Posts Tagged ‘social media’

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 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.


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.


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.”

The Independent incorporates Facebook ‘Like’ button to let readers subscribe to journalists, topics

January 12th, 2011

Screen shot of

As news sites become more social and adapt to new content discovery platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, innovation is flourishing. With readers suffering from content overload and media outlets being pressured to drive more pageviews, news organizations are turning to targeting capabilities to develop a solution to both problems.

Enter: The Facebook Like button. We’ve covered this in the past, when ESPN used the Like button to create custom news feeds for people based on their interests around specific teams.

Now, The Independent is following suit and allowing readers to subscribe to specific reporters.

“Starting with a few key areas of the site, we’ve been developing the tools to let people get their news from The Independent through social networks in tighter categories, designed to better reflect the parts of our editorial output you particularly enjoy,” Jack Riley wrote in a blog post. “To that end, you can now ‘like’ all of our commentators on Facebook, and if you do then when they publish a story it’ll appear in your news feed.”

A Like-button subscription option is a great way for media outlets to bring in new readers. And because content is so specific to their interest, those readers are more likely to be happy with the content they consume.

In today’s media-saturated landscape, people don’t always go to a site to check daily news. Furthermore, just because a reader was interested in one article from a sports or business section doesn’t mean they’re going to read everything from that section.

Today, when readers visit a news site, they may follow a specific journalist, or perhaps a particular topic. But getting someone spend hours on a site to find information they care about just isn’t going to happen across the board.

Categories once worked as ways to organize content by interest, but they can be too broad in today’s age where there is a plentiful supply of content.

The Independent‘s use of the Facebook Like button is innovative because it’s targeted and users opt-in. Riley gives examples using key writers such as Robert Fisk and Johann Hari, saying readers can “Like” them on The Independent‘s website and when they publish readers are notified via Facebook. The news organization has built similar functionality around football clubs so readers can get targeted news about their favourite teams.

Welcome to the era of personalized news where publishers build-in features outside of their own websites.

[Cross-posted to Future of Media]

Video spoof sheds light on journalism’s obsession with social media

October 20th, 2010

Illustration by Matt Hamm

If you were to sit in on a meeting with the digital media team of any news organization, you’d hear discussion about Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube and just about every other hot tech start-up that is playing a role in redefining the media landscape.

While the benefits of using social media are obvious, there comes a point where we have to ask: How much is too much? How much should a news organization rely on social media in its newsgathering-process, and how much should the “old-school” methods be utilized to gather info? The answer depends on the news organization, but KDFW has produced a spoof video (below) that is going viral. The video pokes fun at social media obsession in newsgathering.

Posted to its Facebook page on Monday, the video pokes fun at every social media tool and journalism’s increasing obsession with each. Some of the video highlights include a reporter who doesn’t say a word on TV, instead choosing to share news by sending tweets from his mobile phone; it showcases a reporter taking a picture with a corpse so she can post it to her Facebook page; and a reporter who checks-in on FourSquare to get coupons while reporting on-scene.

According to the Dallas Observer, the video looks to have debuted at the Lone Star Emmys. Here it is:

- Cross-posted to Future of Media

ESPN taps into power of Facebook ‘Like’ button for follow-ups and targeted distribution

October 15th, 2010

Photo by Prescott Pym

ESPN’s, the news site dedicated to all things related to cricket, has announced some new features for its audience that help news get to a targeted demographic easily.

Like countless other news sites, has been using the Facebook “Like” button to allow readers to express their interest in certain news stories.

The problem with a ubiquitous Like button is that it’s difficult to segment or target specific users based on their interests. For example, a reader may Like a story because it focuses on their favourite team, or because it’s about their favourite player, or because they hate the team that lost. Editors and social media managers have no real way of knowing what specific element of a story the reader liked, and there is no way to follow-up with that reader with supplementary news. That is changing, however, as the site announced new targeted “Like” buttons for specific parts of each story.

In a blog post, social media manager Will Luke announced the targeted “Like” buttons will allow to personalize news to offer stories to specific groups of people.

“If you actively decide that you like a particular player, or your favourite team, then we feel that’s a strong enough indication to us that you’re interested in hearing more about that person or country,” writes Luke. “So now, if you’ve already liked a certain individual on, you’ll receive any related stories which are published on the site, straight to your Facebook wall. It includes a summary of the story and a link, so you can go straight to it or share it with your friends.”

An example of what this looks like from

The ability to personalize news and deliver specific information to readers who have demonstrated an interest in the subject presents a new and potentially powerful way to distribute content.

Outside of just sports, any news organization can customize Like buttons to target specifics on their site. For example, someone who likes something in “Business” may be more likely to care about that subject than Arts, for example. What would be the purpose of pushing an Arts story out to all fans on Facebook if you know a segment of the population doesn’t care about that topic? Why not target?

The same can be done for niche topics or trending news topics, such as the Chilean mine rescue; a Like button on a topic page would allow a news organization to push out updates to people interested in that subject without pushing that content to just everyone on Facebook.

In the age of personalized news, the Like button gives readers the power to select topics or items they enjoy reading, while at the same time providing news organizations with the ability to target specific people who they know are interested in their content.

Cross-posted on Future of Media, Photo Courtesy Prescott Pym