Tag: socialnetworking

Facebook may spend a ‘few billion dollars’ on sports streaming deals

Facebook has certainly dabbled in live sports streams before, but it appears ready to jump in with both feet. Sources for Sports Business Journal claim that Facebook is hiring an executive to negotiate sports deals, and that the eventual recruit will have a budget worth a "few billion dollars." That money wouldn't stretch far in the conventional TV world, as Recode observes. However, that represents a gigantic pile of cash for internet-only deals. Amazon paid $50 million for Thursday night NFL games, so Facebook might score access to major games even if sports leagues hold out for large payments (such as an attempted $600 million bid on Indian cricket).

We've asked Facebook if it can comment.

There's no guarantee Facebook will become a big spender in the near future, but it wouldn't be at all shocking if the company opens its wallet. Sports streaming is a battleground for social networks competing for your attention, and Facebook likely doesn't want to risk losing an important livestreaming deal to Twitter. Whatever money Facebook spends now might be easily justified if it keeps your eyes glued to Facebook and viewing those all-important ads.

Via: Recode

Source: Sports Business Journal (sub. required)


Facebook’s new community tools help you become a mentor

Facebook is once again hosting a Social Good Forum, and that means a new suite of tools and updates to help communities. To start, there's a Mentorship and Support feature that helps mentors and would-be learners connect with each other to step through guided nonprofit programs. Also, the social network is eliminating fees for donations to nonprofits -- you can be sure that every bit of money you contribute will go to those that need it.

Further upgrades expand fundraiser creation to more regions (including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe) and blood donation searches are expanding to Bangladesh. There's a fundraiser developer toolkit to link Facebook fundraising to outside campaigns, and a community help toolkit to provide data to disaster response teams. Simultaneously, Facebook is launching a $50 million annual fund that will directly contribute to disaster relief starting in 2018.

The efforts could go some way toward helping people in need, and it's easy to see the elimination of donation fees leading to more Facebook-based charity drives. The initiative comes at an awkward time for Facebook, mind you. Mark Zuckerberg recently had to apologize for an insensitive VR tour of Puerto Rico, and there have been protests as officials evict homeless people near a Zuckerberg/Chan-backed private school for low-income families. As much as the company is doing to help the less fortunate, it's still grappling with its own ethical dilemmas.

Source: Facebook Newsroom


YouTube’s Community social feature set to expand to more creators

Last year, YouTube launched its Community tab -- a social feature that lets creators engage with their followers through text, video, photos and more. At launch, YouTube had extended the feature to just a few creators, and the rollout has been slow ever since. But the response has been pretty positive and YouTube said it planned to add more channels following the launch. Well, today, Golden State Warrior and big Community tab fan Kevin Durant tweeted that he had heard the feature would open up to more creators quite soon. And YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan all but confirmed that is indeed the case.

It's unclear as of now how big the rollout will be, but it seems like we can expect an official announcement from YouTube sometime soon. Naturally, Durant posted the news on his YouTube Community page, which you can check out here.

Via: Kevin Durant


Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp resigns

It's the end of an era for Tumblr fans. David Karp, Tumblr's founder, has resigned from his CEO position after 11 years at the job. The company's operations chief, Jeff D'Onofrio, is taking the reins. Karp didn't go into detail about his reasons for leaving, but he told his team that the move came after "months of reflection" about his personal goals. We've asked Tumblr if it can comment beyond Karp's own statements.

It's not clear if Verizon's absorption of Yahoo (and thus Tumblr) influenced the decision.

This isn't necessarily going to create problems for Tumblr, but it comes as Tumblr itself has struggled to compete in a social networking landscape dominated by the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. While Tumblr is legendary for its animated GIFs and themed blogs, it has been playing a lot of catch-up lately. It only added filters and stickers this year, for example, while live video showed up in 2016. D'Onofrio may have to shake things up if Tumblr is going to recapture some of the cultural zeitgeist.

