Remove the “Live Ticker” Box on Facebook

Facebook has started rolling out the new “Live Ticker” feature to an increasing number of users, and would eventually be making it available to all users. While the new feature is positioned above the chat box on the right side of the page, many users are finding it annoying and disturbing.

The Ticker is designed to replace the “Most Recent” filter on the Facebook News Feed, providing users with real-time updates. The feature seems to be interesting, however many users find it worthless. Users on Facebook are creating threads and community pages asking Facebook to remove the Live Tickerfeature, or at least provide an option to disable it.

Annoying Facebook "Live Ticker"

There is one simple and a best way to get rid of the live ticker and the chat box. Clicking on the hide sidebarbutton on the bottom-right of the page will hide the sidebar entirely. However, there are browser extensions and add-ons to remove it.

Hide Facebook Sidebar

If you’re a Google Chrome user, there’s an extension that is available, which will completely remove the live ticker from your Facebook page. Download the extension file here, and once the extension is installed, refresh or open Facebook in a new tab. You will now notice that the live ticker has been disabled.

Firefox or other browser users can try downloading Better Facebookextension. Once you have installed the add-on (extensions) for your browser, click on the Better Facebook! Optionsbutton.

From the option box, enable Advanced Options Modeand then click on CSS. Copy the following CSS code and paste it in the area provided. Save the settings and refresh your Facebook page, and you will see that the live ticker has disappeared.

 /* Hide the live ticker */
 .ticker_stream { display:none !important; }

Better Facebook - Hide Facebook Live Ticker

Facebook has been known to annoy users with newer design changes, and it is no surprise that people are upset with such an attitude. Last time Facebook annoyed users with a new rollout for the image viewer, however, you can  easily disable the Facebook Theater mode  too.

Earlier last month, Google also annoyed users by  changing their homepage design  and adding a black bar at the top. You can  easily remove the black bar in Google  and similarly also revert back to the old Facebook chat  by installing a    script.

I’m guessing that Facebook has introduced this feature to combat with its rival, Google Plus. What do you think of the new “Live Ticker”. Do you find it annoying too? Let us know by adding your comments below.

Creating a Google Plus Account Now Requires You to Enter Your Birthday

According to The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), users registering on websites like Facebook, which collect information from users, are asked to enter their (real) date of birth at the time of registration. This indicates that users (children) below 13 years of age are restricted from creating the account.

The same law is now applied to Google Plus and Google Accounts as well. Google is now requiring new users to enter their real birth date while  registering on their social networking site Google Plus, or any other services provided by Google. If the entered date indicates that you are below 13 years of age, then you won’t be able to create an account and you will receive a notification stating that “Google could not create your account. In order to have a Google Account, you must meet certain age requirements. To learn more about online child safety, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Google Accounts Birthday

If you’re already on Google Plus and your entered age is not above 13 years, then it is likely that your account will be disabled (deleted) in the next 30 days. There isn’t any option for you to edit you birth date of your current account.

However, you can re-enable your Google Plus account by completing any of the following steps –

  • Sending in a signed form via mail or fax with a copy of your current, government-issued ID showing your date of birth, or
  • Performing a small transaction ($0.30 USD) on a valid credit card.

Please note that you will be charged $1 USD for your transaction of $0.30 USD.

If you have chosen to use your credit card to make the transaction, then your Google Plus account will be re-enabled within minutes. However, if you’re using the mail or fax option, then it can take several days or even a couple of weeks for your account to get re-activated.

Facebook also requires entering user’s birth date at the time of registration. However, Mark Zuckerberg strongly feels that kids who are below 13 years of age should to be allowed to use social networking sites.

Though there are millions of kids (below 13 years of age) who are already using Facebook by giving fake birth dates, Zuckerberg is determined to change this rule and wants to make it legal. He believes that allowing kids onto social networking site will help them learn new things quickly and effortlessly.

Facebook Hits 1 Trillion Page Views in Just One Month

After attaining a solid user base of over 750 million users, the social media giant Facebook, has crossed one trillion page views in just one month, making it the first website to cross the milestone.

