Facebook begins adding its name to some screens on Instagram

Facebook begins adding its name to some screens on Instagram
The move comes as the world’s largest social media company faces greater scrutiny from regulators around the world. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 August 2019

Facebook begins adding its name to some screens on Instagram

Facebook begins adding its name to some screens on Instagram
  • “Instagram from Facebook” can be seen a few clicks away at the bottom of the settings page of the app
  • “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook,” a company spokesman said

Facebook Inc. started adding its name to some screens on its Instagram photo-sharing platform this week, one of the first links it has given users to its ownership of the popular platform.
The move comes as the world’s largest social media company faces greater scrutiny from regulators around the world for more transparency over data privacy practices and how and with whom Facebook shares user information.
While not immediately visible to users, “Instagram from Facebook” can be seen a few clicks away at the bottom of the settings page in the Instagram app on some iOS devices.
“We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook,” a company spokesman told Reuters.
Some US lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, have pushed for action to break up Facebook, Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google.
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in an opinion piece in the New York Times in May urged US regulators to split the company in three.
Facebook will also add its name to its WhatsApp messaging service, The Information reported https://www.theinformation.com/articles/facebook-to-add-its-name-to-inst... earlier on Friday.
Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and each is now used by more than 1 billion people.
Instagram has become especially important in adding to Facebook’s revenue as the app largely stayed out of its parent’s privacy scandals, and it pulls in younger consumers at a much faster rate, attracting more advertisers.
Facebook in July said new rules and product changes aimed at protecting users’ privacy would slow its revenue growth into next year. It also agreed to pay $5 billion to settle a US Federal Trade Commission data privacy probe
The FTC is also investigating Facebook for anti-competitive behavior.


Inside OSN Streaming’s digital transformation

Inside OSN Streaming’s digital transformation
Updated 23 July 2021

Inside OSN Streaming’s digital transformation

Inside OSN Streaming’s digital transformation
  • How OSN delivered a digital-first product in six months

DUBAI: A year after OSN rebranded its streaming platform WAVO to OSN Streaming, it has unveiled a brand new digital-first platform, putting technology and content at its core.
In October 2020, OSN Streaming changed its look and feel, but the technology remained the same. It was around the same time that the company decided to digitally overhaul the platform, delivering an entirely new user experience. 
“My early estimation was that we need to have 12-18 months,” Peter Riz, chief technology officer at OSN, told Arab News.
However, six months was a “very aggressive timeline” for a development such as this, he added. Riz and his team had to devise a hybrid approach using six different modules to achieve this vision. The next step was to find a way to bring together the modules in a seamless manner, because running them separately was not sustainable or cost-effective.
The two key areas of the rebrand were multiple user profiles — including dedicated children’s profiles — and content presentation focusing on enhanced search and discovery.
Content presentation and discovery were critical to the user experience, said Riz. The first layer was presenting content to each user based on the general interests of that audience segment determined by factors such as age and location. 
The second and more challenging layer was navigating personal user preferences. For example, Western expats generally watch movies and shows from the West, but also like watching certain Arabic dramas, explained Riz. The platform was also designed to learn from user behavior and tailor recommendations over time.
Riz said: “We wanted to show users the content we believe is relevant, so the question became: How do we do this quickly, and how do we give all this control to the editorial and marketing team?”


