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Given the information overload of social media and technology stories this week, for company with bad news to drop, today would be a particularly good day.

Monday: U.S. States Senate vs. Facebook.

Adding to the confusion and buzz surrounding Facebook’s latest unannounced, and mostly unrequested overhaul of their 3rd party site integration / instant personalization or “Open Graph API,” Ney York’s Senior Senator, Charles Schumer has requested that the FTC create privacy guidelines for social networking sites. While many would argue that the Senate has, or should have more pressing matters to attend to, Mr. Schumer does raise a valid point in the sense that the onus is now on Facebook’s users to opt-out, rather than asking them to opt-in. However given that the choice of what content to share on Facebook is entirely up to Facebook’s users, and that Facebook, along with sites such as Pandora and CNN are available free of charge, it is difficult to see a compelling government interest that necessitates interfering in this type of transaction.

For those of us in the social media sector, I think the more important question is whether or not this move will be effective. I went back and re-read an excellent June 2009 article by Douglas Rushkoff, Facebook’s Fatal Error which he wrote in response to Facebook’s then newly introduced policy of allowing users to select their own user names / urls reminded him of when AOL, which like Facebook used to be a closed network with its own content opened its doors to the wider internet:

That’s a problem. Facebook’s relative detachment from the Internet is not a bug, but a feature. Its only competitive advantage in the Internet space—its only reason for being—was that it was more personal, more closed off, and arguably more private than the Internet itself. Even then, the biggest problem has never been how to get people to find you, but how to not friend many of those who do. Now that we’ll be quickly findable via Google, what’s left to distinguish this social-networking site from the social network that is… the Internet?

Emphasis added is mine. It is important to note since Rushkoff wrote this, Facebook has more than doubled in size from 200 to 400+ million users. Facebook was also never designed as a way to access the internet, and would not have been possible without companies like AOL exposing large numbers of users to the concept of the internet, so the analogy of Faebook to AOL isn’t clear cut. Additionally, while the launch of Facebook as a closed network for students was indeed brilliant, since then most 1st generation Facebookers have come to accept the social network for what it is.

Tuesday

For the 42.1% of smart phone users who have a Blackberry device, some long overdue news. During their WES 2010 conference, Blackberry announced the release of a new operating system- OS 6.0 which according to Blackberry will include a smoother web browser, the ability to customize your home screen (beyond the choice and order of icons) and other user enhancements, basically bringing older models closer to what is now featured on the Storm2.

Also announced were two new devices, the Bold 9560 and Pearl 3G.

No word yet if Blackberry plans to send SWAT teams and corporate goons to kick down your door and haul off your computers for trying these devices out early.


Wednesday:

Proving once again that an issue is not a story until it gets picked up by the main stream media, Wednesday was the day when Apple and the state of California’s frighteningly absurd over-reaction to Gizmodo’s scoop on the new Iphone hit the fan. For a brief review of events, check out Gizmodo’s timeline here.

As usual, John Stewart provides the clearest and most succinct analysis of events.

Reminds me of an old skit from the Dave Chappelle show skit on the two legal systems.

Thursday:

Perhaps attempting to change the subject from the portrayal of his company on the Daily Show,  Steve Jobs published a manifesto of sorts listing several grievances against Adobe.

There is really not way to understand the ‘controversy’ without reading the source material in full, but the main points of contention are:

Open vs. Closed Platforms:

Jobs: “Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary….Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open

Adobe CEO Mr. Narayen: Apple’s “recent behavior show[s] that they are concerned about Adobe being able to provide this product that works across multiple platforms…I find it amusing, honestly. Flash is an open specification.”

Reliability, Security and Performance

Jobs: “Adobe is the No. 1 cause of Mac crashes”
Narayen: “If Adobe crashes Apple, that actually has something “to do with the Apple operating system.”

Steve Jobs Thoughts on FlashAdobe’s Response

Friday

In a story that broke early this morning, it appears that the Ohio Attorney General has joined the shopping search company myTriggers in an anti-trust lawsuit against Google. At issues is a failure by MyTriggers to pay $335,000 in search marketing fees to Google. MyTriggers refused to pay, claiming instead that its quality score, which determines placement in search engine results caused their adverting costs to increase by 10,000%

From Wendy Davis’ article on MediaPost:

MyTriggers argues that the drop in quality score was part of an anticompetitive scheme “to ensure that Google can continue to exert control over search advertising.” The shopping search site further asserted that it posed a threat to Google by monetizing searches on a cost-per-action basis, as opposed to Google’s cost-per-click model….

Google recently filed papers arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed for several reasons, including that the federal Communications Decency Act’s “good samaritan” provisions shields it from liability for any steps taken to remove potentially objectionable content. Google argues that its actions as a publisher — including lowering companies’ quality scores — are the type of activity that is protected by the statute. But MyTriggers and the Ohio attorney general argue that the Communications Decency Act doesn’t apply in this case. Among other reasons, they say that the statute’s good samaritan provisions only come into play when a company has removed material that could harm children because it’s obscene, violent or otherwise offensive.”

Anything else I missed?

Re-posted from my column on The Bivings Report

 

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