After phasing out console games relating to the “Mission: Impossible” series, Paramount Pictures has created a social game on Facebook to promote the franchise.
The game, which introduces an entirely new storyline, awards players with real prizes and new content. Paramount is using the game to give out premiere tickets in addition to other promotional material.
The studio is working with Funtactix, a social game developer, on the project.
According to a related article from TheNextWeb, Paramount is also hoping to generate buzz by making it possible to rent all previous iterations of the franchise directly from the movie’s Facebook Fan Page. Each movie costs 30 Facebook credits ($2.99) to rent for 48 hours.
“Utilizing the sharing capabilities and Facebook ticker, which will alert your friends to the fact that you’re watching one of the movies, could help build excitement for an opening weekend that will destroy the last,” suggests TNW.
Miramax launched a similar Facebook rental model a few months ago. TNW wonders if Facebook rental services will take off in the face of customer comfort and loyalty to Netflix and other streaming services.
Facebook has selected Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC to build a smartphone code-named “Buffy,” after the television vampire slayer.
Ironically, the device will run a customized OS from its main competitor, Google’s Android, and integrate a number of Facebook’s services, many of which will run as HTML5 apps.
“Facebook only recently chose HTC, after also considering at least one other potential hardware partner — Korea’s Samsung,” reports AllThingsD. “That means the products themselves are still a ways from hitting the market, potentially as long as 12 to 18 months.”
According to a Facebook spokesperson: “Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”
Although other companies have released phones with dedicated Facebook buttons, Buffy is expected to provide deeper integration, “bringing friends and social activities deep into the mobile interface.”
A 2011 study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project discovered some interesting statistics regarding current Facebook users.
The average age of the Facebook user rose to 38 in 2010 from 33 in 2008.
On an average day, 20 percent of users commented on another’s picture, 22 percent commented on another’s status, 15 percent updated their own status, 10 percent sent a private message and 26 percent selected “like” for another’s content.
The average user has 229 friends: 22 percent from high school, 9 percent from college, 10 percent from work, 8 percent are immediate family, and 7 percent are people they’ve never met (see infographic for further breakdown).
Daily engagement on Facebook by social networking users accounted for 52 percent compared to Twitter’s 36 percent, Myspace’s 7 percent and LinkedIn’s 6 percent. Another noteworthy figure: “Social media users are ‘disproportionately female,’ notes Pew, with women making up 56 percent of social networking sites, 52 percent of email users, and 55 percent of instant message users,” reports Huffington Post.
The complete 85-page Pew report is available online.
Skype has released new versions for Mac and Windows that features the ability to connect to social networker Facebook.
“After installing Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac or Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows, users can click the Facebook icon on the left side of the screen and authorize Skype to access Facebook data through the Facebook Connect button,” reports Digital Trends.
Facebook Connect includes text and video chat functionality. “When a call is placed through the Skype software, the user on Facebook can accept the call and a video chat window pops-up on the Facebook screen,” explains the post. “Ideally, this will eventually allow Facebook users to place calls to anyone running an active version of Skype rather than being logged into Facebook at the time.”
Microsoft, which recently acquired Skype for $8.5 billion, is expected to integrate the Windows Phone platform with Skype and possibly include Skype in its upcoming social network called “Soci.”
Soci is expected to include a video chatting “party” feature for friends.
Nine Internet giants (Google, eBay, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo, Zynga, LinkedIn, Mozilla and Twitter) have joined forces to place full page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Washington Times expressing their objection to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act.
The measures protect against copyright infringement by requiring “technology companies and Internet service providers to block access to any website that the entertainment industry believes ‘engages in, enables or facilitates’ copyright infringement,” reports Digital Trends.
The proposed pieces of legislation “have strong bipartisan support in Congress, as well as backing from the Motion Picture Association of America, a variety of Hollywood union organizations, and even Master Card and Pfizer.”
In a related post, The Next Web reports that the Business Software Alliance (BSA) supports SOPA and commends Congress for “curb[ing] the growing rash of software piracy and other forms of intellectual property theft that are being perpetrated by illicit websites.”
Member of BSA include Adobe, Apple, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and 24 other tech companies.
