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The Verge

Apple will temporarily stop taking a 30 percent cut on Facebook event fees

Earlier this year, Facebook launched a new feature that let small businesses create paid online events. The company framed it as a way of helping organizations struggling with lost revenue during the pandemic, and said that because of the exceptional circumstances, it would not collect any fees on purchases for these events until August 2021. But the social network also stressed that any payments made on iOS would be subject to Apple’s standard 30 percent platform fees, noting this meant less money for small businesses. As Fidji Simo, head of Facebook’s main app, said at the time: “We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and [small businesses] will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue.” Small businesses can use Facebook Pay, avoiding Apple’s 30 percent cut Facebook’s framing of this policy as Apple vs the little guy seems to have worked, and the social network now says Apple will let it process payments for online events using Facebook Pay. That means no 30 percent fee for Apple and more money for businesses, at least in the short term. Facebook says all businesses are eligible except Facebook Gaming creators and that the policy will also only last until the end of 2020. Apple confirmed the news to The Verge and said that collecting a fee from apps offering services that take place outside…Continue readingApple will temporarily stop taking a 30 percent cut on Facebook event fees

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VentureBeat

Facebook takes a shot at Apple over stance on paid online events for game devs

Facebook and Apple aren’t getting along, and the social network is taking yet another shot at Apple today. This dispute is over paid online events, and it seems to be a sign of deteriorating relations among the tech giants. In August, Facebook introduced paid online events. It let Facebook Page owners create an online event, set a price, promote the event, collect payments, and host the event in one place. It was a way to help small businesses recover lost revenue, as only 19% of surveyed businesses are getting any financial help during the pandemic. Facebook said it would not collect any fees from these paid online events for at least a year. On Android and the web, it instituted that policy so small businesses could keep 100% of the revenue. But on iOS, Facebook asked Apple to eliminate its “30% App Store tax” or allow Facebook to offer Facebook Pay so Facebook could absorb all the costs. Apple declined to do so, and Facebook pointed this out. Upon deliberation, Apple changed its mind, saying that it would waive the 30% App Store fee for the remaining three months of 2020, allowing businesses to keep all of their paid online event earnings (minus taxes) until December 31. Facebook Pay will process all of the event purchases. Above: In August, Facebook demoed the difference between payments on Android (right) and iOS on paid online events. Image Credit: Facebook But Apple did not extend the fee waiver to game developers, and Facebook…Continue readingFacebook takes a shot at Apple over stance on paid online events for game devs

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VentureBeat

Apple and Facebook spin antitrust claims: ‘We’re misunderstood’

In late July, a Congressional subcommittee successfully compelled four major tech company CEOs to formally answer questions over allegedly monopolistic business practices — a public spectacle marred only by COVID-19-related isolation of the attendees. Amazon, Facebook, and Google faced some of the heaviest questioning, but Apple certainly didn’t walk away untouched, as it was peppered with evidence that its App Store was abusing its increasingly dominant position within the software industry. The “Online Platforms and Market Power” hearing matters because it paved the way for formal antitrust actions against four of the world’s largest companies, technology or otherwise. Individually and collectively, they reach billions of people, with an outsized impact on the hardware, software, and services enterprises and end users rely upon every day. While all four of the tech giants portray themselves as ambitious good actors, there are certainly negative consequences to their actions. Today, a group of developers announced the formation of a collective Coalition for App Fairness, backed initially by heavy hitters such as Basecamp, Epic Games, Match Group, Spotify, and Tile, as well as the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, and several other founding members. Having already registered individual complaints with U.S. and European regulators, the group is now calling “for Apple to be held accountable” for price gouging and other anti-competitive policies after “nearly a decade with no oversight, regulation, or fair competition.” What’s Apple’s latest response to these claims? New marketing. A new App Store promotional page implies that the public just doesn’t understand how benevolent…Continue readingApple and Facebook spin antitrust claims: ‘We’re misunderstood’

