Google Tries Shaming Apple Into Adopting RCS With #getthemessage Campaign

Google is kicking off a new publicity campaign today to pressure Apple into adopting RCS, the cross-platform messaging protocol that’s meant to be a successor to the aging SMS and MMS standards. The search giant has a new “Get The Message” website that lays out a familiar set of arguments for why Apple should support the standard, revolving around smoother messaging between iPhone and Android devices. Naturally, there’s also a #GetTheMessage hashtag to really get those viral juices flowing.

For most people, the problems Google describes are most familiar in the form of the green bubbles that signify messages to Android users in Apple’s Messages app. While the iPhone app uses Apple’s own iMessage service to send texts between iPhones (complete with modern features like encryption, support for group chats, and high-quality image and video transfers), they revert to old-fashioned SMS and MMS when texting an Android user. Not only are these messages shown in a color-clashing green bubble but also they break many of the modern messaging features people have come to rely on.

“iMessage should not benefit from bullying. Texting should bring us together, and the solution exists. Let’s fix this as one industry. https://t.co/18k8RNGQw4— Android (@Android) January 8, 2022

To fix this, Google has been dropping a series of not-so-subtle hints in recent months for Apple to support RCS, which offers most (though not all) of the features of iMessage in a protocol that’s usable across both iOS and Android. The company said it hoped “every mobile operating system… upgrades to RCS” onstage at its annual developer conference this year as well as in various tweets over the months.

The iPhone maker has everything to gain from the current situation, which has a lock-in effect for customers. It provides seamless communication (but only between iMessage users) and turns Android’s green bubbles into subtle class markers. It’s why Apple execs admitted in internal emails that bringing iMessage to Android would “hurt [Apple] more than help us.

Google’s arguments for RCS haven’t been helped by the standard’s sluggish and piecemeal rollout, which was initially reliant on carriers to add support. But the situation has improved since Google effectively took charge in 2019, meaning that RCS is now easily available almost everywhere worldwide. This year even saw the world’s largest Android manufacturer, Samsung, switch to using Google’s own RCS-compatible Messages app by default in its flagship Galaxy S22 range.

RCS has also slowly been gaining feature parity with iMessage’s encryption. It now supports end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in one-on-one chats, and E2EE in group chats is due later this year.

So, will Google’s new publicity campaign finally be the thing that pushes Apple to see the light and roll out RCS support on its phones? Given the huge incentives Apple has for not playing ball, I have to say the search giant’s chances don’t look good. At this point, Apple adopting RCS feels about as likely as the US collectively ditching iMessage and moving to an encrypted cross-platform messaging service like WhatsApp or Signal.

Source: Google tries shaming Apple into adopting RCS with #getthemessage campaign – The Verge

Critics by Derrek Lee

Google’s new “Get the Message” campaign consists of a page on the company’s Android website listing all the reasons why Apple should “fix texting” by supporting RCS in iMessage. It points out how Apple’s reliance on outdated SMS and MMS when texting non-Apple devices leads to a series of problems, not only for Android phones but iPhone users as well.

This includes low-quality media, group chat incompatibilities, the inability to send messages over Wi-Fi, and the lack of read receipts, typing indicators, and end-to-end encryption. Google even goes so far as to say that Apple’s green bubbles are hard to read. Google points to several articles and examples on social media expressing frustration over Apple’s lack of support.

It’s definitely a story we’ve all heard before and likely one we’ll continue to hear for some time: messaging between Android and iOS is a bit of a mess. And as much as we would all like to imagine a world where iMessage came to Android, that will never happen, so we have to settle for RCS coming to iMessage. But even that seems unlikely, and this isn’t the first time Google has publicly called out Apple.

Google has tried to mitigate the messy texting situation with RCS, which sports many of the features iMessage users are used to. The company even introduced a way to translate reaction emojis across platforms, so Android users no longer receive a “Nick liked an image” message. Google has also been rolling out new Google Photos integration to send videos without any of the expected quality loss.

And Google is also working on expanding its end-to-end encryption to support group chats in Google Messages. However, Google’s efforts are pretty one-sided, at least until Apple adopts RCS in iMessage. It also doesn’t help that Google’s messaging around messaging has been confusing, to say the least. However, there are signs that the company is now trying to clean up its act by shedding its superfluous messaging apps.