Google’s ad network DoubleClick, which was acquired for $3.1 billion, reveals the top 1000 most-visited sites on the web. Facebook topping the list has got 870,000,000 unique visitors (users), 46.9% reach and a whopping 1 trillion page views in June 2011. It’s a milestone achieved for Facebook!Facebook Hits 1 Trillion Page Views

The other interesting part of the stats is the 870 million unique visitors. You might wonder that Facebook now has 870 million users. That’s not true. Amit Agarwal from Digital Inspirations explains that the number comes from certain site sections like Facebook Pages and Profiles which are open to non-users as well as registered members.

Further digging into the data reveals that users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the social network and, on an average, each user generates 1,150 page views, sharing more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) every month.

YouTube ranks second (in terms of unique visitors) with 790,000,000, quite close to Facebook, but far behind with 100 billion page views, or about 10 percent of what Facebook gets. However, Google states that the list excludes adult sites, ad networks, domains that don’t have publicly visible content or don’t load properly, and certain Google sites.

The top 10 most-visited websites –

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. Yahoo
  4. Live.com
  5. Wikipedia
  6. MSN
  7. Blogspot.com
  8. Baidu.com
  9. Microsoft
  10. qq.com

With all this remarkable stats, there’s just one question that comes to my mind. Will Google Plus ever be able to make this far? I don’t think so! It looks like the newly launched social network Google Plus, is slogging behind, and probably having a slow death just like Orkut. Unless Google comes out with something really kickass and unique, I see the future of Google+ is not going to be that good.

Facebook Introduces Sweeping Sharing and Privacy Changes

It seems like we hear horror stories about Facebook every day. There are writers who spend all their time at Techie Buzz warning you about Facebook scams. Joel just did a great write up on how to not get hacked on the worlds largest social network. Now, it looks like Facebook is ready to help you control your sharing and privacy setting.

Announced today on their official blog, Facebook is introducing a slew of changes to their privacy and sharing settings. These are some seriously good changes for Facebook, which hasn’t always been known for giving users control over their sharing. There are a large number of smaller changes, but they can be broken down into two big categories. Let’s take a look at each one.

Tagging Changes

fb-privacy-1.jpg

The first tagging related change is the ability to control when tagged photos appear on your profile. In the past, when someone tagged you in a photo, it would appear on your profile automatically. That lead to many spam tags appearing on profiles, and that was a huge problem for users. Now, you can choose to approve or reject each tagged photo posting individually, giving you more control over what appears on your Facbook profile.

fb-privacy-2.jpg

The next major tagging change is an old feature brought back. In the old days of Facebook, you had the ability to approve or reject tags people added to your photos or posts. Facebook has brought that back for users, which is good news. Now random people tagging your photos without your knowledge won’t be a big deal anymore.

The next tagging change revolves around the tagging of non-friends and locations. Previously, Facebook only allowed you to tag people you are friends with in your posts. That meant that if you were with someone who you weren’t friends with, you couldn’t tag them. Now, you can, with their approval.

fb-privacy-3.jpg

In addition to that, you can now tag locations without checking into them, which makes locations much more useful. Interestingly enough, this change means that Facebook is now phasing out the mobile-only version of Places. That means that all settings associated with that will be removed, and will need to be replaced in the new location settings.

fb-privacy-4.jpg

The final tagging change revolves around the removal of tags and content on Facebook. In the past, the process of untagging and removing of content was unclear for many users. Now, Facebook will prompt you for a reason, which will allow you to take one of a set of actions against a piece on content. This marks a new phase for controlling your persona via Facebook, giving you the ability to request the takedown of a photo or even block a user based on a tag.

Sharing Changes

fb-privacy-5.jpg

The next big set of changes from Facebook revolves around sharing controls. Many of us (myself included) are enthralled by Google’s sharing system on Google+. Facebook now has something very similar with its Inline Sharing Controls. When you make a post on Facebook going forward, you will have the ability to select who gets to see it. Options include Public, Friends, and Custom, and will grow to include Facebook Lists in the near future.

