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Facebook begins placing labels on posts by ‘state-controlled media’

Starting today, Facebook will label posts by state-controlled media on the social network. The company first announced the move in October, part of larger efforts to fight disinformation during elections.

In a post announcing the update, Facebook said:

We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.

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Facebook also said it would begin labelling ads by such outlets. They “rarely advertise in the US,” but the company will also block such ads from appearing within the country ahead of the November 2020 election.

In the US, the labels will appear right on user’s feeds, while in the rest of the world, they’ll show up on Pages, the Page Transparency section, and the Ad Library Page view.

Facebook says it’s determined the outlets to label by consulting “more than 65 experts around the world specializing in media, governance, and human rights and development.”

What counts as ‘state-controlled’ goes beyond government funding, with Facebook assessing factors like a publication’s ownership structure, editorial guidelines, missing statements, national laws, and more. Organizations do have the option to appeal the label, however.

Facebook says it’s starting with a few labels at a time, with more to be added over time as it refines its approach. It’s encouraging to see the company taking stronger steps to prevent disinformation. Now if only it could do the same for incitements to violence by world leaders…

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Pardon the Intrusion #19: Paying for Privacy

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Welcome to the latest edition of Pardon The Intrusion, TNW’s bi-weekly newsletter in which we explore the wild world of security.

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COVID-19 accelerated the use of Zoom for video calling. But so did the security problems and revelations that it didn’t actually support end-to-end encryption (E2EE), misleading users about the security of the platform.

In the aftermath, it promised to invest in E2EE on its platform, and acquired encrypted chat service Keybase in an attempt to secure its communications. All seemed well until yesterday: Zoom confirmed that it plans to offer stronger encryption features only for its paying users. It won’t be extended to the free tier.

“Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give that [end-to-end encryption] because we also want to work it together with FBI and local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for bad purpose [sic],” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said in an earnings call this week.

The idea that encryption could hamper law enforcement’s ability to fight criminal acts — widely known as the “Going Dark” problem — is not new.

Last year, Facebook ran into troubled waters after governments in the US, UK, and Australia called on the company to delay its plans to implement E2EE across its messaging apps until “there is no reduction to user safety and without including a means for lawful access to the content of communications to protect our citizens.”

But by putting a premium on privacy, Zoom seems to be aiming for a tricky balancing act that improves security but also minimizes the risk of abuse. The move also puts it at odds with wider attempts to embrace encryption on the web.

Alex Stamos, former Facebook’s chief security officer who’s now working as an outside consultant on Zoom’s security strategy, elaborated on this further in a Twitter thread:

Zoom is dealing with some serious safety issues. When people disrupt meetings (sometimes with hate speech, CSAM, exposure to children and other illegal behaviors) that can be reported by the host. Zoom is working with law enforcement on the worst repeat offenders.

— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) June 3, 2020

In a climate where there’s no alternative that offers E2EE group calls (Signal and Jitsi‘s are limited to one-on-one), Zoom‘s proposed encryption model is in the right direction.

But by choosing to turn a basic security feature into a premium paid offering, Zoom is setting a wrong precedent wherein privacy is limited to those who can afford to pay for it.

What’s trending in security?

Apple fixed a critical security flaw in its “Sign In With Apple” feature, Google found more evidence of credential-stealing attacks exploiting COVID-19, and new details emerged about an iPhone spyware app, called Hide UI, used by law enforcement to unlock devices when it doesn’t have the user’s passcode.

