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Ello Sets Its Ad-Free Promise in Stone
October 23, 2014
Ello on Thursday made its ad-free philosophy official by incorporating it into a new company charter. Now converted to a public benefit corporation, the social network has stipulated not only that it will never make money from selling ads or user data, but also that any new owners will have to comply by those terms as well, in the event it's ever sold.
Don't Look Now, but Ads Are Coming to Snapchat
October 09, 2014
Ads soon will arrive on Snapchat. However, they will not target individual users. Rather, they'll appear in a more generalized fashion within the service's Snapchat Stories feature among shared photos and videos, CEO Evan Spiegel said Wednesday. A new service for disappearing content and ads, called "Snapchat Discovery," reportedly also is in the works for launch this year.
Facebook Sharpens Audience Network Targeting
October 08, 2014
Facebook on Tuesday further opened its Audience Network to third-party developers and publishers. It debuted the platform in April, positioning it as a mobile monetization tool that would leverage Facebook's 1.5 million advertisers and the millions of users who sign into apps using their Facebook credentials. The platform is now available to developers and publishers around the world.
Being Facebook Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry
October 03, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced it had developed a framework for conducting research on its 1.3 billion or so users. The announcement clearly is a response to the onslaught of criticism the company recently received, when it blithely reported the findings of a study about how News Feed content affected a user's mood. Facebook withheld certain posts and promoted others to see how users would react.
Can Ello Convince Facebook Fans to Say Farewell?
September 30, 2014
Facebook may have garnered 1.3 billion users since its inception a decade or so ago, but today there's an upstart contender that has set its sights on much of that same social networking world. "Simple, beautiful and ad-free" is Ello's tagline, and the new social network is gaining considerable attention.
Facebook Asks Users to Bare Souls Over Ad Hiding
September 12, 2014
Facebook has updated its ad policy with two changes. One gives users the option of explaining why they don't want to see a specific ad in their News Feed. The second update takes this new policy a step further by giving more weight to the feedback provided from users who rarely hide ads. Facebook's goal is to identify ads that aren't good fits or are generally offensive.
Polar Buy Hints Google+ Not Left Out in the Cold
September 12, 2014
Google on Thursday announced its acquisition of online polling startup Polar. "At first, it was difficult to find the connection ... opinions and polls?" mused marketing and social media expert Lon Safko. Upon reflection, "the acquisition was about driving engagement and audience to websites," he said. "Polar makes it easy to engage with your followers."
Pols Besieged by Fast, Furious Messages on Internet Slowdown Day
September 10, 2014
U.S. lawmakers were getting an estimated 1,000 calls a minute from constituents concerned about Net neutrality by noon Pacific Time on Internet Slowdown Day, an online demonstration held on Wed., Sept. 10. "We've set a new record for FCC comments and beat Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction,'" said David Moon of Demand Progress. Father of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee tweeted his support.
Twitter Cautiously Experiments With Buy Button
September 09, 2014
Twitter on Monday began testing a new Buy button with a small percentage of its users in the U.S. -- one of the first steps in a larger initiative to build purchase functionality into the service. A small group of brands, including Burberry, Home Depot, Keith Urban, the Nature Conservatory and Soundgarden, are participating by sending offers that are unique for Twitter users.
Now Netflix Members Can Pick Which Friends Can See Their Picks
September 03, 2014
Recommending movies and TV shows you've watched on Netflix to individual Facebook friends just got easier. The company on Tuesday launched a new social recommendation feature that lets users pick and choose the contacts they'd like to interact with after viewing a video. "It makes more sense that way," Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research.
What Lies Beneath Social Media Users' Self-Censoring Ways
September 02, 2014
People have been reluctant to discuss whistle-blower Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA's surveillance activities in social media, the Pew Center Internet Project reported last week. Only 42 percent of the 1,800 adults interviewed by the center were willing to post their views on the topic on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, although 82 percent were willing to discuss it face to face.
Twitter Lets Ordinary Users Get Analytical
August 29, 2014
Twitter this week announced that its analytics tool now can be used by everyone. Twitter's analytics tool lets users click on any tweet to see how people engage with it in real time. They can compare their tweet activity month over month and see how they trend over time. Users also can click on a tweet to see the number of retweets, replies, favorites, follows or clicks received.
Instagram Hyperlapse Sparks Time-Lapse Video Craze
August 27, 2014
Instagram has released Hyperlapse, a free iOS app that takes the jitters out of time-lapse video. Just two weeks ago, Microsoft demonstrated a similar technology that bears the same name. The Instagram app "is the most impressive effect to hit smartphone video in recent memory," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research. An Android version is not yet available.
Facebook Trains Sights on Clickbaiters
August 26, 2014
Clickbaiting may soon come to an end on Facebook, which has launched an effort to deal with the problem. Posts with clickbait headlines get higher placement in News Feeds, pushing down more desirable content. Eighty percent of the time, users prefer headlines that help them decide whether they want to read a full article before having to click through, a Facebook survey indicated.
Sony DDoS Attack May Have Been Smokescreen
August 25, 2014
Sony's PlayStation and Sony Entertainment networks were taken down over the weekend by a distributed denial of service attack. The hackers, who call themselves the "Lizard Squad," also forced authorities to divert a plane Sony Entertainment president was on by tweeting that there might be a bomb on board. A hacker with the handle "FamedGod" later claimed responsibility for the DDoS attack.
Nextdoor Offers Digital Path to Neighborliness
August 25, 2014
A mother in Walnut Creek, California, recently placed an expensive order for baby formula and diapers that never arrived. Subsequent investigation showed that the package had been delivered but snatched from her doorstep. That's a common enough story in this era of e-commerce, but this one has a happy ending. The woman turned to a social network for help.
Twitter Tromps on Spammers
August 25, 2014
Twitter has reported success with its BotMaker spam-prevention system. Because Twitter operates in real time, BotMaker is designed to work fast to eliminate spammers. Its main goals are to bar spam accounts from being created, to reduce the time they spend on Twitter if they do show up, and to reduce Twitter's reaction time in responding to spammer workarounds that bypass its protection systems.
Google Straps On Jetpac to Take Search to New Heights
August 19, 2014
Google has acquired Jetpac, according to a statement that appeared Friday on the Jetpac website. Jetpac is the creator of a handful of apps, including City Guides, which analyzes Instagram photos and then automatically creates guides based on the collected data. That information gives users a lot of search options. Not only can they find coffee shops, for example -- they can find the hippest.
Facebook Adds Training Wheels for the Humor-Impaired
August 19, 2014
Facebook has begun labeling some of the satirical news articles that appear in users' news feeds with a tag designed to prevent readers from mistaking the content for genuine news. The social network's "[Satire]" tag is apparently part of an experiment that's been under way for a month or so. The rules for its application don't seem to be entirely clear.
Twitter Experiment Elicits Howls of Disapproval
August 18, 2014
Twitter's latest tinkering with its members' timelines appears to be ticking off more than a few tweeters. The experiment opens timelines to tweets members' followers have tagged as favorites, as well as to some popular tweets gleaned from their followers' timelines. "Changing the rules of engagement for users without notice is very Facebookian of you Twitter," tweeted Peter Singer.
Twitter to Review Toothless Policies on Cyberharrassment
August 15, 2014
A deluge of hateful tweets after the suicide of actor Robin Williams earlier this week forced his daughter Zelda to publicly quit Twitter and Instagram. "We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter," Del Harvey, the company's vice president of trust and safety, said in a prepared statement. Twitter has suspended "a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules."
Vevo Music Videos Get Pinned
August 14, 2014
Pinterest said Wednesday that it has signed a deal that will allow users to create boards that include their favorite Vevo music videos. They now will be able to share, search for and watch Vevo videos on Pinterest, as well as pin videos to Pinterest straight from Vevo.com or the Vevo iOS app. The move is an indication that Pinterest is serious about providing a broader social platform.
Hotel Bites Internet - Internet Bites Back
August 04, 2014
Online reviews are a modern-day fact of life for any company operating in the hospitality industry, but an Internet maelstrom erupted when one hotel's surprising response to that reality was brought to light. Namely, the Union Street Guest House in upstate New York threatened to charge those who booked wedding parties at the venue $500 for every bad review posted online by any of their guests.
Facebook Staring at Fresh Privacy Class Action
August 01, 2014
Facebook is set for another legal battle over privacy, with a fresh class-action lawsuit fired up against the company. The legal action is the brainchild of Austrian law student Max Schrems, a noted campaigner against Facebook's treatment of user privacy. Schrems called on adult Facebook users around the world to join his suit after he filed a complaint in Vienna's commercial court.

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