Facebook Introduces Native GIF Support in Comments on iOS

Facebook is today rolling out a long-awaited feature within its iOS app, which will allow users to post GIFs directly into comments using a native GIF button. To share a GIF, users will find the button sitting next to the emoji button in the text field of the Facebook comment window, and from there they can search for a GIF by typing, horizontally scroll through the results, and tap to share.


The company said that the update is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the GIF format, which was created by Steve Wilhite on June 15, 1987. The celebration will also include exclusive GIFs in collaboration with popular service GIPHY, and a user survey that will appear on Facebook's feed that intends to put to rest the GIF pronunciation debate once and for all. In 2013, Wilhite said the word is pronounced with a soft g, or "JIF," but many users continue to use the hard g alternative.

Facebook said that GIFs in comments will debut today "for all people on Facebook globally," so it should begin appearing across mobile devices and on the web soon. Facebook is available to download on the iOS App Store for free [Direct Link].

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Facebook Introduces Native GIF Support in Comments on iOS

Facebook is today rolling out a long-awaited feature within its iOS app, which will allow users to post GIFs directly into comments using a native GIF button. To share a GIF, users will find the button sitting next to the emoji button in the text field of the Facebook comment window, and from there they can search for a GIF by typing, horizontally scroll through the results, and tap to share.


The company said that the update is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the GIF format, which was created by Steve Wilhite on June 15, 1987. The celebration will also include exclusive GIFs in collaboration with popular service GIPHY, and a user survey that will appear on Facebook's feed that intends to put to rest the GIF pronunciation debate once and for all. In 2013, Wilhite said the word is pronounced with a soft g, or "JIF," but many users continue to use the hard g alternative.

Facebook said that GIFs in comments will debut today "for all people on Facebook globally," so it should begin appearing across mobile devices and on the web soon. Facebook is available to download on the iOS App Store for free [Direct Link].

Tag: Facebook

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Facebook Introduces Native GIF Support in Comments on iOS

Facebook is today rolling out a long-awaited feature within its iOS app, which will allow users to post GIFs directly into comments using a native GIF button. To share a GIF, users will find the button sitting next to the emoji button in the text field of the Facebook comment window, and from there they can search for a GIF by typing, horizontally scroll through the results, and tap to share.


The company said that the update is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the GIF format, which was created by Steve Wilhite on June 15, 1987. The celebration will also include exclusive GIFs in collaboration with popular service GIPHY, and a user survey that will appear on Facebook's feed that intends to put to rest the GIF pronunciation debate once and for all. In 2013, Wilhite said the word is pronounced with a soft g, or "JIF," but many users continue to use the hard g alternative.

Facebook said that GIFs in comments will debut today "for all people on Facebook globally," so it should begin appearing across mobile devices and on the web soon. Facebook is available to download on the iOS App Store for free [Direct Link].

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Facebook Signs Deals With ESL and MLB in Ongoing Streaming Video Push

After its first sports-related streams went live early last year, focusing on soccer and hockey, Facebook this week has made inroads into two new categories that will bring fans of eSports and baseball both live and on-demand content (via The Wall Street Journal).

Facebook already had deals with five eSports teams who published live and on-demand videos to the platform, but this week the company made a bigger deal with ESL, originally known as the Electronic Sports League, an organizer of eSports competitions. For those unfamiliar, eSports coverage follows players throughout a variety of competitive-focused video games, most popularly including titles like StarCraft II, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and Overwatch, among others.


In a blog post announcing the deal, ESL confirmed that fans will be able to watch all IEM and ESL One events in up to six different languages, and a few national championship and online leagues, on ESL Facebook pages. The partnership is also bringing an exclusive new weekly show to Facebook that will allow viewers to comment and interact with the video stream while "highlighting up and coming players."

In total there will be 30 hours of weekly ESEA Rank S streams, a weekly half hour show hosted by Mark “Boq” Wilson, and more coming down the line. The broadcasts will start in June with the Counter-Strike-focused Rank S matches, and eventually grow to include videos of player interviews, competition commentary, and more all streamed on Facebook.