That said, Apple seems pretty content with not supporting RCS and has remained mostly silent on the matter. Court documents revealed that company executives saw iMessage as a big way to lock customers into the platform, so extending any additional support for Android was essentially a no-go.

So, while it seems unlikely that Apple will bring RCS support any time soon, at least no one can say it’s due to a lack of effort on Google’s part. Meanwhile, you can head over to the “Get the Message” website to share Google’s message on your Twitter account, complete with the #GetTheMessage hashtag.

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The WhatsApp Business Model – How Does WhatsApp Make Money?

Screenshot-2022-03-14-at-18-27-13-779593_1179282_wjhatsapp_updates.webp-WEBP-Image-700-×-400-pixels-1

What Is WhatsApp & How Does It Work?

WhatsApp is a messaging application that allows users to communicate with each other via text, audio, and video.WhatsApp can be accessed via its tablet and smartphone apps (available on Android and iOS devices) as well as its web application (called WhatsApp Web).

Users can communicate with each other individually (in private chats) or via groups. WhatsApp’s platform is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that only the users in the chat can read the messages. If users feel like sharing their special moments, they can do so via WhatsApp’s Stories feature. These moments are then displayed for 24 hours.

Apart from its consumer application, WhatsApp has also a communication tool for businesses (named WhatsApp Business). Businesses can:

  • Set up business profiles with helpful information for their customers (such as an address, email addresses, or a link to their website)
  • Labeling contacts for better categorization
  • Automated messages and quick replies
  • Broadcasts (similar to a newsletter)

The WhatsApp Business tool is geared toward small businesses. If a business has some greater scale, it can opt into using WhatsApp’s Business API. The API endpoint allows them to integrate it into their existing business software.WhatsApp is used by more than 2 billion people in over 180 countries across the globe. As such, it is the world’s largest communication platform.

The History Of WhatsApp

WhatsApp, headquartered in Mountain View, California, was founded in 2009 by Jan Koum and Brian Acton.Koum was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the 1970s. He spent the transformative years of his childhood in Fastiv, a small town just outside of the Ukrainian capital.Being of Jewish descent, Koum and his family often became the subject of anti-Semitic behavior. On top of that, the Soviet government was notorious for spying on its citizen, leaving the family with no room for privacy to express the predicament they felt being in.

In 1992, at the age of 16, Koum and his mother were allowed to immigrate to the United States where they ended up in Mountain View. Unfortunately, his dad was never allowed to enter the states and eventually died in 1997.The mother-son-duo spent their first few years in a small two-bedroom apartment provided via government assistance. To make ends meet, Koum’s mother took up a babysitting job while Jan worked as a grocery store clerk.A few years later, his mom was diagnosed with cancer and they continued to live off her disability allowance.

By that time, Koum was already head deep into computers. He became a self-taught programmer by purchasing manuals from used bookstores and returning them when he was done reading (to save money).In the mid-1990s, he enrolled himself at San Jose State University to pursue a degree in Computer Science. Koum ended up joining Ernst & Young as a security tester post-graduation. In 1997, EY assigned him to work on Yahoo’s advertising system where he ended up meeting Acton.Acton’s path prior to their meeting couldn’t have been more different.

He was born and raised in Michigan where his mother ran a freight-shipping company, allowing them to live a fairly comfortable life.He ended up doing his Computer Science undergrad at Stanford and then joined Apple as a software engineer. In 1996, Acton became Yahoo’s 44th employee where he quickly climbed the corporate ladder.The pair hit it off immediately and Acton convinced Koum to apply for a role at Yahoo. 6 months later, Koum joined the internet giant as an infrastructure engineer.

He even dropped out of college (he was still attending San Jose State at the time) to completely focus on Yahoo.Their relationship deepened in the years that followed. When Koum’s mother died of cancer in 2000, Acton immediately offered his support. He’d frequently invite Koum over to his house, on skiing trips, or to ultimate Frisbee matches.While their bond became stronger throughout the years, their dissatisfaction with working at Yahoo grew alongside it.

