Facebook plans ‘major improvements’ as platforms grow to 2.7 billion users

After a year of trying to clean up messes, Facebook is looking to once again direct focus to new tools across the company’s suite of apps. During the fourth quarter and 2018 end-of-year results conference call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined the company’s plans for 2019 as the company hits an estimated 2.7 billion users across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.

While Facebook’s cleanup goal prompted by privacy scandals and election meddling isn’t going anywhere, the changes implemented last year make enough progress for the company to make new features a focus for the new year. Zuckerberg says that the work will never be finished, but that the company has now built “some of the most advanced systems in the world for dealing with these issues.”

Second to continuing to address social issues, Zuckerberg shared a list of areas where users can expect new tools and improvements over the next year. “Our second priority for 2019 is that as we make progress on these social issues, we also need to deliver new experiences that meaningfully improve people’s lives,” he said. “I’m not talking about the many day-to-day iterative improvements we make so that ranking gets a bit better or things get somewhat faster, but major improvements to people’s lives that whole communities recognize and say, ‘Wow, we’re all doing something new on Facebook or WhatsApp that we weren’t doing before.’”

Zuckerberg likens the upcoming changes to Stories and the impact the format has had on the social networks, now with more than 500 million daily users on Instagram. Messaging is one focus area for changes, with Zuckerberg alluding to payments in WhatsApp in additional countries and private sharing in groups and stories. New features for groups is also on that list. 

After reducing the reach of viral videos in an effort to make time on the platform “time well spent” and in keeping with the social intent of the network, Facebook aims to expand Watch. The video centered platform now has 400 million monthly users, with a daily average of 20 minutes spent on Watch. Zuckerberg says he wants to make Watch more mainstream, allowing video to grow outside the news feed.

On Instagram, Zuckerberg says commerce and shopping will be a focus for new features this year. The CEO says the company will focus “on building technology that bring people together in new ways,” like the upcoming Oculus Quest and recent Facebook Portal, which has exceeded the company’s original expectations.

Zuckerberg also says that maintaining a strong business and promoting Facebook’s strengths are among the company’s priorities for 2019. During the call, Zuckerberg also said that the potential merger between all Facebook’s messaging systems, including Messenger, Instagram direct messages, and WhatsApp, is only in early stages, and if the merger happened, it wouldn’t be until at least 2020.

Facebook now has 1.52 billion users, an increase of 9 percent compared to numbers at the end of 2017 but growth that is not as rapid as previous years. The company estimates 2.7 billion people use at least one Facebook app, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.

Despite increasing expenses due in part to increased staff, the company’s net income increased by 39 percent compared to 2017.

Social Media

Twitter’s latest effort to tackle abusive content focuses on Direct Messages

Twitter has launched a new feature designed to filter out abusive Direct Messages from people you don't follow. The content is collected in one place and can still be viewed if you want to periodically check what's coming in.
Movies & TV

The future of Star Wars: All the known movies and TV series coming your way

Disney has sky-high expectations for its Star Wars universe, with plenty of plans for the franchise on the big screen and television over the next few years. Here are all the upcoming movies and TV shows, both rumored and confirmed.

Facebook admits it was listening to your private conversations, too

Facebook outsourced contractors to listen in on your audio messenger chats and transcribe them. Contractors were not told why they were listening in or why they were transcribing them. Facebook said it is no longer transcribing audio. 
Social Media

The EU could hit Facebook with billions in fines over privacy violations

The European Union is reportedly nearing the end of its investigations into some of the cases it has opened against Facebook pertaining to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. The EU currently has 11 open cases against the…

Sen. Josh Hawley wants to ban infinite scroll and autoplay videos

Sen. Josh Hawley introduced legislation on Tuesday calling for tech giants to curb deceptive techniques that fuel social media addiction.The bill would ban features that he says can be addictive to users like infinite scroll and autoplay.

Facebook’s ‘brain-computer interface’ could let you type with your mind

Facebook talked a couple of years ago about creating technology that lets you type with your mind. Aimed primarily at patients with speech loss due to paralysis, the company recently offered an update on its ambitious project.

WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, but no fix for its fake news problem

WhatsApp is struggling to stem the tide of fake news in India, its biggest market. In the last few years, its platform has been inundated with an around-the-clock avalanche of misinformation -- misleading mobs into lynching innocents and…

Facebook just deleted fake accounts from the Middle East

Facebook removed fake accounts from UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia because of coordinated inauthentic behavior. The social network announced in a blog post the removal of pages, groups, and accounts that originated in these countries.

The FTC wants to know exactly why Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp

The Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation into Facebook will focus in on its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC wants to know if Facebook tried to acquire its social media rivals before they would become a threat

Facebook is going to add its name to Instagram and WhatsApp

Facebook plans to add its name to both Instagram and WhatsApp as politicians call for the social media giant to be broken apart and the FTC investigates Facebook’s acquisition of both companies.

Were they really that bad? Here are the 10 most disliked videos on YouTube

Ever wondered which videos are the most disliked videos on YouTube? Well, we have the top ten list you’re looking for. Here are the latest videos with the most dislikes currently on YouTube.

Telegram’s new Slow Mode aims to bring order to noisy group chats

Messaging app Telegram has just released some new features that are bound to please. Slow Mode aims to bring some order to group chats, while Silent Messages ensures you won’t wake your buddy if you get in touch late in the day.
Social Media

Quit hitting refresh: Twitter is testing a subscribe to tweet replies feature

Soon you might be able to get a push notification when a tweet has been replied to as well. Twitter is currently testing a new feature that will allow users to turn on notifications for a particular thread.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier than ever, but choosing the right tool to use isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our three favorite tools.