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Facebook’s Aquila drone has a successful first full-scale flight

Facebook’s Aquila drone has a successful first full-scale flight

At dawn on June 28, Facebook’s Aquila drone took its first flight; it was a success and marked a new major milestone in Facebook’s effort to bring Internet access to remote parts of the world. Much like Google’s Project Loon — though distinctly different in many ways — Facebook’s eyeing the sky as a way to beam Internet to villages and rural communities below. Rather than using balloons, though, the social network has elected to use very wide but relatively light drones that sip solar power and can spend long periods of time in the sky.

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Facebook Messenger hits 1 billion user milestone

Facebook Messenger hits 1 billion user milestone

Facebook's Messenger service has hit a rather impressive milestone today, revealing that it has crossed the one billion user threshold. This means that Messenger has added another 100 million users to its ranks in just a couple of months, with the announcement that it had hit 900 million active users coming back in April. In order to celebrate its one billion user achievement, Facebook says that using the balloon emoji in open conversations will summon floating balloons, much like Messenger's Valentine's Day hearts.

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Facebook may have cracked the big laser-drone internet problem

Facebook may have cracked the big laser-drone internet problem

Facebook is exploring ways of delivering internet connectivity via lasers, developing a new receiver technology that promises to be less complex and more affordable than current systems. Dubbed free-space laser communication, Facebook's break-through is in an all-new optical detector that - unlike existing examples - would neither require mechanical stabilization, nor expensive micro-motors, sensing, or processing.

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WhatsApp comes back online in Brazil shortly after being banned

WhatsApp comes back online in Brazil shortly after being banned

As predicted, it didn't take very long for WhatsApp to be restored in Brazil after being banned by a judge in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. The judge's order to mobile phone carriers in Brazil was overturned by Brazil's Federal Supreme Court a few hours later, bringing WhatsApp back to the masses nearly as fast as it was restored the last two times something like this happened.

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WhatsApp blocked once more in Brazil for failing to hand over user data

WhatsApp blocked once more in Brazil for failing to hand over user data

One of the wonderful things about end-to-end encryption in messaging apps is, as long as it's implemented correctly, nobody but you or the person you're chatting with should be able to see those messages. Unfortunately for WhatsApp, judges in Brazil don't seem to understand how that works. Yes, Brazil's at it again, as the office of Judge Daniela Barbosa Assunção de Souza in Rio De Janerio has ordered five carriers to block WhatsApp until it turns over data associated with a criminal case.

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Twitter, Facebook and YouTube blocked in Turkey

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube blocked in Turkey

Turkey has (once again) blocked access to YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, this time due to the reported military coup that is underway. This isn’t the first time Turkey has tried to block social networks, and per the tweets and videos still making their way out today, it appears it hasn’t been entirely successful. The nation often attempts to censor access to Internet sites like these during times of social or politic unrest.

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Messenger on Android gets Instant Articles

Messenger on Android gets Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles, the articles from participating publications that load instantly when clicked, have made their way to Messenger. The social network opened up Instant Articles to all publishers a few months back; it only makes sense that they’d expand them to cover Messenger, too, as they've done today. Kicking them off are Instant Articles on Android, but they'll be coming to iOS in future weeks, too.

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Look at the crazy lengths Facebook goes to in testing its mobile app

Look at the crazy lengths Facebook goes to in testing its mobile app

Social media giant Facebook has one of the most popular mobile apps in the world, and today it's showing just what it takes to comprehensively test the changes it makes to that app. Constant testing is something Facebook needs to take seriously, as it frequently rolls out new updates for its mobile app. Should those updates break something - even if the problem is present on just a few of the many phones available today - the app's popularity could have pretty dire consequences for a sizable portion of its users.

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Facebook Messenger embraces 3D Touch on iPhone 6s

Facebook Messenger embraces 3D Touch on iPhone 6s

Facebook continues to embrace 3D Touch, with Apple's pressure-sensitive touchscreen tech now being added to Facebook Messenger. In an update to the Messenger app released for iOS devices today, there's now support for previewing contacts, conversations, photos, videos, stickers, links, and locations with a firm press on the iPhone 6s' display.

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Facebook faces IRS scrutiny as Justice Department files lawsuit

Facebook faces IRS scrutiny as Justice Department files lawsuit

A Department of Justice lawsuit filed this week seeks to force Facebook’s hand in a battle against the IRS and the allegations it has made about Facebook’s tax records. According to the IRS, the social network may have skirted paying taxes on billions of dollars by understating the value of some of its IP that was transferred to Ireland. The DoJ’s lawsuit, which was filed this past Wednesday in California, aims to make Facebook turn over documents as part of the tax investigation.

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Facebook Messenger begins testing end-to-end encryption with Secret Conversations

Facebook Messenger begins testing end-to-end encryption with Secret Conversations

Back at the end of May, we heard that Facebook may be rolling out encryption to Messenger sometime this summer. It looks like that day has arrived, as Facebook has announced that it will be testing end-to-end encryption in Messenger through a new feature called Secret Conversations. Not everyone will have access to Secret Conversations at first, but assuming the tests go well and Facebook doesn't need to make any big changes to the feature, it shouldn't be long before it rolls out to everyone.

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Facebook announces OpenCellular, an open source wireless platform

Facebook announces OpenCellular, an open source wireless platform

For several years now, Facebook has been exploring initiatives to bring internet access to remote parts of the world. There's been internet delivery via drones, and the controversial Free Basics platform, but their newest project is OpenCellular, which aims to make cellular networks cheaper to set up in similarly remote areas. As an open source "wireless access platform," OpenCellular includes both the software and hardware needed to establish a network.

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