The majority of their time at Yahoo was spent on releasing Project Panama, the firm’s long-awaited advertising platform.In the end, having worked on an advertising product for almost a decade, both Acton and Koum felt emotionally drained. Their dislike for advertising products should eventually come back to haunt them (but more on that later).In 2007, a year after the launch of Project Panama, both Acton and Koum handed in their resignation. They embarked on a year-long hiatus, traveling around South America and enjoying games of ultimate Frisbee.

Then, around the beginning of 2009, Koum purchased his first-ever iPhone. He immediately realized that the App Store, which had just launched a few months prior, would spawn a whole new generation of businesses that build on top of Apple’s ecosystem.A mutual friend of Koum introduced him to Igor Solomennikov, a Russia-based iOS developer that would help him build the product’s frontend (while Koum was responsible for the backend portion).

A few weeks later, on February 24th, 2009 (which is also Koum’s birthday), he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. WhatsApp, by the way, is short for “what’s up”, a phrase Koum found befitting for a messaging app.Over the next months, Koum spent hours upon hours programming the app. Unfortunately, a plethora of bugs caused it to continuously crash. At one point, he was even ready to call it quits. Acton’s response was fairly blunt: “You’d be an idiot to quit now,” he stated. “Give it a few more months.”Koum’s perseverance eventually paid off when Apple released push notifications in the summer of 2009.

Each time one of the app’s users changed their status, all of their contacts would get a notification.Eventually, people would start messaging each other through the app – from any place around the world. While this may sound dull in today’s hyper-connected world, WhatsApp’s introduction became a huge revelation and, for the first time, indicated the impact smartphones could have on our lives.At the time, the only free texting application was BlackBerry’s BBM, which was solely accessible to users that owned a BlackBerry device.

User growth started to snowball when Koum released an upgraded version of WhatsApp that included a messaging interface (i.e. chats). Over 250,000 users downloaded the app within a matter of days.To keep up with demand, Koum came to see Acton, who at the time was still unemployed and working on another startup idea, to convince him to join the project. When Acton used the app for the first time, he immediately realized the limitless potential that a messaging platform like WhatsApp could have.A few months later, Acton was able to convince 5 of his former colleagues at Yahoo to invest $250,000 in the startup’s first-ever seed funding round.

The funding round furthermore granted him co-founder status and a significant stake in the company.The money allowed them to hire a few more developers that would build WhatsApp products for the Android’s and BlackBerry’s operating system, respectively. Yet, they remained true to their frugal origins.The team would share a warehouse with Evernote (who’d later take over the whole building and essentially kick them out). They would wear blankets to keep them warm and used the cheapest Ikea furniture for work.What became more abstruse was that the team find it necessary to put up an office sign.

Instead, they’d tell job candidates to get to the Evernote building, walk around the back, find the unmarked door, and simply knock.A bigger problem became the startup’s largest cost pool: SMS verifications. SMS brokers like Click-A-Tell would send the messages on WhatsApp’s behalf and charge them anywhere between $0.02 to $1 depending on location.The team would occasionally change the app’s pricing structure from free to paid (equal to $1) to cover its cost. Yet, despite the fact that they charged users, WhatsApp would rise to become a top 20 app in the U.S. App Store by the beginning of 2011.

WhatsApp’s growth was solely based on word of mouth and the quality of the product they delivered. Deeply affected by their experience at Yahoo, the founders promised themselves to never derail the app with ads or other distractions. To that extent, Koum had a note in front of his desk reminding him of the exact same thing.Being on top of the App Store world and building a high-quality product put the team on the radar of a lot of Silicon Valley investors. Yet, they were rejected right from the start. Acton’s fear, at the time, was that VC funding would lead to lesser decision-making power – and investors would force them to insert ads into the application.

One investor proved to be particularly enduring. Jim Goetz, Partner at Sequoia Capital, tried to get in contact with the founders for well over 8 months – without any success. Eventually, his persisting follow-ups led to a meeting at the Red Rock Café, a famous Mountain View workspace known to be home to many startup founders.Goetz ensured the duo that he’d only act as a strategic advisor and not force them to make any business decisions they weren’t comfortable with.

