Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook: A Popular Social Networking Website

Individuals, of all different ages, enjoy meeting and communicating with other internet users.  Even though individuals of all ages use the internet to socialize, there are certain groups of individuals that do more than others. Those groups of individuals include students, both high school students and college students. For that reason, it is only fitting that there should be a social networking website that has a focus on these individuals. That networking website is known as Facebook.

Facebook may not be as well-known as other popular social networking websites, such as Yahoo! 360 or Myspace, but it is still popular.  That popularity is mostly among high school students and college students, mostly because Facebook focuses on these individuals.  With Facebook, you are required to register for a specific network. That network can either include the high school or college which you attended or are currently attending.  Once you have joined the website, you should easily be able to contact others who are in the same network. 

The network in which you join can be considered an advantage of Facebook, as well as a disadvantage.  See, Facebook does not work like most other social networking websites.  Instead of being able to communicate with all site members, you are limited to contact with those that are in your network, the high school or college you that selected.  The creators of Facebook state that this is for your own safety.  Although it is safer for your profile and personal information to be viewed by a small number of individuals, you may not necessity want it to be that way. 

Although a large amount of focus is placed on high school students and college students, Facebook has added another popular feature to their website. That feature is workplace networks. By joining a specific workplace network, you will be granted access to other community members who work for the same company as you. This feature is nice, especially since many companies have become large corporations or expanded across the country.  You may be able to make contact and become friends with a long-distance coworker that you never knew you had.

Another aspect of Facebook that you may find inconvenient is their lack of available information, before you decide to become a community member.  When viewing their online website, which can be found at http://www.facebook.com, it is hard to tell whether the site is free to use.  Most online social networking sites will make this known right up front, but Facebook does not.  Aside from the price, you should easily be able to obtain additional information on Facebook, before making the decision to become a member. This additional information may include how Facebook works, why you should become a member, how the invite process works, and general rules and restrictions that are in place.

If you are interested in joining the Facebook community, you should do what you should do with all other social networking websites, research.  By taking the time to research and examine everything that Facebook has to offer, you should be able to decide whether this popular networking community is what you were looking for.  There is a good chance that it will be, but if not, do not worry. There are literally an unlimited number of other social networking websites that you can join.

Secrets to Facebook Success

Facebook is one of the leading social media sites globally with over 1.28 billion users who log into it daily.  Mark Zuckerberg one of the Facebook co-founders is deemed to be among the most successful people. He realized some of the top secrets in establishing a growing social media site. Here are some of the secrets of Facebook success;

1. Moving Fast

Zuckerberg did not have a business plan on Facebook.  He simply built the application software during his free time at Harvard. He did not seek advice from business people and his friends; he simply implemented his project. Unlike most of the entrepreneurs who conduct market research for their products, Zuckerberg built the Facebook application and launched it on the market.

2. Ideas are about execution

 Since the inception of Facebook, there has been a legal fight on whom the real owner of Facebook is.  Two Harvard seniors claimed that Zuckerberg had stolen their application. Ideas need to be executed. 

3. Simplicity

The infrastructure used to build Facebook is simple. Instead of sophisticated products that take a lot of time to grow, build a simple product, and it will function in the shortest time possible.

4. Creativity

With the growth in access to the internet worldwide, there was no product similar to Facebook in existence.  Zuckerberg created a new product.

5. Identity

Twitter at some point competed with Facebook in popularity. However, Facebook prevailed since there are few pseudo accounts as people use their real names, unlike handles. 

6. Identifying pitfalls

One thing that could bring Facebook down is its infrastructure.  Several social media sites had sprung but failed in holding the user’s population. Zuckerberg started by adding small groups of people until he was certain Facebook could manage multiple registrations.

7. Focus on the product

 Despite the income generated through advertisements on Facebook, Zuckerberg has focused on the Facebook sole purpose, socialization.

8. People

 The strength of Facebook lay in the great team of workers. A good company depends on the kind of people that are hired and also fired.

9. Maintain control

Any successful company has to maintain the control of customers, employees, and shareholders. There should be a balance of the interests of these three groups of people.

10. Cultivate a team of advisors

From the beginning, Zuckerberg was the CEO of Facebook despite having poor leadership qualities.  Later on, he built a team of advisors who helped him develop CEO qualities.

11. Ignore Critics

Not all critics are healthy for business development. Learn to put up with the people’s critics.  Zuckerberg was criticized for being a bad leader.   It never derailed his quest for growth and advancing in his passion.

12. Ignore most of the would be partners and deal markers

Some people are out to make an impact through a change of your agenda.  Ignore the input that can take you off your vision. However, look out for potential business partners.

13. Aim on the Long-term

 The main goal of any business idea is crucial. Despite the up and downs during the business developmental stages, focus on the ultimate goal for many decades.

The thirteen secrets helped Zuckerberg build a strong team of workers. With Zuckerberg as the CEO, Facebook value continues to grow as it serves its core purpose of connecting people.

Most people use social media platforms for connecting with their friends. Did you know that Facebook generates a lot of money? During the first quarter of 2017, Facebook generated a whopping $7.01 Billion. Still, marketers use other social media platforms in making money. 

Here, we are going to show you ways in which you can make money with your Facebook account, from creating advertisements, custom making fan pages and the creation of applications.

1. Facebook Shop

It has two versions free and paid applications. Create an e-store where you can sell your products.  Basically, you will own a store on Facebook.

2. Magic Moments

Café Express created Magic moments to enable users to take a picture or a video of their products and effectively sell them online. The platform is mainly for artistic work such as customized mugs.

3. Garage Sale

The garage sale is an application connected to buy. Com. It enables someone to sell used items and make extra money virtually.

4. Zazzle

Zazzle application has got a neat feature “my merch store.” You can use it to sell items through connecting it to your Facebook page. 

5. eBay

You can promote your eBay listing on Facebook and make sales. 

6. Easy social shop

The easy social shop is a free application.  It enables one to import all your products from the application store to your Facebook page. Once the product is on the Facebook page, you can market it to millions of Facebook users.

7. Facebook Marketplace

People think of eBay as the only online shopping place. However, you can still sell your products on the Facebook marketplace. The products may vary from baby items, toys, and even furniture.

8. Affiliate Marketing

Links are an important way of informing family and friends on the items you are selling. However, do not send multiple links that make people suspect it for scamming.

Affiliate marketing requires that you sign up on a marketing site such as Purchase junction. Search the marketplace for a product to promote. Acquire your distinct link for marketing and then share it with your contacts on Facebook.

9. Publish a Facebook Kindle E-book

 Not all people are techno-savvy. People still rely on e-books to guide them. Consider publishing a book on how to use Facebook or any other interesting title.

10. Facebook Blogging

Create a Facebook blog and update it on a daily or a weekly basis. On the blog, you could run advertisements or offer services such as custom making fan pages. In this way, you will earn revenue.

11. Develop your own Facebook Application

 If you can code, an application is a great way of earning revenue. The app features will help users, and you can sell it.

12. Do sponsored Likes and shares

People like and share posts to earn income.

13. Marketing expert specialist

If you are an expert in marketing, you can sell your skills to earn income.

14. Sell Likes and Shares

Sites like Fiverr allow anyone to place a gig and sell their likes or shares on a specific Facebook page.

15. Custom made fan pages

Create Unique Fan pages and sell them to customers.

The fifteen strategies enable one to choose the best way to earn money online. Also, there is a variety of options if one method fails.

Video Marketing on Facebook

Over the years, Facebook has evolved into paving the way to video ads. Thanks to its creative and market-oriented developers. You can use the following tips to jump-start your marketing with video ads, taking advantage of the new and revolutionary Facebook feature.

When making a Facebook video make sure to be driven by your target audience. Know the products and services they like and are likely to buy. Here you have the advantage of a huge client base that will instantly want to be a part of the buying team once they see you have them in mind and give them what they want.

Be sure to come up with something they will look forward to. One thing you must know about Facebook is that it is not a place for serious ads. Hey, don’t make serious videos, entertain your customers too. This is a simple remedy that will keep them hooked and look forward to your videos, products, and services. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Be careful not to make your customers dull.

Are your videos pinned? You need to get your videos pinned. A powerful tool that gives you the freedom to ‘stick’ your videos at the top of your page; it is simply glued there. Why? To make the videos easily visible and noted, it is guaranteed to be the first post to be seen. A pinned video cannot be pushed anywhere even when you are publishing new content. Do you know why the novel Dear John by Nicholas Sparks was adapted into a movie? Of course you do, people are enticed with watching rather than reading.

Movie’s only take 1 hour and 30 minutes to watch whereas the novel may take you weeks and weeks of reading. Because people prefer videos, why don’t you make more and more to emphasize the importance of your products and services and how they can get them? Adding more high-quality videos is multiplying your fan base. Is your video making sense? Don’t bother begging to be followed or shared. You may annoy potential fans and followers.

Instead, create a meaningful message, one that can easily be understood by your target audience. For instance, create a very short video with the intended message then link the audience to your blog for more information about deals, coupons, and discounts. Also, make sure your video is interactive. Facebook Power Editor is a powerful tool when correctly used as it may yield a good number of new consumers. It is used to create and post videos.

To make it notable, the ads are placed in the news-feed, helping in notifying your user about the video. In other words, be consistent with your message and keep posting new videos regularly. However, make sure the videos are high-quality, interesting, entertaining, and straight to the message. Thanks to Facebook, marketing your products is easier. Go ahead and make your customers want your products through watching your captivating and informed video content. Facebook is among the fastest growing social media platforms. 

The growth is in terms of an increase in the number of subscribers having Facebook profiles. As such, Facebook is a great site for marketing your business. Despite the strategic Facebook marketing platform, some businesses struggle to effectively carry out marketing on Facebook. Here are some tips on successful marketing of your Facebook page. Currently, there are a huge number of business pages on Facebook. Ensure that your Facebook page stands out among others.

Ensure the cover and profile photo reflects the kind of business activities you are engaged in. The description section should give details of the products and provide business contacts. Choose a descriptive and memorable username. Select a vanity universal resource locator that users will easily remember. The Facebook page address will be based on your username.

Choose a username that reflects the kind of business activity that you are engaged in. However, your business page should have at least twenty-five likes to claim a vanity URL. The about section provides an opportunity of using text-based keywords. Ensure that the keywords can help customers in the identification of the page. 

It helps when someone searches for queries; Facebook directs them to your page.  Also, include your URL in the description section. Facebook allows for one pinned post per group.  Make the most use of the post; ensures it is attractive and communicates about your products to potential customers. Ensure you have selected the appropriate business category. Select the best category for your business such as local business and indicate the region covered.

It helps customers in their searches to easily identify your age. Different customers may log into their accounts at various times. Schedule your postings on a weekly basis. Each post should carry key details on any updates on business products. You can schedule the time that your post appears on the Facebook page to create consistency. Enrich the content of your Facebook page posts.

Facebook allows for more than just a text post. Use images and videos to make the Facebook content interesting.  Use Hyperlinks to connect users to descriptive information on the products and services on the page. Encouraging social sharing on your page. To optimize on the number of people of people who get to view your Facebook posts enable the sharing and liking features. 

In this manner, users can get to share your post with their Facebook friends. It increases the customer base. Facebook advertisements are a great way in which you can promote your business.   Alongside your advertisement, there should be a link leading people to your page. However, Facebook advertisements are paid for. Use the advertisements strategically to profit your business.

The tips mentioned are a great way of boosting your Facebook page. Use each tip creatively to attract more fans which means more sales for your products. Facebook Video live is the new feature on the social media site. It brings forth numerous opportunities for business users to connect live, and increase the sale of goods and services.

Here are some ways in which someone can use the Facebook live Video for business; Discussing a topic on the blog post that you have previously posted is a great boost for your business.  Even though you can answer your users’ comments on Facebook live, it is better if you can schedule the live session so as to address each question as it comes forth.

The users’ can either replay the session or watch it live. The Facebook live video is an excellent way of looking into your business through offering behind the scenes pictures.  You can share the process of getting into your line of work with the users. Facebook live is a keyway of promoting an upcoming event in your business.  After the preparations for the event are over, schedule a time to make a special live video on the same.  During the announcement of the event ensure you have a universal resource locator that your fans can easily remember. 

Post the link in the video comments section for users. During the actual event, stream live on Facebook for users who might have missed attending the event. Before you bring in the actual products on the shop, give the viewers a sneak peek into the new arrivals. Consider putting a link to the Live Video to take preorders; maximize on the customers’ excitement on the new product. Use the Facebook live video to answer customers’ questions about your business products.

Customer service is an integral part of entrepreneurial activities. Ensure you answer all questions that come your way, even if it is repeated questions; this may be time-consuming. Live videos provide an opportunity for looking into some of the most asked questions in one instance. The customer service team may help in identification of some common questions.

A customer can replay the sessions later. You can create a Facebook note so that all team members can access the video. Engage with Facebook live group members. Apart from running a Facebook page, you might have a Facebook group where you interact with users. You can have weekly updates of your products and services.  If you run more than one Facebook group, this is a great way of connecting members to a variety of services offered.   Live group broadcasts provide an opportunity for deepening your relationships with people.

Custom settings on the Facebook group, so that you can be the only one making such a live video on the group. Invest in additional voice boosting equipment to ensure audibility. Facebook Video Live is a great way of ensuring customers get a vivid description of the business and its products. It gives a chance of real-time interactivity that boosts connection between the seller and the potential buyers.

Facebook made an app just for video creators

In its latest attempt to woo video creators away from YouTube, Facebook has released an app just for them. It’s called Facebook Creator, and it includes a bunch of tools for streaming video, updating Stories, and message people across several of Facebook’s platforms.

Facebook has long had an app for people who manage Facebook Pages, and it’s also had an app for celebrities that did this kind of community building, too. In fact, Facebook Creator is really just an updated and rebranded version of that app — originally called Facebook Mentions (and still called that, since it seems to be stuck that way on the App Store for now) — but now it’s open to everyone.

There are two main draws to the Creator app. First, it includes some special features for Facebook Live. Anyone using it will be able to create custom intros and outros — intros are especially handy, as it takes a moment before other people see the link and start watching — as well as the ability to add interactive stickers and a custom video frame. The app is also able to take and edit photos and post them to Facebook Stories and other platforms (it’s not clear if that includes Instagram, but it really should).

The second big draw is communication. The app creates a unified inbox for comments on Facebook and Instagram and messages from Messenger, so that you don’t have to bounce between different apps in order to respond to people. The app doesn’t seem to cover every possible messaging vector inside of Facebook’s services, but it sounds like a handy start.

Finally, there are analytics too, so that creators can obsessively refresh the page wondering whether they’ve successfully gamed Facebook’s latest algorithm change. The app is available on iOS immediately and is supposed to come to Android in “the coming months.”

The app sounds handy for people who are already doing these things. But the bigger story might just be that Facebook is trying to show it cares about the community of independent vloggers. The same people who this app is designed to appeal to are currently struggling with odd changes and errors over at YouTube. Facebook has wanted to poach them for years now. One app isn’t going to suddenly change things, but a continued commitment could help win people over.



Sean Parker on Facebook: ‘God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains’

Sean Parker, of Napster fame and an early investor in Facebook, says the founders of the social networking site knew they were creating something people would become addicted to, reports Axios. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said at an Axiosevent in Philadelphia, noting that he has become a “conscientious objector” on social media, even though he still maintains a presence on Twitter and Facebook. (He is currently the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.)

Parker says the social networking site exploits human psychological vulnerabilities through a validation feedback loop that gets people to constantly post to get even more likes and comments. “It’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” he said. “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.” In other words, using Facebook is like junk food: you get instant gratification when you post for likes and comments. It’s quick and easy but has little substance.

Parker says that the thought process when building Facebook was to figure out “how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” The comments are a little ironic given the billions Parker has made from being an early investor in Facebook. It’s not the first time a tech entrepreneur has disavowed something they’ve created or been involved with — Programmer Ethan Zuckerman famously penned an apology letter for unleashing pop-up ads into the world several years ago.

Public sentiment is also turning against Facebook, hit by issues surrounding fake news and Russian election posts that reached 126 million people. A recent deep dive by The Verge into technology companies found Facebook to be one of the most divisive. More people say they distrust it more than Amazon, Google, Apple, or Microsoft, though a majority of people said they would still care very much if Facebook went away. “The unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker said.



Facebook tests split News Feed that keeps friends front and center

Facebook is currently testing a new dual-feed setup that separates Page-generated posts from ads and posts from friends, The Guardian reports. The trial is currently underway in six countries — Bolivia, Guatemala, Cambodia, Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka.

Under this arrangement, the main News Feed is still populated by things shared by friends and family as well as advertisements. But posts shared by Pages — like those of publishers, for example — are moved to a secondary feed. The tests began last week and Slovakian journalist Filip Struhárik told The Guardian, “Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach. The reach of several Facebook Pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.” And that number was confirmed by analytics service CrowdTangle, stats from which showed that popular Slovakian Facebook Pages saw two-thirds to three-quarters reductions in their Facebook reach.

This could be bad news for outlets that heavily rely on Facebook traffic and it stands to impact their revenue. Matti Littunen, a senior research analyst with analytics company Enders Analysis told The Guardian, “The biggest hits will be to the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider, who create commoditized content aiming for the biggest reach.”

Facebook has been playing around with how it presents content to its users. It recently gave News Feed an overhaul, making it easier to navigate, and brought its Explore Feed to desktop. The company also redesigned its Trending section in order to incorporate different viewpoints on a popular topic, began testing a feature that gives more detailed information about an article’s publisher and has introduced a slew of changes aimed at combatting the spread of fake news.

A Facebook spokesperson told Engadget that as of now though, there are no plans to expand this test further. “With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages,” said the spokesperson. “To understand if people like these two different spaces, we will test a few things, such as how people engage with videos and other types of posts. These tests will start in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. We have no current plans to roll this out globally.”



Facebook is now testing paywalls and subscriptions for Instant Articles

A few months ago we reported that Facebook may begin testing paywalls and subscriptions for Instant Articles beginning in October. Well now it’s October, and surprise – Facebook has started testing subscription support for instant articles!

Here’s how it will work: Facebook will start with two paywalled options for publishers to choose from:

The first option is a metered model where everyone gets to read 10 free stories per month before needing to subscribe. The second is a freemium model where the publishers choose which articles to lock.

When someone who isn’t a subscriber hits one of these paywalls, they will be promoted to subscribe for full access to the publishers’ content.

One really interesting aspect – if you want to purchase a subscription Facebook will direct you to the publisher’s website to complete the transaction, meaning they process the payment directly and can keep 100% of the revenue and transaction data. The subscriptions will then also include access to the publisher’s full site, and existing subscribers can also authenticate within Instant Articles so they can get full access without paying twice.

