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  1. Instagram vows to remove all graphic self-harm images from site All graphic images of self-harm will be removed from Instagram, the head of the social media platform has told the BBC. The move comes after the father of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who took her own life in 2017, said Instagram had "helped kill" his daughter. Molly's family found she had been viewing graphic images of self-harm on the site prior to her death. Adam Mosseri said Instagram was trying to balance "the need to act now and the need to act responsibly". He added the site was "not where we need to be on the issues of self-harm and suicide". When asked by the BBC's Angus Crawford when the images would be removed, Mr Mosseri replied: "As quickly as we can, responsibly." Molly's father Ian Russell welcomed Instagram's commitment and said he hoped they would act swiftly to implement their plans. "It is now time for other social media platforms to take action to recognise the responsibility they too have to their users if the internet is to become a safe place for young and vulnerable people," he added. Instagram boss in talks over self-harm content Girl, 12, was 'hooked' on self-harm images Facebook 'sorry' for distressing suicide posts Beyond Today podcast: How bad is social media for my mental health? How can governments regulate social media? Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the death of Molly Russell as "every parents' modern nightmare". He said it was right for Instagram to take down "the most graphic material" but added that "we need to be led by what the clinicians and experts say need to be taken down". Speaking after a meeting with social media companies as well as the Samaritans, Mr Hancock said he wanted to see a duty of care for all users of social media and that he was "perfectly prepared to legislate if necessary". Digital minister Margot James told BBC Radio 4's PM programme the government would "have to keep the situation very closely under review to make sure that these commitments are made real - and as swiftly as possible". Instagram currently relies on users to report graphic images of self-harm, but Mr Mosseri said the company was looking at ways that technology could help solve the problem in the future. He added: "Historically, we have allowed content related to self-harm that's 'admission' because people sometimes need to tell their story - but we haven't allowed anything that promoted self-harm. "But, moving forward, we're going to change our policy to not allow any graphic images of self-harm." However, some self-harm images will be allowed to remain on the Facebook-owned site. "I might have an image of a scar or say, 'I'm 30 days clean,' and that's an important way to tell my story," Mr Mosseri said. "That kind of content can still live on the site but the next change is that it won't show up in any recommendation services so it will be harder to find. "It won't be in search, it won't be in hashtags, it won't be in recommendations." When asked if he would resign if graphic self-harm content was still on the platform in six months, Mr Mosseri, 36, said: "I will certainly have a long thought about how well I am doing in the role that I'm in." Source
  2. Post a comment Facebook Facebook to merge WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram messaging The company wants to make it possible to send messages among the services while keeping the brands separate. Facebook plans to create a single underlying messaging platform for WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, a move that would allow users to send messages across the three standalone apps. The three apps will remain separate, but they'll be brought together under a single messaging platform or protocol. The changes would make it possible to send messages from one of the company's chat systems to another -- so you could speak to your Messenger-only friends without leaving WhatsApp. Facebook said it's still figuring out the details, but the apps would include end-to-end encryption, which ensures that only the participants of a conversation can view the messages being sent. The tech firm, which has faced a series of scandals over data misuse and privacy, plans to finish this work by the end of this year or early 2020, according to The New York Times, citing four people working on the project. "We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We're working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks." The strategy also highlights how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is exerting more control over the companies Facebook acquired for billions of dollars. Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 and Instagram for $1 billion in 2012. Some of these founders reportedly have butted heads with Zuckerberg and left the company. That list of departures includes Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, WhatApp's Brian Acton and Jan Koum and Oculus co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe. Integrating the apps could help Facebook make more money from ads by getting its users to spend more time texting in its chat apps rather than turning to other texting services by Apple and Google, according to people who spoke to the Times. But the changes might not sit well with some Facebook users, who have become more wary about the data the company shares with other tech firms following a number of scandals. Last year, revelations surfaced that UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission. It's unclear what user information will be shared among Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook is expecting messaging to play a much bigger role in its future. In October, Zuckerberg said a growing number of users are shifting from posting publicly to sharing privately in messaging apps. Source
  3. Instagram just got caught selling advertisements to the same follower-buying companies it claimed to have banned back in November. Back in November, Instagram claimed it banned all accounts that were obtained by third-party apps. These apps allow people to purchase followers and likes from fake accounts and bots. An investigation by TechCrunch found that despite Instagram’s claims, the app was still allowing these companies to place ads. TechCrunch reached out to Instagram to find out why they were still selling these ads. Instagram claimed that they removed the ads and that the accounts are still banned. However, they still saw ads for companies that promote buying followers even after their conversation. In November, Instagram said they were using AI technology to detect and erase “fake” accounts that follow, like and comment on people’s posts for a fee. Instagram responded to the findings of the investigation with a statement. “Nobody likes receiving spammy follows, likes and comments. It’s really important to us that the interactions people have on Instagram are genuine, and we’re working hard to keep the community free from spammy behavior.” “Services that offer to boost an account’s popularity via inauthentic likes, comments and followers, as well as ads that promote these services, aren’t allowed on Instagram. We’ve taken action on the services raised in this article, including removing violating ads, disabling Pages and accounts, and stopping Pages from placing further ads.” “We have various systems in place that help us catch and remove these types of ads before anyone sees them, but given the number of ads uploaded to our platform every day, there are times when some still manage to slip through. We know we have more to do in this area and we’re committed to improving.” Source
