Facebook Acquires Instagram for $1 billion

Facebook has just announced that it is will be acquiring the massively popular photo-sharing app Instagram for nearly $1 billion. Instagram has gone from strength to strength since its release a couple of years back, and has already amassed nearly 30 million users. Its Android app hit the 1 million downloads milestone within just 12 hours of its release.


Facebook has a disheartening record as far as acquisitions go. Almost all of its previous acquisitions have been talent acquisitions, and even popular products like Friendfeed stagnated under Zuckerberg’s watch. More recently, Facebook acquired Gowalla, only to shut it down a few weeks later.

Thankfully, Zuckerberg has opted to follow a different strategy with Instagram. The Instagram team will operate with autonomy within Facebook’s umbrella. While Instagram will get the opportunity to leverage Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure, Facebook might also integrate several of Instagram’s features into its own app. “We’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, affirmed Zuckerberg. He also vouched to retain “the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook”.

Facebook already had a massively popular photo-sharing feature. However, what it lacked was a simple app focused on just photography. If Facebook can manage to leverage Instagram’s assets without destroying its appeal, then the acquisition should prove to be immensely beneficial for both parties. The combined might of Facebook and Instagram will undoubtedly give a hard time to the Google Plus and Picasa combo.

Facebook Steps Forward to Stop Employers from Asking Candidates’ Passwords

FacebookFacebook has often been criticized for not taking privacy issues seriously. However, for once, it’s being proactive in defending users’ privacy. Earlier in the month, there were disturbing reports that several colleges and companies have begun demanding Facebook passwords during the interview process in the pretext of doing character check. The AP described how Rob MacLeod, a finalist for a police job, was forced to disclose his password to the interviewer. Facebook has now officially reacted to the practice, which was criticized heavily by several groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Facebook is modifying its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to explicitly forbid solicitation or sharing of passwords. Facebook’s announcement also highlights the pitfalls of requesting access to private information from candidates during the hiring process.

We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think its right the thing to do. But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating. For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person.

Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, even hinted that Facebook is willing to go beyond changing its policies and issuing advisories if the need arises. “We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges”.

Facebook’s proactive approach needs to be applauded. It’s a refreshing departure from its typical casual approach towards user privacy. However, Facebook also has a lot to lose if the practice of forcing candidates to reveal their passwords catches on. Already, users are becoming more cautious about what they share publicly on Facebook. However, getting candidates to disclose their password bypasses any privacy wall that the user might erect. If it becomes commonplace enough, students and professionals, who form a big chunk of Facebook’s user base, could well be turned off from having a Facebook account.

Rovio Angry Birds Stores and Theme Parks in China

China is crazy about Angry Birds. There are more than 40 million downloads of the Angry Birds game in China. Rovio, the Finnish creator of the game, already has an office in Shanghai with about 20 employees. It has also opened its first store in Finland.

Nowadays you get anything from USB drives to mooncakes on Angry Birds in China. There is a huge market for Angry Bird items that ranges from regular merchandise to a larger than life-sized Angry Bird games in theme parks.  Angry Birds comes after Disney and Hello Kitty as a top pirated merchandising brand in China. Rovio has a potential market of hundreds of millions and unsurprisingly they have decided to open stores in Beijing and Shanghai.  The CEO of Rovio, Vesterbacka has been quoted saying,

“Rovio chose Shanghai as the first location for an international office because of its unique position as one of the most creative and technologically advanced cities in the world, and also because Rovio wants to show its appreciation to Chinese fans by serving them even better locally”

Here are some pics from Chinanews.com on the Angry Birds game in a theme park in Hunan.

  Rovio is looking at these unofficial items for inspiration for its own official products. The Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka has stated that he would not seek legal action against piracy. In fact, Rovio is negotiating with the theme park for a  partnership instead of getting into legal action against them.

