Thursday, February 28, 2013

Google Launches Google+ Sign-In For Mobile And Web With New Selective And Interactive Sharing, One-Click Android App Installs

The link to the full story is here

Google just announced a major update to its Google+ platform that aims to replace today’s ubiquitous Google sign-ins on third-party sites with Google+ logins. The new Google+ account-based logins, Google argues, offer far more features than the current Google authentication system, though the older version will continue to be available and function.

The new sign-in features will allow users to sign in to web and mobile apps with their Google accounts and bring their Google+ profile info with them so they don’t have to create a new username and password when they sign in to a third-party application (the parallels to Facebook Connect are pretty obvious here).

The new system will continue to offer features like two-factor authentication and also use OAuth 2.0, but in addition, it will allow developers to add a number of new features, including the ability to let users install their mobile apps for Android with just once click and to allow users to share information like their Fitbit data directly to their Google+ profile pages or to selectively share content from services like Shazam directly to their Google+ streams.

To launch these new logins, Google has partnered with Banjo, Beautylish, Fancy, Fitbit, Flixster, The Guardian, OpenTable, Shazam, TuneIn Radio and USA Today.

Google+ Sign-In Sounds Simple For Users, But Lacks The Personal Info And Distribution Developers Need

The link to the full story is here

Growth, to reach more users, and data, to improve the experience. That’s what apps need in an identity and social system. They’re what Facebook and Twitter deliver, and what the new Google+ Sign-In can’t without completed profiles, the social graph, and eyeballs. Logging into apps with your Google credentials would be convenient, but developers may be reluctant to offer the option.

Reading today’s pre-briefed coverage of Google’s new competitor to Facebook Connect and Twitter authorization, it feels a bit like reporters drank the Kool-Aid. The spotlight was kept on ease, security, nifty features, and lack of spam. These are legitimate advantages, and Google did well to capitalize on them. If I wanted to simply and securely sign in to an asocial third-party app rather than create yet another account, I might very well choose Google for the peace of mind.

Most people already have a Google account, and know their password well. Google has a great reputation for security, which Facebook and Twitter can’t say, and supports two-factor authentication. Ownership of Android lets Google+ Sign-In enable one-click app downloads from websites you’ve already approved, and there’s integrated Hangouts. Finally, Google hammers home the idea that it won’t “social spam” your friends like Facebook does. The search giant trumps up its Circles for selective sharing, and derides Facebook’s “frictionless” Open Graph posts that certainly rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

Google Expands Search Field Trial To Include Results From Your Calendar On Its Search Results Pages

The link to the full story is here

Google just announced that users who participate in its Gmail and search field trial will now also see results from their personal calendar on Google’s search results pages. You can see these results by using queries like [what is on my calendar today] and [when am i meeting rip].

The field trial itself isn’t actually new, by the way. Google has been running it for quite a while now and it’s open for anybody who is interested in trying out some of these personalized search features.

Recently, Google also added information about your upcoming flights, restaurant and hotel reservations and scheduled events to this trial. To display these results, Google scans your Gmail inbox for relevant emails from OpenTable, Ticketmaster, Eventbrite and others. Some of this information, of course, is also used to power Google Now.

As Google’s senior vice president for Google Search Amit Singhal noted when the company first introduced this field trial, “sometimes the best answer to your question isn’t available on the public web—it may be contained somewhere else, such as in your email.”

The reason Google will likely continue to offer these features as an opt-in “field trial” for the time being is that it obviously needs to connect your search results, Gmail inbox and calendar to display these results on Not everybody will be comfortable with the idea of Google scanning and using information from their inboxes and calendars, after all.

As with all the previous additions to the field trial, it’s only available in English and for U.S.-based users with a address. Sadly, this also means that calendar results from your Google Apps work account won’t appear on Google Search anytime soon.

Online Radio Service TuneIn Adds Recommendation Engine And Google+ Sign-In Integration

The link to the full story is here

TuneIn, the popular online radio service that lets users listen to over 70,000 radio stations from around the world, just announced the launch of TuneIn Live, the company’s new service for helping listeners discover new audio content. Using the data it gathers from its over 40 million monthly users, TuneIn is now able to provide its users with personalized recommendations based on the stations, songs and artists they listen to.

This, TuneIn’s Director of Product Kristin George tells us, means the service can now “recommend stations that just started playing something new in each genre every few seconds.” George also stressed that “this is just the beginning.” It took TuneIn about seven months to build this new technology into its service and ” it is now allowing discovery to happen on a level we only dreamed about.” Having 70,000 stations and more than 2 million on-demand programs in its directory, TuneIn CEO John Donham wrote in a statement today, meant that the company’s “biggest opportunity has been discovery,” but the large amount of content was also “a lot for anyone to digest.”

Facebook Lets Advertisers Tap Purchase Data Partners To Target Customers, Categories Like Car-Buyers

The link to the full story is here

Through new partnerships with top online and offline purchase data providers Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai, Facebook is now allowing advertisers to target hashed lists of existing and potential customers, and categories like role-playing gamers or soda drinkers. This expansion of Facebook’s Custom Audiences program could rake in revenue and attract businesses by matching ads to real spenders.

AdAge first reported the deal with Datalogix, Epsilon and Acxiom last week, though now these partnerships are confirmed along with one with BlueKai. It’s part of Facebook’s ongoing quest to show businesses that ads on the social network are not just scattershot brand marketing jazz, but can actually reach the exact customers that buy their products.

That’s been a bit of a struggle, as a combination of complicated products, targeting restrictions, and advertiser inexperience has led some businesses to fail to produce results. These businesses sometimes go out of their way to blast Facebook’s ad platform as ineffective, scaring away other big advertisers.

Facebook to Serve Up Ads Based on Your Offline Shopping Habits

The link to the full story is here

Facebook will now be able to target some ads based on your offline shopping habits thanks to some partnerships it announced on Wednesday.

The social networking giant has inked a deal with data mining firms Datalogix, Acxiom and Epsilon that will apply their records about customers' offline purchases to Facebook's Custom Audiences product. Facebook is also working with BlueKai "as a marketing data platform to bring a brand's first party site data to use for targeting on Facebook," according to the company. Custom Audiences, which was released last August, lets advertisers identify Facebook users by their Facebook ID, phone number or email address. Now, advertisers can match that information with data from the firms, which was gleaned through shopper loyalty programs.

As Facebook explained in a blog post, the deals let advertisers target by generic product segment: "We will work with these select third parties to create pre-defined targeting categories on Facebook. Businesses of all sizes will now be able to target categories like "soda drinkers" or "auto-intenders."

According to Facebook, the change means advertisers can skip a step to identify an audience segment by its purchase intent:

For example, an auto dealer may want to customize an offer to people who are looking to buy a new car. To do this today, many businesses work with third parties to better understand how to identity and reach that audience. With today's updates businesses can now do this same thing by showing ads to people on Facebook who may be in the market for a new car.

Facebook also claims that it won't share personal data about users with marketers. As with other Facebook ad, you can also opt out at any time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Bad Did Analytics Bugs Fool Facebook Pages? Reach Looked Down 14% When It Wasn’t

The link to the full story is here

Months of mysterious Insights bugs duped Facebook Page owners into thinking their reach was plummeting. The median Page’s analytics showed it reached 14.39 percent fewer people than it actually did, according to early data and graphs from EdgeRank Checker, a Facebook analytics startup that gave us the first look. The bugs may have caused people to mistakenly undervalue their Pages, change strategies or buy ads to make up for “lost” reach.

