Global TV Tech Buzz: Facebook Home

18% of time on a mobile is spent on Facebook.

Is it any shock then, that as Facebook tries to increase monetization of mobile that they would release their own platform, Facebook Home.

“Today we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Facebook campus earlier this week. “Or more accurately, we’re going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great, simple social device.”

Mark Zuckerberg is quick to say this is not a Facebook phone. A successful phone would reach maybe 3% of Facebook’s 1 Billion strong user base. Instead, the company has developed an experience for the Android platform that will help it reach mobile users and give them an immersive Facebook experience with Facebook Home.

From the moment you turn on your phone, you see what your friends are doing. Even with the phone locked, the screen will still show photos, updates, and messages. You can chat with friends in any app with something called Chat Heads.

“The home screen is really the soul of your phone,” Zuckerberg said. “You look at it 100 times a day.” And so, naturally, Facebook is going for the soul.
via The Atlantic

On the surface it looks beautiful, and a great step for easily the most used social network. BUT, (and you knew there was a but).. can you trust Facebook?

Facebook Home is not a story about “making the world more open and connected,” in general,” The Atlantic warns. “This a story about Facebook “making the world more open and connected,” with all the specific definitions the company brings to those ideas.”

Om Malik writes, “Facebook’s history as a repeat offender on privacy, and playing loose and easy with our data means that need to be even more vigilant about privacy issues, thanks to this Home app/faux-OS.”

Malik doesn’t believe Zuckerberg when he says this is a platform and not an app. He says it is the first hit of a delicious drug that will be free at first, the public hooked, and the true costs only to be revealed later with a full fledged OS.

The Atlantic notes that during his presentation, Zuckerberg freely substituted the words “people” and “Facebook friends” throughout. It was almost as a way to suggest that they are one in the same, and the way we look at the world should be through the lens of Facebook.

In fact, Facebook Home should put privacy advocates on alert, for this application erodes any idea of privacy. If you install this, then it is very likely that Facebook is going to be able to track your every move, and every little action.

GPS is enabled in our phones, and with Facebook controlling the information that you send back, it can quickly learn where you live, where you work, where you hang out, and what you do. Honestly? Any phone can really do that, but you have to trust the company and with Facebook there is already a level of trust that has been broken numerous times. Facebook will monitor location data through Home continuously UNLESS you turn off location services. Trust me, you’re not going to keep flipping that switch off and on.

Zuckerberg has said Home will serve ads, in the way Amazon Kindle does. With so much personal information about you through your profile, and movements, expect those ads to be very targeted, and worth a lot of money.

The first Facebook phone, will be the HTC First, but other HTC and Samsung phones will be open to using the Facebook Home platform this Friday. Zuckerberg says Facebook Home will only be available for Android users because of the openness of the system.

We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today. And we will work with Apple to do the best experience that we can, within what they want, but I think that a lot of people who really like Facebook — and just judging from the numbers, people are spending one-fifth of their time in phones on Facebook, that’s a lot of people — this could really tip things in that direction. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

I deleted Instagram when it was bought by Facebook, and I try to put as little personal information as possible in to the social network. I use it as a way to creep on friends, but I rarely post photos or personal stories directly to the network. I don’t like a lot of pages, and I try to keep my presence as minimal as possible.

The end game for Facebook is simple: to know as much as it possibly can about you to serve you perfectly targeted ads. The idea is that Facebook becomes your friend, and those sponsored stories in your stream become so relevant because of all Facebook knows about you, that you won’t even notice. That is when Facebook wins – when the disruptive nature of ads disappears. Home is another step towards that finish line.

APP OF THE WEEK TSN Masters [free]

My single favorite seasonal app has to be the one from TSN and The Masters. It streams coverage from Amen Corner, allows you to follow specific groups around the course, and gives you a chance to watch The Masters from anywhere. TSN and Global will pool resources to produce original highlights both before and post rounds on location. The app was updated this week to support the retina displays.

Instagram Needs You More Than You Need Instagram

instagram facebook

I told you so.

Back in April, went it was announced that Facebook was buying Instagram for $1B, many of the digerati warned that the internet giant was making the purchase to take the content and information of users to sell.

This week, with an updated Terms of Service for Instagram announced, the prediction came true. Never mind the Mayans, you have to watch Zuckerberg.

Andy Ihnatko: “Once again it bears repeating that an agreement with any tech company for any service — free or paid — is no different from an agreement with any other kind of madman. At best, they’re going to stick to the original terms. But it’s likely that at any point, they’re going to alter your deal…and it’ll never ever be altered to tilt things in your favor.”

Wired: “The bottom line is that Instagram is reserving the right to use your photos as it sees fit, without permission or even notification, in advertisements and promotions. It hasn’t said it owns them, or that it will do that – it just can.”

