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Building Sustainable Ecosystems: Innovation

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In the 1600s, the concept of “innovation” was controversial. It stood for resistance, rebellion and contrarian opinions. Thankfully, the definition of innovation has evolved. One of the definitions for innovation is the desire and ambition to leverage technology to solve problems for people. As the definition of innovation has evolved, so has the approach to solving the problems at hand. Innovation is not driven by a brilliant individual or a team locked in a lab running experiments. Instead, it is driven by the global community of problem solvers that are coming together to tackle the challenges of the present. Let me share more about the role innovation plays as a critical pillar –in addition to community and education– in helping develop a healthy tech ecosystem.

We deeply believe Facebook’s own growth was the result of our effort to innovate and disrupt ourselves. Our ten-year roadmap enables innovation in three distinct phases:

  1. First, we build new technologies that can help people share and connect in new ways.
  2. Next, we take that technology and build it into a product that billions of people can use and benefit from.
  3. Finally, once a product is at scale, we build a full ecosystem around that for developers, businesses and partners.

I am excited about the experiences being created leveraging those products and in particular in places where the number of challenges outside the availability of sustainable solutions. Africa is one such region with incredible opportunities for both people and innovators alike. Here are some creative ways partners are leveraging our products to solve challenges across verticals with technology:

FBS is an international forex broker present in more than 190 countries with over 13 million traders and 370,000 partners. FBS receives a number of queries on a range of topics everyday. Customers contact them with sales enquiries such as quotes about rates between currencies and customer service issues. They needed a platform to unify their customer service across multiple Facebook pages and languages. A key challenge they faced was their ability to support 13 languages and efficiently route the messages to the right people in the multilingual team. Due to the nature of the business i.e., the fluctuations in foreign exchange, they needed to respond very quickly to their customer’s trading and service enquiries to avoid undue losses.

They partnered with Ongair, a Kenya based Messenger platform development provider that enables businesses to manage customer interactions across multiple social channels, including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. They aggregated all customer service and sales inquiries from their country specific Facebook accounts into a single platform via messenger. They also deployed a bot that understands the user’s language to then respond back in the appropriate language and also hand over the conversation to an agent who speaks the same language. Prior to this, a multilingual team had to triage customer requests leading to inefficient delays in responses or incorrect assignment for resolution. Today, Ongair agents are automatically assigned tickets based on the customer languages they can speak leading to faster and more accurate responses. Through this partnership, FBS has been able to greatly increase their first response time and improve customer satisfaction.

TrepLabs is a team of young college students on a mission to make affordable medical devices. With a proof of concept in hand, their goal was to build a prototype of their first product RealDrip, a non-invasive device which makes blood transfusion and drip treatment simpler and safer by continuously monitoring the flow rate, volume administered and automating the treatment process.

As part of the Facebook Accelerator program, the engineering support and guidance they received helped create a device that leverages the IoT technology to eliminate the guesswork in setting IV flow rate, monitoring dosages and time taken as indicated on the treatment plan. In addition, GraphQL APIs’ help create visual displays via mobile and web dashboard showing the flow rate in real time to keep health professionals informed about each patient’s specific medical situation. Since their participation in the Facebook Accelerator program, they have developed a working prototype which has been patented. They have raised $62,778 in grant funding, have 27 clinics on a waiting list, secured ethical approval from the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and are awaiting approvals for clinical trials.

And finally, Cellulant a digital payment platform from the region shared with us recently about how they have used Facebook APIs to enable micro merchants and revolutionize the try before you buy customer experience in categories like home goods, make-up and more, all serving as critical & incremental steps in helping build businesses.

The successes shared above only scratch the surface of the potential that exists. As i’ve shared previously, we believe in the importance of investing in all the 3 key pillars –innovation, education, community— for building a sustainable developer ecosystem. I am confident that these continued investments will spark more innovation, energize economies, create new jobs, improve communities, and drive positive social impact around the globe.

Facebook Developers

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Celebrating our Facebook Online Hackathon winners!

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Thanks to everyone who joined our Facebook Live earlier today, where we announced the winners of our latest Facebook Online Hackathon!

For those who haven’t taken part yet, we’ve been running a series of virtual hackathons throughout the year, providing global innovators with opportunities to get immersed in Facebook products and build breakthrough software solutions.

This time around, participants were invited to tap into the power of one of three Facebook technology tracks – Messenger, Spark AR and Wit.ai – with a focus on projects that are designed to help build community and drive social impact.

For our winners, we were thrilled to offer up to US$21,000 in total cash prizes, alongside Oculus VR headsets.