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Wired

Facebook Busts Russian Disinfo Networks as US Election Looms

Facebook announced on Thursday that it has taken down three “coordinated inauthentic behavior” networks promoting disinformation that included nearly 300 Facebook and Instagram accounts along with dozens of Facebook Pages and Groups. While the efforts were seemingly run independently, and focused primarily outside of the US, each has ties to Russian intelligence—and they collectively provide a sobering echo of the social media assault that roiled the 2016 election. The networks Facebook tackled dated back at least three years, but most had few followers at the time they were caught. They primarily promoted non-Facebook websites in an apparent effort to get around the platform’s detection mechanisms, focusing on news and current events, particularly geopolitics. They targeted users in a number of countries, including Syria, Ukraine, Turkey, Japan, the UK, and Belarus, as well as the United States to a lesser extent. Given Russia’s impact through digital influence operations during the 2016 United States presidential race and in democratic elections around the world, state and federal officials and researchers—not to mention tech companies—have been bracing for activity in the US during 2020. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it had caught Russia’s Fancy Bear hackers targeting hundreds of campaign-adjacent organizations. Facebook warned repeatedly on Thursday that despite the successful takedown, it’s still bracing for whatever might come next. “It’s not new. These are tactics and techniques we’ve seen before,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy said on a Thursday call with reporters. “But the increasing reliance of these actors on these…Continue readingFacebook Busts Russian Disinfo Networks as US Election Looms

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The Next Web

Facebook removes Chinese network of fake accounts that used AI-generated faces

Facebook has taken down a China-based network of fake accounts that used AI-generated faces to spread government propaganda across the platform, according to research by analytics firm Graphika. The social network announced on Tuesday that it had removed 155 accounts, 11 Pages, nine Groups, and six Instagram accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.” The fake accounts predominantly focused on Southeast Asia, where they posted about events including Beijing’s interests in the South China Sea and developments in Hong Kong. But a smaller cluster posing as Americans posted content that both supported and criticized then-presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump. Before the takedown, Facebook asked Graphika to analyze the data. The Pentagon-linked firm found that some accounts had stolen their profile photos from real people, which can be exposed as inauthentic through reverse image searches. Others tried to evade detection by using Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) to create fake pictures, a tactic that Graphika says “has exploded in the last year.” [Read: Are EVs too expensive? Here are 5 common myths, debunked] The company found 12 profile pictures that it suspects were AI-generated, due to their distorted backgrounds and asymmetrical peripheral features such as ears, glasses, and hair. Credit: GraphikaNine superimposed profile pictures show the alignment of their eyes, “an indicator of synthetic image generation,” according to Graphika. Graphika spotted some of these signals by rendering the images opaque and then superimposing them on top of each other to expose the alignment of the features. The firm…Continue readingFacebook removes Chinese network of fake accounts that used AI-generated faces

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VentureBeat

Facebook removes ‘inauthentic’ Chinese accounts for U.S. political interference

(Reuters) — Facebook said Tuesday it had removed a network of inauthentic Chinese accounts that were interfering in Asian and American politics, including some that posted material supporting and opposing U.S. President Donald Trump. The social networking company said it suspended 155 accounts on its main platform along with six Instagram accounts. The most widely followed accounts and pages were in the Philippines, where they shared content supporting China’s actions in the contested South China Sea and President Rodrigo Duterte. The U.S. accounts had fewer followers and posted content fueling both sides of the American election that will be held on Nov. 3, the company said. Facebook cybersecurity policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher said that the takedown was the company’s first of Chinese-based accounts on foreign-interference grounds with any engagement in U.S. politics. But he said the American accounts and groups seemed aimed mainly at building an audience. “The volume of content is so low, it’s very hard to assess what their goal is,” Gleicher said. Trump and his intelligence officials have said China was favoring Democratic challenger Joe Biden, while Democrats in Congress have said Russia is being more aggressive. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to an email seeking comment. The network of accounts, pages and groups used virtual private networks and other tools to make it appear they were operated from somewhere other than China, Facebook said. Fewer than 3,000 people followed the fake American pages, while more than 100,000 accounts tracked those in Philippines.…Continue readingFacebook removes ‘inauthentic’ Chinese accounts for U.S. political interference

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Engadget

Facebook takes down Chinese-run accounts that posted about US elections

One network originated in China, and was made up of more than 155 accounts that had amassed a following of 133,000 and group membership of 61,000. Though Facebook says the group “focused most of its activity” in Southeast Asia, some of the accounts also posted about US politics “both in support of and against presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.” The US-focused accounts “gained almost no following,” but the takedowns were significant enough the company opted to disclose the move ahead of its monthly report on coordinated inauthentic behavior, CNN reported.  The second network was linked to the Philippine military and police, according to Facebook. It had 276,000 flowers on Facebook and 5,500 on Instagram and mainly posted about domestic politics in the Philippines and the military. News of the takedowns comes as Facebook continues to shore up its policies ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Facebook and other platforms have met with government officials to discuss election security, and is also gaming out scenarios in the event of a “chaotic” aftermath following the election. Source linkContinue readingFacebook takes down Chinese-run accounts that posted about US elections