Redirecting users away from Facebook to complete a transaction is a huge win for publishers. But not everyone is happy with the arrangement. Notably, Recode reportsthat Apple is balking at the subscription signup flow, saying it violates the company’s rules about subscriptions sold inside apps. Right now Apple gets up to 30% of all subscriptions sold inside 3rd-party iOS apps, so Facebook’s current signup method would strip them of this revenue.

For this reason the feature isn’t launching yet on Apple – only Android, which doesn’t have any restrictions on how subscriptions can be sold. There’s no timeline for when a deal could be made with Apple, with Facebook only saying that “this initial test will roll out on Android devices first , and we hope to expand it soon.”

Facebook says many of their partner publishers identified subscriptions as a top priority, and especially requested the ability to maintain control over pricing, offers, and all the revenue generated from each subscription.


Facebook is now testing paywalls and subscriptions for Instant Articles

Facebook is testing a CV feature to take on LinkedIn

It looks like Facebook is considering barging in on LinkedIn’s turf.

Facebook is currently trialling a CV feature, according to screenshots posted on social media — a move that would put it in direct competition with professional social network LinkedIn.

Matt Navarra, director of social media for The Next Web, has shared screenshots of the resume feature sent to him by web developer Jane Manchun Wong, who saw it appear on her Facebook profile.

The feature lets users list their professional experience and education, as well as their contact details, an image, and other information — just like Microsoft-owned LinkedIn does.

Of course, it’s already possible for people to list their job history and education on Facebook. But do you really want prospective employers to see your private Facebook profile? Instead, the new feature appears to combine all the relevant information into a single, professional-looking package — away from personal photos, status updates, and other Facebook posts people might not wish to share with recruiters and the wider world.

It’s not clear how many people currently have access to the resume feature, or what Facebook’s ultimate intentions are here. The social network often tests features on a small number of users before rolling them out more widely (or not), and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for more information.

But just the fact that Facebook is experimenting with this is further evidence of how the Californian firm is increasingly trying to transcend its roots as a simple social network and move into the professional sector. In 2016, it launches Facebook At Work — now called Workplace — a modified version of Facebook designed for teams in the office to use.



Facebook now lets you order food without leaving Facebook

Today Facebook is announcing that users can now order food for takeout or delivery using both the Facebook mobile app and website. But it’s not at all what you might think; Facebook hasn’t created its own answer to Seamless, which would be massive news for the restaurant industry. This isn’t that.

Instead, the company is partnering with existing services GrubHub, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, Zuppler, EatStreet, Slice, and Olo, and will now link out to those food ordering businesses for restaurants that support them. You head to the new “Order Food” area of Facebook under the Explore section, find the local spot you’re craving, and then hit “start order.” From there, if a restaurant supports more than one of Facebook’s ordering partners, you’ll be able to choose between them. Once you do, Facebook will bring up an in-app browser that takes you through the existing websites for Delivery.com and the others. That’s where all the ordering actually happens, so you’re not actually doing much with the Facebook app beyond finding a restaurant and tapping your preferred delivery option.

Seamless is not currently among Facebook’s partner services, but parent company GrubHub is, so that should get you most of the same delivery restaurants. But there are other omissions such as Caviar, so you’ll still need to open those apps separately to know which restaurants use them and place an order.


Facebook is also partnering on food ordering directly with national chains Chipotle, Five Guys, Jack in the Box, Papa John’s, Wingstop, Panera, TGI Friday’s, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, and Jimmy John’s. But it works the same way as with the other services; you browse to one of these nearby chain locations, pick start order, and then you’ll be sent to their existing delivery system. All Facebook is really doing here is launching an in-app browser so you can get a meal without ever leaving the app.

“We’ve been testing this since last year, and after responding to feedback and adding more partners, we’re rolling out everywhere in the US on iOS, Android and desktop,” Alex Himel, Facebook’s VP of local, said in a press release. “People already go to Facebook to browse restaurants and decide where to eat or where to order food, so we’re making that easier.”



Facebook can unlock your account with facial recognition

Facebook has its own version of Apple’s Face ID. If you get locked out of your Facebook account, the company is testing a way to regain access by using your face to verify your identity. That could be especially useful if you’re somewhere that you can’t receive two-factor authentication SMS, like on a plane or while traveling abroad, or if you lose access to your email account.

Social media researcher Devesh Logendran (a pseudonym) sent a screenshot of the feature to TNW’s Matt Navarra. We asked Facebook about it and got this confirmation:

“We are testing a new feature for people who want to quickly and easily verify account ownership during the account recovery process. This optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in. It is another step, alongside two-factor authentication via SMS, that were taking to make sure account owners can confirm their identity.”

If the feature proves reliably helpful to users and isn’t fooled by hackers, Facebook could potentially roll it out to more people.


Over the years Facebook has tried a number of novel ways to help you get back into a locked account. In some cases it asks you to identify photos of your friends to prove you’re you. Or it’s tried allowing you to designate several “trusted friends” who receive a code that you can ask them for to unlock your account.

While Facebook has experienced some backlash to facial recognition for photo tag suggestions in the past, this feature would only use the technology to privately help you out. Therefore it shouldn’t engender as big of privacy concerns, though obviously anything related to biometric data can give people pause. But if it means you can get back to your messages and News Feed, or repair damage done by a hacker, many people are likely to be comfortable to use their face to Facebook.


Facebook can unlock your account with facial recognition

Facebook Is Sending a Team to Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico to Get the Island Back Online

Facebook has dispatched a “connectivity team” to supply emergency telecommunications support to Puerto Rico, much of which has been rendered a communications black spot after Hurricane Maria battered the island last week.

“Communication is critical during a disaster,” Facebook founder Zuckerberg wrote in a post Wednesday. “With 90% of cell towers on the island out of service, people can’t get in touch with their loved ones—and it’s harder for rescue workers to coordinate relief efforts.”

 Facebook Inc. Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings Figures

In addition to sending a team to bring Puerto Rico back online, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is splitting a donation of $1.5 million between the World Food Program and Net Hope, a consortium of nonprofits and tech companies that Facebook previously collaborated with in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Puerto Rico’s population of 3.4 million American citizens is in the throes of a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which killed 16 people and ravaged the islands electricity grid. Only 11 of the island’s 69 hospitals have power or fuel supply and almost half of the population is without potable water, according to a FEMA briefing issued Tuesday morning.



Microsoft and Facebook’s massive undersea data cable is complete

Microsoft, Facebook, and the telecoms infrastructure company Telxius have announced the completion of the highest capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean. The cable is capable of transmitting 160 terabits of data per second, the equivalent of streaming 71 million HD videos at the same time, and 16 million times faster than an average home internet connection, Microsoft claims. The cable will be operational by early 2018.

Called Marea, which is Spanish for “tide,” the 4,000 mile long subsea cable lies 17,000 feet below the ocean surface and extends between Virginia Beach, Virginia and the city of Bilbao in Spain. Marea also stretches a route south of most existing transatlantic cables. Because of this, Microsoft says the cable will provide resiliency for those living in the US and Europe by safeguarding against natural disasters or other major events that might cause disruptions to connections like those seen during Hurricane Sandy. More importantly to Microsoft and Facebook: both companies have large data center operations in Virginia.

“Marea comes at a critical time,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “Submarine cables in the Atlantic already carry 55 percent more data than trans-Pacific routes and 40 percent more data than between the US and Latin America. There is no question that the demand for data flows across the Atlantic will continue to increase.” For most of the route, the cable — made up of eight pairs of fiber optic cables enclosed by copper — lays on the ocean floor. Some parts are buried to protect from shipping traffic, usually in areas closer to the shore.


In a blog post, Microsoft said the project was completed nearly three times faster than usual, in under two years. Marea’s cables are an “open” design, which will allow it to evolve as technology does, and as the population of internet users around the world jumps. The Marea cable also provides a path to network hubs in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where the next billion internet users are anticipated to come from.

Tech companies are increasingly moving into the infrastructure space, funding new cables themselves, rather than joining telecom consortiums which operate undersea cables already. Google has also invested in two cables that run from the US to Japan, South America, and other countries in Asia. With the Marea cable, Facebook and Microsoft’s investment gives them more control over the vast amounts of data they need to move quickly around the world. Both companies will benefit from improvements in cloud services for products like Microsoft’s Office 365, Azure, and Xbox Live, and Facebook’s Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp.



Mastering Facebook: A Beginner’s Guide to Start Making Money with Facebook

This is not a book of ideas but a blueprint for Facebook success. Facebook is becoming a social media and search engine powerhouse. Seeing the trends in the online platform and knowing how to utilize them will ensure success. This has revolutionized publishing and has dawned to a new digital era. There are a million and one reasons. However, you do not need all of them. Just a few concrete ones to make you see the light as to why Facebook is giving you a golden opportunity to monetize publishing in a smarter creative way.

Facebook has pulled Instant Articles off Messenger

While Facebook prepares to offer readers a way to subscribe and pay for news directly from inside its app, the social network continues to tinker with how it presents publishers’ content elsewhere. In the latest development, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Facebook has removed Instant Articles — Facebook’s self-hosted, faster-loading article format for mobile — from Messenger.

“As we continue to refine and improve Instant Articles — and in order to have the greatest impact on people and publishers — we’re focusing our investment in Instant Articles in the Facebook core app and are no longer offering Instant Articles in Messenger,” a spokesperson said. “We believe that Messenger is an exciting channel for new and interesting news consumption experiences, including the opportunity to build unique messaging experiences in Messenger that many publishers (including TechCrunch) have executed successfully via the Messenger Platform.”

Instant Articles was a pared-down article format launched by the social network in 2015 with the aim of speeding up page load time by ten times compared to the mobile web, thereby cutting down the number of people dropping off when reading on mobile devices. (The “Instant” feel and performance is something that Facebook appears keen to develop: just this week it started to test Instant Videos.)

Originally designed to run in the News Feed, a year ago Facebook expanded Instant Articles to Messenger as part of a wider strategy to enhance content on its popular messaging platform, which today has over 1.2 billion users.

But while Instant Articles does what its name suggests, there have been some teething pains with the format.

Several high profile publications and publishers, including the Guardian, Forbes, Hearst, The New York Times, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, CBS News, NPR, Financial Times, and VICE News either pulled, scaled back, or never participated in Instant Articles in the first place because of the lack of monetization on the platform. There have also been issues with traffic reporting with the format.


Facebook has pulled Instant Articles off Messenger

Facebook plans to spend up to $1B on original shows in 2018

Facebook could spend as much as $1 billion to fund original content initiatives for its new Watch video platform, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The amount might seem familiar – it’s the same investment Apple is said to have earmarked for original shows and movies through 2018.

Facebook’s spend could vary depending on the success of programming, but it’s also a figure that extends through next year. This would also be a new high-water mark for Facebook spending on video content specific for its platform, exceeding past initiatives like incentives paid to encourage live streaming from media outlets.

Facebook launched Watch to all U.S. users this week – the new tab in the Facebook app houses original shows from Facebook partners, including content from Freethink Media, MLB, Discovery Channel and more. It’s hoping to drive more engagement on the platform with its original video content initiative, and the shows resemble a lot of the videos that naturally receive a lot of interaction on the platform when shared, covering sports, science and other ‘shareable’ topics.

This kind of spending on original content, even if Facebook extends to the top end of its proposed budget, is still behind what dedicated companies like Netflix and Amazon spend on their own shows. But it’s not far off from HBO’s annual content creation spend, and could go a long way if Facebook is spending more of it on less ambitious programming relative to something like Game of Thrones.

Streaming platforms so far have shown that destination programming is key – Facebook’s approach seems to be a blend of the Netflix and YouTube methods for obtaining said programming. Next year definitely sounds like it’ll be interesting for the original content realm – should give us plenty to talk about.


Facebook plans to spend up to $1B on original shows in 2018

Facebook is testing features to help you make new friends

Facebook wants to show you more of what you have in common with potential new friends and make sure you don’t forget about your old ones either.

The company is rolling out a feature that allows you to get a closer look at your friend’s buddies. It’s not only showcasing connections you’ve yet to make but a lot of current friends as well, which seems a bit odd, but I suppose it helps you orient yourself with friends you haven’t interacted with in a bit.

Once you tap on a button urging you to “get to know [name’s] friends” you’re cast into a carousel of the connections. Previously, the most prominent way Facebook orients you with potential new friends was by showing you your mutual friends. This option digs deeper, showing you events that you both attended, pages you both like, places you’ve both worked or lived.

In February, Facebook began rolling out “Discover People,” a feature designed to help you find new connections largely through groups and events. The friend cards are the same here, but this roll out throws them into a more wide feature release.

Facebook is also looking to get you closer to some of the friends you already have in the app. Motherboard reports that a new feature is bringing some Tinder-like functionality to Messenger, allowing users to connect if they both indicate that they’re interested in hanging out. It’s also a little reminiscent of some of Snapchat’s efforts to get you to interact with friends you haven’t traded messages with in a while. Having this functionality inside Messenger is, again, a bit of an odd choice given that you’d have to switch to the main app to view a person’s profiles.


There doesn’t seem to be any clear “dating app” language present instead it’s more focused on friendly encounters, i.e. “Would you like to meet up with [name] this week?” The changes that would need to be taken to transform this feature into a Tinder or Bumble-like applet don’t take any major mental leaps though and dating could be a huge move for the company in the future.

Ultimately, Facebook is better with friends and even if the connection suggestions that Facebook comes up with are already stellar, it’s good to see some of the thinking that’s being done behind the scenes in terms of common interests.


Facebook is testing features to help you make new friends

Oculus Rift with Oculus Touch review: Fantastic controllers for VR

Most Popular Facebook Shows: So Far, They’re a Lot of Viral Videos

It’s been five days since Facebook started opening up Watch, its new video guide for longer-form content, to U.S. users — and the most popular stuff trending in the first week is viral clips, rather than longer-form, TV-like episodes.

Out of several hundred shows on Watch, the most-watched video so far: The funeral-prank premiere episode of A&E’s “Bae or Bail,” which has notched more than 22 million views. In the four-and-a-half-minute clip, three different people punk their significant others at a fake funeral (supposedly of a coworker’s relative) in which the corpse springs from the coffin after a voodoo ritual. The episode has more than 100,000 reactions and has been shared more than 200,000 times.


To be sure, some of the Facebook-funded shows are hitting high marks. The first episode of Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor,” a docu-series recognizing local heroes, has 11.8 million views. Conde Nast Entertainment’s debut ep of “Virtually Dating” featuring a VR blind date set in outer space has 7.6 million views, while “Ball in the Family,” the reality series featuring LaVar Ball and his basketball-playing brood, has notched 5.5 million in the first five days for the premiere segment.

Here are the top-performing episodes of the shows in Facebook’s Watch, with view counts to date:

  • A&E’s “Bae or Bail”: “Funeral Prank,” 22.2 million
  • The Dodo, “Comeback Kids: Animal Edition”: “Dog Who Lost Her Legs Was Determined To Walk Again,” 13.1 million
  • Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor”: “Operation Combat Bikesaver,” 11.8 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “You’re Infected, Bro,” 9.3 million
  • Conde Nast Entertainment, “Virtually Dating”: “VR Blind Date in Outer Space,”  7.6 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “When She Finally Leaves You,” 5.7 million
  • “Ball in the Family: ” Bittersweet Victory,” 5.5 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “You’re Trying Too Hard,” 5.1 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “Accidental Dick Pic,” 4.8 million
  • Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor”: “Donovan Discovers,” 4.1 million
  • NBA’s “Best of the NBA”: “Top 40 Long Distance Shots of the 2016-17 NBA Season,” 3.6 million
  • NBA’s “Best of the NBA”: “Top 50 Blocks of the 2016-17 NBA Season,” 3.2 million
  • Laura Clery’s “Help Helen Smash”: “Labor Day With the Family,” 3 million
  • Nameless.tv’s “Weird Wild World”: “This Boy Is Worshipped,” 3 million
  • Nas Daily, “She Has 20 Cars!,” 2.6 million
  • Red Bull “Raw 100”: “Brandon Semenuk is back”: 1.9 million
  • “Apocalypse NowThis”: “How the World Could End: Nuclear Annihilation,” 1.7 million
  • Cake Boss: “Outrageous Cakes: Lady Liberty,” 1.6 million
  • ATTN:’s “Health Hacks”: “Portion Sizes in America vs. The World,” 1.3 million
  • Laura Clery’s “Help Helen Smash”: “Me Trying To Flirt On Botox,” 1.3 million
  • Nas Daily, “She Used to Be a Man!,” 1.1 million
  • Robert Reich’s “The Reich Report”: “Trump’s Corporate Tax Cuts,” 1.1 million


Most Popular Facebook Shows: So Far, They’re a Lot of Viral Videos

Facebook is trying to pay off music publishers with copyright concerns

Facebook is offering music publishers hundreds of millions of dollars so that its users can legally use popular songs in videos they upload, Bloomberg reports.

Citing several people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg claims that Facebook has been negotiating with music publishers for several months, with former YouTube exec Tamara Hrivnak leading the discussions for Facebook.

Video content has become incredibly popular on Facebook over the last few years but many of the videos posted on the social media platform contain music that Facebook doesn’t have the rights to.

Music rights holders currently have to ask Facebook to take down videos that breach copyright laws but it looks like Facebook is keen to find a solution to the matter.

Facebook has reportedly promised to create a system that can identify and tag music that breaches copyright. However, Bloomberg sources allegedly said it could take two years to build, adding that the time frame is not realistic for either side.

Therefore, Facebook is keen to make a deal sooner rather than later with the music publishers in a bid to avoid further annoying users who’ve seen their videos removed.

The Bloomberg report comes as Facebook is rolling out a new video hub on its platform called Watch, which is intended to go head-to-head with YouTube and could provide Facebook with billions of dollars in additional ad revenue.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, told investors on the company’s second quarter earnings call that video is becoming increasingly important to Facebook, and said that it will overtake text and photo sharing on the platform in the future.

Music rights holders have seen their fortunes rise in recent years off the back of a number of deals with large tech companies, such as Apple, Spotify, and SoundCloud. 



Facebook AI learns human reactions after watching hours of Skype

There’s something not quite right about humanoid robots. They are cute up to a point, but once they become a bit too realistic, they often start to creep us out – a foible called the uncanny valley. Now Facebook wants robots to climb their way out of it.

Researchers at Facebook’s AI lab have developed an expressive bot, an animation controlled by an artificially intelligent algorithm. The algorithm was trained on hundreds of videos of Skype conversations, so that it could learn and then mimic how humans adjust their expressions in response to each other. In tests, it successfully passed as human-like.

To optimize its learning, the algorithm divided the human face into 68 key points that it monitored throughout each Skype conversation. People naturally produce nods, blinks and various mouth movements to show they are engaged with the person they are talking to, and eventually the system learned to do this too.


The bot was then able to look at a video of a human speaking, and choose in real time what the most appropriate facial response would be. If the person was laughing, for example, the bot might choose to open its mouth too, or tilt its head.

