Facebook Testing $1 Fee for Messages to Non-friends

The social networking giant Facebook has figured out yet another way to monetize the site. According to Facebook, it is testing a new service that will enable advertisers (or anyone) to send messages to Facebook users with whom they are not connect with, and guarantees that this message will be delivered right into the users’ inbox, rather than the rarely-visited folder “other.”

That sounds like “premium” spam messages to me.

Facebook launched the “other” folder back in 2011, which was basically used to store messages that were sent from a non-Facebook friend. In other words, the “other” folder acts pretty much like a spam folder. However, with the new service, users will be able to pay $1 to route their messages to the inbox.

Facebook states that this will benefit both the sender and the receiver:

“For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their inbox.”

“For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”

Also it worth noting that messages sent to [email protected] from your regular email services like Gmail will also end up in the “others” folder.

Facebook said the new $1 fee could help reduce spam or irrelevant messages from being sent to inboxes. They have said the option will only be presented to a “small number” of users in the U.S. at this point, and people will be limited to one paid message per week to start.

Instagram Apologies and Reverts to Old Advertising Terms

The news about Instagram’s change in privacy policy and terms of service that broke out earlier this week caused an outcry by users, thinking that the new policy would allow the photo-sharing giant to sell images without the individual permission of users.

However, the update won’t be effective anymore as Instagram reverts to old advertising terms. In a blog post, Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom stated that they have discarded the new advertising terms and are going back to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. Yes, that means you don’t have to close or migrate to another photo-sharing service. Your photos on Instagram won’t be used for advertising.

Earlier this week, we introduced a set of updates to our privacy policy and terms of service to help our users better understand our service. In the days since, it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right.

The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.

You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content. I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.

The three major points addressed by Systrom are Advertising on Instagram, Ownership Rights and Privacy Settings. In brief:

  • Instagram has no intension to sell your photos, however, they have plans to experiment with innovative advertising methods and monetize the photo-sharing service in an effective manner.
  • “Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos.”
  • As for privacy settings, nothing has changed. You still have control over who can see your photos.

Along with that, the company also pushed an update to iOS and Android platforms. It includes a new photo filter called “Mayfair”, now making a total count of 20 filters supported by the service. Also, the update provides users the ability to log in to Instagram via Facebook, without having to connect the two services in your settings.

Instagram Mayfair Filter

Free Christmas Gift Card from Walmart Facebook Spam

Christmas is just around the corner and so are some great offers and deals online, however, beware of scams and fake offers spreading on the Web that could cheat you. Facebook is one of the main sites that many scammers target and try to fool people by posting fake offers and promotions.

We have recently discovered that there is a scam message that is spreading on the social networking giant where users are “liking” and sharing it their friends in order to get a “free” gift card. The new Christmas scam message is spreading with the following message and image –

“Hey friends, I got a $1000 free Christmas Gift Card from WALMART! Get it right away! [LINK]”

Free Christmas Gift Card from Walmart

If you ever come across this on your Facebook Timeline, please avoid clicking on the link. If you do so, you will be taken to a bogus webpage where you will be asked to perform certain steps in order to get the free gift card. However, even after you complete all the steps, you will NOT win any gift cards for free.

The scam message is designed to collect your personal information, which will be then accessed by the creators of the scam message. There are possibilities that your Facebook account could also be hacked, or you might end up sharing your important credentials by falling for the trap.

This is a tag-jacking scam message, which will automatically tag random friends from your friends list, which in turn your friends might think that they have been genuinely tagged by you and eventually fall for the trap. If you find any such messages on your Timeline, report it as spam immediately. Also, don’t forget to inform your friends about it.

As a precautionary measure, always check which applications you use and remove unwanted or suspicious ones. If you aren’t sure how to do it, you can always check our guide on removing apps from Facebook. In addition to that, don’t forget to check out our article about Avoiding Facebook Lifejacking and Clickjacking scams.

Bookmark Techie Buzz Facebook Scams. We always keep you updated with the  latest scams spreading on Facebook.

Psy-Droid Easter Egg on Google Zeitgeist 2012 Page

2012 is coming to an end and it is time we look back and see what were the most happening events that took place around the word. Google’s 12th annual Year-End Zeitgeist gives an in-depth look at the “spirit of times” revealing some interesting facts, events, people, and media of 2012.

