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Ray-Ban Stories let you wear Facebook on your face. But why would you want to?

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In partnership with eyewear brand Ray-Ban, Facebook has released its first pair of smart glasses, offering wearers the ability to capture photos and videos without even needing to pull out their phone.

The glasses, called Ray-Ban Stories, are now available for A$449 and are functionally similar to devices already on the market, such as SnapChat Spectacles. They allow users to capture images and video and upload them to their social media accounts, via an app called Facebook View.

Users will be able to share content on Facebook and other Facebook-owned platforms, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, as well as non-Facebook apps such as Twitter, TikTok and SnapChat. Besides two 5-megapixel cameras, the glasses have three microphones and built-in speakers, so they can respond to voice commands and also be used for calls.

The glasses are the latest step in Facebook’s initiative to develop wearable tech. As chief executive Mark Zuckerberg puts it, such devices represent “a future where phones are no longer a central part of our lives”.

It’s not augmented reality (yet)

Facebook has stressed the glasses do not have any augmented reality (AR) functionality – that is, the ability to overlay one’s view of the physical world with digital images.

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That said, during his product launch video, Zuckerberg presents the glasses as a stepping-stone to more fully realised forms of wearable AR — something Facebook has repeatedly hinted at over the past few years. As he puts it, “glasses are going to be an important part of building the next computing platform”.

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Mark Zuckerberg revealing Ray-Ban Stories.

With its 2014 acquisition of virtual reality (VR) company Oculus – and numerous other startups in areas such as computer vision – Facebook’s VR and AR development wing, Facebook Reality Labs, has grown so much it now reportedly employs 20% of Facebook’s workforce.

As we argued in a recent paper, Facebook sees AR and VR as a central component of its future, and envisions this technology having a similar impact to the mobile computing revolution of the past decade or so.

This was most recently exemplified in the company’s framing of its social software and hardware in terms of the “metaverse” — a seamless blending of the real and virtual worlds.




Read more:
What is the metaverse? A high-tech plan to Facebookify the world

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These future computing platforms might look something like the company’s announcement of Project Aria — an internal Facebook research project testing the viability of wearable AR smart glasses. Facebook has also been attempting to further integrate AR features into its Oculus VR technology.

One problem for prospective users is that these technologies will require intensive data capture and processing of our bodies, homes and other intimate data.

‘Designed with privacy in mind’

Even without AR functionality, there are still clear privacy concerns associated with a Facebook device that can record whatever you’re looking at.

Perhaps attempting to pre-empt a backlash, Facebook has developed a dedicated privacy policy for the new technology, assuring us:

Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses and Facebook View are ads-free experiences, so you won’t see ads when using the glasses or app. And we don’t use the content of your photos and videos for personalised ads. If you share content to any other app, that app’s terms will apply.

But as with previous forms of smart glasses, such as the widely derided Google Glass, the main privacy issue isn’t protecting yourself from unwanted ads, but protecting other people from being surreptitiously recorded.

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Ray-Ban Stories features a small light on the side of the frame, which is illuminated when recording. But it can easily be covered over, and while this would violate Facebook’s terms of service, it’s hard to see how Facebook would realistically stop anyone doing it.

Ultimately, Facebook has put the onus on users to behave responsibly. As outlined in the Stories privacy page, Facebook’s suggested “best practices” include not using the device in private spaces, and advising users not to “engage in harmful activities”. (Facebook’s responsible innovation principles for its AR development staff are similarly vague.)

Facebook’s guidelines for responsible use of its Ray-Ban Stories smartglasses.
https://about.facebook.com/reality-labs/ray-ban-stories/privacy

What does Facebook expect to achieve?

Smart glasses have always been a tricky sell. Google Glass was an abject commercial failure because of privacy concerns. Despite being just down the road from Silicon Valley, some bars in San Francisco reportedly banned anyone wearing them, and some residents even reacted with violence.

Given this ignominious track record, what is Facebook hoping to achieve here? We believe — based on Facebook’s broader investments in VR and AR technologies — the ultimate aim is to gradually normalise wearable surveillance technology many people currently have deep and understandable reservations about.




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Shadow profiles – Facebook knows about you, even if you’re not on Facebook


By branding them as a Ray-Ban product rather than a Facebook one, with classic styling rather than a high-tech look, and able to upload to many different social media platforms, the company is trying to sell us on the concept of “smart glasses”, rather than “Facebook glasses”. But if video Ray-Bans become mainstream, who knows what other data-intensive gadgets are lurking just around the corner?

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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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