Entries in Facebook (204)


Facebook COO Was Supposed to Take Plane that Crashed in San Francisco

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) – Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was originally supposed to have been on the Asiana Airlines flight that crash landed at San Francisco International Airport Saturday afternoon, Sandberg announced in a Facebook post.

“My family, colleagues Debbie Frost, Charlton Gholson and Kelly Hoffman and I were originally going to take the Asiana flight that just crash-landed. We switched to United so we could use miles for my family's tickets,” She explained. “Our flight was scheduled to come in at the same time, but we were early and landed about 20 minutes before the crash.”

Sandberg also said that her friend David Eun, a well-known tech executive and Executive Vice President at Samsung Electronics, was on the Asiana flight and was fine. Eun tweeted a photo of the crash after safely getting off the plane.

Law enforcement agents say the crash appears to have been an accident.

It is unknown if there were any casualties at this time.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook, Microsoft Release Data on Info Handed Over to Government

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When reports of the National Security Agency’s alleged program to gain “direct access” to large amounts of Internet communications (code-named PRISM) was first reported last week, the technology companies tied to the reports all denied participation in the surveillance program – but they also urged the government to allow for more transparency regarding the requests they do receive.

On Friday evening, after reaching an agreement with the FBI and Department of Justice, Facebook and Microsoft were the first companies to release transparency reports. Facebook revealed that the company received between 9,000 and 10,000 data requests from local, state and federal governments in the last six months of 2012. Within those, access to or information about 18,000 to 19,000 individual Facebook accounts were requested. During that same period, Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 requests for access to a total of 31,000 to 32,000 accounts.

“As of today, the government will only authorize us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range,” Facebook General Counsel Ted Ullyot wrote in a Facebook blog post. “This is progress, but we’re continuing to push for even more transparency, so that our users around the world can understand how infrequently we are asked to provide user data on national security grounds.

“These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat,” Ullyot wrote.

Ullyot reminded readers Facebook has more than 1 billion users, maintaining that “a tiny fraction of 1 percent of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of U.S. state, local, or federal U.S. government request (including criminal and national security-related requests) in the past six months.”

Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, John Frank, made similar points in a post of his own: “This only impacts a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base.”

Facebook and Microsoft agreed that the numbers were a step toward providing greater transparency, but because of the nature of the classified and sensitive information, the government has not allowed for more to be disclosed.

“We continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues,” Frank wrote.

Earlier this week, Facebook, Google and Microsoft petitioned the government to allow them to share more about the scope and size of the user-data requests.

Google, however, doesn’t think Facebook and Microsoft’s approach is helpful and is instead looking to just reveal the numbers of the requests national security requests on its own.

“We have always believed that it’s important to differentiate between different types of government requests,” Google said in a statement on Friday night. “We already publish criminal requests separately from National Security Letters. Lumping the two categories together would be a step back for users. Our request to the government is clear: to be able to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook's First Investor Pays Teens to Not Go to College

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- 19-year-old Indian immigrant Diwank Singh Tomer has an impressive resume. The accomplished hacker and startup founder who initially enrolled in college in India quickly decided he would learn more by moving here and immersing himself in the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial scene.

And one of the world's most famous entrepreneurs agrees with him.

For the third year running, Peter Thiel, Facebook's first investor and the co-founder and former CEO of PayPal, is giving about 20 teenagers $100,000 each to drop out of college and launch a business.

The German immigrant's Thiel Foundation mentors the young entrepreneurs during the two-year fellowship as they pursue new advances in everything from robotics to fashion. But there's a catch. The recipients cannot be enrolled in school or employed during that time without special approval from the foundation. The idea is for fellows to immerse themselves entirely in the world of innovation.

There are some skeptics who point out that not every one of Thiel's fellows succeed. Some fail miserably. But the beauty of the tech world and those who reside in it is the ability to iterate quickly. Failure and the determination to try again is a huge part of that.

And besides, Thiel would argue that many of his fellows do succeed in spectacular fashion.

In the past two years, the fellows have launched more than 30 companies and raised more than $34 million in outside funding. The new crop of fellows was selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants from nearly 50 nations.

"When we created the fellowship more than two years ago, our intention was to help a small number of creative people learn and accomplish more than they might have otherwise," Thiel said in a statement. "To their great credit, they have exceeded our expectations, and inspired people of all ages by reminding them that qualities like intellectual curiosity, grit, and determination are more important than a degree in determining success in life."

The idea that a college education is highly overvalued sounds controversial. Everyone from the Obama administration to high school counselors seem to push students toward a university degree. And study after study shows that college graduates make more money and advance further than people who don't attend college.

But it's not necessarily for everyone, the Thiel Foundation argues, particularly with many students racking up student debt to pursue degrees that may never be worth the expense.

Thiel Foundation Vice President of Grants Mike Gibson said he can see technical certificates that confirm someone knows how to code, for example, being valuable. But this idea that a college degree makes someone qualified or that someone cannot be qualified without one, is bogus.

Tomer agrees.

He had been at college in India for less than a month when he decided "he had nothing to lose" by dropping out. He'd already launched a startup to help people learn to code, and the computer science major knew he could continue to teach himself how to code.

So, he bought a ticket to San Francisco, hopped on a plane and only called home to tell his parents he'd left for the United States when he landed.

"To drop out in India means failure," he said. But failure doesn't scare Tomer. In fact, he thinks it's an important part of the growing process.

The key to learning, he said, is to ask lots of questions, something he doesn't think traditional schools promote.

"Schools force you to appear smart," he said. "It's bad to ask questions."

People learn best, he said, when they have access to mentors and the ability to learn in a way that suits them. The Thiel Foundation is big on mentors - each fellow meets with them throughout the two-year fellowship.

In Tomer's case, that approach has produced something interesting. The biking enthusiast is using his foundation funding to launch a new interactive learning environment based on his earlier coding venture.

He wants to launch a site that will allow people to learn about different topics - he's focused on coding and applied sciences - at their own pace with the help of his program. He's developed an algorithm that will respond to the user's actions. If someone wants to learn about a small area of coding and then do a deep dive into it before moving on, the program will prod the user in that direction by taking cues from the ways they interact with the site. If someone wants to get a breadth of knowledge before focusing on depth - Tomer's preferred style - that's fine too.

He thinks he'll need to hire a couple of engineers and a designer, but says his ability to code means he's capable of remaining at the helm.

Although he's only been in the Bay Area about eight months, Tomer plans to stay for good. He lives in a "hacker house" in Palo Alto with a bunch of other like-minded young people looking to strike entrepreneurial gold.

Tomer wouldn't say so himself - but he's an example of what a young entrepreneur with perseverance and a high tolerance for failure can accomplish by taking an unconventional path. The worst thing that can happen is that he has to go home and back to college. With that knowledge, Tomer said, coming to the hotbed of innovation was worth every bit of risk.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Study: One-Third of Facebook Users Deactivate Their Account

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(ITHACA, N.Y.) -- Over a third of Facebook users take breaks from the site by deactivating their account for reasons ranging from avoiding a boss’s friend request to addiction, according to a new study from Cornell University.

The study, presented Tuesday at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris, France, asked 410 people about their Facebook habits.

More than one-third of Facebook users, 110 people, said they had deceived their account in the past. Doing so hides everything they have done on the social networking site, but retains all of their data, allowing them to reactivate and jump right back in whenever they want.

The study found that 90 percent of these people said they were happy with their decision, with most not returning to the site.

Some responders used more creative methods to cut down on the time they spent on Facebook, including having significant others control their passwords and rationing out social networking time. Others used browser plug-ins blocking the site.

Seventy-five respondents said they had never signed up for Facebook in the first place.

Reasons given for stepping away from the site varied. Many were concerned with privacy issues, or wanted to avoid what one respondent called “life in a global aquarium.” Others quit to avoid being friended by a boss on an ex.

Others still were tired of engaging in seemingly shallow interactions. Researchers “observed a sense of rebelliousness and pride among those who resisted Facebook,” according to the study’s lead author Eric P.S. Baumer, postdoctoral associate in communication.

The researchers say this is the first study that fully captures the extent of non-use of Facebook, and note that people who don’t use Facebook are more likely to know others who shun the site as well.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook and State Attorneys General Team Up to Educate Teens and Parents about Privacy 

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While some reports indicate that teen Facebook use is on the decline, Facebook along with the National Association of Attorneys General are about to become laser focused on educating that younger demographic and their parents about privacy on the social networking community.

On April 15, Doug Gansler, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) president and Maryland's attorney general, plans to announce that the two groups will work together in the coming months to educate teens and their parents about Facebook safety and privacy through a number of different informational webpages and videos.

"There are more and more parents now who understand Facebook and how it works and how their children are using it, but don't necessarily understand the privacy settings and how they work," Gansler told ABC News in an interview.

The education will begin through the launch of a few different educational web tools, he said. A Facebook and NAGG "Safety and Privacy on Facebook" page on the social network will feature information on privacy settings, best practices and a tip sheet on how to set up privacy controls.

The page will also include "Ask the Safety Team" videos, in which members of Facebook's safety team answer questions about privacy, bullying and safety. It will also include a basic primer video explaining what Facebook is and how to use it.

In addition to those, state attorneys general Facebook pages will feature state-specific public service announcements and videos, in which participating attorneys general and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will offer tips. Gansler will appear in Maryland's video, which will be released on Tuesday.

While teens might not frequent those attorneys general sites or Facebook pages, Gansler said he is hoping their parents will, and said he is also relying on Facebook's advertising of the pages to get the word out. Facebook confirmed that over the next year, it would advertise those state-specific video PSAs to parents, teens, and families in participating states on Facebook.

"This program is designed to provide teens with tools and tips to manage their privacy and visibility on Facebook and across the internet," Sandberg said in a statement provided to ABC News. "We're grateful for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler's leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with him and attorneys generals around the country."

Gansler will just be the first attorney general to work with Facebook; more than a dozen other attorneys general will share the new pages and videos with their constituents through their web and Facebook pages.

Sandberg is meeting privately today with Gansler and the other participating attorneys general in National Harbor, Md., to discuss the program. Sandberg, who recently released Lean In, a best-selling book about women in the workforce, has been extremely involved in the project.

While Gansler will formally announce the project Monday, the PSAs won't start popping up until Tuesday. Gansler's version for Maryland will appear on his official Facebook page and on his website. Other participating states, which have not yet been revealed, will also have the videos and information on their respective Facebook pages.

Gansler said that although Facebook is still the "800-pound gorilla," he is aware of the data that shows that the younger set is beginning to move to other messaging services and social networks.

"Five years ago it was MySpace. The attorneys general got involved with MySpace and we addressed the sexual predator issues on the site," Gansler said. "While there is some movement [away from Facebook] into other places, and we are aware of that, we are going to make sure we are involved in those as well. We will move along with the trends towards the next thing in a regulatory capacity."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook to Increase Ad Targeting

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is hoping to increase its advertising revenue by gathering even more information about its users.

The social media website rolled out a new tool on Wednesday that will assist advertisers in targeting users based on both online and offline spending history.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new tool will combine Facebook's information about users' friends and what they "like" with additional information from third-party data marketers. The new data will likely include what Web pages the consumer visits, the email lists they sign up for, and what they spend their money on.

By merging their own information with data from third-party brokers, Facebook can provide advertisers with massive groups of people who are the best fit for particular advertisements.

While Facebook would not provide information on individual users, they can provide advertisers with large groups of members and data on their behavior both in and out of the social network's realm.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's ad-targeting methods.

Facebook says that is is not using location data from its users and will ensure that all information provided to its partners is anonymous. In addition, Facebook users can find out why they were targeted for specific ads, or opt out from ads from specific advertisers.

General Motors and the Neiman Marcus Group are two of the most notable companies who are reported to be increasing their advertising on Facebook, at least partially in response to the new data available to them. In the first quarter of 2013, Facebook's advertising revenue rose over 40 percent from 2012.

Sean Williams, the social media manager for Hyundai's America group, told The Wall Street Journal that he believes the new advertising tools could help companies target potential customers.

"In the past, we really just used Facebook as an engagement tool," he told the publication. "We're now thinking about turning this into an evergreen, or always-on, program."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Facebook Timeline Rolls Out

Facebook(NEW YORK) -- Remember that redesigned Facebook Timeline we saw a few months ago?  That's what your new Timeline is going to look like soon.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced a redesigned version of its Timeline, and unlike Graph Search or the new News Feed, it started to roll out to everyone on Wednesday.  Facebook's Malorie Lucich confirmed to ABC News that all Facebook users will have it in the next two weeks.

So what's different about it?  First, it's a bit more organized. While your posts and events used to be scattered across the two-column view, now they will be larger and stacked in order on the right column.  Everything else, including boxes that house your photos, about information, and "likes" of music, movies, books, etc. will live on the left side of the screen.

A big part of the redesign is around the content and the apps that you like.  You can "favorite" different movies, books, music and they will be added to that left rail.

"If you're a movie buff, you can add your favorites to your movies section or use apps like Flixster and Netflix to share what you're watching," Facebook's Rose Yao wrote on Facebook's blog Wednesday afternoon.  The integration comes just as Netflix has announced its social watching tools, which allow you to see what your friends have been watching.

You can also place your apps on the left side.  You will be able to add apps like Pinterest or Instagram to your Timeline and see content from them directly on the page. 

ABC News first reported on the Timeline changes in late December. Facebook had been testing the redesign with select users.

The Timeline redesign comes after two major Facebook feature changes -- Graph Search and the News Feed redesign.  Graph Search, which allows users to search across Facebook's users for different criteria, is still in a limited beta mode.  Facebook says the new News Feed, which was introduced last week at an event held by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, will bring larger photos and a cleaner design to the mobile apps and desktop versions of the site.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Says Women Must Learn to 'Lean In'

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., said she hesitated to give the TED talk in December 2010 that has catapulted her as a major voice for women and served as the launching pad for her new book, Lean In.

Sandberg told ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas that she had never talked publicly about being a woman.

