Browsing articles tagged with " facebook"

In wake of London riots, UK considers social media bans

Aug 11, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

By Chris Hogg

Critics and hacker groups are lashing out at the UK government and at BlackBerry maker RIM after British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the UK could block social media services and get user data from mobile phones to shut down further riots.

The UK government is debating whether it should shut down social media websites in order to stop further riots from taking place.

In his opening statement during a Commons debate on Thursday, Cameron told parliament the government is looking at banning individuals from using sites like Twitter and Facebook if they are believed to be plotting criminal activity.

“The prime minister did not go into specifics about how such a block could work, what evidence would be needed to trigger it, and whether it would apply only to individuals or could see networks shut down entirely — instead saying only that the government was looking at the issue,” Metro reports.

Cameron recalled MPs from summer recess to address the increasing violence and riots happening throughout London.

According to the Guardian, Cameron also said the government will hold meetings with Facebook, Twitter and Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry, to discuss “their responsibilities” in this area.

As the BBC reports, under UK law, police are legally allowed to request data from someone’s mobile phone if the information relates to criminal activity.

“Everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media,” Cameron told Parliament. “The free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill.

“So we are working with the police, intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

Cameron has also told broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky News they should turn-in unused footage to help police. That request has been met with opposition from broadcasters who say handing over unused footage would damage their editorial independence.

While the UK government continues to put the blame on social media websites for playing a role in the riots, Metro reports evidence has yet to show Facebook or Twitter played a significant role.

That said, technology has played a part; the uprising in the UK has been dubbed the “BlackBerry riots” by media because several reports indicate people are using the BlackBerry’s instant messaging features to plan and organize riots and looting.

Earlier this week Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, went as far as asking RIM to shut down its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service on Twitter. “Immediate action needed,” he Tweeted. “[Londoners] cannot have another evening like last night tonight. BBM clearly helping rioters outfox police. Suspend it.”

RIM raised eyebrows when it confirmed via Twitter it was indeed helping police. “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” the Tweet reads. “We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”

RIM’s move to help police has caused outrage among hackers and a BlackBerry blog was hacked in response.

The hack was sent as a warning by a group calling itself “Team Poison.” As Computer Weekly reports Team Poison has threatened to publish personal data of RIM employees if the company cooperates with police by handing over user data.

“Team Poison said it did not condone innocent people or small businesses being attacked in the riots, but said it supported attacks on police and government,” Computer Weekly reports. “The hacker group said it was opposed to Blackberry giving user information to police because it could lead to the wrong people being targeted.”

Meanwhile, Cameron says the government continues to use social media and technology to its advantage, publishing photos of people accused of looting online. “No phoney human rights concerns about publishing photographs will get in the way of bringing these criminals to justice,” Cameron said.

Jim Killock, executive director of online advocacy organisation Open Rights Grouptold the Guardian Cameron’s requests attack free speech.

“Events like the recent riots are frequently used to attack civil liberties,” he said. “Policing should be targeted at actual offenders, with the proper protection of the courts. How do people ‘know’ when someone is planning to riot? Who makes that judgment? The only realistic answer is the courts must judge. If court procedures are not used, then we will quickly see abuses by private companies and police. Companies like RIM must insist on court processes. Citizens also have the right to secure communications. Business, politics and free speech relies on security and privacy.”

Facebook launches new dedicated messaging app for smartphones

Aug 9, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  6 Comments

By Chris Hogg

Facebook has announced a stand-alone mobile app called Messenger. The new app allows users to send messages to friends or groups of people, positioning the company to compete more directly with traditional email and group-messaging services.

Editor’s note: Scroll down to see screenshots of the app

Facebook Messenger launches today and apps will be available for iPhone or Android. The new app allows users to send messages to their friends on Facebook, or by SMS to mobile phones. Users can send messages to one person or a group of people and attach photos and location data along with their message.

