Facebook quietly built “Popular Photos”, an in-app Instagram

Facebook is copying Instagram while simultaneously invading its acquisition with branding and links back to the mothership. TechCrunch has spotted Facebook testing a feature called Popular Photos, which affixes an endless scroll of algorithmically selected pics from friends beneath the full-screen view of a photo opened from the News Feed. The result is an experience that feels like the Instagram feed, but inside of Facebook.

Popular Photos could offer users a more relaxing, lean-back browsing experience that omits links you have to click through, status updates you have to read, and other content types that bog down the News Feed. Instead, users can just passively watch the pretty pictures go by.

Facebook’s text and link-heavy feed looks increasingly stodgy and exhausting compared to visual communication-based social networks like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Users have to do the work of digging into the meaning of News Feed each post rather than being instantly entertained. That experience doesn’t fit as well into short browsing sessions throughout the day, or when users are already drained from work, school, or family. Facebook used to have a dedicated Photos bookmark on desktop that would let you just browse that content type, but at some point it disappeared.

A Facebook spokesperson confirms that Facebook was running a small test of Popular Photos in October when we spotted it. That trial has concluded but the team is now iterating on the product and plans to do updated tests in the future. The company refused to disclose more details or its motives for Popular Photos. Given Facebook already has Stories, messaging, profiles, and its IGTV-esque Watch video hub, it’s only the Explore tab and a dedicated media feed that are missing from it being a full clone of Instagram.

Here’s how Popular Photos works. When users discover a photo in the News Feed or a profile, they can tap on it to see it full-screen on a black theater-view background. Typically, if users swipe or scroll on that photo, they’re just booted back out to where they came from. But with the Popular Photos feature, Facebook splays out more images for users to scroll through after the original.

By scrolling down past the Popular Photos title, they’ll see additional pics and a “See More Photos” label beckoning them to keep whipping through more public and friends-only images shared by friends and who they follow. Like on Instagram but unlike the News Feed, Facebook truncates the captions of Popular Photos after only around 65 characters so the stream doesn’t look overwhelmingly wordy. The black backgrounds give a more cinematic feel to the Popular Photos, putting emphasis on the imagery.

Facebook started showing Related Videos in 2014 when users scrolled past a video they’d opened full-screen. Now this “More Videos” feature will auto-play the next video and automatically bump users down the feed to view it. The feature even shows video ads. That could foreshadow Facebook inserting advertisers’ photos into the Popular Photos tab to monetize the extra browsing.

Facebook hasn’t been shy about trying to leverage Instagram to benefit itself. The company has placed an Open Facebook button in the Instagram navigation sidebar.

Previously, Instagram tried showing Facebook alerts in its own Notifications tab, and an annoying red counter for Facebook notifications on the three-line hamburger button that opens the Instagram sidebar in an attempt to drive referral traffic back to the Facebook app. Facebook has also tried notifying users in its app asking them to Like the Facebook Pages of people they follow on Instagram. And now, a “from Facebook” and new FACEBOOK logo can be found appended to the Instagram loading screen.

For Facebook to keep growing after 15 years in the market, it needs to fully embrace visual communication. It’s already copied Snapchat Stories and implemented the ephemeral photo and video format across its apps. Clearly it’s not above copying its own subsidiary Instagram to offer an alternative take on feed scrolling. I wonder how Instagram’s team feels about its parent company building a direct competitor?

Facebook bug exposed up to 6.8M users’ unposted photos to apps

Reset the “days since the last Facebook privacy scandal” counter, as a Facebook has just revealed a Photo API bug gave app developers too much access to the photos of up to 5.6 million users. The bug allowed apps users had approved to pull their timeline photos to also receive their Facebook Stories, Marketplace photos, and most worryingly, photos they’d uploaded to Facebook but never shared. Facebook says the bug ran for 12 days from September 13th to September 25th.

