Senin, 29 Juni 2009

Facebook Needs Its Own Version

Facebook LogoTwitter is one of the most viral platforms on the social web. One link can be spread to millions of people in a matter of minutes. Perhaps the primary reason for this is the Twitter retweet (or “RT”), which provides Twitter users an easy way to share interesting updates from people they are following. We even wrote a guide on the retweet.

Facebook on the other hand is many magnitudes bigger, but doesn’t have the same viral power that Twitter contains. Why? The big reasons are probably the closed nature of Facebook streams, the lack of a real-time search engine, and no comparable “retweet” syntax. While Facebook is tackling the first two, the third one may be what trips up Facebook’s assault on Twitter.

Public Profiles and Sharing With Everyone

First problem: Facebook is a closed platform. On Twitter, over 90% of profiles are public, allowing anyone to see tweets and share them. On Facebook, the reverse is true: most user profiles are private and only friends can see information. Part of this is because the option to make your profile public only arrived in March. It’s still all about friends, not about sharing.

Yet Facebook allowing for open profiles is a big step towards making information more shareable on the social network. We’ve also heard that options to broadcast your updates to the public are also in the works, which would be another smart move to open the platform while appeasing users worried about privacy.

Jumat, 26 Juni 2009

Facebook Adds Public Content Sharing

facebook logoFacebook’s Publisher – aka, the “What’s on your mind?” box on your homepage, was recently overhauled to support smart links, video, photos and other options.

Today, however, Facebook is announcing even more updates to Publisher, which will let users control the privacy settings around each status update they post to Facebook. Beta testers, and eventually the rest of us, will now be able to specify whether they want to update the world or just a select group of friends.

The new Publisher will now have a lock icon in the lower right hand corner, where users can select to share updates with everyone, friends and networks, friends of friends, just friends, or a custom list. It’s important to note that the share with everyone option is essentially going to make your Facebook status updates public domain, and this has major implications for the upcoming release of Facebook Search.

facebook publisher

So, why the changes to Publisher? According to Facebook’s blog post, “You may have some posts you want to share with a wide audience, such as whom you voted for or how great the weather is today. Other times you may have more personal updates like your new phone number or an invitation to join you at your favorite restaurant for dinner that are meant for only close or nearby friends.”

But we think the reality is that this is part of the groundwork being laid for the roll out of Facebook Search. By giving users the option to share content publicly, privately, or semi-privately, Facebook can ensure that there’s no unnecessary backlash from unwanted search results, and, even more importantly, subtly encourage more Facebook (Facebook) users to share their content openly. The more users who share openly, the better their search product will be. And it’s going to need to be great if it is to compete with Twitter (Twitter) search.

Rabu, 17 Juni 2009

Facebook Username Rush Imminent

rush imageIn just over one hour, at 9pm PST, FacebookFacebookFacebook usernames will open up to the public. You will be able to grab a vanity URL for your Facebook profile or page (i.e. However, you’ll be competing against a slew of other users for the URL you desire. So what should you know before the Facebook Usernames rush begins? And what could all of this mean for the social web?

Well, we’ve come to the source to get the answers to those questions We are LIVE from Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto, California with the Facebook team as they launch Facebook Usernames into the wild. But while we await the main event, here are some things you should know about Facebook Usernames to assure a smooth experience:

What are Facebook usernames?

Vanity URL Facebook Image

Facebook usernames are an attempt to make Facebook profiles and pages easily shareable. Basically, usernames affect your profile’s URL. For example, the current URL for my Facebook profile is this:

Not exactly the easiest URL to share in the world. After today though, my Facebook URL will be as follows:

This is a much easier URL to remember and share with others. It encourages sharing, friending, and increased activity on Facebook. It follows in the footsteps of TwitterTwitterTwitter and MySpaceMySpaceMySpace, both of which offer the vanity URL.

Facebook pages also have the option to register usernames, but as we reported earlier, your page has to have over 1000 fans to quality. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until the end of the month to register a custom URL. If you want to protect your trademark, visit this page to register it with Facebook.

What will happen tonight?

Facebook Usernames

At 12:01 ET/9:01 PT, users will be able to register a username by visiting This page will launch with the ability to register a username at that time.

Default choices are variation of your full name, but you can choose your own custom username. However, if someone else has taken it before you, you’re out of luck, so register your URL quickly. Usernames can only have numbers, letters, and periods, so no special characters or hyphens. Once you have chosen a username, you cannot change it, so choose wisely. Rushing it could result in a mistake that cannot be fixed.

Live from Facebook Headquarters

Because we want to get you information on the Facebook Username rush, both good and bad, we are on location at Facebook’s offices. If you have a question about usernames, if you find a bug, or just want to let your discontent known, be sure to add it to the comments of our Facebook Username posts. We promise you, Facebook is reading.

