Facebook has faced a barrage of concern over an apparent bug that resulted in the social media giant’s iPhone app exposing the camera as users scroll through their feed.
A tweet over the weekend blew up after Joshua Maddux tweeted a screen recording of the Facebook app on his iPhone. He noticed that the camera would appear behind the Facebook app as he scrolled through his social media feed.
Several users had already spotted the bug earlier in the month. One person called it “a little worrying”.
Today, while watching a video on @facebook, I rotated to landscape and could see the Facebook/Instagram Story UI for a split second. When rotating back to portrait, the Story camera/UI opened entirely. A little worrying… pic.twitter.com/7lVHHGedGf
Will Strafach, chief executive at Guardian Firewall, said it looked like a “harmless but creepy looking bug.”
The bug appears to only affect iPhone users running the latest iOS 13 software, and those who have already granted the app access to the camera and microphone. It’s believed the bug relates to the “story” view in the app, which opens the camera for users to take photos.
One workaround is to simply revoke camera and microphone access to the Facebook app in their iOS settings.
Despite the apparent widespread concern from users on social media, Facebook did not respond to repeated requests for comment from TechCrunch. That said, Facebook vice president of integrity Guy Rosen tweeted this morning that it “sounds like a bug” and the company was investigating.
“I guess it does say something when Facebook trust has eroded so badly that it will not get the benefit of the doubt when people see such a bug,” said Strafach.
According to former Chappy Managing Director Adam Cohen Aslatei, “something more” is one of the most common pieces of feedback that dating apps get from their users. That’s where S’More comes in.
S’More was founded by Aslatei to provide a dating app to users that goes beyond superficial looks.
Here’s how it works:
Rather than scrolling through a feed and swiping left and right, users are served five suggested profiles each day. Unlike other dating apps, user profiles on S’More consist of icons, rather than pictures and text, which reveal characteristics about the profile’s owner. For example, a user might put that they’re seeking romance, interested in hiking, and got an education from this or that university, all in the form of little tile icons.
When a user interacts with those icons — S’More calls this a ‘wink’ — more visual pieces of the profile start to unblur and unlock, revealing a profile photo and unlocking the person’s social media feeds, etc.
These interactions also unlock the ability to have a conversation, if they’re reciprocated, which creates a match.
As users continue to interact with others on the platform, S’More learns about what they’re looking for in a relationship and optimizes for those factors when suggesting other profiles.
“The greatest challenge is resetting expectations for consumers,” said Cohen Aslatei. “We know that the swiping mechanism largely doesn’t work, but we’re providing another option which is, if you truly want to get to know someone, suspend physical judgement before you decide if you like them.”
The company plans to generate revenue through a freemium model, charging users extra to access a Discover page on the app, allowing them to interact with and save more profiles than the allotted five per day.
Moreover, S’More asks all users to rank one another, not as prospective mates but as users of the platform. The hope is that the public-facing user rating promotes a healthy, safe environment for all users to meet and connect without the abuse that’s so common on dating apps. Ratings are also determined by a user’s activity on the platform and how complete their profile is.
The company also requires that users who register take a selfie for ID verification right at the point of signing up.
S’More is launching in beta to Boston and the D.C. area with plans to launch in New York soon.
If you don’t write often, you may feel otherwise, but just follow this
and you’ll be good to go when it comes to writing. Or, you can just watch the
But still, you write a blog post and then what do you do?
Well, I’ll tell you this… most people forget the “marketing” in content marketing. Most people write content but don’t do a great job of promoting it.
Here’s the thing: I figured out the perfect formula to promoting content.
Best of all, it’s not complex. Heck, it doesn’t even take 30 minutes. It’s so easy that I broke it down into 6 steps.
And just to give you an idea before we dive into the formula, it’s so effective here is the traffic to my latest blog post.
35,492 visits in a week isn’t too shabby. The post didn’t do exceptionally well and it didn’t tank. It was just an average post.
Now you probably won’t see the same results as me as I’ve
been doing this for a long time, but your results will be much better than what
you are currently getting. Hence, I used the number of 3,549 in the title as
you should be able to drive 1/10th of what I am generating.
No matter how well written your content is, promoting it won’t
be effective if no one likes your headline.
Now I know what you are thinking… I’ve already published my
article, is it too late to change my headline?
Nope, you can always change your headline, just try not
to change the URL of the article once it is already published. And if you decide
to change the URL, use a
There’s a really simple way to come up with headlines that work. Heck, it doesn’t even take more than a minute or two.
Just head over to Ubersuggest and type in the main keyword or phrase your article is about.
You’ll see a report that looks something like this:
Now I want you to click on “Content Ideas” in the left-hand navigation.
