Tag Archives: Social Media

Google+ Early Users Given Invites To Hand Out, Get Yours Here

As we are all aware at this point, Google launched their newest project revolving around social interaction yesterday. Google+ is already one of the most talked about things on the internet. It has caught Twitter by storm, and people are raving about both the web interface and mobile app , which is currently only for Android Phones.

Google Plus Invites Screen

The biggest complaint among users up to this point was the inability to invite anyone new to the service, beyond an initial 10 or 15 people. Google recently changed that policy, giving all existing users (myself included) a currently unknown number of new invites. They warn that these invitations are not unlimited, however.

It seems that Google recognizes that the biggest issue they will have with Google+ is getting people to use it. I felt that not letting users send out invitations was a poor choice for Google. It would appear that they heard all of our cries for Google+, and have given us what we really wanted.

While a full review is coming in the next day or so, let me give you a few of my early thoughts on Google+ right now. To put it simply: It’s awesome. I think that the full integration with their mobile platform, the beautiful linking of social and search, and the great web interface all make Google+ a defiant player in the social space.

As I said, there will be a full review of Google+ as a product and a service coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled for that. If you have any questions about Google+, feel free to post them in the comments below.

Comment and Get a Google Plus Invite
Update: Google has closed Google+ invites for now. We will send out more when they open back up. Thanks for your patience.

Update 2: Google+ is now open to everyone with a Google+ account, please visit https://plus.google.com and sign in with your Gmail account to get access to Google+.

Update 3:  Don’t miss out on some really good articles on using Google+ along with several other editorials we have written for you.

How To Get Google+ Invites

Earlier today, Google launched a new social networking service called Google+. Google+ is Google’s latest service in the social networking segment and will compete with the likes of and .

Google+

In the past, Google has little success with some big projects including , and even their recent +1 button. However, just like and Google Music Google tries to build interest in their services by keeping it as invite only.

Most of the services Google launch are made available in US first, just like the invites for Google Music. Similarly, Google+ is also invite only right now and you can apply for an invite directly.

There are no direct invites being sent out right now but you can get yourself an invite by visiting this link. Additionally, you can learn more about Google+ service by visiting this link.

From the looks of it, this one definitely looks interesting.

Update: Google+ is now open to everyone with a Google+ account, please visit https://plus.google.com and sign in with your Gmail account to get access to Google+.

Update 2:  Don’t miss out on some really good articles on using Google+ along with several other editorials we have written for you.

Google launches their new social service, Google+

If you spend time on Google or any of its services, then you may have seen the new black menu bar. Many wondered if this was just some new design from Google. As it turns out, that black bar is a sign from Google that something big is coming. That something is Google+.

Google+ is the newest of Google’s projects to go into invitation beta. While its not Google’s first run at building a social network, Google+ is probably the most extensive. That doesn’t mean that Google is making a big deal of it yet, however. They are trying to keep it quiet, lest it get the build up to a fail that Wave had. You can take a look at the introductory video here.

From the official blog post, Google+ is really designed around Google itself. Their hope is to redesign the way we share online. They will group people into “Circles”, which you get to organize as you see fit. As of now, it pulls contacts from Gmail or Google Contacts.

Once you have circles set up, you get the ability to interact with those people. You can share images, links, or articles. You can even take advantage of “Sparks”, which will allow you to strike up conversations with people in your Circles. Google + also has a video chat service built in that is called “Hangouts” and a mobile application available for Android devices.

This mobile aspect of Google+ seems vital to the service. Google  promises  the easiest media  uploading  of any social media service. They are also  advertising  the “Huddle” feature, which is similar to texting. unlike traditional text messaging, you use data, similar to BlackBerry Messenger or Beluga.

From what I can tell, the potential for Google+ to be big is there.  What  remains to be seen is whether or not Google+ will actually be successful. As of now, it is in an invitation only beta. In order to check out any of these features, you need to be invited to that beta. I know i have signed up for it and hope to get in soon. If you want to check it out, you can sign up here.

 

Simon Pegg’s Twitter Account Hacked

Simon Pegg, described by Wikipedia as an English actor, comedian, writer, film producer and director, apparently got his Twitter account hacked earlier today. The hacker used his account to spread malware to his 1.2 million followers.

Simon Pegg Twitter Hacked

The tweet in question was sent via Twitter for Blackberry, and asked Pegg’s twitter followers to download a screensaver of his latest movie Paul. Thousands of his followers did and many even tweeted Thank youafter installing it. Those who had anti-virus protection installed however were informed of a Trojan horse being found in the ScreenSaver.exe file being linked to. Few hours later Simon posted few messages, indicating that his account was hacked and he did not post any message about a screensaver, and warning followers that they should not download the infectedscreensaver.

