NEW YORK, June 5 -- Coming soon to Instagram feeds everywhere: more sponsored advertisements from "influencers."
While this may be good news for users with large followings who make money promoting products, for the rest of us, it could mean wading through more unwanted ads in our feeds. On Tuesday, Instagram, a Facebook-owned platform known for photos that inspire envy and ire, announced changes to its advertising strategy that would allow brands to promote influencer-created content in people's feeds, even if those people do not follow the influencer's account. "One of the biggest requests from brands to date is the ability to incorporate branded content posts into their advertising strategies," the company said in a blog post. "With branded content ads, businesses have an opportunity to tell their brand stories through creators' voices, reach new audiences and measure impact," the statement continued. "Using the tools available on the Facebook ads platform, businesses can reach targeted audiences beyond the people who follow the brand and creator accounts." The ads will look similar to those already found in Instagram Feed and Stories but will be labeled "paid partnership."
The move, according to the company, is in response to brands' desire to better target users and offer a more organic ad experience. "Promoting content directly from an influencer's handle inherently gives the post more authenticity than coming from a brand handle, and we're seeing significantly higher engagement rates using this strategy," Liat Weingarten, vice president of brand communications for Old Navy, said in a quote included in Instagram's announcement. The company has been testing these ads since last year, according to Ad Age. Evan Asano, chief executive of MediaKix, an influencer marketing company, said big brands were clamoring to work with influencers and were "not afraid to drop US$500,000 for a spot with Kim Kardashian," the reality TV star who has nearly perfected the art of monetising social media. And now there are kidfluencers, nanoinfluencers and captionfluencers.
"Influencer marketing is blowing up," Asano said. "And Instagram wants a piece of that pie." According to Instagram, 68 per cent of its regular users say they come to the platform to interact with "creators."
Instagram has about 1 billion monthly active users, according to a company spokeswoman, who declined to share how much influencer marketing is worth. Other social media platforms have become inundated with ads as of late. Last month, Twitter acknowledged it had been running experiments with the frequency of advertisements. As a result, users' timelines became cluttered with junky ads and at least one malicious campaign, according to BuzzFeed News. Although Instagram's revenues are still largely generated by advertising, the company wants to create new revenue streams, and has recently introduced a tool that allows users to buy things without leaving the app. Most of the ads currently on Instagram are for "smaller brands you've never heard of" that sell things like zero-gravity beanbags or generic T-shirts, Asano said. "It's possible," he said, "that change signals that Instagram isn't monetising ads in a way that Facebook wants it to.
ROTTERDAM, May 22 -- WhatsApp Status, which is the equivalent of Instagram and Facebook Stories will get advertisements by the year 2020. This was revealed at an ongoing Facebook Marketing Summit taking place in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Facebook has already said in the past that it will be bringing advertisements to the platform, and this latest information just confirms the timeline. Instagram Stories already had advertisements. Matt Navarra, who is a social media consultant and commentator, posted on Twitter that WhatsApp Status will get ads in 2020 and that businesses on the platform will get support for richer messaging format options. It also looks like the WhatsApp product catalog will be integrated with existing Facebook Business Manager catalog. Olivier Ponteville, who is the Head of Media at BeConnectAgency also posted details about the upcoming features on his Twitter page along with photos from the Facebook presentation. He posted images from the presentation, which showcase how ads will appear on WhatsApp in the Status feature. The richer former support will include Image+text along with PDF+ text support for businesses who use the messaging platform.
HONG KONG, May 21 -- Google’s restriction of business ties with Huawei, the world’s No 2 smartphone maker, could obliterate demand for the Chinese company’s devices overseas and give market leader Samsung a leg up in cementing its lead in Android devices.
Google’s move to curtail access to its Android operating system – in response to Huawei being placed on a US trade blacklist – means that the Shenzhen-based company will no longer be able to run Google’s popular apps and services such as Gmail, YouTube or its Google Play app store, on future Huawei devices. For markets outside China, the removal of these critical Google services will mean that overseas consumers will think twice about buying Huawei devices in future. That is a big problem for Huawei, as about half of the 208 million smartphones it shipped in 2018 went to markets outside of China. “As far as overseas markets go, this move just turned Huawei’s upcoming phones into paperweights,” said Bryan Ma, vice-president of client devices research at IDC Asia-Pacific. “The phones won’t be very useful any more without Google apps on them, and other apps will be unable to call on Google Play services.” While Huawei will not lose all access to Android – the core operating system is an open source project – in practice all the major handset vendors rely on Google for support and the popular services that run on the platform.
