Facebook denies downtime caused through Lizard Squad hack
A brief one-hour outage of Facebook and Instagram last night was not caused by hackers, the social network has admitted. Refuting claims by a hacking group that it was behind the downtime, Facebook advises it was caused by an alteration on its systems that it quickly repaired, rather than interference from an outside group attacking its servers.
Sondra Arquiett getting paid $134K for use of her likeness without permission
A New York state resident has settled with the US government and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) over a suit involving the law enforcement agency impersonating her on Facebook without her permission. Sondra Arquiett has accepted a $134,000 settlement from the US government, with the agency not admitting to having done anything outside a "legitimate law enforcement purpose."
Facebook attempts to reduce number of hoaxes in News Feed
Facebook is trying to reduce the number of fake or hoax stories that appear in a users News Feed. The social network will take into account whenever a user reports a post as a "false news story," as well as whenever users delete posts linking to an article, when deciding what is shown to other users. While Facebook will stop short of blocking the content entirely, it will give the flagged hoax a "reduced distribution" in News Feed, as well as adding a notice to the top of the post warning that users "have reported that this story contains false information."
'Tiny' segment of users will see reviews of voice messages on screen
Facebook VP of Messaging Products David Marcus posted to his wall on Friday, announcing a test program for voice message transcripts automatically generated with voice recognition software. The feature began rolling out today on a "tiny scale." No timeline was mention on when the feature will be made more widely available.
Walls off Candy Crush, friend feeds to create social network for job collaboration
Social media giant Facebook has launched on a new service for the web, iOS and Android called "Facebook at Work" that is intended to give office communications a familiar interface. Offering a (literally) gray take on the usual Facebook interface, the service creates a variation of the popular social service that is limited to co-workers only, and intended for office communications, messaging, file sharing, and other forms of collaboration. The service is currently still testing with partners, but is available as an app on the iOS App Store.
Chinese smartphone maker denies story, emphasizes good relations with partners
Last month, China's top smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi raised $1.1 billion in investment capital to help fuel expansion plans. However, prior to its successful fundraising round, CEO Lei Jun invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to his home for dinner, where the two discussed the possibility of an investment by the social media company.
Amber Alerts will be sent to users in missing child search locations
Facebook will start to post into its users News Feed alerts about missing children in the future, in an effort to locate them. A partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will involve the social network showing Amber Alerts to Facebook users located in specific search areas, both on mobile devices and desktops.
Increases user attachments to Messenger
Facebook has released Stickered for Messenger, an app that lets users add virtual "stickers" to photos shot on an iPhone or iPod touch. The stickers can be added after or even before a photo is taken, as well as to pre-existing images in the Camera Roll. As necessary, stickers can be dragged, resized, and rotated. As the name of the app implies, created images are shared via Facebook's Messenger service.
Move not indicative of any change in attitude toward Microsoft
Social network behemoth Facebook has removed Microsoft Bing search results from its pages in the last few days. The move, confirmed by Facebook officials, shifts the users' results to its own "Facebook Search" effort to help focus "on helping people find what's been shared with them." The move underscores Facebook's continued competition with Google. In parallel with the Bing excision, Facebook rolled out changes to "Graph Search" to return specific posts to searchers, instead of just results for people.
Proposed tool would help keep photographs taken while drunk away from Facebook
Pictures of drunk people on Facebook may lessen in future, if plans revealed by the social network's AI research lab come to fruition. Lab head Yann LeCun wants to create a digital assistant for Facebook which is capable of detecting whether photographs being uploaded to the service are being done while the user is under the influence of alcohol, with the aim of preventing anything the user would find embarrassing when they are sober from being shown to visitors.
Milestone blog post reveals Instagram user base doubled in just over a year
Instagram has overtaken Twitter in terms of active users, the Facebook-owned photo app has revealed. According to a company blog post, Instagram currently has more than 300 million active users sharing over 70 million photographs and videos daily, eclipsing the the 284 million monthly users claimed by Twitter at the end of October.
iCloud attacks likely key subject of discussion
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Lu Wei -- the chairman of China's State Internet Information Office -- during the latter's recent trip to the US, reports say. Lu is also said to have met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It's unclear what Lu discussed with the executives.
Facebook Groups is the fifth app to come out of Creative Labs in 2014
Facebook announced that yet another standalone application is available for one aspect for its social media platform. Facebook Groups takes the act of socializing in groups through the social media service, and crams it into a mobile experience that is said to be easier to manage and navigate. The app is available now on Android and iOS devices.