Via: Mike Isaac (Twitter 1), (2)

Source: David's Log (Tumblr)


Pentagon left public intelligence gathering data on exposed server

Even intelligence gatherers aren't immune to making mistakes that leave data wide open. Researchers at UpGuard have revealed that the US military's Central Command and Pacific Command left "at least" 1.8 billion collected internet posts exposed on a misconfigured Amazon Web Services S3 server. Some of the data goes as far back as 2009. There doesn't appear to be any private content in the mix, and it's not clear that malicious intruders accessed it before the Department of Defense locked things down on October 1st (after notification from UpGuard). However, the exposure still raises concerns about both the government's approach to security and the kind of information it's collecting.

A large part of the data includes content that you'd expect the military to scrape, such as news articles and social network posts relating to ISIS as well as politics from hotbeds like Iraq and Pakistan. Some of it included social posts from Americans, however, and the discussions included relatively innocuous subjects like American music stars and the Pope. That raises questions about what criteria triggered the data collection (certain keywords, for example) and whether or not its search is overly broad. While it can be important to cast a wide net, this could hurt more than it helps.

And of course, the misconfiguration suggests that officials weren't diligent in keeping information secure. It might have been public data, but a hostile country could have studied the information to see what the US military was looking for and taken steps to keep its public material under the radar.

The good news: this could be less common going forward. Amazon recently added indicators and other measures to make it patently clear that S3 server data is publicly accessible. Even so, the incident suggests that intelligence collectors may need to rethink their security policies to make sure this kind of exposure can't happen again.

Via: CNN, PCMag

Source: UpGuard


Twitter’s ‘premium’ tools let more apps use your data

Twitter hasn't exactly been known for a developer-friendly attitude, but it's tackling that issue today. The social site has unveiled a "premium" programming framework that bridges the gap between its free-but-limited standard tools and the costly tools limited to big businesses. The initial beta version lets apps and websites not only request more tweets and make more complex requests, but lets them dig through the last 30 days' worth of Twitter data. Eventually, there will be an option to comb through Twitter's data history.

How much creators pay depends on how many requests they need to make, but access to higher tiers of access starts at $149 per month. While that's not trivial, it's low enough that smaller studios could justify the cost to improve the functionality of their apps.

The move comes alongside a new "self-serve" portal that gives developers a better sense of their data use and, naturally, a quick way to pay for better access when they need it.

Twitter isn't doing this strictly to be more accommodating. It's eager to turn a profit, and offering a mid-tier option could pad its bottom line as many more companies sign up. At the same time, this does promise a positive effect. Developers may be more likely to include Twitter-based features in their apps and sites now that they don't have to choose between the basic framework and an expensive option that may be overkill. There's also a chance that some who were already using the free tools will pay extra and deliver more powerful features than you're used to. So long as companies are prevented from misusing data, this could be a very welcome move.

Source: Twitter Developer Blog


Russian Twitter accounts tried to influence the UK’s EU departure

Russia's attempt to influence Western politics through Twitter certainly wasn't limited to the 2016 American elections. Wired and New Knowledge have combed through the Russia-linked accounts provided to US politicians, and it identified at least 29 bogus users that backed the UK's European Union exit (aka Brexit). The accounts used Brexit-related hashtags, stirred Islamophobic sentiment and used racist anti-refugee language. These accounts weren't ignored, either. Combined, they had 268,643 followers and got some posts shared hundreds of times.

The tweets directly tied to Brexit were posted just after the vote in June 2016, but they're characterized as a "snapshot" that doesn't necessarily reflect the entire situation. Some of the ostensibly American accounts were unusually obsessed with Europe beforehand, however, and frequently posted similar anti-immigration and anti-Islam messages in response to terrorist attacks. A previous BuzzFeed study had identified 13,000 Twitter bots that supported leaving the EU, but it's not clear how many of those were tied to Russia.