Facebook suffered one of its largest ever security breaches this week when hackers found a way to spread violent and explicit images to some users’ profiles.
“The ‘self-XSS’ exploit refers to the fact that social engineering techniques were employed to trick users into entering the code necessary to execute the attacks, as opposed to other types of XSS-based attacks where the perpetrators inject the code on to the Website,” reports eWeek.
Facebook reported yesterday that it had identified those responsible for the attack, was taking control of the spam and making plans for preventing such a future attack.
“Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us, and we are always working to improve our systems to isolate and remove material that violates our terms,” said a Facebook spokesperson, adding that no user accounts or data were compromised.
Google has developed a new indexing plan that marks a shift in its traditionally passive approach.
“Mind what you say in Facebook comments,” reports Wired, “Google will soon be indexing them and serving them up as part of the company’s standard search results.”
“Google’s all-seeing search robots still can’t find comments on private pages within Facebook, but now any time you use a Facebook comment form on other sites, or a public page within Facebook, those comments will be indexed by Google.”
The article suggests the new policy may upset developers and users alike.
“There are two primary requests you can initiate on the Web,” explains Wired. “GET requests are intended for reading data, POST for changing or adding data. That’s why search engine robots like Google’s have always stuck to GET crawling. There’s no danger of the Googlebot altering a site’s data with GET, it just reads the page, without ever touching the actual data. Now that Google is crawling POST pages the Googlebot is no longer a passive observer, it’s actually interacting with — and potentially altering — the websites it crawls.”
In an effort to strengthen its counterterrorism and counterproliferation measures, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency actively monitors over 5 million of the 140 million tweets posted daily.
The CIA monitors Twitter and Facebook daily, regularly briefing President Obama on popular posts and trends.
The McLean, Virginia-based monitoring team — called the “Vengeful Librarians” — tracks news and social media sources, using language to pinpoint origin.
“The CIA team has also used Twitter to monitor reports of real-time events, and can focus on a few Tweeters who are publishing accurate reports,” reports Digital Trends. “The team found that, in these situations, other Twitter users actively stamp out erroneous information when it is reported, which proves the usefulness of Twitter as a primary source for breaking news.”
In a study conducted by the University of British Columbia Vancouver, 102 bots controlled fake Facebook accounts to send friend requests at random, showing that one in five people were willing to accept requests from strangers.
“If that complete stranger had a mutual friend in common, the success rate went up to about 60 percent,” reports Ars Technica.
Once friends, the bots had access to a large amount of personal information: “…for people directly friended by the bots, availability of e-mail went from 2.4 percent (unfriended) to 71.8 (friended) and postal addresses from 0.9 percent to 19.0 percent.” The bots also gained information about the users’ friends.
The study raises interesting points regarding Facebook’s efforts to create privacy and control. “The site has been criticized for making it too hard to secure personal data, and be too liberal with its default policies,” suggest the article. “In response to these criticisms, it has made the privacy and security system easier to use and with more sensible defaults. But these controls are irrelevant if people are willing to add random bots, and hence give away access to their ‘friends-only’ private information.”
“Google, Microsoft, Citigroup, IBM, GE and other top-tier American companies on Thursday urged the United States to fight for trade rules that protect the free flow of information over the Internet,” reports Reuters.
The coalition criticized federal requirements for companies to have their data centers within a country’s borders to provide services. Additionally, the group argued against governments blocking access to services such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and YouTube.
The group says future U.S. trade pacts must “reflect the new realities of the global economy: specifically, the contribution of the Internet toward economic growth, toward job creation and exports,” said Bob Boorstin, director of public policy for Google.
“Even when Internet curbs are intended to support legitimate public interests such as national security of law enforcement, businesses can suffer when those rules are unclear, arbitrary, unevenly applied or more trade restrictive than they need to be to achieve their objectives,” suggests the group’s paper.
“We want the free flow of data just like we want the free flow of goods and services,” said Nuala O’Connor Kelly, chief privacy leader at General Electric. “In the information age, data is our widget.”
Shall I Buy is a free iPhone app with the goal of combining instant social feedback for shoppers to make better purchasing decisions and possibly combat buyer’s remorse.
