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Facebook

  • Facebook’s killing its digital assistant M later this month

    We're quite used to writing about Facebook's new products or tweaks to its existing lineup of offerings. But this week, the company dropped news that M -- it's artificial intelligence service -- will be terminated. "Today we shared with the people who have access to our M closed beta project, first announced in August 2015, that January 19th is the last day the service will be available," it wrote in a statement. "We launched this project to learn what people needed and expected of an assistant, and we learned a lot." M, which is itself short for Moneypenny, never quite lived up...

  • Facebook says social media is only bad if you do it wrong

    Facebook has admitted that social media can be bad, but only when you're not doing it right. As part of the company's "Hard Questions" blog series, director of research David Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke attempted to answer whether or not spending time on social media is bad for us. The duo examined a couple of academic studies that pointed towards social media's detriment: psychologist Jean Twenge's analysis of the correlation between depression and smartphone usage; psychologist Sherry Turkle's assertion that mobile phones make us "alone together". Facebook knows social media can be bad, but it's placed the blame on users But, Facebook...

  • Facebook’s testing a Windows-like multiple login toggle

    Have an annoying family member who always uses your computer and subsequently your Facebook account? Well, the company has a solution for that. A new feature, which is currently being tested, allows multiple accounts to be switched on-the-fly on the same computer from the same Facebook page. It's fairly similar to Windows 10's start menu user login toggle. The feature, earmarked by a button alongside users' profile pictures, isn't available to everyone as yet but it is listed in Facebook's help centre. "You can use the image at the top of your page to navigate between accounts," reads the page. "This allows you and...

  • Facebook sees you when you’re creeping, rewards you with repeat content

    Will Facebook ever stop trying to be the absolute creepiest it can be? Probably not. In a small update issued to the News Feed this week, the company will be monitoring the pages users "proactively seek out" and offering more of that content on their News Feed. The company also believes that "repeat viewership matters", and will show users more content from creators and publishers that they return to "week after week". The latest Facebook update accesses user's behaviour to give them content from creators they already watch The update is relatively small (and most users probably won't even notice), but it's yet another...

  • Messenger doubled its real-time video chats to 17b in 2017

    Facebook Messenger has had a pretty interesting 2017, despite some embarrassing mistakes like that Stories clone "Day" no one used. According to the company, there were 17 billion real-time video chats on the platform between January and November this year. Messenger boasts 1.3 billion active users a month -- meaning the average user was only making around 13 calls a year. Facebook Messenger boasted 17 billion video chat sessions in 2017 -- an average of only 13 per user More popular than video chats were GIFs, which were sent 18 billion times in 2017. But most popular? The 500 billion emojis sent in just one year....

  • New Facebook tool will tell if you liked Russian propaganda

    Now that Facebook has acquiesced to the demands of US Congress and handed over its data, the company is focussing on helping those who were tricked by Russian propaganda in the first place. By the end of the year, a tool on Facebook's Help Centre will allow users to see which pages they liked or followed between January 2016 and August 2017 are run by Internet Research Agency, a known Russian troll factory. The results will include Instagram accounts. The tool will mark the first step the company takes to actively help the individuals misled during the US 2016 elections. So far, it has...

  • Facebook Creator app launches on iOS

    Facebook has taken a leaf out of YouTube's book and launched an app and website specifically geared towards "creators" (people who post videos to its platform). The app is essentially a rebrand of the celebrity app Facebook Mentions, which was promoted as a better way to build communities. In fact, users will only be able to find the new Facebook Creator in the App Store when searching "Facebook Mentions", despite the actual title having changed. The app is meant to make it easier for creators to post videos, go live, and connect with their communities. It offers exclusive features like adding intros and...

  • Facebook Stories and Messenger Day are now the same thing

    Messenger Day -- the Facebook Messenger version of WhatsApp Status and Instagram Stories -- is no more. Instead, the feature has been rehashed and renamed. No longer will Messenger Day be treated as a standalone feed. It will instead form part of Facebook Stories -- a Snapchat clone that already features on the base Facebook app. "Starting today, we are introducing a new experience called Stories, connecting Messenger Day and Facebook Stories," the company wrote on its Messenger page. "Any photos or videos you add to your Stories will appear on both Facebook and Messenger, and will be shared with the same...

