Facebook Roundup: Questions, Places, Lawsuits, Privacy, Group Pay, Hires and Marijuana

Questions is Back – Questions disappeared for a few days this week, for most of the small portion of Facebook users who had access to it. Now it’s beginning to appear again.

Tagging Looks a Little Different – The way Facebook users are tagged in status updates has changed slightly. Whereas previously the names of those you tagged in your status appeared in blue letters, now they appear with a gray background (see screenshot above).

Blacktop Combines Foursquare, PlacesBlacktop has created an app for iPhone allowing users to combine Places and Foursquare check-ins into “trips” that may be shared to their Facebook stream or by email. The company is advertising itself as a great way to “tell the story around a vacation, a day trip, or a night on the town.”

Facebook Sues Over ‘Face,’ ‘Book’ – Facebook is suing a number of companies with similar-sounding names. Recent examples that changed their name or may have to include: Placebook, Teachbook, FaceCash and Faceparty.

No Marijuana on Facebook – Facebook has declined to run ads from a group called Just Say Now, which is promoting the legalization of marijuana in California. Initially the company accepted the ads, generating 38 million impressions from Aug. 7 to 16, but then the ads were removed.  The Huffington Post quoted Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes, “The image of a pot leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies.”

Politicos and Privacy Problematic – Tim O’Reilly told The Hill this week that he’s concerned that politicians may negatively impact the technology field in their “witch hunt” for consumer privacy.

Flowtown Shares Consumer Media UseFlowtown is an interesting company that takes your customer email lists and gives you a breakdown of their social media use, influence and demographics. The cost is $17 to $200 a month (plus five cents per new contact), 15,000 businesses are using the service so far and the company received $750,000 in seed funding from Dave McClure of 500 Startups, among others.

Facebook Hires Platform Exec – Katie Mitic has joined Facebook as part of the company’s platform marketing team. She previously worked for Palm and Yahoo. [Image via]

Facebook Won’t Use ARM Chips – The rumor this week that Facebook would be using ARM chips in its servers turned out to be untrue this week. ARM chips take less power than other technologies and are frequently used in smart phones.

WePay Brings Group Pay to Facebook – WePay, the online payment company, announced its Facebook integration today. WePay could be useful for Facebook Events and Facebook Groups, there’s the option to sell tickets and collect money with a bank account or credit card. The company takes a 3.5% or 50 cent transaction fee.

Germany Employers Can’t Screen Potential Hires on FacebookA new German law bans employers from screening applicants’ Facebook profiles during the hiring process,  although Googling and searching LinkedIn are still allowed. The law comes after several years’ worth of scandals where employers were spying on employees; the new law also prevents employers from video surveilling employees in the bathroom, changing room and break room.

Facebook Edges Out Orkut in India – Facebook overtook Google’s Orkut as the most popular social network in India this week. For more information check out the Global Monitor report at Inside Facebook Gold.

Open Meeting Law and Facebook – The City of Redondo Beach, Calif. shut down its Facebook Page this week after concerns that the Page didn’t meet the state’s public records law. Do comments on the Page count as public record? Could the city delete offensive comments? These were some of the issues at hand that the city’s attorney decided were not worth the legal uncertainty. Redondo Beach remains active on Twitter, YouTube and Nixie.