The answer came in the form of a custom technological component called the Customer Experience Builder (CXB). “The CXB is a new type of innovation from a technical point of view,” added Riz, because it enables the company to add new features and updates to various touchpoints — such as the mobile app, web browser, and TV apps — through one common system.
Digital disruption has been driven, in part, by a rapid change in user behavior, making it more important than ever before for companies to be able to adapt and improve their digital services quickly.
“OSN was not only able to deliver this new platform very quickly using the CXB, but we can continuously improve the experience,” said Riz. From building the CXB from scratch to writing new code, the new platform is a technological innovation for OSN.
“We changed the entire environment,” said Riz. “There is no legacy code in the new environment so every line of code that the engineers created to deliver the service is new.”
Since the launch of the new platform, OSN has been making tweaks through the CXB suite every two weeks. “Most of the logic, or ‘magic’ as we sometimes call it, happens on the backend,” he added.
Although these changes are almost imperceptible to users, they have a profound impact on how people discover and watch content on the platform, said Riz, resulting in OSN doubling content consumption on the platform.
Streaming companies reached their peak during the coronavirus disease pandemic, as more people spent time indoors and cinemas shut down. The surge in new users has forced these platforms to innovate in order to sustain their growth.
So, what is next for these companies?
“The real differentiator is still the content and how we present this content,” said Riz. “We are continuously working to find new content sources and secure current partnerships.”
Streaming platforms, including OSN, are also looking for new kinds of partnerships that will see them diversifying into gaming and audio. OSN, for instance, partnered with multi-player video game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG) to provide PUBG Mobile players an exclusive opportunity to access the OSN Streaming app.
On the technology side, OSN continues to measure multiple factors such as streaming quality, load time, lags, or delays, to constantly improve the user experience. When there is a new update on any operating system, the company immediately runs tests to see if it affects the performance of the OSN Streaming platform. It is also working on adding alternative payment methods, in addition to credit cards, to the platform.
But, behind it all, “you need to continue that invisible, seamless and perfect technology,” said Riz.
It is all about “continuous improvement and continuous innovation to bring the content to the audience, increase the partnerships and support the entire digital economy to grow and unlock all the potential in the region,” he concluded.


Can Facebook’s $1 bn gamble help it regain lost cool?

Facebook has yet to outline detailed plans for the $1 billion, but a large chunk will reportedly be distributed via Instagram, which still enjoys a “cool” factor. (File/AFP)
Facebook has yet to outline detailed plans for the $1 billion, but a large chunk will reportedly be distributed via Instagram, which still enjoys a “cool” factor. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 July 2021

Can Facebook’s $1 bn gamble help it regain lost cool?

Facebook has yet to outline detailed plans for the $1 billion, but a large chunk will reportedly be distributed via Instagram, which still enjoys a “cool” factor. (File/AFP)
  • Facebook announced last week that it will pay $1 billion to content creators of popular posts, including fashionistas to comedians and video gamers
  • This attempt, however, is being seen partly as an attempt to regain cultural relevance and stem the youth exodus

PARIS: Like Internet personalities the world over, Kenyan TikTok comedian Mark Mwas was intrigued when Facebook announced a $1 billion plan to pay content creators like him.
But the 25-year-old, whose following surged past 160,000 as entertainment-starved Kenyans flocked to the app during the pandemic, is skeptical that fans would follow him to the older social network.
“In our market, Facebook is kinda old-fashioned,” said Mwas, who posts skits about campus life in a mixture of Swahili, English, and Sheng slang.
“Like, Mom is on Facebook and doesn’t know what TikTok is,” he told AFP in an email. “My content is suited for the millennials, who prefer other platforms.”
Announced last week, Facebook’s $1 billion will pay the creators of popular posts, from fashionistas to comedians and video gamers, through 2022.
It is the strongest signal yet that the US social media giant now recognizes the strategic importance of the “creator economy.”
YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat have waged an increasingly fierce battle to attract figures with big followings that can in turn attract serious advertising revenues.
Last November, photo and video app Snapchat began paying $1 million a day to top creators, although the payments have since tapered off. Popular YouTubers have been receiving a slice of the site’s billions in ad revenues since 2007.
Facebook has been comparatively slow on the uptake. While the site began paying popular video-makers in 2017, most vloggers have found YouTube to be far more lucrative.
Facebook-owned Instagram has meanwhile launched the careers of many a food blogger and fashion influencer, but the app only began sharing its advertising income directly with them last year.
Traditionally, the bulk of Insta-celebrities’ earnings has come through product endorsement deals negotiated directly with brands.


