Facebook Gives Users in India More Control Over Their Profile Pictures

Facebook has announced that it is piloting new tools that will give people in India more control over who can download and share their profile pictures.

“In India, we’ve heard that people want more control over their profile pictures, and we’ve been working over the past year to understand how we can help,” wrote Aarati Soman, Product Manager at Facebook on Wednesday.

In addition, the company is exploring ways people could more easily add designs to profile pictures, which Facebook research has shown helpful in deterring misuse.

Based on what it learns from the experience in India, the social media giant hopes to expand the feature to other countries soon.

“In our research with people and safety organisations in India, we have heard that some women choose not to share profile pictures that include their faces anywhere on the internet because they are concerned about what may happen to their photos,” she added.

These tools, developed in partnership with Indian safety organisations like Centre for Social Research, Learning Links Foundation, Breakthrough and Youth Ki Awaaz are designed to give people more control over their experience and help keep them safe online.

From now on, people in India would start seeing a step-by-step guide to add an optional profile picture guard.

profile guard press 1 Profile Guard

“Other people will no longer be able to download, share or send your profile picture in a message on Facebook. People you are not friends with on Facebook won’t be able to tag anyone, including themselves, in your profile picture,” Soman clarified.

Where possible, Facebook would prevent others from taking a screenshot of a profile picture on Facebook – the feature currently available only on Android devices.

The company would also display a blue border and shield around profile picture as a visual cue of protection deterring misuse.

Facebook also partnered with Jessica Singh, an illustrator who took inspiration from traditional Indian textile designs such as bandhni and kantha, to create designs for people to add to their profile picture.

 

Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers’ Demands

Facebook said it would not disclose information about political campaign advertising or related data such as how many users click on ads and if advertising messages are consistent across demographics, despite arguments from political scientists who want the data for research.

Details such as the frequency of ads, how much money was spent on them, where they were seen, what the messages were and how many people were reached would remain confidential under the company’s corporate policy, which is the same for political advertising as for commercial customers.

“Advertisers consider their ad creatives and their ad targeting strategy to be competitively sensitive and confidential,” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in an interview on Wednesday, when asked about political ads.

“In many cases, they’ll ask us, as a condition of running ads on Facebook, not to disclose those details about how they’re running campaigns on our service,” he said. “From our perspective, it’s confidential information of these advertisers.”

Sherman said it would not make an exception for political advertising. “We try to have consistent policies across the board, so that we’re imposing similar requirements on everybody.”

Academics who study political campaigns worldwide said this kind of information fosters accountability by analyzing how candidates compete for votes and whether election systems live up to expectations of fairness. Transparency can also deter fraudulent ads, they said.

“We don’t have the capacity right now to track it, and nobody does, as far as we can tell,” said Bowdoin College professor Michael Franz, a co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which catalogs political ads on traditional television but has no means of doing so on Facebook.

Television has been the backbone of political advertising for decades, and local US broadcasters are required to disclose a wealth of details about the cost and schedules of ads. The ads can be seen by anyone with a television provided they are aired in their markets.

Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers' Demands

Online advertising, though, often targets narrow, more carefully constructed audiences, so for example an ad could be directed only to Democrats under 25 years of age.

Thousands of variations of online ads can be directed at select groups and the targeting can be extreme. Academics argue this is where the process can become very opaque.

“Candidates can speak out of both sides of their mouths,” said Daniel Kreiss, a communications professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Having some kind of digital repository of ads that are purchased during a particular cycle and linked to a particular source is a good, democratic thing for the public.”

No such repository exists, and the quandary for researchers is expected to worsen as more politicians use digital advertising because of its relatively low cost and opportunities for target marketing.

 

According to US President Donald Trump’s campaign, $70 million was spent for its ads on Facebook, more than on any other digital platform including Google, and Trump has credited Facebook with helping him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton last November.

Advertising on Facebook also figured prominently in recent elections in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, researchers said.

Britain is investigating how candidates use data to target voters.

Facebook ads generally disappear with the scroll of a thumb on a smartphone, and they have no permanent links. Advocates for transparency call them “dark ads.” Facebook calls them “unpublished posts.”

Researchers said that disclosure reports from the US Federal Election Commission are unhelpful because they show what campaigns pay to intermediaries, not to internet platforms.

The role of advertising online is as important to study as the effect of so-called “fake news,” which has received more attention than ads, scholars said.