  4. Vishal Shah was promoted to assume Adam Mosseri’s old position When former vice president of product Adam Mosseri was promoted to head of Instagram at the beginning of October, no successor was named for his former role. That changed Monday when product management director Vishal Shah was tapped as head of product for all of Instagram. Previously, Shah had been overseeing the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network’s shopping initiatives, advertising products and IGTV long-form video platform. Shah will report directly to Mosseri. Shah did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson for Facebook confirmed the move, sharing this statement from Mosseri: “I am thrilled that Vishal Shah is Instagram’s new head of product. Vishal is an experienced manager with deep product knowledge who lives out Instagram’s values of people first, simplicity and craft. He is a great addition to our leadership team, and I look forward to working with him in this new role.” Shah joined Instagram in June 2015 after spending nearly 10 years with insights and analytics platform Turn. Promoting from within may bring some stability to Instagram, which saw co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger abruptly leave the company in late September, just two weeks after chief operating officer Marne Levine returned to parent company Facebook to become its vp of global partnerships and business development. Shah’s former seat won’t get too cold, as Recode reported that it will be filled by product manager Ashley Yuki, who oversaw Instagram’s video products, including IGTV. Source
  5. Dozens of Android users are reporting that the Instagram app isn’t working for them as of Saturday morning, with some posting about problems on mobile on Twitter since late Friday. At least one user reported that logging on led to a blank white screen. As writer Andrew LaSane pointed out on Twitter, the company doesn’t currently list any known issues on its website in spite of the fact that users have been reporting the bug on social media for more than 12 hours. Neither Instagram nor its parent company Facebook had issued any formal response to the complaints as of publication. Some Twitter users said that heading to Settings in the app, forcing a stop, and clearing the cache and data seemed to fix the issue. The apparent Android glitch isn’t the only problem Instagram users have dealt with this week. The Information reported Friday that the social media company reached out to its some users earlier this week about a security flaw that exposed their passwords. Instagram reportedly told its users on Thursday that the platform’s “Download Your Data” tool put their passwords at risk by including them in the URLs of their browsers. A company spokesperson said the issue affected “a very small number of people,” according to the Information, but the company still advised some users to clear their browser history and update their password. Gizmodo has reached out to Instagram about both issues and we’ll update when we hear back. Source
  6. Kevin Systrom hinted there were tensions between him and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom When Instagram co-founder and former CEO Kevin Systrom thinks back to the start of his social media company, he compares the process to launching a rocket. "Instagram didn't feel done by any stretch of the imagination, but it felt like it was in orbit. And if we let go and let others take it, it would continue to go on," Systrom said at the WIRED25 Summit in San Francisco on Monday. In September, Systrom and Instagram's chief technical officer Mike Krieger abruptly announced they were leaving the Facebook-owned photo sharing app after eight years at the helm to explore their "creativity and curiosity again." The 34-year-old tech mogul acknowledged that when he started Instagram, he never thought that he would be at the company for eight years. Systrom signaled there were tensions between him and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but he also said that there were "no hard feelings at all." "No one ever leaves a job because everything is awesome," Systrom said. Popular among teens, Instagram gave Facebook a way to compete against newer social media apps such as Snapchat. But as Instagram played a bigger role in Facebook's future, the co-founder of the photo-sharing app reportedly clashed with its parent company over product changes. Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 when it only had about 30 million users. Now a billion people use Instagram every month. On Oct. 1, Adam Mosseri, Instagram's vice preside of product and a longtime Facebook executive, became the head of Instagram. Systrom hasn't revealed his next project yet, but said that he's spending his free time now taking care of his daughter, working with entrepreneurs, writing and learning new things such as flying a plane. "You never know where inspiration is going to come from," he said. Source
  7. Former Facebook VP of News Feed and recently appointed Instagram VP of Product Adam Mosseri has been named the new head of Instagram. “We are thrilled to hand over the reins to a product leader with a strong design background and a focus on craft and simplicity — as well as a deep understanding of the importance of community” Instagram’s founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger write. “These are the values and principles that have been essential to us at Instagram since the day we started, and we’re excited for Adam to carry them forward.” Instagram’s founders announced last week that they were resigning after sources told TechCrunch the pair had dealt with dwindling autonomy from Facebook and rising tensions with its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The smiling photo above seems meant to show peace has been restored to Instaland, and counter the increasing perception that Facebook breaks its promises to acquired founders. Mosseri’s experience dealing with the unintended consequences of the News Feed such as fake news in the wake of the 2016 election could help him predict how Instagram’s growth will affect culture, politics, and user well-being. Over the years of interviewing him, Mosseri has always come across as sharp, serious, and empathetic. He comes across as a true believer that Facebook and its family of apps can make a positive impact in the world, but congniscent of the hard work and complex choices required to keep them from being misused. Born and raised in New York, Mosseri started his own design consultancy while attending NYU’s Gallatin School Of Interdisciplinary Study to learn about media and information design. Mosseri joined Facebook in 2008 after briefly working at a startup called TokBox. Tasked with helping Facebook embrace mobile as design director, he’s since become part of Zuckerberg’s inner circle of friends and lieutenants. Mosseri later moved into product management and oversaw Facebook’s News Feed, turn it into the world’s most popular social technology and the driver of billions in profit from advertising. After going on parental leave this year, he returned to take over the role of Instagram VP of Product Kevin Weil as he move to Facebook’s blockchain team. A source tells TechCrunch he was well-received and productive since joining Instagram, and has gotten along well with Systrom. Mosseri now lives in San Francisco, close enough to work from both Instagram’s city office and South Bay