Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook Imposes Restrictions on Ads and Pages



Facebook announced changes to the way the company manages ads and pages on Facebook and Instagram. The purpose is to increase transparency and accountability – and to prevent election interference.

Last October, Facebook announced that only authorized advertisers would be able to run electoral ads on Facebook and Instagram. Now, Facebook is extending that requirement to anyone who wants to show “issue ads”.

Facebook describes “issue ads” as “political topics that are being debated across the country.” To get authorized by Facebook, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location. Advertisers will be prohibited from running political ads – electoral or issue based – until they are authorized.

Those kinds of ads on Facebook and Instagram will be clearly labeled in the top left corner as “Political Ad”. Next to that label, Facebook will show “paid for by” information. Facebook users who live in the United States will start seeing the label and additional information on those kinds of ads later this spring.

Facebook has invested in artificial intelligence and has added more people to find advertisers who didn’t go through the authorization process. Facebook users who see an unlabeled political ad will be able to report it.

In Canada, Facebook has been testing a new feature called View Ads. It allows users to see the ads that a Page is running – even if that Page is not in your News Feed. This applies to all advertiser Pages on Facebook and is not limited to Pages that are running political ads.

The View Ads feature will launch globally in June, along with a public, searchable, political ad archive. It will contain all ads with the “Political Ad” label, and show the image and text, as well as additional information like the amount spent and demographic audience information for each ad.

In addition, Facebook is now requiring people who manage Pages with large numbers of users to be verified. Those who manage large Pages and do not clear the process will no longer be able to post. This is intended to make it harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account. Facebook will now show additional context about Pages, including whether a Page has changed its name.


Mozilla Created a Facebook Container Extension



Mozilla has created the Facebook Container Extension It functions similarly to Mozilla’s Multi-Account Containers. The Facebook Container Extension was designed specifically to help Firefox users have more control of their data on Facebook.

The Facebook Container Extension helps people who are using Firefox to control more of their web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. Mozilla says this makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies.

Rather than stop using a service you find valuable and miss out on those adorable photos of your nephew, we think you should have tools to limit what data others can collect about you. That includes us: Mozilla does not collect data from your use of the Facebook Container extension. We only know the number of times the extension is installed or removed.

When you install the Facebook Container Extension, it will delete your Facebook cookies and log you out of Facebook. The next time you visit Facebook, it will open in a new blue-colored browser (the “container tab). In that tab, you can login and use Facebook as you normally would. If you click on a non-Facebook link, it will load outside of the container.

I think this is a useful tool for people who value their privacy but do not want to stop using Facebook. It can be difficult to quit using Facebook if it is the most reliable way to contact members of your family.

It should be noted that the Facebook Container Extension is for Firefox. It won’t work on other browsers. The Mozilla blog points out that if you click on any Facebook Share buttons or other browser tabs it will load within the Facebook container. When you use those buttons, information will be sent to Facebook about the website that you shared from.


Facebook is ESL’s Main Broadcasting Platform



ESL, the world’s largest esports company announced that it will bring content from two of the top esports competitions exclusively to Facebook in 2018. Facebook will be their main broadcast partner.

WESA, the World Esports Association, along with ESL, announced that the world’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition, CS:GO Pro League, will be broadcast exclusively on Facebook, kicking off with the upcoming Season Seven. Distribution will begin on February 13, 2018, and will run for four seasons of Pro League, through December 2019.

ESL will also broadcast one of its flagship circuits, ESL One on Facebook, featuring Dota 2 and CS:GO. The first event this year will be ESL One Genting 2018, taking place January 23-28, 2018, bringing 16 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams to Malaysia for a six day event. Additionally, ESL will produce and broadcast a weekly five-minute show celebrating the Dota community on Facebook Watch, Facebook’s platform for shows.

Competitions will be streamed exclusively via Facebook Live in English and Portuguese, with other languages available as well. All live broadcasts from CS:GO Pro League and ESL One will be available in 1080p/60fps on Facebook. Both Pro League and ESL One will also be streamed in VR.

ESL will also leverage Facebook’s innovative cross-posting feature. With cross-posting, ESL can easily post videos and reach audiences on all participating team and player Pages. The feature will work with live and 360 video, and it will be available soon for videos that were previously live.

Although Facebook users will have the easiest time finding and following the action within the platform, it is not required to have a Facebook account to watch Pro League or ESL One. Embedded streams will continue to be shown on the respective product pages.


