Instagram Threads Reaches the Top of App Store Downloads

Instagram’s Threads app, an X competitor designed for sharing text updates and joining public conversations, is now gaining traction after an inconsistent 2023. New data from app intelligence firm Appfigures reveals that Threads is growing, tripling its number of downloads month-over-month in December, positioning it as one of the Top 10 most downloaded apps for Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. Ahead of Threads in downloads for December were popular apps such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and WhatsApp (Instagram took over the No. 1 spot from TikTok). Meanwhile, X continues to decline. Continue reading Instagram Threads Reaches the Top of App Store Downloads

Meta Combines Research Units to Develop Open-Source AGI

In a Threads post last week, Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company’s new frontier is open-source artificial general intelligence (AGI). Meta has united its FAIR and GenAI research teams behind the goal of developing such a platform, which Zuckerberg described as part of the company’s “long-term vision.” “The next generation of services required is building full general intelligence, building the best AI assistants, AIs for creators, AIs for businesses and more,” Zuckerberg said, explaining that will require “advances in every area of AI from reasoning to planning to coding to memory and other cognitive abilities.” Continue reading Meta Combines Research Units to Develop Open-Source AGI

Meta Platforms Continues Its Pursuit of AI and the Metaverse

Meta Platforms has reportedly been investing billions of dollars each quarter in developing the metaverse, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described as the future of the company. Although sales of VR headsets and AR glasses dropped nearly 40 percent in the U.S. (according to research firm Circana), Meta continues to tout the intersection between AI and the metaverse. “The progress we made in 2023 means generative AI is making its way into the heart of the world’s most popular apps, mixed reality is now at the core of a mass market headset, and Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses will let AI see the world from our perspective for the first time,” explained Andrew Bosworth, CTO and head of Meta’s Reality Labs. Continue reading Meta Platforms Continues Its Pursuit of AI and the Metaverse

WhatsApp Rolls Out ‘Secret Codes’ Privacy for Locked Chats

After introducing the Chat Lock feature in May, WhatsApp has added something called “secret code,” for an additional layer of privacy protection for extremely sensitive conversations. A secret code makes sensitive chats “harder to find if someone has access to your phone or you share a phone with someone else,” the Meta Platforms subsidiary says. With a secret code, users can set a unique password — different from that which normally unlocks the phone — to give locked chats an extra layer of privacy. An additional option allows the Locked Chats folder to be hidden from the general chatlist. Continue reading WhatsApp Rolls Out ‘Secret Codes’ Privacy for Locked Chats

Threads Lets Users Delete Accounts Separate from Instagram

Threads, the Twitter competitor launched in July by Meta Platforms to record-breaking numbers, has added features that make it easier for users to separate their Threads feeds from Instagram and Facebook. Users can now delete their Threads accounts separate from Instagram, something that previously confounded users. Because those signing up for Threads were required to do so either from their existing or a new Instagram account, the two were entwined. Instagram/Threads CEO Adam Mosseri also announced that propagation of Threads posts to Instagram and Facebook can now be turned off, to keep discussions separate. Continue reading Threads Lets Users Delete Accounts Separate from Instagram

Second Meta Whistleblower Testifies to Potential Child Harm

A second Meta Platforms whistleblower has come forward, testifying this week before a Senate subcommittee that the company’s social networks were potentially harming teens, and his warnings to that effect were ignored by top leadership. Arturo Bejar, from 2009 to 2015 a Facebook engineering director and an Instagram consultant from 2019 to 2021, told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law that Meta officials failed to take steps to protect underage users on the platforms. Bejar follows former Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who provided explosive Senate testimony in 2021. Continue reading Second Meta Whistleblower Testifies to Potential Child Harm

Meta Shows Off Quest 3 and Smart Glasses at Connect 2023

Key highlights from this week’s two-day Meta Connect virtual event include details about the Quest 3 mixed reality headset, the latest smart glasses from its Ray-Ban collaboration, and an announcement that AI stickers are rolling out across the Meta Platforms apps. Starting at $500, the Meta Quest 3 will add Microsoft 365 apps integration by the end of the year, for those who want to use the gaming headset for productivity. Available for preorder now, the Quest 3 ships October 10. The Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses start at $299 and ship October 17. Continue reading Meta Shows Off Quest 3 and Smart Glasses at Connect 2023

Tech Titans Convene in Washington for First AI Insight Forum

The first U.S. Senate AI Insight Forum was a lively event, with xAI’s Elon Musk calling for a federal department of artificial intelligence while Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg emphasized a need for transparency and Google’s Sundar Pichai stressed AI’s potential to improve the human condition with regard to things like health and energy. The three-hour meeting was organized by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) who said the crash course would address both how AI “enriches our world and opens the door to new prosperity” and how society can “minimize the very real risks.” Continue reading Tech Titans Convene in Washington for First AI Insight Forum

