Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Facebook announces Timeline, Apps, new features at f8 conference

September 22nd, 2011

by Chris Hogg

At Facebook’s annual f8 conference, one of the most anticipated events in the world of social media, the company introduced new products such as a new Timeline page and the ability to embed various apps such as Spotify and Netflix.

Developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers and media descended on the f8 conference taking place in San Francisco, California today whereFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is opening the event with a keynote.

Among the features introduced at f8 was a re-imagining of the Profile page Zuckerberg called Timeline. He envisions it as the story of each member’s life, laid out with more emphasis on photos.Making apps “social by design”, Facebook also wants users to enjoy using new apps on their Timeline.

Getting the Spotify app, for instance, allows members to stream music and then publicize what they’re doing to their friends. The same practice applies to Netflix or Nike+ or Buzzfeed apps, among dozens of other apps.

Zuckerberg started by announcing a big milestone, saying more than 500 million people used Facebook on a single day for the first time ever recently. Zuckerberg then went on to discuss the user profile page, saying it’s changed a lot over the last five years but it has remained the most important part of Facebook for its users.

He said one of the problems with the profile, however, is that as people share more and more, your past events are pushed further down on the page until they become virtually forgotten. So the next big step with Facebook is Timeline.

Timeline:

Timeline includes “all your stories, all your apps and a new way to express who you are.” Zuckerberg then showed a screenshot of what Timeline looks like and it includes everything you’ve ever uploaded to Facebook so you can see it all on one page. You can also view your entire history of activity on a mobile device.

One of the biggest challenge in designing Timeline, Zuckerberg said, was figuring out how to tell all your important stories on a single page; not every update you’ve made is important in the history of all of your Facebook activity, so the company engineered Timeline to pluck out important moments and summarize your historical activity based on those moments. If you want to add certain pieces of content, you can do so by selecting them and telling Facebook to add them to your Timeline. Timeline also lets you choose certain views, allowing you to view specific types of content in your Timeline view (such as pictures, maps, etc) rather than the entire content feed.

In addition to content, Facebook is also including embeddable Apps as part of Timeline.

“People who use Facebook really love apps,” Zuckerberg said. “People really want to use apps to express themselves.”Apps are now designed to fit into Timeline, so you can highlight everything you’ve done with an app. If you’re cooking, playing a game, reading a news site — it all fits into the Timeline to show what you’ve done.

Finally, Zuckerberg said Timeline will allow users to express who they really are. For example, users can select a “cover photo” which acts like a magazine cover shot and can change it as often as they want.Facebook’s privacy filters are also incorporated into Timeline, allowing users to choose what content to show, a concern for many Facebook users.

With all the customization around Timeline, Facebook is essentially introducing a personalized newspaper that lets users curate content, personalize the look and publish details of their life as part of a single-page layout.Timeline is expected to be available in a couple weeks.

Apps:

The second part of the keynote touched on Apps and Zuckerberg said the company is introducing an entirely new type of application.

Specifically, Zuckerberg said people will now be able to show “lightweight” activity. He said people have continued to say they want to share something, but they don’t want to post it to Facebook because it will annoy their friends. They’re usually small updates such as commenting on a photo, liking a movie, or earning points in a game. People don’t always want to share that info.

To solve this problem, Facebook introduced Ticker to the profile page that shows these small events. Ticker shows on the right side of the profile page.Facebook is introducing new types of apps, to be rolled out in several weeks.

The first is the type that helps you fill out your Timeline, and the second is designed to help you discover new things via your friends.

Music:

Using Spotify as an example, Zuckerberg said users can grant an app permission and then the app will start publishing small events to your timeline. This allows your friends to see what you are doing live, in real time. So when a friend is listening to a new song, that story will be published to your Ticker so your friends can see that you’re listening. Your friends can listen to the same song as you, and the Ticker story is designed to surface new content.

Rumours around listening to music have been floating around for some time but speculation turned into realization when Facebook employee Ji Lee leaked details via tweet yesterday: “The ‘Listen with your friend’ feature in ticker is blowing my mind,” he tweeted. “Listen to what your friends are listening. LIVE.” The tweet has since been deleted but the listen-with-your-friend feature is indeed real.