Alternative Android brands like Samsung, the world’s leading smartphone maker, and other domestic Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, are likely to benefit from an expected slump in overseas demand for Huawei phones, especially in Europe where Huawei had almost 25 per cent of the market as of the last quarter of 2018, according to Canalys data. Huawei is a close second to Samsung in the region, and is already the market leader in nine countries including Spain and Poland.
LOS ANGELES, May 20 -- Alphabet’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter.
In a blow to the Chinese technology company that the US government has sought to blacklist around the world. The move could hobble Huawei’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system. The next version of its Android smartphones will also lose access to popular services including the Google Play Store and Gmail and YouTube apps. “Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google,” the source said. The Trump administration on Thursday added Huawei Technologies to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with US counterparts.
On Friday the US Commerce Department said it was considering scaling back restrictions on Huawei to “prevent the interruption of existing network operations and equipment.” It was not immediately clear on Sunday whether Huawei’s access to mobile software would be affected.
LOS ANGELES, May 15 -- Authorities in mainland China have blocked Wikipedia, its owner said on Wednesday.
“In April, the Wikimedia Foundation determined that Wikipedia was no longer accessible in China,” Samantha Lien, spokeswoman for the foundation, which owns the online encyclopaedia, said. “After closely analysing our internal traffic reports, we can confirm Wikipedia is blocked across all language versions,” Lien said. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites have long been blocked in mainland China, as have individual Wikipedia articles about sensitive issues, like the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and the Himalayan region of Tibet. Suspicion of a total block on Wikipedia surfaced in late April when some Chinese internet users took to social media to complain the site was no longer accessible. Tests run by GreatFire.org, an organisation that tracks internet censorship in China, showed the site had not been accessible from within mainland China since April 23.
JERUZALEM, May 14 -- As Apple rolled out an advertising campaign last month touting the impenetrability of the iPhone — “Privacy. That’s iPhone”, the commercials promised a secretive Israeli company called in its sales people to talk about an important update designed to thwart that very privacy.
According to one person at the meeting, the executives from NSO Group made a bold claim: using just one simple missed call on WhatsApp, it had figured out a way to “drop its payload”, a piece of software called Pegasus that can penetrate the darkest secrets of any iPhone. Within minutes of the missed call, the phone starts revealing its encrypted content, mirrored on a computer screen halfway across the world. It then transmits back the most intimate details such as private messages or location, and even turns on the camera and microphone to live-stream meetings. The software itself is not new — it was the latest upgrade to a decade-old technology so powerful that the Israeli defence ministry regulates its sale. But the WhatsApp hack was an enticing new “attack vector”, the person says. “Great from a sales point.”
It was an illustration of the sales pitch that NSO has made to governments around the world — and which have helped give a tiny and discreet company a market valuation of around $1bn. NSO’s few hundred engineers claim they have managed to manoeuvre around whatever obstacle Apple, the world’s most valuable company, has thrown in its way. Apple declined to comment for this article. At an investor presentation in London in April, the company bragged that the typical security patches from Apple do not address the “weaknesses exploited by Pegasus”, according to an unimpressed potential investor. Despite the annual software updates unveiled by companies such as Apple, NSO had a “proven record” of identifying new weaknesses, the company representative told attendees. NSO’s pitch has been a runaway success — allowing governments to buy off the shelf the sort of software that was once thought to be restricted to only the most sophisticated spy agencies, such as GCHQ in the UK and the National Security Agency in America. The sale of such powerful and controversial technologies also gives Israel an important diplomatic calling card. Through Pegasus, Israel has acquired a major presence — official or not — in the deeply classified war rooms of unlikely partners, including, researchers say, Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Although both countries officially reject the existence of the Jewish state, they now find themselves the subject of a charm offensive by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that mixes a shared hostility to Iran with intelligence knowhow. The Israeli government has never talked publicly about its relationship with NSO. Shortly after he stepped down as defence minister in November, Avigdor Lieberman, who had responsibility for regulating NSO’s sales, said: “I am not sure now is the right time to discuss this . . . I think that I have a responsibility for the security of our state, for future relations.” But he added: “It is not a secret today that we have contact with all the moderate Arab world. I think it is good news.”
