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Facebook recommends brands; Amazon doesn’t recommend homosexuality

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
14 April 2009

For most of us today will be the start of a nice short four-day week, following a lovely long four-day weekend – and since we seem to have missed a lot of action over the weekend, I thought I'd do a quick round-up of some of the social media stories that have been rumbling round the information super motorway this Easter weekend…

Facebook

If you're a keen Facebook user like me, you'll doubtless have come across the "find a friend" feature in the past and will probably have gained a few "Oh, I didn't know THEY were on here!" friend additions through it. Well, if you have visited this feature in the past 3 or 4 days you'll notice that as well as friends, Facebook are now recommending brand pages that you "might know". Now, aside from a small reservation that I'm not entirely sure that "discover people you may know… Cadbury Creme Egg?" fits in that well with the feel of the feature, this seems to be a good move for brands who have taken up the Facebook fan page system already, and another sign that Facebook are serious about expanding the offering they give to advertisers and 'personalities' alike. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to how Facebook are picking which brands to show you (the list has changed for me several times in the last 24 hours already) but to be honest the previous friend suggestion tool had some major flaws too, so hopefully this expansion of the service might force Facebook to make a few tweaks to the system for the better.

Twitter_fail_whale Over at Twitter things have been equally busy this weekend, with a script-based virus infecting people's accounts left right and centre. The "Mikeyy" virus (though to call it a virus might be a bit mis-leading, since it doesn't actually do anything to your PC, just your Twitter account… I think) which has now been contained, spread itself simply by users clicking on a URL within an infected user's tweets. This then used a script within the virus originators page to hijack their account and post similar URLs in their own tweets, thus spreading the virus. Before the virus was 'contained' on Sunday, over 10,000 messages had to be deleted by the site's owners. According to reports, the virus creator was teenager Michael Mooney (17), who made the virus to demonstrate Twitter's security vulnerabilities – but is now worried that he'll be sued by the micro-blogging platform.

Brokeback But it's not just the social networks that were having busy weekends – online retail giant Amazon was also hit by scandal after they (inadvertantly?) removed 100s of Gay and Lesbian-themed titles from their sales ranking and "top 100" lists, labelling the titles as "adult themed". The issue was first spotted author Mark Probst, whose own title had been removed, but a hastag-based (#amazonfail) assault on Twitter soon led to the story hitting all the major media sites, and Amazon were forced to act. Amazon spokespeople referred to the issue as a "glitch" and said they were in the process of fixing it – though further reports out today indicate the issue may have been caused by a hacker named "Weev", who reportedly used clever scripting and a host of popular websites to send thousands of "inappropriate content" reports to Amazon centering on the gay titles in question.

Bebo Lastly, a story that I personally missed from last week – the relaunch of Bebo with their brand new design and functionality. I'm not the biggest bebo user I have to admit (and the three "friend requests" from scantily-clad spammers which were waiting for me when I logged on didn't do much to convince me to come back!) but the new design certainly seems to offer brands a lot more of an opportunity to grab eyeballs – with the O2 homepage takeover showing this pretty nicely. My profile doesn't appear massively different to last time I logged in, though I'm probably doing the site a dis-service by not exploring it more fully. However, if you're anything like me, the main thing you need to know is that the site is now much more AOL-branded (after their $850 purchase of the site last year) and from my 15 years experience online (stretching way back to Compuserve – another site purchased by AOL), that is never a sign of great things to come…!
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