The discovery isn't entirely shocking: if Russia was using Twitter bots to skew American sentiment, it wouldn't take much effort to do the same for Britons. Still, findings like this could be crucial to an official investigation into Russia's influence over Brexit. They also underscore how easy it can be to mount a modern propaganda campaign -- you can target audiences around the world with minimal effort.

Source: Wired


Instagram experiments with letting you follow hashtags

Sometimes, you don't want to keep up with individual people on Instagram as you do a trending topic -- say, the latest in tech (we're slightly biased here) or a big protest. That currently involves laborious searches for hashtags, but it might become relatively trivial soon. Users have discovered that Instagram is testing an option to follow hashtags, not just people. While this only includes popular and recent posts (it could easily become overwhelming if you got all of them), it could easily give you a sense of what's hot and suggest new people to follow.

Instagram declined to say more when asked about the test by The Next Web, so it's unclear just how many people have access to the test or how likely it is that you'll see the feature become a mainstay. The social network frequently tests features that aren't guaranteed to hit the mainstream.

However, this is one addition we could see taking off. Instagram has been growing rapidly, but keeping that user base may be difficult when newcomers are likely to see a quiet photo feed or just won't know who to follow. The option to follow hashtags could help them get the ball rolling. And of course, it could help just about anyone who's looking for a reason to keep coming back regardless of how active their friends may be.

Via: Mashable

Source: Pippa Akram (Twitter), The Next Web


Skype adds Snapchat-like AI photo effects to its mobile app

The Skype crew hasn't been shy about wanting to emulate Snapchat and hang with the cool kids... and that's truer than ever today. Skype has added a slew of decidedly Snapchatesque photo effects to its mobile messaging apps, including face stickers, filters, captions and handy info like the weather. You won't necessarily have to dig them up yourself, though. The effects take advantage of Microsoft's machine learning chops to detect your age and emotion, suggest text and even determine your celebrity doppelganger. The effects can vary by the day (including holidays), so you're encouraged to check them often to see what's new.

The effects should show up in the next few days if you don't have them already. They're not strictly new -- Microsoft first introduced the AI-powered suggestions through its Sprinkles app. They should get considerably more use now that they're in a major social app, mind you. The real question is whether or not this will improve Skype's stature. This probably won't lure you away from Snapchat (or Instagram, or Facebook). However, it might keep you using Skype if you thought it was falling behind the times.

Source: Skype Blog


PlayStation’s redesigned phone app focuses on socializing

If you've ever used the PlayStation App on your phone, you know how dodgy it has been since launch. Never mind the dated looks -- its interface was a hodgepodge that was never particularly helpful in any one area. At last, though, it's getting a makeover. Sony has released an overhauled PlayStation App for Android and iOS that not only drags the look into the modern era, but borrows more than a few cues from social networking apps. It's dominated by a Facebook-style "what's new" feed that puts your friends' PS4 activity front and center, and clearly does much more to encourage comments and sharing. Even profiles have a more social look, and you get quicker access to your friends list and notifications.

Virtually everything else is tucked into a tray that opens through the conspicuous PlayStation button, although that doesn't necessarily mean these features are harder to use. The new section includes faster access to common tasks like redeeming PlayStation Store codes or checking out PlayStation Plus offerings.

There is a big gotcha, however: Sony has stripped out two features. You can no longer access Live From PlayStation streams from within the app, so you'll have to either watch on your PS4 or search for streams on Twitch. Also, Second Screen features (including gameplay and typing) are now tucked into a separate app. Clearly, Sony thought its app was getting to be unwieldy.

It's not perfect even if you don't mind those omissions. You're still visiting a website when you tap the PlayStation Store. Sony is promising "more improvements," however. And more importantly, the revamp is evidence that Sony isn't letting the central PlayStation App languish while Messages and other narrow-purpose programs get all the attention.

Source: PlayStation Blog