Why Facebook is making a big bet on Messenger

On the first day of this week's Facebook developer conference, the company outlined a vision of its future centered on the message. One of the most surprising things about this movement, from the perspective of the product, is how to degrade the news. While Mark Zuckerberg says that what he calls "the square of the digital city" will continue to be important, the product itself will try to take it to virtual rooms: private groups, events and messages.

As I pointed out yesterday, part of what is driving this change is the fact that users are already voting with their clicks and taps, spending less time in the news source than in more private spaces. Sharing photos and videos with friends still seems to be quite popular on Instagram and WhatsApp, which continue to build new products to support the activity.

But let's say you're one of the hundreds of millions of people who spend most of their lives. time on Facebook itself. Where is the place where you are supposed to see what your friends are doing and send them messages? That was the central feedback loop that Facebook got this year. In a world where people stop publishing in the news service, where will they go?


why facebook is making a big bet on messenger

In fact, we got a good answer to that question during the F8 this week, although it might be difficult to discern against the roar of other product announcements. But Facebook has a plan for their real friends on Facebook, and the plan is being developed in Messenger.

Ben Thompson had a characteristic view of the news in his daily update (subscribers only) today. He argues that Facebook was forced to adopt this strategy because Snapchat and Instagram eroded the popularity of News Feed, and that last year's move to promote "significant publications" at the expense of big publishers only made it worse.

That, then, led to this new strategy: let Facebook be Facebook, that is, the Internet portal of most people, with a focus on Groups to deepen the pit of the Facebook network. Give up trying to reform a service known for lack of privacy in a destination for friends and family. Meanwhile, rebuild Messenger in a social network in its own right, complete with its own source (that second tab) and network (even if it's a subset of your Facebook network). And, by the way, find it as a privacy hug without changing anything about the basic Facebook experience and the ad machine.

Messenger took a huge part of yesterday's keynote. (Or maybe not, it has 1.3 billion users). After a redesign last year managed to simplify it from the big junkyard it had become, Facebook said it would make Messenger the fastest load product of its kind, with an application size. less than 30 megabytes. The company announced plans to take it to the desk to promote more intensive use. And he also announced on the second tab mentioned by Thompson: a place to see the ephemeral stories of his friends, their current states (represented by emoji) and, possibly, even the stories they have added to the news. (Facebook is already testing a merger of the two).

Asha Sharma, who leads the consumer products of Messenger, had a leading role in yesterday's keynote. On Wednesday, I sat down with her to talk more about the future of Messenger. One thing that caught my attention immediately is that she talks about Messenger being separated from Facebook in an important way: the latter is about communities now, he said, and Messenger is a social network in its own right.

"The opportunity that Messenger is, we are building a social network around messaging, not vice versa," he said. "In messages, you communicate mainly with five friends, if you can build experiences on those conversations that they help you to share more and spend quality time together, that's incredible. "

Today, Messenger has a central "people" tab that Sharma describes as a "social phone book." offers a row of Facebook stories, then a list of your active contacts. When the new Messenger arrives, that tab will be replaced by content shared by close friends. Sharma showed me a beta version of the application, where family members and colleagues with whom they worked closely had climbed to the top. "It's a space where I can share in small groups and the people that matter most to me," he said.

Of course, just because Facebook creates a place for friends in Messenger does not mean they're going to come. The analysis companies say that despite the advantage of Messenger in terms of audience size, Snapchat users open the application much more often and spend more time there. Messenger's new strategy is largely based on the adoption of Facebook stories, and although the product has reached 500 million people a month worldwide, it still feels dying among North American users of Facebook between the 20s and 30 years old

. The cohort is still attached to Instagram, Facebook will not suffer for it. And meanwhile, Messenger can serve as a laboratory for functions that try to replicate the simple pleasures of News Feed that have evaporated for a long time. Sharma tells me that her team has not yet deciphered it, they are still debating how the friends tab should look and feel. But if you're curious about what aspects of old Facebook could survive in the new one, that's where I'd look.

More than F8

The F8 concluded today in San Jose. What happened? The second day of opening focused on the creation of products with greater responsibility, and had the good conversations of Margaret Stewart on ethical design and Lade Obamehinti on the creation of artificial intelligence that is more inclusive. (Obamehinti shared a powerful story about how Portal's "smart camera" did not recognize her at first, since she trained on a data set that used mainly white skin tones).