Here are some of the top trending searches of 2012:

  • Whitney Houston
  • Gangnam Style
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • iPad 3
  • Diablo 3
  • Kate Middleton
  • Olympics 2012
  • Amanda Todd
  • Michael Clarke Duncan
  • BBB12

Yet another interesting thing to notice is Psy-Droid Easter Egg on the Zeitgeist page. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is currently the most viewed video (over 939 million times as of December 2012) on YouTube, surpassing Justin Bieber’s song “Baby.”

For this, Google has created a Psy-Droid animation, which does the Gangnam Style. To view it, go the Zeitgeist page and hover over the colored bars at the bottom-right of the page. You should see this:

Psy-Droid Google Zeitgeist 2012 Easter Egg

You can also see it in action here.

Zeitgeist 2012

[via]

How to Continue Using Google Apps for Free and Add New Domains

In an unexpected move, Google has stopped offering its Google Apps for Business for free as the Web giant is says that it is now ‘focusing on the quality of the business user’s experience.’ Although the move was unexpected, it wasn’t really shocking news for businesses at least as they are used to paying for services, and generally don’t go for free services.  Well, making Google Apps completely a premium service now makes sense.

For new users, individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, Google Apps was certainly the first and default service for configuring email and other services, but they will lose the advantage of using the services for free now. However, existing users still have an opportunity to use Google Apps for free for new domains.

Google Apps for Free

This feature has been there for quite some time and continues to exist even after Google has made the Google Apps services completely premium. To create or add a new domain to your existing Google Apps account, follow the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Sign in to your Google Apps account and navigate to the “Domain settings” option.
Step 2: Now, click on “Domain names” tab, and then “Add a domain or a domain alias” button.
Step 3: A pop-up box should open up. Select the “Add another domain” option and enter the new domain in the box provided. Click on the “Continue and verify domain ownership,” verify the domain (via META tag or file upload) and you are all set to use the new domain.

Google Apps for Free

The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that you can access the new domain’s Google Apps service settings from your existing (primary) account. Also, additional domains are subject to certain limitations:

You cannot set different policies or configuration settings for different domains. All settings in the Google Apps administrator control panel apply equally to all domains that are part of your account.

You can specify only one custom logo for your account. The same logo appears for users in all domains that are part of your account.

You can read all the limitations for multiple domains here.

[via]

Google Stops Free Version of Google Apps for Business

You can no more create Google Apps accounts for free as Google has officially announced and stopped offering the service for free in an aim to ‘focus on the quality of the business user’s experience.’

According to Clay Bavor, Director of Product Management for Google Apps, announced and explained in a blog post that the move will allow the Google to focus on the quality of the business user’s experience, with full service support. However, it is made clear that existing Google Apps users can continue using the service for free, with no additional charges to pay. Additionally, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities.

Google Apps for Business

When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.

The free version, which was earlier called as the Google Apps “Standard,” used to be available for businesses with fewer than 50 users. This free service provided email, calendaring, shared documents, spam and virus filtering, and up to seven gigabytes of inbox space for every account created. Now, instead of two versions – the free version and the premium version – there will be only one, which will include 24/7 phone support, 25 gigabytes of inbox space, and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. All of this comes in a bundle that will cost $50 per user per year.

Tumblr Accounts Hacked with Malicious Spam Post

Update: Looks like the issue has been resolved and everything is back to normal.

Tumblr engineers have resolved the issue of the viral post attack that affected a few thousand Tumblr blogs. Thanks for your patience.

Tumblr has been hacked and nearly 8600 unique user accounts have been compromised, with thousands of blogs defaced. The hacking attempt was successfully carried out by a notorious anti-blogging Internet-trolling group called GNAA or the ‘Gay Nigger Association of America’, best known for having trolled several prominent websites and Internet personalities including Slashdot, Wikipedia, CNN, and Barack Obama’s campaign website.

