Instagram to Start Hiding ‘Likes’ in the US This Week

Instagram is to begin testing hiding content "likes" in the United States this week. The change will first be rolled out to a limited number of accounts in the U.S., and users of those accounts will still be able to see how many likes they got on their own posts.

The plan was announced at WIRED25 by head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, who also took to Twitter to share the news.
"It's about young people," Mosseri said during the Wired panel. "The idea is to try to 'depressurize' Instagram, make it less of a competition and give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them."

"It means we're going to put a 15-year-old kid's interests before a public speaker's interest," he added. "When we look at the world of public content, we're going to put people in that world before organizations and corporations."
Hiding likes would fundamentally change the way Instagram works, as liking photos and garnering likes is one of the platform's main features.


The Facebook-owned, photo-based platform has conducted similar trials in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. The removal of Instagram likes follows other recent user-focused changes, like the addition of a timer that shows users how long they've spent in the app, and the removal of the Instagram Activities feed.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Saturday praised Instagram's decision to bring its like-hiding experiments to the U.S., retweeting Mosseri's Friday tweet and adding the comment, "Great step."

Dorsey has previously questioned the wisdom of Twitter's own use of likes. At last year's WIRED25 summit, the Twitter chief said: "Right now we have a big Like button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want it to go up [to get more followers]. Is that the right thing? Versus contributing to the public conversation or a healthy conversation? How do we incentive healthy conversation?"

Twitter has since played down reports that it plans to kill off the like button, but has acknowledged that it continues to look at the function's use and how it fits in with the platform's aim to promote "healthy conversation."


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Instagram Gains Support for iOS 13’s Dark Mode

Popular social networking app Instagram was today updated to add Dark Mode support for iOS 13, introducing a darker theme that activates when Dark Mode is turned on.

The new Dark Mode option is available throughout the app, from viewing the main feed to browsing to the profile. Dark Mode can be accessed by activating Dark Mode on an iPhone running the iOS 13 update.


To get Dark Mode, the latest version of Instagram is required, even though the release notes don't mention the new feature.


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US, UK, and Australia Urge Zuckerberg Not to Extend Encrypted Messaging to Facebook and Instagram

U.S., U.K., and Australian officials have contacted Facebook to request that it provides authorities with a way to access encrypted messages sent by users over the social network, it was revealed today.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp already uses end-to-end encryption to ensure only senders and recipients can read messages, but Facebook intends to extend the same protocols to its Messenger and Instagram Direct chat platforms.


However, government officials have penned an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him not to go ahead with the plan – or if it does, to at least give authorities a way to read encrypted messages for reasons of law enforcement, and in particular to prevent child sexual exploitation.

A draft of the letter, obtained by BuzzFeed News, is set to be released in tandem with an announcement on a new data-sharing agreement between law enforcement in the U.S. and the U.K. aimed at removing barriers to cross-border surveillance.
"We are writing to request that Facebook does not proceed with its plan to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services without ensuring that there is no reduction to user safety," the letter reads.

"Risks to public safety from Facebook’s proposals are exacerbated in the context of a single platform that would combine inaccessible messaging services with open profiles, providing unique routes for prospective offenders to identify and groom our children."

"Security enhancements to the virtual world should not make us more vulnerable in the physical world. Companies should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access to content, even for preventing or investigating the most serious crimes."
The letter, dated October 4, is signed by U.S. Attorney General William P Barr, U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and the Australian minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton.
"We believe people have the right to have a private conversation online, wherever they are in the world," a Facebook spokesperson said in response to the letter. "Ahead of our plans to bring more security and privacy to our messaging apps, we are consulting closely with child safety experts, governments and technology companies and devoting new teams and sophisticated technology so we can use all the information available to us to help keep people safe."

"We strongly oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere."
Zuckerberg also defended his decision to encrypt Facebook's messaging services, despite concerns about its impact on child exploitation and other criminal activity.

Speaking on Thursday in a livestreamed version of the company's weekly internal Q&A session, the CEO said child exploitation risks weighed "most heavily" on him when he was making the decision and pledged steps to minimize harm.

Apple has long opposed government attempts to gain access to encrypted communications through the use of backdoors in iOS devices.

In 2016, a U.S. federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

The FBI asked Apple to create a version of iOS that would both disable passcode security features and allow passcodes to be entered electronically, allowing it to then brute force the passcode on the device.

Apple announced that it would oppose the order in an open letter penned by Tim Cook, who said the FBI's request would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption. Apple said the software the FBI asked for could serve as a "master key" able to be used to get information from any iPhone or iPad - including its most recent devices - while the FBI claimed it only wanted access to a single iPhone.

Apple's dispute with the FBI ended on March 28, 2016 after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone through the help of Israeli firm Cellebrite and withdrew the lawsuit.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Instagram is Developing Another Direct Messaging App to Rival Snapchat

Facebook is said to be working on another messaging app called "Threads" that would act as a companion to the main Instagram app, reports The Verge.