Facebook Acquired the tbh App



The tbh app is popular with teenagers. This probably explains why I had not heard of it before TechCrunch reported that Facebook had acquired tbh. According to TechCrunch, tbh has had 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the past nine weeks.

The letters tbh stand for “to be honest”. It was first launched on August 3, 2017, in the state of Georgia. Since then, tbh has rolled out the availability the app in more states. The plan was to eventually support a national audience.

You can download the tbh app for free from the App Store. The purpose of tbh is for people to give anonymous, positive, feedback to their friends. Feedback is given in response to positive multiple-choice polls about friends. Those friends will receive the poll results as compliments.

There is an announcement on the tbh website about tbh joining Facebook. The key part states:

Today we’re announcing that we’re joining Facebook to continue our mission. When we met with Facebook, we realized that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions. Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realize tbh’s vision and bring it to more people.

Those who are currently using the tbh app are assured that their experience with tbh won’t change as a result of tbh joining Facebook. According to tbh, they will continue to build features that their users love – “now with plenty more resources.”


Facebook to Add More Staff to Monitor Facebook Live



When I first heard about Facebook Live, I thought it would be a good thing for people who like to play video games and livestream it in a way that made it easy for their Facebook friends to watch. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who have been using Facebook Live to commit acts of violence. Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook will hire more staff to monitor Facebook live.

In a Facebook post on his verified Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg makes it clear that he is aware of the bad things that have happened on Facebook Live – and states what Facebook will do about it.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen people hurting themselves and others on Facebook – either live or in video posted later. It’s heartbreaking, and I’ve been reflecting on how we can do better for our community.

If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner – whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down.

Over the next year, we’ll be adding 3,000 people to our community operations team around the world – on top of the 4,500 we have today – to review the millions of reports we get every week, and improve the process for doing it quickly.

These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don’t allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation. And we’ll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it – either because they’re about to harm themselves, or because they are in danger from someone else.

In addition to investing in more people, we’re also building better tools to keep our community safe. We’re going to make it simpler to report problems to us, faster for our reviewers to determine which posts violate our standards and easier for them to contact law enforcement if someone needs help. As these become available they should help make our community safer.

Mark Zuckerberg goes on to point out that Facebook got a report that someone on Facebook Live was considering suicide. They were able to reach out to law enforcement, who helped prevent that person from harming himself.

I read some of the comments left on Zuckerberg’s post. Some people are very happy to see these upcoming changes take effect. Others would like Facebook Live shut down so that no one can use it to try and get attention by engaging in violence. Those comments inspired other people to insist that Facebook Live should not be shut down because they are using it to connect with family members who live far away.

In some ways, I feel like we’ve heard this before. A few of the commenters said that they have been reporting hate speech, and that Facebook doesn’t do anything about it.  Forbes points out that Facebook has long had a problem with people using the platform for illegal gun sales.  Facebook’s Community Standards specifically state that users are prohibited from selling firearms or ammunition on Facebook.


Creators of Rocksmith Respond to Facebook Trolls



Rocksmith logoIt’s pretty much a given that if you do anything online that attracts an audience, you’ll run into internet trolls whose sole purpose is to harass you. This problem is as old as the internet itself, and it’s only gotten worse in the age of social media.

There are a lot of different ways to handle ‘net trolls. The old adage, “Don’t feed the trolls,” advises that simply ignoring troll commentary is the best way to go. Direct engagement rarely works, as trolls will use these interactions as an excuse to keep the harassment loop going. The truly brave (and patient) may try another route when it comes to trolls; An appeal to reason.

That third option was recently implemented by the makers of Rocksmith, a guitar-instruction program available on many platforms. Rocksmith offers up many songs by popular recording artists that can be downloaded and used within the program. And every time Rocksmith would announce new downloadable songs, the trolls would come out in force to complain about Rocksmith’s latest song selections.

Rocksmith recently responded to these naysayers on its Facebook page:

Folks, we’re going to say this as nicely as we can: Nobody cares what you don’t like.

Okay, now that we read it, that doesn’t seem all that nice. But it’s something worth considering before you post on our page and tell the world that whatever artist, song, or genre currently being discussed is “garbage,” “fake,” “worthless,” or any other negative adjective you can dream up. “Real,” “good,” “fake,” “bad” – none of that holds any power here. That’s simply not how we see music.

