‘FaceGlat’, Jewish answer to Facebook


skynews 461749335 thumb FaceGlat, Jewish answer to FacebookA new social networking site for ultra-Orthodox Jews takes customary segregation of the sexes online and also bars pictures or ads deemed immodest in ultra-Orthodox society.

Go to www.faceglat.com and the home page has signs in Hebrew and English directing men to click on to the right of the page and women to the left.

Sign up and you will see a page identical to those on Facebook, but here photos posted on a man’s wall may only be of other men; likewise for the women’s side.

The virtual divide mirrors the practice at Orthodox Jewish synagogues, weddings and other events where the sexes are physically separated. On certain public bus lines running through ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, women must stand at the back, to the outrage of feminists.

Israeli news website Ynet says FaceGlat — Glatt is a term used in kosher food certification — was founded by Yaakov Suissa from the Habad hassidic movement.

‘It’s not an alternative for Facebook, but something intended for a particular public,’ Ynet quoted him as saying.

‘I believe that it would be much more convenient for a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) man or woman to publish pictures and all kinds of other things to people of the same sex only.

‘People who are God-fearing and care about their children’s education cannot tolerate the ads and pictures one sees on the regular Facebook,’ he said.

Men who sign in to FaceGlat as men cannot visit or post on the women’s wall and vice versa, although at the moment there seems to be nothing preventing a member of either sex signing up under a false name and details.

Ynet says that plans for the site’s future include modifications to prevent gender impersonation.

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Govt to consider new Facebook law


Facebook thumb2 Govt to consider new Facebook lawThe federal government says education, rather than legislation, is the best way to protect children using Facebook and other social media.

But the government has agreed to look at proposals being prepared by South Australia, including tighter age limits on use of the social media and giving parents more rights to access their children’s Facebook accounts.

The SA government will prepare a discussion paper on the issue after raising its concerns at a meeting of state and federal attorneys-general in Adelaide on Friday.

Federal Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor said the government was loath to legislate where legislation was not going to work.

‘I think education is the key,’ he said.

‘We need to make sure young people are informed about the potential risks.

‘The cyber world is a magnificent place, it’s a fantastic educational tool, it’s a fantastic place for people to engage socially.

‘But the internet is not a benign playground. There are potential threats to young people in particular.’

South Australian Attorney-General John Rau said Australia was going through a revolution in the way people consumed and generated information.

‘That is a technologically driven change that is way ahead of the legal system and probably the thinking of most governments around the world and certainly in this country,’ he said.

‘We are grappling with changes that are moving more quickly than most people would have thought possible only a few years ago.’

SA’s proposals are likely to include a provision to raise the age for Facebook users and to also require the site to seek proof of age.

They will also consider allowing greater parental access.

Facebook currently requires users to be aged at least 13, but there is no requirement to provide proof of age.

A SA mother found recently that her teenage daughter had uploaded inappropriate pictures of herself to her Facebook page but the mother was prevented by Facebook from removing them.

Mr Rau said that case highlighted the concerns of many parents, while Mr O’Connor said more needed to be done to educate and inform young people of the dangers associated with posting material online.

‘People need to think carefully about what they upload, what they put onto their Facebook and social websites,’ he said.

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Shoppers Willing to Connect With Retailers on Facebook

Social commerce may be on the minds of retailers everywhere, but buying through Facebook is still far from mainstream. But it is hard to say whether shoppers are being restricted by the lack of “f-commerce” opportunities on Facebook, or whether retailers are hesitant to experiment before seeing a strong level of interest.

Software provider Ability Commerce found that 79% of the Internet Retail Top 500 retailers have Facebook pages, yet only 12% offer apps or widgets that enable ecommerce transactions on the social network. Meanwhile, according to a joint study by Shop.org, comScore and Social Shopping Labs, more than half (53%) of Facebook users have reached a retailer’s website from its Facebook page, and 35% of online shoppers said they would be likely to make a purchase through Facebook.

Facebook has become the social media venue of choice among online buyers. Compete discovered that the number of online buyers using retailers’ Facebook pages increased 3 percentage points over the previous year, bumping blogs, forums and review sites to second place. Additionally, a third of respondents “like” six or more retailers or consumer products companies on Facebook.

