Verizon abandons new fees

Public pressure can build quickly in the social media age. Verizon tried to push through a new $2 fee and ended up with a PR nightmare.

Verizon Wireless bowed to a torrent of criticism on Friday and reversed a day-old plan to impose a $2 bill-paying fee that would have applied to only some customers.

The consumer vitriol, which cascaded across Twitter and onto blogs and petitions all around the Web, struck a chord with a company that was clearly not expecting it.

“The company made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions,” Verizon Wireless said in a statement referring to the reversal.

Everything is changing, as consumers have real power now with social media.


Google launches Google+


It’s been a long time coming, but Google has finally made a serious entry into the social media market. It took three attempts – you remember Wave and Buzz right? No? That’s okay, no one does – but it looks like Google may finally have a winner on its hands.

Still, Google+ has a long way to go. The service has launched to a relatively small group of users and continue to be limited by invites, but that could provide the kind of hype Google wants for a new service. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote about the service for Bullz-Eye:

One of the coolest parts of Google+ is Hangout, which allows users to jump into text and video chat rooms with customizable accessibility. It’s a product that could easily punch a hole in Skype and become an amazing productivity tool. That’s especially true for the companies that have made the transition to Google’s online products.

Sparks, on the other hand, is the service’s big flop. It’s meant to be some sort of social news feed, but it’s cumbersome instead of sleek, slow instead of fast, and skimpy where it should be overflowing with information. Sparks actually surprises me in its shortcomings. Google has mountains of information about me. I’m always signed in to its email service, I use the search engine exclusively, I have an Android phone, I use Google Reader on a daily basis, and I’m writing this article in Google Docs. Why is it so hard for me to get a decent feed on Sparks?

For the rest of the article, head over to the Bullz-Eye Gadgets channel.


What will it take to bring down Facebook?

Facebook icon.A few months ago I went through and cleaned house on my Facebook account. My big problem with the service is exactly what makes it so popular – the prioritization of broad, largely meaningless connections over close, intimate ones. I dumped my broad connections, and it felt great.

That’s where Facebook falls short, and where there’s room for a serious competitor. As Facebook pushes ever closer to a billion users, there’s really no way anyone will unseat it – not immediately, anyway – but someone could easily steal a lot of time from Facebook users by simply creating a more closed and intimate network. It’s a strategy that venture capitalist Dave McClure covers in detail on his blog, Master of 500 Hats.

A quick excerpt:

I’ve got too many goddamn friends on Facebook.

yeah, that’s right: i’ve got over 2,000 “friends” on FB, and it’s fucking KILLING me. Now admittedly most normal folks don’t have *that* many Facebook friends — true: i’m tremendously insecure, an only child, & a pathetic people pleaser — but regardless a lot of “normal” people have the same problem with only a few hundred friends. and i’m guessing neither they nor i want to share our most jealously-guarded deep dark secrets with *everyone* on Facebook. but they might just share it with a smaller subset.

Read the full post here.


Aardvaark considering an offer from Google logo.Aardvark, a social service that allows you to ask friends and other members to answer questions and give advice, is reportedly considering a buyout from Google. There’s no official word on price, but the rumor is that it’s over $30 million. To date the company has raised around $6 million in venture capital.

As TechCrunch has it, Aardvark isn’t just talking to Google, it’s shopping around. There’s even the option of acquiring more VC for sale of some personal stock from the founders. I was actually surprised to hear that the valuation was so high. Aardvark is a fun way to kill some time and it’s got a great iPhone app, but I’ve asked so many questions that have gone unanswered I lost interest pretty quickly (seriously, no one can tell me the name of that composer). If I were these guys, I’d take the money and never look back.

Source: TechCrunch


Twitter removes deleted tweets

Twitter bird.Since its beginning, Twitter has tried to make it clear that your tweets are your property. You make them, you control who can see them. Problem was, the micro-blogging site couldn’t make good on that promise until recently, when it finally figured out how to keep deleted tweets out of search results.

Up until the end of this week, users could type your name into the search box and get every tweet, even those you deleted. If there was something you didn’t mean to post or wanted to correct, that little bit of info was there too. Thankfully, Biz Stone & Co. fixed that little problem. Now that problematic material is gone. Permanently.

Now all you have to worry about are the scores of sites cropping up to index tweets. Depending how those sites gather and store info, your deleted material may be a little more public than you’d hope. Yeah, drunk tweeting is still probably a terrible idea.