headquarters. “The impact of their work over the past eight years has been incredible. They built a product people love that brings joy and connection to so many lives” Mosseri wrote about Instagram’s founders in an…Instagram post. I’m humbled and excited about the opportunity to now lead the Instagram team. I want to thank them for trusting me to carry forward the values that they have established. I will do my best to make them, the team, and the Instagram community proud.” Mosseri will be tasked with balancing the needs of Instagram such as headcount, engineering resources, and growth with the priorities of its parent company Facebook, such as cross-promotion to Instagram’s younger audience and revenue to contribute to the corporation’s earnings reports. Some see Mosseri as more sympathetic to Facebook’s desire than Instagram’s founders, given his long-stint at the parent company and his close relationship with Zuckerberg. The question will be whether users will end up seeing more notifications and shortcuts linking back to Facebook, or more ads in the Stories and feed. Instagram hasn’t highlighted the ability to syndicate your Stories to Facebook, which could be boon for that parallel product. Instagram Stories now has 400 million daily users compared to Facebook Stories and Messenger Stories’ combined 150 million users. Tying them more closely could seem more content flow into Facebook, but it might also make users second guess whether what they’re sharing is appropriate for all of their Facebook friends, which might include family or professional colleagues. Mosseri’s most pressing responsibility will be reassurring users that the culture of Instagram and its app won’t be assimilated into Facebook now that he’s running things instead of the founders. He’ll also need to snap into action to protect Instagram from being used as a pawn for election interference in the run-up to the 2018 US mid-terms. Source
  8. As hacking and gaming communities continue to intersect, some hackers are selling access to botnets and likely stolen Fortnite, Spotify, and other online accounts on Instagram. Instagram isn’t only for exotic travel, pet, or food photos. Communities of hackers are also using the social network to sell stolen Spotify and Fortnite accounts, as well as access to botnets designed to launch distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The accounts highlight social media companies’ continuing issues with content moderation. In this case, Facebook, which owns Instagram, is having trouble preventing illegal content from being distributed on its platforms. In particular, some people on Instagram are advertising botnets they claim to be associated with Mirai, a network of internet of things-based devices that have been repurposed to attack websites and servers by spamming them with traffic. Some are selling botnets based on other code. “There is a lot of people in the community on Instagram,” Root Senpai, who sells various hacking-related goods on Instagram, told Motherboard in a message on Discord, a messaging platform popular among gamers. Caption: A screenshot of one of the Instagram posts advertising a botnet. Image: Instagram Screenshot The hackers themselves and their wares appear to be unsophisticated. One Instagram post, which includes an apparent photo of the hacker’s screen, claims to be selling access to a Mirai-based botnet, likely for attacking websites or other online services to try and slow them to a crawl. Several other users Motherboard found are selling access to other botnets, with one post advertising subscription-style plans for $5 to $80 a month (it is not immediately clear how powerful, or lackluster, these particular botnets may be.) When asked how they obtained this botnet, perhaps by hacking into computers themselves, Root Senpai declined to elaborate for “security reasons,” they said. Another account, using the name ghostttzzz, includes a screenshot of their botnet control panel, with the text “hmu [hit me up] for spots.” Some of the hackers are advertising these tools in normal Instagram posts, others are advertising them using the network’s Stories feature. Stolen accounts do generate interest from customers, “especially Fortnite accounts,” Root Senpai added. As the game skyrocketed in popularity, hackers have continually cracked into Fortnite accounts to sell, some of which come with rare character skins. As Kotaku reported in March, some hackers break into accounts to use the victim’s payment information to buy game upgrades, and then transfer them to other accounts. Indeed, much of the activity from the Instagram hacker accounts overlaps with gaming communities. Some accounts, as well as posting photos of their botnet control screens, share images from Fortnite or other online games. Some of the hackers appear to be young; Root Senpai said that “there are a lot of kids on Instagram that is [sic] willing to buy botnet spots, mostly kids that play on console.” “For me I just sell spots for fun and money because I am still to [sic] young to get a full job that can make a decent amount of money,” they added. Finding various accounts selling access to botnets and stolen accounts was fairly trivial. Many of them follow each other, making some form of hacker community on the platform. The scale of the issue is unclear, however: Motherboard focused on one particular collection of accounts that appear to interact with and follow each other. Root Senpai did describe people in the trade of these botnets and accounts as the “ig community.” Caption: A screenshot of one of the Instagram posts advertising Fortnite accounts. Image: Instagram Screenshot Instagram’s terms of service says users cannot “do anything unlawful, misleading, or fraudulent or for an illegal or unauthorized purpose.” That, an Instagram spokesperson confirmed to Motherboard, includes selling access to hacked computers or accounts. The spokesperson added that Instagram is investigating the issue and will take steps to remove content violating its terms. Motherboard did not share specific account names with Instagram. As we’ve argued before, it is not journalists’ job to act as content moderators for some of the world’s most powerful technology companies. Motherboard did share redacted screenshots with Instagram so it could see the sort of posts being shared by the hackers and provide a response. Instagram has to deal with all sorts of offensive or illegal content on its platform. Internal Instagram documents previously obtained by Motherboard showed some of the company’s enforcement strategies and policies for combating such content. “These are high intensity, prevalent abuse types that have led to PR fires on Instagram,” one of the documents for training moderators obtained by Motherboard reads, referring to terrorism and drug sales on its platform. At the time of writing, all of the accounts Motherboard found selling stolen accounts or access to botnets are still online. Source
