Thursday, 7 September 2017

Whatsapp Now Offers Verified Business Accounts

WhatsApp is fine-tuning its chat services to make it more attractive for businesses. The company has started a new pilot program for verified business accounts, which seems to hint that it may be targeting the customer support segment of its business users with a new app that is reported to be still under development.

In a recent post, WhatsApp announced that is starting to verify the contact numbers of some business accounts. Users will know if a business’ contact number has already been verified by way of a green badge that appears next to the contact name.

In addition, users will also know if they are communicating with a verified WhatsApp business account. The messages from a verified business will appear yellow inside a chat. It was likewise announced that these messages cannot be deleted although the company did not explain the reason for this feature yet.

Industry watchers say that WhatsApp’s verification is the first step of a new strategy to make money by luring businesses into using the platform to communicate with their customers. According to Daily Mail, the green badges and the yellow colored text bubble from verified business accounts, are ways to make these businesses appear more trustworthy to their customers. It will also encourage businesses to use the app for its communications especially in customer support.

The latest move by the Facebook-owned company seems to agree with recent reports speculating that WhatsApp app  could be developing a standalone app specifically designed for businesses. In a Business Insider report, the company is said to be developing a separate app for use in customer support.

A code analysis by WABetaInfo, a site that has reliably predicted WhatsApps features in the past, the new app works on Android phones and may be used by companies to send automated customer support messages like FB’s Messenger. Moreover, WhatsApp  just posted a job opening for a technical position on what it refers to as “WhatsApp Business app for Android.”

Google Introduces 'Trending Searches' and 'Instant Answers' to iOS App

Google is giving users of Apple products greater functionality with the addition of Twitter-like features in a recent update to its iOS app. The mobile version of the search engine which was introduced in its Android app last year, now sports Trending Searches, a location based feature that lets iOS users know of the hottest searches in their location. In addition, the tech giant added Instant Answers to the app, a feature that gives some useful info at a glance.

Trending Searches for iOS will have an opt-out feature

With their iOS Google app updated, users will know the searches currently trending around them. According to The Tech Bulletin,  merely clicking on the app’s search box will display a list of trending searches made by people near a user’s location. However, it still remains unclear just how localized the coverage of the Trending Searches feature is.

Thankfully, there is an opt-out option included in the iOS update. When Trending Searches was introduced on Android last year, it was met with criticisms with some users clamoring for Google to include an option for turning off the feature. While useful to some, there were users who found it annoying as it gave trending searches made by the masses instead of content specific to the user interests. Google relented by coming up with the opt-out option for people who wished to turn off the feature.

Smarter Searches with Instant Answers

In addition, Google made some improvements to the search experience by introducing what is called Instant Answers. Basically, the app anticipates what the user is trying to type and, even before keying in the complete search phrase, the answer is displayed along with some suggestions below the search box. And that happens even before the user hits the search button.

According to Tech Crunch,  the answers come from Google’s facts database known as Knowledge Graph, which in turn, sources its data from CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia.

Facebook to Block Ads From Publishers Who Share Fake News

Facebook has ramped up its drive to combat the spread of fake news and hoaxes. It announced on Monday, that it will no longer allow Pages known to have repeatedly shared fake news in the past to advertise on its platform.

Via a blog post, the social media company stated that the move is aimed to reduce the distribution of fake news by disrupting the economic incentives to create them in the first place. It further stated that some Pages are buying Facebook ads to increase their audience base so they may distribute fake news more broadly.

Facebook already does not allow advertisers to run ad campaigns that link to fake stories. However, the most recent update of its site rules states that it will now penalize Pages that share fake news stories as well.

Based on Monday's announcement, it looks like Facebook might be lenient to first-time offenders especially if they inadvertently shared a fake story. According to the company, it will only block ad purchases of Pages that repeatedly share fake news or hoaxes. To determine if a story is true or not, Facebook has partnered with third-party fact-checkers to help them thresh out real news from the rest.

However, it does not mean that affected Pages will be blocked from purchasing FB ads forever. According to the same blog post, blocked Pages will become eligible to purchase ads once they stop sharing misleading stories. It did not say how long the block would last before a Page can purchase ads again.

Facebook has been under pressure to curb the spread of fake news on its platform after it was accused of enabling the spread of fake political news during the U.S. presidential elections. The company faced the same criticism in Europe when French voters were reported to have been bombarded with fake news during France’s presidential elections.