Messenger

The Messenger team asked participants to create messaging solutions that help people and businesses build lasting relationships through conversation.

Messaging has come a long way since the early days of texting, and we love partnering with our developer ecosystem to take these experiences even further.

With this in mind, we challenged our hackathon participants to build Messenger experiences that drive social impact and leverage some of our latest features, including Handover Protocol, One-Time Notifications, Private Replies and Quick Replies.

First place
US$3,000 total cash, Oculus VR headset per team member (max. 4) and Facebook expert mentoring
MazeBot
A travel companion for learning new languages

Second place
US$2,500 total cash
Sayme
A messaging experience to help aspiring innovators build their coding skills

Third place
US$1,500 total cash
Toblee
A solution designed to help small retailers build a chat-based customer service experience

Spark AR

Our ambition is to help Spark AR creators imagine, build and share augmented reality experiences that could potentially reach hundreds of millions of people on Facebook and Instagram.

Whether they were a beginner using Spark AR templates and libraries to create their first effect, or an experienced pro using customizations to build more interactive experiences — we tasked our hackathon participants to put their creativity to the test.

We invited all creators to build a World AR effect that was optimized for an exciting new product — Instagram Reels! Freshly available right at the start of the hackathon back in August, Reels brings over Instagram’s entire Spark AR effect catalogue to allow people to record and edit short videos with single or multiple AR effects.

In the hackathon, we were looking for submissions that demonstrated an imaginative use of features like plane tracking and segmentation in an effect that’s fun and tailored for short-form, creative performances on Reels.

First place
US$3,000 total cash, Oculus VR headset per team member (max. 4) and Facebook expert mentoring
Motion Effect Kit
An amazing set of effects for Instagram Reels with custom patches to extract movement directions and areas

Second place
US$2,500 total cash
Geometry – Real-Time VFX
A mesmerizing tool that enables Reels fans to create dynamic geometric shapes around them, that look especially cool while you’re dancing!

Third place
US$1,500 total cash
Mirror World
An effect that leverages plane tracking to give users the illusion of being surrounded by multiple mirrors in the real world

Honorable mention
Mysterious Wings
An effect that enables users to choose different sets of wings by changing their facial expression

Wit.ai

Here at Facebook, we’re passionate about bringing the world closer together by advancing artificial intelligence (AI) – connecting people to what they care about; powering new, meaningful experiences; and advancing ‘the state-of-the-art’ through open research and accessible tooling.

To help us drive this vision around artificial intelligence forward, Wit.ai is Facebook’s AI technology that enables people to interact with products using voice and text.

For the hackathon, the Wit.ai team tasked participants with creating an engaging, voice-enabled app for consumers featuring natural language interactions that leverage the Wit.ai platform

We were looking for innovative solutions across a range of categories including day-to-day basics, social coordination, local discovery, media consumption, fitness, voice/AR navigation, voice games, shopping assistant and entertainment.

First place
US$3,000 total cash, Oculus VR headset per team member (max. 4) and Facebook expert mentoring
Fitness Voice
A NLP fitness trainer for web browsers

Second place
US$2,500 total cash
Flo
An AI assistant that automates meeting notes

Third place
US$1,500 total cash
Dance with AR
An AR dance teacher that teaches you new moves and leverages AI voice commands

Honorable Mentions
Handstand Quest
A solution applying natural language processing to help guide your fitness workout

VC4U: an aid for the blind
AR smart glasses that help identify objects for the visually impaired

Project Suavekeys
A voice-powered gaming controller

Huge congratulations to everyone who took part across our three Facebook technology tracks!

On behalf of the entire Facebook team, we’re so in awe of the way our growing hackathon community just keeps raising the bar.

But the opportunities don’t stop there!

We have a bunch of fresh and fun building experiences coming your way very soon, so stay tuned to the Facebook for Developers page for more updates!

In addition, did you know our annual Facebook Developer Circles Community Challenge is currently underway? The Challenge is another virtual hackathon – this time spanning Facebook Open Source tools in addition to Messenger, Spark AR and Wit.ai – with up to US$133,000 dollars in cash prizes up for grabs!

To get started and to check out the official rules, visit the Challenge webpage here.

From our whole team, we hope you stay safe and healthy, and we’re so honored to be supporting you as you #BuildwithFacebook.

Congratulations again to everyone who took part in the hackathon!

Facebook Developers

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Data Use Checkup Rolling Out Broadly to Facebook Platform Developers

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Maintaining a safe, thriving developer ecosystem is critical to our mission of giving people the power to build community and bringing the world closer together. Recently, we have made changes to simplify our Platform Terms and Developer Policies so businesses and developers clearly understand their shared responsibility to safeguard data and respect people’s privacy when using our platform and tools.

