FIFA 19: release date, rumours and formats

Enjoying FIFA 18? Of course, you are – and yet you wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t a tiny bit of you already thinking ahead to the next instalment. FIFA 19’s release date is still some way away, but we’re beginning to get a few details.
While information about FIFA 19 is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, we’ll continue updating this page as we get more information. Here’s what we know about FIFA 19 so far.
FIFA 19: Features
You may think there’s only so much you can tweak a game where the rules of the sport it’s based on have barely shifted in over 100 years. That’s true to a degree, but EA usually has an innovative trick up their sleeves beyond just a squad numbers and kits update.
You can be pretty confident that The Journey will return for a third season – and it’ll probably star Alex Hunter or one of the other bit-part players who have made their name in the first two seasons. A bit of a shame, given how many other interesting stories there are to tell in the world of football, but you can’t blame EA for persisting with a winning formula.

EA has recently spurred talk that there may not even be a FIFA 19, as the series migrates to a subscription service that’s updated each season for subscribers. It’s something not entirely untested, with the Madden mobile game being updated for the last three years.
EA CEO Andrew Wilson first floated this idea in an interview with Bloomberg, saying: “There’s a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around — where we may not have to do an annual release. We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.” While he doesn’t namecheck FIFA directly, some are speculating that FIFA 19 might be the perfect vehicle for this.
I’m dubious, personally. When FIFA still prints money, I don’t see EA taking a gamble and moving to subscription just yet. The company did release the Euro 2012 game as DLC for FIFA 12, and given World Cup 2014 then became a standalone release, you suspect it didn’t do as well as they’d hoped. Plus, of course, to switch to subscription you still need a base game – and it can’t be FIFA 18, so one way or another FIFA 19 is coming this year…
FIFA 19: Formats
That FIFA 18 will appear on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC is a no-brainer. The good news is that after a five-year hiatus away from Nintendo, FIFA 18 made its debut on the Switch. With the Switch continuing to sell like hotcakes, it’s hard to imagine a world where FIFA 19 doesn’t make the leap to the handheld-hybrid.

Hopefully, the large install base will encourage EA to make it a full conversion this time. Last year’s, good as it was, was missing The Journey thanks to using a different engine – the same reason the PS3 and Xbox 360 editions missed out.
Speaking of which, FIFA 18 did appear on Xbox 360 and PS3. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled the same trick again, but the series must be approaching its final years on last generation hardware.
FIFA 19: Release date

Nobody knows the FIFA 19 release date for sure yet, but we can hazard a pretty good guess. Here are the release dates of the last decade’s worth of FIFA games:

























Notice a pattern forming? Yep, it’ll be out in September 2017. October at a push, but almost certainly September – and typically EA Access members get access a few days before everyone else, so it may be worth looking into subscribing.
This is a page in progress, and we’ll update it with more information about FIFA 19 as we get it.
Images: Hector Alejandro, Marco Verch and Christopher Johnson used under Creative Commons

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The Google app has a screenshot editing feature in beta

The Google app is now rolling out a built-in screenshot editor with beta version 7.21, starting last Friday, which will give users better sharing and editing tools, as spotted by 9to5Google. The screenshot editor also works in Chrome custom tabs. You can enroll in the beta through the Google Play Store.
The editor can be toggled on by heading into the Google app settings, under Accounts & Privacy and finding the “Edit and share screenshots” toggle at the bottom of the list. Then every time you take a screenshot in the Google app or a Chrome custom tab, a panel will slide up, letting you preview, edit, or share the image to other apps. You can also crop the screenshot and draw on it.
Stock Android and Pixel phone users are likely to benefit from this feature, as it makes editing screenshots a bit easier than the standard Android option.

