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A screen shot of the Google Plus social network is shown in this publicity photo. Photo: Google/Reuters

Google, which has been frustrated by a string of failed attempts to crack the social networking market, has introduced a full-fledged social network dubbed Google+. It is the company’s biggest foray into social networking since co-founder Larry Page took over as chief executive in April.

Page has made social networking a top priority at the world’s No. 1 internet search engine, whose position as the main gateway to online information could be at risk as people spend more time on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Another screen shot of the Google Plus social network is shown in this publicity photo.Another screen shot of the Google Plus social network is shown in this publicity photo. Photo: Google/Reuters

“They had the luxury of making mistakes in the past with their social initiatives. They don’t really have that luxury now,” said Ray Valdes, an analyst at research firm Gartner, referring to Google.

“Companies that are successful with the social web will get the page views, they’ll get the engagement and they’ll eventually get the advertising dollars that are so important to Google,” he said.

Google+, now available for testing, is structured in remarkably similar fashion to Facebook, with profile pictures and newsfeeds forming a central core. However, a user’s friends or contacts are grouped into very specific circles of their choosing, versus the common pool of friends typical on Facebook. ( http://blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/2011/06/28/first-look-at-the-google-plus-social-network-the-top-secret-demo/ )

Enticing consumers to join another social networking service will not be easy, said Rory Maher, an analyst with Hudson Square Research.

“They’re going to have an uphill battle due to Facebook’s network effects,” said Maher, citing the 700 million users that some research firms say are currently on Facebook’s service.

“The more users they [Facebook] get, the harder it gets for Google to steal those,” he said. But he added that Google’s popularity in web search and email could help it gain a following.

To set its service apart from Facebook, Google is betting on what it says is a better approach to privacy – a hot-button issue that has burned Facebook, as well as Google, in the past.

Central to Google+ are the “circles” of friends and acquaintances. Users can organise contacts into different customized circles – family members, coworkers, college friends – and share photos, videos or other information only within those groups.

“In the online world there’s this ‘share box’ and you type into it and you have no idea who is going to get that, or where it’s going to land, or how it’s going to embarrass you six months from now,” said Google vice president of product management Bradley Horowitz.

“For us, privacy isn’t buried six panels deep,” he added.

Facebook, which has been criticised for its confusing privacy controls, introduced a feature last year that lets users create smaller groups of friends. Google, without mentioning Facebook by name, said other social networking services’ attempts to create groups have been “bolt-on” efforts that do not work as well.

Facebook, in an emailed statement, said “we’re in the early days of making the web more social, and there are opportunities for innovation everywhere.”

Google+ started rolling out to a limited number of users yesterday in what the company is calling a field trial. Only those invited to join will initially be able to use the service. Google did not say when it would be more widely available.

Google, which generated roughly $US29 billion in revenue in 2010, said the new service does not currently feature advertising.

Learning from Buzz

Google’s stock has been pressured by concerns about rising spending within the company and increasing regulatory scrutiny – not to mention its struggles with social networking. The US Federal Trade Commission, among others, is currently reviewing its business practices.

Its shares are down almost 20 per cent this year after underperforming the market in 2010.

To create Google+, the company went back to the drawing board in the wake of several notable failures, including Google Wave and Google Buzz, a microblogging service whose launch was marred by privacy snafus.

“We learned a lot in Buzz, and one of the things we learned is that there’s a real market opportunity for a product that addresses people’s concerns around privacy and how their information is shared,” said Horowitz.

Google drew more than 1 billion visitors worldwide to its websites in May, more than any other company, according to web analytics firm comScore. But people are spending more time on Facebook: The average US visitor spent 375 minutes per month on Facebook in May, compared with 231 minutes for Google.

Google+ seems designed to make its online properties a pervasive part of the daily online experience, rather than being spots where web surfers occasionally check in to search for a website or check email.

As with Facebook’s service, Google Plus has a central web page that displays an ever-updating stream of the comments, photos and links being shared by friends and contacts.

A toolbar across the top of most of Google’s sites – such as its main search page, its Gmail site and its Maps site – allows users to access their personalised data feed. They can then contribute their own information to the stream.

The company has combined the Facebook and Twitter models of social networking in Google+: a person can have friends in their network with whom they share information and they can also follow certain people, say a movie critic, as occurs on Twitter.

