Facebook becomes No. 1 most visited site in Brazil, according to Experian Hitwise

For the first time, Facebook is getting more visits in Brazil than Google and all other sites on the Internet, according to data from Experian Hitwise.

Facebook initially surpassed Google Brazil on April 1, and has had the lead four other days since then. On Sunday, the social network accounted for 10.98 percent of visits across the Internet in Brazil. The search engine dipped to 10.55 percent that day. The stats represent major growth on Facebook’s part. In six months, the site has experienced a 5.3 percentage point increase in share of visits in Brazil — a nearly 87 percent relative increase, as shown in the graph below.

Facebook officially passed Orkut as the most popular social networking site in Brazil in January, according to Hitwise. Facebook says it had 37 million monthly active users in Brazil as of Dec. 31, 2011, an increase of 268 percent from the prior year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Because of Brazil’s size — it is the fifth most populous country in the world– it remains a large source of future growth. Facebook estimates that it has only 20 to 30 percent penetration in the country.

Facebook roundup: platform updates, trading, IPO, Google, more

New platform policy more mindful of developer schedules – Facebook updated its policy to make any breaking changes to the API on the first Wednesday of every month. Previously, changes were pushed on the first of the month, which sometimes fell on a weekend. Now all changes will be made during the work week.

Facebook works to stop secondary market trading - Bloomberg reported that Facebook is working to curb trading of company shares on secondary market by early April, ahead of the company’s initial public offering in early May. This means there will be no new trades and the IPO won’t be until at least May 2.

Facebook to investors: Zuckerberg won’t be overly involved in IPO – Reuters reported that Facebook representatives at a recent investor meeting told those in attendance not to expect much involvement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Specifically, the report said that “expectations should be set pretty low.” [Image via Facebook]

Zuckerberg’s lawyers expedite disclosures – The Federal and Trade Commission agreed to eliminate the 30-day waiting period and expedite the approval of a filing for Zuckerberg. The CEO plans to exercise stock options worth about $5 billion in Facebook’s initial public offering, according to the New York Times.

Rumor: Facebook works on its search engine – According to anonymous Business Week sources, Facebook has hired a former Google engineer to work on the company’s search function to make it easier for users to access users, photos, videos and other Facebook information, possibly including elsewhere on the web.

Google launching commenting system – Google is set to launch a commenting system for third-party websites that is likely meant to rival Facebook’s plug-in.

Facebook launches cover photo contest – Facebook Marketing Solutions is sponsoring a contest for businesses to get featured in the cover photo of the page. The photos are supposed to capture a business in a “different or new” way. The winning photo will become the cover photo for the page, which has nearly a million Likes.

Facebook addresses threat of Google, other competitors in S-1

Facebook named Google as its prime competitor among others including Microsoft and Twitter in its filing for an initial public offering today.

The Securities and Exchange Commission requires a company to describe all the risk factors associated with investing in its business before it goes public. One of these issues for Facebook is “significant competition” from companies including Google, Microsoft and Twitter. The social network notes that Google or others could use dominant positions in one market to gain an advantage in one of Facebook’s areas of operation.

With 85 percent of its revenue coming from advertising, Facebook competes with both traditional and online media businesses. Advertisers tend to have fixed budgets, and the social network will have to continue to make a case for its ads and Sponsored Stories. We have seen businesses spent significant amounts to generate Likes for their pages, but it is unclear how much advertisers will devote to Facebook once they have amassed an audience. Facebook did not address this in the document today, but it is a trend to watch.

Also critical to maintaining and expanding its position as a display ad platform is user growth and engagement. If users spend less time on Facebook in favor of other social networks or offerings, the company will be negatively affected. It mentioned Google+, along with regional networks Cyworld (Korea), Mixi (Japan), Orkut (Brazil, India) and vKontakte in Russia. The company also recognizes that other Internet or mobile companies could offer products and services that compete with individual Facebook features. It didn’t name names, but these can include everything from Apple’s iMessenger to startups like Instagram.

Facebook acknowledged that Google in particular could gain a competitive advantage by integrating its social networking platform into its existing search product, web browser or mobile operating system. On these fronts, Facebook might have to spend significantly to acquire or partner with other companies. This will be difficult, though, as many companies in the position to help Facebook fight Google are threatened by other aspects of Facebook’s business.

