After pictures made by Google about its data center , here is the presentation of building 10,000 m2 for the data and the data center of the social network Facebook. Located in Prineville, Oregon, discover a work of architecture and space with pictures of the photographer Jonnu Singleton.
The company’s updated software for Mac and Windows also includes Microsoft sign-in integration.
Just days before its app launches with Windows 8, Skype announced today that it has updated its current desktop program for Windows and Mac.
Dubbed Skype 6.0, the voice over Internet protocol application now includes support for signing into the service with a Microsoft or Facebook account, effectively eliminating the requirement for new users to create a Skype account. In addition, users will be able to instant message with contacts from Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, and Outlook.com.
Skype’s update illustrates its increasing integration with Microsoft products. Microsoft acquired Skype last year for $8.5 billion, saying that it planned to make Skype work closely with many of its products.
One of those many products is Windows 8. Earlier this week, Skype introduced a revamped version of its software for Windows 8 users. The app is designed to mimic the look and feel of Microsoft’s operating system, which launches on Friday and offers everything from instant messaging to audio and video chatting.
Until then, Skype 6.0 is ready and waiting. Skype says it has also increased its Windows client’s language support with six more languages. The Windows client also comes with an interface refresh. On the Mac side, Skype will allow users to open chats in multiple windows. The software also now includes support for Apple’s Retina display.
Skype 6.0 for Desktop is available now.
Earlier today, we reported on how a security researcher managed to collect countless phone numbers and their corresponding Facebook names with very little effort before the company could stop him. All he had to do was write an automated script to exploit some basic Facebook privacy settings.
For its part, Facebook gave us this explanation of what the script was exploiting:
The ability to search for a person by phone number is intentional behavior and not a bug in Facebook. By default, your privacy settings allow everyone to find you with search and friend finder using the contact info you have provided, such as your email address and phone number. You can modify these settings at any time from the Privacy Settings page.
So, how do you protect yourself? There are three options you need to know about.
Limit Who Can See Your Number
Go to Facebook.com, login if you haven’t already, and click your name in the top-left corner. Click on the “Update Info” button on the right side. Under Contact Info, click the “Edit” button. Next to your phone number, there will be a drop-down menu. Make sure this option is not set to “Public” and that it at least says “Friends” or even “Only Me.”
This will make sure that if someone visits your profile, they cannot see your phone number unless they are your friend. This means that even if your profile is public (it probably shouldn’t be), your phone number is not visible to the public. Unfortunately, that’s not enough; see the next option.
Limit Who Can Search Your Number
This is the part that the researcher exploited to essentially build his Facebook phone book. Even if your phone number is set to private, someone can still find you if they have it. As such, if someone writes a script that picks random phone numbers and searched for them on Facebook, as the security researcher did, they can link phone numbers to Facebook profiles, which include people’s names and other information.
Here’s the setting that started it all:
Above you can see how the default options look like. To modify them, click on the drop-down menu in the top-right corner on Facebook and choose “Privacy Settings.” Next, scroll down to “How You Connect” and click on the blue “Edit Settings” link on the right-hand side.
Change the “Who can look you up using the email address or phone number you provided?” to Friends, and anything else you think should be changed. This will stop someone from being able to look you up on Facebook if they have your phone number.
Facebook doesn’t want to look like just another website, so it’s testing colorful new versions of Facebook.com on a very small percentage of logged out visitors. One features a 3D polygon art map of the Facebook universe, while another showcases an adorable couple.
So next time you login, or finally surrender and sign up, you might be greeted with something a lot more vibrant than text inputs.
Our writer Drew Olanoff called the tested poloygon design “ugly as sin” and “very busy”. Personally I dig it, though it does make finding the email address and password inputs a bit more difficult.
Facebook confirmed the images sent in by our awesome readers and watermarked by us are real but otherwise just gave the standard “we’re constantly testing new products and features across the site. We have nothing more to share at this time.” The data could prove that these designs confuse people are reduce or delay logins. That could lead get them scrapped, never to be seen again.
However, I’d expect Facebook will debut a more exciting log out page soon, maybe with a rotating set of photos and artwork that appeal to different demographics. For example, instead of the same photo of a couple for everyone, visitors might see photos of people from their country or part of the world.
Along with the very small test of the polygon art, Facebook is showing some users a logged out home page with the “Chairs Are Like Facebook” brand video it released to commemoratereaching 1 billion users.
