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.
Document claims Palmer Luckey invented device in 2010 before contact with ZeniMax
It appears that the battle between Oculus VR and ZeniMax Media may be heating up. In a filing with the United States District Court in Texas today, Oculus defended its position that the company has not stolen any intellectual property. Oculus asked for a jury trial in the filing, while accusing ZeniMax of using an opportunistic ploy to get money out of the company on the back of its success and acquisition by Facebook.
Facebook Slingshot opens up to all users following US-only launch
Facebook has expanded the reach of its recently-launched reciprocal messaging app Slingshot to the rest of the world, following its United States-only launch. The app, available on iOS and Android internationally, will let recipients of images, video, and text-based messages view the contents only after replying another message back at the original sender.
Slingshot requires response before reading incoming messages
Facebook has launched its Snapchat competitor for a second time, following its accidental release and retraction earlier this month. Slingshot, out for both iOS and Android in the United States, allows users to pass messages, images, and video to each other, though the recipient will not be able to read the message until they "react" with their own message.
Botched early leak revealed features of Snapchat competitor
The official launch of Facebook's Snapchat competitor, called Slingshot, will likely happen on Tuesday, according to reports. The ephemeral messaging app, which offers users the ability to send a photo or short video with annotation features that are depending on the recipient acknowledging that they want the incoming message. The application was accidentally released and subsequently removed from the App Store a week ago.
Adds mentions, hashtags, photo-related features
Facebook has released a significant update of Paper, its story-oriented reading app for the iPhone. The focus of v1.2 is on parity with the main Facebook app and website. Users now have access to hashtags and trending content, for instance, and friend mentions can be included in posts. The privacy settings for a post can be changed after the fact, and tapping and holding on a post's text will let people copy it.
Shows events, trending content, games
Facebook is rolling out an update to its iOS app that will allow iPad users to better see content outside of their news feed, according to an official blog post. When in landscape mode, iPad users will see a right-hand sidebar styled after the one visible on Facebook.com. This includes a quick view of upcoming birthdays and events, and trending topics.
Facebook not expecting mass adoption of version one of the product
Executive interviews at E3 have spelled out exactly what the Facebook expects from the early stages of its Oculus Rift VR headset release. Oculus CEO Brendan Irebe pointed out some areas that he was expecting the device to improve on before release, and revealed that he is expecting "north of a million" device sales of the first consumer version of the headset, which may sell at cost to help improve adoption.
Facebook Messenger for iOS adds video messages, 'Big Likes'
Facebook Messenger for iOS has received an update, offering new instant video sending and a "Big Likes" feature. Facebook Messenger allows users to access their Facebook messages without opening Facebook, and have conversations with friends that include stickers, private photo sending, group conversations and more.
Facebook accidentally launches then removes new Slingshot app
Facebook's new ephemeral messaging app, Slingshot, was accidentally released and subsequently removed from the App Store. Designed to be able to "share everyday moments with lots of people at once," users must send a return message in order to "unlock" a received message. Amongst other features, while viewing a message, a reaction can be sent by tapping the React button. Slingshot has no official release date.
Flickr users forced to link new, existing Yahoo IDs to account
Yahoo is going to remove the ability to sign into Flickr using a Google or Facebook account at the end of this month. E-mails have been sent to users of the photo hosting service warning them that they will be forced to log in using only a Yahoo ID from June 30th, as part of a wider move by Yahoo away from third-party authentication to just using its own account system.
Asks for limits to government surveillance
Several US technology executives -- including Apple's Tim Cook, Google's Larry Page, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, and Yahoo's Marissa Mayer -- have published an open letter as a part of the Reset the Net anti-surveillance campaign. The letter complains that the USA Freedom Act -- which recently passed through the House of Representatives -- still permits bulk collection of Internet metadata, despite promises by the White House and Congress to halt the practice. The executives are also asking for the flexibility to publish more detail about the quantity and types of government requests they get for customer information.
D-Link and Facebook collaborate to offer 11AC Router with integrated Facebook Wi-Fi
Networking and connectivity company D-Link has announced its collaboration with Facebook to deliver D-Link's first wireless router with Facebook Wi-Fi. The D-Link 802.11ac router with integrated Facebook Wi-Fi is aimed at small businesses who wish to provide customers with a Wi-Fi hot spot, accessible by checking in via the business' Facebook Page.
Company uses provision in merger law to ask for single review process
Even though Facebook already has approval from the United States Federal Trade Commission for the $16 billion purchase of Whatsapp, the company is looking to get ahead of the game in Europe. Facebook has asked regulators that are part of the European Commission to review the acquisition deal ahead of possible antitrust concerns.
Executive unlikely to appear, or send legal representation
The Iranian court system is alleging that WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook - all owned by the latter company -- are violating the rights of privacy in the country. As part of the investigation, the sanctioned country has summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear and answer charges, a summons that the executive is likely to ignore.
Application blocked by court order after lawsuit filed over privacy concerns
Facebook-owned Instagram has been blocked in Iran, marking another social media block from the country this month. A different Facebook company, WhatsApp, was banned at the beginning of the month, stemming from Mark Zuckerberg's family heritage, which is Jewish. Instagram was also temporarily banned in the country for 12 hours last December.
Also credited with number of other OS X, iOS technologies
John Harper -- the creator of the Core Animation framework used in iOS and OS X -- has left Apple for a position at Facebook, according to posts on Twitter. Core Animation first appeared in the iPhone OS in 2007, and migrated to OS X months later. Harper has spent over 12 years at Apple in total, and is credited with helping on a number of other iOS/OS X components as well, including Core Image, the port of X11, and OS X's windowing system.
Reminders will show to new, existing users about audience of status updates
Facebook is changing the default target of status updates for new users, it has revealed, potentially helping users from posting publicly things that should be between friends. As well as helping prevent first-time posters from oversharing, Facebook is also preparing to release a new privacy checkup tool, which will aid existing users in reviewing their privacy preferences.