Facebook’s ‘GlobalCoin’ cryptocurrency to launch in 2020, report claims

Facebook plans to launch its cryptocurrency by the first quarter of next year, reports BBC News. The company is expected to reveal more details about the currency this summer, before testing begins later in 2019. The currency, which is being referred to internally as “GlobalCoin,” will reportedly be available in around a dozen countries at launch, where it’s expected to offer people affordable and secure payments without the need for a bank account.

The currency will need to overcome numerous technical and regulatory hurdles before it can be launched. According to BBC News, last month Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with the Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney to discuss the opportunities and risks of the planned digital currency. However, Facebook might have a harder job on its hands in India, which has taken a hostile attitude towards virtual currencies. India is reported to be a key focus for the new currency, where Facebook hopes it will allow Indian workers abroad to send money back home to their families using WhatsApp.

The company has been in talks with the US Treasury, as well as money transfer firms like Western Union, to discuss operational and regulatory issues relating to the cryptocurrency.

We first heard about Facebook’s cryptocurrency ambitions last May, when it was reported that David Marcus, who previously served on the board of directors for Coinbase and was president of PayPal between 2012 and 2014, was leading the company’s new blockchain division.

Reports suggest that the currency could be designed to be a “stablecoin,” with a value pegged to US currency in an attempt to minimize volatility. However, even without the volatility associated with most cryptocurrencies, Facebook will still have a lot of work to do to get its users to trust GlobalCoin after suffering years of scandals that have tarnished its public image.

[“source=theverge”]

Zuckerberg Barely Talked About Facebook’s Biggest Global Problem

Zuckerberg Barely Talked About Facebook's Biggest Global Problem

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Problem is misuse of the site outside North America or Western Europe
  • Lives are literally on the line in these places
  • This went almost unmentioned on Capitol Hill

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg cut an awkward figure this week as he appeared at much-anticipated congressional hearings, looking visibly uncomfortable in a navy suit rather than his normal hoodie. His demeanour earned plenty of laughs on social media, but the real attention was focused on two things: the data firm Cambridge Analytica and alleged Russian trolls.

According to a transcript of Zuckerberg’s appearance before the Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary committees, Russia was mentioned 38 times and Cambridge Analytica 72 times on Tuesday. The next day, as the House Energy and Commerce Committee took its turn, Russia was mentioned 34 times, Cambridge Analytica 50 times.

But Facebook’s most vexing global problem is the misuse and abuse of the site in countries outside North America or Western Europe. Facebook is not just a privacy issue in these countries – in some cases, lives are literally on the line. Those problems, however, went almost unmentioned on Capitol Hill.

Think about it this way: Many Americans believe it took only 90 bored social media consultants in St. Petersburg to help sway voters toward Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Now imagine what could happen if something similar happened in one of the many countries where Facebook is synonymous with the Internet itself.

In such countries, people and groups – even the state itself – can have an interest in spreading misinformation to inflame domestic tensions. And because many are smaller, poorer countries, they are almost insignificant to Facebook’s business model and receive scant attention from its Menlo Park, California, headquarters.

There are plenty of real-world examples already. The obvious one is Myanmar (also called Burma), a Southeast Asian nation of just under 53 million people and a gross domestic product per capita just one-fiftieth of America’s. Burma emerged in 2011 from decades of military dictatorship, but it has been racked by ethnic tensions ever since. In 2017, a violent military crackdown caused more than 600,000 mostly Muslim members of the Rohingya minority group to flee to Bangladesh, leaving an unknown number of people dead.

zeynep tufekci tweeted “This one gets me the maddest. Facebook had no excuse being so negligent about Myanmar. Here’s me tweeting about it IN 2013. PEOPLE HAVE BEGGED FACEBOOK FOR YEARS TO BE PRO-ACTIVE IN BURMA/MYANMAR. Now he’s hiring ‘dozens’. This is a historic wrong.”

