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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.