Facebook Video Creation App Launch Announced

With an aim to empower its creator community, Facebook has announced that it is planning to launch a new app just for them later this year.

Essentially a video creation app, it will be made just for its star broadcasters, who are also the same folks who are deemed worthy enough to use Facebook Mentions – an app only available to verified accounts owned by journalists, celebrities and other online influencers, Engadget reported on Friday.

Apart from the access to Facebook Live, the new video creation app will have a new “creative kit” that includes tools like special intros and outros to videos, custom stickers, custom frames, among other tools.

Facebook Video Creation App Launch Announced

It will also have a Community tab, where the rich and famous can interact with their fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, the report said.

Reportedly, Facebook is also running a “small test” in India, of a video tab in the navigation bar of its flagship mobile applications.

Pressing the tab, which resembles a play button, brings up “an endless stream” of Facebook videos, from pages users follow and videos liked or shared by friends.

 

Facebook Reportedly in Talks to Produce Original TV-Quality Shows

Facebook Inc is in talks with Hollywood studios about producing scripted, TV-quality shows, with an aim of launching original programming by late summer, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The social networking giant has indicated that it was willing to commit to production budgets as high as $3 million per episode, in meetings with Hollywood talent agencies, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Facebook is hoping to target audiences from ages 13 to 34, with a focus on the 17 to 30 range. The company has already lined up “Strangers”, a relationship drama, and a game show, “Last State Standing”, the report said.

Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company is expected to release episodes in a traditional manner, instead of dropping an entire season in one go like Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc, WSJ reported.

Facebook Reportedly in Talks to Produce Original TV-Quality Shows
The company is also willing to share its viewership data with Hollywood, the report said.

Apple Inc hired co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, earlier this month, to lead its video-programming efforts.

Apple began its long-awaited move into original television series last week, with a reality show called “Planet of the Apps”, an unscripted show about developers trying to interest celebrity mentors with a 60-second pitch on an escalator.

The company’s future programming plans include an adaptation of comedian James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment from his CBS Corp show that will begin airing in August.

Facebook Celebrates 20 Years of Harry Potter by Letting You Cast Spells

On June 26 1997, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hit the bookstores for the first time, which started us on a magical journey that spanned seven books and as many movies that continues to hold a special place for millions of Potterheads around the world 20 years on. Many are proving their love for the series in their own ways, and so is Facebook, which has introduced an interactive new feature that casts spells with status updates.

The way it works is simple enough. Post a status update on Facebook using any of the terms – Harry Potter, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin – and the update will display an animation of a wand casting a spell. It also works on clicking the term on your friend’s status update. The terms are highlighted in colours that signify them. For example, Gryffindor will be highlighted in red while Slytherin will be highlighted in green, and so on. And the feature also works within comments.

Facebook Celebrates 20 Years of Harry Potter by Letting You Cast Spells

But it’s not just Facebook. Twitter too is showing its love for Harry Potter, by launching a special emoji that will show up if you tweet with the hashtag #HarryPotter20. The hashtag will bring up Harry’s iconic rounded spectacles with the ‘lighting bolt’ scar on top.

Google late last year also brought a touch of magic for Android users who could activate certain features, such as turning the flashlight on or off or switching on the silent mode by saying “lumos”, “Nox”, or “Silencio”, respectively to Google Assistant.

Rowling’s Harry Potter series has enjoyed a massive fan base around the world for its magical storytelling and lovable characters. The books span the titular character’s journey over the years in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, facing unexpected evils and challenges with the help of his friends. The world of fantasy that author J.K Rowling created is unlikely to fade away anytime soon, with spin-off movies in the pipeline as well. And this only brings to mind one of the most memorable lines from the series – “After all this time?”

 

Facebook Video Creation App Launch Announced

With an aim to empower its creator community, Facebook has announced that it is planning to launch a new app just for them later this year.

Essentially a video creation app, it will be made just for its star broadcasters, who are also the same folks who are deemed worthy enough to use Facebook Mentions – an app only available to verified accounts owned by journalists, celebrities and other online influencers, Engadget reported on Friday.

Apart from the access to Facebook Live, the new video creation app will have a new “creative kit” that includes tools like special intros and outros to videos, custom stickers, custom frames, among other tools.

Facebook Video Creation App Launch Announced

It will also have a Community tab, where the rich and famous can interact with their fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, the report said.

Reportedly, Facebook is also running a “small test” in India, of a video tab in the navigation bar of its flagship mobile applications.

Pressing the tab, which resembles a play button, brings up “an endless stream” of Facebook videos, from pages users follow and videos liked or shared by friends.