  9. Hackers have hijacked the accounts of at least four high profile Instagrammers recently, locking them out and demanding a bitcoin ransom. But Instagram is silent. “Your Instagram has been hacked,” the message sent to various high profile Instagrammers reads. If the victim doesn’t pay up a Bitcoin ransom, “we will have to delete your account within 3 hours,” the hackers’ message continues. Kevin Kreider, a fitness-focused Instagrammer from Los Angeles, told Motherboard that paying $100 in cryptocurrency didn’t save his account. The hackers still deleted it, and Kreider lost more than 100,000 followers and an important part of his social media focused business. Kreider eventually got his account back—it’s not clear how though, Instagram didn’t say—but Kreider is not the only person to fall victim to these hackers this month. The hackers have hijacked multiple targets’ accounts, with an apparent focus on ‘lifestyle’ accounts and other people who use Instagram for business. Instagram has not acted on requests for help from some of the victims. A second victim wrote on her personal website, “Instagram doesn’t care.” Kreider shared a slew of emails, screenshots, and receipts with Motherboard that detail the hacking and extortion episode. At first, someone identifying themselves as ‘Lana’ emailed Kreider under the pretence of being a press relations staffer from fashion company French Connection. They offered a sponsorship deal, and provided a link to their own Instagram account. That link, despite looking legitimate on the face of it, did not actually go to a real Instagram page. Instead, it redirected to a fake Instagram login portal designed to steal a target’s credentials. According to online records kept by Bit.ly, a link shortening service the hackers used, the link has been clicked 65 times at the time of writing, although it’s not clear if those are all victims. “I was at the gym going through my emails and thought it was an opportunity with a brand I respected and thought I could put on my Instagram, and when I saw that my Instagram [@kevin.kreider] disappeared from my app, my heart dropped to my stomach,” Kreider told Motherboard. The hackers were in. Shortly after using that fake Instagram login page, the hackers contacted Kreider demanding their ransom. Kreider paid the hackers just over $110 in Bitcoin, according to a receipt from Bitcoin exchange Coinbase Kreider shared with Motherboard. The hackers, it appears, still deleted his account, as it became unavailable. Lindsey Simon, another Instagram user and hacking victim, told Motherboard in an email she “kept in contact with the hacker while also getting help from a computer-savvy friend of mine. I ended up paying, but less than they were asking for. I stalled and sent small increments until my friend recovered my password.” Cassie Gallegos, a third apparent victim also focused on providing lifestyle content on Instagram, wrote in a blog post that she “had 57k followers that I had work tirelessly for, posting my own photography (that I was very proud of, and was my LIFE) along with my stories and adventures on traveling, living your best life, and being financially savvy.” Gallegos says she negotiated the hackers down to a “measly” $122, and she paid in bitcoin. The hackers still have control over her account, Gallegos wrote. Instagram’s response to the hacks and extortion campaigns has been mixed. All three victims said they contacted Instagram multiple times, resulting in either generic or seemingly automated responses. Simon only regained access through her friend’s help, and Gallegos’ account is still unavailable. After Motherboard contacted Instagram asking for comment on the hack of Kreider’s account, Kreider said he “got it back” although at the time of writing his account is not appearing in Instagram search results. It is not entirely clear if the events are connected, as Instagram has not responded to Motherboard’s requests for comment. A fourth victim wrote on her blog that Instagram did provide her access once again, but only after her fans and others pressured Instagram to do so in their own posts and messages. “I never heard from Instagram. Not one word. I don’t know how they fixed it,” that fourth victim, lifestyle blogger Anna Wood, wrote. A previous Motherboard investigation found, in a separate set of attacks, so-called SIM jackers have targeted peoples’ phone numbers to hijack valuable Instagram accounts. These attacks relied on tricking a telco into porting a victim’s number over to the hackers SIM card, so they can then intercept any two-factor authentication tokens. Instagram is doing more to help with account security though. Instagram recently introduced app-based two-factor authentication, which can stop a hacker from accessing an account even if they do manage to obtain a target’s passwords, and does not rely on using a mobile phone number. There is no indication that any of these victims had two-factor authentication enabled. An email sent to the hacker’s address went undelivered, with an error message saying no such address existed. However, Motherboard confirmed that the username “pumpams,” which the hacker used on a particular email service, was indeed in use. According to a screenshot a security researcher shared on Twitter, the scammer may be based in Ukraine. “I had an emotional breakdown. I had worked so hard to become an influencer, to make the life I wanted to be living, I had partnerships with Hotels.com, PierHouse Key West, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Living Proof lined up to name a few. GONE. ALL OF MY WORK WAS GONE,” Gallegos adds in her blog post. Source
  10. Facebook is planning a major new move into e-commerce, sources tell The Verge Instagram is working on a new standalone app dedicated to shopping, The Verge has learned. The app — which may be called IG Shopping — will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app, according to two people familiar with the matter. Instagram declined to comment. It could not be learned when the app might launch. Its development is still ongoing, and it could be canceled before it is released. But sources familiar with its development say Instagram believes it is well positioned to make a major expansion into e-commerce. More than 25 million businesses already have Instagram accounts, and 2 million of them are advertisers, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on the company’s most recent earnings call. Four in five Instagram users follow at least one business. Creating a standalone app would allow the company to provide a dedicated home for an increasingly popular activity on Instagram while also expanding opportunities for revenue. Over time, Facebook could introduce more tools for merchants who are building their businesses on Instagram, directly challenging e-commerce platforms like Shopify, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking. Most online businesses need an Instagram account already, the thinking goes; many of them would surely use paid business tools if they became available. Some companies already sell such tools to Instagram advertisers. Four Sixty, for example, lets businesses pay for help creating shoppable photo galleries, content moderation, post scheduling, and other services. Shopify’s app store contains dozens of plugins related to promoting and managing Instagram-based businesses. Instagram began testing a shopping feature in November in 2016, and rolled it out more broadly in March of last year. Companies can tag posts with individual products, allowing users to shop directly from photos. Instagram is currently testing a feature that lets users shop from Instagram stories. Shopping would not be the first Instagram feature to be spun out into a standalone app. The company has been testing Direct, a new messaging app, since last December. In June it introduced IGTV, a YouTube competitor that puts vertically shot videos into their own app. Article Source: The Verge