Messenger works just like the existing Facebook Messages, only it will be a separate application on mobile phones. Facebook says a large portion of its users send messages from the company’s iPhone and Android apps, as well as from Facebook’s mobile website, so it saw an opportunity to pull out a feature that is widely used and launch it as a stand-alone entity.

How it works

Users launch the application and can type messages to friends, similar to sending an email or the way current messages work on Facebook. The app pulls your friends list from Facebook, and you can also add mobile phone numbers and send to people who are not on Facebook. The app is designed to function like an instant message service so messages can be sent quickly and easily to anyone.

When someone replies to the message, everyone else receives a copy of the reply. If your recipient is not on Facebook, you can provide a mobile number and the message will be delivered as a text message. The recipient is notified who else is in the conversation, and in the event a recipient wishes to opt out of a conversation, he or she can simply reply “mute” and Facebook will stop sending replies.

Launching a stand-alone app

While group messaging is not new to Facebook, the strategy of pulling out one feature and launching it as a stand-alone app is a step in a new direction for the company. Facebook says Messenger was built from the ground up by the same people who developed Beluga, a company Facebook acquired in March. Messenger incorporates a lot of the learning and features from that company.

“At the end of the day, messaging is different than any other part of the Facebook mobile experience,” Peter Deng, Director of Product, said in a phone interview. “It’s one of those things you need really quick access to. “Messages are sent instantaneously and the app feels really fast. We’ve removed a bunch of clicks and made it a separate application for speed.”

Deng says Messenger was born from looking at Facebook data and seeing how people use its applications. “An astounding amount of Facebook messages are sent via Facebook mobile right now,” said Deng. “It was surprising to us to see how many people use iPhone, Android and [our mobile site] to send messages.”

Web-mobile integration & features

The mobile experience is heavily embedded into the Web experience, so whenever a message is sent via Messenger, it’s also added to the user’s Facebook Messages inbox. This allows users to have a single copy of conversations no matter what device they use.

Facebook says Messenger gives users added functionality above what traditional text messaging offers, letting anyone opt-out of a conversation that isn’t of interest.

Deng says Messenger can be especially useful when you’re planning an event and you need to quickly put together a conversation with people who are attending, be it a ski trip, a bachelor party or dinner at a restaurant.”Mobile messaging has been one-to-one traditionally,” said Deng. “But now you can attach a location with a message that will only be visible to people you send message to.

“Location data is pulled from GPS so recipients can view a map and see your location.With the launch of a separate messaging app, there are questions around how it could impact usage within Facebook’s existing app, but Deng said the company is not concerned.

“We expect people to use the Facebook app exactly how they’re using it today,” said Deng. “It’s the same system in the Facebook app but the separate app has a few extra features. The conversation between you and friends will be accessible everywhere you go and we don’t expect too big of a change in usage in the Facebook app.”

Deng said the company will continue to watch how people use its applications and iterate as it gets more feedback about what its users’ needs are.

“Right now, we focused on sending and receiving quickly and keeping the user interface simple and minimal,” said Deng. “We as Facebook just want to get out of the way.”

Messenger will launch on iPhone and Android in Canada and the United States today. Apps will be made available in other geographies in the coming weeks.

News outlets, Facebook in talks about exclusive content

Jul 19, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by Stephanie Medeiros (Guest Contributor/Digital Journalist)

Several news sources are in talks with the social network giant to provide exclusive news and content through Facebook.

Major news sources such as The Washington Post, CNN and The Daily are currently negotiating a deal with Facebook that would give the behemoth social network the ability to offer “exclusive” content and contend with similar services of competitors.

Facebook would provide the platform for the content and the news outlets will give Facebook access to content made available only through the social network, similar to a Web app.

All Facebook reports that Forbes Mixed Media analyst Jeff Bercovici said that this service could be provided as early as September. He also added that Facebook will more than likely be receiving compensation through ad-revenue from sales as well as a percentage of sales from subscriptions.