“The holy grail, I think, of political analysis for the 2016 election is to figure out which communications from which entities had an effect on which jurisdictions in the United States,” said Nathan Persily, a Stanford University professor who writes about elections.

Facebook has such information and should make it available for study, Persily said.

Facebook’s Sherman said the company was open to hearing research proposals, but he doubted much could be achieved.

“Even if we were able to be more transparent in this area, it would only be a very small piece of an overall story,” he said.

 

Hike 5.0 Brings Redesigned Interface and Wallet Feature With UPI-Based Payments

Hike Messenger on Tuesday at an event in New Delhi unveiled a completely redesigned offering with the introduction of Hike 5.0. Apart from a complete revamp, the company also launched the Hike Wallet feature, complete with UPI-based payments.

Detailing availability of the update, Hike 5.0 and its features will be rolled out to all Android and iOS users by Sunday – right now, only 5 percent of users have received the update. Notably, the new Hike Wallet feature will make its way to Android with the v5.0 update, however, the iOS app will only get it by July-end.

Let’s start with the new features introduced in Hike 5.0. The company says Hike Messenger now has brand new colours and fonts. Moods can now be set as profile photos, while the old Timeline feature has made a return, and in addition to disappearing Stories, users can now post text, photos, and videos on their timeline that stay forever. Likes on posts can now be expanded to see the people who have liked it.

Other new features of Hike 5.0 include the Magic Selfie (machine learning based beautification feature), Text to Stickers (supported by all regional languages), App Themes (such as Blue, Zen, Night), Chat Themes, and Auto Night Mode. Hike also says that multiple likes are now possible on a single post by a single user.

Finally, let’s come to the new payments and wallet features of Hike. Using UPI, Hike Wallet users can perform instant bank to bank transfers. This works for those recipients who are not on Hike. For those without a bank account, money transfers can be performed within the wallet itself. The company has roped in YES Bank as its banking partner.

Hike 5.0 Brings Redesigned Interface and Wallet Feature With UPI-Based Payments

In a statement, the company touted how Hike could help boost UPI adoption in India. “With more than 100 million registered users currently on Hike Messenger, this launch makes Hike the largest UPI based platform in India overnight,” it said.

Money transfers can be initiated with Blue Packets. Detailing this, Hike says “users can choose from over 10 different beautifully crafted envelopes and also add a personalised message to it to celebrate those special occasions. A Blue Packet can be sent to an individual or even a group of friends. If you give Blue Packets to a group of your friends, you can have a little fun and select how many people in the group should get it. It works on a first come first serve basis and a Blue Packet when sent expires in 24 hours.” In group chats, the Blue Packet option has a ‘Surprise’ option for the first opener of the packet.

Apart from money transfers, Hike 5.0 now supports prepaid recharges and postpaid bill payments. Other changes and new features being touted by the company include 128-bit SSL encryption, and performance improvements alongside a reduction of the app size from over 40MB to around 25MB.

Speaking on the launch, Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO, Hike Messenger, said, “Over the last 6 months, we’ve been working to bring a brand new experience to our users with one question in mind – How do we take all the things that users love about Hike and make it even better? Hike 5.0 is our most ambitious step in that direction till date… Hike 5.0 is the biggest update we’ve released in the history of Hike. We’ve worked closely with over 100 of our top hikers to build 5.0. It’s been built by our users for our users. With App themes, Night theme and Magic Selfie Hike 5.0 is packed with some incredibly personal touches that are meant to delight our users. With Hike 5.0 you can personalise your Hike world.”

 

Sex Offenders Cannot Be Barred From Social Media, Top US Court Says

The US Supreme Court unanimously struck down Monday a North Carolina law that barred registered sex offenders from using social media.

The suit in the nation’s highest court goes back to a seemingly harmless event in April 2010, when a man named Lester Packingham learned that authorities had dropped court proceedings stemming from a traffic ticket he had been given.

Packingham went to his Facebook page and wrote how relieved he was. “No fine. No court cost, no nothing spent… Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks, JESUS!” he wrote.

A police officer in Durham, North Carolina who was working to hunt down sex offenders online read the post.

Eight years earlier, at the age of 21, Packingham had been convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Sex Offenders Cannot Be Barred From Social Media, Top US Court Says
He got a suspended sentence of 10-12 months and his name was placed on a registry of sex offenders. And under a much disputed law enacted in North Carolina in 2008, Packingham was barred for 30 years from using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all other social media.