In the past, once a post was posted you could not change the sharing settings. Now, you are given the option to change those settings after you hit ‘Post.’ This will allow you to stop that secret message for your best friends going out to everyone on the internet.

fb-privacy-6.jpg

The last change Facebook announced is a change in the way you handle your profile visibility. In the past, if you wanted to see what your profile looked like to the public, it was hard to do. Now, you will have a button on your Facebook profile to access these previews. This button is labeled ‘View Profile As…’, and will do just what I described.

Facebook: Now More Privacy Friendly

There you have it. Facebook is now working very hard to help users get more control over their content. These changes are, together, the most sweeping sharing and privacy changes Facebook has ever released. These new features will be released to all users over the next few days, starting today. When you receive them, you will get a walkthrough to see all the new changes.

What do you think of Facebook’s changes? Are you happy to see this kind of user privacy become a priority at Facebook? Is there a change you were hoping to see sometime soon? Let us know what you think in comment section below.

Facebook Apologies for Mistakenly Blocking Accounts of Environmental Activists

Avoiding spam messages on Facebook isn’t an easy task. Even Facebook’s anti-spam system finds it difficult to identify and remove scams from its network. Recently, Facebook’s anti-spam computer algorithm mistakenly deleted numerous animal  rescuers/animal lovers and groups, which had been accused of posting spam and “irrelevant” content.

Many animal rescue organizations and environmental activists, who depend on Facebook to organize events and rescue animals, were accused of posting spam messages. Hence the automated system that identified the content as “spam”, notified the group members and other activists that they have been banned for 15 days from posting anything at all.

The reason for banning users was unknown, whether Facebook was really targeting animal rescuers, or was it the automatic system that erroneously marked it as spam. Members of the affected groups and activists arose and contacted the Facebook team to revoke the ban.

Animal Rescue

The affected members also created a Facebook page stating – Dont suspend our Animal Rescue Accountwhich is liked by more than 11,500 “likes”. An event that was created by the same members stated – Facebook abide by the Terms Of Service and undo the 15 day suspensionsgot over 1000+ attendees.

The members notified Facebook officials by sending e-mails to [email protected] and [email protected]

Here’s an email sent by one of the activists –

I am writing because numerous animal rescue / animal lovers and groups such as myself have been accused erroneously by facebook for posting spam and irrelevantcontent and disabled for 15 days…

We have been posting and cross posting about animals that need rescuing from shelters and owners… trying to find new homes for these animals.   This Is NOT SPAM NOR IRRELEVANT!!!!     These postings have helped unite pets with owners and obtained NEW homes for pets and SAVED ANIMALS LIVES!!!

l. I am NOT posting spam

2. Certainly NOT posting irrelevant content

In a quick response to these letters, Facebook sent notes of apology and lifted the ban from the blocked environmental activists and other people from posting messages. Facebook claimed that the instance was done by mistake, and had no intention to disable accounts or removing contents of the social network.

Here is the response sent by Facebook

“Your account was mistakenly blocked from posting on Pages. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We’ve lifted the block from your account, and you should now be able to post again.”

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in a statement to The Associated Press – “Facebook is not – and has never been – in the business of disabling accounts or removing content simply because people are discussing controversial topics. On the contrary, we want Facebook to be a place where people can openly express their views and opinions, even if others don’t agree with them.”

However, Facebook did not provide an in depth detail on why these groups were disabled, since they thought spammers would find ways around the anti-spam software.


Mobs and Riots – British Solution is Social Media Censorship?

ban social mediaThis year we’ve seen democracy protests in Egypt, flash mobs in Cleveland and Chicago, and most recently, rioting, looting and fires in England. What do all of these have in common? They have all been enabled to some extent by social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

What is the most natural reaction of a big government to a problem caused by social media? Naturally, they try to ban or censor it. We saw this happen in Egypt, when Mubarak shut down the internet. We’ve seen how Pakistan has shut down Facebook. It seems like more and more countries are following China’s great example for isolating people from news and social networks.

