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Internet Explorer 9 beta launches

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/15/10 05:49 PM

I think we need a new story category on this blog: Geek Chow. Stories that probably don’t matter a whole lot in the short term to the average person but might matter a lot in the long run. Often these stories are of tremendous immediate interest to the highly plugged in folks, the hard core tech audience, the geeks (I’m assured “geek” is no longer a pejorative).

Google Instant is Geek Chow. Movements toward a Chrome operating system are Geek Chow. Facebook’s search model is a big bowl of Geek Chow.

Internet Explorer 9 is Geek Chow. Microsoft’s new browser is available for you to download if you are running Vista or Windows 7. It’s supposedly faster, has a cleaner user interface with more screen space dedicated to the web site, less to navigation, and can do a lot more things. Take it away, Ina Fried at CNET.

Comments | Filed Under: internet explorer browsers microsoft search google facebook geek chow

Google to take baby steps toward social networking

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/15/10 05:49 PM

We’ve been waiting for the alleged “Google Me” project to surface for a while now. Supposedly it was going to be Google’s Facebook killer, a social networking site that took on Zuckerbergia.

This despite The Goog’s not so stellar track record of launching Big New Products like Google Wave and Google Buzz (maybe the problem was how much those names sounded like laundry detergents?).

But Google Me never seems to get here. Like killer bees and the widespread adoption of the metric system, it’s always about to arrive.

Now Google’s Eric Schmidt says social networking on Google will be subtle and incremental. You’ll be able to pull in stuff from Twitter or Flickr, find out when someone saw your YouTube video. And play Farmville. Always with the Farmville. We’ll never escape Farmville.

Comments | Filed Under: google facebook twitter flickr social media Web Culture games

Burglars take advantage of Facebook status information

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/13/10 12:11 PM

Three industrious burglars in Nashua, New Hampshire have reportedly made off with up to $200,000 in stolen cash and merchandise. They did it the new-fashioned way: checking Facebook for people who said they were out of town on vacation and then going and getting stuff. They were caught. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to set your status on Facebook to be able to be seen by everyone and then say you’re out of town. But perhaps this is a form of Darwinism too.

Comments | Filed Under: Social media facebook law privacy Web Culture

What if you could declare online reputation bankruptcy?

Posted: 09/13/10 06:00 AM

The web is becoming ever more interactive. And you’re expected to constantly feeding it information about yourself and your opinions. You report your location on Foursquare, you update your status (and/or location too) on Facebook, you review restaurants and books. And all along the way it’s like we’re completing these sketches of ourselves and each other. We each have an ever-thickening dossier of information attached to who we are.

Our guest, Jonathan Zittrain, is co-founder and co-director of The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. He sees this trend only continuing. What if you could get a big discount for car insurance but with the stipulation that you had to agree to rate other drivers’ driving ability AND agree to let them rate yours? And then your premium would be adjusted based on how other people think you’re doing out on the road? Sure, it would be creepy but maybe it’s a trade off you’d be willing to make in exchange for lower rates and safer roads.

But Zittrain wonders if we shouldn’t be able to switch it all off and declare what he calls reputation bankruptcy. A chance to erase ourselves from our digital trail and start over. Hit the reset button. We discuss the web that knows too much and how one might go about shutting it off.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook foursquare Jonathan Zittrain web culture social media

Cheerleaders Gone Wild!

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/09/10 05:53 PM

Again with the compelling headlines. I think it draws attention more than “New clickjacking scam on Facebook”. This link has been going around Facebook for a while now where you click to see the cheerleaders going wild. There’s an advisory that nudity or some such thing is coming your way. You keep on clicking but one of the clicks is a disguised “Like” button and soon you’re publishing to the world that you “like” Cheerleaders Gone Wild and then your mom knows it and your boss and your spouse and you’re screwed and you’re an idiot.

By the way, after all that clicking, you’re taken to a YouTube video of cheerleaders who don’t go wild even a little. In fact, here it is:

There. I just saved you from public humiliation.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook Social media cheerleaders gone mild

Aging Out of Employment

Posted: 09/03/10 06:00 AM

The nation’s unemployment rate is out today. And as serious as those numbers are, the situation in Silicon Valley is even worse. The unemployment in the America’s high tech heartland is hovering near 11.5 percent.  While there are bidding wars erupting between Facebook and Google for young programmers. The situation for many older engineers is grim.

by Doede Boomsma

Vivek Wadwha, a visiting scholar at the School of Information at UC Berkeley, joins us to talk about the secret of Silicon Valley’s job market: It’s all about age.

