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Open Source: 2020 Year in Review

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This article was written in collaboration with Dmitry Vinnik, an Open Source Developer Advocate at Facebook.

There is no denying that 2020 was a challenging year for many of us in so many different ways. Despite these challenges, we saw more projects going live and more people contributing to the growth of open source worldwide.

In this blog post, we want to share the appreciation we have for our community and highlight some of the work done in 2020. After looking at our open source portfolio’s core metrics, we take a look at our foundations and partnerships focus from last year. Then, we review our community engagement through the Facebook Open Source social media channels, including Twitter, YouTube, and blog. Lastly, we deep dive into our open source portfolio in several categories: Developer Tools, Data, Mobile/Web, AI/ML, and Blockchain.

Facebook Open Source by the Numbers

In 2020, Facebook’s open source portfolio grew to over 700 active repositories, with more than 200 projects made public this year alone.

Facebook engineers and developers across the world collaborated to make over 127,000 changes to the codebase.

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We welcomed the 1.2 million people who starred our projects on Github to our communities, and we look forward to seeing you around in 2021 too.

Foundations and Partnerships

As part of our commitment to increasing open source usage and experiences for all developers, Facebook looks to be involved in appropriate foundations and partnerships to help achieve these goals.

Facebook continued its long-standing support of open source by joining the Linux Foundation and the Zephyr Project at the Platinum level and becoming a founding contributor of the Software Developer Diversity and Inclusion project.

We partnered with GitHub and Major League Hacking (MLH) to launch a remote Summer 2020 Fellowship program, a year-long fellowship program through 2020-2021, and provide Black developers scholarships to participate in the Fall 2020 Fellowship.

Spark AR’s Blender Toolkit empowers artists to render immersive experiences from their Blender projects seamlessly. To further support creators continually pushing the envelope in AR/VR and AI, FB joined the Blender Foundation Development Fund as a patron member in November.

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Facebook partnered with Microsoft on extending a static analyzer, Infer, to C# programming language. As a result of this collaboration, Microsoft published project Infer# to detect potential bugs like null-pointer dereference and resource leak or race conditions in the .NET ecosystem.

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Facebook helped found MLCommons, an open engineering consortium for ML research and systems, as a founding member to tackle issues like dataset diversity and fairness, and performance benchmarking and reproducibility.

Community

Lockdown couldn’t stop us from engaging our incredible community. On Twitter, we wanted to take the time to thank members who have inspired and motivated us this year. Our Community Spotlight series featured work from our community that contributed to our open source ecosystem’s development and growth.

We also wanted to engage more with the open source audience on our YouTube channel. We launched an ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5) series to introduce Facebook’s open source projects to you in 60 seconds. We also shared unique content like a live-coded session on improving your web app with the power of machine learning through AWS Sagemaker and PyTorch.

On the Facebook Open Source blog, we shared plenty of interesting articles like hands-on lessons on using Rust while building a Discord bot and a smart bookmarking tool.

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Developer Tools

Developer productivity was the theme of the year. Our engineers open sourced Retrie to make refactoring and codemodding Haskell faster, easier and safer. For those who work with the SQLite library, Facebook shared the CG/SQL project that allows developers to write complex stored procedures with extensive queries without the manual code checking that existing methods require.

Another highlight this year was our engineers’ open source work for system-level developer tools. One of the projects, resctl-demo, simulates system resource conflicts to provide developers an intuitive understanding of their systems’ resource control. Another project called PCIcrawler displays information about PCI/PCIe buses, devices, and topology to diagnose and debug PCIe issues at scale.

Finally, Docusaurus, Facebook Open Source’s website infrastructure project, had amazing usage and growth in 2020. From feature additions and community contributions to adoption and version 2 migration, Docusaurus had one of its best years yet. And there is more planned for 2021.

Data

It’s been a big year for Presto, a distributed SQL query engine for Big Data. The Presto Foundation grew to 8 members, with Alluxio, Ahana, UpSolver and Intel joining this year. We also hosted PrestoCon 2020, connecting nearly 600 data engineers and developers around the world. We encourage you to watch the recordings from the event on the PrestoDB channel and sign up for our virtual meetup group to get the most up-to-date information about upcoming events.

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Mobile and Web

In early 2020, Facebook open sourced a new React state management library named Recoil. This library emphasizes compatibility, simplicity and provides features like time-travel debugging. Although the project has only been live for less than a year, its community has been rapidly growing, with over 11 thousand followers on its project page.

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React added support for the new JSX transform. The latest React release sets up the ability to perform gradual React upgrades, allowing you to use more than one version of React in your app.

With React Native last year, we had significant updates to improve the developer experience and flatten the learning curve. After extensive community feedback, the website went through a refresh with brand new getting started, testing, security, and reference guides. Developers who work with React Native now can use debugging functionalities like LogBox and Flipper out-of-the-box as they are shipped with the project by default.

For native mobile developers, Litho, a declarative framework for building efficient UIs on Android, has released an Android Studio plugin. This plugin significantly speeds up the development of Components and Specs with smart navigation, autocompletion and templates.

AI/ML

Facebook Research

Researchers open sourced their implementation of a multilingual translation model that works for any pair of 100 languages without an English intermediary. With projects like ReBeL, an implementation of a deception-games playing algorithm, our researchers are making a big step towards general AI.

To continue moving AI forward, Facebook AI and NYU Langone Health collaborated on a project called FastMRI. This research project leverages AI to accelerate the MR Imaging process. In September 2020, the team launched its second community challenge to reconstruct neuroimaging data. We also open source the data and models to further engage in medical research and AI communities.

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To accelerate the development of better and faster probabilistic programming languages (PPL), engineers at Facebook AI open sourced PPL Bench, an evaluation framework that standardizes PPL benchmarking, and made differentiable programming a first-class feature of Kotlin. If you are interested to learn more about Facebook AI’s research, we invite you to visit these curated posts: NeurIPS 2020, ECCV 2020, ICML 2020, ACL 2020, ICASSP 2020.

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PyTorch

Year after year, PyTorch continues its growth, and 2020 was no exception. We added 20 new projects to the PyTorch Ecosystem. This curated list of tools and libraries helps developers explore AI with PyTorch. In November 2020, we hosted the PyTorch Developer Day, with keynotes from the core developer team, researchers and ML engineers working in AI.

Over 2,500 people across 114 countries participated in the PyTorch Summer Hackathon 2020. This hackathon had many categories where developers could apply themselves like PyTorch Dev Tools, Web/Mobile applications, and Responsible AI Dev Tools.

The PyTorch team also launched a project called Opacus, a high-speed, scalable library for training PyTorch models with differential privacy, and partnered with OpenMined to develop free courses in privacy-preserving AI. In collaboration with Google and Salesforce Research, the team released a PyTorch / XLA package that lets PyTorch run on Cloud TPU accelerators and made it generally available on Google Colab.

Blockchain

We remain committed to an inclusive payment technology that is also open source. We refreshed the developer experience for the Diem blockchain (formerly Libra) with new documentation and follow-along tutorials. The docs start from ground-zero, walking you through fundamental concepts powering the Diem blockchain, all the way to building your clients in Python, Java, or Go with our official SDKs. We encourage you to build a demo wallet to understand everyday use cases for custodial wallets, and simulate the experience of running a store on Diem using the public demo merchant service.

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Our communities across the world faced challenges and hurdles through every month of this year. And yet, they banded together to contribute their effort and time in building and growing codebases that anyone can freely use. We are deeply grateful to all our contributors, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration through 2021.

To learn more about Facebook Open Source, visit our open source site, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter.

Facebook Developers

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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