Instagram Has Started Putting Ads In Search Results

Instagram posted information titled: “Promote Upcoming Launches And Reach More People With New Instagram Ads”. In my opinion, nobody wants to have their Instagram feed filled with ads – especially if those ads are irrelevant to the user. I guess this is how Instagram is attempting to make more money.

The information from Instagram starts with: People comes to Instagram to discover new brands, products, or upcoming events. Today, we’re introducing two new ad products that give businesses more ways to get discovered and from meaningful connections – Reminder ads and ads in search results.

Reminder Ads

We recently partnered with brands such as Starz to test a new ad format that makes it easier for businesses to announce, remind, and notify people of future events or launches that they might be interested in.

Reminder ads, rolling out to all advertisers as an option in feed, help advertisers build awareness, anticipation, and consideration for upcoming moments. People can opt into convenient reminders and receive three notifications from Instagram one day before, 15 minutes before, and at the time of the event.

Ads in Search Results

We’re also beginning to test ads in search results to reach people actively searching for businesses, products and content. Ads will show up in the feed that people can scroll when they tap into a post from search results. We plan to launch this placement globally in the coming months.

The Verge reported while Instagram’s post vaguely states the ads will “reach people actively searching for businesses, products and content,” company spokesperson Shenny Barboza has since confirmed to The Verge that “ads will show up for search terms that fall within our community and recommendation guidelines.” That means we could potentially see ads on all the searches that meet those criteria.

According to The Verge, Instagram has only been adding more and more ads over the years, which now populate the platform’s Explore page, Explore feeds, Reels, Stories, and even user profiles. Emma Roth, writing for The Verge, stated “I can’t say I’m surprised that Instagram’s bringing them to search result feeds as well, but I will be mourning the loss of yet another part of the platform where my scrolling isn’t interrupted by ads.”

TechCrunch reported that once the ad placement rolls out widely, users around the world will start to see ads related to their searches. For example, if you search for “Skin Care”, you will see relevant ads within the search results feed. You can tell the difference between ads and regular posts through a “Sponsored” label under the account’s name.

According to TechCrunch, these new tools serve to boost the company’s ability to pull in revenue at a time when Meta has been seeing declining ad sales. As part of its Q4 2022 earning results, Meta revealed last month that its ad revenue fell to $31.2 billion from $32.6 billion in the same quarter last year.

TechCrunch also wrote that after Meta reported its first-ever quarterly revenue decline in Q2 2022 amid declining ad sales, the company increased its ad load on Instagram with the launch of two new ad slots. Meta launched a new ad format for Facebook Reels, and started allowing advertisers to run ads on the Explore home page and in profile feeds.

Personally, if it turns out that the plethora of ads Instagram posts is more than I’d like, I will definitely consider removing my art from Instagram and deleting Instagram itself. Instagram/Meta is taking huge risk that current users will leave the platform rather than having deal with so many ads.

Hacking Forum Shuts Down After Administrator Gets Arrested

Last week, the FBI arrested a man alleged to be “Pompompurin,” the administrator of the infamous and popular BreachForums, TechCrunch reported. Days after the arrest, the cybercrime website’s new administrator announced that they are shutting down the forum for good.

“Please consider this the final update for Breached,” the new admin, known as “Baphomet,” wrote in the official Telegram channel. “I will be taking down the forum, as I believe we can assume that nothing is safe anymore. I know that everyone wants the forum up, but there is no value in short term gain for what will likely be a long term loss by propping up Breached as it is.”

The new administrator Baphomet did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment.

According to TechCrunch, the apparent end of BreachForums comes roughly a year after a coalition of international law enforcement agencies led by the U.S. Department of Justice seized RaidForums, another notorious cybercrime forum where hacked databases would be advertised and sold. BreachForums was born in the aftermath of RaidForums’ demise, and served pretty much the same purpose and audience.

The Record reported that a hacker going by the name “Baphomet” initially said they were working through an emergency plan for the forum after the arrest of 21-year-old Conor Brian Fitzpatrick at his home last Wednesday. In court documents, Fitzpatrick is alleged to be the hacker known as pompompurin – the leading administrator of BreachForums.

The Record also reported an update was posted on Tuesday, the new administrator taking over BreachForums said they now plan to shut down the platform entirely.

Baphomet wrote that someone was able to access the backend of the platform through pompompurin’s account on Sunday afternoon, leading them to believe law enforcement may have access to the site’s source code and information about the forum’s users.

According to The Record, Bahomet wrote: “This will be my final update on Breached, as I’ve decided to shut it down. I’m aware this news will not please anyone, but its the only safe decision now that I’ve confirmed that the glowies likely have access to Poms machine,” the hacker said.

The Record also reported that BreachForums became the go-to site for cybercriminals stolen data and market troves of information leaked during hacks and attacks. The forum was most recently in the news after hackers posted data stolen from Washington, D.C’s healthcare exchange platform on the site, including the sensitive information of Congress members and staff.

CNBC reported on March 21, at least 17 current or former members of Congress had personal information exposed in the hack of the District of Columbia health insurance data system, according to a top Democrat investigating the matter. And that number is expected to rise, he said. According to multiple reports, the breach might have impacted more than 56,000 people.

