Canva, the design company with nearly $ 250 million in funding, has today announced a variety of new features, including a video editing tool.
The company has also announced Canva Apps, which allows developers and customers alike to build on top of Canva. Thus far, Dropbox, Google Drive, PhotoMosh and Instagram are already in the Canva Apps suite, with a total of 30 apps available at launch.
The video editing tool allows for easy editing with no previous experience required, and also offers video templates, access to a stock content library with videos, music, etc. and easy-to-use animation tools.
Meanwhile, Canva is taking the approach of winning customers when they’re young, with the launch of Canva for Education. It’s a totally free product that has launched in beta with Australian schools, integrating with GSuite and Google Classroom to allow students to build out projects, and teachers to mark them up and review them.
Canva has also announced the launch of Canva for Desktop.
As design becomes more important to the way every organization functions and operates, one of the only barriers to the growth of the category is the pace at which new designers can emerge and enter the workforce.
Canva has positioned itself as the non-designer’s design tool, making it easy to create something beautiful with little to no design experience. The launch of the video editing tool and Canva for Education strengthen that stance, not only creating more users for the platform itself but fostering an environment for the maturation of new designers to join the ecosystem as a whole.
Alongside the announcement, Canva CEO Melanie Perkins has announced that Canva will join the 1% pledge, dedicating 1% of equity, profit, time and resources to making the world a better place.
Here’s what she had to say about it, in a prepared statement:
Companies have a huge role to play in helping to shape the world we live in and we feel like the 1% Pledge is an incredible program which will help us to use our company’s time, resources, product and equity to do just that. We believe the old adage ‘do no evil’ is no longer enough today and hope to live up to our value to ‘Be a Force for Good’.
Interestingly, Canva’s position at the top of the design funnel hasn’t slowed growth. Indeed, Canva recently launched Canva for Enterprise to let all the folks in the organization outside of the design department step up to bat and create their own decks, presentations, materials, etc., all within the parameter’s of the design system and brand aesthetic.
A billion designs have been created on Canva in 2019, with 2 billion designs created since the launch of the platform.
Digital media holding company IAC has taken the next step toward spinning off Match Group, with a proposal outlining what that process would look like.
Match Group (which owns Tinder, PlentOfFish, OkCupid, Hinge and of course Match itself) is already a publicly traded company, but IAC remains the majority owner. With the spin-off, IAC says it should distribute its Match Group shares to IAC stockholders, “resulting in two independent public companies.”
“Today IAC proposed an important first step in the separation of Match Group from IAC,” said IAC CEO Joey Levin in a statement. “IAC is confident that the proposal communicated to the Match Group special committee provides strong footing for Match Group to begin its journey as a thriving, independent company.”
Under the proposal (which IAC says still needs to be approved by its board of directors, as well as the aforementioned special committee, as well as stockholders), Match Group’s dual-class stock structure would be eliminated, creating a single class of stock.
The company said in August that it was exploring spin-offs of both Match Group and ANGI Homeservices.
In his statement today, Levin said, “As it relates to evaluating our ownership stake in ANGI Homeservices, we don’t currently expect to turn our attention to the question of a spin-off until a Match Group transaction has been completed.”
Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW agree to tougher California mileage standards, potentially disrupting Trump’s proposal to relax US rules.
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Roughly half of Instagram’s users 1 billion users now use Instagram Stories every day. That 500 million daily user count is up from 400 million in June 2018. 2 million advertisers are now buying Stories ads across Facebook’s properties.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Stories the last big game-changing feature from Facebook, but after concentrating on security last year, it plans to ship more products that make “major improvements” in people’s lives.
