Before today, if your annoying Uncle Ronnie acted like a moron on Google+ -- flooding your stream with tons of pointless posts and tagging you in every message, let’s say – the only way to stop the madness was to block him entirely. And as we all know, nothing makes for an awkward Thanksgiving faster than blocking Uncle Ronnie on G+. Someone at Google must be related to Uncle Ronnie, too! Today, a kinder, gentler "Ignore" button rolled out on Google’s social network.
Hey, Tremors fans; we still don't know if you're actually only six connections away from having a BBQ with Kevin Bacon in your backyard. If you're looking to advance the technology that could one day put that question to rest, though, you should check out the Small World Experiment. No, it doesn't have anything to do with Disney rides; it's a joint venture between Yahoo! and Facebook to put the whole "six degrees of separation" thing to the test by tapping into the social network's 750 million member-strong user base.
As far as social media is concerned, Microsoft's more of an awkward wallflower than the fun-loving center of the party. They've toed the waters before, sure – Bing Social, the "awesome" Skype announcement and the company's 1.6-percent stake in Facebook are all proof that Microsoft's at least eyeing the field. But a slip-up on the Microsoft-owned socl.com hints that the boys and girls from Redmond may be considering at least wading in the social network pool, if not quite jumping in head first.
Google+ is officially on the market, and it’s being released in small doses in the form of invites. Much like how Gmail was initially spread in beta, the invite only model creates a sense of exclusivity and belonging. Facebook also used this method to market their network to college students, and eventually became part of the global definition of social media. Whether Google+ mirrors this success is anyone’s guess, but until that time it is time to get to know the features.
"Starting today we'll provide you with the ability to experience Facebook entirely over HTTPS. You should consider enabling this option if you frequently use Facebook from public Internet access points found at coffee shops, airports, libraries, or schools. The option will exist as part of our advanced security features, which you can find in the Account Security section of the Account Settings page," the company wrote in a blog post. Eventually, HTTPS will be made the default setting.
Social authentication is another new security feature introduced by the company: “Instead of showing you a traditional captcha on Facebook, one of the ways we may help verify your identity is through social authentication. We will show you a few pictures of your friends and ask you to name the person in those photos. Hackers halfway across the world might know your password, but they don't know who your friends are.”
These security updates come close on the heels of two high-profile hacks. FB founder Mark Zuckerberg and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have both had their official fan pages hacked in the last few days.
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!