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Instagram Is Reportedly Testing Ways to Turn Video Posts Into Reels

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Instagram is reportedly testing a way to turn video posts into Reels. The Meta-owned social media platform is said to have mentioned has reportedly said that the change is currently being tested with a select number of users around the world and it is part of Instagram’s plan to simplify the videos on the application. A social media analyst also shared a screenshot on Twitter showcasing how the users who are a part of the test will see a prompt from the app informing that the video posts will now be shared as Instagram Reels.

According to a report from TechCrunch, citing an email sent to the publication from a spokesperson for Meta, the social media platform Instagram is currently testing a new update on the app that will reportedly turn the video posts on the platform to Reels.

The report added that in the email, the company spokesperson said, “We’re testing this feature as part of our efforts to simplify and improve the video experience on Instagram.” The move from the Meta-owned platform is said to be a part of Instagram’s plan to simplify video content on the app.

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Instagram is currently testing the feature that turn video posts to Reels with select users only over the world, cited the report. Social media analyst Matt Navarra also shared a screenshot on the microblogging platform, Twitter, with a message saying “video posts are now shared as Reels”.

It can be assumed that people who are part of the test around the world for Instagram will see this pop-up message. The prompt says that if your account is public and you share a video, people will be able to use the audio of the video to create their own Reels. The message displayed also adds that anyone can now create a remix with the user’s Reel and download it as part of their remix. However, users have a choice to turn off remixing from settings.

Instagram is yet to confirm when the new feature that turn video posts to Instagram Reels will roll out. The social media platform is also expected to soon reveal what will happen to the video posts that already exist on the platform.


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WhatsApp Group Admins Can Soon Approve or Reject New Participants on Android: Report

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WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature that would give more control and power to group admins. The Meta-owned instant messaging app could soon add a new option called ‘Approve new participants’ that will allow group admins to determine who can join the group. It would make it easier for group admins to ensure privacy and reduce spam messages. The feature has been spotted in WhatsApp for Android beta v2.22.18.9, which is available via the Google Play Beta programme, however, it is not yet available to testers.

As per a report by WhatsApp features tracker WABetaInfo, the messaging service is said to be working on a new feature that will allow group admins to decide who can join the group. Once released, the WhatsApp group settings will have an “Approve new participants” option where group admins can approve or reject the incoming requests from people who all want to join a particular group.

The report also includes a screenshot showing the new option, giving WhatsApp users an idea of what the feature might look like when it starts rolling out. In the screenshot, the Approve new participants option is seen under the group settings menu at the bottom of edit group admins option in WhatsApp group info. WhatsApp is likely to add a new section listing all current requests of users who want to join the group.

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The messaging platform is said to be rolling out the update via the Google Play Beta programme, with the v2.22.18.9 beta for Android. The feature is still in development and is not visible to beta testers.

The development comes a few days after the Meta-owned social messaging platform announced a new privacy feature that lets participants exit silently from WhatsApp groups without letting other members know about their exit. This feature will allow users to exit a group privately without having to notify everyone, except the admins. Currently, WhatsApp shows an auto-generated notification when someone exits a group. The new functionality will be available to all users this month.


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Instagram Can Track User Data, Behaviour via Its In-App Browser; Meta Responds: Report

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Instagram app can track its users’ every interaction — including all form inputs like passwords, addresses, every single tap, text selections, and screenshots — with external websites that are accessed through the platform’s in-app browser, as per a report. The Instagram app reportedly injects JavaScript code into every website shown, including when clicking on ads, which allows the company to monitor all user interactions. As per Meta, the script which Instagram app injects helps the company “aggregate events” and respect users’ App Tracking Transparency (ATT) opt-out choice.

As per a blog post by Felix Krause, who owns fastlane — an open source platform aimed at simplifying Android and iOS deployment — Instagram app injects their JavaScript code into every website shown, including when clicking on ads, in the app. Injecting custom scripts into third-party websites allows the platform “to monitor all user interactions, like every button & link tapped, text selections, screenshots, as well as any form inputs, like passwords, addresses and credit card numbers” without users’ consent.

