Entries tagged with “Facebook”.

For sites that use Google Friend Connect and its comment widget, there is now a novel new feature: comment translation. The comment widget plugs into Google Translate to allow readers to translate comments left in foreign languages. This will be a boon to international blogs and sites, such as Go2Web20, which use Google Friend Connect as a login system.

Now you can talk to people half-way around the world, even if they don’t speak the same language. Sort of. The translation is still machine translation, but it is usually good enough to get across the main gist of what people are saying.

The way it works is the comment widget has a “translate” link which then pops up a menu of languages to choose from. The translated comments are then highlighted in yellow. Here is a video showing what it looks like in action.

Google says that this can work for a variety of sites, including international non-profits such as the World Wide Fund For Nature’s Earth Hour website. The Earth Hour campaign is supported by 4,000 cities in 88 different countries to help engage citizens in conserving energy. Visitors to this website can now leave comments in their native language and use Google Friend Connect’s comment translation to engage in discussions with the greater community.

Comment translation is one of several new gadgets that have been rolled out in Google’s Friend Connect gallery, perhaps in an effort to catch up to Facebook Connect. These features include the event gadget, the polls gadget, and the Get Answers gadget.

Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0


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Want to find out why you suddenly don’t have Internet access or cell phone service? You might want to check out the social-networking site Twitter. Want to find out why you suddenly don’t have Internet access or cell phone service? You might want to check out the social-networking site Twitter.

It seems that Twitter was one of the main ways that phone company AT&T has been communicating with customers and updating the public about the fiber cut that caused thousands of people in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area to go without broadband, phone, and wireless service for most of Thursday.

Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse, whose company has been affected by the outage, said the only way she has stayed on top of the situation has been through Twitter.

“All of my real time updates have been coming from the AT&T Twitter feed,” she said.

Indeed, she isn’t alone. Nearly 2,400 people have been keeping tabs on the situation via AT&T’s Twitter feed.

Twitter is a Web-based social-networking service that lets people send messages to a group of followers in 140 characters or less. It’s been around for a couple of years now. I have to admit when I first heard about it, I thought it seemed like a service only narcissists would be interested in. After all, who really cares what I am doing or where I am going or even what I decide to eat for lunch. But the service has taken off in the past year, and it’s now hitting the mainstream as everyone from doctors to restaurants are using the service to update patients and patrons.

And it appears that large companies, such as AT&T, are using the service to keep their customers and anyone interested in the company, informed in real time about a crisis.

AT&T began “tweeting” updates about the massive service outage in California around 7 a.m. PDT. With the first message saying:

“CA customers: We are aware of a cable cut situation impacting services in Santa Clara and San Jose areas.”

From then on the company has sent about eight more “tweets” or messages informing customers that technicians have been on the scene and service would be restored as quickly as possible. The company apologized for the outage and also informed its followers that the outage was likely caused by vandals who had cut the fiber cables.

The company’s most recent “tweet” actually notified its Twitter followers that AT&T is offering a reward for anyone responsible for vandalizing the company’s infrastructure:

“AT&T offering $100,000 reward for info leading to arrest/conviction of those responsible for CA vandalism. Call 408-947-STOP.”

The outage has affected thousands of people throughout the Bay Area, even non-AT&T customers. Because AT&T provides the fiber connections that link cell phone towers to their respective networks, wireless subscribers from almost every carrier were also affected by the outage. Some Verizon Communications DSL customers also saw service disrupted, because their service uses the AT&T fiber-optic cables to send its data traffic to its own nationwide network.

Sprint Nextel, whose wireless customers experienced service interruption, hasn’t provided official updates via Twitter, but the company’s spokeswoman Crystal Davis has also been updating customers and reporters via her Twitter feed. Davis’ most recent tweet indicated the company still had no idea when service would be restored.

“Still working w/ our network and disaster recovery team on fiber cut issue in CA.”

An earlier message tried to offer encouragement to those affected:

“Assessing fibercut issue in CA w/ network + emergency response team. We’re all in this together folks. Let’s have a day of peace in telecom.”

Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, has also sent updates with links to news stories about the outage. He even sent a message to AT&T’s media relations representatives asking who reporters should call for updates.

“@ATTNews Understand spokesperson has been tough for reporters to reach at AT&T on Silicon Valley outage. Who should they call for info?”

While hundreds of messages were sent back and forth on Twitter throughout the day among angry customers looking for more information on what has been happening, some affected business customers were also using Twitter and other social-networking forums to keep their customers updated on the outage.

For example San Francisco-based VerticalResponse has been following AT&T’s updates via Twitter, and it’s also been updating its own customers using Twitter. VerticalResponse works with roughly 56,000 small-business customers to distribute direct email marketing campaigns. And even though the company is based in San Francisco, its servers are collocated in Palo Alto, which was affected by the outage.

For most of the day, VerticalResponse was unable to send marketing campaigns on behalf of its customers. And because the company was disconnected from the Net, it also had no way to communicate with its customers through its corporate e-mail system.

So instead the company leveraged several social-networking platforms, including Twitter, to get the word out to its customers about what was happening. Instead of coming into the office, most of the company’s employees stayed home, or went to coffee shops in San Francisco where they could get Internet access.

