Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category


Facebook Plans A Google+ Riposte?

Jul. 1 2011 – 2:39 pm |
Quel ricco sfondato di Mark Zuckerberg, founde...Image via Wikipedia

 

Facebook on Friday announced it is announcing something “awesome” next Wednesday.  Two interesting questions arise:

Q1: Does Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “inadvertent” mention of this on Thursday amount to an announcement  that there would be an announcement about an announcement?

A1: Yes.

Q2: What might it be?

A2: The conventional wisdom says “iPad App,” but is that really worth a pre-announcement to the announcement of the announcement? Perhaps something even longer-awaited, and currently more strategic, is in the offing.

I venture this because a number of services are quirky on Facebook today. For awhile the messaging function didn’t work (I tried it on a couple of people’s accounts here at the office.) The groups didn’t come up on the home page, either.

Not to get too conspiracy-minded here, but those are the two key functions – groups and email — Google+ uses to organize people. Gmail has been revamped with real-time information about contacts on the righthand side of a message. If you are a Google+ member, you have an option of inviting in the person with whom you  are communicating (though for now that just goes into a holding tank). The “circles” feature of Google+, its most intriguing function, are a better version of Facebook groups.

That puts it to Facebook to make its groups work better and easier. And messaging is something  Zuckerberg has long vowed to improve, though last November’s effort ended up looking like a pretty paltry step. If the Z was serious, there is definitely more to come on messaging from Facebook, sooner or later.

Coming right back at Google+ with a better version of messaging – do you know anyone who really uses Facebook IM or email as anything like a primary source? – would show a nice competitive spirit.

Right now U.S. office workers are taking off for a holiday weekend. Is Facebook using what has to be one of its slower times to get ready for something bigger than an App?

I like to think so – though if it were true, someone would have probably leaked Zuckerberg’s inadvertent announcement of the pre-announcement.

UPDATE: over at Techcrunch, they say it’s in-Facebook video chat. Close enough to my theory that it is a G+ response, and it’s about communication and groups.


Facebook's share of U.S. online display ad revenue will grow to 17.7 per cent this year, up from 12.2 per cent last year, while Yahoo!'s share is expected to decline to 13.1 per cent in 2011 from 14.4 per cent last year, eMarketer said.

Facebook’s share of U.S. online display ad revenue will grow to 17.7 per cent this year, up from 12.2 per cent last year, while Yahoo!’s share is expected to decline to 13.1 per cent in 2011 from 14.4 per cent last year, eMarketer said.

Photograph by: ROBERT GALBRAITH, Reuters

Facebook is on track to pass Yahoo! in U.S. display advertising revenue this year while Google will also gain market share, according to a forecast published on Monday by digital marketing firm eMarketer.

Facebook’s share of U.S. online display ad revenue will grow to 17.7 per cent this year, up from 12.2 per cent last year, while Yahoo!’s share is expected to decline to 13.1 per cent in 2011 from 14.4 per cent last year, eMarketer said.

Google’s share of U.S. display advertising revenue will grow to 9.3 per cent this year from 8.6 per cent last year, eMarketer said.

It estimated that Facebook will bring in $2.19 billion in display ad revenue this year, up from $1.21 billion last year, while Yahoo! will account for $1.62 billion, up from $1.43 billion last year.

Google’s display ad revenue will top $1 billion for the first time this year as the Internet giant earns $1.15 billion, up from $860 million last year.

Google, in a bid to boost display ad revenue, announced the acquisition last week of Admeld, a New York-based company that provides an advertising platform for publishers.

The Mountain View, California-based Google makes most of its money from advertising tied to Internet search but is seeking to carve out a bigger slice of the growing display advertising pie.

Display advertising includes rich media, digital video and banner ads.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers reported in April that U.S. online advertising revenue rose 15 per cent last year to a record $26 billion with display ads accounting for 38 per cent of the total.

EMarketer said it expects Google’s U.S. search advertising revenue to grow 38.9 per cent to $10.92 billion in 2011.