Facebook announced the bugs last week. During its efforts to speed up its iOS and Android apps in August and December, it accidentally stripped out the markers used by Page Insights to count impressions. This and other bugs led several metrics to be underreported. Fixes and bug-prevention systems are now in place, and accurate data began flowing into Page Insights yesterday, making today the earliest opportunity to get a concrete sense of the glitch’s impact.

EdgeRank Checker analyzed 1,000 Pages who posted both last week when Insights was still wrong, and yesterday with reach reported accurately. How much reach was underreported depends a bit on the Page’s fan count, as those with 500,000 to 1 million Likes were led farther astray.

A Page with 750,000 fans would have been reaching 47,000 fans per post (6.24 percent), according to the broken analytics, when in reality they were reaching 78,000 (10.35 percent). That means Insights was underreporting reach by a massive 66 percent. The impact was more subtle for a Page with 100,000 fans. The buggy Insights would have shown them reaching 10,000 of their fans per post when they were actually reaching 11,000, with reach underreported by 10.2 percent.

The most stunning part of the data was that the median Page’s viral reach according to Insights went up 275 percent after the fix. EdgeRank Checker‘s CEO Chad Wittman believes Facebook also fixed a bug that caused viral reach to exclude the impressions from posts re-shared by a Page’s fans.

Instagram Hits 100 Million Monthly Users 28 Months After Launch

The link to the full story is here

From just two guys at rented desks to a $715 million sale to Facebook, a second wind on Android and a mess of privacy scares, Instagram today announced 100 million people use it every month to share the way they see the world. The startup hedged its bets by being acquired just as it expanded beyond iOS, but despite what it could have sold for now, there’s no disputing Instagram’s success.

In a heartfelt blog post that smooths over the rough patches, co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom explains the journey to building an app that’s created “a world more connected and understood through photographs.”

The untold story is that Instagram made a tough decision right after its April 3rd launch on Android. Before that it had 30 million installs on iOS. Whether it would succeed outside of the design-focused iPhone was a gamble. It could have flopped, attrition could have set in, and it was still small enough to be vulnerable to competitors. So despite racking up 1 million new users in the first 12 hours, there was a lot to lose. $1 billion (at the time) in cash and stock from Facebook for a company with just 13 employees was too good to pass up, so it sold.

If Systrom had foreseen what would happen next, he may have held out longer. The Android app maintained its sprint, and the iPhone version continued to pick up steam. Even without much help from Facebook, and in fact despite Facebook’s own competitor Camera, the Instagram juggernaut could not be stopped.

At over three times as many users now as when it sold, and seemingly beyond quick disruption, would Instagram have sold for $2 billion or even $3 billion today? Would anyone have been willing to pay that? Remember this was when fervor was frothy for the coming Facebook IPO. Social companies still saw going public as a lucrative option.

But Systrom chose to become a made-man (and make made-men out of many of his employees), rather than roll the dice. He chose greater impact by aligning with the world’s premier social network over total control. He still runs Instagram somewhat independently from Facebook, so he may be getting to have his cake and eat it too.

YouTube App Update Suggests Paid Channels Are on the Way

The link to the full story is here

Code found in YouTube’s most recent app update suggests that Google may be working on pay-to-view channels.

Spotted by Android Police, the code mentions subscribing and unsubscribing from paid YouTube channels, a function that will apparently only be available on the web, not in YouTube’s mobile app.

Rumors have circulated for some time that Google was considering paid channels on YouTube; the stray code in the app update all but confirms that rumor.

In January, AdAge reported that Google had reached out to a small number of channel producers, asking them to submit applications and create channels that users would have to pay to access, in most cases to the tune of $1 to $5 per month.

In response to the AdAge story in January, a YouTube representative told Mashable, "We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models. The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform. There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we’re looking at that."

The company has previously discussed the possibility of offering pay-to-view channels as a way for television networks to continue to broadcast shows that might not be bringing in enough cash to exist on cable networks but have a passionate and dedicated audience.

Facebook Eyes Your Updates for Gifting Opportunities

The link to the full story is here

Facebook is reportedly experimenting with a new way to determine if your friends need a gift: analyzing their status messages.

Facebook Gifts is built off of a service called Karma, which it acquired last year. Karma had a built-in language processor that would read through your friends' status updates and suggest you send a gift when it detected your friend had something to celebrate or needed a pick-me-up.

Facebook has already integrated the gift button for birthdays, so it makes sense that it would take advantage of some of Karma’s other features and offer gifts for other important moments as well.

According to Inside Facebook, the social network has started rolling out gifts for other occasions based on the text of status messages. Specifically, the site has seen a “Give a Gift” button beside status messages announcing a new job. We did not see the message on our own feeds, so it appears the roll-out is currently fairly limited.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Google Confirms That Project Glass Will Work With iPhone

The link to the full story is here

After making a visit to a disappointingly bland Google conference room behind frosted-glass doors in New York, the Verge’s Joshua Topolsky got some hands-on time with Glass. His in-depth report included an interesting little bit of information about Glass that many people have been wondering about. Glass, he wrote, will be compatible with Android – as most people always expected – and Apple’s iPhone. Google just confirmed to us that this is indeed correct, though the company didn’t want to comment on the details of how this will work.

There are a few possibilities here, of course. Glass could simply use your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot to get online, but that would use a lot of battery power – both on your phone and on Glass. Presumably, Glass will simply piggyback on existing data connections just like your Fitbit or any other kind of gadget talks to your phone today, as the Verge’s post also seems to indicate. This means Google will likely have to offer an iOS app for Glass as well. (And maybe that’s where some of the third-party Glass apps will live, too?)

Chances are Google will start selling Glass to consumers later this year and for somewhere under $1,500. Before the consumer launch, though, Google will also start shipping developer versions to a few lucky contest winners and those who signed up for it at the company’s I/O developer conference last year. So far, it’s not clear when these “explorer” editions of Glass will be available, but with the next I/O scheduled to start on May 15 and the recent media blitz around Glass, we might see them launch in the next few weeks.

Zendesk Hacking Affects Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter Users

The link to the full story is here

Customer service software provider Zendesk announced a security breach that affects users of Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. Zendesk said that the hacker downloaded email addresses of users who have contacted those three websites for support, as well as support email subject lines. Tumblr and Twitter have notified affected users (see below), while Pinterest is expected to the same. A report on Wired says that some customers may have also had their phone numbers revealed, but passwords, password hashes, and encrypted passwords were not part of the breach.

Twitter says no passwords were affected:

Emailing a small percentage of Twitter users who may have been affected by Zendesk’s breach. No passwords involved.…

— Support (@Support) February 22, 2013

Here is the email Tumblr sent to users:

Important information regarding your security and privacy

For the last 2.5 years, we’ve used a popular service called Zendesk to store, organize, and answer emails to Tumblr Support. We’ve learned that a security breach at Zendesk has affected Tumblr and two other companies. We are sending this notification to all email addresses that we believe may have been affected by this breach.