The Facebook team then tested the system with panels of people who watched animations that included both the bot reacting to a human, and a human reacting to a human. The volunteers judged the bot and the human to be equally natural and realistic.

However, as the animations were quite basic, it’s not clear whether a humanoid robot powered by this algorithm would have natural-seeming reactions.

Additionally, learning the basic rules of facial communication might not be enough to create truly realistic conversation partners, says Goren Gordon at Tel Aviv University in Israel. “Actual facial expressions are based on what you are thinking and feeling.”



Facebook’s new video hub is coming to everyone in the US

Facebook’s new video platform is rolling out to all users in the US over the next few days, the company announced today. The platform, called Watch, will have hundreds of original shows for people to choose from.

Facebook is priming the platform by paying creators to make 20- to 30-minute shows. But eventually, Facebook plans to open up content-making privileges to everyone. The platform was initially announced in early August and will replace the current video tab in Facebook on mobile, desktop, and TV.

For Facebook, this is a golden opportunity for luring in ad revenue, especially for a company that has run out of advertising space on its packed News Feed. Billions of people already watch and share Facebook videos regularly, so it’s easy to imagine them simply tapping one tab over to continue doing so.



Facebook says Pages that regularly share false news won’t be able to buy ads

Facebook says it’s taking another step against Pages that share fabricated news stories.

The company has already been working with outside fact-checkers like Snopes and the AP to flag inaccurate news stories. (These aren’t supposed to be stories that are disputed for reasons of opinion or partisanship, but rather outright hoaxes and lies.) It also says that when a story is marked as disputed, the link can can no longer be promoted through Facebook ads.

The next step, which the company is announcing today, involves stopping Pages that regularly share these stories from buying any Facebook ads at all, regardless of whether or not the ad includes a disputed link.

Facebook was criticized last year for its role in helping to spread of fake/false news. (The company is using the term “false news” for now — “fake news” has become heavily politicized and almost meaningless.) Product Director Rob Leathern said the company has been trying to fight back in three ways — ending the economic incentive to post false news stories, slowing the spread of those stories and helping people make more informed decisions when they see a false story.


In this case, Leathern said blocking ad-buying is meant to change the economic incentives. Facebook is concerned that “there are Pages posting this information that are using Facebook Ads to build audiences” to spread false news. By changing the ad policy, Facebook makes it harder for companies to attract that audience.

Facebook isn’t specifying the exact numbers of disputed links a Page can share before it gets blocked — after all, the company doesn’t want people to try to game the system — but Leathern said, “Obviously, it’s not a single instance. It’s a repeated pattern of misinformation.”

He also noted that the ban on buying ads isn’t necessarily permanent. If a Page stops sharing false stories, it should eventually be able to buy ads again.


Facebook says Pages that regularly share false news won’t be able to buy ads

Facebook will livestream 15 upcoming college football games

Facebook secured exclusive rights to livestream college football games during the upcoming season, starting with a pair of games on September 2nd. Users worldwide need only visit the sports network Stadium’s Facebook page to watch the matches, or they can view them on the social network’s recently-launched Watch platform.

Facebook’s been pushing hard to snag athletic events it can livestream, but it’s not alone, tussling with Snapchat and Twitter for the rights to upload clips of the 2018 World Cup. Facebook did make a deal with Major League Baseball to start broadcasting games every week back in May, but college football has its own rabid fanbase.

Fans will get a few extras if they tune to the Stadium page on game day, including a curated chat with football personalities. It’s a good deal for folks following these particular teams, but it’s still an incremental victory in the perpetual tug-of-war between all the top social platforms jockeying for more sports content.

Here’s the full schedule of games, per TechCrunch:

  • Saturday, Sept. 2: Miami (OH) at Marshall, 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 2: UC Davis at San Diego State, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Thursday, Sept. 7: Idaho State at Utah State, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 9: New Mexico State at New Mexico, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 23: FIU at Rice, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 23: Utah State at San Jose State, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 30: Texas State at Wyoming, 4:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 7: Southern Miss at UTSA, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 14: Wyoming at Utah State, 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 21: Rice at UTSA, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: FIU at Marshall, 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 4: North Texas at Louisiana Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Southern Miss at Rice, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 18: Marshall at UTSA, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 25: FAU at Charlotte, 2:00 p.m. ET



Facebook now lets you shoot 360-degree photos inside its app

Facebook has allowed users to upload and view 360-degree photos for a little over a year now, but the social media platform is also adding the ability to capture them, too. Starting today, both the iOS and Android versions of the Facebook app will allow users to create 360-degree photos without requiring a third-party app or camera.

Of course, since phones don’t have 360-degree cameras built in (yet, at least), the process resembles how you create panoramas in your phone’s camera app. To create 360-degree photos inside the Facebook app, scroll to the top of the News Feed and tap the “360 Photo” button. Then slowly spin around for a full turn, all while keeping the the graphic centered in the middle. When it’s finished, you can pick the “starting point” for the photo and publish it. You can even set it as your cover photo.

Since that capture process isn’t instantaneous, the update only applies to 360-degree photos for now. While Facebook supports 360-degree videos, you’ll still need to shoot those with a camera like the Samsung Gear 360, Insta360, or Nikon KeyMission 360, and upload them separately.



Teens favoring Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook, says eMarketer

Facebook is losing appeal among teens and young adults which is contributing to generally slowing growth for the platform, according to the latest projections from research firm eMarketer.

At the same time alternative social apps Snapchat and (Facebook-owned) Instagram are seeing rising and double-digit growth in the same youth demographic — suggesting younger users are favoring newer and more visual communications platforms.

“Both platforms have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate — using visual content,” noted eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco in a statement.

It’s the second consecutive year of expected usage declines for Facebook among this advertiser-coveted group, according to the researcher.

eMarketer suggests some tweens are even skipping adopting Facebook entirely (it calls them “Facebook nevers”) and going straight to the rival platforms, even as remaining tweens and teens appear less engaged on Facebook — logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform.

While having slipping relevance among a coveted ad demographic is obviously not good news for a social behemoth whose business is dependent on ad revenue, Facebook does have the consolation of also owning one of the two main youth-friendly alternative platforms: Instagram. (Aka, ‘if you can’t be it, buy it’.)

Still, eMarketer is also projecting that the acquisition that got away from Zuck, Snapchat, will overtake Instagram and Facebook in the total teen (12 to 17) & young adult (18 to 24) ages for the first time in 2017 — boosting its share of US social network users to 40.8 per cent, and projected to push close to a majority by 2021. (Though Instagram is also forecast to maintain its greater reach through this timeframe.)

Back in 2013, when reports of Facebook’s spurned acquisition attempts of Snapchat surfaced, it followed fast on the heels of the company reporting a first-time decline in young teens using its service daily.


Nearly four years later Facebook’s problem with keeping teens happy has only got bigger — but the company’s success at using Instagram to successfully clone Snapchat’s features has helped mitigate the issue. (Even if it means Facebook’s corporate motto should really now read: ‘Move fast and clone things’.)


Teens favoring Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook, says eMarketer

Facebook’s Craigslist competitor will soon feature a lot more than just your neighbor’s old junk

Facebook has big plans for Marketplace, the Craigslist-like section inside its app where people can sell used goods to others in their neighborhood.

It’s just not sure what those big plans should look like.

So to figure that out, Facebook is throwing a bunch of products inside Marketplace to see what people want, including more professional products and services offered by actual retailers, not just regular Facebook users.

Facebook now shows job postings inside Marketplace, and recently started offering “daily deals” as part of a new arrangement with eBay. But Facebook has more categories coming to Marketplace, including ticket sales and products from retailers’ shopping Pages, said Deb Liu, the Facebook VP who oversees Marketplace, in an interview with Recode.

Until now, Facebook has limited postings inside Marketplace to individual users, not business Pages. But that’s changing as the company expands into more areas. Facebook hopes to learn what kinds of stuff people want to find inside Marketplace, then push deeper into those areas.

“We’ll kind of look and see what’s popular, what people want to engage with,” Liu said. “So if people are searching or looking for something, we want to make that available to them.”

One popular area has been auto sales, so Liu says Facebook will soon feature cars for sale inside Marketplace from local car dealerships. It plans to do the same with real estate listings to increase inventory for apartment hunters.

Facebook did not share details about who, specifically, it was planning to partner with for these categories. And the company did not highlight any specific retailers during our conversation.

So Facebook wants higher-quality options inside Marketplace, but it’s unclear where they will come from.


Still, some of these more traditional retail options, like ticket sales and shopping pages, already exist inside Facebook. They’re just scattered throughout the app, and it’s possible most people don’t even know they exist. Which is one of the reasons Facebook is bringing them all into one central location, Liu said.

One area it doesn’t plan to push into: Payments. Right now, Facebook connects buyers and sellers, but the actual transactions still happen off site. Facebook isn’t making money from any transactions it helps facilitate, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

“Eventually, we could go in a number of different directions [with payments],” Liu said. “But right now we’re really trying to figure out, ‘how do you actually drive engagement between people and businesses, people and other people locally?’ That’s how we really think about the product.”

Facebook has tried to get commerce to stick inside the social network for years without much success. It closed a gifts service, and dabbled with “buy buttons” that never took off.

Marketplace is Facebook’s latest hope — and the changes raise the question of whether they are being made because the initial version of Marketplace hasn’t taken off. But Liu says Marketplace has had “tremendous growth,” with 18 million items listed inside Marketplace in the U.S. alone back in May. But not all of the items are high quality.

Given Facebook’s ambitions here, and its willingness to get more established retailers and businesses using Marketplace, that could start to change.



Mastering Apps – A Beginners Guide to Start Making Money with Apps

Facebook will soon purge video clickbait from the News Feed

Facebook has announced two new updates that will limit video clickbait posts from appearing in the News Feed. The posts being targeted are those that have fake video play buttons embedded into an image, and videos of a static image.

Facebook’s algorithm actively promotes videos, especially longer ones. Spammers have exploited this to trick users into clicking links to low-quality websites and those with malicious ads. Users started noticing static images disguised as videos a little while ago where some pages were gaming Facebook’s algorithm by just uploading static memes as 10-second videos.

“Publishers that rely on these intentionally deceptive practices should expect the distribution of those clickbait stories to markedly decrease,” Facebook engineers Baraa Hamodi, Zahir Bokhari, and Yun Zhang, wrote in a blog post. “Most Pages won’t see significant changes to their distribution in News Feed.”

The demotion of video clickbait posts will roll out over the next few weeks. In May, the company rolled out more tweaks to the News Feed to limit clickbait posts.

Facebook has been taking a more aggressive approach to moderating content on its platform since the US election, after the social networking site was criticized for not doing enough to combat fake news proliferating on its platform.



Facebook’s New ‘Watch’ Feature Has Got YouTube and Google Really Worried

If you’ve been at all in tune with the modern world the last decade, you’ve definitely noticed that Facebook has largely taken over the social media sphere. From its classic blue-and-white timeline to its acquisition of Instagram to–most recently–its addition of Snapchat-like features, Facebook has done a stellar job keeping up with the fluctuating trends of every emerging generation.

Facebook just stepped up its game once again, unveiling a new feature to add to its continually growing roster: A new Watch tab that allows existing Facebook users to consume video content, chat and share with friends, and discover short-form videos and visual content that their friends are engaging with.

How does it show what we’re all really looking for in social media?

Facebook’s move of blending video content with intimate online interaction with our friends and family shows us that–for the vast majority of social media users–the most important aspect of going online is our interactive engagement with our personal communities.

Although Facebook’s forthcoming Watch tab definitely mirrors existing video platforms–YouTube’s, in particular, is easily the first to jump to mind–it offers a new way to interact with existing online friend networks that YouTube doesn’t. So, despite the video giant’s 1 billion users per month, Facebook’s newest feature–with the platform’s 2 billion monthly users–could potentially help the company unseat YouTube as the reigning video king.

Think about it for a second. Whenever you look up a YouTube video, you’re there simply to watch the content. Sometimes, you might take a couple minutes to scroll through the comments section to check out what trolls and random people from the Internet are saying before leaving to watch the next video, or close the tab altogether.

When you discover a video on Facebook, however, it’s usually something your friends have shared. You might be more interested, more willing to comment, and more likely to re-share it yourself–which is ultimately a lot more engagement than a video on YouTube would experience.

So, next time you watch a video on any social platform, think about how you interact with it. With Facebook’s new update, you might be surprised by how much having a community online will change your habits.



Facebook Marketplace Opens for Business in 17 European Countries

Facebook is stepping up its modest moves into e-commerce by expanding its service for connecting local buyers and sellers into 17 new European markets, the U.S. company said on Monday.

Marketplace, which sits alongside Facebook’s mainstay newsfeed, photo, video, messaging and other services, marks fresh competition for community-based e-commerce pioneers such as Craigslist and eBay’s (EBAY, +0.61%)classifieds business.


Marketplace is being introduced this week in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Launched 10 months ago, Marketplace charges no fees to buyers or sellers and aims to make it easy for users to trade mostly second-hand goods, with the ability to post items for sale via smartphone or computer in less than 15 seconds.

Marketplace, already up and running in a handful of markets including the United States, Britain and Australia, is building on Facebook’s buy-sell groups. These draw in about 550 million monthly visitors, accounting for more than a quarter of Facebook’s 2 billion global users.

“We want to make it easier to buy and sell, but we also want to make it community based,” said Deborah Liu, vice president of Facebook Marketplace.

Prospective buyers can pick a radius for how far they wish to travel to collect purchases, but most transactions are local. Marketplace restricts searches within national boundaries, mainly to avoid language confusion, Liu said.



Facebook knew about Snap’s struggles months before the public

You may have only recently discovered that Snap isn’t having much luck attracting new users, but Facebook knew months before — and there’s a chance you helped it find out. The Wall Street Journal has learned just how Facebook has been using app usage data from Onavo Protect, the VPN-based security app from its Onavo team, to see how Snapchat adoption has changed over time. The social network looked at aggregated info about the frequency and duration of app use to determine that Snapchat use slowed down soon after Snapchat-like Instagram Stories became available. In other words, Facebook knew it could double down on its anti-Snap strategy within just a few months.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has used Onavo’s app usage data to make major decisions. The info reportedly influenced the decision to buy WhatsApp, as Facebook knew that WhatsApp’s dominance in some areas (99 percent of Android phones in Spain had it) could cut it out of the loop. Likewise, it added live video after seeing how people used Meerkat and Periscope.


To be clear, Facebook isn’t grabbing this data behind anyone’s back. The company says Onavo Protect is explicit about what info it’s collecting and how it’s used, and that apps have incorporated market research services like this “for years.” The odds are slim that many people read these disclosures before using Protect, but anyone who was concerned could have found them. The revelation here is more about how Facebook uses that information rather than the collection itself.

All the same, it’s that collection that has some observers nervous. Former Federal Trade Commission CTO Askhan Soltani tells the WSJ that Facebook is turning customers’ own data against them by using it to snuff out competitors. Meanwhile, tech lawyer Adam Shevell is concerned that Facebook might be violating Apple’s App Store rules by collecting data that isn’t directly relevant to app use or ads. Apple isn’t commenting on whether or not it is.

No matter what, the news underscores just how hard it is for upstarts to challenge Facebook’s dominant position. How do you compete with an internet giant that can counter your app’s features (or simply buy your company) the moment it becomes popular? This doesn’t make Facebook immune to competition, but app makers definitely can’t assume that they’ll catch the firm off-guard.



Facebook launches Watch tab of original video shows

Facebook has a new home for original video content produced exclusively for it by partners, who will earn 55 percent of ad break revenue while Facebook keeps 45 percent. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will start rolling out to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow on mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps.

By hosting original programming, Facebook could boost ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.

Watch features personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch, plus categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” Publishers can also share their shows to the News Feed to help people discover them. A Watchlist feature lets you subscribe to updates on new episodes of your favorite shows. Fans can connect with each other and creators through a new feature that links shows to Groups.

Facebook says it plans to roll out access to Watch to more users and more content creators soon, starting with the rest of the U.S. before expanding internationally. Users with access will see a TV-shaped Watch button in the bottom navigation bar of Facebook’s main app that opens the new video hub.

Facebook admits that “we’ve also funded some shows” as examples, but notes that these are only a small percentage of all the available shows. “We want any publisher/creator who is interested to be able to create a show in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. “So there will be hundreds of shows at launch, and we’ll hopefully scale to thousands.”

Business Insider reported some leaked details about the redesign earlier today, but pegged the launch of original programming as starting August 28th, when the shows actually will begin to roll out tomorrow.


Facebook launches Watch tab of original video shows

Facebook says it’s removing accidental clicks from its ad network

Advertisers on Facebook’s Audience Network will no longer have to worry that they’re paying for users who accidentally clicked on their ads.

I’m betting we’ve all had moments where we were scrolling or swiping or clicking through a website/mobile app and we ended up clicking on an ad without really meaning to. (Those moments probably outnumber the times I’ve intentionally clicked on an ad.)

So Product Marketing Manager Brett Vogel said Facebook won’t be charging for those clicks in its Audience Network (where Facebook runs ads in other apps), and those clicks won’t be included in the metrics shared with advertisers and publishers.

Facebook is sorting out unintentional clicks by discounting instances where a user bounces back after two seconds or less. After all, if you clicked on an ad and then immediately clicked back, you probably didn’t care about the ad.

Still, Vogel said the two-second threshold is a “starting point” that Facebook can adjust if necessary.


Publishers may worry that this change could hurt their bottom line, but Vogel said the “vast majority” will not be affected, because their ads aren’t driving a significant number of unintentional clicks. He added that Facebook is making the change for the good of the ecosystem.

“Unintentional clicks end up delivering really poor experiences for people and advertisers,” he said. “It’s not a good path for publishers to build sustainable businesses.”

In addition, Facebook is also announcing that it’s making new ad metrics available (it’s been making a broader push around this).

Those metrics including gross impressions, a number that combines billable impressions with non-billable impressions — advertisers aren’t paying for things like non-human traffic, but some of them have still asked to see the numbers. Facebook is also adding auto-refresh impressions (those are ad impressions for banners on the right-hand side) and gross auto-refresh impressions.


Facebook says it’s removing accidental clicks from its ad network

Facebook begins testing Stories on the desktop

Great news, folks. Facebook Stories, the shameless Snapchat clone that sits above the News Feed on Facebook’s mobile app, is now rolling out to Facebook’s desktop site. Here, the Stories feature is no longer at the top of the page, but is instead off to the right side, where it’s at least a bit less intrusive. A small question mark icon appears in the Stories module, as well, which will explain the feature’s purpose, when hovered over with your cursor.

The explanation simply states that Stories consist of photos and video that are visible for 24 hours before they disappear.

