US intelligence has automated taps on Facebook data

May 3rd, 2011 by Stephan

During a “Russia Today” interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claims that US intelligence agencies have automated access to Facebook data. He goes on warning users that with every connection made and every friend invited they are doing the agencies’ work by building their database for free. Assange also says that other American internet giants like Google and Yahoo have these interfaces, too. They were installed for cost reasons. It’s simply cheaper to allow batch access instead of manually rummaging through enormous databases for every single case. It’s a bit shocking but not really surprising, isn’t it?

While he is aware that Facebook isn’t run by central intelligence he cautions that political pressure can soften hurdles for gaining access to user data. Even though I approach his personality and claim with some caution on this account I tend to agree with him . After all, who would know better than Assange?

I linked an extract of the interview below. The part where he talks about Facebook starts at around 02:00 minutes. The rest of the interview is quite interesting, too. I recommend watching it from start to end.

Is this question flooding your stream?

May 2nd, 2011 by Stephan

Facebook Questions went online in Germany and other countries worldwide by end of last week. The rollout happened pretty fast this time. So it seems judged by the increasing amount of Facebook friends who complain about questions flooding their stream.

The reason why this is happening right now is the inbuilt virality of the question tool. Once you ask a question it is published to the streams of all your friends. When they answer the question they basically republish it to all friends in their stream. This can’t be limited in familiar ways such as the “Only friends can see this” option.

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Short-URL impact on SEO: None

April 12th, 2011 by Stephan

Good news first: The impact on SEO is almost nonexistent.

Most shortening services (all of the established) work via 301 redirect to the destination URL and Google will pass on link juice and anchor text (and obviously the keywords in it). As Matt Cutts says, most links on Social Networks like Facebook or Twitter have a “nofollow” attribute which doesn’t pass on link juice. However, when these links are exported to a feed or simply pasted somewhere else the “nofollow” doesn’t carry along.

Just watch the Google Webmaster Help video below for the full explanation:

Just one sidenote about shortlinks and Facebook:

The Facebook study I talked about yesterday also mentioned that page status updates with full links perform significantly better than their shortened counterparts. This is simply a question of “healthy suspicion” as people can’t see the linked domain from a short URL.

Facebook Ad Prices rise 40%

April 12th, 2011 by Stephan

Article first published as Facebook Ad Prices rise 40% on Technorati.

Placing an ad on Facebook can now cost you around 40% more than during the last quarter 2010 as Bloomberg reports.

Facebook’s advertising product is picking up speed as online marketers begin to get a grip on it. They allocate larger budgets on the social network to benefit from the scarily precise targeting options. With an audience of around 500 million active users across an increasing demographic range the potential becomes obvious to most.

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Facebook Pages: Local Outperforms Global

April 11th, 2011 by Stephan

Article first published as Facebook Pages: Local Outperforms Global on Technorati.

Internationally active companies starting their Facebook adventure face a tricky issue. Do they create a one-fits-all international page or do they setup a targeted page for every region or country? Both have strong arguments speaking for them and sufficient points to rule them out. Many companies, especially small and medium sized ones, go for a global page to ease administration and cost.

According to data mined by Socialbakers this might be the wrong way to go. They analyzed the international and local pages of big brands such as Nike, Starbucks and BMW. The results were uniform across the sample: The local pages outperform the global versions in terms of fan engagement and wall activity index. These are important measures indicating how your fans react to you and what you have to say.

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Twitter brand pages: Like lost islands

April 9th, 2011 by Stephan

I already wrote about my suspicions regarding Twitter’s move towards monetization. Only a few days later I stumbled upon an interesting article about the number of active Twitter users. Here’s a little rundown of the numbers in a chart on


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Morning Chromercise

April 7th, 2011 by Stephan

This is the perfect morning exercise for geeks. And don’t forget to shower …

Dramatic look

April 6th, 2011 by Stephan

You never know what lurks behind …

Twitter says it aloud: Shut up and listen!

April 5th, 2011 by Stephan

Through a tweet by Steffen Konrath I got the news that Twitter launched a new main page today. Many companies do launches but this one is remarkable if you just look at it.

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Calling all iPad owners: I need your help!

April 4th, 2011 by Stephan

Reading Two Tools for Bloggers on Spin Sucks I simply had to try the OnSwipe plugin for WordPress.

This plugin sounded really cool. You install it and it turns your wordpress blog into a stunning magazine style reading experience for iPad owners – launch screen, accelerometer sensitivity, rich media content and funky gesture control inclusive.

I set up everything, even spent an hour with Photoshop designing a half baked launch screen to overpower my potential readers. Installation and setup for iPad are actually pretty straight forward and easy to grasp. Set a launch image, set a home icon, define a typographic style (free colour choice would be nice here) and that’s about it.

Unfortunately I simply don’t know how it looks. This is where you come in:

Please access my blog on your iPad and make screenshots of it!

I want to see how it looks and if I need to make adjustments to bring the blog up to iPad worthy aesthetics.

Call me stupid to start this without even having an iPad but that’s the geek in me who simply wants to try things – head first if necessary. :)

So please send screenshots of my blog on the iPad to