Google+ will also offer a special video chat feature, in which up to 10 people can jump on a conference call. And Google will automatically store photos taken on mobile phones on its internet servers, allowing a Google+ user to access the photos from any computer and share them.

When asked whether he expected people to switch from Facebook to Google+, Google senior vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra said people may decide to use both.

“People today use multiple tools. I think what we’re offering here offers some very distinct advantages around some basic needs,” he said.

Reuters.. Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


A LANDSCAPE architect fired for overusing an email chat service has been found to have been unfairly dismissed. It is the latest case for Fair Work Australia that deals with internet and social media use in the workplace.

Richard O’Connor had been employed by Outdoor Creations, in Melbourne. He had resigned and was about to leave the job when he was abruptly sacked for more than ”3000 transactions on a chat line during work time”.

His employer claimed, after searching his computer, that he had been using the Google Mail chat service when he was supposed to be working.

Employer David Kirkpatrick said in a letter of termination that engaging in personal activities for such a period of time while at work was akin to the theft ”of hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of paid time”. Mr O’Connor denied using the chat service to the extent claimed.

The Fair Work Australia commissioner Anne Gooley said neither party had provided independent evidence about the net use. She said that while excessive use of social media during work hours may justify dismissal there was insufficient evidence to dismiss Mr O’Connor. He had also not been given an opportunity to respond before being sacked.


A 16-year-old Australian girl who posted a video of herself singing with a guitar while describing her annoyances with Facebook has gone viral.

Madelaine Zammit of Adelaide, South Australia and her “Facebook song” were brought into the spotlight over the weekend after international blogs Mashable, The Daily What, Geekologie and Failblog posted about it.

According to Madelaine’s manager, Sam Helyard, also 16 and a close friend, she was “hysterical with excitement” when told of how her song began to go viral. “She couldn’t believe it.”

Shot into YouTube stardom ... Madelaine Zammit.Shot into YouTube stardom … Madelaine Zammit.

The song was written by Madelaine about 3 months ago, Sam said, and was only posted to YouTube at the beginning of this month. “I told her to record a song and put it on YouTube … it’s just gone from there.”

The video describes of common Facebook experiences many adolescents go through. As of this morning it had been viewed 150,781 times and had 3076 “likes”. By 12 pm it reached 156,462 views and had 3246 likes.

Further, Madelaine’s Facebook fan page “Madelaine Zammit Music” – created by Sam only a week ago – has attracted more than 6000 fans and thousands of supportive comments.

Madelaine Zammit.Madelaine Zammit. Photo: Facebook/Madelaine Zammit Music

“I [want to] give you a hug,” one of the comments on her Facebook page said. “It’s a hilarious song. [I am going to] go and make everyone I know watch and listen. Will you pretty please make it availible (sic) on iTunes?”

In one Facebook experience Madelaine describes of “another 40-year-old man” attempting to add her as a “friend” on the social networking site. In another she describes how a number of male youths post pictures of their cars instead of images of themselves and how young girls wanting attention were “posting photos of them[selves] wearing nothing but their extensions”.

Sam said Madelaine “always had a passion for singing” and that one day when they were “bludging” at school she picked up her guitar and began playing the Facebook song to him. Sam, a member of the Vows Of A Massacre band, said the song was “all related to what [Madelaine] thinks of Facebook”.

Madelaine Zammit.Madelaine Zammit. Photo: Twitter/maddyzam3

“She just writes what she feels,” he said. “When she’s bored she just writes music.”

He said Madelaine had five other songs and that she planned to finish school before becoming more involved with music.

On her Twitter, Madelaine said she hadn’t done any “proper [music] gigs yet” but hoped to do one soon.

Madelaine’s song isn’t the first time a video about Facebook has gone viral. YouTube user Lynnea Malley did a parody earlier this year describing how Facebook had given her the “ability to find the profiles of hot guys on campus whose names I don’t know”.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Paul Ceglia, who says that a 2003 contract entitles him to half the Facebook holdings of the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, showed no deception on a polygraph test about his claim last week, his lawyers said in a court filing.

The June 11 test was disclosed in papers filed on Friday by Ceglia’s lawyers opposing Facebook’s request that it be allowed to immediately inspect the original of the alleged contract and the emails Ceglia claims he exchanged with Zuckerberg in 2003 and 2004, before being required to turn over any evidence to Ceglia.