Facebook has confirmed to TechCrunch the Stories launch on desktop is still considered a test, but notes that a wider rollout is expected soon.

The company chose to bring Stories to Facebook, after seeing its success on Instagram, where Stories had debuted in summer 2016.

With the first five months, Instagram Stories soared to 150 million daily users. It now has 250 million daily users, compared with Snapchat’s 166 million. Half of the businesses on Instagram created a story in the past month, Facebook also announced this week, and Instagram’s average usage has climbed to 32 minutes per day for those under 25, and 24 minutes per day for those 25 and up, it said.

The feature arrived on Facebook at the beginning of 2017, initially in Ireland before expanding to other countries, including the U.S.


The company has credited Snapchat with pioneering the visual communication format, but believes the pivot into Stories goes beyond simply copying a competitor’s popular app. Like Facebook’s News Feed – a format that went on to become the standard across social apps – Stories are a new way to share. That’s led to the format being broadly adopted across the industry.

Facebook itself has added Stories to Instagram, Messenger, and its flagship app. It even tried a Stories-like feature in WhatsApp. Elsewhere, Stories is inspiring redesigns of other top apps, including most recently, Tinder, Match, and Skype.

However, on Facebook, the feature hasn’t seen as much traction.

In fact, there were so few people using Stories on Facebook’s mobile app, that the company in April began to display grayed-out icons of your most frequently contacted friends instead of blank spaces in the Stories feature that no one much was using.


Facebook begins testing Stories on the desktop

Facebook shuts down AI system after it invents own language

In recent weeks, a story about experimental Facebook machine learning research has been circulating with increasingly panicky, Skynet-esque headlines.

“Facebook engineers panic, pull plug on AI after bots develop their own language,” one site wrote. “Facebook shuts down down AI after it invents its own creepy language,” another added. “Did we humans just create Frankenstein?” asked yet another. One British tabloid quoted a robotics professor saying the incident showed “the dangers of deferring to artificial intelligence” and “could be lethal” if similar tech was injected into military robots.


References to the coming robot revolution, killer droids, malicious AIs and human extermination abounded, some more or less serious than others. Continually quoted was this passage, in which two Facebook chat bots had learned to talk to each other in what is admittedly a pretty creepy way.

Bob: I can i i everything else

Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to

Bob: you i everything else

Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me

The reality is somewhat more prosaic. A few weeks ago, FastCo Design did report on a Facebook effort to develop a “generative adversarial network” for the purpose of developing negotiation software.

The two bots quoted in the above passage were designed, as explained in a Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research unit blog post in June, for the purpose of showing it is “possible for dialog agents with differing goals (implemented as end-to-end-trained neural networks) to engage in start-to-finish negotiations with other bots or people while arriving at common decisions or outcomes.”


The bots were never doing anything more nefarious than discussing with each other how to split an array of given items (represented in the user interface as innocuous objects like books, hats, and balls) into a mutually agreeable split.


The intent was to develop a chatbot which could learn from human interaction to negotiate deals with an end user so fluently said user would not realize they are talking with a robot, which FAIR said was a success:

“The performance of FAIR’s best negotiation agent, which makes use of reinforcement learning and dialog rollouts, matched that of human negotiators … demonstrating that FAIR’s bots not only can speak English but also think intelligently about what to say.”




Facebook reportedly building smart speaker with touch screen

Facebook may launch its own smart-home gadget to get you messaging more friends and looking at more photos. DigiTimes reports from Taiwan that Facebook is building a 15-inch touch-screen smart speaker.

Citing sources from the “upstream supply chain,” Chinese iPhone manufacturer Pegatron is building the device for a Q1 2018 launch, with a small pilot run having already been produced. It’s said to have been designed by Facebook’s secretive new hardware lab Building 8, using an LG in-cell touch screen with a magnesium-aluminum-alloy chassis.

While no further details are known about the speaker’s functionality, it could potentially extend Facebook’s feed of photos and videos, plus its dominant messaging platform, into the bedroom, living room or kitchen. When reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson sent me the company’s standard response: “Unfortunately we don’t have anything to share at this time.”

The Facebook speaker might work as a digital photo frame when inactive, piping in new photos or videos to brighten up the home. Through voice commands, users could potentially Like or leave comments on this content.

It would also be sensible for Facebook to allow messaging from the speaker, via voice-dictated text messages, VoIP audio calls or video calling. As of February, 400 million of Facebook Messenger’s 1.2 billion users communicate via Facebook audio and video calling every month. A touch-screen smart speaker could become a high-tech home phone alternative that’s easy for younger kids and grandparents to use.

Amazon is already trying to barge into the home communications market with its new Amazon Echo Show version of its smart speaker, which lets people video call each other over its screen. Google has its own Google Home speaker and Apple is preparing to launch the HomePod. But none of them have a ubiquitous cross-device instant messaging platform with a comprehensive social graph the way Facebook does.


Facebook reportedly building smart speaker with touch screen

Facebook bought a startup to crack down on users who share videos without permission

Facebook has acquired Source3, a startup that uses technology to identify content that has been shared on the internet without permission, Recode reports.

Facebook has had issues with pirated content in the past, and is now looking to use Source3’s software to enhance its rights management technology and potentially crack down on users who privately share videos they don’t own the rights to.

That is a necessary step if Facebook wants to push its video business and become competitive with platforms like Google’s YouTube, which offers a similar identification tool called “Content ID.”

Facebook has made it clear that its intention is to move towards longform, exclusive video content on its platform, and the acquisition could help video creators (and right holders) to remain enticed by Facebook’s massive scale and reach.

Recode reports that Facebook is “acquiring both the technology and at least some of the team behind Source3,” and that the group will be integrated fully into Facebook and not operate as a standalone unit.



Facebook Pages can now build their own communities

Today, Facebook is rolling out a new feature called “Groups for Pages,” which will let artists, brands, businesses and newspapers create their own fan clubs. The company says the idea stems from two reporters at The Washington Post who started a Facebook group called PostThis, where they interact with some of “the most avid fans” of the paper on a daily basis. Facebook says right now there are more than 70 million Pages on its platform, so this going to be great for many users who want to let their loyal supporters feel more connected to them.

The launch could further Facebook’s new mission statement to “bring the world closer together” and push it toward its goal to grow the membership of “meaningful groups” from 100 million now to 1 billion in the future.

Users can look at a Page’s Groups shortcut for any communities they’ve created. Pages can link an existing Group to their Page in addition to launching new ones.


For years, Facebook pushed people to create lists of specific friends to share different posts with, or to just fully embrace “openness” and share publicly. But it seems to have realized that people’s values and interests don’t always align with their geographic communities, or even their closest friends. Since the News Feed prioritizes showing content that gets lots of clicks and Likes, niche content could often fall flat and reach few people. Plus there’s the issue that Trump’s polarization of the United States has made sharing political content to Facebook a minefield of angry relatives and extremist high school classmates.


Facebook ‘Groups for Pages’ unlocks fan clubs

Look out, YouTube and Facebook: Amazon’s coming for video publishers

YouTube and Facebook get a bulk of the attention from digital publishers looking to build and scale video businesses. Meanwhile, for the past year, Amazon has built a platform that not only offers publishers another place to distribute videos but also the opportunity to make money from day one.

Last year, Amazon opened up its Prime streaming platform to video publishers and creators of all sizes, allowing them to distribute individual videos, themed video collections, entire seasons of shows and even their subscription channels. Called Amazon Video Direct, the program gives participating publishers access to the estimated 79 million people who pay for Prime in the U.S. alone.

One publisher in the Amazon Video Direct program said it earned mid-five figures on Amazon during its first month on the program last year — nearly four times the amount it made from YouTube ad sales during the same month. “That was an eye-opener, and we’ve been putting up more titles [on Amazon] since then,” said this publishing exec.

Amazon itself said the Video Direct program paid out “tens of millions of dollars” in royalties in its first year, with “billions of minutes” streamed.

“We are encouraged by the positive response and adoption from content creators, as well as the high level of engagement by Amazon Video customers,” said Eric Orme, head of Amazon Video Direct.

Video publishers have a number of ways to make money from the Amazon Video Direct program. If they choose to distribute individual videos and shows within the Amazon Prime subscription video service, they get paid 15 cents per hour streamed in the U.S. and 6 cents per hour streamed in the U.K., Germany and Japan. Publishers also have the option to sell individual movies, shows and video packages to customers, retaining 50 percent of all revenue made from purchases or rentals. There’s also an ad-supported, free portal, through which Amazon pays out 55 cents to every dollar generated from pre-roll ads. Finally, they can sell add-on subscriptions.

Very little revenue is coming in from the ad-supported side at the moment, according to multiple sources. However, the dollars generated from distributing inside the Prime subscription service, while fluctuating month to month, are proving to be noticeable. It’s enough money that HowStuffWorks started to produce long-form shows last year that can be distributed on Amazon.

Comedy studio Jash, meanwhile, is seeing enough revenue from Amazon that it plans to publish new episodes of “Norm Macdonald Live,” its comedy talk show with the famous comedian, on Amazon the day they premiere.



Facebook Is Pursuing a Subscription Tool for News Outlets on Its Site

Facebook is working on a new tool that could help drive subscriptions to news organizations that publish articles directly on the online service, an effort to improve the fraught relationship between the social giant and media companies.

The tool would be added to Facebook’s Instant Articles product, which allows publishers to post news articles that can be read within Facebook rather than on the publisher’s website.

The discussions about the tool are still in the early stages, according to two people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were not public. But it is possible that Facebook could produce a metered pay wall product similar to those used by some publishers. After reading 10 New York Times articles on Facebook, for instance, a user could be sent to The Times’s subscription sign-up page.

Facebook plans to start a pilot with a small group of publishers using the tool in October and to expand the initiative in 2018 if early results are promising. It was not clear which publishers might participate in the test.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on the discussions.

“We are in early talks with several news publishers about how we might better support subscription business models on Facebook,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said in a statement. “As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we are taking the time to work closely together with our partners and understand their needs.”

News outlets have become increasingly dissatisfied with how online platforms like Facebook and Google are consuming the digital advertising market and gaining more control over the online distribution of news. This month, a group of publishers started an effort to gain group bargaining rights so they might be able to negotiate more effectively with the online platforms that are threatening their business models.

While nearly all publishers have shifted their attention to increasing digital revenue, most are still seeking profitable solutions that will work in the long term.

Although many publishers recognize the importance of online platforms for getting their content in front of broad audiences, there are also drawbacks. Publishers are concerned about losing valuable ties to their readers, particularly subscriber data and payment connections. Readers may also become accustomed to staying in Facebook to consume news, instead of, say, navigating directly to publishers’ sites.


With Entry Into Interest Curation, Google Goes Head-To-Head With Facebook

There’s a good chance you’re hungry for information you didn’t even know you wanted, but Google knows — and the tech giant is going to spoon-feed it to you.

Google is following in Facebook’s footsteps, with plans to redesign its popular search page on mobile phones so that you’ll get something similar to the social media site’s News Feed. Only Google’s will just be called “feed.”

“Google search should be working for you in the background even when you’re not searching,” says Ben Gomes, vice president of engineering, who spoke at a news conference at Google’s San Francisco offices. “It should be looking for information on the Web to give you information that’s important and relevant to you to further the interest that you have.”

Starting Wednesday, if you use the Pixel smartphone or the Google app (for Android and iOS), you’ll see this personalized feed. It will continually draw from what Google has learned about you across its suite of products — such as Search, Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, the Google home assistant and Chromecast.

Google and Facebook — which both make their money by selling advertising — are in a constant tug-of-war. Google has tried and failed to build a hit social network, but this new product could draw more eyeballs.

Engineering leader Shashi Thakur explained how it is fundamentally different from the competition: “It’s not really about what your friends are interested in, which is really what other feeds might be.”

Say you have a secret passion for woodworking: Relevant articles will show up in your feed. On the other hand, if you’ve been reading up on herpes that shouldn’t show up in the feed, because Google is using technology to filter out “potentially upsetting or sensitive content.”

When it comes to political interests — take health care overhaul efforts — what you get on Facebook or Twitter is heavily influenced by your social network, which could push you into groupthink. Thakur says the Google feed breaks you out of that, because it’s based on the same search algorithm that crawls and ranks the entire Internet, not just what your friends share.

“We are trying to provide a variety of perspectives on any given topic,” he said. Although in the near future, a spokesperson says Google does plan to add a like button to posts, so that users can actively indicate what they want to see.

Aside from Pixel phones and the Google app, the feed soon will appear in your smartphone browser when you go to Google’s search page. The company does not plan to include this feature on desktop browsers. Gomes and Thakur declined to say if Google would include advertisements in the feed.



Facebook’s built-in camera does GIFs now

Facebook has been building out the camera in its main app for a while now, and today is adding a new GIF function. As first spotted by The Next Web, you can access the feature by tapping the camera icon in the top left of the app. Just swipe right to start making quick GIFs.

The function is a bit of a mixed bag. It works well enough, and you can add a bunch of different frames, and filters (including some cool Prisma-esque style transfer effects). But you can only share the resulting GIFs on your Facebook story or as posts on your Facebook page. You can’t send them to other services, and you can only save them as videos. Which means they’re not much use outside of Facebook.


You can see how the GIF option looks in the Facebook camera above. (Also, for fans of meta: this is a screenshot of the Facebook app in which I’m taking a photo of a video of a GIF on my computer which I originally took on the Facebook app. Too many screens in our lives, folks, too many screens.) Anyway, it seems Facebook is rolling this out slowly, as not all Verge staff could access the new feature. Have a look for yourself, and maybe GIF your cat if you feel like it.



Facebook brings Live broadcasting to its Spaces virtual reality app

In an effort to seemingly combine a couple of the top tech trends of the year, Facebook will soon be allowing users of its Oculus Rift virtual reality system to live stream themselves inside VR to their Facebook friends and followers as avatars.

The Facebook Live functionality will be arriving on the Spaces app, which is still in beta. Users will be able to go live to all their friends and can position a virtual camera to capture their experience. A lot of things will look familiar to a traditional Live broadcast for the streamer, but things like physically reaching out and grabbing a comment to show those watching are things only possible in VR.

Facebook Spaces may be just a preview of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s 10-year vision for virtual reality at the company, but with Messenger video calls and Facebook Live broadcasts already coming to the app, it’s clear that the company isn’t shying away from building a bridge between its loftier VR bets and its central 2D service, which now boasts 2 billion users.


It may be a while before every feature sees a VR counterpart though.


“There are things that aren’t going to map one-to-one, but I think in a lot of ways Facebook is sort of the 2D metaverse,” Facebook VR guru Mike Booth told TechCrunch. “It’s a huge network of people, places and things, so it’s a question of how we present those things in VR and how we let people access them and interact with them, but it’s also huge so there’re a lot of things to figure out and explore.”

To Booth, bringing Facebook Live to Spaces is just as much about “evangelism” as anything else, allowing larger groups of friends to get exposed to the app and virtual reality in general.

Whether users see the need to return to a feature like this is the real question; VR systems have some pretty obtrusive setups and don’t lend themselves to the ease of use that going Live on mobile boasts. Whether seeing avatars is fun and quirky or just gimmicky seems to be something that might be up for debate after only a couple minutes of live streaming, but for Facebook, much of their VR strategy involves a lot of trial and a lot of potential for error.


Facebook brings Live broadcasting to its Spaces virtual reality app

Facebook will test Messenger ads worldwide

You might be cringing at the thought of seeing ads in Facebook Messenger, but Facebook doesn’t appear to have those reservations. The social network has revealed that it’s expanding its beta test of home screen Messenger ads worldwide in the weeks ahead. It’ll be a slow rollout, but the targeted promos should be widely visible by the end of 2017. At least the company isn’t shy about why it’s pushing forward.



Messenger product lead Stan Chudnovsky tells VentureBeat that it’s a simple matter of income: advertising is “how we’re going to be making money right now.” There are “other business models” under consideration, he says, but they all tie into ads. In short: don’t expect Facebook to have second thoughts as long as it’s making billions of dollars in profit from ads.



Facebook does care about the kinds of ads you see. While it’s fine with ads kicking you to a website, it would prefer that ads lead to chats with businesses. You’re more likely to respond to an ad if it takes you to another conversation inside the chat app, Chudnovsky says. The question is whether or not people will simply roll with the changes or balk at them. It’s entirely likely that people will just shrug and move on, but there is a chance this could steer some users toward ad-free alternatives.



This former Google[X] exec is building a high-tech hat that she says will make telepathy possible in 8 years

Imagine if telepathy were real. If, for example, you could transmit your thoughts to a computer or to another person just by thinking them.

In just eight years it will be, says Openwater founder Mary Lou Jepsen, thanks to technology her company is working on.

Jepsen is a former engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Google[x] (now called X) and Intel. She’s also been a professor at MIT and is an inventor on over 100 patents. And that’s the abbreviated version of her resume.


Jepsen left Facebook to found Openwater in 2016. The San Francisco-based start-up is currently building technology to make medical imaging less expensive.

“I figured out how to put basically the functionality of an M.R.I. machine — a multimillion-dollar M.R.I. machine — into a wearable in the form of a ski hat,” Jepson tells CNBC, though she does not yet have a prototype completed.

So what does that hat have to do with telepathy?

Current M.R.I. technology can already see your thoughts: “If I threw [you] into an M.R.I. machine right now … I can tell you what words you’re about to say, what images are in your head. I can tell you what music you’re thinking of,” says Jepsen. “That’s today, and I’m talking about just shrinking that down.”

One day Jepsen’s tech hat could “literally be a thinking cap,” she says. Jepsen says the goal is for the technology to be able to both read and to output your own thoughts, as well as read the thoughts of others. In iconic Google vocabulary, “the really big moonshot idea here is communication with thought — with telepathy,” says Jepsen.


Traditional M.R.I., or magnetic resonance imaging, uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take images of internal organs. Openwater’s technology instead looks at the flow of oxygen in a person’s body illuminated with benign, infrared light, which will make it more compact and cheaper.

“Our bodies are translucent to that light. The light can get into your head,” says Jepsen, in an interview with Kara Swisher of Recode.

If Jepsen is right and one day ideas will be instantly shared or digitized, that would significantly speed up the process of creating, learning and communicating. Today, it takes time to share an idea, whether by talking about it or writing it down. But telepathy would make all of that instantaneous.

“Right now our output is basically moving our jaws and our tongues or typing [with] our fingers. We’re … limited to this very low output rate from our brains, and what if we could up that through telepathy?” asks Jepsen.

Mary Lou Jepsen, founder and CEO of Openwater

Photo by Bloomberg
Mary Lou Jepsen, founder and CEO of Openwater

Instant transfer of thoughts would also speed up the innovation process. Imagine being a filmmaker or a writer and being able to download the dream you had last night. Or, she suggests, what if all you had to do was think of an idea for a new product, download your thought and then send the digital version of your thought to a 3-D printer?