Currently, the most popular destinations for ESL-backed matches are Twitch and YouTube. Notably, the deal with Facebook is said to not interfere with ESL posting and streaming on other platforms simultaneously. Still, Facebook is said to be looking to build an "ecosystem" of game streams that convince gamers to tune into the social network over its live streaming rivals.
Facebook Inc. is paying professional videogame teams and others in the esports industry to post videos on the social network, part of a shift in strategy to deliver more-premium programming to the company’s nearly two billion monthly users.

Under the deals signed with Facebook, esports partners must produce a minimum number of hours of video for the social network, and in most cases the partners are allowed to simultaneously publish to rival platforms such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
In addition, Facebook and Major League Baseball have announced a deal of their own that will bring 20 live-streamed Friday night MLB games to Facebook during the 2017 season, located on MLB's Facebook page. The games will be free for any United States-based Facebook user, and the first game will broadcast tonight, May 19, with the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds facing off.

Facebook has long been pushing into video content, from setting the groundwork by testing autoplay videos with sound in its mobile app, to most recently gearing up to debut original TV shows directly within the social network. Over time, Facebook's move to more "premium" video content is said to gradually gain precedence over live and recorded video from users.
People scrolling through Facebook’s news feed are more likely to watch polished videos with audio turned on, making them potentially lucrative vehicles for ads, analysts say. Such content increasingly will appear in news feeds over off-the-cuff live videos from users, as Facebook wants to be seen as a hub for long-form video.
Streaming and on-demand video is becoming an area of interest for other social networks besides Facebook, with Snapchat recently being rumored to launch a collection of 3-5 minute TV shows within its mobile app. Twitter has been the home of sports, news, and entertainment video streams for a while now, and most recently revealed plans to launch a full, always-on network of news shows in partnership with Bloomberg.

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Facebook Messenger Redesign Makes it Easier to Navigate, Find Online Friends, and Play Games

Facebook today revealed a new redesign coming to its standalone Facebook Messenger app for iOS and Android, with subtle UI changes that emphasize new features like games, while making it easier to see which friends are online and what notifications have been missed (via TechCrunch).

The main UI addition is the introduction of three new tabs atop the app for messages, active friends, and groups, which Facebook believes is a way to ensure that Messenger is "your hub for connecting with all the people and businesses you care about."

The company also hopes that the more prominent positioning of active friends encourages Messenger users to interact with people in real time more often, since it's easier to scroll through a list of online friends than before. The app now stretches to encompass the iOS toolbar at the top of the screen, instead of stopping below the bar as before.

Facebook Messenger's previous design (left) compared to its upcoming design (right)
These changes are designed to make Messenger simpler for you - to help you get to your contacts quickly, jump into your conversations where you left off, start new chats, and stay up to date.
The tabs at the bottom of the iOS app now have descriptions as well, including Home, Calls, People, and Games, the last of which is another new addition to Facebook Messenger. Games within the app launched earlier this month, allowing users to play a variety of single-player and turn-based games directly within the app, similar to a few gaming apps on the iOS Messages App Store.

One aspect of Facebook Messenger that's been decreased is its camera button, which used to expand above the dock at the bottom of the app but now sits flush and aligned with the rest of the tabs. Although the button now has less of an emphasis, Facebook Messenger's Snapchat clone, Messenger Day, is remaining within the app, and all of the camera's filters and masks will still be available to use. A Discover tab will be added as the app rolls out, in order to connect users with businesses, places, and services.

Facebook is also adding in iOS-like red dot badges for each new tab in Messenger, so whenever users log into the app and have a missed message or call, a badge will appear on the corresponding tab. The social network has begun doing this in its main app recently as well, urging users to tap on the new "Marketplace" and "Video" tabs with the same badges.

Facebook Messenger users can expect the changes to begin appearing on both iOS and Android this week.


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Facebook Fined $122 Million for Misleading EU Regulators Over WhatsApp Deal

The European Commission has fined Facebook $122 million for misleading regulators over its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp. The announcement came on Thursday in a press release in which the Commission said that the social media company had provided "incorrect or misleading information" when it told regulators that it would be unable to link the profiles of users on WhatsApp and Facebook.

