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Last week we reported that Google were dishing out users' data to developers when they download apps from the Play store, but now it's being reported that Facebook takes data from users even when they're logged out of the social network.
Facebook have confirmed this, but have insisted that the information collected is only for security purposes or to aggregate statistics. Facebook's data collection is from the cookies on your computer when you visit the social network, with the cookies shifting the information over to Facebook from any site that you visit that contains a link to Facebook - such as the "like button".
With this information in-hand, Facebook can map out your web usage. Director of Engineering for Facebook, Arturo Bejar, has said that the data is used to combat spam and phishing attacks by detecting suspicious logins. Not only that, but cookies can use the data to keep users from having to complete extra authentication steps each time they log-in. Because, you know, everyone logs out of Facebook when they're finished with it.
Last year I reported on the German Data Protection Body, Unabhaengiges Landeszentrum fuer Datenschutz ULD, ruling that Facebook's Real Name policy violated German data protection laws. This was a major blow to Facebook's long standing policy of users only being able to create profiles with their real name.
Today a German court ruled that the data protection laws aren't applicable as Facebook has its European headquarters in Ireland. The court said that only Irish data protection laws could apply. Not one to back down, the ULD says that it is planning an appeal, and still believes that the method of forcing users to use their real name breaks privacy laws.
The head of the ULD, Thilo Weichert, said that the ruling was "more than amazing," and "contradictory". Personally I have no issues with Facebook requiring me to use my real name. If I do not want my real name used, I do not have to use the social network.
In what seems to be a trend as of late, some Facebook users across the web are having issues reaching the site this morning. Venture Beat is reporting that a large number of users are unable to reach the social network this morning.
The website "Down for Everyone or Just Me" is confirming that Facebook is not behaving nicely this morning and that some users are experiencing total outages to the service.
Most of the morning TweakTown staff were able to login and use Facebook normally, so we are betting that this is further networking issues like we saw last week.
You might have read a story I did a few days ago on a class action lawsuit settlement in which Facebook admitted to using its users images in "Sponsored Posts". The settlement was agreed upon with $20 million being set aside to compensate affected parties.
This morning I received my settlement notice even though I had no idea that I was one of the affected parties. The notice does say that I could be entitled to up to $10, but if the number of claims exceeded a financially feasible number, then all the money will be donated to charity. Other than that, it is full of legalese, but it does state a few interesting things which I have quoted below.
This Notice relates to a proposed settlement ("Settlement") of a class action lawsuit ("Action") filed against Facebook relating to a particular Facebook feature called "Sponsored Stories." According to available records, you may be a "Class Member."
The Super Bowl is over for another year, with the Baltimore Ravens beating the San Francisco 49ers, but Twitter are the champions of social networking for Super Bowl XLVII.
According to Marketing Land, Twitter was mentioned in 26 of 52 national TV commercials, taking 50% of the spots that aired during CBS' coverage. Facebook only took four mentions and Google+? None. YouTube and Instagram were mentioned once each, with Hyundai and Oreo, respectively. Last year's Super Bowl was a totally different story, which saw Facebook and Twitter even with eight mentions out of 59 commercials.
Last year saw Google+ not being mentioned either, and for Google+ reportedly being the second largest social network, that's weird. It all comes down to how people use social networks. Twitter, in my opinion, more of an instant tied-to-your-smartphone-and-event kind of thing, and Facebook is more of a 'everything else I do' social network. I don't know where Google+ fits in (personally), and Instagram is purely pictures - mostly of food.
Social networking leader Facebook had their earnings call yesterday, where CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about the company's further investment into product development. This will be a huge push in terms of creating products that make the social networking site money, and lots of it.
Zuckerberg said during the earnings call that Facebook will grow their headcount quickly this year in product development. This quick expansion will cull some of their profits, but they're really pushing their revenue earning products like graph search, Gifts and others. These products could eventually be the strongest parts of Facebook, so they're getting much needed attention.
Just last year alone, Facebook added 1,419 employees which pushed them to a total of 4,619 employees across the world - representing a 44% jump. Facebook will continue adding staff to their payroll, concentrating on engineering and jobs associated with product development. Facebook CFO David Ebersman revealed during the earnings call that Facebook's expenses would expand by 50% this year, which is mostly due to hiring new staff.
Back in October, Facebook settled a class action lawsuit for $20 million dollars over user images being used in advertising. You may have a claim to part of that $20 million. Do not get too excited however, because as many as 150 million other users are entitled to part of it as well.
To lay official claim to your portion of the settlement, you or your child had a Facebook account with a Facebook Sponsored Story featured, and Facebook must have used your images in that featured post. If you are one of the "lucky" ones, you may be entitled to a payment of less than $10 from the social networking giant.
Chances are that no individual will see a single dime from the settlement though as a clause in the class action settlement states that if too many people are found to be valid claim holders, the settlement funds will be donated to several charities. This is because it would be too costly to send a check for $1 to 200 million (give or take) different people.
Roughly 1.5 billion people worldwide use social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Google+ has claimed the second place spot in the race to become the largest social network in the world, beating out YouTube and Twitter by a few percent.
In a new report from GlobalWebIndex, Facebook is visited by more than half of all internet users, while Google+ sees about half that many users, with YouTube and Twitter getting about 20% each. Facebook is still the dominate monster, but Google+ is slowly chipping away at the top spot.
Since its launch, Google+ has managed over 300 million account creations and most of them are still considered active. That may seem a small when compared to Facebook's 1 billion+ user base, but not all of those accounts are active. In the end, ratings like these are hard to generate as all the major social networks are timid about sharing traffic data regularly.
Twitter ordered to reveal users personal data by French court in an effort to combat racism and antisemitism
The AP and Reuters are reporting that a Paris High Court has today ordered Twitter to reveal data that will help authorities identify authors of racist and anti-Semitic tweets.
The ruling is the result of a summons filed against Twitter by the French Jewish Students Union which wished to trace users who had tweeted hate speeches and rhetoric last October. The Students Union is hoping to get the tweeters prosecuted on the grounds that racial hatred is a crime in France.
Twitter has been given 15 days to comply with the order, after which the social networking company will be fined a daily penalty of $1335 until compliance is met. No word has been released yet on when or if Twitter will comply with the court's ruling.
In Indiana, it has been illegal for some time now for sex offenders to join popular social networks such as Facebook. Today the Associated Press is reporting that the 7th US Circuit of Appeals court has ruled that the law banning sex offenders from social networks is unconstitutional.
In the ruling, the judge writes that the law "broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than targeting the evil of improper communication to minors." The ACLU was behind the case and has fought for such bans to be removed before.
Federal judges have in the past barred such laws in other states, and this case sets further precedence for ongoing battles in several states where sex offenders are battling the right to sign up on social networking sites, chat rooms and instant messaging clients.