In my opinion, hackers cause problems for everyone – including themselves. They run the risk of going to jail due to their decision to grab data that does not belong to them. It is good that BreachForums is going down.

TikTok Refreshed Its Community Guidelines

TikTok posted “Helping creators understand our rules with refreshed Community Guidelines”. It was written by Julie de Bailliencourt, Global Head of Product Policy, TikTok.

Today we are refreshing our Community Guidelines. These are the rules and standards for being part of the TikTok community, which is now more than 150 million people in the United States and more than 1 billion worldwide. These rules apply to everyone and everything on our platform.

As part of this, for the first time, we’re sharing TikTok’s Community Principles to help people understand our decisions about how we work to keep TikTok safe and build trust in our approach. These principles are based on our commitment to uphold human rights and aligned with international legal frameworks.

These principles guide our decisions about how we moderate content, so that we can strive to be fair in our actions, protect human dignity, and strike a balance between freedom of expression and preventing harm…

Advancing our rules for how we treat synthetic media, which is content created or modified by AI technology;

Adding ‘tribe’ as a protected attribute in our hate speech and hateful behavior policies;

More detail about how to work to protect civic and election integrity, including our approach to government, politician, and political party accounts.

TikTok also laid out the four pillars of their approach to moderation:

  • Remove violative content;
  • Age-restrict mature content so it is only viewed by adults (18 years or older). (As a reminder, this content much still abide by our Community Guidelines);
  • Make content ineligible for recommendation in the For You feed that isn’t appropriate for a broad audience;
  • Empower our community with information tools and resources to stay in control of their experience

TechCrunch reported: The updated guidelines, which will go into effect on April 21, come as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is slated to appear before Congress on March 23 amid growing security concerns. 

According to TechCrunch, as part of the updated guidelines, synthetic or manipulated media that shows realistic scenes must be clearly disclosed. The company said this can be done through the use of a sticker or caption, such as “synthetic,” “fake,” “not real” or “altered.”  TikTok notes that although it welcomes the creativity the AI unlocks, the technology can make it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction, which can lead to risks.

The Hill reported that last week, the Biden administration said it would ban the app in the U.S. if TikTok’s Chinese-based parent company, ByteDance, did not sell its stake to an American company. 

According to The Hill, during a briefing call on Monday, Republican Congressional aides highlighted talking points they think the company may use to defend itself against criticism regarding the app.  They also expect Chew to argue against banning the app because of its popularity.

Considering all of this, it seems to me that there is nothing CEO Shou Zi Chew can say that would change the minds of the Biden administration, the security agencies, or Congress. Perhaps the solution is to ban TikTok. It could make room for an American company to create something similar. 


Unlock Podcast Growth with Blubrry Statistics

Blubrry Podcasting is one the best podcast hosting platforms that offer various services to podcasters, including media hosting, a podcast directory, and podcast statistics. Blubrry Podcast Statistics is their analytics service that has provided detailed insights into podcast performance, measuring global podcasts since 2006. Here are some factors that make Blubrry Podcast Statistics unique:

  1. IAB Certification: Blubrry Podcast Statistics was one of the first platforms certified by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), ensuring its data and analytics adhere to industry standards for accuracy and reliability.

  2. Comprehensive Data: Blubrry Podcast Statistics and its associated listeners’ survey services offer a wealth of data for podcasters, including download numbers, listener demographics, and device usage. Helping podcasters better understand their audience and make informed decisions about their content strategy.

  3. Real-time Analytics: Blubrry Podcast Statistics provides real-time updates on podcast performance, allowing podcasters to track their progress and growth over time. This feature enables users to identify trends and respond quickly to changes in listener behavior.

  4. Easy Integration: Blubrry Podcast Statistics can be easily integrated with most podcast hosting platforms through a prepend. This seamless integration ensures podcasters have a third-party view of their metrics to share with clients and team.

  5. User-friendly Interface: The Blubrry Podcast Statistics dashboard is designed to be easy to navigate, even for those without technical knowledge. It presents data visually appealing and intuitively, making it easy for users to understand and interpret their podcast’s performance quickly.

  6. Customizable Reports: Podcasters can generate custom reports based on their specific needs, allowing them to focus on particular aspects of their podcast’s performance or audience demographics. This feature helps create targeted marketing strategies and understand listener preferences.

  7. Advanced Filtering: Blubrry Podcast Statistics offers advanced filtering options, enabling podcasters to dive deep into their data and identify patterns or trends. Users can filter their analytics by factors such as date, location, and device type, which can provide valuable insights for optimizing their podcasts.

Blubrry Podcast Statistics stands out for its IAB certification, comprehensive data, real-time analytics, easy integration with other podcast platforms, user-friendly interface, customizable reports, and advanced filtering options. These features make it an appealing choice for podcasters seeking valuable insights into their podcast’s performance and audience behavior.