 

Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers’ Demands

Facebook said it would not disclose information about political campaign advertising or related data such as how many users click on ads and if advertising messages are consistent across demographics, despite arguments from political scientists who want the data for research.

Details such as the frequency of ads, how much money was spent on them, where they were seen, what the messages were and how many people were reached would remain confidential under the company’s corporate policy, which is the same for political advertising as for commercial customers.

“Advertisers consider their ad creatives and their ad targeting strategy to be competitively sensitive and confidential,” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in an interview on Wednesday, when asked about political ads.

“In many cases, they’ll ask us, as a condition of running ads on Facebook, not to disclose those details about how they’re running campaigns on our service,” he said. “From our perspective, it’s confidential information of these advertisers.”

Sherman said it would not make an exception for political advertising. “We try to have consistent policies across the board, so that we’re imposing similar requirements on everybody.”

Academics who study political campaigns worldwide said this kind of information fosters accountability by analyzing how candidates compete for votes and whether election systems live up to expectations of fairness. Transparency can also deter fraudulent ads, they said.

Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers' Demands

“We don’t have the capacity right now to track it, and nobody does, as far as we can tell,” said Bowdoin College professor Michael Franz, a co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which catalogs political ads on traditional television but has no means of doing so on Facebook.

Television has been the backbone of political advertising for decades, and local US broadcasters are required to disclose a wealth of details about the cost and schedules of ads. The ads can be seen by anyone with a television provided they are aired in their markets.

Online advertising, though, often targets narrow, more carefully constructed audiences, so for example an ad could be directed only to Democrats under 25 years of age.

Thousands of variations of online ads can be directed at select groups and the targeting can be extreme. Academics argue this is where the process can become very opaque.

“Candidates can speak out of both sides of their mouths,” said Daniel Kreiss, a communications professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Having some kind of digital repository of ads that are purchased during a particular cycle and linked to a particular source is a good, democratic thing for the public.”

No such repository exists, and the quandary for researchers is expected to worsen as more politicians use digital advertising because of its relatively low cost and opportunities for target marketing.

According to US President Donald Trump’s campaign, $70 million was spent for its ads on Facebook, more than on any other digital platform including Google, and Trump has credited Facebook with helping him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton last November.

Advertising on Facebook also figured prominently in recent elections in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, researchers said.

Britain is investigating how candidates use data to target voters.

Facebook ads generally disappear with the scroll of a thumb on a smartphone, and they have no permanent links. Advocates for transparency call them “dark ads.” Facebook calls them “unpublished posts.”

Researchers said that disclosure reports from the US Federal Election Commission are unhelpful because they show what campaigns pay to intermediaries, not to internet platforms.

The role of advertising online is as important to study as the effect of so-called “fake news,” which has received more attention than ads, scholars said.

“The holy grail, I think, of political analysis for the 2016 election is to figure out which communications from which entities had an effect on which jurisdictions in the United States,” said Nathan Persily, a Stanford University professor who writes about elections.

Facebook has such information and should make it available for study, Persily said.

Facebook’s Sherman said the company was open to hearing research proposals, but he doubted much could be achieved.

“Even if we were able to be more transparent in this area, it would only be a very small piece of an overall story,” he said.

Facebook’s New Mission Is to ‘Bring the World Closer Together’, Says Zuckerberg

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg revised the world’s largest online social network’s mission statement on Thursday to emphasise support for hobby clubs, civil society organizations and other community groups.

The move comes as Facebook faces pressure from smaller rivals such as Nextdoor and Meetup, whose online networks bring together neighbours and people in the same area with shared interests.

Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page that his company’s new mission is to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

The previous mission was “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Facebook’s pursuit of that mission has been criticised in the past 12 months after the network became one of the main distribution points for so-called fake news, which many think influenced the 2016 US presidential election.

Zuckerberg said in February he wanted to boost the number of Facebook users who are members of what they called “very meaningful” groups. Only about 5 percent were members of such groups, he said then.

Facebook's New Mission Is to 'Bring the World Closer Together', Says Zuckerberg

The head of Facebook, with 1.9 billion users and $27.6 billion (roughly Rs. 1,78,143 crores) in revenue last year, was in Chicago on Thursday to meet people who run group pages on Facebook.

“If what you’re trying to do is run a group that has thousands of people, you need tools to help manage that,” he told CNN in an interview. Facebook wants to build those tools, he said.

Alphabet Inc’s Google also hosts community groups, as do Nextdoor and Meetup. Nextdoor, a site for neighbours to meet one another and share news and advice, said on Monday it was expanding into Germany after rapid growth elsewhere.

Zuckerberg told CNN that supporting organizations built around neighbours, churches, pets and the like has a larger purpose.

“Once people are coming together in these smaller groups, that actually grows and it ends up with much bigger changes in the world,” he said.

