Friday January 24, 2020
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Social Networking Giant Facebook Testing ‘LOL’ App to Woo Kids

Facebook has over 2.2 billion users globally, including 300 million in India

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Facebook testing 'LOL' app to woo kids, experts wary. Pixabay

In a fresh attempt to woo children into joining its network and boost user growth, Facebook is testing a new hub called “LOL” that will let kids share and post humorous meme content.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch late Friday that it was experimenting with the “LOL” hub for kids. “We are running a small scale test and the concept is in the early stages right now,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Divided into categories like “For You”, “Animals”, “Fails” and “Pranks”, “LoL” will be a special feed of funny videos and GIF-like clips.

The company is yet to decide if “LOL” will become a stand-alone app or be available in the main Facebook app.

“‘LOL’ is currently in private beta with around 100 high school students who signed non-disclosure agreements with parental consent to do focus groups and one-on-one testing with Facebook staff,” said the report.

According to social media experts, this is yet another attempt by Facebook — embroiled in several data breach and privacy violation cases — to get into a yet-to-be-tapped market to boost its stalled user growth.

“It may not be a good idea to again start some specific social media platform for tender minds especially when the content is not guided. There has been a call globally to limit the screen time for kids and Facebook is somehow trying to hook them onto screens,” Anoop Mishra, one of the nation’s leading social media experts, told IANS on Saturday.

Despite call for withdrawal by experts, Facebook has decided to expand the reach of its Messenger Kids by introducing the video calling and messaging app designed for children under 13. The Messenger Kids app was launched in the US in 2017.

In 2018, more than 100 child health experts wrote an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to discontinue the app.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“At a time when there is mounting concern about how social media use affects adolescents’ well being, it is particularly irresponsible to encourage children as young as pre-schoolers to start using a Facebook product,” the authors wrote.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.

“Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!” Hunt had posted on Twitter.

Responding to the backlash that Facebook’s Messenger Kids is facing, a top executive of the social network said that families would be better off because the video calling and messaging app designed for the under 13s exists. “I firmly believe that it is a good product,” said David Marcus, Facebook’s Vice President of Messaging Products.

But experts feel that the app’s overall impact on families and society is likely to be negative, and it could normalise social media use among young children by creating peer pressure.

Also Read- Samsung Files a New Patent Application For 3D Displays

“With the growing incidences of child trafficking, wrong marketing messaging amid absence of proper guidelines, such new apps meant for kids can be another cause of concerns for parents,” stressed Mishra.

With over a billion users, Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram is currently very popular among teenagers.

Facebook has over 2.2 billion users globally, including 300 million in India.

The company last year launched a short-form video app called “Lasso” but the app did not gained much popularity. (IANS)

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Vodafone Quits Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Project: Report

The Libra project, which is still in development, aims for the launch of its first version this year

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Vodafone logo. Pixabay

Vodafone has become the latest big player who have decided to quit Facebook’s controversial Libra cryptocurrency project.

Vodafone joins PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Mercado Pago, eBay, Stripe and Booking Holdings in withdrawing from the controversial project — and is the first company to exit after the Libra Association was formed in October last year, coindesk reported on Tuesday.

The companies left owing to concerns about heightened regulatory scrutiny.

“We can confirm that Vodafone is no longer a member of the Libra Association. Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient,” the Libra Association said in a statement.

“The Association is continuing the work to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system.”

Despite top-notch firms pulling out, Facebook and 20 partner organisations formally joined the digital currency Libra project in Geneva in October.

The Libra Association said that more than 1,500 entities have expressed an interest in joining the digital currency project.

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Representations of virtual currency are displayed in front of the Libra logo in this illustration picture. VOA

Several US senators have opposed Facebook’s digital coin, arguing that the social networking giant has been irresponsible with user data privacy. They have even called the digital cryptocurrency Libra “delusional” and “dangerous”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in October about Libra, defending the idea, but acknowledging the struggles left to overcome.

Libra has failed in its current form, according to the President of Switzerland.

Also Read: Digital Transactions in Delhi-NCR Grew by 235% Last Year: Razorpay

In a media interview, Swiss President and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer stated that Libra does not have a chance of being successful “because the basket of currencies that is deposited in this currency is not accepted by the national (central) banks”.

“The project in this form has actually failed,” Maurer was quoted as saying.

The Libra project, which is still in development, aims for the launch of its first version this year. (IANS)