“That makes our iteration cycle so much faster,” says Jepsen.

Jepsen is not the only one dreaming of communication by thought. Earlier this year, Elon Musk launched Neuralink, a company aiming to merge our brains with computing power, though with a different approach.

“Elon Musk is talking about silicon nanoparticles pulsing through our veins to make us sort of semi-cyborg computers,” says Jepsen. But why not take a noninvasive approach? “I’ve been working and trying to think and invent a way to do this for a number of years and finally happened upon it and left Facebook to do it.”

Talk of telepathy cannot happen without imagining the ethical implications. If wearing a hat would make it possible to read thoughts, then: “Can the police make you wear such a hat? Can the military make you wear such a hat? Can your parents make you wear such a hat?” asks Jepsen.

What if your boss wanted you to wear a telepathy hat at the office?

“We have to answer these questions, so we’re trying to make the hat only work if the individual wants it to work, and then filtering out parts that the person wearing it doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to share.”



Mastering Facebook – A Beginners Guide to Start Making Money with Facebook

Facebook is building a new campus that includes 1,500 apartments and a grocery store

It’s been just over two years since Facebook moved into its 430,000-square-foot, Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Now the company is ready to expand again, and this time it wants to build a lot more than just office space for its workers.


Facebook on Friday unveiled plans to build what it will call its “Willow Campus,” a “mixed-use village” that sounds like a combination of a strip mall, a condo complex and an office park.

The new campus, which will be right behind Facebook’s existing headquarters in Menlo Park on a site the company acquired in 2015, will include a grocery store, a pharmacy and 1,500 housing units, more than 200 of which will be rented at “below market rates.” All of this will be open to the public, according to the company’s blog post. There will also be 125,000 square feet of retail space, and 1.75 million square feet of office space, though it is unclear if the office will be reserved exclusively for Facebook. (A spokesperson said the company is “not able to discuss other specifics right now.”)

Facebook thinks the grocery, retail, housing and office portions of this project will be completed by 2021. This campus will be in addition to the company’s existing office space, not a replacement for it.


Facebook also envisions that this new campus will help with transit, which is poor in the Bay Area, both due to traffic and to a lack of public transit options between San Francisco and cities along the peninsula, where tech giants like Facebook and Google have set up sprawling campuses.


“The region’s failure to continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure alongside growth has led to congestion and delay,” the company wrote on its blog, saying it plans to build a transit center on this new campus and offer “east-west connections” (which don’t exist at the moment).

Imagine a Facebook-owned city that’s open to the public and also swarming with Facebook employees. If you fast-forward to the 2:35 minute mark on this video Facebook posted, you can get a better idea of what the company has in mind.


Tech companies have provided a lightning rod for angry Bay Area locals who have seen tech money dramatically change neighborhoods and rent prices. The buses that many tech companies use to shuttle employees from San Francisco down to their corporate headquarters have been protested and even smashed in the past.

Facebook is conscious of the stereotype and is trying to get out ahead of complaints early with its new campus.

“Going forward, we plan to continue to work closely with local leaders and community members to ensure Facebook’s presence is a benefit to the community. It’s one we’re lucky to call home.”



Mark Zuckerberg doubles down on universal basic income after a trip to Alaska

During his commencement speech at Harvard, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for exploring a system of wealth distribution known as “universal basic income.”

Under basic income, all citizens would receive a standard amount of money each month to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and clothes. Advocates say the system is one of the surest ways to lift people from poverty, since it would provide immediate assistance with no strings attached.

On July 4, Zuckerberg doubled down on his initial support of the concept in a post on Facebook.

He recounted a recent trip that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, took to Alaska, and said the state’s unique social safety net stood out to them. Every year since 1982, law-abiding Alaskans have received a yearly check from the state’s Permanent Dividend Fund, a $52-billion rainy day fund that’s largely made up of oil revenues the government saves in case oil someday becomes less lucrative.

The checks, typically $1,000 to $2,000, are a kickback the government pays to full-time, law-abiding residents.

It’s not technically basic income, since the amount varies each year and is too small by most advocates’ standards, but it’s the closest thing the US has to an ongoing basic income experiment. Zuckerberg praised the system for a couple reasons.

“First, it’s funded by natural resources rather than raising taxes,” he wrote. “Second, it comes from conservative principles of smaller government, rather than progressive principles of a larger safety net. This shows basic income is a bipartisan idea.”

Ultimately, Zuckerberg said the state’s approach “may be a lesson for the rest of the country.”

Recent research suggests that Alaskans see a lot of benefit from their dividends. A survey from the Economic Security Project found that 81% of people said the cash-transfer program increases their quality of life, and 90% agreed the money should go to everyone who is a full-time resident of Alaska.

In his post, Zuckerberg also pointed to a smaller dividend program involving what the state calls Native Corporations. These corporations are owned and run by native Alaskans and sit on native land. Each year, the corporations pay a small dividend to their shareholders.

“So if you’re a Native Alaskan, you would get two dividends: one from your Native Corporation and one from the state Permanent Fund,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The Facebook CEO became the latest tech executive to endorse basic income with his May 25 commencement speech — but Zuckerberg is in good company. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Y Combinator President Sam Altman, eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar, and a handful of others have expressed interest in basic income as a way to stave off the negative effects of widespread automation.

“I think we’ll end up doing universal basic income,” Elon Musk told the crowd at the World Government Summit in Dubai earlier this February. “It’s going to be necessary.”



Facebook’s Hate Speech Rules Make ‘White Men’ a Protected Group

Is Facebook really training its content moderators to protect white men over black children?

Facebook, which topped 2 billion global users yesterday, has been working to fend off critics who say the social networking giant doesn’t do enough to police offensive content and online harassment on its site. But now those efforts may be backfiring following a new report that claims to show the awkward criteria the company uses to choose which content to censor.


A new report on Wednesday from ProPublica, which reviewed internal documents from Facebook, sheds some light on what appears to be the convoluted process through which the social media company determines which allegedly offensive posts are removed and the accounts that get suspended for hate speech. ProPublica reports that the internal guidelines that Facebook uses to train its content censors differentiates between groups such as white men, who fall under a so-called “protected category,” and black children. The latter belong to “subset categories,” which include groups of people whom Facebook would reportedly not protect from online hate speech, according to ProPublica.

The report went on to explain the reasoning behind Facebook’s seemingly confusing moderation policies, which look to censor slurs and other attacks against “protected categories” that are based on race, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and serious disability or disease. Facebook posts including slurs based on those factors would be subject to removal. Other factors—including age, appearance, occupation, social class, and political affiliation—are lumped into unprotected categories based on the idea that they are less central to a person’s identity. Therefore, Facebook’s guidelines would call for slurs against “white men” (which are based on race and sex) to be categorized as hate speech over offensive posts aimed at “black children” (a group based on race and age).

The reasoning there would seem to be that two protected categories outweigh only one. It’s a solution that, perhaps, makes more sense as an algorithm than it does when put into practice with real people and actual offensive posts.

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Still, even if the logic behind Facebook’s policies becomes somewhat less cringeworthy upon further explanation, the company will undoubtedly still have to deal with the backlash stemming from the ProPublica report, which includes a pretty regrettable company training slide that asks moderators which groups Facebook protects and presents the options as “female drivers,” “black children,” and “white men” (with the latter group inexplicably represented by a photo of the pop ensemble the Backstreet Boys, no less). White men are the correct answer under the company’s reported guidelines.



At the very least, the company knows that its policies are not perfect. “The policies do not always lead to perfect outcomes,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, told ProPublica. “That is the reality of having policies that apply to a global community where people around the world are going to have very different ideas about what is OK to share.”

Bickert offered a similar response last month, after the Guardian published more leaked documents showing examples of “disturbing” content that Facebook’s moderation rules would still allow to remain on its site. At the time, Bickert noted that moderating content on a massive scale “is complex, challenging, and essential,” but she also admitted that the company can “get things wrong, and we’re constantly working to make sure that happens less often.”

Facebook certainly isn’t the only digital company to face criticism for its handling of offensive content and online harassment, with Twitter among those also frequently coming under fire. In early May, Facebook hired an additional 3,000 content moderators (bringing the total to 7,500), and the company said it is deleting roughly 66,000 posts it identifies as hate speech each week as part of stepped-up efforts to combat online harassment along with offensive and violent content. Unfortunately for Facebook, the fallout from the ProPublica report is the latest stain on those efforts.



Facebook crosses 2 billion monthly users

Facebook has announced that it now has over 2 billion monthly active users. That’s up from the 1.94 billion total that the company cited as part of its most recent earnings report in May. Mark Zuckerberg shared the news directly, and Fast Company has a story on Facebook’s constant efforts to keep pushing growth upward. “It’s an honor to be on this journey with you,” Zuckerberg wrote. Facebook’s other apps are faring well, too: Messenger has over 1.2 billion monthly users and Facebook-owned WhatsApp tallies a similar figure. Twitter, by comparison, has 328 million monthly active users. Instagram has over 700 million.


“Each day, more than 175 million people share a Love reaction, and on average, over 800 million people like something on Facebook,” product manager Guillermo Spiller said in a press release. “More than 1 billion people use Groups every month.” Facebook will, in its own words, “show appreciation” for its latest milestone over the next few days by rolling out personalized videos tied to its newly revised mission statement. “We’re making progress connecting the world, and now let’s bring the world closer together,” Zuckerberg said.

Bring the world closer together latte art.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, June 26, 2017

Your custom video and some stats tied to your profile will be available on this page, which is where Facebook also plans to share “stories of people who inspire us.”

Facebook will be displaying thank you messages whenever users heart a friend’s post, wish someone a happy birthday, or create a new group — all actions that the company views as central to community building.



Facebook’s plan for original TV is coming together

The Wall Street Journal has reported several details of Facebook’s so far hazy plan to bring original content to its platform.


The first crop of its original series has been set to launch later this summer (though a source later noted that was a “moving target”), and will have both the runtime and the budget of full-fledged cable TV productions. Thirty-minute episodes will include ads, and Facebook is reportedly willing to pay up to $3 million per episode for centerpiece shows. The company is also reportedly interested in sit-com programming with episodic budgets in the six-figure range, and signed deals for short-form content from partners like ATTN, Vox Media, and BuzzFeed earlier this month.

Sources said that Facebook was looking to target an age range of 13–34, focusing on 17–30, and that the company was interested in its own takes on popular reality programming like The Bachelor, melodramas like Scandal, and a large swathe of comedy, but not shows about teens, nor “political dramas, news [or] shows with nudity and rough language.” So, as it stands, it looks like Facebook wants to be the safest, most straight-down-the-middle TV network on the web.

Refinery29’s Strangers, which debuted at Sundance in January, is one of the first shows set to debut on the platform, alongside a revival of MTV’s Loosely Exactly Nicole, which was canceled by Viacom after one season. (MTV’s Mina Lefevre was hired to head scripted content at Facebook in February.) Last State Standing, a reality competition show from the producers of American Ninja Warrior, was also announced earlier this month.


According to the WSJ, Facebook will share ad revenue with creatives who contribute short-form content. And, in a major break from the way online competitors like Netflix and Hulu have been doing business, it will also open up its viewership data to “Hollywood” — presumably production partners. There is so far no hint that Facebook would release viewership data to press.

Update: Facebook provided a comment from VP of media partnerships Nick Grudin via email, writing “We’re supporting a small group of partners and creators as they experiment with the kinds of shows you can build a community around — from sports to comedy to reality to gaming. We’re focused on episodic shows and helping all our partners understand what works across different verticals and topics. We’re funding these shows directly now, but over time we want to help lots of creators make videos funded through revenue sharing products like Ad Break.”



Facebook Changes Its Mission With Announcement About Groups

For anyone still wondering if Mark Zuckerberg plans to run for president, today should dispel that myth. It appears that his tour of America — which many speculated is an effort to score political points — was designed to give the 33-year-old CEO a chance to learn about human behavior, in the physical and digital worlds, in order for him to build a better product. He wants to turn Facebook into a place where users form popular groups and hang out together, a lot.

Zuckerberg chose a peculiar — and telling — location to announce to the world that, after much research and reflection, he is changing the mission of his company. He wasn’t at his Silicon Valley campus, nestled between ping pong tables and bean bags (standard tech iconography).

Today, the CEO explained, Facebook’s mission will change to focus on the activity levels of users, and to support the most active so that they can keep building the digital spaces that draw in the masses. In official language, the new mission is to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

The company is releasing new tools that allow people who build Facebook groups to see a bit of the treasure trove of data that the social media platform historically has hoarded — like the times of day that group members are most engaged. Users will be able to schedule a post in advance — an announcement that garnered thunderous applause.

Zuckerberg wants to get 1 billion Facebook users to join “meaningful communities.” For the last six months, his team has been running an experiment to have algorithms reorganize users’ digital lives by suggesting groups that may be of interest — perhaps one for nature lovers or for Christians, groups that three or four friends just joined. He explained “most people don’t seek out communities in the physical world or online. Either your friends invite you or on Facebook we suggest them for you.”

He posits that through these algorithm-driven groups, Facebook is helping TO save us from the social isolation of the physical world: “If we can do this, it will not only turn around the whole decline in community membership we’ve seen for decades, it will start to strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together.”



‘Deadpool’ Pirate Arrested; Illegal Copy Of Fox/Marvel Movie Watched By 5M On Facebook

A Fresno, Calif., man shared a full version of “Deadpool” on his Facebook page while the 20th Century Fox film was still in theaters — and more than 5 million people watched the pirated copy, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.

Federal agents on Tuesday arrested Trevon Maurice Franklin, 21, who used the screen name “Tre-Von M. King,” on the criminal charge of copyright infringement. The Department of Justice alleges that he uploaded “Deadpool” approximately eight days after its Feb. 12, 2016, theatrical release.

Franklin faces up to three years in federal prison on the charge. He was busted after a federal grand jury in April returned an indictment alleging he reproduced and distributed a copyrighted work, based on an investigation by the FBI.

“Deadpool,” starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular Marvel antihero, grossed $363 million at the U.S. box office, according to Box Office Mojo. Twentieth Century Fox is producing “Deadpool 2” with Reynolds reprising the role, set to be released June 1, 2018.


It’s not clear how long the pirated copy of “Deadpool” remained on Facebook. Reps for the social giant did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The case against Franklin is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan White and Vicki Chou of the DOJ’s Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section.

Separately, this week a group of 30 entertainment companies, including Disney, Netflix, Amazon, CBS, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros., announced a new anti-piracy coalition aimed at fighting copyright infringement online and suing criminals.


Feds Arrest California Man for Posting ‘Deadpool’ Full Movie on Facebook

Facebook’s AI crosses language barrier to assist in Spanish

Any technology that only works in English neglects 75% of the world. That problem is especially severe for Facebook with its global userbase. Yet most languages are being left out by the advances in artificial intelligence centered around natural language processing led by researchers in the U.S. and China.

But today marks a milestone for AI accessibility. Facebook Messenger’s artificial intelligence assistant “M” can now make recommendations in Spanish of Messenger features to use if it detects that that’s the language someone writes in. M Suggests rolled them out in English two months ago.

The feature scans the words and intent of your messages, then pops up optional suggestions from Messenger’s many features. Say “Te debo $20” and M suggests the payments feature. Write “Besos!” and it will surface lovey-dovey stickers you can send. Ask “¿Dónde estás?” and M pulls up the location sharing feature.


M Suggestions are now available to all Facebook users with their language set to Spanish in the US, and the feature is rolling out in Mexico.


Last year Facebook added a multilingual sharing button so Pages can post in one language and have it appear to people in their native tongues. And now well over 800 million users see translated News Feed posts each month after Facebook dropped Bing to focus on strengthening the AI behind its own translation technology.

Hopefully the next step for Messenger will be real-time translation for conversation partners across languages, that way we can connect, cooperate, and commiserate with people from different cultures. We fear what we don’t understand. But if Facebook’s translation tech can show us just how similar we are to people from other countries, it could promote tolerance between all humans.


Facebook’s AI crosses language barrier to assist in Spanish

‘Facebook is only half in’: Creators doubt Facebook’s commitment to original programming

Publishers are happy to take Facebook’s funding for original video programming, but several existing and potential content partners expressed doubts that the company is committed to short-form shows for the long run.

Facebook is paying for both long- and short-form shows as part of its initiative. With long-form shows, which Facebook would entirely own, Facebook is willing to shell out as much as $250,000 per episode — equaling low-end cable TV budgets. These will be only a handful of shows, however, as most of Facebook’s deals so far concern short-form programming that runs anywhere between four and 10 minutes per episode. These are called “spotlight” shows by Facebook, which has signed up BuzzFeed, Attn, Mashable, Group Nine Media and others as partners.

For short-form shows, Facebook is willing to pay $10,000 to $40,000 per episode. Here, the media partner would retain the rights to the show, which they can distribute on their own site after seven days on Facebook or other platforms 14 days after premiering on Facebook.

Unlike Snap, which is also seeking exclusive shows, media partners describe a relationship where Facebook is more “hands off” with the short-form shows it’s buying. After a pitch process, Facebook selects which ideas it likes and orders full seasons outright, instead of piloting them. (Sources that are working with Facebook on the long-form shows describe a different situation where Facebook is more involved.)

“They’re trying to move as quickly as they can to launch this, so it’s more focused on getting big partners on board versus actually programming,” said one publisher that’s sold a short-form series to Facebook. “In that way, it feels like the first round of YouTube grants.”

It’s an approach that has rubbed some digital publishing partners the wrong way.

“Doesn’t this just scream that Facebook is only half in on this?” said one top Facebook video publisher. “If they came in with stricter guidelines — ‘We’re ponying up cash so [these shows] can only be on Facebook’ — we’d see them as tough negotiators, but at least we’d feel that they were serious about being a video destination versus trying to lure media partners in with yet another product.”

Much of the trepidation comes from publishers that have been paid by Facebook in the past to create content — specifically, for Facebook Live — and now fear a bit of déjà vu.



A Haiti reboot? Country welcomes Google, Facebook, Silicon Valley to tech summit

Social entrepreneurs, influencers and startup innovators kicked off a two-day technology summit in Haiti on Tuesday, hoping to help transform the poverty-stricken nation into a hub of innovation.

The brainchild of Christine Souffrant Ntim, a Dubai-based Haitian-American entrepreneur, the Haiti Tech Summit is expected to bring in about 100 speakers representing Google, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb, and covering topics including launching a startup, the importance of smart cities and branding.

Addressing the 450-plus participants at the sold-out event Tuesday were former Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis, who spoke about the importance of technology in education, and Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who welcomed attendees to the Royal Decameron Indigo Beach Resort & Spa on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ben Horowitz gave the opening talk, citing advice from Haitian Revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture: To change a country, you have to start by changing the culture.

“Culture is deep in our DNA,” Horowitz said. “Changing culture is how we change Haiti.”


