According to research conducted by Nielsen, Australians with Facebook accounts are online a little over three times as long as non-Facebook users, which Nielsen says is indicative of how different types of users view the Internet.
"Facebook users are spending a lot more time using video, a lot more time on entertainment sites, and so on," says Mark Higginson, Nielsen director of Analytics. "Our conclusion is that those who use Facebook view it as another media platform. They think, 'will I watch television or surf on the internet for a while?'.
"Whereas non-Facebook users tend to the view the internet as more functionally orientated. They think, 'I have to do my banking' or 'I have to pay this bill.' Facebook users consume media, whereas non-users use the internet as a tool.”
This "digital divide," as Nielson puts it, also manifests itself in other ways. According to Nielsen, Facebook users spend seven times as long on search engines as non-Facebook users, and more than twice as long on entertainment sites. They also spend about 51 percent more time on news and information sites, Nielson reports.
Comscore has released its March U.S. search engine market share numbers, and the results might surprise you. While the vast majority of the Internet still turns to Google for search (65.1%), Bing has posted an aggressive share gain hitting a record 11.7%. What's even more interesting is that it turns out most of the hit came from ex-googler's as Yahoo's fortunes also nudged up ever so slightly to 16.9%.
Microsoft's growth in the search engine market has been slow and steady since the Bing rebranding, but its refreshing to see their might actually be some competition left in the search market. Its hard to imagine that this trend could continue indefinitely, but as we all know healthy competition is great news no matter which way you look at it. For those keeping score this is also the tenth straight month of share gains for Bing.
If you dealt with a snooping parent in your early years, you probably never thought of filing a harassment suit. But that's just what one 16 year old Arkansas teen is doing after his mother reportedly broke into his Facebook account. The mother, Denise New from Arkadelphia (sort of like Philadelphia, but in Arkansas?) is looking at a May court date.
New does not currently have custody of the teen, but says their relationship was good before the Facebook incident. According to the complaint, New logged into the Facebook account in question and posted "slanderous" content before changing the password. "You're within your legal rights to monitor your child and to have a conversation with your child on Facebook whether it's his account, or your account, or whoever's account," said New.
The county attorney wouldn't comment on the specific case, but clarified the harassment statute as an action "with purpose to harass, annoy or alarm another person without good cause". It seems that the mother's actions may apply, but New intends to fight the charges. Do electronic communications assume a special kind of privacy? More importantly, would you consider this sort of behavior harassment?
Pete Warden, an entrepreneur from Boulder, Colorado, was about to share with fellow researchers the data he collected from the public profiles of some 210 million Facebook users. His records included a "social graph" showing all the friend connections between users in the dataset, and could have been a pretty powerful research tool for social scientists. So where is the data now?
Wiped out, says Warden, who claims Facebook threatened legal action if he didn't delete his data. Warden says he complied because he didn't have the funds to contest a lawsuit.
That's too bad, as more than 50 researchers had requested copies of the dataset, which Warden says he obtained by writing "crawler" software designed to harvest information from Facebook profile pages viewable without logging into the site. At the time of the alleged legal threats, Warden had already used the graph to show how the social connections of 120 million US users were concentrated in regional clusters.
Pasquale Manfredi must never have seen an episode of Sopranos. He's probably never seen Goodfellas either, or any of the Godfather movies. If he has, well, he wasn't paying very close attention then.
In just about every mafia-based flick, criminals go to great lengths to hide their dealings from the law. But not Manfredi, who was on the run from police, right up until they tracked him down based on a series of Facebook chats.
According to CNN, Manfredi, who calls himself Scarface, is being charged with multiple counts of murder, mafia associations, drugs trafficking, and possessing heavy weaponry . One of the accusations alleges Manfredi murdered a rival mafia member with a portable rocket launcher.
"Typically we think of those in the mafia as pretty meticulous in covering their tracks, and many are just shocked at the outright stupidity of this mafia suspect," CNN's Errol Barnett reports.
Barnett goes on to say that Manfredi's Facebook account is proving to be a gold mine for police, who are looking into Manfredi's more than 200 friends for other crime figures.
In the wake of the death of a 17-year old girl, Facebook has committed to improving their safety protocols. Many wanted to social networking site to add a “panic button” to flag profiles of suspected pedophiles. Facebook is instead expanding their current reporting system.
