Tag Archives: Meta

Instagram Changes Its Ranking System to Highlight Original Content



Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, tweeted about new features. “We’ve added new ways to tag and improve ranking: Product Tags, Enhanced Tags, Ranking for originality. Creators are so important to the future of Instagram, and we want to make sure that they are successful and get all the credit they deserve.”

TechCrunch reported that shortly after that announcement, a spokesperson from Instagram sent an email saying that Instagram is making changes to its ranking algorithm to prioritize the distribution of original content, rather than reposted content, in places like the Reels tab and feed.

The Verge reported that product tags are now available to everyone on Instagram, and you can assign yourself to a category like “Photographer” or “Rapper” and have that category show up every time you’re tagged in a post. Instagram is also going to start more heavily promoting original content on the platform.

The Verge also suggested that this is Instagram’s way of saying “Please, please, please stop just posting your favorite TikTok’s to Reels. We’re begging you.”

Engadget reported that the move to prioritize original content comes as Instagram has taken other steps to incentivize creators to post original content on its platform first, rather than re-sharing clips from TikTok and other apps. According to Engadget, the change seems to be geared toward discouraging accounts that simply aggregate and distribute popular memes and other re-posted content.

In addition, Engadget pointed out that those who don’t like Instagram’s ranked feed have an alternative now. Instagram brought back its chronological feed, but it is not enabled by default.

This news comes at a really good time for me, personally. I was in the process of deleting my Instagram account, photo by photo. The process is tedious and time consuming, and you can only delete one photo (or video) at a time. I noticed I had a lot of art on there and decided to make my account a showcase for my art and changed the name on my account to reflect that.

People who create original content and post it on Instagram should get credit for their work. It has always bothered me when accounts on social media content-scrape other people’s original content and try to pass it off as their own. I am happily surprised that Instagram is going in a direction that protects artists and their content.


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).


Russia Asks Court to Declare Meta an “Extremist Organization”



Yesterday, Meta Platforms (the parent company of Facebook) chose to allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russian and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion. Meta even provided an example sentence that it would allow: “death to the Russian invaders”. Reuters reported Meta was temporarily allowing users to post calls for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

At the time, the temporary policy (that allowed some users to break Meta’s hate speech policy) was for users in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

Today, 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. The company said the decision would affect 80 million users in Russia.

The Verge reported that one week after placing a ban on Facebook in Russia, the country’s communication agency Roskomandzor announced it will ban Instagram, too.

According to The Verge, the Facebook ban cited “discrimination against Russian media”. The Instagram ban is happening because of a decision by parent company Meta directing moderators to allow posts calling for violence against Russian soldiers if they originate from certain countries, including Ukraine.

Interestingly, Russia decided not to block WhatsApp (which is also owned by Meta). Reuters reported that Russia’s RIA News agency cited a source saying the messaging app is considered a means of communication, not a way to post information.

Personally, I am not at all surprised that Meta’s decision to temporarily ignore its policy against hate speech and violence is being remarked upon by Russia. It is never a good idea to encourage anyone to post hate speech and/or violence online, and Meta is a large enough company that it should have known better.


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.