As you’re listening to a song, you can also start a discussion with the friend with whom you’re listening. And when someone finds a piece of music from you, you are notified. Zuckerberg was particularly proud of this feature, saying it’s great to learn when your activity influenced someone and they liked it. So this real-time sharing is all about discovery, discussion and notification about who is doing what and how people are finding new content.

Movies, TV & Video:

The service is about more than just music, too. Zuckerberg said it will also include movies, TV shows and videos. So Facebook Ticker and News Feed will show you what your friends are watching in real-time and allow you to watch video content within Facebook, powered by Facebook’s new Open Graph.Partners include Netflix, Hulu, Flixter, DirectTV and more.

All this activity shows within Timeline, allowing users to showcase what they’ve watched and listened to, and allowing others to discover new content.

News stories:

Zuckerberg said several businesses will be able to use these new types of apps to build products and make them more social, including news organizations. For the first time, you will also be able to see what news stories your friends are reading in real-time via Ticker, and summaries will be published via News Feed.

Zuckerberg said he sees this as a way to change how the whole news industry works by making everything more social. “The new Open Graph is all about discovering new things through your friends with frictionless experiences real-time serendipity and finding patterns,” Zuckerberg concluded during his keynote.

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]

Photo courtesy of Facebook f8 livestream

UK government mulls idea of banning suspected rioters from social media

August 11th, 2011

Critics and hacker groups are lashing out at the UK government and at BlackBerry maker RIM after British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the UK could block social media services and get user data from mobile phones to shut down further riots.

The UK government is debating whether it should shut down social media websites in order to stop further riots from taking place.

In his opening statement during a Commons debate on Thursday, Cameron told parliament the government is looking at banning individuals from using sites like Twitter and Facebook if they are believed to be plotting criminal activity.

“The prime minister did not go into specifics about how such a block could work, what evidence would be needed to trigger it, and whether it would apply only to individuals or could see networks shut down entirely — instead saying only that the government was looking at the issue,” Metro reports.

Cameron recalled MPs from summer recess to address the increasing violence and riots happening throughout London.

According to the Guardian, Cameron also said the government will hold meetings with Facebook, Twitter and Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry, to discuss “their responsibilities” in this area.

As the BBC reports, under UK law, police are legally allowed to request data from someone’s mobile phone if the information relates to criminal activity.

“Everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media,” Cameron told Parliament. “The free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill.

“So we are working with the police, intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

Cameron has also told broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky News they should turn-in unused footage to help police. That request has been met with opposition from broadcasters who say handing over unused footage would damage their editorial independence.

While the UK government continues to put the blame on social media websites for playing a role in the riots, Metro reports evidence has yet to show Facebook or Twitter played a significant role.

That said, technology has played a part; the uprising in the UK has been dubbed the “BlackBerry riots” by media because several reports indicate people are using the BlackBerry’s instant messaging features to plan and organize riots and looting.

Earlier this week Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, went as far as asking RIM to shut down its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service on Twitter. “Immediate action needed,” he Tweeted. “[Londoners] cannot have another evening like last night tonight. BBM clearly helping rioters outfox police. Suspend it.”

RIM raised eyebrows when it confirmed via Twitter it was indeed helping police. “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” the Tweet reads. “We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”

RIM’s move to help police has caused outrage among hackers and a BlackBerry blog was hacked in response.

The hack was sent as a warning by a group calling itself “Team Poison.” As Computer Weekly reports Team Poison has threatened to publish personal data of RIM employees if the company cooperates with police by handing over user data.

“Team Poison said it did not condone innocent people or small businesses being attacked in the riots, but said it supported attacks on police and government,” Computer Weekly reports. “The hacker group said it was opposed to Blackberry giving user information to police because it could lead to the wrong people being targeted.”

Meanwhile, Cameron says the government continues to use social media and technology to its advantage, publishing photos of people accused of looting online. “No phoney human rights concerns about publishing photographs will get in the way of bringing these criminals to justice,” Cameron said.