It said Google’s share of overall U.S. search ad revenue will grow to 75.9 per cent this year, up from 73.6 per cent in 2010.

Microsoft’s share of overall U.S. search ad revenue is expected to grow to eight per cent this year, up from 6.9 per cent last year.

© Copyright (c) AFP

Zuckerberg: Facebook Should Allow Kids Under 13

Facebook logo

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week said that younger children should be allowed on the site—for education purposes.

“In the future, software and technology will enable people to learn a lot from their fellow students,” Zuckerberg said at the NewSchools Summit in California, according to Fortune.

Currently, Facebook only allows people 13 and older to sign up for the site. It’s easy to get around that, however, and Consumer Reports recently reported that there are approximately 7.5 million underage kids on Facebook.

“That will be a fight we take on at some point,” Zuckerberg said in regards to allowing younger kids on the site. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”

Hampering that effort is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which bans Web sites from collecting information from users under 13. As a result, “we haven’t even begun this learning process,” Zuckerberg said. “If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”

It could be an uphill battle. Facebook chief technology officer Bret Taylor appeared on Capitol Hill Thursday, where Sen. John Rockefeller grilled him about underage kids on the site.

“I want you to defend your company here because I don’t know how you can,” Rockefeller said.

Taylor insisted that “whenever we find out that someone has misrepresented their age on Facebook, we shut down that account. We don’t allow people to misrepresent their age.”

In March, Facebook said that it removes about 20,000 profiles from the site per day for various infractions, including users who are underage.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the site is currently designed for two age groups: 13 to 18 and 18 and up.

“However, recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age,” the spokesperson continued. “As Mark noted, education is critical to ensuring that people of all ages use the Internet safely and responsibly. We agree with safety experts that communication between parents or guardians and kids about their use of the Internet is vital. We believe that services such as Facebook have a role to play in encouraging this.”

For more from Chloe, follow her and xbee30 on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius. @xbee3o


Symantec has discovered that in certain cases, Facebook IFRAME applications inadvertently leaked access tokens to third parties like advertisers or analytic platforms.

facebook security 100,000+ Facebook apps leaking users personal data and access to accounts

It is estimated that as of April 2011, close to 100,000 applications were enabling this leakage. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties.

There is no good way to estimate how many access tokens have already been leaked since the release Facebook applications back in 2007. We fear a lot of these tokens might still be available in log files of third-party servers or still being actively used by advertisers. Concerned Facebook users can change their Facebook passwords to invalidate leaked access tokens. Changing the password invalidates these tokens and is equivalent to “changing the lock” on your Facebook profile, reports Symantec.

The permissions-based app menu to which users must agree when installing an app, is the culprit.

There are over 500 million Facebook users, 50% of whom log on to Facebook on any given day. An average user has 130 friends. There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages). People on Facebook install 20 million applications every day. So you can imagine the damage this may have caused!

Facebook spokeswoman Malorie Lucich released a statement saying that Symantec’s accusations disregarded the “contractual obligations of advertisers and developers,” which restricts them from acquiring or spreading this information in a way that infringe on Facebook policy. She also noted that Facebook has removed the outdated Application Programming Interface (API) that Symantec had mentioned. Facebook now uses OAUTH2.0 for authentication.

You may recollect that last year, a Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman, had claimed that Facebook provided users’ information, including name and photos, to advertisers. According to his findings, clicking on an advertisers’ advertisement reveals the Facebook user’s name or user ID to the advertiser.

“With default privacy settings, the advertiser can then see almost all of a user’s activity on Facebook, including name, photos, friends, and more,” he had said.

There have been a lot of Facebook security breaches, and every time one has been detected, Facebook has gone on to patch it.


Marketer Beware: 7.5 Million Facebook Users Are Kids

Marketing to children has always been risky terrain that should be navigated only with the utmost of care–or not at all.

Turns out, however, that many companies are actively selling to children without even realizing it. Specifically, the companies in question are the ones that use Facebook to connect with customers and promote their products and services. According to a recent report, a shockingly large number of the Facebook users they’re likely reaching are actually kids.

