Tag Archives: Facebook

Meta Adds Discord-Like Features To Facebook Groups

Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram) announced that they are testing new ways to quickly access your favorite Facebook Groups and to simplify how they are organized. Meta also introduced channels, which are focused spaces for people to connect in smaller, more casual settings with their communities.

Here are some of the features that Meta is adding to Facebook Groups:

Meta is testing a new sidebar that helps you easily find your favorite groups more quickly. It will list your groups and the latest activity within them, like posts or chats you haven’t seen yet. You can also pin your favorite groups so they show up first, discover new groups, or create your own group.

Within your group, you’ll see a new menu that includes things like events, shops and a variety of channels to make it easier to connect with others around the topics you care about.

Admins can create channels to connect with their groups in smaller, more casual settings where they can have deeper discussions on common interests or organize their communities around topics in different formats.

Community chat channels: a place for people to message, collaborate and form deeper relationships around topics in a more real-time way across both Facebook Groups and Messenger.

Community audio channels: a feature where admins and members can casually jump in and out of audio conversations in real time.

Community feed channels: a way for community members to connect when it’s most convenient for them. Admins can organize their communities around topics within the group for members to connect around more specific interests.

The Verge reported that the changes made by Meta to Facebook Groups looks a lot like Discord. It has a left-aligned sidebar and channels list for Groups. According to The Verge, the changes are giving off “some serious Discord vibes.” The change has a lot of purple color added to it, which evokes Discord’s look.

The Verge also pointed out that part of the new Facebook Groups includes text chats, audio rooms, and feed rooms where people can post and comment. Again, it looks a lot like Discord. Meta included images that show what Facebook Groups will look like. It just so happens to have focused on a group that is for gamers, perhaps to boost Facebook gaming.

It isn’t unheard of for social media companies to copy features that originated somewhere else. Many of them have a tendency to “copy” another social media’s “homework”, rather than creating something unique on their own platform. Personally,

In short, Meta decided to take the lazy way out and copy-paste the features it saw in Discord. It is unclear what, exactly, Meta hopes will happen next. I suppose it is possible for Discord to object to having their main features appropriated by Meta. Personally, I doubt that people will leave Discord, where their game-playing friends are at – in favor of using Meta instead.

Facebook Wants You To Share Reels From Third-Party Apps

Meta (parent company of Facebook) has introducedSharing to Reels. It is described on the Meta for Developers site as “a new way for developers to make it easy for people to share video directly to Facebook”.

Enabling Sharing to Reels makes it easy for people to share short-form videos directly to Facebook. Once integrated, third-party apps will have a Reels button so people can share short videos, then customize with Reels editing tools like audio, text, effects, captions and stickers. Instead of downloading their video content and uploading it later, they can now create and share video seamlessly with one tap.

At launch, Facebook has partnered with Smule, Vita, and VivaVideo who have integrated #SharingToReels and are finding new ways for Creators to express themselves, grow their communities, and reach new audiences.

Personally, I’ve never heard of those companies. I’m also wondering why Facebook didn’t choose to include Instagram which has its own version of Reels (and is also connected to Meta). That seems like the obvious choice!

TechCrunch reported: While Reels first began as a way to directly combat TikTok with a feature inside the Instagram app, Meta also brought them to Facebook shortly after. The company touted during its Q4 2021 earnings that Reels is now its “fastest-growing content format by far.” The company also said Reels was the biggest contributor to growth on Instagram and “growing very quickly” on Facebook, too.

Facebook also did not mention TikTok, which is pretty much all about reels. Why? Engadget may have the answer to that question.

Engadget reported: Facebook is taking another step to encourage users to create original content for its TikTok clone. The company introduced a “sharing to Reels” feature to allow users of third-party apps to post directly to Facebook Reels.

Engadget also reported: Now, with Facebook losing users to TikTok, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has staked a lot on the success of Reels. He said last fall that Reels would be “as important for our products as Stories” and that reorienting its service to appeal to younger users was the company’s “North Star”.

In short, Facebook made a clone that does what TikTok and Instagram have already been doing. Cloning features from other social media platforms is not new. If Facebook excludes TikTok and/or Instagram from Reels, Facebook users might simply decide to continue posting their content on either Instagram or TikTok instead bringing it to Facebook.

