Facebook news reader ‘Paper’ may flip off Flipboard later this month

15.01.2014, 10:17

Imagine rolling over in bed each morning, awakening your phone and turning to a Facebook product to get caught up on the morning’s happenings. Sounds like something most of us do anyway, right?

Facebook Flipbook?

In the very near future – as soon as the end of the month, actually – Facebook’s long-rumored news reader may finally become part of our information consumption routine.

According to sources speaking with Re/code, Facebook’s news reading service is known as “Paper.” It takes cues from Flipboard, one source said, and will either be a standalone app for mobile or a web experience designed to fit smaller screens.

Like Flipboard, Paper sounds to be an aggregator for content including news stories from the likes of the New York Times and Washington Post as well as status updates from other Facebookers.

It will all be arranged in a eye-popping “paper-like” format, one hard-copy news readers cling to fondly.

Paper’s launch timeline may change, according to one source, so there’s no guarantee we’ll be turning to Facebook for all our newsy needs (beyond baby bump updates) come February 1.

The first inklings of a Facebook reader first popped up in June 2013, but apparently the project has been years in the making and started, as many other FB products have, as an idea to overhaul the News Feed.

We saw some of the News Feed redesign come to life in March 2013, but the other parts left unfinished have found their way to Paper.

If and when Paper makes its way off the virtual presses, users won’t be the only ones to benefit from the rich reading experience; engagement and user eyeballs so valuable to advertisers are certainly a driver for Facebook to finish the project.

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Facebook snaps up Little Eye Labs

09.01.2014, 13:32

Little Eye Labs, an Indian startup that builds mobile app analysis tools, has been bought by Facebook.

Facebook

Founded about a year ago by four Bangalore-based technology professionals Giridhar Murthy, Kumar Rangarajan, Satyam Kandula and Lakshman Kakkirala, Little Eye is backed by GSF and VenturEast Tenet Fund.

Android developers and testers use Little Eye Labs to measure, analyse and optimise the performance of their apps. The company has said that the deal will allow it to leverage Facebook’s ‘world-class infrastructure’ to help improve performance of the social network’s apps.

“For us, this is an opportunity to make an impact on the more than 1 billion people who use Facebook,” said the Little Eye Labs team in a blog post.

Facebook’s engineering manager Subbu Subramanian told Reuters: “The Little Eye Labs technology will help us to continue improving our Android codebase to make more efficient, higher-performing apps.”

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but a report by TechCrunch estimates the price could have been as much as $15 million (£9 million, AU$16 million). The entire team at Little Eye Labs will be moved to Facebook’s headquarters in Menio Park, California.

The acquisition marks the social network giant’s first deal in India. The deal is thought to have been done to boost interest in India’s startup ecosystem, where high profile acquisitions are often rare.

The deal represents “a giant step from an Indian startup ecosystem perspective”, said Praveen Bhadada, from Zinnov, a consultancy specialising in tech companies based in Bangalore.

The company have also said that crrent customers of Little Eye for Android will receive further information on plans to odder a free version of Little Eye until June 2014.

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So here’s why Snapchat turned down Facebook’s $3bn offer

07.01.2014, 14:48

We have our own idea about how it all went down when Facebook offered to buy out Snapchat, but the exact reason why the photomessaging app rejected Zuckerberg’s $3 billion envelope was never made clear.

Is that a good reason?

According to Snapchat’s chief executive, he was looking at the bigger picture. “There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this,” Evan Spiegel told Forbes. “I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.”

$3 billion? A short-term gain? Where do you eat lunch every day?

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Has Facebook been snooping on your private messages?

03.01.2014, 12:41

Facebook is being sued over claims that it has been scanning users’ private messages and passing on the information to advertisers.

Yes, No, Like, Dislike?

According to the allegations, based on independent research, Facebook scans messages that include links to other sites in order to discover what people are interested in.

It then uses this information “to improve its marketing algorithms and increase its ability to profit from data about Facebook users,” so goes the lawsuit allegation.