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TechCrunch

Chinese propaganda network on Facebook used AI-generated faces – TechCrunch

Facebook removed two networks of fake accounts spreading government propaganda on the platform Tuesday, one originating in China and one in the Philippines. In its latest report on this kind of coordinated campaign, the company says it took down 155 Facebook accounts, 11 pages, 9 groups and 7 Instagram accounts connected to the Chinese activity and 57 accounts, 31 Pages and 20 Instagram accounts for the activity in the Philippines. Both operations broke Facebook’s rules against “coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.” The company released the report Thursday in coordination with Graphika, a social analytics company that specialized in disinformation. Graphika regularly analyzes this kind of activity in coordination with Facebook and its reports dive into more depth about techniques. In a sign of the times, Graphika found that the Chinese network of fake accounts employed faces created through an AI technique known as GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks). Those fake faces are employed to elude detection, but because their visual signature often ends up with subtle quirks and anomalies, GANs can sometimes be easily detected. “This form of AI is readily available online, and its use (or abuse) by covert operations has exploded in the last year,” according to Graphika’s report, which identified a dozen GAN-generated images from the Chinese information operation. “A year ago, this was a novelty,” Graphika’s Ben Nimmo wrote on Twitter. “Now it feels like every operation we analyse tries this at least once.” GANs examples via Graphika The Chinese campaign,…Continue readingChinese propaganda network on Facebook used AI-generated faces – TechCrunch

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The Next Web

Facebook announces the Oculus Quest 2, starting at $299

Facebook announced at today’s Connect AR/VR event that it’s releasing a new VR headset: specifically, an updated version of its Oculus Quest headset called the Quest 2. The Oculus Quest 2 is, like its predecessor, a standalone headset that can be connected with a PC via the Oculus link cable. It’s smaller and lighter, with redesigned, more ergonomic controllers. The internals are also getting an upgrade with a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2, 6GB of RAM, and 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, and the headset will support a 90Hz refresh rate. It also has a host of accessories, including custom earbuds and a stronger headstrap that comes with a battery pack. It’ll cost $299, much less than the original Quest, though that’s only for the 64GB model. The 256GB model will set you back $399. Read: Apple pisses off devs by launching iOS 14 with just a day’s notice Facebook appears, with this new headset, to be throwing every single resource it possesses at the notion that VR is inaccessible and prohibitively expensive. The fact that this headset is $100 cheaper than the Quest 1 is definitely a plus. Since Facebook intends to retire the Rift S and the original Quest, it appears it’s going all-in with the Quest as a more accessible, useful VR platform. That said, it’s also fully integrating it into Facebook — remember Oculus and Facebook accounts are now one and the same. As for what you can play on it, Facebook revealed it’s bringing new games to the Quest…Continue readingFacebook announces the Oculus Quest 2, starting at $299

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TechCrunch

Facebook addresses political controversy in India, monetization opportunities, startup investments – TechCrunch

At the beginning of the previous decade, Facebook had a tiny presence in India. It had just started to slowly expand its team in the country and was inking deals with telecom operators to make access to its service free to users and even offer incentives such as free voice credit. India’s internet population, now the second largest with more than 500 million connected users, itself was very small. In early 2011, the country had fewer than 100 million internet users. But Facebook ended up playing a crucial role in the last decade. So much so that by the end of it, the social juggernaut was reaching nearly every internet user in the country. WhatsApp alone reaches more than 400 million internet users in India, more than any other app in the country, according to mobile insight firm App Annie. This reach of Facebook in India didn’t go unnoticed. Politicians in the country today heavily rely on Facebook services, including WhatsApp, to get their message out. But it has also complicated things. Rumors have spread on WhatsApp that cost lives, and politicians from both the large political parties in India in recent weeks have accused the company of showing favoritism to the other side. To address these issues, and the role Facebook wishes to play in India, Ajit Mohan, the head of the company’s business in the country, joined us at Disrupt 2020. Following are some of the highlights. On controversy A recent report in WSJ claimed that Ankhi Das,…Continue readingFacebook addresses political controversy in India, monetization opportunities, startup investments – TechCrunch