Welcome back to your weekly installment of all that’s happening in the world of social media. It’s cold outside, so make yourself a hot drink, pull up a chair and read what has made the headlines in the social sphere this week.
1. Surely the biggest news in the social sphere this week is the tragic suicide of Reddit’s co-founder Aaron Swartz. Swartz, 26, was found dead at his home in Brooklyn on January 11th, apparently having committed suicide after repeated failure to get the charges brought by against him dropped or reduced. He was accused of using the computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to download about 4m academic articles from the JSTOR database, with the intention of redistributing them for free. JSTOR did not object to his actions, but Swartz was arrested and charged in January 2011 with a number of offences including wire fraud and computer fraud, which in the US attract significant penalties. It has now been revealed that the attorney seeking to prosecute him was only looking to impose a 6-month sentence.
2. Technology giant Google is to move its UK headquarters following a £1bn property deal. It has bought a 2.4 acre site at King’s Cross in north London and plans to build a seven and 11 storey complex. The US company will move staff from its two London offices in Victoria and Holborn to the new location when it is completed in 2016. Google’s Matt Brittin said the move was “good news for Google, London and the UK”.
3. Facebook has added a feature in its mobile phone app that allows free calling for US iPhone users. Users can now make calls to each other via the Facebook Messenger app anywhere they have a wi-fi or a cellular-data connection. The feature could be a boon for heavy talkers as they would avoid carrier call charges. Facebook said it was working on adding the feature to its Messenger app for Android and BlackBerry users.
4. In further news for Facebook, the social network unveiled it’s new graph search tool, but initial reports suggest it is not liked by users. Most of them do not want to use Facebook’s new search function because of “privacy” worries, according to a survey. The results of a flash poll, conducted by www.myvouchercodes.co.uk, found that 67 per cent of respondents thought Facebook’s new Graph Search tool was a bad idea, while 28 per cent said that they liked the idea of the new function.
5. We welcome the first lady, or Mrs President to Twitter this week. The first 15 people or organisations Mrs Obama chose to follow included feeds from all the branches of the US military, the Coast Guard, the Department of Education, and the Partnership for a Healthier America, of which she is honorary chairwoman. She also quickly followed tweets from the White House and the office of Vice President Joe Biden. No sign of her following her well-known husband yet, but only time will tell!