Tag: Instagram

Source: IOL

The Meta-owned social networking sites were blocked in the country at the beginning of March and now a judge has ruled that they will remain so as a result of “extremist activities.”

In a translated statement obtained by outlet TASS, Judge Olga Solopova said: “The court has granted the lawsuit filed by the first deputy prosecutor general of Russia against the holding company Meta Platforms Inc. seeking a ban on operations on the territory of Russia.

The operations of the U.S. transnational holding company Meta Platforms Inc. to sell products, the social networks Facebook and Instagram, on the territory of Russia, is banned on the grounds of extremist activities. The court decision is to be fulfilled immediately.”

However, the ban on Meta operations does not apply to the messenger WhatsApp, which also comes under the Meta umbrella of social media apps.

Solopova added: “This decision does not apply to the operations of Meta’s messenger WhatsApp due to its absence of functions for public information dissemination.”

The ban comes just a week after Facebook issued a “temporary change” in policy as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine – which was started when Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion on its neighbouring country at the end of February – and will allow users to post “forms of political expression” not normally permitted.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told The Verge: “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”

 

By Jillian Deutsch for Bloomberg

Meta Platforms has threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram from Europe if it is unable to keep transferring user data back to the US.

European regulators are currently re-working regulation on how European data is transferred across the Atlantic, after the previous Privacy Shield agreement with the U.S. was ruled invalid by the European Court of Justice in July 2020.

In its annual report published Thursday, Meta said that if it couldn’t rely on new or existing agreements — such as so-called standard contractual clauses — to shift data, then it would “likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”

While it is unlikely that Meta would withdraw its flagship products from one of its most lucrative markets, its response highlights the increasing tension between the social media company and lawmakers over the ownership of user data.

The European Commission said negotiations with Washington have intensified, but they “take time given also the complexity of the issues discussed and the need to strike a balance between privacy and national security,” a Commission spokesperson wrote in a statement to Bloomberg on Monday.

“Only an arrangement that is fully compliant with the requirements set by the EU court can deliver the stability and legal certainty stakeholders expect on both sides of the Atlantic,” the spokesperson added.

In August 2020, the Irish protection agency ruled that a company’s use of standard contractual clauses to process European data violated the GDPR and should be suspended. A final decision should come in the first half of this year.

Data protection authorities are increasingly scrutinising these kinds of supplementary security measures that have allowed companies to send data back and forth in the absence of a new agreement, according to Patrick Van Eecke, a partner and head of cyber and data at law firm Cooley LLP.

“I am not surprised companies outside of Europe are reconsidering whether or not it makes sense to continue offering services to the European market as there are not many options left any longer,” said Van Eecke.

It is not the first time Facebook has threatened to ban its services. In 2020 it said it plans to block people and publishers in Australia from sharing news, in an attempt to push back against a proposed law forcing the company to pay media firms for their articles.

Facebook lost R40k per second during outage

By Breanna Robinson for Indy 100

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all went down on Monday – and it cost Mark Zuckerberg’s company an eye-watering amount every minute.

Unresponsive feeds on these platforms first occurred shortly after noon eastern time, with people facing error pages.

On Monday, YouTuber and podcaster Chris Williamson took to his Twitter to pose the following question about the platform’s earnings: “Can anyone estimate how much money Facebook will be losing per minute while all sites are down?”

In response to this tweet, Twitter account @whatdope offered this estimated amount:

“Last year’s ad revenue (for Facebook’s sites) was $84.2bn. So, for every minute it’s down, they’re losing around $160,000. Or, $2,670 per second,” they wrote.

Fortune also estimated that, as of the time the company announced it was coming back online, Facebook would have lost around $99.75 million in revenue.

The site based the figure on Facebook’s second quarter earnings, which saw revenue of $29.08 billion over a 91-day period. That works out an average of $319.6 million per day or $13.3-million per hour.

That’s a lot of money.

When the outage happened, Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, posted a comment on Twitter apologising for the inconvenience of the app.

“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” Stone said in the statement.

Instagram and Twitter also took to their Twitter accounts to update people about the issue.

The widespread disruption was blamed on a “faulty configuration change”, with Facebook saying in a statement: “Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication.

“This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”

Facebook also experienced a significant 14-hour outage in 2019 that cost roughly $90 million.

According to a study by Gartner in 2014, the “average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute”.

The research organisation also noted that this is also isn’t an exact science as there are multiple factors to consider, such as the size of the company and the company’s catered niche or market.

In 2016, the Ponemon Institute published a report that raised Gartner’s average from $5,600 and close to $9,000 per minute.

Facebook changes product branding to FACEBOOK

Source: BBC 

Facebook is introducing new branding for its products and services in an attempt to distinguish the company from its familiar app and website.

Instagram and WhatsApp are among the services that will carry the new FACEBOOK brand in the next few weeks.

The main Facebook app and website will retain its familiar blue branding.

The new logo, which is in capital letters, uses “custom typography” and “rounded corners” so the company’s other products and app look different.