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Austin Dillon gets tattoo on his butt after winning Daytona 500

The NASCAR driver now has “Daytona 500 champ” tattooed on his posterior.
How else would you celebrate winning the Daytona 500 than getting a tattoo on your butt? That was Austin Dillon’s thinking as he did just that mere hours after winning NASCAR’s biggest race.
Dillon and some Richard Childress Racing crew members got tattoos Sunday night following Dillon’s dramatic Daytona 500 win. It is unclear where the crew members placed their new tattoos, but the 27-year-old driver decided to get “Daytona 500 champ” inked on his posterior.
“It’s a pretty cool looking tattoo. You’ll never be able to see it; (my wife) is probably the only one who can see it for a while,” Dillon said, via , at the Daytona 500 champion’s breakfast on Monday.
Dillon won the Daytona 500 after contact with race-leader Aric Almirola on the final lap. Almirola attempted to block a charging Dillon, but when he moved up the track to cut off the No. 3 car, Dillon never slowed and Almirola connected with Dillon’s front bumper. That sent Almirola crashing into the backstretch wall while Dillon went on to take the checkered flag.
“I did what I had to do there at the end,” Dillon. “We had a run and I stayed in the gas. It is what it is here at Daytona.”

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Barry Bennell branded ‘sheer evil’ as he is sentenced to 31 years | UK news

Judge describes former youth football coach as ‘devil incarnate’ for child sexual abuse

Barry Bennell was described as a predatory and determined paedophile.
Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Barry Bennell was branded a “monster” by one of his victims as the former football coach was sentenced to 31 years for the abuse of 12 young players.
Sentencing Bennell to 30 years in custody, with one year on licence, for dozens of offences committed over more than a decade, the judge, Clement Goldstone, described the 64-year-old as “sheer evil”.
“To those boys you appeared as a god … in reality, you were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhood and their innocence to satisfy your own perversions.”

Victims cried “yes” while Bennell – facing his victims for the first time having appeared via video link during his five-week trial – looked at the floor and nodded as the sentence was read out. Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but they were stopped by the judge.
The catalogue of sexual abuse revealed during his trial has prompted another 86 people to make complaints against the former Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra youth team coach.
The judge said it would be a matter for the police and Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether another trial was in the public interest, noting that Bennell “may well die in prison”.
Earlier, the judge said that Bennell had left a “trail of psychological devastation”. Described by the prosecution at Liverpool crown court as an “industrial-scale child molester” and a “predatory and determined paedophile”, Bennell watched from the dock as people he had raped and abused as children, now in their 40s and 50s, read out impact statements detailing how his crimes had affected their lives.
Victims in court included Gary Cliffe, Steve Walters, Micky Fallon, Chris Unsworth and Andy Woodward.

Court artist of Bennell appearing at Liverpool crown court. Photograph: Elizabeth Cook/PA

Bennell appeared in the dock wearing a light-blue sweatshirt, grey jogging bottoms and blacktrainers. For the most part his head was bowed and there were only a few moments when he raised his eyes to look at the former players as they spoke about their childhood horrors.
At one point Cliffe, a former Manchester City junior who was abused hundreds of times, including on the pitch at Maine Road, approached the dock in an attempt to force Bennell to make eye contact. “Why?” Cliffe asked before taking his seat again.

The victims told the court they had suffered from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares. Some were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and had had relationship issues; others had turned to drink and drugs and been suicidal.
Bennell has previously served two other prison sentences in England, as well as one in the US, and was found guilty last week of 50 offences relating to 12 junior players, aged eight to 14, between 1979 and 1990.
Bennell, who had a seven-year association with Manchester City and worked for Crewe for roughly the same amount of time, had admitted seven charges and the jury found him guilty of the other 43 offences.
One victim told the court: “I did not want it, did not ask for it and did not enjoy it. I was a child, and between the ages of 10 to 13 that monster decided it was fun for him to use me as a sex toy, someone that he could get his kicks from. He took my innocence, my virginity and my football career. He preyed on his victims, groomed us while grooming our parents.

Barry Bennell: unmasking of football paedophile who ruined young lives – video explainer

“People may wonder why I never told my parents, but after the pain and suffering, but more importantly the guilt, they have felt over the past 12 months I can now see why. My dad finds it very difficult to think that that he was taking me to play football, and become the footballer that I always wanted to be, when for three years he was taking me to hell.”