  • Russia to ban Facebook if it doesn’t comply with data storage laws

    Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor will check to see if Facebook is abiding by a Russian data storage law -- and the result may lead to the company blocked from the country altogether. "In the near future Roskomnadzor will plan a series of supervisory activities aimed at analyzing the activities of the administration of Facebook in terms of the processing of Russian users’ personal information, the terms of services for users, and the content of existing legislation," it said in a statement Wednesday carried by the Interfax news agency, according to Reuters. The law, which came into effect last year, requires websites that store citizens' personal data to do...

  • Facebook suggests users upload nudes to avoid revenge porn

    Worried that an abusive ex may upload intimate images of you to social media? Facebook may have a solution for you, though maybe not in the way you expect. The company is testing a feature in Australia that lets users send their images to themselves on Messenger, allowing the platform to store the images' digital footprints and prevent anyone else from uploading them in the future. While this feature may set all your danger instincts on high alert, the company says that it isn't actually storing your images (which are secured by end-to-end encryption) but rather their hash values or links. Facebook then uses the photo-matching...

  • Facebook evens the playing field by discontinuing ‘dark posts’

    At the end of October, Facebook broke the news that it planned to introduce a new advertising feature that would lead to any paid posts run by brands becoming readily visible to anyone who visited the page. What this effectively means is the end of the concept known as "dark posts", which allowed brands to choose not to publish specific pieces of content organically to their page, but instead, only promote them to a highly specific audience via paid budget amplification. Although the change comes as a direct response from Facebook to combat unfair paid political tactics on social media channels,...

  • Facebook has more duplicate accounts than Snapchat has users

    Facebook's userbase is a curious number. Not only is it the largest of any social network on the planet at 2.07-billion users per month, it also has more duplicate accounts than Snapchat has users. The company's earning report, released Wednesday, announced a spike of over 60-million users in Q3 2017. Daily active users are also up, now tipping the 1.4-billion mark. But lurking within these numbers are some 207-million duplicate accounts. "This quarter, we implemented a new methodology to help identify duplicate accounts," noted CFO David Wehner in an earnings call. "As a result, we increased our estimates for duplicate accounts to approximately...

  • Facebook’s AI led to the wrongful arrest of a Palestinian man

    Facebook has been touting its artificial-intelligence services as a way to quickly identify those promoting terrorist content on the platform, but not all of these services are as foolproof as the company would have us believe. Last week, Israeli police arrested a Palestinian construction worker when Facebook's translation tool mistakenly translated the Arabic for "good morning" to "attack them" in Hebrew, and "hurt them" in English, according to Gizmodo. Police were notified of the post, and were suspicious of the accompanying image that showed the worker leaning on a bulldozer, which has been used as a weapon in previous terrorist attacks. No Arabic-speaking police officer...

  • Don’t expect a separate Facebook tab for friends’ posts any time soon

    Facebook has been testing a feature that separates friends' posts from public pages' in six countries, but it says there are no current plans to roll the test out further. The test is a response to user complaints about clogged News Feeds that are now filled with the likes of memes and recipe videos rather than friends' personal updates. In Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia, Facebook currently has two tabs: one for the common News Feed, which is purely personal posts from friends, and one called Explore, with posts from pages. This "Explore" tab is different in other parts of the world,...

  • Videos of little girl robbing women in Cape Town goes viral on Facebook

    Two videos of a little girl coerced into stealing items from shoppers' handbags in Cape Town have gone viral on Facebook. Published on 19 October by Facebook user Tyron-Nicklaus Norman, the two clips have since accumulated a combined 1.6-million views with an additional 21 000 shares. In the post, Norman explains the circumstances of the second video in which his wife was a victim. "Hi everyone, My wife was a victim of pick pocketing this evening. The part that is most sickening is that it was a little girl that did it," he writes. "She was being forced by a grown up woman...