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Weekly Briefing: 25-30 January

Tech companies risk UK ban if they fail to protect children 

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that social media platforms risk being blocked from the UK if they do not protect children from content promoting suicide and self-harm, according to The Telegraph. His comment comes after the father of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who killed herself in 2017, accused Instagram of causing his daughter’s death.

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Fortnite will introduce 'see-through' loot boxes

Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, has announced that it will allow players to view the contents of loot boxes before buying them after receiving criticism for contributing to the rise in problem gambling among children, according to the BBC. In order to buy loot boxes, players must use real money and convert them into the in-game currency V-Bucks.

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Free-to-play games industry revenue totalled $87.7bn in 2018

The free-to-play games industry accumulated a total of $87.7bn (£66.6bn) of revenue in 2018 with Fortnite-developer Epic Games being the highest annual earner with $2.4bn (£1.8bn) according to Statista. Free-to-play games profit from in-game purchases, like loot boxes, which give players access to additional assets to use within the game.

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Facebook will merge Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging services

Facebook has revealed its long term plan to integrate all of its messaging services (Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp) into one service, according to the BBC. Although all three services are owned by Facebook and have so far been competing brands, the merger is expected to happen at some point in late 2019.

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Seven-year-long class-action lawsuit against Facebook settled

A class-action lawsuit against social media platform Facebook accusing it of knowingly letting children run up large bills on their parents’ credit card has been settled, according to The Guardian. The lawsuit began in 2012 and claimed that Facebook was exploiting children to maximise revenue from its games services like PetVille and Happy Aquarium.

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