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iePlexus Social Media News Brief: May 7, 2010

University Abandons Gmail Service

 The 30,000 staff members at the University of California Davis are no longer using Gmail as their e-mail provider. The university had been testing Google’s e-mail service since August 2009, in hopes to eventually roll it out to the entire campus population. However, university officials say that the e-mail service isn’t secure or private enough to meet their standards.

Quite a few staff members had privacy concerns, many of which stemmed from Google Buzz, the social network embedded within Gmail. This is not the first time Google has lost a major deal because of privacy concerns. Last month Yale University pulled the plug on Google due to the security and technical risks involved with Google Buzz. On the contrary, last October government officials in Los Angeles voted to sign a five-year contract with Google to make Gmail their official e-mail provider. 

School officials at Davis say they will continue experimenting with other e-mail services until they have found a service that suits their needs.

Facebook Chat Security Flaw

On Wednesday, Facebook disabled its chat function due to a security flaw that allowed users to see their friends’ chat logs and pending friend requests. Steve O’Hear, writer for TechCrunch, created a video showing how the flaw was working and then quickly contacted Facebook.

Facebook almost immediately turned the chat feature off to work out the bugs. By Thursday morning, the chat was back up and running. Facebook apologized and said that they are constantly working on their security features. No harm is believed to have been done.

Skype Video Conferences Start Next Week

Skype will be adding a group video conference function to its service. The new feature will allow up to five users to join a video call at the same time. Skype says they will begin to offer the new service free of charge starting next week, but eventually they plan to charge for the service.

Google’s Fresh Look

Google introduced a fresh look this week. One of the most visible changes is along the left side of the results page that now shows a number of new icons for pages like images, shopping, news, etc.

Google has also made narrowing down search results a bit easier. If you search ‘shoes,’ for example, the results will give you links to Google’s shopping pages. If you take that same idea and search for ‘sports event,’ links will take you to news and images. Google says they are trying to make the web an easier place to navigate.

Marketing Stunt Turns Viral

This week’s viral video started off as a marketing stunt for KLM Royal Airlines back in February. The airline hired Ramana, a European magician, to perform his famous levitation trick. The idea was to promote the company’s new economy option, which gives passengers not just more legroom, but allows them to recline their seat nearly two times the distance of a standard economy seat.

Ramana appeared to be relaxing on an invisible chair with his legs crossed while reading a newspaper. Air passengers at Manchester Airport were amazed and confused at how exactly Ramana pulled off the stunt. As of Friday morning, the video had more than 637,800 views.

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