After months of speculation, Facebook Places has finally launched. Sadly, you can only play with it if you’re in the US: just one of many initial complaints about the service. Apart from alienating international early adopters, the service also allows other people to tag you at locations, a function which Gawker swiftly pointed out would be open to all kinds of abuse. Yet again, Facebook has launched a service by automatically opting all users in, without making the opt-out sufficiently easy.
While Facebook is still allowing other location services to synchronize updates and checkins, they have also just purchased Hot Potato, which implies they are keen to get a technological headstart so they can quickly overtake rivals. You have to wonder how long other providers will be able to stay in the game. After all, it’s probably not a coincidence that the new Facebook Places logo looks suspiciously like a four, in a square…
Do We Still Need Websites?
This article provoked intense debate in the media team – do we still need websites? Admittedly, after the attention grabbing headline, Pete Blackshaw quickly moderates his opinion: “Websites are not going away — they might be more important than ever — but they serve a different and evolved purpose today, especially in this new “social” context.” Worth a read.
Hoaxes and Counter-Hoaxes
First, whiteboard Jenny did the rounds. Then we all found out it was a fake, leaving some people angry, and others saying it didn’t matter because it was such a funny story anyway. The news even made it mainstream because so many newspapers and traditional media channels fell for the hoax (including Fox News and the Telegraph).
Last week, a similarly “too good to be true” story started circulating: a little known DJ, Nick Pittsinger on Soundcloud, had discovered that Justin Bieber slowed down 800% sounds like Sigur Rós. Immediately there were rumours it was a fake, and this was reported as fact by various internet news channels, such as MTV. Turns out it was real after all.
Journalists: check your facts! Sometimes the internet lies.
You may have seen Twifficiency mentioned in your Twitter stream over the past week, but maybe you didn’t bother finding out what it was. It’s a pretty simple tool that “calculates your twitter efficiency based upon your twitter activity”, and then tweets your score. The problem is, when first launched, it didn’t ask if you wanted your results published: this led many people to accuse it of being a spam app. It also enabled massive viral growth, as anyone curious about their score automatically publicised the results unintentionally. The failure to ask permission was in fact due to the 17 year old coder’s lack of familiarity with OAuth, a bug that has since been fixed. James Cunningham wrote the app for fun: he got a 1000 followers overnight, scored a trending topic on Twitter, and an article in Time about his success. Well done.