Is Facebook struggling to keep up with its competitors?

Facebook has been implemented a number of changes to its services in the past few months. And with the growing popularity of social media services like Twitter and Google+, it begs the question of whether the social networking giant feels the need to establish a new edge among its competitors. Some people even question whether Facebook is copying its competitors to some extent.  Let’s investigate some of Facebook’s recent changes and see how they compare to features on other social media services.

Facebook Messenger

One of the more ponderous additions to Facebook’s networking arsenal, the Facebook Messenger mobile app joins the ranks of countless other messaging services offered for smartphones as an alternative to traditional texting. The application is especially curious considering Facebook’s chat capabilities for the regular Facebook mobile app. While this app doesn’t directly compete with Twitter or Google+ (unless you count Google’s GChat), it certainly signals a move from Facebook to expand beyond the typical boundaries on the social networking website.

Improved Friend’s List

Facebook recently announced a retooled version of the Friend’s list on a user’s Facebook page. Although users have had the ability to create lists, before it was a laborious task rarely used by people on Facebook. Now Facebook has “smart lists” that automatically categorize your friends and family based on your shared data. You can choose to share information with people on your lists while keeping it from your other contacts—that way embarrassing pictures of you don’t make it to your Facebooking family members. The smart lists also help determine what information you see on your newsfeed, phasing out information from users who you’re more unfamiliar with. While this is an undeniably helpful feature for Facebook users, whether you’re tired of over sharing your information or seeing too much information from mere acquaintances, it feels an awful lot like Google+’s “circles” feature. Some people see the smart lists as a too-little-too-late move from Facebook, but its success with users has yet to be determined.

Subscribe Feature

Another recent announcement from Facebook unveiled a new “subscribe” feature. If a Facebook user allows to do so in their privacy settings, you can choose to follow them by clicking a subscribe button next to their profile. This way you can receive updates from a Facebook user without having to formally “friend” them, the idea being that you can subscribe to the profile’s of individuals who might not otherwise friend you. What’s more, you can alter a subscription to only notify you of worthwhile updates: uploaded pictures yes, status updates no, and so on. People have compared this new item to Twitter’s “following” feature, and while they’re similar, so too are numerous other features on other websites that allow you to follow or subscribe to web content.

Conclusion

Facebook’s changes could be read as copycat maneuvers taken from its competitors, but I think that the company is just trying to keep up with the rampant change in social media. Messaging and subscribing, it’s all an effort to stay relevant. Facebook isn’t in any danger of going out of business soon, its users still well exceed those of Twitter and Google+ combined—so any claims that they are being outmatched by competitors are premature at best. Like it or not, Facebook (and its recent changes) are here to stay.

This Post is a Guest Post by Mariana Ashley. Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com. If you would like to contribute to the Inquisitive Minds, please write to us at me@melvinpereira.com

Indian Police now on Facebook

Interesting ! thats the first word that came to my mind when I started seeing articles about Indian Police using Facebook now. Well its not just the guys using it for personal purposes, when I say that I mean its not just for cops who are on Facebook, but for Police work. A while back I had written about how the American Police is beginning to catch some criminals who are using Facebook, using well Facebook as evidence.

But here is a news I never thought I will be write about, not for the near future at least. But Indian cops are catching up, and how ? A small Google search will first of all bring you up links of many Police pages on Facebook the prominent of them being the Delhi Police. The innovation is not only in the fact that they have one, but how they use it. They have converted their page into a sort of crowd sourced traffic camera for Delhi, where the fans can post pictures of law breakers. Whats interesting to note is that Delhi Police have apparently now issued over 650 traffic tickets based on these pictures.

Now I would be wowed at the news, but to be honest, the fear of someone driving a car and trying to take a picture of someone breaking the law is not really legal, cos well they are using the phone while driving and not concentrating on the road. Plus there are those awesome Photoshop artists among us, who can well make anything happen with the right kind of images. Moving away from just Facebook, it gets interesting with twitter, now you can get traffic updates in Delhi with their dedicated twitter channel, also processions and upcoming rallies etc.

While the Facebook page reaches thousands of people, the vast majority of residents here are not connected to it. Just one in four people in urban India has Internet access, and Internet users tend to be the wealthiest. Facebook said in July that users from India passed the 12 million mark.

The authorities have embraced the Facebook informants in part because the dangers of driving in India are ever-present. India has more traffic fatalities than any country in the world, and the number of new, untrained drivers has skyrocketed in recent years as the Indian middle class grows. The system of roads and the police are ill-equipped to handle the crush.