You should now see a report that looks like this:
This report shows you all of the blog posts around the web
that contain your keyword or phrase within their title. And it breaks it down
by social shares, backlinks, and search traffic.
You can use this to see what is working in your space.
Ideally, you want to look for headlines that have thousands of social shares (or hundreds if you aren’t in a popular industry), at least 10 backlinks, and more than 100 estimated visits. Just like the example below.
Making your headlines similar to ones that meet those 3 criteria
will increase your odds of getting more traffic.
Step #2: Add 3 internal links
The easiest way to get your new content more love is to
Yes, links are hard to build, but internal links are not…
plus they are still effective.
I rank for competitive terms like “digital marketing”…
A lot of it has to do with internal links. I link to my main
digital marketing page within my sidebar and within my content.
Every time you publish a new blog post, I want you to go into your older content that is relevant to your newly published blog post and add a link to it. Do this to 3 of your older blog posts.
This helps with indexing and it also helps your new
content rank higher on Google.
Step 3: Share your content on the social web carefully
The problem with social media marketing is that people think they can just share their content on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn and it will automatically do well.
Sadly, it won’t because billions of URLs have been shared
In other words, we just tend to ignore most of the links
But there is a simple way to stand out and get thousands of visitors from the social web, just like I get.
So, what’s my secret?
Well, I will give you a hint. Just look at one of my most
recent posts on LinkedIn:
And here is one from Facebook:
Do you notice a pattern?
I’m evoking curiosity. In other words, I am piquing your
interest and if you want to know the “solution” you have to click through to my
With the LinkedIn post, I tell you that marketing is going
to change next year. I also make a point to say how it is going to change in a
way that nobody is talking about.
I do this because we all can assume marketing will change. But
by saying it is in a way nobody is talking about, it evokes curiosity. And if
you want to know how it will change you have no choice but to click through
over to my site to read the rest.
With my Facebook post, I also evoke curiosity. I talk about a Google algorithm update, but I hint that I have an answer to leveraging Google’s latest algorithm update. And if you want to know what it is, you have to click through over to my site.
Whenever you post on the social web, evoke curiosity if you want people to head over to your site.
The easiest way to do this is that every time you share one of your articles on the social web, add a few sentences above the link that helps pique peoples’ interest.
Step #4: Message everyone you link out to
It’s common to link out to other sites within your blog
Heck, sometimes I even link out to my competition.
If you don’t ever link out to other sites, you are making a
big mistake. It helps with authority and trust.
If you are using stats and data within your article, you
want to cite your sources. This brings credibility to you and it helps brand
yourself as an expert which can help with Google’s medic
Now, when you link out to a site, go and search their email
address. You can typically find their email address on their website.
Or if you can’t find their email address, look for a contact
page on their site, you’ll typically see a form that you can fill out.
Whether you find an email address or contact form, I want
you to message each and every single site you link out to with a message that
goes like this:
Hi [insert their first name],
I just wanted to say, I love your content. Especially your article on [insert the name of the article you linked out to].
I linked to it from my latest blog post [insert URL of your blog post]. It would make my day if you checked it out and even shared it on your favorite social network if you enjoyed it.
[insert your name]
When I send out these emails, I am getting 50 to 60% of the people to respond and share my content. But of course, my blog is popular, so for me, it isn’t too hard. But it hasn’t always been that way, and I’ve been leveraging this tactic for ages.
On the flip side, I also use this tactic on a few of my
blogs that are in other niches and don’t use my name (no one knows I own them)
and I am seeing success rates around 20%.
Just make sure you don’t use this tactic to ask for a link back. Your success rate will be slim.
Step #5: Send an email blast
These last two tactics produce a large portion of my
results, and you shouldn’t take them for granted, no matter how basic they may
If you already haven’t, start collecting emails from your
site. You can use free tools like Hello Bar
to create popups or sliders.
Hello Bar will plug into whatever email provider you are
Once you are up and running, every time you release a new
blog post, send out an email blast.
Here’s an example of one of my email blasts.
It’s so effective it generated 13,544 clicks.
I’ve found that you can drive good traffic from emails as
long as you do the following:
Scrub your list – if someone doesn’t open your emails over the last 30 or 60 days, remove them from your list. It helps keep your emails in people’s inboxes.
Send text-based emails – if you look at the email I sent, I keep it simple. No images, nothing fancy, just text and a link back to my site. It’s that simple.
Evoke curiosity – just like how I explained with the social media posts, your emails won’t do well unless you evoke curiosity.
