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Facebook Begins Testing Sponsored Results, Its First Search Typeahead Ads

138285712Heads up, Google. Facebook is testing a new format of search ads called Sponsored Results that lets advertisers show ads in the Facebook search typeahead to users looking for a particular Page, app, or Place. It basically will let businesses divert traffic from each other.

For example, a competing game company could target Zynga's CityVille so anyone searching for "CityVille" would see an ad leading to their game alongside the organic search result leading to Zynga's game. Sponsored Results could be big for Facebook's bottom line, pulling in ad dollars from direct advertisers with something to sell.

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Pinterest Has Been Locking Accounts In Response To Hacks, May Not Know The Cause Of Security Breach

 Pinterest hackersPinterest has been temporarily locking accounts in response to hacks. It looks like the company doesn't know the cause of the security breaches.

On July 16, Pinterest posted a "Locked Account Survey," asking affected users to complete a survey to "assist our investigation." The eleven question survey is broad, covering a wide range of possible issues, from whether the user had experienced other security hacks to how they used Pinterest to what browser they used,
suggesting that Pinterest doesn't know what's causing its hacks.

Pinterest posted five different notices between July 10 and 16 regarding hacks and locked accounts, with the last one being the survey. They have not posted since then.

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Warning: Fake Facebook Photo Notifications Contain Malware

SkullBe careful about opening emails that claim you have been tagged in a Facebook photo, because they may actually be malware, according to a security expert.

Sophos's NakedSecurity blog outlined the threat on Wednesday. The company's SophosLabs intercepted a "spammed-out email campaign" which was designed to spread malware.

Sophos provided the following example:

The blog notes that the email address above misspells "Facebook" as "Faceboook." The link takes the user to a malicious iFrame script, which exposes the user's computer to malware. However, within four seconds, the user's browser is directed to a presumably innocent Facebook page like the one below to act as a smokescreen.

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Google Doesn't Know How to Spend $50 Billion, Says PayPal Co-Founder

Schmidt-and-ThielConference panels are often sedate, friendly affairs. But that wasn't the case when Google chairman Eric Schmidt went up against Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder, investor and well-known libertarian gadfly.

The debate at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen Monday night tackled the question of whether technology has improved our lives over the past 30 years. Schmidt argued that it had; Thiel claimed progress had stagnated because tech has largely retreated from the real world into a virtual one.

"Google also has $50 billion in cash," Thiel added. "It has no idea how to invest that money in technology effectively ... if we're living in an accelerating technological world, and you have zero percent interest rates, you should be able to invest all of your money in things that will return it many times over. The fact is you're out of ideas."

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Confirmed: LinkedIn Rolling Out 'Simpler' Homepage To All Users In Coming Weeks

linkedinJust a little update on our report from last week about LinkedIn and what appeared to be new test pages for its website: the company today has confirmed the changes and says that it will be rolling them out to all its 160 million-plus users in the next couple of weeks.

The key, as we said last week, will be simplicity: a stronger link to the site's newsfeed, LinkedIn Today, as well as an interface that will make it easier to add new people, and check on what others you already know are doing — essentially an attempt to make the site significantly more social, and with that social activity focused on what staying at LinkedIn rather than going elsewhere to continue your browsing.

Is this a move away from what LinkedIn has become for most people — a place you go when you're looking for a new job or to hire someone for a new job? Possibly, but not too far from that. "This simpler and cleaner design makes it easier to navigate the page and quickly find the updates you're looking for – whether that's a news article your boss has recently shared or it's to see who has just started a new job," writes Caroline Gaffney, LinkedIn's product manager in charge of the homepage, writes in a blog post on the changes.

As we noted last week, it's ironic that these changes are coming at a time when LinkedIn has lost one of its key partners in the social media infosphere: Twitter has cut off its API, which means no more Twitter stories into LinkedIn. This has upset some users (example: one reader who wrote to me "Just bring back the Twitter stream. LinkedIn is...fighting to remain relevant."

We heard from a source that this Twitter development wasn't the reason for the changes, which have been in play for months now. But it's still a strong case for why social media sites worth anything, LinkedIn included, need to focus on their own platforms and their own network creation as a route to growth.

A little rundown of some of the new features:

– More modern design. It may seem trivial to some, but as Steve Jobs said once very famously, design is not just about how something looks but how it works (quoted coincidentally just the other day in a story in the NY Times). And this seems to be the case here: LinkedIn's redesigned the look to be more modern and is trying to use it to get people to use the site more.

– Relevant updates. A lot of the changes seem cosmetic but there seems to be some changes under the hood, too. Gaffney notes that "the most important" network updates and articles are now appearing at the top fo the feed.

– Cleaned-up update stream. Again, more ability to scan and view updates to your feed, with some automated refreshing now in there. And taking another page from Facebook and Twitter you can now see what people in your network are talking about more easily.

Gaffney notes that this is just the first step, and indeed LinkedIn seems to be gearing up to make itself a more natural landing page — dashboard, if you will — for the professional who likes to engage in a bit of social networking. That would be in contrast to how I bet many typcial users enters the site — via Google searches on specific people
and companies. Also, that makes it a nice complement to Facebook (less worky; more friendly) and Twitter (not really so much of a homepage as a straight feed).

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