  11. Instagram users were missing 70 percent of all posts and 50 percent of their friends’ posts before the app ditched the reverse chronological feed for an algorithm in July 2016. Despite backlash about confusing ordering, Instagram now says relevancy sorting has led to its 800 million-plus users seeing 90 percent of their friends’ posts and spending more time on the app. Yet Instagram has never explained exactly how the algorithm chooses what to show you until today. The Facebook-owned company assembled a group of reporters at its under-construction new San Francisco office to take the lid off the Instagram feed ranking algorithm. < photo here > Instagram product lead Julian Gutman explains the algorithm Instagram’s feed ranking criteria Instagram relies on machine learning based on your past behavior to create a unique feed for everyone. Even if you follow the exact same accounts as someone else, you’ll get a personalized feed based on how you interact with those accounts. Three main factors determine what you see in your Instagram feed: Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post. Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones. Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos. Beyond those core factors, three additional signals that influence rankings are: Frequency: How often you open Instagram, as it will try to show you the best posts since your last visit. Following: If you follow a lot of people, Instagram will be picking from a wider breadth of authors so you might see less of any specific person. Usage: How long you spend on Instagram determines if you’re just seeing the best posts during short sessions, or it’s digging deeper into its catalog if you spend more total time browsing. Instagram mythbusting Instagram’s team also responded to many of the most common questions and conspiracy theories about how its feed works. TechCrunch can’t verify the accuracy of these claims, but this is what Instagram’s team told us: Instagram is not at this time considering an option to see the old reverse chronological feed because it doesn’t want to add more complexity (users might forget what feed they’re set to), but it is listening to users who dislike the algorithm. Instagram does not hide posts in the feed, and you’ll see everything posted by everyone you follow if you keep scrolling. Feed ranking does not favor the photo or video format universally, but people’s feeds are tuned based on what kind of content they engage with, so if you never stop to watch videos you might see fewer of them. Instagram’s feed doesn’t favor users who use Stories, Live, or other special features of the app. Instagram doesn’t downrank users for posting too frequently or for other specific behaviors, but it might swap in other content in between someone’s if they rapid-fire separate posts. Instagram doesn’t give extra feed presence to personal accounts or business accounts, so switching won’t help your reach. Shadowbanning is not a real thing, and Instagram says it doesn’t hide people’s content for posting too many hashtags or taking other actions. Today’s Instagram whiteboard session with reporters, its first, should go a long way to clearing up misunderstandings about how it works. When people feel confident that their posts will reach their favorite people, that they can reliably build a public audience, and that they’ll always see great content, they’ll open the app more often. Yet on the horizon looms a problem similar to what Facebook’s algorithm experienced around 2015: competition reduces reach. As more users and businesses join Instagram and post more often, but feed browsing time stays stable per user, the average post will get drowned out and receive fewer views. People will inevitably complain that Instagram is trying to force them to buy ads, but it’s a natural and inevitable consequence of increasingly popular algorithmic feeds. The more Instagram can disarm that problem by pushing excess content creation to Stories and educating users about how the feed operates, the less they’ll complain. Facebook is already uncool, so Instagram must stay in our good graces. < Here >
  12. (Reuters) — As Europe’s new privacy law took effect on Friday, one activist wasted no time in asserting the additional rights it gives people over the data that companies want to collect about them. Austrian Max Schrems filed complaints against Google, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, arguing they were acting illegally by forcing users to accept intrusive terms of service or lose access. That take-it-or-leave-it approach, Schrems told Reuters Television, violates people’s right under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to choose freely whether to allow companies to use their data. “You have to have a ‘yes or no’ option,” Schrems said in an interview recorded in Vienna before he filed the complaints in various European jurisdictions. “A lot of these companies now force you to consent to the new privacy policy, which is totally against the law.” The GDPR overhauls data protection laws in the European Union that predate the rise of the internet and, most importantly, foresees fines of up to 4 percent of global revenues for companies that break the rules. That puts potential sanctions in the ballpark of anti-trust fines levied by Brussels that, in Google’s case, have run into billions of dollars. Andrea Jelinek, who heads both Austria’s Data Protection Authority and a new European Data Protection Board set up under GDPR, appeared to express sympathy with Schrems’ arguments at a news conference in Brussels. Asked about the merits of Schrems’ complaints, Jelinek said: “If there is forced consent, there is no consent.” Scourge of Facebook Schrems was a 23-year-old law student when he first took on Facebook and he’s been fighting Mark Zuckerberg’s social network ever since – becoming the poster-boy for data privacy. He won a landmark European court ruling in 2015 that invalidated a ‘safe harbour’ agreement allowing firms to transfer personal data from the EU to the United States, where data protection is less strict. With GDPR in mind, he recently set up a non-profit called None of Your Business noyb.eu (noyb) that plans legal action to blunt the ability of the tech titans to harvest data that they then use to sell targeted advertising. His laptop perched on the table of a traditional Viennese coffee house, Schrems showed how a pop-up message on Facebook seeks consent to use his data – and how he is blocked when he refuses. “The only way is to really accept it, otherwise you cannot use your Facebook any more,” Schrems explained. “As you can see, I have my messages there and I cannot read them unless I agree.” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said in a statement that the company has prepared for 18 months to ensure it meets the requirements of GDPR by making its policies clearer and its privacy settings easier to find. Facebook, which has more than 2 billion regular users, has also said that advertising allows it to remain free, and that the whole service, including ads, is meant to be personalized based on user data. “1,000-euro brick” Schrems said, however, that Instagram, a photo-sharing network popular with younger users, and encrypted messaging service WhatsApp – both owned by Facebook – also use pop-ups to gain consent and bar users who refuse. The action brought by noyb against Google relates to new smartphones using its Android operating system. Buyers are required to hand over their data or else own “a 1,000-euro brick” that they can’t use, Schrems said. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Noyb is filing the four claims with data protection authorities in France, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Ensuing litigation may play out in Ireland, where both Facebook and Google have their European headquarters. One filing, made against Facebook on behalf of an Austrian woman, asks the country’s data protection authority to investigate and, as appropriate, prohibit data processing operations based on invalid consent. It also asks the regulator to impose “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” fines as foreseen by GDPR, which in Facebook’s case could run to 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion). “So far it was cheaper just to ignore privacy rights,” said Schrems. “Now, hopefully, it’s going to be cheaper to follow them because the penalties are so high.” Source
