MySpace cuts 47 percent of its workforce

MySpace a place for friends.

This rumor’s been floating around for a couple weeks and finally came true. MySpace is officially cutting 47 percent of its workforce, some 500 employees. The company said the cuts are “to provide the company with a clear path for sustained growth and profitability.”

I’ve got some bad news for you MySpace. Even after the cuts, it looks like you guys might still employ more people than you have users. You’re gonna need traffic if you want these cuts to work. I just don’t know how realistic that is.


Digital content providers team up to fight piracy

Picture 4Amazon, Apple, Myspace, Spotify, and a couple other digital content providers have grouped up to form Music Matters, an organization aimed at turning pirates into paying customers. I hate to criticize this movement because I definitely think it’s important to support the artists you love, but it’s just so hard to take the companies that hawk those digital wares too seriously. If Jack White were imploring me to please buy his albums I would be much more inclined to do it (except that Deadweather album, ugh).

The best part of the organization is a stamp that participating sites can post to remind customers that the site will pay the artists for the music you purchase. Oh wait, they’re required by law to pay artists whose music the sites have sold.

The site tries to grab your indie nerve with that pencil script seen on the cover of every Michael Cera movie. You can watch custom videos from a few bands as well. Other than that, I’m not entirely sure why the site exists.

Music Matters


More Facebook privacy issues surface

surprise!This weekend Zuckerberg sat down with Michael Arrington to talk Facebook privacy. I found Zuckerberg’s comments pretty disconcerting, even more so today after an anonymous employee gave an interview to The Rumpus.

The most interesting was when the employee admitted to a master password for every account, one that used to be ‘Chuck Norris’ spelled with letters, numbers, and symbols. Now, the password only worked from inside Facebook offices, but I can’t imagine a scenario under which an employee would need to actually log in to the site as anyone else. Wouldn’t there be internal diagnostic tools for viewing that information? A database viewer perhaps?

There’s also the fact that Facebook logs all of the information pertaining to your usage. That allows it to implement handy features like remembering whose site you visit most so it appears at the top of your searches. But that’s not all that gets logged. There’s also all of the information you’ve ever entered, including the stuff that you’ve deleted.

I hate to sound like a fear monger, but I think it’s important for people to be aware of how much information is held on Facebook’s servers and how many people have access to that information. It’s more than I thought, on both accounts.


Facebook’s privacy shift lacked reason

Mark Zuckerberg.I logged into Facebook last month probably three times, for all of which I was greeted by a screen that warned of new privacy settings. I ignored the messages and went about my usual routine, rejecting friend requests from the high school acquaintances and responding to week-old messages. Then the changes showed up in all the blogs I read and I went back to look over them. It was a serious shift and, as you probably know, a move away from the privacy we’ve all held so dear (or learned to guard after pictures show up).

The weird thing is, Facebook was built on giving users more privacy, not less. It was one of the major differentiators between Facebook and MySpace, the feature most people point to when they talk about why the former is so successful compared to its counterpart. Zuckerberg talked about the change this weekend with Michael Arrington. His reasons for the change are surprising, and a little disconcerting when you realize he’s helping direct the policy changes.

Here’s a quote that might scare you: “We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.” Here’s some news, Mark, you are the social norm. If anything, Facebook is setting trends offline, not vice versa, and that will only continue as more people come to the site.

Here’s another one:

“A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacies of what they’ve built, doing a privacy change – doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do. But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner’s mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it.”

You know there are few things I want to hear less than “we just went for it” when it comes to information privacy. I can respect the philosophy behind the “beginner’s mind” strategy, but you also have to realize your multi-billion dollar valuation and the fact that you have permanently impacted the direction of the entire internet. That’s not the type of situation to just go for it because that’s what beginners might do.

If anything, the most recent changes to Facebook’s privacy settings have made me a much more discerning Facebook user. I’m much less prone to add people simply because I haven’t talked to them in a while. Honestly, I’m much less likely to keep my profile public for much longer. Sure, it can be a great way to stay in touch, but if it’s at the expense of making more and more of what I consider private information public, I’m more than willing to delete the account.


Deleted Pictures Persist on Social Networking Sites

Facebook and MySpace.Most everyone has seen or heard of social networking sites affecting privacy in crazy ways. They’ve cost people jobs, ended countless relationships, and in the best cases, resulted in some bruised pride. As more people get hit, more users are choosing to remove questionable content from their pages, but the content’s not necessarily gone.

Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng put recent findings from Cambridge University researchers to the test with some unsavory results. Turns out your deleted pictures may not be as far gone as you’d like.

Jacqui tested Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Flickr with the same method. She deleted pictures from each site on May 21st and then watched the direct links for six weeks. Twitter and Flickr were both good, truly deleting the pictures after a hard refresh. MySpace and Facebook didn’t fare so well. Direct links from both sites still produce the “deleted” images, some six weeks after they were pulled.

Moral of the story? Continue to censor your drunken impulses, particularly with regard to the pictures you upload.