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Facebook ‘Clear History’ US delay and Snapchat AR update – News roundup

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 30 Aug, 2019
Essential Essential topic

Facebook's US 'Clear History' rollout could be delayed, Snapchat has added new features to Lens Studio AR, Instagram is testing a new messaging app, Facebook bans The Epoch Times from advertising, Google Assistant answering ability improvements, Facebook adds 3D photos to Android

Facebook's 'Clear History' tool has started to be rolled out but it could be delayed in the US due to a court case.

Snapchat is making it easier for users to create AR experiences by adding new features to its Lens Studio AR.

Instagram is testing a new type of messenger app aimed at close friends and featuring automatic updates.

Facebook has banned pro-Trump The Epoch Times from advertising on the platform after it broke advertising rules.

Google Assistant is now able to answer more questions, suggesting that voice search is set to become more popular.

Facebook has finally rolled out 3D photos to a number of Android devices and has expanded the number of iOS devices it is available on.

Get more details on these stories with today's news roundup.

Facebook Clear History

Court case could delay Facebook ‘Clear History’ tool US rollout

Last week we spoke about how Facebook is starting to roll out its ‘Clear History’ tool to allow users to stop the platform from collecting offsite data to be added to their Facebook data profile.

While the tool has been long-awaited by many as Facebook is urged to provide better transparency when it comes to data use, its rollout in the US could be hindered. According to Bloomberg, the ability to clear data from Facebook profiles could potentially impact a pending court case in the state of Texas.

The news provider said: “A state judge in Texas on Thursday temporarily blocked the planned rollout of the Off-Facebook Activity feature in the US at the request of a woman who claims in a lawsuit the company didn’t do enough to save her from being trafficked after meeting predators on the social network as a teenager.”

The case has seen the claimant’s attorneys ask for the Facebook browsing history of the accused, which could potentially be cleared by the platform’s tool if the individual chose to use the ‘Clear History’ tool.

Currently, there is no official US launch date for Facebook’s new data tool and it has only been launched in Ireland, South Korea and Spain so far. However, this court trial could see the eventual US rollout delayed.

Snapchat Lens Studio AR

Snapchat updates Lens Studio AR

Snapchat is looking to make it easier for users to build AR experiences on the platform with a new update for its Lens Studio AR. The update is aimed at helping novices create their own AR experiences, as well as providing new tools to improve functionality.

The Lens platform now includes an interactive tour that takes new users through how to use it in order to create AR experiences. This effectively shows users step by step how they can create a Snap Lens using the platform’s templates.

It also has six new templates, as well as a range of tools available, expanding its offering just as Instagram starts to get into the AR market. These tools include:

  • Countdown
  • Hair colour
  • Make-up
  • Face in video
  • Portrait particles

According to Snapchat, within the first year of launching its tools to allow users to create AR effects, over 250,000 Lenses were submitted with over 15 billion views being recorded. With figures like this, it’s no wonder that Snapchat is looking to expand its offering.

Instagram testing new messaging app

Instagram is launching a new messaging app designed to enable close friends to engage in unrestricted sharing. Threads has been designed as a companion to Instagram and enables users to automatically share information like their location and even their battery life with close friends. On top of this, the app will allow for more traditional messaging, including text, video and photo.

While the messaging app has not yet been released, it is currently being put through internal testing by Facebook, which owns Instagram.

This follows on from Instagram stopping work on its standalone messaging app Direct in May, which had been in development since 2017. This was a result of, according to Instagram, beta testers getting frustrated at having to switch from Instagram to another app whenever they wanted to send someone a message. Following this, employees who work on Instagram messaging were moved to the Facebook Messenger team.

This latest move seems to be in direct response to the popularity of Snapchat’s messenger ability. Reports suggest that Snapchat users spend more time within the app than Instagram users do, which might be why Instagram is looking to encourage messaging between close friends.

According to the Verge, the core messaging offering of Threads look very similar to the current messaging option within Instagram, but the automated aspect keeps people up-to-date with what users are up to on a day-to-day basis.

Facebook logo

Facebook bans The Epoch Times from advertising

Facebook has banned The Epoch Times from being able to advertise on its social media platform. The conservative news outlet was accused by an NBC News investigation of attempting to get around the platform’s rules regarding transparency with political advertising, which prompted the ban.

The Epoch Times spent a reported $1.5 million on Facebook adverts that were pro-Donald Trump during the last six months. These adverts were, up until July, clearly showing that they were affiliated with the organization. However, it is suggested that when questions were raised as to whether the adverts violated Facebook’s advertising policies, the ads were showing as being bought by decoy accounts.

A Facebook spokesperson told NBC News: “Over the past year we removed accounts associated with The Epoch Times for violating our ad policies, including trying to get around our review systems. We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us.”

Google Logo

Google Assistant answering ability improving

Google Assistant’s ability to answer questions is reportedly improving, suggesting that voice search could become increasingly popular in the future. According to voice experience agency Rabbit and Pork, Google Assistant’s ability to answer questions has increased by 26% since the company’s previous report.

The report shows that in quarter one of this year, Assistant could answer 23% of questions posed to it. This increased to 67% in quarter two, showing that the assistant is learning as usage increases.

According to the agency, this improvement is likely due to a number of factors, including improved search algorithm ability and an increase in focus from brands in terms of voice-friendly content.

These findings show that marketers need to consider how they can make their website voice search-friendly in order to make the most of the number of people who are using voice search, whether through smartphones or devices like Google Home.

Facebook 3D photos

Facebook rolls 3D photos out to Android devices

Facebook has finally made 3D photos available to the Android version of its social media app. The platform initially launched 3D photos last autumn, but the feature was only available to a selection of iOS devices.

Following the popularity of this photo format, Facebook is expanding its availability to include a range of Android devices, as well as more iOS devices.

The photos utilize the dual camera capacity of smartphones to add depth to a photo and make them appear to be 3D. This adds another creative option for photos, along with 360-degree photos – of which, over 70 million were uploaded to the platform in 2018.

Over time, Facebook has increased its 3D photo options, allowing users to post them to Stories and on Messenger, as well as providing desktop support. This means marketers should consider the option when creating posts for social media.

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