There’s been a great deal of speculation about the Facebook media event on Monday. As many are expecting Facebook to announce the launch of it’s very own Facebook email client. It’s not a terribly surprising step for the social media giant, however seeing the terms “Gmail killer” in news headlines is over reaching.
Being mired in their own personal sea of privacy concerns, the idea that every single Facebook user, around the 500 million mark, would use the service as their email client of choice is somewhat laughable. One of the better comments I’ve personally seen about the idea was summed up as “Facebook is going the way of AOL, making the web dumber to use”. But personal opinions aside, a Facebook email client just isn’t attractive to use.
The major strengths of the feature were listed around the “potential” strength of inbox control, seeing as Facebook would intrinsicly know who you contact the most. Funny thing is, if you’ve used email for more than a month or two, you know how to setup sorting and labelling in your client anyways. No need to have a service do it for you. So that more or less equals out, also deemed to be a strength is the Facebook webmail client could be used to display information from all of the messages you receive from your friends via games, or payments of Facebook credits. Seeing as how you already login to Facebook with an email address, and you receive notice (by default) of all of these events anyways, again they equal themselves out.
The biggest positive I can see about having a Facebook email address myself? It’s a great way to keep all of the Facebook spam in one central place, and out of my normal email provider.
In the not so new news, the death of SEO is being cried again. The cause this time is the Facebook and Bing partnership. I’ve read about the social search changes that have been incorporated, and just as Google shrugged it off, I’m inclined to do the same.
The changes that Bing and Facebook bring together is definitely interesting, no doubt. However, the idea that the entire industry of search marketing, search engine optimization and search engine rankings being dealt a deathblow by this partnership is laughable. If anything, the new partnership relies on SEO and SEM to function appropriately.
For another perspective, imagine going into a hardware store, and seeing all of the isles and rows numbered and having short labels for the contents of each row. Makes your shopping trip quick and efficient to know that you can find power drills and skill saws in the power tools isle. This would be a very basic example of SEO. Now applying the new Facebook/Bing method, you’re in that same hardware store, nothing is labelled or itemized (because it’s killed SEO remember) but you know there’s a power drill in there that your friend likes and owns. Great to know that your buddy has a favorite tool that you were thinking about, but how do you go about finding it?
Two very basic examples, but they illustrate the interpretation of the new personalized search Bing and Facebook are rolling out. Social Media Optimization (SMO) isn’t a new idea, it’s not revolutionary, it’s adwords on a more personal level. It displays information relative and relavant to your account and what it knows about you, not for your searchs. One last point to consider and digest, without search engine optimization, social media optimization wouldn’t exist, and without SEO, SMO will disappear.
It’s been a busy few days in the search world. Last week Bing and Facebook announced their joint partnership in delivering fully personalized search results to people using Bing as their engine. Google responded with an unenthusiastic “Ok, and? Our mobile made oodles of dollars.” and as of this Monday, Facebook is still making news.
The Facebook/Bing partnership is an interesting twist in the “World of Mouth” direction of the web. Using Bing as your search engine, you will see your results with social search automatically enabled for you; Facebooks rather famous “opt-out instead of in” ideology. You’ll be able to peruse what your friends and family on Facebook felt about the subject you’ve decided to search on. It adds that familiar ” Likes this” to your SERPs. A module built into Bing which you can disable, but with a forward looking future, able to deliver more dynamic personalized results.
“Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy.”
It’s estimated that millions of apps users are affected by the programming error, and that the top ten most popular apps all had the issue. Farmville, Mafia Wars and other Zynga titles were all sharing unique, private Facebook User ID’s. A blatant breach of privacy, to add to the list of concerns already with the social networking giant. And if that isn’t enough to make you stop harvesting crops on Farmville, or knocking over a bank in Mafia Wars, Facebook doesn’t even know how to fix the privacy problem.
Why does this relate in anyway, other than name, to the Facebook/Bing social search partnership? It bears mentioning that if the module works the way it’s described, it accesses your personal information on your computer in order to build your personalized results. Imagine all of the cookies the average Facebook user has in their browser history for that module to munch on; and share.
There was the big conference today from Microsoft Bing and Facebook, and from the sounds of things they’re trying to give the world of search a stiff shake. The partnership idea that’s been rolled out (very small snippet) is when you search for an item or topic on Bing, your socially relevant searches would appear first. Your friends likes/dislikes on a subject or topic that you’ve plugged in. Some good questions have been asked from the conference, items of privacy of course what with Facebooks infamous history thus far, and of course someone asked about the money incentive (no answer on that last one). The far reaching goal is that your search is tailored exclusively for you. It’s personalization of the SERPs for *everyone* who uses Bing.
About the privacy factor, the social search angle is functioning like a module within Bing. A module, which can be turned off should you choose to shut it.
Zuckerberg stated : “We have this idea. 500 million people can look you up on Facebook. We think why shouldn’t applications be able to do this to?”