Joe Gagliese, co-founder of international influencer agency Viral Nation, said it was not surprising that Facebook’s efforts had lagged behind competitors’.
Founded in 2004, Facebook had already built a hugely lucrative advertising business by the time the phenomenon of full-time Internet celebrities emerged at the end of the decade. Courting influencers wasn’t crucial to its “primary business,” Gagliese said.
But as creators have headed elsewhere, their predominantly young followings have followed — contributing to a sense that Facebook, in the eyes of Gen Z, has become an irredeemably uncool website where their parents hang out.
Facebook’s user base is indeed aging. The proportion of over-65s has shot up roughly a quarter over the past year — almost double the average, according to the Digital 2021 report from media companies We Are Social and Hootsuite.
In the meantime, Chinese-owned TikTok was the world’s most downloaded app in the first half of 2021.
It has largely replaced Facebook as the driver of international social media crazes — not least during the pandemic, as bored millions have turned to its dance videos and cooking trends for light relief.
In this context, Facebook’s $1 billion gambit is being seen partly as an attempt to regain cultural relevance and stem the youth exodus.
“The only way for these platforms to keep their relevance with younger generations is to understand what resonates with them and keep up with the pace of innovation,” said Claudia Cameron, head of marketing and insights at Amsterdam-based influencer agency IMA.
“Creators are a very important part of this equation, as they set the tone for what’s cool.”


While young users from Iran to Brazil have been flocking elsewhere, industry insiders say it is far too early to regard Facebook as doomed.
“You can’t underestimate them, because they are so powerful when it comes to the tech,” said Gagliese.
Facebook’s vast income — it raked in $84.2 billion in advertising revenues last year, more than the GDP of some countries — gives it huge funds with which to innovate.
It is also, despite its relative loss of street cred, still growing, with 2.8 billion monthly users worldwide.
Gagliese suggested Facebook should be spending far more on its efforts to lure Internet stars from other platforms.
“Unless Facebook leans in really hard — I’m talking, ‘way more than a billion dollars’ hard — it’s going to be very hard for them to attract all these new creators,” he said.
Facebook has yet to outline detailed plans for the $1 billion, but Cameron pointed out that a large chunk will likely be distributed via Instagram, which still enjoys a “cool” factor.
That would be good news for TikTok comedian Mwas, who also has a sizeable following there.
“I’m taking a wait-and-see approach,” he said.


Russia fines Facebook and Twitter for failing to delete content

Russia fines Facebook and Twitter for failing to delete content
Updated 23 July 2021

Russia fines Facebook and Twitter for failing to delete content

Russia fines Facebook and Twitter for failing to delete content
  • Russia fines Facebook, Twitter and Telegram for failing to delete illegal content
  • This comes as the Russian government attempts to regulate tech giants by imposing small fines for content violations
MOSCOW: A Russian court fined US social media firms Facebook and Twitter on Thursday for failing to delete illegal content, the latest salvo in a standoff between Russia and Big Tech.
Russian authorities have taken steps in recent months to regulate technology giants more closely by imposing small fines for content violations, while also seeking to force foreign companies to open offices in Russia and store Russians’ personal data on its territory.
Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said it had fined Facebook a total of 6 million roubles ($81,320) for two different administrative offenses related to stipulations that website owners delete banned information or face penalties.
The court fined Twitter a combined 5.5 million roubles for two offenses. Messaging app Telegram was also ordered to pay a total of 11 million roubles for three offenses, the court said.
Facebook, Twitter and Telegram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Other countries have called upon social media firms to do more to police content. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met representatives of platforms last week and warned that they would face fines amounting to 10 percent of their global revenues unless they removed hateful and racist content.
Twitter has been subjected to a punitive slowdown in Russia since March for posts containing child pornography, drug abuse information or calls for minors to commit suicide, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor has said.
Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior, and says it has a zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation and prohibits the promotion of suicide or self-harm.