In the end, Sequoia was able to lead WhatsApp’s Series A round, which netted the company $8 million.The founders made sure to use the money to the best of their ability. By 2013, WhatsApp had over 200 million monthly active users and a staff of 50 people. Sequoia would go on to invest another $50 million via WhatsApp’s Series B, which valued the company at $1.5 billion.Ironically enough, when Goetz signed the check, Acton sent him a screenshot of the firm’s account balance, which was equal to $8.2 million. They simply needed the money ”for insurance”, as Acton recalled.

Being a highly capital efficient company with a rapidly expanding user base does eventually put you on the radar. In the spring of 2012, Koum’s email inbox was hit with the following subject line:“Get together?”The recipient was no one other than Mark Zuckerberg asking the WhatsApp founder to have a chat over dinner. Over the next year, the pair got together for many more of these dinners, discussing the chances of a potential acquisition.In mid-June 2013, when WhatsApp just crossed the 300 million user mark, the founders had a scheduled meeting with Google’s Head of Android Sundar Pichai (who now serves as the company’s CEO).

Pichai would even introduce the pair to then Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page. A few days before that meeting was bound to happen, a WhatsApp employee ran into Amin Zoufonoun, Facebook’s Director of Business Development and one of the brains behind the $1 billion Instagram acquisition.He told him that Acton and Koum were supposed to meet Page in the next few days. Zoufonoun immediately went back to the office to speed up the acquisition process in order to avoid a last-minute counteroffer by Google.

Yet, the founders still attended that Google meeting but actually didn’t even receive an offer from Google.About 2 weeks after that meeting, on February 15th, 2014, Zuckerberg and Koum inked the deal. Facebook would pay $19 billion to acquire 100 percent of WhatsApp, paying $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock, and another $3 billion in stock grants if the founders would stay on at Facebook for at least 4 years. The price ended up rising to $22 billion due to the share-based components of the deal.

To make this even more of a Cinderella story, Koum signed the agreement on the doorsteps of his old welfare home in Mountain View.Furthermore, the deal would make Koum and Acton overnight billionaires. Koum would make $6.8 billion after taxes while Acton would pocket $3 billion. Lastly, Sequoia walked away with $3.5 billion, which represented a 60-fold return on the firm’s $58 million investment.Ironically enough, both Acton and Koum applied for roles at Facebook after they left Yahoo but were ultimately rejected. Now, they had not only a seat at the table but access to quasi-infinite resources.

As a result, WhatsApp was able to triple its user base to 1.5 billion within 3 years of the acquisition.On the outside, everything was looking great but the tension between Facebook and WhatsApp executives began to rise soon after.Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, as well as many other Facebook executives started to push WhatsApp’s founding team to ease the end-to-end encryption it became known for.Furthermore, they wanted to include targeted ads within the app, a concept that both Acton and Koum opposed heavily (they even had a clause in their contracts that granted them accelerated payouts if Facebook insisted to include ads).

A few disagreements between the company’s employees also popped up. For instance, Facebook employees issued their dissatisfaction about the fact that WhatApp’s desks, which were brought over from their Mountain View location (WhatsApp moved into Facebook’s headquarters after the acquisition), were larger than the standard desks Facebook employees were equipped with.WhatsApp also negotiated for nicer bathrooms and had conference rooms which permitted Facebook employees from entering.

WhatsApp, on the other end, wasn’t without fault either. When the founders were tasked with replicating Snapchat’s Story feature into WhatsApp, Acton and Koum used that assignment as an excuse to delay exploring other revenue-generating avenues.Eventually, the mounting tension between the 2 camps became irreparable. On September 17th, 2017, Acton announced he would leave WhatsApp. Koum’s departure came just 7 months after (in April 2018). Due to their premature exit, Acton and Koum gave up $900 million and $400 million in stock compensation, respectively.

To make matters worse, Acton publicly denounced Facebook, criticizing the company on how it handled its user data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. He even pushed people to stop using Facebook by publicly supporting the #DeleteFacebook movement.Facebook, that same year, was even slapped with a $122 million fine by the European Union due to providing “incorrect or misleading information” in regards to the acquisition.While all these incidents painted a gloomy picture of how miserable life as a Facebook-owned property can be, it did not seem to affect WhatsApp’s usage growth at all.