Because everyone is searchable on Facebook, set to private or not, the train of thought is to allow applications the same level of trust. Bascially you’re allowing Bing, to see all of your informationg you’ve made public on Facebook, and makes that information searchable to your friends list.
The social search angle isn’t meant to completely remove the traditional SERPs page you’re accustomed to seeing, it’s being added to help personalize your queries and provide you with unique results, relevant to you. It’s an updated twist on the personalized search results you start to see within Google for example, minus the cookie saving sessions. The negative side I personally see at this juncture, would be the fact that you need to Opt-out of the service should you choose not to use it. Some would think Facebook learned their opt-in, opt-out lessons by now. Only time now will be the determining factor on this new idea.
So all of the news lately is about 1 thing, maybe 2 if you want to be specific. Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has been in the news because of it’s crashes/outings/downtime (choose your own term), and Zuck because of the $100 million donation he’s made.
The Facebook crashes led to some hilarious Twitter posts, my favorite being “American business reports an astounding 480% increase in productivity”. And of course some news outlets and activists used the outage, and the outcry over it, to try and drive home the point that Facebook(ing) is addictive and a time goblin. It’s a strong term to say that Facebook is an addiction, because Facebook at it’s core, is really just a database of names. It’s the plugins that have made it a destination, homepage and yes, even a hobby for some people. What Zuckerberg did right, was making the format adaptable to virtually any idea out there, much the same as Jobs did with Apple and the iProducts.
The largest difference between Jobs and Zuckerberg, I can see is cost. It doesn’t cost you anything to be able to use any of the Facebook apps/plugins/games, where as to own an Apple product, you’re going to be spending a minimum of $100 in most cases. It really should have been no surprise then, when it was mentioned that Mark Zuckerberg, has a larger personal worth than Steve Jobs.
In a way, it’s almost like the story in Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come. And they did.. in the millions.
Can you Facebook?
It may seem intuitive to be able to use Facebook and it’s services. Maybe the problem was a comprehension issue then. A 14 year old English girl learned the hard way to always double check before you submit an event on Facebook. With her upcoming 15th birthday party, she’d decided that Facebooking the event would be the surest way to invite all of her friends to attend, neglecting however to privatise the affair. Instead of only having those she wished to attend, there were 21,000 attendees confirmed for the (now) gala event. Alas, the girls parents decided that perhaps having that many people at their house wouldn’t work, and called off the party, and even so the local police are ready for any surprise events.
That the girl made a simple enough mistake in not privatising her party to her invitees only, it opened the door that Facebooks privacy settings are too difficult to administer. To think, that all she had to do was actually read the page she was using to post the event, and uncheck the box labelled: Anyone can view and RSVP (public event) Accountability it seems, is never a personal responsibility.
If acquisitions are feathers in a companies hat, Google has quite the chapeau just from 2010. THeir most recent purchase of Angstro, is another plume for them. Angstro is a type of “personal professional search engine”, but perhaps they say it best.
Angstro represents the ability to hone in on highly focused, relevant news across professional networks. Where search engines such as Google and other news aggregator services have immense infrastructures that return a huge array of random results, Ångströ analyses a wide breadth of information from multiple data sources to deliver very few, yet very intelligent results.
Now any search engine isn’t entirely random, there’s relative results for any query you pose. With the shift in the change of Google’s SERPs, and the Bing/Yahoo marriage finalized, perhaps the addition of Anstro it affords another avenue.
So at last count, the potential social side of Google would comprise of such services as Orkut, Buzz, Latitude, GMail, Maps, Contacts, Calendar, iGoogle, YouTube, Vevo, Google Talk, Google Reader, Picasa, Profile, Docs, (the now abandoned Wave) and as well, their upcoming music service and reported Zynga investment.
They’re not looking to re-invent the wheel ala Facebook style, but at a conference a little back, they did have a slide representing online social time breakdown. Fifty percent of the time spent online, was spent on Zynga games Farmville and MafiaWars. When it comes to the web, and Google, there are no coincidences.
Another one bites the dust? Google is rumored to picking up social media currency creator Jambool, makers of Social Gold. Social Gold is a secure payment method used in online games like Mafia Wars. Social Gold gives app developers the ability to build payments directly into their games and other applications.
It’s just another cog in the machine that Big G is speculated to be building, not to compete with Facebook however as we don’t need more of the same thing. Social websites retain interest and enjoy long term loyalty when interactivity can take a front seat to the experience. Just look to your nearest Facebook notices page for reference. Odds are, you have more than a few friends involved in Farmville, Mafia Wars and so on. Add in the ability to connect to your family and friends as you like, with interactivity that can possibly be shared, and you’ll have a good recipe for some long term memberships.
It keeps going and going..
The StreetView saga that is. Germany, US, Italy, Spain and a few others are still investigating just how much data the camera cars have captured. While the EU has acquited the giant of any blatant wrong doing.
This Tuesday, as I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in the news, South Korea Police raided Google offices and siezed harddrives and computers related to the StreetView cars.
“We can confirm that the police have visited Google Korea in conjunction with their investigation around data collection by Street View cars. We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have,” said Lois Kim, a Google spokeswoman.