Facebook’s terms of service require that users be at least 13 years old to use the site. As a parent, however, I know from experience that kids routinely lie about their age so as to participate; after all, besides that stated requirement, there’s no further verification involved, and no kid wants to be left out.

5 Million Users Aged 10 and Under

What I didn’t realize until this week, though, is just how many of Facebook’s users are actually kids. Not only did some 20 million minors actively use Facebook in the past year, according to a Consumer Reports “State of the Net” survey released Tuesday, but a full 7.5 million of them were younger than 13.

Ready to be even more shocked? More than 5 million Facebook users were 10 and younger.

“Despite Facebook’s age requirements, many kids are using the site who shouldn’t be,” said Jeff Fox, technology editor for Consumer Reports, in a press release announcing the survey’s results. “What’s even more troubling was the finding from our survey that indicated that a majority of parents of kids 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children’s use of the site.”

Consumer Reports goes on to caution about potential implications including malware, identity theft and bullying. Closer monitoring and privacy controls, in turn, are a focus of its recommendations for parents.

Risky Business

It’s definitely troubling that parents are generally so lax about their kids’ online activities–only 18 percent of the parents responding to Consumer Reports’ survey had even “friended” their kids on the site, for example.

Equally chilling, however, are the potential ramifications for marketers who use Facebook for promotional purposes. There are several risks associated with marketing to children, even if it’s entirely unintentional.

1. An Ethical Gray Area

Though it’s conducted all around us every day, the ethics of marketing to children are not clear, even when the products and services in question appear to be age-appropriate. There’s beenconsiderable debate over the practice, and it continues today, spurring the creation of organizations like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

2. The Obesity Question

Marketers of food and beverages face particularly intense scrutiny these days in the wake of today’s obesity epidemic. If that’s what your company sells, you definitely don’t want to be part of the problem–even unwittingly–by promoting your products to kids on Facebook.

3. Inappropriate Messages

Whatever the product or service involved, commercial messages that may seem innocent enough to adults could still have negative consequences for children by promoting violence, materialism, an obsession with body image or inappropriate sexuality. Once again, this is all around us in the media every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK — or that you should allow your brand to be associated with it.

4. Potential Legal Implications

Advertising to children is governed in most countries by a mix of self-regulation and legislation — including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the United States — but you should know that there are some areas, including Sweden, where marketing to kids under 12 is illegal, for example. Even if it’s unintentional, do you want to place your company in a potentially tricky legal situation?

I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, particularly for marketing purposes. Now, however, there’s yet another reason to approach the site with extreme caution. While Facebook may tell marketers that its audience is aged 13 and up, we now know that that’s absolutely not true.

Just as the old adage goes, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog,” so today no one at Facebook actually knows if a user is a kid.

One can only hope Facebook will respond to this research with some sort of age verification process. In the meantime, marketers had better beware.

follow me on twitter


Facebook Backstabs Google, and You Lose

By xbee30    May 12, 2011 1:32 PM

Thanks to an anti-Google smear campaign ordered by Facebook and carried out by a PR agency, the relationship between Facebook and Google is unquestionably broken beyond repair. And that’s bad news for users of both services.

The dirty deed sinks the Google-Facebook rivalry to a new low, while highlighting how the giants of search and social networking are increasingly at odds. According to The Daily Beast, two representatives of PR firm Burson-Marsteller tried to solicit an independent blogger and USA Today to attack Google’s privacy approach, particularly as it applies to social search results. When confronted with evidence, Facebook confirmed that it hired the agency to carry out the campaign.

As with previous scuffles between the two companies, this incident was all about user data, and who gets to control it. Facebook doesn’t like how Google scrapes public Facebook data for its own social search results, and therefore claimed that the data was being used improperly. Google is looking into that allegation.

There are legitimate issues here: Google does, in fact, look at public Facebook information as part of Social Search, a type of search result that’s based on links shared by people you know. If you use Google products, you can look at how Google gathers information from your contacts. Whether this is a violation of privacy should be up for debate.

