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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, counts more than 3 billion monthly users across its family of apps. Now, it’s trying to build the next generation of services in virtual reality and the metaverse through Meta Quest headsets and Horizon Worlds — all while dealing with antitrust pressures, privacy concerns, and younger users shifting to other platforms.

OpenAI execs dubbed ChatGPT a “Low key research preview.”

The phrase became an internal joke after ChatGPT’s popularity exploded right out of the gate, according to the NYT’s recap of its launch a year ago and the reaction among Big Tech companies.

Google and Meta scrambled AI teams to launch competing products — even if that meant removing some guardrails — like Bard and LLaMa. And Microsoft’s rush to beat Google had Satya Nadella saying, “We have a big order coming to you, a really big order coming to you,” to Nvidia’s Jensen Huang as he ordered $2 billion in chips.

Here’s why Threads doesn’t have chronological search results

According to Instagram boss Adam Mosseri, doing so would open the app up to “spammers and other bad actors” who would “pummel the view with content by simply adding the relevant words or tags.”

It’s another example of how Threads continues to resist the real-time nature of the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Seems like Threads won’t be getting chronological search results.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri says letting users see search results chronologically “would create a substantial safety loophole.” I’ve replied to ask exactly what he means by that. Perhaps it’s so that Meta can always algorithmically sort search results and root out the bad stuff? I do hope Mosseri reconsiders this position, as chronological search results on X (formerly Twitter) can be pretty useful.

On Thursday, Meta expanded Threads’ keyword search feature to more languages.

Threads is expanding keyword search to more languages.

Meta started letting users in English and Spanish-speaking countries search for keywords in September, but now it’s available to Threads users globally and in all languages.

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Threads may arrive in Europe before Santa does.

In the face of Elon Musk prophesizing X’s demise at the hands of advertisers, Europeans may finally be getting access to Meta’s rival service.

The Wall Street Journal reports that support should arrive sometime in December, with accommodations to appease EU regulations that would allow European users to access Threads content without needing a profile to make their own posts.

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Meta pauses sales of the Quest 3’s glitchy battery strap.

There’s a reason why the $130 Quest 3 Elite Strap with Battery is listed as out of stock on Meta’s store — the company has temporarily paused sales of the accessory after widespread reports of buggy charging behavior. RoadtoVR reports that it’s having to manufacture new straps to fix the issues.

If your device is affected, try reaching out to Meta Support for a replacement.

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Bumble and Match are suspending ads on Instagram.

The two dating companies paused advertising on the platform after The Wall Street Journal found their ads appearing next to explicit and child-sexualizing content in Reels feeds.

The WSJ got this information by setting up test accounts that followed young gymnasts, cheerleaders, and influencers. When looking through Reels, the outlet discovered that Instagram surfaced “served jarring doses of salacious content to those test accounts, including risqué footage of children as well as overtly sexual adult videos” alongside ads for major brands, including Match, Bumble, Disney, and Walmart.

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Moscow put Meta spokesperson Andy Stone on its wanted list.

Meta communications director Andy Stone is “wanted under an article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation,” according to Russian state news agency TASS, citing an interior ministry database. Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are banned in Russia for what Moscow has called “extremist activities.” Stone has been on the list since February, Mediazona reports. And his arrest was ordered by a Russian court in absentia for “aiding terrorism,” Mediazona says.

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The states suing Meta over youth mental health reveal more of their evidence.

The attorneys general of 33 states sued Meta in October, but many details of what executives allegedly knew about the impacts of Facebook and Instagram on youth mental health were redacted. The New York Times reports a version with more details has been unsealed, and you can read all 233 pages here.

Between the first quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2023, Meta received over 1.1 million reports of under-13 users on Instagram via its underage reporting webform and in-app underage reporting process. These processes were only a few of many ways that Meta acquired actual knowledge of under-13 users on its Social Media Platforms. Despite this actual knowledge, Meta disabled only a fraction of those accounts and routinely continued to collect children’s data without parental consent,

In a statement, Meta says the lawsuit “mischaracterizes our work using selective quotes and cherry-picked documents.”

Messenger is making it easier to reply with emoji.

The app will now display suggested emoji that you can use as replies, which should hopefully mean less scrolling through your recently-used list.

A GIF showing suggested emoji in Messenger
GIF: Meta
Now everyone can download Instagram Reels from public accounts.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri shared on his broadcast channel that the ability to save reels posted by all public accounts to your camera roll is now available globally. If your Instagram account is public, this FAQ notes that you can opt-out on individual posts or for your entire account (anyone under 18 is opted out by default).