Facebook Roundup: EU Privacy, economic impact, games, Google, security, more

Facebook COO Shifts Europe focus from privacy to economy -  At a recent conference in Europe, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told the audience that the economy is probably more of a concern than privacy. She said so given an impending privacy law draft that would affect 27 European Union countries. Specifically, she suggested that the law could have a negative impact on the EU economy. [Image via Facebook]

Facebook has a €2.6 billion U.K. impact -  A study from Deloitte found that Facebook’s overall economic impact in the United Kingdom was €2.6 billion, or 35,200 jobs in the U.K. and 32,000 jobs in the European Union and Switzerland.

Facebook ads game categories to News Feed -  Facebook now displays the genre category below game names and stories in News Feed stories. As we reported on Inside Social Games, users might be more likely to click on games when they know more about them.

Facebook engineer creates Google hack -  An project called Focus on the User, created in part by a Facebook engineer, provides a bookmarklet that forces Google Search Plus Your World to display results from social networks besides Google+.

Causes now a standalone website – TechCrunch reported that the charity app Causes has re-launched as a standalone website.

85K Arab Facebook logins hacked – ZDnet reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia are in the midst of a hacking war, and 85,000 Arab Facebook logins are one casualty.

Washington state AG targets clickjackers -  Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna announced suits against two companies thought to encourage clickjacking on Facebook. The suit was announced at Facebook’s Seattle office.

Facebook registers ‘FB Origin’ domain - Facebook registered several domains, .com and .biz for example, for something called FB Origin via the company MarkMonitor.  Fusible speculated that this means the company is set to launch a new product along with Timeline apps.

Facebook gaining edge with journalists using subscribe

Facebook’s heavy push of the subscribe feature has apparently paid off as thousands of journalists enabled subscribers after its launch in September, according to a note on the Journalists + Facebook page.

The social network’s outreach among public figures and the prominence it gives subscribe suggestions on the site show a level of commitment to taking away some of Twitter’s power and preventing Google+ from gaining traction as a source for news.

Journalists like Ann Curry, Nicholas Kristof, Katie Couric and Don Lemon have converted to Timeline and enabled subscribe. Some of these figures have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. More than 90 journalists from the Washington Post and more than 50 from The New York Times have made their profiles available to public subscribers, according to the Journalists + Facebook note. The Washington Post recently published a list of all its staff members who are accessible on Facebook.

Many users have been able to accumulate Facebook subscribers at a much faster rate than they gained Twitter followers. A sample of 25 journalists showed the average journalist had a 320 percent increase in subscribers since November 2011. This is largely due to the “People To Subscribe To” sidebar that shows up on several pages prompting users to follow updates from journalists, celebrities and other public figures. Of course, when one user subscribes to another, it generates a story in friends’ News Feeds in a way that Twitter hasn’t taken advantage of. (Twitter added an activity feed in August 2011, but users have to visit a separate tab to view it.) Facebook has also offered a subscribe button plugin for third-party sites and added a subscribe call to action within its comments plugin and the “page owners” section of pages.

Notably, Facebook has employees dedicated to outreach, not only to bring the right personalities to the platform but also to provide best practices. Journalist Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik has been extremely active in sharing examples of how reporters can use the social network and producing resources like the Facebook + Journalists note today, which included recommendations such as “reader shoutouts can increase feedback by as much as 4x.”

Twitter might have to start implementing changes or better courting public figures to convince them not to neglect Twitter in favor of Facebook. Google+ has an advantage with the way Google Search now displays results from its social network, which could help keep it in the race for public attention. But for Facebook, a key point will be letting users choose whether to post to subscribers or friends. Because posts have to be public for subscribers to see them, a user is forced to also share that content with friends. Unlike Twitter, users can only have one profile so they have to mix business and personal. Another issue is that Facebook does not have a way to designate a profile as “official,” which has long been a problem for pages. And because many people who have subscribers also have pages, the social network will need to determine how to balance these in search.

Analysis: What Facebook could gain with Vevo

Facebook and Vevo have met at least twice and the most recent talks took place earlier this month about bringing the popular music video service to the social network’s platform and sharing ad revenue, according unnamed CNET sources.

