New Facebook and Instagram Options Let US Users Turn Off Political Ads

Facebook is adding the option for users to turn off all political advertising in the Facebook and Instagram apps from today, the company has announced in a blog post.

The option will pop up for users directly on any political ad that appears on the two Facebook-owned platforms. Users will also be able to hide ads by clicking on the advertisement or by accessing a new menu option in either of the app's ad settings.

The new ability to disable political ads will apply to political, electoral, and social issue ads from candidates, Super PACs and other organizations that include the "Paid for by" political disclaimer.

The option will appear immediately for some U.S. users and roll out more broadly in the coming weeks. Facebook says is also plans to make the setting available outside the U.S. in countries where it has enforcement on ads about social issues, elections and politics.


In addition, Facebook says it is ensuring ads are more transparent by making sure the "Paid for by" disclaimers on political ads follow them after they've been shared. It is also allowing anyone who uses the company's Ad Library to track ad spending for Congressional races, rather than just making it available for U.S. presidential campaigns.

Along with the changes to how it manages political ads, Facebook also announced a Voting Information Center that will provide information on how and where to vote, as well as how to register to vote and how to vote by mail. Users can also turn on alerts that will remind them to vote and direct them to polling places when voting begins in November.


"We've built some of the most advanced systems in the world to combat election interference," said Facebook. "The Voting Information Center will be another line of defense."

In an op-ed published in USA Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested these efforts were a response to criticisms about the platform's lack of action to curb the spread of misinformation online.
"Everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content. We have rules against speech that will cause imminent physical harm or suppress voting, and no one is exempt from them. But accountability only works if we can see what those seeking our votes are saying, even if we viscerally dislike what they say.

"Ultimately, I believe the best way to hold politicians accountable is through voting, and I believe we should trust voters to make judgments for themselves. That's why I think we should maintain as open a platform as possible, accompanied by ambitious efforts to boost voter participation."
Facebook says its goal is to register 4 million voters this year using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, which is double the number of people it believes it helped register in 2016 and 2018.

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How to Group Video Chat With Up to 50 Instagram Users

Instagram has been updated to allow users to create group video chats with up to 50 people on the social platform, thanks to an integration with Facebook's recently announced Messenger Rooms feature.

Facebook unveiled Messenger Rooms as an alternative to Zoom and Group FaceTime last month, releasing it to a small trial group of users. Facebook said part of its plan was to extend the capability to its WhatsApp and Instagram platforms, and the latter app appears to have gotten the integration first.

The following steps walk you through the process of setting up a Messenger Room. Bear in mind that you'll need Facebook Messenger installed on your device as well, as Instagram hands over the actual videoconferencing to Facebook's messaging app.
  1. Launch Instagram and tap the paper airplane icon in the top-right corner to go to the Direct screen.

  2. Tap the Camera icon in the top-right corner.

  3. Tap Create a Room.

  4. In the card that appears, tap Create Room as [your name] .

  5. Tap the checkboxes next to the people you want to invite to your room, then tap Send.

  6. In the card that appears, either tap Join Room to start the conversation, or tap Send Link to share a link to the room with others so they can join.

  7. When you tap Join Room, tap OK in the prompt to leave Instagram and launch the group video chat in Facebook Messenger.

  8. Wait for others to join your room.

Messenger Rooms aren't end-to-end encrypted like ‌FaceTime‌ or WhatsApp group video chats, so it's meant to be used on a more casual basis, but Messenger does allow you to lock a room to limit the amount of people who have joined the room. Facebook is expected to extend Messenger Rooms support to WhatsApp in the near future.
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Facebook Acquires GIF-Sharing and Creation Platform GIPHY for $400M

Facebook today announced that it has acquired the popular GIF sharing platform GIPHY, and it will be joining the Instagram team. Instagram has supported GIPHY search in Stories for years now, but Facebook said it will "further integrate" the platform's GIF library into Instagram and other Facebook apps.

The sum of the GIPHY acquisition by Facebook is reportedly around $400 million, according to Axios.


The company aims to eventually make it even easier to find GIFs and stickers in Instagram Stories and direct messages. GIPHY will continue to operate its own library of GIFs and stickers, while Facebook will invest in the company's technology and relationships with content and API partners.

On Facebook, GIPHY access allows users to search for and post GIFs in comments. Both GIFs and stickers are supported in Facebook and Instagram Stories, as well as in direct messaging. Likewise, Facebook-owned WhatsApp supports GIFs in a similar fashion.
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Instagram Adds New Options for Bulk Deleting Comments and Controlling Who Can Tag and Mention You

Instagram has rolled out some new features that aim to prevent online bullying and other unwanted interactions on the social media platform. These features include the ability to control who can tag or mention you in comments, captions and Stories, and the ability to delete comments in bulk.


When it comes to who can mention and tag you in content, you can choose Everyone, Only People You Follow, or No One. These options can be found in the Privacy section of the Settings screen, accessed via your profile.

To bulk delete comments, follow these steps:
  1. Tap a comment, then tap the dotted icon in the top-right corner of the screen.

