Google Steps Up Its Game Against Facebook: Calls It A “Trap”

Google might rule the roost today, but five years on the scenario might be very different. Facebook is amassing a treasure trove of data on users around the globe that might give it the competitive advantage it needs to take on Google, and Google is obviously aware of this.


Earlier this week, Google updated its ToS (Terms of Service) to stop Facebook from importing contact data from Google (Gmail). Within a couple of days, Facebook found a way around this by encouraging users to manually download and then upload their contact information. This trick ensured that users could still import information from Gmail, without Facebook needing to directly access Google’s Contacts Data API or Portable Contacts API.

As you might have guessed, Google isn’t too happy about this. After terming Facebook’s trickery as “disappointing”, Google is now resorting to a more direct approach to discourage users from importing data into Facebook.

Google is automatically displaying the following warning to all users who land on the contacts export page via Facebook:


Hold on a second. Are you super sure you want to import your contact information for your friends into a service that won’t let you get it out?

Here’s the not-so-fine print. You have been directed to this page from a site that doesn’t allow you to re-export your data to other services, essentially locking up your contact data about your friends. So once you import your data there, you won’t be able to get it out. We think this is an important thing for you to know before you import your data there. Although we strongly disagree with this data protectionism, the choice is yours. Because, after all, you should have control over your data.

Google’s motto has always been “Do No Evil”. Of late, critics have questioned Google’s dedication to that motto. However, Google obviously knows the value of being counted amongst the good guys. Even though it doesn’t want to provide Facebook free access to its social graph, it isn’t explicitly blocking its users from exporting their own data.

It will be interesting to see if this actually works. Casual users are notorious for not paying attention to messages like this. However, Google has definitely succeeded in highlighting the closed nature of Facebook, which has been criticized heavily in the past by privacy and data portability advocates. Well played Google.

What is RockMelt? Do We Need a Facebook Web Browser?

Yes, there’s a new web browser designed around the idea that you can share more, and share more quickly on Facebook and Twitter. That alone may turn some people away, depending on how much they value their privacy. However, after trying it for a short time, I can see how this browser could easily turn normal Facebook users into hyped up Uber-Facebook users.

RockMelt was founded by Eric Vishria and Tim Howes, and is backed by Netscape developer Marc Andreessen.   It was released yesterday, mostly by invitation only. You can get a copy of this browser by visiting and signing up via your Facebook ID.

After signing up late last night I received my invite and downloaded it. The install went fairly quick and here’s the first thing I saw … a Facebook login.


Yes, that’s right, it seems to be required. However, that makes sense.

It took me quite awhile to figure out most of the actions I could perform. If you open the RockMeltmenu at the top right corner of the browser, and click the Helpitem, you’ll find help for a few basic tasks. Here’s the first thing you see there.


As some of you have already noticed, RockMelt is built on top of Chromium, which is the basis for Google’s Chrome web browser. Those using Chrome now won’t have a hard time getting around in the browser.

Rather than go into too many details, I’ll show you the RockMelt video preview. It’s very well done.

RockMelt video

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I tried it, I like it, and haven’t found any major bugs yet. If you are already using Google Chrome, and you’re in Facebook often, there’s no reason not to give RockMelt a try. You don’t have to make it your default browser, and it won’t do anything to your current web browsers.   My wife reports that Farmville works very well in Chrome and RockMelt.


Twitter Introducing Location Based Places/Check-ins?

Looks like location is taking a new dimension. You can no longer just visit some place and not tell your friends about it, literally. recently introduced a new location based service called Facebook Places. Facebook Places was in direct competition with previously introduced service Foursquare.


It looks now that is also all set to introduce Places and Check-ins. As you can see from the image above, Twitter has some sort of check-ins in place where users can claim to be in places. In addition to that people can also check-in to places as seen in the "Recent people in Twitter HQ". If you are a Foursquare user, you might be familiar with this, albeit, instead of claiming a place, you actually become the mayor of a certain place.

With location based services heating up, thanks to the additional advertisements services can obtain from local businesses, this is definitely going to be another way for Twitter to claim a share of revenue, just like Facebook did.

(via Scripting News – Hacker News h/t @Scobleizer | Image Credit – Scripting News/Flickr)

Queen of England Set To Join Facebook

is set to get its share of Royalty with the Queen of England set to create here own Facebook fan page. Starting this Monday, fans of the Queen of England will be able to view royalty pictures, videos, news and speeches on Facebook.