The prospect of finding out about sales and promotions is a big lure. Over 56% of those surveyed by Compete visited retailers’ Facebook pages for this purpose, while 58% in the Shop.org study, which included Twitter and a company’s blog in the figure, cited deals as a primary motivation. Learning more about a retailer and keeping up to date on products were also important.

According to Compete, more than 20% of online buyers found Facebook pages “influential” or “extremely influential,” regardless of the channel where the transaction is completed. The numbers show promise for a less established retail offering.

A PowerReviews and e-tailing group survey discovered that more familiar online tools, such as customer reviews, Q&As and forums, beat Facebook for their effect on buying behavior, yet the popular site still fared better than mobile or Twitter.

Taken with Compete’s findings, this implies that Facebook is being used by online shoppers more than ever and is continuing to grow in popularity, but has yet to surpass more ubiquitous online community tools in direct influence on purchasing.

Retailers and consumer products companies could give the small but eager group currently connecting with them on Facebook what they are looking for: access to sales. Even if these online shoppers are not yet able to make purchases directly through Facebook, exclusive offers can engender goodwill, loyalty, sharing and increase the likelihood of taking the “f-commerce” leap when it is offered.

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Maintaining Engagement on Large Facebook Pages

March 2011 research from link-sharing solutions provider Visibli found that among Facebook pages with at least 100,000 “likes,” engagement dropped as the number of fans increased. Each individual post by brands and media organizations received fewer “likes” as a proportion of the page’s fan base.

Similar data from social media engagement firm LoudDoor shows a more complex picture of how page size affects “likes” and comments per post. “Likes” increased with page size, except among pages with 2.5 million to 5 million users. On a per-user basis, “likes” began to decrease for pages with more than 100,000 fans, then rose again for pages with 1 million to 2.5 million followers. Larger pages had fewer “likes” per post per user, but the decrease did not correspond directly with page size.

Similarly, the number of comments per post increased with page fan base, with a few drops among pages with several million followers. The proportion of comments per user does go down with closer correlation to page size, but for both metrics there is a large drop-off when pages hit the 2.5 million fan mark.

Some of this effect could be difficult to avoid. Posts may still receive hundreds of comments, but the number of comments per user will inevitably be much lower when pages have millions of fans.

LoudDoor also noted that brands must be aware of the algorithms Facebook uses in determining which posts to present to which users in the newsfeed. The EdgeRank algorithm takes into account affinity with the content creator along with other factors. If page growth means that fans are becoming less similar to each other as more are added, and have less affinity for the brand, new posts may not even show up in their newsfeed—meaning they will never have the chance to engage with the brand there.

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Google goes social with Facebook rival


google logo thumb1 Google goes social with Facebook rivalGoogle, the king of internet search but not on the social front, has launched its rival to Facebook, a social networking service called Google+.

“Online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it,” Google’s senior vice president for engineering Vic Gundotra on Tuesday said in a blog post about the long-awaited social networking initiative from the internet giant.

Unveiling Google+, Gundotra stressed the ability it gives users to separate online friends and family into different “Circles,” or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.

“We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software,” he said.

“We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships and your interests.”

One of the criticisms of Facebook is that updates are shared with all of one’s friends unless a user has gone through a relatively complicated process to create separate Facebook Groups.

“Not all relationships are created equal,” Gundotra said.

“So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss.

“The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food – wrapping everyone in ‘friend’ paper – and sharing really suffers,” he said.

Google+, located at plus.google.com, is currently being tested by a small number of people or is available by invitation only.

But Google said in a message on the site that it “won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone”.

Google unveiled several new tools integrated into Google+, including “Hangouts”, which allows for video chatting among friends, “Mobile” for location-sharing and “Huddle” for group text messaging.

Photos and video can be uploaded and shared among Circles using a feature known as “Instant Upload”, while an online sharing engine called “Sparks” delivers content from the web into a user’s feed.

Google dominates internet search but the Mountain View, California, company has failed to make inroads on the social networking front, where Facebook has accumulated nearly 700 million users and Twitter about 200 million.

Former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, speaking at the AllThingsD technology conference last month, took responsibility for the company missing the wave when it came to making services social, saying “I screwed up”.

Google’s last major foray into social networking – Google Buzz, launched in February 2010 – spawned a slew of privacy complaints and led to a slap on the wrist from the US Federal Trade Commission.

Under a settlement between the US regulator and Google announced in March, Google is required to implement a comprehensive privacy program and will be subject to independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years.

