Computerworld - Facebook may continue to gain users, but the world’s biggest social network isn’t gaining them as quickly as it has been and is actually losing users in the U.S.
Facebook gained 11.8 million more users last month alone, according to a study by Inside Facebook. While that’s a lot of new users, it’s less than the 13.9 million new users who joined the site in April, or the 20 million gain during some months in the past year.
And while Inside Facebook reports that the social network is approaching 700 million users worldwide, the number of U.S. users has dropped. The study found that Facebook lost 6 million U.S. users in May.
The study noted that Facebook had 155.2 million U.S. users at the beginning of May but 149.4 million at the end of the month.
Other countries showed losses as well; Canada dropped by 1.52 million and the U.K. dropped by more than 100,000, but the U.S. showed the biggest loss for Facebook last month.
A Facebook spokesperson, in an e-mailed statement, said Facebook is pleased with its growth. “From time to time, we see stories about Facebook losing users in some regions. Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn’t designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook. We are very pleased with our growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook. More than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook on any given day.”
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said he’s not surprised that Facebook is having a dip in growth and he doubts that Facebook executives are worried about it.
“Currently, Facebook has more than 150 million users in the U.S., which is more than half of the total population. That’s a very big number,” said Olds. “The growth rate is naturally going to tail off when penetration gets that high. We’re also going to see some ebbing and surging over time as the user base stabilizes and matures.”
He added that it’s probably a simple matter of people wanting to try out the site and then losing interest in it after a while. It’s more of a sliding away than a mass exodus.
“I don’t think this is necessarily troubling for Facebook at this time,” said Olds. “Some might see this as a sign of doom, but I don’t… If there were a strong Facebook competitor that was growing at the same time as Facebook was shrinking a bit in the U.S., it would be a different story. But that isn’t the case.”
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
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By Shira Ovide
CNBC has caused a bit of a stir today with its reporting about Facebook and its IPO, which CNBC pegs as likely in the first quarter of next year. Without a doubt, Facebook will be the most hotly anticipated stock debut at least since Google, and maybe ever.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
The Wall Street Journal has swarmed all over Facebook’s evolving IPO plans like the Dallas Mavericks defense on LeBron James. Here is a look at the highlights:
Next Stop: $100 Billion: This is not a typo. People close to Facebook believe the company is growing fast enough to justify a valuation of $100 billion or more when the company goes public, our Journal colleagues Geoffrey Fowler and Anupreeta Das reported six weeks ago.
CNBC also reported the $100 billion plus valuation today. Only a couple dozen U.S. companies, including lions of corporate America such as Exxon Mobil, General Electric and J.P. Morgan Chase, have stock-market values above $100 billion.
Profit Powerhouse: Facebook is on track to exceed $2 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2011, Fowler and Das reported six weeks ago. That’s even higher than the expected 2011 profit circulated in the early part of the year when Goldman Sachs and Russian investment house Digital Sky Technologies invested in Facebook at a $50 billion valuation. If Facebook ends the year with $2 billion in Ebitda, would IPO investors stomach a 50 times trailing multiple valuation? Seems bubble-like.
The IPO Swarm has Begun: Trust us. Wall Street bankers, lawyers, P.R. mavens, caterers and everyone else are slobbering for a slice of the Facebook IPO magic. Facebook has been meeting with potential bankers that want to shepherd the IPO. Goldman Sachs is thought to have an inside track to lead the IPO thanks to its recent investment in Facebook, but don’t count out big banks such as J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley, which have led recent big tech IPOs.
Why Go Public? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been non-committal about an IPO for a long time. As recently as December, Zuckerberg gave his weird deer-in-headlights stare when “60 Minutes” asked him whether he would ever push his baby into the public markets. “Maybe,” was Zuckerberg’s answer. But momentum is taking over.
As The Journal has reported, the SEC requires companies with 500 or more private investors to begin disclosing financial information. Facebook has said it is slated to cross that mark by year end, giving Facebook until April 2012 to begin spilling its financial guts to the public and putting pressure on Facebook to go IPO to reap some benefit from the SEC requirement. Employees also are antsy to be able to sell the stock they’ve been accumulating in Facebook. The company has closed the door to employee stock sales in private markets such as Second Market and SharesPost, which have provided a controversial venue to buy and sell shares of non-public companies.
Even Zuckerberg’s brain, COO Sheryl Sandberg, recently said a Facebook IPO is “inevitable.”
