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New Zealand already has lush rainforests and sandy beaches, bungee jumping and scuba diving, gourmet restaurants and lively night life, even a thriving tech community that has drawn investment from the likes of Peter Thiel. (Of course, they drive on the left side of the road, but hey no place is perfect).

Now the country has something else the rest of the world does not: Facebook’s new Timeline feature.

New Zealand is getting first crack at the major redesign of the profile page. Key to the decision: It’s English speaking and very far away from Silicon Valley.

That’s according to Sam Lessin, product director of Timeline, who told the New Zealand Herald: “We chose New Zealand to be first — and I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this — primarily because it is an English-speaking country…. It’s far away from our data centers, so we can monitor speed and performance.”

It may also have something to do with the country having about 4.4 million people, 2 million of whom are on Facebook.

And just how long will the rest of the world have to wait?

“We’re definitely taking our time with this one,” Lessin said. “It will give people a chance to get excited about what they can do with it.”

via LA times


Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, with Senator Charles Schumer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who inscribed a wall at the company’s Madison Avenue sales office on Friday. -Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Facebook announced on Friday that it planned to open an engineering office in New York City in early 2012, establishing the company’s first such outpost beyond the West Coast.

At a gathering in Facebook’s sales office on Madison Avenue, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Senator Charles E. Schumer joined Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, in hailing the move as a testament to the city’s growing technological profile.

“We want the next Facebook to start here,” Mr. Bloomberg said. High-tech jobs in the city have grown by more than a third over the past five years, the mayor added, noting his goal to make New York “the world’s No. 1 hub for information technology and social media.”

Several companies in Silicon Valley have established a presence in Manhattan in recent years, and this year, Twitter and Yelp opened local offices.

Ms. Sandberg would not estimate how many workers the new Facebook engineering office might employ, but said the company as a whole planned to add thousands of jobs in the next year. The new office will be led by Serkan Piantino, an engineering manager who previously oversaw the team behind the company’s News Feed.

“This isn’t a satellite office,” Mr. Piantino said. “This is going to be a core part of our engineering stack.”

read more at nytime


Facebook.com founder Mark Zuckerberg smiles at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Facebook has agreed a settlement with the US’ Federal Trade Commission that will see it being subject to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.

The company yesterday settled complaints that it disregarded its users’ privacy and agreed to establish a raft of measures to better protect its 800m members’ data.

The agreement will also mean the social networking site will have to seek users’ consent for certain changes to privacy settings.

“I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes,” co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a lengthy post on the company’s official blog.

He said a few “high-profile” mistakes, such as changes to the service’s privacy policy two years ago, “have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done.”

To ensure that Facebook did a better job, Mr Zuckerberg said the company had created two new corporate privacy officer positions to oversee Facebook products and policy.

In its complaint, the FTC said that Facebook had repeatedly violated laws against deceptive and unfair practices.

For example, it said Facebook promised users that it would not share personal information with advertisers, but it did.

Tue company has often been criticised for its privacy practices since its founding in a Harvard dorm room in 2004.

In September the Data Protection Commissioner here began an audit of Facebook’s operations outside of North America, following complaints from a group called ‘Europe Versus Facebook’.

The group made 22 complaints about the way the website retains user information and as Facebook has its European headquarters in Dublin it came under the remit of the Irish data commissioner.

If Facebook is found to have violated any of the provisions of its settlement with the FTC, the company is subject to fines of $16,000 (€12,044) per day for each violation, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.

“Nothing in this order will restrict Facebook’s ability to innovate,” said Leibowitz. But, he added, “Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy.”

Under the settlement, Facebook is barred from being deceptive about how it uses personal information, and is required to get permission before changing the visibility of the personal information users have posted.

Facebook noted that it had reversed some of the privacy settings at issue in the FTC’s complaint prior to the settlement, including restoring users’ ability to limit who sees their Friends List.

It also said it fixed a problem more than a year ago which had “inadvertently” allowed advertisers to obtain the user ID numbers of some Facebook members.

In a statement, Facebook said that the settlement “strikes the right balance between innovation and regulation, and gives us the ability to introduce new sharing, connecting and control features that will continue to improve Facebook.


Government regulators are sharing some alarming information about Facebook: They believe the online social network has often misled its more than 800 million users about the sanctity of their personal information.

The unflattering portrait of Facebook’s privacy practices emerged Tuesday in a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging that Facebook exposed details about users’ lives without getting legally required consent. In some cases, the FTC charged, Facebook allowed potentially sensitive details to be passed along to advertisers and software developers prowling for customers.

To avoid further legal wrangling, Facebook agreed to submit to government audits of its privacy practices every other year for the next two decades. The company committed to getting explicit approval from its users – a process known as “opting in” – before changing their privacy controls.

The FTC’s truce with Facebook, along with previous settlements with Google and Twitter, is helping to establish more ground rules for online privacy expectations even as Internet companies regularly vacuum up insights about their audiences in an effort to sell more advertising.

 Although Facebook didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing in the legal papers it signed with the FTC, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was more contrite in a blog post Tuesday.

“I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes,” Zuckerberg wrote. “In particular, I think that a small number of high-profile mistakes … have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done.”

Facebook has overcome its missteps in the past to emerge as the world’s largest social network and one of the Internet’s most influential companies since Zuckerberg created the website in his Harvard University dorm room in 2004.

No website has been as successful as Facebook at getting people to voluntarily share intimate details about themselves. Zuckerberg has emerged as the Internet’s chief evangelist for sharing, partly because he believes it can help make the world a better place by making it easier for people to stay connected with the things and people that they care about.


HTC's Salsa phone was the first mobile to feature a branded Facebook button; now the company is said to be working on deeper integration

Social Network Facebook has chosen HTC to build its first smartphone, codenamed Buffy.

Facebook picked the phone maker it wants to use for its device, selecting HTC over Samsung, according to All Things D. The Buffy will run a heavily modified version of Google’s Android operating system, which Facebook chose for its openness.

A spokesman for Facebook said, “Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”

Facebook will launch the smartphone next year at the earliest, seeing as the vendor has only just been chosen. Whether HTC will create a brand new handset or modify an existing one remains to be seen.

HTC has already launched devices called the Chacha and Salsa that are among the closest devices to a Facebook phone with their dedicated Facebook buttons. The Taiwanese smartphone maker is one of the best when it comes to Android modification with its Sense overlay, so the choice might be a wise one by Facebook.


Skype and Facebook Integration DEMO


Skype Ltd. has extended its partnership with Facebook Inc. by further integrating its Internet video calling service into the social network.

Skype is releasing updates that embed its software more directly into Facebook, allowing video chats across both networks.

Considering that Facebook has more than 800 million members and Skype has 170 million, the combination creates quite a global network.

We’ve been on a mission to connect a billion users and with this, we take a big step closer to that,” said Jonathan Rosenberg, Skype’s chief technology strategist.

The two companies teamed up in July to bring free video chatting to Facebook, a move that came on the heels of Google’s introduction of rival social network Google+, which included a group video feature called Hangouts.

Skype’s update is the next step of that integration and allows Skype members to initiate a Facebook-to-Facebook call within Skype, Rosenberg said. But there is still no group calling feature available.

read more


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