Beta Release: Cinefy App Provides Video Editing and Effects for the iPhone

  • Chairseven and App Creation Network recently announced the beta availability of Cinefy, “a mobile video editing and effects platform for iPhone where users create and share videos mixed with high quality visual effects,” according to the press release. “Cinefy empowers users with no editing skills to quickly insert footage, add music and apply visually stunning effects with its intuitive and simple interface.”
  • The app offers branded effects packs which opens a marketing opportunity for TV and game studios to promote in an engaging way and possibly draw “massive viral exposure.”
  • Users can export their videos to their device’s camera roll in addition to Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. Cinefy will eventually be available for iPads and Android devices.
  • To help create soundtracks, Friendly Music has teamed up to provide a catalog of songs, “offering 100 percent legal and all rights-cleared music for personal and custom online media creations.”

In Development: Would an HTC Facebook Phone Prove to be the Next Zune?

  • Microsoft lost trust from its hardware partners with the Zune MP3 player which ultimately caused the product to fail. The new Facebook phone could be equally disastrous by pinning HTC against its current software partners.
  • HTC has strong relationships with Google for Android OS and Microsoft for Windows Phone 7, relationships that could be jeopardized in moving forward with a Facebook phone.
  • “One of the key standout features for Windows Phone 7 is social networking and in particular, Facebook integration (Facebook and Microsoft are partnered),” reports Digital Trends. “Google, on the other hand, is at war with Facebook with Google+, and monetizes Android after-the-fact with services like Google+.”
  • “Right now Apple, Microsoft and others spend lots of time on Facebook, but they aren’t likely to continue if they view Facebook as a potential competitor,” suggests the post. “Facebook should be focused on building the best Facebook app for every major platform.”
  • In a related survey conducted by AllThingsD, results suggest an overwhelming number of readers had little to no desire for a Facebook phone (81 percent indicated no interest and 12 percent said they would consider it).

Will Mission Impossible Facebook Game Draw Fans?

  • 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 Phone: Social Networker Taps HTC to Manufacture Buffy

  • 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.”

Facebook Stats: Average User Age on the Rise and Females Take the Lead

  • 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.

Video Chat Gets Software Update that Adds Skype-to-Facebook Calls

  • 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.

Groups Take Sides in Battle Over Proposed Internet Censorship Bill

  • 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 Under Siege: Hackers Exploit XSS-Flaw in Massive Spam Attack

  • 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.
  • Hackers reportedly tricked users into copying and pasting malicious Javascript code onto their browsers, thus providing attackers access to personal 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.

Mind Your Facebook Comments: Soon Accessible via Google Search

  • 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.”

Vengeful Librarians: Is the CIA Monitoring Your Tweets Every Day?

  • 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.”

Study Reveals One in Five Willing to Friend Strangers on Facebook

  • 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.”

Digital Economy: U.S. Companies Push for New Internet Trade Rules

  • “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 Enables Social Shopping: Foodspotting for Everything Else

  • 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 Says MovieTracker Quantifies Social Buzz for Hollywood Movies

  • 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.”

Mary Meeker Offers Updated Analysis During Web 2.0 Summit Presentation

  • 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.