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Updated May 27, 2009

Facebook, by some measurements the most popular social network with more than 200 million active users worldwide, is one of the fastest-growing and best-known sites on the Internet today. The company, founded in 2004 by a Harvard sophomore, Mark Zuckerberg, began life catering first to Harvard students and then to all high school and college students. It has since evolved into a broadly popular online destination used by both teenagers and adults of all ages. Like other social networks, the site allows its users to create a profile page and forge online links with friends and acquaintances. It has distinguished itself from rivals, partly by imposing a spartan design ethos and limiting how users can change the appearance of their profile pages. That has cut down on visual clutter and threats like spam, which plague rival social networks. In May 2007, Facebook unveiled an initiative called Facebook Platform, inviting third-party software makers to create programs for the service and to make money on advertising alongside them. The announcement stimulated the creation of hundreds of new features or "social applications" on Facebook , from games to new music and photo sharing tools, which had the effect of further turbo-charging activity on the site. In May 2009, a Russian investment firm, Digital Sky Technologies, invested $200 million in Facebook in return for a 1.96 percent stake. The investment values Facebook's preferred stock at $10 billion, a $5 billion drop from October 2007 when Microsoft paid $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake. With the latest round of financing, Facebook has raised about $600 million since it was founded in 2004. At the time of Microsoft's investment in 2007, Facebook's $15 billion valuation drew criticism for being unrealistically high and a sign of a bubble in social network investments. With the new valuation, Facebook is demonstrating to its critics that it is living up to its early promise. Facebook's rise has been marked by several controversies. Three other Harvard students maintain that they came up with the original idea and that Mr. Zuckerberg, whom they had hired to write code for the site, stole the idea and surreptitiously created a rival company. Facebook has denied the allegations; a lawsuit is pending. Another Harvard classmate, Aaron Greenspan, asserts that he created the underlying architecture for both companies, but has declined to enter the legal fray . In November 2007, Facebook again created a storm when it announced a new advertising system called Beacon, in which users' purchases or activities on some 40 partner sites were broadcast to their Facebook friends. Some users claimed that they were not adequately warned about the feature, and the political activist group MoveOn.org organized a protest group on Facebook, which attracted more than 70,000 members. In December, Facebook capitulated to a key demand of the protesters by offering users an easy way to decline to take part in Beacon. In February 2009, when Facebook updated its terms, it deleted a provision that said users could remove their content at any time, at which time the license would expire. Further, it added new language that said Facebook would retain users content and licenses after an account was terminated. After a wave of protests from its users, Facebook said that it would withdraw changes to its terms of service. Mr. Zuckerberg said that Facebooks next revision of terms would reflect a new approach and would be a substantial revision from where we are now.

Facebook: A place to share articles on the weekend


Posted by Robert Eisenhart on March 9, 2010 at 12:49 PM

A recent survey of Facebook user habits by DanZarrella found that users are more likely to share articles with friends over the weekend than the week, even though less news is typically published during this time.

Zarrella attributes this trend to the fact that the majority of large companies block Facebook in the office. The only time that these users can access the site is typically after work and during weekends; this is definitely something that newspapers should take into account as they study the effects of social media on their online traffic. A recent study showed that Facebook sends a great deal of traffic to news outlets. This information could also be useful to news organizations who are using Facebook profiles or fan pages to promote their articles. Each Facebook user's new feed displays updates from their friends, their pages and their groups. If news organizations want to increase the number of people who see their articles on Facebook, they should consider adopting a strategy that sends updates during the weekend, when users are most likely online. As noted by Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web, the fact news organizations can use Facebook offer their fans updates about articles has enormous potential to redirect readers to news websites. This development represents a growing challenge to similar news feed applications offered by iGoogle and MyYahoo that have failed to gain mainstream usage. Sources: DanZarrella