So what would you expect from the politicians of Britain? It looks like the impulse to protect people from the Internet (for their own good) isn’t absent in Britain, after the riots there. A report from EFF.org (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) provides a quote from Prime Minister Cameron which displays another misguided swipe at free speech in social media:

…when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers.

video of London riots

Is this what England needs? Do they need police powers to censor social media? Of course they do, after all, it worked so well in Libya and Egypt. We’ll know more about what’s going to shake out from the rhetoric once members from social media services Facebook and Blackberry RIM meet with UK government officials on the 25th of August.

I hope that freedom wins over a restrictive political solution. As Ben Franklin once said “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.

The police need more understanding of how social media works, and not more power to stop it from working.

Google Plus Adds “Verified Accounts”

There have been a lot of issues and debate over the last month about Google’s real namepolicy for their social network, Google Plus. Accounts that had pseudo names and nicknames were taken down immediately from the network. Google’s strict name policystates that users are prohibited from using nicknames and should enter their real name while creating an account.

Despite the naming rules, there are several aficionados who are creating fake profiles of celebrities and public figures, which make it difficult to understand who the real one is. Recently we saw an increasing number of accounts using the name of Paris Hilton. To overcome this problem, Google had announced that they will start verifying accounts of its users on its social network, and probably delete the fake profiles.

Wen-Ai Yu, an employee at Google, announced  on her Google Plus profile along with a YouTube video stating that the social network has started the verification process by providing a verified namebadge to all celebrities and public figures.

When you visit a user’s profile and notice a check mark next to their name, it indicates that the user’s account is verified, and when you mouse over the check mark, it says verified name.

Google Plus Verified Account

However, the verification process is not applicable to everyone. Wen-Ai Yu states that Google is focused on verifying public figures, celebrities, and people who have been added to a large number of circles. They are taking things slowly and are working on expanding this to include more people in the future.

You might be wondering how to verify your own name on Google+. For now, we’re focused on verifying public figures, celebrities, and people who have been added to a large number of Circles…but keep in mind that this is just the beginning. We’re working on expanding this to include more people in the future, so hang tight!

Below is a video from  Wen-Ai Yu, explaining the new Verified Accounts feature.

The Impact of Facebook Scams and How Scammers Make Money

In the past, we reported a number of Facebook scams that were spreading like wildfire. Scam messages including Girl Killed Herself After Dad Posted On Wall Scam, Marika Fruscio Spam, OMG Can’t Believe Justin Beiber Did This To A Girl Spam, which were reported earlier are still spreading on Facebook. As Facebook scams continue to boom and spam news feeds, Websense, a web security firm conducted an interesting study that explains how scam messages spread and how they work.

Websense conducted their study by choosing two scams which are still very much actively spreading. The study showed that nearly 1800 Facebook users clicked and interacted with the scam every few seconds. Assuming that every user spent at least 1 minute on the scam website completing surveys, then there will be 2,592,000 hits (visitor count) per day! That’s a bomb!

Calculation: (24 hours X 60 minutes) X 1,800 users = 2,592,000 hits per day

Users are tempted to click on such scam messages that increase their curiosity. And that’s why scammers create scams with enticing titles and descriptions along with images (thumbnails) of half-naked girls.

How do scams spread?

There are two ways on how scam messages spread. One, when users click on a scam message, they will be taken to a fake page where they will be asked to verify their age by clicking on the “Jaa” button twice. The “jaa” button is coded with functions that will post the message on their Facebook wall automatically.

Second, when a user clicks on a scam message, the user will be taken to a webpage where it contains an image which appears like a normal YouTube player (Or any other video player). These sites will not have any age verification procedure. However, in this case the play button is coded, so when the user clicks on the play button, it will automatically “like” and share the scam message on their Facebook wall.

Here is the code that is used to automatically share the message in the background –

Facebook Scam Share Code

The scam the spreads across the news feed when users’ friends start clicking on the message.

