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Facebook Gets Tough on Spy Apps
March 15, 2017
Facebook has updated its Facebook and Instagram policies to prohibit developers from using data obtained from those platforms in surveillance tools, according to Rob Sherman, deputy chief privacy officer. Facebook already has taken enforcement actions against devs who created and marketed surveillance tools in violation of the company's previous policy, he noted.
WhatsApp Field-Trials Business Chat
March 14, 2017
WhatsApp reportedly has been conducting tests of a business chat system with a number of companies that are part of the Y Combinator startup incubator. The API gives companies a direct line of communication with WhatsApp users. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum last year said the company would seek to monetize the free chat service by providing businesses with direct access to consumers.
After Blowout IPO, Is Snap a Keeper?
March 3, 2017
Shares of Snapchat owner Snap Inc. soared higher on Friday, following Thursday's successful initial public offering. After debuting at $17.00 on the New York Stock Exchange, Snap shares rose 44 percent to $24.48 on Thursday, well above analyst expectations, placing the company's value at $28 billion. The stock continued to trend upward on Friday, trading at $27.16 by mid-day.
Twitter Adds Heft to Anti-Harassment Toolbox
March 2, 2017
Twitter on Wednesday announced that over the next few months it will roll out changes designed to increase the safety of users, including the following: Its algorithms will help identify accounts as they engage in abusive behavior, so the burden no longer will be on victims to report it; and users will be able to restrict their tweets to followers for a set amount of time.
Google's Jigsaw Launches Troll-Thwarting API
February 27, 2017
A new tool is available to check the persistent harassment of online trolls. Google's Jigsaw think tank last week launched Perspective, an early stage technology that uses machine learning to help neutralize trolls. Perspective reviews comments and scores them based on their similarity to comments people have labeled as toxic, or that are likely to result in someone leaving a conversation.
Snap Sells Itself as Camera Company as IPO Nears
February 27, 2017
As it approaches its IPO, Snap, maker of the popular Snapchat messaging app, is positioning itself as a camera company. "We feel like we're really at the beginning of what cameras can do," said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. "Before, cameras were the best way to perfectly save or record something that you saw. They sort of helped augment memory -- but now, you know, cameras augment the way that we talk."
Social Marketing Grows Up
February 23, 2017
Before there was experimental data to support various contentions, it made perfect sense to believe that the likes and endorsements posted to friends on social media would drive more business. After all, didn't we all subscribe to the idea that a disgruntled customer would tell many more people about a brand's shortcomings than a happy customer would sing its praises?
Rich Content Makes WhatsApp Look a Lot More Like Snapchat
February 22, 2017
Facebook has rolled out a WhatsApp update that could threaten Snapchat's share of the mobile app messaging market. The update allows WhatsApp users to share photos and videos through the app's status area. Moreover, like WhatsApp text messages, content shared through status updates is protected by end-to-end encryption -- a key distinction between WhatsApp and its competitors.
Facebook Puts More Work Into Social Networking
February 21, 2017
Facebook last week launched new features for advertising job openings on the network. Although many companies already have been using Facebook to find workers, the new functionality formalizes its job search capabilities, the company said. U.S. and Canadian businesses can use the company's new jobs bookmark to list open positions and allow users to apply directly from the site.
Facebook Gets More In-Your-Face
February 17, 2017
Facebook this week announced new features for News Feeds videos, along with an app for TV. News Feed videos now have sound turned on by default in mobile devices. This can be disabled in the Settings menu. A larger format to present vertical videos now is standard on iOS and Android devices. The feature became available as a preview last year. A Watch and Scroll feature lets users minimize the video they're watching and drag it to any corner of the screen.
Twitter Investors Bail Following Bleak Q4
February 10, 2017
Twitter's share price plunged 12.3 percent, closing Thursday at $16.41 after the company released its Q4 2016 financial report. It fell further on Friday, trading at $15.54 mid-day. On the bright side, daily active usage grew for the third consecutive quarter and strong growth is expected to continue, the company said. Active monthly users in Q4 totaled 319 million, up 4 percent year over year.
Twitter Steps Up Efforts to Silence Trolls
February 8, 2017
Twitter is once again cracking down on abusers. It has come up with new ways to prevent the creation of new abusive accounts; make search safer; and collapse potentially abusive or low-quality tweets. Twitter also pledged to persist in its anti-abuse endeavors, saying it would keep rolling out product changes, some more visible than others, and updating users on its progress.
Snap Seizes the Moment
February 6, 2017
Snap last week filed for a $3 billion IPO. The company's private market valuation is $17.8 billion, but investors reportedly have valued it at between $20 billion and $25 billion. "Twenty-five billion dollars is just nuts, but that's the market we're in," remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "This could provide an opportunity for the big gambler investors," he suggested.
Calling Facebook Customer Service? Beware of Fraudsters
February 2, 2017
Googling for a Facebook customer support phone number may connect users with fraudsters. A fraudulent number reportedly appeared not only as top result in a Google search, but also as a featured snippet -- that is, highlighted in a box at the top of the search results. An investigator who called the number, posing as a Facebook customer who had been locked out of his account.
Facebook Aims to Carve Out a Spot in the Living Room
February 2, 2017
Facebook is working on a video app for set-top boxes, according to a Wednesday report. The social network wants to deliver longer-form video content -- and with it video ads -- to the living room TV, the one screen it has been unable to reach. The Facebook app soon could be available on a variety of set-top boxes, including Apple TV. The initiative reportedly began in earnest last summer, after incubating for years as a concept.