Particularly India, with its 1.37 billion inhabitants, became one of the major growth markets.WhatsApp’s popularity among Indians allowed many businesses to flourish by offering products and services to millions of smartphone users via the app’s Business tools. Unfortunately though, just like its mother company, WhatsApp became a breeding ground for spreading fake news.In 2017, 17 men were killed after false rumors of their attempts to kidnap kids from a village spread on the app.

WhatsApp introduced various measures, such as limits on message forwarding and full-page newspaper ads warning about these rumors, to combat the spread of fake news on its platform.In some instances, WhatsApp (albeit unintentionally) even caused political leaders to be ousted. In October 2019, Lebanon’s Prime Minster Saad Hariri, amidst intense public pressure, was forced to resign from his position after proposing a 20 percent tax on the first WhatsApp call users made in a day.And the bad news did not end there. In January 2021, WhatsApp announced that it would roll out a new privacy policy which forced users to share data with its parent company Facebook.

While it turned out to be a misunderstanding (Facebook already gathers WhatsApp data in an encrypted way, so user information remains private), the damage was already done.Many of its users flocked to other messaging platforms, such as Signal (as promoted in a tweet by Elon Musk), Telegram, or Viber. Initially, the company said it would remove users who wouldn’t accept the new terms. However, the company reversed its course days before the supposed go-live on May 15th, 2021.In fact, the company has now doubled down on privacy-related changes and other features that often mimic those of Telegram and such.

For instance, in June, the platform introduced multi-device support, which allows users to message on various devices at the same time. Other features include encrypted video chats as well as disappearing photos and videos (August 2021).Unfortunately, not everyone seemed to believe in WhatsApp’s noble intentions. In September 2021, Irish authorities imposed a €225 million (~$267 million) fine on WhatsApp for failing to tell some users how much data was shared with Facebook.

The fine was the second highest ever issued under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was first introduced back in May 2018.Today, WhatsApp is widely considered to be the world’s largest communication platform. Over 100 billion messages are now being exchanged on the platform – every day. WhatsApp currently employs well over 1,000 people in 6 office locations across 4 countries.

How Does WhatsApp Make Money?

WhatsApp makes money by charging medium and large enterprises for access to its Business API. But before we go into more detail, let’s take a closer look at the firm’s previous monetization efforts.As earlier stated, WhatsApp used to monetize its customers via a subscription model. Users paid $1 per year to be able to use the app. That would be equal to a $2 billion revenue run rate given WhatsApp’s 2 billion user base.In 2016, 2 years after the acquisition, Facebook decided to ditch the $1 fee.

The underlying strategy was to continue focusing on user growth and help WhatsApp become the ubiquitous leader in the messaging space.That also meant ditching any plans to insert ads into the product. Whilst Facebook’s Messenger product does offer in-app advertising, its executives have decided to work with businesses to monetize WhatsApp.In 2018, WhatsApp launched its Business API, which became the first continuous effort to monetize the app post-acquisition.

The B2B tool is free to use for small companies. Meanwhile, larger organizations have to pay whenever they send a reply 24 hours after the initial message was sent. Everything beyond the 24-hour threshold will cost anywhere between $0.05 to $0.90 per replied message.Furthermore, WhatsApp partners up with other companies, such as the cloud communication platform Twilio, to deliver its API.

Future Monetization Channels

In recent times, multiple reports have emerged about new revenue streams that WhatsApp may pursue.WhatsApp has been working on a payment product since 2018. In June 2020, it finally launched a payment service in Brazil that allowed users to pay each other (mirroring Venmo and Zelle) as well as other businesses on the platform.Unfortunately, around 10 days later, Brazil’s central bank suspended the launch, stating that it wanted to “preserve an adequate competitive environment” within its mobile payments industry.

Mastercard and Visa, WhatsApp’s payment partners, were asked to suspend any money transfer within the app.While the failed launch was a tough pill to swallow, it hasn’t stopped the company from pursuing the payment concept.In November 2020, it enabled P2P payments in India, the firm’s largest market by user count. Business payments, in which WhatsApp would receive a portion of the order value, are expected to follow in the next few months. Also, in May 2021, Brazil lifted its payment ban, adding another country to the mix.

