The new version of Facebook Messenger now allows you to chat via people’s phone numbers, even if your contact isn’t on Facebook. This feature could be really devastating to WhatsApp and the like, but how many people are willing to switch from what they’re used to remains to be seen.
The current version of the app is essentially an Objective-C shell with a Web browser inside. When it comes to speed, this is like putting the engine of a Smart Car in the body of a Ferrari.
For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year.
The main article has some interesting statistics that speak volumes for this year’s decision:
One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day.
That a tool such as this not only exists, but is useful to boot should be a source of concern for Facebook.
Open sourced by Facebook back in 2008.
I honestly thought someone had hacked into Calacanis’ blog to post a joke entry.
Apparently, Facebook is rolling out its own URL shortener. Smart move.
Much improved. The team has posted a video detailing how to use the new features.
The plan we’ve come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.
A really smart move, regional networks did add some unnecessary complexity to the privacy settings.
They’re changing the design? Again? Doesn’t seem like that long of a time ago since they pushed their previous design update.
I don’t usually join many groups on Facebook, but I didn’t hesitate for a second once I saw this one.
Until today, when I started work on my first Facebook app, I’ve considered my Facebook profile to be relatively safe. I’ve adjusted the privacy settings to my liking, by restricting info available on my public listing as well as controlling which of my friends/acquaintances see which portions of my profile. But after reading the Facebook developer documentation and policies, I stumbled across one more privacy concern I didn’t really think of before: Facebook applications.
When you add a Facebook application, it asks you for access to a host of information. If you agree, then you can add the app. If not, no app. Straightforward, right? Well, that depends. Let’s take a closer look at an app authorization pop-up:
Access to my info and photos? Sure. Access to other stuff it needs to work? Fine. Access to my friends’ info? Yup, no problem. In a nutshell, Facebook is telling me what information the app might need, and is also asking my permission before proceeding, as it should. I’ve go no qualms about this aspect of Facebook – in fact, the application authorization process is done exactly as it should be done.
But what happens if we reverse the roles? Consider Frank the Facebook user. Frank uses Facebook every once in a while, and being a popular guy, has a lot of Facebook friends. But what happens when Jane, one of Frank’s friends, adds a sweet new application (let’s call it X) to her profile? Well, X can now access Frank’s information, because Frank is best buddies with Jane. “What? I didn’t allow this app access to my info!”, Frank exclaims. Doesn’t matter, because Jane allowed it. And that’s all it takes.
So what kind of information about Frank can application X access? That depends. The application privacy page on Facebook has this to say:
3. When a friend of yours visits an application or authorizes it, the information that the application can access includes your friend’s friend list and information about the people on that list.
Thus it can access some information about you. Please note that applications are obligated only to act upon the request of your friend and must respect all of your existing privacy settings.
To control which types of information are available to friends through applications, please visit the Settings tab on this page.
Looking under the Settings tab, we can see a list of all the information a Facebook application can have access to:
Now that’s a lot of information, application X’s access to which someone else (Jane) approved. If Frank had all the boxes checked in his settings, application X could access all of those drunken photos taken at Frank’s party last week. Not good.
I checked my application privacy settings age a few hours ago, and was shocked at all the information that was freely available to applications. I’m not sure which boxes are checked by default, but I could’ve sworn I’ve never touched these settings before. Either way, I urge each and every Facebook user that reads this post to go to the well-hidden Settings->Privacy settings->Applications->Settings page in Facebook and review their settings post-haste.