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Facebook-owner Meta to roll out paid subscription

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  • Service will be rolled out in Australia and New Zealand this week.
  • Users over age of 18 will be allowed to subscribe, says Meta chief.
  • In 2022, Meta saw its ad revenue decline for first time since 2012.

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook, the social network that was supposed to stay free “always,” and its stablemate Instagram launched on Sunday a paid subscription service, as the advertising-based business model that has long dominated the internet falters.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook-parent Meta, announced on Sunday the launch of Meta Verified, a service starting at $11.99 a month to authenticate one’s account, which follows a similar move by Elon Musk on Twitter.

“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services,” Zuckerberg wrote in a statement posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Meta Verified will be rolled out in Australia and New Zealand this week before coming to markets in the United States and other countries.

Subscribers will get a badge indicating their account has been verified with a government ID, extra protection against impersonation, direct access to customer support and more visibility, according to the company.

The social media giant said the service would be primarily aimed at content creators looking to expand their presence on the platforms and could see adjustments after a test phase.

There would be no changes to accounts on Facebook and Instagram that are already verified, the company said, adding that only users who are over the age of 18 will be allowed to subscribe. The service is not yet available to businesses.

It was not immediately clear how Zuckerberg planned to price Meta Verified in countries where users cannot afford to pay $12 a month, or in cash-based economies where they may have fewer ways to get the money to Meta.

Musk’s initial attempts to launch a similar service at rival social media network Twitter last year backfired, with an embarrassing spate of fake accounts that scared advertisers and cast doubt on the site’s future.

He was forced to briefly suspend the effort before relaunching it to muted reception in December.

‘Free’?

Facebook helped establish the dominant model of large platforms on the internet today, which sees users benefit from “free” services that collect their data to sell personalized ad space.

It is a model that has earned the company, along with other advertising titans such as Google, tens of billions of dollars a year.

For years the Facebook homepage proudly declared that the site was “free and always will be.”

But in 2019 the company quietly ditched the slogan. At the time experts suggested it was because the value of users’ personal data meant the site was never truly free.

In 2022, Meta saw its ad revenue decline for the first time since the California-based group went public in 2012.

The company recently announced that the number of Facebook’s daily users hit two billion — but between inflation eating into advertisers’ budgets and fierce competition from apps such as TikTok, those users are not bringing in as much revenue as they used to.

The company has also suffered from regulatory changes introduced by iPhone maker Apple, which restrict the ability of social networks to collect data and sell advertising.

Similar factors have already pushed other networks, from Reddit to Snapchat as well as Twitter, to launch paid plans.

Meta is also under pressure for making a huge gamble on the metaverse, the world of virtual reality that Zuckerberg believes will be the next frontier online.

‘Not a small fee’

Investors last year punished Meta, sending the company’s share price down by an astonishing two-thirds over 12 months, but the stock has recovered some ground in 2023.

Meta announced in November it would lay off 11,000 employees, or 13 percent of its staff — the largest worker reduction in the company’s history.

Meta Verified will be cheaper on the web than on mobile applications because of commissions taken by Apple on the iPhone or Google on smartphones operated by its Android system.

Zuckerberg said it would cost $11.99 on the web, and $14.99 per month on iOS or Android.

The company said it doesn’t expect to make significant revenue from the service during the test phase but that it is part of diversification efforts.

“Personally, I think it’s more about diversifying revenue,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies.

After Twitter launched its subscription, other social media groups thought “well, we might as well try,” she told AFP.

“Justifying that from a creator perspective I think is more of a marketing pitch than of true value to creators,” she added.

Platforms are fighting for users and influencers that draw their attention.

But for Milanesi, the Meta Verified offers are “a weird mix.”

“I don’t know if it gives enough to one category (of users) to justify the amount of money, which is not a small fee.”

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The recall AI feature rollout by Microsoft will be delayed.

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A computerized history is created via the Recall feature, which records everything from phone conversations to web browsing. This way, even months later, the user may search through it for remembered actions.

In a blog post, Microsoft announced that recall, which was originally going to be widely available for Copilot+ PC users on June 18, will now only be available for a preview on its Windows Insider Program (WIP) in the next weeks.

As to the statement from the Redmond, Washington-based company, the decision is “founded in our dedication to offering a reliable, safe, and comprehensive experience for every client and to obtain more input before releasing the feature to all Copilot+ PC users.”