Despite the demise of its standalone "Direct" messaging app, the social media company still appears intent on challenging Snapchat with the development of a rival platform. To that end, Threads would promote "constant, intimate sharing between users and close friends."

As per the Direct app, the core of Threads is messaging, and it looks very similar to Instagram's existing messaging interface. Messages from people on the user's "close friends" list in Instagram appear in a central feed, with a green dot indicating who is currently active.

Users can opt in to automatic sharing and Threads will regularly update their status, providing friends with real-time details on their location, speed, and more. The Verge notes that the app doesn't currently show friends a user's real-time location, but instead might say something like "on the move."

If a friend has posted an Instagram story recently, it can be viewed from inside Threads as well. There's also a camera interface for capturing photos and videos to share with close friends.

Whether Threads ever goes public remains to be seen, but it's worth noting that the Instagram Direct app was killed off because beta testers were reportedly frustrated about having to switch between Instagram and a second app for messages.

Still, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in March that he sees private messaging as the future of the company, so Threads could turn out to be a big part of that future.


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Instagram Website Flaw Exposed Users’ Phone Numbers and Email Addresses

A security researcher found a flaw in Instagram's website that caused thousands of users' email addresses and phone numbers to be exposed online for several weeks, it was revealed on Thursday.

David Stier, a data scientist and business consultant, told CNET the website source code for some Instagram user profiles included the account holder's contact information whenever it loaded in a web browser.

Although the contact information was available in Instagram's mobile app if users chose to reveal it in their profile, it was never displayed on the desktop version of the Instagram website, so it's unclear why the details were exposed.

The leaked contacts are said to have come from thousands of accounts belonging to private individuals, including minors, as well businesses and brands. Stier alerted Instagram to the problem shortly after discovering it in February, and the photo-focused social platform issued a patch in March.

According to Stier, including the details in the source code could have let hackers scrape the data from the website relatively easily and use it to compile a database listing the contact information of thousands of Instagram users.

A similar data haul may have already occurred. On Monday it was revealed that a database containing contact information for millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities, and brand accounts had been leaked online.

The records included public data pulled from Instagram, such as profile picture, biography, and follower numbers, but also private contact information like phone numbers and email addresses.

The database was initially uploaded and shared by Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, a company that pays Instagram influencers to share sponsored content. Though uploaded by Chtrbox, the database included info from influencers who have never worked with the company.

In a statement, Chtrbox said the information in its database wasn't private and that it didn't source the information through unethical means.

Instagram parent company Facebook said on Monday that it was investigating the Chtrbox database. "We're also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available," said Facebook.

A similar privacy befell the social media platform in August 2017, when a bug related to an Instagram API allowed hackers to breach multiple high-profile Instagram accounts belonging to celebrities.


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Contact Info for Millions of Instagram Influencers, Celebrities, and Brand Accounts Leaked Online

A database that contained contact information for millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities, and brand accounts was recently leaked online, reports TechCrunch.

The database, which was hosted by Amazon Web Services and contains more than 49 million records, was accessible without a password or other credentials according to the security researcher who informed TechCrunch about the leak.

Records include public data pulled from Instagram, such as profile picture, biography, and follower numbers, but also private contact information like phone numbers and email addresses.

Records also calculated the "worth" of each account based on follower count, engagement, reach, likes, and shares.

The database was initially uploaded and shared by Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, a company that pays Instagram influencers to share sponsored content. Though uploaded by Chtrbox, the database includes info from influencers who have never worked with the company.
TechCrunch found several high-profile influencers in the exposed database, including prominent food bloggers, celebrities and other social media influencers.

We contacted several people at random whose information was found in the database and provided them their phone numbers. Two of the people responded and confirmed their email address and phone number found in the database was used to set up their Instagram accounts. Neither had any involvement with Chtrbox, they said.
After hearing from TechCrunch, Chtrbox took the database offline, but the company's CEO did not respond to a request for comment on how the data was obtained.

Instagram parent company Facebook said that it was looking into the issue and aiming to determine whether the data was from Instagram or other sources. "We're also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available," said Facebook.


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Instagram to Scrap Standalone ‘Direct’ Messaging App

Direct for Instagram, the companion direct messaging app for the photo-sharing social media platform, is being killed off by Instagram in the next few weeks.


First spotted by social media commentator Matt Navarra, this news was delivered to users of Direct for Instagram via an in-app notification, which informed them that the standalone app is "going away" and that their conversations would be transferred to Instagram proper.
In the coming month, we'll no longer be supporting the Direct app. Your conversations will automatically move over to Instagram, so you don't need to do anything.

Direct was released in December 2017 as a Snapchat-style app with a camera-first focus, allowing Instagram users to message friends with "fun" photos, videos, and boomerangs. Users who installed Direct had their DM inbox removed from the regular Instagram app to encourage them to use the break-out app for all messaging on the social platform.

"We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that," the Facebook-owned company said at the time. "To make it easier and more fun for people to connect in this way, we are beginning to test Direct – a camera-first app that connects seamlessly back to Instagram."