Australian Watchdog Group Sues Meta Over Fake Crypto Ads on Facebook

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has sued Meta over its misleading conduct for publishing scam celebrity crypto ads on Facebook. The lawsuit includes Ireland Limited (which is also part of Meta).

The ACCC alleges that Meta “engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct by publishing scam advertisements featuring prominent Australian public figures.” It also alleges that that Meta aided and abetted or was knowingly concerned in false or misleading conduct and representations by advertisers.

The ACCC alleges that the ads, which promoted investment in cryptocurrency or money-making schemes, were likely to mislead Facebook users into believing the advertised schemes were associated with well-known people features in the ads, such as businessman Dick Smith, TV presenter David Koch, and former NSW Premier Mike Baird. The schemes were in fact scams, and the people featured in the ads had never approved or endorsed them.

According to the ACCC: “The ads contained links that took Facebook users to a fake media article that included quotes attributed to the public figure in the ad endorsing a cryptocurrency or money-making scheme. Users were then invited to sign up and were subsequently called by scammers who used high pressure tactics, such as repeated phone calls, to convince users to deposit funds into the fake schemes.”

Reuters reported a quote from ACCC Chair Rod Sims, who said: “The essence of our case is that Meta is responsible for these ads that it publishes on its platform. It is alleged that Meta was aware… scam ads were being displayed on Facebook but did not take sufficient steps to address the issue.”

The Guardian reported: The scam has likely raked in millions from unsuspecting people. One 77-year-old grandmother lost $80,000 in the investment, while the ACCC has said another person lost $650,000 through the scam.

The Sydney Morning Herald posted a response from a Meta company spokesman, who said the company did not want ads seeking to scam people out of money or mislead people on Facebook.

Personally, I do not believe the statement the Meta spokesperson gave. Meta is a huge company, and if it truly wanted to protect users from being harmed by fake crypto ads, it should have immediately acted to remove them. Meta left those ads up.

Meta Backtracks On Allowing Violent Threats to Russian Soldiers

CNBC reported on March 14, 2022, that Meta has backtracked on their terrible decision. According to CNBC, Meta Platforms clarified that users cannot make posts calling for the assassination of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin or other heads of state.

Meta (parent company of Facebook) also said that a previously reported temporary easing of its hate speech policy now only applies to allowing posts by users in Ukraine. Originally, it allowed temporary easing of hate speech restrictions to several other countries.

CNBC also reported about an internal post on Sunday, written by Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg. He wrote that the company is “now narrowing its focus to make explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russian’s in general.” Nick Clegg added, “We do not permit calls to assassinate a head of state.”

The recent statements from Nick Clegg contradict what has previously been reported by Reuters. Recently, Meta chose to allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion. Meta even gave users a template sentence to use: ‘death to the Russian invaders’.

Reuters reported that Meta was also allowing some users to post calls for death to Russian President Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (according to internal emails to its content moderators).

Meta also has another significant problem. Nick Clegg tweeted: “Responding to reports that the Russian government is considering designating Meta as an extremist organization for its policies in support of speech:” The tweet includes a screenshot of a letter-length statement from Nick Clegg. In my opinion, feels like a desperate attempt to convince people that Meta didn’t mean what it said regarding its own hate speech policy.

The tweet was posted after Reuters reported that Russian prosecutors asked a court to designate Meta Platforms as an “extremist organization,” and the communications regulator said it would restrict access to Meta’s Instagram starting March 14. (Russia had previously blocked Facebook).

Meta Allows Ukraine War Posts Urging Violence Against Invading Russians

Reuters reported that Meta Platforms (the parent company of Facebook) will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion. Reuters clarifies that this is a temporary change to Meta’s hate speech policy.

According to Reuters, the social media company is also temporarily allowing some posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to internal emails to its content moderators.

A Meta spokesperson gave the following statement to Reuters:

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”

It sound like Meta has provided a template sentence for people to use without facing any consequences.

Reuters reported that the calls for leaders’ deaths will be allowed unless they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method. This temporary policy change on calls for violence to Russian soldiers apply to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

On February 28, President of Global Affairs at Meta, tweeted: “We have received from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in retaliation to Russian state controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.”

