Instagram is the fastest growing social network of late. The photo-centric network is now planning to add ads. When social networks add advertisements they tend to pitch them as natural and useful and even helpful to the user. Instagram says the ads will be "enjoyable." Free services do need advertisements to make money but they can turn off users if they are too intrusive or there are too many of them. Instagram announced the coming of the ads in a blog post.
"Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands. After all, our team doesn't just build Instagram, we use it each and every day. We want these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine."
YouTube has announced that it is upgrading the comment system on YouTube. The new comment system will be powered by the Google+ service starting this week. Comments under YouTube videos do need improving. They are often weird and filled with profanity. Using Google+ should also provide a boost to Google's social network as users will need a Google+ account in order to comment.
YouTube says that using Google+ comments will move certain comments to the top, such as comments from the creator of the video. Google also says it will provide better ways for moderation of YouTube comments. Users can also see comments made by people in their Google+ circles. Using Google+ will also provide for threaded conversations. YouTube shared the screenshot below as an example:
Facebook has announced that it has enabled embedding of its public posts. This is a smart move and it is weird Facebook didn't offer the option years ago. It is possible that in the past Facebook thought that by not enabling embedding it would drive more traffic to Facebook. Now that its rivals offer easy embedding of posts, Facebook has had no choice but to offer it as well.
The change enables Facebook to compete with YouTube, Vine and Twitter which allow people to easily embed videos and posts. Facebook owns Instagram, which also offers embedding of videos and photos.
Facebook provided this embeddable Mumford and Sons post of their "Hopeless Wanderers" music video as an example. The embed code can be accessed by using the pull down menu next the "Like Page" button.
LinkedIn has announced the launch of University Pages. The social network, which has been targeted at business professionals, also plans to lower the minimum age to 14 starting September 12. In some countries, children as young as 13 can make pages.
LinkedIn says it believes the new pages "will be especially valuable for students making their first, big decision about where to attend college."
The addition of students to LinkedIn could help it compete more with Facebook and Twitter. By keeping the focus on careers it also lets the social network expand, while keeping its focus on business and employment.
Twitter recently sahred information about the types of government requests it received regarding user accounts. Twitter says information about 1,319 user accounts were requested from January 1st through June 30. Of these, 56% were subpoenas, 23% were search warrants, 11% were court orders and 10% fell into a category Twitter calls "Other." Twitter says the "Other" category includes " exigent emergency disclosure requests and other requests received for user information without valid legal process."
Twitter also noted that its policy is "to notify users of requests for their account information unless we are prohibited from doing so by law or in an emergency situation." Users were notified in 19% of U.S. requests. The other requests were either issued under seal (20%) or were defective or withdrawn requests for information.
MIT Technology Reviewreports that the most controversial topics on Wikipedia have been revealed through a study of the online encyclopedia's ongonig edit wars. Edit wars are disputes that rage over particular topics as Wikipedia editors do battle by making back-and-forth changes on the wording.
Technology Review says Taha Yasseri and colleagues at the University of Oxford ranked the most controversial subjects by studying the intensity of the editing wars. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the most controversial topics involve religion and politics. The only real surprise is the List of World Wrestling Entertainment employees, which apparently is hotly debated issue. Here is the list:
George W Bush
List of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. employees
Sharknado is a ridiculous, but highly entertaining, horror movie from Syfy. You can view the trailer here. The film stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. The film was live tweeted by many Twitter users, including Wil Wheaton and Lost scribe Damon Lindelof. Following the film on Twitter was almost as much fun as watching the movie itself. The Hollywood Reportersays there were over 604,000 tweets about the film from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET on Thursday. Twitter shared the follow chart that indicates the show hit a rate of over 5,000 tweets per minute at its height.
The New York Timesreports that the large tweets did not generate a corresponding large ratings for the film, but it certainly gave a boost to the Syfy network overall. It may also give the film a boost in repeat viewing. The film airs again next Thursday, 7-18.
Google Reader has officially closed Google Reader. The service launched nearly eight years ago on October 7, 2005. It was developed by Google software engineer Chris Wetherell according to the Wikipedia entry.
Google bid farewell in a blog post that says "all subscription data will be permanently, and irrevocably deleted." The post also says you can still recover your data through July 15, 2013 using Google Takeout.
Some new RSS readers have been popping up. Digg has launched a new reader and so has AOL, the AOL Reader. Google's farewell post linked to this list of alternative readers. A reader named Feedly has been one of the more popular alternatives. You can follow us using Feedly here. It will be interesting to see how much feed subscribers fall to individual feeds following Google Reader's demise. Hopefully, the new readers will pick up the slack and RSS use will live on.
Instagram has added video sharing, which has been rumored over the past few months. TechCrunch reports that Instagram is now offering videos that can be up to 15 seconds in length. This gives Facebook, which owns Instagram, a way to compete with video sharing providers, with Twitter's Vine service being the most directly targeted.