Vesterbacka has big plans of the company’s growth in China saying,

“Hopefully, Angry Birds will become the first entertainment brand to have more than one billion fans globally. And occupying the feature phone segment is absolutely a big part of the plan. Every day we are considering buying another company, and that is what we are looking at here in China. We are determined to acquire and hire top-end talent in China”

Twitter Makes HTTPS Default

Last year Twitter implemented a security feature that allowed its users to browse the site via a secured HTTP connection (HTTPS). This feature was not enabled by default and users had to go to their Settings and enable the feature. However, Twitter now wants to secure user profiles and has made the feature enabled by default.

Using HTTPS will not only help protect the privacy of millions of users, but also offers greater protection when accessing the network over unsecured Wi-Fi connections. Websites with a HTTPS connection is much preferred, since it is one of the most secure ways of sending and receiving content on the web. Many Google services including Gmail make use of the HTTPS protocol by adding up an extra layer of security.

Using a site over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection and without having HTTPS enabled, could let hackers gain access to your account with the help of a session cookie. In this case, if you’re using Twitter via an unprotected connection, then the hacker can possible post tweets and read all your Direct Messages without your knowledge.

Also Read: How Safe is Gmail, Twitter and Facebook? Is HTTPS Safe? We Show You How It Isn’t

With HTTPS enabled, it now makes Twitter secured and encrypts your login sessions. That way, no hacker can sneak into your account or gain access to it.

Twitter posted an official statement on its blog explaining the new feature –

Last year, we added the option to always use HTTPS when accessing Twitter.com on the web. This setting makes your Twitter experience more secure by protecting your information, and it’s especially helpful if you use Twitter over an unsecured Internet connection like a public WiFi network.

Now, HTTPS will be on by default for all users, whenever you sign in to Twitter.com. If you prefer not use it, you can turn it off on your Account Settings page. HTTPS is one of the best ways to keep your account safe and it will only get better as we continue to improve HTTPS support on our web and mobile clients.

As the feature now comes enabled by default, users, however, can opt-out if they prefer not to use it. Simply go to your Twitter Settings page and uncheck the “Always use HTTPS” option –

Twitter HTTPS Enable

It is recommended that you keep this feature enabled in order to keep your account and data safe. If you’re always using Twitter out and about, it is highly recommended that you use the HTTPS setting and leave it that way forever.

Facebook too has an option for its users to enable HTTPS, but this is yet to become a default feature.

Pinterest Your Life

Pinterest is a picture-based social networking site that allows you to like and comment on pictures just as you would for posts on Facebook. It has a “Pinboard” instead of the Wall, and “friends” are people with common interests. You can “follow” these people. That is the Twitter influence for you. The “pins” or posts can be shared across to Facebook too. Pins are categorized into pictures, videos, discussions, and gifts. Very sensible if you ask me. Unlike Facebook however, everything is organized into cool blocks with an image that you can like, repin, or comment on.

It has already hit 12 million unique visitors in the U.S. which is the fastest-ever growth for a new social network site. It was almost on 2 million hits in the U.K. alone. On Facebook, most of the likes come from women, which is understandable given the site’s focus on fashion, home keeping, and the likes. It’s almost like your Good Housekeeping for free. It works as a timeline app within Facebook. Read all about it on techie-buzz.

It already has more traffic coming from referrals than Google+ and is almost on par with Twitter. This is huge. You can use this site to provide you with tons of ideas on movies, clothes, decor, food, travel, and you can use it to have a few good laughs too. I loved it on sight! But first, you need to get invited. It’s on the Google’s invitation-only model. You can request for an invite on the site.

I admit that as almost every post is by a woman, there is a decidedly feminine twist to the site. But tides do change. With a neighborhood of almost 6 million users who are quite active, this medium is worth a look. Apparently, its a good medium to job hunt as well. You can create a  board for projects that you work on, and you can pin your work on it. Other people can look at your progress and you can use it as a medium to showcase your work.