Another former player said: “Even though it’s over it’s not over because it will always be in my head. No one should have to go through what that man put us through.”
Eleanor Laws, defending Bennell, said her client had twice had cancer and needed operations to remove tumours from his tongue. He was now in remission but was the subject of an “onerous” feeding regime that meant he had to be fed via a tube eight times a day.
To audible disquiet from the public gallery, she said he was on strong painkillers and anti-anxiety medication and had undertaken a “number of treatment programmes” during his previous prison sentences.

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Why the Texans are moving on from Brian Cushing after 9 seasons

Cushing served two PED suspensions in his career. Now Houston turns inside linebacking duties over to Zach Cunningham.
Brian Cushing was a staple of the Texans’ emergence from expansion also-ran to NFL playoff regular, but his veteran presence wasn’t enough to justify his $8.8 million salary cap hit. Houston is expected to cut him, just months after missing the bulk of 2017 due to a violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy, according to the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain.
“It’s all good,” Cushing said Sunday night in a text message to McClain. “It’s part of the business.”
Cushing suffered his second PED suspension last fall, paving the way for his replacement and showcasing how the Texans’ defense can perform without him. 2017 second-round pick Zach Cunningham performed well in his stead, making 82 tackles and helping tie together a defense ravaged by injuries and absences last fall.
Now Cunningham will be called down to hold down the middle of the field in Houston as Cushing prepares for the next phase of his career. The veteran linebacker will have to prove he can still operate at a high level despite his history of PED violations and significant injuries.
What’s next for the Texans?
Cushing has been a useful part of the Texans’ dominant defense, though hardly its most important piece. Houston struggled in 2017 thanks to the absence of several players, but losing the veteran middle linebacker was one area where the team didn’t lose much value. Cunningham, a former All-American at Vanderbilt, is a growing presence in the middle. In 2018, he’ll be bolstered by the returns of stars like J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.
Saving $7.6 million in cap space will also help the team surround second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson with weapons on the other side of the ball. Watson looked like a shoo-in for offensive rookie of the year honors before tearing his ACL early in the season, and a successful comeback will be much easier if he’s got more than just DeAndre Hopkins to take the pressure from his shoulders. Cushing’s vacated contract will give the team some extra flexibility in its pending rebuild.
What’s next for Cushing?
Cushing will turn 31 this summer and has plenty to prove when it comes to his next contract. While he’s avoided the injuries that derailed the middle portion of his career, his most recent PED suspension raises questions about his viability. A third positive test will all but end his career — it would include a mandated suspension of at least two years.
He hadn’t been especially impressive in 2017 even before suffering the league’s wrath. Cushing made five starts but only recorded 16 tackles. While he may be valuable for his leadership as a savvy veteran, his days as a high-level starter may be finished.
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Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s Release Date & Specs: Coming in 2018

Richard Goodwin

19/02/2018 – 9:10am

The follow up to the impressive Xiaomi Mi Mix, called the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s, will land in 2018 with Android Oreo

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s will launch “at some point in 2018” and it will land with Android Oreo, indicating it will launch prior to the release of Android P in Q3 during 2018.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s will ship with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 CPU, an 18:9 aspect ratio display, and a 3400 mAh battery. It will also feature dual-SIM support, an IR blaster, LED light and Xiaomi’s MIUI skin.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s will also feature some new AI features for its camera, just like the Huawei Mate 10. The sensor is said to be a Sony IMX, so it should be rather impressive.
Not much else is known about the handset, there haven’t been any leaks of the design just yet, but it will likely feature some improvements on the already very-solid design of the original Mi Mix, which did the whole edge-to-edge display before the iPhone X and the Essential Phone.
As for price, again, nothing is known about this just yet; it’s likely to be expensive, more so than most Xiaomi phones, but it will still likely be A LOT cheaper than Apple’s iPhone X (and pretty much every other high-end phone).
Whichever way you slice it, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s will definitely be an impressive handset. It will look good, feature great specs, and pack in some decent features – things like AI for the camera.
The only issue I personally have with Xiaomi phones is that the software is a bit squiffy. I’d prefer a stock configuration, but that’s about it – everything else is brilliant.