This has potentially exposed records of subject lines and, in some cases, email addresses of messages sent to Tumblr Support. While much of this information is innocuous, please take some time today to consider the following:

The subject lines of your emails to Tumblr Support may have included the address of your blog which could potentially allow your blog to be unwillingly associated with your email address.
Any other information included in the subject lines of emails you’ve sent to Tumblr Support may be exposed. We recommend you review any correspondence you’ve addressed to,,,,, or
Tumblr will never ask you for your password by email. Emails are easy to fake, and you should be suspicious of unexpected emails you receive.
Your safety is our highest priority. We’re working with law enforcement and Zendesk to better understand this attack. Please monitor your email and Tumblr accounts for suspicious behavior, and notify us immediately if you have any concerns.

Looks Like Google Is Working On A UDP Replacement Called QUIC

The link to the full story is here

Francois Beaufort had a very good day yesterday. Not only did the leaked video of the Chromebook Pixel he discovered earlier this month turn out to be real, he also noticed that Google started work on a new web protocol in Chrome called QUIC. This protocol, it seems, aims to update the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), a core part of the Internet protocol suite that also includes TCP, for example.

UDP is often used for applications that need real-time connectivity (video conferencing, games etc.). It opens up a direct connection between two machines, which makes it perfect for real-time applications and streaming data where low latency is very important. In return, however, it lacks some of the reliability controls of other Internet protocols like the TCP protocol.

QUIC also focuses on data streams, it seems, but with the extra benefit of adding a built-in encryption layer and some basic reliability controls.

It looks like the project was merged into Chrome just a few days ago, but work on the project seems to have started late last year. And while some people noticed it at the time, the project has mostly gone unnoticed. Now, however, it looks like it is becoming a core part of the Chromium project – the open source initiative behind Google’s Chrome browser.

We contacted Google for a comment about this, but all we got from a spokesperson was the company’s usual non-denial that “the team is continuously testing new features. At this time, we have nothing new to announce.”

With SPDY, of course, Google is currently working on a similar initiative for HTTP, and it looks like a lot of the work on SPDY may flow into the HTTP 2.0 standard. Google probably hopes to achieve something similar for UDP with QUIC. As it aims to make the web faster, more reliable and more secure, the company is clearly not content with just making its applications faster, but it has a vested interest in also pushing forward some of the low-level technologies that make today’s Internet work in the first place.

Twitter Announces App For Firefox OS

The link to the full story is here

Twitter has announced that Twitter for Firefox OS will be available in the Firefox Marketplace when devices powered by Mozilla’s new operating system start to ship.

According to the company, Twitter for Firefox OS will be similar to its other mobile apps, with the same Home, Connect, Discover, and Me tabs, as well as search and compose Tweet icons. One feature that is unique to the Firefox OS Twitter app is Web Activities, which will let users tweet photos directly out of any app that also supports Web activity, including Firefox OS’ built-in photos app.

Mozilla said yesterday that 18 carriers have committed to its new, HTML5-friendly mobile OS, and the launch of the Firefox Marketplace app store. Many Firefox-powered handsets are being targeted at emerging markets with lower overall smartphone penetration. Twitter’s Firefox OS apps will join a line-up of other Mozilla partners in Firefox Marketplace, including Facebook, Nokia’s HERE, SoundCloud, Cut The Rope, Disney Mobile Games, and EA Games.

Facebook, 18 Carriers Partner To Use Discounted Messages To Lure New Users, Data Customers

The link to the full story is here

Facebook is deepening its relationships with carriers in emerging markets today with a deal that would bring free or discounted data access for people who use Facebook Messages.

The company has done these types of win-win deals in the past. Carriers get to give their customers access to what is probably the most widely-used app in the world, gaining an edge over competitors in the same market. They also potentially lure new customers to sign up for lucrative data plans. At the same time, Facebook gains further reach into many developing countries that have mobile-only consumers, who don’t have access to the desktop web.

The operators in the deal include TMN in Portugal, Three in Ireland, Airtel and Reliance in India, Vivacom in Bulgaria, Backcell in Azerbaijan, Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata in Indonesia, SMART in Philippines, DiGi in Malaysia, DTAC in Thailand, Viva in Bahrain, STC in Saudi Arabia, Oi in Brazil, Etisalat in Egypt, and Tre in Italy.

Facebook has done similar deals in the past. After it acquired Israeli-startup Snaptu to build mobile versions of Facebook for the long tail of feature phones, it partnered with more than 20 carriers to give their customers more than 90 days of free access to the new Facebook for Every Phone app.

While most of the carriers in the deal are in emerging markets, not all of them are. A few carriers in Ireland, Italy and Portugal are also involved.

Keep in mind that Facebook Messenger’s rival WhatsApp rules in Europe, as many cellphone users turn to it instead of classic SMS messaging to save on their monthly bills. WhatsApp beats Facebook Messenger in market share in many European countries. This could be a small way to get a leg up on their competitor, which is based in Silicon Valley and is backed by Sequoia Capital.

Facebook Wants To Make Your Voice Plan Obsolete, Adds Free Calling To Its iOS Application

The link to the full story is here

Following last month’s rollout of free voice calling in its standalone Messenger app, Facebook has today updated its flagship iOS application to offer the same functionality. In the version 5.5 update, which is live now in Apple’s App Store, users in the U.S. and Canada can phone their friends directly from the right-hand sidebar within the application.

You can see the voice-calling option by tapping on a friend’s name, then hitting the button at the top-right of the Contact Info screen. If they’re online, the “Free Call” button can be used to dial them directly, no phone number required. Otherwise this button is grayed out.

The company commonly uses its standalone apps with their smaller user bases as a testing ground for new features before they make their way into Facebook’s main application.

Facebook introduced voice functionality earlier this year in both its iOS and Android Messenger applications, beginning with a feature that allowed users to send one-minute voice messages. At that same time, it was also testing an option for open source VoIP calling between Canadian iOS Messenger users that worked over a data plan, before introducing it to the U.S. market a couple of weeks later.

With voice calling, it’s notable that Facebook has not been building on top of its existing Skype partnership, which in the past had powered a voice calling test on Facebook’s desktop site.

More importantly, the move is pitting Facebook against the phone’s default calling application, as Josh Constine pointed out last month. Because people’s Facebook networks tend to represent their real-world friendships and connections – meaning those people they’re likely to jump on the phone with – Facebook is in a position to actually have an impact in terms of reducing the number of voice minutes a person needs to have on their calling plan.

Facebook Gives Graph Search To More People, Makes Those Left Out Jealous

The link to the full story is here

Five weeks after launch, Facebook gave reporters a ‘State Of Graph Search’ today at its Menlo Park HQ. It’s been rolled out from the original 100,000 users to “hundreds of thousands,” and now a news feed story is appearing to lure people’s friends to sign up for the early access wait list.

This morning I noticed Facebook was admitting a slew of wait-listed people to Graph Search. That’s because now when new people gain access, Facebook automatically publishes a news feed story, e.g. “Eric Eldon just got Graph Search.” Click through those last words, and people can sign up for earlier access, too. Facebook tells me this is a viral driver meant to increase waitlist sign-ups. The story frames Graph Search as the cool new feature you should be willing to beg to get access to.

Beyond user counts and the roll out, today’s “Graph Search Whiteboard Session” saw some of Facebook’s lead engineers delving deep into how people are using its new internal search engine, and how it works on the back end.

Graph Search Director Tom Stocky noted that early usage patterns show people using Graph Search for the same things they use the social network for: looking at friends and photos. “But Places is third” said Stocky, an encouraging sign for local businesses. Interests aren’t getting as many queries.