A Dutch court has ruled that Facebook can be required to use filter technologies to identify and pre-emptively take down fake ads linked to crypto currency scams that carry the image of a media personality, John de Mol, and other well known celebrities.
The Dutch celerity filed a lawsuit against Facebook in April over the misappropriation of his and other celebrities’ likeness to shill Bitcoin scams via fake ads run on its platform.
In an immediately enforceable preliminary judgement today the court has ordered Facebook to remove all offending ads within five days, and provide data on the accounts running them within a week.
Per the judgement, victims of the crypto scams had reported a total of €1.7 million (~$1.8M) in damages to the Dutch government at the time of the court summons.
The case is similar to a legal action instigated by UK consumer advice personality, Martin Lewis, last year, when he announced defamation proceedings against Facebook — also for misuse of his image in fake ads for crypto scams. Lewis withdrew the suit at the start of this year after Facebook agreed to apply new measures to tackle the problem: Namely a scam ads report button. It also agreed to provide funding to a UK consumer advice organization to set up a scam advice service.
In the de Mol case the lawsuit was allowed to run its course — resulting in today’s preliminary judgement against Facebook.
It’s not yet clear whether the company will appeal but in the wake of the ruling Facebook has said it will bring the scam ads report button to the Dutch market early next month.
In court, the platform giant sought to argue that it could not more proactively remove the Bitcoin scam ads containing celebrities’ images on the grounds that doing so would breach EU law against general monitoring conditions being placed on Internet platforms.
However the court rejected that argument, citing a recent ruling by Europe’s top court related to platform obligations to remove hate speech, also concluding that the specificity of the requested measures could not be classified as ‘general obligations of supervision’.
It also rejected arguments by Facebook’s lawyers that restricting the fake scam ads would be restricting the freedom of expression of a natural person, or the right to be freely informed — pointing out that the ‘expressions’ involved are aimed at commercial gain, as well as including fraudulent practices.
Facebook also sought to argue it is already doing all it can to identify and take down the fake scam ads — saying too that its screening processes are not perfect. But the court said there’s no requirement for 100% effectiveness for additional proactive measures to be ordered.
Its ruling further notes a striking reduction in fake scam ads using de Mol’s image since the lawsuit was announced.
Facebook’s argument that it’s just a neutral platform was also rejected, with the court pointing out that its core business is advertising. It also took the view that requiring Facebook to apply technically complicated measures and extra effort, including in terms of manpower and costs, to more effectively remove offending scam ads is not unreasonable in this context.
The judgement orders Facebook to remove fake scam ads containing celebrity likenesses from Facebook and Instagram within five days of the order — with a penalty of €10k per day that Facebook fails to comply with the order, up to a maximum of €1M (~$1.1M).
The court order also requires that Facebook provides data to the affected celebrity on the accounts that had been misusing their likeness within seven days of the judgement, with a further penalty of €1k per day for failure to comply, up to a maximum of €100k.
Facebook has also been ordered to pay the case costs.
Responding to the judgement in a statement, a Facebook spokesperson told us:
We have just received the ruling and will now look at its implications. We will consider all legal actions, including appeal. Importantly, this ruling does not change our commitment to fighting these types of ads. We cannot stress enough that these types of ads have absolutely no place on Facebook and we remove them when we find them. We take this very seriously and will therefore make our scam ads reporting form available in the Netherlands in early December. This is an additional way to get feedback from people, which in turn helps train our machine learning models. It is in our interest to protect our users from fraudsters and when we find violators we will take action to stop their activity, up to and including taking legal action against them in court.
One legal expert describes the judgement as “pivotal“. Law professor Mireille Hildebrandt told us that it provides for as an alternative legal route for Facebook users to litigate and pursue collective enforcement of European personal data rights. Rather than suing for damages — which entails a high burden of proof.
Injunctions are faster and more effective, Hildebrandt added.
This is a tort case, not based on GDPR. Enforcement of GDPR obligations can also be ensured via such penalty payments (much more effective than fines), ex art. 79 GDPR, which basically requires that tort actions can be filed against controllers if unlawful processing 4/4
The judgement also raises questions around the burden of proof for demonstrating Facebook has removed scam ads with sufficient (increased) accuracy; and what specific additional measures it might deploy to improve its takedown rate.
Although the introduction of the ‘report scam ad button’ does provide one clear avenue for measuring takedown performance.
The button was finally rolled out to the UK market in July. And while Facebook has talked since the start of this year about ‘envisaging’ introducing it in other markets it hasn’t exactly been proactive in doing so — up til now, with this court order.