Direct was initially rolled out to Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay, but Instagram never gave the app a global release, which is perhaps testament to the fact that the idea never really took off.

According to TechCrunch, Instagram will continue developing Direct features but within its main app. These new features, which have appeared variously in testing, include encryption in direct messaging, the ability to watch videos with other people, and a web version of the direct messaging feature.


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Facebook Co-Founder Calls For ‘Break Up’ of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp

Recently, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put forward the idea to reverse certain tech mergers to promote healthy competition in the market, particularly including Facebook and Instagram. In an op-ed shared today by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, that topic is revisited (via The New York Times).


According to Hughes, the Federal Trade Commission's "biggest mistake" was letting Facebook acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. As the co-founder pointed out, many people left Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but they didn't leave the Facebook ecosystem altogether because of Instagram and WhatsApp, with some people unaware that Facebook owned these social networks.
First, Facebook should be separated into multiple companies. The F.T.C., in conjunction with the Justice Department, should enforce antitrust laws by undoing the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions and banning future acquisitions for several years.

How would a breakup work? Facebook would have a brief period to spin off the Instagram and WhatsApp businesses, and the three would become distinct companies, most likely publicly traded. Facebook shareholders would initially hold stock in the new companies, although Mark and other executives would probably be required to divest their management shares.
In the years since its acqusitions, the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp have left each company, reportedly due to clashing with Mark Zuckerberg and his management of their apps. Hughes described an informal slogan that became well-known in the Facebook offices in the wake of its launch of the "Stories" format on Instagram and Facebook: "Don't be too proud to copy."
The vibrant marketplace that once drove Facebook and other social media companies to compete to come up with better products has virtually disappeared. This means there’s less chance of start-ups developing healthier, less exploitative social media platforms. It also means less accountability on issues like privacy.

Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power. The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.
Although the Cambridge Analytica scandal has passed, in 2019 Facebook continued to appear in headlines regarding data breaches and user privacy issues. In April alone, it was reported that Facebook's executive team used the data of its users as leverage over partner companies; two days later it emerged that Facebook harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent and used the data to build a web of their social connections.

That same day, Facebook confirmed that millions of Instagram passwords were stored on its servers in plain text with no encryption. Similar stories have been shared frequently since news broke about about the Cambridge Analytica scandal just over one year ago.

Amid all of the news, Facebook today announced the launch of a new feature for Stories called "Birthday Stories." Using this ability, friends and family members can add digital birthday cards, photos, or video messages to your Birthday Story, which will be visible at the top of the Facebook iOS app like other Stories.


The feature will be available in the birthday notification that pops up when a friend is celebrating their big day. From there, you'll be able to take a photo or video, share a music sticker on the Story, and more. Once multiple people have added to the Birthday Story, the person in question will be able to browse it like any traditional Facebook or Instagram Story.

The company said that its goal with the new update was expanding on existing birthday features on Facebook, while also continuing to push interaction with Stories. It's been over two years since Facebook Stories began rolling out to users, and nearly three years since Instagram first copied the Stories format from Snapchat.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Instagram Announces New Camera Design and Create Mode, Tests Hiding Likes in Canada

Instagram today announced the upcoming addition of some new features to the social networking app, including an updated camera design and a new Create Mode, aimed at making it easier to share content without a photo or video.

The updated camera design features a wheel with selectable camera modes and effects, along with dedicated sections for live broadcasting and the new Create Mode. Instagram says the new camera update is designed to make adding effects and interactive stickers to content simpler. Instagram plans to roll out the new camera and Create Mode around the world "soon."


Instagram is also debuting a new shopping feature for finding items creators are using, and it's adding a new donation sticker that will let users raise money for nonprofit organizations.


To use this new feature, open the camera, take or upload a photo, tap the sticker icon and select the donation sticker from the tray. Choose a nonprofit to support and customize your fundraiser using creative tools. Once it's live, swipe up on your story to view the total amount raised. 100% of the money you raise on Instagram goes to the nonprofit you are supporting.
Separately, Instagram told TechCrunch that starting later this week, it will be running a test in Canada that removes the total number of likes on photos and video views in the Feed, Permalink pages, and Profile.

Instagram says this feature is being tested because it wants followers to "focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get." Only a small percentage of Canadian users will be added to the test.


The person who created the post can still open the Likers window to see the names of people who hearted their posts, but no total count is provided. It's not clear how long the test will last and if Instagram will roll this out to other regions in the future.


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Instagram Could Hide the Like Count on Photos

Instagram has considered hiding the like count on images uploaded to the social network, which would prevent people from seeing how many people have tapped the "heart" icon on each photo.

The feature was found by Jane Manchun Wong, who often hunts down features in testing in Instagram and Twitter. As depicted in an image shown by Wong, the like count on a photo is hidden by default and visible only by the person who posted the photo.


"We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets," reads the description of the feature.

In a statement to The Verge, however, Instagram says that the feature is not being tested at the current time: "We're not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we're always thinking about.

Hiding likes would fundamentally change the way Instagram works, as liking photos and garnering likes is one of the platform's main features.


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