Twitter beats revenue targets with ad improvements, shares jump 7 percent

Twitter forecast third quarter total revenue to be between $1.22 billion to $1.3 billion. (File/AFP)
Twitter forecast third quarter total revenue to be between $1.22 billion to $1.3 billion. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 July 2021

Twitter beats revenue targets with ad improvements, shares jump 7 percent

Twitter forecast third quarter total revenue to be between $1.22 billion to $1.3 billion. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter increases revenue growth by 7 percent as the platform rolls out improvements and new products
  • Snap Inc. also reported its quarterly revenue grew 116 percent as advertisers flocked to its messaging app Snapchat to reach young consumers

LONDON: Twitter Inc. on Thursday reported higher revenue growth than Wall Street had expected, as the social media platform rolled out ad targeting improvements and said changes by Apple to keep iPhone user data private had hit ad revenue less than anticipated.
Shares of Twitter jumped 7 percent to $75 in trading after the bell.
Since the start of the year, Twitter has raced to introduce products in new areas like audio-only chat rooms and newsletter publishing in an effort to turn around years of business stagnation and reach its goal of doubling annual revenue by 2023.
Advertising revenue totaled $1.05 billion, up 87 percent from the year-ago quarter, and beat Wall Street estimates of $909.9 million.
Twitter has worked to improve the effectiveness of its ads, which have traditionally lagged larger rivals like Facebook, which holds vast troves of data on users.
Those improvements, along with higher demand from advertisers seeking to reach consumers as countries reopen from pandemic restrictions, helped propel ad revenue, Twitter said.
“As we enter the second half of 2021, we are shipping more, learning faster, and hiring remarkable talent,” Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said in a statement on Thursday.
Twitter reported 206 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU), its term for users who are served advertising, for the second quarter ended June 30, matching analyst targets of 205.9 million users, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The San Francisco-based company now expects headcount and total costs and expenses to grow at least 30 percent for the full year, up from its previous guidance of 25 percent, as the company invests in its engineering and product teams.
Its US user base declined by 1 million over three months from the previous quarter due to a lighter news cycle in the United States, Twitter said, with total users worldwide in line with Wall Street targets.

’ON FIRE’
Total revenue, which also includes revenue the company earns from data licensing, rose 74 percent year-over-year to $1.19 billion, beating analyst estimates of $1.07 billion.
Also on Thursday, Snap Inc. reported its quarterly revenue grew 116 percent as advertisers flocked to its messaging app Snapchat to reach young consumers.
Twitter said new privacy controls that Apple Inc. implemented in April, which are designed to limit digital advertisers from tracking iPhone users without their consent, had a lower-than-expected impact on revenue in the second quarter.
In the case of Snap, the company said it saw a higher percentage of users allow the app to track them for advertising purposes than industry-wide rates that have been reported.
The full impact of Apple’s changes have yet to be seen, and some concerns still linger, said Ygal Arounian, a research analyst at Wedbush Securities, adding Twitter is reaping the benefits of a strong ad market.
“What is clear from Twitter and Snap’s results though is that the overall digital ad market is on fire right now, with the reopening further strengthening advertisers’ budgets,” he said.
Twitter forecast third quarter total revenue to be between $1.22 billion to $1.3 billion, roughly in line with or slightly ahead of consensus analyst estimates of $1.17 billion.
On an adjusted basis, Twitter earned 20 cents per share, well above the estimate of 7 cents.


Google is starting to tell you how it found Search results

Google has been making changes to give users more context about the results its search engine provides. (File/AFP)
Google has been making changes to give users more context about the results its search engine provides. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 July 2021

Google is starting to tell you how it found Search results

Google has been making changes to give users more context about the results its search engine provides. (File/AFP)
  • Google announces it will show its users more information about why it found the results they are shown

LONDON: Alphabet’s Google will now show its search engine users more information about why it found the results they are shown, the company said on Thursday.
It said people googling queries will now be able to click into details such as how their result matched certain search terms, in order to better decide if the information is relevant.
Google has been making changes to give users more context about the results its search engine provides. Earlier this year it introduced panels to tell users about the sources of the information they are seeing. It has also started warning users when a topic is rapidly evolving and search results might not be reliable.