Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is the paramount social network available on the Internet today, no doubt about it. And it has had a ton of influence in various parts of the world for different causes. Shoot, it even played a role in the suspensions of 14 Major League Baseball players. (We discussed the connection earlier in this piece.) But there are now a couple of developments that may encourage Facebook to have even more influence and be more involved in our lives and how we communicate with others.
Graph Search Goes American
One of the great new ways to impress us all by how closely connected we're to each other - and how connected with are individually to the 1 billion other Facebookers - Facebook inc (NASDAQ:FB) announced this week that it will start to roll out Graph Search to all of those U.S. English-speaking countries after presenting it on a limited basis over the last few weeks, according to to a piece by Zach Miners seen on PC World New Zealand. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted over the winter when Graph Search was first rolled out that this would be a daunting project to compile public information, post, photos and other data in the network's "graph," considering there are 1 billion worldwide users in many different languages, and each of those users has potentially thousands or millions of data points from which Facebook ca develop search options and keywords for users to adapt for Graph Search.
Miners wrote that Graph Search is designed to be used with natural language instead of the old stilted phrasing, so it can conduct searches on things like "Chinese restaurants in Topeka, Kansas" or "Sports that my friends like." Facebook gave assurances originally that Graph Search will be compliant with each users' privacy settings, so it will not locate any posts or phootos that have not already been seen or currently can be seen by others. Those of us in U.S. English countries will have a chance to test that assurance in the coming days, so stay tuned.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) Social in the Sky?
Those of us in U.S. English countries may also have a chance to test Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Graph Search when we're on the move - even above Earth and among the clouds. Facebook has developed a large mobile audience with its various apps (the most recent estimate is that 60 percent of Facebook users access the social network from a mobile device, either a smartphone or tablet). It may be possible then, very soon, that users could access Facebook even more readily and perhaps stay connected better while on a flight, especially international flights that travel over oceans.
Thomas Black and Jennifer Surane of Bloomberg News reported this week that JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) will be debuting a new wi-fi technology on its flights that will soon provide much more reliable Internet access to passengers, as satellite-driven beams of bandwidth will be more readily available to entire planes - and multiples of them as they move from one part of the sky to another, the bandwidth being "handed off" from one satellite to another.
There is availability of Internet access on about 40 percent of all U.S. and Canadian fleets, but only about 5 percent of passengers actually pay the money to get online while in flight. Mark Dankberg, CEO of ViaSat, which owns the technology that JetBlue will use, said all one has to do is look at the numbers of people who turn on their phones or tablets as soon as the plane lands. That, he said, indicates the large demand market for reliable Internet, and especially Internet that can be had for very cheap or free.
So what about that? What about the opportunity to log into Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and post pictures of your really attractive flight attendant serving your beverage? Or of that crying child in 14C that is keeping everyone from sleeping? Or maybe that dramatic sunset outside your window at 30,000 feet?
While we have no idea at this point how many people actually would use Wi-fi on a plane, or how many would actually access Facebook while en route to a destination, there at least can be the opportunity sooner rather than later for people like Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun to lament their baseball futures while on a flight from one city to the next, and post their various clues of performance-enhancing drug use on the social network in real time while waiting for their bags of peanuts.
Cynical much, are we? Maybe a little.
But if you are an investor in Facebook like fund managers Bill Miller or Jim Simons, are you envisioning more interaction among users on the site and thus more opportunities for revenue? While thinking about this, please consider the following video which gives a hands-on look at Facebook's Graph Search feature.
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