Facebook Introduces Special Safeguards for Teens on Graph Search – Social Network Releases Safety Tips for All Users

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As Graph Search continues its slow roll out to Facebook’s English-speaking users, the social network is reassuring its members safeguards are in place to protect all who use the site — teens in particular.

Graph Search allows users to access Facebook’s mammoth data bank to answer queries about other members.

For instance, using Graph Search, a user can type in queries like: NFL fans who live nearby? Friends under 30 from California? Friends who work in New York City? Friends who like Kings of Leon? and get answers based on is or her social circle.

While Graph Search will not reveal information members would not ordinarily be able to see, it compiles all of the data in one place, a fact that has been a source of concern for privacy advocates.

Facebook is addressing some of those concerns by taking into account the “unique needs” of teens members.

“On Facebook, many things teens are likely to do — such as adding information to their timelines or sharing status updates — can only be shared with a maximum of Friends of Friends,” Facebook’s Safety Team said in a blog post.

“In addition, for certain searches that could help to identify a young person by age or by their location, results will only show to that person’s Friends, or Friends of Friends who are also between the age of 13 to 17.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Graph Search at a much-anticipated press conference at the company’s new headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif, Jan. 15.

He described it as “one of the coolest things we’ve done in awhile.”

Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page. When a user makes a query, that search not only determines the set of results, but also serves as a title for the page. Users can edit the title to create their own custom view of the content they and their friends have shared on Facebook.

Facebook has also released some Graph Search safety tips for all users:

Manage Your Activity Log: Activity log makes it easy to see the things you’ve posted on Facebook, make changes to the audience of past photos and other posts, and choose what appears on your Timeline. We recently announced some new tools that make it easier to take action on multiple photos, such as untagging them, or requesting that they are removed with one click.If you are ever concerned who can see content you have posted or shared on Facebook, review it on your Activity Log

Review About Me: In addition to your Activity Log, review the ‘About’ tab to check any basic info you have shared with others on your profile, such as your current city, your workplace, Pages you like, or your education. The same people who can see this info on your profile can search for this info about you. Check this section to make sure you are comfortable with the audience you have chosen to share this information with.

Reporting:  As always, do not hesitate to report any abusive content you see on Facebook in the report links throughout site.


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Facebook Introduces Special Safeguards for Teens on Graph Search

Republishing Content: The Right Way to Do it

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To totally misquote Barbie, “Writing original content is hard!” Well, if it was easy, anybody could rank, right? When you need to create something new on a daily basis for your blog, it’s tempting to find a great piece of work and just copy it. That’s illegal – but there is a legal way to do it.

Before I explain the right way to republish someone else’s work, let me give a tip of the hat to Mike Moran for explaining all the issues around it. I’m going to start with the biggest one: by law, you need to get permission from the copyright holder before you can republish something. That’s usually the author of the work. And yes, you need to get that permission even if you’re publishing it on the Internet – and even if you include the person’s name, copyright notice, and link back to them. I’m serious; contact them first and get that “yes.” If they say “no,” DON’T republish it. If they say “yes, but here are my conditions,” don’t republish without fulfilling those conditions.

If that sounds like a lot of effort, guess what? The copyright holder went through a lot of effort to create that article in the first place, and you’re going through a lot LESS effort to get it. You know you’re going through a lot less effort, because if you weren’t, you’d simply write something original yourself and put THAT up on your site, now wouldn’t you?

Besides, do you know what happens when you republish something? You’re competing in the search engines with the original item. Most web surfers find content online by searching for it. The search engines can tell the original from the republished item by checking a number of “hints;” judging by our SEO Chat forum comments over the years, they’re not perfect, but they’ve been getting better at it. Now these search engines assume that searchers want to see the original item, so they’ll rank that higher than republished items. So all that new traffic you may have been hoping to attract with an awesome piece of content you’re republishing? Yeah, that will end up at the site with the original item, not at yours with the republication.

So if you’re going to republish something, make sure it’ll be of benefit to your regular readers, who will certainly see it. This point brings up a side issue, though: your regular readers may be used to a certain “voice” from your blog. Part of the point of writing a blog in the first place is to establish not just your expertise, but yourself as a personality with which your audience wants to engage. It’s another form of branding, in a sense. And if you’re republishing someone else’s work, well, they don’t have your voice or your personality. So the content may be useful, but in at least in this one sense, republishing it is  counterproductive.

