Tag Archives: Facebook

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.”