However, WhatsApp announced in 2016 that it would start sharing some user data, including phone numbers, with Facebook, contradicting the earlier claim. In its press release, the Commission said that Facebook knew the data crossover was technically feasible in 2014 when it bought WhatsApp for $22 billion, but that it had stated otherwise when asked by merger regulators.

"When Facebook notified the acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, it informed the Commission that it would be unable to establish reliable automated matching between Facebook users' accounts and WhatsApp users' accounts. It stated this both in the notification form and in a reply to a request of information from the Commission. However, in August 2016, WhatsApp announced updates to its terms of service and privacy policy, including the possibility of linking WhatsApp users' phone numbers with Facebook users' identities.

The Commission has found that, contrary to Facebook's statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users' identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility."
The ruling by the Commission will not have any impact on its decision to rubber stamp the acquisition, and remains separate from data protection investigations that are currently ongoing, the EC explained in the press release. The separate investigations involve historical data collection of WhatsApp users in Germany, the U.K., and Italy. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:
"Today's decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information. And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook. The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts."
Facebook responded to the decision in a statement published on its website on Thursday. The company said it had "acted in good faith" during its communications with the EC, and claimed that it had attempted to provide "accurate information at every turn".

"The errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review," the statement reads. "Today's announcement brings this matter to a close."


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Facebook to Debut Original TV Programs as Early as Next Month

Facebook is actively developing around two dozen television shows with plans to premiere some of them in mid-June, according to a report on Saturday.

The social media company has big-budget marquee shows geared towards a TV audience in the works, alongside a tier of less expensive shows that will span about 5 to 10 minutes, according to sources who spoke to Business Insider.

The news comes amid an apparent frenzy of similar plans by companies like Amazon, Snap, and Apple, as the digital rivals compete for a piece of the emerging online video programming market.

According to the report, Facebook aims to play a more hands-on role in controlling the content that its nearly 2 billion members see on the social network. To this end, the company considers high-quality, scripted video as an important feature that will help it retain users, particularly a younger demographic that spends an increasing amount of time on the rival Snapchat network.

Facebook also hopes to attract big sponsors typically associated with traditional TV networks, but a question hovers over whether users will consider video that autoplays in Facebook's news feed as a destination for viewing longer-form content.

The report goes on to explain that a virtual reality dating show from Condé Nast is among the content that Facebook has in the pipeline. "A-list celebrities" are said to be in talks to appear in other shows, with one major star already having agreed to a deal.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has referred in the past to his desire to lure users to the social network with "episodic content". The latest information on the company's plans comes just a day after YouTube revealed it would be developing free-to-view original content supported by ads.

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Facebook Messenger’s Instant Games Now Rolling Out Worldwide, New Features Added

Facebook's Instant Games feature, first introduced in November, is now available worldwide. Along with expanding Instant Games worldwide, Facebook is also introducing new functionality first announced at its F8 conference, including turn-based gameplay and additional games.

Turn-based gameplay has been a highly requested Instant Games feature. Prior to today, games were single player, with Facebook relying on challenges to engage a user's friends and family, but now, two people can play games like Words With Friends with each other. Leaderboards, tournaments, and more engaging game messages delivered by game bots have also been bundled into the update.

Rich gameplay features such as turn-based games (our most requested feature) can also weave in leaderboards and tournaments, and offer more visually engaging and customizable game messages during play. Game bots help re-engage players by calling out new game options and encouraging competition with updates on the leaderboards.
Facebook Messenger now features 50 Instant Games to play (depending on location), including EverWing, Words With Friends, Solitaire, Pac-Man, Bingo, Snake, and more.

According to Facebook, Instant Games for Messenger will roll out over the next few weeks worldwide for both iOS and Android.

Facebook Messenger can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Facebook Tests Related Articles Fact-Checking Update in Ongoing Quest to Combat Fake News

Facebook product manager Sara Su today shared a blog post that highlights a test launching on the company's iOS and Android apps, consisting of an update to the "Related Articles" feature found beneath posts shared by your friends and family.

