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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Really incredibly inspiring examples of Facebook timeline photos

11.12.2013, 10:15

Facebook is currently the largest social network. Naturally, you can find all kind of people in it, some of them very “creative”. Amongst them, some persons strive to create beautiful, inspiring, or even funny, Facebook Timeline Photos.

You would think there is not much room to do something creative with Facebook’s Timeline Photos. You would be wrong. Very wrong. On the contrary, you will see how the timeline images below are not only aesthetically pleasing but also interact perfectly with the profile photo.

Additionally, the article will give you some tutorials, tips and tricks that will invite you to try.

Come on, take a look and enjoy – we certainly did!

Antonio Fadda

Designer: Antonio Fadda

© Antonio Fadda

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Facebook hires NYU professor to head new artificial intelligence lab

10.12.2013, 9:43

Facebook is expanding its interest in artificial intelligence by creating a new AI laboratory and selecting New York University professor Yann LeCun to head it up.

Prof. Yann LeCun

“Facebook has created a new research laboratory with the ambitious, long-term goal of bringing about major advances in Artificial Intelligence,” LeCun announced on his Facebook page today.

The social networking company is also entering into a partnership with New York University’s Center for Data Science to carry out research in data science, machine learning, and AI.

The brainy group will have locations in Menlo Park, London, and at Facebook’s new facility in New York City, right up the street from where LeCunn will still teach part time.

LeCun’s hire could act as a long-term method of improving Facebook’s already sophisticated social graph, which determines the stories pop up on your newsfeed.

It could also act as a way to counter Google and its own artificial intelligence endeavor with futurist Ray Kurzweil that was announced earlier this year.

Both companies are competing to have computers better understand human language by hiring top minds from the outside. Yahoo, similarly, is scooping up whole companies dealing with natural language.

Since LeCun didn’t have a whole lot of details to share in his post, TechRadar contacted him and Facebook for more details about how such AI research will benefit the end user. We will update this story if we hear back.

In the meantime, LeCun did mention that Facebook is hiring the most intelligent among us for its newly formed artificial intelligence lab.

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