More New Year’s resolutions for 2013 and sacrifices for Lent involve cutting down on Facebook.

More than a quarter of US Facebook users said they planned to spend less time on the social network in the coming year, according to new survey results released Tuesday. And almost two-thirds said they have taken a “Facebook Vacation” in the past, logging off the social network for several weeks at a time to get a break from their friends’ gossip and dinner reports.

Being “too busy” was the number one reason for taking the hiatus, while concerns about privacy and advertising ranked low in the explanations offered to surveyors from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Read more

US privacy advocates are urging US government officials not to “stand in the way” of European efforts to strengthen privacy laws in Europe.

On Monday, 18 American consumer and privacy NGOs sent a letter addressed to the US attorney general, secretary of state, and other top Obama administration officials, asking them to pull back on an intense lobbying campaign led by the US technology industry, and instead collaborate on the development of privacy laws in Europe and the US that give consumers more control over the collection and use of personal data over the internet. Read more

Turns out people’s obsession with photographing their food is worth millions of dollars.

Foodspotting, a three-year old mobile app that allows people to post photos and reviews of dishes, has been acquired by OpenTable, the online reservation system, for $10m in cash.

Foodspotting’s catalogue of 3m photos is small compared to the number of food images on Instagram, the Facebook-owned mobile photo-sharing site with more than 100m users. Instagram could prove a formidable force for the new partnership to battle if Facebook ever decides to build an advertising tool linking food photos with restaurants. Read more

Wall Street is predicting a good showing from Facebook on Wednesday when it reports financial results for the fourth quarter of 2012, and the full year.

Investor sentiment towards Facebook appears to have shifted towards a cautious optimism in the last quarter, with the company’s stock price rising back above $30 for the first time since its initial public offering in May, when shares were priced at $38, then quickly fell below $20.

Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group predicts the stock will pop after the next couple of earnings reports, then “come back to earth” as the market better understands the company.

This quarter, Facebook’s revenues will reflect advertising purchases related to the November presidential election and the holiday shopping season. Analysts are expecting the social network to report earnings per share of 15 cents on $1.53bn of revenue. For the full year, estimates average at 52 cents earnings per share on $5.03bn in revenue. Read more

Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer and ardent internet activist who played a key role opposing 2011 anti-piracy legislation, was found dead on Friday at age 26.

His family confirmed that he hanged himself in his apartment in Brooklyn, New York.

Friends and fans of Mr Swartz’ work flooded social media feeds and web sites over the weekend with grief-stricken tributes to a coder they considered a “genius” and a “hero”. Many offered lengthy defences of his activist work to make legal and academic documents available for free online – work that garnered the attention of government prosecutors and led to criminal charges still outstanding at the time of his death. Read more

Facebook’s push for more frictionless sharing is now reaching into the depths of photo albums past and future.

The social network is promoting Photo Sync, a new feature for its mobile app that allows people to automatically upload every picture taken with their mobile phones to a private Facebook album. They then choose which photos to share on Facebook, but the automatic upload makes that process much faster and easier.

Turning Facebook into a catch-all photo repository also gives the company a new glut of information about its users from the geo-location data attached to the photos. The company can now tell where you are, when, and with whom, even if you don’t make the images public. Read more

Flooding in New York

A monumental presidential election in 2008, social revolutions in the Middle East last year, and now Hurricane Sandy.

Photos of water lapping at the base of the Brooklyn carousel and spindly trees crashed upon car roofs have, er, flooded social media channels.

Just as Facebook burst into the mainstream during Barack Obama’s first presidential election campaign, today Instagram, the photo-sharing app now owned by Facebook, is finding widespread use as the preferred storytelling medium of the biggest storm in decades to hit the east coast. Read more

In the 2002 film Minority Report, John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, walks through a shopping mall of the future, where a storefront camera equipped with facial recognition technology recognises him and delivers a real-time, hyper-personalised ad: “John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right now.”

That future is now, with digital billboards able to determine a passer-by’s age, gender, and racial background, and even in some instances, an individual’s exact identity.

US regulators are anticipating the spread of these technical capabilities, attempting to protect consumer privacy before it gets breached. The Federal Trade Commission issued a set of recommendations on Monday for the evolution of facial recognition technology, beseeching companies that use it, like Facebook and Kraft, to design such features with a privacy-first approach. Read more

The increasing number of people using Facebook on mobile phones is driving revenues for the operators of the mobile networks, as people accumulate charges on their phone bills by scrolling through their newsfeed, and then calling their friends.