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Bixby is now available in the UK

Update: Samsung began to roll out the Android Oreo update for the Galaxy S8 towards the beginning of the week, but then reports emerged about this processed being halted. Samsung has now explained why this happened, telling SamMobile that the update was stopped because it caused some devices to reboot.
“Following a limited number of cases where Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices have rebooted unexpectedly with the Android 8.0 Oreo, we have temporarily stopped the rollout of the update,” the company told SamMobile. “We are investigating the issue internally to ensure that the impact to the affected devices is minimized and the rollout of the update can resume as quickly as possible.”
There’s no word from the company about when Oreo will resume rolling out. Samsung had only just started to issue the new operating system when the problem hit, so the impact of buggy software should be limited.
Samsung Galaxy S8 review
The successor to the best Android crown is here: the Samsung Galaxy S8. A few years ago, the race to be the world’s choice Android phone designer was wide open. HTC would win it one year, and then LG would dazzle the next. Recently, the list has become more predictable: Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S7, and now the Samsung Galaxy S8 is here to make its predecessors obsolete.
READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review
Two things have changed to make this less a foregone conclusion than it was a couple of years ago, however. The first is that specifications have improved to the degree that even a cheap smartphone is good enough for most people. The second is the burnt-out corpse of the Galaxy Note 7, removed from the market after less than two months for being just a bit more flammable than advertised.
In short, we always knew that the Samsung Galaxy S8 was going to be good, but the stakes have been raised. It needs to be good, and good enough to justify the immense price tag too. It’s £689 SIM-free, with contracts starting at around £45.99 per month with an additional upfront cost. That’s Apple level pricing.
And it’s good. Very good indeed. The best smartphone you can buy, bar none. Unless you like a bigger handset, in which case there’s always the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. Whether it’s worth the cost, though… that’s strictly between you and your wallet, but hopefully, the next few pages can at least help you justify the loan to your bank manager. Print this out if you think it will help.
Samsung Galaxy S8 review: Design
Let me begin by saying that Samsung’s teaser for the S8 was more than a little overblown. The video, released ahead of the phone’s reveal last month, suggested something that would make you rethink what a phone looks like. The Galaxy S8 doesn’t do this unless you’re terminally devoid of imagination. It’s still a block of metal and glass; it’s just a particularly beautiful one.

Video of This is a phone.

What the video alluded to is that the physical home button is gone. That’s significant, but it isn’t the first Android phone to do that; my trusty HTC One M8 had no physical home button, either. What is different is its dimensions: it’s now quite a bit taller than its predecessors, making it extremely comfortable in hand.
I use a Samsung Galaxy S7 as my main phone at the moment, itself a slim and attractive handset, and the Galaxy S8 leaves it in the dust. Putting them side by side, the differences are obvious. It isn’t much bigger, but it uses its space much more effectively with around 84% of the front occupied by the screen – a not inconsequential upgrade on the S7’s 72%. It’s only 3g heavier and is just 0.1mm thicker – which is odd because if you put them next to each other on a table, the Samsung Galaxy S8 looks substantially more svelte.
This time around, you’re getting curved edges whether you like them or not, with a gentle radius on either side of the screen that swoops down to meet the phone’s slender metal frame. You can argue about its utility, but you can’t argue that it looks great. Do be sure to get ert_main_wide_image/public/2017/04/20170424_alphr_s8_0.jpg?itok=JvPCmN5j” alt=””/>

