Facebook

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

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

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

This week Mark Zuckerberg took the wraps off Graph Search, Facebook’s revamped search engine that allows users to search through their social connections. The unveiling of the feature triggered a wave of discussion from tech commentators over whether the social network can add a new revenue stream by going after Google’s large slice of the search cake. Read more

It’s not what you get out of it that matters, it’s what you put in.

That is the real significance of Facebook’s inelegantly named Graph Search, the new “social” search engine it unveiled this week. The company that probably already knows more about you than any other single business would now like you to divulge one other, extremely valuable thing: what you want.

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Richard Waters

Facebook has announced a new social search service at an event at its HQ in California today.

Mark Zuckerberg has gone out of his way to stress that “graph search” is not intended to be a Google-killer. But for advertisers, this could be a significant moment. With a trillion social connections, Facebook believes that searching the social graph will yield something more revealing than trawling links on the Web.

Read our blow-by-blow analysis live from the event as the news unfolded.

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Richard Waters

When Google launched its AdSense network to push advertising to third-party websites, it already had a massively successful advertising business on Google.com.

Facebook hasn’t reached that point yet – so it makes sense that it has pulled back from testing third-party advertising to get the basic product right first. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have made their biggest charitable donation yet, giving Facebook stock worth $500m to a Silicon Valley foundation. Read more

AFP

Interesting commentary from around the Web on a tech story that made headlines last week.

Users of Instagram and Twitter were caught in the middle of a photo turf war this week. Instagram’s announcement that it would no longer allow its photos to appear in Twitter feeds raised concerns over whether web companies are holding user content hostage as they try to monetise their platforms. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Even another record-breaking Call of Duty could not rescue the US video game industry from a twelfth consecutive month of declining software sales in November, according to the latest official figures from the NPD research firm.

But the “packaged goods” disc sales are only a part of the picture, now that we have digital and social and mobile games to take into account. Judging by announcements from Facebook and DeNA this week, hard-core gamers seem just as likely nowadays to be competing in these new gaming territories. Read more

The FT’s latest ebook is about Amazon and its voracious expansion from online book retailer into technological giant.

Is the company a force for good? Can it justify its current stock price? Why does Amazon compete with the companies it provides services to? Will Amazon agree to pay more tax in the UK as Starbucks just agreed to do?

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Q&A. If you have further questions, please post them to Twitter using #FTAmazon. Barney Jopson, the FT’s US retail correspondent, and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, global media editor, will answer them here as soon as possible. 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

Chris Nuttall

Zynga has announced a management reshuffle following another significant departure from its executive ranks.

The leading social gaming company said Dave Wehner, its chief financial officer, had resigned and was joining Facebook. The company lost John Schappert, its chief operating officer, and Jeff Karp, chief marketing officer, in recent months, among a string of executive departures as Zynga reported disappointing earnings and its share price plummeted. 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

Tim Bradshaw

General Motors’ pullback from Facebook ads in May became a touchstone moment for doubts about the social network’s business model, just before it went public.

But as we report in today’s FT analysis of the growing turf war in the social networking market, GM has been spending money on Twitter for two years – and is now “beyond experimenting” with ads there. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Reid Hoffman, partner at Greylock, founder of LinkedIn and an early Facebook investor, is still “bullish” on the world’s biggest social network – but even he wouldn’t buy Facebook shares right now. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Facebook has overhauled its much-criticised application for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, in the social network’s latest attempt to tackle the challenging transition from desktop to mobileRead more

Is Silicon Valley drying up? David O Sacks, founder and CEO of enterprise social network service Yammer, certainly seems to think so. Others, like Marc Andreessen, disagree. That makes for a lively debate, and it is taking place on perhaps the most apt forum of all – Facebook, writes Vinjeru Mkandawire and Robin Kwong.

“I think Silicon Valley as we know it may be coming to an end,” wrote Sacks on his Facebook page over the weekend, just before the social networking site’s shares sank to half its initial offering price. Read more

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

As Facebook’s lock-up period expired this week, its stock price tumbled, fueling concerns that the social networking site may crack under further pressure from investors to expand its revenue streams. Read more