Facebook started jazzing up its logout page in February. It now frequently plasters the exit screen with big banner ads, some of which are interactive like a Bing search page or an in-line video seen below.
If push comes to shove with Wall Street, Facebook may end up putting ads on the logged out home page too. But that doesn’t give a very good impression to people it’s trying to convince to sign up or sign in more frequently. The polygon landscape dotted with Likes, chats, friends, and photos is much more inviting.
Almost two months later, Facebook announced that it has joined forces with seven retailers — including Pottery Barn, Victoria Secret, and Neiman Marcus — to test the platform which allows users to “want,” “collect,” or “like” a product. Note: if you “like” something, then the item will show up in your Timeline.
A spokesperson emailed a statement to AllFacebook explaining:
We’ve seen that businesses often use pages to share information about their products through photo albums. Today, we are beginning a small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections. Collections can be discovered in news feed, and people will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends. People can click through and buy these items off of Facebook.
Mashable points out that even though this sounds Pinterest-like, Facebook has one upped the pinning website because products within a given collection will also feature a Buy link.
Although Facebook won’t get a cut of sales, Robert W. Barid analyst Colin Sebastian told Reuters that the “Want” button provides other opportunities for monetization. “In addition to potentially collecting a transaction fee for referring users to an e-commerce site, Sebastian said that retailers might also pay Facebook to promote products featured on users’ wishlists, similar to the way the Facebook’s current ads function.”
Social media giant Facebook is now 1 billion users strong. To thank those who already use the platform to connect and hope to inspire those who have yet to join the ranks, Facebook has created its first official advertisement, entitled, “The Things That Connect Us.”
Sure, Facebook connects us, but many other things do as well, such as chairs, doorbells, bridges, and airplanes, according to theofficialfacebook‘s video.
But mostly chairs, really, and that is why “Chairs are like Facebook.”
While ad agency Wieden + Kennedy’s first shot at making a Facebook commercial has been knocked for being silly and baffling rather than profound and poignant, what do you think of the short video?
Apple iPad users will be happy to learn that the new app lets them use Facebook in landscape mode. The social networking giant did not provide a screenshot of this feature in action, but my colleague Josh Ong has an iPad, so voilà:
Next on the list is the ability to make Facebook Offers to your fans, directly from the app. Here’s how this feature looks like (notice the Offer button in the top-right corner of the first screenshot):
This should prove to be particularly useful for those who are looking to win over fans by giving them deals. iOS users can now do so without fumbling with their PCs or Macs.
Last but not least, the app now lets you write longer status updates, which should be handy for those who use their Pages to post lots of details about events or promotions to their fans. Facebook won’t say up to what length the status updates are now limited to, but I’m guessing it’s the same limit as what the social network has elsewhere: 63,206 characters.
Here’s the official Facebook Pages Manager for iOS version 1.5 changelog:
- Use in landscape mode on iPad.
- Eligible Pages can create Facebook Offers.
- Post longer status updates.
- Bug fixes and performance updates.
In addition to Facebook Messenger and Facebook Camera, Facebook Pages Manager is yet another of the social networking giant’s standalone apps. Unlike the others though, Pages Manager is geared towards businesses rather than consumers, or in other words, towards directly growing the company’s revenues.
At the time, I said that we’ll likely see version 2.0 next year. With Facebook’s newaccelerated schedule for mobile apps, however, it might even arrive before 2012 is over.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emil is a technology journalist writing for The Next Web. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, TechSpot, ZDNet, and CNET.
Facebook on Thursday unveiled Gifts, the company’s major initiative into the world of social gift giving and e-commerce.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Users can choose, mail and pay for real-world, physical gifts — not the lame virtual ones Facebook offered a few years ago — to send to one another, all completely inside of Facebook. They’re tied to the significant event reminders that pop up on occasion — say, a friend’s anniversary, or a birthday. Or even better for Facebook, users can also just buy gifts for others for the heck of it.
It’s a major undertaking for Facebook, tackling an entire new segment of online commerce and adding a brand new revenue stream to its business. And to a degree, we’ve known it was coming for some time — after all, on the same day Facebook went public, it acquired Karma, the social gifting application upon which all of Gifts is based and built.
Perhaps more significant, however, is that users aren’t limited to just the desktop to send and receive gifts; the entire Gifts program is accessible on mobile phones.
“This is truly the heart and soul of Karma, re-imagined inside of Facebook,” Lee Linden, head of Facebook Gifts, told me in an interview. “And it all works perfectly on the phone.”
