Social Media

The Facebook Trinity: Newsfeed, Timeline, and Graph Search

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a press event today to unveil a new feature known as ‘Graph Search’ that, while currently in its beta stages, will soon be included alongside the Newsfeed and Timeline currently offered on the popular social networking website, which features over a billion users. The Graph Search will fill in the blanks leftover from the Newsfeed and Timeline, the two aspects of Facebook that are currently available. Each of these sections of the ‘Facebook trinity’ will feature a certain aspect of the connections available between Facebook users.

The Newsfeed is a collection of statuses and updates to Facebook user pages of all of one’s Facebook friends, so it essentially can tell Facebook users what’s currently going on in the lives of their Facebook friends. The Timeline is the feature that allows Facebook users to know a bit more personal information about one of their specific Facebook friends. Each Facebook user has a Timeline that displays all of their interactions with other Facebook users, the statuses and photos that they have posted, as well as plenty of other information.

And now comes the Graph Search, which should fill in the blanks between ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are you doing?’. Though the Graph Search will still adhere to current privacy settings that are set up on Facebook profiles, it can be used as a search function to get broader information and find select individuals. For instance, Facebook users will be able to easily search for which of their friends (or friends of friends) speak Spanish, live in Dallas, went to University of Florida, or all of the above.

The intention of Graph Search is to further connect Facebook users. In Facebook’s earlier years, it was easier to find connections to other Facebook users, based on one’s favorite movies or what groups the Facebook users both belonged to. In recent years, this connectivity has been replaced as Facebook has been updated. As Zuckerberg has stated, the Graph Search feature is a call-back to Facebook’s roots of being used to make new connections.

Though the Graph Search is not a full-fledged Internet search engine, it can be used to easily search for things like “photos I’ve liked” or “friends of friends who are single in San Francisco” with instant results. Additionally, Facebook will be featuring Bing results in Facebook searches; while Facebook and Google do not have the same functions, it is unsurprising that the two act as competitors and that Facebook would affiliate itself with Bing, considering Google’s attempt to directly compete with Facebook with the mostly failed Google Plus service.

The market’s reaction to the announcement of Graph Search has been fairly low-key, as Facebook’s shares fell 2%. However, some market critics are saying that Yelp, Inc., a company focused on online reviews and recommendations, may suffer from Facebook’s Graph Search feature, as users will be able to easily see restaurants and other services that their Facebook friends have ‘liked’. Thus, Yelp’s shares falling more than 6% was a predictable turn of events.

Snapchat and the Rise and Fall of New Social Media Platforms

In the past few years, companies are constantly trying to figure out what the next hot social networking service is going to be. Before its launch, Google Plus was expected to be the ‘Facebook killer’ and people believed that with a company as large and influential as Google, everyone would be moving on from Facebook to Google Plus in the same way that people migrated from MySpace to Facebook in 2006, when Facebook expanded its membership eligibility from college and high school students to anyone over the age of thirteen with an e-mail address.

However, Google Plus did not prove to be the ‘Facebook killer’ it was initially believed to be, as many people flocked to create accounts and soon after abandoned the website, realizing it offered very little that Facebook didn’t already have to offer. These days, the majority of Google Plus users tend to be Google employees themselves, and though there are a significant number of accounts, these accounts’ activity has lulled almost to a complete stop, evidenced by Facebook being the #2 in the Alexa rankings in the United States, compared to Google Plus’ ranking in at #129,199 at the time of this posting.

So what will be the ‘Facebook killer’? And does there even really need to be one? These days, other social media platforms appear to be trying to integrate with the social media conglomerate, rather than competing with it. There are functions for users to share their Twitter and Instagram posts on their Facebook profiles and these major social networks appear to currently be co-existing rather peacefully. That is, except for a recent surprise hit known as Snapchat.

While Snapchat is hardly a Facebook killer, nor does it claim to be, some tech critics are referring to it as ‘the next Instagram’ and it’s notable because of Facebook’s half-handed and failed attempts to try to compete with it. Essentially, Snapchat’s appeal is its ability to send temporary messages, pictures, and videos to individuals and groups that expire in a few seconds and are immediately deleted from the devices and the company’s servers. In the fast-chatting, quick-sharing world we live in, and that teenagers are growing up in, Snapchat has been particularly popular among youths.

Though, like Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat offers Facebook connectivity so that users can send ‘Snaps’ to their Facebook friends with relative ease, Facebook has also attempted to launch a competing, nearly identical mobile application called ‘Facebook Poke’. Facebook Poke has not attracted many users at all, and in fact, some are citing the fact that teenagers are interested in Snapchat specifically because it isn’t Facebook. Could it be this attitude that ultimately becomes the oft-mentioned Facebook killer?

When parents and grandparents and teachers all have Facebook profiles, is Facebook starting to become the social network that’s no longer ‘cool’? Time will only tell what youths of the future will turn to when it comes to their favorite social networks, but Snapchat appears to be one step in a certain direction of instantaneous and fleeting communication.

New Businesses, Legislation Look to Address Online Privacy Concerns

The rampant use of social media sites and online networks has made personal information more readily available than ever. And with sites like Facebook constantly having their privacy settings and policies called into question, people are becoming increasingly concerned with monitoring and managing their online image. The issue of online privacy has helped spawn a completely new industry with startups offering a plethora of services centering on targeted marketing and persona information.

