Instagrowth. Instagram’s relationship with Facebook is turning out to be mutually beneficial. Since Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, the photo sharing platform has passed the 300-million-user mark, surpassing Twitter’s 284 million active-user base. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom attributes his social media company’s growth to its decision to translate its app into more languages—there are now 210 million Instagram users outside the United States—and Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook, whose growth team’s efforts have supplemented the work done by Instagram’s own small team dedicated to increasing the social platform’s popularity. For its part, Instagram has grown into an incredibly valuable asset—according to some estimates, its 300 million users translate into a valuation of approximately $12 billion—as well as a means of keeping its parent company in touch with younger users, who have been abandoning Facebook in droves in favor of newer messaging apps and social media platforms.
Road rules. These days, recorders on automobiles track everything from a driver’s location to her braking habits and seatbelt use. In the interest of maintaining automobile consumers’ trust, two of the auto industry’s biggest trade groups have agreed on a set of principles specifying how automakers may use, store, and protect the information their products collect about the people who drive them. The automakers’ agreement, which is set to take effect in January 2016, calls for the companies to adopt policies for their cars that are similar to the privacy policies typically found on websites. While the privacy principles don’t prescribe exactly what auto manufactures may do with drivers’ data—they require only that the information be used for “legitimate business purposes”—the guidelines do specify that manufacturers will not disclose customer location intelligence to law enforcement without a warrant. The manufacturers themselves have categorized the guidelines as minimum requirements that auto makers will build upon as they compete to stay in automobile buyers’ good graces.
A digital chaperone? Facebook is developing an algorithm that will run interference between users and their networks when it identifies material in a post that has the potential to compromise the poster’s public image or reputation. Using “deep learning,” a type of artificial intelligence, the system will notify Facebook users when they are about to post something that will portray them in a less-than-optimal light (a drunken selfie, for example) or when other users post unauthorized photos of them. Since such a system will require technology with human-level intelligence, it will likely take a long time to become a reality.