In layman’s words, when you tap on a website link, swipe up link, or a link to purchase anything through ads on Instagram, it opens a window in the in-app browser instead of opening it in the default browser (Google Chrome, Safari, among others) that you have set on your phone. As per the blog, Instagram app injects their JavaScript code into every website shown, allowing them to “monitor everything happening on external websites — without the consent from the user, nor the website provider” — when you are using the opened website in Instagram’s in-app browser.

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App Tracking Transparency feature in iOS 14.5 allows users to decide which apps have the permission to track their data. Meta reportedly said that this has cost the company $10 billion (roughly Rs. 80,000 crore) a year. The blog notes that in order to be safe from the tracking, users can copy and open the link in their preferred browsers. Apple’s web browser Safari blocks third-party cookies by default, Google Chrome will soon start phasing out third-party cookies, and Firefox’s recently-announced Total Cookie Protection will prevent any cross-page tracking.

Meanwhile, Meta responded to Krause saying that the script that gets injected “isn’t the Meta Pixel” — a snippet of JavaScript code that allows tracking visitor activity on a website. Meta says that it is the pcm.js script, which “helps aggregate events, i.e. online purchase, before those events are used for targeted advertising and measurement for the Facebook platform.” Meta also said that the injected script respects the user’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) opt-out choice “which is only relevant if the rendered website has the Meta Pixel installed.” ATT is a framework on iOS that requires all iOS apps to ask users for permission to share their data.

Krause says he has reverted to Meta asking more details on the same. He, however, points that all of this (injecting code and respecting user’s ATT choice) “wouldn’t be necessary if Instagram were to open the phone’s default browser, instead of building & using the custom in-app browser.”


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Twitter May Fail to Fight Election Misinformation, Voting Rights Experts Say

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Twitter on Thursday set out a plan to combat the spread of election misinformation that revives previous strategies, but civil and voting rights experts said it would fall short of what is needed to prepare for the upcoming US midterm elections.

The social media company said it will apply its civic integrity policy, introduced in 2018, to the November 8 midterms, when numerous US Senate and House of Representatives seats will be up for election. The policy relies on labelling or removing posts with misleading content, focused on messages intended to stop voting or claims intended to undermine public confidence in an election.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken numerous steps in recent months to “elevate reliable resources” about primaries and voting processes. Applying a label to a tweet also means the content is not recommended or distributed to more users.

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The San Francisco-based company is currently in a legal battle with billionaire Elon Musk over his attempt to walk away from his $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3.5 lakh crore) deal to acquire Twitter.

Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist,” and has said Twitter posts should only be removed if there is illegal content, a view supported by many in the tech industry.

But civil rights and online misinformation experts have long accused social media and tech platforms of not doing enough to prevent the spread of false content, including the idea that President Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election.

They warn that misinformation could be an even greater challenge this year, as candidates who question the 2020 election are running for office, and divisive rhetoric is spreading following an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week.

“We’re seeing the same patterns playing out,” said Evan Feeney, deputy senior campaign director at Color of Change, which advocates for the rights of Black Americans.

In the blog post, Twitter said a test of redesigned labels saw a decline in users’ retweeting, liking, and replying to misleading content.

Researchers say Twitter and other platforms have a spotty record in consistently labelling such content.

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In a paper published last month, Stanford University researchers examined a sample of posts on Twitter and Meta’s Facebook that altogether contained 78 misleading claims about the 2020 election. They found that Twitter and Facebook consistently applied labels to only about 70 percent of the claims.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken numerous steps in recent months to “elevate reliable resources” about primaries and voting processes.

Twitter’s efforts to fight misinformation during the midterms will include information prompts to debunk falsehoods before they spread widely online.

More emphasis should be placed on removing false and misleading posts, said Yosef Getachew, media and democracy program director at nonpartisan group Common Cause.

“Pointing them to other sources isn’t enough,” he said.

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Experts also questioned Twitter’s practice of leaving up some tweets from world leaders in the name of public interest.

“Twitter has a responsibility and ability to stop misinformation at the source,” Feeney said, saying that world leaders and politicians should face a higher standard for what they tweet.

Twitter leads the industry in releasing data on how its efforts to intervene against misinformation are working, said Evelyn Douek, an assistant professor at Stanford Law School who studies online speech regulation.

Yet more than a year after soliciting public input on what the company should do when a world leader violates its rules, Twitter has not provided an update, she said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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