Tagged: facebook

Vin Diesel takes credit for Facebook’s success, compares himself to Elvis and Brando

Vin Diesel chatted with Entertainment Weekly about the “Fast and the Furious” movies and “Riddick” and other things, and because he’s Vin Diesel he said some amazingly modest stuff about how Facebook became FACEBOOk because Vin Diesel used the site to talk to his fans. (I’m going to excerpt this at length, but again, you can read more over at Entertainment Weekly.)

So! Vin Diesel is the star of the “Fast and Furious” movies. He also has a lot of Facebook fans. Let’s dive in:

You’ve developed a big following on Facebook. What do you attribute that to?
Did you ever see the movie Social Network? Do you remember what they said the reason was to make Facebook?

To meet girls?
YOU GOT IT!

Let’s pause and appreciate Vin Diesel shouting “YOU GOT IT!” at the interviewer while discussing “The Social Network.”  Continue reading

Taxes and Citizenship

Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder immortalized in the eyes of many moviegoers as a sympathetic victim thanks to “The Social Network” (a characterization helped by the fact that he was played by Andrew Garfield, a wide-eyed and likable young actor, as well as the thing where Saverin cooperated with the book on which the movie was based), earned quite a bit of negative press for his decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship. It was announced last week that Saverin has decided to become a resident of Singapore, where he lives, at least in large part to help cut down on his taxes now and down the line.

This decision is “ungrateful and indecent,” according to Farhad Manjoo, who points out that Saverin owes the United States a great deal. (Manjoo is just one of many commentators either making jokes about or expressing disapproval at Saverin’s decision.) Of course, as several have pointed out, Saverin isn’t exactly dashing out of the restaurant without paying the bill. That initial Bloomberg story breaking the news noted that Saverin would have to pay an exit tax (you can get an idea of what kind of tax he would pay here).

Will Wilkinson points us to this Tim Worstall post at Forbes that puts Saverin’s exit tax bill at around $500 million dollars. Wilkinson also points out another fact that seems to have been largely overlooked amid all of the “unfriending” jokes being made: Facebook’s shares (which could be over-valued right now), like any other stocks, “go down as well as up.” Saverin is probably going to pay an exit tax as if he had sold off his U.S. stock holdings, in Wilkinson’s words. What happens if, five years down the line, Facebook has declined in value? What if he paid a great deal of money now, but wound up holding onto shares that were no longer worth what they will be after the IPO?

He’ll still make a tremendous amount of money, of course. And nobody can say for sure that Facebook will hit a wall and decline in value, owing both to its massive user base and the fact that it can monetize seemingly endless reams of data even if people stop signing up or using the site as frequently. But Saverin is still not guaranteed to emerge unscathed. He’s making a bet; he just happens to be making an unpopular one.

Today in Technology News: Sunrise, Sunset

Big news in the world of technology today! AOL, a brand name synonymous with the ’90s and an outdated form of surfing the Internet, has finally found a way to make some money: selling more than 800 patents to Microsoft for more than $1 billion dollars. (Microsoft will also license another 300 patents.) This is great news for AOL’s long-term financial prospects, because they’ll be fine as long as they can occasionally sell 800+ patents to another company.

(Well, but for the fact that those additional 300 patents are the only remaining patents AOL has, which means this is actually a huge one-time financial windfall that will mean very little in the long-term unless AOL can use the extra money to turn itself around. They certainly won’t be able to do this again, so they’d better hope it works.)

In other news, Facebook has acquired Instagram for $1 billion in cash and shares. The delightful photo-sharing service (yes, I say delightful, because I really enjoy using it, though I do get why non-users are annoyed by an endless parade of sepia-toned photographs of food that flood Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr) announced in a blog post that it wouldn’t actually change anything for Instagram users, seconding what Mark Zuckerberg’s post says. So — at least for the foreseeable future — you don’t have to worry about your Instagram profile/contacts disappearing or anything of that vein. The news comes less than a week after Instagram’s very successful arrival on Android phones.

This is nothing but smart. One of Facebook’s earliest innovations was adding photos, which became an integral part of how many people used (and continue to use) Facebook. But there haven’t been any new or interesting evolutions or changes to the site’s photo services (though that facial recognition feature was certainly interesting, if thoroughly creepy!). Anecdotally, I’ve seen a lot of people — even people who don’t use various social media platforms all that much — shift over to posting Instagram photos on Facebook. This means that, eventually, you will be able to post Facebook photos using some of the nifty Instagram filters and tools. It’s a positive for the companies and for users, which is nice to say about one company acquiring another.

One tech company of the past sells off a chunk of itself to another tech company straddling the past and the present; another tech company (one of the three modern heavyweights, along with Apple and Google) makes a smart investment that could pay off by improving one of its services. Good thing they happened on the same day, making the contrast nice and tidy.