  • Hacktivist group Anonymous has returned from the shadows, and has promised retribution against the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) over the death of George Floyd. The MPD’s website was then temporarily taken offline in a suspected Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, but researcher Troy Hunt said the leaked data “has almost certainly been pulled out of existing data breaches in an attempt to falsely fabricate a new one.” [Troy Hunt]
  • For everyone who is protesting in support of Black Lives Matter and against George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department — and those who are planning to attend one — here are some handy precautions to take before you go. Also make sure you turn off biometrics on your phone. [TNW]
  • The baddies behind REvil (Sodinokibi) ransomware launched an eBay-like auction site to sell data stolen from the companies they hack. [ZDNet]
  • Apple fixed a flaw in “Sign In With Apple” that could have allowed attackers to hijack any user’s accounts on third-party apps that offer the login option. [The Hacker News]
  • A hacking group that calls itself ShinyHunters has been selling 200 million stolen records on the dark web from over a dozen companies. [WIRED]
  • COVID-19 themed malware attacks are still on the rise. Google said it found new activity from Indian “hack-for-hire” firms that have been impersonating the WHO in credential-stealing email campaigns to target business leaders in financial services, consulting, and healthcare corporations across the US, Slovenia, Canada, India, Bahrain, Cyprus, and UK. [Google]
  • A vigilante hacker group called “CyberWare” has been targeting “scam” companies with ransomware and denial of service attacks. [Bleeping Computer]
  • New “Octopus Scanner” malware was found compromising open-source GitHub projects to spread to Windows, Linux, and macOS systems, and deploying malicious backdoor. [GitHub
  • A new study — (How) Do People Change Their Passwords After a Breach? — found that only around a third of users usually change their passwords following a data breach. [IEEE Security (PDF)]
  • Sandworm, the hackers working for Russia’s military intelligence agency, have been exploiting a vulnerability in Exim Mail Transfer Agent software since August of last year for malicious motives. The NSA recommends patching Exim servers immediately by installing version 4.93 or newer. [NSA / WIRED]
  • Kaspersky researchers uncovered a steganography-themed attack targeting industrial enterprises in Japan, Italy, Germany, and the UK to steal Windows account credentials. The hackers’ ultimate motive remains unclear. [Kaspersky]
  • An Android malware called Strandhogg 2.0 mimics apps’ login screens to hijack passwords and grant extensive permissions. It affects all versions of Android prior to 10. Google has already patched the flaw in a security update pushed last month. [Ars Technica]
  • A new version of Valak malware has been found targeting Microsoft Exchange servers in the US and Germany to steal enterprise mailing information and passwords. [Cybereason]
  • Amnesty International discovered a critical flaw in Qatar’s mandatory-to-use EHTERAZ contact-tracing app, which had it not been reported and fixed, could’ve allowed attackers access to highly sensitive data, “including the name, national ID, health status and location data of more than one million users.” [Amnesty International]
  • US authorities arrested a Ukranian national, Denys Iarmak, an alleged member of the FIN7 cybercrime group that’s been accused of hacking Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Trump Hotels. FIN7 (also called Carbanak Group) has been tied to a string of financially-motivated attacks since 2015 to conduct fraudulent wire transfers to offshore accounts. [Motherboard]
  • The fortnight in breaches and leaks: Thailand cellular network AIS, Livejournal, Mathway, Minted, Truecaller, Indonesian voter records, and India’s BHIM mobile payments platform.

Tweet of the Week

Obviously I don’t think you should have to pay for E2E encryption.

— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) June 3, 2020

That’s it. See you all in two weeks. Stay safe!

Ravie x TNW (ravie[at]thenextweb[dot]com)

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Huawei’s new phone can take your temperature because coronavirus


With coronavirus an ongoing pandemic, checking for a fever when you feel ill is one of the first things you should do before deciding to go to the hospital. No need to bust out the thermometer if you buy Huawei‘s new Honor Play 4 Pro — it has a temperature sensor built-in. To quote ArsTechnica, it has to be the most 2020 phone of 2020. To use the temperature sensor, you open up the app and apply the phone directly to your forehead, as shown in this Weibo video. The infrared sensor supports temperatures from -20°C (-4°F) to 100°C (212°F)…
This story continues at The Next Web
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Rockstar shuts off GTA Online & Red Dead Online during George Floyd memorial

Rockstar Games today cut off access to its online games — namely Red Dead Online and GTA Online — in order “honor the legacy of George Floyd,” whose memorial took place at the same time.

Black Lives Matter. To honor the legacy of George Floyd, today, 6/4/20, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET, we will be shutting down access to our online games, Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online.

— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) June 4, 2020

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The memorial for Floyd was held in Minneapolis, and featured a call to action from Reverend Al Sharpton, the president of the National Action Network. It’s the first in a series of memorials to be held around the city honoring Floyd’s life.