Ntim, who is the founder of a mobile network connecting global travelers to street vendors in developing countries, said the goal behind the summit is to “transform the narrative around Haiti’s brand as a nation.”

During the next 13 years, Ntim said, she wants to “catapult Haiti forward through innovation, tech and entrepreneurship.”

“We know Haiti can actually transform itself, be a new global case study for what happens when you actually get the right influences in the room to transform a nation,” she told the gathering.

That poses particular challenges in Haiti.

Despite Haitians’ embrace of the widely popular messaging app WhatsAPP, for example, a recent Hootsuite study of social media and digital trends around the world shows the country of 11 million people lagging behind many of its Caribbean counterparts. For example, Haiti’s internet penetration rate is only 15 percent compared to Cuba, which has a 32 percent internet penetration rate. Until recently, Cuba, which has a population size similar to Haiti, severely limited access to the internet for its population. In recent years, it has been adding public Wi-Fi hotspots around the island.

Over the years, efforts to introduce technology into Haiti’s pen-and-paper culture have failed. An effort to encourage mobile phone-based money transfers, which is popular in Kenya, failed to catch on. Haitian lawmakers have blocked efforts to adopt an electronic signature law despite robust lobbying by U.S. and other foreign officials seeking to boost Haiti’s ease-of-doing-business ranking.

But rather than see such skepticism and resistance as obstacles, Mildred Louis, a technology consultant who formerly worked for Haiti telecom giant Digicel and serves as communications director for the summit, sees opportunities.

“Sometimes what it takes is the disrupters in the market to force a movement,” Louis said. “In a market like Haiti, we need to force a movement. A lot of people didn’t think this summit was real, and today we have business leaders, members of the wealthy families asking, ‘how can we be involved?’

“There is a pool of potential here to build an incubation system, alliances, foster coding and a tech industry,” she said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article154723829.html#storylink=cpy

Facebook to fund training of 3,000 Michigan workers for digital jobs

Facebook will fund the training of 3,000 Michigan workers for jobs in digital marketing over the next two years, the social media giant’s COO Sheryl Sandberg announced Thursday during a visit to Detroit.

Grand Circus, a computer coding training firm that’s part of Dan Gilbert’s family of companies, will offer the 10-week training courses in Detroit and Grand Rapids in partnership with Facebook.

Sandberg told Crain’s that the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company’s funding of the training is designed to help fill a growing shortage of computer coding jobs and develop talent for a future possible expansion into Michigan.

“Auto is a very important industry for us,” Sandberg said in a interview with Crain’s. “This is a growing part of our business and we’re hoping we can expand here because our business will demand it.”

The training courses at Grand Circus’ offices in the David Broderick Tower next to Grand Circus Park will begin in July, said Damien Rocchi, co-founder and CEO of Grand Circus.

“Facebook’s intention is to do this nationally, but this has been launched here (first),” Rocchi told Crain’s. “I think it’s an endorsement for the tech community that we’ve built here and the sort of traction we’ve been getting in Detroit over the last five or six years.”

Grand Circus is about to graduate its 50th class of coders this summer and said it has 650 graduates working in 120 companies across the state.

Ellen Zimmer, 55, went through Grand Circus’ 10-week training last fall for front-end website development and landed a job at Quicken Loans Inc. in February as a software project manager — after spending 10 years out of the workforce.

“It enabled me to form a network so I knew who was hiring, what kind of skills they were looking,” said Zimmer, who had a previous career in early internet marketing at at the former Ameritech Corp. “It brought me up to current.”

During an announcement speech, Sandberg highlighted Zimmer’s story as “an example” of how training experienced workers in new skills can help get in-demand tech jobs.

“The world changed an awful lot in those 10 years you were out of the workplace,” Sandberg said to Zimmer. “But it didn’t matter because what Ellen needed — she had the core skills — she needed an opportunity to learn and she got that here.”

Sandberg said Facebook will work closely with Grand Circus on training Michigan workers in the areas where Facebook and other companies need help.

“When we can find a great local partner like this that we can partner with to help provide the training people need and we can bring them what we know, it’s just a great opportunity for us to develop people who will go to do great work with Facebook and other local companies,” she said.

Facebook is adding emphasis on getting Grand Circus to train women and racial minorities for jobs in digital and social media marketing, Sandberg said.

“We want to develop diverse talent,” she said. “And we want to make sure that we can get the talent that we need. And some of these people go on to work for other companies — that’s great.”

Facebook operates a small sales office in Birmingham and Sandberg did not rule out a future expansion of the technical end of website’s business in Michigan. “We always start with sales offices,” she said.

Sheryl Sandberg_Facebook_i

Gov. Rick Snyder praised Facebook’s job training initiative.

“This commitment Facebook is making to Michigan shows their confidence in the state and its residents,” Snyder said Thursday in a statement. “Convergence between the tech and manufacturing sectors is becoming more prominent throughout Michigan and the world, making this type of partnership between employers and education to grow the professional trades more important than ever before.”

Sandberg visited Grand Circus’ offices Thursday morning and had a private meeting with Gilbert before announcing the job training initiative with Rocchi before a crowd of Grand Circus graduates, many of whom land jobs down Woodward Avenue at Gilbert’s Quicken Loans.

In her one-day visit to Detroit, Sandberg went from Grand Circus to General Motors Co.’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant to get a tour with GM CEO Mary Barra.

Before the tour, Sandberg and Barra talked about the convergence of automobiles and computer technology in a Facebook Live video recorded at the assembly plant Barra once ran as general manager.

“I think the fact that you’re giving them that core skill of coding, which is going to be necessary in every industry, is just so important,” Barra said of Facebook’s job training initiative.



Facebook inserts itself into politics with new tools that help elected officials reach constituents

Facebook this year has launched a number of features that make it easier for people to reach their government representatives on its social network, including “Town Hall,” and related integrations with News Feed, as well as ways to share reps’ contact info in your own posts. Today, the company is expanding on these initiatives with those designed for elected officials themselves. The new tools will help officials connect with their constituents, as well as better understand which issues their constituents care about most.

Specifically, the social network is rolling out three new features: constituent badges, constituent insights, and district targeting.


Constituent badges are a new, opt-in feature that allow Facebook users to identify themselves as a person living in the district the elected official represents. Facebook determines whether or not someone is a constituent based on the address information provided either in Town Hall, or as part of the process used to turn on the badges.

While anyone could enter a fake address and pretend to be a constituent, Facebook has put controls in place to limit those bad actors. For starters, Facebook users can only be a verified constituent based on one address at a time – and, if a person changes their address, their badge is removed from prior posts. Facebook also limits the number of times an address can be changed, we understand.

The idea with the badges is to make it easier for elected officials to determine which Facebook comments, questions and concerns are being shared by those they actually represent. Whether or not they’ll treat these sentiments with the same degree of importance as they would a phone call, email, or letter remains to be seen.

Facebook users will be prompted to turn on constituent badges when they like or comment on posts by their reps through a unit that appears on the page. Alternately, users can go to the Town Hall section on Facebook to turn on the badge themselves.

Once enabled, badges will appear anytime a person comments on content shared by their own representatives.


A second feature called Constituent Insights is designed to help elected officials learn which local news stories and content is popular in their district, so they can share their thoughts on those matters.

This will be available to the reps through a new Page Insights feature, available to Page admins, which includes a horizontally scrollable section where locally trending news stories appear. Here, the elected officials can click a link to post that story to their Facebook Page, along with their thoughts on the issue.

Additionally, constituents will be able to browse through these same stories on a new Community tab on the official’s Facebook Page.

The third new feature – District Targeting – is arguably the most notable.


This effectively gives elected officials the means of gathering feedback from their constituents through Facebook directly, using either posts or polls that are targeted only towards those who actually live in their particular district.

That means the official can post to Facebook to ask for feedback from constituents about an issue, and these posts will only be viewable by those who live in their district.

Of course, this also means that the elected official would be taking an active – even proactive – role in engaging with their community and constituent base, rather than waiting for constituents to reach out to their office with their thoughts, as is often the case today.

Overall, the combination of Town Hall with these new features aimed at government officials represent a growing effort at Facebook to become more involved in the political process and the dialog surrounding policy issues.



Facebook is bringing gaming videos to the living room

Facebook is determined to become a destination for gaming videos, and that includes when you’re lounging on the couch. It’s adding a dedicated gaming tab to its TV app that will highlight videos from the games, developers, eSports teams and personalities you like on Facebook. If you want to catch a tournament highlight or a new game trailer, you won’t have to pull out your phone or leave the living room.

Image result for Facebook is bringing gaming videos to the living room


The social network tells us the gaming section will be available June 10th on Amazon’s Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Samsung Smart TVs. This probably won’t be your first choice for gaming videos, but consider this: some platforms (most notably Apple TV) don’t have great choices for gaming-centric videos. Unless you’re content to search YouTube, this may be your best bet for gaming videos if you don’t have access to the likes of Twitch or Mixer.



Top Media Publishers Drive 86% Growth in Video Views on Facebook

In the fast-paced world of online video, it is critical that stakeholders – whether that’s creators, media publishers, brands, marketing teams, or advertisers – have access to the most relevant data so they can build those insights into their production, and distribution strategies. But how do you determine the right strategies for your brand, and what data do you need at your fingertips to make those mission-critical decisions?

As part of our quarterly deep-dive into the insights that matter in online video, Tubular’s new ‘State of Online Video Report Q1 2017’, highlights the data on total social video performance across all the video distribution platforms that Tubular tracks. You’ll be able to utilise our observations on brands or media & entertainment, specific industries of interest, or our Q2 2017 predictions to inform your own video strategy.

The report covers the growth, sizing and benchmarking insights that matter based on total social video performance in Q1-2017 across the main video platforms. In addition, we also turned the spotlight on some different publishers, and different industry verticals and platforms to see what kind of content was really resonating with online video viewers.

In terms of video consumption on Facebook, we took a look at the top 2000 creators uploading content to that site, and found that media publishers were generating an incredible number of views and engagements. The top 2000 media companies active on Facebook saw a 86% increase in social video views in Q1 2017, compared to Q1 2016. The research also highlighted the fact that these publishers saw a 73% increase in likes, shares, and comments year-on-year, and that video uploads from the top 2000 media companies had increased by 109% over the same time period.

Source: Top Media Publishers Drive 86% Growth in Video Views on Facebook http://tubularinsights.com/top-media-publishers-facebook-video/#ixzz4iayDlIaL
©TubularInsights.com, All Rights Reserved

Facebook Live now lets you add a friend to live stream together

Facebook is now opening up the ability for users to invite a friend for a collaborative broadcast. Think of it like a Hangouts on Air via YouTube Live (what a mouthful!) — you can ask a Facebook friend to join and share the live stream screen even when you’re not in the same place. Facebook first offered this feature to public figures, but now it’ll be available for all users and Pages going live through the iOS app.


Both portrait and landscape modes are supported — in the former, the host will have the bulk of the screen real estate and their friend will show up in picture-in-picture; in landscape, the two user screens are split down the middle. Facebook did not say when the feature will arrive on Android devices.

Today’s update also comes with the ability for live-streaming users to start a direct message with one of their viewers so they can have a private chat during the broadcast. Facebook says these are some of the more “fun” and “social” recent additions to the feature. I’ll say, given that it had one of the most gruesome months in April after consecutive weeks of live-streamed murders. After those separate incidents, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to add 3,000 moderators to review videos and flagged reports.




Facebook and MLB partner to bring live-streamed games to the social network

Facebook and the MLB announced today a new live-streaming partnership that will bring 20 live, regular season games to the social network. The games will air weekly on Facebook, with the first — Rockies at Reds — showing tomorrow night at 7:10 PM ET on the official MLB Facebook Page. Additional games and times will be announced later.

The weekly broadcasts on Facebook will come from a feed of a participating team’s local broadcaster rightsholder, the companies said.

“It’s really important for us in terms of experimenting with a new partner in this area… we’re really excited about this new partnership,” noted Commissioner Rob Manfred when announcing the organization’s plans to live stream games on Friday nights, without blackouts.

This is not the first time the MLB has leveraged Facebook for streaming its games, however. The organization has been fairly forward-thinking in this area in the past. For example, in 2011 — before the launch of Facebook Live — MLB aired some of its spring training games live on Facebook by embedding its MLB.tv player into its Facebook Page.

Since the launch of Facebook Live, the MLB has used the platform to live stream news and analysis from around the league, as with its Facebook airing of “12:25 Live with Alexa,” where it also incorporates fan comments and questions into its programming.

It has also live streamed special league ceremonies, behind-the-scenes footage with players and teams and other live shows. It also went live for last season’s World Series for pre-game and post-game press conferences and other events.



The new streaming deal will expand beyond these earlier efforts to actually stream live games to Facebook users — broadening access to games beyond their local markets. However, the games will only live stream to users in the U.S., the MLB noted, not baseball fans worldwide.

“Baseball games are uniquely engaging community experiences, as the chatter and rituals in the stands are often as meaningful to fans as the action on the diamond,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s Head of Global Sports Partnerships, in a statement. “By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can re-imagine this social experience on a national scale.”


Facebook and MLB partner to bring live-streamed games to the social network

Facebook Live, CrossFit Cut Deal Over Live Events

Facebook Live (FB) and CrossFit are said to have come to terms on a deal that will result in the social media company’s live platform carrying live CrossFit events as well as shoulder programming through the year.



Terms of the deal were not announced, but Facebook is said to have paid an unknown fee for the programming, which will also be streamed on YouTube and Games.CrossFit.com, Sports Business Daily reports.

“We’re splitting our audience to a certain extent, but we also feel like we’re getting new lift and new engagement by having it on multiple platforms,” CrossFit Games GM Justin Bergh said, according to Sports Business Daily. “We’re always looking for better ways to serve our community. This gave us new tools that allowed us to talk and listen in a way that was going to make the experience for our fans different than anything they’ve had before.”





Facebook’s new research tool is designed to create a truly conversational AI

Most of us talk to our computers on a semi-regular basis, but that doesn’t mean the conversation is any good. We ask Siri what the weather is like, or tell Alexa to put some music on, but we don’t expect sparkling repartee — voice interfaces right now are as sterile as the visual interface they’re supposed to replace. Facebook, though, is determined to change this: today it unveiled a new research tool that the company hopes will spur progress in the march to create truly conversational AI.

The tool is called ParlAI (pronounced like Captain Jack Sparrow asking to parley) and is described by the social media network as a “one-stop shop for dialog research.” It gives AI programmers a simple framework for training and testing chatbots, complete with access to datasets of sample dialogue, and a “seamless” pipeline to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. This latter is a crucial feature, as it means programmers can easily hire humans to interact with, test, and correct their chatbots.

Abigail See, a computer science PhD at Stanford University welcomed the news, saying frameworks like this were “very valuable” to scientists. “There’s a huge volume of AI research being produced right now, with new techniques, datasets and results announced every month,” said See in an email to The Verge. “Platforms [like ParlAI] offer a unified framework for researchers to easily develop, compare and replicate their experiments.”

In a group interview, Antoine Bordes from Facebook’s AI research lab FAIR said that ParlAI was designed to create a missing link in the world of chatbots. “Right now there are two types of dialogue systems,” explains Bordes. The first, he says, are those that “actually serve some purpose” and execute an action for the user (e.g., Siri and Alexa); while the second serves no purpose, but is actually entertaining to talk to (like Microsoft’s Tay — although, yes, that one didn’t turn out great).


“What we’re after with ParlAI, is more about having a machine where you can have multi-turn dialogue; where you can build up a dialogue and exchange ideas,” says Bordes. “ParlAI is trying to develop the capacity for chatbots to enter long-term conversation.” This, he says, will require memory on the bot’s part, as well as a good deal of external knowledge (provided via access to datasets like Wikipedia), and perhaps even an idea of how the user is feeling. “In that respect, the field is very preliminary and there is still a lot of work to do,” says Bordes.

It’s important to note that ParlAI isn’t a tool for just anyone. Unlike, say, Microsoft’s chatbot frameworks, this is a piece of kit that’s aimed at the cutting-edge AI research community, rather than developers trying to create a simple chatbot for their website. It’s not so much about building actual bots, but finding the best ways to train them in the first place. There’s no doubt, though, that this work will eventually filter through to Facebook’s own products (like its part-human-powered virtual assistant M) and to its chatbot platform for Messenger.




Facebook cracks down on fake live videos

Facebook is banning misleading uses of its Live video format. The company tells TechCrunch that it’s adding a section to its Live API Facebook Platform Policy that reads “Don’t use the API to publish only images (ex: don’t publish static, animated, or looping images), or to live-stream polls associated with unmoving or ambient broadcasts.”

Videos that violate the policy will have reduced visibility on Facebook, and publishers that repeatedly break the rule may have their access to Facebook Live restricted.

TechCrunch called on Facebook to crack down on fake “Live” videos back in January after it announced a list of the top 10 Live videos of 2016 — half of which weren’t really Live but instead just polls or countdowns on a static background.

Facebook asked for viewer feedback, and heard that users don’t find these static images or graphics-only pools to be interesting or engaging Live content. In December, Facebook quietly barred graphics-only Live videos that used Likes or Reactions to get people to vote from the News Feed.

Now Facebook is taking the next step toward preserving the sanctity of the Live format.


It’s the urgency, unpredictability and on-screen action that draws people to Live videos and gets them to keep watching to see what happens next. If users grow accustomed to fake Live videos, they may watch all Live videos less, and be less inclined to open notifications about people or publishers they follow starting to broadcast.

We’ve reached out for clarifications about one prevalent type of misleading Live videos: countdowns. Since these are often filmed with a computer graphic over a looping background, videos like the New Year’s countdown above from BuzzFeed could potentially be qualify, but Facebook tells me that for now, countdowns of real-world happens that don’t loop are not prohibited. But if publishers who post thes keep getting negative feedback, their reach could shrink, and Facebook seays it will continue to monitor this trend.

Facebook has poured a ton of engineering and marketing resources into owning the verb, “to go Live.” Keeping the quality of these broadcasts high is critical to it recouping those costs over the long-term by being the the premier place to record and watch Live social content.

Camera Silhouette and screen

Want in on a Facebook Group? Get ready to take a quiz

Facebook is now letting creators of Groups screen potential group members by issuing a three-question quiz, part of a larger effort by Facebook to dole out more tools to Group Admins and filter out potential abusers or trolls from private Groups.


The new feature rollout for Groups was reported earlier today by TechCrunch. It lives within the Group settings, where Group Admins can opt to “Ask Pending Members Questions” and create up to three questions that will be presented to people requesting to join the Group. As TechCrunch points out, only admins and moderators can see the answers to the questions.