In fact, the features which are specifically new to the S8 make up the bottom four of the list, which does suggest that plenty of people would be happy with an S7. Or an S7 Edge if you must have those curves.
Samsung Galaxy S8 review: Screen
Once you’re done gawking over the lovely design, the next thing you’ll notice is that the display looks a little different to current phones: it’s long and thin. While most phones work to a 16:9 aspect ratio, the S8 increases things to 18.5:9, with a resolution of 1,440 x 2,960. That’s a slightly taller ratio than the LG G6 with it’s unusual 18:9 mix. The idea, according to Samsung, is that you can get more screen real estate in a handset that won’t be uncomfortable for the small-pawed among us.
Of course, this isn’t precisely the case. As The Verge points out, a regular 16:9 5.8in handset has a greater area – and, even if you like the newer, tall design, it isn’t without its issues. For starters, most apps currently black out the bottom of the screen, leaving the familiar Android buttons in place. That means that the job could be done just as well by a bezel for the most part.
The real advantage is for pictures and video, but there are issues there, too. 16:9 is the universal standard for video (notwithstanding the circle of Hell reserved for YouTubers, who take video in portrait mode). And if you watch any of those on your S8 then you’re going to have to decide between black bookends at each end, or cropping off the top and bottom of the screen.
Whether or not you think that’s a sacrifice worth making for a stylish, comfortable handset such as this will vary from person to person, but you’ll be unsurprised to hear that this AMOLED screen meets Samsung’s usual standards of high quality. It reaches a pretty bright 415.16cd/m2 peak brightness on manual mode, and a searing 569cd/m2 in automatic in the right conditions. Also, it covers 99.9% of the sRGB spectrum. For comparison, here’s how that looks agaert_main_wide_image/public/2017/04/galaxy_s8_geekbench_performance.png?itok=KWzMemhO” alt=””/>

As for graphics performance, it was a similar story. The S8 is a powerhouse for mobile games:

To be clear, these graphical tests are intense, with cheaper handsets routinely getting single-figure frame per second scores. While most 2017 handsets should handle the majority of games on the marketplace, it’s pretty clear that the S8 offers far more future-proofing than any other device we’ve seen to date.
If you want further proof of how ridiculously quick the Samsung Galaxy S8 is, you should know that it’s powerful enough to run Gamecube games smoothly via the Dolphin emulator – one of the few phones around capable of doing this.
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Fujifilm X-H1 Review – Preview Images

Mac users, Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar 2018 is out now and available for just $69£64 for new users, with big discounts for upgrading users. We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended“. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10£9 on Luminar.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

Windows users, Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar 2018 is out now and available for just $69£64 for new users, with big discounts for upgrading users. We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended“. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10£9 on Luminar.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

Ahead of our full review, here are some sample JPEG and Raw images and movies taken with the Fujifilm X-H1 compact system camera in a variety of scenarios and lighting conditions, including the full ISO range.

The Fujifilm X-H1 is a new compact mirrorless camera that features a 24 megapixel sensor, 5-axis image stabilization and DCI 4K video recording.
A gallery of sample images taken with the Fujifilm X-H1 compact system camera.
The Fujifilm X-H1 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We’ve provided some Fujifilm RAW (CR2) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).
This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 4096×2160 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 24 second movie is 588Mb in size.
This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 24 second movie is 591Mb in size.
This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 4096×2160 pixels at 24 frames per second with internal F-Log applied. Please note that this 49 second movie is 1.14Gb in size.
This is a sample slow-motion movie at the quality setting of 1920×1080 pixels at 120 frames per second. Please note that this 75 second movie is 364Mb in size.
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How to fix screen burn-in on your Android smartphone

Ghost image or screen/image burn-in are names given to a permanent discoloration of your smartphone’s screen caused by irregular pixel usage. The prolonged use of static images can create a permanent shadow or ghost of that image on the screen. This problem is more common than you think, and happens most often on AMOLED screens (although LCD displays aren’t completely free of this bug). Fortunately, there is a solution to restore the image quality of your device.

Does this look weird to you? This is how you’ll fix the issue. / © AndroidPIT

The screen ghost happens when phosphor compounds that emit light to produce images lose their intensity with prolonged use. Moreover, the irregular use can “burn” an image onto the screen which will be visible all the time.
Many apps which are available in the Play Store promise to reduce or even stop the problem. One is the Screen Burn-in Tool.