Facebook and The Washington

facebookThe Washington Post has pushed out Facebook Connect integration, allowing readers to login to the site using their Facebook credentials as opposed to a account.

On the surface, this is a really simple implementation that makes it easy to get past the registration wall that The Washington Post employs on some articles. You can also share stories with your Facebook friends with one click. More interesting, however, is considering some of the things that the newspaper could do in the future with Facebook Connect, specifically as it pertains to community and advertising.

More Dynamic Community Features

Currently, The Washington Post uses Pluck to power a variety of social networking features on the site. Users can use this ID to comment on stories, and have those comments aggregated on a user profile that other members of the site can access. There are also simple photo galleries, an option to include a biography, and a “messages” tab that looks to be a microblog of sorts.

However, all of these features, frankly, should be powered by FacebookFacebookFacebook. Facebook Connect would enable The Washington Post to import all of this data from the social network, instantly populating its community with vibrant content. Not to mention, The Post could gain significant traffic, as actions taken within its community – like commenting or chat – could be syndicated back into Facebook. As it stands now, most of the user profiles feel ghostly, with no user pictures or personality, just a long list of comments from a seemingly anonymous individual.

The paper does hint that these types of features might be in the works, with Goli Sheikholeslami, General Manager & Vice President of Washington Post Digital saying in a statement that “our long-term strategy is to move towards creating an increasingly personalized experience for our users, allowing them to carry their social network onto our site.”

Improved Targeted Advertising

The main reason that The Washington Post uses a registration wall on its site is so that it can get data about you, like your gender, age, and occupation. This data allows the paper to serve fairly targeted advertising. However, unless you’re a regular reader of the paper, it’s a bit much to ask for simply to read one article:

On the other hand, if you already have a Facebook login, reading those articles is now as simple as clicking a button and logging in. And, The Washington Post can grab that same data – in addition to other tidbits like how many friends you have, what your interests are, and your relationship status – to serve up targeted advertising.

Why Other Newspapers Should Follow Suit

It’s not surprising that The Washington Post is one of the first major mainstream publications to implement Facebook, considering their CEO is on the company’s board. Meanwhile, other papers should take note of what they could potentially be offering users and advertisers through Facebook Connect. It’s a strong alternative – or at least compliment – to a proprietary registration wall and social network. At present, there would seem to be both a lot of engagement and targeted advertising dollars being left on the table.

Facebook Readies Rival to Twitter Search 2009

FacebookFacebookFacebook is testing a realtime search engine for users’ news feeds that will challenge TwitterTwitterTwitter search, the company revealed on its blog today.

Let’s face it: Facebook Search really isn’t all that impressive of a tool. It does a good job of searching for people, groups, and apps, but doesn’t fare well at all if you search a general term like “Iran Election.” With all of the information available on Facebook, wouldn’t it be nice to find images, videos, links, and status updates relevant to a search keyword? Meanwhile, the lack of such a feature means that Twitter search has become the go-to place for realtime information.

Facebook isn’t blind to the issue. The world’s largest social network revealed today that it’s experimenting with a new type of search that could actually make it a social alternative to GoogleGoogleGoogle, Bing, and other major search engines. Most importantly, however, it can begin to challenge Twitter in realtime search. Soon, when you search for a recipe or the latest on the Iran crisis, related status updates and photos from friends and public Facebook profiles will appear. In fact, it’s already active for a small group of users.

In a blog announcement, the social networking giant explained that it believes our friends are a strong source of relevant information. If I care about the season finale of Lost, it stands to reason I would want to know how my friends felt about it. This new search feature would do just that. From the Facebook blog:

Those of you in the test group will see new layouts for search results that will continue to include people’s profiles, Facebook Pages, groups and applications, and some entirely new Search features. With the test, you will be able to search your News Feed for the most recent status updates, photos, links, videos and notes being shared by your friends and the Facebook Pages of which you’re a fan. You will also be able to search for status updates, posted links and notes in Search from people who have chosen to make their profile and content available to everyone. As always, you can control what content you’re sharing by editing your privacy settings here.

The people around us are a powerful source for finding information about new and interesting information — from the latest on last night’s episode of “The Office” and suggestions on what to do for your next vacation to current events.

Kamis, 04 Juni 2009

Facebook User Drops $70.50 Lawsuit 2009

facebook logoThat’s not a typo: a Facebook user sued the social networking company last week for $70.50, alleging that Facebook had failed to properly protect the site’s users from a virus.

