Facebook Roundup: Privacy, Pakistan, FriendFeed, Photos and Apps
Pakistani Developers React to Facebook Ban – Pakistan has blocked Facebook due to an offensive Page, as we covered earlier this week — it’s also busy banning other popular sites, like YouTube, for similar reasons. Local blog Green & White had an interesting interview with Pakistani Facebook social game developer Hassan Baig, to the effect that the disappearance of the local market will not slow them down. “This short-term hiccup is inconsequential to Facebook developers in Pakistan. For example, Facebook is completely banned in Iran and China but users who want to access it are still able to do so thanks to proxy servers and such. In other words, developers are still free to develop for the global market.”
Photo Editing Options Shift – The options Page administrators have to arrange their Facebook photos into different galleries has changed. Users no longer have the option when editing a photo to select to move it to a different gallery, tipster Tai Freligh tells us (his illustrated screenshot is above).
Nestlé Changes Course After Facebook Campaign – After an aggressive Facebook and YouTube campaign to encourage Nestlé to use environmentally safe palm oil, Greenpeace seems to be declaring victory. CNET reports that Nestlé announced a partnership with the non-profit Forest Trust this week, the group helps businesses sustainably harvest forests, in this case Indonesia’s.
The issue came to a head when Greenpeace encouraged Facebook users to take to Nestlé’s Facebook Page, when Nestlé tried to crack down on Facebook users the subsequent backlash became a PR problem for the company. For Nestlé’s part, its announcement this week didn’t mention the Greenpeace campaign but set a goal to make its palm oil products 100% sustainable by 2015. McCarthy does point out, however, that given Nestlé is only 18% sustainable right now, the whole thing could just be posturing.
Norton Anti-Virus Goes to Facebook – Symantec, the makers of Norton anti-virus software, recently surveyed some of their users on social network safety and found: 44% of users surveyed have been victim to a cybercrime perpetrated on a social network; 17% of men and 12% of women have shared their passwords on social networks. The company is not disinterested. It has recently launched the Norton Safe Web app for Facebook which scans a user’s news feed to check for unsafe links.
Babble Raises $3M – Parenting magazine/online community Babble raised $3 million in Series B financing primarily from Village Ventures, Greycroft Partners and iNovia Capital brining the company’s total funding to $6 million. Babble’s audience is urban moms and dads, who were also targeted for the Facebook app Connected by Kids launched recently; the company is set to use the funding for expansion.
Fontself Launches Facebook App – Fontself, a Switzerland-based software company, launched a Facebook application this week that allows users to send text communications with different types of fonts. The company is backed by the Index Ventures Seed Fund in addition to other leading European angel investors, and said in a statement that allowing users to send messages that appear to be handwritten provides for a more personal experience. Users may use pre-designed text and smileys or create their own.
Shutterfly: Print Facebook Pics as Book – Shutterfly announced this week that Facebook users can now use the company’s service to create photo books from their photo albums on the social network, without having to leave the Facebook site. The new feature is part of Shutterfly’s Simple Path instant book, which creates the chronologically-ordered book for you but allows you to make changes. Simple Path provides 20 different backgrounds, you can arrange 1-4 photos per page up to 400 pictures and edit by adding captions; you can purchase the books in soft or hardcover ranging from 5×7” to 12×12”.
Third Parties Step in to Restore Privacy – In the wake of Facebook’s privacy controversy several third-party applications have emerged to help users reset their privacy settings. SaveFace is a browser bookmark utility that sets most Facebook profile information to “friends only,” ReclaimPrivacy.org scans a user’s privacy settings for public information and can then change the setting, see image for an example. [Screen shot via lifehacker]
FriendFeed’s Fox Leaves Facebook – Kevin Fox, formerly of Google and FriendFeed and recently of Facebook, is leaving the social network for “the next adventure,” he announced on his blog this week. He alluded to the fact that, after his “first real Summer vacation in 16 years,” he might want to get back into the startup community to develop/pitch some of his own ideas.
‘Openbook’ Mocks Facebook Privacy – Another site mocking Facebook privacy hit the Internet this week. Openbook appears to grab public Facebook statuses and make them searchable and includes a jab at CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The web site is meant to draw attention to the “information Facebook makes public about its users via its search API” with the goal of getting Facebook to restore private information. The site has generated about 3 million hits since Wednesday.
Balancing Privacy and Innovation – Leading Silicon Valley intellectual Tim O’Reilly came out in qualified support of Facebook‘s efforts to make the web more open, in the midst of the current privacy controversy. “The essence of my argument is that there’s enormous advantage for users in giving up some privacy online and that we need to be exploring the boundary conditions – asking ourselves when is it good for users, and when is it bad, to reveal their personal information,” he said.
While O’Reilly criticized Facebook’s handling on some issues, he highlighted the reality of more fundamental changes to privacy in the world today. “We give up our location in order to get turn by turn directions on our phone; we give up our payment history in return for discounts or reward points; we give up our images to security cameras equipped with increasingly sophisticated machine learning technology. As medical records go online, we’ll increase both the potential and the risks of having private information used and misused.”
Facebook is, in some form, doing the world a favor by bringing these issues to the forefront in a world where technology changes faster than mores or regulation, as he sees it. The ideal is to find the “right tradeoffs.”