Facebook unveils Skype video calling and group chat

Facebook announced that the company will launch group chat, video calling with Skype and a redesigned chat side bar to make communication on Facebook easy and powerful, ReadWriteWeb reports. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new features at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. This announcement follows up on Zuckerberg’s portent of “something awesome” last week…

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Amazon shuts down eBook loans via Lendle

Since Amazon gave Kindle users the ability to loan their eBooks in December, we’ve seen a number of startups launch in the eBook lending space, creating networks to help readers find someone who is willing to let them borrow an eBook title, says ReadWriteWeb. There haven’t been any moves to crack down on these exchanges (other than the requirement that the Kindle Lending Club rebrand). But now it appears that Amazon has shut down one such site, Lendle. The company’s website went down briefly today, and Lendle tweeted that Amazon has revoked its access to the API…

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LinkedIn launches social news site for professionals

LinkedIn has been rolling out new features fairly regularly lately, as it strives to make the professional social network (and all its data) relevant and useful. Today, the company is unveiling another piece of its strategy to make LinkedIn a destination site for more than just job-seekers, with the launch of LinkedIn Today, reports ReadWriteWeb. LinkedIn Today is an industry newspaper, of sorts, available online and via LinkedIn’s iPhone app. It offers headlines and links to the popular stories within certain industries and within your LinkedIn network. You’ll be able to see what others in your profession are reading, as well as “save” articles to read later…

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Facebook now powers comments all around the web

Facebook released its much-feared commenting solution, reports ReadWriteWeb. The idea made big news earlier this year, despite the fact that Facebook has already offered a commenting solution for more than a year, but today the company has announced the feature officially. So what’s new? There are a number of features for both publishers and users, although some of the most exciting features we’ve seen displayed on Facebook late last year don’t appear to be a part of the release. Is Facebook’s massive social graph enough to push it into the default slot for comments, where it already resides for things like social sharing and third-party login?

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Facebook raises $1.5 billion

If you thought Groupon’s $950 million was big, hold on to your hats. Facebook has announced that it has raised $1.5 billion in funding at a $50 billion valuation, reports ReadWriteWeb. According to the release, the company has received $1 billion from Goldman Sachs Overseas Offering today, which, when combined with the previous $500 million, equals the $1.5 billion investment. Read on for details and a Facebook-led Q&A on the deal…

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Obama’s internet plan sounds an awful lot like a national internet ID

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt announce to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research on Friday that President Obama intended to turn over development of a national Internet ID to the Commerce Department, reports ReadWriteWeb. Pursuant to the Orwellian-sounding National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which the administration is currently writing, Commerce will create a program to provide and administer an allegedly voluntary interoperable verified online IDs. An early draft makes the case for such an ID…

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Factual aims, credibly, to become Wikipedia 2.0

Imagine an online community that combines user contributions, editing and fact checking like Wikipedia, with automated data extraction like Google and complex artificial intelligence to create a rich description of the world around us that is continually refined over time. That’s what well-backed data startup Factual is aiming to create and every time I learn more about it, I fantasize about getting in and contributing to that community just like early contributors to Wikipedia did, says Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb. While Wikipedia is a huge destination site, however, Factual is a data service that will be used as a platform by other sites that want to borrow the data it has captured and refined about places, people and things in the real world. Founder Gil Elbaz, one of the inventors of the technology that became Google’s advertising platform and the leader who raised money from red hot investors Andreesen Horowitz for Factual, did a fascinating interview with GPS Business News this morning where we learned more about the technology behind his site…

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How Twitter use has changed, from 2009 to 2010

It’s been a good year for Twitter, and not merely because the company announced yesterday it has secured another huge round of funding, reports ReadWriteWeb. The microblogging platform has grown by over 100 million users this year and expanded its staff from 130 to 350 people. And it’s rolled out major redesigns and improvements to its site, mobile apps and APIs. People who created a Twitter profile before January 2009 now account for just 4.7% of the total Twitter population. That’s one of the findings in a new study by the social media analytics and monitoring service Sysomos that examines over 1 billion tweets from 2010 and compares the data with Twitter usage in 2009. So how has the influx of new users changed the ways in which Twitter is used? The results of the study suggest we may be disclosing more personal information in our profiles and following more people, but even as more people have joined, most Twitter activity still comes from a very small number of users. The number of Twitter users who provide personal information in their bios has more than doubled since last year; 82% of Twitter users now provide a name, compared with only 33% in 2009. And 73% provide location information, compared to 44% in 2009. Forty five percent give a website address, up from 22% a year ago. This seems to indicate that Twitter users are becoming more comfortable disclosing personal information on the site, but more importantly perhaps, that having a profile on Twitter is becoming increasingly important.  Of course, one of the most popular two-word phrases in personal profiles is “Justin Bieber,” so I’m not sure we can argue that this is all about professional networking…

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How online reading habits have changed over 2010

One of the more subtle trends of 2010 has been the way that our reading habits have changed, due to a convergence of other web trends: mobile apps, real-time web (mostly Twitter), and social networking as a way to track news (mostly Facebook), says Richard MacManus of ReadWriteWeb. In the previous era of the web, the so-called web 2.0, RSS Readers and start pages were all the rage. Over 2010, though, more people used tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper, Flipboard, LazyWeb, Feedly and TweetDeck, to track news. Nowadays I’m more likely to find stories to read via a vertical aggregator (the media-focused Mediagazer is my current favorite) and save them to Instapaper for later reading via my iPhone or iPad. I still use Google Reader, but in all honesty I now use it more to scan than to read.

Facebook & Twitter: Facebook has continued to expand beyond its original social networking purpose over 2010, including enabling people to track news and information of interest to them. In September, Facebook added a news search, by surfacing widely “liked” news stories from independent media organizations in its basic search bar…

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Google’s new eBook store: One store, any device

Watch out Amazon and move over Apple, because Google is about to launch its eBook store and it’s likely to change everything, reports ReadWriteWeb. Dubbed “Google Editions,” the store is said to have more than a half million titles that will be readable on nearly any device that can access the web… and it will be up and running before the end of the month.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the wait is finally over and Google’s eBook venture will be in the U.S. this month, with an international launch taking place by the first quarter of 2011. The store was expected to launch last summer, but was held up by several legal and technical hurdles.

The big news here, of course, is that Google’s version of the eBook is web-based and therefore device agnostic. That is, it doesn’t matter if you have an iPhone, iPad, Android, desktop, netbook or whatever else – as long as you can get on the web, you can read a book you buy from Google.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Users will be able to buy books directly from Google or from multiple online retailers–including independent bookstores–and add them to an online library tied to a Google account. They will be able to access their Google accounts on most devices with a web browser.”…Read More