Facebook suspends app pre-installs on Huawei phones

The move by Facebook dampens the sales outlook for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, whose smartphone business became its biggest revenue generator last year. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 June 2019

Facebook suspends app pre-installs on Huawei phones

  • New Huawei phones will no longer be able to have Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram apps pre-installed
  • Google said earlier that it would no longer provide Android software for Huawei phones

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc. is no longer allowing pre-installation of its apps on Huawei phones, the latest blow for the Chinese tech giant as it struggles to keep its business afloat in the face of a US ban on its purchase of American parts and software.
Customers who already have Huawei phones will still be able to use its apps and receive updates, Facebook told Reuters. But new Huawei phones will no longer be able to have Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram apps pre-installed.
Smartphone vendors often enter business deals to pre-install popular apps such as Facebook. Apps including Twitter and Booking.com also come pre-installed on Huawei phones in many markets. Twitter Inc. declined to comment and Booking Holdings did not respond to a request.
The move by Facebook dampens the sales outlook for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, whose smartphone business became its biggest revenue generator last year, powered by strong growth in Europe and Asia.
Huawei declined to comment.
Alphabet Inc’s Google said earlier that it would no longer provide Android software for Huawei phones after a 90-day reprieve granted by the US government expires in August. But Google’s Playstore and all Google apps will still be available for current models of Huawei phones including those which have not yet shipped or even been built.
The Facebook ban, by contrast, applies to any Huawei phone that has not yet left the factory, according to a person familiar with the matter. Facebook declined to comment on when the suspension took place.
In May, Washington banned US companies from supplying technology to Huawei, part of a long-running campaign against the company. The United States alleges that Huawei is too close to the Chinese government and that its telecom network gear and other products could be a conduit for espionage, which Huawei denies.
Buyers of current Huawei phone models that do not have Facebook pre-installed would still be able to download it from the Google Playstore. Future versions of Huawei phones, however, will not have access to the Google Playstore and its apps unless the US government changes course.
Huawei has said it was prepared for the US action and vowed to work around any disruptions. But some customers at stores in Europe and Asia have told Reuters that they are reluctant to buy Huawei phones in the face of uncertainties, and analysts expect a dramatic drop in Huawei smartphone sales.


Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

Updated 21 November 2019

Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

  • The Internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, to lie

SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will stop giving advertisers the ability to target election ads using data such as public voter records and general political affiliations, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The move comes at a time when social media platforms are under pressure over their handling of political advertising ahead of the US presidential election in 2020.
Google said it would limit audience targeting for election ads to age, gender and general location at a postal code level. Political advertisers also can still contextually target, such as serving ads to people reading about a certain topic.
Previously, verified political advertisers could also target ads using data gleaned from users’ behavior, such as search actions, that categorized them as left-leaning, right-leaning or independent. They could also upload data such as voter file lists to target ads to a lookalike audience which exhibited similar behaviors to those in the data.
Google will enforce the new approach in the United Kingdom within a week, ahead of the country’s general election on Dec. 12. It said it would enforce it in the European Union by the end of the year and in the rest of the world starting on Jan. 6, 2020.
“Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms,” Scott Spencer, vice president of product management for Google Ads, said in the blog post.
Google is the top seller of online ads in the United States, but smaller rivals with fewer targeting restrictions may now attract more business from campaigns, one political ad buyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Google added examples to its misrepresentation policy to show that it would not allow false claims about election results or the eligibility of political candidates based on age or birthplace.
Last month, Google refused to remove an ad run by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign on its YouTube video-streaming service that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s campaign said contained false claims, because it did not violate the policy.
A Google spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday that the video would still be allowed under the latest policy.
Social media giant Facebook Inc. has been criticized by lawmakers and regulators over its decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians on its platform, while Twitter has decided to ban political ads.
Google also clarified that its policies for political and nonpolitical ads prohibit doctored and manipulated media.
On Dec. 3, the company will expand its ad transparency efforts to ads related to state-level elections, including them in an online database created to catalog political advertising.