SAN FRANCISCO — When it comes to Washington insiders, Facebook is on a hiring spree — landing former Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart on Tuesday after bringing on several former Bush administration aides and flirting with President Barack Obama’s former press secretary, Robert Gibbs.
These aren’t idle friendships.
With an initial public offering just months away, Facebook faces a nightmare scenario in Washington: passage of a restrictive federal privacy law that could make its business all but impossible.
And the company is going to do everything it can to stop that.
Facebook announced Tuesday that Lockhart, a long-time Washington hand who helped start the powerhouse Glover Park Group, would be moving to California and starting July 15 as the company’s vice president of communication.
Last month, Facebook hired former Bush deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan as vice president of public policy in Washington.
Lockhart’s job will be to help guide the company as it evolves its business and its approach for handling privacy concerns, the company said in a statement.
And for Facebook, privacy concerns are the ultimate Achilles’ heel. It needs to be seen as a safe place online in order to keep and attract new users. But restrictive privacy laws could also slow the company’s ability to innovate with online tools, increase users and create new revenue models.
“They have a big target on their back because of past missteps and that they have more information about people than anyone else,” said Justin Brookman, director of the Consumer Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
The company says it takes the privacy concerns of its users seriously.
“Our mission is to give people the ability to connect with others so they can share information,” said Marne Levine, former chief of staff at the National Economic Council, who took the reins as Facebook’s vice president of global public policy in June 2010.
“Ultimately, what it comes down to is trust,” she said. “We understand that if we don’t have users’ trust, we don’t have a service. We are highly invested that users have a safe and secure experience on Facebook and they understand the tools available when they have the levels of openness they want.”
But lawmakers are wary.
In California, the company recently dodged a privacy bullet when the state Senate killed a bill that would have required users to decide when they sign up on a social networking site how much personal information they want to share. Supporters of the bill, which made it through committee but lost narrowly on the Senate floor, said they would look for other ways to push their measure, including the possibility of a state ballot initiative.
As it fought the bill, Facebook said requiring that people decide about privacy settings up front would be the equivalent of having users read a list of all road signs before going out for a drive. Such a requirement would not serve users because people would set privacy settings without an understanding of the context, the company said.
While not directed specifically at Facebook, a new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it.
And this week brought just the latest privacy flare up with European officials saying they will look into Facebook’s facial recognition and photo tagging tools. That prompted some U.S. privacy groups to look at the service and file a complaint with the FTC.
On Capitol Hill, Facebook has faced tough questioning from members of Congress — together with threats of consequences if privacy concerns aren’t addressed.
Article source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/57011.html
NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Every month millions more people around the world join Facebook, a social networking site that now counts roughly one-tenth of the global population as users, but in the U.S., where Facebook started out, the number of users is actually on the decline.
Between May and June of this year, the total number of U.S. users dropped from 155 million to 149 million, the country’s first such decline in a year, according to a report from Inside Facebook, which tracks data from the social network. That means at least 6 million Americans decided to log off Facebook for good, and probably many more than that if you consider how many new users likely signed up for the service in that time.
It’s unclear whether most of those users left because of long-held concerns over privacy, a desire to cut down on distractions or simply because they grew tired of the site for their own unique reasons. If you are considering following in their footsteps, however, know that there is a right way and a wrong way to quit Facebook.
Save Your Contacts and Photos
For many Facebook users, the site is more than just a place to post updates about your life. Facebook effectively functions as an address book and a photo gallery all-in-one. So if you do wake up one morning with a strong urge to abandon the site for good, make sure you take the time first to preserve any valuable personal information you may have on the site.
Anyone who uses Yahoo for email can transfer email addresses from Facebook friends to their Yahoo account, while those with a Gmail account can use the Friends to Gmail Web application to store email addresses as well as birthdays and work histories of Facebook friends. In addition to those options, Firefox, the popular web browser, offers a free feature that lets users download all the content from their Facebook page – including photos – onto their hard drive for safe keeping.
Even with these options, it may still be worth taking a few hours to go through your Facebook content manually to highlight and store the items of the most importance, whether it be office contacts, meaningful pictures or messages you sent and received on the site.
Set Up Another Social Network Profile or Web Page
If you’re at the point where you no longer want to be on Facebook, chances are you’re not really in the mood to sign up for another social networking site either. But it’s arguably more important than ever before to maintain some kind of Web presence to stay in touch with acquaintances, not just for your personal life but your professional life. Facebook is a great tool for this thanks to its vast number of users, but it’s far from the only site one can use.
Facebook is reportedly set to debut a new photo sharing for the Apple iPhone that “looks awesome,” according to a Wednesday report by TechCrunch.
The tech site says it has obtained a 50MB file of images and documents “outlining the entire thing.” That “thing” bears the internal codename “Hovertown” or possibly “WithPeople,” according to TechCrunch, which reports that while it “looks like a stand-alone app right now,” there are signs that the photo sharing app “could be eventually integrated into Facebook’s main iPhone app—as well as the main [Facebook] site.”
