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Meta Announces Upcoming Business Verification and Innovative Features for WhatsApp

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, on Tuesday announced plans to commence verification of businesses on WhatsApp.

Nikila Srinivasan, Meta’s Vice President of Business Messaging, shared the exciting news.

Meta’s aim is to bolster user trust through platform-granted verifications, signify the legitimacy of businesses and assure users of their authenticity.

To attain this coveted Meta verification, businesses must substantiate their credibility to Meta, reaping rewards such as a verified badge, enhanced account support, and safeguarding against impersonation.

Srinivasan further elaborated on the forthcoming features, stating, “For businesses interested in signing up, Meta Verified will offer additional premium features. These include the ability to create a customized WhatsApp page that can be easily discovered through web searches, as well as multi-device support, enabling multiple employees to efficiently respond to customer inquiries. We plan to initiate testing of Meta Verified with small businesses using the WhatsApp Business app before extending it to businesses on the WhatsApp Business Platform in the near future.”

In addition to the verification system, Meta also unveiled another exciting feature called “Flows.” This innovation will empower businesses to provide a comprehensive range of services without requiring users to leave the chat.

Srinivasan explained, “With Flows, businesses will have the capability to offer rich menus and customizable forms to cater to diverse user needs. We aim to make Flows available to businesses worldwide through the WhatsApp Business Platform in the coming weeks.”

This strategic move by Meta not only bolsters the credibility of businesses on WhatsApp but also introduces user-friendly features that are expected to enhance the overall user experience.

As Meta continues to invest in evolving its platforms, business owners and users alike can look forward to an increasingly innovative and secure WhatsApp environment.

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Meta Expands Monetization Options for Nigerian Creators with In-Stream Ads

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Meta has launched in-stream advertisements for creators on its platforms in Nigeria, providing a significant new revenue stream for content creators.

This development allows creators to incorporate advertisements into their new or existing videos, including live content.

Meta’s automated system identifies natural breaks in videos to place ads, or creators can manually choose their ad placements.

In-stream and live ads encompass various formats, including pre-roll ads that play before a video starts, mid-roll ads that break into the video, and image ads that appear below the video.

There are also after-roll ads that play following the video content. Creators must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as having a minimum of 5,000 followers, to utilize in-stream ads.

This feature is a part of Meta’s broader effort to enhance monetization opportunities on its platforms. According to a report by NapoleonCat, Nigeria has over 50 million Facebook users.

With the introduction of in-stream ads, Nigerian content creators can now monetize their content more effectively, having previously been excluded from such monetization unless they operated from eligible countries.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, announced the feature would go live in June during a visit to Nigeria in March.

“Monetization won’t be limited to just Instagram. Nigerian creators eligible to use our monetization products will be able to also monetize on Facebook as well,” Clegg stated.

Meta confirmed this development in a statement on Monday, saying in-stream ads on Facebook and Facebook ads on reels are the two new monetization features for eligible creators in Nigeria and Ghana.

These features will enable creators to earn money by crafting original videos and cultivating a community.

Moon Baz, Global Partnerships Lead for Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey at Meta, said “Every day, we’re inspired by the incredible African creators who use Facebook to tell their stories, connect with others, and bring people together.

“This expansion will empower eligible creators in the vibrant creative industry across Nigeria and Ghana to earn money while setting the bar high for creativity across the world and making Meta’s family of apps the one-stop-shop for all creators.”

In-stream ads can be played before, during, or after on-demand videos, whether pre-recorded content or a recording of a previous live stream.

Types of in-stream ads include pre-roll ads (which play before a video starts), mid-roll ads (which play during videos), image ads (static image ads that display beneath the content), and post-roll ads (ads which appear at the end of videos).

Meta also introduced ads on Facebook Reels, integrating seamlessly into original Reels and enabling creators to get paid based on the performance of their original reels while entertaining fans.

This move by Meta is set to revolutionize content creation in Nigeria, allowing creators to harness the power of their platforms more effectively for financial gain.

The introduction of these monetization features marks a significant step forward in supporting the creative economy in Nigeria and beyond.

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Nigerian Blogger VeryDarkMan Arrested Again by Police

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Martins Vincent Otse, widely known as VeryDarkMan, a popular social media influencer and blogger, was rearrested by the Nigerian police on Sunday.

