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tech_0409_instagram_270x203.jpgSo according to some old Mayan stone the world's ending this week, on Friday to be exact and in the Shiny Shiny offices we've been discussing exactly how that's going to happen. We've pretty much narrowed it down to... A sudden flash of light then NOTHING, a zombie infection or a huge natural disaster that sees us all being whipped into hurricanes or swallowed up by lava. However, it seems that something else will actually cause the world to implode a little earlier and it's the fact Instagram has made some changes to its policy.

Yeah it sounds ridiculous, but our Twitter feeds have been whipped up into a frenzy this morning by the fact our Instagram photos may or may not be taken by Facebook, may or may not be sold to some big bad corporation for advertising purposes and may or may not appear on some billboard in an exotic country.

Everything kicked off yesterday when Instagram made a number of changes to both its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service that come into affect later in January. We already wrote a sarcastic post about Instagram sharing more stuff with Facebook, but today everyone's nearly working themselves in an early heart attack because a section of the new Terms of Use section effectively grants Instagram the access to pimp out your content:

"Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") that you post on or through the Instagram Services. By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly ("private") will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services."

Obviously Instagram wants to make a huge deal about the fact it DOES NOT CLAIM OWNERSHIP OF YOUR CONTENT (so much so that it keeps shouting at us), but then goes on to say that despite not owning your photos, it can pretty much go ahead and do whatever the hell it likes with them if your account is public.

There's even more dodgy terminology throughout the whole policy (Cnet has gone into much more depth with its analysis), but overall we can agree that this is pretty rubbish, especially if you're a dedicated user and don't really want Instagram to sell your content onto some random company for god knows what.

However, it's hardly surprising a free service that's recently been gobbled up by Facebook now wants to stake a claim on your content and start making more money. We guess amidst the dreamy vintage filters and little "like" hearts we just didn't see Instagram becoming a big baddy.

The main thing to remember here is that Instagram isn't the fluffy care bear company we all stupidly thought it was, but at the same time many of the things we're all freaking out about today may never happen. These new policies may have been broadly drafted by a legal team to cover their backs in the future and those whining about Facebook making money from our cat and pouty face photos could just be jumping to all kinds of silly conclusions.

If you're still not happy then it's hardly rocket science. If Instagram updating its policy is going to make you freak out and worry for days that those rubbish photos of macarons might end up on an ad somewhere, then stop using the app. We know, we know, it might feel like you're chopping off a limb, but we doubt your Twitter rants are really going to change the decision of a business owned by Facebook so let's all calm down and drink some mulled wine, shall we?

[Via Cnet]

instagram-screenshot-app.jpgEarly next year Instagram will be introducing a new policy that means it'll soon be sharing all of its content with its new BFF (we mean owner), Facebook.

This morning the Instagram team wrote an official announcement on the company's blog, outlining some of the key changes that are set to come into affect in January and its relationship with Facebook plays a big part:

"Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups. This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used."

The company is keen to point out that nothing will change in terms of who owns photos and who has access to them, but regardless it's clear that Facebook and Instagram are set to get a hell of a lot more cosy. The area of the new policy that's rung alarm bells for those who are wary of Facebook's involvement is in the information section:

We may share User Content and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of, or that become part of that group ("Affiliates"). Affiliates may use this information to help provide, understand, and improve the Service (including by providing analytics) and Affiliates' own services (including by providing you with better and more relevant experiences). But these Affiliates will honor the choices you make about who can see your photos.

Facebook haters are already getting all worked up about the thought of their data being even more closely monitored by the social network, but we're not really sure what they expected since it acquired Instagram...

[Via TechCrunch]

snapchat-phone-screenshot.jpgQuirky little photo app Snapchat has become super popular over the past year or so (we wrote about it last September when it was called Picaboo), as it allows you to send "self-destructible" photo messages that the recipient can only view for a couple of seconds.

Awh we hear what you're saying, maybe everyone uses it to send cute, laughing photos of the fun times they have like the girls below? Well um NO. It's basically gained a bit of a reputation for being the go-to app for sending filthy photos, so you can be as naughty as you like without risking your naked bits being posted to the internet.

Well according to reports today it looks like Facebook may want a piece of the dirty, quick photo pie as it could be planning on launching its own Snapchat-like application.

Yesterday All Things D reported that Facebook is currently testing a messaging app that allows users to "send impermanent photo messages to one another", which yep, sounds a hell of a lot like Snapchat's USP.

