Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Facebook-owned Instagram created an “equity and inclusion team” to look at how Black, Hispanic and other U.S. minority users are impacted by the company’s algorithms and machine-learning systems. An Instagram spokesperson revealed that Facebook is planning a similar team. Only last year, Facebook wouldn’t allow employees to study the issue of bias introduced by algorithms, so the move is a reversal. Meanwhile, the advertiser boycott against Facebook, in part for how it deals with racial issues, is still in effect. Continue reading Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s Instagram recently debuted Co-Watching, a feature that makes it possible for users to video chat while they browse the app. With Co-Watching, users can engage in direct-message video-chat conversations to look at saved, liked and suggested photos and videos together. Co-Watching is just one example of ways that Facebook and Instagram are shifting to accommodate users and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, when many are confined to home. Instagram first began testing Co-Watching a year ago. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

With an emphasis on privacy, Facebook made a series of compelling announcements at its annual F8 developer conference this week. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed six core principles that will be embedded across the company’s services: private interactions, improved data encryption, interoperability, general safety, reducing permanence and secure data storage. The principles arrive following a difficult period for the social giant, as it continues to face criticism regarding privacy-related scandals while contending with increased scrutiny from global regulators. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

Instagram Announces Adam Mosseri to Serve as New Boss

One week following the sudden departure of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, it was announced that the new “Head of Instagram” will be Adam Mosseri, the company’s current VP of product — and a former senior exec at Facebook where he was responsible for managing the platform’s News Feed. Systrom and Krieger resigned unexpectedly six years after selling Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion. The co-founders were reportedly frustrated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s increased control over the popular photo- and video-sharing service. Continue reading Instagram Announces Adam Mosseri to Serve as New Boss

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

Facebook to Debut Three-Pronged Plan to Combat Fake News

Facebook issued a request for proposals from academics to study fake news on the social platform’s News Feed, with the aim of getting more information regarding the volume of false news and its impact. Those academics whose proposals are accepted will be funded and have access to data on the site. Facebook also plans to introduce a public education campaign about what fake news is and how users can stop spreading it; the campaign will be placed on the top of Facebook’s homepage. The company will also debut a 12-minute video about fake news. Continue reading Facebook to Debut Three-Pronged Plan to Combat Fake News

Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Facebook will end Explore, an experiment launched last fall in six countries that separated posts from news sites and publishers from other content. Publishers in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka said they were blindsided by the experiment, and that it led to a surprising amount of misinformation or fake news. The test put a “digital divide” between family/friends and brands and news sources. Facebook admits they should have communicated the experiment better to publishers. Continue reading Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Facebook’s Rocket Icon Revealed as News Feed Experiment

Facebook just disclosed the meaning of the rocket ship icon next to the News Feed tab. According to the company’s News Feed head Adam Mosseri, the rocket ship is an experiment that connects a small number of users with people and pages they do not like or follow. At Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit, Mosseri said that the point is to expose people to stories they are interested in from sources they are not following. Facebook curates the information based on an algorithm that figures out a user’s interests. Continue reading Facebook’s Rocket Icon Revealed as News Feed Experiment

Facebook Takes Multiple Steps in Effort to Combat Fake News

After accepting some responsibility for the fake news plaguing Facebook, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has begun to institute steps to get rid of the worst offenders. Facebook has identified sites that consistently peddle fake news and will demote their posts from news feeds. Fact-checking will be outsourced to groups affiliated with the Poynter Institute, including ABC News, Associated Press, Snopes, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org. Facebook users will also find it easier to flag stories they believe to be fake. Continue reading Facebook Takes Multiple Steps in Effort to Combat Fake News

Facebook Now Favors Friends Over Publishers in News Feed

Facebook is again changing its News Feed algorithm, this time to favor postings by the users’ family and friends over those from publishers. The result will be that postings, including links, videos and photos, from publishers of all sizes will appear less prominently in users’ News Feeds. That means that The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Vice and others will get less traffic than they have become accustomed to receiving. More than 1.65 billion users per month view Facebook’s News Feed feature. Continue reading Facebook Now Favors Friends Over Publishers in News Feed

Facebook Testing New Emoji in Ireland, Spain for Wide Release

Facebook just announced something fans have been wanting for a long time: in addition to the ubiquitous “like” button, fans will have other icons to express emotions. The new emoji, designed after months of research to find expressions that would work globally, include surprise, anger, love, laughter, sadness and a supportive cheer. Although many users have lobbied for a “dislike” button, Facebook declined to add one. The tests in Spain and Ireland are just the first of a round before the emoji are widely released. Continue reading Facebook Testing New Emoji in Ireland, Spain for Wide Release

Users Now Have More Control Over Their Facebook News Feeds

Facebook has announced a new set of features that provide users with more control over what they see in their news feeds. The new controls will include a “see first” list, comprised of the family, friends and followed pages that are important to a user and will show up at the top of his/her feed. Users can now access a single list to re-follow multiple people they’ve previously un-followed (ideal for temporarily muting spoilers of your favorite TV shows). Facebook has also added a feature to suggest pages for avid users who run out of fresh content in their feeds. Continue reading Users Now Have More Control Over Their Facebook News Feeds