Instagram is launching a video-music remix feature to finally fight back against Chinese social rival TikTok. Instagram Reels lets you make 15-second video clips set to music and share them as Stories, with the potential to go viral on a new Top Reels section of Explore. Just like TikTok, users can soundtrack their Reels with a huge catalog of music, or borrow the audio from anyone’s else video to create a remix of their meme or joke.
Launching today limited to just Brazil where it’s called Cenas, Reels leverages all of Instagram’s most popular features to frankenstein together a remarkably coherent competitor to TikTok’s rich features and community of 1.5 billion monthly users including 122 million in the US according to Sensor Tower. Instead of trying to start from scratch like Facebook’s Lasso, Instagram could cross-promote Reels heavily to its own billion users.
But Instagram’s challenge will be retraining its populace to make premeditated, storyboarded social entertainment instead of just spontaneous, autobiographical social media like with Stories and feed posts.
“I think Musically before TikTok, and TikTok deserve a ton of credit for popularizing this format” admits Instagram director of product management Robby Stein. “No two products are exactly the same, and at the end of the day sharing video with music is a pretty univeral idea we think everyone might be interested in using. The focus has been on how to make this a unique format for us.”
Throwing Instagram’s Weight Around
Starting in Brazil before potentially rolling out elsewhere could help Instagram nail down its customization and onboarding strategy. Luckily, Brazil has a big Instagram population, a deeply musical culture, and a thriving creator community, says Stein.
It also isn’t completely obsessed with TikTok yet like fellow developing market India. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said about trying to grow Lasso, “We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big.” Instagram used this internationalization strategy to make Stories a hit where Snapchat hadn’t expanded yet, and it worked surprisingly well.
Instagram also has the US government on its side for a change. While its parent company Facebook is being investigated for anti-trust and privacy violations, TikTok is also under scrutiny.
Chinese tech giant ByteDance’s $1 billion 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, another Chinese app similar to TikTok but with traction in the US, is under review by the Committee For Foreign Investment In The United States. ByteDance turned Musical.ly into TikTok, but it could have to unwind the acquisitions or make other concessions to US regulators to protect the country’s national security. Several Senators have also railed against TikTok injecting Chinese social values via censorship into the American discourse.
Perhaps Instagram’s best shot at differentiation is through its social graph. While TikTok is primarily a feed broadcasting app, Instagram can work Reels into it’s Close Friends and Direct messaging features potentially opening a new class of creators — shy one who only want to share with people they trust not to make fun of them. A lot of this lipsyncing / dancing / humor skit content can be kinda cringey when people don’t get it just right.
How Instagram Reels Works
Users will find it in the Instagram Stories shutter modes tray next to Boomerang and Super-Zoom. They can either record with silence, borrow the audio of another video they find through hashtag search or Explore, or search Facebook’s enormous music collection secured from all the major labels and many indie publishers. Users pick the chunk to the song they want, and can then record or upload multiple video clips to fill out their Reel.
Once satisfied with their editing job, scene-by-scene captions, and ghost overlay-assisted transitions they can share a Reel to their Story, Close Friends, or message it to people. If shared publicly, it will also be eligible to appear in the Top Reels section of the Explore tab. Most cleverly, Instagram works around its own ephemerality by letting users add their Reels to their profile’s non-disappearing Highlights for a shot to show up on Explore even after their 24-hour story expires.
Instead of having to monetize later somehow, Instagram can immediately start making money from Reels since it already shows ads in Stories and the Explore tab.
Cloning TikTok isn’t just about the features, though Reels does a good job of copying the core ones while leaving out AR effects and transitions for now. But creating scripted content is totally new for most Instagram users, and could feel too showy or goofy for an app known for its seriousness. Instagram may have to lose its artful, cool vibe to embrace the silliness of tomorrow’s social entertainment.
No one’s going to pay $380 for decent point-of-view video glasses and some trippy filters. But that’s kind of the point of Snapchat Spectacles 3. They’re merely a stepping stone towards true augmented reality eyewear — a public hardware beta for the Snap Lab R&D team that Apple and Facebook aren’t getting as they tinker in their bunkers.
Still, I hoped for something that could at least unlock the talents of forward-thinking video creators. Yet the unpredictable and uncontrollable AR effects sadly fail to make use of Spectacles‘ fashionable form factor in premium steel. The clunky software requires clips be uploaded for processing and then re-downloaded before you can apply the 10 starter effects like a rainbow landscape filter or a shimmering fantasy falcon. This all makes producing AR content a chore instead of a joy for something only briefly novel.
