MediaFile

Live Blogging from Sun Valley (Day 4)

Reuters reporters Yinka Adegoke, Alexei Oreskovic and Robert MacMillan are publishing live updates from the Sun Valley gathering. Read their updates below or follow us on Twitter.

Sun Valley: Google’s Schmidt likes to talk social

Social media is a big topic of discussion at Sun Valley. And Google, the king of Internet search, has been talking to the various players.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said on Thursday that he’s “chatted” with the MySpace folks while at the conference, and noted that Google has had many conversations with Twitter in the past.

Google’s $900 million advertising deal with MySpace will expire next year. Some analysts believe any new deal will involve Google paying considerably less money to run ads on MySpace, whose popularity been eclipsed by Facebook.

Facebook reports access issues in China

As the Chinese government worked to regain control of the streets on Wednesday following ethnic clashes in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, Facebook reported some problems with its service, even as Beijing moved to suppress anger and dissent that is simmering online.

“We’ve heard reports of access issues and the service does appear to be running slowly. We’re looking into the matter,” a Facebook spokesman said via email, without elaborating.

On Tuesday, access to Facebook also seemed to be disrupted in some places, although the company maintained it was not seeing any changes in traffic. Still, users in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing said they could not reach the site. In addition, access to Twitter was apparently blocked and search restrictions for Xinjiang topics were in place on Twitter’s Chinese rival, Fanfou.com.

Sun Valley: Reuters returns to Idaho

Nearly every powerful media and technology executive you can think of will be camping out in the idyllic and affluent ski resort town of Sun Valley this week. They have aimed their Gulfstreams squarely at Idaho so they can show up at the 27th edition of Allen & Co’s media and technology conference, which investment banker Herb Allen holds every summer here.

That means nearly every media reporter you can think of will be hovering among the hedgerows and parking lots (and in the bar, naturally), waiting to get a few precious seconds with super-wattage movie executives from DreamWorks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg to Paramount’s Brad Grey, technology heavyweights such as Michael Dell and Bill Gates, media kingpins Philippe Dauman and Rupert Murdoch and fresh-faced startup darlings like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Evan Williams and Ning’s Gina Bianchini.

Reuters, of course, will be among the press crew at the scene. Reporters Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will show up, as will I, and photographer Rick Wilking will be shooting the pictures that at Sun Valley often tell a more eloquent story than any text dispatch can.

Get ready for Facebook’s billion$

Ka-Ching! 

Silicon Valley veteran Mark Andreessen, who sits on Facebook’s board, says the company will rack up billions of dollars in revenue in five years.

It’s more important at this stage for social sites like Facebook and Twitter to beef up their base of user, rather than worry too much about filling their money bags.

Privately held Facebook — which counts venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Accel Partners, Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> and Russian Internet investment firm Digital Sky Technologies among its investors — has never disclosed its revenue except to say it expects 70 percent growth this year.

Facebook updates privacy controls

Facebook is super easy to use in many respects. Send out that snarky message and the whole world knows what’s on your mind. But even though the site’s managers have tried to give users privacy options, figuring out how to limit who can read your murkiest thoughts has been less than straightforward.

The “compounding effect of more and more settings has made controlling privacy on Facebook too complicated,” Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly said on the Facebook blog.

As a result the social network site is now testing new ways for members to improve their privacy controls more easily.  This should mean that when you post those embarrassing photos or irreverent comments, you’ll be able to easily control who sees them without having to worry about oversharing with your boss or professional acquaintances.

Facebook keeps getting more like Twitter

Facebook has a new question for its users: Who do you want to tell?

The social network is revamping its publishing and privacy capabilities, giving individuals greater control about who sees the status updates, photos and messages they post on the service.

Facebook announced the new features, which are currently in beta testing, in a blog post on Wednesday. The changes provide greater control to limit who sees particular content – pictures of the kids can be viewable by a customized list of family members as opposed to someone’s broader group of Facebook friends.

