Video-sharing social networking firm, Tik Tok, seems to have more competition as Facebook has rolled out its own version of the product in the United States and more than 50 other countries on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
The social media platform called Reels is a feature within its popular Instagram app and it is embedded with a new short-form video service. Reels allows users to create 15-second clips, like TikTok, and share them publicly or with friends within the Instagram app.
The introduction of this new service, Reels, is coming at the time that TikTok is facing a lot of scrutiny in the United States and days after Tech giant, Microsoft said it was in talks to buy TikTok’s US operations from China’s ByteDance.
ByteDance, acting under pressure from the US government, has agreed to divest parts of TikTok due to threats of being banned by the Trump administration.
With the launch of Reels, the dispute between Facebook and TitTok will get worse with each of them labelling the other as a threat. The 2 social media firms are eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have been using TikTok for the past 2 years.
Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 before it subsequently moved to France, Germany and India. India was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month due to a border dispute with the Chinese government. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso, but its acceptability was quite low.
Facebook, owner of Instagram, has a poor track record of cloning popular social media apps. The company has had much better success adding popular features from rivals into Instagram and the regular Facebook app, like when it added the Stories feature based on Snapchat.
The similarities between the 2 firms have led the Chief Executive Officer of TikTok, Kevin Mayer, to refer to Facebook’s Reel as a copycat product that will make use of Instagram’s enormous existing user base after their other copycat service, Lasso, failed quickly.
The vice president of products at Instagram, Vishal Shah, acknowledged the similarities of both services in a video conference call with reporters on Tuesday, saying that inspiration for the products comes from everywhere including Facebook’s teams and the ecosystem in general.
The company said that Reels gives people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take centre stage.
Instagram has no immediate plans of offering advertising or other ways for users to make money through Reels, although it recruited young online stars to test the product ahead of launch.
Facebook’s Instagram is launching Reels at a vulnerable time for its biggest competitor, TikTok. Microsoft has since emerged as the frontrunner to acquire a majority stake in TikTok’s US operations, following their divestment plans and could conclude talks within 3 weeks.
Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for best carbon capture technology
Elon Musk has announced a donation of $100 million prize money for the best technology that can capture carbon dioxide.
Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk on Thursday took to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for the development of the “best” carbon capture technology.
Elon Musk wrote in a tweet, “Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology,” details next week.
Carbon capture technology is designed to prevent the release of CO2 generated through conventional power generation and industrial production processes by injecting the CO2 into suitable underground storage reservoirs.
According to Reuters, “Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air.”
Since the tweet was shared, it has garnered thousands of responses from people because of the jaw-dropping cash prize. A lot of people have started sharing their carbon capture ideas.
The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets.
Newly-sworn-in U.S. President, Joe Biden has pledged to accelerate the development of carbon capture technology as part of his sweeping plan to tackle climate change. On Thursday, he named Jennifer Wilcox, an expert in carbon removal technologies, as the principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Besides Tesla, Elon also heads rocket company SpaceX and Neuralink, a startup that is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect the human brain to computers.
Google threatens to remove its search engine from Australia due to media code
Google has threatened to remove its search engine from Australia due to the media code introduced by the government.
Google said that it will disable its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a media code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay local media companies for sharing their content.
The code requires Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach an agreement over the value of their content within three months.
It also requires the platforms to give the news businesses 14 days’ notice of algorithm changes, and non-discrimination provisions have been put in place to stop the tech giants from taking retaliatory action such as removing content or punishing organisations that participate in the code.
Mel Silva, Google Australia and New Zealand VP told Australia’s Senate Economics Legislation Committee today that Google would shut off the search in Australia if the government’s proposed media bargaining code becomes law. According to her, “The code’s arbitration model with bias criteria presents an unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google”
Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Alphabet Inc-owned Google and social media giant Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.
Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison said Australia would not respond to the threats as news media companies fired back at suggestions their content did not add value to the platforms. “Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government, and that’s how things work here in Australia,” he said. “People who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”
What you should know
- Google’s threats follow similar remarks made by Facebook Australia’s managing director, Will Easton in September, who announced plans to remove news articles from the social media’s main app if the media code is passed by Parliament.
- To avoid the operation of the code, Google and Facebook have no option but to cease linking to news altogether. If Google can’t reliably separate news results from other search results, then logically it may have to pull its entire search service from Australia.
- Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant reached a content-payment deal with some French news publishers.
- This new media code will affect millions of Australians who use Google Search and Facebook every month.
Facebook Oversight Board to review decision to suspend Trump’s account
The decision to suspend Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be examined by an oversight board.
Facebook’s Oversight Board has received a proposal to revisit the decision to indefinitely suspend former US President, Donald Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram.
On January 7, Facebook suspended Trump’s account indefinitely, a decision reached when he incited a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving the country shaken.
Nick Clegg, Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications said that the circumstances around Trump’s suspension was an unprecedented set of events that called for unprecedented action and also explained why the Oversight Board would review the case.
“Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: A U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy,” Clegg said. “This has never happened before — and we hope it will never happen again.”
The oversight board was established last year to make the final call on some of the most difficult content decisions Facebook makes. It is an independent body and its decisions are binding — they can’t be overruled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook. The board itself is made up of experts and civic leaders from around the world with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
According to the Oversight Board, a five-member panel will evaluate the case soon with a decision planned within 90 days. Members will decide whether the content involved in this case violated Facebook’s Community Standards and values. They will also consider whether Facebook’s removal of the content respected international human rights standards, including freedom of expression.
Trump’s case is a big moment for how impactful the board’s decisions will really wind up being. If the board overturns Facebook’s decision, that decision would likely kick up a new firestorm of interest around Trump’s Facebook account, even as the former president recedes from the public eye.
What you should know
- Following the violent attack of the US Capitol building by Trump supporters, Facebook announced the suspension of Trump’s account indefinitely, on allegations of inciting his supporters.
- YouTube also suspended Trump’s channel and removed new content uploaded by Trump’s campaign, citing potential threats of violence.
- Twitter announced it has permanently suspended Trump, citing the risk of further incitement of violence.
- Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of Twitter, in his statement, said that the decision to ban Trump from the social network was the right decision, but one that sets a dangerous precedent.