As the moderators of this page, our philosophy is simple: There’s music that inspires you to play guitar and bass, and there’s music that does not. We don’t make DLC based on what you *dislike* — we only make DLC based on what people actually tell us they want. That’s why we have a request app, embedded on this page – so you can offer specific song suggestions directly to the team. But once something’s released, it’s there for the people who want it. If that’s not you…honestly, we don’t need to know. Knowing what you’d rather see in the future is far more valuable. Something good could come from that. Nothing good comes from you suggesting that your entirely subjective taste in music is superior to everyone else’s.

What’s more, in all the time we’ve moderated this page, we have never seen someone respond to a “your band sucks” post with “Now that you mention it, I don’t like my favorite band anymore.” You cannot stop people from connecting with music; it’s a personal, emotional relationship, and it’s a fight you cannot win. It’s not a fight we want to host on our page, either. Don’t pick that fight here.

If it helps, think of Rocksmith like a restaurant. Check the menu, then choose only the items that seem appetizing. You’re not expected to order everything on the menu, and if you were to say “take this off the menu because I don’t personally want to eat it,” you’d get funny looks. If it’s not to your taste, just look for something else that is. Our menu has nearly 1,000 options for millions of customers, each hungry for something different, and we add to the menu every week. If you find something that doesn’t appeal to your tastes…keep looking. There’s gotta be something on that menu for you. There’s something for everybody else, too.

So, please: Before you waste any time or energy insulting music that does not inspire you to play — for the good of your own community — stop, and shift gears. Nobody cares what you don’t like, but there’s plenty of other things we can talk about.

Thanks.

Rocksmith’s response to troll comments is succinct and on point. Instead of lashing out, the message explains why positivity (telling Rocksmith what songs you’d like to see in the future) is so much better than negativity (telling Rocksmith why you hate the new songs they’ve added).

I hope this message helps to keep the trolls at bay, at least for a little while, on the Rocksmith page. This message also serves as a good example to other companies who are dealing with similar problems on social media.


Facebook Announced New Ways to Watch Facebook Video



Facebook announced some updates that will give Facebook users new ways to watch Facebook video. It appears that the idea is to give users more flexibility on how and when they watch videos on Facebook.

Previously, Facebook users would have videos in their News Feed that silently played. Those that wanted to hear the sound had to click on an individual video. The new update, which is slowly being brought to users, will have sound automatically start playing on the videos in your News Feed. The sound will fade in and out as you scroll through videos in your News Feed.

If you don’t like that idea, there is a way to disable it. Go into your Facebook Settings and switch off “Videos in News Feed Start With Sound.” If you view Facebook on your phone, and your phone is set to silent, the videos will not play with sound.

Facebook is now offering a larger preview of vertical videos in News Feed on mobile. The larger format is now available on both iOS and Android.

It is now possible to watch a Facebook video and scroll through your News Feed at the same time. Users can minimize the video that they want to watch to a picture-in-picture view that plays in the corner of the screen. Users can drag the video to any corner of the screen they want to. People who view Facebook on an Android device can keep the video playing as they exit the Facebook app to do something else on their phones.

The biggest part of the update is the announcement of a Facebook video app for TV, which will roll out soon to app stores for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV (with more platforms to come.) This is an expansion upon an existing ability to stream videos from Facebook to your TV.

The Facebook video app for TV will let you watch videos shared by friends or Pages you follow. It will show you top live videos from around the world, and will recommend videos based on your interest. You can also catch up on videos that you’ve saved to watch later, or to revisit videos you already watched, shared, or uploaded.


WhatsApp Wants to Share User Data with Facebook



WhatsApp logoWhatsApp updated its terms and privacy policy for the first time in four years. Some of those changes are likely to turn off users. In short, WhatsApp wants to share user data with Facebook for the purpose of using it to show you targeted ads. There is a way to opt-out of it.

WhatsApp posted an oddly worded blog post that describes more about what it is about to do. It tries to reassure users that they will still be able to keep in touch with friends and loved ones on WhatsApp. Next, it vaguely suggests that the new terms and privacy policy is intended to benefit companies that want to show you adds. From the blog post:

People use our app every day to keep in touch with loved ones who matter to them, and this isn’t changing. But as we announced earlier this year, we want to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you too, while still giving you an experience without third-party banner ads and spam. Whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls. We want to test these features in the next several months, but need to update our terms and privacy policy to do so.