“Our clients are pretty pissed,” said VerticalResponse’s CEO Janine Popick. “And rightly so. When something like happens you just have to throw your hands up. There’s nothing you can do. But the good news is we have been building up a Twitter base, and we have nearly 4,000 people as part of our online community, so we can communicate directly with them through Twitter or Facebook or some other social networking medium.”

Amen for Twitter. But the big question still remains, “When will AT&T fix this mess?” I guess you’ll have to check Twitter to know exactly when. VerticalResponse’s most recent tweet indicates that its servers are up and running. And the company has sent all its email campaigns for the day.

This article was originally posted on CNET News.

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The founder of Facebook says the social networking website will return to its previous terms of service regarding user data, after critics complained recent changes had eroded user privacy.

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Many of us are going to wake up in 2009 wondering “what did we eat?” and “why did we devour it all so fast?” We impulsively adopted everything from hastily assembled Facebook friends and Twitter followers to groups, apps and widgets (usually while shadowing others, such as uber-early adopter Robert Scoble), yet rarely revisited them. Many of us will feel compelled to join the social media equivalent of Weight Watchers, eager to trim the excess and rediscover a modicum of don’t-follow-everything discipline. Meanwhile, a new wave of “diet” apps and services from the still-revenue-hungry social media entrepreneurs will flood the market: “For $10 a month, we’ll promise you a downsized, manageable, and authentic Friends list.” In 2009, less may well become the new more.

The economic downturn will drive new realities of scarcity. We’ll rediscover timeless truths: friendship must be earned, fame is fleeting, exaggeration begets backlash, it always pays to listen, an open door beats a closed door and credibility is our most enduring marketing asset. We’ll need to make more choices and we’ll need to do much more dot-connecting between existing activities and attributes like TV, customer service, product performance and conversational output. TV will remain a focus because viewership in aggregate is actually going up, so continuing to understand how social media extends and enhances that experience (and sources content in reverse) will be mission critical. We’ll start the year talking about mobile as a stand-alone activity, but the “back to basics” approach will more appropriately cast it as yet another screen for content delivery.

Social media will continue pushing beyond one-trick hits and buzz-building to more operational considerations like customer service and employee empowerment, but 2009 will also be the year we rediscover the appeal of living, breathing connections. Our industry research will find that real conversations with consumers, empathetically executed, can yield returns that trump the most sophisticated precision targeting. Brands certainly won’t hit the Zappos.com gold standard but many 800 numbers will move from the locked closet of invisibility to visibility and we’ll see lots more moderated chat on sites. Also, expect to see more companies using Video FAQs versus text or even doling out good old fashioned hand-written notes and letters. Intimacy touches emotion; emotion powers conversation.

Prompted — and inspired — by 2008 voter dynamics, President Obama, the first family, and his administration, diversity will make a notable shift in marketing circles from a peripheral “nice to have” to a “must have” — and there will be a deeper recognition that getting this right is inseparable from competitive advantage. Expect to see Hispanic marketing notch up to new levels and more nuanced discussion of other minority segments. Dozens of new blogs will emerge on these topics and a few agencies will carve out unique value propositions here.

In 2009, it will be harder to justify attending industry conferences. Budget pressure will depress participation and marketers will increasingly get comparable returns from online-enabled events, webinars, on-demand podcasting and iPhone downloads. While the growth in popularity of video conferences, even multi-video-screen collaboration, will not replace the benefits of live interaction, the 80/20 need will be well serviced by substitutes. For conference organizers, pressure will be on to maximize the total experience. Oh, and one of the biggest ad industry conference organizers, AdTech, will likely vote for my ouster as advisor for making this prediction.

A new administration coupled with dramatic erosion of trust and confidence in institutions will put a new spotlight on advertising industry regulation. The scope will extend beyond the behavioral targeting scrutiny to social media and word-of-mouth ethics where the disclosure and transparency lines continue to grow murkier and fuzzier. Expect more AAAAs and ANA conferences to proactively talk up self-regulation.

Wikipedia will continue to define/shape brand reputation, aided in large measure by increasingly above-the-fold search results for general brand queries. Brands will continue pulling out their hair trying to sync Wikipedia descriptions with desired brand positioning. Wikipedia editors, meanwhile, will continue driving total transparency around product deficiencies, history with activists, executive and supplier ethics and any negative publicity. Brands will not even come close to cracking the code on influencing Wikipedia in 2009.

For many brands that shined bold light on green products claims, we’ll see a noticeable retreat on the rationale that consumers won’t pay a premium. On the other hand, major green innovation and R&D (and, eventually, ad messaging) will emerge from sectors like auto where government bailout requirements leave no other choice. Social media activists, meanwhile, will continue driving transparency around who’s measuring up to claims and who’s not.

Some of the best digital innovations in 2008 will source from government agencies looking to match or jump the bar set in the Obama campaign. Government sites, responding to “better, faster, cheaper” overtures from the top, will be easier, more accessible and more service oriented than most corporate websites. Every government agency will have an online-video channel and it will become cool again to talk about CRM.

Mobile devices, PDAs and iPhones will meet everyone else’s predictions of anyway-anywhere access, but it will also lead to some curious side effects. A growing number of accidents will prompt calls for even greater driving restrictions with mobile devices. Fewer conversations will take place on airplanes and bathroom advertising will see reduced effectiveness rates as eyeball attention will shifts from stall billboards to PDA screens.

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