Jim Killock, executive director of online advocacy organisation Open Rights Grouptold the Guardian Cameron’s requests attack free speech.

“Events like the recent riots are frequently used to attack civil liberties,” he said. “Policing should be targeted at actual offenders, with the proper protection of the courts. How do people ‘know’ when someone is planning to riot? Who makes that judgment? The only realistic answer is the courts must judge. If court procedures are not used, then we will quickly see abuses by private companies and police. Companies like RIM must insist on court processes. Citizens also have the right to secure communications. Business, politics and free speech relies on security and privacy.”

Facebook launches dedicated app for messaging on Android, iPhone

August 9th, 2011

Facebook has announced a stand-alone mobile app called Messenger. The new app allows users to send messages to friends or groups of people, positioning the company to compete more directly with traditional email and group-messaging services.

Note: Scroll down to see screenshots of the app

Facebook Messenger launches today and apps will be available for iPhone or Android. The new app allows users to send messages to their friends on Facebook, or by SMS to mobile phones. Users can send messages to one person or a group of people and attach photos and location data along with their message.

Messenger works just like the existing Facebook Messages, only it will be a separate application on mobile phones. Facebook says a large portion of its users send messages from the company’s iPhone and Android apps, as well as from Facebook’s mobile website, so it saw an opportunity to pull out a feature that is widely used and launch it as a stand-alone entity.

How it works

Users launch the application and can type messages to friends, similar to sending an email or the way current messages work on Facebook. The app pulls your friends list from Facebook, and you can also add mobile phone numbers and send to people who are not on Facebook. The app is designed to function like an instant message service so messages can be sent quickly and easily to anyone.

When someone replies to the message, everyone else receives a copy of the reply. If your recipient is not on Facebook, you can provide a mobile number and the message will be delivered as a text message. The recipient is notified who else is in the conversation, and in the event a recipient wishes to opt out of a conversation, he or she can simply reply “mute” and Facebook will stop sending replies.

Launching a stand-alone app

While group messaging is not new to Facebook, the strategy of pulling out one feature and launching it as a stand-alone app is a step in a new direction for the company. Facebook says Messenger was built from the ground up by the same people who developed Beluga, a company Facebook acquired in March. Messenger incorporates a lot of the learning and features from that company.

“At the end of the day, messaging is different than any other part of the Facebook mobile experience,” Peter Deng, Director of Product, said in a phone interview. “It’s one of those things you need really quick access to. “Messages are sent instantaneously and the app feels really fast. We’ve removed a bunch of clicks and made it a separate application for speed.”

Deng says Messenger was born from looking at Facebook data and seeing how people use its applications. “An astounding amount of Facebook messages are sent via Facebook mobile right now,” said Deng. “It was surprising to us to see how many people use iPhone, Android and [our mobile site] to send messages.”

Web-mobile integration & features

The mobile experience is heavily embedded into the Web experience, so whenever a message is sent via Messenger, it’s also added to the user’s Facebook Messages inbox. This allows users to have a single copy of conversations no matter what device they use.

Facebook says Messenger gives users added functionality above what traditional text messaging offers, letting anyone opt-out of a conversation that isn’t of interest.

Deng says Messenger can be especially useful when you’re planning an event and you need to quickly put together a conversation with people who are attending, be it a ski trip, a bachelor party or dinner at a restaurant.”Mobile messaging has been one-to-one traditionally,” said Deng. “But now you can attach a location with a message that will only be visible to people you send message to.

“Location data is pulled from GPS so recipients can view a map and see your location.With the launch of a separate messaging app, there are questions around how it could impact usage within Facebook’s existing app, but Deng said the company is not concerned.

“We expect people to use the Facebook app exactly how they’re using it today,” said Deng. “It’s the same system in the Facebook app but the separate app has a few extra features. The conversation between you and friends will be accessible everywhere you go and we don’t expect too big of a change in usage in the Facebook app.”

Deng said the company will continue to watch how people use its applications and iterate as it gets more feedback about what its users’ needs are.

“Right now, we focused on sending and receiving quickly and keeping the user interface simple and minimal,” said Deng. “We as Facebook just want to get out of the way.”