Jill Rosen is a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. During her nearly 20 years in journalism, she has covered news and features — including a surprising number of stories that involved animals. There were the dog Christmas carolers in State College, Pa. There were the hounds who toured with a production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The story of a preschool teacher at Baltimore’s Father Kolbe School who had to replace her class guinea pig, who died over the winter holiday. A harrowing tale of what it was like to make homemade pet food …
Though her clean freak of a mother refused to allow her to get a dog, she has had a number of pets through the years, including goldfish named Bob and Fingle, a betta fish named Ichabod, a wild rat terrier named Wendel, who she shared with a roommate, and, currently, sweet, sweet kitties named Leo Sesame and Milo Pumpkin and a little rescued pup named Teddy Bean. She, Leo, Pumpkin and Teddy Bean live in Baltimore.
Clarence Clemons is reportedly “responsive and in stable condition” after two brain surgeries, according to Bruce Springsteen fansite Backstreets.com. The E Street Band member suffered a stroke on Sunday and is now reportedly on the mend.
“Yesterday, it did not look good at all. Today … miracles are happening. His vital signs are improving. He’s responsive. His eyes are welling up when we’re talking to him. He was paralyzed on his left side, but now he’s squeezing with his left hand,” a source close to the musician tells the site. “This is the best news we’ve heard since [the stroke] happened — it’s nothing short of miraculous. The next five days will still be critical. But he’s a fighter.”
Fox New York confirmed the report. A rep for Springsteen had not responded to MTV News’ request for comment or further information on Clemons’ condition by press time.
Lady Gaga, who worked with Clemons on her Born This Way album, took to Twitter to send love and well-wishes to the saxophonist. “Little monsters, my very close friend +musician on ‘The Edge of Glory’ Clarence Clemons is very sick,” she wrote. “Can we all make some get-well videos?”
“Edge of Glory” producer Fernando Garibay recently recalled to MTV News Gaga’s desire to get the musician on the song, which she wrote as an ode to her grandfather.
“As soon as she was done with it, we said, ‘Let’s go with it.’ I think it’s very epic. It’s an emotional song,” Garibay said. As for Clemons’ appearance on the song, he added, “She wanted a sax part, so he came in and played on ‘Edge of Glory,’ and what a moment that was to have her family there when the sax was being played on the track and it was all really magical.
“Clarence Clemons came to the city; we were in New York,” he continued. “He heard the song twice. We set up a mic and everything [and he] just played live all the way through. It was kind of one take. It was really amazing.”
Part of a thread regarding the porn passwords hacked by LulzSec.
Brazen hacking group LulzSec recently has gone after companies and organizations like Nintendo, PBS and an IT security company affiliated with the FBI. But now the group has gone after individuals, publishing the login passwords of nearly 26,000 users of a porn website.
“The hackers compromised the database of the hardcore website (called “Pron”), exposing not only the email addresses and passwords of over 25,000 members but also the credentials of 55 administrators of other adult websites,” wrote Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos on the security software company’s blog.
LulzSec, also known as LulzBoat, “drew particular attention to various government and military email addresses (.mil and .gov) that appeared to have accounts with the porn website,” Cluley said.
“That must be an embarrassing one to explain to the boss.”
Cluley notes that adding “insult to injury the LulzSec group called on its many recent Twitter followers to exploit the situation, by logging into Facebook with the email/password combinations and tell the victim’s Facebook friends and family about their porn habit … Fortunately, it’s reported that Facebook’s security team responded quickly to the threat — and reset the passwords for all of the accounts it had which matched the email addresses exposed. Of course, it’s still possible that those email address/password combinations are being used on other websites.”
It should go without saying, he says, that “logging into someone else’s account without their permission is against the law in most countries around the world.”
LulzSec’s hack should also be “a reminder to Internet users of the importance of using different passwords for different websites,” as well.
“If you believe there might be a chance that your username/password were exposed, or if you’re simply in the habit of using the same password for multiple websites — now is the time to change your habits,” Cluley says. It’s good advice: Odds are, LulzSec won’t be changing theirs.
- Hackers attack PBS, post fake ‘Tupac still alive’ story
- Hacking group LulzSec attacks Nintendo, FBI affiliate
- Hackers leak Fox.com employee info
Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has accidently let slip that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may be engaged to long time girlfriend Priscilla Chan. The information was revealed in an interview in The Daily Mail.
Bill Gates’ exact words were, “His fianc e Priscilla thought about education and he gave money to Newark, New Jersey, and we did a co-grant so that some of our people who had some expertise in that field could help him out. He deserves credit. I started meaningful philanthropy in my forties. He’s starting way earlier.”
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have been together since 2003, a year before the launch of Facebook. They began dating at Harvard University. Gates’ revelation could most likely be a slip of the tongue, as Zuckerberg’s and Chan’s relationship status on Facebook just says “in a relationship” and not “engaged” as on Sunday. Post the weekend, however, a lot of privacy settings on Zuckerberg’s profile have changed.
On the other hand, businessinsider.com checked with Facebook’s Head of Communications, Elliot Schrage, who said, “If [Mark is engaged, Bill Gates] knows something I don’t know. Gates’s communications guy just wrote to apologize for the misunderstanding.” Just a cover up?