Facebook Live adds PC game and desktop live streaming

Facebook is taking a swing at Twitch while also one-upping its mobile live streaming video competitors. Today, all users can go Live directly from Facebook’s desktop website via their webcam, stream through professional equipment and software hooked up to a desktop and broadcast gameplay from their computer.

Previously, Facebook had only allowed Pages to stream from their desktop, not users, and only had limited gameplay streaming partnerships with game developers like Blizzard. There will now be a Live button on the desktop status update composer.

 

The ability to use streaming hardware and software to broadcast straight to the News Feed could allow creators to add on-screen graphics, titles and overlays to make their streams more fancy and polished. Here’s a step by step guide to how connecting hardware or software to Facebook Live works.

 Opening up on desktop takes Facebook Live beyond Twitter and Periscope’s options, and brings it into competition with longer-running services like YouTube, Ustream and Livestream, as well as startups like YouNow. Facebook tells me it foresees desktop streaming to be useful for activities like Q&As and vlogging where holding your phone in your hand might be shaky and annoying for both creators and viewers.

Facebook’s aggressive push into live streaming indicates its goal of owning the verb “Live,” and being the place people broadcast when there’s something worth sharing. While Periscope launched first in April 2015, Facebook quickly moved to roll out Live and add a Live API for broadcasting from professional equipment. Periscope only added an API yesterday. Now with the desktop launch, Facebook is looking to be a ubiquitous broadcasting tool.

While the content on Live might not be great yet, and there’s been some troubling broadcasts of violence that Facebook promises it’s working to prevent, it’s still early for the medium. If Facebook can lock-down the content type now, it could enjoy years of broadcasts that give it exclusive content to attract users to the News Feed and space to run lucrative video ad breaks. While mobile is always Facebook’s focus, adding desktop streaming means you can broadcast however you like.

Facebook Denies Ransomware Infiltration

Facebook on Monday denied that its network and Messenger app were being used to spread ransomware to its users, contradicting the claims of Check Point researchers Roman Ziakin and Dikla Barda.

The two researchers last week reported they had discovered a new method for delivering malicious code to machines, which they dubbed “ImageGate.”

Threat actors had found a way to embed malicious code into an image, they said.

Due to a flaw in the social media infrastructure, infected images are downloaded to a user’s machine, Ziakin and Barda explained. Clicking on the file causes the user’s machine to become infected with a ransomware program known as “Locky,” which encrypts all the files on the infected machine. The user then must pay a ransom to the purveyor of the malicious software in order to decrypt the files.

“In the past week, the entire security industry is closely following the massive spread of the Locky ransomware via social media, particularly in its Facebook-based campaign” the researchers wrote in an online post. “Check Point researchers strongly believe the new ImageGate technique reveals how this campaign was made possible, a question which has been unanswered until now.”

 facebook-locky-ransomware

Bad Chrome Extension

Facebook has disputed Check Point’s findings.

“This analysis is incorrect,” Facebook said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by spokesperson Jay Nancarrow.

“There is no connection to Locky or any other ransomware, and this is not appearing on Messenger or Facebook,” the company maintained.

“We investigated these reports and discovered there were several bad Chrome extensions, which we have been blocking for nearly a week,” Facebook noted. “We also reported the bad browser extensions to the appropriate parties.”

Most social media sites, including Facebook, have protections in place to block spam and dangerous file types, said Marc Laliberte, an information security threat analyst with WatchGuard Technologies.

“This most recent attack bypassed Facebook’s protections by using a specific type of image file that supports interactivity via embedded scripts, like JavaScript,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Facebook has since added the image file type — SVG — used in this attack to their filter.”

Cloak of Legitimacy

What makes this attack so devious is that it’s cloaked in legitimacy.

“The JavaScript embedded in the image is not malicious,” explained Alexander Vukcevic, virus labs director at Avira. “It leads you to a website that looks like YouTube.”

At the website, you’re told you need to download a browser extension to watch video at the site.

“The browser extension then downloads the ransomware,” Vukcevic told TechNewsWorld.

Ransomware like Locky has become a big threat to consumers, observed Javvad Malik, a security advocate for Alien Vault.

“Most are not technically savvy to spot or defend against ransomware,” he told TechNewsWorld. “While a lot of effort is put into educating consumers around the dangers of clicking on links in emails or opening attachments, there is an inherent level of trust that people put in social media platforms, which is being abused by this current threat.”

Consumer Protection

While Ransomware is always a serious threat to consumers, this new twist on its distribution raises the bar even higher, WatchGuard’s Laliberte noted.