Spectacles 3 go on sale today for $380 in black ‘Carbon’ or rose gold-ish ‘Mineral’ color schemes on Spectacles.com, Neiman Marcus, and Ron Robinson in the UK, shipping in a week. Announced in August, they’re sunglasses with two stereoscopic lenses capable of capturing depth to produce “3D” photos, and videos you can add AR effects to on your phone. You also get a very nice folds-flat leather USB-C charging case that powers up the glasses four times, and a Google Cardboard-style VR viewer.
“Spectacles 3 is a limited production run. We’re not looking for massive sales here. We’re targeting people who are excited about these effects — creative storytellers” says Matt Hanover of the Snap Lab team.
Gen 1 featured a “toy-like design to get people used to wearing tech on their face”, while Gen 2 and 2.1 had a more subdued look abandoning the coral color schemes to push mainstream adoption. What Gen 3 can’t do is force a $40 million write-off due to poor sales, as V1 did after only shipping 220,000 with hundreds of thousands more gathering dust somewhere. Snap is already losing $227 million per quarter as it scrambles to break even.
So it seems with Spectacles 3 that Snap is gathering data and biding its time, trying to avoid burning too much cash until it can build a version that overlays effects atop a user’s view through the glasses. “We’re still able to get feedback from the customer and inform the future of Spectacles. That’s really the goal for us” Hanover confirms.
His CEO Evan Spiegel agrees, telling me on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt that it would be 10 years until we see augmented reality glasses worthy of mainstream consumer adoption. That’s a long time for an unprofitable company to spend competing to invest in R&D versus cash-rich companies like Facebook and Apple.
Spectacles could be worth the steep $380 if you’re a videographer for a living, perhaps making futuristic social media clips like Karen X Cheng, a creator Snap hired to demonstrate the device’s potential. They’re cool enough looking that you could wear them around Cannes or Coachella without people getting weirded out like they did with Google Glass. And as Snap’s Lens Studio lets anyone build 3D effects for Spectacles 3, perhaps we’ll see some filters and imaginary characters that are more than just a momentary gimmick.
But for those simply seeking first-person camera glasses, I’d still recommend the Spectacles 2 at $150 to $200 depending on style which remain available. The 3D features don’t carry the weight of paying double the price for Spec 3s. And at least the 2nd-gen Specs are waterproof, which make them great for ocean play with fun underwater shooting when you don’t want to risk losing or fizzling your phone.
“We’re testing the price point and the premium aesthetic to see if it lands with this demographic” Hanover says. But Snap’s Director Of Communications Liz Markman notes that “there isn’t this perfect one-to-one overlap with the core Snap users.”
The result is that Spectacles 3 are really more for Snap’s benefit than yours.
Slick Eyewear, Now Where’s The AR?
The Spectacles 3 software is disappointing, but you’ll be delighted when you open the box. Slick black packaging reveal sturdily built metal sunglasses with a luxury matte finish. As they magnetically dislodge from their charging case, you definitely get they sense you’re trying on something futuristic.
The style concurs, with a flat black bar at the top connecting the round lenses with a camera on both corners. Unlike the old Specs that sat right on your nose, feeling heavy at times, Spectacles 3 offers adjustable acetate non-slip nose tips to keep the weight off. All the tech is built discreetly into the hinges and temples without appearing too chunky.
Tap the button either arm, and LED light swooshes in a circle to let people know you’re recording a video for 10 seconds, with multiple presses growing that to up to 60. Tap and hold to shoot a photo, and the light blinks. There’s no obnoxious yellow rubber ring to shout “these are cameras”, and the defused LEDs are more subtle than Gen 2’s dots while remaining an obvious enough signal to passersby so they’re not creepy.
One charge powers up to 70 captures and transfers to your phone over a combined Bluetooth built-in Wifi connection. The 4 gigabyte storage holds up to 100 videos or 1200 photos, and Spectacles 3 even have GPS and GLOSNASS on-board. A 4-mic array picks up audio from others and your own voice, though they’re susceptible to windshear if you’re biking or running. They shoot at 60-frames per second in 1216 x 1216 pixels resolution while photos come in at 1642 x 1642
The magnetically-sealing folding leather USB-C charging case is my favorite part. I wish I could get an even flatter one without a battery in it for my other sunglasses. It’s a huge improvement on the unpocketable bulky triangular case of the previous versions.
A Toy Not Fun Enough For The Price
So far so good, right? But then it comes time to actually see and augment what you shot.
Pairing and syncing is much easier than Gen 1. The glasses forge a Bluetooth connection, then spawn a WiFi network for getting media to your phone faster.
If you just want to share to Snapchat, you’re in luck. Spectacles content posts to Stories or messages in its cool circular format that lets viewers tilt their phones around while always staying full-screen to reveal the edges of your shots. Otherwise, you still have to go through the chore of exporting from Snapchat to your camera roll. Spectacles can at least now export in a variety of croppings for better sharing on Instagram and elsewhere.