Social network for employees said to be used by Facebook workforce daily
Facebook is reportedly trying to push itself into the workplace, by making a service for communications within a company. Said to be called "Facebook at Work," the service is said to be able to allow employees and management to talk to other team members, connect with other professionals, and collaborate over documents.
Input device issue is largest barrier for Oculus Rift commercial release
A consumer edition of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset could arrive sooner than expected, the Oculus VR CEO claims. Speaking at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin, Brendan Iribe advised that the VR headset is "close," and the third Crescent Bay model of the popular head-mounted display is said to be "largely finalized for a consumer product."
Facebook looks to build a business from virtual reality, betting on long term
During the earnings call for third quarter financial results, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave further information on the expectations of the Oculus Rift, including the path he sees Oculus traveling in the future. While no exact information was stated about a consumer release, Zuckerberg said it could take years for the technology to be "meaningful."
Company beats projections, monthly users up only 2.2 percent from last quarter
Facebook released its third quarter results for the 2014 fiscal year, announcing that $3.2 billion in revenue was pulled in for the period ending September 30. The company beat Wall Street projections of an earnings per share (EPS) of $0.40 on $3.12 billion in revenue. While Facebook beat the EPS on diluted non-GAAP figures by three cents, the company posted only a $0.30 EPS under GAAP.
App allows users to create customized chat rooms, log in with any user name
Facebook's Creative Labs team is bringing a new, yet old way to socialize over the Internet to users through its application Rooms. The free iOS app lets users create custom chat rooms on a topic, without requiring any special log in or connection to a Facebook account. Instead, users can select whatever user name they like and chat in virtual anonymity.
Safety Check lets users tell family, friends they are OK via Facebook notification
Facebook has turned its attention to helping its users during times of crisis or a major disaster, by creating a new tool. Safety Check aims to provide a way for people in locations affected by a natural disaster to let their friends and family know they are OK, as well as allowing them to check on friends who may also be affected by the disaster.
Follows words with actions in effort to increase diversity in tech-centric jobs
Following the release of its own diversity report that found its female involvement in engineering and other technology posts lacking, Apple and other tech companies is said to have sent "hundreds" of employees to answer questions and recruit potential employees at the current Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing gathering in Phoenix, Arizona. Facebook, Google, Microsoft were among the other companies represented at the conference, which had over 8,000 attendees.
App allegedly offers multiple pseudonyms for discussions about sensitive topics
Facebook is working on a mobile app for anonymous interaction between users, a report claims. The app will allegedly let users to talk to each other under multiple pseudonyms rather than real names, in a similar way to Secret, allowing for identities to be protected when people are discussing subjects which are taboo or could be damaging to a person's reputation.
Original $19B purchase valuation of WhatsApp increases due to Facebook share price
Facebook has completed its acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp, days after the European Commission gave the all-clear to proceed. The purchase, originally valued at $19 billion when the process began ten months ago, has now concluded with the publication of an SEC filing, with the co-founder and chief executive of WhatsApp gaining a seat on the Facebook board.
Whatsapp, Facebook deemed "not close competitors" by European regulator
European regulators have given the all-clear on the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp. Four months after Facebook requested the European Commission to review the acquisition over possible antitrust-related issues, the regulator has determined that Facebook and its own Messenger service is not a "close competitor" of WhatsApp, and has authorized the purchase.
Proposals for Facebook research to undergo more stringent reviews
Facebook has admitted fault over its handling of user-based research, a matter which erupted this summer, and is taking steps to prevent such incidents from happening again. The social network is putting in place measures that it hopes will place a greater degree of scrutiny on future research projects, at the time of proposal, and at the time of publication.
Deal said to be unconditional, no conditions likely to be assessed
According to sources familiar with the matter, the European Commission is poised to offer unconditional approval to Facebook's purchase of message service WhatsApp. The official decision is due by the European regulatory agency on October 3, and no official comment of approval has yet been made.
Questionnaire sent by European Commission gaging impact of merger
The European Commission, the EU's antitrust agency, is seeking input from companies that may be impacted by Facebook's acquisition of messenger developer WhatsApp. The questionnaire is asking if queried companies are foreseeing any business issues with the merger, or if customers will be negatively impacted by the $19 billion deal.