Warning, this is addictive. The visual angle that this brings has a big yes from me! It is that which differentiates this site from Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.

Dad Shoots Daughter’s Laptop 8 Times For Complaining On Facebook

In a bizarre incident a father decided to punish his daughter for posting rants about her family on . The father whose name is Tommy Jordan posted an 8 minute video on where he reads a letter from his 15 year old daughter and then pumps 8 bullets into her laptop.

The post was first posted on Facebook with a message "Facebook Parenting: For the trouble teen" and had the message:

My daughter thought it would be funny/rebellious/cool to post on her Facebook wall just how upset she was and how unfair her life here is; how we work her to…

In addition to that, Tommy Jordan also posted a message on  his profile which can be seen here and read below:

Parents and Kids… watch.
Today was probably the most disappointing day of my life as a father and I don’t know how to correct the situation. Since I can’t seem to make any headway with my daughter on Facebook, I chose instead to remedy the problem permanently.

The video in question has already gone viral and has amassed over 2 million views since it was posted. These days many kids take to Facebook for ranting against their family or school teachers. However, is such a punishment justified? Would you go ahead and punish your children likewise?

If you are interested in following the entire saga, you can catch up Tommy Jordan’s speech and him shooting his 15 year old girls laptop in the embedded video below.

So what do you think? Is the dad right or does he sound bizarre to you?

Facebook Provides Easy Way to Hide Live Ticker

Last year, introduced a new feature on the social networking site called "Live Ticker" which displayed a live activity stream of your Facebook friends. Facebook Ticker was hated by a lot of users and also led to a few Facebook scams including the one where users were duped into believing that they could stop posts from showing in Facebook Ticker.

In the past, we wrote about different ways to hide the Facebook Live Ticker. However, Facebook now allows users to hide the Live Ticker easily with the recent changes they have made.


If you are looking to hide the Facebook Ticker in your Facebook feed, you can now simply click the UP arrow key on the Ticker to hide the Facebook Ticker from view. Once that is done, you will no longer see the Ticker on your feed. If you want to see the Live Ticker again, you just have to click on the down arrow key and it will show up again.

Also Read:

However, one must note that hiding the Ticker will only hide it from view. There is no way to stop your posts from showing up on all your friends profile so don’t forget to stay away from Facebook scams which tell you that you can stop your posts from showing up in the Live Ticker.

Facebook Activity Feed Showing "Invalid Action Type" Errors

has a had a huge week with them going public with their $5 Billion IPO. However, it looks like they are facing problems with their infrastructure with the "Facebook Activity Feed" for websites showing an "invalid action type" error all across the web.

Facebook Activity Feed Invalid Action Type Error

Website owners who have been using the "Activity Feed" social plugin from Facebook might notice that the feed is no longer showing up and instead an error box with the message "Invalid action type" has taken it’s place. This problem is occurring on all websites and seems to be a big problem on Facebook’s side.

Facebook Social Plugin Error

The error is also apparent on Facebook’s Social Plugin code generator for all websites as seen in the screenshot above. Facebook has faced several problems in the past where the site has gone down for hours due to database problems and DNS issues among other things. However, this look like the first time that their social plugins have had issues.

If you are a webmaster who uses the Facebook Activity Feed on your website, you might see the above error. However, having the widget in question on your site does not affect loading time. We have contacted Facebook to check why this problem is occurring and will update the post when we get a response.

Indian Government and Courts Ignore Common Sense and Laws of the Land in a Drive to Leash the Internet

Even as the anti-SOPA protests continue to gain momentum in the US, time may have come for a similar campaign in India. A Delhi High Court judge, while hearing a criminal complaint against Google, Facebook and other online services, threatened to block all such websites “like China”. This comes just weeks after Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, courted controversy by asking Facebook and Google to pre-screen content.