This is crucial. Since the company first filed for its IPO, we’ve known that Facebook was weak on monetizing mobile. More than half of Facebook’s hundreds of millions of monthly active users access Facebook through a mobile device, signaling a massive shift away from the desktop in just the past few years. But mobile screens aren’t friendly to advertising, which is currently Facebook’s primary revenue driver.
Gifts, however, work just as well on Facebook’s apps and mobile Web site as they do on the desktop. Now, along with notes and photos, users can posts Gifts directly to their friends’ Timelines with the addition of a “Gift” button, squarely placed inside of the text box on each profile.
The selection of gifts is impressive. Facebook is starting strong, joining with over 100 retail partners at launch, from which users can choose gifts to send to others. The selection covers the expected gift-giving bases: Food and drink, fashion, home and kitchen and, yes, kids. So if you want to send, say, a teddy bear to your mom for her birthday, Facebook lets you choose from partner Gund’s selection of stuffed animals. What’s more, if your mom doesn’t like the white teddy bear you chose, she can swap it out for a brown one before it’s delivered.
Starbucks is far and away the biggest launch partner. Starbucks cards are the de facto gift for many on practically every occasion, and can come in relatively low-cost increments. My hunch is that Facebook hopes that users ramp up to gifting larger things by starting small, with users sending five-dollar gift cards all across their friend networks to jumpstart the entire Gifts ecosystem.
From there, users can send gifts to their friends, who will then receive a notification via phone and desktop that there is a present waiting. After the gift is received and accepted, the sender receives a notification in return (again, across both platforms).
The individual retailers handle all the shipping, while Facebook’s payments platform — the same one used for Facebook Games — handles the money-changing part.
Another key component of the process: Just like when you pay for Facebook Games, sending a gift requires that you give Facebook your credit card information. From there on out, Facebook has your credit card on file, streamlining and eliminating friction from the payments process in subsequent transactions. In a nutshell: Buy once, and it’s way easy to buy again.
And voila! In a matter of days, expect a package to show up on your friend’s doorstep (complete with a fancy Facebook card personalized by you, pictured above). Facebook’s online system tracks the process from gift selection to payment to delivery, so both gifter and giftee can keep tabs on the status of the package.
Right now, Facebook is rolling out the launch on a small scale before going wider: It’s live in select U.S. cities as of Thursday, and will roll out to more in the coming months. Additionally, it’ll spread virally as its use widens — once a user sends a gift, the giftee can then start sending gifts to others. (Sort of a Google, Gmail-type roll-out.)
Gifts will first be available on Android devices, the mobile Web and of course desktop, with a wider roll-out to iOS devices in a few weeks.
Facebook obviously has lots of competition in the e-commerce space; Amazon and eBay already dominate, not to mention existing gifting apps like Wrapp and Boomerang. But Facebook’s scale, engagement and the prominent placement of the new Gifting option makes the company a strong contender in the area.
And really, while the e-commerce competition is obviously important to consider, Facebook’s really tough nut to crack is still mobile. The company is slowly rolling out new ad products aimed at mobile devices, but it’s far too early to tell whether or not they’ve proven effective. Gifts is another massive stab at the mobile problem, while also hedging its bets by continuing to invest in revenue streams outside of its core advertising business.
Now it’s up to users to decide whether or not they actually feel comfortable buying and giving gifts inside their Facebook pages.
At the very least, naysayers will no longer be able to say that Facebook is ignoring mobile.
Over the last couple of years, Facebook has made great strides in security and privacy. But to ensure the right level of security for you, both casual and avid users need to understand the giant social network’s security options.
Security vendor Kaspersky Lab posted this week a how-to video on securing a Facebook account that’s worth reviewing to make sure your settings are right for you and the way you communicate with friends.
The First Step: Create A Strong Password
A usual, the first step is using a strong password. That means no names, Dictionary words, birthdays, keyboard patterns or – obviously – the word “password.” If you’ve used any of those easy-to-remember-but-easy-to-hack sign-ins, then head to your account settings and change it.
In general, a password should be at least eight random characters that include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation marks. “If you’re afraid you’ll forget it, then you’re probably on the right track,” said Brian Donohue, a writer for the Kaspersky Lab blog.
Link A Mobile Device
The next step is to link the Facebook account to a mobile device, so it can be used for security measures to be described later. Then go to security within account settings and enable secure browsing. This allows you to browse Facebook on a secure HTTPS connection whenever possible.