Facebook currently has several partnerships with major movie and television studios, which offer specialized offers through the social network. Bercovici pointed out that users have the ability to rent episodes of Doctor Who from BBC through Facebook.

Facebook’s aim is mostly on Google, who also have a similar partnership in the works with news outlets in offering exclusive content, Bercovici says. Also, Facebook must now compete with Google’s own fledgling social network, Google+, which already have several news networks such as ABC, Al Jazeera English and MSNBC using the service and a rapidly growing membership base.Other tech giants have already created similar content services, like Yahoo Pulse and LinkedIn Today.

However, with roughly over 700 million people using Facebook, the social network might prove to be the leader among the pack soon enough.

This article was originally published on Digital Journal [Link]

Facebook revamps Chat tools, adds Video and Group functions

Jul 6, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

Facebook is rolling out a redesigned Chat service, adding functions to let Facebook users video-chat with friends. Group Chat has also been introduced for users who want to talk to multiple friends at once.

In a streaming live announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered details of a redesigned Facebook Chat, in order to create more layers on the company’s “social infrastructure,” as Zuckerberg described it.

“Given that we’re one of the biggest chat networks in world, these will be meaningful tools for that part of communication,” Zuckerberg added.

As previously reported on, Facebook is adding video to its Chat service. Video calling, powered by Skype, is now built into Chat, allowing any Facebook user to video-chat with another user with two clicks of a button. A plug-in takes around 30 seconds to download, and users need to have cameras equipped on their computers.

Video chatting is one of the new apps flowing over Facebook’s social infrastructure, Zuckerberg said.

Skype CEO Tony Bates appeared in the press conference to say Skype is talking with Facebook about introducing some paid products available through the Web format. Bates added that half of Skype’s traffic is video calling

Group video chat isn’t available yet, but Zuckerberg said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility in the future. He also added video chatting isn’t available yet for mobile.

Facebook is also introducing Group Chat: one of its more requested feature, multi-person chatting will let Facebook users talk to many people at once, simply by adding another friend to a conversation. A button is clearly marked Add Friends to Chat. Multi-person chat is already possible on chat services such as Gmail Chat.

Finally, Zuckerberg announced a Chat redesign rolling out today. A new sidebar lists the people you message most, even listing your top Friends who might not be online. The sidebar scales to individual browser sizes and is not yet available for mobile users.

Earlier in the announcement, Zuckerberg dangled a few tantalizing stats: Facebook has now reached 750 million members, and users are now sharing 4 billion “things” on Facebook daily, as Zuckerberg put it.

[Via Digital Journal]

‘Twitter for Newsrooms’ becomes official resource guide for journalists

Jun 27, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

Twitter For Newsrooms

By Chris Hogg

Twitter today introduced a new portal for journalists called Twitter for Newsrooms. The resource is similar to Facebook for Journalists, in that it offers best-practice advice and tips on how reporters can use the social media outlet in their day-to-day job.

The information portal offers a number of sections relating to various journalistic tasks: reporting, engaging, publishing and a section called “extra.”

  1. Under the reporting section, journalists learn about using search to its fullest potential. You can learn about in-depth advanced searching techniques and finding sources; Tweetdeck and Twitter for Mac; mobile tips; and how to use Topsy to find older tweets.
  2. Under the engage section, users can learn how to use Twitter to connect with audiences, share news and build community. This section includes case studies, tips on how to brand your Twitter presence and a glossary.
  3. In the Publish section, journalists are given tips on everything from a toolkit called Web Intents, to a WordPress plugin for Twitter, to official display guidelines on using tweets in media, and an image gallery of Twitter logos.
  4. Finally, in the Extra section, Twitter provides links to blogs, support/help items, DMCA issues and Twitter in other languages.

While a lot of these tips may be familiar to Twitter veterans, Twitter for Newsrooms offers a wealth of information for journalists who are just starting out on the social platform.

What do you think about Twitter for Newsrooms?