CensorshipThe latest controversy began when, Vinay Rai, the editor of an Urdu-language newspaper, moved the lower court to prosecute 21 websites on which he discovered objectionable content. Speaking to the WSJ, Rai stated that the content he found “offends several religions including Hinduism, Islam and Christianity” and “involves pages and groups where users have mocked Hindu gods and goddesses, Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ”. In response, the trial court issued summons to the concerned organizations, which were approved by the Ministry of External Affairs.

“The sanctioning authority has personally gone through the entire records and materials produced before him and after considering and examining the same, he is satisfied that there is sufficient material to proceed against the accused persons under section 153-A, 153-B and 295-A of the IPC,” the Government said in its report.

Google, Facebook, and several others named in the complaint moved the High Court to seek exemption from the trial court as a similar case was already pending with the High Court. However, the HC judge – Justice Suresh Kait, not only refused to stay the trial court proceedings, but also threatened to go the China way if web-services didn’t clean up their act. He asked websites to develop a mechanism to keep a check and remove offensive and objectionable material from their web pages.

As you might expect, the court’s remark sent alarm bells ringing and have elicited sharp criticism both within and outside the country. Google’s advocate N K Kaul, remarked, “The issue relates to a constitutional issue of freedom of speech and expression and suppressing it was not possible as the right to freedom of speech in democratic India separates us from a totalitarian regime like China”. Manoj Nigam, VP-IT, Vodafone India, termed the demand to monitor and remove content “slightly absurd”, while Tamal Chakravarthy, CIO of Ericsson India believes that “Its (sic) highly improbable that such an act would come into existence”.

Google Search Gets its Most Significant Update Ever, Becomes More Personal

When Google launched Plus, it made it pretty clear that Plus itself was just one facet of Google’s social plans. Now, it is ready to unveil the other major component. Google Plus will soon become an integral part of Google Search – the core product on which Google built its empire.

Amit Singhal, the person who has shaped Google Search for more than a decade, wrote, “We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships”. Google has been experimenting with Social Search for over two years. However, empowered by its own social network, Google is now going to go where it couldn’t or wouldn’t go earlier. It is dubbing the new experience as “Search, plus Your World”. It centers around three crucial features.

Personal Results: Just as the name suggests, Google will tap into your Google Plus circles to fetch content created and shared by your friends. Looking for a place to party on a Friday night? Google can pull up places your friends have visited along with their comments. The objective is to add more context to information so that the search results do a better job at answering your queries.


Profiles Search: Google is adding profile autocomplete that will scan your circles to suggest friends, in addition to celebrities and other public personalities. “So when I search for [ben smith], I now find my dear friend Ben every time, instead of the hundreds of other Ben Smiths out there”, explained Singhal. The results themselves will also have tight integration with Google Plus. The results will be hyperlinked to Google Plus profiles, and you will be able to add people to your circles directly from the search results page.

People and Pages: The new Google search results page will have a little sidebar called “People and Pages on Google+” that will highlight personalities and communities related to your search term. For example, if you search for music you will see profiles of popular singers and musicians like Britney Spears and Alicia Keys.


“Search, plus Your World” is possibly the most radical update to Google Search ever. Make no mistake about it, as it begins rolling out to the millions of Google users across the world, ramifications are going to be felt. Most people resist change, and even the smallest of them often triggers vociferous protests. Google’s new personalized search dramatically alters search results, and often pushes Google Plus in your face. While there are plenty of cases where a personalized result will be more relevant, there are plenty of occasions where they will in fact be detrimental. Personalized search often creates a myopic world where new and useful information is buried beneath the familiar and old. So it’s no wonder that some people are going to hate “Search, plus World”. In fact, lots of people are going to hate the new Google Search. Fortunately, Google also realizes this. For the first time ever, it will be really easy to opt out of personalized and social search. With the click of a button you will be able to toggle between global results and your personal results, on a query to query basis. You will be able to see and judge the pros and cons of personalized search for yourself.