We’re Not Doing Video Tweets

We commented a few hours ago on a claim in the Telegraph newspaper that Twitter is considering the addition of video to the service, and expressed skepticism about the report. That skepticism seems well-founded, as Twitter co-founder Biz Stone replied to our inquiries today by email, essentially debunking the article’s premise:

Haven’t read the piece but no video hosting. 140 characters of text including spaces. You know the drill!

Twitter’s (Twitter) position is sound: if the site were to duplicate the functionality of existing apps, it could undermine the trust of developers who invest huge amounts of time, money and energy in creating applications for the Twitter ecosystem.

That said, Twitter does lose out when it comes to multimedia: adding in-line thumbnails for images and videos (even if that content is hosted on 3rd party sites) would make for a much richer experience that could match Facebook’s (Facebook) news feed for image and video sharing. Yes, in-line multimedia can be done with apps like TweetDeck (TweetDeck), but that’s non-obvious and an extra step for those more familiar with the leading social network. Even this could bring Twitter into conflict with developers however: if multimedia support were added, would there be default services in the same way Bit.ly is the default URL shortener?

Such moves would be made with caution, if at all. Stone’s comment sums up Twitter’s philosophy nicely: keep it simple, with as few extra features as possible.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto (iStockphoto), Fotoie

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New Facebook Lawsuit: This Time, Over Online Privacy Laws

When you are well known and have some cash in the bank, you’re probably going to get sued at least once in your life. When you are Facebook (Facebook) and you have 250+ million users, increase the amount of lawsuits by a factor of 10 or so. Yes, Facebook has been sued once again, this time for allegedly misleading members on the use of their personal information and for violating California privacy laws.

The Orange County lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Facebook users, according to the AP – a photographer, an actress, two children under 13 (despite needing to be 13 or older to legally use Facebook) and a “user of the original Facebook.” It seeks monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and a trial by jury.

As you’d expect, Facebook believes that there is “no merit to this suit” and intends to fight it. We could go on and on about past Facebook lawsuits, many of them similar to this one. There was the lawsuit seeking $70.50 in damages, the text messaging lawsuit, the iKimbo patent, a class-action lawsuit for Facebook Beacon, the famous ConnectU debacle, and most recently, Power.com suing Facebook over data ownership. We’re pretty sure this list is nowhere near comprehensive.

Look: Facebook faces these types of suits all the time, and most of the time they are either dismissed or settled. Yes, Facebook’s had some thorny affairs with privacy, but recently they’ve been moving in the right direction with Facebook Democracy. Allowing users to vote on their own Terms of Service and letting them vote on changes is more than most sites offer. Besides, this lawsuit complains about common practices being illegal, such as changing the Terms of Service. It essentially rails against Facebook for 40 pages on practically every one of its featurse.

From the parts that we’ve read, we suspect that this California lawsuit doesn’t worry Facebook very much at all.

Facebook App for iPhone 3.0 Announced

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Facebook for iPhone app is one of the most downloaded and popular app in the App Store. Why? Because Facebook users with iPhone or iPod Touch can do almost everything from their handsets with this Facebook app for iPhone.

Today, a Facebook employee posted a note on Facebook announcing the new Facebook  app for iPhone 3.0. It’s been a long time since the Facebook app got a major upgrade another than language updates.

Facebook App for iPhone 3.0 Announced

Facebook for iPhone 3.0 will go through a major upgrade with almost everything revamped (atleast, that’s what the screenshot shows). Not ll major features will be added in this release. Some have been saved for the iPhone 3.1 release too.

Facebook for iPhone 3.0 Features

In that note on Facebook, a list of 15 new features was also posted telling us what we’ll see in the next big Facebook app update.

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Facebook Members to Become Masters of Their Domain Names

facebook-logoAt midnight, Facebook will give users the chance to claim a cleaner URL for their pages. What was once a messy string of numbers and letters could simply be changed to facebook.com/YourNameHere, for example. The move may make it easier to find other people and companies, but did the social networking site give businesses enough time to gear up? Is there potential for IP conflicts?

Just when you thought you had that 12:01 a.m. Saturday deadline figured out for this weekend’s big switch from analog to digital television, along comes another form of midnight madness to worry about — that is, if you want to make it easier for Facebook friends to reach you, or have a brand you want to protect from the dark side of social media.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday morning, Facebook will allow registration for customized URLs (example: facebook.com/YourNameHere), instead of the usual long list of numbers that show up as a Web address for a profile. The world’s largest social media network began sending out notices for the process on Wednesday, including a link for registered trademark brand owners to place their names on a restricted list, in the hope of avoiding the cybersquatting phenomenon that has long plagued the Internet domain name process.

The advantages are obvious: an easier way for users to track down their friends — or their favorite companies — on Facebook. It also gives those companies a shot at ranking higher on a Google .

However, given complaints from its members regarding past terms-of-service changes, is Facebook ready to get into the domain name business? Can it truly protect trademark owners from seeing their intellectual property pilfered by those who would grab a username, only to sell it back to its legitimate owner? Can Facebook’s servers handle what may turn out to be a midnight crush?

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Easy-to-Use Registration?

Facebook did not respond to requests for comments by press time, but previously published reports quote company spokespersons as saying they should have enough backup server power available. However, one social media expert is skeptical.

“I think we’re going to see a flurry of squatters trying to rip apart Facebook,” Lon Safko, hardware/software entrepreneur, intellectual property owner and author of The Social Media Bible, told TechNewsWorld. “They’re going to try to reserve a lot of names. It’ll be blue-light specials at midnight, and don’t be surprised if the servers … go down.”

Facebook’s motive for offering up vanity URLs, according to Safko: Even though MySpace and Twitter already offer up customized addresses, Facebook’s enormous population — 200 million active users — gives the network much more appeal with businesses and represents a viable future revenue opportunity.

“It could be that they’re trying to spike memberships. They’ve been growing really fast, trouncing MySpace and getting a lot of press. It’s a really good free perk.” When it comes to companies, “I think Facebook is starting to recognize the value of companies, because companies have been taking advantage of it all along. If they can entice people and companies into trying to brand themselves on it, the advertising opportunities down the road are significant.”

There’s also potential for related advertising on profile pages with customized URLs, according to IDC analyst Caroline Dangson. Facebook will have to rely on that, since the company probably can’t get away with charging down the line for vanity usernames, she said. So the value right now for Facebook with all this: better search within Facebook and a stronger overall connection.

“It gives you the sense that you’ve really got your own page now,” Dangson told TechNewsWorld. “You didn’t think of it in terms of the domain name before, because it was ugly. You had a space on Facebook, but now it’s giving you a sense of greater ownership, potentially.”

The prospect of better search results also cements the network/member relationship, she said, because it helps “people connect with even more people, which creates stickiness.”