But let us assume at this point that you’re not completely dissuaded from capturing some of the advantages of republishing. You’re completely out of ideas (which need never happen with an editorial calendar, by the way); you asked the copyright holder for permission to republish and they laughed in your face (which is just as well, since their writing style clashes with yours); and you know your readers want more on this topic. So what can you do?

Fortunately, there’s another form of “republishing” that isn’t really republishing at all. It’s legal, you don’t need permission from the author of the original item, and nearly every blogger does it. I’m doing it right now, in fact. You take the original article and write a few paragraphs about it, building up your own opinion on the topic – adding your own spin in your own voice to the issue. Courtesy demands that you link to the original, and that you have something substantial today. Granted, in some sense it’s not totally original content, but at least you’re not starting the piece by staring at a blank page with an exhausted and equally blank brain.

Moran notes that if you only write two or three paragraphs from your own perspective on someone else’s original work, you provide fodder for the search engines while satisfying your regular readership. “And if you can write five or ten paragraphs with a well-thought-out opinion,” he continues, “agreeing or disagreeing with the original, or adding and expanding on points in the original, you have likely created a nice article both for your readers and for search engines, without the heavy lifting of having to think up an idea on your own.” On top of this, if the site containing the original content supports trackbacks, a link to your article will show up in its comment section. You could get traffic from the original item to yours, then – which you wouldn’t get if you simply republished the original item!

So, to recap: writing original content is hard work, but the benefits are worth it. If you’ve temporarily run out of ideas for writing something original, you can consider republishing someone else’s work, if you do it right – but there are disadvantages. The more original you can make your work – the more work, and the more of yourself, you put into it – the more benefits you’ll get. I’ll leave Moran with the last word here: “In blogging, there is no substitute for originality.”

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Skype Launches Video Messaging Today in U.S., U.K. – Microsoft Extends Life of Messenger — Users Will Now Switch to Skype Beginning April 8

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Can’t get a hold of a Skype contact? If you are from the U.S. or the U.K., you can now leave your pal a video message.

Skype is rolling out its video voicemail feature, which is still in beta, for Android, iOS and Mac today.

Those using Skype on any of the three compatible platforms can both send messages — up to three minutes in length — and receive them in their inbox.

Microsoft, which acquired Skype in October 2011, has yet to say when video messaging will be available for Windows.

While Windows users can’t send video messages, they can receive them, but as a link rather than as a clip.

Microsoft is also gearing up for the big switch on April 8 when the company will pull the plug on Windows Live Messenger (WLM) in favor of Skype.

Microsoft had originally planned to discontinue Messenger for all users, except those in China, on March 15, but will now switch only a test group — about one percent of its user base — over to the new platform.

Microsoft, beginning with its English-speaking users April 8, will continue the switch-over to Skype with an estimated completion date of April 30.

“We’re excited about welcoming Windows Live Messenger users to Skype,” says director of marketing integration for Skype Parri Munsell in a blog post. “Last November, we announced that Messenger and Skype are coming together with the option to sign in with a Microsoft account.

“We want everyone who uses Messenger to have a positive experience. Upgrading to Skype can help you communicate in flexible ways, and be connected on more devices and platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Windows Phone, Android and soon Blackberry.”

Microsoft will offer a tool to ease the transition for WLM messenger users to Skype — WLM users can sign in to Skype and bring over their contacts.

“This effort started with the release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows a few weeks ago, which allows you to sign into Skype using a Microsoft account,” Skype CEO Tony Bates said in a November blog post. “Now Messenger users just need to update to the latest version of Skype, sign in using a Microsoft account, and their Messenger contacts will be there.”

According to the blog, by updating to Skype, users can expect:

• Broader device support for all platforms, including iPad and Android tablets.
• Instant messaging, video calling, and calling landlines and mobiles all in one place.
Sharing screens.
• Video calling on mobile phones.
Video calling with Facebook friends.
Group video calling.

Microsoft also announced a new Skype for Windows 8 in late October. The company billed the new version as “simpler, faster and easier to use” because it takes advantage of some of the new features offered by Windows 8.

People Hub, ability to pin favorite contacts as a tile for easy access and the Skype Live Tile that displays messages and notifications on the start screen are all new features.

The Skype home screen helps you navigate recent activity, contacts and favorites all in one place.

The Skype home screen helps users navigate recent activity, contacts and favorites all in one place.


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Skype Launches Video Messaging Today in U.S., U.K.

Michael Dell Agreed to Lower Shares Value to Encourage $24B Buyout – Company CEO Takes 29-Cent Cut Per Personally-Owned Share

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Dell CEO Michael Dell agreed to a lower-than-market-value price for his shares in the company to secure a $24-billion deal to take the firm private, a filing by the PC maker Feb. 14 has shown.

