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Facebook Backs Off on Plan to Bring Ads to WhatsApp

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In a deviation from its normal monetization strategy, Facebook is reportedly reversing course on its plans to insert ads into messaging platform WhatsApp.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is re-thinking it’s approach to WhatsApp as a revenue-generating tool:

“WhatsApp in recent months disbanded a team that had been established to find the best ways to integrate ads into the service, according to people familiar with the matter. The team’s work was then deleted from WhatsApp’s code, the people said.”

That would mean that while WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users, it won’t be contributing significantly to Facebook’s overall revenues anytime soon.

Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion back in 2014 with a view to expanding its global empire, and tapping into the platform’s popularity in order to build another huge revenue pipeline for the company. At that time, WhatsApp was generating around $20 million p.a. by charging a $1 per year subscription fee in certain regions, but the company removed subscription fees in 2016, which most saw as part of a larger shift towards coming monetization plans from Facebook – i.e. ads in your message streams.

But monetizing messaging is not so easy, especially on WhatsApp, which has long made user privacy a focus, particularly through elements like end-to-end encryption as standard. 

Without access to in-depth user data, and with ads being more intrusive in private messaging streams, Facebook hasn’t been able to establish a clear way forward for WhatsApp monetization, while conflicts over potential ad targeting reportedly lead to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum leaving Facebook back in 2018.

Following Koum’s departure, it did seem as though WhatsApp ads were inevitable. In November 2018, WhatsApp confirmed that it would soon allow companies to purchase ads within WhatsApp Status, the platform’s own variation of Stories.

That report was re-iterated in several presentations to potential advertisers over the last year, but now, even Status ads are being shelved.

As per WSJ:

“For now, the focus is on features [which allow] businesses to communicate with customers and organize those contacts, said one person familiar with the matter.”

As noted, this conflicts with Facebook’s documented approach to app monetization, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined back in 2016.

At Facebook’s annual stockholder meeting in that year, Zuckerberg said that Facebook follows an established three-stage process for monetization:

  1. Build a product that people love
  2. Facilitate organic business behavior on the app (free of charge)
  3. Prove additional avenues for businesses who are seeking to expand their reach and presence

This latest update would suggest that WhatsApp remains stuck on step two, which is where it was at back in 2016, and seems likely to be stalled on for some time yet. 

The logical focus, then, will likely be on WhatsApp Pay and facilitating eCommerce in the app. Back in August, reports indicated that Facebook was in talks with regulators and potential business partners in both India and Indonesia in order to facilitate the arrival of WhatsApp Pay in both markets. These two regions have a combined WhatsApp user base of 500 million, and this would appear to be where Facebook is likely to derive the most revenue potential from the messaging platform, at least in the immediate term.

Building on this, last June, Facebook acquired Indian eCommerce platform Meesho, which connects sellers with customers on WhatsApp, as well as other social platforms.

Meesho

Through the expansion of WhatsApp Pay, and expanded investment in eCommerce providers like Meesho, Facebook could still create a broader business eco-system within WhatsApp, and eventually, generate revenue through either payment facilitation fees or targeted messaging options from previous customers who’ve agreed to receive such. 

There’s likely a range of options to consider in this respect, and with Facebook backing down on its traditional advertising approach, it may suggest that it’s confident that such alternatives will end up paying off significantly. 

So, no ads in your WhatsApp streams, which seems like a good move, and one that will please WhatsApp users. But expect Facebook to ramp up its focus on payments and eCommerce as a result.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Community work for police employee who leaked confidential files that wound up on Facebook

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Community work for police employee who leaked confidential files that wound up on Facebook

The National Intelligence Application holds a wealth of information about millions of New Zealanders. Photo / Peter McIntosh

A police employee who used intelligence software to pry into the lives of people her friend thought were suspicious has been sentenced to 80 hours community work.

Kayla Watson also took photos of four people’s secure police files and sent them to her friend, who then posted them in a Facebook chat group.

Early last year she was acting manager for the crime reporting line in Auckland when her friend contacted her about letterboxes being damaged and residents being harassed in her Massey neighbourhood.

“Dodge house was in our carpark attaching [sic] cars, breaking our letterboxes and fighting again last night,” she said to Watson over text.

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According to the Crown summary of facts supplied to NZME, Watson responded with: “What’s the address, I’ll have a look?” She then logged into the police’s National Intelligence Application (NIA) and searched the address her friend had supplied.

The NIA is a secure police record system used to store information about millions of New Zealanders. It includes flags for firearms licence holders, people known by police to be HIV (Aids) positive, and alerts for paedophiles and convicted murderers.

Access requires a security clearance and its use is audited to ensure employees aren’t misusing it. When new employees are given access, they are warned they can only use it for work purposes and must have a reason for everything they search within the system.

