Meta Explores New Monetization Features for Its Social Apps

Meta Platforms is assessing “possible paid features” for its social apps, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, according to an internal employee memo. The initiative, under a freshly minted division called New Monetization Experiences, led by Pratiti Raychoudhury, represents Meta’s first coordinated move into paid features across social platforms serving an estimated 3.65 billion monthly users worldwide, per Statista. It comes at a time when Meta is under pressure to increase revenue, which has taken a hit from Apple’s ad-tracking changes and a general softening in digital ad spending. Continue reading Meta Explores New Monetization Features for Its Social Apps

Meta Adding a Customer Service Unit for Content Complaints

Based on feedback from its Oversight Board, Meta Platforms is creating a customer-service division that will help users of its social networks who have experienced issues with accounts being unexpectedly locked or posts being removed. In addition to Facebook and Instagram, Meta operates WhatsApp, Messenger and Horizon Worlds, collectively serving more than 3 billion global users. The early-stage initiative has reportedly been escalated as Meta’s use of artificial intelligence for content moderation has resulted in increased customer frustration over content removal with little notice or explanation. Continue reading Meta Adding a Customer Service Unit for Content Complaints

Profits Down as FTC Sues Meta to Block Purchase of Within

Meta Platforms’ revenue dropped 1 percent in the second quarter, totaling $28.8 billion, just missing Wall Street’s expectation. It was the first year-over-year revenue drop since the company went public 10 years ago. Meta logged $6.69 billion in Q2 profit, down 36 percent over the same period in 2021. Costs increased by 22 percent, largely due to ongoing heavy investment in the metaverse, where the company’s ambitions took a hit Wednesday when the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to prevent Meta from buying Los Angeles-based virtual reality firm Within. Continue reading Profits Down as FTC Sues Meta to Block Purchase of Within

UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an antitrust investigation last week into Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard takeover, analyzing whether the deal could harm competition “for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” The inquiry was announced the same day the CMA said it is looking into Amazon’s use of data from third-party sellers. In January, Microsoft shared plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — a record-setting price for a tech acquisition — with a planned fiscal 2023 close. The CMA has set September 1 as the deadline for its initial decision. Continue reading UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

Apple’s Lockdown Mode Combats State-Sponsored Spyware

Apple is previewing a new security capability for its upcoming iOS 16 release that is designed to help high-value targets fend off state-sponsored cyberattacks. Politicians, journalists, industrial leaders can all benefit from Lockdown Mode, says Apple, which also shared details of a $10 million research grant to help civil society organizations battle mercenary spyware threats. Emphasizing Lockdown Mode is “an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security,” Apple says it will debut this fall, including for the iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. Continue reading Apple’s Lockdown Mode Combats State-Sponsored Spyware

EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

The European Parliament has adopted two digital acts, one focused on leveling the competitive playing field, the other on protecting consumer rights online. The Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act are both expected to take effect this fall, after the European Commission signs off. “We are finally building a single digital market, the most important one in the ‘free world,’” EU commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton said Tuesday. “The same predictable rules will apply, everywhere in the EU, for our 450 million citizens, bringing everyone a safer and fairer digital space.” Continue reading EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

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

Lowered Expectations Drive Meta Stock Rise on Q1 Earnings

Meta Platforms’ stock price jumped 18 percent Wednesday on Q1 results that while not great were better than expected. Revenue was up 7 percent, to $27.9 billion, the most listless growth rate since Facebook’s May 2012 IPO. Reality Labs, the division driving the company’s metaverse ambitions, beat analysts’ expectations with revenue of $695 million, but the unit lost about $3 billion. Reality Labs is a large investment in a next-generation platform “comparable in value to the leading mobile platforms today,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. Continue reading Lowered Expectations Drive Meta Stock Rise on Q1 Earnings

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

Researchers Discover Malware on Apps in Google Play Store

Google has removed dozens of apps from the Google Play Store after finding they were harvesting data from millions of Android phones. The spyware creator, Panama’s  Measurement Systems S. de R.L., has been linked with a Virginia defense contractor that has done work for U.S. national-security agencies in the areas of cyberintelligence, network defense and intelligence intercepts. Researchers found the errant code embedded in apps for Muslim prayers, speed-trap detection, QR-code reading and other popular consumer programs that have been downloaded more than 10 million times. Continue reading Researchers Discover Malware on Apps in Google Play Store

Europe’s Digital Markets Act Designed to Regulate Big Tech

The European Parliament and EU member states reached agreement Thursday on key points of the Digital Markets Act, a sweeping measure poised to reshape the technology landscape in Europe and potentially around the world. The DMA objectives are two-fold: reining in anticompetitive measures that advantage Big Tech over competitors and consumers, and putting teeth to the new rules. Considered the biggest digital regulatory expansion anywhere in decades, the proposal has been criticized for singling out U.S. firms like Amazon, Apple, Meta and Alphabet, all of which fall into the gatekeeper category targeted by the act. Continue reading Europe’s Digital Markets Act Designed to Regulate Big Tech

Google Promises Less Disruptive Privacy Changes for Mobile

Google is working on measures to protect consumer privacy by limiting data sharing from Android OS smartphones. The Alphabet-owned company says its changes will not be as disruptive as steps taken last year by Apple, which revamped its iOS iPhone software so users were required to grant permission for ad tracking. The resulting volume of users who blocked tracking had a profoundly negative effect on companies that rely on targeted advertising. Google didn’t indicate when the changes will roll out, but did say it will support existing operating systems for two more years. Continue reading Google Promises Less Disruptive Privacy Changes for Mobile

Meta’s Future Pondered as Facebook Matures, Growth Slows

Meta Platforms released its Q4 earnings on February 2, at which time several media outlets have become quite exercised over the fact that the company’s flagship social media platform, Facebook, reported that daily and monthly active users were “1.93 billion on average” and “2.91 billion,” respectively, in both Q4 and Q3, i.e., “flat,” as in zero growth. While sequential quarterly analysis can be a useful metric, it is more relevant when analyzing startups. For mature companies, a year-over-year analysis that compares like quarters is the Wall Street norm. Launched in 2004, Facebook turns 18 this year. Continue reading Meta’s Future Pondered as Facebook Matures, Growth Slows

Meta’s VR Evolution Includes New Cross-Platform 3D Avatars

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been busy reinventing his company since the October announcement that the parent entity would name-change to Meta Platforms, where Zuckerberg remains chairman and CEO. Traditional social media engineers and support staff workers at the company, which turns 18 this month, are being urged by managers to reapply for new positions that involve responsibilities in augmented reality and virtual reality, according to reports that say Meta is actively recruiting from tech giants such as Microsoft and Apple to fill thousands of new jobs in hardware and software. Continue reading Meta’s VR Evolution Includes New Cross-Platform 3D Avatars

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