Although there's been no official word from Facebook yet, a source close to the matter has allegedly leaked that the app will be with us in the coming weeks, joining Facebook's other mobile apps like Messenger and Camera (yeah, we forgot that existed too).

[Via All Things D]

big-spam.jpgIf you're a big fan of Instagram you'll know it's full of awesome photos, retro filters, all of your friends' snaps and tonnes of spam links to Justin Bieber sites, bargain blogs and people pretending to be hot MILFs.

Of course the last three are really irritating and not what the Instagram team really had in mind when they were building the popular photo app, which is why Facebook has decided to wade in too and start fighting off all of the nasty spam like some really lame super hero team.

According to a comment under a recent photo from the official Instagram account, a group of engineers has already been tasked with tackling the big, fat, juicy spam problem:

"There's no quick fix, but we have a team of engineers working every day to tackle the issue and we hope you'll notice their improvements."

You can do your bit too by weeding out the spammers and reporting them, which should make you feel warm, fuzzy and like you're doing your bit to fight off fake naked ladies.

[Via All Things D Image via kellinahandbasket's Flickr]

crazy-computer-woman.jpgYeah we know, we know, we're a bit sick of the endless Facebook research that proves absolutely nothing too. But this one is quite interesting. And by interesting we mean you should read it before you get even more social media overload and your head explodes.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh Business School have found that the more friends you have on Facebook from different areas of your life, the more stressed out you get about pretty much everything.

The study took an in-depth look at the way 300 people use the social network and found that many of us have seven distinct social circles online, including friends known offline, extended family, colleagues, siblings, friends of friends, exes and current squeezes.

However the stress comes when users post content that they think is acceptable to one group of friends and not another, with many choosing to share statuses, links and photos regardless but then worry they've done the wrong thing or others just don't share as much anymore because they feel like they're walking on eggshells.

Ben Marder, one of the researchers from the University of Edinburgh behind the report, said:

"Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink, and flirt. But now with your mum, dad, and boss there, the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines."

Of course none of this is really that surprising, but does prove why Facebook lists and groups exist and why Google+ created those silly bouncing circles. We imagine it'll be an increasing challenge in the future for various platforms to make sharing with different social groups even easier and more intuitive. Facebook has clearly added a lot of new features for that exact purpose, by automatically grouping people together and creating a new acquaintances list recently too, but for some people it still seems a bit forced and they'll choose to not update rather than faff around with lists and things.

[Via All Facebook]

facebook-photo-syncing.jpeg

Facebook would love it if we didn't do anything all day but fool around on Facebook, it wants us to use it to talk to people (obviously), find things, organise things, celebrate birthdays and things oh and of course upload all our embarrassing photos.

Well now the social network has started testing a new feature as part of its iOS app (having already given it a whirl on Android) that means all the photos you've taken on your iPhone or iPad are automatically uploaded to Facebook. Yep that's right. ALL of them.

But fear not, photos aren't automatically added to your timeline, instead they get sent to a super secret private album, which you can delve into and decide what you'd like to make public and what you'd like to erase from the planet forever. A new page on the Facebook Help Center dedicated to Photo Syncing (because people were obviously going to be whining about it A LOT) explains:

"Only you can see the photos you've synced from your phone. Your photos are saved privately in a section of your Facebook Photos that only you can see. When you view your synced photos, you can choose shots to share or send in a private message."

Of course that's all good and well, but given Facebook's privacy hiccups in the past we still feel a bit cautious about setting anything up to sync automatically. Ever. But then again maybe that's a testament to the photos we have on our phones and not Facebook...

Only a few users seem to be able to activate the new test feature, so go to the Facebook app, to your timeline and see if you have an "automatic syncing" button there. We don't unfortunately, so can't tell you much more :(:(:(.

[Via Venture Beat]

facebook-comments-image copy.jpgToday Facebook has shared news that it'll be testing a new feature over the next few weeks, which ranks comments on pages according to engagement, a little like how content is upvoted and downvoted on Reddit.

A Facebook spokesperson said:

"We are testing a new format for comments on Page posts. As part of this test the most engaging comments appear higher up. You will also be able to reply to individual comments as well as the original post."

The content will be ranked based on a metric including likes, responses and hides, which means that the most interesting and "engaging" content is more prominent. Or at least that's how the team hope it'll work in theory. We expect there'll be an option to see comments by rank or by most recent, just in case you'd rather opt out.