Read: Tim Cook addresses George Floyd’s killing with a statement on racism

Access to the games remained offline for the duration of the memorial. Rockstar’s parent company, Take Two Interactive, have also shut down other games it controls, such as NBA 2K.

Several game publishers and developers have expressed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and sympathy for the protesters and the victims of racial injustice. All of the console manufacturers — Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo — have put out statements. Other than their words, most game companies have shown sensitivity to the issue by delaying major game reveals or releases — presumably in order to avoid taking any attention away from the current news. These include a planned reveal of the PS5’s launch titles and a showcase for the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077.

Call it a cynical, performative PR move if you like — and believe me, I would not disagree with you — but that doesn’t make it a bad move.

If I were Rockstar, I’d also be worried about the optics. One of the main things people can do in GTA Online is get into firefights with police, which is not a good look considering what happened to lead to the memorial. I can also imagine that there might be some unsavory activity on the servers if they were still running during the memorial. Gamers, unfortunately, still have our bad apples who throw around racial slurs and the memorial would almost certainly draw them out.

Following the memorial, we hope you will join us in further honoring the many victims of America's racial injustices by supporting their families, black-owned businesses, those marching on the streets, and coalitions through the organizations listed here: https://t.co/yIQu2R1pJb

— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) June 4, 2020

Rockstar followed up the shut-down with a tweet inviting everyone to honor “the many victims of America’s racial injustices by supporting their families, black-owned businesses, those marching on the streets, and coalitions” and linking to a Charity Navigator page for civil rights organizations who are accepting donations.

h/t Polygon

Read next: Huawei's new phone can take your temperature because coronavirus

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Fitbit’s low-cost COVID-19 ventilator receives emergency FDA approval

Fitbit this week revealed the Flow, an inexpensive ventilator the company developed for the express purpose of helping alleviate the need for such devices in the coronavirus pandemic. It can be used in hospitals, though not to replace traditional ventilators.

The Flow is designed around standard resuscitator bags used by paramedics, and is designed to be “simple to use,” according to Fitbit. It has a clear window on the side so healthcare workers can observe the bag pumping, and additional sensors for monitoring patients and control over the volume and pressure of the oxygen. It was granted FDA Emergency Use Authorization earlier this week. According to The Verge, the Flow would cost around $5,000. For reference, ventilators cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to purchase them in March.

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It’s worth noting that the Flow isn’t a conventional ventilator, nor is it designed to replace one. According to FDA documents, the Flow is intended to be used “only when an FDA-cleared clinical ventilator is not available during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Even Fitbit admits that the point of the Flow is to act as a stopgap to help make up for a lack of said FDA-cleared ventilators, with Senior Staff Research Scientist Dr. Tony Faranesh saying:

We know from some conversations that physicians are already trying to work out the ethics in deciding who gets the ventilator and who doesn’t, due to shortage of supply. The goal here is to support life in the event that one’s not available until one might become available.

Fitbit isn’t the only company trying to help the situation by designing a ventilator. NASA and Dyson both swiftly developed their own ventilators, with the NASA prototype being given the same clearance the Flow now has back in April. It’s worth noting as well that the Emergency Use Authorization of this device doesn’t mean it could be used in conventional hospitals after the pandemic abates — it’d need further FDA testing and approval for that.

There’s some question about whether healthcare workers still need emergency ventilators as much as they did when the pandemic began, not to mention how much of a market is left for the Fitbit model now NASA’s model has been out over a month. Then again, the fear is that a second wave of patients is forthcoming, in which case the Fitbit Flow will definitely see more use. Besides, having it out there as an option can’t possibly hurt.