You can find various burn-in fixer apps on the Play Store. / © AndroidPIT

The concept is simple: a sequence of primary colors is displayed on your device, restoring the “burnt” pixels. In fact, this was the original function of computer screen-savers: one dynamic image that appears when the screen is idle to makes the pixels “exercise” and ensure that the same area of display doesn’t remain constantly illuminated.

Screen Burn-in Tool

Did your smartphone ever had this problem? Used another app to fix it?

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How ad-free subscriptions could solve Facebook

At the core of Facebook’s “well-being” problem is that its business is directly coupled with total time spent on its apps. The more hours you pass on the social network, the more ads you see and click, the more money it earns. That puts its plan to make using Facebook healthier at odds with its finances, restricting how far it’s willing to go to protect us from the harms of over use.
The advertising-supported model comes with some big benefits, though. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that “We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone.” Ads lets Facebook remain free for those who don’t want to pay, and more importantly, for those around the world who couldn’t afford to.
Ads pay for Facebook to keep the lights on, research and develop new technologies, and profit handsomely in a way that attracts top talent and further investment. More affluent users with more buying power in markets like the US, UK, and Canada command higher ad prices, effectively subsidizing the social network for those in developing nations where ad rates are lower.
Ads and the envy spiral
The issue is that the ad model rewards Facebook for maximizing how long we spend using it, often through passive content consumption via endless News Feed scrolling. Yet studies show that it’s this kind of zombie browsing that hurts us. Spending just 10 minutes passively consuming Facebook can make us feel worse.

Passive Facebook usage leads to envy, which leads to declines in life satisfaction

We fall into envy spirals. The study’s author wrote that “Continually exposing oneself to positive information about others should elicit envy, an emotion linked to lower well-being”. A 2011 study concluded “people may think they are more alone in their emotional difficulties than they really are” after browsing everyone’s manicured life highlights on Facebook.
This research has clearly had an impact on Zuckerberg, who explicitly announced on the Q3 2017 earnings call that “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits . . . Time spent is not a goal by itself. We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions . . . when people are spending so much time passively consuming public content that it starts taking away from the time people are connecting with each other, that’s not good.”

To that end, Zuckerberg has announced a slew of changes to Facebook, though they’ve been relatively minor. Facebook is showing fewer news articles, public posts, and viral videos while prioritizing what leads people to comment and interact with each other. The result was a 50 million hours per day reduction in how long people spend on Facebook. That might sound like a lot, but it’s actually only a 5 percent decrease. Discussing how to quantify what’s “meaningful”, Facebook’s VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri this week admitted that “We’re trying to figure out how to best measure and understand that.”
Making truly forceful changes could have a much more significant impact on time spent, and potentially ad revenue. That creates resistance to confronting people with how long they spend on its apps, reducing spammy reengagement notifications, or creating more powerful ‘do not disturb’ options.
Facebook Clear
And so, we have a company that wants to make us feel better but earns money off making us feel worse, and that promises to stay free despite the negative incentives inherent in ad-based business models.
That’s why I think Facebook should introduce an ad-free subscription option in addition to its existing ad-supported free service.
By charging a monthly fee to remove ads, Facebook could begin to decouple its business from time spent. This would allow it to keep revenue stable even while making bigger changes that enhance well-being while decreasing how long we spend on its apps.

It’s not a totally foreign idea for Facebook, as WhatsApp used to charge a $1 per year subscription in some countries. And Facebook could defend itself against election interference and other political meddling by offering an option to hide all ads.
For users who can afford the fee and want to pay, they’ll get a more purposeful experience on Facebook where they only see what’s organically surfaced in the News Feed. This would allow people to reclaim the time they waste viewing ads, and spend it having meaningful interactions with their friends and communities — thereby fulfilling Facebook’s mission.
For users who can’t afford the fee or don’t want to pay, their Facebook experience remains largely the same. But as the percentage of total users monetized by ads decreases, Facebook gains more flexibility in how it builds its apps to be more respectful of our mental health. And since it’s already reaching saturation in some markets, it’s less risky to refocus from growth to aligning monetization with its mission.