User behavior away from site, sharing now determine if feed articles are click-bait
In a blog post from Facebook today, the social media company said that it's trying to improve the News Feed by reducing "click-baiting headlines." The company stated that it wants to help users find posts and links that are interesting, while removing stories that are generally considered spam by people that don't want them to turn up in their feeds.
Major apps identified as culprits
A number of iOS apps -- including Facebook Messenger, Gmail, and Google+ -- have a security vulnerability that could allow malicious parties to force an iPhone to auto-dial, observes Romanian developer Andrei Neculaesei. iOS supports a tel:// URI that can make a call automatically, even though developers are allowed to bypass confirmation prompts for the dialer if they want. Through a vulnerable app and the right web code, a person could potentially be tricked into dialing a toll number. A FaceTime variant could let someone capture images of a person before disconnecting.
OpenTable expands meal-pay service from pilot, to be available to 20 new cities
Restaurant reservations app OpenTable has announced the expansion of its payment service to an additional 20 cities by 2015. Originally launched as a pilot program in San Francisco, OpenTable's new service allows diners at participating restaurants to add a credit card to the app, and then pay their bill quickly with a few taps. The expansion is beginning with New York City, with the rest of the national expansion to follow.
Amicus briefs filed with NY Supreme Court decry overly broad warrants
Facebook is battling the New York courts over what it says are overly-broad warrants to examine user profiles and data. Supporting the social media giant, Dropbox, Foursquare, Google, Kickstarter, LinkedIn, Meetup, Microsoft, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, and Yelp have all filed amicus curae ("friend of the court") briefs with courts in support of the Facebook effort, complaining that services like Facebook are multi-faceted and require more granular warrants, rather than a sweeping motion to collect all data about a targeted user.
Pinterest adds direct messaging of followers to service
Pinterest has added the ability to message other users to its service for the first time. An extension from last year's pin-sharing feature, Pocket-Lint notes the social network's mobile apps include the option to send messages back in responses to pins, including support for messaging multiple followers in the same thread, with the site suggesting it could be useful for planning events or projects with others.
Lawsuit launched in Austrian court, points to privacy issues, violation of EU law
Law student Max Schrems has turned from filing complaints against Facebook's Irish subsidiary to filing a European lawsuit against the social media company for privacy violations. Schrems filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, asking people from outside the United States and Canada to join in. At the heart of the matter are violations Schrems and his group, Europe vs. Facebook, believe are against European data privacy laws.
SnapChat rival's core requirement backtracked, Messenger now allows fullscreen viewing
On Thursday, Facebook updated two of its applications for iOS users: the now-required Messenger chatting program, and its SnapChat-like photo-messaging app Slingshot. The latter's biggest change is the removal of what was previously a puzzling core requirement of the app -- users no longer have to "reply" with a message, photo or video before being allowed to see the message, photo or video sent to them. The now-mandatory Messenger app has been updated to allow full-screen viewing of photos and videos.
Free access to search, essential online services provided by Internet.org app
The Facebook-spearheaded Internet.org initiative is making progress in providing low-cost or free Internet access in developing countries, by launching a smartphone app. Initially available to Airtel subscribers in Zambia, the Internet.org app will provide basic access to a number of essential online services, with customers not being charged for the use of data at all.
Now TV streaming service app from Sky available on Xbox One in UK
Now TV, the on-demand streaming service from satellite broadcaster Sky, is now available on the Xbox One game console in the United Kingdom. Previously available on the Xbox 360, as well as a large number of streaming devices and the PlayStation 4 as of last week, Pocket-Lint reports the Now TV app on Xbox One lets users pay in advance for passes to view the Sky Sports, Entertainment, and Movies packages, without requiring a satellite subscription.
Yelp iOS app adds ability to create up to 12-second video clips
Branching out in its ability to offer reviews of local businesses, Yelp has now updated its iOS app to version 8.1, which gives users the option to create a shortly 3-12 second-long video message alongside or in place of written reviews, comments or images. The video option is the only significant new feature, alongside the usual bug fixes and tweaks, and "lives" alongside the photo option -- which can now be toggled between photos and videos. Users can find existing video reviews alongside photos in both the app and on the company's website.
Dating site owns up to experiments, claims that's just 'how websites work'
Dating site OkCupid took to its blog today in a small defense of the outrage over Facebook's study involving manipulation of users' emotional states through data on its news feed for "psychological research." In a post titled "We Experiment on Human Beings," the dating company proceeded to make light of the data situations, while owning up to several of its own experiments.