For the longest time it had been speculated that Facebook might finally decide to put ads on WhatsApp. Will Cathcart, the Head of WhatsApp, has indicated a more native approach.Instead of advertisements pointing towards a website (like on Messenger), ads would be directed at existing WhatsApp Business accounts that sell products and services a user might need.Another possibility might be ads within WhatsApp’s Story feature. These ads would, in all likeliness, show up in between stories. Businesses would then pay WhatsApp a fee in exchange for being shown on these advertorial placements.

Lastly, it has also been speculated that WhatsApp is set to introduce business directories as well as cashback rewards. With the directory, businesses would pay WhatsApp a fee for being listed or promoted on it while cashback rewards would grant the company a portion of the purchasing price (known as a referral fee).However, due to the firm’s troubled past, it remains very timid with the monetization features it introduces.

WhatsApp Funding, Valuation & Revenue

According to Crunchbase, WhatsApp has raised a total of $60.3 million across 3 rounds of venture capital funding. The company’s only investor throughout its startup time was Sequoia Capital, with partner Jim Goetz leading negotiations.The last time WhatsApp valuation was publicly disclosed occurred during its acquisition by Facebook. The tech giant paid a whopping $19 billion to acquire a 100 percent stake in the company.Facebook has furthermore decided to not disclose any revenue it generates from WhatsApp. Instead, any revenue figures are included in the firm’s overall income figures.

By: Victor

Hi folks, my name is Viktor. A twenty-something year old who all the sudden found himself in the world of blogging.The information you can find on this website is a reflection of my lifelong experiences working in technical account management, consulting, and data analytics. My work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, Coindesk, BuzzFeed, and hundreds more……

Source: The WhatsApp Business Model – How Does WhatsApp Make Money?

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Facebook Slows Sales Growth With Apple’s Privacy Policy

Apple warned that sales growth slowed in the last quarter Of a corporation. App privacy rules continue to create uncertainty for social media companies. Facebook’s ad sales, a major source of revenue, slowed growth in the first quarter since Apple began demanding apps to ask users if they wanted to be tracked in April. This change makes it harder for advertisers to target their ads to the right audience and get information about their performance.

Facebook also announced on Monday that it will change its reporting structure to split a unit called “Facebook Reality Labs” that contains augmented reality and virtual reality products and services. This move separates the unit’s results from its core business segment, which includes its flagship Facebook platform and other apps such as Instagram. The company said its investment in Facebook Reality Labs is expected to reduce overall operating profit in 2021 by about $ 10 billion.

Revenues in the third quarter reached $ 29.01 billion, up 35% from the year-ago quarter, but below the $ 29.56 billion expected by FactSet polled analysts. This is the smallest increase since the fourth quarter of last year, well below the 52% in the first half of this year.

Advertising revenue fell slightly from the second quarter, including the largest complex market segments, the United States and Canada. European sales also declined from the previous quarter.

Facebook warned in its July earnings report that changes in privacy for Apple’s iOS operating system could compromise ad targeting capabilities in the third quarter as more people update their iPhones and iPads.Last week’s snap Ltd

Apple’s policy has accused stock prices of falling by more than 20% as earnings growth is expected to slow this quarter.

Facebook’s third-quarter earnings were up 17% to $ 9.19 billion, or $ 3.22 per share. According to the company, the number of monthly users was 3.58 billion, an increase of 12% over the previous year.

Facebook’s share price rose more than 3% in after-hours trading on Monday after the end of a regular session. The company’s stock fell 5% last week after Snap reported an advertising issue related to Apple’s changes.

Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Moffett Nathanson, said: Social media companies start a busy week of earnings for tech giants. After the bell on Tuesday, Apple and Amazon.com will report quarterly results. Ltd

Numbers scheduled for Thursday. All are expected to achieve healthy top-line growth year-over-year as they continue to embrace the digital products and services offered by consumers and businesses.

According to Jeffreys analysts, global supply chain disruptions were expected to slow Facebook’s sales growth as vendors with limited inventories cut advertising costs. Still, the investment firm said digital advertising is powerful and new advertising products from Facebook’s Instagram service will be up and running to provide a new source of revenue.

Facebook said it expects revenue to grow from $ 31.5 billion to $ 34 billion this quarter, reflecting factors such as “Apple’s iOS 14 changes continue to headwind.”

