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

Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014 but has not yet earned revenue from it. The encrypted messaging service, free to its 2+ billion global users, now has a plan to monetize services. Rather than storing and handling customer data on their own, businesses will soon be able to do so via Facebook’s servers. In addition to hosting, businesses will also be offered options to market products through WhatsApp catalogs and Facebook shops and checkout carts, all for small fees. Continue reading Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

At its annual Zoomtopia event, Zoom announced the debut of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for free accounts in four stages. The first phase, which launches next week, will be a 30-day technical preview to gather feedback. Chief executive Eric Yuan stated the company will improve its integration of “office chatroom products” from Slack Technologies and Microsoft and also introduced its Zapps platform that allows users to bring third-party apps into video calls and a new integrated platform for classes and events. Continue reading Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook’s lawyers, relying on research by the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, prepared a 14-page document that lays out its defenses against government threats to force a break from its messaging service WhatsApp and photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram. Congress and other federal antitrust regulators continue to investigate Facebook, as well as Google, Amazon and Apple, and the House Antitrust Subcommittee is expected to release its findings this month. Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 were vetted by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

In May, according to App Annie, the encrypted messaging app Signal was downloaded one million times worldwide, a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality. Sensor Tower reports that Signal currently has 32.4 million installs. Privacy advocates have always been attracted to Signal’s ability to limit the information it can give to authorities. Signal’s end-to-end encryption is considered more secure than what is offered by Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage. Continue reading Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

Instagram’s New Stickers to Help Support Small Businesses

Instagram noted that, “small businesses are an important part of our community, and many are facing immense challenges during the COVID‑19 crisis.” The social media platform is now making it easier for small businesses to share gift card, food order and fundraiser stickers in their profiles and Stories. Aimed at increasing user engagement, Instagram is also trying out a new “Challenge” sticker for Stories which, when applied, would allow users to tag connections and invite them to partake in visual competitions. Continue reading Instagram’s New Stickers to Help Support Small Businesses

Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

With the advent of the coronavirus, companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google quickly responded, featuring links to “high-quality information” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). Big Tech has now donated thousands of N95 masks to healthcare providers and continues to highlight accurate news. Facebook committed $100 million in small business grants and Amazon put out the call for 100,000 new employees. Overall, Big Tech isn’t just doing good but doing well, with business holding steady. Continue reading Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

Advertising Sales Plummet Even as Social Media Usage Soars

Despite growing usage of social media platforms during the coronavirus pandemic, the platforms’ ad businesses are plummeting. Twitter, for example, saw its daily usage skyrocket 23 percent this year, but its revenue may have dropped as much as 20 percent in March. As businesses have slowed down or shuttered, marketers are decreasing or even stopping advertising, which is the core support of media companies. In difficult economic times, advertising spending on the media sector is often the first to be cut. Continue reading Advertising Sales Plummet Even as Social Media Usage Soars

Walmart Tests Paid Membership Program, Vying with Amazon

Walmart is preparing to publicly test a paid membership program, dubbed Walmart+, to complete with Amazon Prime. According to eMarketer, Walmart accounts for five percent of all U.S. online retail sales versus Amazon’s 40 percent. Currently, more than half of Walmart’s top spenders are also Amazon Prime members. To distinguish itself from Prime, Walmart plans to offer features that Amazon cannot, such as text messaging to place grocery orders. Walmart+ is expected to launch as a rebrand of the company’s Delivery Unlimited service. Continue reading Walmart Tests Paid Membership Program, Vying with Amazon

WhatsApp Chief Pledges to Safeguard Messaging Encryption

WhatsApp head Will Cathcart revealed that the app now has more than two billion active users; numbers were last released two years ago. Cathcart also emphasized that he will continue to defend the messaging app’s encryption, noting that, “for all of human history, people have been able to communicate privately with each other … and we don’t think that should go away in a modern society.” Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp for $21.8 billion, finds encryption a barrier to recuperating its investment. Continue reading WhatsApp Chief Pledges to Safeguard Messaging Encryption