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LONDON, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Many people are switching from Facebook to closed forums like WhatsApp to discuss daily news because of worries about privacy, fake stories and toxic debates, a survey said recently.

The latest Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that news consumption via Facebook is falling, particularly among the young, who prefer WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat.

“People are... getting a little bit bored with Facebook,” Nic Newman, lead author of the seventh annual report said.

Facebook remains the most popular social network for news, with 36 per cent using it in the last week. But it has lost ground to other apps, especially WhatsApp, which has tripled in popularity as a source of news in four years to 15 per cent.

People feel more comfortable chatting on closed platforms in countries with polarised divides and where it can be dangerous to express political views openly, such as in Malaysia and Turkey, the study said.

Respondents said they often find stories on Facebook and Twitter and post them to a WhatsApp group for discussion with a smaller set of friends.

Although much of Facebook’s fall is attributable to its changed algorithms, which prioritise interactions with family and friends, trust is also a major concern.

Only 23 per cent of 74,000 people polled in 37 countries said they trust news on social media, compared to 44 percent trust in news overall.

More people are paying for online news in some countries, reaching 30 per cent in Norway, with donations also emerging as an alternative strategy, said the study by the Reuters Institute, which is funded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People find that some news is worth paying for, but much of it is not,” Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, the Reuters Institute’s research director, said in a statement.

“The challenge for publishers now is to ensure that the journalism they produce is truly distinct, relevant, and valuable, and then effectively promoting it to convince people to donate or subscribe.”


DUBAI, June 11, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook has announced that Arabic is now available as a language on the latest version of the Facebook for iPhone. In addition to the existing availability of Arabic on desktop and Android, this move will help people across the region use Facebook in their native language. This is just another example of Facebook's commitment to the MENA region.

Arabic is widely spoken amongst the 169 million people who use Facebook every month in the MENA region on mobile. This update is a result of Facebook's collaboration with veteran translators from the region through the Translate Facebook app, which enables anyone to translate the Facebook interface into their own language.

Jonathan Labin, Managing Director, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at Facebook said: "Languages are vital to our mission of bringing the world closer together and helping people build communities. They carry tradition, culture and unique opinions, and give us the opportunity to start meaningful conversations with different people. With this new update to Facebook on iPhone, we hope more people can connect with each other in the Middle East and North Africa region."

Facebook is now available in more than 100 languages, reaching over one billion people that use Facebook in a language other than English. People can easily switch their language on Facebook by navigating to the settings menu and selecting their preferred language settings.

To learn more about the Translate Facebook app, visit the Help Center.





SAN FRANCISCO, June 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook acknowledged recently a software glitch that changed the settings of some 14 million users, potentially making some posts public even if they were intended to be private.

The news marked the latest in a series of privacy embarrassments for the world’s biggest social network, which has faced a firestorm over the hijacking of personal data on tens of millions of users and more recently for disclosures on data-sharing deals with smartphone makers.

Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said in a statement that the company recently “found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts.”

Facebook said this affected users posting between May 18 and May 27 as it was implementing a new way to share some items such as photos.

That left the default or suggested method of sharing as public instead of only for specific users or friends.

Facebook said it corrected the problem on May 22 but was unable to change all the posts, so is now notifying affected users.

“Starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time,” Egan said.

“To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before — and they could still choose their audience just as they always have. We’d like to apologise for this mistake.”

Facebook confirmed earlier this week that China-based Huawei — which has been banned by the US military and is a lightning rod for cyberespionage concerns — was among device makers authorised to see user data in agreements that had been in place for years.

Facebook has claimed the agreements with some 60 device makers dating from a decade ago were designed to help the social media giant get more services into the mobile ecosystem.

Nonetheless, lawmakers expressed outrage that Chinese firms were given access to user data at a time when officials were trying to block their access to the US market over national security concerns.

The revelations come weeks after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was grilled in Congress about the hijacking of personal data on some 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy working on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.


SAN FRANCISCO, June 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook unveiled a portal devoted to streaming video game play and commentary as it ramped up its challenge to Amazon-owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube for esports fans.

Gaming creator programme lead John Imah and product manager Nick Miller described the new venue online at fb.gg as a “gaming video destination” that Facebook recently began testing.

“People will be able to discover gaming video on our new destination based on creators and games they follow, pages they like and groups they belong to,” Imah and Miller said in a blog post.

Live and recorded gaming video are aggregated at the social network’s new portal, according to Imah and Miller.

“Many people already watch gaming videos in News Feed, Groups and Pages, and we want to do more to help creators get discovered and reach new fans,” Imah and Miller said.

They also announced new efforts aimed at cultivating and supporting people who create video game related video for viewing online.

Facebook launched a gaming creator programme at the start of this year.

Digital content from video game industry events as well as esports competitions will be among offerings at fb.gg.