The following message is posted on the defaced blogs:

Tumblr Accounts Hacked

Dearest `Tumblr’ users,

We have taken the liberty of upgrading your (rather tasteless, we must say) blog to our premier GNAA Deluxe Gary Niger (pictured to the left) Signed Edition! This is in response to the seemingly pandemic growth and world-wide propagation of the most FUCKING WORTHLESS, CONTRIVED, BOURGEOISIE, SELF-CONGRATULATING AND DECADENT BULLSHIT THE INTERNET EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF FACILITATING. However, we do not believe you are beyond redemption! All you have to do is DRINK BLEACH AND DIE YOU EMO, SELF-INSISTING, SELF-DEPRECATING, SELF-INDULGENT EMPTY HUSKS OF HUMAN BEINGS. REPEAT AFTER ME: I WISH I WAS PROFOUND, BUT I’M NOT! I WISH I WAS ORIGINAL, BUT I’M NOT! I WISH MY IMPENDING DEATH WAS OF ANY CONSEQUENCE, BUT IT IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT! Your last chance for redemption hinges upon your death; your death which was most fortunately prescribed by your most unfortunate birth. Fret not, dear emo, your death will be regarded as a sacrifice to humanity; to die a martyr is a glorious death, and will likely be your highest contribution to society.

P.S. Attempting to delete these posts will delete your tumblr account ;] But, by all means, go ahead!

If you’re blog is one among the compromised accounts, we recommend you to change your password immediately. Tumblr officials have responded and have said that they’re working on an immediate fix:

Tumblr has responded with the following statement:

There is a viral post circulating on Tumblr which begins “Dearest ‘Tumblr’ users”. If you have viewed this post, please log out of all browsers that may be using Tumblr immediately. Our engineers are working to resolve the issue as swiftly as possible. Thank you.

Meantime, we advise you not to click on any of the links to Tumblr pages, and visit your Tumblr mass editor and delete all the posts that were not published by you. Also, avoid visiting individual Tumblrs’ and stay back on to the dashboard itself.

The hack is still being investigated, and we’ll update this article as soon as we obtain more information.

Rumor Has It That Facebook is Looking to Buy WhatsApp

Everybody’s been questioning if Facebook is actually going to acquire the Internet’s most loved and poplar messaging tool WhatsApp. No one from Facebook (or the WhatsApp developers team) has replied to any of the queries about the acquisition. However, with no official confirmation, this still remains a rumor.

The news was first reported by TechCrunch earlier today leaving several users on the Internet wondering if it’s really going to happen, and if it does so, it would be one of the worst things to happen, as WhatsApp users tweet out of frustration on Twitter.

Facebook, in fact, is currently looking forward to boost and improvise mobile experience for Facebook users, and perhaps this deal could make some ‘sense’ to them, however, if the deal goes through, I think it is neither right for Facebook, nor it is right for WhatsApp. However, what Facebook can learn from WhatsApp is making its current Facebook mobile services a lot better, very much similar to WhatsApp offers, rather than making it the other way round, if they have any plans to do so.

Facebook to Buy WhatsApp

The cross-platform instant messaging application was developed in 2009 by Santa Clara, California based company, and is available for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian, and Windows Phone, delivering text messages as well as images, audio, and video messages. The app, however, is ad-free and reportedly has about 100 million daily users, with a presence in 250 countries on a variety of platforms.

The developers of WhatsApp have their own reasons and explicitly disallow adverting on WhatsApp. However, that said, it could change if the deal is trough. There are possibilities that if Facebook takes control over the app, they could even use it to sell mobile ads as the company is currently looking to effectively optimizes advertisements for its mobile service.

The social networking company’s current most high profile acquisition is the photo-sharing company Instagram, which it finalized the deal for a whopping $1 billion. Well, we still aren’t sure if Facebook is really going to acquire WhatsApp, and we also do not have any details on how much Facebook is looking to spend.

AnonOpsIndia Hack Kapil Sibal’s Website

Update: Looks like the site has been taken offline by the developers.