One thing that surprised Facebook was the ways people search for their friends. Rather than asking for something like “photos of my ‘friends’”, users frequently typed in terms like ‘chums’, ‘besties’, ‘buddies’, ‘homies’, and ‘peeps’. At first those stumped Graph Search, but a dedicated natural language team has now built those in so they’re recognized as synonyms.

A Juicy Hands-On With The Facebook Omni-Gift Card

The link to the full story is here

“Uh Facebook Gift Card?”, the Jamba Juice cashier said with a twang. “I don’t even know what that is.” But that didn’t stop her from ringing up my purchase with Facebook’s invasion of brick-and-mortar commerce. Facebook announced the card last month, and today I was one of the first to try it out. Here’s how it felt to swipe Facebook’s hopeful disruptor of the $100 billion US gift card market.

With what I’d call a “material hangover” from a Saturday night of stuffy wine bars and loose dance floors, my body awoke with a forceful request for something healthy. Luckily, I’d just received a Facebook Gift Card with a $10 balance for Jamba Juice from the Director of Facebook Gifts, Lee Linden. The co-founder and CEO of mobile gifting app Karma that Facebook acquired the day of its IPO, Linden wanted me to give the card a shot.

The Facebook Gift Card is designed to be a single slice of plastic that holds credits to multiple retail stores. Friends (who’ve already received the Gift Card slow roll-out) can go to your wall or the ‘Birthdays and Celebrations’ sidebar and select to send you $3 to $100 at one of the initial partners Target, Sephora, Olive Garden, or Jamba Juice. Rather than one big balance to spend at any of the stores, your balances at each business are kept separate.

Facebook is looking to earn a revenue share by making brick-and-mortar stores’ products and services easily giftable between friends. You might not think to go to and buy someone a gift card, and getting their address would be a pain. Facebook makes discovery and delivery of gifts easier through suggestions of what to buy people. Facebook is where people spend time online, it recommends you buy Gift Card credits for friends on birthdays and other occasions, and collect their addresses for you.

A few weeks ago I got a Facebook notification informing me of the present Lee sent me. A tap on my mobile phone opened a virtual greeting card with a personal message from Lee, a glossy photo of a Jamba Juice smoothie, and mailing address entry form for where Facebook should send my card. Soon my sparkly blue, graph diagram-covered pre-paid Discover card arrived in the mail, wrapped within some surprising fine print I’ll get to later.

Police Informed Mother About Son's Death Over Facebook

The link to the full story is here

Anna Lamb-Creasey's son had disappeared without a trace. She called hospitals and jails. She waited for days and then weeks and then a month, desperate for a sign of life. She posted to his Facebook page: "Rickie where are you? Love mom."

Rickie was dead.

Lamb-Creasy might have known this sooner — if only she had checked a hidden folder on her Facebook page that most people don't even know exists. Waiting in what's called the "Other" folder was a message from the Clayton County, Ga., police telling her to call them.

She didn't discover the message for nearly a month.

Now Lamb-Creasy is furious at the police for contacting her about her son's death over Facebook — and especially for using the "Other" folder. But she should save some of her anger for Facebook, too.

When you send a message to someone you don't know on Facebook, it gets sequestered to the hidden "Other" folder, which only appears as a grayed-out tab on the site's main messages tab. The police, like so many other Facebook users, probably have no idea this happens. (Here's what it looks like, with emphasis added.)

Indeed, the only way to get a stranger to see your message on Facebook is to cough up $1. That will guarantee it goes to the recipient's real mailbox. This just one of many cash grabs implemented by Facebook since its initial public offering last year, as the world's largest social network chases profit to please new stockholders. Lamb-Creasy's desperate search for her son may be the most harrowing and explicit example of how the feature does real harm to Facebook's 1 billion users.

Facebook began quietly ushering messages from people who weren't your friends into the "Other" folder back in 2010. But the rules weren't set in stone. You could still change that setting yourself, if you wanted to.

Then came Facebook's IPO in May 2012. In December, the company announced that you'd no longer be able to control who messaged you. Its algorithms would decide for you. No one except your friends would pop up in your inbox. If people you didn't know wanted to message you, they'd have to cough up $1 for every message.

Eduardo Saverin: Facebook's 'Biggest Risk' is Growing Too Fast

The link to the full story is here

The biggest threat to Facebook's business may simply be that the company grows too fast for its own good, at least according to co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

"The biggest risk is to grow too fast, which is actually a huge asset, but ironically, I think that's one of the biggest risks," Saverin said in an interview Thursday at The Wall Street Journal's Unleashing Innovation conference in Singapore, where he now lives. "When you grow too fast, it's hard to iterate, educate."

Saverin noted that Facebook has achieved mass scale at a much faster pace than other technologies like phones and televisions, which may be great for user numbers, but the downside is that governments and consumers are still adapting to the impact that Facebook has on society, particularly in terms of privacy. "There is a risk of privacy misunderstands or lack of education," he said.

Beyond this, Saverin alluded to companies like Google, which are trying to compete with Facebook in the social space and could pose a threat down the road.

"There are a lot of technology companies out there with tremendous resources and engineering and very experienced talent that are trying to enter the space of creating a social graph, an interest graph," Saverin said.

Saverin, for his part, has been mostly out of the spotlight recently after renouncing his U.S. citizenship and moving to Singapore right around the time of Facebook's' IPO. Some accused Saverin of leaving the country to avoid paying taxes on his roughly $3 billion stake in Facebook, but Saverin contended that he was moving simply to live and work in the Asia startup scene.

Mark Zuckerberg to Sergey Brin: 'I Can't Wait for Google Glass

The link to the full story is here

For connoisseurs of corporate conflict, the cold war between Facebook and Google is hardly a satisfying one. Sure, the two tech giants have rival social networks, and there's little in the way of collaboration between them. As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg put it in January during Facebook's second earnings call: "Our relationship isn't one where the companies really talk."

But few of us remember what Zuckerberg said immediately after: "We are able to do a bunch of things and build some great experiences."

That becomes clear when the founders run into each other at events. Apparently, it takes about two seconds for them to start geeking out about tech.

That, according to a Forbes reporter who witnessed the scene, is what happened Thursday at the launch of the $33 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, approached by Zuckerberg at the event, gave him his Google Glass spectacles to check out, and demonstrated how to use the scroll function on the side. "I can't wait to get my own," said an excited Zuckerberg.

Indeed, Zuckerberg revealed that a team of three engineers at Facebook are eagerly awaiting their own pair of the super-connected specs — so they can figure out how to build Facebook apps for it.

Security Flaw Gives Hacker Full Access to Facebook Profiles

The link to the full story is here

A web developer claims to have discovered a Facebook security flaw that could have allowed him access into any part of a stranger's profile.

Don't panic: Facebook has already fixed the problem. The developer, Nir Goldshlager, notified the social network about the issue and waited until it was resolved to go public with his discovery. He explained how it worked in a blog post published Saturday morning.

In the post, he says he was able to tweak the service OAuth, used by developers to obtain various permissions their apps need to run — for example, location data from your profile page. Goldshlager was able to manipulate OAuth so a visitor to a Facebook page could get full access — to inboxes, private photos and videos — with no expiration.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

AdRoll Warns Against Betting Too Heavily On Facebook’s Ad Exchange

The link to the full story is here

Retargeting company AdRoll has released some data today intended to suggest that advertisers shouldn’t rush too quickly to embrace Facebook Exchange (the ad retargeting service that the social network launched last year) — at least not at the expense of other forms of retargeting.