FDIC To Break Up Silicon Valley Bank

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on Monday decided to break up Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and hold two separate auctions for its traditional deposits unit and its private bank after failing to find a buyer for the failed lender last week, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, the FDIC will seek bids for Silicon Valley Private Bank until March 22 and for the bridge bank until March 24. The private bank, which is housed within SVB’s retail operations, caters to high net-worth individuals.

First Citizens BancShares Inc, one of the biggest buyers of failed U.S. lenders, has submitted a bid for all of Silicon Valley Bank, one source with knowledge of the matter said. If the FDIC decides to receive bids for parts of SVB, First Citizens also expected to bid. Bloomberg reported earlier on their interest on SVB.

The FDIC posted a press release on Monday titled: “FDIC Extends Bid Window For Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, N.A.” from the press release:

“The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has extended the bidding process for Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, National Association, Santa Clara, California. There has been substantial interest from multiple parties, and the FDIC and the bidders need more time explore all options in order to maximize value and achieve an optimal outcome.

To help simplify the bidding process and expand the pool of potential bidders, the FDIC will allow parties to submit separate bids for Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, N.A., and its subsidiary Silicon Valley Private Bank. Qualified, insured banks, and qualified, insurance banks in alliance with non-bank partners, will be able to submit whole-bank bids or bids on the deposits or assets of the institutions. Bank and non-bank financial firms will be permitted to bid on the asset portfolios…

…In the meantime, Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, N.A., continues to operate as a nationally chartered bank. Depositors will continue to have full access to all of their money through Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, N.A., which operates 17 branches in California and Massachusetts, and through online banking, ATM and debit card, and by writing checks. Loan customers should continue making loan payments as usual.

Vendors and counterparts with contracts with the bridge bank are legally obligated to continue to perform under the contracts. Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, N.A., has the full ability to make timely payments to vendors and counterparties and otherwise perform its obligations under the contract…”

PBS reported that the bidding process for the successor of Silicon Valley Bank is being extended by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to give more time to work out a potential deal.

According to PBS, on Friday the parent of Silicon Valley Bank filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections. SVB Financial Group is no longer affiliated with Silicon Valley Bank after its seizure by the FDIC. Its collapse was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history after the demise of Washington Mutual in 2008.

In my opinion, it will be interesting to find out which companies decide to bid on SVB, and which one the FDIC will select as its new owner.

Phil Spencer Talked About Xbox Mobile Store

Microsoft’s mobile games store could launch as early as next year, the company’s head of gaming Phil Spencer has said. Thanks to the new Digital Markets Act — legislation that forces Apple and Google to allow users on its platforms to access apps from sources other than the App Store and Google Play Store — Spencer believes this will create a “huge opportunity” for Xbox, GameSpot reported.

“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming – those are the kinds of things we are planning for,” Spencer said in an interview with The Financial Times. “I think it’s a huge opportunity. We want to be in a position to offer Xbox and content from both us and our third-party partner across any screen where somebody would want to play. Today, we can’t do that on mobile devices but we want to build towards a world that we think will be coming where those devices are opened up.”

Signed into law back in September 2022 by the European Market, the Digital Markets Act will officially become applicable on May 2, according to GameSpot. Microsoft has made a big push into the mobile scene with its cloud gaming efforts recently, and the company’s plan to acquire Activision Blizzard is fueled primarily by it’s goal increase its foothold in the mobile market.

If the deal is approved, Microsoft will own Candy Crush developer King, as well as Call of Duty Mobile, lucrative properties in a market that is estimated to have 238.7 million “active” users in the US alone.

The Verge reported that Microsoft first hinted at a “next-generation store” early last year, just a month after the company announced its proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition. The Xbox mobile store is designed to rival Apple and Google’s mobile gaming store dominance, and will rely on content from Activision Blizzard like Call of Duty: Mobile and Candy Crush Saga – two hugely popular mobile games published by Activision and King, respectively.

According to the Verge, while Microsoft is building an Xbox mobile store, it will need regulators to take action against Apple and Google to ensure such a store can thrive on Android and iOS devices. Apple doesn’t allow alternative store on its iPhone and iPad devices, and even rival payment methods aren’t available in most countries.

Engadget reported that Microsoft first revealed it was working on an Xbox store for mobile devices in regulatory documents the company filed with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year. At the time, the tech giant didn’t provide a timeline for the plan, noting only its proposed merger with Activision Blizzard would play a critical role.

According to Engadget, Spence was more direct on Monday. “The Digital Markets Act that’s coming – those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” he said. “I think its a huge opportunity.”

In my opinion, the more places where people can play mobile games – the better! I personally find it rather frustrating when a game I really want to play (on mobile or on desktop) is not available for those who use Apple products.

Altman Warns of Language Model Risks #1657

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman expressed concerns over the potential risks posed by language models, such as their use in disinformation campaigns or cyber-attacks. In an interview with ABCNews, he urged caution and acknowledged that people should be glad that OpenAI is aware of these dangers. However, the company has faced criticism for withholding technical details about its GPT-4 model. Critics question why the technology is available for purchase if it’s as dangerous as claimed. Altman noted that other creators might not implement the safety measures OpenAI has in place. In my opinion, the real challenge that Altman did not discuss was that laws to prevent abuse would be years in the making.

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