Official Guide To Facebook Security – Protecting Your Facebook Accounts from Scammers

It looks like the Facebook Security team have started to take scam messages and phishing attacks seriously. They have come up with a 14 pages long document called Guide To Facebook Securitywhich will help its users understand the social network’s security features and possible ways to protect  their  account from threats like malware and phishing attacks. It also includes tips on how users can avoid click-jacking and like-jacking scam messages and scam apps.

The 14-page guide was authored by three key persons, the former Senior Director of Internet Safety at Symantec Linda McCarthy, Purdue University security researcher Keith Watson, and teacher/editor Denise Weldon-Siviy.

The authors state – “This guide is all about empowering you to Own Your Space — to understand what Facebook is doing to make the site safe and secure and to take the actions that are needed in this new digital world to protect yourself and your account,”

Guide To Facebook Security

Here are the top tips for Staying Secure on Facebook provided by the Facebook Security team –

  • Only Friend people you know.
  • Create a good password and use it only for Facebook. Don’t share it with anyone and change it on a regular basis.
  • Share your personal information only with people and companies that need it.
  • Log into Facebook only ONCE each session. If it looks like Facebook is asking you to log in a second time, skip the links and directly type www.facebook.com into your browser address bar.
  • Log out of Facebook after using someone else’s computer.
  • Use secure browsing whenever possible.
  • Only download Apps from sites you trust.
  • Don’t paste script (code) in your browser address bar.
  • Use browser add-ons like Web of Trust and Firefox’s NoScript to keep your account from being hijacked.
  • Beware of goofyposts from anyone—even Friends. If it looks like something your Friend wouldn’t post, don’t click on it.
  • Scammers might hack your Friends’ accounts and send links from their accounts. Beware of enticing links coming from your Friends.

The document is a Creative Commons licensing,  and is available for free! You can  download  your copy from the  Facebook Security Page.

Additionally, the document elucidates how to avoid scammers, and configure advanced security features, like HTTPS encryption, one-time passwords, log-in notifications and recovering a hacked account. It is a must read to every user on Facebook. Especially the ones who are always tricked by scammers.

However, I wonder if this would stop users from clicking/spreading scam messages. I personally feel that Facebook needs to come with a strong way on how they themselves can prevent scams from spreading, rather than educating users with tips and relying on them to put an end to scam messages.

We have compiled a list of  Most Actively Spreading Scams on Facebook  that you might want to have a look at. In addition to that, don’t forget to check out our article about  Avoiding Facebook Likejacking and Clickjacking scams. Here’s an article on how you can  Identify and Avoid  Facebook scams.

“HaHa… I would hate to be this person” Facebook Scam

A new scam is making its way around the Facebook realm. The scam tries to feed on people’s curiosity by placing a post on people’s wall that reads, “HaHa… I would hate to be this person. Talk about embarrassing!!! Can you believe they posted that on their Facebook?” Below you will see a picture of what the scam looks like. It will appear in your feed as if one of your friends posted it. Don’t fall for it!

Scam PicIf you click on the link it will take you to a website that basically attempts to steal your Facebook credentials. See the picture below. Notice that the website presents itself as Facebook wanting you to login. If you do this they will steal your credentials and use your Facebook account to spread further havoc. In the picture below, you will notice the URL highlighted at the top. Notice it says, “futurejobstodayb.com/b1/b1us/”. This is not Facebook. That is a sure fire sign that this is a SCAM!

Fake Login

If you have fallen victim to such a scam, immediately change your Facebook password. To do this open Facebook, go to “Account”, then “Account Settings”, and then find the line that says “password”. There will be an “edit” link which is where you go to change your password.

There are many ways you can identify and avoid Facebook scams. Read through the articles in our Social Media section listed at the top of this web page. Be aware of oddities. For instance, if you have a friend that seldom posts gossip or doesn’t look at porn, be aware when a gossipy or pornographic link shows up on their wall. Also notice the URL of the link they want you to click. If the website name seems real strange and random, you might consider asking your friend if they meant to post that link, and if it is OK.

I hope this helps prevent some future problems for you. Please share this link with a friend and, as always, I love to hear your comments and feedback.