The wording implies that WhatsApp thinks that talking with your loved ones is an equally valuable experience as communicating with “businesses who matter to you”. I doubt many users are going to be convinced of that notion. No one joins a social media site or app because they simply cannot wait to connect with businesses and see more ads.

WhatsApp goes on to point out that they will share some user data with Facebook. It assures users that they have “rolled out end-to-end encryption”, and that user messages are encrypted by default.

WhatsApp also states that it won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and that it also won’t give your phone number to advertisers. Then, WhatsApp suggests that connecting your phone number to Facebook’s systems will enable Facebook to “offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads”.

If you are using both WhatsApp and Facebook, and you want to opt-out of this new change, you can. WhatsApp has instructions on how to do that directly from the app.


Facebook’s Recent Changes Are Bad For Low-Vision Users



FacebookNothing seems to get the internet’s collective ire up more than changes to Facebook. The social network has changed its layout and functionality many times over the years. Whenever it does this, my News Feed lights up with plenty of complaints. People even start special groups, pages, and petitions designed to convince Facebook to change things back to how they worked before. And while I guess all of that organized venting helps some of these users feel better, it rarely causes Facebook to do an about face (no pun intended). Every time one of these incidents becomes the meme du jour, I just ignore it and move on with my life. Because getting mad about Facebook is an exercise in futility. Facebook isn’t beholden to users since (despite commonly circulated rumors) none of us are paying to use Facebook, and the platform is now so big, it isn’t really concerned with the loss of a couple, or even a couple thousand, users.

But now the tide has turned for me. I’m legally blind. When I look at Facebook using Safari on my iMac, I use the pinch-to-zoom function available thru my wireless trackpad. This allows me to blow up the News Feed to a size that’s comfortable for me to read. I’ve done it this way for years without incident. Until yesterday. I logged in to Facebook and used the zoom function, just as I have been doing. The result was this:

Facebook zoom

The right-hand sidebar now “floats” to the left and partially covers the News Feed. Zooming in more increases the problem.

I posted about this on Twitter:

And I sent a message thru Facebook’s feedback form, which generated this reply via e-mail:

Hi,

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. We’re constantly trying to improve Facebook, so it’s important that we hear from the people who use it. Unfortunately, we can’t respond to your emails individually, but we are paying attention to them. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

If you’re having any problems with your account, please visit the Help Center (http://www.facebook.com/help) where you’ll find information about Facebook as well as the answers to many of your questions.

Thanks again for your feedback,
The Facebook Team

I don’t really expect to receive a response from Facebook thru either medium. But I do hope that at least one human actually sees the tweet and/or the feedback message, and that person is able to forward it to someone who will also look at it and at least consider it before tossing it away forever.

I don’t necessarily expect Facebook (or any platform) to make changes for me. I don’t expect them to make changes to suit what is assuredly a minority user base (low-vision users). But this change really has no merit. I understand that Facebook delivers a lot of ads thru that sidebar, and Facebook relies on these ads. I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m guessing they added the “floating” capability to the sidebar in order to ensure those ads would move with users who scroll thru their News Feeds. But there must be a way to set the sidebar so it doesn’t have to float to the left like this.

After all, it didn’t do this two days ago.


Facebook Will Allow Videos in Comments



facebook-logoFacebook is rolling out a new feature that will allow you to upload a video into comments and replies on posts. Apparently, the ability to respond to something with a link, photo, sticker, emoji, or a well written comment wasn’t enough. Soon, the post you make about … anything at all… could end up with a bunch of videos posted as comments.

Bob Baldwin, who works for Facebook and who has been involved in many Facebook Hackathons, is among the people to thank (or grumble at) for this. He points out that the ability to upload a video into comments and replies on posts was something he and others prototyped at Facebook’s 50th Hackathon (which took place earlier this year). That particular Hackathon was called the “Global Jubilee”, and had all Facebook engineering offices hack together.

The “Videos in Comments” ability is being rolled out worldwide. Those who are interested in, or amused by, this option can upload videos as replies to posts made by people and by pages, and also within groups and events. It is supported on desktop web, iOS, and Android.

Judging from the comment section on the Facebook post about “Videos in Comments”, it appears the feature is intended to be used by people who want to make short video posts of themselves expressing a particular emotion or sharing something – and to use that video as a response to someone’s post. To show how this works, Bob Baldwin added a short video of himself as a comment to a post he made. The video briefly showed people around Facebook’s new Seattle office.