“Consumers simply do not expect malware to be delivered via a Facebook message,” he said. “Most people probably consider social media sites to be a safe space, so the lack of concern and vigilance makes it powerful as a potential infection channel for malware.”

For consumers concerned about an ImagteGate attack, Check Point recommended not opening any files downloaded to a device after clicking any image. The same is true for image files with unusual extensions, such as SVG, JS or HTA.

Users also should keep their operating system and antivirus software up to date, Avira’s Vukcevic added, “and make backups. Even if you’re never infected with ransomware, you never know when something might go wrong with your machine.”

Facebook Now Lets You Sign Into Android Apps With Mobile Number

Facebook at its annual developer F8 conference earlier this year showcased its Account Kit authentication system. The new system was essentially a new way Facebook wanted people to log into any app instead of the traditional ways. The company has now updated its Account Kit developer tool which lets people sign in to Android apps using Facebook’s instant verification system.

Facebook Now Lets You Sign Into Android Apps With Mobile NumberFacebook’s Ethan Goldman-Kirst, Software Engineer with Identify Tools team, in a blog post explains the instant verification process, “When a person enters his/her phone number into an app using Account Kit, via Android services, we attempt a match with the verified phone number listed on the person’s Facebook profile. This is only possible if the person is logged into the Facebook app on the same device.”

Developers can now take advantage of the new instant verification by integrating the new Facebook SDK for your apps or sites using Account Kit.

Ethan further adds that if there isn’t a match, a SMS will be sent to verify and complete sign-in process. “If there is a match, we can complete the verification without sending a one-time password (OTP) via SMS, making the sign-in flow more seamless. If there isn’t a successful match, a SMS will be sent with a verification code to complete the sign-in. This feature is used only to improve the verification process in a secure way and no additional Facebook information is shared with the app.”

Facebook claims that there has been 97 percent conversation rate in the initial tests which means people entered an app through the instant verification system. The company named Familonet as its early partner which is an app that helps people stay safe by letting them share their location with friends and family in real-time. “Account Kit phone number login increased their registrations by 40 percent. Recent implementation of instant verification lifted their conversion rates by 5 percent, and this continues to rise,” adds Facebook team.

Mark Zuckerberg Among Facebook Users Mistakenly Declared ‘Dead’

Mark Zuckerberg Among Facebook Users Mistakenly Declared 'Dead'Facebook accidentally declared its founder Mark Zuckerberg and many other users dead on Friday, acknowledging after fixing the problem that it had committed a “terrible error.”

“For a brief period today, a message meant for memorialised profiles was mistakenly posted to other accounts,” a Facebook spokesperson told AFP.

“This was a terrible error that we have now fixed.”

Media reports indicated that some two million errant memorials were posted on profile pages.

Even Facebook co-founder and chief executive Zuckerberg was memorialized in a message at his profile page expressing hope that people who loved him would take comfort in posts people shared in tribute to his life.
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
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Steve Kovach ✔ @stevekovach
Zuck dead
2:12 AM – 12 Nov 2016
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“Poor Mark,” read an @JudiD23 tweet that included weeping face emojis.

“Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”
The social network apologized and said it worked as quickly as possible to correct the problem.

“Damn. I should have used Facebook Live to show how I was Facebook Dead,” Search Engine Land editor Danny Sullivan said in a message fired off at Twitter.

Facebook Live feature lets people broadcast video in real-time at the leading social network. The mistaken memorial notices contained links to forms that can be submitted to have people’s accounts at the leading social network modified into online memorials after they die.

Part of the process is showing proof of death.
Some wondered whether the mishap was a botched test promotion of the feature, rather than a software glitch.

#FacebookDead
Comments tagged #FacebookDead or #FacebookRapture went viral at Twitter, with people joking that the scenario marked a fitting end to tumultuous week.

“I think this is Facebook’s way of flagging the people who died inside on Tuesday,” read a tweet from @billkalpak.

A darkly humorous post on Twitter by @JnPhillip was in the form of a note reading “Dear Facebook, Donald Trump does not get inaugurated until January 20th. Nuclear annihilation occurs Jan. 21st.”

“Naturally, Facebook waited until 2016 to kill us all,” tweeted @kriheli.

Some quipped that the mistake shook confidence in Facebook’s feature for checking on people after disasters, or its claim that hoax stories are not a worry at the social network.

A not-dead-yet Zuckerberg defended the integrity of News Feed stories duing an on-stage chat at a Techonomy conference in California the night before being memorialized on his profile page.

Zuckerberg rejected the idea that bogus stories shared at the social network paved a path of victory for President-elect Trump.

“The idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way I think is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said during an on-stage chat at the conference.

The News Feed at Facebook has evolved from early days of being about sharing personal tidbits with friends or family to becoming a platform for important news.