Displaying items by tag: Social Media

Citizens of the United Kingdom will soon be able to force social media platforms to delete information about them, including content published during their childhood, due to government proposals that will bring data laws into line with new European regulations, Reuters reported.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock said Britons will be given more control over their data by having “the right to be forgotten” online and ask for their personal data to be erased. The new measures will force companies to seek permission to obtain personal data rather than rely on pre-selected tick boxes, which are often ignored, Hancock said.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to become enforceable from May 2018, tightens and extends the scope of data protection law in Europe, and the UK’s new rules will fall in line with this.

Despite the UK planning to leave the European Union, it will have to comply with GDPR, according to lawyers and tech experts, to avoid disruption to the data traffic that is essential to international business. The new rules would give the UK one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws globally, Hancock claims.

"It will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use and prepare Britain for Brexit," he said, adding that the data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), will be given scope to issue higher fines (up to 17 million pounds), in cases of serious data braches.

Published in Government

Social networking colossus Facebook is challenging a gag order from a US court that is currently preventing the organization from talking about three government search warrants. However, Facebook is claiming that the preventative measures implemented by the US court pose a threat to freedom of speech.

According to reports and court documents, Facebook wants to notify three of its users about the search warrants that are seeking their communications and information, and to provide those users with the opportunity to object to the warrants.

Facebook released a statement on the gag order and expressed its concern over a breach of the First Amendment concerns with this particular case. Facebook said: "We believe there are important First Amendment concerns with this case, including the government's refusal to let us notify three people of broad requests for their account information in connection with public events.”

The First Amendment to the US constitution guarantees certain rights including freedom of speech; however, William Miller, a spokesman for US prosecutors declined to comment on Facebook’s decision to challenge the gag order. In an undated court document it said that Facebook decided to challenge the gag order around the three warrants on the basis that free speech was at stake – and that the events underlying the government’s investigation were generally known to the public.

It has not yet been disclosed what the precise nature of the government’s investigation is; however, there have been suggestions that the timing of the proceedings coincide with charges against people who protested at Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. On the day, Donald Trump was sworn in as president - over 200 people were arrested in Washington as masked activists threw rocks at police, whilst multiple vehicles were set on fire.

Technology firms have consistently complied with thousands of requests for user data made on an annual basis by the government around the world, but in extraordinary circumstances, leading tech entities such as Microsoft and Twitter have defied and challenged government secrecy orders. Facebook fought a secrecy order in April, in relation to a disability fraud investigation, but it lost the case in New York highest state court.

Facebook says about half of U.S. requests are accompanied by a non-disclosure order prohibiting it from notifying affected users. In April, a local judge in Washington denied Facebook's request to remove the gag order there, according to the document. Facebook is appealing and has preserved the relevant records pending the outcome, the document said.

"The government can only insulate its actions from public scrutiny in this way in the rarest circumstances, which likely do not apply here," said Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for digital rights.

Published in Apps

Social media giant Facebook spoke out strongly against the June 3 terror attack in London over the weekend. That company vowed to “aggressively remove terrorist content” from its platform, reflecting British Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for internet companies to do more to thwart terror group online spaces.

Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook, said in a statement that the social network aims to “provide a service where people feel safe.” Milner added, “That means we do not allow groups of people that engage in terrorist activity, or posts that express support for terrorism. We want Facebook to be a hostile environment for terrorists.”

Facebook has come under recent scrutiny for having violent acts broadcast on its social network. The company has been accused of failing to block hate speech and terrorist propaganda content, and also the spread of ‘fake news’. In response, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would hire up to 3,000 people to wipe out inappropriate content on the network.

“Using a combination of technology and human review, we work aggressively to remove terrorist content from our platform as soon as we become aware of it,” said Facebook’s Milner. “We have long collaborated with policymakers civil society, and others in the tech industry, and we are committed to continuing this important work.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Facebook CEO calls for a universal basic income

Written on Tuesday, 30 May 2017 05:20

Founder and chief executive of social media giant Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has suggested there should be a universal basic income for all people. This would allow people in society to take more risks, he said, allowing people more freedom to execute new ideas and business ventures, with the confidence that they won’t go without basic things needed to live.

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) has been regularly suggested by technologists and people working in Silicon Valley. UBI would allow for mote redistributive policies, and would be important when automation starts to take people’s jobs.

Zuckerberg made the UBI suggestion during a speech at Harvard University. He spoke of how a universal basic income would be part of a “new social contract for our generation.”

Some speculated that the Facebook founder is laying the groundwork for a potential presidential run in the future. Zuckerberg has been on a tour around parts of the United States sharing his policy recommendations for improving society, but he has denied the rumors.

“We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful,” said Zuckerberg. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.”