Facebook initially didn’t disclose when it discovered the bug, but in response to TechCrunch’s inquiry, a spokesperson says that it was discovered and fixed on September 25th. They say it took time for the company to investigate whch apps and people were impacted, and build and translate the warning notification it will send impacted users. The delay could put Facebook at risk of GDPR fines for not promptly disclosing the issue within 72 hours that can go up to 20 million pounds or 4 percent of annual global revenue.

Facebook provided merely a glib “We’re sorry this happened” in terms of an apology. It will provide tools next week for app developers to check if they were impacted and it will work with them to delete photos they shouldn’t have. The company plans to notify people it suspects may have been impacted by the bug via Facebook notification that will direct them to the Help Center where they’ll see if they used any apps impacted by the bug. It’s recommending users log into apps to check if they have wrongful photo access. Here’s a look at a mockup of warning notifcation users will see:

The privacy failure will further weaken confidence that Facebook is a reponsible steward for our private data. It follows Facebook’s massive security breach that allowed hackers to scrape 30 million people’s information back in September. There was also November’s bug allowing websites to read users’ Likes, October’s bug that mistakenly deleted people’s Live videos, and May’s bug that changed people’s status update composer privacy settings. It increasingly looks like the social network has gotten too big for the company to secure. Curiously, Facebook discovered the bug on September 25th, the same day as its 30 million user breach. Perhaps it kept a lid on the situation in hopes of not creating an even bigger scandal.

That it keeps photos you partially uploaded but never posted in the first place is creepy, but the fact that these could be exposed to third-party developers is truly unacceptable. And it seems Facebook is so tired of its failings that it couldn’t put forward even a seemingly heartfelt apology is telling. This company’s troubles are not only souring users on Facebook, but employees and the tech industry as large as well. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress earlier this year that “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.” What does Facebook deserve at this point?

Facebook Messenger reminds you to send photos to your friends using facial recognition

Facebook Messenger app

Facebook is deploying a new way to help you share your photos with friends through its Messenger app. Called “Photo Magic”, it’ll scan through your most recent photos, use facial recognition to find out who’s in them, and prompt you to send the image right to associated individuals.

This capability is said to be already available to users in Australia today on Android with an update coming to iOS later on. For those in the rest of the world, Facebook will launch the feature in the coming months.

With more than 700 million monthly active users, Facebook Messenger is a product that is rapidly becoming central to the way we live our lives. At first, it was considered to be on the scale of what AOL’s Instant Messenger or perhaps even what Google Hangouts is, but over the past couple of years, Facebook has invested resources to make it a communication platform among friends, customers, and businesses.

Using "Photo Magic" on Facebook Messenger for Android

Above: Using “Photo Magic” on Facebook Messenger for Android

Image Credit: Facebook

The original idea to unbundle Messenger from the core Facebook app was met with criticism, but over time it appears to be gaining acceptance, likely because of the new features that are being tested, such as the company’s mobile virtual assistant service “M”.

This isn’t the first time facial recognition has made it to the social networking company’s bespoke apps. In June, it debuted Moments, a service that facilitates sharing of photos with friends. The best way to find out who to share your photos with is through facial recognition. And let’s not forget that the social network itself uses this technology to help you determine who to tag when you’re uploading photos, likely powered through Facebook’s acquisition of Face.com in 2012 for up to $100 million.


From VentureBeat
Personalization gets you in the door. Mobile personalization gets you in their hearts. Find out more in this free interactive web event.

I know that I take a bunch of photos on my mobile device and when I want to share it with others, it can be difficult to remember who was in there, especially if there’s a group photo. Plus the time it takes to sort through them all can be tedious, but with this capability, you can share private moments with individuals or groups in what could be an streamlined fashion.

Of course the motivate behind this is to continue to show the benefit of Facebook Messenger. If this app can tell you who’s in a photo and you can share it with your friends, you might feel more inclined to make it your default conversational tool. As a result, it’ll be at the forefront when you think about wanting to talk to businesses or anything else.

To some, the idea of using facial recognition to find out who they are can be kind of creepy and an invasion of their privacy. However, know that within Facebook’s settings, you can opt out of being detected.

 

More information:

Powered by VBProfiles