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Check out our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide, win some awesome gadgets!
Our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide is in full swing - we are adding our recommendations daily, aimed at men, women, teens, families, techies, and more. If you need help figuring out what to get the people in your life, head on over to our Guide for some ideas. We’ll even be giving away some of the items featured this year!
Facebook has announced a greatly revamped News Feed that hopes to beautify all the content that you consume on the social network. The new News Feed separates the different categories of content, making it easier to get to, say, just photo updates, or music updates, or groups, for example. Mark Zuckerberg says the new design is akin to a "personalized newspaper." The thought behind the changes are that people are sharing more and more multimedia--images, videos, links with previews…so why not take advantage of the screen space and optimize it?
App.net has decided to remove the cost of entry for some users, as it now allows those with paid accounts to invite up to three people to the service for free. If you're unfamiliar with App.net, it's a Twitter-like service that is free of advertising, instead allowing members to pay a $36 annual fee to be a part of it. Members own the data they put into it and don't need to give up any rights, and that includes the 10 GB cloud storage that tied to the App.net File API. Free users will have some limitation, though. For one, you'll only be able to follow a maximum of 40 other users, and instead of the aforementioned 10 GB of cloud storage, you get 500 MB instead. Lastly, paid accounts are allowed to upload files up to 100 MB in size, while free accounts have a 10 MB size restriction.
If you want to get in on App.net and don't feel like paying, hit up your paid user brethren and beg for an invite.
Read More | App.net
If you thought that 140 characters was just not enough to thoroughly get your point across on Twitter, get ready, because any URLs you add to your tweet out are going to make them even shorter.
Starting today, including a URL in your tweet will leave you with 118 characters, or 117 for https links. This tweet reduction was announced in December due to a change in Twitter's t.co link wrapper, which extends the maximum length of links from the previous 20 characters to 22, and 21 to 23 for https.
What does this mean for you? You'll have two less characters to annoy people with your updates.
Read More | Twitter
Facebook is now compliant with the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, and has to show the AdChoice icon in behaviorally targeted Facebook Exchange (FBX) ads. This allows users to know when an ad is marketed to them on their browser behavior. The catch, however, is that the icon is only displayed when a user interacts with it by scrolling of the gray "X" over the ad.
Facebook will change the "Report this Ad" text with "Learn About Facebook Ads," and users can choose to opt out of specific ad networks. As Engadget notes, however, whether this legally complies with the Federal Commission guidelines for "clear and prominent notice" is unsure, as the ads only reveal itself as targeted once a user interacts with it.
AdChoice implementation will start at the end of March.
Twitter is expanding on its Nielsen deal to develop social TV ratings through an acquisition of Bluefin Labs, a firm specializing in statistics for television networks. The acquisition, says Twitter, will allow the social network to create "innovative new ad products."
Second-screen apps seem to be on the rise these days, but in the case of Twitter, people are more than likely already using it while watching TV. The question is, how much money will this bring Twitter through advertising?
Instagram wants you to know that it hears your concerns and its doing its best to alleviate the symptoms of change. Accordingly, the photo-sharing service has altered the parts of its new Terms of Service.
Earlier, we reported that many people were leaving the service for Flickr and the like, because people took the new ToS to mean the community's photos would be unfairly monetized for Instagram's gain. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, has since made it clear that is not the case. Systrom states that Instagram wants "to experiment with innovative advertising." Which according to Systrom means allowing Instagram access to people you follow, and who they follow, for businesses to use in order to better promote its business.
Systrom also claimed that users still own their content and that his company won't sell user photos to advertisers.
Read More | Instagram Blog
While Twitter has been described as a "self-cleaning oven" and a "truth machine," rumors do slip through and cause confusion, if briefly. A new study building on research done in 2010, analyzing tweets surrounding the Chile 8.8 earthquake, is currently researching the possibilities of sussing out the true tweets from the false ones.
The study uses 16 features to identify whether a tweet is credible or not. It seems reliable information tends to be longer and include URLs, as well as come from people with a lot of followers. The true tweets also tend to be negative in nature, and do not contain exclamation points or question marks.
A new paper by those behind the Chile earthquake study, Carlos Castillo, Marcelo Mendoza and Barbara Poblete, will appear in the journal Internet Research next month with what look to be encouraging results. Their algorithm had an AUC of 0.86, meaning that when it's presented with a false tweet and a true tweet, it would label the true tweet more credible 86 percent of the time.
It's not perfect, and actual people would probably fair better in determining which tweet was more credible. Probably. In any case, it's nice to see we're making strides toward making the Internet a more credible place. My only concern is the escalation factor; that is, the people behind the deliberately false information will only adopt better practices to fool such truth-seeking algorithms.
Read More | Slate
Instagram users are flocking to greener pastures after the photo-sharing service posted new Terms of Service this week. With the new TOS, users are required to consent to allowing the Facebook-owned service license their public photos to companies, organizations and advertisers. As CNET puts it, this could make Instagram a stock photo service in itself, without paying out to photographers.
More than likely, however, the new TOS are for Instagram users would be used in promotional images, rather than as stock photos that cheat the photographers out of money. It's the fact that the latter is a possibility that is causing some users to embark on an exodus to Flickr, Hipstamatic or Twitter.
The Verge reports that searching for Instagram on Twitter brings up several instructions for how to export your Instagram pics and cancel your account. There are also several tweets spreading about which photo-sharing services make a good Instagram replacement, such as the article Fast Company posted.
The change in its Terms of Services coincides not only with the unwelcome change in photo-cropping functionality, but also as Twitter adds its own photo filters, and Flickr releases version 2.0 of its iOS client. It may be a temporary setback for Instagram, or it could spell the beginning of the end if the service doesn't do something fast to appease its users.
Facebook wants more of its employees carrying Android devices, employing vaguely propagandistic posters around its Menlo Park campus. The posters outline the growing lead Android has over iOS, projecting that lead to double by 2016. The goal is to get Facebook employees using devices that the majority of their app users use, or "Droidfooding," as the campaign is casually known.
“In the early days we gave employees iPhones primarily”, a Facebook spokesperson said to TechCrunch. This recent shift to a more Android OS orientated workplace is part of an effort to make it as simple as possible to test future Facebook For Android and Facebook Messenger apps.
“We’ve created more awareness that Android devices are available” Facebook says. "There's plenty of people here carrying around both devices, and not just engineers and not just mobile people.”
Read More | TechCrunch
The offer from Twitter, according to The New York Times, was for $525 million. Instagram's CEO, Kevin Systrom, agreed to the buy-out, but changed his mind before selling Instagram to Facebook without allowing Twitter to make a counter offer.
What's interesting is that Systrom had stated while under oath to the California Corporations Department that Instagram had never received another formal offer. None of the parties have commented on the Times article that brought this information to life, but it could mean we might be in the throes of an intense legal battle shortly.
Read More | NY TImes
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