Weekly Digital News Roundup: March 8-12
Facebook Unveils Changes to Its News Feed
- According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook Inc., hoping to keep users logged on longer as it faces competition from myriad new social apps, is tweaking its news feed again. Changes to the feed—the key channel on Facebook’s service where users post and consume content—include a more minimal design, larger images and new types of sub-feeds. The revamp reflects a big push to prod users to spend more time on the site and curry favor with brands hoping to be noticed by Facebook’s users.
- Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, during a briefing at Facebook’s headquarters Thursday, repeatedly referred to the new design as the foundation for building the “best personalized newspaper.” As part of the redesign, friends’ photos will now appear larger and shared articles will include bigger images, text and the logos of publishers. Facebook began rolling out the new design for the Web on Thursday, and will soon push it to mobile devices.
- For location check-ins, Facebook will feature a large map of destinations. For posts about business, users will see their cover pages and pictures of friends who have “liked” the business, in the social network’s parlance. The changes highlight the immense challenge for Facebook, as it tries to shore up its stock price while satisfying all the players of its ecosystem: its users, developers and advertisers.
Tumblr’s Grand Plan to Generate $100 Million This Year and Get Profitable
- According to Business Insider, Tumblr is the 9th most visited site in the US, but the 162-person company hasn’t figured out how to properly monetize itself. That’s partly because its founder, David Karp, is very against running banner ads on the network. So the company is trying more creative ways to partner with sponsors.
- Tumblr’s latest money making scheme will roll out in the next few months, and it will focus on mobile advertising. Vice President Derek Gottfrid tells Bloomberg that Tumblr has been testing a pay-per-view model, where sponsors pay to get their content seen by more mobile users. Media companies such as Gawker and BuzzFeed are finding success with similar pay-per-view, viral ad products.
- Coca Cola, Target and Adidas have all tried promoted content campaigns on Tumblr. Gottfrid says the average spend is just under six figures. Last year, Tumblr generated about $13 million, and it hopes to bring in $100 million in 2013. But if campaigns are less than $100,000 each, the company has a long way to go.
Texas Proposes One of the Nation’s “Most Sweeping” Mobile Privacy Laws
- ARS Technica reports that privacy experts say that a pair of new mobile privacy bills recently introduced in Texas are among the “most sweeping” ever seen. And they say the proposed legislation offers better protection than a related privacy bill introduced this week in Congress.
- If passed, the new bills would establish a well-defined, probable-cause-driven warrant requirement for all location information. That’s not just data from GPS, but potentially pen register, tap and trace, and tower location data as well. Such data would be disclosed to law enforcement “if there is probable cause to believe the records disclosing location information will provide evidence in a criminal investigation.”
- “Location information can reveal a great deal about an individual’s professional and personal life—her friends and associates, her participation in political or religious activities, her regular visits to a health clinic or support group, and more,” said Chris Conley, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “That’s why we think it is essential that the government get a search warrant, approved by a judge, before demanding this kind of information from cell phone providers… This kind of transparency is essential to carry on an informed dialog about appropriate law enforcement powers in the modern world.”