  13. A racial slur GIF slipped into GIPHY’s sticker library earlier this month, prompting Instagram and Snapchat to drop their GIPHY integrations. Now Instagram is reactivating after GIPHY confirmed its reviewed its GIF library four times and will preemptively review any new GIFs it adds. Snapchat said it had nothing to share right now about whether it’s going to reactivate GIPHY. We’ve been in close contact with GIPHY throughout this process and we’re confident that they have put measures in place to ensure that Instagram users have a good experience” an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch. GIPHY told TechCrunch in a statement that “To anyone who was affected: we’re sorry. We take full responsibility for this recent event and under no circumstances does GIPHY condone or support this kind of content . . . We have also finished a full investigation into our content moderations systems and processes and have made specific changes to our process to ensure soemthing like this does not happen again.” We first reported Instagram was building a GIPHY integration back in January before it launched a week later, with Snapchat adding a similar feature in February. But it wasn’t long before things went wrong. First spotted by a user in the U.K. around March 8th, the GIF included a racial slur. We’ve shared a censored version of the image below, but warning, it still includes graphic content that may be offensive to some users. When asked, Snapchat told TechCrunch ““We have removed GIPHY from our application until we can be assured that this will never happen again.” Instagram wasn’t aware that the racist GIF was available in its GIPHY integration until informed by TechCrunch, leading to a shut down of the feature within an hour. An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch “This type of content has no place on Instagram.” After 12 hours of silence, GIPHY responded the next morning, telling us “After investigation of the incident, this sticker was available due to a bug in our content moderation filters specifically affecting GIF stickers.” The fiasco highlights the risks of major platforms working with third-party developers to brings outside and crowdsourced content into their apps. Snapchat historically resisted working with established developers, but recently has struck more partnerships particularly around augmented reality lenses and marketing service providers. While it’s an easy way to provide more entertainment and creative expression tools, developer integrations also force companies to rely on the quality and safety of things they don’t fully control. As Instagram and Snapchat race for users around the world, they’ll have to weigh the risks and rewards of letting developers into their gardens. GIPHY’s full statement is below. Source
  14. Used An iPhone And Social Media Pre-2013? You May Be Due A Tiny Payout Twitter, Instagram, and others are stumping up $5.3m to settle a privacy suit with implications for those who used social-media apps on an iPhone in 2012 or earlier. Given the millions who downloaded the social-media apps in question, it's likely the settlement will result in a very small payment for each individual. Eight social-media firms, including Twitter and Instagram, have agreed to pay $5.3m to settle a lawsuit over their use of Apple's Find Friends feature in iOS. The main problem that complainants had with the accused firms was that their apps, which used Apple's Find Friends, didn't tell users that their contact lists would be uploaded to company servers. The lawsuit alleged the privacy incursions occurred between 2009 and 2012, the year the class action suit began. Instagram, Foursquare, Kik, Gowalla, Foodspotting, Yelp, Twitter, and Path have agreed to pay in to the settlement fund, which will be distributed to affected users via Amazon.com, according to Venture Beat. Yelp had previously argued it was necessary to store user contact lists to enable the Find Friends feature, which consumers understood would occur in the context of using a mobile app. However, US District Judge Jon Tigar countered that the key question was whether Apple and app developers "violated community norms of privacy" by exceeding what people reasonably believe they consented to. "A 'reasonable' expectation of privacy is an objective entitlement founded on broadly based and widely accepted community norms," said Tigar. If the judge approves the settlement, Apple and LinkedIn would be the only remaining defendants among 18 firms originally accused of the privacy violation. Given the millions of people who downloaded these apps, it's likely the settlement will result in a very small payment for each individual. However, people who took part in the class action suit could receive up to $15,000 each. Source
  15. Facebook has a new tool to help victims of revenge porn Facebook is rolling out a new tool to help victims of revenge porn over its platforms, including Messenger and Instagram. The new tools are meant to help people when intimate images of them are shared over Facebook without their permission. Now, when cases of revenge porn are reported to the company, they can prevent the footage from being shared over all platforms. The company's announcement refers to a study regarding US victims of non-consensual intimate images. 93% of them reported significant emotional distress and 82% reported significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of life. In short, spreading such pictures or videos of people without their consent has a great impact on their lives. How does it work? The new tool isn't overly complicated. In fact, all you need to do if you see an intimate image on Facebook that looks like it was shared without permission, you can report it by using the "report" link that pops up when you tap on the downward arrow or the "..." sign next to a post. Facebook's Comunity Operations team will review the image and remove it if it violates the Community Standards. "In most cases, we will also disable the account for sharing intimate images without permission. We offer an appeals process if someone believes an image was taken down in error," the announcement reads. Up until this point, there's nothing really new about what the company is doing. From here on out, however, things are different. Facebook will put to work its photo-matching technologies to help thwart further attempts to share the image on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. If someone tries to share the image after it's been reported and removed, they will receive an alert telling them that it violates the company's policies and that their attempt to post the image or video was stopped. "These tools, developed in partnership with safety experts, are one example of the potential technology has to help keep people safe. Facebook is in a unique position to prevent harm, one of our five areas of focus as we help build a global community," Facebook notes. The company has worked with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, as well as other companies, to create a one-stop destination for victims and others to report this content to the major technology companies. Others have also helped shape Facebook's new tool - the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Center for Social Research, the Revenge Porn Helpline (UK) and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. Source