The suit was filed by Theodore Karantsalis in Miami-Dade County court, and the figure calculated based on his claim that after being affected by a Facebook virus, he had to re-add his 250 friends, with an estimated value of 30 cents each, reports CNet. The CNet article continues:

facebookvirusIn the lawsuit, Karantsalis had alleged that Facebook breached a “legal duty to exercise at least reasonable care with regard to the safety of its network”…Karantsalis claimed his account was compromised and temporarily disabled and that his photos and friends were not restored.

When Karantsalis’ account was found to have been compromised nearly two weeks ago, Facebook reset his password and notified him via e-mail, as is the company’s standard practice, Schnitt [a Facebook respresentative] said. Facebook did not delete his photos and friends, he said.

…Karantsalis said the problem started when friends e-mailed and called him on May 14 to tell him that his name on Facebook had been changed to “John Doe” and it was being used to send out spam that directed people to a phishing site with a URL ending in “.im.”.

On Tuesday, Karantsalis dropped the suit after talks with Facebook (Facebook reviews). Regardless, it seems almost impossible such a case would have gotten anywhere, given that the Facebook ToS limits Facebook’s liability in these cases.

In short, if you get a virus from clicking a link on Facebook, they’re not responsible…even if you lose $70 worth of friends.

Facebook Connect Now on Android?

google androidAs we reported this morning, Google (Google reviews) is expecting a flood of new Android-powered phones to hit the market this year. With more handsets being used by more people, the opportunity to develop applications for Android (Android reviews) will become increasingly attractive.

And in another twist today, we have what appears to be the first application that uses Facebook Connect on Android. Although we don’t yet have an official announcement from Facebook (Facebook reviews) or Google, Playfish’s popular game Who Has the Biggest Brian? has been ported to Android, allowing “Android fans … to play together with their Facebook friends anytime, anywhere.”

As the blog PocketGamer speculates, “that presumably means that the Android game uses the same Facebook Connect technology as the iPhone version - which as far as we’re aware is the first implementation of Facebook Connect in an Android game or application.”

Facebook Connect for iPhone launched earlier this year, and we’ve already seen a number of popular existing iPhone apps (including Who Has the Biggest Brain?) and Web applications implement it to quickly create social interaction in their products.

With Android, Facebook Connect is perhaps even more valuable, because even if your friends don’t have a Google phone (which is more than likely at this point) you can still interact with them, so long as they access Facebook in some way.

Facebook Is Very Confused About Breasts

facebook-logo-spaced.pngFacebook has caved on a decision to ban photos posted by a woman who had surgery for breast cancer, according to reports in Irish newspaper The Examiner.

The 45-year old British woman posted pics of her mastectomy scars to her Facebook profile to educate other women, then found Facebook had removed them based on the site’s policy of removing “sexual content”. A Facebook group called “GET SHARON ADAMS PICTURE BACK ON FACEBOOK FOR BREAST CANCER” was formed to protest against the photo removal, and Facebook has now reversed its decision. The company explained:

We’ve investigated this further and determined that we made a mistake in removing these photos. Our User Operations team reviews thousands of reported photos a day and may occasionally remove something that doesn’t actually violate our policies. This is what happened here. We apologise for the mistake and encourage Sharon to upload these photos again if she so chooses.

The incident echoes another major controversy on Facebook: the banning of breast-feeding photos if they show the nipple or areola, as this 2008 report from MSNBC explains. Will Facebook now see sense and reverse that decision too?

Clearly Facebook is missing the point: that partial nudity is not always sexual, it’s simply a matter of context. No reasonable person would say breast feeding images are in any way sexual, and yet Facebook’s rule book seems to miss these nuances. If Facebook accepts that mastectomy images are not sexual, can we also have Facebook acknowledge that the same applies to breast-feeding images?

Facebook is equally conflicted on Holocaust denial groups: while some are removed, it allows others to exist under the inexplicable theory that Holocaust denial is not necessarily antisemitic.

Facebook (Facebook reviews) may have successfully expanded beyond its college roots, but its content policies remain woefully immature.

Facebook Offers More Interactive Ads to Brands

facebook logoFacebook (Facebook reviews) has a new feature that lets advertisers create special ads for their Pages and Events. These ads will be just as interactive as other Facebook content, which should hopefully make them more engaging and interesting to the users.

The ads will appear just like other Facebook ads, but the users will be able to “Become a Fan” (if the ad is for a Page) or “RSVP” (if the ad is for an Event) directly from the ad, which will create a story in their profile page. Furthermore, these ads also contain friend actions, which means that users will be able to see which friends are fans of the Page or attending the Event in question.


From the user perspective, I like the direction Facebook is taking advertising. They’re trying to make ads more like other content on the site, which should in turn make them more meaningful to users. However, instead of masquerading the ads as something else, they’re giving advertisers the tools to blend advertising in with other content, but they never let them be too invasive. We’ll see how it works for Facebook, which still has to prove it’s capable of being a profitable company, in the long run.

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