What’s new are the 3D photos and videos. They utilize the space between the stereoscopic cameras in the corners of Spectacles employ parallax to sense the depth of a scene. After tapping the 3D button on a photo, you can wiggle the perspective of the image around to almost see around the edges of what you’re looking at. Spectacles will automatically pan back and forth for you, and export 3D photos as short Boomerang-esque six-second videos.
Unfortunately, I found that I didn’t get much sense of depth from most of the 3D photos I shot or saw. It takes a very particular kind of three-dimensional object from the right angle in the right light to much sense of movement from the wiggle. Snapchat’s algorithms also had a bad habit of mistakenly assigning bits of the foreground and background to each other, breaking the illusion. Occasionally you’ll have someone’s ear or their hair left behind and disembodied by the 3D effect.
Don’t expect these to flood social media or convince prospective Spectacles buyers. The 3D selfies you can shoot on Snapchat for free look better anyways.
The biggest problem comes with the delay when playing with 3D videos. Snapchat has to do the depth processing on its servers, so you have to wait for your video to upload, get scanned, and be re-downloaded before you can apply the 3D AR filters. On WiFi that takes about 35 seconds per 10 second video, which is quite a bore. It takes forever over a mobile connection. That means you often won’t be able to apply the filters and see how they look until you’re home and unable to reshoot anything.
The filter set is also limited and haphazard. You can add a 3D bird or balloons around you, wander through golden snow or neon arcs, overlay flower projections or rainbow waves, or sprinkle on sparkles and light-bending blobs. While the bird is cute, and the rainbows and flowers are remarkably psychedelic, none of them are more than briefly entertaining.
The 3D objects often glitch through real pieces of scenery, and you can’t control them at all. No summoning the bird mid-video. My favorite trick, learned from Karen X Cheng, was to export unedited and filtered versions of a video and splice them together on my computer as scene in my demo video above. You can’t actually do that from within Snapchat.
One extra feature the team is working on is to let you see a special colored light flash on the glasses’ internal recording-on signal to alert you to incoming Snaps from certain friends. If that’s popular, would Snap try giving us more notifications through that light? Hanover says “potentially in the future.”
Snap will have to build a lot cooler filters with interactivity if they’re going to compel creators to fork over $380 for Spectacles 3. It could hope to rely on its Lens Studio community platform, but so few developers or users will have the glasses that most will stick to making and using filters for phones.
Spectacles 3 are too expensive to be a toy, but don’t excel at being much more. Videography influencers might enjoy having a pair in their tool bag. But it’s hard to imagine anyone not sharing content professionally paying for the gadget.
Iteration vs Ideation
“We’re now pushing to elevate the technology and the design to master depth technically” Hanover tells me. “Holing ourselves up within an R&D center for years and years? That’s not our approach. It’s important to meet the customer where they are today and continue to iterate and get that feedback.”
But this iteration doesn’t feel like Snap meeting the customer where they are. That raises the question of whether Snapchat is really getting enough data out of the whole endeavor to justify publicly releasing Spectacles at all. The company will have to hope that testing short-term is worth thinking short-term, when it’s trying to win the long-term war in augmented reality eyewear.
Are those red notification dots on your Facebook home screen driving you crazy? Sick of Facebook Marketplace wasting your screen space? Now you can control what appears in the Facebook app’s navigation bar thanks to a new option called Shortcuts Bar Settings.
Over the weekend TechCrunch spotted the option to remove certain tabs like Marketplace, Watch, Groups, Events, and Dating or just silence their notification dots. In response to our inquiry, Facebook confirms that Shortcut Bar Settings is now rolling out to everyone, with most iOS users already equipped and the rest of Android owners getting it in the next few weeks.
The move could save the sanity and improve the well-being of people who don’t want their Facebook cluttered with distractions. Users already get important alerts that they could actually control via their Notifications tab. Constant red notification counts on the homescreen are an insidious growth hack, trying to pull in people’s attention to random Group feeds, Event wall posts, and Marketplace.
“We are rolling out navigation bar controls to make it easier for people to connect with the things they like and control the notifications they get within the Facebook app” a Facebook spokesperson tells me.
Back in July 2018, Facebook said it would start personalizing the navigation bar based on what utilities you use most. But the navigation bar seemed more intent on promoting features Facebook wanted to be popular like its Craigslist competitor Marketplace, which I rarely use, rather than its long-standing Events feature I access daily.
