Adam Kramer has been working on a project at Facebook aggregating 100 million users’ status updates into a database and parsing it for positive and negative words. When you map this data over a timeline spanning a couple years, what do you have? The Facebook United States Gross National Happiness Index.
They have taken precautions so no one’s privacy is in trouble, but they tally a score each day based upon the status updates’ positive and negative emotion words. Some of the conclusions are obvious and expected: people are much happier (9.7% happier) on Friday than Monday—the saddest day of the week. Further, according to the study, two of the saddest days of the year were the days when Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson died.
The other fairly common spikes fell around major U.S. holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the fourth of July.
You can check out the index yourself over on the Facebook site. How accurate do you think this type of “polling” can be, and do you think its findings are credible?
From what we understand, the Japanese firm has called into question the use of the very axe that helps break the ice on social networks like Facebook: friendship requests. Mekiki was awarded US Patent #6,879,985 in 2005 for, among other things, “a message communicator configured to communicate a first message from one member to another member and configured to communicate a respective response to the first message from the another member to the one member, the response establishing a relationship between the one member and the another member.”
Boston-based Tele-Publishing Inc also believes that certain Facebook features contravene one of its patents. US Patent #6,253,216 was awarded to Tele-Publishing way back in 2001 and deals with the “method and apparatus” used for serving a personal page. The subject of its patent infringement claim appears to be Facebook’s privacy feature, which protects all the dazzling nymphets and the handsome hunks from the prying eyes of cyber stalkers. In fact, most contemporary social networks let their users specify who gets to view what.
Every gamer’s favorite disbarred lawyer, Jack Thompson, has a new nemesis with which to do battle. This time Facebook is feeling the brunt of his legal threats. Thompson claims that the social networking company allowed defamatory postings about him to remain on the site. He is asking for an eye-popping $40 million in damages.
Jack Thompson gained notoriety (or infamy, if you like) for his crusade against video games, which he referred to as “murder simulators.” This course of action angered many gamers, leading to public campaigns against the overzealous lawyer. He was eventually disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court for his public legal misconduct.
In Thompson’s complaint he says the Facebook postings have caused "great harm and distress." Some Facebook groups bearing his name include “I Hate Jack Thompson” and “Jack Thompson never played Legend of Zelda.” As evidence of discrimination, Thompson cites Facebook’s decision to remove threats against President Obama, leaving anti-Thompson groups on the site. Anyone care to defend Thompson on this?
Your Econ class probably never covered Facbook, but maybe it should. According to the Silicon Alley Insider, Facebook is "beating the s--- out of its numbers," and it's all thanks to Zynga's virtual goods.
Farmville, Texas Hold'em, and other social games are turning out to be cash cows. By some estimates, Zynga is pulling in a staggering $580,000 per day, with a good chunk of that coming from selling its users virtual goods. To ensure the well doesn't dry up, Zynga has spent a reported $50 million on Facebook ads.
"Zynga is an aggressive player in this space … possibly the most aggressive," writes AllFacebook.com. "There is two parts to their strategy. The first is to fund developers that have game ideas, promote them, and for those that are successful, they snatch them up, often at pennies on the dollar. The second is outright acquisition of successful application that they didn’t fund."
While Zynga has proven that selling virtual goods can be booming business, the future looks even brighter. There's talk of Zynga and Facebook teaming up to build a "Pay With Facebook" payment system that would both take on Paypal, and allow the companies to cash in twice on selling virtual goods.
The social web can be harsh on the socially feckless. It is essential that those with a sizable internet audience - even if an unintended, uninvited one - possess a reasonable amount of savoir-faire. The Washington Post will not be assessing its editorial staff’s innate social skills, though.
“When using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment. We never abandon the guidelines that govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks of our brand of journalism,” Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli wrote in a staff note.
The paper has advised journalists against “tweeting or posting anything – including photographs or video – that could be perceived as reflecting political racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.”
The folks over at The Register got a response from Facebook about all the flak they’ve been catching about their Mailbox API. Facebook says that their new API is less intrusive than Gmail’s scanning efforts.
Gmail is known to sift through an email and provide targeted ads depending on what it finds. Facebook claims they will white list approved applications and the user will still need to explicitly grant the application access to their information. Also according to Facebook, the fact that they don’t stand to make money (via ads) means their effort is less litigious than Gmail’s.
They offered that the potential applications of the API might outweigh the risks for some users. One likely use will be to expose your Facebook inbox through POP, making it accessible on devices in a similar way as email applications.
It is still debatable whether it is advantageous to give developers access to potentially sensitive data within Facebook. Which do you think is worse: Facebook’s mailbox API or Gmail’s email scanning?
Facebook has plans to make available an inbox and notification API and security experts everywhere aren’t pleased. The API will expose users’ mailbox messages and notifications to applications developed around the framework.
Graham Cluley, a Sophos senior technology consultant said "the idea of Facebook applications being given free rein to mine users' inboxes and sent folders sends a shiver down my spine” in an interview with The Register. The API is clearly a point of contention for many security analysts who feel that Facebook may be revealing too much to developers.
Ultimately, it is going to come down to how Facebook handles the permissions of these applications. If they skirt the privacy concerns and bury the details in fine print about users’ rights, there will certainly be trouble. However, the liability falls onto the user to make sure their privacy isn’t invaded by their approved applications.
How do you feel about Facebook apps being able to dig into your messages?
According to DigitalBeat, Facebook today is expected to announce a partnership with media research firm Nielsen that will give the social networking site better analytics on how its ads are doing.
The partnership comes just one week after Facebook flew past 300 million users and, presumably, will bring the site closer to its goal of being a massive company on the same level as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google. In order to do that, Facebook needs a strong presence in the advertising market.
As part of the partnership, advertisers who are also Nielsen customers will be allowed to poll Facebook users who have seen the ads on the social network's site. These will appear in the sponsored messages space on Facebook's homepage, and according to Facebook, they will be controlled to limit participation. Facebook also allayed privacy concerns by promising that no personally identifiable information will be collected.
Further, you can also setup the connection to work both ways and synchronize tweets into your MySpace activity stream. The synchronized tweets are advertised as “from MySpace” and offer a link back to your MySpace profile.
MySpace is jumping on the bandwagon after AIM began offering similar functionality through its Lifestream service earlier this month. The canoodling is likely an attempt, by all parties involved, to steal market share from social networking giant Facebook.
Can a person's sexual preference be revealed simply by looking at their online Facebook friends? Yes it can, say two students from MIT who have developed a software program that purports to do just that. By looking at the gender and sexuality of a person's Facebook friends, the program uses statistical analysis to predict the likelihood that someone is gay or straight.
"When they first did it, it was absolutely striking - we said, 'Oh my God - you can actually put some computation behind that,'" said Hal Abelson, a computer science professor at MIT. "That pulls the rug out from a whole policy and technology perspective that the point is to give you control over your information - because you don't have control over your information."
The project, which the MIT students have dubbed "Gaydar," is just one of many that seek to analyze social networks and find out what the connections between people might be revealing, such as whether or not someone is likely to be a terrorist, political affiliations, or even if they're happy or overweight.
Boston.com has a ton more on this and related studies, which you can read here. Afterward, hit the jump and tell us whether or not you think your Friends list reveals anything about you.