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Facebook stops sending staff to help political campaigns

Facebook will no longer send employees to work at the offices of political campaigns during elections, the company has announced.

The social network used to offer dedicated staff to political campaigns to help them develop their online advertising campaigns.


Donald Trump's digital director for the 2016 presidential election has said Facebook's assistance helped him win.

Facebook said rival Hillary Clinton was offered the same support, but declined.

The social network is the second largest online advertising broker, behind Google.

Google and Twitter also offer specialised advice to political campaigns. They have not indicated that they will end the practice.

Facebook said it would instead offer free advertising advice to all political parties through its website.

However, campaigns will still be able to get support online and the company did not rule out holding meetings with politicians.

According to internal documents seen by Bloomberg, Donald Trump's campaign spent $44m (£33m) on Facebook ads from June to November 2016, compared with $28m by Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Source: bbc

Facebook adds quirky Messenger games to video chats

Facebook's latest additions to Messenger will have you dodging asteroids and trying to keep a straight face.

The company announced Wednesday that it is adding two games to its messaging app that feature Instagram-style augmented reality tools.

The move is part of a greater effort to entice Messenger's 1.3 billion monthly users to give its video chat feature a try. Over 17 billion video chats occurred on the messaging app last year, more than twice the number recorded in 2016.

The two games, "Asteroids Attack" and "Don't Smile," incorporate augmented reality, which overlays digital objects like sunglasses or flower crowns on the real world -- a concept popularized by Snapchat and then Instagram.

Facebook (FB) users can open or start a video chat with a friend or group on Messenger and invite them to play by choosing the star icon and picking a game. You can play with as many as six people, but getting everyone together may require some planning because games happen in real time.

"Don't Smile" challenges users to do exactly what the name suggests: maintain a straight face for as long as possible. When someone cracks a smile, a filter distorts their facial expression, and an animated sun pops up indicating who won.

In "Asteroids Attack," you move your head from side to side to navigate a spaceship and avoid hitting obstacles. More games, including one where you throw a virtual beach ball back and forth among friends, are coming soon.

In addition to messaging, video chatting and now games, Messenger boasts a payments tool that allows you to send money to friends, a feature that translates messages in English or Spanish and the ability to add photos or videos to a Story, which disappears after 24 hours. It also offers filters, which overlay things like digital makeup, animal ears and hats on your head and face.

These features are all about increasing engagement and grabbing more market share in the messaging space. Although Facebook already owns WhatsApp and Instagram, the company faces competition from platforms such as Snapchat (SNAP), China's WeChat and Apple's iMessage (AAPL).

"Facebook is constantly competing with new entrants," said Andrew Hogan, a senior analyst at research firm Forrester. "Its new features are designed to get and keep attention ... and are about more utility, more entertainment and more time spent."

But it's too soon to see if video chat games will be a hit for Messenger.

"I could envision something like this being successful," Hogan said. "There's a lot of attention and time spent [in games]."

Read also:Facebook denies seeking users' bank data

Although the novelty of games can wear off, perhaps Facebook is content putting time and resources behind it for now.

Source: CNN

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WhatsApp launches four-person group video calling

WhatsApp teased that its messaging app would add a long-awaited group video calling feature several weeks ago, and it's finally here.

Both Android and iOS users can now hold audio and video conversations with up to four people.

You'll have to start a one-on-one call before you can add the other two people, but it's otherwise straightforward.

WhatsApp reiterated that calls are "end-to-end encrypted" like its other chats, and promised that they should work in less-than-stellar network conditions.

The addition gives WhatsApp an answer to rivals that have had the option for a while, like Skype. And it's arguably overdue.

Over 1.5 billion people use WhatsApp every month, with some of them relying on it as their primary means of phone-based communication.

Read also:WhatsApp sets new rules after mob killings in India

This opens the door to group video calls for a significant chunk of that group, many of whom might have trouble convincing friends to switch apps just for the sake of a face-to-face conversation.

KNUST student builds single-phase traffic light

A Physics student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology has defied the odds to design a 'single phase' system which is aimed at easing the cost of building and repairing traffic lights.