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Facebook has been banned in China for what seems like forever, but now Beijing has lifted the ban on the Internet access within the Shanghai free-trade Zone to foreign websites that were previously considered politically sensitive by the Chinese government.
These websites included Facebook, Twitter and The New York Times, but now according to government sources who told the South China Morning Post, the authority in charge of the Hong Kong-like free-trade zone in Shanghai is a first in mainland China. This would also see bids coming in from foreign telecommunications companies for license to provide Internet services within the new zone.
One of the government sources told the South China Morning Post: "In order to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone, we must think about how we can make them feel like at home. If they can't get onto Facebook or read The New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China."
Twitter has increased the feature set of its #music service, adding two music streaming companies to the mix: Spotify and Rdio. These two music streaming services will now offer the ability to view playlists generated by Twitter #music.
Popular songs and songs with the #NowPlaying hashtag will be featured, with users being able to view all 15 of the playlists on the #music page, as well as the apps. This is just another step in the ever-evolving world of Twitter, which is looking to go public in the very near future, and another great step to see more users continue to use Spotify and Rdio.
Celebrities will enjoy Twitter's new feature which is hot off the press, with the social networking giant unleashing two new filters for the Connect tab. Filtered, tries to cut down on spam while Verified only shows interactions with other verified profiles.
You can see the new feature in action in the shot above, with it mainly being implemented for celebrities. Twitter needs to keep celebrities happy, with some celebrities enjoying millions of followers on Twitter.
It appears that Facebook is going to jump into the professional social networking ring and go head-to-head with LinkedIn. A new report is showing off a new section that Facebook is said to be testing called the "Professional Skills" tab. Much like LinkedIn, it would allow users to list out their professional skill sets.
Unlike LinkedIn, however, when clicking on a person's professional skill, it will not take you to a page showing who endorsed you for that skill, but rather to other professionals who claim to possess the same skill. Additionally, the new professional skills tab will only allow you to add skills that have existing Facebook pages. This can be confusing as a quick search shows that skills such as "marketing" have several different pages created by the community.
Facebook has not announced a launch date for this feature, nor has any information on a beta program been released, but we expect some kind of announcement soon. With Facebook adding job-search features and other professional-style searches, users may want to rethink the content they post on the service or at least adjust their privacy settings to only display content they wish the public to see.
Today, the popular professional networking service LinkedIn began suffering from several technical issues. Some users were unable to load their profiles, while other profiles were missing bits and pieces of information. Additionally, other profile issues arose such as missing photos or certain posts not showing up.
As of this writing, some reports are still coming in that their profile is not working as normal, or that it is unreachable altogether. LinkedIn said in a Twitter post that they are aware of the issues and their team is working on fixing the problems now. My profile was down this morning for a few hours and appeared to be down at the time of this writing, but a quick clearing of my browser cache solved the issue and I'm now able to see my full profile again. So if you're experiencing issues, try clearing your browser cache to see if the issues are resolved for you as well.
All Twitter users are being advised today to log into their account and revoke access to all third-party applications after an Islamic hacker managed to pull the entire OAuth database for users of Twitter. Calling himself the Mauritania Attacker, the hacker from the West African country of Mauritania posted details from just over 15,000 Twitter users earlier today and claims to have millions more. It's not clear whether he attacked Twitter or a third-party site. The latter is much more likely. Twitter says they are looking into the situation.
Twitter says that the stolen files do not include passwords, but do contain all of the usernames as well as OAuth access keys used by third-party applications to manage your Twitter account on your behalf. Security expert Allen Woodward, of the University of Surrey in the UK, told website Gigaom that the easy way to protect your account is to log-in and delete all third-party access to the account. Then by simply reauthorizing those accounts, a new key will be generated and everything will be safe again.
"Personally, I do regular housekeeping where I go into the Apps settings of Twitter and delete the third party apps that have access. The reason is that at present Twitter OAuth tokens once issued do not expire. You have to manually revoke them," said Woodwars. "So, I think best thing one could [do] is to go in and revoke third party's apps rights and then just relogin when/if you want to reaccess Twitter via that app. This way a new token will be issued."
Today, LinkedIn announced that it has launched a new Page for Universities feature that allows post-K-12 educational institutions to have their own featured page similar to the pages companies currently have. LinkedIn is hoping that this new feature will better help high school students choose the right university for them.
The program launched today with over 200 universities participating worldwide. Each university's page displays very important metrics such as where the majority of the institution's alumni work and what careers many of its alumni go into. Universities can set up their respective page for its community similar to how pages on Facebook work. They can then assign page managers who can post announcements and updates to the page for anyone that is following. LinkedIn's Christina Allen officially announced the new Pages for Universities in a blog post that I have copied below (source #2).
According to a report from website All Things D, Facebook is working on a system that will allow users to make payments via their mobile device in similar fashion to how PayPal and Google allow users to pay with their smartphone. The report says that the new mobile payment solution is in a very limited test at the moment and will let shoppers make purchases with credit card information stored in their Facebook account.
Of course, this will only work if you have a credit card already on file with Facebook that you have used in the past to purchase gifts, in-game purchases, or even targeted advertising. The new one-click mobile payment system will use the same information and will allow shoppers to quickly navigate around entering details such as billing addresses, expiration dates, and even security codes found on the back of their cards. For the moment, it is unclear if Facebook will expand the mobile payment program beyond its current test, and with all of the security and privacy concerns already surrounding Facebook, this may be one tough cookie to sell to its members.
Celebrities are an odd on bunch. One moment they accost the public and demand privacy, but just a few minutes later, they will jump onto Facebook or Twitter and post about every moment of their daily lives. Apparently posting to Facebook is not easy enough for celebrities and the company is said to be developing a new VIP app that would allow them extended access to the social network.
The new VIP app will allow celebrities and public figures to better manage their content and engage with their followers. Some see this as an effort on Facebook's part to lure celebrities away from Twitter and back into the white and blue social network. The app will supposedly let celebrities jump into conversations about them even if they are not following one of the commenters or are not a part of the group of friends having the conversation. Website TechEYE says that Facebook is even briefing celebrities on "best practices" for interaction with their fans on Facebook.
Today, Facebook has announced that it has finished rolling out its Graph Search feature to everyone using US English as their primary language. Eight months ago, the company launched the advanced search feature to a handful of select beta testers and then began to slowly roll the service out a few months later.
Graph Search lets users search using common phrases such as "pizzerias in my city that my friends have visited and liked." In the early weeks of the beta program, the service received much criticism as the level of search capable was just to much for some people to be comfortable with.
A search phrase such as "photos of friends of my friends at the beach" would return photos of all the friends of your friends who were at the beach. This became a problem because many of those photos featured women in bikinis. Facebook has since restricted certain search phrases and this issue is no longer a problem.
I have had Graph Search since the beginning of last October and was one of the original groups of beta testers. The novelty wore off after only a few weeks, and I have not used the search terms more than three or four times since. I am hoping that with everyone now using Graph Search the algorithms will become smarter and return more relevant results.