Simon Pegg Confirms Twitter Hack 1

Simon Pegg Confirms Twitter Hack 2

 

Being a Windows screensaver, the file is not believed to be malicious to anyone who is not using Microsoft’s Operating System. Jokingly however, Pegg did have this to say to Apple users:

Simon Pegg Jokes about Apple

He certainly is not the first celebrity to have his Twitter account hacked. Famous accounts like ih8sn0w and Bristol Palin accounts have been hacked in the past.

As always, we recommend you to be cautious while clicking on any suspicious link. WOT can be helpful in keeping you safe.

MyPageKeeper Promises to Protect You from Facebook Scams

Facebook scams are beginning to become a real nuisance. Most of them don’t do much real damage, other than causing some embarrassment, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t annoying. Most scams simply blast the same message that fooled you to all your friends, which helps them in going viral. Some of them might also ask you to fill surveys that profit the scammer. However, only a very few try to distribute malware or spread phishing campaigns.

What makes these scams so effective is the fact that they are fairly hard to spot. Most people implicitly trust anything posted on their wall by their friends. Moreover, it is often hard for people to resist clicking on links promising leaked videos of Bin Laden’s death or the last words of a recently dead celebrity. Facebook scams prey on people’s gullibility and curiosity to get the better of them.

A new Facebook app called MyPageKeeper promises to protect you from Facebook scams. It does so by monitoring your news feed, wall posts, and installed apps. It doesn’t say exactly how it detects a piece of content as spam, but it’s most likely that MyPageKeeper is simply database driven.

MyPageKeeper

Two Ph.D. students in computer science at the Bourns College of Engineering teamed up with StopTheHacker, a web protection service founded in 2009 by Anirban Banerjee, who received his Ph.D. in 2008 from UC Riverside, and Michalis Faloutsos, a professor of computer science and engineering at the university, to create MyPageKeeper.

“Facebook is the new web,said Rahman. It provides a fertile ground to spread malware, since users trust links and posts that are seemingly from their friends. Hackers have realized this, and they have started using it to distribute malware and conduct identity theft.

MyPageKeeper is free to use, and getting started is as simple as installing the Facebook application. It’s designed to work automatically, and proactively. Once you enable it, you don’t need to tinker with it further. However, if you like to tinker with things, then there are a few options that you can tweak. You can specify how aggressive you want MyPageKeeper to be. Obviously, being more aggressive runs the risk of generating more false positives. You can also change how you want the app to notify you about malicious content spotted in your profile.

MyPageKeeper-Settings

Faloutsos, who has studied web security for 15 years, believes web security is following the same trajectory as desktop security. Ten years back, people weren’t serious about desktop security, but now almost everyone has an antimalware product installed on their system. Today, most people don’t realize the importance of staying cautious on the web, but in the coming years, Faloutsos believes that everyone will realize the importance of web security. People are educated about e-mail spam,says Faloutsos. But, now there is an implicit trust, almost validation, when someone sees a post from a friend on Facebook.

You can install this Facebook application from MyPageKeeper.org.

[Hat tip to @sreeyesh for recommending this app]

Facebook for Android Gets an Update, Finally Supports Video Uploads

Facebook has released an updated version of its Android client. It’s a fairly minor update, but it’s still something that will please Android owners, who have long complained that Facebook treats them as second class citizens.

Most of the stuff added to Facebook for Android 1.6 are things that have been present in its iOS counterpart for a long time. The biggest improvement is that it is finally possible to upload videos to Facebook using its official Android client. This update also adds support for Facebook Pages in the sense that users can tap the names of Pages present in their news stream to browse all content posted by that Facebook Page. However, search feature for Pages is still missing. The other improvement is in the news feed itself. It now supports a wider range of sources, and more stuff can be opened natively.

Facebook-Android-Video-Upload

Interestingly enough, the new Facebook app demands permission to send SMS. I couldn’t find any option to send an SMS from the app itself, so I have no clue as to why the app insists on this permission. Do let me know if you manage to figure out exactly what is going on.

There are still boatloads of features missing from Facebook’s mobile application. Even popular features such as “Comment Likes” and “Name-Tagging”, which were released months ago, are yet to make their way to the mobile application. Facebook has been spreading itself thin, and it’s well known that it doesn’t spend too much manpower on mobile app development. Heck, the excellent iPhone app was created by a single guy, Joe Hewitt. Project Spartan might be more important to Facebook, but it wouldn’t really hurt to add a couple of extra guys to the mobile app development team.

