Facebook announced today that it will be building its third huge data center building in the desert in the middle of Oregon. The company intends to invest at least $200 million in the expansion of the site, which is the first of five around the world that Facebook has constructed from the ground up.
“Building 3 will feature the latest Open Compute Project hardware designs — including Yosemite, Wedge, and 6-pack — and, like our other buildings, will be cooled using our cool Central Oregon high desert air instead of energy-intensive air conditioners,” Ken Patchett, director of data center operations for Facebook’s West Region, wrote in a Facebook post today.
In addition to these three buildings in Prineville, Ore., Facebook also has a cold storage facility for holding onto less frequently accessed data, like old pictures.
Facebook is one of a few Web companies that have opted to erect entire buildings to hold their own IT equipment. (Others include Google, which is coincidentally looking to expand its own data center site in Oregon.) These days, many modern tech companies rent out access to server and storage hardware in clouds like Amazon Web Services or pay for space for their hardware inside colocation facilities.
Facebook also has data center sites in North Carolina, Iowa, and Sweden. And in July the company confirmed — following speculation — that it would build out its fifth site, in Fort Worth, Texas.
I used to live 40 minutes away from Prineville, in a city called Bend. When I met Patchett a few years ago, when there was just one building, I asked him if Facebook would ever construct another building to run its servers, storage, and networking equipment in the area. He told me it would depend on usage of Facebook.
Back then Facebook had around 750 million monthly active users. Of course, Facebook has since grown a lot. Now it has just about twice as many users — 1.49 billion on June 30. Hence the need to grow the infrastructure footprint, both in Prineville and elsewhere around the world. Patchett’s answer seemed vague to me at the time, but he was right.
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Instagram is making improvements to the way its users share photos and videos with each other. Today’s updates makes the visual social network’s messaging capabilities more conversational, letting you send hashtag and location pages just by tapping on an icon.
Launched in 2013, Instagram Direct started off as a way for people to share moments with one person or with a smaller group. The company says that since its debut, 85 million people use this feature to “send inside jokes, family videos, photos from road trips, and other moments meant only for a handful of people.” But the one problem is that it was just a finite loop — users would share content but that’s it.
Now Instagram is enabling threaded messages to make it easier for users to go back and forth with the people that they want to talk to the most. And don’t worry about privacy concerns, as the company says that content shared via Direct will only be visible to recipients. Additionally, if you have a private account, only those people you grant access to will be able to see those messages in Direct.
Other updates include being able to label group messages and also add people to a group conversation, somewhat akin to Twitter’s Group Direct Message feature; users can now respond to messages with “jumbo” emojis (!) or now respond to messages through the use of a quick camera feature to post a selfie or another photo.
With more than 300 million monthly active users, Instagram is a valuable commodity within the Facebook ecosystem. The evolution of a message feature gives the social networking company another powerful communications platform, hot on the heels of Facebook Messenger and also WhatsApp.
Instagram is the place where people can tell their visual stories of their lives and it’s right that the company has added these features. Now users can share their memories on a popular platform and in private without having to worry about having their account set to private. What’s more, this might help to clean up all the incessant @mentions that are in posts — you know the ones where a user would go to a photo and tag someone and you’re wondering what the context is. Instagram says that nearly 40 percent of all comments include an @mention.
All posts will include an arrow that when tapped, will enable users to send it to a friend or group as a message. These features are now available on Instagram’s Android and iOS apps today.
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Days ago Branch cofounder Josh Miller left Facebook with little explanation. Now we know what he’s doing next.
The young founder revealed on his personal blog today that he’s immediately starting a new role a the White House’s first Director of Product. There, Miller explains that he hopes to expand the White House’s existing digital “portfolio,” which so far includes its website and the the “We the People” petition service.
Now, I’m moving on to something new while also returning to an old problem that means a lot to me. Today, I start in a new role at the White House serving as their first Director of Product. I’m as giddy, wide-eyed, and determined as ever. The White House has many digital products – from WhiteHouse.gov to the We the People Petition site. It’s a dream to be able to add to and improve this portfolio.
In order to do that, my plan is to lean on the product ideals that I learned during the last four years building Branch and working at Facebook. Wouldn’t it be great if your government had a conversation with you instead of just talking at you? The Obama Administration has already responded to 255 online petitions that had collectively gathered more than 11 million signatures. Imagine if talking to the government was as easy as talking to your friends on social networks? White House officials have started to regularly host Q&As on Twitter. These initiatives represent amazing progress, and there’s so much more good work to be done. I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned in the technology industry to the ideals of our democracy. As a mentor of mine likes to say, “It’s gonna be great!”
Today, I start in a new role serving as the White House's first Director of Product! http://t.co/xO3dCYFyPA
— Josh Miller (@joshm) September 1, 2015
The Indian government has formally accused Google of manipulating its search results to favor its own products.
According to a story today in the Economic Times of India, the government took actions after receiving a host of complaints from Google’s competitors, including Facebook, Microsoft, Flipkart, Nokia’s maps division, and MakeMy-Trip.com. The charges made by India’s Competition Commission closely mirror the anti-trust charges filed earlier this year by the European Commission.
The Times story said the agency had canvassed 30 businesses that provide a range of services that compete with Google. The case was filed last week, and Google has until Sept. 10 to file a response. If the ruling goes against Google, the company could be forced to pay up to 10 percent of its revenues in penalties.
The charges are the latest regulatory headache for a company that has been trying to argue for years that it is not abusing its dominant position in search across the globe. While U.S. regulators opted not to pursue a case, EC officials filed their formal case after spending years trying to negotiate a settlement with Google.
With Google essentially locked out of the massive Chinese Internet market, it would be a big blow to the company if it is also forced to curtail its activity in India. That country is one of the fastest growing in terms of smartphone use and Internet adoption, making it a lucrative target for many U.S. tech companies looking for ways to continue growing.
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Facebook’s Josh Miller has announced that he’s leaving the social networking company today. Perhaps better known as the founder of Branch Media, Miller spent nearly the past 1.5 years as a product manager at Facebook. He did not provide any other statement about his future plans, saying: “More on what’s next very soon!”
Today, we announced 1 billion people used Facebook in 24 hours. It's was also my last day at the company. More on what's next very soon!
— Josh Miller (@joshm) August 27, 2015
Prior to joining Facebook via acquisition, Miller’s startup produced two services: the conversation service Branch and the link-sharing service Potluck. Both were shelved following Facebook’s purchase. While he’s been at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, Miller has worked on products like the collaborative video app Riff, anonymous app Rooms, and others.
In January 2014, Miller became a venture partner for investment firm Betaworks, which recently added former AOL executive Peter Rojas as its entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR).
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced today that on Monday the company recorded 1 billion daily users. This is the first time in its history that Facebook has hit this milestone.
In a posting, Zuckerberg shared that while the company uses “average numbers” for its financials, this time this is actual numbers, which equates to 1 in 7 people on Earth connecting with their friends and family using Facebook.
During the company’s Q2 FY2015 earnings report, Facebook’s daily active users (DAUs) increased to 968 million, an increase of 17 percent from the year prior. But again, since Facebook deals in averages for its quarterly numbers, while 1 billion daily users is impressive, what’s going to be worth looking at is Facebook’s DAUs for its next earnings.
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