Social Media Newsfeed: Free Facebook Calls | StumbleUpon Layoffs

By Tim Sohn 

 Click here to receive the Morning Social Media Newsfeed via email.

Call Friends for Free with Facebook’s Messenger App (Mashable)
Now you can call your Facebook friends for free — if you’re an iPhone user, that is. The company has rolled out a new feature in the United States that allows Facebook Messenger app users to place voice calls with friends over the social network using their data connection or Wi-Fi. AllFacebook The Verge reported that Facebook confirmed the rollout, saying that iPhone users do not have to update their apps. Messenger for iPhone users: Do you have the “Free Call” button yet? The Verge When you call someone, a push notification appears on their screen that says “Ellis Hamburger is calling,” for example. The feature is especially critical for people with bad cell service at work or at home, and for those who want to conserve cell phone minutes. VentureBeat While a strangely quiet upgrade for Facebook, the move is no less significant. It pits the company squarely against popular Internet calling apps like Rebtel, Viber, and Skype. The Next Web The end game here is carrier plans that include less emphasis on phone minutes (and text messages) than ever before, and a far greater focus on getting you to pay more for data. If the carriers are going to get turned into dumb pipes one product tweak at a time, you can bet that they’re going to pull every penny they can out of us on the way down.

StumbleUpon Lays Off 30 Percent of Workforce in Effort to Streamline (SocialTimes)
StumbleUpon Wednesday laid off 35 of its staffers, reducing its total head count by more than 30 percent, the company said. The move came as part of a larger effort to “become more streamlined [and] focused,” according to spokesman Mike Mayzel. CNET Wednesday’s layoffs, first reported by TechCrunch, took their toll on StumbleUpon’s product, engineering and marketing teams, a company rep said. No executives were included in the staff “reduction,” as StumbleUpon is calling it, but a few managers were given the ax. TechCrunch The move, which brings StumbleUpon’s employee count from 110 to 75, is part of a larger restructuring plan that will bring the Web content discovery company to profitable operations in the first quarter of 2013. “The company is in a healthy financial state,” Mark Bartels, interim CEO, said. “What this change does do is it brings us into a profitable situation.”

Manti Te’o’s Fake Girlfriend is the Biggest Story on Twitter (The Daily Dot)
Deadspin published a blockbuster investigation Wednesday night, exposing the relationship between star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and his girlfriend — who reportedly passed away last year — as a grand hoax. The story has quickly taken over Twitter, which is now inundated with praise for the sports blog, jokes at Te’o’s expense, and questions as to the star player’s level of involvement.

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Reddit: Plans for ‘Twins 2’ with Eddie Murphy and Danny DeVito (The New York Observer)
Arnold Schwarzenegger, apropos of nothing except his new film “The Last Stand” co-starring Johnny Knoxville (in theaters Friday!), showed up on Reddit’s IAmA (Ask Me Anything) subforum Wednesday to answer questions in beautiful cursive handwriting on his iPad, which he then uploaded onto the site. Adorable!

Twitter Adds Clickable Links to Tweets as You’re Writing Them (AllTwitter)
Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Twitter “has begun to instantly highlight and turn words, such as handles and hashtags [and website URLs], into hyperlinks as users type them out in tweets written on the social network’s website.” This means that when a user writes out their handle, hashtags, URLs or stock tickers, Twitter will instantly highlight the text to indicate that they are linked and clickable. Has Found the Answer to a Strong Comeback (USA Today)
Doug Leeds wants the folks who work for him to get “really silly.” The CEO of dot-com pioneer, he’s quietly helped bring the company back from the brink by focusing on its original intention — answering questions — and allowing his employees to throw out crazy ideas during weekly improv sessions.

What We Can Learn from The Atlantic‘s Sponsored Content Debacle (paidContent)
This week, a number of sources discovered an article that had been published on Atlantic Media’s website about the Church of Scientology, and unlike much of what gets written about L. Ron Hubbard’s manufactured religion, it was a long and glowing piece about how well the church was doing — complete with positive comments congratulating the church. It soon became obvious that the story was sponsored content produced by the church, and Twitter and the blogosphere erupted in outrage.

AT&T Allows FaceTime for Limited Data Users. What About Unlimited? (The New York Times/Bits Blog)
AT&T said on Wednesday that it would allow more of its iPhone customers to use Apple’s videoconferencing app, FaceTime, over its cellular network. But customers with unlimited data plans are still left out.

YouTube’s Reign Threatened by a Spotified Revolution, and Other Reel Truths for Video in 2013 (AllThingsD)
From the continued growth of online video to Socialcam and Viddy’s up and down spiral, 2012 was a crazy year for the world of digital video, and I expect it to take a turn for the insane in 2013. As content multiplies at an increasing rate, 2013 will finally be the year that the future becomes clear on the next advancement in video.