Nerd World: Why Facebook Is the Future


By LEV GROSSMAN Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1655722,00.html#ixzz0kIDVR6QJ Aug. 14 a computer hacker named Virgil Griffith unleashed a clever little program onto the Internet that he dubbed WikiScanner. It's a simple application that trolls through the records of Wikipedia, the publicly editable Web-based encyclopedia, and checks on who is making changes to which entries. Sometimes it's people who shouldn't be. For example, WikiScanner turned up evidence that somebody from Wal-Mart had punched up Wal-Mart's Wikipedia entry. Bad retail giant. WikiScanner is a jolly little game of Internet gotcha, but it's really about something more: a growing popular irritation with the Internet in general. The Net has anarchy in its DNA; it's always been about anonymity, playing with your own identity and messing with other people's heads. The idea, such as it was, seems to have been that the Internet would free us of the burden of our public identities so we could be our true, authentic selves online. Except it turns out--who could've seen this coming?-that our true, authentic selves aren't that fantastic. The great experiment proved that some of us are wonderful and interesting but that a lot of us are hackers and pranksters and hucksters. Which is one way of explaining the extraordinary appeal of Facebook. Facebook is, in Silicon Vall--ese, a "social network": a website for keeping track of your friends and sending them messages and sharing photos and doing all those other things that a good little Web 2.0 company is supposed to help you do. It was started by Harvard students in 2004 as a tool for meeting-- or at least discreetly ogling--other Harvard students, and it still has a reputation as a hangout for teenagers and the teenaged-at-heart. Which is ironic because Facebook is really about making the Web grow up. Whereas Google is a brilliant technological hack, Facebook is primarily a feat of social engineering. (It wouldn't be a bad idea for Google to acquire Facebook, the way it snaffled YouTube, but it's almost certainly too late in the day for that. Yahoo! offered a billion for Facebook last year and was rebuffed.) Facebook's appeal is both obvious and rather subtle. It's a website, but in a sense, it's another version of the Internet itself: a Net within the Net, one that's everything the larger Net is not. Facebook is cleanly designed and has a classy, upmarket feel to it--a whiff of the Ivy League still clings. People tend to use their real names on Facebook. They also declare their sex, age, whereabouts, romantic status and institutional affiliations. Identity is not a performance or a toy on Facebook; it is a fixed and orderly fact. Nobody does anything secretly: a news feed constantly updates your friends on your activities. On Facebook, everybody knows you're a dog. Maybe that's why Facebook's fastest-growing demographic consists of people 35 or older: they're refugees from the uncouth wider Web. Every community must negotiate the imperatives of individual freedom and collective social order, and Facebook constitutes a critical rebalancing of the Internet's founding vision of unfettered electronic liberty. Of course, it is possible to misbehave on Facebook--it's just self-defeating. Unlike the Internet, Facebook is structured around an opt-in philosophy; people have to consent to have contact with or even see others on the network. If you're annoying folks, you'll essentially cease to exist, as those you annoy drop you off the grid. Facebook has taken steps this year to expand its functionality by allowing outside developers to create applications that integrate with its pages, which brings with it expanded opportunities for abuse. (No doubt Griffith is hard at work on FacebookScanner.) But it has also hung on doggedly to its core insight: that the most important function of a social network is connecting people and that its second most important function is keeping them apart.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1655722,00.html#ixzz0kIDAim1v

City ban on Facebook


By Mark Prigg and Sophie Borland, Evening Standard Last updated at 11:49am on 27.07.07

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About face: leading City firms such as Dresdner Kleinwort have blocked networking sites More than two thirds of London companies - led by top City firms - are now banning or restricting the use of internet site Facebook over fears that staff are wasting time on it. Many firms have now warned employees that "Facebooking" during office hours is a sackable offence. An Evening Standard straw poll of major employers found that more than 70 per cent of the businesses, including banks, law firms, utility companies and government departments, have banned or limited access to social networking sites. Recent figures showed London has overtaken Toronto as the city with the most Facebook users in the world. More than 826,000 people are registered on the site, a figure that has doubled since May. The site was first banned by several American and Canadian companies who noticed the large amounts of time employees were spending on it. A study found British users spend on average 191 minutes a month on Facebook and dozens of people have admitted to "Facebook addiction", where they check on their friends, and often exes, compulsively. Our study found British Gas, the Met, Lloyds TSB and Bristows law firm all had internet filters preventing sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Hotmail being viewed at work. A spokesman for Credit Suisse said: "Staff are forbidden from accessing the site while at work as it is thought that they are wasting company time and money." A member of staff at investor Dresdner Kleinwort said: "The ban is widespread across all banking offices." A spokesman for the law consultant-firm ELAS said companies-were well within their rights to sack staff for logging on to Facebook and that the site had caused numerous problems. "Most contracts nowadays have a clause which restricts internet use to business-use only," he said. "A manager could quite easily sack someone if they caught them using these social networking sites during office hours. Unless you can argue it is an important work tool, people should not be accessing these sites during work time." Some companies have imposed "Facebook time" for employees. "We have imposed a partial ban, allowing employees to access it during their lunch hour," said Amanda Turner of IT recruitment company MDA resources. "We did have a problem with people using it for far longer than they should." The internet site, which now has four million users in Britain, was set up in 2004 by 23-year-old American student Mark Zuckerberg. He is facing a legal threat from a rival website, ConnectU, the owners of which allege they and Zuckerberg conceived Facebook while at Harvard University.