The branding also appears in different colours depending on which product it represents. So, for example, it will be green for WhatsApp.

“We wanted the brand to connect thoughtfully with the world and the people in it,” Facebook said. “The dynamic colour system does this by taking on the colour of its environment.”

Facebook’s chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio said: “People should know which companies make the products they use. We started being clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook years ago.

“This brand change is a way to better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use our services to connect, share, build community and grow their audiences.”

US Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she wants to break up the big tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google and put them under tougher regulation.

This plan may be seen as Facebook’s way of hitting back, although Ms Warren – posting on Facebook – said: “Facebook can rebrand all they want, but they can’t hide the fact that they are too big and powerful. It’s time to break up Big Tech.”

Distancing the Facebook brand – the blue app that’s home to just about everyone, including your parents – from the trendier Instagram, a place for you and your friends, has always made good business sense for Facebook.

And it apparently worked: when Pew researchers asked study participants whether or not Facebook owned Instagram or WhatsApp, 49% of American adults were “not sure”.

So why would Facebook make this change?

It brings several benefits. Front of mind: the firm is covering itself from accusations it hides how powerful it really is by not making it absolutely clear they are behind most of the biggest apps in social media.

And Facebook also wants to fend off efforts to break it up, by making the case that the company isn’t simply a conglomerate of separate, distinct apps which could be easily broken up by regulators. Instead, this rebranding argues the firm is one big connected organism, called Facebook.

Facebook has come under criticism recently over a variety of issues.

Its boss Mark Zuckerberg had to face US lawmakers last month to explain the company’s policy on not fact-checking political adverts.

He also had to defend plans for a digital currency, talk about the social network’s failure to stop child exploitation on the network, and was quizzed over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Earlier in the year, Mr Zuckerberg said the firm was going to make changes to its social platforms to enhance privacy.

These included messages sent via Messenger being end-to-end encrypted, and hiding the number of likes an Instagram post receives from everyone but the person who shared it.

Facebook to rename WhatsApp, Instagram

By Alex Heath for The Information

In a big shift, Facebook plans to signal its control of Instagram and WhatsApp by adding its name to both apps, according to three people familiar with the matter. The social network will rebrand the apps to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” the people said.

Employees for the apps were recently notified about the changes, which come as antitrust regulators are examining Facebook’s acquisitions of both apps. The app rebranding is a major departure for Facebook, which until recently had allowed the apps to operate and be branded independently. The distance has helped both apps avoid being tarnished by the privacy scandals that have hurt Facebook. The move to add Facebook’s name to the apps has been met with surprise and confusion internally, reflecting the autonomy that the units have operated under.

But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been frustrated that Facebook doesn’t get more credit for the growth of Instagram and WhatsApp. Associating those apps with Facebook could improve the overall companies’ brand with consumers.

Bertie Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, confirmed the branding change to Instagram and WhatsApp. “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook,” she told The Information, noting that the company uses similar branding for other products like Workplace, its enterprise chat tool.

The ‘from Facebook’ branding will be visible inside the apps—users will see it when they log on, for instance—and elsewhere, such as in app stores.

Zuckerberg has in recent months rallied his lieutenants to unify the messaging systems behind the company’s apps, with the goal of allowing users to communicate across them. The company has also taken steps over the past year to exert more influence over both organizations. The co-founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram abruptly departed Facebook last year, and Zuckerberg has replaced them with veteran Facebook executives who now report to him.

In another sign that Facebook is bringing what employees internally refer to as its “family of apps” closer together, employees responsible for Instagram’s messaging feature called Direct were recently notified that they will report into the team behind Facebook’s standalone Messenger app, according to a person familiar with the matter. Thomson declined to comment.

Significant challenges

While the undertaking to connect the apps presents significant technical challenges, Facebook hopes that letting users message across its apps will open up more opportunities for e-commerce and keep users loyal to its messaging ecosystem.

Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 when the photo-sharing app had tens of millions of users and was growing quickly. Two years later, Facebook paid $22 billion to buy the messaging service WhatsApp, which at the time had 600 million monthly users. The deals cemented Facebook’s dominance in the global social media landscape, and both apps play an increasingly important role in Facebook’s future growth prospects. Both apps now have more than 1 billion users. Instagram has been estimated to be worth more than $100 billion if it were a standalone company.

Internal Facebook research has recently shown that WhatsApp and Messenger compete for user attention, and that Facebook users are increasingly also sharing to Instagram and WhatsApp, The Information previously reported. Of all the Facebook apps, the research showed that Instagram was growing the fastest globally while overall engagement for the Facebook app was flat in 2018 after falling the year prior.

Facebook recently confirmed that it’s under antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, and recent reports by The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg said regulators are specifically examining the social network’s history of acquisitions and whether they were defensive moves to stifle competition. The Department of Justice has also recently said that it’s beginning a broad antitrust probe of large tech companies.

