Facebook account: free. Friends? About 18 cents apiece

How much are 1,000 Facebook friends worth?

According to Leon Hill, $177.30.

That’s the price that Hill’s online marketing firm is selling Facebook friends for, through a new service that has already raised alarms within Facebook.

Hill’s reputation as a notorious peddler of online souls precedes him, having launched a similar service selling Twitter followers to clients earlier this year.

Another endeavor, in which he sought to “game” social bookmarking site Digg by letting advertisers buy votes to push certain stories to the top of the site, earned him a cease-and-desist letter from Digg’s attorneys, he says. (A Digg representative said the company could not comment).

Now, uSocial has set it sights on Facebook, which Hill believes will be the greatest opportunity yet.

“It’s going to be massive. There are about 20 times more people on Facebook” than on Twitter, said Hill in a telephone interview from his home-base in Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday.

from Entrepreneurial:

Is’s Twitter advantage unfair?

The rise of Twitter as a social-media powerhouse and its micro-blogging platform has created a renewed urgency for URL-shortening services.

There are now endless numbers of websites vying to shorten your too-long tweets to conform to the 140-character limit, but as in every competitive industry not everyone can survive and thrive. This week one of the players, Canadian-based (owned by Nambu Network), announced it was throwing in the towel.

Now a small business closing up shop is not normally newsworthy, except when they cry foul as the ship is sinking. While on the one hand Nambu president Eric Woodward told Computerworld's Gregg Keiser that was "accepting the realities and moving on," he also seized the opportunity to take a shot at Twitter for making its default URL shortening service.

from Commentaries:

Twitter backlash foretold

Technology market research firm Gartner Inc has published the 2009 "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies," its effort to chart out what's hot or not at the cutting edge of hi-tech jargon. It's just one of an annual phalanx of reports that handicap some 1,650 technologies or trends in 79 different categories for how likely the terms are to make it into mainstream corporate parlance.

Jackie Fenn, the report's lead analyst and author of the 2008 book "Mastering the Hype Cycle," delivers the main verdict:

Technologies at the Peak of Inflated Expectations during 2009 include cloud computing, e-books (such as from Amazon and Sony) and internet TV (for example, Hulu), while social software and microblogging sites (such as Twitter) have tipped over the peak and will soon experience disillusionment among corporate users.’s farewell to URL shortening

It’s not everyday one hears a company say its business didn’t stand a chance.

But that was basically the gist of the announcement by Vancouver-based Nambu Networks when it said that it would pull the plug on, its 12-month-old URL shortening service.

“There is no way for us to monetize URL shortening — users won’t pay for it — and we just can’t justify further development since Twitter has all but anointed the market winner,” read the surprisingly blunt notice posted on the Web site over the weekend.

from Reuters Editors:

Giant shoulders and the chain of knowledge

The new world is not so different from the old world – it just moves faster and in different ways.

As early as the 12th century, the image of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants came into discourse to mean that all knowledge advances based on the discoveries of the past.

In academia and in journalism that notion has been coupled with the doctrine of attribution – you need to acknowledge the shoulders you’re standing on, to give due credit but also to allow others to search out that perch and see if their view from it is any different.

Twitter + Georgian blogger + South Ossetia = Hack Attack

If you were miffed at not being able to tweet your innermost thoughts and random musings to your followers yesterday, or post that smartypants comment on a friend’s Facebook status update, blame politics. Turns out the reason why Twitter was knocked down for hours, while Facebook users had trouble logging in and posting to their profiles on Thursday was a Georgian blogger who uses both services.

According to CNET, which cites Facebook’s chief security officer Max Kelly, the blogger also has accounts in LiveJournal and Google’s Blogger and YouTube platforms, and goes by the name of Cyxymu, which is the name of a town in Georgia. Kelly told CNET:

“It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard.”

Hack attack spares MySpace injury, but not insult dodged a bullet on Thursday, but in the process the social networking site may have gotten a stinging slap in the face instead.

Hackers trained their fire on social media highflyers Twitter and Facebook Thursday morning, knocking the former entirely offline for a few hours and slowing things down on the latter site.

LiveJournal, a blogging site, was also a victim of the so-called denial of service attacks.

Tweeting hits high note with Fortune 100

(Reporting and Writing by Laura Isensee)

    Still not sure about Twitter?
   More than half of Fortune 100 companies are using the wildly popular micro-blogging site, according to a new study, adding to growing buzz in the business world that Twitter hopes to convert into revenue this year.

Twitter trumped other social media as the online tool of choice for the Fortune 100 firms, according to the study by public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and its digital media unit Proof.

Some 54 percent of them regularly send out “tweets” or messages of 140 characters or less. The companies primarily use Twitter to blast news; for customer service; to announce promotions; or for employee recruitment. 

For Sale: The House of Twitter

Movie star homes are big in LA.

In the San Francisco Bay Area though, the celebrity real estate scene is all about Internet bigwigs.

So it wasn’t a total shock when various tech blogs picked up the fact that Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has put his 2-bedroom Berkeley hills cottage up for sale.

Stone actually announced the sale himself in a Tweet stating that it was “time to move,” despite his affection for the pad, and a link for prospective buyers to view the official listing.

Friday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories on the media industry:

Movie studios try to harness “Twitter effect” (Reuters)
“Audiences are voicing snap judgments on movies faster and to more people than ever before on Twitter, and their ability to create a box office hit or a flop is forcing major studios to revamp marketing campaigns. The stakes are especially high this summer season when big budget movies like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which opened on Wednesday, play to a core audience of young, plugged-in moviegoers,” writes Alex Dobuzinskis.

Sun-Times chief optimistic about sale of company (Chicago Tribune)
But, Michael Oneal writes: “In a court filing last week, creditors in the Sun-Times’ bankruptcy case raised concerns about the sale efforts, noting that the company has “limited time” before it “can no longer sustain the losses being incurred from operations.” They warned that unless a buyer is found soon, “time could run out, or a buyer could be located that would only pay a fire-sale price.”

Goldman makes peace with blogger in trademark case (Reuters)
“The agreement required blogger Michael Morgan to post a disclaimer on his website, saying it has no affiliation with the financial firm. Morgan, a Florida investment adviser, uses his blog — whose name combines Goldman’s name with numbers used to evoke connotations with the devil — to criticize the bank and its large profits,” writes Martha Graybow.