On March 3, Meta announced that they were committing $15 million to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighboring countries. It includes $5 million in direct donations to UN agencies and more than a dozen nonprofits, including International Medical Corps who will be using these funds to deploy mobile medical units to Ukraine and Internews to support at-risk journalists and human rights defenders. They are also donating to UNICEF to support children and families in Ukraine.

It would have been better if Meta focused on those two things, and stopped there.

What will Meta do when, sometime in the future, another war starts? Will their hate speech policy be temporarily ignored again? Meta cannot offer a healthy community while it is looking the other way when people post death threats.

Russia Blocked Facebook and Twitter

Both Facebook and Twitter were blocked by Russia on Friday, amid President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine, BuzzFeed News reported.

According to BuzzFeed News, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator, posted a statement on Friday, explaining the decision was made to “block access to the Facebook network” after at least 26 cases of “discrimination against Russian media and information resources” since October of 2020. More specifically, the agency highlighted Facebook’s recent restriction of Kremlin-tied media sources RT and Sputnik across the EU.

Reuters reported that Meta Platforms (parent company of Facebook) would restrict access to Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik on its platforms across the European Union. According to Reuters, the company received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media on its platforms.

In addition, Reuters reported that the European Union said it would ban Russian state-owned television network RT and news agency Sputnik. Canada telecoms operators have also stopped offering the RT channel.

Interfax, (Interfax Information Services Group) reported that Roskomnadzor blocked Twitter in Russian territory. According to Interfax, Twitter is restricted across Russia based on the Prosecutor General’s Office demand dated February 24.

NetBlocks a global monitor working at the section of digital rights, cybersecurity and internet governance, confirmed the restriction of Twitter in Russia from the morning of February 26, 2022. It also reported that Facebook servers had been subsequently restricted on Sunday.

According to NetBlocks, the restrictions are in effect across multiple providers rendering both social media platforms largely unusable, and come as Russian authorities and social media platforms clash over rules in relation to the invasion of Ukraine.

It seems to me that people who have friends and relatives in Russia are unlikely to see them post anything on Facebook or Twitter for a while. This news also makes it very clear how important social media is for various governments. It appears that Russia’s decision to block Facebook and Twitter could be an effort to prevent its people from learning about what is happening in Ukraine.

Meta Lost Daily Users Last Quarter

The Washington Post reported that Meta, the new name for the company formerly known as Facebook, reported Wednesday that Facebook lost daily users last quarter for the first time ever. According to The Washington Post, the company as a whole, which includes Instagram and WhatsApp, continued to grow, Facebook stalled just shy of 2 billion log-ins a day.

The Washington Post also reported that “Facebook may have peaked in 2021” was the most symbolic data point in a gloomy corporate earnings report that sent Meta’s stock into an epic, historical spiral. The stock lost $220 billion from its value. The loss was greatest in Africa, Latin America, and India, suggesting that the company’s product is saturated globally.

What could be the causes of this drop in daily users? The Verge reported that Meta struggled with waning relevance among young people as CEO Mark Zuckerberg refocused its aim toward “metaverse” plans. The Washington Post reported that Facebook is losing younger users to TikTok.

In addition, Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature required all companies that wanted to track users and their data across different apps and websites had to ask permission through a standardized prompt created by Apple. With the click of a button, people could prevent apps from tracking them. According to The Guardian, Facebook’s advertising model had been hit hard by privacy changes at Apple, and Facebook said it expects it will cost them millions.

Protocol reported that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar) is headed to the floor of the House. If passed into law, the legislation would prohibit large tech platforms from boosting their own produces and services on the platforms they own. That, too, could potentially take away some money from Meta.

As if that weren’t enough, CBC reported that Meta revealed, for the first time, the financials of its Reality labs division in its fourth-quarter earnings report on Wednesday. According to CBS, Reality Labs reported more than $10 billion in losses in 2021 alone. Meta would have had more than $56 billion in profit for all of last year had it not been for Reality Labs.

It seems to me, based on all of this, that Meta needs to rethink how it is running its business. I cannot see how it can recover from losses like this, year after year, as people continue to lose interest in the company’s various assets.