Comments | Filed Under: Google Facebook unemployment Silicon Valley Age

Growing number of people 50+ use social media

Posted: 08/27/10 11:00 AM

We tend to think the people on Facebook are young, college-aged and writing about last night’s party.  Those people are indeed there.  But, there’s another demographic increasingly using social networking sites. A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows the number of internet users 50 and older using social media has nearly doubled since last year. Same story for the number of internet users 65 and older.

This really puts in perspective something one of our recent guests John Troyer brought up in a story on Twitter, Facebook and death.

Comments | Filed Under: social media Facebook Twitter

No peeking at Facebook pages

 By Larissa Anderson // Posted: 08/23/10 06:30 PM

Imagine a world in which it’s illegal for an employer to get info about a job applicant on Facebook.  That’s the world Germany might live in.  On Wednesday, the German cabinet will consider a new law to keep bosses from sniffing around in prospective employees’ social media pages. The law, however, will still let them Google applicants.

Comments | Filed Under: privacy, Germany Facebook Google

Do you want Facebook to know where you are?

Posted: 08/20/10 06:00 AM

Facebook already wanted to know what you were doing, now they want to know where you’re doing it  Facebook Places is a new service that lets you report where you are as you go through your day. It’s the company’s long anticipate foray into geolocation, a sort of melding of cyberspace and “meatspace” that a lot of people think will become very popular.

But it’s probably a good idea to know exactly what you’re sharing and what you’re keeping private, especially since that’s a line that has been a bit shaky on Facebook in the past.

We talk to CNET’s Molly Wood about how Places work so you can get a better handle on how to use it.  We also talk to video editor Bill Cammack who posted on his web site instructions on opting out of the “location tagging” section of Places. He walks us through that.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook geolocation places

Facebook places Places

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/19/10 09:36 AM

As expected, The Face added a geolocation service.

As expected, there are privacy concerns.

More updates to come.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook geolocation

Clickjacking: the feature Facebook isn't so proud of

Posted: 08/19/10 06:00 AM

Amid all the announcements Facebook has been making lately, there’s one feature you might not even know about. But you should. It’s called clickjacking. Maybe this has happened to you: you see a link  that says “Justin Bieber’s phone number leaked” or “Top ten t-shirt fails”. Maybe it’s in an ad or maybe it even appears to be posted by your friend.

So you click on it and that’s where the trouble begins. You’re taken to page after page of buttons to click, surveys to take, and permissions to give. Unlike the rest of the web, the links are associated with your friends’ names so you trust them. One recent scam was secretly placing $5 weekly charges on users’ cell phone bills.

We talk to Beth Jones from internet security firm Sophos about how clickjacking works. We also check in with Mashable founder and CEO Pete Cashmore who talks about the advantages scammers have in working on Facebook.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook security privacy

Google to debut Chrome store for web apps

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/18/10 11:17 AM

This is interesting and potentially very significant. At a gaming conference in Cologne, Germany, Google detailed plans to launch a store for Chrome web apps, meaning games and tools that you can plug into your Chrome browser. Chrome is made by Google and is rapidly gaining market share. It would be like any mobile app store but just for the web. The wrinkle is that Google is apparently only taking a 5% cut of the sales, which is way less than the 30% cut taken by Apple, Facebook, and other big companies for app revenue. This could provide huge incentive to developers to want to build on the platform. Companies are realizing that they need to make developers love them in order to get ahead, that’s why Microsoft is paying developers to offer their wares on the upcoming Windows 7 Phone.