There's also talk that soon users will be able to respond to certain comments instead of just carrying on the thread, a handy feature that'll look much like the nested comments we're used to seeing on blogs and forums.

[Image via All Facebook]

facebook-friendship-pages copy.jpg

We'll forgive you for forgetting that friendship pages on Facebook even exist as they're kinda hidden away and a bit rubbish. Up until now they've just documented the friendship between you and a mate or a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/ex/family member/stalker, whatever, but now they're set to get a fancy new revamp to turn your relationship with them into a cringeworthy story that looks like your personal timeline.

The new friendship timelines are being rolled out over the next few weeks and will be crammed full of all the lovely things you've done together, the events you've both attended, photos of you both and your mutual friends, complete with a cover photo of you both together hugging or whatever it is you spend your time doing.

If that doesn't sound irritating enough, if you're in a relationship and visit facebook.com/us you'll get a super creepy friendship page for you and your significant other. AWH. Oh and we checked, if you go to that link and you're single Facebook will just redirect you to your info page so that you've got an added reminder that you're single and will die alone.

To see if your friendship pages have had an update yet, then just click on someone, go to the little cog thing under their cover photo on the right and click "See Friendship".

It's not clear why Facebook has decided to revamp its friendship pages, whether it's just to update them to the new timeline format or start encouraging us to view them, share them or do something else with them in future. But right now we think the new design is cool for friendships, super cheesy and vomit inducing for couples and pretty soul destroying for relationships that are now over. ENJOY.

[Via Facebook Newsroom]

facebook-pages-experiment.jpg

Facebook is always experimenting with new features that are sometimes quickly added to the social network and other times abandoned and deemed really rubbish.

Today The Next Web noticed that Facebook has been experimenting by clumping all updates from brands, pages and websites in one place, over at https://www.facebook.com/pages/feed.

There's no saying whether this change will stick, but it'll be a good way for regular users to stop seeing updates from brands all the time when they get a bit too pushy.

[Via The Next Web]


cakes-are-like-facebook.jpeg

Most of you will have seen Facebook's efforts to compare the social network to all kinds of things on its official page. For instance, did you know Facebook is just like Halloween? A swimming pool? A chair? No neither did we, but the quirky new "Facebook is like..." campaign has certainly got people talking for all kinds of reasons both good and bad.

The most recent comparison has been between Facebook and a birthday cake, because according to the team:

"Birthday cakes are made for people to be together. They give friends a place to gather and celebrate. But too much cake probably isn't healthy. So birthday cake is a lot like Facebook."

That's a pretty fair statement, but also suggests those at the social network are well aware that too much Facebook time isn't a good thing. So here are our top five tips and Chrome plugins for kicking your Facebook addiction and stopping it driving you crazy on a daily basis.

1. Block out the things that annoy you

If it's not your Facebook addiction that bothers you but the fact certain things on the site make you angry, then just remove it all. Simple.

There are specific Google Chrome plug-ins to get rid of most awful things already, like mentions of Chris Brown (Chris Brownout), baby photos (Unbaby.me) and politics (unpolitic.me). However, if you've got a specific bugbear then In My Words is for you, as it's a Chrome extension that allows you to replace any word or phrase you don't like with one you do.

2. Cut down on stalking by only visiting Facebook when you've got notifications

If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through photos of people you don't really give a crap about, then instead only allow yourself to visit Facebook when you've got actual notifications to check out.

Facebook Nanny only allows you on Facebook for 15 seconds if you don't have a message, like or comment and even if you do you've only got a minute to look at it. It's a great option during the day when you want to stay on top of things but don't really have much time to spare.

3. Restrict your time on Facebook

If you just want to stop spending so much time on Facebook (or any other site for that matter) then download the StayFocusd plugin and just give yourself a few minutes. You might still stalk, procrastinate and get angry, but the less time you spend doing those things the more likely you'll not want to do them in the future. Maybe.

4. Delete, block and sort your "friends"

You can whine about Facebook all day, but unless you have a personal issue with Zuckerberg it's really the people you have as "friends" that get to you. If you're stalking someone too much block them so you can't see them or anything to do with them, if someone's annoying you hide their updates or delete them. It's not rocket science.

Sort people into lists too, so you can share content with who you want to and never feel silly about an update that your boss may or may not have seen.