While studies show that Facebook’s brand has been tarnished by its many privacy scandals, and that users are increasingly becoming more aware of the firm’s data collection practices, Instagram and WhatsApp have largely remained unscathed. Two 2018 surveys conducted by the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo found that more than half of Americans didn’t know Facebook owned Instagram or WhatsApp.

By Dalvin Brown for USA Today

Facebook kicked off its annual developer conference on Tuesday where the tech giant announced the big changes coming to its family of apps.

At the multi-day conference, the social networking giant unveiled a redesign for Facebook, updates for Instagram and a new dating feature called Secret Crush. Facebook also said Messenger will eventually take up less of your smartphone’s storage and the company says it’s diving deeper into the world of augmented reality.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Facebook redesign

Facebook is overhauling the mobile app for the fifth time ever.

The company is calling the redesign “FB5,” and it will roll out over the next few months. One of the most visible changes so far is the elimination of the big blue bar at the top of the screen that Facebook has been known for.

The company is also reinventing the way users engage with Groups and Events.

Groups will be easier to find and easier to participate in, Facebook said in a blog post.

The tech giant also said that the social networking app is home to tens of millions of active groups that users find “meaningful.”

“With this in mind, we’re rolling out a fresh new design for Facebook that’s simpler and puts your communities at the center. We’re also introducing new tools that will help make it easier for you to discover and engage with groups of people who share your interests,” Facebook said in a blog post.

There’s also a fresh Events tab that will make it easier for users to see what’s going on around them, discover local businesses and get recommendations.

Instagram updates

The photo-sharing app has a new camera mode, and it’s testing out features to “lead the fight against bullying.”

Create Mode will let you create a post for Stories that isn’t a photo or video, something that is sure to be popular with users who want to add text to a solid color background. The camera in Instagram Stories is also becoming easier to spot as it has been hard to figure out for some users.

Another new feature will enable any influencer or celebrity to tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy them within the Instagram app.

Instagram is also running a beta test to hide the like count from photos and view count from videos in an effort to get users to pay attention to the content itself and not engagement metrics that often cause people to compare themselves to others.

Instagram said that the “private likes” test would begin later this week for users in Canada.

Messenger changes
Facebook Messenger’s mobile app is getting smaller.

The company said it’s creating a new version that will use less of your smartphone’s battery power and take up less than 30MB of storage. The new app will also launch faster, in under 2 seconds to be exact, Facebook said.

Messenger will also be available on the desktop.

“People want to seamlessly message from any device, and sometimes they just want a little more space to share and connect with the people they care about most,” Facebook said in a statement.

WhatsApp for Business

The private messenger isn’t changing much.

The only notable addition is a new Catalogs for a business feature that’s launching in the months ahead. With that feature, people will be able to see what’s available from businesses participating in WhatsApp Business when the feature rolls out later this year.

“This is going to be especially important for all of the small businesses out there that don’t have a web presence, and that are increasingly using private social platforms is their main way of interacting with their customers,” said Zuckerberg onstage.

AR and VR expansion
Zuckerberg also announced that Oculus will start shipping two new virtual-reality headsets, the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, later in May. Each will cost $399.

Pre-orders for both headsets begin immediately.

Facebook also relaunched Oculus for Business with the intention of supporting an ecosystem of business administrators, developers and end users. Oculus for Business is designed to streamline and expand virtual reality in the workplace.

Facebook to merge WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger

By Sarah Frier for Bloomberg/Fin24 

Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate the chat tools on the WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger services, a move that could help the social media giant identify users’ identities across all of its properties, and bolster its case against a breakup by regulators.

Zuckerberg’s plans, reported earlier by the New York Times, would involve stitching together the three apps’ messaging products behind the scenes, though consumers would still interact with each service separately. Facebook says the move would also enhance users’ privacy by introducing encryption to protect the messages from being viewed by anyone except those involved in the conversation.

“People want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private,” Facebook said in a statement. “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks. As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work.”

The move isn’t something that Facebook’s more than 2 billion users have been asking for. Stitching the apps together may increase data-sharing among the properties, helping Facebook identify users across the platform, and improve the ability to target ads to them.

WhatsApp currently allows a person to create an account simply with a phone number, while Instagram allows people to have multiple anonymous accounts without using their real names. Zuckerberg’s vision centres around a service based on real identity.

WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19bn, and Instagram, which was purchased in 2012 for $715m, had been operated relatively independently within Facebook until they grew to become more important parts of Facebook’s business.

Tensions around Zuckerberg’s pushes for integration and control led to the departures of founders of both services in the last year, people familiar with the matter have said. Last year, Zuckerberg started calling his portfolio a “family of apps.”

Another potential argument for bringing the three units more firmly into the parental fold is the threat of a regulatory breakup of Facebook.

Progressive groups have been urging the Federal Trade Commission for months to carve up Facebook and split off Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger into their own companies. That would be harder to accomplish if the services are more tightly entwined.

At the same time, it may increase concerns about transparency for consumers around how Facebook’s data gathering works.

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