Google+ makes its debut as Google and Facebook wage a fierce battle over online advertising dollars and how people navigate the internet.

Google does not send people to Facebook and vice versa, and both companies are seeking to become the chief gateway to the internet.

In May, Facebook was left red-faced after acknowledging it had hired a prominent public relations firm to draw attention to privacy practices at Google.

Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of technology blog SearchEngineLand.com, said in a blog post it was “anyone’s guess” as to whether Google+ would be successful.

“If you’re happy using Facebook, there seems relatively little to make you want to switch over to Google Plus, at the moment,” said Sullivan, who received an early glimpse of the new service from Google.

“Perhaps if there are people who want a Facebook alternative, Google’s now got a core to build on for them.”

Story by Chris Lefkow www.ninemsn.com.au

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1 in 3 Parents of Teens Snoop on Facebook


 1 in 3 Parents of Teens Snoop on FacebookOne in three (34%) of parents of children age 13-19 have used Facebook to learn more about the parents of their children’s friends, according to data from Retrevo. This makes parents of teens the most likely of all parents of children younger than 20 to snoop on Facebook in this way, followed by parents of children age 6-12 (29%) and children age 0-5 (25%).

By the time children are teenagers, Retrevo data shows 47% of parents say they have used Facebook to learn about their kid’s friends. However, once kids reach age 20 and typically become more independent, parents seem to lose interest in learning more about their kids’ friends through Facebook (18%).

 1 in 3 Parents of Teens Snoop on FacebookOverall, 12% of parents have used Facebook to check out who their kids date. Retrevo found that iPhone owning parents (20%) are almost twice as likely to use Facebook to learn more about who their kids date than the average parent, while Droid parents are one-third less likely (8%). Retrevo also found that dads are 30% more likely to use Facebook to learn more about their kid’s dates(13%) as opposed to moms (10%).

 1 in 3 Parents of Teens Snoop on FacebookGenerally speaking, iPhone parents have more friends than overall parents or Droid parents. Retrevo found that 13% of iPhone-owning parents had more than 500 Facebook friends as opposed to only 8% of all parents and 10% of Droid parents. Similarly, iPhone parents had a much higher percentage of reporting 50-250 friends (55%) than overall (40%) or Droid (38%) parents.

Only 5% of iPhone parents reported fewer than 50 Facebook friends, about one-quarter the rate of overall (18%) or Droid (20%) parents.

 1 in 3 Parents of Teens Snoop on FacebookRetrevo found that 14% of all parents feel nervous or anxious if they don’t check Facebook and/or Twitter, and this number more than doubles when looking at iPhone-owning parents (28%), but is basically the same for Droid-owning parents (15%).

iPhone parents are also almost twice as likely (28%) as overall parents (16%) to sometimes neglect responsibilities because they are on Facebook/Twitter, and about one-and-a-half times as likely (18% compared to 11%) to say they have given up activities they used to enjoy because of time spent on Facebook and Twitter.

Interestingly, while Droid parents had similar responses to overall parents for the previous two questions, both iPhone (19%) and Droid (18%) parents are about 50% more likely than overall parents (12%) to admit they feel like they couldn’t stop using Facebook/Twitter, even if they wanted to.

Recent Pew data shows a gradual aging of social network users, which may reflect increased usage by consumers of parenting age. Between 2008 and 2010, the percentage of social network users age 23-35 dropped 20%, from 40% to 32%. Meanwhile, the percentage of users age 36-49 rose 18%, from 22% to 26%. Most significantly, the percentage of users age 50-65 more than doubled, from 9% to 20%.
In total, 52% of social network users in 2010 were 36 and up, a 58% increase from 33% in 2008.

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Older Facebook Users Catching On to ‘Liking’ Brands


It took older web users a few years to begin social networking after it had been popularized by the younger set, but they soon became the fastest-growing segment of users on sites like Facebook. Now it appears they are also growing into a specific social media habit that had been more popular among younger adults: connecting with brands.

As recently as September 2010, based on research from Wedbush Securities, it seemed as if Facebook engagement with brands just might not interest users over age 55. At that point, only about one in four of Facebook’s oldest users had “liked” a brand on the site, compared with 60% of those ages 18 to 34.