So Packingham was convicted again, this time for using Facebook before the 30-year deadline was over. Police who searched his home after the post was read found no evidence of any new sexual misbehavior toward minors.

He appealed, saying the North Carolina law violated his right to freedom of expression.

In his legal battle over the past six years, Packingham has won the support of libertarians and groups opposing internet restrictions.

In the other corner, Louisiana and 12 other states backed North Carolina, saying it was important to block sexual predators from collecting information on potential victims.

 

Snapchat to Get Original Time Warner Shows

Time Warner and Snap said on Monday they had entered into an agreement to develop original shows for messaging service Snapchat over the next two years.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms but a source familiar with the matter said the deal was valued at $100 million (roughly Rs. 645 crores).

As part of the deal, the media company’s HBO, Turner and Warner Bros units will advertise on Snapchat as they try to grab the attention of millennials, who are increasingly moving to mobile and online from traditional pay-TV.

Snapchat to Get Original Time Warner Shows

Time Warner said it expects to air three shows per day by the end of this year. Snapchat currently airs one show per day for its users, which typically lasts for three to five minutes.

Snap has been working with media companies and studios such as NBC, ESPN, BBC and Discovery Networks.

“We’re confident this partnership will help drive larger audiences to our shows,” said Gary Ginsberg, Time Warner’s marketing and communications head.

 

Facebook Said to Have Received Nod to Set up Indonesia Unit

Facebook Inc has received an in-principle approval to set up a domestic unit in Indonesia, said a senior government source from the Southeast Asian nation, home to the social networking giant’s fourth-largest user base.

Indonesia has been pushing multinational technology firms to be locally incorporated, arguing that companies such as Alphabet Inc’s Google set up small business entities to provide “auxiliary” services and get away with minimal taxation, while booking most of their revenue from the country elsewhere.

In fact, Google has been locked in a months-long dispute over allegations by Indonesia’s government that the search giant had not made enough annual payments. The outcome of this is expected to indicate how the government may pursue others such as Facebook and Twitter Inc for taxes.

Facebook Said to Have Received Nod to Set up Indonesia Unit

Facebook is now in the process of establishing a local unit in the country, said the senior government source, who has direct knowledge of the matter but declined to be identified as the information was not public. The social media giant currently operates in Indonesia through an office in central Jakarta.

Indonesia had 69 million monthly active Facebook users as of the first quarter of 2014, placing the country fourth globally after the United States, India and Brazil, according to data from the company.

Facebook did not respond to requests for comment and has not provided an update on the number of its users in Indonesia.

The office that Facebook opened in Indonesia three years ago allows it to work with advertisers as well as small and medium businesses “that need an education on how to market their products”, a Facebook executive told local media at the time.

But according to an official at Indonesia’s communications ministry, “Facebook only appoints people in Jakarta when the need arises, no more than that. Whether they have a permanent office here or not, we don’t even know.”

Indonesia is eager to ramp up tax collection to narrow its budget deficit and fund an ambitious infrastructure programme. Other governments around the world are also seeking to clamp down on what they see as corporate tax avoidance.

Last week, the communications minister said Google’s Asia Pacific headquarters had agreed on future tax payments in Indonesia. But he declined to comment on whether they had resolved their dispute over taxes for past years.

It was also unclear if Google would set up a domestic unit that is separate from its existing local entity, PT Google Indonesia, which tax officials allege simply acts as a sales service provider.

Indonesia’s tax office estimates the total advertising revenue for the industry in the country at around $830 million (roughly Rs. 5,347 crores), with Google and Facebook accounting for around 70 percent.

However, Google has pointed to a joint study by the firm and Singapore state investor Temasek that estimated the size of Indonesia’s digital advertising market at $300 million (roughly Rs. 1,933 crores) for 2015.

 

Facebook Is Using AI to Make the Social Network a ‘Hostile Place for Terrorists’

Image result for Facebook,Is,Using,AI,to,Make,the,Social,Network,a,'Hostile,Place,for,Terrorists',

Facebook Inc on Thursday offered additional insight on its efforts to remove terrorism content, a response to political pressure in Europe to militant groups using the social network for propaganda and recruiting.

Facebook has ramped up use of artificial intelligence such as image matching and language understanding to identify and remove content quickly, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s director of global policy management, and Brian Fishman, counter-terrorism policy manager, explained in a blog post.