Read next: Rockstar shuts off GTA Online & Red Dead Online during George Floyd memorial

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Scientists built an AI to discover new stars in the quest to explain our galaxy’s origin


An AI system has spotted thousands of new stars that could hold clues about the formation of the Milky Way. Researchers from Leeds University made the discovery by analyzing images collected by the Gaia satellite, which the European Space Agency launched in 2013 to create a 3D map of our galaxy. After applying machine learning techniques to the data, they found more than 2,000 new protostars — infant stars that form in clouds of gas and dust in space. Scientists had previously cataloged only 100 of these stars, which have already provided enormous insights into how celestial objects form. The newly-identified stars will deepen their understanding [Read: AI…
This story continues at The Next Web

Zoom and Tesla have grown faster than any other NASDAQ 100 stock this year


2020 has been a stellar year for the world’s biggest tech companies — but none have added more to their market values than video conferencing darling Zoom Video and Elon Musk’s Tesla. Indeed, both Zoom and Tesla have multiplied their market caps this year, growth that outstrips every single company in the NASDAQ 100 (a popular index of large-cap stocks that includes tech’s biggest firms). [Read: Civil unrest pushes US gun stocks to outpace tech’s biggest companies] Zoom, the free video conferencing app that rose to prominence as COVID-19 spread across the world, started the year with a $18.99 billion market cap.…
This story continues at The Next Web
Or just read more coverage about: Tesla

Coming out trans in tech: An entrepreneur’s experience


Welcome to 🏳️‍🌈TNW Pride 2020!🏳️‍🌈 All throughout June we’ll highlight articles that focus on representation for LGBTQPIA+ people in the STEM communities. Let me start this off right. I am transgender. I am a trans woman in tech. And I am an opportunity that you don’t want to miss. I’ve been working in tech for 10+ years now – ever since I started selling MySpace design and automation as a teenager. I’ve worked with some of Australia’s biggest technology companies and startups, collectively valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, mentored in the Microsoft Accelerator and consulted for VC funds.…
This story continues at The Next Web

How to reboot shared mobility in a post-pandemic world

Shared mobility must reinvent itself somewhat to adapt to the coming challenges resulting from COVID-19. Operators, software developers, vehicle manufacturers, and public services will all need to be creative in order to find ways to deal with a wide range of social/technical/business issues created or exacerbated by the pandemic.

In this article (in 6 parts), we will explore a few ideas on how to build resilient shared mobility solutions for the near future.

1. Safety & hygiene: reconnect with riders

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Hygiene is perhaps the most significant psychological barrier to shared mobility usage in this era of COVID-19. While scooters, bikes, and mopeds all have the built-in feature of social distancing, due to their one-at-a-time ridership, shared usage makes it vital to address the issue of disinfection of contact points.

In the upcoming battle to regain market share, those operators who can convince users that their vehicles are the safest will have a significant advantage over those who might not have the resources to do so.

Different measures can be taken to make the risk more manageable, some of which are outlined below.

Upgrade the hardware: The use of self-cleaning materials to cover the vehicles’ contact points can reduce viral transmission. American operator Wheels has already partnered with NanoSeptic to cover grips and brake levers with this kind of product. Doing so reduces the need for thorough cleaning between riders. Another option is the installation of hand sanitizer and/or disposable glove dispensers, though this may be more complex and less secure, given the potential for theft.

[Read: 3 possible scenarios for restoring public transport after COVID-19]

Adapt operations procedures: If resources are available, operators must optimize the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing their equipment. This might be tricky, though; during this period of decreased ridership (and accordingly diminished staff), French operators Dott and Pony have each confirmed that disinfecting vehicles every eight to ten rides is the best they can do for now.

Improve user behavior: While some operators might not be able to increase their cleaning and disinfection frequency, they can develop innovative marketing campaign solutions to improve users’ hygiene practices through education and reminders.

2. Communication: set the right tone

Shared mobility operators should adapt their marketing and communication to reflect the very specific circumstances brought on by COVID-19. For at least a couple of months after lockdown ends, operators’ usual messages of “fun” and “freedom” will sound out of touch, even anachronistic. Various companies’ announcements of service suspension already display a clear change of pace, with messages focused on health and responsibility.

Operators will need to find the right language to attract new riders who are more fearful of the risk of infection on public transportation (buses, metros, tramways, etc.). These potential users will likely be more receptive to reliability and safety arguments in considering shared scooters, bikes, or mopeds as options for their commutes.

However, operators should not completely give up on their core values; they must find a way to communicate the pleasure of freedom of movement in a way that still feels appropriate and cognizant of the current times.