  2. Select Manage Comments.

  3. Choose up to 25 comments to delete at once.

  4. Tap Delete, or tap More Options to block or restrict accounts in bulk.


Instagram says it also has a pinned comments feature in the works that will give users "a way to set the tone for their account and engage with their community by pinning a select number of comments to the top of their comments thread."

More information about Facebook and Instagram's work towards a more positive culture online can be found in the May Community Standards Enforcement Report.
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Facebook Testing Cross-Posting Stories to Instagram

Facebook is testing a new feature that would allow Facebook Stories to be cross-posted to Instagram Stories, reports TechCrunch.

Right now, Instagram Stories can be shared to Facebook Stories, but the reverse is not possible. The new option would allow Stories to be shared interchangeably from one platform to another.


Jane Manchun Wong, who often digs into unreleased features in social media apps, discovered the option to share a Facebook story to Instagram in the Facebook for Android app. In the version of the app with the toggle, once a Facebook Story has been created, there's an option to tap Privacy to review who to share it with, which is where the option to post to Instagram is located.

A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that the cross-posting feature is being formally tested to "make it easier to share moments with the people who matter to you."

Facebook has been slowly adding Facebook features to Instagram since Instagram's founders left Facebook in 2018. There's an "Open Facebook" button in the Settings menu of Instagram, and the wording "Instagram - From Facebook" is shown on the title screen of the app.
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Instagram CEO Says iPad App Hasn’t Been Made Yet Because ‘We Only Have So Many People, and Lots to Do’

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri took to the platform over the weekend to answer a few user questions on his story, shared by The Verge's Chris Welch. Among the many things asked, the topic of an official iPad app for Instagram was brought up, and Mosseri explained why we haven't seen one yet.

According to Mosseri, the company "would like to build an ‌iPad‌ app" for Instagram, "But we only have so many people, and lots to do, and it hasn't bubbled up as the next best thing to do yet."

Instagram is technically viewable on ‌iPad‌ in a number of ways, but the company has never released a first-party ‌iPad‌ app that's been optimized for the tablet.

Instagram users have been asking for an official ‌iPad‌ app nearly since the social network launched in 2010, the same year that the first ‌iPad‌ was released. Some alternatives include third-party Instagram apps for ‌iPad‌, browsing Instagram on the web on ‌iPad‌, or using the upscaled iPhone app on ‌iPad‌.


In another small tidbit shared during the Q&A, Mosseri explained that a very small group of Instagram users never see ads of any kind in the app, so that Instagram can "understand the effect of that."

Following the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook and its family of companies have been pivoting and focusing on numerous security and privacy-related issues, as well as trying to make their platforms less hostile. As a recent example, Instagram began hiding "likes" from user posts last November, in an effort to "depressurize" the platform.

Amid all of the scandals, Instagram's original co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left Facebook in 2018, leading way for Mosseri's advancement from the Facebook news team to Instagram CEO.


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Instagram Removes IGTV Button From Home Screen Following Lack of User Engagement

Instagram is dropping the IGTV button from the top-right corner of the app's home screen because not enough people are interacting with it.


First launched in June 2018, IGTV is Instagram's long-form video streaming service that's designed to compete with youtube. IGTV focuses on full-screen vertical video, with the ability to interact with other users while watching videos.

The Facebook-owned company told TechCrunch that it was removing the button because not enough users were tapping it, and that people were discovering IGTV content in other ways.
"As we've continued to work on making it easier for people to create and discover IGTV content, we've learned that most people are finding IGTV content through previews in Feed, the IGTV channel in Explore, creators' profiles and the standalone app. Very few are clicking into the IGTV icon in the top right corner of the home screen in the Instagram app" a Facebook company spokesperson tells TechCrunch. "We always aim to keep Instagram as simple as possible, so we're removing this icon based on these learnings and feedback from our community."
The IGTV icon previously appeared alongside the DM icon

IGTV hasn't completely gone away in Instagram. Users wanting to access IGTV content within the app can still do so by tapping the IGTV tab inside Instagram Explore (the same screen as the search function). People can also post IGTV videos right from the main Instagram feed post video uploader.

According to TechCrunch, no more than 7 million of Instagram's 1 billion-plus users have downloaded the standalone IGTV app in the 18 months since it launched, so it makes sense that Instagram is folding the service deeper into its app. But with the massive success of rival platforms like TikTok, it's hard to predict where IGTV turns next in order to increase adoption rates.


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Instagram Bringing Direct Messages to the Web

Starting today, Instagram is bringing direct messaging options to the web. As noted by The Verge, a small number of Instagram's global users can access their direct messages from the Instagram website in addition to the iPhone app.

The rollout today to a limited number of customers is just a test, though depending on how it goes a wider rollout could come in the future.


Direct messaging on the web is almost identical to direct messaging through the ‌iPhone‌, so the interface will be familiar to Instagram users. You can start a DM with someone from a profile page or the DM screen, and there are options to create groups.

Double tapping likes a message, there's an option to see how many unread messages are available, and photos from the desktop can be shared in DMs. Notifications for DMs can also be received if notifications are enabled for the Instagram site in the browser.


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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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