The social web weekly: a quick-fire roundup of some of the news, announcements and conversations that have occurred throughout the week…
Facebook censorship. Facebook is blocking certain messages between users under the umbrella of spam prevention, reports Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb: "If you ever get the itch to use the word "yuwie" or perhaps make reference to "wadja.com" - don't bother. "Some of the content you included in this message is not allowed by Facebook," is the message you'll get in response. Both of the above are small social networks, but you can't even send a message about how something disgusting (like yuwie.com's site design) made you say "yuwie, that smells bad!" On principle, the whole thing stinks." Not only is the filtering crude, but it raises serious issues over free speech, in particular because of the lack of transparency around how Facebook decides to filter out messages based on alleged spamming. Then again Facebook isn't best known for its transparency as anybody who has had their account blocked will know. Kirkpatrick warns: "So much public communication now goes on through these privately owned channels that if free speech is going to mean much in the future there is going to need to be at least some transparency around decision making by the major social networking platforms."
Twitter raises another $15 million. Om Malik over at GigaOm reports that Twitter has raised a new round of funding, bringing the total valuation to $80 million. As my colleague Larry Dignan points out, Twitter's first spending priority will need to be stabilizing the platform. However, it won't be easy: "With that newfound dough it’s pretty obvious what Twitter needs to do: Build out and revamp its architecture so it can scale up. And oh by the way Twitter has to make these changes on the fly. To me, Twitter has become an IT infrastructure story... Twitter’s challenge is the equivalent of open heart surgery going at 100 miles per hour." And there's still the thorny issue of a lack of business model. Hopefully $15 million buys them enough time to figure that one out too.
Facebook's pending redesign. We know it's coming -- having been announced several times -- but yesterday the social networking company gave a press and blogger demo of the upcoming changes to the site. From what I can tell (yes, I sat through the 20 min snooze video), the new design helps to address much of the site's clutter created since the introduction of third-party apps by adding tabs and emphasizing the most updated and dynamic content. So for example, the activity stream and included publishing tools (write to wall, add photos etc.) gets a tab all to its own, as does the static older profile, and one for third-party applications. Users can also add custom tabs for their favorite apps, in an effort to help users organize their screen real estate based on the features they are most engaged with. The end result is that Facebook is evolving into a mainstream Webtop (think start page meets the application 'start' menu on your PC), giving users instant access to their lifestreams and favorite online apps (see screenshot after the jump).