Facebook Releases Snapchat Clone Called Facebook Poke

Facebook has released yet another app for the iOS platform, and this one was apparently created in just twelve days by Zuckerberg and a small team of coders. The new app is called Facebook Poke, and is essentially a Snapchat clone. The story is that Facebook attempted to buy Snapchat’s tiny team of five, but the team chose to stay independent. So, Facebook decided to simply build its own Snapchat like app.


Facebook Poke is a mobile messaging app which can be used for sending pokes, messages (120 char), photos and videos (up to 10 seconds). However, like in Snapchat, the message self-destructs seconds (1,3,5, or 10 seconds) after the recipient views it. It also has a screenshot alert that notifies the sender if you attempt to screenshot the message.


In less than a day after Poke was launched, it has climbed to the #1 spot among free apps in the App Store, with Snapchat staying at #9 position. Poke is tightly integrated with the Facebook graph, and the Facebook brand name alone is strong enough to drive millions of downloads. However, the are a couple of areas of concern with Poke that might hold users back from jumping ships. Snapchat allows users to use custom usernames. On the other hand, Facebook Poke displays your real name, which is pulled from your Facebook profile. The other concern is related with data retention. Snapchat promises to delete your messages as soon as possible after the message is transmitted. Facebook on the other hand holds onto the message for two days after they have been seen by the last recipient, and after that it deletes the encryption key making the message inaccessible for everyone. However, the encryption key might persist in backups for up to 90 days. This if of course better than the standard Facebook terms of service, which grants the company liberty to store your content for as long as you have an account. But, will it be good enough for an app, which is meant for sharing the intimate photos you don’t want to be committed to record?

[ Download Facebook Poke ]

Facebook Bans Popular Extension F.B. Purity, Again!

FB-PurityWith the turf war between social media services heating up, these services are getting more and more hostile. Startups that were once proud of their open gardens have begun constructing walls to keep out competitors. Recently we saw Instagram pulling support for cards from Twitter, possibly in reaction to Twitter blocking Instagram’s friend import feature. Facebook and Google had earlier tussled over access to contacts data. Now, in a controversial move, Facebook has slammed the ban hammer on F.B. Purity.

F.B. Purity, which stands for Fluff Busting Purity, is a browser extension (actually an userscript) that promises to get rid of all the bloat from Facebook. It filters out the annoying and irrelevant pieces in your newsfeed, such as application spam, ads, and sponsored stories. F.B. Purity’s relationship with Facebook has always been tenuous. Facebook had threatened to ban F.B. Purity as far back as 2010 for infringing on its trademark. However, the developer managed to reach an agreement with Facebook and the script survived.

Now, Facebook is outlawing F.B. Purity because “Facebook’s terms specifically prohibit interference with the way Facebook is rendered to its users”. It also alleges that the script breaks Facebook’s ToS as it doesn’t connect via Facebook API, which is the approved method for interacting with Facebook’s services. Last time around Facebook tried sniffing F.B. Purity to render it useless. However, the developer managed to quickly find a workaround. So, this time Facebook didn’t even try. Instead, it banned the developer’s Facebook account, imposed a site-wide ban on the fbpurity domain, and threatened legal action.

Of course, a cursory investigation of the way F.B. Purity works is sufficient to unravel Facebook’s allegations. F.B. Purity is neither a Facebook client nor a Facebook application. It’s an userscript or an browser extension. It doesn’t directly access Facebook’s services. It’s a client-side script that modifies the page after the browser has downloaded it. In some ways it can be considered to be a browser feature. Hence, its ridiculous to force F.B. Purity to use Facebook’s APIs.

Facebook owns its services, and as such is free to do whatever it feels like. However, its latest complaint against F.B. Purity is simply thinly veiled bullying. If courts start buying Facebook’s logic, pretty much all browser extensions and scripts including ad-blockers and pop-up blockers will become illegal. I can appreciate that Facebook is trying to protect its interest. But, it is doing so by clearly inconveniencing the users and stepping on their freedom. It should be up to the user to decide how he wants the pages to be parsed by his browser, not Facebook.

Facebook Apps Harvest and Sell Private Information in the Open Market

It’s often said that if you are not paying for something then you are the product. The reckless abuse of privacy information by millions of free apps available in various repositories regularly drives home this point.

Bogomil Shopov stumbled upon a deal selling more than a million Facebook profiles, each of which accompanied with the name and email address of the user, for only five bucks. Although he didn’t specify the source, it is probably the GigBucks listing pictured below. According to the offer description, the list consists only of active Facebook users, mostly from the US, Canada, UK and Europe. The data was harvested through Facebook apps.


An opt-in list with a million verified email addresses and names would have easily fetched hundreds of dollars in the decade gone by. However, now, it’s available for just five bucks. That in itself suggests that perhaps lists like these are not all that rare or difficult to find. Social media services like Twitter and Facebook have dramatically lowered the expectations of privacy among users. Most people will think twice before signing up for a dicey looking website, but will not hesitate to sign in through Facebook to play a quiz or take an IQ test. A little bit of carelessness and a little bit breach of trust is all it takes for your name to appear in a list like this.

