Author: Jordan Crook

Snap launches new features for Lens Studio

At the end of last year, Snap introduced Lens Studio, a platform that allows developers to create AR lenses for Snapchat. Today, the company is announcing new features for Lens Studio, including seven brand new templates for the creation of face lenses.

Before now, only World Lens creation was available to everyone within Lens Studio, meaning developers could create 3D AR objects but not overlay AR experiences over faces. Now, developers can create Face Lenses, with seven different templates to choose from.

Here are the new templates for Face Lenses:

  • Face Paint: focuses on face substitution, mapping the face to let developers create art tied to facial features like the lips or nose (great for makeup or accessories)
  • Photo: much like Face Paint, Photo lets creators overlay lenses onto a single static (head-on) photo
  • Distort: lets developers stretch or shrink facial features
  • Trigger: with Trigger, developers can create a trigger (blinking, raising eyebrows, open/close mouth) to execute a lens
  • 2D Objects: this template works the same way as Snap’s famous dog ears filter, letting developers create 2D objects that can be overlaid on a picture of video
  • 3D Objects: Same as 2D Objects, but with 3D objects. This template also includes a helper script to play looping animation on the 3D objects
  • Baseball Cap: Revamp a 3D baseball cap to change color, brim style and add an image

Alongside the new templates, Snap is also integrating with Giphy to give Lens Studio developers access to Giphy’s massive library of animated GIF stickers.

With the introduction of these new features, Snap is opening up these third-party lenses to the public with the launch of Community Lens Stories. Each story will include public Snaps submitted on Our Story that highlight a community lens. Folks can swipe up on one of these Snaps to unlock the lens, or browse other Lenses by tapping the ‘i’ button above a Community Lens in the carousel.

This is all in an effort to open up Snap to third-party developers and creators, which is why the company is launching the Official Creator Program. This will allow the Snap team to partner with select creators to offer support, including visibility on the Lens Studio website as well as direct support from the Lens Studio team. Official Creators will also get early access to features and templates.

How to watch Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony online

Mark Zuckerberg today begins his second day of testimony.

The Facebook CEO spent more than five hours yesterday answering the questions of U.S. Senators, and will now testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

As was the case with the Senate, we expect to hear plenty about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Russian election meddling. Zuckerberg’s prepared statement was released to the public on Monday, which you can read here.

The congressional hearing begins at 10am ET.

You can watch it here.

Mark Zuckerberg: “We do not sell data to advertisers”

While many of us in the tech world are familiar with Facebook’s business model, there is a common misconception among people that Facebook collects information about you and then sells that information to advertisers.

Zuckerberg wants everyone (especially the U.S. Senate) to know that’s not the case, and has laid forth the most simple example to explain it.

During his testimony, the Facebook CEO clarified to Senator John Cornyn that Facebook does not sell data.

There is a very common misconception that we sell data to advertisers, and we do not sell data to advertisers. What we allow is for advertisers to tell us who they want to reach and then we do the placement. So, if an advertiser comes to us and says, ‘Alright, I’m a ski shop and I want to sell skis to women,’ then we might have some sense because people shared skiing related content or said they were interested in that. They shared whether they’re a woman. And then we can show the ads to the right people without that data ever changing hands and going to the advertiser. That’s a very fundamental part of how our model works and something that is often misunderstood.

While, again, this may seem straightforward to many of us, Zuckerberg found himself having to explain more than once that Facebook does not sell data during his Senate testimony.

Mark Zuckerberg: “There will always be a version of Facebook that is free”

Today during Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the Senate, the Facebook CEO reiterated that “there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.”

In the midst of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the user data of up to 87 million people was sold by a third-party developer to Trump Campaign-linked firm Cambridge Analytica, there has been talk of Facebook potentially adding a subscription layer.

The scandal has brought to light the heart of a problem that many have been well aware of: if you’re not buying a product, you are the product.

Last week, when asked if there might be a way for users to opt out of being targeted for ads, Sandberg responded saying they’d have to pay for it.

“We have different forms of opt-out,” Sandberg replied. “We don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product.”

Our own Josh Constine made an argument that ad-free subscriptions could save Facebook. And while there’s no word on an ad-free subscription, Zuckerberg did at least leave room for it in the future, noting that there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.

“How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” Senator Orrin Hatch asked Zuckerberg.

“Senator, we run ads.”

Watch Zuckerberg’s Senate testimony live right here

Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will begin two of the most publicly scrutinized days of his career.

This afternoon, members of the Senate will hear from Zuckerberg on data use, protection and privacy in the midst of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Russian election meddling. While Zuckerberg’s prepared statement has already been released to the public, there are plenty of lingering questions to be answered.

We’ll be watching diligently and bringing you all the breaking news and analysis from the hearing. But if you want to watch along yourself, here’s what you need to know:

The hearing begins at 2:15 pm ET.

It’s a joint hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The hearing will be live streamed right here.

This is Mark Zuckerberg’s prepared statement for Congress

Ahead of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has released the Facebook CEO’s prepared statement.

In it, Zuckerberg explains that Facebook has always been an optimistic organization, focusing on connecting people and giving them a voice. But Zuckerberg also admits that the idealist train of thought might have blinded the company to potential misuses of Facebook’s toolset.

But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.

The statement also goes over both the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Russian election interference, thoroughly explaining what happened in each situation and what Facebook is doing to solve these problems.

Zuckerberg is set to testify before the Senate tomorrow and before Congress on Wednesday. We’ll be covering both hearings.

You can read the full statement embedded below.

SNL roasts Mark Zuckerberg on Weekend Update

The role of Mark Zuckerberg went to Alex Moffat this weekend on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update.

While some bits were harmless and hilarious — “Poke! Poke! Remember that feature?” asked Moffat as he poked Jost in the shoulder. “Poke! It was flirting for cowards.” — the Facebook CEO probably didn’t laugh much on Saturday night.

Alex Moffat, playing Zuckerberg, shrieked with laughter, struggled with eye contact, and rebuked any notion that users’ should have control over their own data on Facebook.

When asked if users would be able to delete their own data, the Zuck character simply replied: “Psh, no! Because it’s mine. You gave it to me. No backsies.”

This all comes amidst the Cambridge Analytica scandal, wherein third-party apps scraped data of more than 50 million users on behalf of consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica . This has left Facebook trying to recover trust with the public, all while having lost more than $80 billion in market value since the scandal broke.

This also comes a few short days before Zuckerberg appears in Washington D.C. for both a Senate hearing on April 10 and a House Energy and Commerce hearing on April 11.

You can watch the full SNL segment below: