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Social Media Saturday: Facebook Begins Internet.org Dominance, Twitter Bounces Back, and Yet Another Snapchat Clone Appears

Aug 04, 2014 02:41 AM EDT

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(Photo : Andrew Cherwenka/Flickr)

This week in social media, Facebook opened up the Internet to every person in Zambia through its Internet.org app. Meanwhile, things don't look so bleak for Twitter, partly thanks to the World Cup, and Snapchat could soon be valued at $10 billion -- no wonder Facebook just launched yet another Snapchat clone.

It's time for Social Media Saturday! 


Under Fire By Privacy Advocates in Europe

This Friday, a group called Europe-v-Facebook, led by Viennese law student and privacy activist Max Schrems, announced it was launching a civil suit against Facebook Ireland -- the office through which the New Big Blue processes the data of users based outside North America.

The suit is based around Facebook's practices that Schrems claims are invalid under the laws of the European Union, including its data use policy, tracking of users through external websites (the "Like" buttons), support of the NSA through PRISM, Facebook's Graph Search, "the absence of effective consent" for several applications of Facebook users' data, among others.

The claim is seeking an injunction against these Facebook practices in Europe, as well as "a token €500 per user" that joins the lawsuit by filling out a form at the group's dedicated Facebook class action lawsuit website, FBClaim.com. Due to Austrian law, users interesting in joining the civil action have to sign up at the site because there is no typical "class action" suit that can automatically represent a group of people.

The action follows the European Court of Justice's ruling against Google, which forced the search giant to respect Europeans' "right to be forgotten," by delisting links from its search index when requested.

"We love to complain constantly about data protection problems in Europe, now it's also time for us to enforce our fundamental rights. Within the framework of this class action individuals can also make a contribution to this effort," wrote Schrems in the group's release.

But Still Conquering the Globe

Europe's privacy advocates likely won't slow Facebook's world domination, as Facebook and its Internet for the "next 5 billion" program, Internet.org, keeps creating new users.

Just on Thursday of this week, as we previously reported, Facebook launched the new Internet.org app in Zambia, which provides all feature phone and smartphone users in the country with free basic Internet service, including several very practical Internet destinations like AccuWeather, Google Search, Wikipedia, informational sites on HIV and AIDS from UNICEF, and -- you guessed it -- Facebook.

"We believe that every person should have access to free basic Internet services -- tools for health, education, jobs and basic communication," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday. He noted that only 15 percent of Zambians currently have access to the Internet. Facebook worked with local mobile operators to provide the basic free Internet service.

"Soon, everyone will be able to use the Internet for free to find jobs, get help with reproductive health and other aspects of health, and use tools like Facebook to stay connected with the people they love." Facebook plans to implement the Internet.org plan in other countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America "soon."

And Apparently a Necessity in the U.S.

Back here in the U.S., if you ever wondered how powerful Facebook's grip on users is, after Friday's brief period of Facebook's services being down, you'll never wonder again. According to TIME, which collected tweets from the Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department, Facebook's services going down was followed by at least one 911 call by a worried user.

#Facebook is not a Law Enforcement issue, please don't call us about it being down, we don't know when FB will be back up!

- Sgt. Brink (@LASDBrink) August 1, 2014

Sgt. Brink was later asked on Twitter if people were seriously calling to ask about Facebook and answered, "Yes, they do. We get it all the time." Not being able to see your cousin's vacation photos for a couple of hours is not a huge emergency, people.


Good News on Wall Street, for the First Time Since Arriving There

After analysts predicted doom for this week's Twitter earnings report, the company reported stronger growth and higher gains in ad revenue (129.1 percent) than expected, bouncing the company's stock price and undoubtedly giving Twitter's top brass a little relief from the months-long slog in the markets. According to MarketWatch, while Twitter downplayed the importance of the FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil, analysts say it was definitely a factor and that Twitter's long-term user engagement might still be a problem.

We knew the World Cup would be big for all social media companies, but for a sense of how big it turned out to be, here are some numbers (via Bloomberg): Facebook's World Cup activity broke all records, engaging 350 million people in 3.5 billion interactions, which includes shares, Likes, and comments.

But for Twitter, the World Cup was arguably even bigger. It generated a total of 672 million tweets with 35.6 million coming just from the Germany-Brazil slaughter match. That game also generated 6.5 billion total impressions, which refers to the number of times tweets are viewed on Twitter, its apps, and embedded on websites. A little back-of-the-envelope math indicates that the average Germany-Brazil tweet was seen 182 times.


It's Worth How Much?

According to Bloomberg's sources, Snapchat Inc., the ephemeral messaging service popular with young folks, is in talks with investors including the Chinese giant Alibaba for a round of funding that could value the company at -- wait for it -- $10 billion dollars.

If true, this would rocket Snapchat into a rare circle of the super-valuable technology startups worth 11-digits, like Airbnb and Uber. No wonder Facebook offered Snapchat a $3 billion buyout; and no wonder Snapchat turned it down.

Send in the Clones

Speaking of Facebook's failed attempt to add Snapchat to its social media trove, Mark Zuckerberg's company now has two attempts to match the Snapchat app in style and function. Joining Facebook's Slingshot app -- which launched weeks ago and awkwardly tries to foster user engagement by requiring preemptive "replies" sent back before users can see their new messages -- is (Facebook-owned) Instagram's Bolt app.

Bolt was quietly launched in Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand on Wednesday, according to Tech Crunch. Being a Snapchat clone, Bolt similarly allows to layer in text to photos, which are only sent to single users -- and are, of course, ephemeral.

But Bolt is different than Snapchat in that it allows you to send a photo to one of your friends just by tapping on their name in your contacts list (this is exactly like a few other Snapchat clones though). You can also shake your phone to "unsend," if you decide you made a mistake within seconds of sending a photo/message. No telling if Bolt will be a successful challenger to Snapchat's youth messaging dominance, but if it was worth a try by Facebook with Slingshot, why not take two stabs at it.

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