“I respectfully suggest that Mark Zuckerberg undergo the same polygraph examination I have in order to expose who is really telling the truth,” Ceglia, 37, said in a sworn statement submitted on Friday to the federal court in Buffalo, New York, where his suit is pending.

Mark Zuckerberg.Mark Zuckerberg. 

In the filing, Ceglia’s lawyers asked the court to order both sides to turn over evidence to determine whether the contract is genuine, including all of Zuckerberg’s documents, emails and instant messages relating to Facebook before July 30, 2004. Ceglia asked the court to order both sides into mediation.

Ceglia hasn’t shown the original contract publicly or to representatives of Facebook. The two-page document is in a bank safe-deposit box in Hornell, New York, according to Ceglia’s lawyers.

Stake in Facebook

Ceglia claims he is entitled to a multibillion-dollar stake in Facebook. The closely held company may be worth $US69.3 billion, according to Sharespost.com, an online marketplace for investments in companies that aren’t publicly traded. Palo Alto, California-based Facebook runs the world’s biggest social networking site.

In its June 2 request, Facebook called Ceglia “a hustler” who has engaged in various swindles over the past several years. The company said Ceglia’s claimed contract is “an amateurish forgery” and the emails fabricated. Facebook argued it needed to examine the documents immediately to put an end to a fraud on the court.

“Ceglia’s lawsuit is a shell game, shifting and changing with every filing,” Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Facebook and Zuckerberg, said in a statement responding to Ceglia’s filing yesterday. “Ceglia does not dispute that he has a track record of forging documents to rip people off.”

‘Terrible toll’

Snyder said polygraphs are easily manipulated and routinely disregarded by courts.

“This case and the tactics of Mark and Facebook have taken and continue to take a terrible toll on me, my wife, our two sons, and even our parents,” Ceglia said in his sworn statement filed Friday. “I have been repeatedly called a liar in the press and in the papers filed by defendants in this action.”

Ceglia sat for the polygraph test on June 11 in the Erie County, New York, office of Michael Pliszka, who administered the test, according to the court papers.

“The questions asked during the polygraph examination were designed to determine whether Mr. Ceglia had fraudulently forged or doctored the agreement,” Pliszka said. “It is my opinion that the examination results are classified as ‘No Deception Indicated.’”

In his statement, Ceglia said he and Zuckerberg met in the lobby of a hotel in Boston on April 28, 2003, and signed the contract, which Ceglia prepared by cutting and pasting from two different forms.

Document testing

Ceglia’s lawyers proposed subjecting the original contract to testing, which would be conducted by a mutually agreed or court-appointed expert, to determine the age of the ink on the contract. The necessary tests would destroy part of the document, they said.

Included in Friday’s filing are the opinions of two document experts and a computer expert.

John Evans, a computer expert hired by Ceglia, said his firm took from him 169 floppy discs, 1075 compact discs and two computer hard drives. One of the floppy discs has three Microsoft Word documents containing copies of email correspondence between Ceglia and Zuckerberg. Ceglia said he copied the messages from his internet-based msn.com email.

In an amended complaint filed in April, Ceglia quoted from emails he said he exchanged with Zuckerberg, which he said support his claim that the two men formed a partnership that gave Ceglia half-ownership of Facebook when it was started in 2004.

Zuckerberg said in a court filing that Ceglia hired him in 2003 to do web-development services for StreetFax.com, a business Ceglia was trying to start at the time. Zuckerberg, then a student at Harvard University, signed a contract drafted by Ceglia, which referred only to the StreetFax work, he said. The contract made no mention of Facebook, which Zuckerberg started months later, he said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Facebook sly grog deliveries

set to dry up because of legalities

Asher Moses

June 1, 2011 – 12:41PM

Cheap booze deals for Sydneysiders advertised on Facebook.Cheap booze deals for Sydneysiders advertised on Facebook.

It’s sly grog for the 21st century. A Facebook page offering round-the-clock booze delivery in Sydney has piqued the interest of NSW liquor licensing authorities, who are threatening fines of $11,000 and a 12-month jail sentence.

The Blind Pig Sydney page recently went live on Facebook, offering free delivery of six packs of beer and bottles of wine for $15 a piece and bottles of vodka and whisky with mixers for $50.

Delivery in the inner west, eastern suburbs, north and south Sydney is free, according to the ad, and proof-of-age identification is required on delivery.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha