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."
Hulu is celebrating its first anniversary. And what an amazing inaugural year it was for Hulu: its market share rose steadily through the year making it one of the most riveting video sites on the internet. The video-on-demand site has stepped into its second year armed with new social networking features.
Now website users can share their favorite shows with each other using the new "Hulu Friends" feature. Users can import contacts from major social networks and email services. The site ensures that friends are kept up to speed with each other’s viewing activities. This move is expected to make Hulu more enticing for advertisers.
According to a new study by Nielsen-Online, social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online activity. Collectively referred to as "Member Communities," Nielsen says these are visited by over two-thirds of the online population, putting them "ahead of personal email." It's also the fastest-growing sector out of the top four, which also includes search, portals, and PC software and email.
"Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience," says John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online (PDF). "While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing. Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large."
Facebook, which ranks as the most popular social network, draws three out of every 10 people online each month across the nine markets tracked. And it's not limited to any single age group. According to Nielsen, the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 came from the 35-49 demographic.
The report, titled "Global Faces and Networked Places," attributes some of the growth to the prominence of mobile phones, noting a "big increase over last year" in the number of users visiting Member Communities through their handsets.
Surprised by any of this? Hit the jump and sound off.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, such as removing images of breastfeeding babies deemed obscene on Facebook. Enforcing the no-breast policy led to the creation of a Facebook group called "Hey Facebook breastfeeding is not obscene," which gained steam last weekend after protesters organized a virtual "nurse-in" (11,000 members changed their profile pictures to photos showing themselves breastfeeding) and organized a protest in front of Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters.
The real-world protest, organized by Stephanie Muir, an Ottawa woman and mother of five, drew a few dozen women out of the group's 87,000 members, who broke out in song and breasted their children while pacing outside the site's headquarters. The protest didn't attract a large crowd, but the group hopes its message will spread and encourage Facebook to change its policy.
Facebook contends it has no problem with breastfeeding, but does take issue with fully exposed breasts when a user complains.
"Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those terms (on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material) and may be removed," Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in a statement. "The photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain."
Is Facebook in the wrong? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.
With social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook featuring in the list of top online display ad publishers, Yahoo must be unhappy for having missed out. Not only has Yahoo seen both its social networking ventures – Mixd being the other one – fail miserably, but it also failed in its bid to acquire Facebook. Don’t forget to pay homage to Mash.