That’s probably what you’d expect to hear from a company with a profitable business in web retargeting (where ads are targeted based on your previous online behavior). However, AdRoll was also an early Facebook Exchange partner, and it says that it has run Exchange campaigns for more than 700 advertisers. Facebook said last month that there are more than 1,300 total advertisers on Exchange. So the data it’s releasing today is based on 468 campaigns from the past six months that ran simultaneously on Facebook and the web.

What did AdRoll find? Well, some of the costs for advertisers were much lower on Facebook Exchange campaigns — CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) were 82 percent lower, while CPCs (cost per clicks) were 70 percent lower. However, clickthrough rates were 40.18 percent lower on Facebook than on the Web, and Facebook Exchange ads also had an 86 percent higher cost per unique.

“There were some things that we expected, like the lower CPM and CPC on FBX, but other things were surprising,” said CEO Adam Berke in an email interview. “In particular, the fact that the cost per unique user is actually better in standard web retargeting. This basically tells us that you can reach highly engaged users very efficiently at a low CPC on Facebook, but you really need to tap into the rest of the web to reach as much of your valuable retargeting audience as possible.”

That ties into Berke’s larger message: That it might be “tempting to overweight FBX as percent of media spend” based on the initial data, but that temptation should be resisted. (For example, Triggit reported more consistently positive results on Facebook, and said that’s where it’s betting its business.) Backing that up is another data point from AdRoll that there was only an 8.3 percent overlap between the audiences reached by the Facebook campaigns and the web campaigns.

“No doubt that based on the performance of FBX, it’s a crucial component of a retargeting campaign,” Berke said. “However, you don’t want to forget about the rest of the web.”

Twitter Adds DMARC Email Authentication To Curb Login-Jacking Attempts Via Impostor Messages

The link to the full story is here

Twitter announced via its blog today that it has begun using DMARC, a security protocol designed to cut down the number of fake emails that users receive from companies pretending to be Twitter itself. The move should help cut down on phishing scams, where third parties try to get users to give up their login details via false requests for password verification or other personal info.

Twitter says it started using the DMARC tech earlier this month, which means it should be up and running already. But the timing of this announcement likely has more to do with publicizing Twitter’s attempts to increase security around the service in the wake of a couple notable hacks in recent days. Twitter saw high-profile official accounts from Jeep and Burger King get taken over by malicious attacks, which was followed by a fake hacking used as a marketing ploy by BET and MTV. Fake or real, all the so-called “attacks” affect the security reputation of the site in the eyes of its users, hence the need for some kind of response.

DMARC works by determining whether or not the email messages it supposedly receives from a known sender actually lines up with the information it has on file about that sender, and then routing mail accordingly. Those interested in the technical details can check it out here, but it’s already in use by AOL, Gmail, Microsoft and Yahoo! Mail, which means it probably covers the fast majority of email users out there. Some have called for more advanced features, like two-step authentication, to help make Twitter even more secure against malicious attacks on user accounts.

TL;DR: Twitter had some very public security issues, and now has made a public announcement about steps it’s taking to improve security, and the two are unlikely to be only coincidentally related.

In Exchange For Help Juicing Sales, Twitter And LinkedIn’s Ads APIs Share The Wealth

The link to the full story is here

Tech companies try to stay lean. They don’t want to hire too many sales people, and they can’t build the perfect advertising tool for every buyer. So following in Google and Facebook’s footsteps, today Twitter and in November LinkedIn launched ads APIs. They set up a powerful value exchange: “Help us sell more ads, and we’ll give you a cut.”

If you’ve ever bought online ads with a self-serve interface, you know it basically doesn’t work. I did it on Facebook at my first job out of college. ‘Twas hell. Maybe if you’re a small business trying to spend $50 with no regard for optimization it will “work.” But if you want to spend any serious money on an ad campaign without throwing handfuls of cash into a bonfire, you need a programmatic interface.

Every business wants a different interface, though. Some want a standalone buying tool for a specific ad platform or social network. Some want it built into the same system running their search ads so they can shift spend across the channels to get the biggest bang for their buck on any given day. Some want to control all the targeting, others want artificial intelligence to hunt for the best-performing creatives and audiences, and still others want their websites automatically packaged into ads. Trying to build all these different options in-house would be impossible for most ad platforms.

Meanwhile, there’s the job of actually selling the ads to all these different types of businesses. A platform’s biggest clients often get full-service hand-holding, while their smallest have to fight through the self-serve tool. In the middle there’s a thicket of businesses across verticals and international borders. Hiring and training an in-house sales team to machete their way into these company’s pockets can be a huge up-front cost and lead to a bloated head count.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Twitter Launches Ads API, So Marketers Can Run Campaigns Through Adobe, Salesforce, Others

The link to the full story is here

Twitter just announced via blog post that it has launched an advertising API, which will allow brands to run ad campaigns through the company’s API partners, rather than having to buy them through Twitter itself.

This confirms a report by TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden saying that Twitter would launch its ads API sometime in the first quarter of this year. At the time, Ingrid noted that Twitter’s ad-buying interface requires you to upload promoted tweets one at a time, an approach that’s unwieldy for large campaigns. She also said that an API creates the opportunity for more sophisticated targeting and tools.

The initial five partners for the program are Adobe, Hootsuite, Salesforce, SHIFT, and TBG Digital. Twitter says it has been testing the API with them since January. We can probably expect that number to increase fairly quickly, and indeed the blog post includes a link to an application for potential partners.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hackers Turn Burger King’s Tweet Stream Into A Whopper Of A Mess

The link to the full story is here

About 40 minutes ago hackers took over the official Burger King Twitter account, changing the branding to feature McDonald’s fish nuggets prominently on the top and noting that Burger King “just got sold to McDonalds because the whopper flopped =[ FREDOM IS FAILURE℠."

I would recommend checking it out now before it's taken down.

The last official tweet happened at 12pm on February 17 while the hack began at 12:01 on the 18th.

The account also points to a missing press release that seems to have been placed on Burger King's official website, suggesting a fairly bold and sweeping hack. The hack seems to be the work of an Anonymous group and is called #OPMadCow.

Users are jumping and and posting responses while the hackers are posting things like "Try our new BK(℠) Bath Salt! 99% Pure MDPV! Buy a Big Mac, get a gram free! @dfnctsc @tshyne @mcdonalds." TShyne is a musician and "innovator."

Facebook Wins Court Challenge In Germany Against Its Real Names Policy

The link to the full story is here

Facebook has won a court challenge against its real names policy in Germany. Yesterday an administrative court in the North of Germany granted Facebook’s request for “suspensive effect” against a ruling, made by Schleswig-Holstein’s Data Protection Commissioner, that Facebook’s real names policy was violating German and European law. The court ruled that German data protection laws aren’t applicable because Facebook has its European headquarters in Ireland — meaning only (the less stringent) Irish data protection laws apply.

Back in December the German data protection body in question, the ULD (Unabhaengiges Landeszentrum fuer Datenschutz), issued a ruling against Facebook’s real-name policy, arguing that it erodes online freedoms and calling for the site to allow the use of pseudonyms. The ULD said it had received complaints from citizens about Facebook’s policy. It said its aim was to seek clarification of Facebook’s legal position in regards to European data protection law — and its intention was to pursue a “regular lawsuit” against the company.

At the time, Facebook said it planned to “vigorously” fight the ULD’s ruling — and its vigor appears to have paid off, with the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court granting it suspensive effect against the ULD’s ruling, meaning its business as usual for Facebook in Germany.

However the ULD said today it intends to appeal. In a press release (translated via Google translate) on Facebook’s court win, entitled ‘Administrative Court of Schleswig granted Facebook free ride’, the ULD said it plans to appeal the court’s decision before the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Administrative Court.

The head of the ULD Thilo Weichert described the court’s rulings in Facebook favour as “more than amazing” and “contradictory”.

The ULD has two weeks to appeal the court’s ruling.

At the time of writing Facebook had not responded to a request for comment. Update: In an emailed statement, a Facebook spokesman said: ”We are pleased with the decision of the Administrative Court of Appeals of Schleswig-Holstein. We believe this is a step into the right direction. We hope that our critics will understand that it is the role of individual services to determine their own policies about anonymity within the governing law – for Facebook Ireland, European data protection and Irish law. We therefore feel affirmed that the orders are without merit.”

Dreaded Auto-Play Video Ads Could Be Coming To Facebook, VP Confirms

The link to the full story is here

TV commercials that automatically play could soon hit Facebook’s news feed. This week Facebook VP of Business David Fischer admitted auto-play video ads might be distracting, but said “I believe there are ways we could do it.” Fischer said during his Stanford Future Of Media Conference keynote that he admired YouTube’s video ads. But auto-play video spots could be flashy and annoying in the quiet news feed.

At Wednesday’s Future Of Media Keynote with Fischer, Fortune magazine’s senior editor at large Adam Lashinsky opened the conversation about video ads saying Wall Street is clamoring for them. Fischer explained they already exist in one form. Businesses can post videos from their Page and then pay to show them to more people, though those have to be clicked to play. He noted that businesses constantly ask for more attention-grabbing video ad units closer to a home page takeover than a simple news feed story.

Lashinsky then pressed Fischer to cite another web company whose video ads he admired. Fischer squirmed a bit, and from my front row seat in the big Stanford auditorium, I could practically see his internal monologue mulling over whether he was going to complement Facebook’s biggest competitor.

And then he actually gave props to Google. “You know I think YouTube has moved in the right direction by putting more control in the user’s hands, with the five-second TrueView thing,” Fischer responded. He was referring to the YouTube pre-roll video ads that you have to watch for at least five seconds, but can then skip. They’re auto-play ads, but businesses only get charged if users view the whole commercial.

Facebook’s Never Had A Big User Data Breach, But May Never Recover When It Does

The link to the full story is here

It’s not if, but when. Between crooks, hackers and foreign governments, Facebook probably can’t avoid a serious user data breach forever. When it happens, Facebook may never be able to quiet fears that “personal data isn’t safe there.” That could cause a chilling effect on sharing, jeopardize its future in commerce, and cut short its lifetime.

This isn’t to say Facebook’s not doing everything in its power to prevent this. It has a sizable security team of top talent, infiltrates hacker rings to thwart their schemes, and offers cash bounties to white hats who identify bugs or holes.

Yesterday, though, Facebook announced something very unsettling. A “sophisticated attack” uploaded malware onto the computers of several Facebook engineers when they visited a hacked mobile developer site. Facebook quickly quarantined and scrubbed the devices, called the police, and kicked off an investigation. So far, there’s been no evidence that any user data had been compromised. Perhaps the attackers were after Facebook’s trade secrets or information about partners. Regardless, it was a very close call.

How Love Unfolds on Facebook

The link to the full story is here

To celebrate the holiday, the folks at Facebook Stories put together an infographic (below) that analyzes its users' top V-Day trends as told through status updates, playlists and check-ins. The restaurant data is pulled from user check-ins on Feb. 14, 2012; the playlist data is based on which songs users listened to most before and after posting relationships as Life Events on Facebook in the United States.

Facebook May Already Be Taking Away Searches From Google

The link to the full story is here

Even before Facebook started rolling out its smart search engine earlier this year, it may have been taking away some searches from Google.

The number of searches done on search engines in the U.S. dropped by 3% in 2012, according to a new report from comScore, even though the number of people searching increased by 4%. Google, in particular, saw the number of searches decline by 2% last year.

This decline comes even though Google and search engines overall experienced an increase in the total number of U.S. users performing searches. In other words, more people are searching, but the average user is performing fewer searches. One of the reasons for this, according to comScore, may be that users are turning to so-called "vertical" search tools like Facebook and Amazon in lieu of always relying on the "core" search engines like Google and Yahoo.

"Consumers are increasingly likely to search for a product on Amazon or eBay, and search for people on Facebook or," comScore notes in the report. "While core searches are softening, vertical searches are up 8 percent year-over-year."

Social Media Users Say Pinterest Is as Popular as Twitter

The link to the full story is here

While Facebook reigns supreme in the social media landscape, the latest study by Pew shows users are pinning just as much as they're tweeting.

Twitter attracted 16% of social media users, followed by 15% on Pinterest in 2012. Everyone's favorite pastime is still Facebook, though, raking in a majority of respondents' votes. Tumblr comes in as the least popular with only 6% of people on the site.

The report details who exactly is using these networks, explaining that sites like Instagram appeal more to women, Latinos and African-Americans.

It's no surprise the study finds young adults more interested in social media. An overwhelming 83% are more likely to be on the sites than older demographics. Each network offers distinct services and draws specific audience groups. Image-heavy Pinterest attracts women, adults under 50 and whites. Twitter users tend to be urban residents.

nlike other networks, Pinterest is equally popular with different age demographics; 19% of younger users and people 30 to 49 use the site, and it also yields the largest difference in gender than any other of it social counterparts. Women are five times more likely to be pinning (secret wedding boards, anyone?) than men.

Though Pinterest is catching up in popularity, the percentage of Internet users on Twitter doubled in the past two years.

Facebook Says It Was Victim of 'Sophisticated Attack'

The link to the full story is here

Facebook issued a statement on on Friday that it was hit with a "sophisticated attack" in January, but no user data was compromised.

The attack was caused when Facebook employees visited a malicious website that installed malware onto their computers.

"Last month, Facebook Security discovered that our systems had been targeted in a sophisticated attack," the company said in an official blog post. "This attack occurred when a handful of employees visited a mobile developer website that was compromised. The compromised website hosted an exploit which then allowed malware to be installed on these employee laptops."

Facebook said the laptops were fully patched and running up-to-date antivirus software.

"As soon as we discovered the presence of the malware, we remediated all infected machines, informed law enforcement, and began a significant investigation that continues to this day," the company said. "We have no evidence that Facebook user data was compromised in this attack."

"It is clear that others were attacked and infiltrated recently as well," the company said. "As one of the first companies to discover this malware, we immediately took steps to start sharing details about the infiltration with the other companies and entities that were affected."

The social network is working with law enforcement to learn more about the incident.

"As part of our ongoing investigation, we are working continuously and closely with our own internal engineering teams, with security teams at other companies, and with law enforcement authorities to learn everything we can about the attack, and how to prevent similar incidents in the future," Facebook said.

Half of Parents Join Facebook to Creep on Their Kids

The link to the full story is here

Are you friends with your parents on Facebook? You might be surprised to find out that one in two parents join Facebook just to keep tabs on their kids. In our increasingly digital world, it is difficult for parents to monitor their children's activities — so perusing social media is an obvious solution.

To give you more heebie-jeebies, 43% of parents check out their kid's profile daily — with special interest given to status updates and photos you are tagged in. So you might want to think twice before you tag yourself at that frat party doing a perfect keg-stand.

This data is courtesy of Education Database Online, a resource designed to help current and prospective students learn about the many educational opportunities and higher degree programs available within the United States.

Is Facebook Taking Their New 20% Rule Too Far?

The link to the full story is here

I am sure most of you have heard by now about the “20% rule” that Facebook recently instituted for advertisers and page administrators. If not, the basic premise of the rule is that any image in a Facebook ad can have no more than 20% text. This goes for traditional ("like") ads and sponsored ads. The rule also applies to page cover images.

Facebook always has their eye on the customer experience, as they should, and this new regulation no doubt addresses an area that they must have seen as exploitable and threatening. Given the growing adoption rate of newsfeed ads, it makes sense that Facebook would be concerned about the content that they are inserting into the news feeds of unsuspecting users.

Generally, Facebook is very lax in enforcing their page guidelines. Just go through your page feed right now and click on a few of the pages. I am sure you will see promotional language in cover images and maybe even a non-app contest: both grounds for a nastygram from Palo Alto, if caught. The problem is that with hundreds of thousands of pages in existence, it is very difficult to police all of them regularly.

Well, Facebook is taking the new 20% rule very seriously. Not only have they been rejecting countless ads that are submitted for approval, but they have been going through advertiser accounts and rejecting paused ads for violating the rule. Fine, right? Facebook has all the right in the word to reject these ads if they violate the rules.

How Facebook Can Break Into The Markets Of Craigslist And Ebay

The link to the full story is here

Facebook is moving to position itself as the hub of all interest-based communities (Pinterest, Spotify, Foodspotting, and Goodreads, for example) with its open graph platform. The people we follow in these networks are not necessarily our friends, but people whose content interests us. At the end of the day, all of these communities are peer-to-peer. Facebook can reimagine two big peer-to-peer markets with real identity, discovery, and imitation enabled by open graph at the center.

The classifieds marketplace is currently being cannibalized by services that operate in vertical niches. Here are list of few businesses that have been cannibalizing Craigslist:

Airbnb, Roomorama, 9flats  (sublets/temporary section)
Zillow, Trulia (real estate section)
Dogvacay (pet services section)
Indeed, Simplyhired (jobs section)
Sittingaround (childcare section)
The problem for anyone starting a new classifieds site on the web is twofold:

Getting the people who have the need (e.g., apartment searchers)
Getting people to serve the need (e.g., people who want to rent out apartments)
In short, the problem is discovery.

Facebook is very good at discovery and with 1 billion users — one-half of whom log in everyday — it is in a unique position to partner with niche companies and bring their listings together to form a full-fledged classifieds site.

The listings on a Facebook classifieds site could be populated by:

Its partners (Airbnb, Taskrabbit, Etsy, etc).
Facebook users who submit listings on to the site directly.
On the classifieds site, Facebook could take a cut out of every night booked, every task completed, every caretaker’s service requested, every service requested from a lawyer, for every job applied, for every gadget sold, etc.

Services like Airbnb, LegalZoom, and Gazelle could push all of their listings data to Facebook happily because this will help them promote their services to 1 billion-plus people, instead of them having to spend millions of dollars on marketing.

Facebook can innovate heavily in the way it sources listings data, bypassing the middlemen.With the data Facebook already has, it can personalize the listings data heavily (an engineer will be shown just the engineering jobs around him, and not the sales jobs).

Facebook can launch the classified service as a separate property, then integrate it with Facebook so users can access the service directly from the Facebook homepage and navigate through it seamlessly.

Facebook tests new version of Offers to increase conversions, give users control when they share with friends

The link to the full story is here

Facebook is testing a new version of its Offers product, which gives users the option to shop immediately or get a reminder before the promotion ends. The interface also lets users decide if and when to share the offer with friends.

The new implementation could be more effective in leading to direct sales for retailers, while helping users remember to take advantage of the offers they’re interested in and giving them more control over how their activity is shared.

A Facebook spokesperson says the company is working with a few global retailers for this test, but for now other pages aren’t affected and their offers will continue to appear in the original format.

For e-commerce offers in the test, users will see two buttons: “Shop Now” and “Remind Me.” Previously, users could only select “Get Offer.” When users click “Shop Now,” they will be taken directly to a retailer’s website. When they click “Remind Me,” users will be sent an email and at a later date will be reminded with a notification on Facebook. It is up to each retailer when they will remind users about their promotion, but they can only send one notification per offer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Importance of Social Media in a Constantly Changing World

The link to the full story is here

In an era where things seem to be changing with every tick of the clock, businesses both large and small have a multitude of mediums where a company can advertise and market their brand to potential consumers. Some of these mediums that can be used are traditional ones such as flyers, billboards, television commercials, and radio; but these strategies can be rather expensive for many companies to produce.

There is an array of different ways a business can market its name publically using inexpensive techniques such as internet social media. Using social media is most beneficial for small businesses that may not have a lot of expendable money to use on traditional marketing and advertising techniques, this is especially the case for businesses that are just in their beginning or start up phase.

On these various social media websites, an individual has the opportunity to let the general public know more about their business. Any person working for that company can write a short blog detailing what their business' mission or objective is, something new and exciting about their company, or anything that the company feels is important that the the public should be aware of.

Using social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Linkedin, gives businesses a great opportunity to connect with customers and potential consumers directly which gives any company the chance to fix a problem, relay important news, answer various questions, refer a person to someone to contact, as well as various other doors social media opens. The opportunity to have direct contact with consumers as well as make any changes or provide a service immediately cannot be underestimated in a time where there is a constant changing landscape in the business world.

Octofeed transforms your Facebook default interface into beautiful design

The link to the full story is here

Want to see your Facebook posts and pictures into completely new layout?Then try Octofeed, which transforms your Facebook default interface into simple,clean and elegant UI.

All you have to do is login with Facebook account and allow Octofeed to access your basic information.Then it starts collecting facebook feed data which is presented to you in a beautiful two-column layout.The images are left with their original dimensions and the text is shifted to right including standard comment and like button.

The great thing about this latest project is that the feeds are reformatted depending on the size of the screen.Something like responsive websites do beautifully.Octofeed is still in the experimentation stage.Expect many more features to arrive from the developers in the near future.

Are Businesses Becoming the New Big Brother in Social Media?

The link to the full story is here

Social media represents a new frontier in customer engagement. Not only can companies participate in conversations, a dizzying array of tools now help them listen to conversations as well. This isn’t news though. Everyone understands the importance of social media in business right? We all know that customers are demanding that businesses use social media to listen to ideas, engage them in conversations, and also solve their problems when in need. As I’ve often said, the best listeners often make the most engaging conversationalists.

Not so fast.

Perhaps what we think we know and what customers may actually want in social media represent an unforeseen gap that requires further consideration. According to a joint study published today by NetBase and J.D. Power and Associates, a double standard may exist in social media customer service where consumers say that listening is intrusive except when it’s not.

Cue the screeching brakes…


Social media listening is largely recognized as the new standard in community management. Listening after all is how companies can learn how to better serve and engage customers. And, doing so can improve sentiment and also foster stronger relationships, build communities, and encourage loyalty and advocacy.