Parents of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have also tackled other challenges. This includes scrutiny of strict regulations in Washington and criticism of the company’s operations by its own supervisory board following a series of Wall Street Journal investigations called Facebook files.

Share your thoughts

What do you think about the current state of Facebook’s business? Join the conversation below.

Last week, UK competition regulators fined Facebook £ 50.5 million ($ 69.6 million worth) for violating reporting requirements while reviewing a proposal to acquire Giphy, an online provider of animated images. Facebook has separately agreed to pay a monetary penalty as part of its settlement with the US government. It accused social media companies of illegally booking lucrative jobs for migrant workers sponsored for permanent residence, instead of looking for and considering available US workers.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently promoted his vision for the Metaverse. It is loosely defined as a broad future online world where people exist and interact in a shared virtual space through digital avatars. He recently described the Metaverse as the next generation of the Internet and the next chapter in his company. Facebook said last week it plans to create 10,000 jobs in Europe over the next five years to work on Metaverse-related efforts.

Zuckerberg emphasized the message in the company’s earnings report. “I’m particularly excited about the roadmap that helps build creators, commerce and the Metaverse,” he said. Facebook said it expects to increase its investment over the next few years. The company added that next year’s costs will be as much as $ 97 billion for technical staff, product staff, and infrastructure-related costs.

Sarah E. Needleman

By: Sarah E. Needleman

Source: Facebook slows sales growth with Apple’s privacy policy – Texas News Today

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Facebook Still ‘Secretly’ Tracks Your iPhone This Is How To Stop It

Despite Apple’s public crackdown on Facebook data harvesting, the social media giant will store your iPhone’s location even when you have set it “never” to do that. Now you can stop Facebook in its tracks, ensuring your phone can’t be secretly tracked.

Facebook is reeling as it becomes clear that Apple’s privacy innovations are throttling some of its most lucrative revenue streams. But while stopping cross-app and cross-site tracking is a huge plus for a billion-plus iPhone users, when you use apps provided by the likes of Facebook and Google, you still share way too much of your data.

This should be well understood—there have been enough warnings. But even when users think they’ve done the right things—changed settings to opt for privacy, there are still backdoors, such as with private photos you upload to Facebook and Instagram.

The photos you take on your iPhone include metadata, data about the photos that is embedded into the photo file itself. When you send the photo in its original form, the metadata goes along. That data includes the model of your phone, the way your camera was set up, the date and time the photo was taken, and, critically, where it was taken.

That location data is very precise—and it’s very useful, because you can search photos on your phone by place, logically collating your memories. But when you upload photos to Facebook or Instagram, that metadata is stripped away. If you save photos from either back to your device, you’ll see that there is no embedded location data.

So, does Facebook delete the location data after it has been stripped? No, of course not. Why would the world’s most avaricious data harvester throw away valuable information that it can use to monetize you even further? Facebook stores the data in its multi-billion-dollar data vault, against your profile.

No surprises there. What is surprising, though, is that Facebook strips and stores this data even when you’ve told the platform (both online and on your iPhone) “never” to track your location. Why Facebook thinks this is okay, I fail to understand.

You can see this for yourself. If you upload a photo to Facebook and then download “your Facebook information,” you will see Facebook has stored the exact GPS location stripped from the photo, as well as your IP address when you uploaded the image.

The data “we collect,” Facebook says in its privacy policy, “can include information in or about the content that you provide (e.g., metadata), such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created.” This location data is used “to provide, personalize and improve our products, including ads.

Until now, fixing this issue has been painful. You need to either disable your iPhone camera’s photo location tagging or use a third-party app to strip the metadata before uploading images. Thankfully, Apple has just fixed the problem.

In your photo album, swipe up any image or select the “i” in the bottom menu bar, and select “Adjust.” You can then change the location to one of your choice or delete it.

This isn’t just a great option for Facebook, of course. While many messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Signal, strip (but don’t save) metadata, iMessage and email attachments retain embedded data, as do photos added to shared albums.

If you’re sharing photos, there are many reasons you might not want to share the exact location. Putting safety aside, many a person has been caught out by inadvertently revealing where they are (and where they are not) via this invisible metadata.