Queen of England

Facebook though is not new to this kind of attention with US President Barack Obama already having his own fan page on the social networking site. With the Queen of England joining in, they definitely have a lot of royalty amongst them. Not to forget the huge brands and celebrities which have already been a part of Facebook for long.

According to the report from Sky News, the Queen already has her own Monarchy  account. However, the Facebook account has come almost a year after she opened her account. She also has a Royal account. Talk about social networking royalty.

WinDroplr for Easy Sharing of Images, Text, Links and Files

windroplr-iconI’ve got plenty of ways to share files online, but so far, I haven’t found an instant screen capture tool to share images online. While visiting WebDomination, I ran across a tool that may solve that problem.

Have you ever heard of Droplr, the Mac application for sharing Links, Images, Notes and Files? Now there’s a system tray app for Windows, called WinDroplr, that gives you some of the same features.

You can download the installation file at, it’s about 700k in size, but requires .NET 4.0 Framework, if you are running WinXP.


Once installed, you’ll have a windroplr icon in your system tray. To use the program, click the systray icon once to show the floating drop zone in the bottom right corner of the display. Once it’s up, you can drag URLs, text and images from your web browser into the drop zone. Once the item is uploaded to, you’ll get a brief notification above the systray. Click on the notification before it disappears to copy a short URL to the upload.

You can also use WinDroplr to share files and collections of files. Drag them from an explorer window onto the drop zone. If you’ve selected more than one file, it will create a zip archive before it uploads.

Another feature lets you take and upload screenshots by right clicking into the systray icon’s menu.


The short URLs generated by WinDroplr are some of the shortest around. Somehow it offers integration with your Twitter account, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

Below is a video showing WinDroplr being used.

WinDroplr Preview


Techie Buzz Verdict:

I love the ability to quickly share links, files, notes and images. The drop zone is a pleasure to use, and the built in screenshot tool is my favorite feature. I’ll be keeping this one around and I recommend it.


Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Fake Like Button Viral Scam Hits Facebook

Facebook and scams go hand in hand. No matter what you do, you are never safe from one. A new fake Like scam has erupted on Facebook, and though it is not nasty, it shows how scammers can pawn Facebook users and make them like links without their consent.

Facebook OMG Guy St0ned Scam

Take for example this new scam with an enticing link and a video titled "0MG! This GUY must be St0ned to Death for doing this to a GIRL!". Just for the record, there is no video and this link is just a scam which disguises a Facebook like button as a different button. As you can see above, 3 of my friends liked this link. If you visit the site in question, you will see an interface as seen in the image below.


The site uses an interface similar to Facebook and also sports false copyrights. In case you thought that was bad, your entire intention of clicking on that link was to watch the video. However, there is no sign of any video at all. The "Continue" button in this page is actually a "Fake Facebook Like button", which has been manipulated using some styling. Clicking on it will stealthily like the website and take you back to your profile.

Facebook Like Scam

Once again, some scams are easy to fall prey to. Though they are not 100% avoidable, the best you can do is to visit your Facebook profile page after you have clicked on a link if you find it dicey. If you find any unwanted updates or likes, delete them immediately. In my case, my test account showed that I liked the website after I clicked on the button (see screenshot above).

Facebook Scam Likes

For the record about 221, 572 people have felt to the scam while I wrote this post. Don’t be one of them. Also help your friends by liking this website instead Smile.

How To Find Spam Posts Filtered by Facebook On Fan Pages

Earlier today I wrote a post about a new feature called Spam Filter for Facebook Fan Pages, which would automatically filter spam posts based on Facebook’s own criteria and also based on how you Flag content.

Facebook Spam Posts on Fan Page

However, the Spam posts are not visible directly when you visit the fan page. In order to view posts which are marked as Spam in your Facebook fan page. Visit the fan page and click on the "Options" link under the tabs and then click on the "Spam" link to view the posts marked as Spam by Facebook.

Facebook Friendship Pages Brings Friends Conversation In The Open

Have you ever been curious on what conversation two people have in private life? Well, you for definitely cannot know that, but starting today you will know what they have been talking about in public, which events they have been attending, which photos they are in together and so on, albeit only if they are on .

Facebook Friendship Pages

Facebook launched a new feature today called Friendship Pages, which basically contain public wall posts and comments between two friends, photos in which they were tagged in together, events they RSVP’d to and more.