Korea’s National Police Agency said that Google collected and stored the information illegally. NPA stated that the company collected data from “unspecified users” and their unsecured wi-fi networks for about six months while the vehicles snapped photos for StreetView. All the drama and hooplah aside, it doesn’t mean that anything will happen. Google will probably not even face any charges.
In light of all of the free publicity, Google announced that it plans on introducing StreetView for 20 of the largest German cities by the end of the year. German authorities insisted that peoples faces, and license plates be blurred out, and the public can request to have their homes removed from the StreetView website. According to the Associated Press, these features are purely unique to Germany. A move no doubt, to dispel any fears about privacy.
Google has said time and again, that the collection of data was accidental, but it was not illegal.
In the blog yesterday, I wrote of a CNN article in which the authors outed themselves, rather obviously in fact, about how trying to compare social websites, to search websites, just doesn’t work. It’s trying to compare two different businesses and business models. Recently, Facebook launched a new service of theirs called Facebook Questions, essentially allowing Facebookers to ask questions of each other, and garner answers and opinions.
Perhaps it’s irony, or karma which contributes to it’s, perhaps fatal, flaw. Facebook Questions, has no search function. 500 million Facebook users with the ability to ask and answer questions, but with no discernable way to search through those entries. It’s a basic function which should exist within this type of service, could you imagine Wikipedia without a way to search it?
When you first look at the Facebook Questions page, there is a simple box which states a simple enough question; “What do you want to know?” As accustumed as we are to the web, this would seem the logical place to begin a search query, as opposed to presenting a direct question. However, if you try to search in this way, you’ll receive an error box basically telling you your question needs to have 3 or more words. And when you finish your “query” you don’t end up with a list of possible answers to a question, you will in fact, end up creating one!
Facebook Questions fan page has a brief description stating : Facebook Questions is a new feature similar to Yahoo! Answers and LinkedIn Answers. But instead of being user friendly and searchable to find the answers to questions you may have, it falsely inflates the count of true asked questions by auto-creating new questions. Regardless if someone has already posed the same question. For example, asking “Do you prefer cats or dogs” and “Do you prefer dogs or cats” Would be 2 different questions within it’s “knowledge base”. In digging through the provided information on the new service, “you can’t search for keywords, only topics”. As you dig into their topics however, it’s still difficult to find an answer you desire, as you have to page through previously asked questions, one at a time.
To be able to compare to Yahoo answers, or LinkedIn Answers, Facebook Questions has a very long way to go. Their priority, despite being a beta service though, should be a user friendly search feature to it’s already asked questions. Touted as Googles main “competitor”, it needs to be noted, that without the basic function that Google provides, Facebook Questions will probably be dead in the water before it launches.
Google is cleared of snooping, meanwhile their search business is drying up and Google is home of the most malware.
Out of the three headlines that graced some of my reading today, only one had any lick of sense to it. The Information Commissioners Office of the UK, has essentially cleared the Goog of any wrong doing in the accidental acquisition of wi-fi data by Street View cars. From the ICO:
“The information we saw does not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person. On the basis of the samples we saw, we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data.”
The ICO will however, continue to monitor the other global investigations into the data collected by Street View cars by the other nations (France, Spain, Germany, Australia and 38 states in the US) filing suit.
Google Search Dieing?
In a CNNMoney Fortune article that made me wonder if it was ever actually read or double checked, Googles growth, and search business is apparently dieing and shriveling up. Facebook, according to the article, is Googles biggest and most fearsome competitor, and Apple is trouncing the giant in tech growth.
Even just the first sentence invokes a sense of “what the?” when in the space of a few words the authors admit Google is growing at rates all of Fortune 500 companies would envy, yet Google is losing it’s steam. Lumping Google in the leagues of Microsoft, IBM and Cisco isn’t something I would call a sign of their demise as the search leader.
And as for comparing Facebook to Google, and saying that Facebook is Googles largest competitor? It’s like comparing a Chrysler to a Porsche. They’re in completely different leagues, different industries, with different goals and objectives. Facebook is social, Google is search. And using an example of someone leveraging social media to their advantage, and using a phrase like “Try that with a keyword search” proves that they hadn’t the slightest clue as to what they were speaking about.
And in the obvious section of the web, Google is the Malware King of the web. It just seems to make sense to me, that the largest search provider on the globe, would obviously return the most results from spammers and black hatters and hackers grabbing websites.
You find varying numbers from around the web, but it’s for certaing that Google owns 65% + of all search online. Is it really a surprise then, that in a report from Barracuda Labs, that Google returns 69% malware on popular and trending topics? It was in the news a great many times, and it’s been discussed, written about and beaten to death that spammers and hijackers will do everything they can to ride the trends. Remember the relief websites for Haiti? At the peak of the push for global assistance, it would be a shock to find a full, clean page of search results. Hijacking websites on trending topics is how black hatters and spammers make their living, it stands to reason that going after the largest search provider is the strategy to follow.