Instagram Testing Feature to Notify Users of Outage or Issue Inside App

Days after two disruptions interrupted Facebook’s services, Instagram announced on Monday that it is testing a feature that will alert users of outages or technical concerns directly on the photo-sharing app.

instagram testing feature

Instagram announced in a blog post that the test will take place in the United States and will last a few months.

On October 4, the company’s 3.5 billion users were unable to access its social media and messaging services. This includes WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, due to a six-hour outage. Rumors suggest that a technical failure in facebook’s core infrastructure led to a halt in all these social media platforms.

Not long after the outage on 4th October, another Instagram saw another glitch. According to user reports from Web monitoring firm Downdetector, many users had issues with Instagram earlier on Monday.

Frances haugen

The business also plans to launch a feature that would make it easier for users to see if their account is at risk of being disabled.

Following the disruptions, the social media giant has been the subject of memes and jokes on Twitter. It’s also dealing with former employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen’s allegations. As per the allegations against Facebook, the firm prioritized profit over cracking down on hate speech and disinformation.

Haugen has agreed to meet with Facebook’s oversight board in the coming weeks. Reports suggest that she will update the board on what she learned while working at the firm. She gave the papers that underpin a Wall Street Journal investigation. Moreover, it also led to a Senate hearing on Instagram’s harm to underage girls.

Instagram Kids App for Children Under 13 Paused After Criticism

Instagram, a Facebook-owned photo-sharing app that was working for a kids version of its platform, “Instagram Kids”. On Monday Instagram announced that works on an “Instagram Kids” version for children under the age of 13 have been put on hold.

instagram kids app for children paused

The debut of “Instagram Kids” has been met with opposition from US politicians and advocacy groups. The protesters have urged the social media giant to abandon its plans. Protesters claim that the company has failed to “make real pledges to protecting kids online.”

In a blog post, Instagram wrote, “We believe establishing ‘Instagram Kids’ is the correct thing to do. However, we’re stopping the effort.” It said that it will continue to improve its parental monitoring features. The reality is that children are already online. And we believe that creating age-appropriate experiences tailored to them is a far better option for parents than where we are now.

In May of this year, a coalition of 40 state attorneys general met Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. The coalition urged Zuckerberg to forgo his plans to offer an Instagram version for children under the age of 13.

What is Instagram doing to solve these questions?
instagram kids app

The officials wrote in a letter that the “use of social media can be damaging to the health and well-being of youngsters. These young children are not able to negotiate the hurdles of having a social media account.”

Furthermore, Facebook has a history of failing to protect children’s wellbeing on its platforms, they added.
According to a Facebook spokeswoman, the firm has just started investigating a version of Instagram for youngsters. Following this, the company pledged to not show adverts in any Instagram experience we develop for anyone under the age of 13.

The business also stated that any future version of the photo-sharing app Instagram must prioritize their safety and privacy. The company is looking to work with experts in child development, child safety, and mental health. Moreover, the company is also in talks with privacy advocates, to address all the concerns.

Facebook Horizon Workrooms app: How to create avatars, attend meetings

Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms, a new virtual-reality remote work program, is presently in beta testing. Users wearing Oculus Quest 2 headsets can hold meetings as an avatar version of themselves with this app.

The app was launch to address the problem arisen during COVID-19 lockdowns. As a new variation of COVID-19 sweeps the globe, many physical establishments remain closed.

horizon workbook

According to Facebook, The debut of Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms app is a first step toward constructing the futuristic “metaverse”. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had earlier talked about this in recent weeks.

How Facebook will transform remote work?

According to Reuters, Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s Reality Labs group, “the new Workrooms app gives “a clear sense” of how the firm envisions components of the metaverse”. He went on to say, “This is kind of one of those foundational steps in that approach.”

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According to Reuters, the company demonstrated how Workrooms users can create avatar versions of themselves. Meet in virtual reality conference rooms, and collaborate on shared whiteboards or documents. All this while still interacting with their own physical desk and computer keyboard in its first full VR news briefing.