Messenger will launch on iPhone and Android in Canada and the United States today. Apps will be made available in other geographies in the coming weeks.


Digital Journal launches updated Comments plugin using Facebook(R) Platform

March 1st, 2011

Facebook in a computer lab. - Photo by Sarah Houghton-Jan

Social networking giant Facebook has announced its next big move: An updated commenting system is now available to third-parties. Digital Journal is happy to announce it is one of only two Canadian media sites to have the new Comments live and in use.

Digital Journal today revealed a new social commenting section using Facebook Platform to let readers engage with articles, blogs and images across Digital Journal’s entire news network using their Facebook account.

Digital Journal’s integration of the updated Facebook Comments plugin comes on the heels of Facebook’s announcement today that it has launched an update to its Comments plugin that makes it easier for readers to comment on publisher websites with their real identity, and share articles with friends. Digital Journal is one of two Canadian news outlets to work with Facebook on the plugin ahead of the launch.

“As a digital media network with contributors in 200 countries around the world, DigitalJournal.com offers a very unique social news experience for readers,” said Chris Hogg, CEO of Digital Journal, Inc. “We’re pushing the envelope and aiming to define what social news experiences should be all about. Facebook’s new comments plugin offers readers a new and very powerful way to engage and communicate with one another.”

Digital Journal readers will now see a Facebook Comments Box on the bottom of articles, blogs and images, allowing them to comment on articles using their Facebook account. The entire commenting system is powered by Facebook Platform and offers readers richer features to interact with their friends.

“The social layer is one of the deepest and most important parts of a modern media business,” said Hogg, “The Facebook comments plugin is just one more way we’re working to give readers the cutting-edge tools they need to engage with content in new ways.”

Digital Journal today introduces the latest version of the Facebook comments plugin that will further customize the media experience at DigitalJournal.com. These features include:

Comment syndication:

Readers can comment on DigitalJournal.com and share the comment to their Facebook profile. When a friend responds within Facebook, that comment can also appear on DigitalJournal.com. Vice versa, when someone replies to a comment made on Digital Journal, a reader will also see it in their Facebook feed. This two-way integration allows comments and discussion to take place both within Facebook and on Digital Journal — the conversation will be syndicated to wherever readers are.

Sorting comments by relevance:

Comments are ranked based on a reader’s social graph, meaning comments made by friends appear before strangers’ discussions. This feature is designed to help readers find conversations more likely to interest them, with people they know. Facebook Comments also show readers other relevant comments, including comments from friends of friends, comments that have received a large number of replies, or comments that have the most Likes.

Comment as a brand or company:

Readers who also manage a Facebook Page on behalf of a company can also comment as that Page. This enables people to comment as themselves or make a statement on behalf of a business, celebrity, government official and more. Comments made on behalf of a Page will also be shared back to the Page’s Wall. This feature opens up great new potential for dialogue between brands and individuals.

Digital Journal is a Toronto-based global digital media news network operated by Digital Journal, Inc. a leader and pioneer in social news delivery with millions of readers.

Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.

Study: Facebook changing the way people communicate

January 14th, 2011

Facebook in a computer lab. - Photo by Sarah Houghton-Jan

As media, marketers and PR professionals work to understand more about how content consumption habits are changing in digital media, Facebook has continued to emerge as a dominant player.

The social network says it boasts a membership of more than 500 million active members, 50 percent of whom log-in each day. The average user creates 90 pieces of content each month, and the average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.

As Facebook grows, its footprint as a platform for content discovery grows with it and according to a study (PDF) published by Abacus Data, widespread Facebook usage in Canada is changing how citizens consume content and learn about news around them.

The Ottawa-based market research firm says nearly 75 percent of Canadians now maintain a Facebook account, and while more than 90 percent of millennials (those aged 18-29) have a Facebook account, well over half of adults 60 and up do as well.

According to the study, about 60 percent of people older than 60 identify themselves as Facebook users; nearly 70 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 59 say their on Facebook; almost 80 percent of those aged 33 to 44 are on the social network; and 91 percent of millennials have a Facebook account.

