Amidst continuing security and privacy concerns, Facebook pushed forward this week with their annual 2-day F8 developers conference. The conference is the tech giant’s biggest event of the year, which usually contains fun and exciting new products and updates.
This year, alongside the usually amusing jokes and updates, there was a bit of pressure on the social media giant to address recent weeks and privacy worries since the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
If you haven’t caught up with the news yet, read up on the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data leak here.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke on the subject, and even poked fun about his US Congress hearing, before jumping onto more exciting subjects.
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Here are the highlights of this year’s F8.
Security, Credibility and Trust; Clear your history and trustworthy news
Zuckerberg discussed the issue that many people have on their minds lately, how will Facebook continue to strengthen themselves against another leak and how can they assure its users that they can protect their data.
In a time when people are in fear of their data being used against them, Zuckerberg stepped out and stated “A lot of sites need this data to work. You need cookies [for a better experience], but you should have the ability to go and clear your history [like a browser] at any point you want.”
With this, the CEO announced Clear History. A new feature that will “enable you to see the websites and apps that send us information when you use them, delete this information from your account, and turn off our ability to store it associated with your account going forward,” stated a Facebook blog post.
The feature has been said to already be underway, but no release date has been announced. For now, for those worried, they can still do a Facebook cleanse.
Find out how to check your data, read Facebook collects data about you more than you think: How to clear it for yourself?
Zuckerberg does caution users though, stating that opting out of data collection may lower the Facebook Experience.
Facebook also announced a new “trustworthiness” ranking system for news organizations on the social platform, as they continue to tackle fake news on the network.
The metric will be used to either promote or hold back content from users from particular news sources. The company states they have collected data from users on how they perceive certain news outlets, which could be how they will measure the “trustworthiness” or credibility of a news organization.
Dating Home; the new era of online dating?
The wildest announcement from the tech giant is their move into the dating scene.
Facebook will be creating a new section on their platform called “Dating Home,” in which users can create dating profiles separated from their normal profile.
F8’s audience were wowed at the announcement, and laughed as Zuckerberg stated “This is for long-term relationships, not just hookups.”
“It mirrors the way people actually date, which is usually at events and institutions that they’re connected to,” chief product officer Chris Cox said during the F8 conference.
Soon after the announcement, stocks for Match Group, the company behind other online dating services Tinder and OKCupid, plunged 22%.
Many took this as another sign of Facebook’s power, in which it has always found a way to break down competition through their sheer number of users.
The opt-in service will only be available to people who state they are single on their profiles, and users can not see other friends’ profiles.
Messaging between users will only be in text for safety reasons, and users can find potential dates through groups or events they are interested in.
“I want to be clear that we have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning.” Said Facebook’s CEO.
Our favorite apps get upgrades; Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp
The main updates to our favorite apps this year is Augmented Reality (AR) support and video chat.
Instagram’s Direct messaging service and WhatsApp will both soon be able to allow video calls with all your friends, Instagram will also allow you to continue surfing the platform while laughing with friends.
The photo-sharing platform announced some great updates that will be available within coming months.
The popular Instagram stories will be upgrading with new AR support and 3rd party integrations. Instagram, like Facebook’s Camera which was released last year at F8, will soon be able to use AR effects.
Outside developers will also be able to create filters, such as branded filters on Facebook.
3rd party integrations will make stories an exciting place, as you can now start sharing from apps such as Spotify, to show off what you’re listening to and etc. According to Instagram’s blog post, you won’t need to connect your Instagram account to share from other apps.
Instagram also announced a new bullying filter, which will filter comments meant to “harass or upset people” on the platform. The explore tab will also get a new look, with content separated into topics such as Animals and Photography.
Messenger also gets the AR upgrade, allowing businesses more ways to interact with customers. Businesses will be able to “[bring] the virtual and physical worlds one step closer together” with the new Camera Effects Platform.
Unfortunately, it is currently under Beta but businesses can sign up to a waitlist to be notified when it’ll be available for all businesses.
M, Messenger’s assistant, gets a new featured called M Translations. The plan is, in the future, when customers and businesses (on Marketplace) of different languages communicate on Messenger, M will suggest to translate it for them. Businesses can also opt in on automatic translations.
Oculus Go; Facebook’s most mobile VR headset
Oculus Go is one of the cheapest, and most portable Virtual Reality (VR) headsets out there.
The headset, unlike its predecessor the Oculus Rift, doesn’t need a computer or a console to perform its VR duties.
To entice people even more to buy the headset, it gets released alongside over 1000 titles already available for download.
Facebook’s CEO was excited as he announced the launch of Oculus Go, and had a small Oprah moment during the conference.
— Amara Aguilar (@amara_media) May 1, 2018
Saving the world through Crisis Response and Blood Donations
During the conference, Facebook announced that it would be expanding its Blood Donation initiative, which was created last year, by introducing a new hub on the platform where users can find blood donors and donate blood to those in need.
Users in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan will in a few weeks be able to view nearby blood donation camps, user requests for donations, and blood bank locations from a single place.
“We know that donors want to step up to help their community, but often don’t know when or where to donate,” said Facebook in a blog post.
Facebook also stated that there are currently a combined 8 million registered blood donors in India, Pakistan on its platform, making it the largest online blood bank database for the region.
The platform’s Crisis Response will also be getting a new feature to improve people’s ability to help each other.
Crisis Response will now allow people to share first-hand accounts, and real-time information updates such as road closures and other dangers, through photos and videos. This will provide people in crisis zones with more actionable information to keep themselves safe during emergencies.
What do you think of the new updates? Let us know what update is your favorite in the comments.