“To seed the ecosystem, inspire others, and bring great content to fb.gg, we are funding content from creators and esports that will also be aggregated in our gaming video destination,” Imah and Miller said.

The announcement comes ahead of the video game industry’s major Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, where Facebook will be showcasing efforts to build a “community for gamers,” according to the statement.

A hot trend of video game play streamed as spectator sport and “YouTubers” becoming famous for skills or pithy commentary was expected to pervade the annual gathering, which will even feature a first-ever celebrity pro-am tournament of raging popular death-match game “Fortnite.”

Last year, unveilings of eagerly awaited titles and new franchises at E3 were streamed live on platforms including Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube - drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Twitch was an esports pioneer, but faces increasing pressure from Facebook and YouTube as ranks of esports viewers grow along with the money to be made from audiences.


WASHINGTON, June 3, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook is rapidly losing ground against rival internet platforms in attracting and keeping US teenagers, a survey showed recently.

The Pew Research Centre report confirms a trend seen in other surveys, showing a sharp drop in Facebook’s share of what had long been a core age segment for the huge social network.

The survey found 51 per cent of US teens ages 13 to 17 use Facebook, compared with 85 per cent for YouTube, 72 per cent for Instagram and 69 per cent who are on Snapchat.

The landscape has shifted since a 2014-15 Pew survey which found Facebook leading other social networks with 71 per cent of the teen segment.

According to the survey, 95 per cent of the teens survey said they used a smartphone and 45 per cent were online “almost constantly”, with both figures showing increases from prior surveys.

“The social media environment among teens is quite different from what it was just three years ago,” said Pew researcher Monica Anderson, the lead author of the report.

“Back then, teens’ social media use mostly revolved around Facebook. Today, their habits revolve less around a single platform. At the same time we’ve seen this shift, teens are more digitally connected than ever.”

The survey showed a split over the impact of social media on the lives of the teens.

Pew found 31 per cent said social media has had a mostly positive impact, with 24 per cent describing its effect as mostly negative. The remaining 45 per cent said it was neither.

Those who reported a positive impact cited the ability to stay connected, find news and people with similar interests.

Others who found social media harmful cited the potential for online bullying, spreading of false information and addiction.

Facebook is the world’s biggest social network with some two billion regular users.

But some surveys and analysts suggest it is losing appeal to younger users amid a rise in services like Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram.

A report earlier this year by the research firm eMarketer said Snapchat is drawing youths away from Facebook at a quicker clip than Facebook-owned Instagram.

According to eMarketer, Facebook will lose two million US users under the age 24 this year, offsetting those losses with gains among older users.

A report last year by investment firm Piper Jaffray showed Snapchat is the preferred social network for US teens, with 47 per cent using the platform.


KAMPALA, June 2, 2018 (News Wires) - Uganda’s parliament has imposed a tax on the use of social media in a bid to raise revenue but opponents of the law say it aims to stifle criticism of President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986.

Users will be charged 200 shillings per day for services such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. That amounts to around $19 per year in a country where gross domestic product per capita was around $615 in 2016, according to World Bank figures.

The tax was passed on Wednesday as part of an overhaul of an excise duty law due to take effect next financial year which starts in July, parliament spokesman Chris Obore told Reuters.

A junior finance minister previously told journalists the tax would be levied daily by mobile phone operators on each SIM card used to access any of the targeted social media platforms.

There was no immediate comment from cell phone operators or social media companies, but rights advocates denounced the move.

“It (tax) is a new tool of stifling free expression and citizen organising that has been beyond the control of the state,” said Nicholas Opiyo, a Kampala-based lawyer who also heads a local rights organisation.

“It’s intended to curtail the ever increasing central role of social media in political organising,” he said.

A government spokesman did not return a call seeking comment but authorities have previously denied such accusations.

About 40 per cent of Uganda’s 40 million people use the internet, according to data from the regulating body Uganda Communications Commission.

Facebook and WhatsApp are widely used in Uganda and many other African countries.

Digital advocacy group the World Wide Web Foundation says data costs in Africa are among the world’s highest, a fact blamed for slow internet penetration and limited use even for those connected.

“Data right now is essential in nearly every worker’s day to day business, a responsible government should be lowering its price not the opposite,” said Diana Taremwa, a charity worker in the capital Kampala.

Critics of Museveni, 73, say his government employs a wide array of tactics to limit political debate, trample on civil rights and stifle the opposition.

Museveni has won a series of elections but his opponents say these have been rigged in his favour. His main rival, Kizza Besigye, has been jailed dozens of times since he first run against him in 2001.

Some opposition critics have in the past been charged for allegedly insulting him in posts on Facebook.

In the last presidential election in 2016, authorities also blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp saying the platforms would be used by the opposition to mobilise protests.

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