Facebook Roundup: Facebook Credits, Hires, FriendFeed, European Privacy, Law Enforcement and Harry Potter

Facebook Trademark Another Sign of Credits Development – Although Facebook’s virtual currency, Credits, has been available on Facebook for years, and in third-party apps since last June, it is still in testing. Perhaps we’ll hear more about it at Facebook’s developer conference next month, f8? Meanwhile the company has filed a trademark application for the logo, with this description:

“Financial exchange services, namely, providing a virtual currency for use by members of an online community via computer and communication networks; facilitating the exchange and sale of services and products of third parties via computer and communication networks; incentive award programs; telecommunications services, namely electronic transmission of data, messages and information; entertainment services, namely facilitating interactive and multiplayer and single player game services for games played via computer or communication networks.”

Facebook Hires, Then Hires Some More – We reported that Facebook did a bunch of hiring this week, but we also got a tip that Corey Owens will join Facebook’s D.C.’s government affairs office, bringing the total number of employees there to four. Owens announced his departure via Facebook status update, “My Facebook status seems like the right place to do this: In just over a week I’ll be moving down Connecticut Ave to join the good folks at Facebook Washington DC! Truly psyched to work on really pressing issues with an exciting company.”

Owens also sent the following email: “I had hoped to tell each of you this face-to-face, but you’re all at the Wake Up Walkmart meeting, and I want you to hear it from me: Thursday, April 1 will be my last day at the UFCW (no, not an April Fool’s joke). I’ve accepted an offer to join Facebook’s public policy and government affairs team. I want to thank each of you for helping point me in the right direction during my time here, and hope very much that I can buy you all a beer at some point in the very near future. –Corey”

Owens previously worked at the ACLU’s Washington office, as a press secretary with the Constitution Project, a privacy group, and currently works at the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

FriendFeed Transfers to Facebook – Bret Taylor announced on FriendFeed this week that FriendFeed had been transferred to Facebook’s data centers, helping to fix performance problems and giving it room to grow.

Facebook Causes the World’s Ills – Search Engine Land blogger Danny Sullivan had a “good chuckle” over a recent report that Facebook caused an increase in syphilis (or so the Daily Telegraph reported). So Sullivan looked up “Facebook causes” on Google, Bing and Yahoo and found that people commonly search for terms suggesting that Facebook causes everything from divorce to depression to cancer.

Facebook Threatens App Developer – TechDirt reported this week that Facebook was claiming trademark infringement over an app that cleans up the Facebook live feed by removing app notices. The script Greasemonkey was originally called Facebook Purity, changed to Fluff Busting Purity after Facebook complained, but apparently Facebook is still unsatisfied. This is even interesting, the report noted, because Greasemonkey is a user script that lives in a user’s browser, something Facebook has no control over.

Europe’s Privacy Battle With Facebook Continues – Swiss and German officials are looking into the privacy repercussions of Facebook allowing users to upload information about people who are not registered on the site. In a very detailed look at this issue the Associated Press reported that Europe is increasingly scrutinizing Facebook and other tech companies over the way they protect user privacy. Switzerland’s strict privacy law would require Facebook to contact the people whose information is uploaded, as well as ask permission for it to remain there whereas in Germany critics say Facebook does not exercise due diligence in obtaining necessary consent for the posting of personal information.

Teneros Helps Employers Track Employee Facebook Use – Teneros launched its new software-as-a-service product, Social Sentry, at DEMO this past week. It is designed to monitor public social networking activity for confidential company information or statements that could damage a company’s brand. The software only tracks public activity that could just as easily be searched on the web, but with Social Sentry employers receive alerts about employee activity on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, MySpace or YouTube related to keywords, products, financial results or even foul language.

Argentines Use Facebook to Commemorate The Disappeared – At least 36,000 Argentine Facebook users signed up this week to participate in the “Photoless for the Missing” event to commemorate the deaths of untold tens of thousands of people who died during Argentina’s Dirty War post-1976. Time reported that tens of thousands of profile pictures went missing and status updates changed to “No profile picture trough March 24.”

Law Enforcement Posing as Your Friend – The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently released documents from the Department of Justice showing that federal authorities are monitoring people on social networks, even going so far as to allow agents to use false identities on these networks, in violation of the terms of service. Ostensibly law enforcement could argue that such activity is meant to help the public, but PC World asked an interesting question, “So if the feds are investigating one of your Facebook/MySpace/Twitter buddies, they could very well be investigating you. And if they’re adding you to that ‘social map,’ what about your friends? At what point does the map stop? Does it even have borders?”

Harry Potter Comes to Facebook – Scholastic, the children’s book company, launched a new set of features on its web site this week related to its “The Real Magic of Harry Potter” campaign, but also set up several features on Facebook and Twitter. Specifically, visitors to Scholastic’s Facebook Page can visit the Harry Potter Tab to see a new book trailer, unlock and post virtual stickers and participate in weekly polls.


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