5. Turn off all push and email notifications

We've all been there. You're finally in the zone, getting on with work and being really awesome when a notification pops up on your phone about that girl from school commenting on your status and you suddenly wonder what she's up to, what she looks like now and who she's dating. It's then not long until you've fallen into the Facebook rabbit hole and said goodbye to an hour of working time. Turn off all notifications so that you can look when you want to and when you're working you won't be distracted.

facebook-new-search-bar.jpeg

Over the past few months we've all become accustomed to the way the new Facebook timeline works, after agonising over a cover photo and deleting all those photos of our exes of course. So it makes perfect sense that the social network is set to confuse its users again with a new redesign, but this time it isn't to our profiles or the way we chat to one another, but the way we search for things.

The proposed change (you can see it in the screenshot from Inside Facebook above) that's currently being tested admittedly hardly looks that different, but it shifts the search bar over to the left and lumps together your notifications on the right.

Many have been suggesting that this move is to focus users on Facebook's search capabilities, as well as the way it allows us all to chat, like and stalk. It would certainly make sense given the addition of the words "search for people, places and things" to the search bar earlier in the year and the fact you now get web results served up by Bing when you do enter any search terms.

However, it's also been suggested that the focus isn't on the search bar at all, but actually forces us to look to the right hand side straight away (to see our notifications) where we're much more likely to pay attention to the ads and gifts and other crap down that side of the screen.

Either way the changes aren't huge, but it will be interesting to see what Facebook chooses to focus on in the future, as privacy concerns, security changes and a focus on ads and gifts is clearly putting off a number of users at present.

[Via Inside Facebook]

magnifying-glass.jpegDo you remember a few weeks back when people started to notice their private messages were (maybe) being published to their public Facebook timelines? We all collectively freaked out, dashed to somewhere with wi-fi and checked through the past few years to see if anything was out of place (and we know we weren't the only ones).

Now all of the was-it-or-wasn't-it-a-privacy-breach mayhem has calmed down we've noticed that there are a lot of people who are really wary about Zuckerberg and the gang over at Facebook HQ and there are a whole bunch of conspiracy theories about what the social network has been up to with all our private information.

We've collected together some of the top reasons for you to freak out, from the things that are probably true, like profiles being deleted by accident, to the completely ridiculous Loch Ness monster-style theories, like it was set up by the CIA to spy on you.

FYI, we're not claiming any of them are true, we're just presenting them to you for you to make up your own minds...

1. RUMOUR: The private messages made public scandal

It's the most recent one to rock our little social media worlds, despite the fact it probably (maybe) didn't even happen.

So a few weeks ago Metro France reported that old private messages were suddenly appearing on user's timelines for all of their friends to see.

Although the rumours began over in France it wasn't long before people from all over the globe were scrolling back through their timelines (most of the problems seemed to occur in 2007, 2008 and 2009) and finding that some of their once private messages had been made visible.

After an official statement from Facebook it seems the messages we were all getting worried about were just old wall posts that were written back when we were all naively using Facebook and writing about all kinds of private things in such a public way. Awh what excited little mites we were.

There are still those who are adamant their private messages were on display, but with no conclusive evidence or screenshots to prove anything it's kind of been forgotten about/swept under the carpet.

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION (probably).

2. RUMOUR: Facebook will soon charge you to be part of its annoying, elite community

We've all had an annoying friend who's posted a status update about Facebook charging for its services in the near future. That's fair enough. The world is a big, bad, scary place and why wouldn't Zucerkberg monetise Facebook one day? However, what annoys us the most is when they write that you have to put something ridiculous as your status to stop it happening or turn your profile photo pink. No guys, it's BS, get off Facebook and join a cult.

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION. At least for now.

3. RUMOUR: The Facebook team are reading your private messages and increasing page likes

Last week The Next Web (and a number of other sources) revealed that if you mention a Facebook page in your private messages the likes for that page will increase. Admittedly it sounds a little innocuous at first, but surely it means someone's going through your messages and looking at the content, right? RIGHT?

Well Facebook admitted that it has been scanning messages but don't worry, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't give a crap about who you're dating, it's only to create those cute little thumbnails that come up at the bottom and the increased likes are apparently a bug...

FACT OR FICTION: FACT but it seems like a genuine mistake. We think.

4. RUMOUR: Facebook is randomly deleting pages and profiles willy nilly

Every few weeks there are details about a Facebook page, profile or group being wiped off the face of the internet for good. Sometimes the Facebook team has valid reasons for its actions, like a fake or offensive account, sometimes it tries to justify its crazy deleting activity, like in the case of The Cool Hunter page disappearing and other times it just seems personal, like when another Mark Zuckerberg suddenly found his profile defunct. We smell something fishy here.

