WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

One day after Facebook said it would remove misinformation that could provoke violence, the company announced tweaks to WhatsApp, saying it would limit the number of groups to which a message could be forwarded on that platform. This specific move — which was requested by the Indian government — came after fake news widely forwarded via WhatsApp led to mob violence and the death of 20 people wrongly suspected of child kidnapping. WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India. Continue reading WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Tech giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have announced the Data Transfer Project (DTP) to help people move data more easily between online services. DTP was formed last year with plans “to create an open-source, service-to-service data-portability platform” that any online service could join. While numerous services allow individuals to download data, only few allow uploading data to multiple accounts. If successful in creating universal data portability, the project could dramatically impact the tech industry and its current business models. Continue reading Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Instagram is threatening to overshadow its parent company Facebook. The platform now has 1 billion users, more than Facebook had when it bought Instagram for $715 million, and, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, is worth more than $100 billion. Most critically, Instagram appeals to a younger demographic, which Facebook needs to keep growing. Other Facebook users are also gravitating to Instagram’s more lighthearted photo and video app, in the wake of Facebook’s involvement in privacy and political scandals. Continue reading Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Microsoft is calling for regulation of facial recognition technology, with president Bradford Smith writing a blog post detailing its potential misuse, and comparing it to medicine and cars, both of which are highly regulated. He urged Congress to act, saying that, “government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” and that, “a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.” Continue reading Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Samsung’s Next Frame TV Improves Smart Controls, HDR

Samsung announced that its next-gen Frame TV — which doubles as a rotating art display — features an updated artwork UI, expanded art library and additional customization features. The 4K UHD screen has been upgraded from HDR Pro to HDR10+ — and now comes with Bixby so that users can control the TV and compatible home devices by voice. The unit also touts new smart capabilities that make it easier to transfer Wi-Fi and Samsung account info from smartphones to the TV set via Bluetooth Low Energy. The new 55-inch Frame TV is available for $1,999, while the 65-inch version runs for $2,799. Continue reading Samsung’s Next Frame TV Improves Smart Controls, HDR

Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

Instagram Stories, which currently touts 400 million daily users, now offers a new feature that enables users to add clips of popular songs to their photos and videos. The feature is initially available to Android and iOS users in six countries (including the U.S.), with plans to roll out to additional regions soon. Facebook’s recent deals with major and indie music labels will enable Instagram users to select up to 15 seconds of music from the likes of Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Demi Lovato and Maroon 5 to create soundtracks for each post. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

Facebook’s Instagram Launches IGTV for Hour-Long Videos

Instagram is launching IGTV, a standalone app that allows users to post vertically shot videos up to an hour long. The move puts the Facebook-owned platform in direct competition with Google-owned YouTube and its own parent company. Instagram has allowed one-minute videos to be posted since 2012, when Facebook acquired it for $1 billion. Instagram also aped Snapshot with disappearing posts dubbed Stories. The company says it now has one billion monthly users, compared to YouTube’s 1.9 billion and Facebook’s 2.2 billion. Continue reading Facebook’s Instagram Launches IGTV for Hour-Long Videos

Twitter Pushes Live Events via New Screen, Curated Tweets

Twitter has added a new screen to highlight live events and a curated list of tweets about them to appear on the top of users’ timelines. The new format, which includes live video, will place relevant events on the timeline, with photos and text to encourage users to “tap and explore.” To engage users, Twitter may send personalized push notifications for events near them. Twitter is also redesigning its Explore tab, and has created new sections including a personalized For You tab, as well as News and Sports. Continue reading Twitter Pushes Live Events via New Screen, Curated Tweets

Apple Bans Developers From Sharing Data Without Consent

For years, developers for Apple’s App Store have been able to ask users for access to their phone contacts and then share or sell the data of everyone listed in those digital address books, without their consent. That practice has recently been getting a lot of negative attention, and now Apple plans to ban developers from using that information. The updated Guidelines nixes the creation of databases of address book information collected from iPhone users as well as selling or sharing it with third parties. Continue reading Apple Bans Developers From Sharing Data Without Consent

Apple Bashes Facebook, Debuts Rival Social Media Features

Apple, which has criticized Facebook for its data privacy policy, introduced social media features for its new mobile device operating system. The features include group video chat for up to 32 people, tools to share photos with friends and the ability to play augmented reality games with friends. Apple also debuted privacy tools for the Safari browser that limits the data that Facebook and its ilk can gather. Apple made its target clear, with images of Facebook and Instagram in its marketing material. Continue reading Apple Bashes Facebook, Debuts Rival Social Media Features

Facebook to Help Users Feature Copyrighted Music in Videos

Facebook has struck deals with the major record labels and numerous indies so that users can upload videos featuring copyrighted background music without the fear of that content being taken down. Facebook plans to pay artists and labels when tracks are used, although rates have yet to be disclosed and it is unclear whether compensation would be based on video uploads or views. The social platform is not yet introducing a tool for adding a copyrighted song to a video, but Facebook-owned Instagram recently prototyped such a feature (Instagram is also prepping a feature that would allow for long-form video). Continue reading Facebook to Help Users Feature Copyrighted Music in Videos

Facebook, Twitter Reveal New Rules for Running Political Ads

Social media platforms Facebook and Twitter yesterday announced their plans “to increase transparency of political campaign ads, changes aimed at preventing foreign manipulation of the coming midterm elections,” reports The New York Times. Facebook will introduce a ‘paid for’ label that takes users “to a page where they can view the cost of the ad and the demographic breakdown of the audience that viewed the ad.” Twitter will restrict political spots, “requiring those running political ads for federal elections to identity themselves and certify that they are in the United States.” Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Reveal New Rules for Running Political Ads

Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

When the European Parliament grilled Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg about his company’s many missteps, one of their concerns was that it has become a monopoly. The reference was to Facebook owning the world’s two largest chat applications, Messenger and WhatsApp, and their suggestion was that Facebook spin off those and the photo app Instagram. Facebook has countered with the argument that, by controlling so much of the world’s communications, it helps keep consumers safe across all these services. Continue reading Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

Payments Feature Could Make Instagram a Commerce Player

Instagram has quietly introduced a native payments feature that allows users to make purchases without having to leave the photo- and video-sharing app. Once the user registers a debit or credit card and creates a security PIN, native payments are possible through a select number of partners. Facebook-owned Instagram is testing the waters with the ability to book appointments and reservations via businesses such as salons or restaurants, but also envisions the ability for users to purchase movie tickets directly through the app in the future. Continue reading Payments Feature Could Make Instagram a Commerce Player

In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

Snapchat fans have loudly complained about the company’s redesign of its app, with more than 1.25 million people signing a Change.org petition and Kylie Jenner tweeting that the changes were “sad.” Parent company Snap announced that it would redesign the redesign (at least part of it), in response to the complaints and slowed business. The company reported a 54 percent revenue increase to $231 million and a rise in daily users to 191 million, both below analyst expectations, causing stock to fall more than 15 percent. Continue reading In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

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