Earlier this year, Zuckerberg and Chan adopted a puppy named Beast. You can check out the pics of the puppy here.
Zuckerberg today is the 52nd richest man in the world with his worth calculated at $13.5 billion. According to Forbes magazine, he is the second youngest billionaire in the world.
Now that Lebron James has fallen, who is the world going to turn to vilify? Well, if the information that was given by the Business Insider is correct it could be that another one of the mighty is beginning to show some wear and tear. That entity would be Facebook.
Business Insider’s SAI reports that Facebook is actually losing users in the countries where its meteoric rise to importance began.
Something strange is going on: Facebook is losing customers.
Lots of customers. According to Inside Facebook’s data service, Facebook lost 6 million users in the U.S. last month, dropping from 155.2 million to 149.4 million. That’s the first time U.S. numbers have dropped in more than a year.
It also lost 1.52 million users in Canada, dropping to 16.6 million — that’s an 8% drop — and 100,000 each in the U.K., Norway, and Russia.
Calling that the end is near for Facebook is very premature at this point. Let’s first consider that even with these drops somewhere around half of the entire populations of the US and Canada has a Facebook account. That’s still impressive.
A more important metric for Facebook is the same one that advertisers need to be looking at before they consider the social network for marketing efforts. How many of those accounts are active and real? It’s less of an issue for Facebook than it is for Twitter but all of the talk of total number of accounts in a social network is starting to sound like TV’s old mantra of how many households they reach. It’s an empty number that anyone who is doing even a little thinking will see as hype and not truly important.
In SAI’s usual fashion there were suggestions of doom for Facebook and the concern that growth had stopped unless they get into China etc etc. Sure that’s interesting on some level but it’s mere conjecture. The possibility of burn out on the service is considered as well and I can tell you that for me personally that is happening. I can’t pinpoint exactly what is happening but I can say that my interest in the service and what it provides has reached its limits. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still helpful but if I don’t get to it for a few days I have never felt like I missed anything.
So how are seeing Facebook these days? Is it what it used to be? If there is this leveling off of sorts happening in English language markets does that make you rethink how marketing dollars are applied?
Let us know what you think in the comments. It’s Monday so you need to get the creative juices flowing. What better way than popping off on the service that people can’t seem to live without but still love to hate.
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New photos of a smiling U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords are drawing hundreds of well-wishers to her Facebook page on Sunday.
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Thousands more have visited the social networking site just hours after the pictures were posted. They are the first clear snapshots of Giffords since the shooting five months ago during a constituent meet-and-greet in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Ariz.
The photos also represent an important step in a story of survival, strength and private perseverance for the American people.
Photojournalist P.K. Weis, who took the photos of Congresswoman Giffords on May 17, the day after the launch of Endeavour and just a day before she had her latest surgery, said any photographer in the country would have loved to have taken the photos.
After the photos were taken by Weis, she continued her remarkable recovery after her last surgery when doctors inserted a plastic implant to replace the piece of skull that had been removed. Doctors had previously removed the portion of skull to ease pressure on her brain, which swelled after she was shot in the head.
The two photos, one of the congresswoman and the other with her mother taken in front of the TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, reveal a determined woman who still has a sparkle in her eye, friends said.
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Those close to Giffords said her recovery has been nothing less than miraculous and although she has a long road ahead of her, the photos show the public proof of her progress.
“Wow! I saw her at the very end of March, and even then, Gabby was all there, her smile, her personality,” posted Linda Lopez, Arizona State Senator and friend of Giffords.
“And she looks even better now. I think people are going to be very happy to see how great she looks. For someone who’s undergone what she’s endured, it’s really something. I feel relieved. She looks beautiful.”
Dr. Gerardo Francisco, the chief medical officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann, said Giffords has “great rehabilitation potential.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a recent interview that she had a “wonderful conversation” with Rep. Giffords on the telephone this week.
“She talked in full sentences and initiated the conversation instead of just responding. We cannot wait for her to come back here (to Washington),” Wasserman said.
Weis has known Giffords for more than a decade, since before she was first elected to the Legislature. He said he was impressed with Giffords’ ”remarkable progress” from her shooting in January.
“It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in four and a half months,” photojournalist P.K. Weis said in a statement.
“I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too.”
Giffords could be released from a rehabilitation hospital in Houston sometime this month, a top aide said Sunday.
After that she will probably be relocated in her home environment.
Her spokeswoman, Pia Carusone, has cautioned that Giffords still has a long way to go in her recovery.
Giffords was shot in the head in January when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing six people and wounding 13 others.
The congresswoman and her staff held the first “Congress on Your Corner” at the conclusion of the first week of the 112th Congress.
Giffords said she wanted to hold the “Congress on Your Corner” to allow residents of Arizona’s 8th Congressional District to have one-on-one discussions about any issue, concern or problem involving the federal government.
The assassination attempt left Giffords in critical condition; the bullet went straight through her brain, but the hospital physicians were consistent and said her outlook was “optimistic” and that she was responding to commands from doctors.
A 9-year-old child was among the killed, and a U.S. Marshal said a federal judge was also fatally shot in the attack.
Giffords, 40, is a moderate Democrat who narrowly won re-election in November against a tea party candidate who sought to throw her from office over her support of the health care law.
She is married to astronaut Mark E. Kelly, who has piloted space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery. The two met in China in 2003 while they were serving on a committee there, and were married in January 2007.
Giffords is known in her southern Arizona district for her numerous public outreach meetings, which she acknowledged in an October interview that “it can sometimes be challenging.”
“You know, the crazies on all sides, the people who come out, the planet earth people,” she said, following an appearance with Adm. Mike Mullen.
For now, it has been reported that Jared Loughner, the man accused in the January shooting of Giffords and the others, has been declared incompetent to stand trial in the case.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns relied on the findings of two forensic mental-health professionals who evaluated Loughner at a federal prison complex in Missouri, according to media reports.
Judge Burns ordered that Loughner be tested again in four months. If, after treatment, he is then determined to be competent, the court proceedings can move forward.
Charlie Sheen’s meltdown took many forms: a cocaine-fueled rampage in a New York hotel room, an erratic radio rant, a vulgar one-man comedy tour. But his biggest contribution to current culture may have been more subtle. With a simple Twitter phrase, #winning, known in the parlance of social media as a hashtag, Sheen underscored one of the newest ways technology has changed how we communicate.
Hashtags, words or phrases preceded by the # symbol, have been popularized on Twitter as a way for users to organize and search messages. So, for instance, people tweeting about Rep. Anthony D. Weiner might add the hashtag #Weinergate to their messages, and those curious about the latest developments in the scandal could simply search for #Weinergate. Or Justin Bieber fans might use #Bieber to find fellow Beliebers.
But already, hashtags have transcended the 140-characters-or-less microblogging platform and have become a new cultural shorthand, finding their way into chat windows, email and face-to-face conversations.
This year on Super Bowl Sunday, Audi broadcast a new commercial featuring a hashtag, #ProgressIs, that flashed on the screen and urged viewers to complete the “Progress Is” prompt on Twitter for the chance to win a prize. Then, in Canada’s English-language federal election debate in April, Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, set the Canadian Twitterverse aflame when he attacked Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s crime policies, calling them “a hashtag fail.”
And when Chris Messina, a developer advocate at Google, wanted to introduce two friends over email, he wrote #Introduction in the subject line. No need, he explained, for a long preamble when a quick, to-the-point hashtag would do.
Then again, Messina is no ordinary Twitter user. The self-described “hash godfather,” he officially invented the Twitter hashtag in August 2007, when he sent out a Twitter message suggesting that the pound symbol be used for organizing groups on Twitter. (For example, if attendees at the South by Southwest music and technology conference all add #sxsw to their messages, they can more easily search and sort themselves on Twitter.) Though the idea took awhile to catch on, it quickly snowballed – on Twitter and offline.
“At first, people who weren’t using Twitter were saying: ‘What’s this pound sign? Why am I seeing it?’ ” said Ginger Wilcox, a founder of the Social Media Marketing Institute. “I would say 2010 was really the year of the hashtag.”
Soon, people began using hashtags to add humor, context and interior monologues to their messages – and everyday conversation. As Susan Orlean wrote in a New Yorker blog post titled “Hash,” the symbol can be “a more sophisticated, verbal version of the dread winking emoticon that tweens use to signify that they’re joking.”
“Because you have a hashtag embedded in a short message with real language, it starts exhibiting other characteristics of natural language, which means basically that people start playing with it and manipulating it,” said Jacob Eisenstein, a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in computational linguistics. “You’ll see them used as humor, as sort of meta-commentary, where you’ll write a message and maybe you don’t really believe it, and what you really think is in the hashtag.”
So, for instance, a messages that reads “3 hour delay on Amtrak #StimulusDollarsAtWork,” likely implies that the user does not, in fact, think that their stimulus dollars are hard at work.
Hashtags then began popping up outside of Twitter, in emails, chat windows and text messages. When Adam Sharp was hired as Twitter’s Washington liaison, he said he received a number of emails wishing him well – and, of course, #congrats.
In a time-crunched world, the hashtag proved itself a useful shorthand. “If Twitter is a compression of ideas and a compression of expression, then hashtags are just an extension of that, so of course it bleeds over into other forms of communication , because our time is compressed, our thoughts are compressed and our space is compressed,” said Tracy Sefl, a Democratic strategist. “In Washington, it’s a very happy extension of an acronym-happy culture.”