Alerts within the system can be placed on addresses and occupants of that same address can be linked to it.

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Watson clicked on four people associated with the address and then took photos on her phone of their files, which included the last three months of police callouts at the address.

“There is aaaalloooot [sic] against their address,” Watson said in a follow-up message to her friend. “Family violence, disorder, drug searches … the list goes on.”

She then sent the photographs she’d taken of the NIA files to her friend via Facebook messenger. Shortly after, the friend posted the images to a Facebook chat group containing 10 other people within the Massey area.

At least five of them had viewed it before police became aware. The photos were later removed from the group.

Watson’s lawyer, Todd Simmonds, told the court that he was seeking a discharge without conviction for his client and that the consequences for her employment with the police would be significant-enough as a punishment.

“Those consequences would be out of proportion to the overall gravity of what she foolishly did on the morning in question,” he told the court.

Simmonds said that it was likely Watson would be dismissed from the police if she was convicted and rejected the Crown’s submission that the offending had been premeditated.

Crown lawyer Rob MacDonald said that a key part of the offending was the harm Watson had caused to the community and the public’s trust and confidence in police and their ability to keep confidential information a secret.

He argued that there was an element of premeditation in her offending because it was several hours after her friend texted her that she logged onto NIA.

“It gave her several hours to contemplate her actions, it wasn’t knee-jerk offending reacting to events happening at that time,” he told the court this afternoon.

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“This isn’t a street fight that happened in the heat of the moment.”

MacDonald said consequences for Watson were already under way and police would be awaiting the outcome of today’s hearing to see whether she had been convicted.

“This goes to the heart of the defendant’s role at the police and the access that sworn and non-sworn officers have to private information. It’s something the police audit themselves every year as they appreciate the consequences of unauthorised access,” MacDonald said.

Ultimately in the Manukau District Court this afternoon Judge Penelope Ginnen declined to grant Watson a discharge without conviction, but she didn’t agree with the Crown’s view that her offending had been premeditated.

“It is my view there was not a great deal of premeditation, it was a spontaneous decision and you acted on it with too little thought,” she said.

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“Your position in the NZ Police requires a degree of trust to not misuse your position…you’ve breached that trust. You’ve worked for the police for a long time. You know that while things are monitored and audited the very nature of the work means it needs to be a high trust environment.”

Judge Ginnen said it was lucky that the information wasn’t shared further than the chat group.

“In this digital age it just takes a few clicks of a button for information to be distributed around the world.”

Judge Ginnen said Watson’s actions had damaged the police’s integrity, their trust within the community as well as the privacy of the individuals whose photos and files she shared.

“It was an appalling lapse of judgment on your part. But I do take into account that you didn’t do this for personal gain and you didn’t know your friend would share the information with the chat group,” she said.

“But it was a serious thing you did.”

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In sentencing Watson to 80 hours community work Judge Ginnen said she took into account Watson’s early guilty plea, complete lack of criminal history and her otherwise exemplary record during eight years working for the police.

However, the aggravating factors around the breach of privacy and the privileged position Watson was in for having access to the information in NIA meant that she could not escape a conviction.

Watson was placed on restrictive duties after the discovery of the information breach and returned to work within a month.

The police told NZME in an emailed statement that they could not comment on Watson’s case as it was still an active employment investigation.

Since the NIA was introduced in 2001, there have been several instances of police misusing the system, including one sworn police officer who gave information to gangs. Another used it to access information about his Tinder matches.

According to data released to NZME under the Official Information Act, four breaches of the NIA have resulted in criminal charges in the past five years – two of which were uniformed staff and the others were civilians, with Watson being one of those people.

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There are still 20 ongoing investigations into misuses of the NIA, with 13 of those involving sworn constabulary members.

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Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Platforms Go Offline

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Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Platforms Go Offline

Everything is down. Wednesday afternoon, widespread outages began to affect many of the internet’s most popular services, both social networks and otherwise. As of this writing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pokemon Go, and the McDonald’s mobile application a just a handful of the many services suffering from log-in difficulties. According to DownDetector, there’s no regional basis for the services going offline and reports are coming in from all corners of the country.

Meta—the parent company of Facebook—is only reporting “Major disruptions” with its ad service while Twitter says all of its systems are operational. Despite the difficulties, all other status pages for the aforementioned services suggest everything is operational. Keep scrolling to see what people are saying.

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Wannabe Blackpool councillor suspended by Tories after civil service staff called 'pedos' in Facebook post

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Wannabe Blackpool councillor suspended by Tories after civil service staff called 'pedos' in Facebook post

A prospective Blackpool councillor has been suspended from the Conservative Party following a series of offensive posts on social media that called …

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