Google Digital Futures Project Pumps $20M into Responsible AI

Google is establishing a $20 million fund to promote responsible AI through its charitable arm, Google.org. The investment will provide grants to academics and think tanks as part of the company’s new Digital Futures Project, announced on the eve of today’s private meeting between Congress and AI-focused tech giants. “AI has the potential to make our lives easier and address some of society’s most complex challenges — like preventing disease, making cities work better and predicting natural disasters. But it also raises questions about fairness, bias, misinformation, security and the future of work,” Google said. Continue reading Google Digital Futures Project Pumps $20M into Responsible AI

Aptos Teams with Microsoft Azure OpenAI on Web3 Solutions

Blockchain startup Aptos Labs will use the Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service to “explore innovative solutions” in blockchain and Web3 for technologies involving artificial intelligence, tokenization and payments. As part of the deal Aptos describes as a “partnership,” the company is launching Aptos Assistant, which will enable natural language prompts, making Web3 applications like smart contracts and decentralized apps more “user-friendly and secure” for “everyday Internet users and organizations” as well as developers. Aptos offers what is known as Layer 1 blockchain, technology designed to facilitate transactions at scale. Continue reading Aptos Teams with Microsoft Azure OpenAI on Web3 Solutions

Meta Plans Personality-Driven Chatbots to Boost Engagement

Meta Platforms is amping up its AI play, with plans to launch a suite of personality-driven chatbots as soon as next month. The company has been developing the series of artificially intelligent character bots with a goal of using them to boost engagement with its social media brands by making them available to have “humanlike discussions” on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Internally dubbed “personas,” the chatbots simulate characters ranging from historical figures like Abraham Lincoln to a surfer dude that dispenses travel advice. Continue reading Meta Plans Personality-Driven Chatbots to Boost Engagement

Meta Sees Double-Digit Growth for the First Time Since 2021

Meta Platforms had a successful Q2, reporting double-digit growth for the first time since Q4 2021. The performance was attributed to a rebound in the digital advertising sector. The good news comes with a warning, as the company says it plans to increase spending on virtual reality and artificial intelligence next year. The parent of Facebook and Instagram reported revenue of just under $32 billion for the period ending June 30, an 11 percent gain over 2022. Advertising contributed a whopping $31.5 billion, growing nearly 12 percent year-over-year. Continue reading Meta Sees Double-Digit Growth for the First Time Since 2021

Meta’s Threads Adds Updates, Aims to Suppress Bot Attacks

Threads released an iOS update this week that automates the ability to translate posts into foreign languages. The Instagram spinoff also added a follows tab to the activities feed, where replies and mentions are displayed. Also new to iOS is the ability to access a list of any user’s Instagram followers, to subscribe to “unfollowed” users, and tappable repost labels. While Threads has prompted shock and awe by hitting 100 million downloads within five days of its July 5 launch, and is now at about 150 million, there are reports of dips in user activity. Meanwhile, the new platform has followed Twitter in introducing tighter rate limits. Continue reading Meta’s Threads Adds Updates, Aims to Suppress Bot Attacks

Twitter Rolls Out Its Ad-Revenue Sharing for Verified Creators

As Twitter seeks to reinvent its business model, the company is inviting some high-profile creators to share ad revenue. Described as amounting to “millions of dollars,” the company’s first payments have reportedly been issued to popular Twitter posters including right-wing influencer Andrew Tate and the left-leaning twins Ed and Brian Krassenstein. Platform owner Elon Musk tweeted last month that the first block of payments would total $5 million. Twitter has initially launched the program to an invitation-only group “who will be invited to accept payment” and “will soon launch an application process” for broader outreach. Continue reading Twitter Rolls Out Its Ad-Revenue Sharing for Verified Creators

Threads Breaks App Record with 100 Million Users in 5 Days

Meta Platforms’ Instagram spin-off Threads has racked up more than 100 million users in just five days, making the Twitter challenger the fastest growing app in history, beating ChatGPT’s recent record of 100 million users in two months. Threads was launched in 100 countries on July 5, and surpassed 100 million sign-ups on Monday. On Friday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote from his @zuck account on Threads that the app had already crossed the 70 million mark, performing “way beyond our expectations.” Ramping up the rivalry between Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, Twitter has threatened legal action against Meta due to similarities in the two microblogs. Continue reading Threads Breaks App Record with 100 Million Users in 5 Days