"Everyone told me not to.  They said, 'If you give a public talk on women, people are going to notice you're a woman.'  I was like, 'Okay, well.'  But I did it," she said.

Sandberg said she worried that others might think she was asking "for special treatment or about to sue them."

"But over the last 10 years in the work force I was so alarmed as more men were leaning in and progressing.  And women were working the same hours, working just as hard.  But not getting the promotion, not getting paid as much," Sandberg said.

Over two million views on YouTube later, a new book and a nonprofit, Sandberg said she has received emails and letters from inspired women from all walks of life who "sat at the table."

On, women are encouraged to tell their stories about speaking out, gaining more confidence and helping each other achieve their goals.

Of course, Sandberg shares her own experiences of splitting chores and childrearing with her husband, while her career skyrocketed from chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton to Google's vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations.  Sandberg is also a director of The Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC News.

Sandberg admits in her book that before she became the COO of Facebook in March 2008, she almost readily accepted Mark Zuckerberg's first salary offer.

"When Mark offered me the job at Facebook, I had been interviewing with him for six weeks.  I was dying to get this job.  And when he made the first offer, I thought it was fair.  And I was about to take it gratefully," Sandberg told Vargas.  But Sandberg's brother-in-law advised her, "No one takes the first offer."

"And I said, 'Well, if I negotiate, maybe he won't like me.  Maybe I won't get the job.  It won't work out,'" Sandberg said.  "And he said to me, 'Why are you going to take this job and make less than any man would take?'  And that was motivating.  And it turned out that I was able to negotiate."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Impatient? Facebook’s Redesigned News Feed to Roll Out Slowly

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As news spread Thursday that Facebook was undergoing a "facelift," users flocked to the site, with many commenting that they couldn't wait to see the new changes.

“But mine doesn’t look like that yet.”

“Yep and can’t wait to get it!”

“Mine hasn’t changed yet. We shall see when that happens.”

Those were just a few of the comments posted by users on the ABC News Facebook page in response to reports about Facebook’s redesigned news feed Thursday.

The social network revealed Thursday morning that it’s got a brand new news feed with a more photo-first design and the ability to look at different content streams. However, while the company said that it would be “rolling out today” to users, it turns out that rollout is going to happen more slowly than many would like.

Facebook told ABC News that it is taking a “very slow, measured approach” to rolling out the new design to users.

“This is an update to a service hundreds of millions of people around the world use every day, so we need to make sure this experience feels as great as possible,” Kate O’Neill, Facebook product marketing manager, told ABC News. A small number of Facebook users will see the new look Thursday and others will start to see it on a rolling basis.

For those that don’t want to just wait their turn, they can go to to sign up for the waiting list.

“We hope to open it up to as many people as we can,” O’Neill said.

She wouldn’t share how many would be included in the early access period, but she said the majority of people would not see this Thursday or over the coming weeks.

Facebook has taken a similar approach with its products in the past. When it released Graph Search, the new search tool that allows for deeper searches, it also said it would only be available on a limited basis at first.

When asked about when Graph Search would release to a wider set of users, O’Neill said, “The early feedback is quite positive for people. We want to make sure it is working as well as it can before we turn it on for more people.”

She added that Facebook does not have specific plans for the mobile rollout of Graph Search. Facebook said Thursday the mobile version of the news feed, which looks a lot like the Web version, would start rolling out in a couple of weeks.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook to Unveil New News Feed

Facebook(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Facebook users are sharing even more about themselves, if you believe a recent study, and on Thursday, we're going to learn just how Facebook wants us to consume that shared information.

The company is holding a press conference Thursday at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., to showcase and introduce its new News Feed.

The social network invited reporters to the event last week, saying they would get to "see a new look for News Feed."  Reports from various technology news sites expect Facebook to introduce a new image-enhanced version of the News Feed for the Web and for mobile phones.

TechCrunch has reported that Facebook will launch a series of feeds that allow users to view shared information based on different content types, including a feed for photos and music.  The feed will include larger images and ads, says the tech website.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, hinted at this redesign a few months ago.

"As our news feed design evolves to show richer kinds of stories, that opens up new opportunities to offer different kinds of ads as well," he said on an earnings call last year.  "One of the product design principles that we've always had is we want the organic content to be of the same basic types of formats as paid content, right?"

The event comes after the social network announced last week that it bought Atlas, a digital advertising company, from Microsoft.  The acquisition, Facebook says, will help advertising with targeting audiences on the Web and through mobile.

Since going public last May, Facebook has been criticized for not offering optimized ad experiences, especially on mobile devices.

Facebook has continued to beef up its mobile offerings in the last year.  In addition to refreshing its iOS and Android apps, it released Poke, a mobile messaging service, as well as added free calling to its iPhone Messenger app.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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