The arrest, orchestrated under the direction of Commissioner of Police Benneth Igwe, has sparked significant controversy and debate across social media platforms.

According to Otse’s lawyer, Deji Adeyanju, the arrest occurred after Otse exposed an individual allegedly involved in defrauding a Nigerian living abroad.

Adeyanju took to his X account to voice his concerns, stating, “Our client, @thatverydarkman, has just been arrested by the police on the instruction of CP Igwe for exposing someone who allegedly duped a Nigerian abroad. Instead of the police to arrest the person alleged to have duped someone, they arrested VDM on allegation of defamation.”

The influencer’s arrest follows a recent release from police custody. On June 10, 2024, a Federal High Court in Abuja granted Otse bail, which he satisfied, leading to his subsequent release.

This latest arrest marks a continuation of his legal troubles, stemming from his online activities and the content he shares with his followers.

Previously, on May 22, 2024, SaharaReporters revealed that VeryDarkMan had been arraigned on five counts related to cyberstalking.

The police prosecution team requested additional time to respond to the application, a request granted by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court.

During the court proceedings, the police sought to have Otse remanded in prison.

However, his legal team successfully argued for him to remain in police custody, leading to his detainment at the National Cybercrime Centre.

This arrest raises important questions about the balance between freedom of speech and legal boundaries in Nigeria.

Many supporters argue that VeryDarkMan is being unjustly targeted for his efforts to highlight and expose fraudulent activities that affect Nigerians, both at home and abroad.

Critics, however, believe that the manner in which he conducts his exposes can sometimes verge on defamation, warranting legal scrutiny.

The controversy surrounding VeryDarkMan’s arrest highlights broader concerns about the use of legal mechanisms to silence voices of dissent and those who seek to hold others accountable.

As this case continues to unfold, it will be closely watched by both legal experts and the general public, keen to see how it impacts the landscape of social media influence and accountability in Nigeria.

For now, VeryDarkMan remains in police custody, and his legal team is expected to file for another bail application while preparing to defend against the allegations of defamation.

The outcome of this case could set a significant precedent for how digital activism and online speech are treated under Nigerian law.

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Norwegian Watchdog Slams Meta for Cumbersome Opt-Out Process in AI Training Plans

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a new legal challenge in Norway over its plans to utilize user images and posts to train artificial intelligence (AI) models.

The Norwegian Consumer Council has lodged a complaint, criticizing Meta’s cumbersome and deceptive opt-out process, which it argues breaches stringent EU data protection regulations.

The Council’s statement on Thursday highlighted that Meta’s method for allowing users to opt out of data collection for AI training is overly complicated and intentionally confusing.

“The process to opt-out breaches strict EU data protection rules and has been made deliberately cumbersome by using deceptive design patterns and vague wording,” the Council said.

This isn’t Meta’s first run-in with European regulators regarding data privacy. The tech giant has previously faced multiple complaints for allegedly failing to obtain proper consent from users before collecting their data to target advertisements.

Also, the European Union’s top court has warned Meta about safeguarding public information on users’ sexual orientation from being used for personalized advertising.

“We are urging the Data Protection Authority to assess the legality of Meta’s practices and to ensure that the company is operating in compliance with the law,” stated Inger Lise Blyverket, head of the Norwegian Consumer Council.

The complaint was prepared by the European Center for Digital Rights and will be submitted to the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, as well as other European data protection authorities.

Due to Meta’s EU base in Dublin, the Irish Data Protection Commission will serve as the lead authority in this matter.

The outcome of this complaint could have significant implications for how Meta, and other tech companies, handle user data within the EU.

Meta’s use of user data for training AI has raised significant privacy concerns. Critics argue that without clear and straightforward consent mechanisms, users are often unaware of how their data is being used.

This latest complaint underscores the ongoing tension between big tech companies and European regulators striving to enforce robust privacy standards.

The Norwegian Consumer Council’s action reflects a growing impatience with tech giants’ data practices, emphasizing the need for transparency and user control.

As AI technologies continue to advance, ensuring ethical and lawful data usage remains a critical challenge for both companies and regulators.

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