CNN: “Hammering the point home, Instagram changed the current language about users granting a “limited license” for use of their content. The new terms make it a “sub-licensable” agreement, again making it clear that Instagram can give content to third parties. It could, for instance, let a major retail chain buy Instagram photos of people shopping in their stores to run in an ad.”

After the backlash came the echo of people saying the collective angst of the internet was overblown.

Well let me ask you this: if you have a choice between Company A and Company B for providing similar services that are free, and Company A says it wants license to your work to use for ads that it may, or may not tell you about, while Company B doesn’t ask for that license, and lets you control your content – which would you choose?

I recently had content go viral. More than 3 million people have viewed my video of the Calgary Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss. I have a licensing agreement (as anyone can) with YouTube to monetize my videos. When ads are placed on or around my content, we share the revenue. Win/win. Facebook‘s idea of making money does not involve sharing revenue with users. Win for them, lose for you.

I know first hand what happens when you sign off rights to content to a third party. I entered my son’s photo in a Cheerios contest. He lost the original contest, but General Mills retained rights to the image and are now using him as the face of a national campaign in the spring. Total compensation to me? Bragging rights and a few boxes of Cheerios. Totally within the rules, not necessarily totally “fair.”

Instagram needs your images and metadata and geotagging information to feed the Facebook beast. Facebook wants to know every. single. little. thing. about you. The more it knows about you the better it can not only sell to you, but the higher the asking price for you. Facebook‘s game is to use user’s information and content to sell to advertisers and to target advertising at users. I have no problem leaving a breadcrumb to be better targeted, I have a problem when my content becomes a part of the ad.

Instagram needs you, you don’t need Instagram.

If you like social networks based around images, use Flickr. It will even let you do all the filter-y things that you could on Instagram. If all you like is to take artsy photos of mundane things, use Camera+, it will even let you push the content to Facebook and Twitter to inundate your friends with pictures of sidewalks, signs, and cats.

It’s hard to quit Facebook because it has 1B users, and everyone you know and love is there feeding the beast, I get that. It’s easy to quit Instagram because so many other places want to give you the same stuff that Instagram gives without all the icky strings.

I quit Instagram yesterday. Nuked the entire thing and I’m not looking back. I don’t even miss it, you won’t either.

Here is a segment I did for Global Calgary on the new Terms of Service:

Global TV: The Instagram Deal and Alternatives

instagram alternatives

Facebook bought Instagram for $1B this week. For a company that was barely 500 days old and had only 13 employees, that’s a lot of money.

Instagram had something Facebook needed – a mobile strategy. Facebook had something Instagram needed – a monetization scheme.

The general consensus is Facebook bought Instagram to get a hold of the user generated data that accompanies our pictures. Many photos are geotagged with the exact time and place they were taken. Facebook has struggled with its Places function to get people to “check in”. Now, with something like Instagram in the fold, Facebook will know exactly where and when you were. Why? To better service you ads, of course.

People love Instagram for two reasons: photos are easy to share, photos are easy to make beautiful. You can create and follow a social network on Instagram to browse photos, but you can also add all sorts of filters and frames to your images to make the otherwise low light, blurry image something more artsy

So now that Instagram is in Facebook, if you don’t want Facebook to know the where and when you are, but still want to easily share images that look great, here are 3 alternatives you can use:

Hipstamatic [$1.99]
This app emulates an old school camera. You dont see a full screen when you’re taking a picture. You have to load film, and choose lenses and flashes. Unlike Instagram, you dont get to do much editing after the fact, the picutre you take is the picture you get – the app even takes some time to “develop” your image, so it’s not an instant gratifier. The images it produces are artsy, much like the Instagram shots, but each “pack” is an in-app purchase for 99c.
There’s also a print option, where you can order your images to be printed, right from the back of the phone.

Camera+ [99c]
This app has become my camera. Taking a picture is simple, and the post photo editing has many options. From dozens of filters, to cropping, and editing – this lets met quickly and easily do everything I want with my photos. It also has easy sharing to your favorite social networks

Camera Awesome [free]
This recently released app from SmugMug falls along the lines of a camera bag replacement. You can access 36 filters for free, and in-app purchases can expand your editing capabilities. The app also features an “awesomize” button which promises to do all the heavy lifting for you and process a perfect image if you dont want to edit on your own. A ‘time machine’ is included in this app that brags it records video for 5 seconds before you press the button. Full export to social networks is supported.

Pinweel [free]
This is probably closest to the model of Instagram. It’s built around social sharing of photos. You’re prompted to create an album and sort your images before you even take one. Once you take a photo you can choose a variety of filters (like on Instagram) and then your images and albums are viewable by the public, or your contacts, depending how you adjust your privacy. There’s also easy sharing to Twitter and Facebook.

8mm [$1.99]
As a bonus, if the artistic filters of these photo apps is what attracts you to them, try 8mm for the video buttons on your iPhone, iPod and iPad.

If you missed the segment, here’s the video:

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