But Facebook’s use of a covert smear campaign only gets in the way of clear-headed discussion, and that’s a shame at a time when both companies are under scrutiny. I envision a future in which both companies try to spin themselves as superior protectors of users’ data, when they should really concentrate on being honest and open with users.

Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that Facebook and Google will ever go back to sharing their data for the benefit of users. It’s too bad, because Facebook could use Gmail users’ contact lists to suggest new friends, while Google could use Facebook’s vast database of “Likes” to create better search results. The companies were already acting like children before, with back-and-forth bickering over other peoples’ data, and now they’ve grown up to be mortal enemies.

Follow xbee30 on Twitter for even more tech news and commentary.


Why Mark Zuckerberg’s Former Roommate Loves Facebook

Every time a conference agenda mentions Facebook, eyes light up—or roll, according to who is reading.

On Day 2 of Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenships annual conference Making the Connection, the CEO of Causes, the philanthropic partner of Facebook, was the superstar. Wearing a three-piece suit to an event where the other panelists showed up in more casual attire, Joe Green was not only the surprise element for the morning’s keynote plenary but also the youngest and most entrepreneurial speaker.

First off: what is Causes and who is Joe Green:

Facebook & Causes

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, which called Green one of technology’s best young entrepreneurs:

While his former Harvard roommate, Mark Zuckerberg, was off running Facebook, Joe Green was busy studying and drumming up online support for the causes he found most compelling. As an organizer, Green’s main hurdle was getting do-gooders to raise consciousness about a cause among friends and their social network. So when Facebook made it easier for outside developers to build applications for its site, Green saw the opportunity.

Causes is known most famously for helping smaller nonprofits attract campaigning and the support that they otherwise could not afford. Green’s philosophy of “equal opportunity,” has been successful, with Causes raising more than $2 million in the first year since launching in May, 2007.

Today that figure stands at $40 million.

The Power of Social Media (mostly Facebook)

And Green was at the BCCCC conference to discuss the power of social media (mostly Facebook—as Realized Worth’s Chris Jarvis tweeted, Joe Green is nowhere to be found on Twitter) and how companies can best adopt the channel to do good and build positive brand awareness.

After taking the attendees through a historical tour of how Causes came about (Green was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard), Green threw out some statistics:

  • In 1998, there were 65 million internet users in the U.S. or 24% of all Americans.
  • In 2011, there are 230 million internet users in the US alone or 75% of the population.

His argument? Consumers are no longer passive but “active producers.”

Facebook Provides Validation…

The idea of “community” has evolved radically to today’s “social network,” he continued. “And Facebook represents this online identity for most people. It provides real validation.”

Green also made fun of the “Happy Birthday” feature on Facebook, calling it social media’s Christmas.

“You’re being wished by anyone and everyone. You’re loving it, you’re the center of attention, you’re validated. Your life is worthy,” he commented.

How does Causes fit in?

That is the real—and hidden—power of social networks, said Green. “The opportunity these provided for companies and individuals to create identities and then use them to pursue and advocate for what you believe in is endless,” adding, “[These channels] give you the chance to authentically engage people on things that matter the most.”

“They are also massively viral. Without social networks, you’re not the coolest thing on the Christmas list, and you’re not getting any bite.”

…But also Conflicts

Green’s analogies, while sarcastic and playful, sat well with most attendees. The problem?


Facebook CEO buys a $7 million house

By George Martey | May 6, 2011, 12:10pm PDT

follow me at twitter: @ xbee30

Summary

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has purchased a new $7 million house in Palo Alto.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has purchased a new 5,617 square foot house in Palo Alto. Public records show the property in question sold in mid-March for $7,000,000. Here’s a description of the place, courtesy of Real Estalker:

The turn-of-the-century residence, set well back from the street behind walls and privacy hedges, was originally built in 1903 and remodeled and expanded over the years. The previous owners–who reportedly still occupy the home as of yesterday–gave the property a complete and expensive overhaul a few years ago that included the addition of an entertainment pavilion with outdoor fireplace and built-in barbecue and a lap-lane salt water swimming pool and spa.

