Facebook Addresses Privacy Concerns for Home

Last week, Facebook announced its new mobile app launcher Home, an Android skin that makes the social network a layer over all other phone functionality. As with anything Facebook does, this raised privacy concerns, and in an attempt to get ahead of it, Facebook released a Q&A to reassure critics.

In the Q&A Facebook notes, “Home doesn’t change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook and your privacy controls will work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook.” Home should run like any other part of Facebook and won’t collect information about what a user does in a non-Facebook application. It will only see how you use Home and Facebook-specific apps. One thing to note is Facebook will collect information about the apps that show notifications to users, but the actual content within those notifications will not be accessed. Finally, no location data beyond what it already collects will be accessed from Home, and users can manage the location permissions in their phone settings.

Facebook naturally wants to allay any fears related to Home by arguing it’s really no different than the Facebook app people check on average 10-12 times per day. However, Home is different. It’s constantly running.

There’s no doubt Facebook will be able to access more information from Home users, but that will be mostly because those users are accessing Facebook on a more ongoing basis. After all, the News Feed is your homescreen.

Facebook has burned a few bridges already when it comes to privacy, so the launch of Home will naturally come with a significant degree of skepticism from users and privacy advocates alike.

Read more on Facebook privacy concerns at AllFacebook.

Foursquare Launches Version 6.0

Foursquare has launched version 6.0 of its iOS app, and the update continues Foursquare’s focus on local search and recommendations. The Explore section takes centerstage and is no longer hidden in a tab.

At the top of the app is a search bar, so users are always able to easily search for businesses and locations without having to tap a magnifying glass for access. The search feature also has an improved autocomplete feature to make searching faster and easier.

The friends feed has been updated to showcase recommendations, popular places, trending places and other information auto-generated by the behavior of friends.

We’re not seeing anything unexpected from Foursquare here. They are continuing their focus on delivering relevant, useful local recommendations to users, not badges and mayorships.

With search and Explore front and center, Foursquare is trying to get users to turn to Foursquare more and more.

The features are not groundbreaking, but they do make what Foursquare wants users to do more emphasized. With Facebook launching Facebook Home and Yelp continuing to be the go-to resource for reviews, Foursquare needs to stand out and make users more active.

Foursquare addressed that very issue this week when it raised another $41 million to help the company prove that it has a viable business model. Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley wrote in a blog post, “We’re building tools for local businesses to connect with their customers. We’re making search better, every single day. We’re building that location layer for the internet – the platform that all other companies use to power location in their apps. This takes time and a lot of work, and great investors.”

According to AdAge, Foursquare’s already started pitching some agencies on an ad product that would allow the use of Foursquare location and behavioral data to contextualize ads on other platforms.

The question is whether or not it can evolve as a business fast enough.

For more on Foursquare’s latest version, read it at The Verge.

Facebook Expands Ad Targeting Capabilities

Facebook launched all new ad-targeting capabilities with the launch of what it calls Partner Categories. Partner Categories allow marketers to target users with ads based on their activity across the Web (mobile and desktop) as well as their offline purchasing behavior. The new targeting capabilities will be available through the power editor and ads application-programming interface.

Partner Categories take the form of more than 500 unique groups or segments that can be paired with additional Facebook targeting options to give advertisers the ability to better target those groups.

Facebook provides the example of a car dealership that can now target users who live nearby and have indicated that they’re in the market for a new vehicle.

The groups have been developed by third-party data providers, including Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon, which get their data from transactional data, surveys and tracking both on and offline behaviors. Groups like “health food buyers,” “pet care buyers” and “heavy buyers of children’s cereal” can be targeted along with additional data.

The targeting does not share users’ personal information with any third parties.

All of this allows advertisers to deliver better targeted, more relevant ads to consumers. Facebook’s banking on relevancy because ads for them are a necessary evil. Users hate them, but the more targeted, the more beneficial they are for users, the product Facebook sells, and advertisers, the source for revenue, the better positioned Facebook is from an advertising perspective.

Still, what may make this more powerful is that the ability to target the segments in Partner Categories was previously only available to big advertisers with the funds to directly work with third-party data providers. Now, small to medium-sized businesses have greater access to deeper insights and targeting parameters.

The good news for Facebook is that more advertisers will be creating more highly targeted ads, which will over time generate higher ad rates, which will drive the data companies to create more Partner Categories. If the better targeting generates greater ROI, advertisers will have little room to complain about the increased rates.

For more on Facebook’s expanded ad targeting abilities, read more at The New York Times.

News Quick Hits

  • Evernote has released an update for its iOS apps to allow users to scan business cards by taking a photograph. The app then pulls in information from Facebook and LinkedIn based on the email address on the business card. It also released an update that integrates with OpenTable for restaurant booking. (Read more at SocialTimes)
  • Vine is following the lead of parent-company Twitter by introducing trending hashtags. This will help users find popular posts and content that others are finding worth their time. This makes the platform ripe for content discovery. (Read more at AllTwitter)
  • GM is back as an advertiser on Facebook. Last year, it pulled $10 million in advertising on Facebook because it argued it didn’t have enough control. Now, GM is prepping to use Facebook ads for its “Find New Roads” campaign. (Read more at The New York Times)
  • Tumblr CEO David Karp announced that Tumblr’s award-winning Storyboard project is being shut down. Storyboard was originally conceived to be a blog led by a team of journalists to cover the best parts of Tumblr. (Read more at paidContent)
  • LinkedIn is upgrading the UI of Recruiter, an advanced platform for recruiters to find rare talent on the social network by offering advanced search features, upgraded InMail accounts and management tools. The update includes easier-to-see notifications, snapshots of current projects and open positions, and a new “People You May Want to Hire” section. (Read more at VentureBeat)
  • Google has upgraded its Google Places dashboard with more consistent design and layout with Google+, better integration with other Google Products to share posts, photos and videos, and faster updating with updates going live across Google platforms within 48 hours. (Read more at ReadWriteWeb)
  • The rumored acquisition of music service We Are Hunted by Twitter has been confirmed, and the We Are Hunted team is already integrating with Twitter. Its role at Twitter has yet to be confirmed. Although, there are rumors that Twitter will be launching an app called Twitter Music. We Are Hunted will be shut down and accounts will be closed. (Read more at ZD Net)
  • Facebook has added emoticons to status updates, so users have more ways to communicate how they’re feeling. The update will be coming in the next few weeks. (Read more at Mashable)

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