Facebook restructures kids team in quest for youth

Facebook’s rules require that children be at least 13 to create an account, but many are believed to get around the restrictions. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 February 2019
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Facebook restructures kids team in quest for youth

  • Facebook has been working to attract and keep young internet users being lured away by apps like Snapchat
  • "We conducted parent roundtables in each country and have continued gathering feedback from parents and outside experts," according to Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook on Thursday announced it had restructured its team devoted to products or features designed to increase the social network's appeal to younger generations.
Nascent projects such as a "LOL" platform for funny memes were taken off the board at the "youth team," which shifted focus to more promising products such as a Messenger Kids app launched more than a year ago, according to the leading social network.
"The Youth team has restructured in order to match top business priorities, including increasing our investment in Messenger Kids," Facebook said in response to an AFP inquiry.
Facebook in December 2017 introduced a version of its Messenger application designed to let young children connect with others under parental supervision. No in-app purchases are allowed.
The social media giant said at the time that it created the app, available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Thailand, because many children were going online without safeguards.
"We found that there was a need for a video chat and messaging app that lets kids connect with the people they love while putting parents in complete control," product management lead Jennifer Billock said in a blog post marking the app's one year anniversary.
"We conducted parent roundtables in each country and have continued gathering feedback from parents and outside experts."
Facebook's rules require that children be at least 13 to create an account, but many are believed to get around the restrictions.
California-based Facebook has been working to attract and keep young internet users being lured away from the social network by apps such as photo- and video-oriented Snapchat.
Facebook said the reorganization of the team was not related to recent controversy regarding a research app that paid users, including teens, to track their smartphone activity as part of an effort to glean more data that could help the social network's competition efforts.
The youth team was not involved with the research project nor did it use any of the data collected, according to Facebook.


Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

Updated 20 March 2019
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Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

  • Google received three fines in the past two years
  • EU Commission says Google has been blocking competitors for the past ten years

BRUSSELS: Google was fined $1.7 billion on Wednesday for blocking rival online search advertisers, the third large European Union antitrust penalty for the Alphabet business in two only years.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google’s AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Last year, Vestager imposed a record $4.92 billion fine on Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a $2.74 billion fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. Critics however are still not happy.