The world’s largest social media network, with 1.9 billion users, Facebook has not always been so open about its operations, and its statement was met with scepticism by some who have criticised US technology companies for moving slowly.

“We’ve known that extremist groups have been weaponising the Internet for years,” said Hany Farid, a Dartmouth College computer scientist who studies ways to stem extremist material online.

“So why, for years, have they been understaffing their moderation? Why, for years, have they been behind on innovation?” Farid asked. He called Facebook’s statement a public relations move in response to European governments.

Britain’s interior ministry welcomed Facebook’s efforts but said technology companies needed to go further.

“This includes the use of technical solutions so that terrorist content can be identified and removed before it is widely disseminated, and ultimately prevented from being uploaded in the first place,” a ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Germany, France and Britain, countries where civilians have been killed and wounded in bombings and shootings by Islamist militants in recent years, have pressed Facebook and other providers of social media such as Google and Twitter to do more to remove militant content and hate speech.

Government officials have threatened to fine Facebook and strip the broad legal protections it enjoys against liability for the content posted by its users.

Facebook uses artificial intelligence for image matching that allows the company to see if a photo or video being uploaded matches a known photo or video from groups it has defined as terrorist, such as Islamic State, Al Qaeda and their affiliates, the company said in the blog post.

 

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft last year created a common database of digital fingerprints automatically assigned to videos or photos of militant content to help each other identify the same content on their platforms.

Similarly, Facebook now analyses text that has already been removed for praising or supporting militant organisations to develop text-based signals for such propaganda.

“More than half the accounts we remove for terrorism are accounts we find ourselves; that is something that we want to let our community know so they understand we are really committed to making Facebook a hostile environment for terrorists,” Bickert said in a telephone interview.

Asked why Facebook was opening up now about policies that it had long declined to discuss, Bickert said recent attacks were naturally starting conversations among people about what they could do to stand up to militancy.

In addition, she said, “We’re talking about this because we are seeing this technology really start to become an important part of how we try to find this content.”

Facebook’s blog post on Thursday was the first in a planned series of announcements to address “hard questions” facing the company, Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy and communications, said in a statement. Other questions, he said, include: “Is social media good for democracy?”

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron launched a joint campaign to go after “terrorists and criminals” on the Internet and to root out radicalising material.

“Crucially, our campaign will also include exploring creating a legal liability for tech companies if they fail to take the necessary action to remove unacceptable content,” May said at a joint news conference.

Macron’s office declined to comment on Facebook’s statement on Thursday.

Twitter Starts Rolling Out New Look for Web, Apps, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite

Image result for Twitter Starts Rolling Out New Look for Web, Apps, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite

Twitter has unveiled a new look, and much like some previous changes the company has made to its short-messaging service, it’s not going over so well with the Twitterati.

“Today, with lots of feedback and ideas from you, we’re refreshing our product too and making it feel lighter, faster, and easier to use. We listened closely and kept what you love,” Twitter said in a blog post announcing the new design.

The San Francisco company says the new design emphasises simplicity, making it faster and easier to use, with bolder headlines and more intuitive icons. It also changed users’ profile images from square-shaped to round. On its apps and TweetDeck, tweets will “now update instantly with reply, Retweet, and like counts so you can see conversations as they’re happening,” Twitter added.

The company said the new user interface will roll out on twitter.com, Twitter for iOS, Twitter for Android, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite in the coming days and weeks.

Twitter users immediately responded Thursday by tweeting jokes and memes critical of the changes. There were almost 30,000 tweets about the new user interface, or UI, within hours of the change, the vast majority of them either complaining about the new look or mocking it. A popular image was a suddenly round SpongeBob SquarePants.

Twitter also took heat from users last year when it changed its algorithm that orders the tweets users see. Users also tweeted their dismay when the company rolled out its Moments feature, and when it got rid of its star icon signifying a “favorite” tweet, in favor of a heart icon, similar to Facebook’s “like” button.

The redesign is Twitter’s latest attempt to freshen the messaging service, which has struggled to attract new users at the same pace as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Twitter revenue growth has stalled for years, and the company has cut costs and shuffled executives while still never posting a quarter of profit.

 

Twitter Starts Rolling Out New Look for Web, Apps, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite

Twitter has unveiled a new look, and much like some previous changes the company has made to its short-messaging service, it’s not going over so well with the Twitterati.

“Today, with lots of feedback and ideas from you, we’re refreshing our product too and making it feel lighter, faster, and easier to use. We listened closely and kept what you love,” Twitter said in a blog post announcing the new design.