By November 2010, over-55s had begun to close the gap, however, and by April 2011, nearly half were connecting with brands. Engagement had also risen among 18- to 34-year-olds as well as the 35-to-54 age group over the period. Overall, 59% of adult Facebook users had “liked” a brand as of April, up from 47% the previous September. Uptake among the oldest users appears to have been a major factor in this rise.

Increased engagement among older boomers and seniors suggests that Facebook users of all ages have some interest in connecting with brand pages, rather than appealing only to young adults. Since most older Facebook users still have not “liked” a brand, there could still be room to grow in this demographic. The climbing level of activity among the middle age group indicates that younger boomers could have just as much potential social engagement with brands as millennials and Gen Xers.

Typically, social media users report connecting with brands to get deals and discounts, as well as information about products and special offers. But what brand fans expect can vary. For example, affluent social media users tended to follow brands because of a preexisting affinity for them, and a desire to be kept informed. Many older users will fall into this group, due to the point they have reached in their careers and their longer opportunity to build up net worth.

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Facebook ‘sorry’ for face tagging launch


Facebook icon thumb Facebook sorry for face tagging launchFacebook has apologised for the way it rolled out new software that automatically recognises users’ faces without informing them.

The social networking website admitted it should have done more to notify members about the global launch of the system.

The new feature scans uploaded photographs and attempts to match faces to images already stored on the site.

It then suggests the name of a friend to assign, or ‘tag’, to the photo.

Although users have the option to switch it off, many complained that they were not explicitly asked if they wanted it activated.

Facebook said that the system was intended to speed up the process of tagging.

It was introduced in the US in December 2010 but has only now been launched globally.

In a statement, the company headed by Mark Zuckerberg said it ‘should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them.’

Facebook said it has been contacted by regulators and was responding to their inquiries to ‘satisfy any concerns they will have’.

It added that the facial recognition technology would only be applied to newly-uploaded photos.

Users can disable the feature by turning off the ‘suggest photos of me to friends’ option on their privacy settings.

Graham Cluley, senior consultant at security firm Sophos, said that users’ annoyance was less about the product’s purpose than the manner in which it was made live.

In his blog, he writes: ‘We simply had to wait until Facebook decided to roll it out to our account. Now might be a good time to check your Facebook privacy settings.’

He added that the actual tagging is still done only by friends, but Facebook appeared to be pushing friends to tag each other.

Face-recognition technology is just the latest Facebook product that has sparked privacy concerns.

Facebook Places, a location-based service, was launched last year, broadcasting information about users’ whereabouts unless they specifically changed their privacy settings.

At the end of last year, Facebook admitted an ‘inadvertent privacy breach’, confirming that some of its most popular applications had transmitted identifying information, such as user names, to advertising and internet-tracking companies.

The admission followed a Wall Street Journal investigation which uncovered evidence that some popular Facebook apps had shared user data with internet tracking organisations.

The breach affected tens of millions of users, including those who had set their profiles to the most secure and robust privacy settings.

Facebook insisted the breach did not expose any private user information and is still working with developers to improve the system.

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Facebook stirs privacy ire with facial recognition


Facebook thumb Facebook stirs privacy ire with facial recognitionFacebook’s move to enable facial recognition across its entire social networking site is raising some eyebrows – and possibly some legal woes — over its privacy implications.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced in a blog post that it was working to make it easier for uses to tag photos of their friends and family members. To do this, it has been quietly rolling out facial recognition technology to a test group across the world’s biggest social network since late last year.

That means Facebook‘s system will be able to recognize the faces of its 500 million to 600 million users worldwide. The company will be able to identify you simply by your face.

Facebook noted that starting in just a few weeks, its system will scan all photos posted to Facebook and will offer up the names of the people who appear in the frame. All of Facebook’s users are automatically being added to the database.

The facial recognition feature is automatically turned on. Users who don’t want the service must go in and manually opt out of it.

A day after the announcement was made, data protection regulators at the European Union said they will launch an investigation into it, according to the Bloomberg news service, which also reported that authorities in the U.K. and Ireland are looking into the matter.

“Tags of people on pictures should only happen based on people’s prior consent and it can’t be activated by default,” said Gerard Lommel, a member of the EU’s Data Protection Working Party, according to Bloomberg. Such automatic tagging suggestions “can bear a lot of risks for users” and the European data-protection officials will “clarify to Facebook that this can’t happen like this.”