FACT OR FICTION: FACT with both valid excuses and suspicious circumstances.

5. RUMOUR: The Facebook team are disgusted by your breasts

Earlier in the year a number of "lactivists" (yes, that's a word) were angered by the fact Facebook has been marking breastfeeding photos as unsuitable. Many have taken it as a personal insult to the natural act of breastfeeding, but really Facebook has just been trying to keep everyone happy and no one likes bare breasts, right?

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION, the Facebook team don't hate breasts (some might, we're not quite sure) and the actions may have angered some mums, but at the same time it does make sense that the images were removed. At the end of the day not everyone wants to see your naked body, even if you think it's a beautiful and natural process. Put 'em away.

6. RUMOUR: Facebook is selling your photos to advertisers

When Facebook updated its terms of service back in 2009 many started question whether users really own their content once it's uploaded to the site or whether it becomes fair game as soon as it hits the social network.

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION. Although the terms of service are constantly changing, the team stand by the fact that a user owns their own content and would never give an advertiser or the media access to content that you wouldn't be able to find publicly. Look at the case of Gawker's Nick Denton, who posted photos from someone else's private account and got into a spot of bother.

7. RUMOUR: Facebook is constantly publishing your phone number for everyone to see

It's happened a few times now, but most notably last year when people realised that if you sync your Facebook contacts to your phone you see everyone's numbers. Some people freaked out and thought it meant that Facebook now has all of your personal data, is publishing your details for the world to see or intends to prank call everyone you know in their sleep.

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION. If your phone number has shown up on Facebook at any point it's because you added it there and at some point didn't restrict your privacy enough. Pure and simple. Here's a statement from a Facebook spokesperson on Gawker about the whole debacle:

"The phone numbers listed there were either added by your friends themselves and made visible to you, or you have previously synced your phone contacts with Facebook."

OK you told us. Calm down.

8. RUMOUR: Facebook will delete you if you don't republish that really ridiculous and misspelt status update

Yep, it's the same person who bought into the "OMGZ FACEBOOK IS GONNA STRT CHARGING US" rumour. Every week there seems to be another load of crap circulating round that if you don't republish this link or that update you'll get deleted or killed or worse. You can tell which updates these are because a) they're obviously not true b) they're littered with spelling mistakes c) they're people you desperately want to delete from you friend list but can't because you used to work with them/are related/have a good friend in common.

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION. COMPLETE. FICTION. Now please learn to spell.

9. RUMOUR: You can tell who's been stalking your Facebook profile

It's probably the oldest rumour around and there are entire sites and forums dedicated to whether you can tell who's been looking at your profile or not. Yeah maybe it'd be interesting for like five minutes, but are we really THAT bothered?

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION (probably). Even though many believe there are tricks and formulas for working it out, if Facebook is to be believed, there's no way of telling who's been looking at your profile. Sorry guys.

10. RUMOUR: Facebook was set up by the CIA to find out more about you.

Yeah, sounds like something out of a crazy thriller movie, right? But Google it. There are LOTS of people out there who don't buy into anything Facebook stands for and are convinced it's been set up by the CIA to find out all kinds of things about us. We're not sure what it hopes to achieve by learning we get drunk a lot and take photos of our cat, but SRSLY some people seem to take this conspiracy theory really, well, SRSLY.

FACT OR FICTION: FICTION. We're totally willing to be proved wrong here (and we're sure many people out there will try to), but we just don't buy it. Sorry.

Related: FACEBOOK: What does the (maybe fake) private message leak teach us?

[Image via Okko Pyykkö's Flickr]

sad-woman-computer.jpgForget orgasms, love and procreation, it seems we're all much more turned on by status updates, Instagram photos and Farmville nowadays, as a US-based study suggests we have a stronger desire to look at Facebook than have sex.

Researchers at the University of Chicago wanted to see just how addicted and obsessed we are with social media (for, like, the billionth time), so for seven days monitored 250 students and asked them what they yearned for the most and lo and behold checking Facebook and Twitter came out on top over regular human being things, like socialising, nicotine addiction and DING DING DING sex.

Wilhelm Hofmann, one of the guys leading the study, told the Los Angeles Times:

"Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not cost much to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist."

OK, OK so it's definitely one of those "studies" that we can't take that seriously and even those behind it talk about the methodology in a rather shaky "well we just chatted to the participants" kinda way.

There are all kinds of things at play here too, like what if they were 250 participants that find it hard to talk to people, flirt and generally get laid? Surely they would yearn for social media more because it's right there? And why is "it does not cost much" a reason for social media over sex? We could pick holes in this all day, but we won't...

However, we don't doubt that some people have a strong and possibly unhealthy desire to check social networking sites (we're doing it right now). The one thing we do hope is that the desire to stalk someone's photos doesn't REALLY overtake the desire to, like, procreate, otherwise we'll then be facing some actual problems.

[Via CBS Local Image via Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com's Flickr]

crying-child.jpgEveryone is making a huge fuss today about the news Facebook is set to add a "want" and "collect" button in order to allow retailers to push their products at users and turn us all into materialistic zombies who just shout WANT at things we really don't need. Good job planet Earth.

According to The Telegraph today, the buttons will play a big part in a new feature called "Collections", which allows brands to add products to a kind of online catalogue, allowing users to browse through and click on things that interest them and even go on to make purchases.

So far a few brands have been offered early access to Collections and the added buttons that come with it, such as Victoria's Secret and Neiman Marcus.

Of course the move makes sense for both Facebook and retailers, allowing them to sell more products and give users the chance to share recommendations and purchases with their friends, which will provide Facebook with an increase in revenue at the same time.

However, if you prefer Facebook to be all about making genuine connections with new contacts and keeping in touch with old friends, it's not a move that you'll be welcoming with open arms. Let's just hope you can remove all purchases from your News Feeds, otherwise the girl who sends you 48,584,338 Farmville requests a day and shares photos of her 3 babies will also be telling you all about how she just bought a new pram, wendy house and lame outfit for little Trixie Lou. Bitter? Us? No way.

[Via Telegraph Image via lonelydimple's Flickr]

mark-zuckerberg-status.jpgSo it's official, pretty much all of us are on Facebook. Well, one billion of us, which may as well be all.

Facebook released stats yesterday confirming the HUGE number and good ol' Zuckerberg wrote a long and melodramatic update about how Facebook has single-handedly solved world hunger and made everyone BFFs. Or something like that:

"We believe that the need to open up and connect is what makes us human. It's what brings us together. It's what brings meaning to our lives.

Facebook isn't the first thing people have made to help us connect. We belong to a rich tradition of people making things that bring us together.

Today, we honor this tradition.

We honor the humanity of the people we serve.

We honor the everyday things people have always made to bring us together:

Chairs, doorbells, airplanes, bridges, games. These are all things that connect us.

And now Facebook is a part of this tradition of things that connect us too."

Wow, he's just like a modern day Jesus, isn't he?

Mark Zuckerberg also introduced Facebook's first branded video, which has good intentions but is overall a little underwhelming and weird. How did you not already know chairs are like Facebook guys, GAWD?!

SUPER COOL FACEBOOK FACTZ FOR TEH WIN

The Facebook team decided that, while they all bask in the glory of getting one billion people to tell them all about their lives on a daily basis, they should also release some interesting stats about how we've been using the social network. So here they are:

1.13 trillion Likes

140.3 billion friend connections

219 billion photos shared

17 billion check-ins

62.6 million songs have been played 22 billion times that's about 210,000 years of music

2.45 billion content items and 2.7 billion Likes are shared every day on Facebook

More than 300 million photos uploaded daily

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Do you ever read through updates from your friends on Facebook and sometimes think you're in a really REALLY terrible and badly dressed version of a reality TV show? Well now a new app called Taploid aims to suck your soul straight out of your body by presenting all kinds of Facebook activity in the style of a dirty gossip magazine. Why? Well, just because.

The idea behind Taploid is quite simple:

"Using clever technology, we analyze your social net­work to give you funny and positive stories about your friends. Sometimes it's even hilarious. Welcome to The Taploid, the next generation of tabloid magazines."

According to the team, the app uses language analysis and data mining to sift through all of the recent information from your Facebook friends and then cherry picks the best bits to jazz up and serve back to you in a daily digest email packed full of aggregated stories.

It's an interesting way of taking data we might normally miss and packaging it up in a recognisable format, but it's also a bit stupid and, let's face it, a bit creepy too.

Then again as much as we bitch and moan about tabloids even the strongest amongst us get sucked in by the Mail Online from time to time, so sign up to Taploid and replace those shots of Kim Kardashian's bum and K-Stew affair stories with photos of your mates out in Leeds and news of your cousin's new diet. Just as exciting. We promise.