Instagram has published a FAQ and released a video about the new service. Android and iPhone apps can be used to record video on smartphones.
Myspace has officially unveiled its new platform and launched a mobile music app for iOS. The new app can be found here. The app also includes a GIF creator. Myspace's new site was in beta until yesterday. Myspace's streaming music services offers access to a music database of 53 million songs and a My Radio feature that lets people create and program their own radio stations.
Myspace CEO Tim Vanderhook said in a release, "The magic of Myspace has always been at the intersection of creative expression, community, promotion, and discovery. Myspace aims to power a new ecosystem catering directly to the creative community, enabling artists to manage their digital presence, build an audience, upload and distribute their content, and learn from data all on a single platform."
Although Myspace is far from the social network leader it was years ago it is still relevant. The L.A Timesreports that Myspace remains in the top ten list of social networks and received 11.6 million visitors last month.
Hillary Clinton has joined Twitter with a verified Twitter account, @HillaryClinton. She mentions her many jobs in her bio, which include: "Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD..."
In her first tweet, Hillary writes, "Thanks for the inspiration @ASmith83 & @Sllambe - I'll take it from here... #tweetsfromhillary"
The Twitter will garner extra attention with the possibility of Hillary running for president in 2016. Even without the possibility of a White House run, the Twitter would account get plenty of attention anyway because Hillary is so popular.
Former President Bill Clinton is also tweeting, @billclinton. Bill Clinton tweeted, "Does @Twitter have a family share plan? Great to be here with @HillaryClinton & @ChelseaClinton. Looking forward to #tweetsfromhillary."
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted an update on his Facebook page in response to the PRISM story in The Washington Post. The Post story says Facebook is one of nine Internet companies supplying the National Security Agency with data about its users. Zuckerberg attacked the Washington Post in his comments, calling the newspaper's reporting "outrageous."
Here is what Zuckerberg had to say:
I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM:
Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday.
When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.
We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It's the only way to protect everyone's civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.
Google also published a denial today. Google's says it does not allow the government to have a "back door" or "direct access" to its servers. It doesn't say that it hasn't participated in any program or agreement of any kind whatsoever to allow the government direct or indirect access to its servers, which would put the matter to rest. Zuckerberg's statement specifically omits a statement that it does not leave a back door for the government to access its servers. One of the Post's allegations is that the government has entered into "get out of jail free card" deals with companies so that they cannot be prosecuted for turning over their customers' data to the government without their knowledge or consent. The Post alleges that the deals are known only to one or two executives, so that the rest of the company team can truthfully deny the allegations.
PRISM is a serious problem for Facebook, because it is the kind of issue that might make Facebook users to decide to dump the service or cut back on the amount of time they spend on Facebook.
Google denies any involvement in the NSA's secret PRISM program in a blog post. The post was published by Google CEO Larry Page and Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond.
Google was one of nine Internet companies listed as being included in the NSA's shocking data mining program revealed yesterday in a Washington Poststory. The Post also published documents that show Google was the third company to join PRISM. Apple is listed as the most recent company.
Google says, "First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government - or any other government - direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a 'back door' to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday."
Google also says, "Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don't follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period."
The Post's PRISM report is problematic for companies providing email, search, social networks, etc. because users of these services may choose to halt of curb their usage if they think the government has access to and/or copies of all their emails, posts, photos and private chat conversations.
An ABC story has rounded up adamant denials from all the tech companies listed as participating in the incredibly invasive NSA data mining program. Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News that one reason the companies are issuing denials is because they are forbidden by law from disclosing information about it.
Twitter is rolling out two-step verification. The two-factor authentication sends a six-digit code to a user's mobile phone for an extra authentication measure in addition to the email and password login. TechCrunch notes that large organizations may have problems with the new security features as they may have multiple people using a Twitter account and only one person has the phone.
The new option follows numerous hacked accounts, including a hack of the AP Twitter in April that caused the stock market to temporarily drop after a fake tweet was posted claiming the White House had been attacked.
Yahoo has gone through with its rumored acquisition of Tumblr, a popular blogging platform. Reuters reports that Yahoo paids $1.1 billion for Tumblr. Tumblr calls Yahoo the "original Internet company" in its post about the acquisition.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer boasts about Tumblr's size in her post about the acquisition. She notes Tumblr has 50 billion blog posts and adds 75 million each day. She also notes Tumblr has 300 million monthly unique visitors. There are over 100 million blogs on Tumblr. This means Yahoo paid about $3.6 per visitor or $11 per blog to acquire Tumblr.
Tumblr CEO David Karp said in a statement, "Our team isn't changing. Our roadmap isn't changing. And our mission - to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve - certainly isn't changing. But we're elated to have the support of Yahoo! and their team who share our dream to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas. Tumblr gets better faster with more resources to draw from."