“It’s very common to hear of a generational gap in social media use, but these results show that that gap is more of a gradient – the real gap is in how the different generations use social media,” Alex Monk, a strategist at Abacus Data and author of the report, said in a news release. “Membership is one thing, but the critical data is how people use their Facebook accounts.”

The study says the younger the person, the more likely they are to use Facebook often. To investigate how different generations use Facebook, researchers conducted an online survey with 1,362 Canadians in December 2010 and asked them how they were most likely to hear about a newsworthy or important event within their circle of friends. Results showed Facebook is a primary source of news discovery.

“Nearly half of millennials first hear about noteworthy events within their social circles via Facebook, while only 13 percent hear by phone and 8 percent by email,” said Monk. “That’s what makes the millennial generation so different from the others.”

In contrast, more than 50 percent of people ages 45 to 59 and those over 60 were most likely to hear about a noteworthy event within their circle of friends by phone. That said, older generations are not cut off from technology as a means of communication, as nearly 30 percent of respondents older than 60 said they were most likely to hear of noteworthy events via email.

How people hear about a newsworthy event. - Image courtesy Abacus Data

Brand advocates and marketers are flocking to Facebook because of its active user base, especially among younger generations. Businesses are creating content just to be shared via the social network, communication between brands and customers is more transparent and studies show millennials prefer to interact with brands in a digital space.

Citing forecasts from eMarketer, RICG says, “Businesses are expected to spend $1.7 billion on Facebook marketing in 2011, an increase of $500 million over 2010.”

To understand more about who uses Facebook, Abacus researchers also looked into background information such as level of education, geography and age. “One may hypothesize that Facebook is used nearly exclusively by young people and students, as its origins can be traced to university and college campuses,” the study notes. “However, the idea of student-exclusive use quickly evaporates when membership is broken down by level of education.”

The survey showed 70 percent of people with post-graduate or higher education use Facebook; 78 percent of those with a Bachelor’s degree are on the social network; and 76 percent of those with “some” university or college are on Facebook:

In Canada, Facebook use by geography breaks down fairly evenly across the country. Atlantic Canada sees the highest level of Facebook users at 80 percent of the population. Other provinces break down as follows: Quebec (75%), Ontario (72%), Central Canada (69%), Alberta (74%) and British Columbia (75%).

Abacus Data says the key difference between older generations and millennials with Facebook is usage patterns. ”It’s one thing to have a Facebook account, but another to use it,” the study notes.

Researchers say millennials are much more involved in Facebook, with 50 percent checking their account multiple times per day and more than 80 percent checking at least once daily. Among 30- to 44-year-olds, 67 percent check daily, while 58 percent of those aged 45-59 and 50 percent of people older than 60 checking daily.

How often people check Facebook. - Image courtesy Abacus Data

Looking further into usage patterns, researchers asked respondents four statements about sharing information online to see how their usage and behaviour differs. The statements were: “Sharing any kind of personal information online is too much of a risk for me”; “I share selected personal information with my family and friends via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or a personal website”; “I readily share information. I am not concerned with privacy risks, as only my friends want to see what I share online”; and “I don’t use the internet for personal networking or social reasons.”

The trend with milliennials continued, as they were most likely to share information and most likely to be using social media. Older generations said they were not as likely to use social media and more likely to believe sharing information online is too risky. Researchers say this could be indicative of a fundamental, generational attitude difference.

“Among other things, sharing information online can be a sign of comfort with the Internet as a social medium, or as an acceptance of social networking as a means of keeping in touch with friends on a regular basis,” the study says.

Out of those surveyed, 75 percent of millennials share some info online, as they’re more comfortable with technology and Facebook is widely seen as just another natural means of communication.

The study concludes by saying: “A gap does exist between millennials and other generations, but not in the simple use of the Internet or other modern technologies. The use of Facebook as a natural extension for social communication is where a generational gap becomes evident. The prevalence of email use and Facebook membership among older generations suggests that they are active on the Internet; they communicate and share information via email. Real penetration of Facebook as a means of relaying meaningful information within a social circle, however, still seems to rest with millennials.”

[Cross-posted to Future of Media]