These changes represent our strengthened commitment to protect people’s privacy and ensure developers have the tools and information they need to continue to use our platform responsibly.

Today, we’re announcing the broad launch of Data Use Checkup, a new annual workflow for Facebook platform developers that we began testing in April. Through Data Use Checkup, developers will be asked to review the permissions they have access to and commit that their API access and data use comply with the Facebook Platform Terms and Developer Policies within 60 days or risk losing their API access.

We are gradually rolling out Data Use Checkup in waves over the coming months. When you are enrolled in Data Use Checkup, you will receive information via a developer alert, an email to the registered contact, and in your Task List within the App Dashboard.

Developers who manage many apps will have the option to complete Data Use Checkup for multiple apps at once. You can access this flow by going to your “My Apps” page in the App Dashboard. From there, you will see all apps for which you are an admin, be able to filter down to a subset, and complete Data Use Checkup in bulk. This process will still require you to review each app you manage and the permissions you have access to and commit that your platform use complies with the Facebook Platform Terms and Developer Policies.

If you are not yet enrolled in Data Use Checkup, these are steps to take to prepare for the process:

  • Ensure you can access your app(s) in the App Dashboard. If you are unable to and need to regain admin status, click here.
  • Update contact details and app administrator designation for each app within your organization to receive the most up-to-date notifications. Any app admin will be able to complete the Data Use Checkup, so they should be in a position of authority to act on behalf of your organization. You can designate an app administrator within App Dashboard > Roles and update contact information within App Dashboard > Settings > Advanced.
  • Audit your apps and remove those that are no longer needed. To remove an app, go to App Dashboard > Settings > Advanced. This will ensure you’re only receiving developer alerts and notifications for apps that you need.
  • Review the permissions and features your apps have access to and remove any that are no longer needed in App Dashboard > App Review > My Permissions and Features.

Data Use Checkup is required for developers using many of our products and platforms across the Facebook Family of Apps. If you are developing on Oculus, here are specifics to consider and here is an update for businesses.

We know user privacy is just as important to our developer community as it is to us. Thank you for continuing to partner with us as we build a safer, more sustainable platform.

Facebook Developers

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Welcome to our 2020 Developer Circles Community Challenge

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It’s often said that the best way to learn is to become the teacher; that a great way to reinforce a skill or achievement is by sharing it with others.

It’s with this philosophy in mind that I’m pleased to welcome you to this year’s Community Challenge, our annual online hackathon for Developer Circles members – which runs until Monday October 26.

This time around, we’re inviting participants to go a step beyond building software solutions by creating tutorials about the code they’ve created. Winners are eligible to receive up to US$133,000 in cash prizes, Oculus VR headsets and fully credited amplification of their tutorials to millions of other developers across Facebook’s ecosystem.

We’re also broadening the products that competing innovators can build with, now spanning Open Source technologies including Docusaurus, Hack, Pytorch, React and React Native, as well as Messenger, Spark AR and Wit.ai.

Within each of these products, we see enormous opportunity for you and your teammates to connect, learn and build together, all while sharing your journey step-by-step through immersive tutorials for fellow tech enthusiasts.

I invite you to check out all of the guidelines for taking part, and I thought it would also be useful to share some examples that might help bring the challenge to life.

To get you started with a template for crafting impactful tutorials, here’s a framework providing an overview of recommended sections that will be helpful to readers, including some tips and tricks.

To provide general guidance on what a published tutorial looks like, here’s an example I wrote a couple of years ago about a product called Yoga – Facebook’s cross-platform layout engine that helps developers write more layout code. Please note that this particular tutorial is on the lengthier side – remember that your submission only needs to be between 1,000-4,000 words.

To demonstrate a useful step-by-step breakdown of a project, here’s a great tutorial on a smart bookmarking tool, Rust Rocket.

To understand the potential for using video to help bring your submission to life, check out this informative Docusaurus tutorial video and this engaging React Native tutorial video.

Remember, this is a team challenge, so we recommend dividing and conquering to create your tutorial most efficiently. If you have any tutorial ideas to share with potential teammates, or if you need support with troubleshooting or any questions about the challenge, please post in our Facebook group here.

What makes our Community Challenge so special every year is the many stories of collaboration and innovation we see from all around the world. We can’t wait to discover your story and for our global community to be inspired by your submission.

Good luck – and let’s get building!

#DevCCommunityChallenge #BuildwithFacebook

Facebook Developers

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