A spokesperson for Facebook told TechRadar: “We continue to believe the allegations in this lawsuit have no merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

The lawsuit was filed by Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley with the Northern District Court of California, starting back in 2012 with claims that Facebook had been scanning through messages and recording links as “likes”.

The case is ongoing and we may not see anything settled for some time. Right now the claimants are looking to get an injunction against Facebook in order to stop it scanning messages in the future, as well as money for alleged damages.

Then again, not everyone agees that Facebook would be in the wrong to scan private messages. Security expert Graham Cluley wrote on his blog: “if Facebook’s security team didn’t have such systems in place I would believe them to be disturbingly lax in their duty of care for users.”

Security’s a bit of a hot topic this week, eh?

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Facebook ‘dead and buried’ to teens who don’t want to be friends with parents

30.12.2013, 12:53

Teenagers are ditching their Facebook accounts in droves, according to newly-published research into social networking habits across Europe.

Kevin and Perry

16-18 year olds are ‘embarrassed to be associated’ with Facebook according to the Global Social Media Impact Study, which claims the influx of older parents and relatives are to blame.

Instead of Facebook, youngsters are gravitating to the likes of Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram, where their parents are less likely to be monitoring their activity or asking them what time they’re going to be home for tea.

According to Daniel Millier, a professor at University College London and lead anthopologist on the research team, “Facebook is not just on the slide – it is basically dead and buried.

Miller reckons a friend request from a parent is the equivalent of mum or dad showing up at a house party and dragging a youth out by the ear.

“What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request,” he wrote.

“It is nothing new that young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore.”

The youngsters are less bothered that rival services are less secure and often less functional than Facebook (we’re looking at you Snapchat), according to the research.

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Facebook and Zuckerberg facing lawsuit over IPO

20.12.2013, 12:37

Facebook is preparing itself for a public legal battle with its investors. A US court has ruled that those who lost money on the social network’s flotation could pursue claims against them.

Mr. Mark Zuckerberg

A group of shareholders were left out of pocket by the initial public offering in May 2012. They’ve been arguing since that Facebook and its bankers had left material information out of the “S-1″ document it filed ahead of its market debut.

They claim that Facebook should have published more information about the impact growing mobile usage was likely to have on revenues at the company.

Facebook and the banks involved in the row claim that the information was immaterial, and that it was under no obligation to make such disclosures. Manhattan judge Robert Sweet, however, has sided with the investors. This has opened the path for them to lodge a wave of claims against Facebook and dozens of banks.

Sweet added that a surge in the number of users accessing Facebook on their mobiles had already had a “material negative” impact on revenues by the time of its IPO. The Californian business, he argued, should have made this much clearer to investors.

Facebook’s IPO went public at $38 (£23, AU$42) a share, and rose as high as $45 (£27, AU$50) on its first day of trading. It finished its first day at $38.25 (£23.37, AU$42) however, and began a steady descent from there. It reached as low as $17.55 (£10, AU$19) in September. Analysts said it was officially the worst IPO in a decade.

Since, the company has gained ground again after working out how to monetise mobile users more efficiently. Shares were trading at $54.56 (£33, AU$61) at lunchtime in New York on Wednesday.

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Facebook buys sports startup SportStream

19.12.2013, 15:28

SportStream, a San Francisco-based startup whose app lets users analyse social media mentions of sport, has been acquired by Facebook.

Facebook on iPhone

The move is widely speculated to have been an attempt by Facebook to become more like social media rival Twitter, which allows users to view what others are saying on the same subject.

SportStream, founded 18 months ago, enables broadcasters and content editors to aggregate, filter and display sports data in real-time. Sporting events are among the highest trending topics on Twitter, and Facebook is more than likely looking to identify what users are talking about to enable them to challenge the dominance of the real-time social site.

SportStream has welcomed the deal, the value of which was not disclosed, and believes the move can help it reach more people.

In a statement, Facebook said: “Facebook sees the value in our technologies and team, and we’re excited to be a part of their continued investment in their platform. With this next step for SportStream, we’ll have greater resources to continue to do what we do best and make an impact on the more than one billion people who use Facebook.”