Check out their Twitter channel here : http://twitter.com/#!/dtptraffic

Facebook Page of Dubai Police is here : http://www.facebook.com/dtrafficpolice1

But still its an innovation that is a good sign that our sort of ageing Police infrastructure can actually get into the new world. Wonder if Dubai Police is going to adopt something like this, maybe even Bangalore Police. We will have to wait and watch ?

Are we taking Facebook and Twitter too far ?

Agreed, that there are awesome uses to these social networking sites, and you will get a few thousand examples of it at Facebook Stories. But I am not talking about using Facebook and Twitter in dire conditions, but really using the services in ridiculous and absolutely unnecessary locations. I am sure already a lot of you can point towards that friend who is a Facebook fanatic and is there all the time posting even the most mundane things about his life, that we, rather dont really care about.

I think I have been writing about these things with Facebook for a while, like how Facebook and Twitter are making our lives truthful, Some mistakes that you would regret, Care to be taken while using Facebook as well as 10 golden rules for using Facebook but this time I am going to list out a few incidents where numb brained individuals make use of these services.

Continue reading Are we taking Facebook and Twitter too far ?

WTF is twitter ? A Common Man’s guide to Tweets

From Scandals to great entertainment, from news to breaking news, from celebrities to yours truly, everyone seems to be getting on the Twitter bandwagon. But few of us really know what is twitter and how to use it ? Don’t fear, I am here, to help clear all doubts with twitter and how it is used. First things first, Twitter is a website that allows you to share or read information updates to and from other members all with the help of 140 characters only. Its like SMS for the internet (Except SMS is 160 characters). For, all of you who have been using Facebook, it is like your status update on Facebook. A service that helps people to update their status to everyone who is ‘following’ them.

So what’s the big deal, there is Facebook for it ?? Right ? Well most famous people who want to announce things to the world traditionally used press and emails, with the introduction of Social Networking Sites like Orkut, Facebook, My Space, people realised that they can connect directly with the people on the web without the need of the press, and thus these services slowly started being called Social Media.

Continue reading WTF is twitter ? A Common Man’s guide to Tweets

7500 Shoppers sold their soul without knowledge

How many times have we signed up for websites online and how many times have we checked the box that says, I have read the terms and conditions and have understood them before clicking submit. Well I know I have and had never been a person who had read any one of these terms of service. Well it just so happens that sometimes there are times when we might just give away more than what we think we did, by checking the option that says I have read it.

To demonstrate this and the dangers that accompany the fact that we click and agree on things that we do not really know, UK website, Gamestation added a “Immortal Soul Clause” into the terms of service. Shoppers who bought the very famous game Mario actually unknowingly sold their souls to the company.

Continue reading 7500 Shoppers sold their soul without knowledge

10 Websites that changed the Internet (India Edition)

Ever wonder what made the Internet the monster it is, starting only within the CERN research facility to now reaching nearly ever home with a computer ? Well it was the services and the websites that were there online. The more people saw value and entertainment, the more they got involved and more the internet grew. Influenced from the article here, I wanted to make a list of my 10 websites that actually made a difference to the Internet.

1. Geocities.com

Like a few million people around the planet, this was one of the sites that helped amateur web enthusiasts like me to enable my first attempt at making an online presence. I saw a lot of web pages, self learnt HTML from the pages and got to a stage where I wanted to really make a mark online. Unfortunately engineering in Instrumentation and Technology did not make it any easy to keep in touch with the internet. But it sure told a lot of us that making and keeping a website was not very very hard, and its a skill that can be learnt with a bit of patience and a liking for web design. However, amateurs like me are responsible for most of those ugly websites that started during the days of Geocities and exist even until this day. The internet bid farewell to this beauty last year. Geocities will be missed but the job is now taken on by a few websites out there like Google Sites, Tumblr etc

2. Wikipedia.org

With an intent to enable the entire world free access to knowledge, this was one of the real success stories of the Internet. I think the donation doors have time and again raised enough money to ensure that such a great resource as wikipedia stays alive and more importantly free. Giving a major competition to closed loop education and knowledge resources like the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, this is one world class product and project that definately changed the internet. Did you know that you can download a copy of the latest backup version of wikipedia ? Check it out at this location for yourself. http://download.wikimedia.org/

3. Hotmail.com

India’s first big mark on the online world came from a relatively unknown guy then named Sabeer Bhatia, and what he did was not only did he give a face to email but also a big mark for startups that get bought up. Starting Hotmail with some investment from a venture capitalist this Indian American Entrepreneur sold Hotmail for about $400 Million to Microsoft. Hotmail generated the interest in people to actually go online and create the account for an Email Address. Later the major chunk of the emails was taken up by USA.net which converted to a paid service at which point people moved to Yahoo Mail or Gmail. This was the state in India at least.

