A recent report in Australia's News Online predicted that Facebook is living on borrowed time with only five years left to live, a demise that will result from gradual fragmentation. But could something far more sinister take down Facebook? Maybe so.
According to Jonathan Good of 1000 Memories, an online portal where users can "build a space to share photos, record stories, and memories with family and friends" of someone who has passed away, some 50 million zombie accounts will clutter Facebook by 2015. All Good had to do was crunch the numbers to arrive at his figure.
"The numbers suggest that 2.6 million Americans will die in 2010," Good writes. "The simple math that one third of Americans are now on Facebook would suggest that just over 1 million Americans will pass away on Facebook this year. The real math is a bit more complicated, of course. On Facebook, college kids sharing their drunken travels are over-represented, and the far-more-likely-to-die old, under-represented."
The numbers do indeed get more complicated, the end result of which is 50 million accounts whose owners have passed away in 2015, Good says. You can read exactly how he arrived at that figure right here.
It's a sign of the strange times we live in that even death isn't quite as absolute as it used to be. Everyone still dies eventually, but their carefully-crafted online personae live on. These digital remains can be a nice memorial or a disturbing remnant, depending on how well a person has prepared.
So it's worth taking a few minutes to think about what happens to your online life when your real one's over. To help you out, we've put together a 12-step guide to getting your virtual affairs in order. It's a little macabre, yeah, but if you can get over the heebie-jeebies, it'll be time well spent.
Social networks aren't just for home users to keep in touch with old acquaintances and to try and increase their friend-count like a top score, they can also be beneficial to IT pros. At least that's what HP is banking on, which will soon unveil its own social network aimed at the enterprise.
HP is calling it 48Upper, and as the manifesto reads, "We have lived with the stereotype of being introverted, pessimistic loners for too long."
Right now HP is getting 48Upper ready for beta testing. It will be delivered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS), giving subscribers the ability to control how technical information is shared, and whether or not to tag information as "public."
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.
Well, there you have it--someone's gone and made a desktop client for interacting with Facebook. It sounds a little lame at first glance. Facebook, after all, works quite well across a number of desktop and portable devices. Since you need an internet connection to make any kind of use of the service, be it in a separate client or through the usual Web-based format, what's stopping one from simply eschewing any kind of downloaded application and going straight to Facebook-dot-com itself?
Find out the answer to this, and get a preview of the desktop Facebook application, after the jump!
We know exactly how popular Twitter has grown, but never did we consider that anyone could be arrested for not using the microblogging service. Apparently that's a real possibility, as teenager singer Justin Bieber and his entourage found out.
Bieber was supposed to appear at the Roosevelt Field mall on Friday, but decided to keep his distance because the crowd was getting a bit too rowdy. When the police showed up, they asked James A. Roppo, a record label exec, to help clear out the crowd by sending a Twitter message, and then arrested him after claiming he didn't cooperate, Newsday reports.
"We asked for his help in getting the crowd to go away by sending out a Twitter message," said Kevin Smith, Nassau County Police Det. Lt. "By not cooperating with us we feel he put lives in danger and the public at risk."
In a radio interview, Bieber said the scene was "so crazy" that he couldn't make his way into the building, adding that the authorities had threatened to put in him handcuffs and haul him off to jail.
Roppo could face charges that include criminal nuisance, endangering the welfare of a minor, and obstructing government administration, Smith said.
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.
Facebook will soon be at your eardrums as Boston-based tech firm Vivox is busy giving the finishing touches to its voice chat offering for Facebook. Vivox identifies itself as the leading provider of voice chat services for online games and virtual worlds. The service is currently in closed beta and only a few weeks away from launch.
Effective immediately, the U.S. Marines have banned Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and all other social media sites from their networks.
According to an official order issued to the Marines, “These internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries. The very nature of SNS [social network sites] creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage that puts OPSEC [operational security], COMSEC [communications security], [and] personnel… at an elevated risk of compromise.”
The ban is currently slated to last a year, and was drawn up by U.S. Strategic Command due to network security concerns. But, if a Marine is able to provide a “mission critical need,” the sites could be temporarily unblocked. But, other than that, there will be no tweeting from the frontlines.
As more users flock to Facebook, MySpace owner News Corp sees a need to shake its social networking site up, and it plans to do that by transforming the social playground into a bigger online gaming platform. Johathan Miller, News Corp's head honcho, hopes the move will inspire videogame suppliers to use MySpace's data to develop better games and then launch those apps on the site.
"MySpace is and will be more in the future a gaming platform, a space for people to meet and play games," Miller said at the Fortune Brainstorm: TECH conference in Pasadena, California.
Whether or not the gamble on gaming works, MySpace is need of a change if it is to stay relevant. According to comScore, Facebook recorded 307 million unique visitors in April, compared to less than 125 million for MySpace. And further underscoring the divide between the two social networking sites, Facebook last month passed MySpace's peak number of unique monthly users in the U.S., 76.3 million, which was set back in October 2008, Reuters reports.
"If you look at the big activities online, games right now is number three," Miller added. "Communications, search, games. So it's clearly going to be a major focus."