Facebook we have a problem

Leo Laporte is now claiming that Facebook is deleting and banning a radio station’s Facebook identity to allegedly remove comments about Facebook’s privacy stance.

This worries me a LOT more than whether or not you’ve taken private details like our social graph and forced them to be public.

This is about a loss of trust and goes WAY deeper than privacy.

I can’t trust that you care about my content or my business.

We have a problem.

When will you come and talk to us about this problem we are all having with you?

And I get a new email from someone who has gotten removed from Facebook every week like this one. I’m tired of this, when will you build a system to handle these kinds of complaints and handle them fairly?

All of these items remove our trust in your service. What are you going to do to regain our trust?

UPDATE: Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of Global Communications, has answered the Facebook deletion problems in the comments below. He answered “Robert, I really wish you — or Louis, for that matter — would reach out to us directly for comment before simply repeating someone’s allegation. I don’t know the situation with KNOI and have asked our teams to investigate the reason the Page was disabled. I can state categorically, though, that our policies would NEVER permit us to take down a page because of it criticizes us.
You of all people should know — and have reported — that people who use Facebook regularly create groups and Pages to criticize actions we’ve taken or to call for changes to our service. A Facebook search this morning of the words “Stop Facebook” reveals over 400 Pages that may involve such protest – all of which are up and active on the site.
I think it’s irresponsible to repeat an allegation that we begun to censor content — and that we’ve started by targeting the Fan Page of a radio station in Texas.”

UPDATE #2: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has written me an email where he says he was waiting to talk about the privacy issues it has been having until they have fixes ready to demo and that he’ll be talking with journalists this week about the issues.

UPDATE #3: Facebook’s public statement on KNOI account deletion ( @leolaporte was talking about that on Google Buzz earlier today). This statement was sent to me by Andrew Noyes | Manager, Public Policy Communications, Facebook:

The pages for KNOI and KRBR were disabled because one of our automated systems for detecting abuse identified improper actions on the account of the individual who also serves as the sole administrator of the Pages. The automated system is designed to keep spammers and potential harassers from abusing Facebook and is triggered when a user sends too many messages or seeks to friend too many people who ignore their requests. In this case, the user sent a large number of friend requests that were rejected. As a result, his account was disabled, and in consequence, the Pages for which he is the sole administrator were also disabled. The suggestion that our automated system has been programmed to censor those who criticize us is absurd.

Are these cloud-based social-feed enterprise disrupters boxing in Microsoft Sharepoint?

SocialWok is doing some interesting stuff with the Google ecosystem. I met up with them in the hallway at Google IO and I came away from the meeting wondering if they will stay an independent company for very long. Why? Because they are doing the most interesting thing to bring Google’s datatypes into your work. Worse yet for Microsoft, I’m seeing that a range of companies are building a wall around Microsoft’s Sharepoint and limiting its ability to grow, at best and potentially taking market share away from Ballmer’s Microsoft.

Now, one small company on its own doesn’t seem to be that big a threat to Microsoft, does it? But let’s look at a range of companies in this post and look at them holistically. I’m seeing the world move toward these newer companies.

First, a disclaimer, I work for Rackspace and we provide hosted SharePoint, so we are hoping you stay on Microsoft SharePoint for a long time and we’ll make it easy to manage your collaboration system. That said, I think it’s important to keep up to date on what’s going on in the Enterprise market, which is why I spend so much time meeting with competitive companies and doing these videos.

Box.net poking at SharePoint’s weakness: social services

Last week I attended a talk by Box.net‘s CEO, Aaron Levie, where he did his best impression of Salesforce’s CEO and not only took on Microsoft but laid out what he’s seeing as a range of cloud-based services that are making a new kind of work possible.

OffiSync: Taking your Microsoft documents and spreadsheets and getting them into Google’s Cloud

Look at this new company, OffiSync from Israel. They let you move your Microsoft documents into Google’s Cloud, but even better, that is like a gateway drug to getting you into Google’s enterprise world. Why? Because if you get your Word docs and spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations off your hard drive and out of email you’ll probably also learn that you could just go all the way and convert them to Google’s online formats which will remove Microsoft from the picture completely.

Yammer: removing all the other stuff to focus only on the social

Recently I visited Yammer and talked with their executives where I learned they were seeing large wins by having enterprise employees bring them in the back door. Why are they doing that? Because Yammer focuses only on the social stream (it originally looked like a copy of Twitter, but now has gotten some other features that make it better to use for enterprise users).

SocialCast: bringing activity streams (IE, Facebook-like features) to workplace for less money than Salesforce Chatter (and more freedom too)

In my visit to SocialCast I got a look at their latest offerings which are competitive with SocialWok’s and Salesforce Chatter, but for less money than Salesforce’s offerings. Their competitive advantage? You can use SocialCast on your own servers, where with SocialWok or Salesforce you are forced to use only cloud-based services.

SocialText: mixes a full suite of collaboration tools into social

When you visit Ross Mayfield, founder of SocialText, you get the feeling he’s been doing this a lot longer than the other players on the field and you’d be right. His company started as an easy-to-use wiki company but over the last few years has turned on a range of services from spreadsheets to other collaboration tools and laid them into a social feed.

Jive: pushing large-scale communities into collaboration tools

If you visit VMWare you’ll see they have 1.5-million people on their communities which are all run on Jive. Jive is the biggest of the startup disrupters of the enterprise world and consistent rumors have floated from its Palo Alto headquarters that they are working on an IPO but they are using that lead in community-management to make major moves into the new social enterprise world. Here I meet with CEO Dave Hersh and he talks about what he’s seeing happen.

Zoho: outrunning everyone with a huge suite of corporate services

If you look at Zoho’s home page you’ll see dozens of services, all aimed at helping you work better but for less money. These are services built from the ground up for the Web and they have proven to be very popular. Here I talk with Zoho’s CEO, Sridhar Vembu, about how he views the new Microsoft Office along with competition from Google (Zoho is on Google’s new enterprise app store and doing well there) and where he’s taking his company.

Salesforce Chatter: moving from just being for salespeople to being a crucial information-sharing service for the entire corporation

The big daddy of the disrupters is Salesforce. Why? Because they already have a relationship with nearly every CTO in the world so they can — unlike Yammer or most of the other players I’m discussing here — go in the front door of the company and get large groups of the company to buy in with one sales call. Already we’re seeing that happen as they roll out their beta and getting more engagement from enterprise employees than the others have gotten after scratching out adoption over a period of years. Why is Salesforce Chatter so important? Because they are building hooks into other corporate information systems, like those from SAP, and shoving info from those APIs directly into the social feed that looks a lot like Facebook. Here I sit down with the guy behind Chatter, Senior VP of Product Marketing Kraig Swensrud.

Tomorrow I’ll be at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference looking for more enterprise disrupters. I’m sure I’m missing a ton here, including companies like Atlassian, Blogtronix (video here), or Google themselves. If you think your company deserves to be in this conversation, please post a comment here. Thanks!

So, what do you think? Are these newer approaches taking away from Sharepoint? Are they boxing it in?

What is your favorite social relationship manager?

There are a slew of social relationship managers that have been released in the past year and the space is really heating up.

There’s Gist, here’s CEO T.A. McCann talking about it in front of the Google IO conference.

But there’s Xobni, Rapportive, eTacts, and others.

I’m trying them all.

So far Gist is my favorite. Why? Because of its completeness of information about other people it brings into my view and because of its web centricity. Xobni is nice if you use Outlook, for instance, but I don’t use that anymore.

Rapportive is nice because it works on regular old Gmail. Gist just shipped support for Gmail, but only if you are using Google Apps. I don’t use that either.

But which one is your favorite? Have you considered using a relationship manager? They aren’t for everyone, but if you need to keep up to date on a large number of people, which usually means executives, PR people, or salespeople, then these things are really great. It’s interesting that everyday Gist sends me an email and presents information about the people I’m emailing with the most. That often lets me learn about people in a new way that I miss on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

For instance, you can see my public profile on Gist and get an idea of the kinds of things it presents about the people in your life. Now, imagine you were headed to a meeting with a VC, or trying to sell something. Wouldn’t having all this data about that person be useful? Also, Gist has a nice iPhone app that shows you info and it just got an update today that lets you import your iPhone’s contacts.

By the way, I’ve created a Twitter list of “weapons for entrepreneurs” like these and other tools, people, and services that help entrepreneurs do their jobs better. Why aren’t you following that?

