Facebook and Instagram Roll Out New Safety Tools for Teens

Meta Platforms is introducing updates to further protect teens on Facebook and Instagram. Starting this week, those under the age of 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into more stringent private settings when they join Facebook. A similar default was put into effect on Instagram last year. Meta is also restricting “potentially suspicious adults.” For example, adults will be restricted from messaging teens they aren’t connected to and from seeing teens in their People You May Know recommendations. A “suspicious adult” is one that has recently been blocked or reported by a young person. Continue reading Facebook and Instagram Roll Out New Safety Tools for Teens

WhatsApp Debuts Communities with End-to-End Encryption

Meta Platforms is globally releasing a major update for WhatsApp called Communities, which doubles the number of group chat members to 1,024, and adds video (and voice) for up to 32. Designed for schools, clubs, churches, the workplace and other organizations, Communities features include support for sub-groups, admin controls and in-chat polls. “We’re aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else,” the company said of the upgrade, stressing end-to-end encryption. In fact, Communities are not publicly discoverable, requiring an invitation. Continue reading WhatsApp Debuts Communities with End-to-End Encryption

Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Meta Platforms is planning staff reductions as part of a 10 percent cost reduction goal, reports say. Stalled growth and increased competition are among the reasons cited by 20 additional tech firms who have since the summer been contracting their workforce. In the case of Meta, it appears to also be a matter of reallocating funds so as not to drastically scale back its metaverse ambitions. Departments there are being reorganized and affected workers are being encouraged to apply for other jobs within the company. Word is Alphabet’s Google is also seeking to fill vacancies by reassigning existing staff. Continue reading Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

Tencent’s nearly two-decade growth trajectory came to a halt Wednesday with a 3 percent revenue drop over the same period in 2021. The contraction marked the Chinese video game and social media giant’s first quarterly revenue decline since going public in 2004. Tencent’s April-June revenue fell by about $20 billion, the result of China’s slowing economy and sagging digital advertising revenue, as well as tighter government video game regulations and diminished consumer user spending. Prior to Q4 2021, Tencent had consistently posted double-digit — and sometimes triple-digit — growth since its IPO. Continue reading Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

Meta Launches WhatsApp Cloud API for Business, Enterprise

WhatsApp is now offering commercial services to businesses that want the global messaging app, which now has more than a billion users. The WhatsApp Cloud API lets companies build their own WhatsApp dashboard to chat with customers. WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook, now Meta Platforms, in 2014 for a reported $22 billion, and this expansion is the company’s first serious attempt to monetize the platform. Speaking at a “Conversations” live event last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new WhatsApp Cloud API was for businesses “big and small.” Continue reading Meta Launches WhatsApp Cloud API for Business, Enterprise

WhatsApp to Introduce Admin-Controlled Community Chats

WhatsApp is adding tools so groups of users can come together en masse for private conversations. Called Communities, the feature will enable separate groups to unite under one conversational umbrella supervised by an administrator. Community members will be able to receive updates sent to the entire Community and easily organize smaller discussion groups on topics of specific interest. Rolling out in the coming weeks, Communities will contain powerful admin capabilities, including announcement messages sent to everyone as well as filtering controls that target subgroups. Communities will have the end-to-end encryption of all private WhatsApp conversations.  Continue reading WhatsApp to Introduce Admin-Controlled Community Chats

Google Rolls Out New Features, Updates for Android Mobile

Google is debuting a host of new features for its Android mobile phone interface. Reactions between iPhone and Android users will now appear as emoji in text messages. Videos will be experienced by all recipients in the same resolution as when sent through Google Photos links in a conversation, a feature the company says will soon be available for photos, too. The Portrait Blur now available to Pixel users and Google One members through Google Photos is expanded to work on pets, plants and food, and will soon be rolled out to Android users. Continue reading Google Rolls Out New Features, Updates for Android Mobile

