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Facebook (FB - Free Report) made a number of announcements last week, and here are the highlights:

Facebook Exclusive College Basketball

Facebook has partnered with sports media network Stadium to exclusively stream 47 college basketball games for free. Some of the featured teams include Mountain West, West Coast Conference, Conference USA, as well as the Atlantic 10 divisions, Dayton, Saint Mary's, Wake Forest, VCU, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Utah, Washington State, Ole Miss, George Washington and UMass.

This is significant for Facebook for a number of reasons. First, it gives college students more reason to stay on Facebook and use the platform. Facebook can perhaps be made to grow on them thereafter as a good place to keep in touch. Second, while these games are merely leftovers of the gaming world, good viewership will be something Facebook can use in negotiations hereafter.

Stadium, which is a JV between Sinclair Broadcast Group, MLB Advanced Media, the NHL, the PGA TOUR, Time Inc. and Silver Chalice, will also have on-air commentary and interact with Facebook viewers who will be accessing the events through the new Watch tab. So third, this is also more content for its fledgling video effort.

Earlier, Facebook had a similar deal with Stadium to stream 15 games.

The online video market is getting increasingly crowded as companies like Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , Apple (AAPL - Free Report) , Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) YouTube and others build on Netflix’s (NFLX - Free Report) early success. But while Netflix, Amazon and Apple are trying to sell subscriptions, Google, Facebook and Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) are primarily going after TV ad dollars.

Facebook Creator App

With a view to increasing the video content on its portal, Facebook has introduced an app and website encouraging users to create more video content. The Facebook Creator app as it is called has all the ingredients to help creators produce, distribute, brand and share content on the platform.

First, the Live Creative Kit, offers tools to easily create live broadcasts with an introductory and concluding part, as well as custom live stickers, graphic frames, etc to personalize the show.

The Community tab aggregates comments on the video across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger and supports back-and-forth between the creator and his/her followers/fans.

Through Camera & Stories, the creator can brand the video with camera effects and special frames while also sharing the content across other social networks.

There’s also an Insights section that deals with analytics, so production can be tailored to suit customer demand. The Facebook for Creators website has tutorials to help creators make better videos.

Changes to Facebook Stories

Facebook’s somewhat confusing idea of a separate stories feature for each of its apps has ended. The company has merged Messenger Day with Facebook Stories, syncing sharing across its platforms. So if you post a story on Facebook, it will also be visible on Messenger. Or, if you see a story on Messenger, you won’t be prompted to see it again on Facebook. You can also choose the people on either or all platforms that will see your story or not see it. This stories-for-groups feature can facilitate the sharing of events like weddings, get-togethers and other events that are passed by the group admin.

The Facebook camera will continue to work on AR masks and effects while the Messenger camera deals in things like captions and stylized text inviting friends to hang out.

TechCrunch says that Messenger Day had 70 million daily active users in September, versus 300 million on Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status compared with just 178 million on Snap’s (SNAP - Free Report) Snapchat. All Stories replies and Facebook Camera messages will be routed through Messenger instead of Facebook Direct, the private ephemeral messaging service that is also being scrapped.

Cross-platform sharing isn’t new for Snapchat, which allows users to share stories on Facebook. But sharing Facebook stories to Snapchat isn’t happening yet.

Facebook Takes On Yelp with Local

Facebook has rebranded its Events app as Local on its way to help you plan outings at click of the fingers.

The app has three tabs. The first one lists the events in the vicinity, along with those that friends intend to attend and where they’ve already attended, it can include their impressions/reviews. Facebook has millions of business pages with photos, reviews and the like, and its users are also accustomed to comment on their experiences within the Facebook app, so populating Local with good relevant data shouldn’t be a problem.

The second tab allows the user to search locations for events on the basis of the brand, category, or activity. This opens the door for future advertising revenue as brands may be made to compete with each other for better visibility inside the app.

The third section is a calendar that also pulls in data from the calendar app on the device for easier planning. Review services are Yelp’s (YELP - Free Report) USP, so there’s bound to be an impact on the company. But it’s too early to tell what will actually happen because Facebook's earlier attempts haven’t been particularly successful.

Israel to Tax Facebook, Google

According to financial newspaper TheMarker, Israeli tax authorities headed by Moshe Asher, are preparing papers to slap higher taxes on Internet companies Facebook and Google within a year. The country generally charges companies a 24% tax but offers tax breaks to those that agree to significant capital investments.   

Indonesia May Block Social Media Sites

Indonesian Communications Minister Rudiantara has warned social media companies including Google and Twitter that the inability to adjust content in compliance with the laws of the land would lead to serious consequences, including possibly, their removal/ban from the country. The government official clearly means business as he took WhatsApp to task just the previous week for failing to remove GIF content from third parties that contained illegal content. The app was only allowed later after the company promised to comply.

Moreover, he also said that a ministerial decree with more stringent rules for foreign companies operating in the communications sector is in the offing. The decree would deal with subjects like taxation, adherence with legal obligations and customer service.

Drugs Selling Freely on Facebook

It has been found that it’s extremely easy to buy and sell commonly prescribed pain medications Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Percocet, etc through Facebook pages. This would have been fine if the correct protocol was followed, i.e., if the patient produced a prescription, as required by U.S. law. Worse, Facebook doesn’t have an internal system to track and remove such pages and websites from its platform but instead relies on users who have however been empowered to flag profiles pages and content that they think violate its terms of service.

Overuse or abuse of these prescription opioids can have serious ramifications because they can lead to illness or death of the people concerned. In fact overuse of these drugs has led to death and illness of so many that some have termed the phenomenon an epidemic. So easy availability on Facebook is a reason for concern.  

Nebraska Wind Farm Powering FB Data Center

Facebook has signed a power purchase agreement with the Rattlesnake Creek wind farm in Dixon County under which it will purchase 200MW of the 320MW capacity farm for 100% of the operational power requirements of its Papillion, Nebraska data center.


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