Civil-society and human rights organisations say that Facebook inadvertently played a key role in spreading hate speech, which fueled tensions between the Rohingya and Myanmar’s Buddhist majority. Those groups shared a presentation with key senators this week, aiming to show how Facebook was slow to deal with hate speech and misinformation on its platform even after repeated attempts to flag the dangerous content.

Zuckerberg did not mention Myanmar in his prepared remarks this week, but he was was asked about it. On Tuesday, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vt., the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, highlighted a recent comment by U.N. investigators that Facebook played a role “in inciting possible genocide” and asked why the company took so long to remove death threats toward one Muslim journalist there.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., also invoked the plight of the Rohingya in another question on Tuesday. The following day, there was only one passing mention of Myanmar.

Zuckerberg’s responses to questions about Myanmar suggested that he had sincere concerns about Facebook’s role in the country. “What’s happening in Myanmar is a terrible tragedy, and we need to do more,” Zuckerberg admitted to Leahy, using another name for Burma. But, as the Daily Beast’s Andrew Kirell noted, there was more discussion of pro-Trump YouTube stars Diamond and Silk than there was of a potential genocide half the world away.

Meanwhile, other countries facing similar Facebook problems weren’t mentioned at all. On Monday, a number of activists and independent media professionals in Vietnam had released their own open letter to Zuckerberg, complaining about account suspensions in the country. “Without a nuanced approach, Facebook risks enabling and being complicit in government censorship,” the Vietnamese groups said.

In some ways, the problems with Facebook highlighted in Vietnam and Myanmar may seem distinct – one is about content being taken down too easily, and the other is about content staying up too long. But at the core of the problem is the same criticism: Facebook doesn’t pay attention to smaller countries.

In Sri Lanka, alleged inaction by Facebook in the face of the spread of anti-Muslim hate speech even led the government to temporarily block the website in March. “[Facebook] would go three or four months before making a response,” Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s minister of telecommunications and digital infrastructure, told BuzzFeed News. “We were upset. In this incident, we had no alternative – we had to stop Facebook.”

BuzzFeed News tweeted “Ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka predate the social network.

“But we spoke to Muslims who say once Facebook became overwhelmingly popular in the country, particularly with the younger generation, they saw anti-Muslim stories being amplified in a way they hadn’t been before.”

Such drastic measures are clearly not ideal – indeed, they raise their own questions about censorship and free speech. But Facebook’s inability to stop real-world problems, either because of language barriers or a lack of knowledge about local contexts, is a common criticism around the world.

To his credit, Zuckerberg acknowledged the need to hire more people with local language skills and work with civic organisations to identify potential problems quickly. “The definition of hate speech or things that can be racially coded to incite violence are very language-specific, and we can’t do that with just English speakers for people around the world,” he said this week.

The Facebook CEO even seemed to suggest on Wednesday that his company was working on being able to take down hate speech like that identified in Myanmar within 24 hours – a passing comment that many organisations noted with hope.

But the big question is how to do that on Facebook’s gargantuan scale. The company has about 25,000 employees but an estimated 2 billion or more daily users. Facebook may need to hire thousands more people to truly deal with global issues. Small wonder that Zuckerberg emphasised the role artificial intelligence could play in helping solve these problems in five or 10 years’ time.

While many will want Facebook to work faster than that, such proposals are probably welcome news for many Facebook users and advocacy groups. But for corrupt governments and other groups who worked with them – including consulting groups such as Cambridge Analytica – it could mean their ability to spread hate and division will no longer be a feature of Facebook, but a bug.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Hugo Barra Is Leaving Xiaomi to Join Facebook’s Oculus Team ‘To Lead All VR Efforts’

Hugo Barra Is Leaving Xiaomi to Join Facebook's Oculus Team 'To Lead All VR Efforts'

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mark Zuckerberg announced the move via Facebook
  • Barra announced his departure from Xiaomi earlier this week
  • Zuck says VR and AR ‘will be the next major computing platform’

Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s Global Vice President who said earlier this week he is leaving the Chinese company to head back to the Silicon Valley, is joining Facebook to lead the Oculus team and all of the social networking company’s virtual reality efforts, Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday.