Scoring a deal with Vevo would be a huge win for Facebook over Google. The social network drives a lot of traffic for videos around the web, but is not a video destination itself. Vevo is an industry-backed website for music videos that are also syndicated on YouTube. According to CNET, the discussions are very preliminary — Vevo’s contract with Google is not up for another year yet – but could result in an ad revenue sharing model similar to what Google and Vevo have now. In November 2011, the NY Post reported that Vevo was looking to renegotiate its deal with Google, which since 2009 has given the company 35 percent of its revenue from the ads played before Vevo’s videos on YouTube.

According to ComScore, Google was the top online video content property in December with 157.2 million unique viewers, mostly on YouTube.com. Vevo ranked second with 53.7 million, and Facebook was fifth overall with 42 million. Vevo, though, is YouTube’s top channel overall, with over 53 billion views generating major revenue for both companies.

What Google could lose, Facebook stands to gain and possibly improve upon. Although YouTube is far and away the most popular video site in terms of unique viewers and time spent per viewer, it has not capitalized on its opportunity as a social network. There is little incentive for users to log in to YouTube and the site is filled with spam and hate from anonymous commenters. Google is likely looking for ways to incorporate Google+ to address these issues, but it’s interesting to see how Vevo is already using Facebook on its standalone site.

Vevo has Open Graph integration, which means that when users watch videos on Vevo.com, the activity shows in Ticker, Timeline and News Feed. When people watch the same videos on Vevo’s YouTube channel, the activity is not shared on Facebook. Vevo.com also uses the Facebook comments plugin, which surfaces comments from a user’s friends first and helps demote spam. Vevo.com similarly includes Like buttons that YouTube does not.

The social network currently offers video ads as a premium unit on the homepage, but because the units are small and opt-in, they are not ideal for advertisers who can get guaranteed views on other sites that run pre-roll ads. Facebook wants to preserve the user experience by keeping ads minimal, but billions of Vevo views suggest many users will accept these ads. A partnership with Facebook could allow Vevo ads to play directly in News Feed and Timeline. Currently Vevo.com links do not embed video on Facebook. Videos from Vevo’s YouTube channel do play directly within Facebook, but do not include pre-roll ads.

What is unclear, though, is how deeply the social network would incorporate music videos into its core product. For instance, Facebook could make Vevo videos discoverable from search as opposed to requiring users to visit a canvas app. The company positions itself as a platform for others to build upon, not a media site like MySpace, but to compete with Google, Facebook has to offer Vevo a bigger or at least more profitable audience.

Google+ Adds Features to Compete with Facebook

Google+ implemented a number of changes today that give the social network more parity with some of Facebook’s products. The most prominent new feature is the ability to control how much content from each Circle is shown in a user’s stream, similar to what Facebook allows users to do for individual friends.

Relevance in the feed is one of the most critical factors for any network and will be especially important in the ongoing competition between Facebook and Google. Facebook has gone back and forth over the years, sometimes giving users granular control, other times favoring algorithms. Google is known for its use of algorithms, but seems to be testing human curation potential with its new sliders.

In 2007, Facebook provided sliders for users to indicate the type of content they wanted to see in the News Feed. Users could also list friends they wanted to see more or fewer updates from. Now Facebook provides controls on individual profile pages, giving users the option to subscribe to or opt-out of different types of updates. Here is the old interface:

Google+ also made improvements for page owners, now allowing multiple admins and providing notifications about activity on the page. These changes are important for marketers using the site similarly to Facebook pages. Google+ pages now also include a total count of users that have connected with a page by adding it to a circle or clicking +1. This is similar to Facebook displaying total Likes, which has been a major driver for brands to spend money on ads and marketing campaigns to increase their count. By presenting a similar public metric, Google+ gives brands a reason to drive consumers to their pages there.

Other Google+ updates reminiscent of Facebook features include previews of content in the notifications window and a lightbox display for photos. For more details, see Google’s blog post.

Facebook Roundup: Piracy, Privacy, Congress, Spam, Google+, PayPal and More

Facebook, Google Pair Up to Fight Anti-Piracy Law – The House Stop Online Piracy Act proposal has brought together Facebook, Google and other companies in an effort to prevent the passing of the law that companies say will place the onus of protecting against piracy on them.

Facebook IPO Rumors Swirl – Business Insider reported that Facebook employees are reporting that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the IPO is coming soon, as early as next month.

Porn, Violence a Recent Problem – Facebook acknowledged to ZDnet this week a series of problems with unwanted pornographic or violent content showing up in their news feeds. The Wall Street Journal reported that it was a “coordinated spam attack” coming as the company ramps up to release Timeline.