Comments | Filed Under: google chrome facebook apple microsoft

Clickjacking scam on Facebook

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/18/10 11:09 AM

The bad guys are getting into Facebook in some pretty weird ways lately. The other day we talked about a fake “Dislike” button app that ends up spamming the heck out of you and your friends on Facebook. It was annoying but largely harmless. Today, there’s word of a more harmful scam going around. It lured people in with a fake link to “10 Funny T-Shirt Fails” or something similar. Once you clicked on it, it provided a bunch more links you’d have to click through until eventually you unwittingly authorized the app to tack on an ongoing weekly $5 charge to your cell phone bill. I’m writing this in the past tense because Facebook found out and took it down. Both the clickjacking and the Dislike scams were first reported by the security firm Sophos. Seems like Facebook might be the new frontier in getting hornswoggled.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook radiohead songs sung by creepy childrens choirs

How to surf the impending geolocation wave

Posted: 08/18/10 06:00 AM

Facebook holds a press event today and they’re expected to unveil a geolocation service. Most likely it will involve the ability to identify where you are when you update your status, so it’s not just what you’re doing but where specifically you’re doing it.

Geolocation is the idea of using your smart phone to report where you are as you go through your day. A company called Foursquare is the leader of this movement.  They’re best known for letting you become the honorary “mayor” of a restaurant or café if you check in there enough. It’s fun. But big tech companies like Facebook are taking it very seriously and investing heavily in the idea of geolocation.

Indeed, geolocation is supposed to be the next big thing online, the tool you won’t be able to live without. But how might you actually use it?

We talk to Tasso Roumeliotis, CEO of Location Labs. It’s a company that provides geolocation data to companies that build applications.  He says geolocation as it stands today can be used for three big things: socializing, safety like knowing where your kids are, and shopping.

We also talk to Baratunde Thurston, a comedian and web editor for The Onion. He’s made a sort of art project out of running for Foursquare mayor of the New York restaurant Delicatessen. Even held a rally.

He’s having fun but thinks geolocation could grow into something more valuable.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook geolocation

Beware the Dislike button

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/16/10 06:08 PM

There’s a scam going around Facebook built around a fake app for a “Dislike” button. It’s the opposite of the Like button. Or at least it promises to be. But if you download it, it just spams the living crap out of you and your friends, making them Dislike you for getting them into this mess.

I Love xkcd from NoamR on Vimeo.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook i love cryptography

Facebook test to go to party in Seattle

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/16/10 10:20 AM

It’s here.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook

Twitter. And Facebook. And death.

Posted: 08/16/10 06:00 AM

Cheerful topic for a Monday morning, don’t you think?

Twitter has confronted the idea of death. We all have to eventually, right? The microblogging site has announced a new policy for when users die. Once the death is confirmed, the account can come down and they can send the family an archive of the person’s tweets. Or the family can choose to just leave the account alone.

Facebook offers a third choice: leave the web presence there but turn it into a memorial to the deceased. No new friends would be added but those who were already there can post things to the person’s wall.

It’s kind of a weird time for social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a regular part of our society, which inevitably involves all aspects of society, including death. But while these sites are good at organizing parties and making jokes, they’ve never had a good framework for the big inevitability of death itself.

We talk to Ira Brooker and Kim Osland, a couple of our Twitter followers, about how they’ve encountered and dealt with death through social media. We also check in with John Troyer, Deputy Director at the Center for Death And Society at the University of Bath in England. We get his thoughts on ritual, technology, and how we’re dealing with death in the digital world.

Comments | Filed Under: Twitter facebook

Would you be Delta's Facebook friend?

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/13/10 08:48 AM

They hope so. The airline is integrating itself into Facebook so you can buy a ticket directly through the social media giant. Makes sense, I guess, since everyone hangs out there all the time anyway. Still, it makes you wonder how many sites will eventually give up and just become an offshoot of the Facebook mothership.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook

Battle lines being drawn for Google, Verizon, net neutrality

Posted: 08/13/10 06:00 AM

Google and Verizon issued a public policy statement Monday outlining their position on net neutrality, the idea that everything going over the internet should be given equal priority. They said they support a free and open web BUT future technologies might require special rules and shouldn’t be subject to the same restrictions.

Since that announcement, battle lines have been drawn. Standing against the plan: an FCC commissioner, a ton of bloggers, and even Facebook. As this story matures, we take a look at what the fallout might be.

Steve Henn from our sister program Marketplace joins us to talk about who’s aligning where. Amazon and eBay are backing Facebook but not very loudly, big media companies and most internet providers are saying nothing. We also talk to Larry Downes of Stanford University Law School’s Center for the Internet and Society who explains what this whole debate might mean for you sitting at home.