An artificial intelligence (AI) feature-rich class of personal computers called Copilot+ PCs was introduced in May.

Millions of “Windows biggest fans” can sample new improvements for the operating system through the WIP, a public software testing initiative.

According to the business, following feedback from the WIP community, the Recall preview will soon be accessible for all Copilot+ PCs.

Shortly after the feature’s release, billionaire technologist Elon Musk opened a new tab and referred to it as a “Black Mirror episode,” drawing parallels to the Netflix series that examines the negative effects of advanced technology. However, some social media users expressed concerns about privacy, saying that it could allow for spying.

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TikTok plans to introduce an image search capability in order to directly compete with Google.

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TikTok, a Chinese short video platform, is now conducting a trial of a novel functionality that enables users to capture or submit images in order to discover comparable products within the TikTok Shop, as reported by TechCrunch.

TikTok, the current leader in social media, is now aiming to enter Google’s domain in the field of search, indicating a direct competition against Google’s control in visual search.

The functionality, originally observed by user Jonah Manzano, is presently accessible to users residing in the United States and Southeast Asia. Users that have access to the feature will see a camera symbol that is integrated.
This feature allows users to effortlessly search for products by capturing or uploading photographs, eliminating the requirement for written descriptions.

For example, if you are eating at a restaurant and like the dish that is presented on a certain plate, you can take a fast photo using the TikTok app to discover comparable goods that you can buy.

Similarly, if you come across an expensive item while shopping online, you can save its image and use TikTok’s image search feature to locate similar, more affordable options.

Although TikTok Shop has previously utilized conventional search methods, this new advancement represents a notable deviation by harnessing the capabilities of visual search, similar to Google Lens.

TikTok’s decision is a calculated maneuver aimed at not only attracting users’ interest in finding new products but also promoting sales within its e-commerce network.

This development is not only a criticism of Google or Amazon; it is a more extensive effort to rival other participants in the field of visual search and e-commerce, such as Klarna and rising businesses like Cherry.

TikTok’s shift towards e-commerce is apparent in its recent announcement that TikTok Shop accommodates more than 15 million vendors worldwide, including a significant presence in the United States.

The company has made significant investments in platform safety, dedicating more than $400 million and establishing a staff of 7,500 personnel to guarantee the integrity of TikTok Shop.

TikTok continues to pursue its e-commerce goals, while encountering regulatory obstacles, especially in the United States.

TikTok’s momentum remains unaffected by President Biden’s recent measure, which indicates a possible prohibition if ByteDance does not divest the platform.

However, the corporation regards e-commerce as a strategic source of income and a method to maintain consumer involvement within its ecosystem.

TikTok is continuously expanding and improving its TikTok Shop to encourage more user interaction and spending. This will help establish TikTok as a strong competitor in the e-commerce industry.
in the search bar of TikTok Shop.

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Pakistan experiences substantial expansion in the information technology sector.

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Pakistan experienced significant development in the exports of its IT sector, reaching a total of $2.283 billion, as stated in a recent Economic Survey Report.

The increase in exports emphasized the rising global demand for IT services from Pakistan and the sector’s impact on the national economy.

The survey demonstrated that IT freelancers contributed $35 million in remittances, highlighting their significance in the IT industry.

The study data indicates a significant rise in the number of broadband and telecom customers nationwide, with broadband users reaching 135 million and telecom users growing to 194 million.

Earlier this week, the federal government has suggested a substantial 357 percent rise in the budget for the IT sector for the fiscal year 2024-25.

As to reliable sources, the Ministry of IT has been granted a budget of Rs 27.43 billion in the development budget, out of which Rs 6.28 billion has been allotted for the implementation of 15 new projects.

The government has additionally suggested allotting Rs 21.15 billion for projects that are currently in progress, as well as Rs 3.5 billion for the Digital Economy initiative.

Additional noteworthy allocations consist of Rs 1 billion for fostering innovation in the IT sector, Rs 50 million for the digitalization of the national assembly, and Rs 300 million for the implementation of smart office projects in government ministries.

The government has additionally suggested investing Rs 9.92 billion for the Islamabad Technology Development Park and Rs 6.78 billion for the creation of an IT park in Karachi. The budget additionally comprises a proposition for an allocation of Rs 1 billion for the Cybersecurity Fund for the Digital Pakistan initiative.

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