Monday, February 28, 2011
  • Gavin O'Malley, February 28, 2011, 12:08 PM
  • By now, you may have heard the one about King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia offering to buy Facebook for $150 billion to prevent the social network from facilitating further social unrest in the Middle East. No, it's not true, but the attention the rumor generated this weekend -- making it into Iran's Tehran Times -- speaks to the surreal nature of recent world events. Indeed, who could have predicted a few years ago that Facebook would now be valued at upwards of $50 billion, and be partially responsible for overturning Middle Eastern governments, while threatening the stability of others?

    "The story just isn't true," confirms Yahoo News. No, the rumor started after a Web site named DawnWires.com filed the story in its "LOL News" section, accompanies by a footer clearly stating that it was part of Dawn Wires' "Sunday Humor" series. Read the whole story...
  • Coinciding with the Oscar's telecast on Sunday, Oscar.com offered a glimpse into the promising future of multichannel, consumer-controlled event coverage, paidContent confirms. Though not without its glitches, the Web extension "played opposite the telecast about as well as Geoffrey Rush did Colin Firth in Best Picture winner The King's Speech," exclaims paidContent's Andrew Wallenstein.

    Wallenstein took in the awards show with the browser-based view known as All Access rather than the Backstage Pass view, which assembled the same video feeds for iPod, iTouch and iPad. "Even though All Access cost $4.99 (Backstage Pass was a more economical 99 cents), it was money well spent to watch a relatively new approach to event coverage," according to Wallenstein.

    Calling the interface "simple, intuitive and responsive," he was able to choose from a dozen different camera angles, without any serious ad clutter. On the downside, Wallenstein called two-screen event viewing a potentially exhaustive experience, but that must depend on viewers' attention spans and appetites. Read the whole story...
  • With the help of Facebook Connect, a new startup named SocialEyes is trying to make video chat "truly social," reports GigaOm. What does that mean? "The San Francisco company is building a video messaging platform that tries to move beyond largely one-to-one or group chatting experiences and looks like something Facebook would make it if went after video chatting." And what does that look like?

    The service, which will exist as a standalone site as well as a Facebook application, lets users maintain multiple chats throughout the day, while also tapping Facebook's social graph for conversations. "Users can pop in and out of individual chats or combine them together in group sessions called scrums," GigaOm writes. Similar to Facebook, SocialEyes users can also join or start their own private groups among friends, or participate in public groups based around hobbies and interests. Meanwhile, offering even more flexibility, users who can't connect in real-time via video chat or instant messaging can send video messages to friends. Read the whole story...
  • An investment fund led by J.P. Morgan is in talks to acquire a sizable stake in Twitter, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. According to sources, the fund is seeking a 10% share for $450 million, which would value the top microblogging platform at $4.5 billion. Similar to a fund recently set up by Goldman Sachs to invest in Facebook, JPMorgan's Digital Growth Fund was established this month to give wealthy clients access to popular private tech companies.

    Citing a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, FT.com reports that the fund has raised $1.22 billion to date, while sources say the fund could grow to $1.3 billion. Along with Twitter, JPMorgan reportedly plans to invest in additional private web companies, which could include Zynga, Skype, LivingSocial and Gilt. On Sunday, it wasn't clear to FT.com whether the JPMorgan fund would make a direct investment or buy out existing investors and shareholders with Twitter's approval. According to later reports, the latter case seems the most likely. Read the whole story...
  • In a bid to increase its already-daunting online footprint, Facebook has augmented activated Like and Recommend buttons to publish full news feed stories -- instead of one-line Recent Activity stories. "The change gives more prominence to outbound links in the news feed and on a user's wall, and so will increase referral traffic and draw more sites to add the Like button," writes Inside Facebook. "In other words, when you hit that 'Like' button to express your thumbs-up approval of a particular site or story, Facebook will now post an update to your wall that includes a lot more details about what you're approving," notes ReadWriteWeb."This change will likely be a boon to publishers that will see more of their content fill more news streams," ReadWriteWeb adds. "But it may not be a welcome change to Facebook users who find their feeds full of likes-are-now-shares."

    What's more, "Because the content will now be more prominent on user's walls, some may be more reluctant to click the Like button," according to CNet.  "Perhaps the change was necessary," suggest Mashable. "Because it was never made clear to users that the Like button would function differently than the Share button, many never understood what it meant to click Like on a piece of content. Making the result the same as the Share button could build stronger user expectations, ultimately fashioning a better user experience."

    >Either way, "While some users are complaining that the Like button and the Share button fulfill distinct roles -- you might want to share a story about a government regime firing on unarmed protesters, but you certainly don't want to 'Like' it -- whether you like it or not, the Share button seems to be going the way of the dodo," Downloadsquad writes. Read the whole story...