Snapchat+ Subscription Tier Launches in Limited Territories

Snap Inc. is beginning the rollout of Snapchat+,  a subscription tier promising “exclusive, experimental and prerelease features” as well as priority support for a monthly fee of $3.99. Targeting “our most passionate users,” Snapchat+ will be available at launch in the U.S., Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with plans for further expansion as the tier evolves. The Snapchat+ launch follows similar moves by Twitter, with Twitter Blue, and Meta Platforms, with Facebook Subscriptions as social platforms seek to supplement advertising with additional revenue streams. Continue reading Snapchat+ Subscription Tier Launches in Limited Territories

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

Big Tech in Spotlight as Russia Censors News of Ukraine War

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has focused attention on its attempts to censor Big Tech, but the nation’s most onerous recent move to control speech came last July, when President Vladimir Putin signed a law requiring foreign tech companies with more than 500,000 monthly visitors from within the Russian Federation to establish a physical presence within the country that would be held responsible for violations of local law. Russian authorities have warned companies including Meta, Apple, Google, TikTok and Twitter that they had until the end of February to comply with what has become known as “the landing law.” Continue reading Big Tech in Spotlight as Russia Censors News of Ukraine War

FTC Says Social Media Has Become Goldmine for Scammers

Consumers were cheated out of $770 million by social media scams last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which said the number accounts for roughly one-fourth of fraud losses for the year. New scams involving e-commerce and cryptocurrency helped boost the haul, which was 18 times greater than the $42 million in social media fraud the FTC tracked for 2017. As a result, incidences of younger victims grew, with adults 18-to-39 reporting fraud losses 2.4 times more than adults 40 and over. Investment and romance scams were also high on the list.  Continue reading FTC Says Social Media Has Become Goldmine for Scammers

Consumers Downloaded a Record 230 Billion Apps Last Year

Consumer mobile app spending hit $170 billion in 2021, according to the State of Mobile in 2022 report released by App Annie. Charting expenditures across iOS, Google Play and third-party Chinese Android app stores, the figure represents 19 percent year-over-year growth, almost flat (down from 18 percent growth in 2020). While last year, consumers installed more apps than ever, the growth rate itself is slowing. Last January, App Annie reported year-over-year download growth of 7 percent from 2020, which has dropped to 5 percent for 2021. However, in all, consumers downloaded a record 230 billion apps in 2021. Continue reading Consumers Downloaded a Record 230 Billion Apps Last Year

TikTok Eclipses Facebook as Most Downloaded App Globally

A 2020 survey of downloads around the world revealed that TikTok tops the list of social media providers for the first time since the survey was initiated in 2018. TikTok parent company ByteDance debuted the international version of the app in 2017, which has since outdistanced Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, all of which fill the other four spots in the top five apps. In 2020, former president Donald Trump called on TikTok to be forced to sell off its U.S. operations, citing security concerns. Continue reading TikTok Eclipses Facebook as Most Downloaded App Globally

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

New Cryptocurrency Planned by Messaging App Telegram

Social network Telegram is moving ahead with its plans to issue its own cryptocurrency, dubbed Gram, within the next two months. The 200 million to 300 million global users of its messaging app will also have access to Gram digital wallets. Telegram appears to have the same ambitions for Gram that Facebook has for its Libra cryptocurrency: as a way to move money worldwide. In early 2018, Telegram tapped $1.7 billion from prominent investors including major Silicon Valley venture capitalists to launch the fund. Continue reading New Cryptocurrency Planned by Messaging App Telegram

Three Tech Giants Experience Outages, Glitches This Week

Computer systems at Facebook, Google and Apple went offline temporarily when all three companies experienced a coincidental array of tech glitches. Facebook experienced a daylong outage that the company blamed on a server configuration error. The outage affected the Facebook app, photo-sharing app Instagram and WhatsApp messaging service. At Alphabet’s Google, services such as Gmail experienced a series of problems that reportedly resulted from engineers tweaking an internal storage service. In addition, some Apple iCloud services were affected for more than four hours yesterday. Continue reading Three Tech Giants Experience Outages, Glitches This Week

Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Facebook, Telegram and Signal plan to utilize their messaging services as platforms to launch new cryptocurrencies over the next year. Their virtual currencies will allow users to send money to contacts around the world via the messaging services. According to inside sources, Facebook has been secretly working on a coin for WhatsApp that users could “instantly” send to friends or family. Facebook’s WhatsApp project is developed to the point that the company is already in discussions with cryptocurrency exchanges. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents yesterday that it claims detail methods used by the CIA “to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions,” reports The New York Times. According to WikiLeaks, the CIA and allied intelligence services bypassed encryption on messaging services including Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. WikiLeaks also suggests that agencies can collect audio and messaging data from Android phones “before encryption is applied.” The Wall Street Journal notes that such activities, if actually taking place with consumer electronics, could fuel tensions between intelligence agencies and the tech industry, which has been concerned about customer privacy. Mobile devices are a major concern; NYT published an article detailing potential smartphone vulnerabilities. Continue reading WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

HTML5 Instant Games Threaten to Disrupt the App Store Model

The Android and iOS app stores have been dominant in gaming, but the advent of HTML5 may change that up. Developers will be able to create instant games, which they hope will grab the attention of more consumers. Games based on HTML5, which run in a browser and don’t require a download, are already being built into social media platforms and messaging systems. Instant game advocates argue that apps can be hard to find, require heavy advertising, and have to be downloaded and installed in order to play. Continue reading HTML5 Instant Games Threaten to Disrupt the App Store Model

Whisper and Secret: New Messaging Apps Offer Users Anonymity

A new trend in social apps has arrived, allowing users to post anonymously, giving them a feeling of freedom without consequences for their actions on the Web. New messaging apps Whisper and Secret, for example, offer a way to share anonymous posts about anything. Popular apps such as Snapchat, Telegram and Frankly revolve around messages that self-destruct after they are read. These anonymous approaches may pose a significant threat to other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Continue reading Whisper and Secret: New Messaging Apps Offer Users Anonymity