Facebook has taken steps to make it easier for users to use specific topics. These include the introduction of hashtags, embedded posts and trending topics. October saw Facebook purchase mobile data compression startup Onavo in a bid to make its service more cross-platform, especially on mobile devices.

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Facebook is about to get annoying: autoplaying videos rolling out now

17.12.2013, 15:04

Facebook has confirmed that it is testing video ads that start playing automatically as they infiltrate your news feed.

Facebook Video

The new ads are hitting both the web and mobile news feeds – Facebook says the videos will be “downloadd in advance when the device was connected to Wi-Fi” so it shouldn’t eat into your data plan (but will eat into your device’s memory instead).

Autoplaying videos are already shown in the iOS Facebook app but they’ll now proliferate to other platforms too.

The good news is that the ads will be muted when they start playing unless you specifically click on them or opt to view them in full screen.

Only a small group of Facebookers will see the trailers to begin with, and if they watch through to the end of the video they’ll be shown a carousel of two more videos they might want to watch.

This development comes after a year of rumours and recent reports that the video ads had been delayed until 2014. No such luck.

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Donate Now button helps Facebook give to nonprofits, get user billing info

17.12.2013, 9:41

It’s the season of giving, and in that vein Facebook has announced it’s launching a way for users to donate to select nonprofits, all the while collecting more of your info.

Ready to donate?

The feature is called Donate, and through a new “Donate Now” button the social network’s one-billion-plus members can give to groups such as UNICEF, Girls Inc., Oxfam America and the World Wildlife Fund.

Donate will pop up next to News Feed posts and at the top of groups’ Facebook pages. Clicking Donate Now lets users enter a donation amount, input their payment info and send the monetary gift then and there.

They can also share the nonprofits’ posts with their friends, expanding the umbrella of do-gooding-ness ever further.

There are 19 participating nonprofts for now, but Facebook said it plans to expand the program soon.

It’s a seemingly altruistic addition by Facebook, one that should earn deserving organizations plenty of much needed dinero.

However, there’s a silver lining in it for Facebook in that Donate also nets users’ billing information.

Perhaps more motivated by the spirit of giving than of buying, users may find themselves more willing to type in their payment information, turning it over to the social network for digitized keeping. Later, the same info could be easy-filled when making purchases on Facebook from for-profit companies.

Mark Zuckerber’s firm has also recently started offering a feature called Autofill With Facebook, a button that third-party mobile apps can utilize at the point of checkout to populate billing and shipping information with minimal typing.

Facebook doesn’t earn a fee from Autofill, however it can tap its data to show businesses how effective their ads are. With credit card info perhaps more readily inputted thanks to Donate, getting more folks to punch the Autofill could be part of Facebook’s designs.

As TechCrunch pointed out, users can delete their credit card information after making a donation through their payment account settings, but it’s an extra step in the process and one that’s not readily obvious.

We don’t want to sound overly cynical as really, who can argue with donating to help save endangered animals, but just know Facebook should see ample benefits too.

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Facebook pulls an Instagram with auto-playing videos on iOS

12.12.2013, 15:09

Facebook has pushed out a new update for its iOS app, adding a feature that sees videos automatically play as you scroll past them.

Facebook: Auto-playing videos since 2013

Like it or loathe it, the version 6.8 update introduces the mandatory auto-play function, which follows in the footsteps of Vine and Instagram.

Like Instagram, the sound will be muted unless you actually click on it, but if you want you can alter the settings so that video and audio start playing together in harmony.

While it won’t be embraced lovingly by everyone, the good news is that you can set auto-play to Wi-Fi-only if you’re watching the old data allowance.

Facebook also told TechCrunch that it plans to roll out the feature to the web version of Facebook.

This means that everything is in place for Facebook to start rolling out those 15-second autoplaying ads that are rumoured to start appearing soon.

Right now this is just on the iOS app, but we’ve asked Facebook when the same feature might roll over to other platforms and will update when we hear more.

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