During today’s Q4 2018 earnings call, Zuckerberg outlined several areas where Facebook will push new products this year:
- Encryption and ephemerality will be added to more features for security and privacy
- Messaging features will make Messenger and WhatsApp “the center of [your] social experiences”
- WhatsApp payments will expand to more countries
- Stories will gain new private sharing options
- Groups will become an organizing function of Facebook on par with friends & family
- Facebook Watch will become mainstream this year as video is moved there from the News Feed, Zuckerberg expects
- Augmented and virtual reality will be improved, and Oculus Quest will ship this spring
- Instagram commerce and shopping will get new features
Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook’s plan to unify the infrastructure to allow encrypted cross-app messaging between Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, as first reported by NYT’s Mike Isaac. Zuckerberg explained that the plan wasn’t about a business benefit, but supposedly to improve the user experience. Specifically, it would allow Marketplace buyers and sellers in countries where WhatsApp dominates messaging to use that app to chat instead of Messenger. And for Android users who use Messenger as their SMS client, the unification would allow those messages to be sent with encryption too. He sees expanding encryption here as a way to decentralize Facebook and keep users’ data safe by never having it on the company’s servers. However, Zuckerberg says this will take time and could be a “2020 thing”.
Facebook says it now has 2.7 billion monthly users across the Facebook family of apps: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. However, Facebook CFO David Wehner says “Over time we expect family metrics to play the primary role in how we talk about our company and we will eventually phase out Facebook-only community metrics.” That shows Facebook is self-conscious about how its user base is shifting away from its classic social network and towards Instagram and its messaging apps. Family-only metrics could mask how teens are slipping away.
Facebook will push users to register to vote through a partnership with TurboVote, has partnered with the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute nonprofits to monitor foreign election interference and will publish a weekly report of trends and issues emerging from its new political ads archive. Facebook has also confirmed that its election integrity war room is up and running and the team is now “red teaming” how it would react to problem scenarios such as a spike in voter suppression content.
These were the major announcements from today’s briefing call between Facebook’s election integrity team and reporters.
Much of the call reviewed Facebook’s past efforts, but also took time to focus on the upcoming Brazilian election. There, Facebook has engaged with over 1,000 prosecutors, judges and clerks to establish a dialog with election authorities. It’s partnered with three fact-checkers in the country and worked with them on Messenger bots like “Fátima” and “Projeto Lupe” that can help people spot fake news.
The voter registration drive mirrors Instagram’s plan announced yesterday to work with TurboVote to push users to registration info via ads. Facebook says it also will remind people to vote on election day and let them share with friends that “I voted.” One concern is that voter registration and voting efforts by Facebook could unevenly advantage one political party, for instance those with a base of middle-aged constituents who might be young enough to use Facebook but not so young that they’ve abandoned it for YouTube and Snapchat. If Facebook can’t prove the efforts are fair, the drive could turn into a talking point for congressional members eager to paint the social network as biased against their party.
The partnerships with the Institutes that don’t operate domestically are designed “to understand what they’re seeing on the ground in elections” around the world so Facebook can move faster to safeguard its systems, says Facebook’s director of Global Politics and Government Outreach Team Katie Harbath. Here, Facebook is admitting this problem is too big to tackle on its own. Beyond working with independent fact-checkers and government election commissions, it’s tasking nonprofits to help be its eyes and ears on the ground.
The war room isn’t finished yet, according to a story from The New York Times published in the middle of the press call. Still under construction in a central hallway between two of Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ buildings, it will fit about 20 of Facebook’s 300 staffers working on election integrity. It will feature screens showing dashboards about information flowing through Facebook to help the team quickly identify and respond to surges in false news or fake accounts.
Overall, Facebook is trying to do its homework so it’s ready for a “heat of the moment, last day before the election scenario” and won’t get caught flat-footed, says Facebook’s director of Product Management for News Feed Greg Marra. He says Facebook is “being a lot more proactive and building systems to look for problems so they don’t become big problems on our platform.” Facebook’s director of Product Management for Elections and Civic Engagement Samidh Chakrabarti noted, this is “one of the biggest cross-team efforts we’ve seen.”
Facebook is scrambling to add safeguards against abuse of user data as it reels from backlash over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Now TechCrunch has learned Facebook will launch a certification tool that demands that marketers guarantee email addresses used for ad targeting were rightfully attained. This new Custom Audiences certification tool was described by Facebook representatives to their marketing clients, according to two sources. Facebook will also prevent the sharing of Custom Audience data across Business accounts.
This snippet of a message sent by a Facebook rep to a client notes that “for any Custom Audiences data imported into Facebook, Advertisers will be required to represent and warrant that proper user content has been obtained.”
