Apps

Facebook isn’t letting Australians view or share news

Even Google is threatening to shut down its search engine

Published

on

Facebook has blocked Australian users from sharing or viewing news content on the platform. The announcement is a response to proposed legislation in Australia that would force tech platforms to pay news publishers for content.

Several government-backed health and emergency pages were also blocked, though Facebook later confirmed it was a mistake. The ban sparked an immediate backlash, with many Australians angry about their sudden loss of access to trusted and authoritative sources.

“What the proposed law introduced in Australia fails to recognize is the fundamental nature of the relationship between our platform and publishers,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships, wrote in a blog post. “Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook does not steal news content. Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook.”

Facebook firmly says that it has little to gain from third-party news links and is fine with pulling the cord, instead of paying the media companies. The company also said it helped Australian publishers earn about AU$ 407m (US$ 316m) last year through referrals, but for itself “the platform gain from the news is minimal.”

According to Facebook, news stories make up less than 4% of what people see on the site. If no deal is reached, the tech companies and media organizations will move to arbitration.

During a January hearing in Australia’s senate, Facebook had suggested it could block content in the country if the bill becomes law. Google also threatened in the same hearing to shut down its search engine in Australia altogether.

Many also suggest that Facebook’s solid stance against the Australian government is a precedent for other countries. Technology companies are increasingly under pressure from governments due to a host of issues like Apple’s 30% App Store tax, the big tech debate, and now, monetization of content.

Apps

Instagram will start to put ads on a user’s profile

And on the Explore page

Published

on

Ads are everywhere. Several platforms are testing where and how much they can put without raising a lot of fuss from their users. On a few occasions, a platform can cross the line, prompting a wave of reprisals. Instagram, for example, backtracked on a controversial decision to pump out more recommended posts and ads after massive backlash. Despite the recency of the controversy, Instagram is back again with another ad-fueled decision: ads on user profiles.

This week, Meta announced that two more types of ads are coming to Instagram. The first type is a natural extension of what the platform already has. Instead of hiding video ads deep within the Explore section, these short videos will start popping up right on the section’s landing page. Since the section already has ads, it might not be as intrusive, especially when compared to the second type.

Besides a new spot in the Explore feed, Instagram is also adding ads to a user’s profile. Likely to a lot of users’ dismay, it is what it says on the tin. Offering some consolation, the platform won’t spoil a profile’s grid with an ad. Instead, when a user clicks on a post on the profile, the vertical feed, which usually shows a timeline of the profile’s content, will contain spots for ads.

Instagram has not officially confirmed which users will get the feature. However, the company is currently testing it for select creators. It also assures users that it will come only on public profiles, not private individuals.

SEE ALSO: You can snooze recommended posts on Instagram

Continue Reading

Apps

YouTube might ask users to pay to watch in 4K

In testing phase

Published

on

Despite offering a mostly free service, YouTube is finding new ways to monetize parts of its platform. Now, ads are a lot more prevalent while watching videos. A less popular way is gating some features behind the platform’s YouTube Premium banner. YouTube is trying it once again, though. The platform is currently testing whether to keep 4K viewing behind a paywall.

With the capabilities of displays today, YouTube and its creators can offer content in stunning 4K resolution. Though not everyone can enjoy the feature, 4K viewing was a welcome one.

However, as spotted by some users on social media (via TechCrunch), the video-sharing site is reportedly making the viewing option exclusive for Premium users. The company has not officially announced any change yet. However, YouTube’s other accounts on Twitter replied to some concerned users on the site, citing an “experiment” to test what works for Premium and non-Premium users.

The company is still gathering responses to the experiment. However, if the initial social media response is any indication, a good chunk of YouTube’s users isn’t pleased with having to pay more to enjoy high-quality content.

Currently, YouTube Premium comes at US$ 11.99 per month for interested customers. The paid subscription offers ad-free viewing and offline viewing. If the company sees some progress with the experiment, they might ad 4K viewing to Premium’s mix.

SEE ALSO: YouTube has quietly launched a Podcasts hub

Continue Reading

Apps

TikTok, Tencent linked to sexually violent ads on Facebook

Ads continue to run on platform

Published

on

Facebook has an ad problem. After spending years on the platform, you might have noticed a plethora of misplaced ads occasionally peppered on your feed. Though most users cringe at how the algorithm can uncannily show appropriate ads right after talking about a certain topic, a series of more off-putting, offensive, and disturbing ads is making the rounds on the social media platform. Now, following a deep dive, a report has found that ByteDance and Tencent are affiliated with the phenomenon.

What are these Facebook ads? In a report from Forbes’s Emily Baker-White, several web novel companies are advertising erotic content on the platform. However, more than just erotica, these ads promote sexual, violence, rape, and self-harm. Some are even using images of popular personalities without their permission.

A particularly egregious example involves a photo of a crying woman in the shower with the caption: “his personal cum bucket.” A few others are more up front about harming women to get sex.

Others depict scenes from Twilight and Star Wars, despite not being affiliated at all with the titles. Several companies and personalities contacted by Forbes confirmed that they did not give these novel apps any permission to use their likeness.

As for the deep dive, a good number of these companies were previously backed by either ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, or Tencent, one of the biggest Chinese companies in the world. While ByteDance has claimed that the apps don’t reflect their values, these ads continue to proliferate around the platform. Tencent has likewise denied any involvement with the campaigns.

It’s also worth nothing that the apps aren’t limited to just China. One app, called Pinky Novel, operates from the Philippines and is spreading similarly troubling ads everywhere, including one that says, “Raped by Mr. CEO.”

Continue Reading

Trending