It was discovered that the world’s largest and most popular social networking site was inadvertently obtaining phone numbers from its users without their consent. Symantec this week revealed that Facebook’s mobile application was sending individual phone numbers from Android users over the Internet to its servers. The security firm explained that users were not required to “provide your phone number, log in, initiate a specific action, or even need a Facebook account for this to happen.” According to statistics from Google Play, the Facebook app has been downloaded between 100 million and 500 million times in the past 30 days. Symantec notes that a “significant portion of those devices are likely affected” by the problem. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Symantec that it has investigated the issue and will provide a fix in a future update. As for the phone numbers, the company claims it did not use or process the information and has since deleted them from its servers.
A European data protection group has filed complaints against Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo for their alleged cooperation with the NSA’s Prism surveillance program. The group, known as Europe v Facebook, is specifically targeting the European subsidiaries of the five U.S. companies, claiming they violated European data protection laws. Due to the corporate structure of these companies, the group argues that they must adhere to European privacy laws despite being headquartered in the United States. The activists are seeking a “clear statement by the authorities if a European company may simply give foreign intelligence agencies access to its customer data.” EvF spokesperson Max Schrems noted that if these actions turn out to be legal, it may be time to change the law.
Facebook had the right idea with its Facebook Home strategy, but the devil is always in the details. The company’s mobile software is incredibly invasive and most users who try it don’t seem to like it at all. And as for drawing customers in by selling smartphones with Facebook Home pre-installed, the company’s first effort with the HTC First was a monumental flop. Facebook indeed has quite a bit of work to do if it hopes to convince smartphone users to take another look at Facebook Home once it is updated, and a new study quantifies just how steep the hill is that Facebook will have to climb. More →
AT&T’s mobile boss has reportedly confirmed that the carrier’s fire sale on the HTC First was a success, and that the phone is now sold out. Billed as the first “Facebook phone,” HTC’s First launched this past April and was met with little to no interest from consumers. AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 units during the phone’s first month of availability, and the First was promptly put on sale for just $0.99 in an effort to clear out inventory. According to AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega, the carrier has now burned through its First inventory.
Facebook once dreamt of making its Home software for Android available on a wide variety of smartphones out of the box, but that dream is becoming increasingly improbable with each passing day. The first handset to launch with Facebook Home pre-installed was HTC’s First and that phone was a complete flop, as BGR exclusively reported. News followed that Samsung rejected Facebook’s request to launch a new phone with Home preloaded, and now a new report from Digitimes suggests several other big smartphone makers including Sony, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo are not interested in launching new phones that offer Facebook’s Android experience out of the box. Facebook has a lot of work to do to tweak Home and make it less invasive before users are willing to give it another try, and smartphone makers might be even harder to convince until the software gets some real traction.
Interestingly, Vine downloads seem to already have started sliding in several key markets just a few days after Instagram began attacking it directly. Last Thursday, Instagram added a notably Vine-like video recording feature that was met with plenty of interest from users but still put Wall Street to sleep. The popular, Facebook-owned photo-sharing service now offers the ability to shoot and share 15-second video clips, mimicking the 6-second clip-sharing service that Vine pioneered last winter. Some industry observers view the Instagram attack as potentially fatal to Vine, while others see it as a lame copycat move unlikely to hurt Vine’s formidable momentum. According to Onavo, Vine is one of the most successful mobile apps in America in recent history, converting over 10% of American iPhone owners into active Vine users in just half a year. More →
Facebook announced on Thursday that the photo-sharing social network, Instagram, is adding an option to take short, 15-second video clips that can then be modified with filters and shared on the social network. However, Wall Street isn’t terribly impressed by the announcement. The new feature will be available on both iOS and Android apps at once, and will come with 13 custom filters along with a stabilizing feature called Cinema. But it doesn’t address Facebook’s potential revenue potential for the 130 million monthly active users on Instagram. At least, not yet. More →
It wasn’t exactly a mystery leading up to today’s big event, but Facebook just took the wraps off its brand new Instagram video service during a press conference in California. Dubbed “Video on Instagram,” the service is akin to Twitter’s Vine app, which allows users to share short videos with friends on Twitter and within the Vine social network itself. Facebook’s solution is integrated with Instagram rather than Twitter, of course, and it adds an obvious twist: Instagram videos can be spiced up a bit with integrated filters. More →
Facebook has a press conference scheduled to take place on Thursday in California, and while there will be plenty of ways to follow along from your home or office, there’s nothing like live streaming video. No one knows exactly what Facebook has in store for us today, though several reports have suggested that a new video-sharing feature for Instagram will debut during the event. For those who want the news as quickly as possible, Facebook has confirmed that it will be streaming today’s press conference live, and links to the video streams will be available on a special page on Facebook’s newsroom website, which is linked below. The show is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. EDT, 10:00 a.m. PDT. More →
Facebook doesn’t want to let Twitter have all the fun with short videos in the social media market. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook on Thursday “is expected to unveil pieces of its own Vine-like video service, under development for months, that would allow users to create and share brief video clips.” Vine, which lets users post short videos on their Twitter feeds, has quickly grown to become a key feature on Twitter and its adoption rate has surged ever since its launch last fall. What’s more, Vine’s rise has coincided with stalled growth for Facebook’s popular Instagram photo-sharing application, so it’s very likely that whatever video features Facebook shows off on Thursday will be integrated into Instagram.
It’s hard to believe, but Samsung doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of HTC and release a Facebook-centric “Galaxy First.” The Korea Herald reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg broached the subject of creating a “Facebook-friendly” smartphone with Samsung during his meeting with the company on Tuesday and was promptly rejected. Given that the Facebook-centric HTC First has been one of the biggest duds of the year so far, it’s not surprising that Samsung has little interest in going along with Zuckerberg’s plans. One of The Korea Herald’s sources also notes that Samsung doesn’t particularly want to help Facebook in its quest to become the next Google since it doesn’t want to contend with any additional rivals in the mobile world.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Samsung president Shin Jong Kyun this week to discuss a potential partnership, Bloomberg reported. Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, is interested in working with Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone vendor, to help boost its mobile advertising sales. The two companies are also said to have spoken about investing in technology startups. Facebook previously partnered with HTC on the HTC First, a smartphone that was skinned with Facebook’s custom Home software. Facebook Home was largely panned by critics and the HTC First flopped on the market. BGR exclusively reported last month that AT&T was preparing to discontinue the HTC First after only a month on the market.
Facebook will reportedly be adding Vine-like, short video clips to its Instagram service later this month. This follows an important cross-over moment — earlier in June, Vine surpassed Instagram in Twitter shares. But perhaps even more worryingly, Vine has become the fastest growing top iOS app in America measured by engagement. According to Onavo Insights, Vine has tripled its monthly engagement to 10.7% of all iPhone owners in just a few months. Instagram remains far ahead with 35.5%, but it’s engagement growth has slowed to a crawl. More →