Comments | Filed Under: google verizon facebook net neutrality

Gotta Hunch?

Posted: 08/06/10 08:08 AM

The internet thinks it knows you. What products you like, what movies, music, what you want to buy next. And it advertises to you accordingly, with all kinds of junk that it thinks you will want. And the internet thinks you’ve told it all there is to know about you by leaving behind data of where you shop, where you visit, a sort of accidental bread crumb trail.

The website Hunch had a big relaunch this week and it approaches things a bit differently. On Hunch, you create a profile of yourself, either directly or by importing your Twitter or Facebook information, and then you answer questions about yourself. Everything from age and location to what kind of lettuce you like to your thoughts on dolphins. There are tons of questions, you could answer them all day.

Then you ask the site a question, maybe about what car to buy, and it makes recommendations based on who you are.

Hunch was co-founded by Caterina Fake who joins us to talk about what she’s trying to get it to do. Fake is also the co-founder of the photo site Flickr, so she knows a thing or two about web collaboration.

We also check in with Andreas Weigend, former lead scientist at, a company known for making recommendations. We ask him about whether data provided by an individual provides a more accurate view of who they are than data gathered surreptitiously.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook twitter data mining

Could Vonage deal signal the end of phone numbers?

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/04/10 11:11 AM

That’s a bit of an extrapolation but not all that far fetched. Vonage is a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) company and they have a new free app for Android and iPhone. It lets you call any one of your Facebook friends for free over either Wi-Fi or 3G. The friend has to have the app too so you’re restricted to your smart phone friends who have taken this course. There are obviously now way more ways to get in touch with someone than you can actually use. But what I think matters here is the absence of phone number; you just point to their name and they’re called and you never even needed to put in their number originally (or use cell minutes for that matter). Facebook is very good at establishing one unique identity for each person, this Vonage plan uses that identity as a phone number, ditches the number itself.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook voip vonage

Latest developments in Guy Who Says He Owns Facebook case

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/02/10 11:20 AM

If you really want to know them.

Paul Ceglia, the fuel pellet salesman who says Marc Zuckerberg signed over control of Facebook to him a long time ago, now says that the reason he waited so long to go to court is that he only recently found this old contract, while going through papers following his arrest for fraud.

Meanwhile, Ceglia says that he has no interest in actually running Facebook and would happily hire Zuckerberg as an employee, which is awfully nice. Also, a new guy has stepped forward saying that since Ceglia was working for HIM at the time Ceglia hired Zuckerberg, HE should be the guy who actually owns Facebook. Aaaaand, so he’s going to sue.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook

A mixed bag for Facebook

 by John Moe // Posted: 07/21/10 05:10 PM

Hi Mark. Listen we have some good news and some bad news. Good news first? Okay sure. Facebook now has half a billion users, more than all but two countries in the world.

Bad news? Some dude in New York, guy you used to work for, says that he owns your company.

So yeah, so okay. Have a great day!

Comments | Filed Under: facebook

Colors? Check. Shapes? Check. Social networking skillz? Check.

 By Jeff Horwich // Posted: 07/21/10 06:00 AM

In Australia, at least, parents are convinced social networks – Facebook, Twitter, ‘RooSpace (trust me, it’s huge Down Under) – are ruining their children’s brains. Half of ten-year-olds already have a social network profile. Usage stats are similar here in the U.S., and no doubt parental worry runs high here as well. After all, t(w)eens and online life have proven a combustible combination.

And yet…or perhaps because of that…new social networks are springing up all the time for the kiddies, including the new Togetherville, which pushes the demographic as low as six-years-old – or lower, as CEO Mandeep Dhilllon tells us in this episode. Toddlers are already tugging on our shirt hems to see what we’re doing all the time on the com-poo-ter. Why not give them a safe space to build up their online IQ?

OK, I’m listening, I’m listening…

One of the innovative things Togetherville brings to the table is the way it lets…nay, requires…parents get involved in the process. Parents and kids register as a team – parents using their Facebook log-in (via Facebook Connect – the two sites are totally independent). There’s a parallel level of interaction where parents connect with the parents of their kids’ friends.