He continued, “We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable child care to get to work and healthcare that aren’t tied to one company. We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus on continuous education throughout our lives.”

“And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it,” said Zuckerberg. “Many of you will do well and you should too.”

Published in Government

Thailand’s government has threatened to shut down social media colossus Facebook in the country - after it refused demands from authorities to remove posts. Government officials issued a request to Facebook to remove around 131 posts off the popular networking platform claiming the posts were ‘illegal’.

Thailand’s Criminal Court backed the request from the government and ordered Facebook to remove the posts within a week, or they would face subsequent legal action. However, the removal order is the latest in a flood of censorship requests issued by the government in recent months. Facebook have reportedly refused to adhere to the request by government officials saying the alleged illicit webpages do not violate its ‘community standards’.

The service is still currently available, despite the fact that the deadline issued by the Criminal Court has now passed. According to reports emerging from Thailand - the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA) issued the following statement to the head of Facebook in Thailand. The statement read, “If Thai authorities find any illegal content in our system – particularly the 131 URLs which have not yet been removed – concerned authorities will request that we shut down the CDN [content delivery network] of www.facebook.com  and other parts of the network to block such illegal content.”

TISPA further confirmed that if subsequent action is taken then it could impact the entire delivery services of Facebook to customers in the region. In addition to this, TISPA noted that the government doesn’t want to proceed with legal action – but is prepared to shut down the social platform in an effort to reiterate its stance on what it deems as ‘illegal posts’.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said Facebook had removed 178 of 309 posts identified by authorities as illegal. NBTC secretary general Takorn Tantasith said Facebook cooperated with Thai authorities, but noted that “some issues have not been solved”. Facebook’s 14.8 million users in Thailand spend an average of 2.35 hours a day on the social media site.

Published in Government

Snap Inc., the parent company of image and video sharing app Snapchat, recently reported its quarterly financial earnings for the first time since going, and the results weren’t good. Snapchat’s user growth has stalled and the company’s revenue was below Wall Street expectations for the quarter.

The company went public with an IPO in March, and spent almost $2 billion in stock-based compensation, which in large part contributed to its net loss. Snap Inc.’s revenue was reported at $150 million, which fell $8 million short of Wall Street’s $158 million expectations. Following Snap’s earnings announcement, its stocks fell 23 percent to $17.67, bringing them dangerously close to its IPO price of $17.

Snapchat currently has 166 million daily active users, which is an increase of 36 percent from the 122 million in the same period last year. This pales in comparison to Facebook’s approximately 1.94 billion monthly active users for March 2017. Snapchat’s growth appears to have been stemmed by Facebook copying its features; for example, Instragram’s Stories feature mimics Snapchat’s disappearing video messaging concept.

It remains unclear how Snap Inc. will measure up to its heavy competition, but its foray into hardware such as Snap’s Spectacles eyewear product. Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegal attempted to ease concern regarding the company’s earnings results by explaining how Snapchat won’t succeed because of massive growth numbers, like its competitors. Instead, it will succeed because it offers more quality as a product.

Spiegal dismissed the practices of typical consumer apps, which he called “growth hacks” such as excessive push notifications or prompts for users to connect with everyone in their address list. Those sorts of techniques, he said, are not “very sustainable over the long term.” He said the company is more focused on making product improvements.

“The way that we try to help people understand how we think about daily active user growth is really through the lens of creativity and creation,” he said, before mentioning the app’s lenses product that lets users change their appearance for selfies. “People enjoy looking like a puppy and things like that.”

Published in Apps

Facebook is “closing the gap on TV advertising” according to an Ampere Analysis study, with the average Facebook user soon to be worth more than an average TV viewer. The study suggests that the average revenue generated per user by Facebook advertising has increased 6x in North America and 4x in Europe in the past five years.

The findings from the study place Facebook’s advertising influence behind Google, which is closest to TV on the ARPU (average revenue per user) measure. Google’s quarterly revenue for each monthly active user currently sits at US$7 from advertising on its websites while Facebook is close to US$5 per monthly active users.

The tech giants are still lagging behind TV, however, which draws between US$10 and US$11 of advertising revenue per quarter. But TV user growth has plateaued compared to Google and Facebook. The value of a TV viewer has had growth of less than 7 percent in both North American and Europe over the same decade, according to the study.

“It may be in second position now, but when it comes to ARPU, Facebook advertising has been rapidly closing the gap on Google’s lead,” says Ampere research director, Richard Broughton. Facebook’s advantage, he says, is its ability to let advertisers keep track of the effectiveness of their online campaign compared to traditional TV advertising.

Broughton said: “As Facebook continues to invest in video and its ARPU increases, it is conceivable that in the not-too-distant future an average Facebook user will be worth more than an average TV viewer in terms of advertising.”