[Via Digital Trends]

mean-girls-image.jpg

Yesterday the whole of the world imploded when Metro France reported that old private messages are now appearing on user's timelines for all of their friends to see. OH DEAR LORD.

Although the rumours began over in France it wasn't long before people from all over the globe were scrolling back through their timelines (most of the problems seemed to occur in 2007, 2008 and 2009) and finding that some of their once private messages had been made visible.

Since everything started kicking off yesterday evening A LOT has happened, the story was picked up by every major news outlet, people started freaking out about what they'd said, others were frantically going through their Facebook accounts and making everything private and some users even went to extreme measures and deleted their profiles. FOREVER.

This morning, after an official statement from Facebook in TechCrunch, it seems that most agree there wasn't a private message security breach after all, but the messages we're seeing on our profiles are just old wall posts that were written back when we were all excitedly using Facebook, back when timelines didn't allow us to dig up the past, back when comments and likes didn't exist and back when we didn't have as much self restraint about what we said for all to see.

Here's a snippet of the statement:

"Every report we've seen, we've gone back and checked. We haven't seen one report that's been confirmed [of a private message being exposed]. A lot of the confusion is because before 2009 there were no likes and no comments on wall posts. People went back and forth with wall posts instead of having a conversation [in the comments of single wall post.]"

And...

"A small number of users raised concerns after what they mistakenly believed to be private messages appeared on their Timeline. Our engineers investigated these reports and found that the messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users' profile pages. Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy."

Although all of that certainly seems plausible (and makes perfect sense in retrospect), there are still many users who are still adamant the messages they saw were private and claim that Facebook is just trying to cover up its mistake by calling them all crazed liars.

Obviously it'll be fascinating to see how this all pans out, whether there has in fact been a leak among some users or whether it's all just us working ourselves into a frenzy. However in the cold light of day we don't think it matters too much whether it's true or not, because it's taught us some very, very interesting things about how we behave, our attitude to Facebook and all of the bitchy things we've been saying.

We're all saying too many bitchy things online

I was with a few different people when I heard about the "Facebook message leak apocalypse" and followed the story really closely online. The main thing that became apparent from everyone's crazed tweets was just how many people were worried that the scandalous/dirty/cheating messages or those bitchy things that were said by X about Y could be exposed (myself totally included).

Poppy Dinsey (@poppyd) the founder of WIWT.com summed it up brilliantly in a tweet last night:

"You know the scene in Mean Girls where photocopied pages from the burn book go all around the school? That's Facebook's privacy leak."

We don't think a (maybe fake) Facebook security breach will change humanity and stop us all being such dirty little gossipers, but maybe we should all take a long, hard look at ourselves and the things we've been saying and just be a little, well, nicer because there's always a chance someone else (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg) could get their hands on your burn book at anytime they please.

We now use the social network in very different ways

Even if some of those old posts were private messages and others were wall posts, it's clear that we did use Facebook in a totally different way a few years ago.

Now users generally write on timelines when they want to ask a quick question, share a link or post a photo, but back in 2007 posts that we know were on our profiles are much longer, rambling and full of things we wouldn't want others to be reading nowadays. We imagine a whole research paper could be written on this very subject, but it's partially to do with the design of the social network changing dramatically over the years and partially to do with us getting more savvy (or secretive and bitchy) when it comes to what we say and share online.

We probably need to spend less time on Facebook

When you found out about the security breach what were you most worried about? Bitchy things? Personal information? Those drunken messages you sent to your crush? (NOT GUILTY) Whatever it was it's scary to think many of us use the social network so much to write about super personal things and even if there wasn't a breach, just imagine if there was one an even more epic scale in the future? Scary, huh? Maybe we should take things into the realms of emails, call people or oh god talk about our feelings face to face? Scrap that, we'll stick with emails.

Some people get REALLY aggressive if someone tries to prove them wrong

It's no surprise that last night some users were getting really upset about having their private messages exposed and others thought they were all just being hysterical.

Twitter arguments are always fascinating, but last night it was even more interesting to see how defensive others got, so as well as being less bitchy, let's all be a little less agressive too, OK?

crazy-computer-woman.jpgYou've had your heart ripped out and stamped on by another human being, or you've been the one to do the ripping and stamping yourself, and although there might be serious things to think about like who gets the Xbox, how do you tell your parents you're an emotional failure and how do you split up your friendship group between you both, one of the questions on everyone's lips is should you stay Facebook friends?

To show how mature you are, or to just keep tabs on them now they're back on the market, many newly broken up couples choose to stay friends on the social network. However, according to researchers at Brunel University, staying connected online could bring about all kinds of nasty side affects, like distress and an inability to move on from the past relationship.

More than 450 people were surveyed for the study, which is published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, in an attempt to explore how we respond to still being connected to old flames online. Unsurprisingly, consistent Facebook stalking has been proven to exacerbate feelings of distress, increase feelings of sexual longing and makes people feel more negative about life generally in comparison to those who cut the cord long before.

Although the study is interesting and raises issues about how our relationships transpire online, what always surprises us is the assumption that our online and offline identities are any different, most people would agree keeping constant tabs on an ex in the real world is unhealthy, so it makes sense that it's now been proved (kinda) to be the same in the realm of likes, timelines and updates too. Maybe we should become top science, researchy types?

[Via iO9]

Looking like a Pinterest for your personal and branded social media platforms, RebelMouse aims to gather most of your digital footprint in one handy place for others to see (Facebook, Twitter and Instragram for now but we expect them to tie in other channels as the platform matures).

Besides the initial questions surrounding Facebook and how its privacy settings work, this startup looks promising. Still in beta, with a growing list of tech titans and social media personalities signed up to it already, the service could just be exactly what we've been waiting for.

So what is it that could make RebelMouse the next big thing in social curation?

rebelmouse-sutrodigital-500.jpg

RebelMouse clearly got the memo that visual content is compelling. Taking the formula of bite sized posts with a header, subheader and an image (already proved popular through the success of Pinterest), you're instantly drawn into the stories or updates as you scroll through a user's profile.

To remind you of that all-important image, RebelMouse has created its own share button 'Stick it!' (like the 'Pin it' of Pinterest or 'Take it to Branch' of.. well Branch) for when you want to share a story you've stumbled across on the web.

This brings me to the next point. RebelMouse also focuses on the user-experience. Like a blog come Twitter come Facebook, it makes it very easy to (re)produce content with just a couple of clicks. Hassle-free content creation and aggregation!

From the opposite perspective, for visitors it is a great way to learn about the person or brand in one go without having to look at all three of their social streams. Who knows what you might have missed when you were busy doing other things?

You can also invite 'collaborators' to appear in your stream, which will be very handy for companies or publications where their employees' social media activity is as important as the company's.

Design wise you are fairly limited to what your profile looks like. The current minimalistic look appeals to me, but when coming out of beta and into advance mode you will be able to 'hack your own CSS for your RebelMouse site.

But how does RebelMouse plan to make any money off its free service, besides the planned personalised iOS apps? According to Mashable '"[it] hopes to monetise organically by providing businesses an e-commerce platform, allowing people such as photographers and fashion designers to sell their wares in a dynamic, visual way. Another form of monetization they plan on is sponsored content'.

A note of warning though. When you sign up to RebelMouse (using your Facebook, Twitter or Instragram log ins), you're giving it access to grab your content from these profiles. If you, like me, use social networks for different purposes - private (Facebook) and public (Twitter/Instagram) - you should perhaps think twice before granting RebelMouse access to all networks. From what I could see, it only curated my 'public' Facebook updates, but I revoked access either way just to be on the safe side.

Are you ready to be curated?

This story was first published by digital content agency Sutro Digital.

mark-zuck-smile.jpegSuper smily Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid to rest rumours that the social network is making plans to develop a branded smartphone yesterday, stating that "the phone just doesn't make any sense."

While he was speaking at a TechCrunch Disrupt "fireside chat", Zuckerberg instead stressed that his ultimate goal was to have Facebook integrated deeply into all major mobile devices, including tablets, iPhones, or Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry smartphones:

"The strategy that's different for every other tech company, which is building their own hardware, we're going in the opposite direction. We want to build a system which is as deeply as possible integrated into every major device people want to use."

In an interesting admission, Zuckerberg did however reveal that the company is seriously thinking about launching a search engine to rival the likes of Google and Bing.

Zuckerberg noted that Facebook already has multiple ways to answer questions, which is exactly how a forward-thinking search engine should work. He said:

"We're basically doing 1 billion queries a day and we're not even trying.

"Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. At some point we'll do it. We have a team working on it.

"Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers, 'I have a specific question, answer this question for me.'"

Google launches Google+, and Facebook are perhaps to launch Facebook Search? What's the world coming to?

[Via Tech Digest Via TechCrunch Image via Gpaumier's Flickr]

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