Snapchat Debuts Mid-Roll Ads with Revenue-Share for Stars

Popular messaging app Snapchat has added a new way for its top creators to earn money on the platform, introducing mid-roll ads in public Stories. The feature is in U.S. beta testing now with an early set of Snap Stars, who will receive a share of the revenue generated from ads within their public Stories. “Stories lower the barrier to content creation and engagement, and we believe placing ads within a Snap Star’s public Story will allow an easier path to financial success,” Snap says of the program, which it plans to roll out commercially later this year. Continue reading Snapchat Debuts Mid-Roll Ads with Revenue-Share for Stars

Discord Premium Helps Creators Monetize Within the Platform

Discord has begun testing a Premium Membership feature that lets creators monetize their communities by offering subscriptions. The program allows content providers to offer tiered-access, create subscription-only channels, or paywall entire communities (which Discord calls “servers”). “With Premium Memberships, creators and community owners will have the ability to gate part or all of their server behind a paid subscription,” the company says. Many Discord communities have been offering that sort of experience by integrating services like Patreon, Twitch and YouTube. With Premium Memberships they’ll be able to do it natively through Discord. Continue reading Discord Premium Helps Creators Monetize Within the Platform

European Union Members Are Concerned Over GDPR Delays

European Union nations are voicing discontent over delays in enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented in May 2018. Earlier this month Ireland announced a $266 million fine against WhatsApp, after haggling to boost the original sanction of up to $59 million by the Irish Data Protection Commission (WhatsApp parent Facebook has European headquarters in Ireland). The situation has prompted calls to revise how the 27 EU member countries participate in overlapping cases, with expanded pan-EU rules also under consideration. Continue reading European Union Members Are Concerned Over GDPR Delays

Instagram Aims to Help Creators Monetize Exclusive Content

Instagram head Adam Mosseri posted a video to his Instagram and Twitter accounts explaining that the former is no longer a photo-sharing app. Instead, he said, after seeing the success of entertainment and video on TikTok and YouTube, he plans to “lean into entertainment” by focusing on “Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” Instagram is also creating its own version of Twitter’s Super Follow, which will allow online creators to publish — and monetize — exclusive content on Instagram Stories available only to their fans. Continue reading Instagram Aims to Help Creators Monetize Exclusive Content

Sixty Percent of Instagram Users Link Accounts to Messenger

More than 60 percent of eligible Instagram users have enabled interoperability between that platform and Facebook Messenger, said Facebook vice president and head of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky, who added the rate is “beating our expectations in terms of how fast and how many people are upgrading.” “People are definitely buying into the convenience,” he noted. The cross-app communication began rolling out in September 2020. Facebook plans to add end-to-end encryption but neither app is expected to be encrypted until next year. Continue reading Sixty Percent of Instagram Users Link Accounts to Messenger

FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

After an 18+ month investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and regulators from 46 states have officially accused Facebook of anticompetitive behavior by purchasing rivals. The separate lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Facebook currently owns three major messaging apps and the suits call for the company’s purchase of Instagram (for $1 billion in 2012) and WhatsApp (for $19 billion in 2014) to be undone. Since the acquisitions, both messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Continue reading FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Sources said that state and federal investigators plan to bring antitrust charges against Facebook, with a focus on whether its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp created an anticompetitive environment. Investigators examined how Instagram and WhatsApp changed after they were acquired and whether customers had fewer privacy protections. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, it vowed to customers and regulators to preserve its strong privacy protections, but later tried to integrate user data into its other services. Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India

In response to the pressure for privacy on social media apps, Facebook-owned WhatsApp debuted a setting to automatically delete messages after seven days. This is intended to make users feel more secure in communicating one-on-one and in group chats. As WhatsApp product manager Zafir Khan noted, “records of most in-person conversations don’t exist forever, so conversations on WhatsApp shouldn’t have to either.” He added that, nowadays, people are “using WhatsApp messaging for very deep and intimate conversations.” Continue reading WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India