Under the proposed deal, Michael Dell, in partnership with global technology investment firm Silver Lake and with a $2-billion loan from Microsoft, will dole out $13.65 in cash for each share of Dell common stock held. The price represents a premium of 25 percent over Dell’s closing share price of $10.88 on Jan. 11, the last trading day before rumors of a possible going-private transaction were first published.

“The price of $13.65 per share was the product of final stage negotiations between Silver Lake and the Special Committee,” reads the Securities and Exchange Commission filing. “In order to facilitate a price increase by Silver Lake, Mr. Dell and related persons agreed that their shares to be rolled over in the proposed transaction would be valued only at $13.36 per share as opposed to the $13.65 price offered to the Company’s unaffiliated stockholders.”

Michael Dell

Michael Dell

The filing also indicates Dell’s board examined other options for the company, including spinning off its personal computer business and making large acquisitions to bolster the firm’s market position.

The new filing was an effort by Dell to answer questions about the buyout proposal in light of growing opposition from major Dell shareholders.

T. Rowe Price Group, Dell’s third-largest shareholder joined an ever-increasing number of investors this week asking Michael Dell and partner Silver Lake for a bigger buyout.

Dell signed a merger agreement Feb. 5 under which founder and CEO Michael Dell will acquire the company for a cool $24.4 billion — the largest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis six years ago.

Investors, however, want more.

“We believe the proposed buyout does not reflect the value of Dell, and we do not intend to support the offer as put forward,” T. Rowe Chief Investment Officer Brian Rogers said in a statement to Reuters earlier this week.

Southeastern Asset Management, the firm’s second-largest investor, with an 8.5 percent stake had already spoken against the deal. Now that T. Rowe has joined the group of naysayers, at least six investors with more than 18 percent of Dell shares — excluding Michael Dell — are voicing doubts about the deal.

The growing investor uncertainty is a worry for Michael Dell — he needs a majority of investors to give the transaction the green light.

The filing also laid out the contractual protections the Special Committee negotiated to protect Dell’s stockholders.

They included:

• A 45-day “go-shop” period in which the committee can enter into negotiations with other parties that submit a qualifying proposal.

• The proposed transaction must be approved by a majority of the shareholders, excluding Michael Dell.

• An agreement by Michael Dell to work in good faith with any competing bidder.

• An ability for the Special Committee to change its recommendation in favor of the merger.

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Michael Dell Agreed to Lower Shares Value to Encourage $24B Buyout

Google Play Privacy Policy Catching Heat After Developer Goes Public – App Developers Receive Name, E-mail, Zip Code of Customers

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Google Play’s privacy policy is under fire this week after a developer said the company is supplying him with personal information such as the full names and e-mail addresses of everyone who purchases his mobile app.

The sharing of information, which in some cases also included customers’ zip code, is all part of the company’s current policy for both its app store and its payment service Google Wallet.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Reuters that not only has Google not been open with its customers concerning its privacy practices, they may even be in violation of its 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“Meaningful consent is about people understanding what they’re getting into. It’s about not tricking them,” Rotenberg was quoted by Reuters. “In a situation like this, where people just don’t know what information is being transferred or who it’s going to or for what purpose, it seems ridiculous to say that Google has consent.”

Australian app developer Dan Nolan, in a blog post this week, took Google to task for its “absolutely insane” practice of handing over so much information to developers about its customers.

play-logo-whiteThe following is an excerpt from his blog:

If you bought the app on Google Play (even if you cancelled the order) I have your email address, your suburb, and in many instances your full name. Each Google Play order is treated as a Google wallet transaction and as such software developers get all of the information (sans exact address) for an order of an app that they would get from the order of something physical. Even underneath the order information there is a flag that says ‘Email Marketing’ with a value next to it, because of course scrupulous developers would always obey that flag.

Let me make this crystal clear, every App purchase you make on Google Play gives the developer your name, suburb and email address with no indication that this information is actually being transferred. With the information I have available to me through the checkout portal I could track down and harass users who left negative reviews or refunded the app purchase. The problems on android of app permissions (and subsequent potential for malware aside) is one of active negative behavior on the part of an app developer. This isn’t. This is a massive oversight by Google. Under no circumstances should I be able to get the information of the people who are buying my apps unless they opt into it and it’s made crystal clear to them that I’m getting this information. This is a massive, massive privacy issue Google. Fix it. Immediately.