Is Facebook Just A Fad?

Farhad Manjoo tackles something that I often find myself wondering: Is Facebook merely the top social networking site right now, or is it firmly and semi-permanently ensconced in our culture? Is it a fad, or is it something more?

The big question for the future of social networking isn’t whether Facebook will be the largest and most influential site five years from now. It’s whether it will be the only one. Will Facebook be the exclusive catalog of our interests and relationships, or will it coexist with several others?

This is what I meant when I said that the future of social networking was unpredictable. There are huge swaths of the Web that aren’t under Facebook’s sway: When you email someone a link, share photos on Flickr, or review a restaurant on Yelp, you’re engaging in “social” activity outside of Facebook’s purview.

It’s possible that every other American has a Facebook account

Something to ponder: More than half of all Americans age 12 and older are on Facebook, according to a new report. The study found that 51 percent of people in that range have accounts, up from 8 percent in 2008. Now consider for a moment if this number is higher or lower than you expected it to be.

I suspect your thoughts might be generational, because I know mine definitely were. When I saw that number, I actually assumed it was a lowball estimate. There are times when it feels like simply everyone is on Facebook, in the sort of all-encompassing, far-reaching, all-knowing way that few other platforms, networks and tools have achieved. To put it another way, I would be more surprised if I met someone who didn’t have a Facebook account than someone who didn’t have a cell phone. (There are ways around cell phones — landlines, e-mails, etc. — whereas Facebook has achieved a singular-seeming ubiquity.)

But I stopped and pondered for a moment. After all, my assumptions revolved around the people with whom I interact with the most — my peers, friends, family and immediate and intermediate circles. In other words, I didn’t consider the legions of people for whom Facebook has limited or no utility (senior citizens, people in extremely rural areas). When considering those demographic groups, and the likelihood that the 51 percent number is so heavily taken up by young people who are on it because everyone is on it and if they’re not, they’ll be left behind — basically, people who are part of the self-sustaining cycle of groupthink that helps make something popular because it’s already so popular, a very post hoc ergo propter hoc kind of social pressure — the 51 percent figure is deeply interesting and just the beginning.

Because yes, part of the 49 percent has to come from people who are in their teens and 20s and beyond who have simply decided against Facebook; people for whom it seems worthless, or people who have used it and decided to delete their accounts (insofar as you can actually delete your account). But a lot of it has to come from older demographics. Which means that the 51 percent number is only going to rise as Facebook-using middle-aged people become occasionally Facebook-browsing senior citizens, and the current ranks of children become Facebook-frequenting tweens and teens.

That is, unless something rises up and usurp’s Facebook’s place, in the way these things often go for technological and social advances that seem vital but are often forgotten when rendered obsolete by the Next Big Thing. In which case, the slow and steady numerical battle of users-versus-non-users begins anew.

Facebook stalking just got a bit easier

While I’m sure you don’t use Facebook for this purpose, because you are a classy and urbane human being, there are many people who do use Facebook for the purpose of stalking. Specifically, watching the lives of people in whom they have an amorous interest. For these people (who, again, I am sure are not you), it can be exhausting to Facebook stalk for a long period of time, monitoring relationship statuses and the like. That’s why the Breakup Notifier exists, I guess. It does what the name suggests: it tells you when people break up, so you can swoop in without the whole pesky “wait-out” thing.

I’m not surprised this exists, not at all. But I am incredibly surprised it did not exist until very recently. Facebook has been online for seven years now. For the entirety of its existence, I know people who have used it (seemingly exclusively) to stalk other people. How has this not existed until 2011?

Does Facebook make us sad?

You might think Facebook only makes us sad when we stop to consider the sheer tonnage of time wasted on the site. (Also, Farmville.) But there’s more to it, according to new research out of Stanford.

People consistently assume other folks are happier than they are, which in turn leads to more feelings of unhappiness. And Facebook only exacerbates this natural human condition, because of the stuff people are more likely to post on the network:

Facebook is, after all, characterized by the very public curation of one’s assets in the form of friends, photos, biographical data, accomplishments, pithy observations, even the books we say we like. Look, we have baked beautiful cookies. We are playing with a new puppy. We are smiling in pictures (or, if we are moody, we are artfully moody.) Blandness will not do, and with some exceptions, sad stuff doesn’t make the cut, either.

The whole thing is worth a read, but it’s a very interesting look at the social implications of the peppy, happy and positive images people project onto social networks. [Slate]

The World According to Facebook

This is a map of the world viewed through relationships on Facebook. It kind of makes you pause, if only for a moment, to appreciate the grandeur of our increasingly interconnected world, and how we mostly use it to see what our middle school friends are up to these days. Click to get a better look. [Facebook]