I have warned on this Facebook and Instagram loophole before, and when I have asked Facebook about this, it has confirmed that the platform “collects and processes” such data. When asked if this is used for advertising, “regardless of the privacy settings selected by a user,” I was told it was fine to proceed with those assumptions.

Facebook has enough of your data. This is a great example of where you can hold something back without any detrimental impact to you whatsoever. If you’ve taken the trouble to stop Facebook capturing your location, make sure it’s doing as it’s told.

Zak is a widely recognized expert on surveillance and cyber, as well as the security and privacy risks associated with big tech, social media, IoT and smartphone platforms. He is frequently cited in the international media and is a regular commentator on broadcast news, with appearances on BBC, Sky, NPR, NBC, Channel 4, TF1, ITV and Fox, as well as various cybersecurity and surveillance documentaries.

Zak has twenty years experience in real-world cybersecurity and surveillance, most recently as the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers, which develops advanced surveillance technologies for front line security and defense agencies as well as commercial organizations in the US, Europe and Asia. The company is at the forefront of AI-based surveillance and works closely with flagship government agencies around the world on the appropriate and proportionate use of such technologies. As well as analyzing security and surveillance stories, Zak is co-creator of Forbes’ award winning Straight Talking Cyber video series. Zak can be reached at zakd@me.com.

Source: Facebook Still ‘Secretly’ Tracks Your iPhone—This Is How To Stop It

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4 Tech Tools Your Business Needs During Natural Disasters

Every day brings new headlines about hurricanes, floods, or wildfires disrupting daily life. As a business owner, you have the added responsibility of deciding when to shut down operations, as well as ensuring your workers are safe and informed of developments. You may have to respond to employees who have been displaced from their homes, or are unable to get to work due to unsafe conditions. That can be a huge challenge when electrical grids are knocked out or wildfires disrupt cell towers.

Here are a few tools and tips that can help your business prepare for and even continue functioning in a natural disaster.

1. Set up a Whatsapp group for emergencies

An internet or power outage can cut off employees’ access to email. Consider setting up a group chat on Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, or another end-to-end encrypted messaging app instead. Such platforms allow users to send and receive messages using either Wi-Fi or mobile data; while most natural disasters pose serious risks to cell and internet infrastructure, one outage may get fixed before the other.

For example, despite an internet outage following the January 2020 earthquakes in Puerto Rico, many people were able to stay connected through mobile networks. Some ISPs will make their public Wi-Fi hotspots available for free during natural disasters.

Whatsapp also allows users to share their live location, which has helped first responders find missing people. Many companies already use Whatsapp or other messaging apps for internal communications, but there are privacy risks associated with regularly using any app. Instead, consider making such apps an emergency-only tool so employees will only have to use them sparingly.

2. Consider a device with LEO connectivity

Satellite internet is still far from common, and far from a necessity. But LEO (low earth orbit) tech will become cheaper and more available in the near future. Apple’s upcoming iPhone 13 reportedly will feature LEO hardware, which means that users can send or receive messages through satellite internet in case 4G or 5G networks are down.

When available, that might be the most cost-effective satellite internet solution; many satellite internet phones range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Another option is to set up your employees with satellite internet at home. Satellite internet providers like Viasat and HughesNet have special plans for small businesses.

3. Keep track of fuel shortages with GasBuddy

If you or your employees are struggling to find fuel during a hurricane or snowstorm, a free mobile app can help. GasBuddy, which locates the nearest gas station with available fuel, became one of the most-downloaded apps during the Colonial Pipeline hacks earlier this year. The app also has a crowdsourced dashboard that keeps track of fuel outages by city.

4. Inform customers through social media

If you already have an active social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, those channels can come in handy to announce store closures or any changes in hours. It’s likely many of your customers are scouring social media anyway for the latest updates on the weather. Be sure your post doesn’t get lost in the shuffle by using the name of the disaster as a hashtag or within the text of the post. Clearly mention the day and date, so prospective customers don’t get fooled by an old post. Also, be sure to update your social feeds once your business is operating again.

By Amrita Khalid, Staff writer@askhalid

Source: 4 Tech Tools Your Business Needs During Natural Disasters | Inc.com

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