A shopper can share a video, picture, price and location to engage potential followers and incite comments, and allows sharing of links through Facebook and Twitter.
“The app is done simply, taking heavy styling cues from Instagram, but in doing so it’s effective and easy to use,” reports TheNextWeb.
The post cites two potential downsides: 1) By default, users receive a great number of push notifications, and 2) It would be helpful to have “a way to configure notifications inside of the app itself,” rather than going to the website.
Robert Scoble equates it to “Foodspotting for everything else.”
Viacom’s NextMovie.com has attracted more than one million viewers in its first 12 months, according to comScore. This week the site will add MovieTracker, developed with social intelligence platform Trendrr.
The new add-on is designed to track and quantify related social activity by ranking “the top 25 films according to social buzz for movies in production, coming soon or in theaters,” indicates The Hollywood Reporter.
“There isn’t really another product quite like this for movie fans,” explains VP and general manager of NextMovie Scott Robson. “The MovieTracker isn’t based on box office performance, which is how most movie rankings are compiled. Instead, it’s driven purely by the social conversation around movies. It’s the first time that what movie fans say — on Twitter, on Facebook and in the blogosphere — really matters in a quantified way.”
The feature is expected to be available early next year as an app for iOS and Android, allowing mobile access.
“The MovieTracker will launch initially on NextMovie.com, but it will appear soon after across multiple Viacom Media Networks properties, including MTV.com, VH1.com and the Logo sites,” says Robson. “It’s also possible that versions of the MovieTracker at some point will appear on air, on the MTV Radio Network and more.”
At the recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Mary Meeker updated her Internet Trends analysis that she has presented for the past eight years. Meeker is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and was formerly managing director and research analyst at Morgan Stanley.
Meeker offered some compelling data this year (the ReadWriteWeb post features some great trend charts and statistics). Highlights include:
Globality — China’s Internet users add up to almost twice the number of U.S. users.
Mega-Trend — Empowering people worldwide with mobile devices.
55 percent of Twitter traffic and 33 percent of Facebook traffic comes from mobile devices.
User Interface — Touch, sound and movement is the new UI.
85 percent of world’s population now covered by commercial wireless signals.
Smartphones and tablets outshipped PCs (notebooks and desktops) in Q4 2010.
Mobile apps and advertising has been growing 153 percent/year over past four years.
Social networking time is surpassing portal times.
Hollywood studios are starting to use Facebook as a direct-to-consumer platform for streaming films, possibly cutting out services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon in the process.
Universal, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. have distributed some 45 films via the Social Cinema app from Milyoni (pronounced million-eye). “What Zynga is to social gaming, Milyoni is to social entertainment,” reads the company’s website.
Miramax and Paramount have used similar apps to offer movies for Facebook credits on fan pages.
Rentals based on credits are running the equivalent of $3-$5. Facebook draws a 30 percent cut of transaction revenues.
Ad Age Digital suggests the studios’ willingness to offer rentals via social network sites “may reflect their desire to foster competition among online distribution platforms,” adding, “Miramax CEO Mike Lang said that digital monopolies were a greater threat to the film industry than piracy and that his studio had been aware of the importance of a competitive marketplace when doing deals with Netflix and Hulu.”
There was a time when Apple was a consumer electronics company, Google was a search engine, Amazon was an online retailer and Facebook a place to connect with friends. Now each of these companies is growing into the space of the others as they compete for new and expanding markets in mobile, social and cloud services.
Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Fire tablet will compete directly with Apple’s iPad. Google+ has taken on Facebook. Android and iOS are direct competitors. And Facebook has been considering its own mobile phone while it also looks to offer content, advertising and retail services.
Fast Company analyzes the “future of the innovation economy” in this regard, with a particular emphasis on the inevitable war and its major players.
“Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will not last forever,” the article suggests. “But despite this oncoming war, in which attacking one another becomes standard operating practice, their inevitable slide into irrelevancy likely won’t be at the hands of one of their fellow rivals. As always, the real future of tech belongs to some smart-ass kid in a Palo Alto garage.”