Richard Allan, director of policy for Facebook Europe reaffirmed the company’s focus on protecting its users, but said the idea of a panic button was unworkable. Commenting on the reporting system Allan said, “The system effectively handles all manner of potential abuse we see on the site, ranging from the common minor breaking of the rules, such as embarrassing pictures, to the extremely rare serious matters that are quickly escalated to law enforcement."
Facebook has managed to avoid looking out of though here, but is this enough? Some groups are still pushing for more aggressive tools to protect users. Facebook has not completely ruled out a panic button, but says more consideration is needed.
Need more evidence that Facebook rules the Internet? Try this one on for size. According to research firm Hitwise, Google blinked, and Facebook leapfrogged ahead of the search engine as the most popular destination on the Web.
Combined, the two sites accounted for 14 percent of all U.S. traffic last week, but individually, Facebook nudged ahead of the search giant by claiming 7.07 percent of the hits compared to Google's 7.03 percent.
This marks the first time Facebbok has ever been able to outpace Google for a week, and likely not the last. While the lead is small, Facebook continues to trend upwards, having grown from a little over 2 percent a year ago. Not only that, but Facebook's membership has more than doubled in the past year as well.
Not surprisingly, users are also spending more time on Facebook, logging on average almost 6.5 hours per week, compared to less than 2.5 hours on Google.
The mood might be a little glum at the Foursquare and Gowalla offices today. Facebook is said to be readying new location sharing features for the popular social networking site. The launch is expected in late April. The user agreement on Facebook was updated in November to include language about the privacy of user location updates. The company also indicated that any location sharing features they might roll out (wink, wink) would be an opt-in service.
Early indications are that the location tools will come in two flavors. First, there will be an integrated ability to share your location via status updates. Secondly, Facebook will create and API for app developers to use to add location awareness to their apps. Advertisers would place high value on locations data for even a fraction of Facebook’s 400 million users.
The usefulness and possible consequences of this feature are still unknown. We hope Facebook will tread softly, having learned their lesson from past mistakes (coughBEACONcough). Though, what about app developers? We all know some apps can be on the shady side. Are you comfortable sharing your exact location with developers?
Facebook users know how it can be. You log in and notice you have a huge number of notifications. You find yourself dismayed as it becomes apparent that most of them are just app notification spam. You know the sort: so-and-so just answered a question about you, or what’s-his-face wants your help in Mafia Wars. Well, hopefully you won’t see quite so much of that anymore now that Facebook has ended support for the ‘notifications.send’ API.
We’re happy to see Facebook take even a small step to keep the service usable. Sure, developers may not like this so much, but Facebook did just give them the ability to request user email addresses for notification purposes. They also have the new games dashboard to play with. It is currently unclear how this will affect the newsfeed. Currently, we are still seeing a few app posts in it, and we wouldn’t mind if that went away.
Overall, this is a good move by Facebook. Even with the massive success Facebook is enjoying, they have to pay attention to the experience of users lest they become the next MySpace. Just think, that would have sounded like a good thing three or four years ago. Internet people are fickle.
What it means, exactly, isn’t clear. But what it could mean is trouble for social networking. Facebook has been granted a patent on the Newsfeed--the method it uses for “displaying a news feed in a social network environment.” A method which looks amazingly similar to something that all other social networking sites do.
The questions raised are: What does the patent describe? And what does the patent cover? From the patent’s abstract we learn this: “The method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items.” Graphically, (from Figure 5 of the patent application), this looks like this:
Overall, it seems general enough to cover a lot of social networking activity, which could be a problem. A generous interpretation of the patent would give Facebook tremendous control over social networking.
While it is possible, according to Nick O’Neill at All Facebook, that the patent could be as significant as the original six degrees patent, he’s guessing it probably won’t be. While the patent seems to describe what takes place on Twitter, for example, O’Neill explains that it “appears that this patent surrounds implicit actions. This means status updates, which is what Twitter is based on, are not part of this patent. Instead, this is about stories about the actions of a user’s friends.” Maybe too fine a distinction of us to appreciate, perhaps, but O’Neill says the distinction is significant and could mean a lessening the patent’s potential impact.