adds, as usual. As any parent understands, there are always going to be those friends of your child where you have an acquaintance-type, friendly but casual relationship with the parents that falls short of earning “Facebook friend” status. While you might text them for the occasional play date or nod politely at drop-off, you’re not necessarily “friends.” But your kids are friends with
Continue reading "Messenger Kids no longer requires the kids’ parents to be friends, too"