To use the Shortcuts Bar Settings options, tap and hold on any of the shortcuts in your navigation bar that’s at the bottom of the Facebook homescreen on iOS and the top on Android. You’ll see a menu pop up letting you remove that tab entirely, or leave it but disable the red notification count overlays. That clears space in your nav bar for a more peaceful experience.
You’ll also now find in the three-line More tab -> Settings & Privacy -> Settings -> Shortcuts menu the ability to toggle any of the Marketplace, Groups, Events, and Pages tabs on or off. Eagle-eyed reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong spotted in June that Facebook was testing Notification Dots settings menu that’s now available too.
A Facebook spokesperson admits people should have the ability to take a break from notifications within the app. They tell me Facebook wanted to give users more control so they can have access to what’s relevant to them.
For all of Facebook’s talk about well-being, with it trying out hiding Like counts in its app and Instagram (this week starting in the US), there’s still plenty of low-hanging fruit. Better batching of Facebook notifications would be a great step, allowing users to get a daily digest of Groups or Events posts rather than a constant flurry. Its Time Well Spent dashboard that counts your minutes on Facebook should also say how many notifications you get of each type, how many you actually open, and let you disable the most common but useless ones right from there.
If Facebook wants to survive long-term, it can’t piss off users by trapping them in an anxiety-inducing hellscape of growth hacks that benefit the company. The app has become bloated and cramped with extra features over the last 15 years. Facebook could get away with more aggressive cross-promotion of some of these forgotten features as long as it empowers us to hide what we hate.
Twitter last month said it was introducing a new policy to help fight deepfakes and other “manipulated media” that involve photos, videos or audio that’s been significantly altered to change its original meaning or purpose, or those that make it seem like something happened that actually did not. Today, Twitter is sharing a draft of its new policy and opening it up for public input before it goes live.
The policy is meant to address the growing problem with deepfakes on today’s internet.
Deepfakes have proliferated thanks to advances made in artificial intelligence that have made it easier to produce convincing fake videos, audio and other digital content. Anyone with a computer and internet connection can now create this sort of fake media. The technology can be dangerous when used as propaganda, or to make someone believe something is real which is not. In politics, deepfakes can be used to undermine a candidate’s reputation, by making them say and do things they never said or did.
In early October, two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), called on major tech companies to develop a plan to combat deepfakes on their platforms. The senators asked 11 tech companies — including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and LinkedIn — to come up with a plan to develop industry standards for “sharing, removing, archiving, and confronting the sharing of synthetic content as soon as possible.”
Twitter later in the month announced its plans to seek public feedback on the policy. Meanwhile, Amazon joined up with Facebook and Microsoft to support the DeepFake Detection challenge (DFDC), which aims to develop new approaches to detect manipulated media.
Today, Twitter is detailing a draft of its deepfakes policy. The company says that when it sees synthetic or manipulated media that’s intentionally trying to mislead or confuse people it will:
place a notice next to Tweets that share synthetic or manipulated media;
warn people before they share or like Tweets with synthetic or manipulated media; or
add a link – for example, to a news article or Twitter Moment – so that people can read more about why various sources believe the media is synthetic or manipulated.
Twitter says if a deepfake could threaten someone’s physical safety or lead to serious harm, it may also remove it.
The company is accepting feedback by way of a survey as well as on Twitter itself, by way of the #TwitterPolicyFeedback hashtag.
The survey asks questions like whether altered photos and videos should be removed entirely, have warning labels, or not be removed at all. And it asks whether certain actions are acceptable, like hiding tweets or alerting people if they’re about to share a deepfake. It also asks when it should remove a tweet with misleading media. The policy Twitter created says tweets will be removed if the tweet threatens someone’s physical safety, but will otherwise be labeled. The survey suggests some other times a tweet could be pulled — like if it threatens someone’s mental health, privacy, dignity, property and more.
The survey takes five minutes to complete and is available in English, Japanese, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi and Spanish.
What isn’t clear, however, is how Twitter will be able to detect the deepfakes published on its platform, given that detection techniques aren’t perfect and often lag behind the newer and more advanced creation methods. On this front, Twitter invites those who want to partner with it on detection solutions to fill out a form.
Twitter is accepting feedback on its deepfakes policy from now until Wednesday, November 27 at 11:59 p.m. GMT. At that time, it will review the feedback received and make adjustments to the policy, as needed. The policy will then be incorporated into Twitter’s Rules with a 30-day notice before the change goes live.
Chris Cox’s motivational speeches were at the heart of Facebook’s new employee orientation. But after 14 years at the social network, the chief product officer left in March amidst an executive shake-up and Facebook’s new plan to prioritize privacy by moving to encrypt its messaging apps. No details on his next projects were revealed.