This might also be a good time for shared mobility companies to use their messaging to assert their good standing in the market. During the lockdown, many operators who chose to keep their services running highlighted their commitment to serve a community and its residents, turning their offerings into reliable and essential transportation options.

3. Strategy: focus on the locals

While lockdown measures will soon slowly ease up in most countries, national and regional borders will likely remain closed, effectively pausing tourism for an unknown period of time. As a consequence, shared mobility services will, at least for now, solely serve locals.

This is a major paradigm shift for some operators who had been heavily reliant on revenues generated by tourists. In Paris for example, tourists account for 40% of all scooter rides, and this number increases to as high as 70% in the months of July and August. Services like shared mopeds are much less impacted by the decrease in tourism, as they have always been used primarily for professional and personal trips on weekdays.

Operators impacted by the reduction in tourism will have to completely reevaluate the way they manage their vehicle fleets. Taking again the example of Paris, it would make little sense to continue to place as many scooters near the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum.

Density of shared scooters in Paris before COVID-19 crisis (June 2019)

Operators will need to pay close attention to flows of people going to and from train/metro/tram stations and to analyze the best ways to deploy their fleets accordingly. This is a considerable challenge, as flows associated with commuting between home and work are often unbalanced, and can lead to an accumulation of vehicles in the same zones at the same time. This will also highlight the need for licenses and service caps to ensure fair coverage of the city and avoid oversupply in its most profitable areas.

A shift from tourists to local users also means a shift from casual users to regulars, and operators will have to adapt their pricing schemes, most of which are currently not tailored to regular usage. The COVID-19 crisis initiated a change in the business model for some operators, who now offer long-term rentals for shared scooters or bikes. Membership benefits or offers were often previously limited to cheaper prepaid credits or waived unlocking fees. But we will likely now see offers of monthly subscriptions to maintain a low cost per ride for all the new regular users.

These changes will have a significant impact on shared mobility operators, and it’s likely that some businesses won’t survive the upheaval. It might be helpful to see this as a necessary period of maturation for an industry essential to the daily life of millions of citizens.

4. Business: experiment with additional revenue sources

The current lockdown period has forced shared mobility operators to experiment with a variety of different commercial offerings. Already barely profitable before the pandemic hit, they’ve now been pushed to find innovative sources of revenue.

Companies such as Voi, Dott, and Gotcha have launched B2B partnerships, offering up their fleets to ferry goods to those sheltering in place around the world. Despite their limited capacity to carry cargo, these vehicles have been useful in the delivery of, among other things, pharmaceutical products, groceries, and takeout. This is a risky experiment for these companies, however: as operators are offering access to their vehicles at a discount in these partnerships, their margins will get even thinner.

Delivery of pharmaceutical products with a shared scooter from Dott in Italy

Another option for companies is to pivot to the offer of longer-term rentals (daily, monthly, etc.), which would allow them to eliminate the time-consuming disinfection between riders required under their normal model, and would still ensure good rates of vehicle usage. Despite potential advantages, this option is still very much in the beta testing phase, as evidenced by the major price discrepancies among the monthly rental offers from Pony (US $43), Spin (US $60) and Wheels (US $89). These might serve as good “try before you buy” options for riders; both Wheels and Pony (through its Adopt-A-Pony program) are now also selling their vehicles directly to consumers.

As regular commuting will represent a greater share of ridership as lockdowns ease up, operators can work directly with companies keen on offering their employees alternatives for getting to the office. Launching B2B offers is another effective way to attract new riders, as their employers would subsidize subscriptions or ride credits. In Paris, Velib and Cityscoot have released “Pro” offers in anticipation of the end of the confinement period; Voi and Tier had already had these sorts of offers available, though their conditions were not publicly disclosed.

5. Operations: cooperation over competition?

Pre-COVID19, shared mobility operators worked primarily in their own interests, competing for markets; however, the crisis will likely serve as a catalyst to the ongoing market transformation from fully private to public-private partnerships. Operators will be able to start working hand-in-hand with one another through collaborations secured with cities via RFP processes.

