Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

According to sources, Facebook’s new division dubbed the New Product Experimentation Team (or NPE Team) is looking into the possibility of creating apps and podcasts for travel, newsletters and workplace services. The NPE Team is tasked with “building the future of Facebook,” as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg hopes to keep the social media platform central to peoples’ daily lives. Other social networks such as Myspace and Friendster failed when they did not evolve beyond their initial offerings. Continue reading Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

Although U.S. lawmakers are suspicious of the popular Chinese app TikTok, in India, people are mad for it, particularly those who are young, unemployed and new to the Internet. To stoke the growing enthusiasm, TikTok owner’s ByteDance has pledged to invest $1 billion and build a data center. TikTok India director of sales/ partnerships Sachin Sharma reported that users range from farmers to rich people showing off their Lamborghinis. TikTok is ideal for a market that avoids English and is uncomfortable with search. Continue reading TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

Facebook unveiled Facebook Pay, a system to enable payments across its own platform as well as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. The user will be able to send money to people, shop and donate to fundraisers. According to the company, Facebook Pay, which is completely separate from the company’s newly released Calibra wallet and Libra cryptocurrency network, is built on “existing financial infrastructure and partnerships.” Facebook Pay for Facebook and Messenger will debut in the U.S. this week. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

Facebook is dealing with yet another privacy situation. Since April of last year, the company has been reviewing how individuals use the network to share data with third parties. In the process, Facebook opted to remove or restrict some of its developer APIs, including the Groups API. These changes were intended to improve the interface between Facebook and any apps used to integrate with groups. However, the ongoing review discovered that about 100 third-party app developers had access to the personal data of members of several groups, and “at least 11 partners accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days,” according to Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, head of platform partnerships for Facebook. Continue reading Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

AT&T Reveals More Info About HBO Max, Debuting in May

AT&T revealed more information about its HBO Max streaming service, scheduled to debut in May 2020. The service, priced at $14.99 per month, will be free for existing HBO and HBO Now subscribers, and premium AT&T customers, and feature shows from TV producer Greg Berlanti and actress/producer Mindy Kaling as well as content from HBO and Warner Bros. movie/TV library, including “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.” It is also acquiring streaming rights for shows such as Comedy Central’s “South Park.” Continue reading AT&T Reveals More Info About HBO Max, Debuting in May

House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings that included testimony about how tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have collected significant quantities of data that give them a dominant market power that endangers consumer privacy. House Republicans, however, noted that strong data protection regulations in Europe, as well as other privacy regulations, could hurt competition among these companies. The hearing is the latest effort in the House’s antitrust investigation into digital giants. Continue reading House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

Brands Rethink Use of Influencers Given Widespread Fraud

Companies that have been paying social media influencers billions of dollars to promote their brands are thinking twice about the practice given there is no practical way to measure its impact. Some influencers have also alienated brands by deliberately inflating their number of followers or angered consumers by promoting products they don’t actually use. Early adopter Ipsy, an online cosmetic brand, for example, has recently pulled back on using online influencers, whose posts have been compared to 30-second TV ads. Continue reading Brands Rethink Use of Influencers Given Widespread Fraud

Quibi Video Platform Inks Deals With ESPN and 60 Minutes

Quibi, the short-form video platform co-founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, signed two new content partners. The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN will provide a daily sports highlights show, which will debut with Quibi’s April launch and be part of that platform’s Daily Essentials. According to Katzenberg, Daily Essentials will curate content and “make it convenient” to viewers. CBS News’ “60 Minutes” will also create “60 in 6,” a version of original news stories condensed into six-minute long episodes specifically for Quibi. Continue reading Quibi Video Platform Inks Deals With ESPN and 60 Minutes

iPhone 11’s Deep Fusion Creates Composited HDR Images

With the beta of iOS 13.2 arriving with the new iPhone 11, Apple is previewing Deep Fusion, the company’s name for machine learning-aided computational photography to enhance details. The trick of snapping multiple exposures that are then composited into an ideal photo might not sit well with professional photographers, but the A13 Bionic-enabled iPhone 11 will do just that, beginning to shoot before the shutter button is pressed and then picking the best bits of the photos to create the best one possible. Continue reading iPhone 11’s Deep Fusion Creates Composited HDR Images

Audiotapes Reveal Zuckerberg’s Take on Big Tech Breakup

In March, Senator Elizabeth Warren debuted her plan to break up big tech companies, from Amazon to Facebook. Her campaign paid for a billboard in San Francisco with the message in capital letters. Now, almost seven months later, leaked audiotapes reveal what Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg thinks about her plans. In the tapes, Zuckerberg tells employees that, “if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge.” Continue reading Audiotapes Reveal Zuckerberg’s Take on Big Tech Breakup

Instagram Aims to Reduce Influencer Impact on Young Users

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing app Instagram announced its plans to restrict certain content, including posts that promote cosmetic surgery procedures and weight-loss products, from users who are younger than 18 years of age. While some posts will be hidden from young users, other posts will be removed altogether from both Instagram and Facebook, including those from A-list celebrities such as the Kardashians. The move is part of an effort by the social networks to address growing concerns regarding the significant impact of influencer marketing on children. Continue reading Instagram Aims to Reduce Influencer Impact on Young Users

Fake Followers on Instagram Are Becoming a Costly Problem

Fake followers are a problem on Instagram. A $1.3 billion problem, to be exact, due to the brands that are paying influencers whose followers simply don’t exist. It’s gotten easier to buy fake followers, from dozens of online sellers and a coin-operated vending machine from artist Dries Depoorter. Cybersecurity firm Cheq tallied the monetary cost above to brands for 2019 alone. Now, potential sponsors and agencies are increasingly up in arms about the scam, and looking for ways to hold influencers responsible. Continue reading Fake Followers on Instagram Are Becoming a Costly Problem

Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

More than 419 million records of Facebook users in the United States, United Kingdom and Vietnam — including Facebook IDs and user phone numbers — were recently found online (although Facebook disputes that number). The exposed server was reportedly not password-protected, which suggests the database was accessible to anyone. The server contained user data across multiple databases that could potentially enable spam calls and SIM-swapping attacks. According to Facebook, the breach involved user data collected prior to the introduction of new security measures. The company has since taken the exposed data set offline.  Continue reading Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

Already Internet Celebs, Virtual Beings Get First Emmy Nod

Fable Studio’s “Wolves in the Walls,” a VR adaptation of a Neil Gaiman children’s book, won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding innovation in interactive media. The player is in the role of an imaginary friend for the CG child Lucy and uses VR goggles and handheld motion controllers to join her on an investigation of strange noises in the house. Lucy is also the first “virtual being” to win an Emmy, according to Fable co-founder Edward Saatchi, who defines that as a digital character with whom you have a two-way relationship. Virtual beings are growing in popularity on social platforms such as Instagram, where some are becoming digital influencers. Continue reading Already Internet Celebs, Virtual Beings Get First Emmy Nod

Facebook Creating Companion Messaging App to Instagram

Facebook is looking to take on Snapchat with a new messaging app the social giant is developing as a companion to Instagram. The Threads app reportedly intends to encourage constant sharing between “close friends” by automatically sharing data such as location, speed and battery life in addition to the usual messages comprised of video, images and text. Instagram previously had a standalone messaging app called Direct, but users were frustrated when they had to move between the two apps to send messages. A new messaging app built around a user’s close friends list could provide a viable alternative.  Continue reading Facebook Creating Companion Messaging App to Instagram

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