The app is free for Quest 2 headsets, which can accommodate up to 16 people in VR and up to 50 people via video conferencing. According to Bosworth, Facebook uses Workrooms for internal meetings on a daily basis.

The company has also promised users that it will not target advertising based on people’s work discussions and contents in Workrooms. It also specified that users must adhere to the company’s virtual reality community standards, and that rule-breaking behavior can be reported to Oculus.

In collaboration with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Facebook has halted sales of the Oculus Quest 2 headsets. The company has recalled the foam face-liners due to claims of skin irritation. According to the recall notification, approximately 4 million devices experience the impact.

Biden says platforms like Facebook are ‘killing people’ with COVID-19 misinformation

In the fight against vaccine misinformation, President Biden was seen directly criticizing Facebook and other platforms for their failure to curb vaccine misinformation. Biden says platforms like Facebook are ‘killing people’ with COVID-19 misinformation. And consequently, raising the ongoing death toll from the deadly pandemic.

When asked for a message to platforms like Facebook, Biden replied. “They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.” However, the White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on the president’s comments.

Joe Biden

It appears that the White House is not very happy with the performance of Facebook and other such platforms, in curbing vaccine misinformation. The statements come after a coordinated campaign from the White House pressuring Facebook and other platforms, to aggressively counter coronavirus vaccine misinformation.

On Thursday, a report from Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told platforms to impose stricter penalties against accounts that share misinformation. Meanwhile, he specifically called out algorithmic recommendation engines like the Facebook News Feed for contributing to misinformation.

Murthy said, that these companies have designed product features, such as ‘Like’ buttons. These features reward people for sharing emotionally charged content, and not for accurate content. And their algorithms suggest users more of what they click on, pulling us deeper and deeper into a well of misinformation.”

How are the platforms responding to the accusation?

When asked, a Facebook representative defended the platform’s record of fighting vaccine misinformation. The spokesperson said, that the company will not get distracted by accusations that aren’t supported by the facts. The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook. The numbers are greater than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have used Facebook’s vaccine finder to find out where and how to get a vaccine.

Several Republicans have raised objections to the White House push and calls it an unconstitutional effort by the government to bring about private-sector speech restrictions.

The vaccination rates in the USA have slowed in recent months. This is when the COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the US. As a result of this downward trend. Both case numbers and deaths linked to COVID-19 have risen in recent weeks as new variants of the contagion reach the unvaccinated population. All government-approved COVID-19 vaccines have been through a stringent testing process. These vaccines are thus classified as safe and effective in the fight against the pandemic.

For more such updates, keep watching this space!

Inside Facebook’s data wars

One day, the people behind CrowdTangle, a data analytics tool owned by Facebook, realize that transparency had limits. Facebook’s obsession with managing its reputation often gets in the way of its attempts to clean up its platform. Recently, a certain effect is emerging and some are calling it data wars.

CrowdTangle : Facebook data story

Brandon Silverman, CrowdTangle’s co-founder, and CEO did a video call to tell his employees that their team is churning into different departments. CrowdTangle, was earlier running as a quasi-independent body inside Facebook since its acquisition in 2016. The company was moving under the social network’s integrity team, the group trying to rid the platform of misinformation and hate speech. Also, some CrowdTangle employees were getting reassigned to other divisions. Moreover, Silverman would no longer be managing the team, day-to-day.

crowdtangle

The announcement came as a result of a yearlong battle among Facebook executives. A silent battle over data transparency and how much the social network should reveal about its inner workings. On one side were executives, including Silverman and Brian Boland, a Facebook vice president in charge of partnerships strategy. Both expressed that Facebook should publicly share as much information as possible about what happens on its platform well, bad, or ugly.

On the other side were executives, including the company’s chief marketing officer and vice president of analytics, Alex Schultz. This side expressed their worries that Facebook was already giving away too much.

