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Facebook Halts ‘Instagram Kids’ Project Following Criticism

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Facebook, which faced sharp criticism from lawmakers and users for its plan to develop an Instagram for kids, announced Monday it’s pausing work on the project.

“While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens,” the company said in a statement.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the app was meant for children ages 10 to 12.

The pause comes after an explosive Wall Street Journal report showed Facebook repeatedly found its Instagram app is harmful to many teenagers. The Journal cited Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed.

One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.

The report led lawmakers to readdress their concerns over the social media app. Just after the news broke, representatives on both sides of the aisle demanded answers from Facebook. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., also called on Facebook to abandon its Instagram for kids efforts.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, will testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection on Thursday.

Facebook has repeatedly defended its efforts to draw more kids to the app. Mosseri argued in a blog post early Monday that children are already online.

“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” he said. Instagram will pause its work to address concerns with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators.

Instagram will also work on expanding its parental controls to teen accounts.

“These new features, which parents and teens can opt into, will give parents the tools to meaningfully shape their teen’s experience,” Mosseri said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Trump To Launch New Social Media Platform Called TRUTH Social in 2022

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced his plans to launch his own social media platform, TRUTH Social. According to a press release he said Truth was created to “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech” companies such as Twitter and Facebook that have barred him from their platforms.

“I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in the statement.

The app, which is available for pre-order in Apple’s App Store, will open to invitees in November and to the public in the first quarter of 2022, the release said.

TRUTH Social will be launched by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), a recently created company that’s aiming to go public via a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company.

Trump’s announcement comes after months of speculation about his plans to create his own media operation after nearly every major social media platform – including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – banned or suspended him for violating their policies.

“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable.

“I am excited to send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH Social very soon. TMTG was founded with a mission to give a voice to all. I’m excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on TRUTH Social and to fight back against Big Tech,” Trump said in a written statement included in the release.

The social network, set for a beta launch next month and full rollout in the first quarter of 2022, is the first of three stages in the company’s plans, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.

The former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., told Fox News in an interview, “for so long, Big Tech has suppressed conservative voices, tonight my father signed a definitive merger agreement to form what will ultimately be the Trump Media and Technology Group and TRUTH Social – a platform for everyone to express their feelings.”

Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms banned Trump from their services after hundreds of his supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

That protest came after a speech by Trump in which he falsely claimed that his November election loss was due to widespread fraud, an assertion rejected by multiple courts and state election officials.

The deal will list Trump Media & Technology Group on Nasdaq through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp, a blank-check acquisition firm led by former investment banker Patrick Orlando.

Trump Media & Technology Group will receive $293 million in cash that Digital World Acquisition Corp had in trust, assuming no shareholder of the acquisition firm chooses to redeem their shares, according to the statement.

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Twitter Recommended Conditions To Lift Suspension Will Be Applicable To Other Social Media Platforms- FG

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The Federal Government says the recommended conditions for the lifting of the suspension imposed on the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter will be applicable to all Over-The-Top and other social media platforms in Nigeria.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Monday when he featured on a phone-in programme of TV Continental, “This Morning, ’’ monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The minister, who did not disclose the recommendations by the Federal Government ministerial negotiation team to engage with Twitter on the suspension, said its report would be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mohammed, who headed the team, however, reiterated that the engagements with the microblogging and social media platform had been positive and fruitful.

“All I can say is that the recommendations we are going to make will not only be applicable to Twitter but they will be applicable to all OTTs and other social media platforms in Nigeria.

“Today, we are dealing with Twitter, we don’t want a situation where we will be dealing with Facebook tomorrow and Instagram the next day. Our recommendations will be very comprehensive.

“You will recall that during the 61st Independence anniversary celebration, the president said Twitter will return to Nigeria as soon as they meet the conditions of government.

“Even last night, the ministerial team met under my chairmanship and we reviewed the position of things.

“I want to say that we should wait for the committee to officially give its reports to the president but things are looking very positive and rosy.

