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July 08 2011

04:38

Google+ (Plus) a traffic driver? Yes, and we can just watch its influence grow

TechCrunch :: Still, after months of looking over traffic data, MG Siegler is not convinced that Google Buzz actually sends any amount of meaningful traffic whatsoever to TechCrunch, the digital publication he's working for. But Google Buzz was "old school". The same is not true of the newly launched Google+ so far. It has only been out for a week at this point and is still only available to a very limited number of users, but based on what TechCrunch is seeing, Google+, the social network is already sending a large amount of traffic to TechCrunch.com.

How large? Well, since its launch last Tuesday, Google+ has already cracked their top ten referring sites.

Continue to read MG Siegler, techcrunch.com

May 28 2011

19:44

Mobile user participation in social networks: Wireless Ink wins lawsuit against Google and Facebook

ReadWriteWeb :: Wireless Ink Corp has won the first round of a patent lawsuit against both Google and Facebook. The search and social companies failed to get Wireless Ink's infringement tossed and now Wireless Ink can pursue charges pertaining to user participation in social networks on mobile devices against Google and Facebook. - Given the amount of users that access Facebook through their smartphones, it will likely be Facebook that is affected more by the Winksite claims than Google, considering that Google Buzz adoption remains low.

Continue to read Dan Rowinski, www.readwriteweb.com

June 30 2010

11:11

Will Google use email contact lists to build a new social network?

Rumours of Google’s new social network are flying this week. The BNET Technology blog has some thoughtful speculation about its form here.

What will it look like? What elements of existing Google products will it incorporate? And how much control will users have over their profile information and data?

But what’s of interest to me was captured in a tweet by Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief at Mashable – journalists and anyone interested in protecting email contacts data should take note:

Google’s supposed new social network will be doomed unless they start over from scratch on the contact/friends list.

Another Twitter user, Marshall Haas (@marshallhaas), asked him why it was a problem; Ostrow answered:

“Same problem as Buzz … Gmail’s contact list isn’t an accurate definition of who my ‘friends’ are. At all.”

He’s talking about automated ‘friend’-making systems, in which Gmail contacts (i.e. email address book data) are automatically connected to you in a new system – as originally happened with Google Buzz.

Many users were not happy to see private email connections made public via Buzz; an issue Google quickly addressed. When developing its new connection tools for the new social network, Google would do well to remember the furore it faced over auto-friending in Buzz.

On a related topic, a few months ago Journalism.co.uk examined the practice of address book importing, in which social networks use members’ email address books to make connections between users and issue invitations.

As we reported, tools used by social networks to harvest new members can threaten the privacy of confidential sources and put journalists’ careers in jeopardy.

We tested out various services we showed that by using someone’s email address book data, a social network can link users publicly, risking source exposure.

Facebook, the social network on which we focused most of our attention, concerned us with its use of users’ data and descriptions of systems were muddled. We called on Facebook to make their systems clearer.

Facebook’s European policy director Richard Allan later told us: “[I]f somebody were a journalist with a professional [contacts] list, it would make sense for them clearly not to use any of these address book importers at all”.

In subsequent email correspondence with Facebook’s public relations team, I was told that for some users (who wish to import an email address list, but not reveal certain contacts): “… it may be better to upload your contacts from an Excel sheet or similar so you can remove ones you don’t wish to upload”.

While concerned about Facebook’s unclear and potentially misleading settings around address book importing and recommendations, we were impressed by the effort they made to answer our enquiries and we’ll be watching to see how they develop their systems.

Interestingly, this week I received this message from Twitter, in my inbox:

XXX knows your email address: YYY@googlemail.com. But Twitter can’t suggest you to users like XXX because your account (@YYY) isn’t configured to let users find you if they know your email address.

It then provided a helpful button to allow me to: “Review & confirm your settings”.

To explain: a friend (XXX) has shared her address book and Twitter has matched my email address to an unused Twitter account I hold (@YYY). I am then given the option to connect with this person, or open up my account to email address matching. i.e. I have to opt *in* to her sharing of email address book data.

It’s curious because in the past, I’ve received follows from people in my email address book to this same Twitter account – an account, I should add, that’s not in my name. I’m surprised therefore they found it without importing their email addresses, but I don’t know this for certain. With only four followers to this account, it seems unlikely two of them should be in my address book!

Anyway, in my case, it wasn’t important whether they followed me via this unused account or not, but anonymous bloggers out there (public service workers or political dissidents for example) should be careful to *never* use their real email addresses when registering social network accounts. Even if the account is in a different name, and the email address is private, the connection can still be made.

For a journalist, Twitter’s new alert system is good news. Twitter may not have answered any of Journalism.co.uk’s numerous enquiries about its address book importing methods, but at least it is developing techniques to allow users to make informed choices about who and how they connect with contacts with whom they have exchanged emails.

Has Twitter changed its ABI system? Did it read Journalism.co.uk’s initial enquiries outlining our concerns? I’ve sent the press people a line, but I’m not holding my breath.

I also contacted Google to ask about the rumoured network and whether Gmail address book data will be used for building membership. The spokesperson’s comment? Simply: “We do not comment on rumour or speculation”.Similar Posts:



April 07 2010

11:24

February 23 2010

10:22

Google’s head of public policy: ‘We live or die by the trust our users have in our services’

Google’s head of public policy and government relations pushed the ‘don’t be evil’ line at last night’s Amnesty International social media event, with emphasis on user power and responsible company behaviour.

“We live or die by the trust our users have in our services,” Susan Pointer told the audience of human rights, technology and media workers gathered to discuss the positive and negative uses of technology for democracy.

Also speaking were the Guardian’s digital media research editor, Kevin Anderson; Annabelle Sreberny, professor of global media and communication at SOAS; and author and blogger Andrew Keen: who spoke from the US via an iPhone held up to the mic by the event chair, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

“[A] very important thing to understand about the way our business operates is that our users choose to use it,”  Pointer later told Journalism.co.uk.

“We don’t have a contract with our users that ties them into our services. They haven’t invested a lot of money in our software packages.

“The way we keep our users is by continuing to provide good, leading edge innovative services: they’re free at the click of a mouse to choose an alternative to Google.”

Providing valuable services for users keeps the search giant – which owns YouTube as well as running a host of other products – on its toes, she said.

Improving the transparency of the recently launched social media application Google Buzz was one such reaction to user complaints, she added.

When the company realised improvements could be made, they were implemented, she said: “that’s something we did within hours and not days.”

While Pointer argued that no user information was ever revealed before an individual went through the Buzz set-up process, she said it had been necessary to make changes to the visibility of the user controls.

The addition of Buzz to the Google Dashboard allowed even greater user control over settings, she argued.

On Google’s approach to China she would not be drawn beyond the company’s most recent blog post, which explained its decision to stop censoring the Chinese language Google search service: “We no longer felt comfortable self-censoring results on Google.cn.”

The company is currently “discussing the possibility of continuing the Google.cn service without such censorship”.

“We’re not going to give a running commentary on where discussions are, but we want those discussions to be in good faith.”

Listen to Pointer talking to the Amnesty UK audience via AudioBoo:

On China:


On privacy, Google Buzz and customising advertising:

Similar Posts:



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