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By Jefferson Mangubat
Facebook temporarily halts recommending political and social issues groups
by Jefferson Mangubat
Facebook has confirmed that it will temporarily stop recommending Groups that touch on political and social issues in the days leading up to the U.S. elections next month. This is according to a report from BuzzFeed, which cited a Facebook representative.
The latest change means users in the U.S. won't be able to see recommendations of existing Facebook Groups that focus on those subjects. This will apply to newly created groups as well. The Facebook representative told the publication:
There's no public announcement from Facebook regarding the change, and it's not exactly known when the social networking giant began restricting recommendations for those types of groups. Early this week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also mentioned the change during a Senate hearing.
BuzzFeed noted that a test showed group administrators could still manually recommend groups, although the algorithm for automatically suggesting groups may have been suspended for the time being. A quick search on Facebook also generated results showing political and social issues groups.
It's the latest step in Facebook's initiatives to curb the spread of misinformation ahead of the elections and help protect the integrity of the polls. For example, it does not accept new political ads for now and will ban ads that prematurely claim victory.
Facebook publicly testing dark mode support for its Android app
by Rajesh Pandey
Facebook started testing dark mode for its Android app in August last year. Since then, the company has gone ahead and rolled out a redesigned interface on the web with dark mode and even on the iPhone. However, dark mode support has still been missing from Facebook's Android app.
Now, it looks like Facebook is getting to roll out dark mode support for its Android app as it has started testing the feature publicly. Leaked screenshots from a few months ago had shown how dark mode in Facebook's Android app would look like. A video posted on Twitter by @wongmjane shows the new dark mode in action on Facebook's Android app.
While the video might suggest that Facebook is rolling out dark mode support for its Android app, Wong's tweet indicates that the company is only testing the rollout publicly. If everything goes as per plan, a wider public rollout should be on the cards soon.
By Ather Fawaz
WhatsApp is now exchanging close to 100 billion messages each day
by Ather Fawaz
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps across the world, and it's still growing continually. In the quarterly earnings call on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that WhatsApp is now delivering close to 100 billion messages each day (via TechCrunch). The Head of WhatsApp at Facebook, Will Cathcart, later confirmed this in a tweet.
With this level of information exchange, curbing the spread of disinformation becomes an important task. WhatsApp has been cracking on down on it in the past. Back in August, it launched a new tool called ‘Search the web’ that allows users to quickly find information about received links from the web. The app also limited the forwarding of 'highly forwarded' messages to just one person or group at a time. This directly resulted in a 70% reduction in the forwarding of such messages, arguably slowing down the spread of misleading information on the platform as well.
By Jefferson Mangubat
Instagram now lets you go live for up to four hours
by Jefferson Mangubat
Instagram has rolled out a few changes to its live video feature that should provide content creators the option to stream live videos for a longer duration on the platform. The service is also updating how long you can save those live videos to your archive.
In a tweet, Instagram says you can now go live for up to four hours. The change is a remarkable extension from the previous one-hour limit and is in line with Facebook's limits for streaming live videos on mobile. It's rolling out to all users worldwide from today, although only those with no record of intellectual property or policy violations can use it (via Engadget).
In addition, you can save and view your own live streams in your private archive for up to 30 days after broadcast. After that timeframe, the videos will be removed. It's the same feature that you can use to archive Instagram Stories and posts.
Finally, Instagram is adding a “Live Now” section in the IGTV app and on the Explore tab to let you find more live videos.
By Ather Fawaz
Facebook launches 'cloud-streamed' games for Android phones and PCs but eschews iOS
by Ather Fawaz
After reports started surfacing last week that Facebook is launching a dedicated gaming app, the firm has almost made good on that promise. Today, Facebook has launched a cohort of 'cloud-streamed' games that are playable via the Facebook app on Android or the desktop on a modern browser. Like traditional cloud-based gaming services, these games will be available to play right out of the box, without the need to download and install them separately. But while the venture seems like a take on a cloud-based gaming service, Facebook insists that it is not a spin-off or its own take of the same:
The service will be launching in beta today on Android and Web here. This first array of games includes renowned titles like Asphalt 9: Legends, Mobile Legends: Adventure by Moonton, PGA TOUR Golf Shootout, Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale, and WWE SuperCard. Facebook has promised that Dirt Bike Unchained will be added sometime in the future, along with other titles. Cross-play between games with integrated Facebook Login and the downloaded version of the same game will also be enabled.
For the first time, you will also be able to customize your own avatars and player names that will show up when you're playing these games. This means that instead of your profile picture and full name appearing representing you, the custom avatar and player name will. Facebook is also launching Cloud Playable Ads on Android and iOS in the United States, which will now support interactive demos from a game’s native code. Some changes to the Gaming tab have also been introduced to improve user interaction and engagement.
These new cloud-streamed games will run in tandem with the usual HTML5 games that over 380 million people play each month on the website currently. And it is supposed to be a seamless switch between the two formats. However, there's one caveat for now; these apps can run on Android mobile devices but Apple devices rocking iOS and iPadOS aren't supported due to certain problems with App Store guidelines.
This will leave support for iPhones and iPads an inclusion for the future, if at all. Apropos this, the Vice President of Facebook Play, Jason Rubin remarked, “We’re not on iOS right now, which is a big problem for us. We are barred from having Facebook launch the browser and play the game.” He further added that "Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource."