Monday, March 31, 2014

Twitter Having Problems Being Public Company

This is an excellent and in my opinion a spot on blog about Twitter. Eric Jackson hits the nail on the head on alot of his points.

In case you missed it, Twitter (TWTR) is having big problems as a public company.

They don’t have a problem with their core product. Its users seem to adore it. And it’s not a problem with making ad money from it. All indications are that that’s going swimmingly.

The problem is that its executives are worried that not enough people use it. And, because of this, they feel external pressure – from Wall Street – to increase the number of users it has and how often people use the service.

Since it was founded, Twitter has always been compared to Facebook(FB). Twitter’s always been smaller but it’s felt that they were more ideally situated to take advantage of the shift to mobile. Facebook was built in a PC era; Twitter was originally built to be an SMS app (later adapted to PCs). It had mobile flowing through its blood from birth.

But one of Facebook’s – under-appreciated – geniuses has always been its mass appeal. It was so easy, even your mom and dad could use it. Combine that with a winner-take-all phenomenon which occurred at the end of the last decade when it dramatically expanded into basically all the geographies around the world and Facebook was able to very quickly get to over 1 billion users (now at 1.2 billion monthly active users).

Twitter has always had the ambition of growing to similarly large numbers of users, but their growth has really stalled out in the last year at around 241 million users.

Just last week, it was reported that Instagram – now owned by Facebook – will surpass Twitter in users by the end of this year.

Twitter’s growth flat line – which applies internationally as well as domestically — has created a crisis of confidence within the upper ranks of Twitter – especially since it’s playing out in the first few months after the company held its IPO.

The reaction by Twitter seems to have been to broaden the appeal of the product to the masses. Grandma doesn’t know what an “@” sign or a hashtag is, so let’s try and make the product easier to use. Let’s add photo-tagging. Let’s add more frequent notifications that tell me two people I follow are having a conversation about the Academy Awards, so that maybe I’ll join in.

As someone who joined Twitter in 2007 and use it at least 50x more than I use Facebook, the effects of all these Twitter product tweaks has been to water it down and make me less (not more) interested in using it.

Now, I’m not grandma. So maybe the calculus by CEO Dick Costolo and others is: who cares? Maybe they believe the Twitter die-hards like me will always use Twitter. This is all about onboarding the normals, come hell or high water.

These product tweaks won’t make me likelier to use Facebook. But it will make me likelier to seek out what’s next – probably through messaging apps.

I would argue that Twitter doesn’t have a product problem or an ad problem. The company built a great product with a lot of appeal. The reality might be that there is a ceiling to the number of users who will use it.

And maybe that’s ok.

It’s madness to try and dilute Twitter down into a Facebook clone. Costolo and the board might “think” that’s what Wall Street wants from them, but guess what Wall Street will do to the stock if the core Twitter users start disengaging en masse? If you think they have a growth problem now, just wait. All the Wall Street friends who wanted Twitter to grow more will turn around and start selling the stock because of rapid disengagement of Twitter’s core users.

Fickle, thy name is Wall Street.

Twitter shouldn’t be changing its core product to get more growth. They should be buying totally new companies which are just about to grow in adjacent areas, using their wildly (still) over-priced stock.

Essentially, they should start following the Facebook playbook of buying any leading company in an adjacent space that’s a threat.

They should have bought Instagram, but they didn’t go public soon enough and were at a disadvantage in bidding compared to Facebook.

They should have bought a messaging app when they were cheaper, giving up on idea that their direct messaging would be able to keep pace.

And now they would be crazy not to make a run at a messaging app like Kik, even if it meant giving up a significant portion of their shrinking in value shares.

Twitter as a company is still valued at $28 billion. That’s 33% below its all time highs around $70. But, to me, it’s still crazily over-priced, given their stagnant growth. Twitter would do well to use that currency to pick off an emerging giant like Kik with that stock — even if it had to do it at a huge price relative to the traditional Twitter business.

Costolo needs to skate where the puck is going – not where it’s been.

Allowing Twitter users to photo-tag each other? Please.

Let Twitter remain a niche – but a wonderfully rich and unique niche that no one else can imitate. Don’t turn it into some milquetoast version of Facebook.

2 Year Old Google+ More Popular Then Twitter

I have said for a long time that Google+ will be the dominant number 2 social networking site in the world. They will eventually make a run at Facebook.

Garett Sloane reports that Google Plus has the same number of U.S. users as Twitter and more opportunity for brands, according to a new survey from Forrester Research. Google Plus, the two-year old network that put social in the search giant, is far from a ghost town as some have called it, the survey said.

In fact, 22 percent of people in a 60,000-person survey said they visit Google Plus monthly, the same percentage as people who said they visit Twitter. Of course, 72 percent visit Facebook monthly. Google Plus visitors topped LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.

Nate Elliott, the Forrester researcher who found that brands are having a tougher time reaching Facebook users without paid campaigns, did the study.

“Put simply, Google Plus isn’t the Facebook killer some hoped it would be,” Elliott wrote on his blog today. “But that doesn’t mean marketers should ignore Plus. Far from it: I believe every marketer should use Google Plus.”

Elliott found that top brands have about 90 percent as many Google Plus fans as they have Twitter followers, on average.

“The brands we studied have more followers on Google Plus than on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram combined,” Elliott wrote.

The report also found that Google Plus fans engage more with brand posts than they do on Twitter. Google says it has more than 300 million monthly users, which is more than Twitter at 240 million, but Nielsen has found people spend little time on Google Plus.

A recent New York Times Article called it a "ghost town," but that was met by some passionate fans, who disagreed with the comparison. Still, most marketers advise brands to have a presence on Google Plus because it can affect search positions.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Google Stock To Split

On April 3rd Google will do a 2-1 split of their stock thus dropping their price in half.

With shares at $1130.00 per this is a smart move for them. This will make it more manageable for the common man to own at least 1 share.

Though with my incredible accuracy for picking what will happen to tech stocks I predict the following.

April 3rd Google Stock will drop in half as stated. Lets say $565 a share.

By April 11 the stock will be up around 5% from the split price.
By end of July the stock will be around 680 a share.
By end of December around 740 a share.
By April 3rd of 2015 Google will be around 890 a share.

Now, this is all my opinion but I tell you Google is a strong buy and has been for a long time.

LinkedIn New Feature Content Marketing Score

LinkedIn keeps pounding out the new features with a Trending Content Marketing Score.
With their stock price taking a hit they have been putting out new features to help show their value.
This update is a really nice feature for businesses
LNKD is currently trading at 190.67 a share.

We know that for brands, building relationships through a content strategy is a marathon, not a sprint; it’s a fact of content marketing. You need a long-term view that requires you to be truly helpful to your customers in order to be relevant to them.
But wouldn’t it be great to know how effective your content marketing efforts are?
Well, you’re not alone. The Content Marketing Institute recently surveyed B2B marketers and found that while 93% use content marketing, only 42% consider themselves effective at it.
We saw a challenge to meet: one that may be a tall order, but one that we address for content marketers using LinkedIn with the launch of the Content Marketing Score, an analytics resource that gives you insight into the impact of your paid and organic content on LinkedIn. It’s a simple score calculated by measuring unique engagement (gauged through social actions), divided by your total target audience.
Now you can calculate the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts with the new LinkedIn Content Marketing Score.
Here’s how the Content Marketing Score works. It measures member engagement with your Sponsored Updates, Company Pages, LinkedIn Groups, employee updates, and Influencer posts (if applicable). It then gives you a single score, ranked against your competitive set. You will also get recommendations about how to improve your score based on different levers you can pull to give you more reach, frequency and engagement.  You can filter your score by region, seniority, company size, job function, and industry.
By tracking performance on a monthly basis, you get a powerful snapshot on how well you are engaging with your audience over time. With this knowledge, you’ll be empowered to upgrade your strategy to optimize engagement within your target.
Today we’re also introducing Trending Content, a ranking of topics that resonate with LinkedIn members. Whether it’s topics about leadership or entrepreneurship, cloud computing, or mobile devices, you can see which topics matter to your target audience, and which members are engaging with the most content on any given subject.
We created these resources with our customers in mind, who we know are looking for ever more actionable insights into their performance. They want to understand how the reach, frequency, and engagement of their content performs with their desired audience, how it compares with their competitors, and how it’s changing over time.
Together these resources will not only quantify your content influence on LinkedIn, but they’ll also enhance your relevance. We’re thrilled to make both Content Marketing Score and Trending Content available upon request so that you’re able to approach your content marketing efforts strategically.

The Connectivity Lab At Facebook

Facebook announced the Connectivity Lab at Facebook, a team that is working on new aerospace and communication technologies to advance the mission of improving and extending internet access. 
The Lab, which includes some of the world’s top experts from Ascenta, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Ames Research Center, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, is already working on new delivery platforms including planes and satellites to provide connectivity. 

To learn more, visit

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Turkish Court Overturns the Government’s Ban on Twitter

Sebnem Arsu reports that A court in Turkey ruled on Wednesday that the government could not ban Twitter, as it sought to do five days ago, and ordered the country’s telecommunications authority to restore access to the service. The action by the government had been met inside and outside the country with an uproar about respect for freedom of expression.

It was not immediately clear whether the ruling would be appealed or overtaken by a new court order.

The court in Ankara, the capital, ruled in response to complaints by Turkey’s bar association and its journalists’ union, arguing that the attempt to block Twitter contravened the freedom of information and communication. The prohibition has been widely bypassed by Twitter users, who have reached the service through alternative channels.

The telecommunications authority imposed the ban on the ground that Twitter refused to remove content that violated personal privacy. But government critics had used Twitter to publicize leaked recordings of telephone conversations that were said to show widespread corruption among government officials and people close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including his son. Mr. Erdogan said his adversaries had fabricated the recordings.

Twitter welcomed the ruling, saying that the government ban had been disproportionate and illegal and that the complaints the government had about content had already been addressed.

Legal experts said on Wednesday that the telecommunications authority had the right to appeal the Ankara court’s ruling, but that it should comply and end its attempts to block Twitter. A statement from the Justice Ministry hinted at a delay, saying that the authority had 30 days to comply and that a regional administrative court would have the final say in the case.

Yet another court, the Constitutional Court, was expected to rule on a separate complaint about the Twitter ban, filed by two academic experts on cyberlaw who asserted that the blocking of Twitter infringed on a constitutional right to information.

“We welcome the ruling of the Ankara court, but remain concerned,” said one of the two experts, Yaman Akdeniz of Bilgi University in Istanbul. He said he and the other expert, Kerem Altiparmak of Ankara University, expected the Constitutional Court to agree with the Ankara court. They filed a similar complaint on Wednesday at the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Erdogan has continued to assail Twitter, saying the ban will remain in place unless the service complies with local Turkish court rulings to remove some content. Twitter’s general counsel said in a statement that the company had already complied, by suspending two accounts that violated its rules and blocking content of a third from being visible to Turkish users.

Mr. Erdogan also criticized YouTube, which like Twitter has been used to publicize leaked telephone conversations and videos.

“What is this thing called Twitter, anyway?” Mr. Erdogan said late Tuesday on NTV, a privately owned Turkish news channel. “It is a company, involved in communication, social media, et cetera. Now, you look at it and actually see YouTube behind this. They do not have a representative here, but work with the lawyers of YouTube.” He seemed to be referring to the fact that Twitter had hired the same law firm that YouTube used during a dispute with the Turkish authorities in 2008.

Twitter Releases New Features In Mobile Update

Twitter has rolled out two new mobile features that make photos on Twitter more social. One is photo tagging, which lets you tag the people in your photo; the other is the ability to include up to four photos in a Tweet.

Tag up to 10 people in a photo
Tagging people in a picture makes conversations around photos fun and easy. And tagging doesn’t affect character count in the Tweet — you can tag up to 10 people in a photo and still have all 140 characters at your disposal, making it easier to connect with your friends. If you’re the one being tagged, you’ll get a notification.

Share up to 4 photos in a single Tweet
You can also share a series of photos that automatically create a collage. Just tap on a preview to get the full image and slide through the group. The ability to upload multiple photos is starting to roll out today on iPhone. The Android is coming soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Facebook Expands Capabilities Of Lookalike Audience

For marketers, getting the right messages in front of the right people is key. Today we’re announcing the global rollout of lookalike audiences, a targeting feature that helps advertisers reach new customers and grow their businesses.
Lookalike audiences helps advertisers to reach potential customers who share similar characteristics with their current ones. Both online and offline, lookalike targeting has worked well for businesses so we are excited to launch it as a targeting option on Facebook. This feature will be available in power editor starting this week.

Lookalike audiences builds off of a targeting feature we launched last fall called custom audiences. Custom audiences lets marketers take their current customer lists and show ads to those people on Facebook. Now with lookalike audiences, Facebook can use attributes like interests or demographics and show ads to people who share common attributes as their existing customers. Advertisers can serve any type of Facebook ad to these new groups of people potential customers.

We've seen this new type of targeting drive a wide range of success metrics for direct response companies like Fab, including lower cost per checkout, lower cost per acquisition, larger purchase size, and faster and increased return on investment.

Facebook Buys Virtual Reality Company Oculus

It would appear Facebook is going into the wearable social media platform with the purchase of Oculus.

Mark Zuckerberg states Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we're in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.

This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you're actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it's different from anything they've ever experienced in their lives.

Oculus's mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.

Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won't be changing and we hope to accelerate. The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there's a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.

But this is just the start. After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home.

This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.

The deal was worth 400 million dollars and 1.6 billion in stock for a nice 2 billion total.

Facebook was scrutinized for being slow to get into the mobile world by some. This move puts them right behind Google for wearable devices.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Google Glass Inks Deal With Luxottica

Google has inked a deal with Luxottica for their Google Glass.
This deal is a monster in my opinion and a great move for Google.

Will you purchase a pair of them? Personally, I can't wait to get my hands on a pair

Here is the release from Google.

We’ve got some big news to share as we announce today that we have agreed to join forces with Luxottica. The Luxottica Group is a leader in premium, luxury and sports eyewear with over 5,000 optical and sun retail stores in the US and has a strong, well-balanced brand portfolio that includes Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue-Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli and Arnette.

When the first eyeglasses appeared in the 13th century, they took off and over the next 700 years, they evolved over and over, with the first bifocals appearing in the 18th century, and the monocle and sunglasses shortly after. Nowadays, glasses are global phenomenon – a reflection of both function and fashion.

We see Glass as the next chapter in this long story. Light, simple and modular, Glass introduces new functionality as your glasses get smarter – but bringing your own style to Glass is just as important. Earlier this year, we launched the Titanium Collection, designed by the Glass team. Between frames, shades, and colors, there are over 40 different ways for Explorers to make Glass their own today… but that’s not enough.

Luxottica understands how to build, distribute and sell great products that their clients and consumers love – something we care deeply about at Glass, too. They’ll bring design and manufacturing expertise to the mix, and, together, we’ll bring even more Glass style choices to our Explorers. In addition, Luxottica’s retail and wholesale distribution channels will serve us well when we make Glass available to more people down the road.

You’re not going to see Glass on your favorite Oakleys or Ray-Bans tomorrow, but today marks the start of a new chapter in Glass’s design. Excited? Because we definitely are.

Facebook Answers Questions About Latest Update

Facebook has released a post about the latest update to the business pages.
They explain in depth the updates and how it will effect you.

Top 5 Questions about the Update to Pages

Since announcing the updates to Pages, we’ve received lots of questions from people wondering how these changes — like the updated timeline design, easier access to admin tools and the introduction of Pages to Watch — will impact them. Here are answers to the questions we heard most frequently.
1. What information will appear in the left-side column of my Page?
It will vary from business to business. If you’re a business with a brick-and-mortar location, the left-side column will show a map, phone number, hours of business, likes and visits, information about your business, apps (if relevant), photos, videos, reviews, posts to your Page and the Pages your Page likes.

For businesses that operate primarily online, the left-side column will show: likes, information about your business, apps (if relevant), photos, videos, posts to Page and the Pages your Page likes.
Admins will also soon be able to rearrange the order in which these sections appear in the left-side column.
2. Where will my apps appear?
Apps can appear in two locations: in the left-side column, or in the top navigation menu. Similar to the sections listed above, admins will soon have the ability to rearrange the order in which apps appear.
3. Where can I view messages?
Pages that have activated messages can view them in two locations: the Activity tab at the top of the Page, above the cover photo; or in the This Week box that runs along the right side of the Page.
4. Will other Pages know I’ve added them to my Pages to Watch list?
Admins receive a notification whenever their Page is added to another Page’s watch list. The notification indicates that their Page has been added to a list, but does not disclose the name of the Page that added them.
5. When will I have access to the updated design for Pages?
So far, the updated Pages design has rolled out to a small number of Pages. We’ll continue the rollout over the next several weeks.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Google+ Is A Must

If you are one of these people who think Google+ is just a knock off or a waste of time or even a second rate social network you are wrong. Dead wrong.

According to The New York Times, 540 million people per month are active on Google+. That number is staggering considering when Google+ started.

Remember this, some of your prospective customers are on Google+ and the only thing that’s missing is you.

Google Hangouts are absolutely awesome.

With just the click of a few buttons, you can message or video chat with virtually anyone, from friends to customers. Several companies are utilizing Google Hangouts to connect with their customers in a more intimate way.

I think one of the most important things to remember is that Google will index their own content quicker then anyone else. So your blogs and posts will index quickly and show up in Google searches quicker giving you and your brand more awareness.

Bottom line is this. If your a business and have a Facebook page you should have a Google+ page as well.

Remember, Google+ is connected to Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, AdWords, Blogger, and Google Search.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Turkey Says No To Twitter

Banning Social Media happens around the globe. Why? Well I believe you will get different answers depending on where you live. But if you live in a place where social media is banned I say move. 
Run. Get out quickly. If your government bans a social media outlet then it is not a place I ever want to see or go to.

According to reports this is again happening in Turkey.

Terrence Mccoy of the Washington post reports that the Turkey government now have a court order,” declared Erdogan, who’s ensnared in a scandal inflamed by social media over recordings that purportedly reveal corruption in his administration. “We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”

There’s no arguing: it has been witnessed.

After Turkey’s Twitter was apparently disabled, the hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey went supernova, though Twitter is still accessible via the site’s SMS service, which allows Turks to text in a tweet.

President Abdullah Gul, a political ally of Erdogan’s, was among those who circumvented the order, which he contested in a series of tweets. “I hope this implementation won’t last long,” he wrote. Many — although not all — users trying to access the network early on Friday instead saw a notice from Turkey’s telecommunications authority, citing four court orders.

From across the world last night, thousands of Twitter users dispatched outraged — and sometimes hilarious — updates and photos touching upon feelings of dismay, humor, resignation.

As in other countries, social media played a major role in the protests, which included as many as 3.5 million people in a nation of 81 million. Erdogan was outraged and called all social media the “worst menace to society.”

His opposition to social media comes as something of a surprise considering Erdogan has fully embraced other new technologies. In January, when Erdogan couldn’t make it to a party meeting to deliver a speech, he sent a 10-foot hologram of himself to deliver remarks. It represented perhaps the first time any leader of any country had actually teleported.

But over the last few months, as elections approached, social media has really gotten under Erdogan’s skin. This, despite the fact that Erdogan, who doesn’t follow anyone, has amassed 4.17 million Twitter followers and unleashed 3,043 tweets.

Two weeks ago, after the February release of recordings which show someone sounding like Erdogan telling his son to dispose of a large sum of cash, the prime minister went ballistic. He called the recordings a “fabrication” and ultimately blamed social media.

“We are determined on the issue, regardless of what the world may say,” Erdogan said. “We won’t allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others. Whatever steps need to be taken we will take them without wavering.”

Then this week arrived. The issue of social media again arose. The Supreme Electoral Board had blocked an intense Erdogan YouTube video ad depicting the desecration of the Turkish flag, presumably by Erdogan’s enemies, and then thousands of Turks, presumably his supporters, coming to the rescue. The board said the ad had misusednational symbols. Erdogan threatened to “ban the ban.”

“Then we will ban that,” he said. “We will bring a ban to the ban.”

Thursday, Erdogan had had enough of Twitter. “We will wipe out all of these,” Erdogan proclaimed.

Hours later, according to local media, anyone in Turkey who tried to access Twitter was directed to another website listing three court rulings as reason for the shutdown.

But before that, Erdogan squeezed in one last tweet. At 1 p.m. — ban or no ban — he tweeted to his followers his video of Turks swarming a flag like bees to honeycomb.

New Code From Facebook

Cade Metz reports Facebook engineers Bryan O’Sullivan, Julien Verlaguet, and Alok Menghrajani spent the last few years building a programming language unlike any other.

Working alongside a handful of others inside the social networking giant, they fashioned a language that lets programmers build complex websites and other software at great speed while still ensuring that their software code is precisely organized and relatively free of flaws — a combination that few of today’s languages even approach. In typical Facebook fashion, the new language is called Hack, and it already drives almost all of the company’s website — a site that serves more than 1.2 billion people across the globe.

“We can say with complete assurance that this has been as battle-tested as it can possibly be,” says O’Sullivan, a veteran of iconic tech companies Sun Microsystems and Linden Lab who has long played an important role in a popular language called Haskell.

O’Sullivan and company publicly revealed their new language this morning, and at the same time, they “open sourced” it, sharing the technology with the world at large and encouraging others not only to use it, but to help improve it.

The software world is littered with programming languages, and new ones appear all the time. But according to some who have used it or who know the past work of those who built it, Hack has a design and a pedigree that immediately set it apart. “If Bryan O’Sullivan built it,” says programming guru David Pollak, who only yesterday heard about the new language, “I would walk across hot coals to use it.”

When Mark Zuckerberg started work on Facebook in late 2003 — a moment recreated to such great effect in the Hollywood film The Social Network — he used a programming language called PHP. It was one of the most popular web languages of the day — a language that let you build and rebuild sites with extreme speed. PHP is what’s called a dynamically typed language. Basically, this means you needn’t take the time to define specific parameters for each and every routine in your code, and once you finish a piece of code, you can almost instantly run it — without taking additional time to compile it into another form. The code essentially compiles in the background, as you write it.

At a certain size, you’re better off with statically typed languagessuch as Java, where you’re required to carefully define your variable types. You can’t move as fast with these languages — you have to compile code before running it — but you need fewer servers to run your code, and in the long run, it’s easier to manage what you’ve built.For the next decade, Zuckerberg and his rapidly growing company continued to build their site with PHP. It suited “The Hacker Way,” the Zuckerberg coding philosophy that encourages engineers to constantly look for ways of improving the technology at hand. But eventually, as Facebook expanded to hundreds of millions of people, the language started to show its limitations. As a PHP site grows, you need far more computer servers to run the thing than you would with other languages, and it can be difficult to manage all your code and keep it free of bugs.

Last year, after a brainstorm from three top engineers, Facebook solved the server problem by running all its PHP code on a new software creation called HHVM, short for Hip Hop Virtual Machine. HHVM was a new foundation for the Facebook website, letting the company run its site on significantly fewer machines. Now, with Hack, their new programming language, Bryan O’Sullivan and his tiny team have solved the other problem. Hack makes it easier to manage code and eliminate errors.

“It arose out of a desire to improve the efficiency of our developers,” says the Irish-born O’Sullivan. “As our engineering team grew, their own jobs were becoming more complicated because PHP is a dynamically typed language. It made it harder for them to easily apprehend the consequences of some of the work they were doing.”

You can think of Hack as a new version of PHP. It too runs on the Hip Hop Virtual Machine, but it lets coders use both dynamic typing and static typing. This is what’s called gradual typing, and until now, it has mostly been an academic exercise. Facebook, O’Sullivan says, is the first to bring gradual typing to a “real, industrial strength” language.

What this means is that Facebook was able to gradually replace its existing PHP code with Hack — move from the old dynamically typed system to a statically typed arrangement. “It allows you to slide the dial yourself on the continuum between dynamic types and statics — so you can start out with dynamically typed code and then gradually add more statically typed code, benefiting from each little bit of work you do as you go along,” O’Sullivan says.

In doing so, he explains, Facebook built much more precise code — code with fewer flaws. Hack provides a kind of safety net for developers. What’s more, engineers can more easily understand code when they revisit it. Static typing acts a lot like documentation.

But the big trick is that Hack provides these benefits without slowing down the developer: Unlike other statically type languages, Hack can run without compiling. “You edit a file and you reload a webpage and you immediately get the feedback of: Here’s what the page looks like after I made that change. There is no delay,” O’Sullivan says. “You get both safety and speed.”

Nils Adermann, a software engineer and the co-founder of a company called Forumatic, has used the language, and he says he knows of nothing else quite like it. James Miller and Simon Welsh, engineers at a company called PocketRent, who have also used Hack, agree. The closest thing, they say, is Haskell, a statically typed language that provides a way of executing code relatively quickly. But Hack, they indicate, takes the idea much further.

Hack will be particularly attractive, Adermann says, to existing PHP shops. “Ironically,” he says, “its chief advantage is how little it differs from PHP.” Like Facebook, these shops can gradually move their operations from one language to the another. But Adermann also believes that some developers will adopt the language even if they’re not already using PHP. “While PHP is the most widely used language on the web, it’s unpopular in many places because of its inconsistencies,” he says. “Hack addresses these … and thereby makes the language more attractive to users of other languages.”

But the biggest endorsement for the new language is that Facebook already uses it to run its own site, the world’s most popular social network. It’s not every day that a new language debuts with such an impressive track record. Some, however, question whether Hack should really be called a new programming language. There’s a fine line here between an update to PHP and a replacement for PHP. Where does Facebook draw that line? “That,” Sullivan says, “is a good question to discuss late at night over whiskeys.”

Google Blocking NSA With Gmail

This is hopefully going to be the norm. We must continue to fight against the government for our privacy.

CNN Reports that Google just beefed up the security of Gmail to make mass surveillance of its customers' email nearly impossible. It's not quite NSA-proof, but it's close.

To accomplish the feat, Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) secured how you connect to its servers. Gmail is now strictly using a secure communications protocol called HTTPS, which encrypts your email on its entire journey: from your computer to Google, between Google's servers, and from Google to the person receiving your email.

In a blog post Thursday, top Gmail security engineer Nicolas Lidzborski said the increased security was in response to disclosures about government surveillance made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"This ensures that your messages are safe ... something we made a top priority after last summer's revelations," Lidzborski wrote.

Google is trying to limit the abilities of the U.S. government's secretive PRISM program, which can spy on citizens' communications. The NSA declined to comment for this story.

As the New York Times explained last year, government spies have been tapping the fiber-optic cables between big tech companies' data centers. Data typically travels unencrypted between giant computer server farms, allowing for easy interception.

But by encrypting the flow of data between company servers, Google has made that kind of mass collection technologically unfeasible.

"That should be effective," said Mikko Hypponen, a top security researcher in Finland. "By protecting the connection between you and Google servers, they protect you against tons of attackers."

Hypponen explained that the HTTPS encryption method is essentially uncrackable at the moment.

That doesn't stop the federal government from eventually worming its way into your personal data, though. The FBI could still send Google a National Security Letter demanding client records -- something it does all the time. In 2012 alone, Google received Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests on the content of 20,000 to 22,000 users' communications.

Google is taking the kind of approach to combating surveillance that top privacy researchers advocate: Make mass collection unfeasible by making it more difficult and more expensive to accomplish.

"I wouldn't call it NSA-proofing," Eugene H. Spafford, a computer science professor at Purdue University. "But they're doing something reasonable to protect against that and any other similar kind of eavesdropping."

That includes hackers that routinely spy on unsecured Internet connections, including hackers that lurk on public Wi-Fi connections and employers that snoop on workers in the office.

Privacy experts say Google's encryption is long overdue.

"This is something they could have done years ago," Spafford said. "It was a known problem with known solution. They and others have been very slow to adopt it."

The solution also only works if the email stays within Google's walls. The fix won't work if a Gmail user emails someone with a Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) or Yahoo (YHOO,Fortune 500) account, because those companies don't yet support encryption between email providers, according to Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Why haven't they made the change yet?

"Because they're lazy," Soghoian said. "It takes engineers. And these are not features that are salient to regular users. Companies prioritize features that users notice."

In November, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said her company is working on encrypting information that moves between Yahoo servers and its users. She made no mention of that working with outside email providers. But Microsoft is working on all of the above, according to a December blog post from its top attorney, Brad Smith. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Facebook's DeepFace Program

Dino Grandoni of The Huffington Post reports Facebook owns the world's largest photo library, and it now has the technology to match almost all the faces within it. Yes, even the ones you don't tag.

Facebook announced last week that it has developed a program called "DeepFace," which researchers say can determine whether two photographed faces are of the same person with 97.25 percent accuracy.

According to Facebook, humans put to the same test answer correctly 97.53 percent of the time -- only a quarter of a percent better than Facebook's software.

The takeaway: Facebook has essentially caught up to humans when it comes to remembering a face. The program was developed by three in-house Facebook researchers and a professor at Tel Aviv University.

As an example, the developers show in a paper on the program that DeepFace can successfully recognize that this is Academy Award winner Sylvester Stallone.

Here's another example of the program recognizing who we think is Calista Flockhart (a.k.a. "Ally McBeal"). We frankly find it disturbing that we can't tell and it can:

Already, Facebook's facial recognition software is able to suggest friends to tagwhen you upload a photo, using information like the distance between eyes, nose and eyes in profile pictures and already tagged photos. But those results are much more inaccurate than DeepFace, which uses techniques from deep learning, a field of artificial intelligence specializing in understanding irregular types of data.

In order to better match faces, the researchers created a "neural network" in its software meant to imitate animals' central nervous system.

For now the program, first reported on by the MIT Technology Review, is only a research project and will not affect the 1.23 billion people who regularly use Facebook.

But CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expressed deep interest in building out Facebook's artificial intelligence capabilities when speaking to investors in the past. His ambition actually stretches beyond facial recognition to analyzing the text of status updates and comments to decipher mood and context.

There's a business purpose behind all this intellectual enthusiasm: Understanding all the information we post on the social network is central to Facebook's business model, which leverages data to personalize ads so you'll be more likely to click on them.

Facebook's growing ability to recognize you when a friend uploads photos from a vacation together has caught the attention of privacy advocates and government officials alike. For example, more privacy-conscious European governments have already forced Facebook to delete all of its facial recognition data there.

Facebook iOS App Update Shareable Photos

Facebook rolled out an update to its flagship application for iOS, version 8.0, and the one major change is the ability to select specific friends to share photos with, in addition to the already existing options of all friends and smart friend lists.

Version 8.0 of Facebook’s iOS app also features an update that makes it easier for iPad users to post and share, and “improvements for reliability and speed.”

TechCrunch pointed out the similarities between the new “Share with only these friends” option in Facebook’s iOS app and the similar feature in photo-messaging app Snapchat.

Facebook New Timeline Design For Business Live Today

Updated Page timeline design
The right-side column of your timeline now displays all your Page’s posts. This one-column display means that all of your posts will appear consistently on your Page and in News Feed.

The left-side column of your timeline features information about your business, including a map, your hours of business, phone number and website URL, as well as photos and videos.

Easier access to key admin tools
No matter where you are on your Page, you can now view information about the ads you’re running and new likes on your Page, as well unread notifications and messages. You can click on any section in the This Week section for more detail.
We’ve also added new navigation options to the top of the Page, making it easier to access your activity, insights and settings. The Build Audience menu at the top of the Page offers direct access to your Ads Manager account.

Pages to Watch
As we roll out the new design of Pages, we’re also opening up our new Pages to Watch feature in the Page Insights tool to all admins. Pages to Watch allows admins to create a list of Pages similar to their own and compare the performance of their Page with that of the businesses they care about.
On the “Overview” tab of Page Insights admins will see some key stats about the Pages they are watching. The “Posts” tab of Page Insights includes a feature to view the past week’s most engaging posts from the Pages you’re watching.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Twitter Feature Fave People

Sarah Perez says Twitter is experimenting with a new feature called “Fave People,” which allows you to keep track of your favorite Twitter users and accounts in a separate timeline. This feature, essentially a more user-friendly version of Twitter’s “Lists,” recently appeared in the alpha version of Twitter’s Android application – the app where the company tests new features and changes before rolling them out to beta testers, and then, finally, to the general public.

The alpha app currently uses a “swipeable” menu across the top for navigation in between sections like “Home,” “Discover,” “Activity,” and more. “Fave People” has a fairly prominent position there, at least for now, as it’s placed directly to the right of the main (“Home”) timeline. When you tap into this section for the first time, the app explains how “Fave People” works, saying:

Keep track of your favorites

Tap the star icon on the profiles of your favorite people to see their Tweets in this timeline. You can also chose to receive notifications when they tweet from Settings.

A button beneath this message lets you hop into your “Following” section in order to start picking out your favorite fellow Twitter users. This could be a bit of a time-consuming process for those who follow dozens, hundreds or even more, on Twitter. In other words, it’s not necessarily a more efficient means of building a list, compared with the built-in Twitter “Lists” function offered today. It’s really just using more accessible terminology (“Fave People”) to highlight the capabilities of that often overlooked feature.

However, what “Fave People” could do better is to serve as a dedicated section where you can turn on or off Twitter notifications from important accounts. For example, if there are a handful of breaking news sources you follow, you could toggle them on and off here, as need be. You may want to receive notifications from these accounts while particular events are going on, or if you’re following a breaking news story, including, perhaps, an emergency situation. Other times, you may want to disable those alerts in order to get a little peace and quiet.

Note that the appearance of “Fave People” for mobile testers doesn’t necessarily imply that this feature will roll out to the wider public anytime soon. If testers don’t find the feature engaging, Twitter could still scrap it and focus on something else instead.

Google Announced Wearable Devices

Google has announced Android Wear, a version of the operating system designed specifically for wearable devices says Dante D'Orazio. To start with, the system is made for smartwatches, and Google is moving aggressively to make itself the key name in wearables.

The company has released two videos that show off what the watch interface will look like, and from what we've seen, it's very impressive. In addition, Motorola and LG have already revealed their first Android Wear smartwatches, which look more attractive than any smartwatches we've seen to date. Motorola's first device is featured in the picture above and the videos below.

There are several key features that have been announced. Of course, fitness is a key component. Google says that you'll be able to get "real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk." Naturally, that means Google Maps will be built in so that you'll be able to get directions directly from your wrist.

The company will also be using Google Now in the watches. Automatic, passive reminders will be sent to users via their smartwatch. The watches will also connect with Android smartphones so that you'll be able to get all the notifications that you want from whatever apps you have installed on your phone.

You'll also be able to say "OK Google" to perform voice searches, à la Google Now. Lastly, the company is teasing multi-screen functionality from the smartwatches that use the operating system. As an example, Google says that you can use a voice command to cast a video to your Chromecast or get a certain song to play on your phone. It's not hard to imagine more exciting uses for this technology as Google works to get Android into more hardware around the world, such as the connected smarthomes and cars of the future.

Google is working to make sure these watches aren't hideous: Fossil and other "fashion brands" will apparently offer watches using the operating system later this year. The company says it is also already working with current Android partners like Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung on wearables. LG's first device with Android Wear will be called the G Watch, and it's being produced in collaboration with Google just like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 before it. The device will be available in the second quarter of this year.

Today's announcement follows comments from Android and Chrome chief Sundar Pichai at SXSW last week. He confirmed that the company was working on offering tools for developers and manufacturers to make Android better suited for devices such as smartwaches. In addition, Google recently purchased Nest, the makers of the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Protect smoke detector. It's still unclear what role Nest will be taking within the company.

Google isn't offering specific details on when we can expect to see more about Android Wear — or what other devices will use the system in the future — but a preview of the operating system is available now so that developers can make sure their app notifications will work with Wear.

We expect to hear much, much more about Android Wear at Google I/O from June 25th to 26th, which is just a couple of months away. Of particular interest is how Google plans to use Android Wear in other devices beyond smartwatches.

Google Play Hacked

CNN reports that the New Android apps and updates were blocked from appearing in Google's Play Store on Monday, after a hacker attacked Google's app publishing system.

It's an outage you may not notice -- until it holds up the next update to Candy Crush, Plants v. Zombies or Clash of Clans. But developers are furious.

The publishing system known as Google's Developer Console first crashed mid-day Sunday. Many app developers still found themselves blocked from uploading to the Google Play Store on Monday. Some developers noted the issue appeared to be resolved on Monday, but another posted in a Google forum, "problem started again."

Meanwhile, Android users don't have access to new apps and updates. Existing apps are still available for download. Google's (GOOG,Fortune 500) Android software powers nearly 80% of the smartphone market.

Ibrahim Balic, a Turkish hacker, claimed responsibility for the attack. He said the developer console crashed when he tried to test a vulnerability he discovered.

Balic wrote an app to exploit the flaw, which he expected to fail. But he said he didn't expect it to knock everyone offline as well.

Balic pleaded forgiveness from his online peers.

"I didn't have any malicious aim," he told CNNMoney. "I am so sorry for this damage."
He said the site crashed again when he uploaded the app to Google's publishing system a second time.
"I just wanted to be sure about (the) vulnerability," he said.

Balic said he notified Google of the issue but has yet to hear back. Google's press office did not immediately return a request for comment from CNN.

By his own account, this isn't Balic's first joust with smartphone app developers. He claimed to be the intruder behind an attempted hack of Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500)Developer Center last summer.

Android developers blocked from uploads this week voiced their frustration on Google's site and elsewhere online. They wrote in outage reports from Ireland and Israel to Spain and Russia.

"You really uploaded that thing again?" one posted on Reddit. "Now it will be quite hard to explain that it was accidental..."

But amid the grievances, that poster found space for some advice:

"It's quite something what you did, but I would also get a lawyer to be safe."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Windows XP And The Banking System

Chris Merriman reports BANKS are being forced to buy extended support contracts for WindowsXP, in order to avoid being left unprotected when the product reaches end of life in the next few weeks.

Reuters reported that five of the UKs biggest banking organisations - Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays and Santander - have either arranged, or are in the process of arranging deals to buy further time to upgrade their systems and ATM cash dispensers.

Even though the customer facing ATMs run Windows XP Embedded, which is still supported until 2016, many dependent systems that access the internet run standard Windows XP and are susceptible to cyber attacks. Last year two banks were targeted by hackers who were able to insert a KVM switch in order to control computers and divert funds.

A Microsoft spokesman explained, "There are certainly large enterprise customers who haven't finished their migrations yet and are purchasing custom support... The cost will depend on both the specific needs of the customer and what support they already have in place, so it's different for every customer."

Royal Bank of Scotland, which has seen its fair share of IT problems in recent months, has already agreed to a three year deal with Microsoft for extended support, by which time it plans to have finished upgrading its systems to Windows 7.

In the US, banks are avoiding upgrading until systems are upgraded for Chip and Pin, which will be rolled out in the next few years.

Google Drive Price Cut

Frederic Lardinois reports that Google drastically dropped the price for storage on Google Drive this week, to the point where it now undercuts virtually all of its competitors. At $9.99 per month for a terabyte of online storage, Google puts all of its competitors to shame, but there is more going on here than just a price war.

Dropbox wants $9.99/month for 100GB, SugarSync has a $55/month plan for one terabyte of data that is shared by up to three users and Microsoft’s OneDrive, which only features annual plans, starts at 50GB for $25 per year, which is even more expensive than Google’s new $1.99/month for its 100GB plan. Apple wants $100 per year for its 50GB plan.

Maybe even more importantly, Google’s new prices even significantly undercut those of its own cloud storage platform for developers, as well as those of Amazon’s S3 and Microsoft’s Azure storage platforms. That’s where most cloud storage startups host their files (Dropbox uses S3, for example). Those startups that are big enough probably get some discounts for storing extremely large amounts of data on these platforms, but even then, Google’s price for consumers is lower than what developers can get on these platforms.

The price trend for developer cloud storage has always been moving down and Google, Amazon and Microsoft have typically matched each other’s price cuts, so over time, those consumer prices will surely match the wholesale prices again — but probably not for a long time to come.

Given that there is no middle tier between Google’s 100GB and 1TB plans, the company — just like all of its competitors — probably assumes that most users will not use the full amount of available storage anytime soon. For now, however, it also looks like Google is willing to sell its storage at or below cost in order to put pressure on its competition.

Why is Google willing to do this? Obviously, it wants more (paying) users on its platform and an attractive price sure helps, but it’s also about fighting off competitors in a market it doesn’t yet dominate.

But Google Drive isn’t purely about storage; it’s also where Google productivity apps live, and it’s closely linked to its photo sharing/storage tools and Gmail, all of which share the same pool of available online storage.

Dropbox, for many users, is synonymous with cloud storage and syncing. Google Drive isn’t. Microsoft OneDrive is built into Windows 8. Google Drive’s desktop app works, but not quite as well as Dropbox.

What most people love about Google Drive, though, is its collaborative productivity apps. That’s also where Google can expect quite a bit of competition, though. Microsoft is finally taking its free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote seriously and is starting to actually market them. Whatever you think about them, they do have a higher name recognition than Google Docs, Sheets and Slides and for most businesses, Microsoft’s Office suite is still the de-facto standard. Undercutting Microsoft in storage pricing surely isn’t going to hurt Google in its attempt to win over those users.

Google’s announcement of support for third-party add-ons for Docs and Sheets also shows that it believes it needs an active developer ecosystem around these services to compete.

Drive, of course, is also where those images you store on Google+ Photos go. And say what you want about Google+, its photo storage and sharing features (and Google Hangouts) are among its best features. Storage for images under 2048×2048 pixels (that’s about 4.2 megapixel) is even free, though chances are your phone now takes images at a higher resolution, so unless you just want to store low-res backups on Google+ Photos, you will soon start needing Google’s paid plans.

With these recent price cuts, Google locks the competition into a price war where it’s hard to beat because it even undercuts the usual wholesale prices for online storage. At the same time, it’s ramping up investments around its products that use its storage service to shut down competition in that area, too.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Promoted Account Tweets Coming From Twitter

Twitter is adding Promoted Account Tweets for advertisers.

What are Promoted Tweets? 

Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. 

Promoted Tweets are clearly labeled as Promoted when an advertiser is paying for their placement on Twitter. In every other respect, Promoted Tweets act just like regular Tweets and can be re-tweeted, replied to, Favorited and more.

This is what the image will look like unless they change it of course.

Ingrid Lunden says that Adding Promoted Accounts to the desktop Timeline makes sense for Twitter for a number of reasons.

For one, it’s part of Twitter’s bigger push to have more parity between the mobile and desktop experiences — a theme that has also been highlighted with redesigns on the desktop to look more like the mobile product.

It’s also an obvious way of sweetening the deal for brands or individuals who might be considering forking out some money to Twitter to promote an account: more Timeline appearances = more views. Twitter has said that less than 10% of its revenue in the past came from Promoted Trends, so the converse of that is that perhaps something like Promoted Accounts is offering better returns, and this could be a way of extending that.

There is a more user-friendly reason for adding these in, too. Twitter pointed out in February that Timeline views were actually in decline last quarter, and some have pointed to a bigger problem in keeping users engaged in the product. This is one way that Twitter can suggest more accounts to users that might be interesting to them based on their other activity on the platform (I happen to be a bit interested in user privacy and security, and Twitter, so in fact the accounts that were promoted to me make some sense.)

It also fits with a more general statement that Costolo made during Twitter’s first quarterly earnings report.

Premium Video Ads on Facebook

Facebook is releasing Premium Video Adds now.

Press Release is below:

In December, we started testing Premium Video Ads as a way for advertisers to drive branding objectives on Facebook. Starting today, we’re introducing these ads on Facebook with a select group of advertisers.
Premium Video Ads are designed for advertisers who want to reach a large audience with high-quality sight, sound and motion. Each 15-second video ad will start playing without sound as it appears on screen and stop if people scroll past. If people tap the video, it will expand into a full-screen view and sound will start. People can expect to begin seeing these new ads over the next few months.
Premium Video Ads are bought and measured in a way that’s similar to how advertisers already buy and measure ads on TV. The ads are bought based on Targeted Gross Rating Points to reach a specific audience over a short period of time. Delivery is measured by an independent third party, Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR), and advertisers only pay based on what Nielsen OCR measures.
To make sure Premium Video Ads are as good as other content people see in their News Feeds, we’re working with a company called Ace Metrix to help us review and assess how engaging the creative is for each ad — before it appears on Facebook. Ace Metrix will allow us to objectively measure the creative quality of the video in the Facebook environment, and highlight performance indicators for advertisers such as watchability, meaningfulness and emotional resonance. We’re taking this step in order to maintain high-quality ads on Facebook and help advertisers understand what’s working to maximize their return on investment.
With Premium Video Ads, brands now have another way of engaging people on Facebook with compelling video experiences. We’ll roll out Premium Video Ads slowly and monitor how people interact with them. This limited introduction allows us to concentrate our efforts on a smaller number of advertisers with high-quality campaigns to create the best possible experience on Facebook.

LinkedIn Updates TOS

Here is the release from LinkedIn on the newly updated Terms Of Service.

At LinkedIn, we’re committed to putting our members first. We believe it’s essential for you to always feel informed and empowered when it comes to your information on LinkedIn. With this in mind, we wanted to highlight some upcoming changes to our Terms of Service (which includes our User Agreement and Privacy Policy).

Over the past two years, we welcomed SlideShare and Pulse to the LinkedIn platform, and we’ve done a lot to make them a core part of what LinkedIn is today. To further simplify the member experience, we will integrate SlideShare and Pulse’s Terms of Service into LinkedIn’s, so you’ll only have one set of terms to agree to when interacting with LinkedIn properties.

Additionally, we will enable you to discover opportunities and share content across our services. For example, your SlideShare experience can be personalized based on your LinkedIn profile, your network, and your engagement with content from both services. Or with Pulse, we’ll be able to deliver the most relevant personalized professional content to help you stay informed.

Here are some other changes you’ll see in our Terms of Service:

Updates to Our Privacy Policy

Member data. We’ve always had a high bar when it comes to responding to government requests for member data and that hasn’t changed. In Section 2.14, we clarify that we will take steps to let members know about demands for their data unless we’re legally prohibited from doing so or the request is deemed an emergency. We also specify that we may dispute such demands if we believe they are too broad, too vague, or lack proper authority.

Premium services. While it is not new that LinkedIn offers premium services that give our customers access to members’ profiles to generate career and business opportunities, we’ve rewritten Section 2.12 to clarify that our corporate offerings include Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions and Sales Solutions.

Mobile numbers. As LinkedIn expands our services globally, we recognize that the mobile phone has become a ubiquitous communications tool. We’ve updated Section 1.2 to include the forthcoming option to use your mobile number to sign in to LinkedIn.

Update to Our User Agreement

Content Availability. LinkedIn has always operated within the laws and frameworks of the countries in which we operate. We recently launched a LinkedIn site in Simplified Chinese, and as we said at the time of our launch, we may be required by local regulations to remove certain content, which means this content may not be available on LinkedIn in China. While LinkedIn has always reserved the right to remove content (e.g. when it’s hurtful or infringing on others’ rights), we believe it’s important to be transparent that sometimes laws may require us to remove certain content, and we make that clear in Section 4.1.

These changes will take effect on March 26, 2014. See what the new Terms of Service will look like here: User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Google Encryption Troublesome For China And NSA

Good. Anything to confuse the NSA is a good thing to me.

Google has begun routinely encrypting Web searches conducted in China, posing a bold new challenge to that nation’s powerful system for censoring the Internet and tracking what individual users are viewing online according to the The Washington Post

The company says the move is part of a global expansion of privacy technology designed to thwart surveillance by government intelligence agencies, police and hackers who, with widely available tools, can view e-mails, search queries and video chats when that content is unprotected.

China’s Great Firewall, as its censorship system is known, has long intercepted searches for information it deemed politically sensitive. Google’s growing use of encryption there means that government monitors are unable to detect when users search for sensitive terms, such as “Dalai Lama” or “Tiananmen Square,” because the encryption makes them appear as indecipherable strings of numbers and letters.

China — and other nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, that censor the Internet on a national level — will still have the option of blocking Google search services altogether. But governments will have more difficulty filtering content for specific search terms. They also will have more trouble identifying which people are searching for information on sensitive subjects, experts say.

The development is the latest — and perhaps most unexpected — consequence of Edward Snowden’s release last year of National Security Agency documents detailing the extent of government surveillance of the Internet. Google and other technology companies responded with major new investments in encryption worldwide.

Chinese officials did not respond to questions about Google’s decision to routinely encrypt searches there, but the move threatens to ratchet up long-standing tensions between the American tech powerhouse and the world’s most populous nation.

“No matter what the cause is, this will help Chinese netizens to access information they’ve never seen before,” said Percy Alpha, the co-founder of, an activist group that monitors China’s Great Firewall. “It will be a huge headache for Chinese censorship authorities. We hope other companies will follow Google to make encryption by default.”

lpha, who like other members of the group uses a pseudonym to evade Chinese authorities, noted that Google began encrypting searches in the country more than two months after publicly challenged the company to do so in an opinion piece published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper in November.

That piece came in response to a speech by Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, in which he said, “We can end government censorship in a decade” through expanding encryption. said the company didn’t need to wait 10 years; it could encrypt all searches in China far more quickly.

Google denied that the group’s agitation had anything to do with the rollout of encryption technology in China, saying that it began in February for unrelated reasons. All searches made from most modern browsers will be encrypted in the coming months. The completion date for the worldwide rollout is not yet clear, the company said.

“The revelations of this past summer underscored our need to strengthen our networks. Among the many improvements we’ve made in recent months is to encrypt Google Search by default around the world,” spokeswoman Niki Christoff said in an e-mailed statement. “This builds on our work over the past few years to increase the number of our services that are encrypted by default and encourage the industry to adopt stronger security standards. ”

Google largely pulled out of mainland China in 2010, moving many of its operations to the quasi-autonomous base of Hong Kong after refusing to comply with orders to censor searches or redirect them to preferred sites — something that competitors who remained behind still do.

Since then, the company’s share of the search market in China has dwindled to as low as five percent, according to Beijing-based market-research firm Marbridge Consulting. The vast majority of Internet users there use the Chinese search engine Baidu, even on phones running Google’s Android operating system.

This means that the effect of Google’s increased use of encryption could be limited in its reach since those who use Google in China — typically tech-savvy and young — often already know ways past the Great Firewall.

“Those who are technically sophisticated don’t really need another tool to get around censorship,” said Jason Q. Ng, author of “Blocked on Weibo: What Gets Suppressed on China’s Version of Twitter (and Why).

Google began offering encrypted search as an option for some users in 2010 and made the protection automatic for many users in the United States in 2012. The company began encrypting traffic between its data centers after The Washington Post and the Guardian, relying on documents provided by Snowden, reported last year on the massive extent of Internet spying by the National Security Agency and its allies. Microsoft and Yahoo soon followed with similar initiatives.

Encrypted search has come more slowly in other parts of the world, and especially to those using older browsers. Firefox, Safari and Google’s own Chrome browser support automatic encryption, but older generations of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer — still popular in China and much of the world — do not. Internet Explorer 6, which was first released in 2001 and does not support encrypted Google searches, is used for 16 percent of Chinese Internet traffic, according to, which tracks usage.

The move to routine encryption could spark backlash from Chinese authorities, who constantly tweak their Great Firewall to block the flow of unwanted content and also to maintain the ability to monitor Internet users in China.

“The Great Firewall is entirely a moving target,” said Richard Clayton, a computer security researcher for the University of Cambridge, in England, who has studied Chinese Internet filtering. “They are tweaking it all the time.”

The censorship poses an obstacle to Chinese businesses that are trying to expand internationally because they lack reliable access to sites with global audiences, such as Facebook. It can be hard to determine what the government will block on any given day.

“In China, a lot of things are like this,” said Jiang Tao, founder of CSDN, a Chinese software developer community. “You don’t know what you can do, what you can’t do. No one tells you.”

Google’s growing use of encryption could prompt China to block Google searches altogether or even all services offered by the company. Though Google has a much smaller market share in China than elsewhere in the world, it is still widely used by international firms and some others, meaning there could be economic consequences to an outright block.

Another option would be what experts call a “man-in-the-middle attack” that would allow Chinese censors to intercept encrypted traffic and decode it before it reaches Google servers. For many users, such an attack would be obvious because their browsers would warn that the communication had been accessed before reaching its intended recipient. Users would be free to proceed with the query, even in the face of a man-in-the-middle attack, but the protection offered by Google’s encryption would be lost.

Privacy advocates, who long have criticized Google, said its expanded use of encryption will do nothing to curb the company’s own tracking of the Web site visits, e-mails and search queries of its users. Such information helps the company target advertising, the key source of revenue for the company.

“It’s a good move to encrypt as much as possible, but I really think Google is grandstanding here,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, an advocacy group based in Washington.

Google's Upcoming Stock Split

The USA Today reports that Google's unusual upcoming stock split is about to upend the popular Standard & Poor's 500 and short-circuit the influence of common shareholders.

The complex financial maneuver will create the effect of a two-for-one stock split and dramatically reduce the voice of Google's common shareholders, but also change how the company is reflected in the value of the popular S&P 500 index. The share price will be cut in half from its lofty per-share level of $1,207.30 Wednesday, but investors will see their ability to have a say in the company greatly reduced.

The changes kick off on April 2, when Google will pay a dividend using newly created class C stock, to existing holders of the company's class A and class B shares. The new class C shares will carry no voting rights, making them unusual relative to the common shares issued by most companies.

S&P Dow Jones Indices has reversed course on the way it will deal with the situation in the S&P 500. Originally, the index provider was going to replace Google's class A shares in the index with class C. But late Tuesday, S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would include both the class A and the class C shares, meaning the S&P 500 will now have 501 stocks in it, representing 500 companies.

The index's rules are also being changed, in that going forward, companies that issue a new class of stock will be included in the S&P 500 if certain criteria are met. Those criteria include tests of liquidity and materiality levels. S&P Dow Jones Indices is reviewing the companies in the S&P 500 that already have several classes of stock that trade and will decide which ones will be added to the index by September 2015.

Currently, there are nearly 50 companies in the S&P 500 that have multiple classes of stock that trade, including Berkshire Hathaway, Brown-Forman and CBS. More companies are considering multiple classes of stock to give management tools to fend off shareholder activists, maintain control and prioritize who gets dividends, says Howard Silverblatt of S&P Dow Jones indices.

Google currently has two classes of stock. The class A shares, which are held by the public, carry one vote per share. The class B shares, controlled by the company's founders, receive 10 votes. After the class C dividend is paid out, Google will have double the number of shares outstanding that it does now. Google has 279.9 million shares of class A and 56.2 million shares outstanding as of Jan. 30, 2014.

Despite Google's investor-unfriendly move, some investors such as Michael Farr of Farr Miller & Washington don't plan to sell their stock and might buy more. Google's move is so brazen, only companies "experiencing great success" would be able to pull it off, Farr says. "They can kind of do whatever they want because everyone is making money, and they're not under any real fire anywhere."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

LinkedIn Passed 15 Million Mark In UK

LinkedIn passed the 15 million mark in the UK. Not bad numbers for 2 years!

It seems like only yesterday we announced LinkedIn’s 10 million member milestone in the UK and today, less than two years on, we have surpassed 15 million members. We’re honoured to play a part in the professional lives of millions of Britons, helping them be more productive and successful in their careers. With green shoots emerging in the economy, businesses need to find the best possible talent to support this growth now more than ever, and talent is something we are not short of here in the UK

As we look into the data behind the 15 million member milestone, it is encouraging to see that our fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn is students as their numbers have more than doubled in the past year. LinkedIn has become an essential resource for securing the first step on your career ladder. It is the place for people to begin their professional story and every day we hear numerous success stories on how LinkedIn has helped individuals achieve their goals. We are proud to help give students that foot in the door and the opportunity to connect with people who can offer the best advice to further their career.

Aside from students, our 15 million member base is quite diverse. You will find everyone from engineers to chimney sweeps. And if you ever need the help of a rocket scientist, we have 66 of them on LinkedIn in the UK! In fact, it is this diversity and the industrious dynamism of the British professional community that has made LinkedIn what it is today.

Those defining elements will also help to shape our future, which includes the development of the world’s first Economic Graph, a digital mapping of the global economy. As we continue to grow in the UK and around the globe, together we’ll continue to unlock insights and knowledge that can help create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Facebook Adds And Fake Accounts

InsideFacebook reports there has been a buzz around the interwebs about Facebook ads not being very effective. Veritasium released a video on February 10 claiming proof of fraud within Facebook’s paid advertising mechanism. Derek Muller, owner of Veritasium’s YouTube channel, experimented with Facebook’s ads on a random page about cats.

Derek argues that since there are a lot of fake accounts on Facebook, thanks to click farms around the world, when Facebook sends out ads to your chosen audience, most of these sponsored stories end up in the News Feed of fake accounts. As the number of spamming fans grows on your page, your engagement rate slows down, forcing you to buy another ad campaign from Facebook to increase interaction with users.

Facebook has attempted to remove fake accounts and continues to monitor the social network for spammers but Derek highlights that Facebook does not delete the fake likes even if the account gets deleted.

He goes on to explain why he thinks the likes he received on his cat page were fake:

“OK, here’s the thing. The global average “likes” per person is 40. For most countries it looks like 20 and below. Virtually everyone who liked my page liked in excess of 900 things (I say virtually because I could only spot-check random profiles and then the number of likes is not easy to ascertain – you have to scroll for miles through their likes and then count using a query of the code). These are clearly not typical accounts.”

So Derek argues that with paid advertising, you can’t be sure that you’re reaching out to genuine fans. And if you’re not, it can be a big problem since it weighs on your standing within the News Feed algorithm.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A New Streamlined Look for Business Pages From Facebook

Several new features are being rolled out for Business Users of Facebook.

This week, we’ll begin rolling out a streamlined look for Pages on desktop that will make it easier for people to find the information they want and help Page admins find the tools they use most. Here are the key features of the update:

Updated Page timeline design

The right-side column of your timeline now displays all your Page’s posts. This one-column display means that all of your posts will appear consistently on your Page and in News Feed.

The left-side column of your timeline features information about your business, including a map, your hours of business, phone number and website URL, as well as photos and videos.

Easier access to key admin tools

No matter where you are on your Page, you can now view information about the ads you’re running and new likes on your Page, as well unread notifications and messages. You can click on any section in the This Week section for more detail.
We’ve also added new navigation options to the top of the Page, making it easier to access your activity, insights and settings. The Build Audience menu at the top of the Page offers direct access to your Ads Manager account.

Pages to Watch

As we roll out the new design of Pages, we’re also opening up our new Pages to Watch feature in the Page Insights tool to all admins. Pages to Watch allows admins to create a list of Pages similar to their own and compare the performance of their Page with that of the businesses they care about.
On the “Overview” tab of Page Insights admins will see some key stats about the Pages they are watching. The “Posts” tab of Page Insights includes a feature to view the past week’s most engaging posts from the Pages you’re watching.

WordPress Integrates Twitter

Twitter released a statement earlier this morning about the integration with the widely popular WordPress. Read the statement below.

By now, most everyone with an Internet connection has read a WordPress blog or site. With over 76 million sites and 14 billion monthly pageviews, WordPress is possibly the most popular, easy-to-use blogging platforms out there.

We worked with Raanan, SVP at Automattic —the makers of — to integrate the Twitter platform. WordPress users now have a simple way to distribute their content to their Twitter followers and over 240M other people on Twitter. Here’s how this integration worked.
Simple sharing with Twitter OAuth and WordPress self-hosted sites running the Jetpack plugin make it easy to share blog content on Twitter. It took them just three simple steps to implement the Twitter OAuth API:
visit the Twitter App and create an App
create access tokens for your App implement the OAuth web flow

With the OAuth integration, the user’s blog and Twitter account are now connected. Moreover, as each new post is published, a corresponding Tweet is automatically posted, making sharing content on Twitter a seamless part of a blogger’s everyday workflow.
Twitter Cards for greater distribution and engagement

WordPress also implemented Twitter Cards so that the beautiful photos, videos and other media that their users are posting are automatically attached to their tweets.

We want to ensure that WordPress looks fantastic on Twitter, so that we help our bloggers grow their sites and build their Twitter relationships.Raanan Bar-Cohen@raananSVP,

WordPress automatically generates the necessary Twitter Cards markup for every post, as in this example:
Twitter Cards Meta Tags
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image" />
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@postaday" />
<meta name="twitter:title" content="Two Seconds to Better Photos: Try the Rule of Thirds" />
<meta name="twitter:description" content="We're constantly taking photos, from Instagrammed images of that really good sandwich at lunch to posed, just-so portraits of family gatherings. It's easy: look through the viewfinder, center the s..." />
<meta name="twitter:image:src" content="<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>" />

These five lines of code enable a richer, more compelling Tweet:

Twitter Insights tells how content is being distributed

With the launch of analytics for Twitter Cards, WordPress is now able to see results from their OAuth and Twitter Cards integration. From their dashboard view for their running the Jetpack Cards plugin with Cards support, they can now see that they receive 408 million impressions every week. Moreover, it gives them a baseline to continue tweaking and optimizing their Cards implementation.

WordPress has done a seamless integration with the Twitter platform to give their users greater reach and beautifully presented content. They use OAuth to connect directly to Twitter, share content on Twitter on their users’ behalf, implement Cards to give their Tweets extra reach, and measure and optimize performance with Twitter Card analytics.

Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic and co-founder of WordPress expressed his excitement about this integration for strengthening WordPress as a social hub.