Yet, your customers may not welcome your good intentions.

This creates an interesting dilemma as improving listening is a top goal for businesses this year. My colleagues at Altimeter Group found as part of its upcoming Social Business Strategies Survey that 42% of companies indicated that “listening/learning from customers” is a top three priority for 2013.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Google Brings Hangouts In Gmail To India

The link to the full story is here

Just before launching its latest general update to Google Hangouts, Google also recently announced that it is bringing its new group video chat tool to India. Just like in other countries, Google is replacing its current plugin-based Gmail video chat system with Hangouts in India, allowing its users there to chat with up to 9 people at a time (or just have a 1:1 chat like before).

With today’s larger update, Google introduced a bandwidth slider that allows users to switch of to adjust how much bandwidth they are using for Hangout – something especially important in countries where high-speed connections aren’t all that prevalent. Google also made an audio-only made available with this update (other participants will just see your avatar) and the service already offered an ultra-low bandwidth mode since last year.

Google first introduced Hangouts in Gmail in the middle of last year.

Astronauts Will Tackle Your Questions In A Google+ Hangout From The International Space Station

The link to the full story is here

Getting a glimpse into the lives of astronauts in space has been de rigueur since the days of the Apollo program, but actually interacting with those busy space-dwellers? That’s a much more modern trend, and one that NASA seems eager to continue.

To that end, NASA recently announced that U.S. astronauts Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency would be fielding questions in what the organization is billing as the first Google+ hangout from the International Space Station at 11AM Eastern on February 22.

It wouldn’t be the first time some of these guys have engaged with the earthbound masses — Hadfield in particular is no stranger to this sort of thing since he hosted an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit back in December just a few days before he strapped into a Soyuz and blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Since then he’s also engaged in a bit of back and forth with wannabe spacefarer William Shatner on Twitter, a conversation that eventually drew in other Star Trek alumni and none other than Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the surface of the moon.

Agencies like NASA have been working to expand their influence in social channels for years now, and thankfully so far things seem to be going well — NASA is coming up on the four-year anniversary of its first NASA Tweetup event, and expanded its presence on Facebook and Google+ in 2012. As one of the resident space nerds here, I’m convinced that the traditional means of space travel and exploration are in dire need of disruption, and by socially engaging with space enthusiasts young and old, NASA may be helping to inspire a new generation of skyward thinkers.

Curious about the ins and outs of months spent in microgravity? I can’t blame you given that space travel (or even just hanging out in low earth orbit) isn’t the sort of thing most of us are going to experience anytime soon, but do try to avoid some of these cliches should you decide to ask a question. Speaking of which, you have until February 12 to submit your queries in the form of a 30-second YouTube video (don’t forget the hashtag #askAstro), and tweets and Google+ posts tagged with #askAstro will be considered as well.

Google Integrates Third-Party Web Apps More Deeply Into Google Drive

The link to the full story is here

Google just added the equivalent of an app store to Google Drive that lets you find Drive-enabled third-party apps like HelloFax, SlideRocket and the Open Office Document Reader right from within the service. Once installed, these apps now also live right in the Google Drive ‘Create’ menu. Until now, users had to go through the Chrome Web Store to find Drive-enabled third-party apps.

As Google’s Nicolas Garnier writes this morning, the Drive SDK allows developers to offer users “an experience similar to how Google Docs and Google Sheets interact with Drive.” Currently, there are about a hundred web apps that use the Drive SDK to integrate with Google Drive. This integration, for example, includes the ability to open files in a third-party app directly from the Drive UI and to start new documents from the Google Drive ‘Create’ menu, as well as ways to export and convert Google Docs.

In this new iteration of Google Docs, these third-party apps also get first billing in the ‘Create’ menu and a new “Connect Your Apps” button at the bottom of the menu puts a stronger spotlight on this slowly growing ecosystem of Drive-connected apps.

Developers who currently list their Drive-enabled apps in the Chrome Web Store won’t have to do anything new. The information will automatically be pulled into Google Drive collection.

Twitter Allows You To View Your Profile In LOLcats In Preparation For 2014 IPO

The link to the full story is here

In an obvious move to position the company towards a planned 2014 IPO, Twitter has today enabled LOLcats translation capabilities for its user profiles.

The translation of the sometimes obtuse service into the tired but still kind of funny LOLcats meme is meant to serve as a stepping stone in the startup’s efforts to eventually please the fickle financial markets. This is the latest in a series of strategic moves by Twitter in its plan to go public.

Building up to LOLcats, the company has allowed for employee liquidity in a series of two tender offers and launched video with the help of recent acquisition Vine. It recently scooped up TV analytics startup Bluefin Labs to further solidify its foray into video.

The Blackrock tender offer valued the company at $9 billion, with employees being offered $17 a share, but we’ve heard that the market value for Twitter shares is closer to $20 per share, as evidenced in this subsequent valuation report from Dan Primack. It’s rumored that the company expects to bring in $1 billion in revenue by the end of 2013.

We’ve been hearing from multiple sources that the company hopes to IPO around this time next year — and that the s-1 document should drop by the second half of this one. Taking a cue from Facebook, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently told the WSJ that “making Twitter more understandable to newcomers so the service can crack one billion users” was the company’s top priority.

As it stares down the road to the NASDAQ, Twitter has become notoriously tight with liquidity, trying to avoid emulating a Facebook situation where many institutional investors already owned shares before it went public. Facebook allowed users to translate its profile pages into Pirate before its IPO, though it’s still unclear what effect that had on the stock.

Amex Launches Pay By Tweet, Turns Purchases Into Adverts

The link to the full story is here

American Express has extended its Twitter sync feature to enable customers who have synced their Amex account information with Twitter to also pay for certain products by tweeting purchase hashtags.

Amex launched its original Twitter Sync feature last March — to allow customers get discount deals by tweeting offer hashtags. Now the card company has gone a step further by integrating payment into Twitter. Payments are made by tweeting a purchase hashtag, and retweeting the confirmation tweet from Amex within 15 minutes of receiving it. The product will then be shipped to the account billing address synced with Twitter, and payment taken from your synced Amex account.

The payment service is limited to participating merchants and products for now (and appears to be U.S.-only too) —  namely a limited number of American Express Gift Cards, and products from Amazon, Sony, Urban Zen and Xbox 360. The $25 American Express Gift Card was made available yesterday, at a discounted price of $15 and the hashtag #BuyAmexGiftCard25.

For A Brief, Terrible Moment, Facebook Connect Broke A Bunch Of Websites, But It Says We Can All Breathe Easy Now

The link to the full story is here

Well, that’s embarrassing.

Earlier this afternoon, as covered by AllThingsD and a number of sites, a Facebook Connect glitch caused serious problems on websites including the Huffington Post, Salon,, CNN, Yelp, and others.

Apparently, if you were logged into Facebook, when you visited one of those sites, you’d get redirected to, where you’d then get an error message. Users could resolve the issue by logging out.

The problem was fixed pretty quickly, and a Facebook spokesperson sent me the following statement: “For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people logging in with Facebook from third party sites to The issue was quickly resolved, and Login with Facebook is now working as usual.”

Even though the situation appears to be resolved, I’m guessing that a bunch of publishers are all feeling a little more uneasy about their Facebook Connect integration. And if we don’t see a more in-depth explanation/apology from Facebook in the next day or so, I’d be pretty surprised.