For users included in the update, Related Articles will now highlight differing perspectives from separate publications on the same subject mentioned in the parent article, namely "including articles by third-party fact-checkers."

This marks Facebook's newest leg in its anti-"Fake News" quest, which it began earlier in April by educating its users on the subject with a "tips for spotting false news" gateway that sat atop the Facebook app for a few days. With today's launch of the Related Articles test, Su mentioned that Facebook users will now have more tools at their disposal to see a "complete picture of a story or topic" before they even click on the original story.

One of our main goals is to support an informed community on Facebook. This includes helping people have conversations about the news and giving people more ways to see a more complete picture of a story or topic.

Today, we’re beginning to test Related Articles that might appear before you read an article shared in News Feed. These additional articles, which appear for topics many people are talking about on Facebook, will appear in a unit below the link. That should provide people easier access to additional perspectives and information, including articles by third-party fact-checkers.
The Related Articles test is "one of many tests" that Facebook is working on to improve the service's reputation with rampant fake news sharing, an issue that has been on the rise since before the U.S. presidential election last year. When Facebook launched the educational tool for spotting false news, Google also debuted a "Fact Check" label in search results for all countries.

The problem reached such heights earlier this year that Apple CEO Tim Cook called it "one of today's chief problems," while Eddy Cue said that Apple itself is "trying to do some things in Apple News" that would address fake news directly.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Facebook Working on Tech That Will Let You Type Texts, Emails, and Status Updates Using Your Brain

During its F8 Developers Conference in San Jose, California this week, social media company Facebook revealed an ongoing project in which it aims to launch a product that will allow users to send emails, texts, and post status updates using only their thoughts (via Reuters).

Conducted in a new wing it calls "Building 8," Facebook said that any final hardware launch is a few years away, but it's believed that the company is looking at the new product as a way to diversify its income so it might not have to rely so heavily on advertising revenue.


Former Google executive and DARPA director Regina Dugan is leading Facebook's new initiative, which ultimately aims to allow users to type at 100 words per minute by monitoring their brain waves. Current technology allows researchers to type at eight words per minute, but it requires a brain implant. Facebook's solution, on the other hand, will be non-invasive.

Additionally, Facebook is working on a way for users to "hear through their skin." Beyond launching as an easier way to access Facebook and other content on smartphones, both technologies could see a huge surge in users who are deaf and disabled, or act as a way to break down the language barrier. "One day, not so far away, it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish," Dugan said.

On Facebook, Dugan shared a few details about the "silent speech interface" projects:
Over the next 2 years, we will be building systems that demonstrate the capability to type at 100 wpm by decoding neural activity devoted to speech. Just as you take many photos and decide to share some of them, so too, you have many thoughts and decide to share some of them in the form of the spoken word. It is these words, words that you have already decided to send to the speech center of your brain, that we seek to turn into text. And unlike other approaches, ours will be focused on developing a non-invasive system that could one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or a new means for input to AR. Even something as simple as a ‘yes/no’ brain click, or a ‘brain mouse’ would be transformative.

We also described a system that may one day allow you to hear through your skin. You have 2 square meters of skin on your body, packed with sensors, and wired to your brain. In the 19th century, Braille taught us that we could interpret small bumps on a surface as language. Since then many techniques have emerged that illustrate our brain’s ability to reconstruct language from components. Today we demonstrated an artificial cochlea of sorts and the beginnings of a new a ‘haptic vocabulary’.
And we’re just getting started…
Other products and initiatives mentioned during the F8 conference included "clear, fashionable AR glasses that don’t obscure eyes," internet connectivity in disaster zones, and a pair of new three-dimensional cameras. These last few projects are said to be more near term, while the thought-to-text and skin-listening technology are both "years away" from an end-user launch.

When asked if Facebook has any plans to build a voice assistant of its own for its iOS and Android apps, David Marcus, Facebook's VP of messaging products, told Variety this week, "We are not working on that actively right now." The company is instead focusing on bolstering its chat bot, "M" for Facebook Messenger, because it believes that users are more inclined to use text inputs to control their smartphones over their voice, particularly in crowded public situations.

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