They argued that CrowdTangle, which is a type of turbocharged search engine that allows users to analyze Facebook trends and measure post-performance. According to the executive’s argument, journalists and researchers were using the platform to dig considerably unhelpful information. The executives gave an example of journalists and researchers like Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino. These commentators were getting much more engagement on their Facebook pages than mainstream news outlets.

These executives also argued that Facebook should selectively disclose its own data in the form of carefully curated reports. Facebook’s own team should make these reports regarding data, rather than handing outsiders the tools to discover it themselves. In the end, team Selective Disclosure won, and CrowdTangle and its supporters lost.

Inside struggles in Facebook

According to the people, most of whom are speaking only anonymously, as they did not have the authorization to discuss their internal conversations. Facebook’s executives were more worried about fixing the perception that Facebook was amplifying harmful content. And the companies focus is not on finding out whether it actually was amplifying harmful content.

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Meanwhile, Facebook disputes this characterization. It says that the CrowdTangle reorganization was meant to integrate the service with its other transparency tools, not weaken it. The top executives are still committed to their goal of increasing transparency.

A Facebook spokesperson, Joe Osborne said “CrowdTangle is part of a growing suite of transparency resources we’ve made available for people, including academics and journalists”. The statement also included that, with the movement of CrowdTangle into Facebook’s integrity team. The company is developing a more comprehensive strategy to build some of these transparency efforts moving forward.

But the executive who was pushing the hardest, Silverman has been taking time off and no longer has a clearly defined role at the company. Several people having the right knowledge of the situation said that Silverman declined to comment about his status. Moreover, Boland, who spent 11 years at Facebook, left the company in November.

facebook

According to Boland, who oversaw CrowdTangle as well as other Facebook transparency efforts, the tool fell out of favor with influential Facebook executives. The journalists and researchers were using it. They used it to show that pro-Trump commentators were spreading misinformation with stunning success. People were excited about the transparency CrowdTangle provided until it became a problem and created press cycles Facebook didn’t like.

For more such updates, keep watching this space!

Facebook, WhatsApp Urge Delhi High Court to Stay CCI Notice in Privacy Policy Matter

The Competition Commission of India has agreed to take no coercive steps against the company till the next date of hearing in Delhi High Court. On 24 March, CCI has asked the director-general to prove Whatsapp’s new policy over allegations of abuse of dominance. Despite objections raised by the social media giant.

Whatsapp and delhi high court

The high court had earlier issued notices on the appeals and asked the Centre to respond to it

Whatsapp is subject to criticism all over the world due to the new privacy policy. The concern is that WhatsApp planned to share data with its parent company Facebook. This led to various allegations and controversies.

Every WhatsApp user must have received a full-screen pop-up on their application, that provided a snapshot of the key updates.

Whatsapp policy image

The center is reviewing the same maintaining the 2021 privacy policy. It is just the re-articulation of the 2016 privacy policy. He submitted that the new Policy does not alter privacy. It only gives clarity. On June 4, the competition commission of India had sent a detailed questionnaire to WhatsApp concerning the investigation warning of action under law in case a reply was not filed. WhatsApp told the court that it wanted more time to reply, citing chats that the notice was sent when the case was already pending. It is pending before the High court and the Supreme court.

Accepting the policy is mandatory?

The instant messaging application initially introduced a deadline of 8 February. Eventually, the company delayed it further because of the growing conflict in various parts of the world.

Even after the delay of the new privacy policy users still have to accept the new policies to use the application. It is a mandate to accept the terms and conditions to use the message application service. The Ministry of Electronics and information technology asked the Delhi High court to step in restrain WhatsApp from rolling out its new privacy policy.

Why it is necessary to restrain the order?

On the basis of highest court’s judgements, the IT ministry says that since the court of the land has placed a responsibility upon it to come out with a regime on data protection and privacy. The IT ministry has listed five major violations of the current IT rules that the new privacy policy could entail.

The new privacy policy, is completely silent on correction of information. WhatsApp is also to provide the user an option to review or amend the users’ information.

For more such updates, keep watching this space!