TechCrunch describes the rumored photo sharing app as a combination of offerings from Path, Instagram, Color and Path side project With, but “with a few cool twists.”
Meanwhile, it was reported Tuesday that Color co-founder Peter Pham has left the company.
Pham reportedly confirmed by email that he had left the social networking start up, which only emerged from stealth mode in March, according to All Things D. Color co-founder and CEO Bill Nguyen also reportedly confirmed the departure, saying Pham had exited Color “more than a month ago.”
Color raised more than $41 million in venture capital and secured a valuation of more than $100 million ahead of its public launch, but the start up has been on rocky ground since its less-than-stellar initial public showing.
But Nguyen told All Things D that the company continues to hire and plans several product launches in the future.
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Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2386964,00.asp
Screenshot by CNET)
Hacking group LulzSec was touting a hotline yesterday that let people call in and request takedowns of Web sites.
“Call into 614-LulzSec and pick a target, and we’ll obliterate it,” LulzSec wrote on its Twitter account yesterday. “Nobody wants to mess with The Lulz Cannon–take aim for us Twitter.”
The LulzSec hotline’s area code encompasses the Columbus, Ohio, metropolitan area, though it’s unlikely the people behind the organization are there. According to LulzSec, its hacking request line was lighted up all day, and it accommodated a total of eight requests. By the end of the day, it claims to have had 5,000 missed calls and 2,500 voicemails.
LulzSec’s request line was part of a wider event it held yesterday called Titanic Takeover Tuesday. The group claims it attacked several sites yesterday, including Escapist Magazine, Eve Online, and League of Legends.
LulzSec has been gaining notoriety as of late, thanks to a slew of successful attacks against prominent Web sites. After attacking PBS last month and posting passwords on the Web, the group also claimed responsibility for attacks against Sony Pictures, Sony Music Japan, and other Sony organizations.
The group has been busy targeting Nintendo, Bethesda Software, and Infragard, a company that works closely with the FBI.
LulzSec has even dabbled in politics, attacking the U.S. Senate over the weekend and posting some information from its servers online. “We don’t like the US government very much,” LulzSec wrote following the Senate attack. “Their boats are weak, their lulz are low, and their sites aren’t very secure.”
Following the attack, the Senate’s Office of the Sergeant at Arms said LulzSec wasn’t able to access the government’s “computer network and was only able to read and determine the directory structure of the files placed on Senate.gov.”
LulzSec has made no mention whether it will continue to respond to requests from its phone line.
From The Daily Beast
Hugh Hefner announced his upcoming nuptials to model Crystal Harris are off—five days before the wedding. From Julia Roberts’ famous abandonment of Kiefer Sutherland to the Bennifer breakup of 2003, see other stars who never made it down the aisle.
Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris
It’s only fitting that if the engagement is announced over Twitter, the breakup should also be announced over Twitter. Hugh Hefner tweeted Tuesday that “the wedding is off. Crystal has had a change of heart.” Sources said Hefner, 85, and Crystal Harris, 25, supposedly had a “nasty argument” over the weekend, and Harris moved her things out of the Playboy mansion pretty much immediately—only a week before the wedding. The ceremony was also scheduled to air on Lifetime on July 13. Although Hefner tweeted that Harris took their dog, Charlie, with her when she left, he seemed to be taking the breakup in stride, tweeting, “Since we’re not getting married on Saturday, I’ve scheduled a movie: ‘Runaway Bride.’ Seems appropriate.” Maybe he’s already found some outside comfort: One of the “Girls Next Door,” Bridget Marquardt also came over to “give her loving support.”
(CBS/AP/WCBS) NEW YORK – Former porn star Ginger Lee said at a press conference in New York today that New York Rep. Anthony Weiner sent her sexually suggesting messages, then asked her to lie about their communication when his Twitter scandal erupted.
While Lee said she did not initiate sexual talk with Weiner, she did say the congressman’s messages were often sexually suggestive.
“I have wardrobe demands too, I need to highlight my package,” Weiner allegedly wrote in an email read by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, Lee’s press representative.
“We did communicate on a fairly regular basis,” said Lee. “However, I did not sext Anthony Weiner. I did not send photos to him or receive any from him,” reports CBS station WCBS.
Lee said that Weiner contacted her in March after she began following him on Twitter.
Allred said that several times Weiner tried to take the conversation to another level, always referencing his “package.” Lee and the congressman spoke on the phone once, Allred said, when he gave her advice a couple weeks ago on how to handle the crush of media inquiries.
Lee said it was on Thursday, June 2, that Weiner called her and told her to avoid the media.
“He asked me to lie” at the beginning of the scandal, Lee said. “I refused to lie, so I went into hiding.”
Entertainment website TMZ published messages it says Weiner sent to Lee about how to mislead the press about their relationship.
Weiner has acknowledged that he had sent lewd photos and texts to women after a photo of his crotch was posted on Twitter. In an interview two weeks ago, he acknowledged that he had exchanged messages with Lee but didn’t elaborate.
Lee said she thinks Weiner should resign for lying to the public about the sexting scandal, saying “It might have never turned into this if he told the truth.”
Weiner has taken leave from the House and is said to be seeking treatment. President Barack Obama and House Democratic leaders have pressed him to resign.
Anthony Weiner’s alleged porn star pen pal
Article source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20071291-504083.html
Facebook’s explosive user growth may finally be hitting a speed bump.
A new report from research and marketing firm “Inside Facebook” shows the social network suffering a drop of users in the U.S. and other countries last month.
Inside Facebook says the company grew by more than 11 million users in May. That’s down from the 13 million-plus in April and well off its 12-month average of at least 20 million new users a month.
The report cited a decline of nearly 6 million users in the U.S. in May to just over 149 million.
That’s the first domestic decrease in a year, Fox Business’ Shibani Joshi reported.
Inside Facebook says the permanent unfriending of Facebook continued in Canada, with a drop of more than 1 million users. It also says more than 100,000 users each in the U.K., Norway and Russia logged off for good.
Facebook tried to throw cold water over the reports, issuing the following statement saying, “… These reports use data extracted from our advertising tool … 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 percent of our active users log on to Facebook on any given day.”
But ComScore data from earlier this year shows Facebook unique users fell by 3 million from December to February. So, the new numbers may not be that far off base.
Whether the site is losing users in the U.S. or not, it’s still growing globally.
Facebook has close to 700 million users worldwide, Joshi reported.
Facebook has nabbed a former White House press secretary, but it isn’t Robert Gibbs. Joe Lockhart, who served as press secretary under former President Bill Clinton, has been hired as the social-networking site’s new vice president of global communications.
Lockhart will run Facebook’s corporate, policy, and international communications teams. His first day is July 15, and he will relocate from Washington, D.C. to California for the job “as soon as family commitments allow,” Facebook said.
He and Marne Levine, vice president of global public policy, will report to Elliot Schrage, vice president of global communications, marketing, and public policy at Facebook.
“Joe’s arrival brings new skills and greater depth to our incredibly busy team. His experience building and running a press office at the White House gives him particular appreciation for the demands of a global 24-hour news cycle and the challenges of responding effectively to intense scrutiny,” Schrage said in a statement. “His experience launching and scaling a communications firm will help us as we seek to build our team and continue to offer great opportunities for growth and professional development.”
After leaving the White House, Lockhart founded the Glover Park Group PR firm in 2001, which represented firms like Yahoo and Microsoft.
In late March, there were reports that Robert Gibbs, who served as President Obama’s press secretary, would be joining Facebook. The New York Times said the talks were at an early stage, and no formal deal had been signed, but no announcements regarding Gibbs were ever made. Gibbs announced his resignation from the White House in January after serving Obama’s administration for two years. At the time, he said he would initially “step back a little bit, recharge some.”
Levine joined Facebook last year after serving as special assistant to the president for economic policy and chief of staff for the National Economic Council at the White House.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2386939,00.asp
Facebook is reportedly looking to overshadow the recent success of photo-sharing iPhone apps such as Instagram and Color with its own photo-oriented app. TechCrunch says it has received a load of images and documents relating to Facebook’s plans to launch a standalone app, which will tap into the 6 billion photo uploads the social network receives every month.
The Facebook photos app project, which is meant to be secret, appears to be a combination between three popular apps in the App Store: Path, which lets you share photos and short videos with up to 50 people; Instagram, which is a social photo sharing app (with photo filters and effects included); and Color, which pools photos from people around you, based on your GPS coordinates.
Courtesy of TechCrunchIt’s unknown how the app will work, though TechCrunch’s MG Siegler describes the iPhone app as “amazing” and “awesome.” You can see the alleged screenshot of the app’s main interface on the left. The screenshot shows a series a photo tiles displayed chronologically underneath each other on the display. One is a photo album, while the other two appear to be tagged photos.
There’s also a camera button and what appears to be a photo notifications icon on the bottom right, and a menu item bottom left. This interface is more photo-centric than Facebook’s current photos interface in the official iPhone app, which only displays small thumbnails and album information at a glance.
Overall, the presumed secret Facebook photo app is said to be a stand-alone app, which could carry the name of Hovertown or WithPeople. Another possibility would be that this interface will be integrated into the current official Facebook app, replacing the old Photos menu, and the functionality could be integrated into the main site as well.
So far, Facebook says it has around 100 million users using its official mobile apps to update their status, so improved functionality for photos could indeed deter many users from other social photo sharing apps. However, if the initial indications are accurate, Facebook’s app does not have any editing features available like Instagram, or location-based pooling, as with Color, so it wouldn’t pose a big threat to Instagram, Color or Path — yet.
MSNBC Business, Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 6:22am (PDT)