Facebook acquires FriendFeed


The two best websites for connecting with your friends have suddenly connected with each other. Facebook has acquired the life-streaming website FriendFeed, the companies announced Monday. The sites will both continue to operate independently for the time being until the companies can decide the best way to integrate their products.

The integration will be delicate work. While the two sites have much in common, there are several hurdles relating to privacy, feature redundancy and the big question of what to do with all that FriendFeed data that need to be overcome.

“The exact plan for how the integration is going to be handled is something we’re still discussing,” FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit tells Webmonkey. “In the short term, nothing changes.”

Friendfeed and its API will both remain working normally until further notice, the company explained in a blog post Monday. Also, according to the official press release posted at Facebook, FriendFeed’s employees will join Facebook, and the site’s four founders will take on new roles within Facebook’s engineering and product teams.

At this point, details are slim. Both FriendFeed and Facebook folks have made it clear that the long-term plans for merging the products are still being ironed out.

Read the full story on the WebMonkey website.


ITV sells Friends Reunited for £25m


ITV has announced the sale of its Friends Reunited business as it reported a £105 million half-year loss. The broadcaster said it had agreed to sell the social networking site to DC Thomson, publisher of the Beano and the Dundee-based Courier, for £25 million.

ITV, which bought Friends Reunited for £120 million in 2005, said the deal was subject to approval by the competition authorities. DC Thomson said the acquisition of Friends Reunited would create Britain’s leading genealogy business by bringing together the Genes Reunited site and findmypast.com.

Friends Reunited, which has 20.6 million members, was launched in 2000. Genes Reunited was launched in 2003 and has 9 million members worldwide and over 500 million names listed. Friends Reunited has suffered in recent years as rival social networking sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace emerged on the scene.

ITV revealed that television advertising across the market suffered its worst year-on-year decline on record during the six months to June 30. The firm said its net television advertising revenue (NAR) fell by 15%, or £108 million, but said this was better than the overall market decline of 17%.

Read the full story on the Yahoo! News website.

Twitter crashes following malicious attack


Twitter’s site crashed on Thursday at about 3pm BST due to a “denial of service” attack – thousands of remote-controlled virus-infected PCs trying to contact the site. Though the site came back up after an hour, the company said it was “continuing to defend against and recover from this attack”.

The company’s status blog said: “We are defending against a denial-of-service attack, and will update status again shortly.”

Denial-of-service attacks – also known as DDOS attacks, for distributed DOS – happen when the controllers of “botnets” consisting of many thousands of virus-compromised Windows PCs decide to target a site. In the past banking, gambling and news sites – and even Google – have been the target of DDOS attacks.

The attacks use the electronic equivalent of ringing the site’s doorbell and running away: the targeted site’s server wastes its resources answering the call. In a typical DDOS attack, there may be millions of such fake approaches.

The aim is often to blackmail the site, sometimes the owners are told that unless they make a payment the attacks will continue. Gambling sites have often suffered DDOS sites ahead of major sports events, and been warned that the same will follow when the event happens – their key time for bets – unless they pay protection money.

Read the full story on the Guardian website.

Government dept’s urged to use Twitter


New government guidance has been published urging civil servants to use the micro-blogging site Twitter. Launched on the Cabinet Office website, the 20-page document is calling on departments to “tweet” on “issues of relevance or upcoming events”.

The website is already used by Downing Street, the Foreign Office and many individual MPs. Neil Williams, of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), published the “template” strategy.

Writing on the Cabinet Office’s digital engagement blog, Mr Williams – who is BIS’s head of corporate digital channels – conceded that 20 pages was a “a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter” but added “I was surprised by just how much there is to say – and quite how worth saying it is.”

The template had been written for BIS to consider using Twitter but could be used by other departments, he said. Publishing tweets, replying to incoming messages and monitoring the account would take less than an hour a day, according to the strategy.

Tweets should also be limited to issues of relevance or upcoming events rather than just campaign messages, and insights from ministers are encouraged.

Read the full story on the BBC NEWS website.

Murdoch and Google eye Twitter


As the media world’s most powerful figures gather in Sun Valley, Idaho to discuss the state of the industry the topics are likely to range far and wide.

But aside from subjects like the economy and the influence of the internet, one question is likely to dominate conversations among the event’s moguls and millionaires: will anyone broker a deal to buy Twitter?

The hyped internet company’s chief executive, Evan Williams, is one of hundreds of faces attending the shindig – a high-profile but secretive event organised by investment group Allen & Co.

The fact that his fellow attendees reads like a Who’s Who of the internet industry – including Google boss Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, new AOL chief Tim Armstrong, and media magnates Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch – has lead some to speculate that an acquisition could be on the cards.

“Ev is going to be the belle of the ball,” Mark Pincus, founder of online games company Zynga told the Associated Press. Pincus, who will also be attending the conference, said that the web industry could have something to teach the rest of the crowd.

In the past Twitter – which has more than 30m users worldwide – has turned down offers from a variety of companies, including an approach from Facebook valued at $500m.

Other attendees of the conference include billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer, Vivendi chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy and Bob Iger, the president and CEO of Disney.

Read the full story on the The Guardian website.

What’s right and wrong with media now


Like most things on the Internet, there’s a good side and a dark side to where the media business is headed.

The good side is very good: thousands of layers of mostly needless middlemen and processes are being eliminated as journalists get a direct channel to their readers. And, because it’s a two way medium, readers get that channel right back. And in the cases where the subject of an article has been wronged, the Web gives them powerful megaphones to fight back.

In short, the more everyone has a voice, the more reporters are challenged to make sure they are right, because they will be called out.

But the bad side is also very bad. The elimination of those layers – typically fact checkers, editors, lawyers and just time to make sure a work is fully baked—also allows mistakes, lazy reporting, a dependence on rumors, and hot-headed, unfair treatment to subjects. Worse: The metrics around the Web make it crystal clear which kinds of stories drive the most traffic. That leads to salacious reporting for the sake of clicks and comments.

It’s easy to point the finger at blogs, especially by certain members of old media losing money quarter-after-quarter. But this is not just a technology change as most corners of media are fighting for survival, it’s become a cultural change.

Read the full story on the Tech Crunch website.

Google falling behind Twitter


Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, admitted today that the company has been losing out to Twitter in the race to meet web user’s demand for real-time information.

Instead, the search engine’s chairman and chief executive, Eric Schmidt, hinted that it could become a partner of the micro-blogging site. Twitter has come from nowhere to become the third most visited social networking site in the US in just three years by allowing its users to broadcast their thoughts, actions and news instantly.

Google’s search engine, in contrast, can take hours or even days to update. While this is usually not a problem as accuracy of results is more important than speed of updating, as the internet community comes to demand ever faster information Twitter has left Google in its wake.

“People really want to do stuff real time and I think they [Twitter] have done a great job about it,” Page said in a closing address at Google’s Zeitgeist conference . “I think we have done a relatively poor job of creating things that work on a per-second basis.”

Read the full story on the Guardian website.