But the real significance of the move may be in encouraging Facebook users to share their messages with the world at large instead of only with their group of approved group of friends.

A new social network — more than an electronic scrapbook?

No one needs another Facebook or Twitter so any social networking site had better have something new. Serial entrepreneur Vince Broady, who has experience in knowing what people like through his background with games and entertainment, is convinced he has one. It launched this week as thisMoment.com.

Broady’s idea is to let people create what he calls “moments,” which I would call electronic scrapbooks. ThisMoment is designed to work in lots of places — on the thisMoment website, within Facebook (some security issues are still being resolved, he says, but you can use your Facebook ID to sign up), or on an iPhone.

Content can come from anywhere so long as it’s digital: text, YouTube, a video camera, your digital camera, Flickr, Picassa or Facebook. OK, all that might be tough in your old high school scrapbook.

New Facebook headquarters celebrates the quirky

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***Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wore the only tie on display when he welcomed reporters for a reception and tour of his company’s new headquarters, tucked below a hill in a residential area of Palo Alto, not far from the Stanford campus.******The old HP research facility was refurbished for comfort, not for luxury. Facebook tore out a sea of cubicles to reveal wide open spaces for desks and oversized terminals. Nearly everyone sits there, including all company executives.******The result is something like a dream college dorm, with good food available throughout the day in a cafeteria .******“It’s a temporary space. It’s not going to last us forever. It’s an experiment so we can decide what sort of building we want for ourselves going forward,” said Aaron Sittig, who took reporters around the 137,000 square foot building that celebrates the quirky.******Privacy is afforded in meeting rooms, some with names that are mashups of  video games and condiments, like Donkey Kong Chutney and Guitartar Hero.  A leftover crane from HP days decorates one of the snack kitchens. There is an outdoor basketball court, an indoor ping pong table (mixed doubles were going on when reporters walked by) and RipStiks are scattered around for quick transport.******”It’s a rite of passage to learn how to use these to get around,” said Sittig.******Facebook has 700 employees in the building and another 200 in other cities. It will stay in its new home for a few years, until Stanford — which owns the land — wants it back.******Photo: David Lawsky

New Apple iPhone features get under your skin

Among all the limelight-hogging features and rock-bottom prices unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers’ conference on Monday, two underscored the potential for the consumer electronics giant to sidle up and get up-close and personal with users – whether they like it or not.******For the hundreds gathered in San Francisco for the company’s annual developers’ pow-wow, Apple previewed a new iPhone feature that will allow users to remotely locate their  device if they ever get separated from it. Executives highlighted another application that, eerily, can directly monitor a person’s vital signs.******In this day and age, when millions advertise not just their location but what they had for dessert via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s unclear how consumers will respond to functions that monitor their movements or their inner workings. Favorably, judging from the applause and hooting when those features were expounded upon.******Find My iPhone allows users to remotely locate their device via the Web. Logging onto Apple’s MobileMe, users can locate their phone on a map; send a text message to the phone, asking that it be returned; or play a strdient alert or alarm. The feature is intended to aid finding a phone left unattended at a restaurant or hidden under a couch cushion, developers said.******The new software also has a feature that allows users to remotely “wipe” the device of all data if it is truly lost or stolen – but allows users to reload the wiped data via Apple’s iTunes Web site — which usually offers music, applications and even video for sale — if the phone is then found, meaning data is periodically stored via a user’s iTunes account.******Besides additional uses of the phone’s GPS capability, Apple on Monday highlighted a third party app that allows doctors to monitor patients’ vital signs remotely - accessing real-time heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and other data collected by hospital devices on their iPhones – clearly helpful for on-call doctors but also very private information.******The app would allow doctors to zoom in and out, measure different parts of the data, and scroll through historical data.******The Critical Care app from AirStrip Technologies has yet to be approved by the FDA, but the company said it was in advanced testing and expects the app will soon be available.******(By Clare Baldwin)