Vaughan Smith, Facebook’s vice president for mobile partnerships and corporate development, said that the company’s analyses show that Facebook users make 40 per cent more phone calls than non-Facebook users, and that the primary reason people are signing up for data connections on their mobile devices is to use Facebook. Read more

The Federal Trade Commission finalised its settlement agreement with Facebook over charges that the social network deceived consumers by repeatedly making public information users believed would be kept private.

The settlement was first reached last November, and requires Facebook to take several steps to ensure it “lives up to its promises” on privacy, including: obtaining express permission from users before sharing information beyond their privacy settings; maintaining a comprehensive privacy programme; and undergoing independent privacy audits once every two years. Read more

Facebook launched a new mobile advertising product for app developers that pushes more marketing content into users’ home pages amid investor pressure on the company to expand revenue channels.

The new ads will appear in people’s mobile newsfeeds, and, if clicked, will direct users to the Apple or Google Play app store to download the promoted mobile app. Facebook gets paid every time a user clicks on an ad. Read more, the website for finding nannies, pet sitters, and caretakers for the elderly, has raised $50m in late-stage venture capital funding, bringing the five-year old company’s total financing to $111m.

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and chief executive, said she would use the money to support the Massachusetts-based company’s international expansion efforts. Read more

The Securities and Exchange Commission published letters it exchanged with Facebook leading up to its IPO, revealing details of the US regulator’s concerns over the social network’s mobile business strategy, its dependence on Zynga, and how it presented its advertising model.

The correspondence was made public on Friday, a routine disclosure, and showed similarly routine questioning. Facebook responded to all questions in amended filings before the public offering on May 18.

“I know that everyone wants to paint Facebook as evil because their shares have gone down,” said Michael Pachter, a technology analyst at Wedbush. “These questions are completely reasonable questions, each of these.” Read more

LinkedIn acknowledged a security breach of its password databases after Russian hackers claimed to have obtained almost 6.5m user passwords.

The professional social networking site confirmed in a blog post on Wednesday that “some of the passwords that were compromised correspond to LinkedIn accounts.” Read more

Facebook said the migration of its users to mobile platforms is compromising its ability to make money from them, according to additions the company made to its IPO regulatory filing on Wednesday.

As the company fields questions from potential investors this week and next on its road show, Facebook is once again reiterating its philosophy of prioritising the user experience over generating revenue, particularly when it comes to its mobile offerings. Read more

Short-term investors need not apply. That’s the key message in a newly released video Facebook produced for its investor road show, which is expected to begin next week.

The highly-produced video stars Facebook’s top executives, explaining the technical details of the platform with fast-paced cinematography, and describing its advertising model with guest appearances from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and American Express.

But the most pointed message to investors comes toward the end from David Ebersman, Facebook’s chief financial officer: we want investors who believe in our mission and are excited about our long-term potential. Read more

Next to your birthday and relationship status, you can now post on Facebook if you plan to give away your kidneys when you die.

Today Facebook announced that it created the slot for organ donation status to users’ profile pages, in an expert PR move that brings positive attention to Facebook ahead of its IPO without violating the quiet period rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Read more

Investors have put $100m into Castlight Health, a five-year old start-up that produces price comparisons for medical procedures, marking the latest of a series of investments in the health field by venture capitalists who believe Silicon Valley technologists are uniquely equipped to tackle the growing health care crisis in the US.

As health care costs have soared, employers and insurers have pushed more and more of those costs onto patients, increasing their out of pocket expenses many times over. Castlight, which allows patients to compare prices for common procedures among local doctors’ offices, is one of several technology companies that believes it can ease the financial burden on patients, and be profitable. Read more

The titan of electronic communications received some hand-delivered mail on Tuesday: a petition signed by 53,000 people demanding that Facebook add a woman to its board of directors before its much-anticipated public offering.

About two dozen protestors gathered outside Facebook’s New York headquarters on Madison Avenue to submit the petition. When no staff person came to accept it, and security guards ushered the protestors out of the lobby, they left the box of papers on the sidewalk. Read more

Path closed a $30m round of Series B funding on Monday, giving the mobile social network a $250m valuation.

The current round was led by Redpoint Ventures, with several other investors participating, including Sir Richard Branson, head of the Virgin empire, who said he is betting as much on Path’s chief executive, Dave Morin, as his product. Read more