Facebook testing mobile ad network, shouldn’t affect your News Feed … yet

23.01.2014, 9:37

It seems like Facebook is trying to be a good Samaritan … to advertisers.

To be fair, it is bound to happen!

The social media giant has announced it will begin testing a mobile ad network with a sampling of advertisers and app developers.

Similar experiments have been done in the past without any solid results, but this time Facebook will have a guiding hand in the matter by “working directly with a small number of advertisers and publishers, rather than an outside ad-serving platform.”

The app companies in question have not been mentioned.

While the thought of “more ads” is enough to punch your computer screen or throw your phone at the wall, it seems like none of this will directly affect your Facebook News Feed.

For now, it looks like the advertisers and the third party apps will simply be benefitting from Facebook’s “rich targeting,” with the social media site reaping the revenue.

But it may only be a matter of time until all the outside testing begins to trickle into Facebook’s own mobile app to rake in more dough.

The company has already been quite ambitious with its marketing endeavors like calling a truce with Google to sell ad space, and implementing sponsored Instagram photos. And don’t forget the video ads.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Facebook adds Twitter-esque Trending news feeds for hot topics

17.01.2014, 11:10

Facebook added Trending as a new addition to news feeds to help users spot interesting and relevant conversations flaring up on the social network.

Trendy Facebook

The Trending section will be located on the upper right of the news feed showing a lists of topics personalized to the users’ interests. Each topic including TV shows, events, and people shows up as a headline with a brief explanation on why it is trending.

Clicking through any of these items brings up a more focused feed on specific topics complete with friend posts and news items from the users’ liked pages. For example, a Golden Globe awards Trending page would bring up stories from ABC and a dozen friend posts regaling about what a stud Matthew McConaughey is…or what have you.

The social network didn’t give out any specifics on Trending’s roll out plan other than it will come to select countries.

In an age of “information overload,” Facebook is the latest social media company to offer users a way to cut through the noise. Just a week ago, Yahoo introduced the News Digest app at its CES 2014 Keynote, which curates news around the web into a “comprehensive, complete and easy” reading list.

Clutter is a problem on Facebook and between all the pages and groups, the regular Facebook news feed looks like a schizophrenic mess. There’s no doubt the social network introduced Trending so users could easily find specific topics and jump on events

Prior to the update, searching for a specific topic on Facebook only brought up events and groups. Trending is a long overdue update as Twitter has had hashtags all this time.

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Zuckerberg to open MWC 2014 as Facebook’s mobile focus bigger than ever

16.01.2014, 14:38

In a matter of weeks we’ll be descending on Barcelona for MWC 2014 and, as it turns out, so will Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg

The Facebook founder has just been announced as the headline keynote speaker for the first day of the event next month.

Zuck will be kicking off the week with a “fireside chat” with David Kirkpatrick, in which he’ll “explore the importance of extending the benefits ubiquituous Internet access to the unconnected world.”
Whether an actual fire will be present is yet to be confirmed.

Last year, Facebook announced plans to bring affordable internet to the two-thirds of the world who don’t have it, so it sounds like a fair amount of the conversation will be centred around that.

Other members of the internet.org initiative include big mobile players Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and MediaTek.

But more generally, Zuckerberg’s headline presence at the show just goes to show how big mobile is for Facebook right now. Maybe there’ll even be some better news for Facebook Home.

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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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