I don’t know whether it’s the same in your line of work, but personally, I usually find when getting back from holiday that all the big stories of the year seem to have broken while you were lounging by the pool. Luckily for me, I seem to have got back from my two-week-break just in time for Facebook to seemingly announce a year’s worth of new innovations, one after another… Let’s take a look at them in more detail:
First up on Monday (while I was still trawling through 1000+ e-mails!) was the announcement that Facebook had acquired the “sharing service” FriendFeed. You can read the official press release from Facebook for the full details of the deal (well, as much details as you ever get in these things) but I preffered the way Bret Taylor of FriendFeed announced it on their company blog:
“As my mom explained to me, when two companies love each other very much, they form a structured investment vehicle…”
There’s very little firm confirmation as to how the move will affect FriendFeed users yet, though plenty of speculation is taking place on all the usual sites. The Guardian for instance point out that one of the big bonuses for Facebook in the deal is the three ex-Googlers who they will now have on board. Valeria Maltoni seems convinced that FriendFeed will disappear pretty swiftly once the acquisition is complete. And the New York Daily News also points out that FriendFeed’s real-time search will be a big gain for Facebook (more on that below!). One thing is for sure though – Facebook are clearly stepping up their game in an attempt to counter the metioric rise of Twitter…
Then, very late on Monday evening, Facebook announced they would be rolling-out their new real-time search to all users, after a month-long trial with a select group of Facebookers. According to the blog:
“You now will be able to search the last 30 days of your News Feed for status updates, photos, links, videos and notes being shared by your friends and the Facebook Pages of which you’re a fan. If people have chosen to make their content available to everyone, you also will be able to search for their status updates, links and notes, regardless of whether or not you are friends. Search results will continue to include people’s profiles as well as relevant Facebook Pages, groups and applications.”
I can already see the privacy campaigners and Daily Mail readers reaching for their pens to write their complaint letters – and until we’ve seen the true power of the new service, who is to say they will be wrong? People are speculating that the new feature brings Facebook much closer to the search facility that Twitter has, but the trouble with this new development is the way people expect their data to be shared. On Twitter, people generally all know that what they put out (unless through a DM) is public, indexable and searchable – and crucially, viewable to anybody who looks at their profile. Facebook users on the other hand are used to their privacy being “sacred” to Facebook, and millions of users could be set to discover that the default security options they have chosen are going to leave their status updates, notes and links visable by anybody on the network.
[The funniest (and most ironic?) thing I found when doing a few example searches using the new facility was that the majority of the results were from people who have their status updates set to automatically populate from their Twitter account!]
The third big announcement (apparently “broken” by the guys over at Mashable) from Facebook came this morning with the rumours about “Facebook Lite”. It’s unclear what Facebook Lite will be (though most speculation points to it being a further move to compete with Twitter – jeez, these guys are obsessed…!) but a number of users have been presented with the following message when logging in this week:
“You have been selected as a beta tester for Facebook Lite! We are building a faster, simpler version of Facebook that we call Facebook Lite. It’s not finished yet and we have plenty of kinks to work out, but we would love to get your feedback on what we have built so far. Check out Facebook Lite now at http://lite.facebook.com.”
[You'll notice when you click the link that site seems to have been taken down again, at least it seems that way for me]
Have *you* been invited to Facebook Lite? If so, what do you think of it?