Posts Tagged ‘Facebook Pro’

Journalistic Responsibility

Monday, December 14th, 2009

A week or two ago, a story broke regarding a security upgrade in Windows. In the race to scoop the story first, facts were not checked, the validity of the story was based on a blog post at a security company.

Ed Bott @ Ziff Davis covered it in What the “Black screen of death” story says about tech journalism.

Even TechCrunch falls into this with a spoofed Eric Schmidt joins Twitter. Post first, ask later. Rather than correct the incorrect article, let it run for the adviews.

Since the introduction of the Internet, journalistic accuracy has dropped substantially. While spell-check should eliminate most of the errors, typographic errors occur frequently. The number of journalists that get your and you’re confused or their and there is staggering. Tribune Media, CNN/Turner, ABC, Fox and MSNBC are not immune. Associated Press, Reuters and United Press International remain news leaders with accurate, verified and grammatically correct articles. With the downturn in paper journalism, competent writers have been replaced with less expensive writers that are more interested in the number of bylines they can generate than the quality of their work.

To test a theory, a mock-up of a Facebook Beta application, a ruse posted on a few news sites with corroborating evidence and a ‘hot tip’ to two media outlets resulted in 31 different locations picking up on the post, 2700 or so retweets and precisely one site validating the facts.

The first site it was posted to, Hacker News, suspected it was fake almost immediately. However, they missed the significance of the names chosen, the times that the other comments were posted and the sequence of names. Hackers indeed. A spoof post about a hamster falling into the LHC stayed within the top 210 posts for almost four days before enough ‘news’ displaced it.

In the end, it took a security person from Facebook to post and the thread was subsequently killed. Did Facebook violate someone’s privacy to get to the bottom of this? There sure wasn’t much red tape for the Facebook engineer to peer into someone’s profile to get to the bottom of it.

TheNextWeb suspected something was amiss and updated their post throughout the day clearly indicating the updates. Martin Bryant contacted me via email to ask quite directly whether the information was true. This is good journalism.

I suppose most of the sites that ran the story are just pulling RSS feeds from somewhere with no editorial oversight. A trusted syndicated source could distribute a hoax fairly widely and the remnants would be available on the web and search engines for years.

Do sites knowingly run with incorrect headlines in search of ad dollars associated with a hot story — hoax or not? Three sites that picked up the story clearly wanted the the hysteria and hype to drive adviews.

In the end, the glut of news available at our fingertips means that the overall quality of news has diminished. Is there a solution? With automation moving at breakneck speed, it is a problem we’re going to have to deal with for quite some time. Even Google’s news site presents stories without any editorial control and would be a difficult, but not impossible vector to exploit.

Peer reviewed news isn’t the answer as so many sites have proven and editorially controlled sites contain bias no matter how independent they claim to be.

Want to design the killer app of 2010? Fix news distribution.

Facebook Pro – Facebook’s Revenue Stream

Friday, December 11th, 2009

I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, social media and new websites that had a technological edge. I read quite a few of the tech news websites and love to get in on early beta and beta offerings from companies. One of my recent favorite betas that I was invited to was On the surface, it seemed to lack a certain finesse, but, the biggest feature it had was that it was extremely quick, lacked the application spam and let me see 99% of what I was interested in.

I’ve loved Google Voice and was a fairly early adopter. I had tried Grand Central, but, it didn’t replace enough functionality with what I had currently set up with the local phone company. Google Wave and their Sandbox is another product that I find very intriguing. I have worked with Wave Federations and I think once someone develops a killer app for Wave, it’ll gain wide acceptance.

But, this isn’t about Google, this is about Facebook.

I was an early adopter of FB Connect. I’ve written a number of applications that I’ve not released to experiment with their API and have been generally impressed by their openness. Some of the information an application is able to access is a privacy nightmare. People complain day in and day out about Google and Privacy – perhaps because Google has to collect all of its market intelligence based on your surfing habits, and then Facebook finds a way to have you spend hours customizing your profile – giving Facebook precisely the information that makes their advertising system 10x more intrusive than Google could ever be. Back to the point.

In August I received an email from Facebook asking if I would participate in another beta project. I was warned that this one would entail a purchase from their store, but, in exchange, I would receive credit towards advertising. It makes perfect sense to test the payment system ahead of time on a major release – something many new electronic stores fail to do. I clicked the link saying I would be a part of their beta and waited.

And waited.

Last night, a very cryptic email arrived with a link to follow to read about this exciting new product Facebook had to offer. As I read the page, I was already pulling out my wallet to get my credit card because the service seemed perfect for me. Having to maintain a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook Profile has always been an exercise in duplication. Facebook doesn’t ask enough questions to really be useful in business and I suspect if they put their heads together, they could develop a new angle.

It appears they listened.

The page was very basic, it talked about the benefits of a ‘Facebook Pro’ account, pricing hadn’t been established but they had set a test price of $29.95 for a 6 month recurring membership.

Some of the benefits listed included:

* Ability to store Work History
* Ability to write Recommendations on profiles
* Tighter control over Profile Security
* Additional Contact Method fields
* Certification badges
* Digital Business cards

facebook pro beta

Once you get in, there is a small NDA that prevents screenshots of the interface, but, it is obvious that there are hundreds of people in the beta. Even as I have set up some business interests, it is listing profiles in a ‘Business Network’ that are staggeringly accurate. A refreshing change from the People You May Know lottery.

So far, the new options are quite intriguing and if the quality of the business contacts I’ve made in the beta are indicative of the trend, I think Facebook has a real winner here.

I found it interesting that the beta was released which allows tighter control over privacy the day after they release new privacy options that the masses are hailing as anti-privacy. Perhaps this is why Facebook chose this week to release the beta.

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