The infamous hacker group Anonymous has done it again. In protest against Sec 66A of the IT Act, the hacker group — AnonOpsIndia (@opindia_revenge) — have defaced the personal website of Kapil Sibal (kapilsibalmp.com), India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

AnonOpsIndia Hack Kapil Sibal's Website

The following message – Protest against IT Act  was displayed on the site:

Anonymous Calls for protests against the draconian IT Rules dreamed up by a man commonly known as Kapil ShitBall. Here are the current details: http://dpar.mizoram.gov.in /components/index.html Andhra pradesh Venue: Dharna chowk, Indira park, Hyderabad. Date & Time : 2nd Dec. 2012 at 4.00PM the Sunday Karnataka Venue : BBMP Corporation Circle, Opp. Vokkaligara Bhavan, Near Halasauru Gate Police station, Bengaluru, Date &TIme: 2nd Dec. 2012 at 4.30PM the Sunday Tamil nadu Venue: Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai, Date &TIme:4th December 2012, 3.30pm to 6.30pm, Tuesday. PS: Kapil Sibal – there is no such thing as Victims of Freedom of Expression You have Zero online presence you are not fit to pass comments on our Internet. Please before we fuck you completely … get off my Internet

Protest Against IT Act

Earlier this month, two women were arrested by the Mumbai police for protesting a state-wide ‘bandh’ on Facebook. The youngsters protested by posting an update on their Facebook profile against ‘bandh’ due to the death of Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray, and later released on bail. The case against the two girls are now being dropped.

This act by the Mumbai police broke up a major controversial debate between the public, people on the Internet, and the politicians as well. With under an immense pressure, the central government has issued a statement that could bring down the misuse of the IT Act, which was used to make the arrests of the two youngsters.

WhatsApp Status Unavailable Error Message Causes Panic

WhatsApp users are sharing a false message with their friends indicating that their account will deleted if they do not share the same message with their entire contact list. A similar message states that WhatsApp will cost money if they don’t send the message to their friends.

This false message started to circulate when users found out that the status of WhatsApp users has disappeared and were greeted with an ‘Error: Status Unavailable’ message. The problem, which was noticed just a few hours ago, has created a lot of panic among several thousands of users.

In fact, users have also started to post on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter notifying their friends about the WhatsApp Status Unavailable error message issue, and have been asking them to share the message immediately to avoid termination of their WhatsApp account.

WhatsApp Status Error Message

One of the messages spreading is as follows:

”Whatsapp is shutting down on 28th jan Message from Jim Balsamic (CEO of Whatsapp) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list. If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours. Please DO NOT ignore this message or whatsapp will no longer recognise your activation. If you wish to re-activate your account after it has been deleted, a charge of 25.00 will be added to your monthly bill. We are also aware of the issue involving the pictures updates not showing.

We are working diligently at fixing this problem and it will be up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation from the Whatsapp team..:) FINAL WARNING! If your WhatsApp status is error:status unavailable then you are not frequent user and by 5:00pm C.A.T WhatsApp will start charging you. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it.”

Yet another similar false message that is spreading:

“Hello everyone, it seems that all the warnings were real, the use of WhatsApp cost money from summer 2012. If you send this string to 18 different on your list, your icon will be blue and will be free for you. If you do not believe me see tomorrow at 6 pm ending WhatsApp and have to pay to open it, this is by law This message is to inform all of our users, our servers have recently been very congested, so we are asking your help to solve this problem. We require our active users forwarded this message to each of the people in your contact list to confirm our active users using WhatsApp, if you do not send this message to all your contacts WhatsApp, then your account will remain inactive with the consequence of losing all their contactsMessage from Jim Balsamic (CEO of Whatsapp) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list.

If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours. Please DO NOT ignore this message or whatsapp will no longer recognise your activation. If you wish to re-activate your account after it has been deleted, a charge of 25.00 will be added to your monthly bill. We are also aware of the issue involving the pictures updates not showing. We are working diligently at fixing this problem and it will be up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation from the Whatsapp team” WhatsApp is going to cost us money soon. The only way that it will stay free is if you are a frequent user i.e. you have at least 10 people you are chatting with. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it (2 ticks) and your WhatsApp logo should turn Red to indicate a frequent user. Am sorry had no option! And check now the status of every individual contact is showing : Status : error”

Please stop sharing this message as it is completely false. The reason why you are seeing ‘Error: Status Unavailable’ message is due to some technical and status functionality issues. WhatsApp developers are aware of this issue are trying to provide a fix as early as possible.

According to WhatsApp’s Twitter and Facebook update, “WhatsApp status functionality is currently not available. We are working on resolving it soon.”

WhatsApp Status Error - Twitter Update