Facebook to unveil new versions of Portal video chat devices this autumn

The release of the Portal new video chat devices fits into Facebook’s focus toward private messaging by encryption of conversations. (Reuters)
Updated 11 June 2019

Facebook to unveil new versions of Portal video chat devices this autumn

  • The launch comes amid concerns over Facebook’s privacy and content moderation practices
  • Facebook is one of the biggest global players in private messaging with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona: Facebook plans to release new versions of its Portal video chatting devices this autumn, the company’s vice president of AR/VR, Andrew Bosworth, said during an interview at the Code Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“We have a lot more that we’re going to unveil later in this fall, new form factors that we’re going to be shipping,” Bosworth said of the new devices.
He did not say how many had been sold since Portal’s launch late last year in the United States, or what the new devices were.
The launch came amid concerns over Facebook’s privacy and content moderation practices that have led some people to abandon the service and the company to warn of thinning profits.
The release of new video chat devices fits into Facebook’s focus toward private messaging by encryption of conversations on more of its messaging services.
Facebook is one of the biggest global players in private messaging with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, each used by more than 1 billion people. Only WhatsApp fully secures message content from all outsiders, including Facebook itself.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in March that within a few years, direct messaging would dwarf discussion on the traditional, open platform of Facebook’s news feed, where public posts can go viral across the world.
Bosworth said in the interview on Monday the devices did not have the ability to record things and were only for calls.
“There was a lot of conversation around us launching Portal. But it’s about what Facebook is at its core. It’s entirely about private conversation,” Bosworth said.


Twitter plans to build ‘decentralized standard’ for social networks

Updated 12 December 2019

Twitter plans to build ‘decentralized standard’ for social networks

  • The system, or “standard,” would not be owned by any single private company, says Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
  • He said Twitter will fund the project, which will take many years to complete, but will not direct it

Twitter Inc. plans to set up an independent research group to create an “open and decentralized” system for social networks, CEO Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday, which could relieve pressure on the company to appease critics of its content policies but also give rise to a new crop of competitors.
The system, or “standard,” would not be owned by any single private company, Dorsey said, and would enable individuals to use a variety of services to access the same network, just like they choose different email providers to see the same messages.
Policing speech on social media sites has required hefty investments while still failing to stem criticism from users who find the policies either too aggressive or too lax.
“Centralized enforcement of global policy to address abuse and misleading information is unlikely to scale over the long-term without placing far too much burden on people,” Dorsey tweeted.
He said the new approach would also allow Twitter to “focus our efforts on building open recommendation algorithms which promote healthy conversation, and will force us to be far more innovative than in the past.”

The idea, as outlined in articles Dorsey shared, is that developers could use their own algorithms to offer like-minded individuals targeted access to the same social media networks.
For instance, an individual could sign up with a provider that would aggressively filter out racist material, or another that would promote conversations over other types of content.
The open standard, however, could upend Twitter’s business model in the process, giving rise to competitor services that offer filters, content suggestions or other tools that prove more popular with consumers.
In an article that Dorsey shared called “Protocols, Not Platforms,” tech news site Techdirt founder Mike Masnick outlined how an open standard could give rise to a “competition for business models” among developers.
Some providers might collect less user data for ads, while others might abandon advertising altogether, instead charging users for access to premium services like filters or data storage, Masnick wrote.
Dorsey said Twitter’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, will be in charge of hiring a lead for the research team, called BlueSky. Twitter will fund the project, which will take many years to complete, but will not direct it, he said.
He went on to suggest that blockchain technology might provide a model for decentralizing content hosting, oversight and even monetization of social media, without elaborating on possible alternatives to Twitter’s ads-driven business.