How the iPad is changing art and music

Now that more and more people are getting iPads we are seeing just how they change everything, especially art and music. Here I meet David Newman, artist, in a parking garage. I was sitting next to him in the Google IO keynotes and was amazed at how fast he worked to draw really great portraits of people. Now he couldn’t have done this demo on the go with a laptop. You can see his art on Flickr.

A few weeks ago I met Rana Sobhany who had gotten tons of compliments at the first iPad Dev Camp with her iPad DJ’ing system. So, she gave me a look at what she’s doing. That video went viral and has been watched half a million times. Wild. But she’s not the only one using iPads. I met Wil.i.iam who is the music genius behind the Black Eyed Peas. We talk mostly about Twitter, but at the end he pulls out his iPad too. Rana only had the iPads a week when we shot this video, I’ll follow up with her later in the summer to see how she’s progressed.

One of my kids’ favorite apps is the Smule Magic Piano, and here Lang Lang, famous pianist, walked out on stage and played flight of the bumblebee on it.

There’s even more video about iPad music apps up on YouTube. Same thing for iPad art, where you’ll see an art exhibit on an iPad and more.

Mobile phone radiation-studying company might have real side benefits

I was very skeptical of Tawkon, a company that helps you avoid cell phone radiation exposure, before I visited them in Tel Aviv, Israel, home of their founders and engineering team. First of all the World Health Organization has been studying mobile phone radiation and hasn’t found any link between radiation exposure and disease. That and I’m not really all that willing to give up my mobile phone, even if there was some slight risk of increased health problems found, so I sort of wanted to avoid the discussion altogether.

But when I visited with the founders, I found a team passionate about engineering and studying wireless networks. They are building algorithms to study whether a phone spits out more radiation when turned vertically vs. horizontally, for instance. Now, what else could that kind of study help? Well, battery life, for one. If your phone is working harder to get a signal to a cell tower (which is why radiation levels would be going up) then it’s also potentially more power.

How about connection quality? On Freeway 280 there are a couple of dead zones. But sometimes I find I can drive through the dead zones without losing signal. Why? Because of how I’m holding the phone. What if the phone could tell you the best way to hold it to get the best signal strength?

So, remove whether or not radiation from mobile phones are hurtful, this company could have huge spinout benefits to battery life and signal strength monitoring. That’s why I’m a fan and hope that Apple works with them to get their app approved (Apple has, so far, refused to distribute their app because Tawkon are using undocumented APIs and that’s not allowed by Apple).

There’s more about Tawkon on Techcrunch this morning because they are shipping on Blackberry now.


The king and queen of location-based services

The King and Queen of location based services

Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare, and Alexa Andrzejewski, founder of Foodspotting, are the hottest people in location-based services. Foursquare has a million users. Foodspotting has 100,000. Both are growing very quickly and getting lots of attention. I sit down with them at the Big Omaha conference and talk with them about the location-based service business.

In the interview Dennis tells us how Tokyo is about to become the #1 city, overtaking New York. He also tells us what he sees the future of Foursquare and location-based services are, which include maleable social graphs, which means it’ll show us tips from people who are like us. We talked about what he’s learned by running one of the hottest startups in the world and why he’s turned down deals to acquire Foursquare (it’s been rumored he turned down a $150 million offer from Yahoo).

He also talked to me about what he learned from running Dodgeball, an earlier location-based service that was acquired, and killed, by Google.

Alexa talks about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, including how she deals with competitors like Fiddme, which I got excited by when I visited Tel Aviv.

Why are these two companies top in the location-based service field? Because users have adopted them faster than other services. It’s interesting to talk with both of these leaders, especially to hear their insights on growing their companies and what they are thinking of when it comes to acquiring companies to grow their teams. Thanks to Alexa and Dens for sitting down with me at the Big Omaha conference, which is the best entrepreneur conference I’ve attended lately.

Oh, and sorry for the tweeting birds in the background, it was like Twitter was there to cause noise, but when you get a chance to sit down with two industry leaders you gotta just turn on the camera and go with it.

UPDATE: Techcrunch’s MG Siegler also talked with Dennis on Friday and he got out of Dennis that he’s very confident in the upcoming fight with Facebook over location-based services. That’s an interesting interview to read too.

You can join me on Foursquare at http://foursquare.com/user/scobleizer and I’m now on Foodspotting and its competitor, Fiddme as well.