Harry McCracken spoke with Facebook's technology director, Mike Schroepfer, before the keynote:

By sharing this information, Schroepfer hopes to deny the impressions that Facebook is not taking the challenge to clean up its platform sufficiently seriously. However, he is quick to recognize that much remains to be done and does not criticize the skeptics. "The most difficult thing for me personally is the feeling that we do not care," he says. "Either we do not care, or we're not prioritizing it, or it just does not coincide with my personal day-to-day experience." But people feel what they feel and until we do it right, they're justified by feeling that they want. "

Other things: now you can ask sensitive questions in Facebook health groups anonymously Amazon Prime Video is coming to Portal Oculus is becoming a business work, and is courting the developers. Facebook is open-sourcing plus tools Facebook organized a party for employees to celebrate the great redesign

Democracy

Google employees protest against retaliation with international sit-in

Sit in the new march: [19659021] Google employees are organizing a sit-in at offices around the world to protest alleged reprisals against workers.

A Google employee told [1945904] 0] The Verge that hundreds of people were expected to be involved throughout the day, with sit-ins at the offices scheduled for 11 a.m. local time. A spokesperson for Google said that more than 200 employees participated in the sit-in in New York, but not all of the company's offices participated. Employees also participated in international offices, including London.

Twitter grilled on a policy approach that reinforces misogyny

Twitter sent a representative to pay the courtesy service to the UK Parliament on Wednesday for harassment issues, reports Natasha Lomas:

Twitter He has faced a series of uncomfortable questions from the UK Parliament about his continuing failure to address the violent abuses directed against women.

Katy Minshall, head of public policy for the UK government's social media platform, admitted that she needs to do more to protect users, but said the company is "very aware" of the problems women experience on Twitter, saying he is in the process of reviewing how he applies his policies to solve his long-running misogyny problem.

Here come the technological hawks of the European Parliament

Laurens Cerulus and Laura Kayali outline the members of Parliament who want to confront Silicon Valley:

At the top of the list "to see" for the next five years is Facebook's antagonist in Germany: Minister of Justice Katarina Barley.

Barley leads the list of the Social Democratic Party of his country and has attacked Facebook several times in the campaign, asking the company to do more to protect the data of its users and say: I am not on WhatsApp, nor I want to be. "

Amazon artificial intelligence facial recognition is overfeeding police in Oregon But what if Rekognition is wrong?

Drew Harwell discusses how Amazon's facial recognition technology has affected the law enforcement in Oregon County where it was first implemented:

Almost overnight, officers saw their investigation powers overloaded, allowing them to look for matches on a suspect's face in more than 300,000 photos taken in the county jail since 2001. A grainy image of someone's face, captured by a security camera, a social media account or the tel An officer's smart phone can quickly become a link for Your identity, including your name, family and address. Last year there were more than 1,000 searches for facial recognition, said the deputies, who sometimes used the results to find a suspect's Facebook page, visit his home or make an arrest.

But Washington County also became the zero point for a high level of risk battle for the unregulated growth of policing by algorithm. Defense lawyers, artificial intelligence researchers and civil rights experts argue that the technology could lead to the undue arrest of innocent people who only look like a video image. The accuracy of Rekognition is also disputed, and some experts are concerned that a case of mistaken identity by armed officers could have dangerous implications, threatening the privacy and lives of people.

Silicon Valley is flooded with Chinese and Saudi cash, and no one is paying attention (except Donald Trump)

Teddy Schleifer examines Silicon Valley's increasingly tense relationship with foreign capital:

For a long time, Most people in Silicon Valley have treated foreign cash with a collective shrug, seeing money as money and without really considering the ethical and regulatory challenges of taking investments from certain foreign countries, recode interviews with more than 50 capitalists of risk, new companies, lawyers and others involved in cross-border investments reveal. Now Silicon Valley is struggling to evaluate its own exposure in this new world order.

Money from two countries in particular has ignited a debate in Silicon Valley about the responsibilities of new companies and their investors: China and Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere

The productivity well: how Slack is ruining work

Rani Molla explores how Slack did not fulfill his promise to make workers more productive:

On average, employees Large companies send more than 200 Slack messages per person. week, according to Time Is Ltd., a productivity analysis company that uses workplace programs, such as Slack, calendar applications and Office Suite, to provide recommendations to companies on how to be more productive. Advanced users who send more than 1,000 messages per day are not "an exception".

Keeping up with these conversations may seem like a full-time job. After a while, the software will help you work to make it impossible to finish the job.