You can download Facebook for Android 1.6 from the Market.

Social Network Integration in Windows Makes Sense

Click a photo on your Windows Phone 7 device and with a tap you can share it with your Facebook friends or save it to Windows Live SkyDrive. In the People hub, check out updates of your friends on Facebook and Windows Live. In the upcoming release, Twitter will also be integrated natively  within the Windows Phone platform.

Clearly, the need to integrate social networking activity is a key design point in Windows Phone 7, and in most other mobile platforms and devices. This gives me a random thought, “Would a  stronger social network integration within Windows, maybe in Windows 8, make sense?”

social-networking

Imagine video from your laptop’s integrated webcam streaming live on Qik. Imagine photos from your Facebook or Flickr friends and their updates displaying on the desktop dynamically like Active Desktop in Windows XP. Imagine a Twitter mention notification coming to you as a traditional balloon notification onTaskbar. Of course, all this is possible with various applications on the desktop today. Windows has the biggest developer ecosystem, fuelled by the humongous number of users. Native functionality will make it seamless, and allow optimization of network and processor usage as well.

There can be two arguments to such functionality. These features might be overkill, might hamper productivity, and may not be preferred on enterprise desktops. Secondly, with this always on’ kind of social activity, security and privacy are of paramount importance.

Windows 8 attempts to come close, but with the underpinning of applications. Live Tiles on the redesigned Start screen on Windows 8 show constant updates from applications like weather information, social network updates, or unread email. Applets on the Start screen are programmed in HTML5 and JavaScript, and are essentially web pages. With the new Start screen, one-click access to social networks could be possible without firing up any application.

Although, the early previews of Windows 8 and the Start screen are impressive, lets see how it evolves over the traditional Windows approach. Also, Windows Live suite of applications are critical bridges between Windows and Windows Live web services and other social networks, and their next iteration will be something to look forward to.

New Virus ON FB Using Your Pictures, Facebook Tagging – Facebook Hoax

In the past, we have covered several Facebook Scams which have fooled users into clicking links of sick videos of Miley Cyrus,   showing what Justin Bieber did to a girl and more among other things (Read all Facebook Scams we have covered). This trend still continues to grow and now scammers are using Facebook events and Facebook chat to spread spam.

Facebook Scam Hoaxes

However, a new type of viral post is now doing the rounds of , which alerts users about a new virus on Facebook which is using your pictures to access sensitive information such as banking credentials, email accounts and more.

NEW VIRUS ON FB using YOUR pictures. It says you’ve been tagged in a picture, wants you to click on a link to see it. Then hacks into YOUR computer & ALL YOUR ACCOUNTS including BANKING & other secure accounts. It DESTROYS YOUR COMPUTER. Once hacked into your comp; it sends e-mails to your friends telling them they have been TAGGED in pics & starts the process again. PLEASE RE-POST

The message is spreading in the above form and lot of users are blindly re-posting it to their walls. The hoax in question seems to be related to Facebook photo tagging, which has already created a controversy. However, the alert is a hoax and a type of FUD which is used to scare people.

In the past, scammers have used photo tagging to spread spam, however, it is has been annoying at best and has not spread any deadly virus. Being cautious on Facebook is great, but over-doing it could lead to silly cases like these.

Rest assured, we try out best to alert users when a deadly scam is underway. Spreading messages like these will only create panic and not help anyone.

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.

Social Gaming Stats – Farmville Farmers Outnumber Real Farmers, 55% Gamers Female [Infographic]

Social Gaming is a huge fad and thanks to sites like and gaming companies like Zynga, social gaming has taken off in a very big way. Games like CityVille on Facebook are played by around 90 million users, while Farmville is played by over 43 million users.

20% of US population has played a game on a social networking site and more than 68 million Americans will be playing social games by 2012. What’s more interesting is the fact that 55% of social gamers are female, which goes on to show that women are more attracted towards casual games.

Another interesting stats about social gaming is that, much of the revenue of these companies actually come through the sale of virtual goods. These virtual goods can be purchased through in-app purchases, for example you can buy more seeds for your farm and so on.

Another interesting fact is that farmers on the virtual game Farmville out number real farmers in the United States by 80 to 1. Now only if they could put their farming skills to some use Smile. Interestingly, the infographic also notes that over 50% Facebook users sign in to their account just to play games. The amount of time they spend on the site is more than what they spend on several other top sites combined.

For more such interesting stats, check out the Infographic created by Single Grain below.

Social Gaming Stats

Friending Unknown People on Facebook Could Lead to House Robberies

Social Networking is a fad, and I dare say growing fad because it has gone beyond it. We make friends with people on sites like and . However, we might not know most of them personally and might have never met them too.

Facebook Scams

On one hand Twitter is safer for anonymous or unknown friends because your profile does not have information about your actual location (unless you specify it explicitly in your bio). However, Facebook on the other hand provides detailed information about your location, home address, telephone numbers and more to your friends depending on how you have set up your privacy settings.

Now, this information would be great if you want your friends to find you and visit you. However, it could also be used by thieves to visit your house and rob you.

Must Read: Read about Facebook Scams, How To Avoid Facebook Scams and Removing Unwanted Apps from Facebook.

According to the Daily Telegraph, a recent spate of robberies in West Sussex, London have been credited to users friending unknown people on Facebook. The thieves have been friending people on Facebook to find out when they are going out on vacations and then ransacking their houses. Considering that it is summer, there are bound to be several hundred targets who update their Facebook page to tell everyone when and where they are going on a vacation.

This information is then used by those thieves to rob their houses while they are away. Scary right?  Almost 12 houses have been robbed in the past four months and they might continue to happen if you decide to share critical information without checking your privacy settings and friending unknown people.

This incident might not just be limited to West Sussex though since Facebook makes is easy for users to find people from a particular location. Take for example, the screenshot below which shows how easy it is to find people in a particular area using their search options.

Find Friends On Facebook using Location

If you publicly share  your location information, you will end up being shown in the search results and become a ripe target for the thieves who are looking to find an opportunity.  This information is not shared without user consent (well, you can argue about Facebook privacy settings). However, you can restrict it from being made available by changing your privacy settings.

In the end, it is up to you to know what information is being shared. If something untoward happens a website will simply show that you had an option to change everything but did not. In many cases, users are uneducated about such things. I will briefly touch upon how you can stay safe and avoid such things in the section below.

What Can You Do to Avoid Being Robbed and Stay Safe on Facebook?

Don’t Friend Unknown People

Facebook Mutual Friends

Don’t friend anonymous people. Facebook provides an easy way to see if you have mutual friends between the person asking to be your friend and yourself. Take a look at those mutual friends and see if you can make connections. If you can’t make connections or the connections don’t seem known to you, just ignore the friend request.

Update your Privacy Settings to Friends Only

Custom Facebook Settings

Facebook wants your information to be discoverable and they keep the privacy settings such that people other than your friends along with search engines can see it too. However, it is not necessary. Go to Accounts -> Privacy Settings and Customize your settings such that it is viewable only by your friends. At the most, make your name, school information and work information public. For the rest, let those strangers become your friends before they can view that information.

Please understand that you still have to follow the first step and not friend unknown people to keep your information private from strangers.

Selectively Update Sensitive Information to a Group of People

Facebook provides you an option to create groups of people. You can create groups and add select people to it. For example, you can create a Facebook Group which consists of your family and close friends who you personally know. You can then directly send your updates to that group instead of everyone.

Customize Facebook Update Recipients

Alternatively, Facebook also provides users to display their updates to a selective set of people. To do that, click on the lock icon under the status update box and click on Customize.

Customize Facebook Update Privacy

You can customize who can see the update and even specify a certain set of people to receive them. Alternatively, you can hide updates from a certain set of people too. Facebook also provides an option to make it your default setting so that you don’t have to change it all the time.

I find the option to select specific people a bit tedious. They do have an option to create a list of friends, however, it is just for the sake of it. It would be great if Facebook allowed you to share certain updates with a set of people included in a list rather than use groups, which is an annoyance at best.

Don’t Share Your Exact Address and Phone Numbers with Everyone (In-fact Anyone)

If someone needs to contact you or come to  your house, they will find a way to get in touch with you and get that information. In fact, Facebook has a private messaging system which could be used for that purpose. For security and other reasons, there is no need to make private and sensitive information publicly available unless you want people to come and visit you or call you often, including thieves.

Go ahead and make those changes to hide that information in your Privacy settings so that only your friends or preferably only you can see that information.

Inform Your Neighbors and Use Security Devices if You Are Going on Vacation

If you plan to go away for a long time, inform your neighbors and use security devices in your home to bulletproof your house. Security systems have become far more cheaper than they were years ago and equipping your house with one will not take more than few days. This is definitely a worthwhile investment and will allow you to enjoy your vacation in peace.

Last but not the least, if you do not follow the above steps you are to the one to be blamed if anything like this happens to you, because the web is something you can’t control. However, you can at-least control what information you share on social networking sites. "Common Sense" can save you a whole bunch of trouble. Stay safe on Facebook and elsewhere.