Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

As the midterm elections approach, some tech companies are making changes to minimize harm and build credibility. Facebook plans to let users rank news sources they see as most trustworthy, as a means of prioritizing high-quality news. Twitter, which is still cleaning house from the presidential election, reports it has discovered 1,062 more accounts linked to an official Russian propaganda unit. Google and YouTube chief executives have promised to examine videos and other content more closely to ferret out misleading news. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

Facebook has again tweaked its News Feed, this time in a major way. The social media giant will now prioritize what a member’s friends and family share and comment on, rather than content from publishers and brands. The change, meant to maximize what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful interaction,” will take place over the next few weeks. Likewise, Facebook wants to diminish “passive content,” which is defined as that which requires nothing of the viewer than to sit back and watch or read. Continue reading Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

After testing out AR face masks with selected outside developers, Facebook is now rolling out its Camera Effects Platform to any outside developer to build AR features for its in-app camera. HBO used it to build masks for “Game of Thrones” fans to become the Night King, and Lucasfilm used it so “Star Wars” fans could become Kylo Ren. With the wide introduction, we’re likely to see all kinds of AR face masks and effects. Facebook AR Studio, its AR platform, debuts this week and will be live to all in a couple of days. Continue reading Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

Facebook Lifts Ban on Pre-Roll Ads, in Beta Tests for Watch

Facebook has resisted the practice of pre-roll ads. Now, according to knowledgeable advertisers, in a major shift the company says it plans to test such ads for Watch shows. The ban on pre-roll ads came directly from chief executive Mark Zuckerberg who stressed that users came to the site to look at a feed, not watch one specific piece of content. This year, however, Facebook debuted Watch, where TV studios, publishers and celebrities can try to sell advertising against their shows, an ideal format for pre-roll ads. Continue reading Facebook Lifts Ban on Pre-Roll Ads, in Beta Tests for Watch

Facebook Creator App Offers Tools to Fine-Tune Social Video

In an effort to foster growth of video communities, Facebook recently rolled out its Facebook Creator app, providing social influencers with tools for creating feature-rich content. Available to all on iOS (and soon on Android), the product is an update and rebrand of the Facebook Mentions app, originally only offered to verified public figures. The new app includes enhanced fan engagement tools to help influencers add intros and outros to their streaming video broadcasts, cross-posting to Instagram and Twitter, and a central inbox for Facebook, Instagam and Messenger. Creator also features expansive analytics. Continue reading Facebook Creator App Offers Tools to Fine-Tune Social Video

Facebook Plans to Buy Content Outright, Strikes Sports Deal

Facebook, which launched its video tab Watch three months ago, is mulling over changing how it works with the media companies that bring new shows. Sources say that Facebook will switch to buying projects outright — dubbed “hero” shows — rather than partially funding their production. The goal is to provide more funding for the shows crucial to Watch’s success. Among the so-called hero shows are teen drama “Five Points” produced by Kerry Washington, Simon Fuller’s “Skam” and some short-form and mid-form series. And in a new deal, Facebook also plans to stream more live college sports. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Buy Content Outright, Strikes Sports Deal

Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

The typical VR experience is solitary, but an increasing number of companies are exploring the possibility of virtual realty in the context of a social platform. That trend was made clear by Microsoft’s acquisition of AltspaceVR. High Fidelity is an environment that lets users create their own avatars and social worlds, with a marketplace where they can buy avatars and other 3D elements. And vTime, a stationary platform, lets four people at a time engage in fully rendered environments. Continue reading Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements. Continue reading Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

At Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect developers’ conference, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new standalone VR headset and stated that his goal is to get one billion people into virtual reality and ensure that VR is a “force for good.” With the latter comment, Zuckerberg tacitly recognized the tsunami of criticism that Facebook has received for live-streaming suicides and murders, and a recent virtual reality tour of the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, during which he and an employee reveled in the technology, to the chagrin of viewers. Continue reading Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

Facebook Considers Brand Safety With Upcoming Video Ads

Facebook is going forward with its “video-first” strategy, including new “in-stream” video advertising. But it’s also paying careful attention to brand safety, to prevent the kind of incidents that have bedeviled YouTube and other rivals. To do so, the company debuted monetization eligibility standards to provide clear guidance on the types of content permitted to be paired with advertising on the platform. Also specified are the types of publishers and video content creators who can earn ad revenue. Continue reading Facebook Considers Brand Safety With Upcoming Video Ads

Zuckerberg’s $1 Billion Bet on Making Facebook ‘Video-First’

Facebook reportedly will spend up to $1 billion on original content through 2018, an investment aimed to fulfill chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to make the platform “video first.” In doing so, Facebook faces stiff competition from broadcasters such as HBO, Amazon and Netflix, all of which are focused on creating premium video content to capture advertising. Zuckerberg has been opposed to paying for content, but now has said he will do so, although he believes most creators will earn via a revenue-sharing model. Continue reading Zuckerberg’s $1 Billion Bet on Making Facebook ‘Video-First’

Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook, which bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014, is now testing two free business tools on the messaging service. WhatsApp Business lets small businesses answer customer questions and send updates; larger businesses can avail themselves of another free tool that plugs in to the WhatsApp platform. Facebook is also debuting verified profiles for businesses on WhatsApp, to distinguish them from individuals. Businesses in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, are testing the new tools. Continue reading Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Facebook has made several efforts over the years to encourage China to lift the 2009 block against its social platform and many of its apps. In May, the company approved a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons that doesn’t have the Facebook name attached but is similar in look, function and feel to Facebook’s Moments app. According to an unnamed source, a local Chinese company debuted the app without any hint of a Facebook affiliation. China imposes strict censorship on the Internet, including on news websites and apps. Continue reading Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Facebook Debuts Watch, a Tab for Original Exclusive Videos

Facebook has debuted Watch, a new tab for original and exclusive video content from its partners. Among those offering short episodic series are A&E, Major League Baseball and National Geographic. Facebook’s aim is to increase the amount of time users stay on the site, boosting ad sales whose revenue will be split between content creators, who keep 55 percent, with the rest going to Facebook. Episodes include “My Social Media Life” about Internet celebrity David Lopez and Business Insider’s “Great Cheese Hunt.” Continue reading Facebook Debuts Watch, a Tab for Original Exclusive Videos

Facebook Introduces New Strategies to Combat Fake News

After months of testing, Facebook is launching a “related articles” feature, in another effort to combat fake news without actually taking down those posts. Instead, U.S. users will see links to informative articles on the same topic appended to stories spreading misinformation. The goal is to convince users to hesitate before sharing false news stories, although it does not prevent them from doing so. Facebook is also paying Snopes.com and other fact-checking sites to tag completely false stories as being “disputed.” Continue reading Facebook Introduces New Strategies to Combat Fake News

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