Facebook Launches Mobile App Install Ads

With more than a billion active users, Facebook is the undisputed social media champion. However, if there is one weakness in Facebook’s armor, it will have to be mobile. As pundits have pointed out again and again over the past year or so, Facebook’s mobile usage has been growing in leaps and bounds. However, the social networking giant hasn’t managed to monetize mobile particularly well. Today, Facebook is hoping to change that.

A short while back, Facebook rolled out Mobile App Install Ads for iOS and Android. App developers can take advantage of these demographics and interest based targeted ads to increase adoption of their apps. These ads will be integrated with the Facebook mobile app, and when clicked, it will take the user to the iTunes App Store or Google Play store page for the advertised app.


Facebook has been testing these ads since August with select developers and Preferred Marketing Developers. TinyCo, one of the chosen partners for the beta testing program, witnessed 50% higher CTRs (Click-through Rates) and significantly higher conversion rates compared to their current mobile channels, as well as a significant increase in player engagement. Nanigans, a Facebook marketing developer, experienced 8-10x the reach compared with its other mobile ad buys.

Facebook Offers Free Talktime to New Indian Users

FacebookWith developed nations like the US and the UK in the bag, the social networking giant Facebook is turning its attention to developing nations like India, where millions of new internet users are being added every year. The social networking giant has announced a new promotion, which is going to give all new users signing up with their mobile phones a Rs. 50 talktime. The same amount of talktime can also be won by referring new users.

Facebook is already pretty big in India, where it overtook Orkut to become the most popular social network in 2010. Since then, its reach has increased steadily. However, India is a country with a population of more than one billion, and an internet penetration of only about 10%. As the country continues to develop, millions of people are being newly introduced to the internet. This represents a tremendous growth opportunity for Facebook, which has hit saturation in several developed nations. The promotion is extremely smart as it offers something that is both relatively easy to distribute and also useful. India has a remarkable mobile penetration, and as Opera’s State of the Mobile Web Report has highlighted time and again, a huge chunk of the population access the web solely through their mobile phones.

However, there is a major caveat with promotions like these. Most Indians have multiple SIMs and a promotion like this might lead to a sudden spurt of fake profiles. If this happens, Facebook might succeed in bolstering its user count, but in the long term it probably won’t gain much. Also, one has to keep in mind that if Facebook is struggling to monetize eyeballs from countries like the US, Canada, and the UK, it’s going to be significantly tougher to monetize eyeballs from countries like India.

In order to avail this promotion, go to m.facebook.com/tt and register with your mobile number.

TweetDeck Updated, Finally Gets a Light Theme

If you are a Twitter power user, then the web interface is hardly going to cut it for you. Unfortunately, with Twitter actively discouraging new apps that replicate core functionality, the choices for the power user are not many, and they seem to get slimmer by the day as existing apps get acquired (e.g. Hootsuite acquiring Seesmic) or cease active development. TweetDeck is not just among the oldest, but also among the most flexible Twitter apps out there. When Twitter acquired TweetDeck last year, there were fears that it might languish under Twitter’s control. Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Towards the end of last year, TweetDeck was rewritten to get rid of Adobe AIR dependency and improve performance in the process. Since then, the TweetDeck team has been rolling out minor improvements on a regular basis. A short while back, TweetDeck pushed out its second major update since being acquired by Twitter.


If you are not a big fan of the dark look of TweetDeck, there is good news for you. The new version features a light theme, which is frankly is a lot more pleasing to look at. There are minor interface improvements everywhere, and the tweets themselves have been reformatted to adhere to Twitter’s mantra of consistency. You also get the option to change font sizes – Small (13pt), Medium (14pt) or Large (15pt). However, columns are still not resizable and tweets are still not expandable.

TweetDeck has been updated for all supported platforms other than iOS, which means web, Chrome, Mac and Windows.

Zuckerberg Says Choosing HTML5 over Native for Mobile Was Facebook’s Biggest Mistake, Promises Native Android App

FacebookAlmost four months after Facebook’s disastrous IPO, Zuckerberg finally broke his silence at TechCrunch Disrupt. Speaking to Arrington, Zuckerberg described the stock performance as ‘disappointing’, and shed his characteristic indifference towards Wall Street in an attempt to win back the confidence of investors who have been hurt by the sliding Facebook stock. However, the most interesting revelation came when Arrington enquired about mobile web, which is often highlighted by analysts as Facebook’s biggest challenge.

When I’m introspective about the last few years I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native… because it just wasn’t there. And it’s not that HTML5 is bad. I’m actually, on long-term, really excited about it. One of the things that’s interesting is we actually have more people on a daily basis using mobile Web Facebook than we have using our iOS or Android apps combined. So mobile Web is a big thing for us.

Last month, Facebook doubled its iOS app’s speed and responsiveness by ditching HTML5 in favor of native. The significant overhaul of Facebook’s iPhone app left Android users, who have long been treated as second class citizens by Facebook, disappointed once again. However, Zuckerberg has promised that a similar native Android app is on the way.

Zuckerberg also dismissed Facebook phone as “the wrong strategy”, but hinted that search might be something that Facebook will eventually get around to doing. Facebook’s deep integration into the fabric of the World Wide Web through the Open Graph enables it to collect treasure troves of metrics that can lend it a decisive advantage in deciphering the semantic web. Zuckerberg’s belief that search is a natural progression for Facebook is precisely the reason why Google has been desperately trying to get into the social media arena.

News Reading App Pulse Launches Gorgeous Web App

Popular news reading app Pulse has finally unshackled itself from the mobile platform with the launch of Pulse for the Web. When Pulse arrived for the iPad in 2010, it instantly garnered widespread acclaim due to its intuitive and pretty interface. Since then it has broadened its reach to iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, expanded its catalogue by signing up dozens of publishers, and diversified by adding video channels. Now, Pulse feels that it is finally ready to reach out to a wider audience.


Pulse for the Web focuses on the same things that made its mobile app so popular in the first place – a gorgeous clean interface that makes reading publications you love and discovering stories that you like simple and fun. In order to take full advantage of the larger resolution offered by desktops, Pulse has done away with its grid interface. Instead, the home page features a beautiful mosaic layout with large images and clean typography. Clicking on any link opens up the story in a clean distraction-free overlay. Pulse for the Web stays in sync with your mobile devices, and if you already have an account, all your settings will be instantly ported over.


Pulse team also worked with Microsoft to leverage advanced touch integration offered by Internet Explorer 10. Pulse web app supports swiping between articles, pinch-to-zoom, and more. If you have a Windows 8 tablet, Pulse for Web will practically behave like a native app.

Go ahead; take the new Pulse for the Web for a spin on pulse.me. I played around with it briefly, and the Pulse team is definitely not exaggerating when they claim to have not compromised on quality while porting to the web. In fact, the web app is even more beautiful and intuitive than the original mobile app. Pulse already has more than 15 million users, and Pulse for Web will only help in increasing that figure.

McAfee Social Protection Protects Your Facebook Photos

Facebook Photos was designed to make sharing of photos with the people that matter as easy as possible. Privacy was very much an afterthought, and that is still readily apparent. Although Facebook does provide reasonable amount of control over your photos, it is still very easy to slipup and unintentionally broadcast your private moments on the web. Even worse, your friends can share your photos to distribute your pics way beyond their intended social circle.

McAfee Social Protection solves all of this and more. Social Protection will be released as a browser plugin for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome towards the end of this month. Support for Macs, iOS, and Android will arrive by the end of this year. Once you install the plugin, the photos you upload are encrypted and uploaded to a different server. The photos appear blurred by default, and only the intended recipients who have Social Protection installed will be able to view the original snap. This takes care of situations where your boss, who is not even in your friendliest, might accidently stumbling upon your drunken pics because your friend decided to share them with everyone in his network.

via Mashable

McAfee also goes a step further, and makes it impossible to download or screencap your Facebook photos. Other than taking a snap of the screen with a camera, McAfee is pretty much making redistribution of your photos impossible. It is also including facial recognition technology that will automatically alert you if anyone in your network uploads a photo of you without tagging you in it.

We are still a few weeks away from the official release of Social Protection; however, if it indeed works as advertised, it might turn out to be a hit among the more privacy concerned netizens. The fact that only friends who have the plugin installed will be able to view your photos will definitely act as a deterrent. However, that might be a cost people will be willing to pay for the additional privacy.

Facebook Rolling Out ‘Save for Later’ Feature

Over the years, Facebook has evolved from being just a place to share what you are doing and what is happening in your life to a destination for creating and sharing great content in addition to sharing snippets of your life. Every now and then, while browsing through the news feed, you will stumble upon a great link or an insightful note that you might want to read later. There are apps like Instapaper and Pocket that are meant for just this – saving pieces of content that you want to delve into at your leisure. They work fairly well when you are using Facebook on your desktop. However, having to constantly switch between Instapaper and Facebook apps on your smartphone can become annoying.

Facebook is now attempting to ease this pain point by introducing ‘save for later’ feature. The Verge has confirmed that Facebook will be adding a ‘Save’ button beneath every update. Clicking on the button will tuck away the update in a ‘Saved’ sub-folder under your favorites. This feature is also being rolled out to Facebook’s mobile apps, where it will perhaps be most appreciated.


Saved stories are private, and can be easily unsaved with the tap of a button. As always, the update is being gradually rolled out to users. Once it is rolled out to your account, you should see a notification informing you about the new feature.