As operators work to improve their unit economics, pooling resources and operations might offer significant help. Last December, in the French city of Lyon, Bird, Dott, Lime and Voi launched a first-of-its-kind cooperative parking management team. The group is managed by a third party, and could easily widen its purview to include balancing, for example.

In Lyon (France), Bird, Dott, Lime, and Voi launched a first-of-its-kind cooperative parking management team.

During the lockdown, vehicle disinfection became a major challenge generating extra costs for operators (see Section 1). Putting in place a dedicated team to disinfect any and all shared vehicle grips and brake levers, no matter the vehicle’s brand, could significantly ease operators’ logistical and financial burden, allowing them to focus on doing what they do best: maintenance and balancing.

Developing the shared mobility industry is also about building the future. In order to have real bargaining power, operators must unite and speak with one voice. CoMoUK in the UK and NABSA in North America are non-profit organizations lobbying for shared mobility-friendly laws, and improving community knowledge through conferences and resource libraries. In Spain, 17 operators have joined together to create Smart Mobility, an organization that works to ensure high socio-environmental standards and facilitates the local collaboration of shared mobility operators across the country.

Developing a common vision of the meaning of shared mobility is integral to its adoption by governments and citizens around the world.

6. Public Affairs: strengthen government partnerships

Experience has shown that operators working hand-in-hand with national and local authorities is the most effective way to integrate their services with existing transport infrastructure and to best adapt to cities’ individual needs. This kind of cooperation is a clear path to building sustainable services.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought this home, as citizens and companies alike were reminded of just how much power rests in the hands of governments; they used their authority to determine whether or not shared mobility services would be considered essential during the period of lockdown. Cultivating strong relationships with the public sector is, therefore, more crucial than ever.

The current crisis also reshuffled the cards of shared mobility financing, as many venture capital firms (previously the main source of funding in the sector) froze their investments during this period of market uncertainty. Money could potentially now come from a new partner: cities themselves. Local authorities had already been keen to include shared mobility services in their transportation offers, and will now need them more than ever in order to compensate for the decreased ridership permitted on public transit.

Shifting from imposing fees to subsidizing free-floating operators (public-private partnership) is a natural next step for authorities, following the introduction of RFPs to regulate the market. With dock-based bike-shares, cities are able to impose SLAs and monitor their operation to ensure quality and fairness of use. Implementing this model more broadly would also ensure that both industry and government are working together in the longer term to offer the best service possible for users. Public transit, from trains to bike-shares, is already largely subsidized, so why not extend this to free-floating transportation?

The Urban Mobility Daily is the content site of the Urban Mobility Company, a Paris-based company which is moving the business of mobility forward through physical and virtual events and services. Join their community of 10K+ global mobility professionals by signing up for the Urban Mobility Weekly newsletter. Read the original article here and follow them on Linkedin and Twitter.

Read next: Coming out trans in tech: An entrepreneur's experience

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Everyone can now use Facebook’s Google Photos export tool

In 2019, Facebook started testing a tool that lets you transfer your images from the social network to Google Photos easily.

Earlier this year, the company rolled it out in selected countries including the US, Canda, the UK, and some regions of the Asia Pacific and Africa.

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[Read: Signal can now automatically blur faces in photos — and you can use the images in any app]

Now, the company is making the tool available to everyone around the globe. You can use it on desktop and mobile both. Follow our guide to transfer your Facebook photos to Google Photos.

Facebook’s photo transfer tool that allows you to export your images to Google Photos

The DTP is an open source initiative showing that industry-led solutions can help make better data portability a reality: https://t.co/DpOzLm4I9T

We’re encouraged by the collaboration between our partners and look forward to working with even more experts and companies. pic.twitter.com/Z74HtpAIxY

— Alexandru Voica (@alexvoica) June 4, 2020

Facebook’s new photo transfer tool is part of a program involving Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter, established in 2018.

The idea is to let users easily transfer their data from one service to another. Last year, Apple joined the project to let users move to data to and from iCloud. Hopefully, we’ll see more tools like these sooner rather than later.

Read next: How to reboot shared mobility in a post-pandemic world

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