MENLO PARK, April 3 -- Facebook has been caught practicing the worst ever user-verification mechanism that could put the security of its users at risk.
Generally, social media or any other online service asks users to confirm a secret code or a unique URL sent to the email address they provided for the account registration. However, Facebook has been found asking some newly-registered users to provide the social network with the passwords to their email accounts, which according to security experts is a terrible idea that could threaten privacy and security of its users.
First noticed by Twitter account e-Sushi using the handle @originalesushi, Facebook has been prompting users to hand over their passwords for third-party email services, so that the company can "automatically" verify their email addresses. However, the prompt only appears for email accounts from certain email providers which Facebook considers to be suspicious.
"Tested it myself registering 3 times with 3 different emails using 3 different IPs and 2 different browsers. 2 out of 3 times I faced that email password verification thing right after clicking "register account" on their front page sign up form," e-Sushi said in a tweet. "By going down that road, you're practically fishing for passwords you are not supposed to know!"
It’s ironic that this news came just two weeks after Facebook admitted that it mistakenly stored passwords for "hundreds of millions" of its users insecurely in plaintext for years in company logs which were accessible to 2,000 Facebook employees.
In a statement provided to the Daily Beast, Facebook confirmed the existence of such "dubious" verification process but also claimed it doesn't store the user-provided email passwords on its server. Facebook also said it would end the practice of asking for email passwords altogether. "We understand the password verification option isn’t the best way to go about this, so we are going to stop offering it," Facebook said. Facebook also noted that the users asked for their email passwords as a means of verifying their accounts could opt for other verification methods such as a passcode sent to their phone number or a link to their email address by clicking the "Need help?" button on the page.
STOCKHOLM, March 24 -- Independent journalist and freedom fighter Katerina Janouch wrote a short introduction for an article in her own online magazine “Katerina Magasin”.
The article, written by another Swedish writer – Madeleine Rönnqvist Lilja, is about the British freedom fighter Tommy Robinson. In her text, Katerina wrote: “Defending freedom of expression when you agree is a breeze, but if we are to have any freedom of speech worth mentioning, it must also be defended when it is challenged and not all agree.” She then pointed out that it “may be your turn next”. And Swedish Facebook took Katerina at her word and suspended her.
Their actions cannot be interpreted in any other way than as a clear signal against freedom of expression – and in particular against the idea that we should accept the views of others even if we disagree with them.
In a comment on the suspension, Katerina writes: “Seven days of suspension was the result when I published an article about the British free speech hero Tommy Robinson on Facebook. The article was published on March 10, but I was suspended now, twelve days later. Perhaps a censorship committee was needed to conclude that the content was so offensive that it violated Facebook’s community standards? There is also a threatening tone in which it is pointed out that I can be further penalised if I dare publish something equally inappropriate again. Madeleine’s article is about freedom of speech, and that all opinions, even the ones we disagree with should be allowed, without the person stating them being threatened and harassed and called a dissident.
“Tommy Robinson’s issue is ours”, was my headline and what do you know, sooner than I could imagine Tommy Robinson’s issue was mine. Which people can we write about on Facebook? Perhaps the powerful social media platform should provide a list of which individuals we cannot mention by name. If someone previously doubted that freedom of expression is under attack, this is clear proof that that is the case. I wish I could write “see you on Facebook in a week” but at the moment I don’t know if I want to come back.
Please continue reading Katerina Magasin! And spread the links. My own platform, no one can take away from me – at least not yet.”
WASHINGTON, March 23 -- Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.
The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Some journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump's alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller's probe was likely to find.
"How could they let Trump off the hook?" an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on MSNBC's 'Hardball'. Dilanian tried to comfort the MSNBC host with some of his signature punditry.
"My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn't worth the subpoena fight," he expertly mused.
Actually, there were several journalists who conjureв up a reason why Mueller didn't throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.
"It's certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it's also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite 'no more indictments,'" concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.