Once shown the message, Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana told TechCrunch “I can confirm there is a permissions tool that we’re building.” It will require that advertisers and the agencies representing them pledge that “I certify that I have permission to use this data”, she said.
Diana noted that “We’ve always had terms in place to ensure that advertisers have consent for data they use but we’re going to make that much more prominent and educate advertisers on the way they can use the data.” The change isn’t in response to a specific incident, but Facebook does plan to re-review the way it works with third-party data measurement firms to ensure everything is responsibly used. This is a way to safeguard data” Diana concluded.The company declined to specify whether it’s ever blocked usage of a Custom Audience because it suspected the owner didn’t have user consent. ”
The social network is hoping to prevent further misuse of ill-gotten data after Dr. Aleksandr Kogan’s app that pulled data on 50 million Facebook users was passed to Cambridge Analytica in violation of Facebook policy. That sordid data is suspected to have been used by Cambridge Analytica to support the Trump and Brexit campaigns, which employed Custom Audiences to reach voters.
Facebook launched Custom Audiences back in 2012 to let businesses upload hashed lists of their customers email addresses or phone numbers, allowing advertisers to target specific people instead of broad demographics. Custom Audiences quickly became one of Facebook’s most powerful advertising options because businesses could easily reach existing customers to drive repeat sales. The Custom Audiences terms of service require that businesses have “provided appropriate notice to and secured any necessary consent from the data subjects” to attain and use these people’s contact info.
But just like Facebook’s policy told app developers like Kogan not to sell, share, or misuse data they collected from Facebook users, the company didn’t go further to enforce this rule. It essentially trusted that the fear of legal repercussions or suspension on Facebook would deter violations of both its app data privacy and Custom Audiences consent policies. With clear financial incentives to bend or break those rules and limited effort spent investigating to ensure compliance, Facebook left itself and its users open to exploitation.
Last week Facebook banned the use of third-party data brokers like Experian and Acxiom for ad targeting, closing a marketing featured called Partner Categories. Facebook is believed to have been trying to prevent any ill-gotten data from being laundered through these data brokers and then directly imported to Facebook to target users. But that left open the option for businesses to compile illicit data sets or pull them from data brokers, then upload them to Facebook as Custom Audiences by themselves.
The Custom Audiences certification tool could close that loophole. It’s still being built, so Facebook wouldn’t say exactly how it will work. I asked if Facebook would scan uploaded user lists and try to match them against a database of suspicious data, but for now it sounds more like Facebook will merely require a written promise.
Meanwhile, barring the sharing of Custom Audiences between Business Accounts might prevent those with access to email lists from using them to promote companies unrelated to the one to which users gave their email address. Facebook declined to comment on how the new ban on Custom Audience sharing would work.
Now Facebook must find ways to thwart misuse of its targeting tools and audit anyone it suspects may have already violated its policies. Otherwise it may receive the ire of privacy-conscious users and critics, and strengthen the case for substantial regulation of its ads (though regulation could end up protecting Facebook from competitors who can’t afford compliance). Still the question remains why it took such a massive data privacy scandal for Facebook to take a tougher stance on requiring user consent for ad targeting. And given that written promises didn’t stop Kogan or Cambridge Analytica from misusing data, why would they stop advertisers bent on boosting profits?
For more on Facebook’s recent scandals, check out TechCrunch’s coverage:
Election meddling is Facebook’s next adversary, and it’s got a plan to attack it just like it did with fake news. Solutions to both these scourges come too late to prevent tampering that may have aided Donald Trump winning the presidency — but at least Facebook is owning up to the problem, working with the government and starting to self-regulate. Read More
Social – TechCrunch
Medium CEO Ev Williams announced today at Upfront Summit that his company will launch a consumer subscription product, with the first version coming this quarter. This could help develop an additional revenue stream apart from advertisements. Finding a strong revenue source is critical, since Medium decided to lay off 50 staff, close its New York office, and announce a new direction last… Read More
Social – TechCrunch
McLaren is bringing back that driver-first layout in a “Hyper-GT” car it has codenamed the BP23. The post McLaren Has Big Plans for Another Utterly Insane Supercar appeared first on WIRED.
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