  16. Is this James Comey's Twitter handle? There are few things we know about FBI Director James Comey's social media life, since he's been quite mum about it all in an effort to preserve his privacy. But that shroud of privacy may have gone up in flames now that he apparently gave out a little too much about his Internet persona. Gizmodo reporter Ashley Feinberg went on a little sleuthing mission to discover Comey's Instagram and Twitter accounts following one of his statements. "I care deeply about privacy, treasure it. I have an Instagram account with nine followers. Nobody is getting in. They're all immediate relatives and one daughter's serious boyfriend. I let them in because they're serious enough. I don't want anybody looking at my photos. I treasure my privacy and security on the Internet. My job is public safety," Comey said during an interview. Since he previously admitted to being on Twitter, it was only natural that they'd somehow be connected. Let the sleuthing begin The sleuth went on to look for that Instagram account and go from there. After a little bit of effort, she found Brien Comey, the FBI's director's son, who's a basketball star. After digging around for a while, she tried out a search on Twitter for "Brien Comey" without "James" so all references to his father would be left out. This eventually led to a tweet from the college basketball team Brien is on, where one account is mentioned - @twittafuzz. While it is now pretty much dead, if you search through the mentions there's enough evidence to sustain the idea that it was owned by Brien Comey especially since someone congratulates him on his dad's ascension as chief of the FBI. Looking through the comments left on a picture featuring Comey's son led to his Instagram account. While locked and secure, sending a follow request still reveals a bit about the account. As soon as that request was sent, suggested accounts popped up beneath - Patrice Comey was among them - which is the FBI director's wife. Other suggested accounts lacking real names and profile photos varied in popularity, but only one had those "nine followers" Comey claimed to have - reinholdniebuhr. While that's not evidence enough that this is the actual account of Comey, it would be too much of a coincidence since he has a double major in religion and chemistry and wrote a thesis on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr at one point. So there it was - Comey's Instagram account. But what about the Twitter account? On to Twitter Well, searching Twitter for that name resulted in just a few accounts. One of them, @projectexile7 has an egg for a profile pic although it joined the platform in February 2014. One person is following the account - Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare, one of Comey's personal friends. The account follows various news channels and has liked quite a few articles, most of which have some relation to the FBI. Eight of them refer directly to James Comey himself of the FBI; one refers an active FBI investigation, four refer the Trump administration and so on. Of course, this is not 100% proof that it's Comey's account, but it could very well be given all the evidence that led thus far. The FBI refused to comment, as per usual. The account has gained thousands of followers, and some have gone as far as to dig a little deeper into the matter, revealing the star-filled email address used - which matches the pseudonym he uses on Instagram and as a name for the Twitter account. Source
  17. Instagram has become the latest social network to enable two-factor authentication, a valuable security feature that protects accounts from being compromised due to password reuse or phishing. Users can, and should, opt in by clicking on the settings icon in the top right of their profile, hitting two-factor authentication in the following menu, and enabling the setting to "require security code." Once enabled, the app will text a six-digit code to users’ phones every time they want to log in to the service. A simple security measure, it nonetheless provides an added layer of protection against accounts being hacked by attackers who have managed to steal credentials. Instagram joins Facebook, Twitter, Google and many others in offering some form of two-factor verification. Confusingly for users, all the methods are slightly different: Twitter requires logging in to be approved by opening the app on a trusted device, and Google uses an open standard to link up with its authenticator app, which generates new six-digit codes every 30 seconds. The site Turn It On provides a general step-by-step guide to enabling two-factor authentication on every service that offers it. Not included in the list is WhatsApp, which introduced a slightly different method of account security, called two-step verification, in February. But whatever the form, two-factor authentication is recommended by security experts for every user, as an easy and free way to secure accounts against intruders, which is why you should turn it on for Instagram today. Source
  18. Business reservations are coming to the selfie service. Instagram is looking to do more for advertisers than unveiling new filters, as the Facebook-owned service will soon allow users to use the picture sharing site to also book appointments with local businesses. The feature would allow the 8 million-plus businesses that use Instagram to attract customers to get more use out of social media network, according to Bloomberg. The new feature appears to be as straightforward as reserving a table for two at 7pm or squeezing in a trim at a local barber with simple interactions on the Instagram app - a boon to those looking for more customers than "likes." Instagram plans to roll out this feature in the coming months, with the service also reportedly giving some thought to adding reviews and other business-minded tools. Instagram head of business James Quarles says that 80% of the site's users follow a business of some kind, making it logical to have the service shift focus to local shops and not just Spring Break selfies and food pics. Additionally, these features effectively pit Instagram with other long-standing reference sites like OpenTable and Yelp, making it all the more interesting to see what direction Facebook takes its filter-flipping service going forward. Source
  19. Facebook Bans Devs From Creating Surveillance Tools With User Data Without a hint of irony, Facebook has told developers that they may not use data from Instagram and Facebook in surveillance tools. The social network says that the practice has long been a contravention of its policies, but it is now tidying up and clarifying the wording of its developer policies. American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change and the Center for Media Justice put pressure on Facebook after it transpired that data from users' feeds was being gathered and sold on to law enforcement agencies. The re-written developer policy now explicitly states that developers are not allowed to "use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance." It remains to be seen just how much of a difference this will make to the gathering and use of data, and there is nothing to say that Facebook's own developers will not continue to engage in the same practices. Deputy chief privacy officer at Facebook, Rob Sherman, says: Transparency reports published by Facebook show that the company has complied with government requests for data. The secrecy such requests and dealings are shrouded in means that there is no way of knowing whether Facebook is engaged in precisely the sort of activity it is banning others from performing. Source
