Friday, November 30, 2007

Victory! Facebook stopped invading my privacy.

More than 50,000 users (that’s 49,999 and me) have forced Facebook to change the way controversial ad system Beacon worked.

Story on BBC.

Facebook’s official reaction:

Facebook Update on Changes to Beacon

No stories will be published without users proactively consenting

We appreciate feedback from all Facebook users and made some changes to Beacon in the past day. Users now have more control over the stories that get published to their Mini-Feed and potentially to their friends' News Feeds.

Here's how the Beacon changes work:

- Stories about actions users take on external websites will continue to be presented to users at the top of their News Feed the next time they return to Facebook. These stories will now always be expanded on their home page so they can see and read them clearly.

- Users must click on "OK" in a new initial notification on their Facebook home page before the first Beacon story is published to their friends from each participating site. We recognize that users need to clearly understand Beacon before they first have a story published, and we will continue to refine this approach to give users choice.

- If a user does nothing with the initial notification on Facebook, it will hide after some duration without a story being published. When a user takes a future action on a Beacon site, it will reappear and display all the potential stories along with the opportunity to click "OK" to publish or click "remove" to not publish.

- Users will have clear options in ongoing notifications to either delete or publish. No stories will be published if users navigate away from their home page. If they delay in making this decision, the notification will hide and they can make a decision at a later time.

- Clicking the "Help" link next to the story will take users to a full tutorial that explains exactly how Beacon works, with screenshots showing each step in the process.

These changes are in addition to those made earlier to improve the notifications on partner sites as follows

- Users were sometimes moving away from a page before a notification could be fully displayed. We changed the process so that we confirm the full display of the notification before any information can be sent back to a user's Facebook account.

- The notification appears more rapidly and is more clearly displayed.

There has been misinformation in the market about some key aspects of how Beacon works:

- Participation in Beacon is free for all partner sites.

- Beacon only allows for the sharing of specific actions on the specific sites participating in Beacon.

- Beacon only has the potential to display actions to a selection of a user's friends through News Feed and on a user's Mini-Feed.

- Facebook is not sharing user information with participating sites and never sells user information.

As with all its products, Facebook will continue to iterate quickly and listen to feedback from its users

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Innocent advertising on Facebook

Here we are, the beginning of the Myspace-ization of Facebook:

Whenever you befriend an innocent fruit juice, be it honeyed mango or crushed strawberry, your Facebook "friends" will be automatically notified:
Note that Facebook added two icons on the right of each mini-feed story. Whenever you are privy to such privileged information, click on the little cross. That should stop the pain, at least temporarily.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything


France is on strike!

The train network is paralyzed with heavy cancellations and delays as French get a taste of the daily life of British commuters.

The Economist for a more serious take on the issue.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Virtual habbo thief arrested

A 17-year-old is accused of stealing 4,000 euros (£2,840) worth of virtual furniture, bought with real money in Habbo hotel. He will be sentenced to spend 3 years in a virtual Habbo cell. BBC News.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What Chefs do when they are bored

Awesome pictures of animals made with food.

Facebook's advertising illegal in the State of New York

A 100-year-old New York privacy law states that “any person whose name, portrait, picture, or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without the written consent first obtained” can sue for damages.

Chris Kelly, Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook, said the ads are a “representation” of the action users have taken: choosing to link themselves to a product thus it would be difficult for someone to object because that person had already chosen to publicly identify themselves with the brand doing the advertising.

Full article in the NY Times.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facebook to Turn Users Into Endorsers

Facebook will allow brands to create profiles on Facebook. Feeds will display messages like "John Q is a fan of Toyota Prius". Friends of John Q will see banner ads for Toyota throughout Facebook’s site with a photo of John Q and the fact that he likes the Prius.

Article on NY Times.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mobile phones: introducing Google Android

Google launched a new operating system for mobile phones (also known as cellphones across the pond and handphones across the pond across the pond). Motorola, Samsung, Qualcomm, LG, Sprint and T-Mobile are part of the Open Handset Alliance that could adopt Android. Here is a FAQ on what Android means.

As I am typing this, sipping a Cabernet Sauvignon, watching a rerun of Star Wars' "Attack of the clones"on HBOFW and laying-out a user journey for Karmony's Facebook app (to be released this week), I cannot help thinking how much Google has become the default "site" for much of my web needs. I only search on Google, Gmail is my primary personal email address, Google News is my first point of call to see what's going on in the world, I welcomed OpenSocial as it will make our job easier as developers (for Karmony) and I cannot wait to get a phone where I can play with Google Maps (which is not an overpriced/over hyped iPhone)... It all becomes a bit scary how much a single company wields power over the web...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Google lures MySpace for OpenSocial

"OpenSocial is going to become the de facto standard (for developers) instantly out of the gates. It is going to have a reach of 200 million users, which is way bigger than anything else out there," Chris DeWolfe, chief executive and co-founder of MySpace, told reporters.

From Reuters

I reckon that Facebook should join in.

PR pitching bloggers: Wired editor Chris Anderson's bans PR spammers

"I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I'm interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that (I love those emails; indeed, that's why my email address is public). Everything else gets banned on first abuse." Full post here.

Chris then publishes a list of about 300 banned email addresses, a real who's who of public relations practitioners. Comments to the post are entertaining, mostly supportive of the initiative. There are some PR guys whining in the lot (the entertaining part).

Personally, I hope that this will be a wake-up call for lazy PR execs who spam bloggers with press releases or who infringe editors/journalists' personal space. I do receive about 2 emails a week, nothing like what Chris Anderson must be dealing with. I rarely follow-up as they often consists of a copied and pasted press release about some topics I couldn't care less about (some company won an award in Oregon...). Sometimes there is a short note offering me an interview with some executives I never heard of (to talk about awards won in Oregon...).

When I was working with Hill & Knowlton, we went to great length to build relationships with bloggers. It takes a lot of time and efforts but the end result is that you don't end up in a banned list like Chris Anderson's, for all to see and to spam you in return.