“I’m excited that Hugo Barra is joining Facebook to lead all of our virtual reality efforts, including our Oculus team,” Zuckerberg said in his Facebook post.

“Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform. They’ll enable us to experience completely new things and be more creative than ever before. Hugo is going to help build that future, and I’m looking forward to having him on our team,” he added.

Sharing the Facebook co-founder’s post, Hugo Barra wrote, “I’m excited to share my next adventure as I return to Silicon Valley—in a couple of months I’ll be joining Facebook as VP of virtual reality (VPVR!) and lead the Oculus team.” He added that “Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun always says that the highest calling of an engineer is to make technology breakthroughs quickly and readily available to the widest possible spectrum of humanity. That will be my mission at Facebook and I look forward to building the future of immersive technology with Mark Zuckerberg, Brendan Trexler Iribe, Mike Schroepfer, and the visionaries in the Oculus team.”

Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer and Vice President of Global Communications Caryn Marooney commented on Hugo Barra’s post, welcoming him to the company.

Hugo Barra, who’s been the face of Xiaomi ever since he joined the company after leaving Google around three and a half years ago, announced his departure via Facebook earlier this week citing health and other personal reasons.

“What I’ve realized is that the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health.” Hugo Barra had written in the Facebook post announcing his departure from Xiaomi, “My friends, what I consider to be my home, and my life are back in Silicon Valley, which is also much closer to my family. Seeing how much I’ve left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return.”

Before joining Xiaomi, Hugo Barra was the Vice President of Product Development for Android at Google.

Tags: Hugo Barra, Xiaomi, Facebook, Mark Zuckerbeg, VR, Oculus, Virtual Reality
[“Source-Gadgets”]

Facebook’s New Insights Shares Demographics, Purchase History, More

facebook audience insights2

Whether you’re buying ads or doing sponsored posts on Facebook, a new version of insights claims to provide a better idea of the audience you are targeting. The new Facebook Audience Insights offers more audience specifics than previous versions, the company explained recently.

Those Insights have generally been confined to such metrics as “likes”, “reach” and “engagement.” “Likes” are fairly self-explanatory, and refer to the number of visitors who have “liked” your page. “Reach” refers to the number of people who see your content, both paid and organic and “engagement” is a measure of how many people “liked”, “shared” and commented on it.

But what Facebook hasn’t delivered up until now is more detail about the type of visitors who are being reached by your message. And this is something marketers have been waiting a long time for, apparently.

In a recent post on Facebook’s official Product News Blog announcing the roll out of the new Audience Insights, the company explained:

“The more customer insights you have, the better you’re equipped to deliver meaningful messages to people. That’s the thinking behind Facebook Audience Insights, a new tool designed to help marketers learn more about their target audiences, including aggregate information about geography, demographics, purchase behavior and more.”

facebook audience insights

According to Facebook, the new Insights will tell marketers more details about their audience including:

  • Age, gender, lifestyle, relationship status, occupation and even the size of their household.
  • Past purchase behavior and whether they tend to purchase in a brick and mortar store or online.
  • The top Facebook Pages they like based on category.
  • Their location and the language they speak.
  • How frequently they use Facebook and what devices they use when visiting.

You can even view different target audiences for your marketing message ranging from all the people on Facebook, to all the people connected to your pages or all the people in your “custom audiences” (a measurement of your existing customers on the site).

Facebook insists the information is all aggregated and anonymous to protect users’ privacy, so you won’t get any information that helps you identify specific customers.

However, the information provided in the latest version of Facebook Audience Insights seems to go well beyond what the site has offered marketers and advertisers before.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]