4. Rediff.com / Indiatimes.com

Between the international players, India had some shining stars for web portals. Rediff.com and Indiatimes.com are two sites that are running successfully even today. Both the sites integrated the online news / mail / sports / entertainment sections so well that it seemed that a lot of people had accounts with Rediff or Indiatimes at one time. After the popularity of Gmail this is shifted a little bit. However quite a few friends of mine still use their Rediff account as their primary communication medium. Interestingly, these sites were the first news sites in India, additionally they added the other craze of India cricket with live scores etc. Other similar sites at that time were sify.com and Indya.com.

5.  Amazon.com / eBay.com

The entire eCommerce bubble I would say was fuelled by these websites. Amazon and Ebay showed how to legitimately make money and substantial amounts of it. They provided customers a lot of support for people who were looking for collectibles, home appliances etc. Interestingly they grew so big that there were individuals who survived by searching eBay and providing people who were looking for stuff from stamps and coins to electronics and real estate; all for a small premium. They provided people a platform to buy and sell things and make money with garage sales and second hand goods and make money without having to build their own website.

6. Youtube.com

You tube provided the missing piece to the expanding internet, Video. Vanity is one of the most famous things that gets people do unbelievable interesting or goofy things. You tube gave people an outlet to get their 15 minutes of fame. Be it by making their dog sing a song or perform bizarre stunts. However, it now is one of the most visited website on the planet. Providing millions of hours of entertainment to people with a lot of time on their hands and looking for entertainment. From movies to the present IPL, India is all over the You Tube.

7. Blogger.com


Blogger is an awesome platform that provides amateurs like me a platform to post their views about anything under the sun. Although I am not using Blogger anymore and have moved on to WordPress.com, it is still one of the first services with Live Journal that enticed users to blog and made the buzz on the blog-o-sphere. Blogger is not only easy to use but also allows users to monetize their blog by posting Google Ads on it. It is one of the services that encourages users to write and make money at the same time.

8. Facebook.com


There is no introduction required for facebook.com. Nearly everyone is hooked on to this magical website. Although there were earlier sites that encouraged people to network socially like orkut.com, hi5.com, friendster.com, facebook is the one that we can see taking over the internet. In fact it just surpassed Google as the most visited website within the U.S. Facebook not only revolutionized social networking, but also sharing photos, websites, videos, messaging, walling and the ever famous pokes.

9. Twitter.com


It is not something that can be comprehended in the world of blogging, websites etc, a website that restricts you to 140 characters is now taking the internet to the next phase of its evolution. The Mobile. Before twitter, Mobile internet was completely restricted to emails through exchange and messages and some websites that were wap friendly. But twitter along with good mobile hardware has just changed how people use the internet on their phones. This definately is worth the mention.

10. Google.com

The Search Giant that indexed the Internet and provided information to all people for free to be able to get around the vast and ever growing Internet. AdSense provided them with enough revenue for them to be able to provide a lot of services from the Google stables for free. Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Sketchup, Google Picasa and many other services that we have come to love have all been born out of the revenue of AdSense. Google is one of the most loved and most visited single website on the world and they definately changed the Internet for good.

On a more personal note, the very first website that I had visited was unbelivable http://www.bharat-rakshak.com which is not as popular as one wold think, considering that they are almost like an unofficial website of the entire Indian Armed forces, the Army, Nave and the Air force. I was then looking for information related to getting to the NDA and this was one of the best resource, The internet was at a cyber cafe off Brigade Road in Bangalore and they were charging about Rs 140/- per hour, the internet connection was dial up and the one hour that my friend and I used the Internet we just browsed about 8 pages of that website.

Facebook, Twitter have made our life … truthful

Be very careful about what you write as an update, because your innocent tweet or Facebook update can very easily land you in Jail !

Yes, that right – Now your status messages and tweets are admissible in Courts as electronic evidence under Indian IT laws. I actually scanned my timeline to see how many times have I written something that may be objectionable to others and let me tell you, I found quite a few of them. And in my case, being a blogger, I am a little careful.

I would suggest you to do a rain-check on your tweets and updates. I am sure many will not go at lengths of pulling you to court on some update, but a real disgruntled one can sure take advantage – So be careful ! You may be writing about your Boss or your employer, but remember it is in public domain and can very easily be the reason for your loosing your job.

According to divorce lawyers, the social networking site is tempting users to cheat on their spouses and flirty messages and wall posts are increasingly being cited as evidence of extramarital activity, reports The Telegraph. “I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was,” the New York Daily News quoted Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online, as telling the Telegraph . “I was really surprised to see 20 per cent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook. The most common reason seemed to be people having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to,” he added.

The image I guess, explains a lot more than just what I am trying to say. Thank you Rinkee for the email.