There are always two sides to any story, of course. Some of these companies are seeking to help businesses capitalize on this new and readily available personal information, while others take the opposite approach by helping individuals maintain online privacy and monitor how their information is being utilized. According to Forrester Research, online identity protection is now a $2.5 billion industry, and it continues to grow by 12 to 15 percent each year.

(more…)

Apple Announces Plans to Branch into TV, Social Media for Music

For the last several years, Apple has been a trailblazer when it comes to computers and music players, but the company has recently announced several plans to expand the breadth of their products and services. Earlier this week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a slew of new software, programs and devices that will be yet another step in the company’s efforts to dabble in all forms of media.

One of the headline innovations is Ping, a social network for music fans that has been integrated into the latest version of iTunes. Much like Twitter, Ping users will be able to follow friends to find out which artists and songs they’re listening to. The new social network will also allow users to receive breaking news from their favorite bands and receive the most up-to-date concert listings. In the same vein as the Genius feature, which was introduced a couple of years ago, Ping will work to help users discover new music that is catered to their tastes.

(more…)

Facebook Earns Patent for New Targeted Search Algorithm

With thousands of companies vying to be the next internet success story, protecting new software, algorithms and other proprietary information is always a concern. Companies are constantly fighting to prevent competitors from taking advantage of their innovations, and like most other industries, the best way to get legal protection is by filing for a patent.

Searches are one of the most lucrative and widely used aspects of the internet, as is evidenced by the massive success and ubiquitous nature of Google. On numerous occasions we’vediscussed how searches are becoming increasingly personalized, leading to more targeted and effective marketing campaigns. Capitalizing on this trend is obviously a top priority for internet companies, and Facebook has just established itself as the leader in this race thanks to a patent on a new search algorithm.

(more…)

How to Be ‘Liked’ on Facebook

There’s a consensus in both the business and online communities that social networks will play an integral role in the future of commerce. As such, it’s important to establish an online presence for your small business now, while the industry is still young and you aren’t too far behind the curve. And as the king of social networks, Facebook should be one of the primary focuses of your online activities.

Although it started as a site purely dedicated to social networking, Facebook is constantly adding new features catered towards businesses, clubs and organizations. If you are just getting started, the fist line of business is to create a fan page. Note that this is different from a personal profile, and it’s an important distinction to make because the two profiles function differently and have different security options. A fan page will also provide you with analytical information that you can use as a gauge for how your strategy is working.

(more…)

How Will Your Business Use Social Media in the Future?

With the fluidity of social media, it’s difficult for anyone to effectively predict where the future lies. What is for certain, however, is that social media is incredibly popular and will be around for some time to come. According to a new Nielsen statistics, internet users now spend about one-quarter of their time on the web visiting social networking sites, more than double the nearest competitor (online games).

Part of the reason for this trend, at least in my opinion, is the immense breadth of social networks. Not only are there networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, we also have a litany of smaller, niche sites offering a specific service. These types of sites allow people to personalize many aspects of their online experience, eliminating the need for many traditional channels, such as e-mail, search and general entertainment sites.

(more…)

Personal Data from Millions of Facebook Accounts Published in Torrent

Up until recently, concerns over Facebook’s privacy settings and policies have been largely hypothetical, but that all changed today when Ron Bowes, an internet security consultant, uploaded a torrent to the web with personal information on 100 million users. Facebook has come under severe scrutiny in recent months for holes in their privacy settings and policies, and this recent divulgence of data exemplifies the amount of personal information that many Facebook accounts make readily available.

It should be noted that Bowes simply used information that was already open to the public by only including searchable Facebook profiles. So the information in his list could be acquired through a simple search engine query. The purpose of releasing the information was to raise people’s awareness of how much personal information they make available online, Bowes said.

(more…)

New Report Shows Women Dominate Social Media

Last week we reported on women’s role in the ever-changing field of social media, and a recent report by comScore provides quantifiable evidence that women are making their presence felt through myriad social networks. “Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet” is a comprehensive report with statistics on social media usage, search activity and online shopping, among others.

Men have traditionally been the primary internet users, but women are now responsible for the lion’s share of internet usage, a trend which many attribute to the rise of social media. According to the report, over three-quarters of women visited social media sites during May, compared to less then 70 percent of men. And the trend holds true across all countries, not just the US. In Japan, South Korea and even Russia, women are the ones dominating social media sites. On average, women spend 30 percent, or 1.5 hours, more per month on social networks than their male counterparts.

(more…)

Afghan War Reports Leaked Through Wiki Site

When Daniel Ellsberg was trying to bring the information in the Pentagon Papers to light, it was difficult to find a viable means of disseminating the information to policymakers and the public. In order to garner media attention for the detailed, confidential war records, Ellsberg eventually had to turn the Papers over to the New York Times, who published the contents of the records in a series of articles. In an eerie case of history repeating itself, The New York Times, The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel were recently given access to a significant cache of classified reports known as the Afghan War Diary.

But unlike Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, the source that brought the reports to public attention wasn’t a high ranking US official, it was a website. WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to publishing leaks while maintaining the anonymity of its sources, gave the three aforementioned publications access to the Afghan War Diary weeks in advance under the condition that they wouldn’t report on the information until July 25, the day WikiLeaks published the diary to their site.

(more…)