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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."
Pakistan PM Imran Khan asks Facebook for stricter rules against Islamophobia
by Paul Hill
Pakistani Prime Minister and former cricketer, Imran Khan, has written an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for a ban on Islamophobic content on Facebook. The Prime Minister said that Facebook should clamp down on Islamophobia as hard as it does with Holocaust denial.
As things stand right now, Facebook does include Islamophobia as hate speech and is against the platform’s community standards, however, Khan highlighted that cartoons had been allowed to be posted on Facebook without repercussions despite being viewed as blasphemous in Islam - Khan called it Islamophobic.
In his letter, Prime Minister Khan said:
The Pakistani government has been focused a lot on social media in the last several weeks. Earlier in the week, the government reversed its TikTok ban after initially raising concerns about “immoral” content. The block was lifted after the Chinese firm gave assurance to Pakistan’s government that it would ban immoral content. While Khan didn’t mention blocking Facebook if it did not act, there is precedence for a future ban.
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Facebook launches its dating service in Europe
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Facebook Dating, which launched in the U.S. last year, is now expanding its services to 32 European countries. The rollout was originally planned on Valentine's Day, but regulatory concerns caused the long delay.
Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) stated that it hadn't received prior information about the planned launch, and was informed about the February 13 launch date on February 3. In addition to being given the short notice, the DPC wasn't given documentation concerning the Data Protection Impact Assessment, the regulator said.
The service, integrated with the rest of the firm's products, appears as a tab in Facebook's mobile app. It is able to pull users' stories and photos from Instagram, and users can initiate video calls via Messenger once they match. There is also a Secret Crush feature that searches your Instagram followers and Facebook friends for potential matches.
The service is presently available in over 50 countries, which now include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
By Abhay V
Facebook is working on a new 'Neighborhoods' feature aimed at private, local networking
by Abhay Venkatesh
Facebook is working on a new ‘Neighborhoods’ feature for the service that aims at connecting users that live close by and for them to socialize within their locality. The feature is supposedly being aimed as a rival offering to services like Nextdoor, which is currently eyeing a $5 billion IPO.
While some leaked screenshots of the feature made it to Twitter back in May, the social networking giant has confirmed to Bloomberg that it is indeed testing the feature in a limited capacity in Calgary, Canada. “More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities,” said a spokesperson in a statement to the publication, adding that the Neighborhoods feature is a “dedicated space within Facebook for people to connect with their neighbors”.
Social media consultant Matt Navarra shared some screenshots of the feature on Twitter, providing some insight into the setup process and the feature itself. The app confirms users’ location to set their locality and a profile, after which it offers posts, groups, and content from other users in the neighborhood. Interestingly, Navarra adds that users can create profiles for other users to see even if they are not their Facebook friends.
With Neighborhoods, Facebook aims to bring more private conversations between users of a community, something it has been working on through private groups and the like. However, the firm reminds users through the setup process that all its Community Standards are applicable in Neighborhoods as well, prompting users to be “inclusive”, “kind”, and “clean”. Users are also offered dedicated privacy options for their Neighborhoods, with the option to also switch between or leave these groups altogether.
It will be interesting to see how the company evolves the feature and expands it to more regions. With close to two billion active users monthly, the adoption of such a feature could be much quicker than that of other smaller companies. The impact on rivals like Nextdoor that offer a “private social network” will also be interesting to keep an eye on.