“After submitting our reports and recommendations to the president, I will be disposed to say what we agreed and what have been met and what has not been met,’’ he said.

NAN reports that following the indefinite suspension of its operations in Nigeria for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence, Twitter had written to the president seeking engagement over the suspension.

The president subsequently set up the ministerial team led by Mohammed, with other members including Ministers of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and that of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to dialogue with Twitter over its suspension.

Other members are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami as well as Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige and that of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

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LinkedIn to Shut Down Service in China, Citing ‘Challenging’ Environment

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LinkedIn said on Thursday that it was shutting down its professional networking service in China later this year, citing “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements.”

The service, which is owned by Microsoft, said it would offer a new app focused solely on job postings in China. The new app will not have social networking features such as sharing posts and commenting, which have been critical to LinkedIn’s success in the United States and elsewhere.

LinkedIn’s move ends what had been one of the most far-reaching experiments by a foreign social network in China, where the internet is closely controlled by the government. Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in the country for years, and Google pulled out more than a decade ago. China’s internet, which operates behind a system of filters known as the Great Firewall, is heavily censored and has gone in its own direction.

When LinkedIn expanded in China in 2014 with a localized service, it offered a tentative model for other major foreign internet companies looking to tap the country’s huge, lucrative and highly censored market. The company partnered with a well-connected venture capital firm, which it said would help it with government relations.

But to do business in China, LinkedIn also agreed to censor the posts made by its millions of Chinese users in accordance with Chinese laws, something that other American companies were often reluctant or unable to do. Even in 2014, LinkedIn acknowledged the challenge, saying, “LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship. At the same time, we also believe that LinkedIn’s absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others.”

Seven years on, it has become apparent the experiment did not work. No major internet platform has followed in LinkedIn’s footsteps. Its business in China struggled as it ran up against major local competitors and a population skeptical about publicly listing valuable contacts.

The operating environment in China has also become more difficult. Since President Xi Jinping took the reins of the Communist Party in 2012, he has repeatedly cracked down on what can be said online. Presiding over the rising power of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s internet regulator, Mr. Xi turned China’s internet from a place where some sensitive topics were censored to one where critics face arrests for a constantly shifting set of infractions, like jokes at Mr. Xi’s expense.

In March, the regulator rebuked LinkedIn for failing to control political content, three people briefed on the matter said at the time. Officials required LinkedIn to perform a self-evaluation and offer a report. The service was also forced to suspend new sign-ups of users inside China for 30 days.

The site also suffered as the U.S. relationship with China soured, with anger about LinkedIn’s complicity in China’s information controls rising in Washington. In recent months, after LinkedIn stopped displaying the profiles of several activists and journalists in China, American lawmakers criticized the company.

In one letter last month, Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, wrote to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, demanding to know why it had censored the accounts of three journalists. Mr. Scott called the censorship “gross appeasement and an act of submission to Communist China.”

LinkedIn’s business has also grown, with China contributing minimally. Since Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016, revenue from the business has tripled. Mr. Nadella told investors in July that LinkedIn’s revenue had surpassed $10 billion in annual sales, up 27 percent from the previous year.

LinkedIn declined to comment beyond its announcement.

While Microsoft has tried to build a market in China for more than a decade, it has had only modest success. Last year, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, said the country accounted for less than 2 percent of its revenue.

Microsoft Windows and Office are common in China, but a large number are using pirated copies. The company has tried to overcome the issue, by hosting its software online and by tapping a major Chinese military contractor to help it offer an operating system better trusted by China’s government. Microsoft’s Bing search engine, one of China’s last remaining portals to the global internet, briefly appeared to have been blocked by government censors in 2019, even though the service directed users in China to state media accounts on disputed topics like the Dalai Lama.

It remains unclear precisely what will happen to the millions of Chinese user accounts on LinkedIn. In the past, when foreign internet firms have stopped offering locally censored services, their sites have been quickly blocked by the government.

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