This connection prevents snooping when on an unsecure WiFi connection. Facebook has said this will be a default setting eventually, but has not specified when. Be aware that while HTTPS beefs up security, it can also slow down browsing the site. In addition, it can cause problems with third-party applications that do not support HTTPS.
Enable Login Notifications
Other security options include login notifications when an unrecognized device or computer accesses your account. You can choose between email or text notifications or both. There’s also the option of having a security code sent to your mobile phone whenever Facebook is accessed from an unrecognized device. To continue, you have to enter the code. Facebook also provides the option of generating your own codes on Android devices and iPhones.
For Facebook apps that can’t receive security codes, Facebook provides the option of app-specific passwords. This prevents, for example, people using an Xbox from being locked out when they have login-approval enabled.
Facebook users can set up trusted devices in advance, such as their home computer, work computer and mobile phone. This works in conjunction with login approval to notify people whenever another device tries to access their accounts.
Kaspersky also recommends periodically checking the active sessions within your security settings to make sure that someone with an unrecognized device has not been trying to access your account.
Privacy And Security
Beyond security settings, you can take privacy-related measures to boost your defenses against cybercriminals.
For example, when posting to your newsfeed, you have the option of tagging the person you are with at the time. While this is a nice detail to share with your other friends, Facebook users should be cautious about sharing such information, which can become a profiling tool for scammers, according to security vendor ESET.
Algorithms can be used to build a profile of you based on the people you spend time with the most. Scammers and identity thieves can use such information to build more targeted spearphishing attacks, tailoring the message of a malware-carrying email with personal information that makes it appear legitimate.
The same cautions should be used when sharing your location when posting to your newsfeed. If you post a picture while on vacation hundreds of miles from home, you open the possibility of someone breaking into your house while you are away.
In becoming one of the world’s default tools for interacting with friends, Facebook has also become a treasure trove of information and access for scammers, identity thieves and other cybercriminals. Facebook’s 950 million users can’t completely avoid the security risks, but occassionally taking the time to review and update your security options can go a long way to keeping you out of trouble.
Technology companies worldwide are increasingly realising the potential of Asia and, in a clear sign of the size of that addressable market, Asia has surpassed Europe as Facebook’s largest continent, based on member numbers.
Facebook’s latest statistics, via Socialbakers, show that the continent (which includes Middle Eastern countries) now has more than 242 million registered users, putting it ahead of Europe by nearly 1 million, with North America’s figure some 6.5 million users lower.
This handover was always likely to happen — given the sheer size of Asia’s population — and what’s most interesting to note is that the social network has signed-up just 6.26 percent of people in Asia, that’s some way below its rate in Europe (29.72 percent) and North America (44.63 percent).
There are a number of reasons for the low penetration rate in Asia — language, varying levels of access to technology, awareness and more — but it’s clear that, if Facebook is to connect the world as CEO Mark Zuckerberg aspires to, growing its presence in Asia (and Africa) is among its biggest challenges.
Asia itself is a hugely diverse continent and Facebook is the dominant social network in most countries, bar a few well known exceptions (such as China). That indicates that, to grow its numbers, the service needs to do more than raise its (already high) profile among existing Internet users; targeting mobile and basic devices is key.
In India, where social networks account for 25 percent of time spent online via PCs, Internet penetration is less than 10 percent. While that has seen mobile Web usage overtake that of PCs, the lack of Internet access means that Facebook (and any other Internet service) will struggle to gain the kind of traction that it enjoys in Western markets.
Economic factors are outside of Facebook’s control but the company has signalled its intention to help improve technology in Asia, and the US firm invested in a project to build an undersea Internet access cable for the region. That’s in addition to more standard projects, which include a focus on feature phones, which account for more than 70 percent of mobile handsets worldwide, and deals with operators.
The company regularly updates its Facebook for Every Phone app, and it sharpened its emerging market focus when it bought feature phone specialist Snaptu last year.
Facebook isn’t alone in facing the challenge of growing in emerging markets but, as the preeminent global Internet service, it is better placed than most to reach new demographics.
Note that we haven’t discussed Facebook’s dilemma with China as yet. The social network remains blocked in the country, where Twitter-like services Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo have both amassed userbases in excess of 300 million, showing a large potential market for Facebook.
That issue — which tangles politics and nationalism, among others — isn’t about to be addressed by Facebook, and a company executive recently confirmed that the social network has no plans to enter China.
Facebook recently overtook Mixi in Japan, which ranks fifth in Asia; here’s the rest of the continent’s top ten, via Socialbakers: