Monday, October 18, 2010
  • Gavin O'Malley, October 18, 2010, 1:16 PM
  • Uproar Over Facebook Privacy Gaff Quieter This Time Back to those nagging privacy issues, Facebook has reportedly been sending User ID's to third party app makers and ad agencies for financial gain, as Online Media Daily's Wendy Davis reported last week.

    "The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook's strictest privacy settings," a Wall Street Journal investigation reveals. "The practice breaks Facebook's rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users' activities secure."

    Still, rather than calls for Zuckerberg's head, one detects a fatalistic sense among analysts and media types that Facebook has weathered worse storms, and is now perhaps too big to fail.

    "Basically millions of user's privacy was abused," writes Fast Company. "Nice one, Facebook."

    Under the innocuous headline, "Facebook gets poked in latest privacy gaffe," The Register writes: "Facebook's privacy rules aren't as watertight as the company would have its users believe."

    Meanwhile, if one comment thread on BoingBoing is any indication, the level of user indignation and fear over potential privacy lapses on Facebook appears to be waning.

    "I'm probably alone in this, but I really don't give a damn about my privacy," writes Promethean Sky, while BungaDunga notes: "Not exactly a surprise. We've known apps could do this; it's not a bug, it's a feature. It's how the API works." Facebook insiders tell The Journal that the latest privacy breach was purely accidental, while, officially, the company says it's taking steps to "dramatically" limit the exposure of users' personal information.

    In a blog post, Facebook developer Mike Vernal insists that "press reports have exaggerated the implications of sharing a user ID," though he said several applications were passing User ID's in a manner that violated Facebook's privacy policy.

    Read the whole story...
  • Report: Groupon To Bed EBay, Yahoo, CitySearch, Others In the next several weeks, social buying site Groupon will announce revenue sharing partnerships with eBay, Yahoo, and CitySearch, sources tell TechCrunch. Still, despite being "one heck of a startup," TechCrunch's Michael Arrington argues that Groupon and its backers are in for one heck of a reality check.

    Regarding the issue of scale, the social buying site "needs a lot of sales people for each market it handles and already probably has more than 2,000 of them on payroll," notes Arrington. "But the real problem is the complete lack of a network effect to protect its business." As a result, "Competitors can flourish and margins will get crushed." But don't take Arrington's word for it. Benchmark Capital's Matt Cohler says regarding Groupon's business model: "There are neither barriers to entry nor are there switching costs in that product. Typically when a product has those characteristics margins tend to collapse over time." Read the whole story...
  • Can Google Speak Social?The New York Times asks the question on everyone's mind: How does Google plan on getting its social grove on? Well, while details remain scarce, Google officials tell the paper that social features will be added to existing products, like search, email, maps, photos, video and ads. The company plans to "take Google's core products and add a social component, to make the core products even better," CEO Eric Schmidt says. Such explanations, however, appear to leave analysts cold.

    "Google's culture is very much based on the power of the algorithm, and it's very difficult to algorithm social interaction," Charlene Li, founder of tech research firm Altimeter Group tells The Times. More concerning, "There is some belief at Google that their DNA is not perfectly suited to build social products, and it's a quite controversial topic internally," one anonymous insider admits. "The part of social that's about stalking people, sharing photos, looking cool -- it's mentally foreign to engineers." At stake, as The Times notes, is "losing the competition for Web users' time, details of their lives and, ultimately, advertising." Read the whole story...
  • Report: Yahoo Connect To 'Mimic' Facebook Google isn't the only tech giant hard at work on a new social strategy. Citing sources, The Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo is about ready to debut Y Connect, which will let media publishers, Web developers and other websites integrate elements of their services with Yahoo itself. In The Journal's own words, the forthcoming feature will "mimic" Facebook's existing strategy, which is designed to drive site traffic.

    "Such efforts can help Internet companies track the activities of users around the Web and better tailor advertising offerings to them." Y Connect will encourage to users to register with and log into media sites merely by clicking on a Yahoo button. "If successful, such connections could spur more activity on Yahoo sites and help the company better understand the interests of users and figure out which online ads are more likely to be effective," reports The Journal. Still, that's a big if, as site owners and visitors might not see any reason to incorporate a Yahoo button to into their digital routines. Read the whole story...
  • Report: Brightcove Eyes IPO On the heels of recruiting Chris Menard as CFO, online video platform Brightcove is gearing up for an IPO, reports Reuters. A source tells Reuters that Brightcove will likely file by mid-2011.

    Menard is the latest in a string of senior executives who have joined Brightcove this year, including President and COO David Mendels, who came over from Adobe Systems in January. Brightcove -- long rumored to be a Google acquisition target -- is presently looking for acquisitions that will help it improve its market share, differentiate its technology and recruit new talent, Chief Executive Jeremy Allaire tells Reuters. According to recent findings from MediaPost's Center for Media Research, conducted in conjunction with InsightExpress, budgets for the three major forms of video advertising -- TV, online video and mobile video -- are expected to continue growing. Read the whole story...
  • Twitter's Biz Becomes Stoli Spokesman Having firmly entrenched itself in the popular consciousness, Twitter and its co-founder Biz Stone are being featured in the latest ad for Stolichnaya Vodka, reports Fast Company. Under the tagline, "Would you have a drink with you?" the ad features not one but two Stones' at a club chatting about tweets and whether they're just a "constant stream of meaningless babble."

    According to Stoli, the "campaign challenges the consumer to ponder how they measure up -- Are you daring enough? Are you an original?" What Fast Company wants to know is: "Is @Stoli that desperate for Twitter followers, or is Twitter that desperate for Stoli Vodka?" Given Twitter's well-documented monetization issues, it's fair to assume that both partners are equally desperate. Still, we're guessing Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg would have far preferred this to his unflattering Hollywood portrayal. Read the whole story...