"They're Just Wrong": former Reddit CEO, Ellen Pao, has harsh words about Big Tech's failure to stop Internet hatred [19659045] Ellen Pao talks to Mother Jones about the power of the platform:

PAO: I do not want to be negative about the way things are handled, but this is a different philosophy. For me, it's about "Let's get a clean platform where everyone can have a conversation and, in fact, have a real conversation and not just that people shout at each other as much as possible." It has been a long time since you can go to Reddit and you will see that the conversations were authentic.

If that is what Twitter and Reddit are trying to do, then you should get rid of people who shout at people who leave the public square, who are really harassing people. That is not a conversation. You must make sure everyone has room to talk, and make sure that the speech does not cause harm, and that is not happening at this time.

Snap's great plan to turn Snapchat into a gaming platform

Andrew Webster explores Snap's great push into video games:

For Snap, there are clear benefits to having a successful game on the platform. This means that users will spend more time on Snapchat and will see more ads along the way. (Currently, there is only one form of monetization in Snap Games: six-second commercials that players can see in exchange for the game currency). But do not expect to see the next Gold Rush in the style of the App Store for the third time. party developers Snap Games is not an open platform; instead, the company is partnering with a small number of developers to offer a more curated selection of games. Currently, that includes everything from large companies like Zynga to smaller studios like the developer Alphabear Spry Fox. It seems, Snap serves almost as a publisher, working with studios throughout the process of development, from conception to launch.

Move Over, Kardashians. The pilots are the stars of Instagram

Blake Montgomery reports:

Biedenkapp is part of a broader trend: airline pilots as Instagram sensations. Madeleine Schneider-Weiffenbach, who publishes as @pilotmadeleine, has 1.1 million followers. The #pilot hashtag has 5.2 million publications tagged. Anas Amireh, who flies Airbus A350 aircraft out of London, has 390,000 followers like @pilotamireh and several pages dedicated to fans. There is enough enthusiasm from pilots to keep two huge accounts run by pilots called Maria: @mariathepilot, 462,000 followers, and @pilotmaria, 535,000.

Releases

Introducing automatic deletion controls for your Location History and activity data

Google will soon allow you to delete your location history automatically, which will make it immensely easier to commit crimes.

Take

Facebook turns to what you want it to be

Josh Constine shares his thoughts on F8:

reported that Zuckerberg wrote a strategy book that was delivered to all employees before the IPO and noted that "If we do not create what kills Facebook, someone else will." But F8 offered a new interpretation. Perhaps, given the lack of direct competitors in their league and the absence of a mass exodus due to their constant privacy scandals, it was the obsolete product that killed Facebook. The permanent Facebook. The Facebook of everything you do is displacement. The bored of my Facebook friends. The users were being careless instead of being pushed or stolen. By ignoring the past and emphasizing the products that it aspires to dominate tomorrow, Groups, Market, Watch, Facebook can begin to free itself from the toxic brand and will poison its potential. ] Max Read praises the humble authenticity of Joe Biden's social media brand:

Or did the team decide that Biden's social media brand is going to be a "balloon fund"? In 2016, the presence of Hillary Clinton on Twitter was subject to widespread mockery (at least of the natives) for her attempts to imitate the advanced user form that AOC has managed to deploy so effectively on its own. The main complaint was about authenticity: Who could believe that Clinton was tweeting Mean Girls GIFs in Donald Trump when, as baby-boomer, it would be much more likely that it would be ] publish the only word "banana", presumably accidentally, on a degraded background ? Biden may seem very foolish to the sophisticated of Twitter with his attempt at solemnity interspersed with odd ellipses and double hyphens. But nobody can say that it is not what a 76-year-old boy would publish.

And finally …

How a parody of Aquafresh Tumblr collapsed in a purge of speech and hate

In the tweeted words of The author of the story, Brian Feldman: "A brand Aquafresh Tumblr that it published spoilers of the Avengers would have been admitted for the hate speech, but in fact it was because the story was linked to a Toy Story directed by the community.

"They banned it by a reasonable option," admitted Josh. He was not at all taken aback by the fact that Tumblr has ceased to exist in Aquafresh, just as Thanos made the Avengers go away. "Everything is fine," he said. "It's just time for me to move from Tumblr, and instead go to Twitter." It makes sense: they are much less likely to be dragged by a hate purge on Twitter.

Just another day more Internet, friends.

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