  20. Some apps trying to steal your Insta credentials Apps trying to steal your Instagram credentials are popping in Google Play, posing as tools that will help you get more followers. According to researchers from ESET, 13 malicious apps were discovered in the official Google Play store, carrying Android/Spy.Inazigram. They phish for Instagram credentials and send them to a remote server. The tools have been installed by up to 1.5 million users around the world before ESET notified Google and they were removed from the store. It seems that the apps originated in Turkey, although some of them used Englished localization to target users at a wider level. The apps work in pretty much the same way by picking up Instagram credentials and sending them to a remote server. The apps were presented to users as tools that could increase their follower base considerably, as well as the number of likes and comments. The reality, however, was much different. How does it work? Attackers made the login page of these apps look extremely similar to that in the actual Instagram app. After typing in all the data, however, the email address and password combo were sent in plain text to the attackers' server. Once that happened, the user would no longer be able to log in as an "incorrect password" error screen appears. Users are told they should check the official Instagram page to verify their accounts following the password error. Since, at about the same time, users receive an email about an unauthorized attempt to log in on their behalf, the warning should help ease the mind of users, making them trust the app. Loads of fake promises If the user doesn't realize the dangers of the app and says it was them trying to log into the account, the attackers are given access to the Instagram accounts. Stealing Instagram credentials can be quite lucrative for the attackers. The compromised accounts can be used for spreading spam and ads, as well as to "like" and "comment" on other people's accounts which have bought packages to boost their numbers. In order to protect yourself, you should, preferably, stay away from this type of apps. If you ended up installing one of these apps, it's best to uninstall it and run a virus scan on your device. To secure your Instagram account go to the official page and change your password. If you used the same email-password combo on other accounts, it might be a good idea to reset those too. The whole scheme Source
  21. Ramme is an unofficial open-source Instagram desktop application made with Electron. Features A Beautiful Instagram Experience Instagram on your Desktop with the behavior of an app, including a couple extra features to enhance your Instagram experience. Background Behavior When closing the window, the app will continue running in the background, in the dock on macOS and the tray on Linux/Windows. Right-click the dock/tray icon and choose Quit to completely quit the app. On macOS, click the dock icon to show the window. On Linux, right-click the tray icon and choose Toggle to toggle the window. On Windows, click the tray icon to toggle the window. Source / Download Ramme.
  22. Attacker could have pocketed a few million euros per year Attack relies on 2FA token communication voice calls Belgian security researcher Arne Swinnen found an inventive way to steal money from companies like Facebook (through the Instagram service), Google, and Microsoft, using their 2FA voice-based token distribution systems. Most companies that deploy 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) send short codes via SMS to their users. Optionally, if the user chooses to, he can also receive a voice call from the company as well, during which a robot operator speaks the code out loud. These phone calls are usually placed to the phone number officially tied to those specific accounts. Attacks could theoretically work against other companies as well Swinnen discovered in his experiments that he could create Instagram Google and Microsoft Office 365 accounts, which he could then tie to a premium phone number instead of a regular phone number. When one of these three would call the account's phone number to communicate the user his access code, the premium SMS number would register an incoming call and bill the companies. Swinnen argues that attackers could create premium phone services and fake Instagram, Google or Microsoft accounts, linking them together. Using automated scripts, Swinnen says that an attacker could request 2FA tokens for all accounts, and by doing so, placing legitimate phone calls to his service, earning him quite a nice profit. Attacks lead to huge profits According to Swinnen's calculations, he could theoretically obtain €2,066,000 per year from Instagram, €432,000 per year from Google, and €669,000 per premium number from Microsoft. The technical and exploitation details are different per each service, and Swinnen explained them on his blog. The researcher reported the possible attack to all three services, via their bug bounty programs. Facebook rewarded the researcher with $2,000, Microsoft with $500, and Google with a mention in the company's Hall of Fame. Arne Swinnen is the same researcher that found an account takeover bug for Facebook, and later helped Instagram fix its login mechanism against various innovative brute-force attacks. Article source
  23. When Facebook spent $1 billion to purchase Instagram, many wondered how Mark Zuckerberg could ever make his money back on the deal. At the time, Instagram was not monetized and no one could see how something like that could happen. But last October, Instagram announced that it would start running ads on the app, something that happened the very next month. Get ready to be bombarded with ads if you are an Instagram user. A published report on Friday says that Omnicom Media will be spending $100 million on Instagram ads on behalf of clients, over the next year. Currently, Instagram has 150 million active users with 60% of them outside the U.S. 55 million pictures are loaded on the app daily. "This doesn't change our advertising strategy moving forward -- people will continue to see a limited number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from select brands who already have a strong presence on Instagram. Our teams are going to work hand in hand to develop and execute campaigns that provide people with amazing imagery. This is an exciting new chapter and we're looking forward to the great creative content that comes out of this partnership." - Jim Squires, director of market operations, Instagram According to the report, ads in the user's stream will remain there for more than a day and will be in the form of a still image or a video. Instead of throwing a ton of ads at Instagram users and seeing what sticks, the spots will be targeted and selective. Instagram is said to be working with a small number of long term partners. Now, Instagram just needs to find another $900 million in ads. Source
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