Most companies respond to criticism in the press with statements by executives or spokespeople, but Facebook answered a column in The New York Times by Evgeny Morozov panning its Internet.org initiative to connect the rest of the world to the Internet with comments by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Stanford University School of Medicine Prof. Michele Barry and United Nations Under-Secretary General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The New York Times
In February, Facebook Director of Engineering Jocelyn Goldfein said the social network was not scrapping its sputtering Home Android overlay, but a lot has apparently changed in four months, as The New York Times’ Bits blog reported that the team of engineers that had been working on Home has been disbanded.
Facebook has launched several initiatives aimed at boosting media companies’ presence on the social network thus far in 2014 — Public Content Solutions, aimed at providing its partners with dedicated technical and business resources to build out media solutions on Facebook and Instagram; FB Newswire, a project with social content discovery outfit Storyful to aggregate publicly shared content on Facebook, by media organizations and individual users, to aid journalists in their reporting; and the four new media-centric application-programming interfaces it announced at its F8 global developer conference in San Francisco last month — but the media industry took a shot across the bow in the form of a long rant posted on the social network by Director of Product Management for Ads and Pages Mike Hudack.
April was not kind to BuzzFeed, as the content aggregator saw its total number of Facebook interactions (likes, comments, and shares) slip to just over 39 million from nearly 47.5 million in March, and it accounted for just five of April’s 20 biggest Facebook stories after logging 12 in the previous month, but BuzzFeed still topped publishers in terms of shares for April, according to social media news aggregator NewsWhip.
Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke with Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times’ Bits blog about the Facebook Creative Labs initiative to create new mobile applications, the differences between Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and turning 30, among other things.
Someone described as a person involved in Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of immersive virtual reality technology company Oculus VR told Nick Wingfield and Vindu Goel of The New York Times that the social network plans to redesign Oculus’ hardware and rebrand it with a Facebook interface and logo, but Facebook is officially denying the report.
STUDY: Users Who Arrive At News Sites Via Facebook Spend Less Time, View Fewer Pages, Return Less Often
Facebook’s efforts to cozy up to media organizations appear to be timely, as Internet users who arrive at the 26 news websites analyzed in a new study from Pew Research Center via directly typing in those sites’ URLs or via bookmarks spend far more time on those sites, view more pages, and return more times per month.
Facebook turned to The Wall Street Journal to fill a position based on further intertwining the social network with news, as Editor of Emerging Media Liz Heron announced — appropriately, in a Facebook post — that she is leaving the Journal to join Facebook.
The settlement last August of the class-action lawsuit against Facebook over its use of users’ images in sponsored stories is about to face more opposition, as nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen said it will file a legal brief with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, stating that the settlement violates laws in seven states, The New York Times reported.