Facebook Taps Barra to Push VR to the Next Level
January 27, 2017
Facebook has announced that Hugo Barra will be onboarding the company to head up its virtual reality business, including the critically important Oculus team. Barra just days ago announced his departure from Xiaomi. Barra will fill the void left last month, when Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO of Oculus to head up a new Facebook unit that will develop the PC side of its VR business.
New LinkedIn Site Design Encourages Engagement
January 19, 2017
LinkedIn has announced a new look tied to a complete overhaul of its technology architecture, which brings conversations and content front and center. The redesign brings the LinkedIn desktop in line with the mobile browser version launched in 2015. LinkedIn will roll out its new desktop globally over the next few weeks. Among the changes are a streamlined navigation bar and smarter messaging.
Google Gives Google+ Some Nips and Tucks
January 18, 2017
Google has announced three new updates to Google+ in an effort to revive interest in the faltering product. The added features will be rolled out next week, when the old Google+ layout will vanish. Lower quality comments will be hidden, although Google didn't explain how or by whom comments will be judged. Google has tweaked the Google+ UI to display more posts and less white space.
Facebook Launches Paris Startup Garage to Promote Entrepreneurs in Europe
January 17, 2017
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday announced the Startup Garage, the company's first-ever business incubator, which will be located in Paris at the new Station F hub launched last year. The Startup Garage will provide a six-month program of mentorship and assistance for new companies. About10-15 data-related startup firms will occupy up to 80 desks at the Station F campus.
New Facebook Project Aims to Strengthen Journalism
January 12, 2017
Facebook on Tuesday unveiled the Journalism Project, which is designed to establish stronger ties with the journalism industry. Through the project, Facebook aims to bolster the quality of journalism on the network. Among other things, the project aims to tackle the fake news issue that flared during the U.S. presidential election and its aftermath. The project will foster collaboration with news organizations.
Instagram Stories to Feature Video Ads
January 11, 2017
Instagram on Wednesday announced that businesses will be able to place immersive, full-screen video ads in its Stories feature, which has attracted 150 million daily users since its launch five months ago. Further, Instagram Business Tools will include insights on stories, which will allow business users to view the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story.
Medium Slashes Staff, Aims to Fix 'Broken' Model
January 6, 2017
Medium, the once-promising platform led by Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, is losing about a third of its workforce and will undergo a radical overhaul to fix what the CEO called a "broken" business model -- advertising-supported online publishing. Williams touted the company's successes in a post announcing the layoffs, but said that change was needed to address several major business shortfalls.
Germany Could Ding Facebook for Fake News
December 30, 2016
The frenzied 2016 election cycle mercifully is over, but Facebook's fake news problem isn't going away. The company may face steep fines in Germany if it fails to address it satisfactorily. A bill slated for consideration next year would establish fines of up to $500,000 euros per day for each day that a fake news story persisted after notification of its falsehood was provided.
Fact-Checking the President-Elect's Tweets
December 24, 2016
Fact-checking President-elect Donald Trump can be a chore, even for people paid to do it. The Washington Post wants to make it less so, with add-ons to the popular Chrome and Firefox browsers. The browser extension, RealDonaldContext, is available from the Chrome Web Store or the Mozilla Foundation. Once installed, the extension displays any fact-checking the Post may have done.
Facebook Investors Slam Zuckerberg, Andreessen
December 14, 2016
Facebook investors have accused director Marc Andreessen of secretly coaching CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding a major sale of shares he held. The structure of the sale enabled Zuckerberg to refocus on philanthropic activities while maintaining lifetime control over the company. The suit alleges that Andreessen secretly tipped off the CEO about concerns raised by other members of Facebook's board.
LinkedIn Begins New Chapter Under Microsoft's Wing
December 13, 2016
Microsoft last week closed its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn. LinkedIn will remain a separate company and Jeff Weiner will continue as its CEO, but he now reports to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Integration of the companies' products is under way. Among many other things, a user's LinkedIn identity and network will be made available in Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite.
Traversing the Social Media Minefield
December 9, 2016
Many people expect celebrities and other prominent figures to have thicker skins than the average Jane or Joe. However -- as evidenced by the numbers of celebrities who've forsaken social media -- fame and fortune are not effective defenses against an all-out troll assault. While attacks on private individuals can be more personal and more targeted, they're typically much less numerous.
Tech Giants Team to Battle Terrorism Online
December 7, 2016
Facebook has teamed up with Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft to fight the proliferation of terrorist content on the Web. The tech giants will create a shared industry database of hashes for violent terrorist imagery, terrorist recruitment videos, or images they have removed from their services. They may use these shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on their platforms.
Twitter Buys Yes for Product VP Talent
December 6, 2016
Twitter has purchased Yes and named the mobile app startup's CEO, Keith Coleman, as its new VP of product -- a challenging post. Coleman will be Twitter's third VP of product this year and the fifth since 2014. Twitter's main problems are monetization, which has plagued it since its founding; slowing user growth; and stiff competition. Coleman's supporters cite his previous experience at Google.
Facebook Videos Explain AI in a Nutshell
December 5, 2016
Facebook last week released six videos to educate people about artificial intelligence. AI will bring major changes to society, and will be the backbone of many of the most innovative apps and services of the future, but it remains mysterious, noted Yann LeCun, Facebook's director of AI research, and Joaquin Candela, the company's director of applied machine learning in an online post.
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