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In their latest security move, Facebook lets you opt in to encrypted “Secret Conversations”

(BUSINESS NEWS) Facebook unveils “Secret Conversations” that encrypt messages for added security. Do you intend on using it?

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Debatable

In college, I took a debate class that prompted me and my opponent to tackle internet security. My assertion was that the government should be able to look at our information if it helps further security, her stance was that it is an invasion of privacy.

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While this was an assignment, the research really got me thinking about what people may be able to see of mine through simple internet hacks that I’m not privy to. It seems as though every week there’s a news story regarding the last “insert app or website here” hack.

Safety first

And, being that we live in a digital world, we want to feel safe when communicating online. Especially when information including credit cards, address, social security numbers, etc. are being (supposedly privately) shared.

As a result, websites and apps that have a communication component have been trying to amplify safety to protect their users and their brand. The latest company to roll out a safety attempt is Facebook.

Facebook, encrypted

The social media powerhouse has developed a new encryption for their Messenger app. This encryption makes information only accessible to the two people having a conversation, and does not allow the eyes of Facebook, the government, or other third parties to have access.

This new implementation is called “Secret Conversations” and has been made available to the 900 million messenger users. The feature comes with an opt-in component.

Opt-in

Facebook asserts that their messages are already secure, but this new element encrypts messages from one device to the other. This is based on the terms and agreements that pop up when users start their first encrypted conversation.

Facebook Messenger users who have the latest update of the app will find the feature marked “secret” on the top right of the new message screen.

This encryption has to be enabled manually for each individual conversation.

Worth a shot

Secret Conversations has been developed through use of the Signal encryption system. The messages will disappear at some point in the interest of privacy.

While it has received some flack from privacy advocates, much like anything and everything else, it should be beneficial for the privacy of Facebook users. And, they aren’t forced to use the feature.

#SecretConversations

Taylor is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and has a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Illinois State University. She is currently pursuing freelance writing and hopes to one day write for film and television.

Social Media

Tag photos, connect with friends, order food?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seems to be sprawling into every nook and cranny of life and now, they’re infiltrating food delivery.

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Facebook is now bringing you food! Although, no one was really asking them to.

In the age of Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook is attempting to transform into more than just a social media platform. They have partnered up with food delivery services to help users order food directly from their site.

They hope to streamline the process by giving users a chance to research, get recommendations and order food without ever leaving the site.

Facebook has partnered with their existing delivery services including EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow and Olo in addition to restaurants to fast track the process.

The scenario they imagine is that while scrolling through the newsfeed, users would feel an urge to eat and look to Facebook for their options.

After chatting up friends via Facebook Messenger to ask for the best place to go, users would visit the restaurant’s page directly, explore their menu and decide to order. When ordering, you will have the option to use one of the partnered delivery services either with an existing account or by creating a new one.

The benefit is you stay on one site the entire time. With the time you save, the food can get to you faster, which is a plus for everyone.

Assuming that people already live on Facebook 24/7, this seems like a great update. If you like getting recommendations from your favorite social media resources, it’s even better.

The problem is that in recent years their younger audiences have dropped off in favor of other sites. Regardless of what they think, not everyone is flocking to Facebook for their every need.

My guess is that this service will benefit those already using Facebook, but is less likely to draw new audiences in.

Adding more services may not be the key to success if Facebook can’t refine their other features. They have already been criticized for their ad reporting practices, though they seem to fix everything with a new algorithm.

Facebook has continued to stray away from their original intent, and food delivery won’t be their last update.

Facebook wants to be everything, but not everyone may want the same.

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Social Media

Hate Facebook’s mid-roll ads? So does everyone else

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Those pesky ads that pop up in the middle of that Facebook video, aka mid-roll, seem to be grinding everyone’s gears.

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In an ongoing effort to monetize content, Facebook recently introduced “mid-roll” ads into videos by certain publishers, and it has now been testing that format for six months. If you aren’t a big fan of those ads interrupting your content consumption experience, you aren’t alone; publishers aren’t crazy about them either.

In a report on the program, five publishers working with Facebook’s new mid-roll ad program were sourced and all five publishers found that the program wasn’t generating the expected revenue.

One program partner made as little as $500 dollars with mid-roll ads while generating tens of millions of views on their content.

Two other partners wouldn’t specify exact revenue number, but they did acknowledge that the ad performance is below expectations. As far as cost goes, certain publishers mentioned CPMs between 15 cents and 75 cents.

That range is large because a lot of the data isn’t clear enough to evaluate their return on investment. According to the Digiday report, publishers receive data on total revenue, along with raw data on things like the number of videos that served an ad to viewers.

The lack of certain data points, along with the confusing structure of the data, makes it difficult to assess the number of monetized views and the revenue by video. For context, YouTube, as arguably the biggest player in video monetization, provides all these metrics.

Another issue is that licensing deals are cutting into margins. Facebook pays publishers, via a licensing fee, to produce and publish a certain number of videos each month. In exchange, Facebook keeps all money until it recoups the fee, after which revenue is split 55/45 between the publisher and Facebook.

While these challenges doesn’t change the fact that revenue is low, it does make it difficult to dissect costs in a meaningful way.

Why is revenue so low to begin with?

For starters, a newsfeed with enough content to feed an infinite scroll probably isn’t the best format for these kinds of ads. As a user, when I’m watching the videos and the ad interrupts the experience, I’ve always scrolled right on through to the next item on my feed. It’s a sentiment echoed by one of the publishers in the Digiday story.

Because of that, Facebook’s new Watch program, which creates a content exclusivity not found on the news feed, might produce better results in the future. Either way, Facebook will need to solve this revenue challenge for publishers, or they might pull out of the programs altogether.

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Social Media

Will Facebook’s Bonfire be a hit or go up in flames?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook secretly launched a group chat app that they secretly copied from a super small company. Lots of secrets.

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As we well know, big social media and social messaging companies have a tendency to rip each other off. We’ve seen Instagram rip off Snapchat, another big player in the space.

However, what happens when a big player copies a young upstart?

Facebook appears to be doing just that. The social media giant announced a standalone group video chat app called Bonfire in July of this year. After testing, that app is now available in the Denmark App Store.

“Bonfire bears a striking resemblance to Houseparty.”

Both apps enable multi-party video chatting, complete with video effect filters (much like Snapchat). Facebook has their app synced with the Messenger feature to let potential participants know when they’ve been added to a chat. Bonfire also lets you capture snapshots of the video chat.

So, why does Facebook want to copy this startup so badly? Because the concept is a hit.

Back in 2016, Houseparty was the 7th highest ranking free app in Apple’s App store. Additionally, the app has been shown averaging a million downloads in the last 6 months. Facebook is in the business of building community, per their mission statement, and this concept is a growing epicenter of social community and interaction.

That also makes Houseparty and Bonfire a great tool for reaching a younger consumer audience more directly.

While a live event on Facebook or Instagram makes for a great general broadcast, these apps could be a great way to offer exclusive experiences to certain customers.

Imagine, if you will, the thrill of 6 fans winning a content to have a private show streamed to them by their favorite artist, followed by a Q+A session? Or, imagine a pop culture brand like The AV Club hosting an interactive discussion with fans dissecting the latest episode of Game of Thrones?

If those examples feel a little too big for you, then imagine a group of restaurant employees hosting a live discussion in several different chat rooms soliciting feedback on all parts of the experience?

The bigger point is, that level of intimacy and exclusivity works well on this platform.

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