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By Jay Bonggolto
Facebook app's dedicated News section rolls out in the UK today
by Jay Bonggolto
As it promised last month, Facebook announced today that the News section in its mobile app finally goes live in the UK. The new section provides a central hub for curated and personalized news content.
Along with the rollout, Facebook also introduced new publishing partners whose content will be featured in the new destination on its mobile app. These new publishers include the Financial Times, Sky News, Telegraph Media Group, Channel 4 News, DC Thomson, and the Daily Mail group. They will join existing publishers that previously participated in Facebook News such as The Guardian, The Economist, The Independent, STV, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Vogue.
Facebook News features top stories of a given day and news content tailored based on their interest. Users can also control what articles, topics, or publishers they see on their dedicated feed. News digests covering major news stories such as those pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic will also appear with a focus on “original and authoritative reporting".
For publishers, the News section expands their opportunity to reach more audiences and gain new paying subscribers. It was first tested in October of 2019 in the U.S. and Facebook plans to bring it to Germany and France next.
By Jay Bonggolto
Instagram combines business tools for creators and brands in a single hub
by Jay Bonggolto
Instagram announced today the launch of a new feature designed to help brands and creators grow their business and monitor how the're faring on the platform. The new professional dashboard displays all these resources in a single place.
The dashboard lets users keep track of their performance through insights and trends. Shop owners, for example, can see how their ads are performing.
It also gives access to tools such as badges, branded content, IGTV ads setup, and monetization activity. The dashboard will also display links to tutorials and other resources such as tips and best practices curated by Instagram.
While the professional dashboard is new, these features are not entirely new to Instagram. However, today's announcement marks the first time that these resources are centralized in a single hub. It also complements Instagram's existing tools for businesses such as the shopping hub and paid badges in live streams.
The new hub is live for all business and creator accounts from today. Instagram also plans to introduce new tools to it in the future with the goal of helping businesses and creators grow on the platform.
By Usama Jawad96
Facebook believes it made the right decision in banning Trump, but has referred the case
by Usama Jawad
Former U.S. President Donald Trump was banned from various social media platforms earlier this month. Among these was Facebook, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally announcing the suspension, stating that it was indefinite and would continue at least until then President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
With the aforementioned stipulation now complete, Facebook has deferred the case to its independent Oversight Board, while emphasizing that it believes it made the right call in suspending Trump's account a couple of weeks ago.
In a blog post, Facebook has highlighted that the case has been referred to the Oversight Board, which was formed last year and consists of global civic leaders from various backgrounds and industries. You can view the full list of members here.
Facebook has emphasized that it believes that it made the right decision in suspending Trump's account under "extraordinary circumstances" on January 7, and it hopes that the Oversight Board will agree to the indefinite ban based on the justifications provided. The firm went on to say that:
It is important to note that the Oversight Board's decision will be final and not even Zuckerberg will have the authority to veto it. Facebook will also be open to recommendations from the organization about how to deal with cases of suspending political leaders, should the need arise in the future.
The Oversight Board's process for assessing the case will also be of interest to some readers. From a bird's eye view, a five-member panel will review the case and Trump's page administrators will be allowed to submit statements as to why Facebook's original decision will be overturned. The panel will have up to 90 days to achieve a decision that has to be supported by a simple majority of Oversight Board members. In response, Facebook will have seven days to implement the recommendations made by the panel and up to 30 days to respond to them. The findings of the case and the final outcome will be published on the Oversight Board's website here.
Facebook improves photo descriptions for the visually impaired
by Paul Hill
Facebook has announced that it has improved its automatic alternative text (AAT) feature. AAT was introduced in 2016 as a way to generate alternative text on photos to help the visually impaired understand what was going on in the picture, with today’s update the feature can detect the content of images ten times more reliably and provide better information.
According to the social network, the boost in concepts and improvements in reliability mean that AAT can provide information on more pictures. Facebook said that it can detect activities, landmarks, types of animals and more – an example description generated by AAT could read “May be a selfie of 2 people, outdoors, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.”
In the previous iteration of AAT, if you uploaded a picture of two friends having their photos taken and people in the background were passing by, AAT would generate a message saying “May be an image of five people” as it included those in the background; the new iteration is more intelligent and incorporates positional location and the relative size of elements. The new system would say there are two people in the centre of the photo and others scattered towards the fringes of the image.
Artificial intelligence has been introducing great benefits for those that are visually impaired in recent years. When internet connections were slow, alt text was frequently used as a back-up against photos not loading, the alt text could be used by screen readers to tell visually impaired people what the image was showing. As connections got faster, alt text wasn’t used as much but artificial intelligence tools like AAT are now able to fill the gap and provide good descriptions of what’s shown in a shot.
by Paul Hill
WhatsApp's planned changes have also attracted the attention of Turkish authorities which have launched an antitrust probe. In response to the criticism, WhatsApp delayed the enforcement of its new terms by three months so they won’t be enacted until May 15; ultimately, this will give India more time to pressure the firm over the planned changes.
According to Reuters, the Ministry, writing to WhatsApp head Will Cathcart, said:
Accompanying the letter are several questions that India’s IT ministry would like WhatsApp to answer, they ask about which categories of data WhatsApp collects from Indian users, the permissions sought by WhatsApp and the utility of each of these permissions, whether WhatsApp captures information about other running apps, what user profiling goes on and how WhatsApp’s privacy policies differ from country to country.
WhatsApp has not provided comments to the media about the changes but it previously said the policy wouldn’t affect the privacy of users’ messages with personal contacts. Reuters reports that WhatsApp is running an advertising campaign in India to help quell people’s fears and keep them using the app.