Based on our experiments so far, it seems as though admins from “Open” and “Closed” groups have the option, but admins of a “Secret” group don’t. Presumably, if you’re maintaining a secret group, you’re already screening members; but we’ve reached out to Facebook to verify that’s how the questionnaire will work.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg first alluded to upcoming changes in Group administrative tools in a multi-thousand-word manifesto he shared back in February. “Today, Facebook’s tools for group admins are relatively simple,” Zuckerberg wrote then. “We plan to build more tools to empower community leaders like Monis [Bukhari, a man in Berlin running a refugee support group] to run and grow their groups the way they’d like, similar to what we’ve done with Pages.”


Zuckerberg also said at the time that Facebook plans to “expand groups to support sub-communities,” suggesting that even more changes are in the works.

As Facebook has ballooned into a social network with nearly two billion users, it’s had to face some hard realities about the influence it has on society, whether related to the sharing of “fake news,” the potential swaying of election results, or the distribution of violent videos on its site. And as almost everyone who uses Facebook is aware, it’s both a magical tool for connecting people around the world and one where abusive content can live and fester — and Groups are no exception.

The quizzes appear to be just the first step in keeping potential unwelcome members out of a Group. The bigger question is how many controls Facebook will give to admins to keep bad actors out while maintaining a sense of community, a word that Zuckerberg used a mere 82 times in his manifesto.



Mark Zuckerberg interview at Stanford 2005

Facebook downranks News Feed links to crappy sites smothered in ads

Facebook will bury links to low-quality websites and refuse to carry ads pointing to them in a News Feed algorithm change announced today. Facebook defines a “low-quality site” as one “containing little substantive content, and that is covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads.” This includes hosting pop-up and interstitial ads, adult ads or eye-catching but disgusting ads for products that fight fat or foot fungus.

The change could help Facebook fight fake news, as fakers are often financially motivated and blanket their false information articles in ads.

High-quality sites may see a slight boost in referral traffic, while crummy sites will see a decline as the update rolls out gradually over the coming months. Facebook tells me that the change will see it refuse an immaterial number of ad impressions that earned it negligible amounts of money, so it shouldn’t have a significant impact on Facebook’s revenue.

Facebook product manager for News Feed Greg Marra tells me Facebook made the decision based on surveys of users about what disturbed their News Feed experience. One pain point they commonly cited was links that push them to “misleading, sensational, spammy, or otherwise low-quality experiences . . .[including] sexual content, shocking content, and other things that are going to be really disruptive.”

Today’s change is important because if users don’t trust the content on the other side of the links and ads they see in News Feed, they’ll click them less. That could reduce Facebook’s advertising revenue and the power it derives from controlling referral traffic. Getting sent to a low-quality, shocking site from News Feed could also frustrate users and cause them to end their Facebook browsing session, depriving the social network of further ad views, engagement and content sharing.


Facebook previously tried to reduce the prevalence of links to low-quality sites with a2014 News Feed update that suppressed sites that people came back to News Feed immediately after viewing.

To implement the update, Marra tells me Facebook “reviewed hundreds of thousands of webpages, identifying which ones have low-quality content.” It used this data to train an AI system to constantly scan new links shared in News Feed, looking for ones that match the low-quality site training data set. It then demotes these sites and blocks them from buying Facebook ads.

The parameters Facebook used to classify sites as low-quality include:

  • A disproportionate volume of ads relative to content. This includes advertisements, and not legal obligations such as cookie policies or logins to private content, such as paywalls.

  • Featuring sexually suggestive or shocking content. See relevant policies for Sensational Content and Adult Content.

  • Pages that contain malicious or deceptive ads which include Prohibited Content as defined in our policies.

  • Use of pop-up ads or interstitial ads, which disrupt the user experience.

One of the most prominent hosts of these types of ads is Forbes, which shows an annoying full-screen interstitial ad before you can read its articles. When specifically asked if Forbes would come under the gun, Marra diplomatically admitted “Interstitial popover ads are one of things people are telling us are disruptive.

If Facebook can keep people confident that the links they click lead to quality content, it could continue to be the homepage of the internet.


Facebook downranks News Feed links to crappy sites smothered in ads

Facebook created a faster, more accurate translation system using artificial intelligence

Facebook’s billion-plus users speak a plethora of languages, and right now, the social network supports translation of over 45 different tongues. That means that if you’re an English speaker confronted with German, or a French speaker seeing Spanish, you’ll see a link that says “See Translation.”

But Tuesday, Facebook announced that its machine learning experts have created a neural network that translates language up to nine times faster and more accurately than other current systems that use a standard method to translate text.

The scientists who developed the new system work at the social network’s FAIR group, which stands for Facebook A.I. Research.

“Neural networks are modeled after the human brain,” says Michael Auli, of FAIR, and a researcher behind the new system. One of the problems that a neural network can help solve is translating a sentence from one language to another, like French into English. This network could also be used to do tasks like summarize text, according to a blog item posted on Facebook about the research.



But there are multiple types of neural networks. The standard approach so far has been to use recurrent neural networks to translate text, which look at one word at a time and then predict what the output word in the new language should be. It learns the sentence as it reads it. But the Facebook researchers tapped a different technique, called a convolutional neural network, or CNN, which looks at words in groups instead of one at a time.

“It doesn’t go left to right,” Auli says, of their translator. “[It can] look at the data all at the same time.” For example, a convolutional neural network translator can look at the first five words of a sentence, while at the same time considering the second through sixth words, meaning the system works in parallel with itself.

Graham Neubig, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute, researches natural language processing and machine translation. He says that this isn’t the first time this kind of neural network has been used to translate text, but that this seems to be the best he’s ever seen it executed with a convolutional neural network.

“What this Facebook paper has basically showed—it’s revisiting convolutional neural networks, but this time they’ve actually made it really work very well,” he says.

Facebook isn’t yet saying how it plans to integrate the new technology with its consumer-facing product yet; that’s more the purview of a department there call the applied machine learning group. But in the meantime, they’ve released the tech publicly as open-source, so other coders can benefit from it

That’s a point that pleases Neubig. “If it’s fast and accurate,” he says, “it’ll be a great additional contribution to the field.”



Facebook campaigns against fake news in UK ahead of election

Facebook has announced a national print advertising campaign in the UK to educate the British public about fake news, as part of a concerted global effort to crack down on the false information epidemic it has seen on its platform.
The social network’s full-page print ads will appear in four UK newspapers on Monday, including the Telegraph, Times, Metro and Guardian, reproducing the same 10 tips to spot fake news that it launched on Facebook itself last month. The move, which comes a month before the UK general election, follows similar newspaper ads in Germany and France last month ahead of their elections, in newspapers including Bild, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Le Monde and Les Échos.


“People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we. That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news,” said Simon Milner, Facebook’s director of policy for the UK. “To help people spot false news, we are showing tips to everyone . . . on how to identify if something they see is false.” The 10 tips include watching out for fraudulent web addresses and manipulated photos, as well as considering the source and tone of a story, such as whether it is a joke.

The latest campaign is one part of Facebook’s evolving response to accusations the group was responsible for influencing the US presidential election, through the spread of fake news stories and “filter bubbles”. Since November, it has been working with American fact-checkers such as Snopes and Politifact, later expanding to partnerships with non-profits and media companies in Germany and France.

“Obviously they are trying very hard to reduce this problem because they are facing regulatory pressure in the UK, Germany and elsewhere, they have to be seen to be doing something,” said Professor Charlie Beckett, a media expert at the London School of Economics.


“And they are genuinely engaging with it. They want to signal to everyone that they take this seriously.” Facebook also said it had removed tens of thousands of fake accounts in the UK alone over the past two months. This spring clean, the company said, would “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts”. The new activities reflect an effort by Facebook to head off a potential reaction from lawmakers, similar to those in Germany pursuing fines for fake news.




Facebook TV is coming this summer, report says

Facebook, which is definitely not a media company, is reportedly planning to launch around two dozen original “TV-like” programs in mid-June. Are you ready to catch the opening credits in your newsfeed, stop what you’re doing, and watch some prestige television?

Back in December, rumors started flying that Facebook was looking to follow Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix into the original content game. And now, multiple sources tell Business Insider that those plans are well under way. According to the report:


They said the social network had been looking for shows in two distinct tiers: a marquee tier for a few longer, big-budget shows that would feel at home on TV, and a lower tier for shorter, less expensive shows of about five to 10 minutes that would refresh every 24 hours.

The new video initiative means Facebook would play a much more hands-on role in controlling the content that appears on its social network with nearly 2 billion members — and it comes as companies like Amazon, YouTube, and Snap are locked in an arms race to secure premium video programming.

Sources are framing this push as Facebook simultaneously picking up the torch of advertiser-supported television as well as an attempt to keep pace with Snapchat. With premium services like Amazon reducing the number of cable subscribers, ad-based networks like YouTube see an opportunity to snatch up defectors. And while Snapchat is still far behind Facebook in user count, Zuckerberg worries that his company is behind the times when it comes to innovation and attracting younger eyeballs.


Business Insider’s sources say that Facebook will be getting a reimagined video tab and a lot of comedic shows that last between five and thirty minutes. But execs are also looking to produce higher quality content. Multiple sources referenced Netflix’s House of Cards as the primary template for the network. Only time will tell if the platform is appropriate for that kind of content and whether or not the company has secured the right curatorial talent to greenlight that type of project. Amazon has Ted Hope leading its motion picture division. Hope has run multiple production companies and produced some of the most critically acclaimed films of the last two decades. Facebook has hired Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of CollegeHumor, to handle its original acquisitions.

Honestly, it doesn’t seem like you should expect much. When asked why people would start seeing Facebook as a video destination, one source said, “Facebook hasn’t figured it out, and another said, “That’s a needle they have to thread.” A-list stars are vaguely mentioned but the only show that’s actually described as being greenlit is about people going on virtual reality first dates. That sounds like a (glorious?) train wreck.

One area in which Facebook wouldn’t necessarily need to have good taste or expertise is sports. ESPN is floundering and the social network is reportedly talking with the MLB about bringing baseball to its video channel.


Back in the final days of the U.S. election, when everyone thought Donald Trump was sure to lose, there was a lot of talk about Trump starting his own Facebook news network. Now, Zuckerberg is definitely not on a presidential campaign tour, and he’s definitely not running a media company. It’s a good thing we’ve firmly established that a president must leave their business ties behind if they want to hold office.



WhatsApp’s Status feature now has more daily users than Snapchat

Less than three months after its introduction, WhatsApp’s generic take on Snapchat stories now has 175 million users, Facebook said today. That’s a healthy number of users for the communication app, which has more than 1 billion users around the world. And it suggests Facebook’s strategy of cloning Snapchat across its entire suite of products is having its desired effect — halting Snapchat’s growth around the world, while also opening up valuable new surfaces for advertising.

The popularity of WhatsApp Status has been hard to gauge for US-based journalists, since the app is much more popular overseas. Given that relatively few international users had been exposed to the stories format before, it seemed reasonable that it could prove popular in WhatsApp. Facebook’s announcement today during an earnings call confirms that, for now at least, it appears to be working.

Snapchat faces a strong challenge from Facebook, and currently has 161 million daily users, the company said in February. The good news for Snapchat is they don’t appear to be going anywhere — more than half of users don’t visit Facebook daily, and nearly half don’t visit Instagram daily, according to App Annie research shared with Bloomberg.

Also, WhatsApp was down today.



Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi launches commercially in India

Express Wi-Fi is one of Facebook’s many connectivity initiatives under its internet.org umbrella. Unlike more futuristic projects like the Aquila drone, though, the emphasis here is on existing Wi-Fi technologies and allowing local entrepreneurs to resell internet access.

In India, Facebook is currently working with a number of local ISPs and 500 local entrepreneurs, but that number is about to grow quite a bit.

As the company announced today, it’s now launching the service commercially in India and has partnered with the Indian telecom firm Bharti Airtel, which plans to bring an additional 20,000 hotspots online, starting in the next few months. The other ISPs involved in the project so far are  AirJaldi in Uttarakhand, LMES in Rajasthan, Tikona in Gujarat and soon with Shaildhar in Meghalaya.

The company previously launched the service commercially in Kenya and it’s also trialing it in Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia.



As James Beldock, Facebook’s product manager for Express Wi-Fi, told me, the idea behind this project was always to create an entrepreneurial grassroots base for the service. That means Airtel and its other ISP partners will continue this work with local entrepreneurs who want to resell internet access to their communities. “Our strategy has always been that these programs work if they are financially sustainable for the partners we work with,” Beldock told me, and added that while Facebook provides the software, it’s the ISPs and their partners that decide what to charge, for example. “Facebook’s strategy is to enable partners to make connectivity at scale sustainable, not to dictate pricing.”

Wi-Fi, of course, is a far easier onramp to the internet than most other means of getting online, Beldock stressed. After all, you don’t need a SIM card or data plan to go online. It also offers a low-cost way of getting online (with daily, weekly or monthly data packs) and the partnership with local entrepreneurs could help the local economy.

As Beldock noted, the challenge of expanding the service to other countries isn’t so much technical as it is about understanding the local markets and needs. Chances are, though, that we’ll soon see more commercial launches in the other countries where Facebook is already testing the service.


Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi launches commercially in India

Google is testing a job-search feature that could rival LinkedIn—and Facebook

Google is apparently testing a new job-search feature that includes its own job portal. The testing was caught in the wild by search engine optimization consultant Dan Shure on April 28.

Industry website Search Engine Land wrote about the sighting then got a response from Google that wasn’t an outright confirmation, but suggested the search giant was indeed testing the feature. Google’s statement read: “While we don’t have any news to announce at this time, we’re always looking for new ways to improve the Search experience for our users, whether they’re looking for movies to see, recipes to make, or job opportunities.”

Dan Shure apparently triggered the feature by entering “jobs online” in the Google search box. This returns a specially formatted box containing a list of jobs above the main search results. Clicking these jobs leads to a portal where users can select tabs to display jobs by title, city, employer, and more. The page also shows jobs by industry, including health care, advertising and marketing, and retail. The jobs listed are attributed to third-party job sites, such as Internships.com and Catholic Jobs Online.

Google is also quietly working on a service called Google Hire, which bills itself as a tool to manage companies’ recruitment processes. Google hasn’t commented on the service, nor has it responded to a request for comment from Quartz on the job-search feature.

The broad base of jobs available on the search feature suggests Google is going after the same general jobs market as Facebook is, with its own jobs function. LinkedIn is better known for its white-collar listings, but it, too, has been trying to cater to workers of all types, including blue-collar workers (paywall), in recent years.


Google is testing a job-search feature that could rival LinkedIn—and Facebook

Facebook closes in on two billion users

Facebook is on the verge of reaching 2bn members, with the social media giant closing in on a milestone that will move it into a select group of global companies.

The company is expected to report a blockbuster set of results this week, with revenues rising 45pc. It is expect to report that the number of people that log in every month will have risen to 1.9bn in the three months to the end of April, with the social network now set to close in on 2bn in the coming weeks. Only a handful of multinationals around the world, including Unilever and Procter & Gamble, can boast more customers.

Facebook has defied many expectations in recent years by continuing to find new users despite its size, with growth actually accelerating in recent quarters.

However, analysts believe the company will have to start running out of steam eventually.

“We expect [monthly users] to grow 14pc in Q1 [down from 17pc] as it decelerates due to the law of (really) large numbers,” analysts at RBC Capital Markets said.

Consensus forecasts are for Facebook to report revenues of $7.8bn (£6bn) and profits of $3.3bn, up 72pc on a year ago, when it unveils first quarter results on Wednesday.

Despite its continued growth, Facebook has been under renewed pressure in recent weeks over its ability to police the material shared on it. Its founder Mark Zuckerberg has promised to do more to address violence on Facebook’s live broadcasting feature, as well as the spread of fake news.



Mark Zuckerberg helps assemble F-150s during first Michigan vist

During his first trip to Michigan, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg visited the Ford Rouge Plant.

He says he had the opportunity to play a small part in assembling some Ford F-150s by adding cleats, antennas and drilling screws.


Zuckerberg even signed the inspection sticker on one of the vehicles that’ll soon be owned by a surprised driver.

He says the most interesting part of his trip was talking to the workers who keep the plant running each day.

“Working at Ford is a long term thing,” he wrote. “Most of the workers I met had been at the plant for at least a decade, and a lot of them have kids and friends who work there, too. Someone told me that when you spend 11 hours a day, four days a week together, you end up becoming family and friends outside of work, too.”

Working on an assembly line is a physically demanding job, he says, and he heard from workers first-hand about just how hard it can be.

“Each person told me separately how important it is to have good shoes because you’re essentially walking on a treadmill for 10 hours a day. Every 52 seconds, you have to go through your set of tasks — 650 times a day,” he wrote. “You have to be perfect, but the biggest challenge is having the focus to do the same thing over and over again.”




Facebook lets content owners claim ad earnings of pirated videos

Facebook finally has a better solution to freebooting — the common practice of stealing video and uploading it to one’s Facebook Page to reap the engagement and audience growth. Today’s update to the Facebook Rights Manager tool that launched last year includes the new option to “claim ad earnings” on other people’s uploads of a video you own. This way if an infringing video includes a new mid-roll ad break Facebook is testing, the revenue will be sent to the content’s owner instead of the uploader who stole it.

And now instead of manually reviewing all pirated content instances, rights owners can set automated rules for whether infringing uploads should instantly be blocked, allowed but the viewing metrics shown to the owner, allowed with the owner claiming the ad earnings or sent to manual review.

The “claim ad earnings” option puts Facebook Rights Manager closer to feature parity with the industry standard, YouTube’s Content ID. When Facebook launched Rights Manager last year, TechCrunch noted this feature was the one big thing it was lacking.


Previously, the only course of action for rights holders was to allow or block and take down infringing videos. Both removed the opportunity for content owners and pirates to share in the benefits of compelling content — the owner getting the money and the pirate getting the engagement.


Rights Manager works by having content owners upload original versions of videos to be indexed. It can then detect when the same video or a portion of it is uploaded by someone else.

For now, the amount of revenue original rights holders will be able to collect may be small because the mid-roll ad breaks aren’t fully rolled out yet and are only available to a closed set of beta testers. They let content owners choose when to insert a 15 to 20-second ad into their video at least 20 seconds in and at least two minutes apart. Facebook shares 55 percent of the revenue from these ad breaks with the uploader, unless those ad earnings are claimed by someone else through Rights Manager.

This newfound financial protection and incentive could lure more premium video content owners to Facebook and its massive audience of 1.8 billion users.


Facebook lets content owners claim ad earnings of pirated videos

Facebook shows Related Articles and fact checkers before you open links

Facebook wants you to think about whether a headline is true and see other perspectives on the topic before you even read the article. In its next step against fake news, Facebook today begins testing a different version of its Related Articles widget that normally appears when you return to the News Feed after opening a link. Now Facebook will also show Related Articles including third-party fact checkers before you read an article about a topic that many people are discussing.

Facebook says “That should provide people easier access to additional perspectives and information, including articles by third-party fact-checkers.”

Essentially, rather than trying to convince someone that what they just read might be exaggerated, overly biased, or downright false, Facebook wants to raise people’s suspicions before they’re indoctrinated with lies and embellishments. The feature could break you out of your filter bubble before you fall in any deeper.

If you saw a link saying “Chocolate cures cancer!” from a little-known blog, the Related Article box might appear before you click to show links from the New York Times or a medical journal noting that while chocolate has antioxidants that can lower your risk for cancer, it’s not a cure. If an outside fact checker like Snopes had debunked the original post, that could appear in Related Articles too.


Facebook says this is just a test, so it won’t necessarily roll out to everyone unless it proves useful. It notes that Facebook Pages should not see a significant change in the reach of their News Feed posts. There will be no ads surfaced in Related Articles.

Facebook originally launched Related Articles in 2013 to surface more interesting links about a topic you just read. But after being criticized for allowing fake news to proliferate during the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook began working with third-party fact checkers to append warnings to disputed articles.

Mark Zuckerberg later said in his humanitarian manifesto that one way to combat the problem was by broadening people’s views. “A more effective approach is to show a range of perspectives, let people see where their views are on a spectrum and come to a conclusion on what they think is right. Over time, our community will identify which sources provide a complete range of perspectives so that content will naturally surface more.”

Some publishers might not be excited about their more well-known competitors potentially hijacking their readers through Related Articles. But as Facebook seeks to fight the scourge of fake news without necessarily becoming the arbiter of truth itself, its best bet may be to expose a range of opinions about a topic and hope people understand the most outlandish (and viral) takes might not be worth reading.


Facebook shows Related Articles and fact checkers before you open links

Publishers say Facebook can save Instant Articles with better data, subscription tools

Publishers are making it clear that they’re fed up with Facebook’s Instant Articles and its inability to make them money.

“If IA monetization doesn’t dramatically improve, high quality publishers will continue to pull out,” said Dan Check, vice chairman of Slate, which publishes most of its Facebook articles to Instant. “There’s just no reason for publishers to continue to lose money on IA this far after launch.”

Publishers including The New York Times and The Guardian have pulled out of the fast-loading mobile articles feature. Its critics say that Facebook has to do a better job of helping them monetize and connect directly to their readers. But Facebook can save IA by improving its subscription products, giving publishers more control over their inventory and providing more user data.

Instant Articles load faster than old-fashioned Facebook links that take users back to the publisher’s website. But IA keeps users within Facebook’s app, where they are harder for publishers to monetize.

Facebook claims that an IA link is 20 percent to 50 percent more likely to be clicked than the equivalent mobile link. But even if IA brings in more readers it can be tough to monetize them because publishers have less control over the formats and frequency of ads in its articles. And at a time when publishers are looking harder at subscription models, some are disappointed in the platform’s call-to-action units — which let publishers serve messages in IA inviting people to sign up for a newsletter or like their Facebook pages — and trial subscription signups.

Facebook declined an interview request for this story, but a spokesperson sent over a statement that said that since the beginning of the year, the number of pubs using IA has increased by 27 percent to over 9,000.

A more robust subscription product in IA or revenue guarantees per page view to publishers could win over publishers, Check said.

“The current subscription offering doesn’t integrate well with existing subscription platforms and payments,” he said. “It is basically a two-step process where someone signals their openness to a subscription and you are left to collect credit card info. But on mobile what you really want is integrated payment. Getting them to subscribe later by email doesn’t fundamentally make sense.”

Another former Instant Articles publisher said IA would be more attractive if it let publishers sell their own IA inventory programmatically rather than making publishers rely on its Audience Network, which is inefficient for publishers.

“Facebook hasn’t designed their ad products to really let publishers sell their own inventory, and it’ll be months, if not years, if not never, when this is truly supported,” said the publisher, who, like many publishers, wouldn’t speak publicly for fear of retribution by Facebook. “Which makes sense because of their own self-interest. If you’re them, why open this up until you have to?”

Data is another gripe. Publishers can get data on emails and likes, but they’re limited in how they can track and learn about their IA readers.

“For our owned and operated [website] we use lots of analytics tracking to understand how our audience is interacting with the page,” said Justin Festa, evp of digital at LittleThings, which publishes about 20 percent of its content to Instant. “We don’t have the same capabilities within IA.”

Another publishing exec requesting anonymity theorized that Facebook doesn’t want to let publishers know more about who its IA users are because doing so would let pubs re-engage with those users outside of the Facebook ecosystem.

“Facebook doesn’t want pubs to create and capture value within Facebook that they can take elsewhere,” the exec said. “As a result, pubs never really own any of their Facebook data — they just have access to view limited portions of it mediated by Facebook’s rules and self-interest.”

The exec was doubtful that Facebook would open its data to the publishers whose content it relies on.

“But it definitely helps that this is a public flop,” the exec added.



Facebook Messenger is getting an Apple Music extension

Facebook just announced a bunch of changes to Messenger, with the highlight being new ways for apps to integrate with it. And while it’s not available yet, one of the standout partners announced was Apple Music.

Near the end of his presentation at Facebook’s F8 conference this afternoon, David Marcus, head of Messenger, said, “I’m really excited to share with you that Apple Music will soon be on the platform as well.”

There weren’t any details beyond that, and Apple Music only got a “coming soon” label, so there isn’t even a firm ETA on when it’ll be available. But Facebook and Apple have worked together before on music integrations — songs from Apple Music can be embedded in the News Feed — so it isn’t a huge surprise to see this partnership, even from the usually go-it-alone Apple.

From the sound of it, the integration will allow people to browse Apple Music from inside of Messenger, find a song, and send it into their chat. Everyone will then be able to play the song back without leaving Messenger, which is a huge plus over how Facebook’s older integrations work, kicking users out to separate apps. Of course, you’ll almost certainly still need a subscription to hear a full song.


For those who don’t want to wait, Spotify is launching an extension that does all of this right away. Spotify first started working inside Messenger just over a year ago, but it wasn’t a great experience since you had to go out to Spotify to both find and listen to a song.



Mark Zuckerberg posts VR film featuring prison inmates changing their lives

In his ongoing bid to bring about positive social change, Mark Zuckerberg has posted a VR (virtual reality) short film that highlights the lives of prisoners who are changing their lives through education.

The short film is part of the Oculus ‘VR For Good’ program, which is meant to drive social change by “pushing the boundaries of cinematic VR”.

The film is called Step to the line and was unveiled at the Tribeca Film Festival last week. Zuckerberg has now posted the film on his page.

The Facebook CEO writes, “One of the most powerful side effects of VR is empathy – the ability to understand other people better when you feel like you’re actually with them.”

The film focuses on the lives of the inmates, putting you face-to-face with them in VR. Zuckerberg says that the film shows how hard it is to build a better future.

You’ll also be interested to know that the film was shot on the $60,000 (around Rs 39 lakh) Nokia Ozo camera and directed by Ricardo Laganaro, produced in partnership with Defy Ventures.

The Ozo is an orb-like device that’s festooned with cameras and mics. Together, the device captures 360 degree video and audio and that too in VR.

Each camera has a 195 degree field of view, a global shutter and can record video in 4K at 30 frames per second.




Facebook is offering publishers money to create produced video

Facebook wants to pay publishers to create more produced video as part of a plan to push the company’s new ad products, according to multiple sources.

The new deals are intended to replace the agreements Facebook currently has with publishers to produce live video, which were signed a year ago. The new accords are designed to encourage publishers to create produced video, or VOD, but it also maintains provisions to still pay for live video, the sources say.

Facebook is offering publishers a monthly sum in exchange for a minimum amount of produced video every month. The videos can be a combination of VOD and live, but live content can’t account for more than half of the monthly tally.

The videos also have to be long enough to drop at least one ad in the middle of play. That means a produced video has to be least 90 seconds long, with live videos at least six minutes in length to count toward the deal, according to multiple sources.


Facebook will recoup the cost of payments to publishers by taking the revenue from these mid-roll ads. After Facebook makes its money back, the two sides will split the rest of the ad dollars, with 55 percent going to the publisher and 45 percent going to Facebook.


Facebook started testing mid-roll video ads in live videos last fall, and started doing the same with produced videos earlier this year. Paying publishers for video content gives Facebook more inventory to go out and sell those ads. At least that’s the hope.

Most of these new deals are set to expire at the end of 2017.


A Facebook spokesperson sent Recode the following statement when asked about the deals:

“As we shared last year, we are funding some seed video content from our partners, and are evolving the initial Live deals to include other types of video content we’d like to experiment with. We want to show people what is possible on the platform and we learn best from our partners. With this program, we hope to enable creativity and experimentation with video that is community-driven and takes advantage of the social interaction unique to Facebook. In the long-term, we expect to support partners through a rev share model, like Ad Break.”

Many major publishers, including the New York Times, BuzzFeed, the Washington Post and Vox Media (which owns this website) have been making money from Facebook in exchange for live video content for the past year.

Most of those deals recently expired, or are expiring soon, and Facebook is looking to keep its site flush with video content.

Publishers have been waiting anxiously for Facebook to roll out a video ad product, a way to finally make money from the billions of daily video views Facebook users generate each day.

Facebook has been staunchly against pre-roll ads, an industry norm. Mid-roll ads, akin to a short TV commercial, are Facebook’s alternative.

A number of publishers in talks with Facebook are hesitant to sign the new offerings, though some have already agreed. Publishers are worried about putting those mid-roll ads into their produced videos. Because they’re new and unproven, publishers we spoke with are concerned it will kill video completion rates and ultimately hurt their overall audience.

A few publishers are also surprised that live video was offered as part of the new deal. As Recodereported in January, publishers were not expecting Facebook to renew those live video contracts; many believed the amount they made from those live videos didn’t merit the time and resources it took to produce them.

Some publishers we spoke to believe that live video is part of the new proposals to help take the pressure off of a deal that would otherwise be 100 percent dependent on VOD mid-roll ads.



The smartphone is eventually going to die — this is Mark Zuckerberg’s crazy vision for what comes next

At this week’s Facebook F8 conference in San Jose, Mark Zuckerberg doubled down on his crazy ambitious 10-year plan for the company, first revealed in April 2016.

Basically, Zuckerberg’s uses this roadmap to demonstrate Facebook’s three-stage game plan in action: First, you take the time to develop a neat cutting-edge technology. Then you build a product based on it. Then you turn it into an ecosystem where developers and outside companies can use that technology to build their own businesses.

When Zuckerberg first announced this plan last year, it was big on vision, but short on specifics.

On Facebook’s planet of 2026, the entire world has internet access — with many people likely getting it through Internet.org, Facebook’s connectivity arm. Zuckerberg reiterated this week that the company is working on smart glasses that look like your normal everyday Warby Parkers. And underpinning all of this, Facebook is promising artificial intelligence good enough that we can talk to computers as easily as chatting with humans.


A world without screens

For science-fiction lovers, the world Facebook is starting to build is very cool and insanely ambitious. Instead of smartphones, tablets, TVs, or anything else with a screen, all our computing is projected straight into our eyes as we type with our brains.

A mixed-reality world is exciting for society and for Facebook shareholders. But it also opens the door to some crazy future scenarios, where Facebook, or some other tech company, intermediates everything you see, hear, and, maybe even, think. And as we ponder the implications of that kind of future, consider how fast we’ve already progressed on Zuckerberg’s timeline.

We’re now one year closer to Facebook’s vision for 2026. And things are slowly, but surely, starting to come together, as the social network’s plans for virtual and augmented reality, universal internet connectivity, and artificial intelligence start to slowly move from fantasy into reality.

In fact, Michael Abrash, the chief scientist of Facebook-owned Oculus Research, said this week that we could be just 5 years away from a point where augmented reality glasses become good enough to go mainstream. And Facebook is now developing technology that lets you “type” with your brain, meaning you’d type, point, and click by literally thinking at your smart glasses. Facebook is giving us a glimpse of this with the Camera Effects platform, making your phone into an AR device.

Fries with that?

The potential here is tremendous. Remember that Facebook’s mission is all about sharing, and this kind of virtual, ubiquitous ” teleportation ” and interaction is an immensely powerful means to that end.

This week, Oculus unveiled “Facebook Spaces,” a “social VR” app that lets denizens of virtual reality hang out with each other, even if some people are in the real world and some people have a headset strapped on. It’s slightly creepy, but it’s a sign of the way that Facebook sees you and your friends spending time together in the future. 

And if you’re wearing those glasses, there’s no guarantee that the person who’s taking your McDonald’s order is a human, after all. Imagine a virtual avatar sitting at the cash register, projected straight into your eyeballs, and taking your order. With Facebook announcing its plans to revamp its Messenger platform with AI features that also make it more business-friendly, the virtual fast-food cashier is not such a far-fetched scenario.

Sure, Facebook Messenger chatbots have struggled to gain widespread acceptance since they were introduced a year ago. But as demonstrated with Microsoft’s Xiaoice and even the Tay disaster, we’re inching towards more human-like systems that you can just talk to. And if Facebook’s crazy plan to let you “hear” with your skin plays out, they can talk to you while you’re wearing those glasses. And again, you’ll be able to reply with just a thought.

screenshot 2017-04-20 172747



A Facebook Exec’s 5 Tips for Building Successful Distributed Teams

With 45 offices around the world, Facebook executives certainly understand the challenges of leading a distributed team.

As Facebook’s head of platform and marketplace, Deb Liu has spearheaded projects that include things such as login to marketplace and payments, leading teams based in places from Seattle to Singapore.

During her seven and a half years at the company, she has learned some lessons in effective leadership. From incorporating people on the ground to communication methods, check out these five tips from Liu to make your remote management process as seamless as possible.

1. Incorporate local leadership.

When growing, it’s important to make sure your distributed offices feel just as important as the central office. “You don’t want them to feel like they have less opportunity and less growth,” Liu says.

That’s why it’s necessary to bring in people from that area to join the team. “Having a local leadership team creates a strong foundation in which you can build a strong office in the long-term,” she says.

Local leadership allows a company to understand what’s happening in a new office’s area and any challenges that people there face. Ask questions such as, What are the work hours in that city? What is the weather like? What are the activities people do?

Understanding that locale will help foster a stronger office culture.

2. Transplant one or two people from headquarters.

There’s no reason to start from scratch when building a new team. Although it’s important to hire locally and employ local managers, a company should also transplant one or two leaders from the company’s headquarters to get the new office on its feet.

Those people can be in charge of growing the new team, and act as a bridge between the central and distributed office. Sending ambassadors is “an opportunity to build two-way communication,” Liu says.

3. Your first hires are the most important.

A strong company culture stems from a strong local culture. That all comes down to who you hire. “Your first few hires are going to be key in the kind of culture and office you’re going to build,” she says.

These key hires help set the foundation for your distributed office and play an important role in building the local team.

“Hire people who are self-motivated, good communicators and who are open and honest. These qualities will serve them in a remote working scenario,” Liu says.

4. Use the best technology.

An obvious challenge of distributed offices is that they reduce or eliminate face-to-face communication. Today’s technology can make up for this, allowing for seamless communication and the ability to build relationships. “The level of intimacy you can create is only as good as the technology that connects you,” Liu says.

For Liu’s teams, video conferencing has been the key to their success — and she recommends it for any business with distributed offices. Here are some quick tips from Liu:

  • Be mindful of timezones.
  • Assign someone to be a video conferencing sherpa, who’s tasked with monitoring the meeting and making sure everyone is heard.
  • Take notes and send them out to everyone after the meeting.
  • Maintain message threads and group chats so everyone stays connected.

5. Host company-wide events.

Technology today can take the place of face-to-face meetings, but it’s still important to host company-wide events to boost morale, build cohesion and foster creativity.

Facebook hosts an annual “Hackathon” for its employees — giving them the opportunity to collaborate with others in the company and put their creativity to the test. Every year, the hackathon is hosted in a different city of one of its distributed offices, and Facebook employees from around the world come together to participate.

“It is these things as a company that make us not headquarter-centric,” Liu says. It teaches employees about the cultures of other offices, and ensures that everyone at the company can feel the same level of opportunity and appreciation.



Facebook’s bold and bizarre VR hangout app is now available for the Oculus Rift

Facebook’s most fascinating virtual reality experiment, a VR hangout session where you can interact with friends as if you were sitting next to one another, is now ready for the public. The company is calling the product Facebook Spaces, and it’s being released today in beta form for the Oculus Rift. The news, announced this morning at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Jose, means anyone with a Rift and Touch controllers can join up to three other people in a virtual playground. There you can watch videos, take photos, and engage in a number of different VR activities together.

Spaces was first shown off at the Oculus Connect conference in October, when Mark Zuckerberg donned a Rift onstage and joined other Facebook employees in an early version of the product. We saw the Facebook exec play a game of chess, teleport to different locations, and even take a mixed-reality selfie with his wife Priscilla Chan, who dialed into the VR room using Facebook Messenger. While it built off similar experiences, like the existing Oculus Rooms feature for Gear VR and Oculus’ Toybox demo from two years ago, Spaces was bizarre and powerful enough to get everybody talking about what the future of VR technology could enable.

“We wanted the idea out there,” says Mike Booth, a product manager on Facebook’s social VR team, on why the company showed off Spaces so early. “Last year at F8, people didn’t know what Facebook was doing buying Oculus.” But by the time Oculus Connect rolled around that fall, it was clear Facebook was pursuing VR as a “people-centric computing platform,” Booth says. Having Zuckerberg demonstrate it was a way to communicate that to the world. The strategy worked — the demo became the most talked-about part of the conference because it illustrated exactly how Facebook imagined VR as a social instrument and not just a way to play immersive games.

Spaces as it exists today is not so different from the demo Zuckerberg showed off. You have a floating torso for an avatar complete with clothing and a custom animated face you get to design yourself. That avatar is then dropped into a roundtable environment with a number of different tools at your disposal, accessible from a panel under your wrist and from a console in front of you on the table. The entire idea of Spaces is to treat the platform as a place where you both create and pull in outside content to interact with, be it doodles you make yourself or games you play right there in VR, to photos and videos from across the internet.

For instance, you can toggle through the console to the art tab to produce a virtual pencil and start doodling in midair. Anything you draw is transformed into an interactive object, so you can illustrate a hat you can then wear on your head or a sword you can pick up and swing. There’s also a selfie stick that lets you snap portraits of yourself and your friends inside the VR environment.


Sitting in the center of the room is a sphere of sorts that can change the background around you. It will accept any number of pre-rendered options, like an underwater environment or one that sends you to space. But you can also scroll through your Facebook account, find a 360-degree photosphere made from a smartphone panorama, and turn that into the environment. Booth says this is a way to relive memories with others. “It’s not like a chatroom. It’s not like, ‘Okay, we’re here. Talk amongst yourselves,’” he says. “You have your Facebook content. I’ve got mine.”