Facebook’s mission to turn Messenger into a full-service platform just came one step closer to reality. Thanks to a new partnership with Uber, the social network will now let you order a ride directly from Messenger without leaving the app.
There are two ways to order a car service via Facebook’s popular chat app—which for now is exclusively Uber. You can either tap on an address in a chat message, prompting a menu option to request a ride to that location, or you can tap on the car icon in the “more” menu of the Messenger app. You don’t have to have the Uber app downloaded to use the service, but you do need to have an Uber account.
Payment information stored within Uber won’t automatically get shared with Messenger when you connect your account. However, if you set up your Uber payment information within Messenger, both Uber and Facebook will have access to your payment data.
Facebook said in a blog post the on-demand ride service is still in testing with select users, but will be available to a wider audience soon.
Since jettisoning Messenger into a standalone app, Facebook has made significant efforts to turn it into much more than just a way to chat with friends. It can now be used as a payments platform to send and receive money from people a la Venmo; a customer service app to message businesses and get information about shipping and products; and a part-human part-machine personal assistant that can help you get, well, whatever you want.
While experiments with other standalone Facebook apps that clone already successful ideas have failed, Messenger continues to grow with new features from apps that exist elsewhere as well. It’s becoming a one-stop shop for your mobile device. No longer will you need Uber, Square Cash, or third-party customer service apps, as long as you’re comfortable with Facebook handling it all for you.
It appears Messenger is angling to take over all the service apps you use, encouraging you to remain within Facebook’s walls.
That’s not surprising, as we already share so much of our lives with Facebook. It makes sense the company wants to manage our lives, too—bit by bit it’s sucking up our data. Cars on demand might just be the beginning. Soon, we may never have to leave Facebook—unless you want to, of course.
E.U. Expected to Approve Tough New Data Protection Rules
By MARK SCOTT
European officials are expected to approve long-awaited data protection regulations on Tuesday, the latest effort in the region to give people a greater say over how their digital information is collected and managed.
The changes, expected to go into effect by early 2017, would put into law across the 28-member European Union some policies now enforced after court rulings or in specific countries only. They are intended to bolster Europeans’ privacy rights, which are viewed by the bloc as on a par with freedom of expression.
“Europe’s approach to privacy is much stronger than in the United States,” said Peter Church, a technology lawyer at Linklaters in London. “There’s a fundamental difference in culture when it comes to privacy.”
The new rules will be the subject of a meeting on Tuesday of representatives from the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union; the European Parliament; and member states. The officials have been meeting regularly since the summer to reach a compromise, and an announcement is expected late Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning in Europe.
Among the new policies expected to be approved:
■ Allowing national watchdogs to issue fines, potentially totaling the equivalent of millions of dollars, if companies misuse people’s online data, including accessing information without individuals’ consent.
■ Enshrining the so-called right to be forgotten into European law, giving people in the region the right to ask that companies remove data about them that is either no longer relevant or out of date.
■ Requiring companies to inform national regulators within three days of any reported data breach, proposals that go significantly further than what is demanded by American authorities.
■ Obliging anyone under 16 to obtain parental consent before using popular services like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
■ Extending the new rules to any company that has customers in the region, even if the company is based outside the European Union.
The tough stance on privacy has often put the European Union at odds with large American tech companies like Google and Facebook, which collect and mine data from social media posts and online search results as part of their digital advertising activity. The companies, as well as consumer groups and some national politicians, have lobbied to either limit the strength of the legislation or to ensure that people have greater control over their online data.
Policy makers are still negotiating the size of the penalties, though they are likely to reach an agreement on fines totaling up to 4 percent of a company’s global revenue — up to a capped amount — for the most serious breaches to European data privacy rules, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The threat of sizable fines has raised concerns for many of the large tech companies that will be most affected by the changes, some of which have complained that Europe’s data protection overhaul unfairly targets their activities compared with those of smaller European rivals. European and national politicians deny the accusations.
“Linking sanctions to worldwide turnover makes zero sense,” said Alexander Whalen, a senior policy manager at Digital Europe, a Brussels-based trade body whose members include Google and Microsoft. “We have to be smarter about this.”
Facebook, for instance, has run into problems after at least five national privacy watchdogs — in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain — started investigations into whether the social network broke data protection laws. Last month, a Belgian court ruled that Facebook could not collect information on people in the country who did not use its service, a ruling the company is appealing.
Facebook contends that Ireland — where the company has its international headquarters — is the only country that can make such privacy rulings, though Europe’s new data protection rules would allow the region’s many data protection watchdogs to intervene if they suspect their citizens’ data has been misused.
“National authorities still have a lot of room to decide how to implement the rules,” said Patrick van Eecke, a data protection lawyer at DLA Piper in Brussels. “That was not supposed to be the intention of these reforms.”
That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a pictograph: ?, officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names. There were other strong contenders from a range of fields, outlined below, but ? was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.
Why was this chosen?
Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.
This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and ? was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that ? made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014. The word emoji has seen a similar surge: although it has been found in English since 1997, usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year according to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.
A brief history of emoji
An emoji is ‘a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication’; the term emoji is a loanword from Japanese, and comes from e ‘picture’ + moji ‘letter, character’. The similarity to the English word emoticon has helped its memorability and rise in use, though the resemblance is actually entirely coincidental:emoticon (a facial expression composed of keyboard characters, such as ;), rather than a stylized image) comes from the English words emotion and icon.
Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens – instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers. Even Hillary Clinton solicited feedback in the form of emojis, and ? has had notable use from celebrities and brands alongside everyone else – and even appeared as the caption tothe Vine which apparently kicked off the popularity of the term onfleek, which appears on our WOTY shortlist.