Facebook


Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to turn Facebook into a “mobile first” company faced an important test on Thursday as the company unveiled what was expected to be its own mobile software platform: a version of the Android operating system that puts the social networking service front and centre.

But would it be enough to give Facebook a firmer foothold in a smartphone world increasingly dominated Apple, Google and Samsung?

 

The digerati are having fun with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ruling that US companies can use social media to distribute market-sensitive information such as earnings reports. “Facebook Flap Forces SEC Into 21st Century,” says Forbes.

Not so fast. The US regulator’s decision to drop its inquiry into Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive, who boasted about new viewing figures on his personal Facebook page, is only an incremental advance into the new millennium. It makes sense for the SEC to acknowledge the growing use of social media (I’m guessing more people saw Mr Hastings’ Facebook post than have viewed any regulatory announcement in corporate history), but I don’t think the decision will prompt fearful CEOs to tweet their earnings much more than they do already – and, even if it does, it won’t make much difference to investors.

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Chris Nuttall

King.com’s rebranding of itself this week as just King is hardly innovative, but it does sum up the publisher’s current position in casual games.

Its Candy Crush Saga is the most popular game on Facebook by daily active users – with 14m players, according to Appdata – while also being the top-grossing app on iTunes and the top free app on Google Play. Read more

Big data is subject to much hype. The ability to manipulate vast swaths of information at warp speed is transforming businesses across the world. But as with all technologies there are risks. All users of technology should take note: with big data comes big responsibility.

A recent study I jointly led concludes it is possible to create instantaneous and surprisingly detailed psycho-demographic user profiles – containing statistically valid information about an individual’s race, personality and IQ scores, happiness, substance use, sexuality, political views and religious beliefs – using only publicly available Facebook Likes.

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The hashtag has already found its way into real-life conversations. Similar to airquotes, some people – mostly young – form the square number symbol (#) popularised on Twitter with their index and middle fingers as they talk, to make a humorous or sarcastic point, or reference a cultural meme.

Now Facebook may want to claim the hashtag for itself. Read more

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

A more visually engaging newsfeed with additional streams was the focus of Facebook’s redesign this week. Bigger photos, however, didn’t bode well for a few tech observers who argued that the facelift won’t make up for deeper problems with the social networking site’s algorithm. Read more

Blake Ross, a director of product at Facebook, has signalled his departure from the company, adding his name to a growing list of employees to decamp in the months after the social network’s botched initial public offering.

Mr Ross offered vague plans for his next steps in a post on his Facebook page: “It’s just time for me to try new things,” he said. Read more

There is an empathy gap in technology development. In the analytic, data-driven world of Silicon Valley, emotions often do not get factored into the latest product design.

This comes down to the way engineers and technicians think, says Anthony Jack, the director of the mind, brain, and consciousness lab at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The more people exercise the analytic functions of their brains, the less empathetic they become. Likewise, when we empathise, we turn off the analytic function of the brain.

“There is a cognitive tension between these two different types of understanding,” he said. Read more

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