But hold up. Isn’t this just another reason for kids to nurture computer addiction? Shouldn’t they be out collecting bugs to put in jars or something? No doubt there are child psychologists who might find this whole trend deeply troubling. But they would be somewhat blind to the modern world, says psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge, who says social media literacy can’t start too young.

I’ve got a two-year-old, and this topic got me a little riled up thinking about it. Now after doing the show, I’m not sure what to think. We’d love to hear your experiences – have your kids tried out Imbee, Togetherville, Club Penguin, or any of the other kid-focused social networks?

(Guest-hosted by Jeff Horwich.)

Comments | Filed Under: social networks facebook twitter

Online life after death

Posted: 06/28/10 04:00 AM

I want to talk about what happens when you die. There are procedures for what happens to your body and worldly possessions. But what about the parts of you that live online?  Facebook page, photos on Flickr, your avatar in some online game, or email. Those things are not you exactly but they’re not objects either. It’s a shadow of who you are in this semi-alive entity called the internet. What happens to this digital shadow when you die?

We’re sharing more and more of our lives online. But when it comes to death and online, we’re still trying to figure it out. Facebook relies on family or friends to notify the company when someone dies, otherwise they leave the page up. That’s led to weird moments where Facebook suggests you get back in touch with someone who you can’t get in touch with anymore.

Lisa Granberg sees a need and an opportunity. She started MyWebWill, essentially a way of putting your plan together for what happens to your digital self after you die. It’s a service that’s was tested in Sweden and is now in the U.S.



Comments | Filed Under: facebook

Who is this Mark Zuckerberg anyway?

Posted: 06/25/10 08:28 AM

Short answer: he’s the founder and CEO of Facebook, he’s 26, and he’s worth four billion dollars. Long answer: it’s a little more complicated.

Facebook currently has almost 500 million members all over the world. Zuckerberg said this week he’d like to double that. Get to a billion.

Zuckerberg famously started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room and he’s run the company ever since, growing it to where it is today. What was originally designed as a way for Harvard kids to socialize has now become a regular part of how humans communicate with each other and keep in touch. It’s ubiquitous already AND it’s growing. So if Facebook is becoming an inescapable part of modern life, and if Facebook is controlled by one guy, we should get to know more about that guy, right?

David Kirkpatrick had a great deal of access to the company and to Zuckerberg while writing his new book The Facebook Effect. We speak with him about Facebook and about Zuckerberg.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook

Changes at Facebook, Apple passes Microsoft

Posted: 05/27/10 06:00 AM

After vowing just a couple of days ago to make privacy changes in “coming weeks”, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters on Wednesday to introduce simplified controls on the popular social networking site. We hear about what those changes are, what didn’t end up changing at all, and what the overall mood at Facebook is from’s Ryan Singel.

We also take a look at Microsoft. They used to be at the center of everyone’s computer life. If you had a home computer, you probably had a PC. But on Wednesday, Apple surpassed Microsoft in terms of market capitalization to become, by that measure at least, the largest technology company in the world. We talk to Matt Rosoff of the research group Directions on Microsoft and ask what happened.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook microsoft apple

Facebook addresses privacy concerns, kind of.

Posted: 05/25/10 06:00 AM

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in an op-ed published in Monday’s Washington Post, said changes were on the way that would simplify Facebook users’ privacy controls. “We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services. We are working hard to make these changes available as soon as possible. We hope you’ll be pleased with the result of our work and, as always, we’ll be eager to get your feedback,” he writes.

But of course if this was merely about some software changes, they would announce it on the day it went live. Or maybe not make a big deal about it at all. Instead, we are told that the changes will arrive “in the coming weeks” and that “we are working hard to make these changes available as soon as possible.” This kind of PR effort is not surprising given the trouble Facebook has been in recently with privacy bugs, FCC complaints, and grumbling senators.

So will Zuckerberg’s promises matter in the long run? We speak to Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of fifteen groups who complained to the FCC about Facebook’s privacy practices. We also talk to Susan Herring of Indiana University, who offers a rather bleak outlook for Facebook.

Also this hour, we hear how to turn your iPad into an enormous iPhone. Easier than you think.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook

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