Twitter Starts Rolling Out New Look for Web, Apps, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite

The San Francisco company says the new design emphasises simplicity, making it faster and easier to use, with bolder headlines and more intuitive icons. It also changed users’ profile images from square-shaped to round. On its apps and TweetDeck, tweets will “now update instantly with reply, Retweet, and like counts so you can see conversations as they’re happening,” Twitter added.

twitter ios app redesign twitter

The company said the new user interface will roll out on twitter.com, Twitter for iOS, Twitter for Android, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite in the coming days and weeks.

Twitter users immediately responded Thursday by tweeting jokes and memes critical of the changes. There were almost 30,000 tweets about the new user interface, or UI, within hours of the change, the vast majority of them either complaining about the new look or mocking it. A popular image was a suddenly round SpongeBob SquarePants.

twitter ios redesign twitter

Twitter also took heat from users last year when it changed its algorithm that orders the tweets users see. Users also tweeted their dismay when the company rolled out its Moments feature, and when it got rid of its star icon signifying a “favorite” tweet, in favor of a heart icon, similar to Facebook’s “like” button.

The redesign is Twitter’s latest attempt to freshen the messaging service, which has struggled to attract new users at the same pace as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Twitter revenue growth has stalled for years, and the company has cut costs and shuffled executives while still never posting a quarter of profit.

 

Facebook Is Using AI to Make the Social Network a ‘Hostile Place for Terrorists’

Facebook Inc on Thursday offered additional insight on its efforts to remove terrorism content, a response to political pressure in Europe to militant groups using the social network for propaganda and recruiting.

Facebook has ramped up use of artificial intelligence such as image matching and language understanding to identify and remove content quickly, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s director of global policy management, and Brian Fishman, counter-terrorism policy manager, explained in a blog post.

The world’s largest social media network, with 1.9 billion users, Facebook has not always been so open about its operations, and its statement was met with scepticism by some who have criticised US technology companies for moving slowly.

Facebook Is Using AI to Make the Social Network a 'Hostile Place for Terrorists'

“We’ve known that extremist groups have been weaponising the Internet for years,” said Hany Farid, a Dartmouth College computer scientist who studies ways to stem extremist material online.

“So why, for years, have they been understaffing their moderation? Why, for years, have they been behind on innovation?” Farid asked. He called Facebook’s statement a public relations move in response to European governments.

Britain’s interior ministry welcomed Facebook’s efforts but said technology companies needed to go further.

“This includes the use of technical solutions so that terrorist content can be identified and removed before it is widely disseminated, and ultimately prevented from being uploaded in the first place,” a ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Germany, France and Britain, countries where civilians have been killed and wounded in bombings and shootings by Islamist militants in recent years, have pressed Facebook and other providers of social media such as Google and Twitter to do more to remove militant content and hate speech.

Government officials have threatened to fine Facebook and strip the broad legal protections it enjoys against liability for the content posted by its users.

Facebook uses artificial intelligence for image matching that allows the company to see if a photo or video being uploaded matches a known photo or video from groups it has defined as terrorist, such as Islamic State, Al Qaeda and their affiliates, the company said in the blog post.

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft last year created a common database of digital fingerprints automatically assigned to videos or photos of militant content to help each other identify the same content on their platforms.

Similarly, Facebook now analyses text that has already been removed for praising or supporting militant organisations to develop text-based signals for such propaganda.

“More than half the accounts we remove for terrorism are accounts we find ourselves; that is something that we want to let our community know so they understand we are really committed to making Facebook a hostile environment for terrorists,” Bickert said in a telephone interview.

Asked why Facebook was opening up now about policies that it had long declined to discuss, Bickert said recent attacks were naturally starting conversations among people about what they could do to stand up to militancy.

In addition, she said, “We’re talking about this because we are seeing this technology really start to become an important part of how we try to find this content.”

Facebook’s blog post on Thursday was the first in a planned series of announcements to address “hard questions” facing the company, Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy and communications, said in a statement. Other questions, he said, include: “Is social media good for democracy?”

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron launched a joint campaign to go after “terrorists and criminals” on the Internet and to root out radicalising material.

“Crucially, our campaign will also include exploring creating a legal liability for tech companies if they fail to take the necessary action to remove unacceptable content,” May said at a joint news conference.

Macron’s office declined to comment on Facebook’s statement on Thursday.