A wide rocking chair porch leads to and impress-the-guests entrance hall and reception area, a formal living with fireplace, banquet hall sized dining room, wood-paneled family room with built-in cabinetry and a large center-island kitchen that opens into a glassed-in sun porch. The master bedroom includes a bathroom with twin Carrera marble topped vanities, separate soaking tub and shower and heated floors for tootsie warming on those chilly and damp NorCal mornings.

The house features a saltwater pool, a music alcove, five bedrooms, five full and two half bathrooms, a glassed-in sunroom, and a spacious porch. It is also a convenient 10-minute drive away from the company’s soon-to-be headquarters, according to Mercury News. As a reminder, Facebook’s headquarters are currently in Palo Alto, California, but will be moved to Menlo Park, California, in June 2011.

Although he isn’t expected to move in for several months, it’s almost fitting that Zuckerberg is also settling down. Long after becoming a billionaire, Zuckerberg still rented modest places to live (and claimed to have found all of them on Craigslist), but now the young man finally become a first-time homeowner. The company’s CEO has lived in Palo Alto almost the whole time since he moved Facebook from his Harvard dorm room to Silicon Valley back in 2004.

I normally couldn’t care less about what celebrities are doing, but Zuckerberg happens to be mildly relevant to to the future of Facebook. I’m just wondering: did the 26-year-old pay in cash?


Rumor: Facebook wants to buy Skype

By Emil Protalinski | May 4, 2011, 5:10pm PDT

Summary

Skype wants to strike a deal with either Facebook, Google, or both, according to a new rumor. Alternatively, Facebook wants to buy Skype outright.

Skype is reportedly talking to Facebook about some sort of deal. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been involved in internal discussions about buying Skype, while Facebook also reached out to the Luxembourg-based company about forming a joint venture, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions, cited by Reuters.

Google has also reportedly held early talks for a joint venture with Skype. The discussions are in early stages and as is typical with rumors like this, all three companies are not commenting, and the sources wish to remain anonymous.

A Skype deal could be valued at $3 billion to $4 billion, while Skype’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) is expected to raise about $1 billion. In August 2010, Skype filed a registration statement to go public, but the October 2010 appointment of a new CEO, Tony Bates, delayed the IPO till the second half of 2011.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to start a Skype video call with your friends on Facebook? Integrating the video conferencing technology into the social network would be great for both companies, although both parties are still young and neither has a proven revenue model. I’m not quite sure Facebook has to buy Skype outright to get what it wants.

Facebook teaming up with Skype is not a new rumor (a potential partnership was discussed as far back as September 2010, but the two could not reach an agreement). When Skype 5.0 was released in October 2010, the new version offered voice calling between Facebook friends, but it did not include a video chatting feature. The integration was a one-way road: only Skype added some Facebook features to its client. If Facebook were to integrate the VoIP service on its website and its mobile apps however, the social network would suddenly be competing with many services that offer video calling, including Google’s Gmail and Apple’s FaceTime.

The rumor is a popular one because Facebook users apparently want voice (and video) chat. Just two months ago, the rumor got yet another boost: Facebook resumes talks with Skype.

Earlier this year, Skype added a group video calling feature that allows 10 people to videoconference together. Unfortunately, the option is only available as part of the Premium package, which offers group video calling together with access to live chat customer support, but sets you back $4.99/€3.49/£2.99 per day or $8.99/€5.99/£4.99 per month. Still, if this option was available via Facebook, it could make Skype very popular amongst the social network’s 600 million users.

Kick off your day with ZDNet’s daily e-mail newsletter. It’s the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


“Security experts are calling on Facebook to implement a three-point plan to improve safety online. Sophos says it receives reports every day of crime and fraud on Facebook, and that victims are desperate for advice on how to clean up their profiles and undo the consequences. In an open letter to Facebook, the firm calls upon the social networking giant to adopt three principles: privacy by default (opt-in sharing), vetted app developers, and use of https whenever possible. ‘Our question to Facebook is this — why wait until regulators force your hand on privacy? Act now for the greater good of all.'”