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Facebook will allow select companies and organizations to post in 'Community Help' during a crisis

Facebook rolled out a special Community Help section last year to do some good during a crisis. It's intended as a way for users to offer assistance to each other including food, shelter, and so on. Now, Facebook is going to let certain businesses and organizations post in Community Help to do the same.

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Facebook's Messenger Kids app comes to the Play Store

Facebook has to tread carefully when it comes to making products and services for kids under the age of 13. However, it's not like it's hard for kids to lie about their age to gain access to all the wonderful and unspeakably terrible things on the internet. If kids are going to be sending messages over the internet, parents might want to give the child-friendly Messenger Kids a shot. It's launching on Android today with some special Valentine's Day features.

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Facebook testing a downvote button, claims it is not a dislike button

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is stay positive. As mothers everywhere are fond of saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." That's a good philosophy, but most of us probably forget to practice it, and Facebook is rolling out a new tool to allow people to hide that sort of content from its site. According to a report published by TechCrunch, Facebook is experimenting with a new "downvote" button, but it's actually just a "report" button. 

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Facebook vows to bump news stories from local sources higher up the news feed

There have been a few signs already this year that Facebook is maybe feeling the heat. Perhaps younger users are tending towards trendier, more dynamic forms of social media. Perhaps older users are tiring of such platforms altogether and going back to sending hand-written letters. Whatever the reason, Facebook understands that it needs to make some changes to keep its users coming back.

So far this year, the company has killed its unsuccessful virtual assistant, promised to clean up Messenger's act, and committed to making the Facebook news feed more personal. We knew even more changes were coming, and in a post yesterday CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that the next update would rank local news higher.

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WhatsApp could be ready to launch digital payments in India next month

Thanks to a government-backed platform called UPI (Unified Payment Interface), developers are able to more easily integrate digital payments for India into their apps. Google's Tez uses UPI for bill payments, and social app Truecaller added the functionality in a recent update. The country's most used messaging app shouldn't be too far behind as Facebook-owned WhatsApp could be ready to offer a payment solution based on UPI as early as next month.

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Facebook promises to declutter Messenger app in 2018

Facebook caught some heat for pushing people to use the Messenger app a few years back, but that may actually have been a kindness. Messenger was a much better app than the main Facebook client. Although, over time Messenger has become rather bloated and clunky in its own right. The head of Messenger now admits the app is too cluttered, and changes are on the way.

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[Hands-on] Facebook Messenger Kids comes to Amazon's Fire tablets

Facebook has released its new Messenger Kids app to the Amazon App Store, making the service available to owners of its Fire line of tablets. So I grabbed one of the Fire 7 tablets we have for our kids and installed the app to see what it was all about, and just how well it works on Amazon's lowest-end hardware.

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Facebook is changing the news feed to bring you closer to the people you actually know in real life

Particularly for those who were around from the start, usage of Facebook might have waned in recent years. Considering it was originally intended to bring you closer to your friends and family, things are a bit different nowadays. Scroll through your news feed today and you'll likely find a mixture of memes, recipe videos, and adverts (in my case, anyway, but that will depend on what you like/follow), with just a smattering of posts from people you know IRL. The company's mission for 2018: put friends and family at the forefront once again.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined this renewed focus in a post on the site yesterday, where he said that feedback from users was at the heart of upcoming changes to the ranking system.

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In VR news: HTC announces VIVE PRO and wireless adapter, Oculus and Xiaomi introduce Oculus Go and Mi VR Standalone

Many companies are still trying to make VR happen, though it feels like those couple of years when 3D TVs were being pushed and then completely disappeared. If you ask me, there's merit to the immersive experience of VR in certain situations, but the wider and easier adoption will be for AR when it's commoditized. But I digress. We've been keeping an eye on HTC's VIVE and Oculus for a while, even though they're not technically related to Android, but for the sake of information here are the two companies' CES 2018 news.

HTC is introducing a few new things at CES.

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Google's Head of Product for Allo and Duo moves to Facebook

Amit Fulay served as a Product Manager at Google since 2010, most recently as Head of Product for Real-Time Communications. In other words, he was the head of Allo, Duo, WebRTC, and other projects within the company. Fulay announced on Twitter today that he has left Google, and now works at Facebook.

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