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Facebook Users Now Have The Ability To Limit Who Can Send Them Messages

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Facebook Messenger will introduce new privacy controls that will give users the ability to limit who can send them messages. The app will soon begin testing new settings that will users “decide who can message or call you directly, who goes to your requests folder, and who can’t message or call you at all.”

The company notes the features are similar to those offered by Instagram, which added more fine-grained controls for messaging in December. Messenger will also experiment with a feature that automatically blurs images sent by users who aren’t already your Facebook friend — presumably because these are more likely to be spammy or otherwise inappropriate. 

Messenger is also now making its “app lock” feature official. The update adds an extra layer of security to Messenger chats by allowing users to require face or fingerprint authentication before accessing messages. The feature is available now on iOS, and will be “coming soon” to Android. 

Business

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 Leak Shows Improved Hinge Design

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Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Z Fold2 has leaked out in full, high-resolution glory with a more sophisticated design and robust-looking hinge. The renders, found by MySmartPrice (via Android Police) show that Z Fold2 has completely lost the original Fold’s cutout selfie camera notch on the interior screen, replaced by a hole-punch. The exterior LCD screen now takes up most of the front space, as well — rather than having big gaps above and below like the Fold.

However, the biggest improvement appears to be in the hinge. Where the Fold (after the redesign) had some janky seals to close off gaps that allowed dust and other particles to get in, the Fold2 sides appear to enclose the hinge structure more completely. The inside corners are also square instead of rounded, so there’s no longer a small gap at the top and bottom when it’s opened. Finally, the hinge appears to be a bit larger and fits more tightly to the sides of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G leaked high-resolution images

An earlier and much blurrier leak confirms the punch-hole camera and name, the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G. The “5G” means it’s likely to have a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, as you’d expect. We also saw a rumor that the Fold2 would come in both 512GB and 256GB variants (rather than just the $1,980 512GB version like the Fold), giving a buyers a cheaper option. All of this should be taken with some skepticism, naturally, as neither the photos nor details have been confirmed by Samsung. The way it’s going, however, expect to see more leaks as the Z Fold2 gets closer to launch.

– www.engadget.com

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Business

TikTok Starts A $200 Million Fund To Pay Users For Content

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TikTok will begin financing emerging creators on its short-form video platform with a $200 million fund that it announced today, an unusual move by a social media company and one that comes after several weeks of concerns about TikTok’s future.

The company, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, didn’t provide many specific details about how it will give out that money or who may qualify for it. It may be directed toward users from minority groups—with the press release about the fund’s debut singling out creators like Boman Martinez-Reid, a LGBTQ comedian who has signed with CAA, and Tabitha Brown, who’s become famous for her videos about family life and veganism.

TikTok is in a multi-front battle right now. The Trump Administration is considering banning the app over concerns it may share data with the Chinese government, and the users who flocked to TikTok over the past year have been exploring other platforms for their content. In the past few weeks, TikTokers have posted videos urging their fans to also follower them on apps like Instagram, while others have turned to rival music-and-video apps such as Dubsmash and Byte to produce work.

The best way to keep them on TikTok is to offer a clear path toward earning money. Instagram and other social platforms have struggled to do that, and YouTube’s ad-sharing scheme—based on the views generated by someone’s videos—remains the quickest and simplest monetization for influencers. Companies such as Chipotle and E.L.F. cosmetics are already paying for sponsored content on TikTok, where influencers post videos advertising these companies for a fee, as much as six figures now for the top stars. But those deals are typically hashed out between the brands and the influencers without the social media companies getting involved.

TikTok’s $200 million fund is a different step, something neither Instagram nor YouTube have done. It theoretically would allow more creators to flourish as they start out and begin searching for commercial work, such as the sponsored content posts.

– Abram Brown, Forbes Staff, Business

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Music

Spotify Roll Out Video Podcast Featured

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Thanks to a report in May, we already knew Spotify was testing video podcasts. Today, the streaming service announced the format’s official debut on a handful of shows. The company calls the current iteration “the first version” of the feature, a tool that will allow “fans can get to know their favorite podcast hosts even better, and creators can more deeply connect with their audiences.” Basically, podcast creators can upload videos they make while recording their shows to play alongside the audio. Most of what’s there now is footage of people talking into microphones. To start, you can check out the visuals on podcasts like Book of Basketball 2.0, Fantasy Footballers, The Misfits Podcast, H3 Podcast, The Morning Toast, Higher Learning with Van Lathan & Rachel Lindsay and The Rooster Teeth Podcast.

Spotify says you won’t need to do anything differently than you would when listening to an audio-only podcast. Simply navigate to the show page and pick an episode. The videos will appear when you hit play in Spotify’s desktop or mobile app. On mobile, for example, they appear on the main player screen and replace any static show art — complete with an option for full-screen viewing. The company says any video content will sync with the audio feed. What’s more, when you swipe over to another app to multitask, the audio will continue to play in the background. And for offline listening, you can still download the audio version of any show.

The new video podcasts are now available in all markets where podcasts are supported. What’s more, the videos are accessible to both free and Premium users. While this is only available for a few shows right now, Spotify will likely expand quickly. After all, it bought The Ringer and its network of podcasts earlier this year. The site was already creating video content for a number of its shows, so it’s no surprise Ringer podcasts would help debut this new feature (Book of Basketball 2.0 and Higher Learning). Spotify has already announced the video version of Joe Rogan’s podcast would make the move to its platform this year. That was part of the exclusive deal the company signed with Rogan in May.

Spotify tried a big video splash a few years ago, but ultimately ended its original content push not long after it started. With video podcasts though, the production is in the hands of the creators. Even if some of those networks now belong to Spotify, the company isn’t dedicating core resources to producing videos.

– www.engadget.com

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Business

COV!D-19: LinkedIn To Lay Off 6% Of Its Labor-force

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LinkedIn has announced it will lay off around six percent of its workforce, in part due to a coronavirus-related worldwide hiring slowdown. The Microsoft-owned company is cutting about 960 jobs from its global sales and talent acquisition teams.

“[LinkedIn] is not immune to the effects of the global pandemic,” CEO Ryan Roslansky wrote in an email to employees. “COVID-19 is having a sustained impact on the demand for hiring, both in our [LinkedIn Talent Solutions] business and in our company.” He said “there are roles that are no longer needed as we adjust to the reduced demand in our internal hiring and for our talent products globally” and that these are the only planned layoffs.

There are some other factors involved in the decision. LinkedIn is merging two media divisions — LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and the Talent Solutions business — to avoid “duplicating costly platforms, systems and tools internally.”

The employees who are leaving can keep their LinkedIn-provided devices and will receive at least ten weeks of severance pay. LinkedIn will provide 12 months of continuing health insurance for those in the US and six months for people elsewhere. It’s also running a six-month program to help people find new jobs and offering support for those on company-sponsored visas. The company may find a place for some of the employees in new roles.

– www.engadget.com

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