Only users who are friends of both the people will be able to view the historical data and exchanges between two users. That is, you’ll be able to see a friendship page if you are friends with one of the people and have permission to view both people’s profiles.

You will find a friendship page from links under relevant Wall posts, under relationship stories and under the main photo on a friend’s profile page, though I don’t see any yet.

Now here’s the catch. On a day to day basis you might see several people commenting on each other’s post and being tagged in a photo. However, no one really cares about the historical data and won’t browse hundreds of pages to figure out what you have been discussing and doing. With Facebook’s Friendship pages, all this historical data will be available in one page.

Of course since this data is public you might argue that it is possibly right for Facebook to display it however they want to. Right? A simple option like "Don’t allow me to be paired in Friendship pages" should do the job.

Facebook Adds Spam Filter for Pages

I love the concept of fan pages since they allow brands, websites and people to connect with their fans through one of the biggest social networking website in the world. However, managing a fan page is a nightmare specially when you allow anyone to post to your wall.

Facebook Fan Page Spam Filter

In my experience of managing the Techie Buzz Fan Page (psst – we have 3000 fans, become one if you aren’t alreadySmile). I have seen a lot of posts which are spam and have been manually removing them by deleting them from the wall. This process is tedious because of the amount of posts I have to delete.

But it looks like Facebook has finally begun to understand the problems fan page admins are facing with the introduction of a new Spam Filter for Pages. According to the FAQ about Spam filter, Facebook says:

Facebook is now helping Page admins ensure that the most valuable content posted by users on their Page wall is more visible to anyone viewing the Page. We are now offering automatic content filtering on Page walls that will ensure that posts soliciting spam are removed from public view as well as ensure that posts containing good content remain more visible.

So go ahead and check your fan page, maybe you would see much lesser spam now and will be able to manage it with ease.

Digg Continues It’s Downward Spiral: Fires 37% of Workforce, Faces Cheating Allegations

2010 is shaping up to be a terrible year for Digg, the once poster child of the Web 2.0 crowd. The much-delayed redesign (Digg v4) triggered a user revolt and drove away several dedicated users, key executives like Chas Edwards and Matt Williams are leaving the company, and now the site is facing allegations of gaming its own voting system to benefit its publishing partners.

Clever sleuthing by a Digg user has revealed the occurrence of large scale manipulation of Digg’s ranking system over the past couple of weeks. Immediately after Digg’s mystery tour of its algorithm, several users (159 of them, to be exact) signed up with usernames like a1, a3, a5, d1, d2, d3, dd1, dd2, dd3, diggerz10, diggerz11, diggerz12, s1, s2 and s4. All of these users then went on to digg upcoming stories in large numbers, more specifically, upcoming stories from Digg’s publishing partners like TechCrunch, Huffington Post and YouTube. In fact, these fake accounts almost single handedly pushed dozens of stories to Digg’s front page.

Impact of Suspicious Accounts on Digg (full stats)

While the evidence at hand is compelling, and it’s clear that some sort of an unfair practice clearly took place, there are plenty of unanswered questions. The biggest question for me is, why? Why would Digg need to game the system, when they can easily (and more securely) achieve similar results by tweaking its algorithm? Even if Digg felt the need to game the system, it’s hard to digest that they would be so crude about. They had to be aware of the risks involved. Digg has yet to issue an official response, but they definitely have some explaining to do.

Even before this controversy broke, things were looking somber for Digg. Earlier today, its CEO acknowledged that Digg was bleeding money and let go 37% of its staff (25 employees) in an attempt to reach profitability by 2011. Announcing the layoffs, Digg’s CEO Matt Williams wrote,

“It’s been an incredibly tough decision. I wish it weren’t necessary. However, I know it’s the right choice for Digg’s future success as a business. I’m personally committed to help find new opportunities for everyone affected by the transition. Digg’s Board members have also offered to help find placements within their portfolio companies.”

Digg was once the hottest Web 2.0 website in the block. Getting dugg meant instant fame, as Digg had the potential to send hundreds and thousands of users within just a few hours. However, of late, Digg has lost most of its charm. Reddit has emerged as a strong competitor with better social features, and a more welcoming (and mature) community. Digg’s deterioration started even before the catastrophic redesign. However, if users now start losing faith in Digg’s impartiality, this might just be it for the website that changed the way many of us consume news.

Update: Digg has finally responded. According to the official explanation, the accounts identified are indeed fake accounts that were being used by the Digg team to test potential shortcomings of the algorithm.