FTC net neutrality letter addresses concerns about Internet 'hyper-giants'
In a letter filed with the US Federal Communications Commission regarding the pending net neutrality proposal, pro-cable company advocacy group The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) believes that if the "fast lane" net neutrality proposal stands as is, then "hyper-giants" like Amazon, eBay, Netflix, Facebook, and Google could charge the cable companies to allow customers to access services, essentially holding Internet Service Providers hostage. The cable companies allege to have no defense against such tactics, and claim to lack a "practical ability" or the incentive to throttle said large Internet companies.
Investigation centered on technical issues, bank actions marring launch
As part of Facebook's quarterly financial disclosures, the social networking giant reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ended its investigation involving Facebook conduct surrounding the initial public offering in 2013. In its quarterly report, Facebook claims that the SEC ""notified us that it had terminated its inquiry and that no enforcement action had been recommended." Shareholder lawsuits against Facebook and affiliated banks are unaffected by the disclosure.
Revenues beat industry projections and earnings per share, user counts increase
Facebook released its quarterly earnings for the second quarter of 2014, showing a large increase year-over-year. Revenues topped out at $2.9 billion, a staggering $1.1 billion, or 61 percent, increase from 2013. The revenue jump is due largely to advertising revenue and an increase in daily and monthly active users.
Deal passes final hurdle with California government approval after hearing last week
After a hearing last week with the California Department of Business Oversight, Facebook's $2 billion deal for virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR has officially closed this week. The California government was the final piece of regulation that the companies needed to clear for the offer, first reported in March, to go through.
Feature pulls items into central location, issues save item News Feed reminders
Facebook users no longer need to worry about trying to find a post on that interesting band or restaurant they didn't have time to read. The social media company announced today that it launched Save, a feature that allows users to collect items for later consumption into one place. The feature is rolling out to mobile app and web-based users of the social media service.
Button limited to small and medium-sized businesses, built with privacy in mind
Less than a month since Twitter began testing a "buy now" button on the social media service, Facebook has jumped into the arena to offer its own "buy" button. The new feature is being tested with a small number of businesses as a way to drive commerce directly to those involved, without requiring people to leave Facebook to complete a transaction.
Access barred to people without verified accounts
Facebook has launched a new iPhone app, Mentions. Unlike its others, however, Mentions can't be accessed by the general public. Instead users must have a verified account, restricting it to businesses and celebrities such as actors, politicians, and musicians.
Questionnaires sent by European Commission ahead of formal Facebook purchase review
Officials in the European Union are allegedly questioning competitors of WhatsApp over the proposed acquisition by Facebook. The European Commission, the competition authority, is said to have sent detailed questionnaires to a number of "major technology and online-messaging firms" about how much of an the impact the $19 billion merger will have on the messaging and social network marketplaces.
EPIC claims social media giant 'purposefully messed with people's minds'
If Facebook hasn't received enough flak for the emotional manipulation study it conducted on its user base, the company could soon face more from regulators. Last week, privacy watchdog group the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the one-week study Facebook conducted in 2012 that manipulated users' news feeds.
Incorporates iPhone features in larger real estate
Facebook has updated the iOS version of Messenger, adding a native iPad interface for the first time. Functionally the interface is similar to its iPhone equivalent, mostly displaying more contacts simultaneously, and providing extra screen space for images and text. Significantly though, iPad users don't have to switch between the contact view and message threads.
Information Commissioner checks if Facebook research broke UK data laws
The fallout from Facebook's experiment with its users continues, with a UK government agency planning to investigate. The United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the body that deals with data protection laws in the country, will be looking to see if the social network broke any laws during its testing of emotional manipulation in 2012.
Coauthor says benefits of research may not have been worth the backlash
Adam Kramer, co-author of the paper involving Facebook news feed manipulation, took to the social media service to explain the importance of the study earlier this week. Since news of the psychological study hit the Internet, many have wondered about the ethical implications of emotional manipulation by the company. Kramer indicated that the researchers didn't clearly state their motivations in the paper, leading to a misinterpretation of how the study was perceived.
Psychological study in 2012 altered users' news feeds for positive or negative mental states
In a study to see if emotional states could be transferred to others online, Facebook conducted a psychological experiment in January 2012 with its users as guinea pigs. According a research paper published this month, feeds from over 689,000 English-language accounts were altered for either positive or negative states for one week to see if there was an impact on mental states.