Published in Finance

Twitter has dropped some subtle hints that suggest it may introduce a subscription-based option on the hugely popular social networking platform. Reports have emerged that management is considering the option of building a premium version of its popular ‘Tweet-deck’ interface which is specifically aimed at professionals. Analysts have predicted that there is now a distinct possibility that it could collect subscription fees from some users for the first time.

Twitter which was founded in 2006 – has like all other successful social media outlets focused on building a huge core of followers for a free service which generates income through advertising. Twitter has claimed that it has 319 million users worldwide, and is more popular with celebrities than Facebook. Its most famous user is current US President Donald Trump who tweets on a regular basis. However, its numbers are significantly inferior to Facebook who have consistently been able to grow its reach. This has subsequently and rather inevitably led Twitter to fail to attract enough in advertising revenue to turn a profit. 

The potential of subscriptions fees could come from a premium version of Tweet-deck that is an existing interface on the platform that helps users to navigate Twitter. It has conducted market research to assess whether or not there would be interest in a new, more enhanced version of the interface.

Twitter spokeswoman Brielle Villablanca said: "We regularly conduct user research to gather feedback about people's Twitter experience and to better inform our product investment decisions, and we're exploring several ways to make Tweetdeck even more valuable for professionals." However, there was no concrete indication that Twitter was considering charging fees from all its users.”

Word of the survey had earlier leaked on Twitter, where a journalist affiliated with the New York Times posted screenshots of what a premium version of Tweetdeck could look like. That version could include "more powerful tools to help marketers, journalists, professionals, and others in our community find out what is happening in the world quicker.

It was further reported that if the new and improved experience generates enough interest, it could be ad-free. Other social media firms such as Microsoft Corp’s and LinkedIn unit have already implemented memberships and subscriptions version that offer greater access and data.

Twitter posted the slowest revenue growth since it went public four years earlier, and revenue from advertising fell year-over-year. The company also said that advertising revenue growth would continue to lag user growth during 2017. Financial markets speculated about a sale of Twitter last year, but no concrete bids were forthcoming.

Published in Apps

Snap Inc. the parent of the app Snapchat saw its shares drop on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, March 6, as the momentum of its debut on Wall Street the previous week died down. The company’s shares were down 2.26 percent to $23.77 at the close of formal trading on the Stock Exchange.

Snap’s shares jumped 44 percent to close at $24.48 in its inaugural trading day, after raising $3.4 billion in the largest US tech company public listing since Facebook in 2012. The company, known for its popular disappearing messaging application, had priced its offering at $17 to give it a market value of $24 billion.

Snap’s strong debut on Wall Street lifted the company’s value to $28 billion - more than double that of social media rival Twitter, which went public in 2013. The following day, Snap’s shares climbed even higher.

The company boasts over 158 million daily active users who create 2.5 billion "snaps" a day in 20 different languages, generating an expected $936 million in revenues in 2017, according to a report by venture equity firm Goodwater Capital. The report reads, "Snapchat is well-positioned to scale rapidly and take market share in the $652 billion global advertising market."

However, some aren’t so enthusiastic about Snapchat’s potential, referencing Twitter, which has struggled to grow its user-base since its 2013 IPO, and now trades well below its offering price.

On March 6, five of seven financial analysts covering Snap advised investors to "sell" the stock, and none were advising buying shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It remains unclear if Snap can expand beyond its core base of young users or how it will fare in many international markets in a competitive social media landscape.

Published in Apps

Snapchat’s corporate parent Snap Inc. reportedly seeks to raise over $2 billion for the fast-growing social media group in the technology sector’s largest public offering in nearly three years. Filed documents showed that Snap Inc. expects net proceeds of some $2 billion.

The Snap Inc. IPO will provide 145 million new shares and sell 55 million from existing share owners, with an expected price range of $14 to $16, according to the documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The IPO – confirmed with a public filing on February 2 – would be the largest in the tech sector since the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba hit the US market in 2014.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the listing would value Snap Inc. at between $19.5 billion and $22.2 billion. Wall Street and the technology sector are expected to follow the move closely, with other highly valued companies such as Uber and Airbnb said to be considering going public themselves.

The app Snapchat, known for its disappearing photo and video messages, has become hugely popular with young smartphone users. The company began raking in revenue once it expanded its offerings to enable publishers to deliver content on the platform. Some 158 million people use Snapchat every day, according to Snap’s filing, with more than 2.5 billion Snaps created daily.

The company has partnered with various publishers and organizations, including one recently announced by the New York Times. Some analysts have suggested Snap has the potential to challenge Facebook, while others insist Snap will end up like Twitter, consistently losing money with its existence as an independent firm in peril.

Published in Finance
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