Now the 37-year-old leader will be putting his inspirational demeanor and keen strategy sense to work to protect the environment and improve the government. Today at Wired25 conference, Cox finally shared more about his work advising political technology developer for progressives Acronym, and climate change-tracking satellite startup Planet Labs. He also explained more about the circumstances of his departure from the social network’s C-suite.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 08: Chris Cox speaks onstage at the WIRED25 Summit 2019 – Day 1 at Commonwealth Club on November 08, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED)
On how he felt leaving Facebook, Cox said, “partofthereasonIwasokayleavingwas that after2016 I’d spentacoupleyearsbuildingoutabunchoftheteamsthatIfeltweremostimportanttosortoftakethelessonsthatwelearnedthroughsomeof2016andstarttoputinplaceinstitutionsthatcanhelpthecompany,bemoreresponsibleandbeabettercommunicatoronsomeofthekeyissues.”
As for what specifically drove him to leave, Cox explained that, “It wasn’t something where I felt I wanted to spend another 13 years on social media. Mark and I saw things a little bit differently . . . Ithinkwearestillinvestigatingasanindustry,howdoyoubalance protectingtheprivacyofpeople’sinformationandcontinuingtokeeppeoplesafe,” Cox said.
On whether moving toward encryption was part of that, he said he thinks encryption is “great: and that “It offers an enormous amount of protection,” but noted “it certainly makes some of those things more complicated” on the privacy versus safety balance. He complemented Facebook’s efforts to build ways of catching bad actors even if they’re shielded by encryption. That includes digital literacy initiatives in Brazil and India ahead of elections, and offering forwarding systems for sending questionable information to fact checkers. “I think there are pros and cons with these systems and I’m not a hard-liner on any one of them,” Cox said, and noted that what Facebook is building is “resonant with what people want.”
Cox was asked about the major debate about whether Facebook should allow political advertising. “We think political advertising can be good and helpful. It often favors up and comers versus incumbents.” Still, on fact-checking, he said, “I’m a big fan,” even though Facebook isn’t applying that to political ads. He did note that “Ithinkthecompanyshouldinvestigateandisinvestigatingmicrotargeting . . . if there’shundredsofvariantsbeingrunofthecreativethenit’strickytogetyourarmsaroundwhat’sbeingsaid.” He also advocated for more context in the user interface distinguishing political ads.
Chris Cox speaks at Wired25
Cox’s next projects
Since leaving Facebook, Cox has joined the advisory board of a group called Acronym, which is helping to build out the campaign and messaging technology stack for progressive candidates. “Thisisanareawheremyperceptionisthattheprogressiveshavebeenbehindon the abilitytodevelopanduseasateam infrastructurethathelpsyouhaveagoodvoterfile, how to developmessaging —justbasicpoliticsin2019.”
Wired’s Lauren Goode asked if he was aligning himself with progressives, taking a political stance, and whether he could do that while still at Facebook. “Absolutelynot,” Cox responded. “AndwhyisthatIthinkwhenyou’reinaveryseniorroleataplatform, you have a duty to be much more neutral in your politics.”
“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health” says Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri. To that end, next week Instagram will expand its test of hiding Like counts from everyone but a post’s creator to some users in the United States. But there are major questions about whether the change will hurt influencers.
Mosseri revealed the plan at the Wired25 conference today, saying Instagram “We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform, how it affects how they use the platform, how it affects the creator ecosystem.”
Instagram’s CEo explained that “The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connect ing with the people they love and things that inspire them.” The intention is to “reduce anxiety” and “reduce social comparison”.
While it seems likely that making Instagram less of a popularity contest might aid the average user, Instagram has to be mindful that it doesn’t significantly decrease creators’ or influencers’ engagement and business success. These content makers are vital to Instagram’s success, since they keep their fan bases coming back day after day, even If users’ friends are growing stale.
A new study by HypeAuditor reported by Social Media Today found that influencers across tiers of follower counts almost unanimously saw their Like counts fall in countries where the hidden Like count test was active. Likes fell 3% to 15% in all the countries for influencers with 5,000 to 20,000 followers.
Only in Japan, and only for influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 or 100,000 to 1 million followers did the change lead to a 6% boost in Likes. Meanwhile, influencers saw the biggest loss of Likes in the Brazilian market. Those trends could relate to how users in certain countries might feel more comfortable Liking something if they don’t know who else is, while in other nations users might rely on more herd mentality to know what to Like.
If Instagram finds the impact of the test to be too negative on influencers, it may not roll out the change. While Mosseri stated the company wasn’t afraid to hurt it’s own bottom line, impairing the careers of influencers may not be acceptable unless the positive impacts on well-being are significant enough.