Facebook Now Offering Free Calls
Facebook rolled out a new feature that could fundamentally change the way you make calls… and you probably haven’t even noticed it yet.
A free call button has appeared in Facebook’s Messenger app for iPhone, allowing users to place a call over Wi-Fi or their cellular data network to their friends
Facebook had been testing the feature in Canada since earlier this month, and it was being expanded to US users beginning yesterday.
And although the voice quality seems to be great according to reviews, there’s no video feature yet, nor any word on when the service will be available on Android, but odds are those things are in the works.
Facebook Unveils ‘Graph Search’
Basically, the idea is to allow people to search for people, places, and things to do through their networks, the official announcement explains. For example, if you were trying to set up a Game of Thrones viewing party, you might search for “friends in [your town] who like Game of Thrones.” Going out? Search “movies my friends like.” Dating? Search “friends of friends in [your town] who are single.”
The system will be “privacy aware,” Zuckerberg said, so “you can only search for content that has been shared with you.” It will also integrate Bing results, broadening the kind of information it can find—though at one point Zuckerberg added that he “would love to work with Google.”
The system is being rolled out as a limited beta release starting today.
Facebook, Microsoft Close To Changing Online Advertising Forever
Rumors are swirling that Facebook and Microsoft are in talks for a deal that could revolutionize the online ad business. Facebook is looking to buy Atlas Solutions, an ad-serving product Microsoft acquired when it bought aQuantive for $6 billion in 2007.
According to Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider, Facebook would pay considerably less than $6 billion for the unit, which Microsoft has been trying to unload for a while.
Why is this such a big deal? Think about it, Facebook has its users’ phone numbers and email addresses, if it had Atlas’ ad-serving technology, it would have the unique ability to tell clients who have that same user info whether someone who bought their product saw a related ad on Facebook first. And, significantly, it could do the same trick on ads delivered by partner websites.
Facebook Now Lets You Send Real Life Presents
The new feature allows users to buy and send real-life presents to friends without leaving the site, which will remind users of the service for events like friends’ birthdays and anniversaries. It has more than 100 retail partners on board already, including Starbucks and teddy-bear maker Gund. The service will be fully functional on mobile devices, where Facebook has been struggling to make money.
Ryan Tate at Wired Magazine thinks this is a smart move from Facebook, which is “trying to monetize common, naturally occurring behavior on its network in a way that feels more natural than other Facebook ads. If anyone is better positioned than Amazon to recommend products to people, it’s Facebook”
The number of Facebook users, however, is shrinking as the company steps up the deletion of an estimated 83 million fake accounts, including duplicates and accounts people have created for their pets, reports the Daily Mail. The deleted accounts’ “likes” disappear too, which has caused some pages to lose tens of thousands of likes this week.
Winklevoss Twins Invest In New Social Media Site
In today’s edition of ‘people that don’t know when to let go’: It seems the Winklevoss twins haven’t learned their lesson. Instead, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have invested $1 million in a wannabe Facebook competitor: SumZero, a site created in 2008 by their fellow Facebook-fighter Divya Narendra and another Harvard grad. The site, with 7,500 users, lets professional investors discuss trades and research, the Wall Street Journal reports. Like Facebook when it began, SumZero has an exclusive membership plan.
While Facebook only let in people from certain universities at first, SumZero is even more choosy: Narendra reviews every applicant himself, he says, and 75% are rejected. Only “buy-side” investors are allowed in—those from hedge and mutual funds or private equity. “Sell-side” folks, such as big banks’ analysts, can’t join. And to stay in, members must keep submitting trading ideas. Outsiders can pay $129 per month to view some of these ideas.
With their legal battle with Facebook—and their Olympic hopes—over, the Winklevosses plan to “get involved and really roll up our sleeves,” says Tyler. “The band is back together.”
Facebook Unveils New Suicide Prevention Feature
Facebook Facebook will soon allow you to report any suicidal comments, and will follow up by sending the user an email with the number of a suicide prevention hotline and instructions on how to chat with a counselor online confidentially. The new feature is part of a nationwide suicide prevention push, which is aimed especially at US military veterans and young people, Reuters reports.
“All too often, people in crisis do not know how—or who—to ask for help,” a Facebook exec says in a statement. “We have a unique opportunity to provide the right resources to our users in distress, when and where they need them most.”
Warning Sign? Facebook’s First Big Investor Sells Shares
PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first major investor and also a board member, has sold off the majority of his shares.
Back in 2004, Thiel became the company’s first big investor with a $500,000 investment and has made more than $1 billion from it. He had already sold some shares before the IPO and some during the IPO; most recently, he sold 20.1 million shares and distributed another 2.2 million, making around $395.8 million. He still has 5.6 million shares.
The Journal is quick to note that Thiel made a bundle off his original investment, and that early investors often sell off their stakes after a company goes public. Even so, the timing is bad for Facebook, considering how poorly its stock is doing. “Imagine being a Facebook employee right now and seeing Thiel sell the majority of his stock at what many are hoping is its low point,” writes Billy Gallagher on TechCrunch.
Facebook Now Offers Same Sex Marriage Icons
Facebook rolled out its new feature just in time for co-founder Chris Hughes’s wedding: same-sex marriage icons for those who aren’t well served by its bride and groom icon.
The double-groom version popped up on Hughes’ Timeline after the wedding was over. The move follows last year’s addition of relationship statuses “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership.”