Nolan’s app, the Paul Keating Insult Generator, is a random word generated phrasing application that is available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

Any sales Nolan makes via Apple, however, do not net him customer information. This is because Apple’s sales approach differs from that of Google Play. When a purchase is made from the App Store, Apple, rather than the app developer, is listed as the vendor. This means customer information does not need to be passed on to the developer.

Nolan is not the only app developer to object to Google Play’s practices.

Jesse Wilson, creator of the Shush! app, also objected to receiving customer information.

“Hey Google Play! Each time somebody buys my Android app, you tell me their name, e-mail address and postal code. They don’t know that they’re giving me this information, and I don’t want to have it,” the Canadian developer wrote on Google+ in November. “(Free apps don’t have this problem.)”

His post received a number of comments from fellow app developers expressing similar sentiments.

Although the privacy issue just came to light this week courtesy of Nolan’s blog post, Google Play’s method of doing business has been the same since its inception — and it is stated in Google Wallet’s privacy policy. It states customers’ information “may also be used to assist third parties in the provision of products or services that you request from them.”

Google also offers further explanation here.


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Google Play Privacy Policy Catching Heat After Developer Goes Public

Technology News Briefs — Feb. 15, 2013

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

BlackBerry Co-Founder Sells Last of Stake in Company

BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie has cut all ties with the Canadian company.

Balsillie announced Feb. 14 he has sold the last of his shares — 26.8 million which equaled a 5.1 percent stake in the company he helped create 20 years ago.

The sale, which was final as of Dec. 31, was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in accordance with its rules that investors with more than a five percent stake in a company must report any stock transaction.

Balsillie, who was the third-largest investor in the Waterloo, Ont. company, has declined to comment on his decision to sell, as has the company itself.

The announcement of the Balsillie sale, initially, had a detrimental effect on BlackBerry shares — they plummeted about 7.5 percent Feb. 14. Its recovery was quick, however. Shares rose 7.7 percent to close at $15.07.

Apple Patent Suit Against Samsung May Be Put On Hold

Apple’s search technology patent lawsuit against arch-rival Samsung may be put on hold until after an appeals court resolves a separate lawsuit between the two companies — which could be some months away.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh denied Apple’s request for a sales ban against 26 of Samsung handsets last fall.

Koh’s ruling came in spite of a jury verdict in August finding Samsung violated six of Apple’s patents. The jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion. If the ruling holds up, it will set the record as the largest patent verdict in history.

Apple has appealed for more than half a billion dollars in additional damages against Samsung for patent violation after losing its injunction bid.

In a separate suit, Apple alleges Samsung has violated additional patents, including the rights to the search technology integrated in the iPhone Siri voice feature. The case is scheduled for trial in March 2014.

Koh, in court Feb. 14, told the legal counsel for both companies a decision by the appeals court would cover both lawsuits, Reuters reported. Koh suggested the second case be suspended until after the appeals court ruled on the first.

“I just don’t know if we really need two cases on this,” Koh said.

Victoria Maroulis, Samsung’s lawyer, agreed, saying there was a sizeable “overlap” between the two cases.

Apple’s lawyer William Lee, however, disagreed, saying the suits should continue because they involve different patents.

Koh ordered the two legal teams to discuss the idea and report their opinions by March 7.

BlackBerry 10, Windows 8 to Duke It Out for No. 3 Spot

It’s little surprise that Android continues to be the operating system of choice with Apple’s iOS taking second place — the real drama in the Smartphone market, however, comes courtesy of BlackBerry and Microsoft.

According to the latest report from IDC, the BlackBerry OS and Windows Phone 8 are in a tight race for third place.

Google’s Android accounted for 70.1 per cent of the Smartphone market in the final quarter of 2012 while Apple’s iOS had a 21 per cent market share.

BlackBerry dropped from 8.1 per cent in 2011 to 3.2 per cent in the last quarter of 2012, but remains in third place despite the dip.

Windows Phone is gaining, however, and now has a 2.5 per cent share of the market.

BlackBerry with its newly launched BlackBerry 10 OS is aggressively marketing its new product in the hopes of regaining lost ground.

“Now that BlackBerry has unveiled BB10, the company is faced with migrating current BlackBerry users to upgrade while persuading Smartphone users of other platforms, including previous BlackBerry users, to switch,“ the report says.

Microsoft is also continuing to push Windows 8 as the premier choice and should be strong competition for BlackBerry given the addition of Nokia’s strong commitment behind the platform — a key driver in Microsoft’s recent success.

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Technology News Briefs — Feb. 15, 2013