Facebook’s average revenue per user could be used to set a price for an ad-free version

Facebook could charge a similar rate to what it currently earns from users via ads (and the tiny amount it still gets from game payments). In the U.S., Facebook earned $84.14 per user, while earning an average worldwide of $20.21. Charging $1.65 per month, or even $7 per month to remove ads from Facebook could feel very reasonable to some users. The rate would increase yearly to stay in-line with ad revenue or follow its current growth trajectory. Facebook might only get a few percent of people to pay, but that would still be tens to hundreds of million people.
Syncing subscription prices without bonus options to revenue per non-subscriber would let Facebook continue to concentrate on developing features for everyone.
But getting a truly significant percentage of users shifting to subscriptions would likely require Facebook offering additional premium features beyond removing ads. Product and engineering talent and resources previously focused on ads could be redirected to this development.
Facebook would have to avoid reserving critical features for paid users otherwise it could make non-subscribers feel betrayed and slighted, like second-class social network citizens. This late in the game, it’d be tough to take anything away from existing users. Facebook couldn’t make its free version just a demo or shell of the paid version like Spotify, where only subscribers can choose what specific songs they hear.

Instead Facebook would need to take cues from apps like Tinder, which charges extra for features like unlimited swipes, undo a swipe, and only seeing people who’ve already right swiped you. Gamer chat app Discord offers cosmetic boosts to your profile like choosing your display name, high resolution screen sharing, and animated profile avatars.
What could these bonus features look like on Facebook? It could offer similar cosmetic upgrades, such as a badge next to your user name to make you stand out like verified profiles, extra profile customization options, displayable virtual goods, or profile pic special effects. It could sell content quality improvements like higher resolution image and video uploads, or let people exceed the 5000 friend limit.
Or perhaps most appealing would be additional curation tools, like advanced manual controls for deciding what shows up in your News Feed — which Facebook used to offer. Back in 2007 you could filter out relationship status changes, links, photos, and more. I’m sure some people would happily shell out cash to banish baby photos or politics from their feed. If browsing unfulfilling content is one of the problems, selling additional controls could let people solve it for themselves.

Facebook’s manual News Feed curation controls from 2007 via GigaOm

If Facebook was desperate, it could meddle with privacy by providing a “see who views your profile” feature. People so constantly seek out that option that scams and phishing sites often tout offering the ability. LinkedIn sells it, after all. But there’s plenty to offer that wouldn’t interfere with the experience of anyone who doesn’t pay like this would.
Before The Backlash Grows
There’s little risk in testing the idea. Facebook is constantly running all sorts of feature experiments through its “Gatekeeper” system that lets it show slightly different versions of the service to different tiny subsets of users. Facebook could beta test subscriptions in a smaller English-speaking country like New Zealand that approximates the culture of its core markets but is more contained and less critical to its business than the U.S. If it can’t find the right feature set that makes people pay, scrap it.
One concern is that Facebook benefits from having a giant unified user base all accessible to advertisers who crave scale. The ability to hit a huge percentage of a demographic with promotions in a short time, such as for a new movie release, attracts advertisers to Facebook. That appeal could decrease if a portion of users subscribe and never see ads, with Facebook giving up more power to Google in their advertising duopoly.

But Zuckerberg has already committed to some short-term loss of profits in his quest to promote well-being. In the long-run, letting users pay if they want could keep them loyal while letting Facebook configure its News Feed algorithm for what enriches everyone. Building safeguards against overuse today could save Facebook from a stronger backlash in the future. Facebook should always be free, but letting some people pay could give Facebook the freedom to make itself a healthier part of our lives.
For more on the need for Facebook’s push into time well spent, read our feature piece “The difference between good and bad Facebooking”

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