MediaFile

Facebook’s search has been found

With “Graph Search,” Facebook’s newsearch engine announced Tuesday, the world’s largest social network has finally begun to index a trove of Big Data that’s been piling up for years. Even Facebook probably doesn’t know what’s been deposited in by its 1 billion members. Suddenly there is a way to find out. 

For all its popularity, Facebook has lacked something that could be described as “purpose.” For co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, sharing isn’t a platitude ‑ it’s world-altering. As he once said: “By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.” Yet Facebook is, for the most part, fun and games. It’s also, in the opinion of some, including me, a Faustian bargain that gives the company valuable information with which to make money, and its members the ability to do things they can do any number of other ways. 

For all the information Facebook members share with one another — pictures, opinions, “likes,” preferences, the companies and celebrities they follow — none of it has been searchable. So if you have friends who like science fiction and live nearby, you wouldn’t have known it (unless you, you know, knew it), and that Avatar movie night wouldn’t have happened – or, worse, would have happened alone, like always.

The sum of all that information makes it much more valuable than its parts, not only to Facebook but also to its members. That’s why Graph Search makes Facebook membership an entirely new proposition, compelling not just because of some raw network effect ‑ all my friends are there, so I have to be ‑ but because you can now be discovered by strangers who can do things for you, like offer you a job.

This new relationship could go a long way toward tempering privacy concerns at Facebook, which maximizes sharing and minimizes discussion of sharing’s pitfalls. I suspect the vast majority of Facebook members are blithely indifferent to the extent to which their lives are open books, even as they do things on the larger Web, not realizing they’re being logged on Facebook. It’s pretty clear that Facebook’s members largely don’t care about the consequences of a privacy breach until it happens. 

Tello tries to make customer service gripes more effective

From firing off angry tweets to writing nasty Yelp reviews, there are many ways to vent about bad customer service in the age of social media.

But while it feels good to blow off steam, it doesn’t always produce results for companies or customers.

Tello, a year-old mobile app that lets consumers rate the employees who served them at restaurants, shops and other businesses, is looking to make all that online griping more productive for both consumers and businesses.

Tech wrap: Adobe scraps Flash for mobile browsers

Score a point for Apple. Software maker Adobe scrapped its Flash Player for mobile devices after a mutli-year battle with Apple over the merits of the technology, which is used to view videos and play games on the Web. Take a look back at the legendary tech spat in this blow-by-blow timeline that stretches back to January 2007 when Apple launched its iPhone with a browser that was not compatible with Adobe’s Flash player. The company said in a blog post it plans to focus its future mobile browsing efforts on HTML5, a competing technology that is now universally supported on all major mobile devices.

Online business reviews site Yelp has hired bankers to lead an intitial public offering that could value the company at up to $2 billion, several people familiar with the matter told DealBook’s Evelyn M. Rusli. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup will participate in the offering, which is expected in the first quarter of next year, one of the sources said.

Cisco Systems singaled a turnaround on Wednesday when it raised its forecast revenue and earnings above Wall Street expectations as demand from government and enterprises for its network equipment remained resilient despite global economic troubles. Earlier, the company reported quarterly earnings per share that beat estimates, signaling that efforts to revive growth are beginning to pay off.

Tech wrap: Google’s appetite for local grows with Zagat buy

Google bought Zagat, the popular dining recommendations and ratings authority, jumping into a niche Web market alongside the likes of OpenTable and Yelp. The 32-year-old Zagat, which polls consumers and compiles reviews about restaurants around the world, will become a cornerstone of Google’s “local offering” and work in tandem with its mapping services and core search engine, the Internet search and advertising leader said.

The Zagat acquisition also marks Google’s first foray into original content creation. Google had been accused of poaching user reviews from the likes of Yelp for use on Google Places pages, without providing a link back.

Only about half of Twitter’s 200 million-plus registered members log on daily but the microblogging website is chalking up growth of 40 percent every quarter in mobile device usage, CEO Dick Costolo said. Twitter is gearing up for a hotly anticipated initial public offering. But Costolo told reporters they would do so only on their own terms. Twitter.com now sees about 400 million unique visitors every month, a 60 percent leap from 200 million at the start of the year.

Online customer service reviews get personal with Tello

Remember the flight attendant who imperiously cut you off after the second cocktail on your trans-Atlantic flight? Or how about that tech-support guy who heroically spent hours on the phone with you and solved the mysterious problem plaguing your PC?

Tello1A new Internet service unveiled on Wednesday is hoping to catch-on with consumers by providing an easy way to give kudos to the best customer service experiences and to flag the most egregious.

Online reviews are not exactly new, of course – the Web has proved a popular medium for consumers to rate businesses and vent about service for years through sites such as Yelp and Facebook.

Google bolsters local Web content with Places search

Google’s search engine can deliver Web pages from every corner of the world, but the Internet company is increasingly interested in getting you information about the pizza parlor around the corner.

Google introduced a new feature on Wednesday called “Places” that allows users to narrow their search results to include only information about real-world establishments that are nearby.

A search for “bocce,” the Italian outdoor bowling game, for example, can be refined so that results show actual bocce courts in San Francisco (or wherever Google determines the user is located) instead of Web pages about the sport of bocce.GoogPlaces

Google and Yelp: A holiday drama… or farce

Only a few days ago, Yelp insiders seemed on the verge of taking home a $500 million holiday gift basket courtesy of Google, which was in talks to acquire the online publisher of local business reviews.

Now all that good cheer appears to have turned to acrimony, with the deal talks in tatters and the two sides pointing fingers.

googleBlogTechCrunch, the blog that initially reported news of discussions between Google and Yelp, said on Monday that the talks ended abruptly after Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman walked away.