After some testing, Mosseri announced this was live in the US in June, and now it’s everywhere. Similar to TikTok, downloads are available under the share button, and any reel you download will be watermarked with the poster’s Instagram name.

Instagram Reels share options with a button for downloading.
Image: Meta
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Facebook OK’d several ads calling for violence against Palestinian people.

They included phrases like “holocaust for the Palestinians” and “Arab pigs,” reported The Intercept.

In a statement to The Verge, Facebook spokesperson Erin McPike said that the ads violated Meta’s policies and were removed.

Objectionable content has slipped through Facebook’s automated ad controls in the past. Just this year, it approved ads calling for violence in Brazil and Europe.

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A new way to log in to your WhatsApp account.

The latest version of WhatsApp’s iOS app (23.24.70) reportedly lets you log into an account by receiving a six-digit code via email. WABetaInfo, which spotted the new feature, notes that email logins aren’t supposed to replace phone numbers, but are meant as an alternative option if your phone’s unavailable.

It’s yet another sign of WhatsApp becoming a more platform-agnostic messaging service.

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Congress subpoenaed Linda Yaccarino and other social media CEOs after they refused to cooperate.

The Washington Post reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee dispatched subpoena-armed US Marshals to CEOs Linda Yaccarino of X (formerly Twitter) and Jason Citron of Discord for December 6th testimony about online child sexual exploitation. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel was also subpoenaed but without the use of Marshals.

Lawmakers expect Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew to testify voluntarily as Congress continues to try to child-proof the internet with regulation.

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Meta’s head of augmented reality software is out, so what does that mean for its AR glasses?

Meta VP of engineering Don Block has been leading the operating system development for its augmented reality glasses project, codenamed Nazare, planned for release in 2024. Now Reuters reports the former Microsoft engineer is stepping down, citing a Meta spokesperson saying it was for personal reasons and that the upcoming product roadmap will not be affected.

Threads now works from a mobile web browser.

A member of the Threads team just posted about it. I was able to log in from Chrome on iOS; on Safari, for some reason, I wasn’t. I’m assuming that whatever is going on there will be fixed sometime soon.

And even though I’m running into that issue, I’m happy that using Threads through a mobile browser is an option at all. I’m weird: I like to log in to social media services through the mobile web instead of downloading an app.

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Meta and MediaTek are teaming up to develop custom silicon for AR glasses.

It’s an exclusive partnership, Android Central reports, meaning that Meta would be the only company that gets to use the chips. That said, Meta’s first pair of AR glasses might be years away, so it could be awhile until we know how capable the customer silicon is.

Now Meta’s Messenger app has a Notes status update feature just like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Over the last year, Meta has added AIM status-like features to Instagram and WhatsApp and today announced it's rolling out Notes (using the same name as Instagram’s feature) for Messenger globally.

You can’t post them from the desktop, but a support document explains how to add or remove Notes via iPhone, iPad, or Android device by clicking the thought bubble next to your profile picture. If you don’t remove them manually, the messages expire after 24 hours.

Screenshot of the Messenger app showing icons for online friends with message bubbles over their faces showing their current status posted as a note. One nmaed Ana is telling her friends “Best time of the Year!, while Alicia posts “wtw?” abd Michael’s note is an upside down smiley face emoji.
Notes in Messenger
Image: Meta
Here I am on CNBC talking about Meta’s decision to allow election denial in political ads.

You don’t have to take the money!

Remember Instagram Guides?

I’ve long forgotten about the feature since it first rolled out in 2020 as a way to curate recommendations — but now it’s going away. Developer Alessandro Paluzzi first spotted the change, which Instagram spokesperson Mari Melguizo later confirmed to The Verge, saying Guides will be transferred into private saved collections:

We are sunsetting the Guides feature and are converting all existing guides into private saved collections. Usage is low and we are always looking at ways to simplify the app. People can access their saved collections via ‘Saved’ in the profiles settings tab.

WhatsApp is launching the ability for everyone to create channels.

The Meta-owned app started widely rolling out the broadcasting feature in September, but it only let select influencers and brands (including The Verge) create their own channels to start.

In addition to letting more users start channels, Meta also announced that WhatsApp Channels now has over 500 million monthly active users in the seven weeks since its launch.

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The Wall Street Journal reported on Meta’s decision to allow election ads that question the legitimacy of past elections.

The change to was made “based on free-speech considerations,” according to the article. Earlier this year, YouTube announced it would stop removing false presidential election fraud claims.