Monthly Archives: February 2014

Dark Side of Web Proliferation Shown with Latest UK Spy News

One of the most significant impacts of web 2.0 ideas and development is that the changes in the early 2000s encouraged user participation and set the stage to expand the internet to as many people as possible. Today the internet reaches millions more than people thought it could a decade ago.

There are a great number of positive points about the fact that more and more people are gaining access to the global internet community. Easier and cheaper access to information and easy communication are two of the no-brainers. But there is a dark side to the proliferation of technology and web access.

If you’ve been following the leaks and information releases from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, you know that the NSA has been tracking a great deal of the information and communications that people around the world send and receive every day. This revelation has sparked a large privacy movement and is even affecting policy on digital espionage.

The extent to which spy agencies have access to our devices through the beloved internet is massive. Some people say they have nothing to hide, while others say it is a human rights’ violation to be snooping the way these agencies do.

One of the latest revelations from the BBC is that “British spy agency GCHQ intercepted webcam images from millions of Yahoo users around the world.” In fact, the NSA was supposedly involved in this as well. This is likely going to spark outrage and concern in other parts of the globe. It also might make people worried about having a webcam on their computer at all.

As the world continues to adopt technology giving them access to the web at all times, these privacy issues must be addressed. For the web to continue to be an open and safe platform for its users as those who envisioned web 2.0 had hoped for, some sort of compromise needs to be reached. Don’t expect this and other related stories to disappear until that time.

Facebook Buys WhatsApp for $19 Billion

Facebook has once again risen to the top of the news cycle with its recent purchase of the popular messaging app WhatsApp. The Web 2.0 giant paid an astonishing $19 billion for the company. Given the number of users on WhatsApp and Facebook’s ever-growing need to expand its reach – and therefore its advertising capability – the price tag starts to sound more reasonable.

In 2012, Facebook dished out a mere $1 billion for the incredibly popular Instagram photo app. It didn’t take long for Instagram to be integrated into Facebook’s services. However, reports in the media say that WhatsApp’s ferocious growth caught the attention of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who commented during a conference, “No one in the history of the world has done anything like that.”

One of the reasons that WhatsApp has become popular so fast is how it handles its text messages. Instead of relying on the sometimes expensive cell phone networks to send SMS messages, WhatsApp uses mobile broadband. This method saves many of its users who are charged for SMS messages to get a free way to send messages. The app truly excels when it comes to international messaging.

Many, including Zuckerberg himself, have discussed the primary reason for the purchase: growth. Recently, there have been reports that Facebook’s youth users have been dropping off rapidly and relying on numerous messaging services to socialize on the network. By pulling WhatsApp into the Facebook ecosystem, Facebook guarantees that it will have a way to connect with any additional growth that WhatsApp is likely to have.

There’s no doubt that WhatsApp will grow year by year. Facebook continues to demonstrate that it is willing to do what it takes to impress Wall Street, guarantee its user-base growth, and make a profit. Since going public, these sorts of deals and changes have continued to increase in number and sometimes in cost.

What will Facebook do next?

Google Going After TV with YouTube

Back in the mid 2000s when the whole notion of Web 2.0 was gaining traction and becoming embraced by online users and webmasters, a small online video company named YouTube started. Looking back since 2005, and especially since the purchase of YouTube by Google in 2006, it’s almost impossible to imagine an internet without YouTube.

YouTube has allowed the social and community aspect of how the web has developed in the last decade to have a much stronger media focus. The site holds millions of videos and allows a wide range of interaction between users and other users, companies to consumers, and more. YouTube is beloved by people using the internet and that’s evident in the way that the platform has become vital for news, events, and personal stories to go viral online.

Now, however, Google is looking to bring YouTube to the table of one highly profitable realm of old technology: television. Google wants to turn YouTube into the main competition for TV. TV ads bring in a much higher price than internet video ads do, and Google and every other online advertiser knows it.

This end goal of competition with TV is easy for Google to talk about, but how will they get YouTube to the point where it will take from TVs advertising dollars? There are a few ideas out there as to how Google can go about turning YouTube into a true competitor to TV advertising.

Many think that YouTube will begin to produce its own professional-level content. Google is late to this party, as Amazon and especially Netflix have taken this idea and very successfully implemented it. But there’s no reason YouTube couldn’t be another source of high-quality content. Another idea is that Google and YouTube may start to pursue contracts and exclusive deals with other content producers, especially in the sports world.

As YouTube gets a new executive to run the site in the coming weeks, be sure to keep an eye on what the company plans to do about competing for TV’s advertising dollars.


Is Facebook Reinventing Itself for a Mobile Future?

When Facebook makes changes to its platform or services, people pay attention. With over a billion users on the social media site, it’s no wonder that the company makes the news seemingly every week. Just last week on this blog we talked about rumors that the social media platform and Web 2.0 darling could lose upwards of 80% of its users.

This week we wanted to share with you a new story about something Facebook just recently announced. It’s called “Paper.” What is Paper?

Facebook, knowing that the future of the web is mobile access, has been experimenting with apps and other ways of integrating their platform with smartphones and tablets. Paper is the company’s most recent attempt at merging Facebook with mobile.

Taking a cue from the world long before web 2.0 or even the internet, Facebook has designed the Paper app to act as a newspaper for your newsfeed. The app provides users with a customizable interface that lets them track their interests, favorite people, topics, themes, and more. This approach appears to be taking Facebook’s ability to connect with users to a different level. For most users, the information they saw was related directly to their friends and their friends of friends.

With Paper, Facebook now becomes more of a Twitter-like service on phones, giving users access to information they are interested in but aren’t necessarily connected to through their social circles. This could be the evolution Facebook needs to further engage users and provide better services to prevent any possible loss of those users (which we wrote about last week).

How Facebook promotes and supports Paper will likely determine if it succeeds. Facebook has always had an opportunity to be more than just a social media sharing site, and giving users custom access to content from numerous sources is a great way to begin a change in how people use Facebook. If it catches on, you can bet it will become an important part of Facebook’s strategy in the future.