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

However, Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, said it’s clear that Facebook hasn’t learned any big lessons from its previous privacy brouhahas.

“Facebook’s repeated methodology of opting all users into new services, particularly services with potentially damaging ramifications, demonstrates a certain disregard for the security and privacy of its users,” Shimmin said. “When applied broadly, it can undermine our overall privacy — perhaps putting an end to anonymity altogether. With the proliferation of cameras and the major role they play in Facebook, wherever you go, you may be identified and catalogued for future reference.”

Over the past year or so, Facebook has found itself in the center of several firestorms related to privacy issues.

Just last fall, it was revealed that some of Facebook’s most popular applications, such as FarmVille, Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille, had been sending users’ personal information to dozens of advertising and Internet monitoring companies. According to a Wall Street Journal investigation, the issue affected tens of millions of users, even those who had set their privacy settings to the strictest levels.

Earlier last year, Facebook was criticized after the company unveiled tools that would allow the sharing of user information with other Web sites. That move caused an uproar among users and prompted a handful of U.S. senators to send an open letter calling on Facebook to amend its privacy policies.

“You’d think that they would have learned something from the past pounding they’ve taken on privacy issues, but it doesn’t look like they have,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “This is pretty creepy … Let’s say some guy sees an attractive woman, he can snap a quick picture of her with his cellphone camera and then search Facebook to see who she is.”

Olds added that people should quickly move to opt out of the feature but he’s concerned that most users won’t take the issue seriously enough.

But for those who want to turn the feature off, security company Sophos offers some how-tos:

First, go to your Facebook “Account” in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Then click on “Privacy Settings.” Next, click on “Customize settings.” Then go to “Things others share.” Beside the option titled “Suggest photos of me to friends. When photos look like me, suggest my name,” click “Edit Settings.” Click on “Edit settings.” Then change it to “Disabled.” Don’t forget to press “Okay.”

Not everyone is concerned about Facebook’s facial recognition feature, though.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said the technology is out there whether Facebook uses it or not. “If Facebook doesn’t do this someone else likely will,” he said. “Remember [Facebook isn’t] making private things public with this. They are making public things easier to find.”

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at twitter icon Facebook stirs privacy ire with facial recognition @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed rss bug Facebook stirs privacy ire with facial recognition. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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Bosses peeking at candidates’ Facebook


Facebook icon thumb2 Bosses peeking at candidates FacebookMore than a third of bosses say they check potential employees’ Facebook profiles before offering them a job.

Your potential new boss may have already checked you out on Facebook.

A new survey by recruitment firm Robert Half has found that more than a third of employers in accounting and finance admit to checking potential candidates’ Facebook profiles before offering them a job.

‘Given this reality, candidates need to be aware of their social media footprint’ when applying for jobs,’ Robert Half director Andrew Brushfield said, releasing the survey findings on Wednesday.

‘As a general rule of thumb, if there is anything online that employees don’t want their colleagues or bosses to see, they should remove it.’

The survey also found 23 per cent of employers are using social media to recruit, while a third of employees say they are comfortable being ‘friends’ with their boss on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Still, the survey also found 36 per cent of surveyed employees in the finance and accounting industry have seen the use of social networking sites damage other people’s workplace relationships.

‘While social media has helped foster a more interactive and sociable working environment, it is completely blurring the boundary between people’s personal and professional lives,’ Mr Brushfield said.

‘Before people friend’ their bosses, colleagues and clients, they need to think about the long-term implications it could have on their professional life and career development.’

The survey of 416 finance and accounting employees, and hiring managers, found only 38 per cent of companies had a clear social media policy in place for employees.

Forty-three per cent of companies that allow their staff to access social media sites at work either don’t have a clear social media policy in place, or don’t have a policy at all.

‘All organisations should have a clear social media policy to ensure that their staff use social media appropriately at work, and don’t damage the company’s corporate reputation,’ Mr Brushfield said.

Mr Brushfield offered a number of tips to workers and jobseekers to help manage their Facebook presence, such as ‘untagging’ themselves from an embarrassing photograph, and being aware of the various groups they join if their colleagues, bosses and clients are ‘friends’.

Also, while Facebookers may enjoy playing social network games and posting their results, Mr Brushfield questions whether professional contacts really want to know if you have bought a new cow on FarmVille.

We all know the answer to that one.

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