FCC, Facebook Settle Over Privacy Issues – The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook reached a settlement over privacy issues, even as the FTC encourages people to Like them on Facebook.

Facebook’s Name Policy Hones in on Salman Rushdie - Writer Salman Rushdie became a target for Facebook’s real name policy this week. After the author took to Twitter to protest the deactivation of his account, the company restored his profile. The New York Times writes about the dilemmas caused by this policy in today’s world. [Image Via david_shankbone]

Google+ Works with Page Management Companies – Google announced last week the creation of Google+ Pages for brands to share information with users on Google+ and Page management companies like HootSuite, Context Optional, Vitrue and Buddy Media are set to work with brands on managing this new platform.

Orange Launches Facebook Phones – Orange is set to release three affordable Android smartphones for customers who heavily use Facebook.

Dems, GOP Participating in DC Hackathon – Congressional members from both parties are set to participate in the first ever DC Facebook Hackathon to find new ways to use social media in the political process. [Image Via Facebook]

Creepy Zuckerberg Fan Appears at Carnegie Mellon – A student at a recent Mark Zuckerberg appearance at Carnegie Mellon University instilled fear in the audience, and CEO, when he made some creepy and cryptic comments. The student apparently snuck into the venue the night before to place some speakers under Zuckerberg’s seat.

PayPal Releases Facebook Payment App – PayPal released a Facebook app, Send Money, that allows users to send money to friends without a fee.

Other Announcements:

Coupons.com for Pages – Coupons.com released its Brandcaster Social platfor to allow brands to create secure, printable coupons directly on their Pages in 48 hours or less.

Napkin Labs Brings Crowdsourcing to Pages – Napkin Labs’ Brainstorm app allows brands to gives brands a way to get feedback from fans anything from new products to coming changes.

NASCAR, ESPN to Livestream Driver’s CameraNASCAR and ESPN announced that the two will provide a livestream of driver Tony Stewart’s live in-car camera on Facebook during the season finale on Sunday, November 20.

Facebook Smart Lists Automatically Group Friends With Shared Characteristics for Use With Privacy Settings

Facebook is currently testing a new feature called Smart Lists that automatically groups friends with common characteristics into Friend Lists that dynamically update themselves over time. Previously, Friend Lists had to be manually assembled and updated — a chore that contributed to them being used by only 5% of the user base. First spotted by Nick Starr, Smart Lists are now being created for the coworkers, classmates, and friends who live within 50 miles of users in the test group.

Since Smart Lists can be selected within privacy settings and the news feed publisher to determine who can see profile or posted content, they could encourage users to micro-share to specific subsets of their friends. This allows them to post a wider variety of content to Facebook, enriching the site. With Smart Lists, Facebook has leveraged the wealth of data it has about the interconnections between its users to drastically reduce friction in the Friend List creation process, and one-up Google+ Circles that must be laboriously built by hand.

Facebook is also now showing a tool tip explaining how the previously available “Friend List Feed Filters” work when users choose to filter the news feed by selecting a Friend List from the Most Recent drop-down menu. While viewing the filtered feed users can manage the members of the Friend List and confirm Facebook’s suggestions for additions to the list. This change educate users about Friend Lists and make manually created ones easier to keep up to date.

Since December 2007, Facebook has allowed users to assign friends to Friend Lists that can used as news feed filters, distribution parameters for posted content, and visibility settings for the profile. However, their buried place in the interface, the slow creation process, and the fact that explicitly categorizing friends is somewhat unnatural made Friend lists a feature that only attracted power users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the launch event for the Groups feature in October 2010 that only 5% of users had created friend lists.

Over the years, Facebook has tried to surface the feature in more places around the site and make them a little easier to create. While creating friends lists, users gained the option to sort them by parameters such as Recently added as well as profile characteristics including those used to create Smart Lists to speed up assignment. Later Facebook started allowing users to add someone to a list when they confirmed their friend request.

In October 2010, Facebook began showing suggestions of people to add to existing lists based on similarities with previously added members — the closest thing to a predecessor to Smart Lists. Previously these suggestions appeared only in the Friend List editor interface, accessible through Account0 -> Edit Friends, but now they appear beside the news feed when filtering the feed with a Friend List.

Contact sorting and micro-sharing have become bigger issues over the past few months. Google+ was applauded for its drag-and-drop Circle building process that was faster than building Facebook Friend Lists. Third-party developer Katango recently built a product that “auto-magically” build Friend Lists by clustering similar friends and allowing users to export the lists to Facebook. Both products raised the question of why Facebook, with all its biographical and behavior data, couldn’t automatically create Friend Lists for users.

Now Facebook has shown that it can automatically build Friends Lists. Users currently in the limited tester base for Smart Lists have lists for coworkers, classmates, and local friends automatically created for them. The feature doesn’t go as far as Katango, which uses a wide variety of signals to create more than a dozen lists for users such their closest friends or people met on a vacation, as well as those made by Smart Lists.

Facebook very well may improve the feature in the future to create Smart Lists from more subtle clusters of friends and not just those who share an explicitly listed characteristic. The tool tip explaining the feature notes that users can remove friends from Smart Lists at any time, allowing them to expel friends mistakenly admitted to lists where they don’t belong.

The fact that Smart Lists update themselves in response is a huge improvement over Katango and Google+. As more friends move to a user’s city or join their company, they’ll be automatically added to the corresponding Friend Lists. With the friction of building and maintaining lists removed, a roll out of Smart Lists could significantly increase adoption of the Friends Lists and micro-sharing.

Users may be more likely to share professional, nostalgic, and local-focused content by restricting the visibility of these posts to just those they’re relevant to. Without lists for these subsets automatically created and ready, users might have never shared these types of content, making Facebook a less interesting place for their friends to visit.

Smart Lists could also erase one of Google+’s core advantages over Facebook. The feature’s launch underscores a deficiency in Google+’s growth strategy of rolling out to early adopters first without a clear way to bring mainstream users aboard they way Facebook did by opening at one college at a time. As such Google revealed its Facebook-besting features but hasn’t been able to gain massive traction since, giving Facebook time to catch up.

Facebook Roundup: Photo Apps, Video, Movies, AT&T, Pageviews, Places, Credits, Growth and More

UK Won’t Ban Facebook – Facebook, Twitter and Research In Motion met with United Kingdom officials Thursday regarding the social networks’ role in summer riots there. The government ended up not moving to restrict access to the social networks in emergencies such as riots.

Facebook Takes Third Spot for Video – Facebook becomes the third largest video site on the Internet, comScore reported. That is 51.5 million people who watched videos on the platform in July.

AT&T to Discontinue Facebook Phone – AT&T is reportedly set to drop its “Facebook phone” called the Status, according to TechCrunch.

Places More Popular Than Foursquare – London developer Golden Gekko reports its clients report much more Facebook check-ins than Foursquare in Europe. Magnus Jern reported that the ratio ranged from 5-10 to 1. However, the future of the service is unclear.

Facebook Hit 1 Trillion Pageviews - Facebook surpassed 1 trillion pageviews according to Google’s Ad Planner tool, although comScore says otherwise.

Facebook Mobile App to Offer Photo Filters - Facebook looks to be competing with Instagram’s classy mobile app by offering almost a dozen photo filters to its mobile own application — following Facebook’s attempt to buy the startup, according to The New York Times. News of the feature first leaked out in June.

Recapping Facebook’s Bug Bounty – Neal Poole did a basic rundown of Facebook’s Security Bug Bounty program, which included information about multi-line JavaScript URI, redirects preserving fragment portions of URLs, XSS filters and more.

Facebook Wraps Up Farm Bureau Dispute – Facebook and the Farm Bureau had a dispute over Facebook trademarking “FB,” but it seems like the lawsuit is set to be wrapped up.

Milyoni Chart for Credits – Milyoni created a nice chart and whitepaper that includes ways that Facebook Credits can, and cannot, be used.

Facebook to Open Second Campus - Facebook is set to open up an additional campus from its current Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters. The second campus pwill be southwest of the current location, to be constructed in 2013 to accommodate about 2,800 employees.

Ticketmaster Allows Users to Find Friends – Line Nation’s Ticketmaster service launched an app that allows users to see where their friends are sitting on seat maps and tag themselves.

BBC Does Facebook On-Demand Video – BBC has developed an on-demand Facebook application allowing users to rent episodes from the show “Top Gear” for 48 hours.

ShopIgniter, Involver Partner – The two companies are entered into a partnership to help online retail businesses with a management content system.

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