Facebook opens access to early builds of Messenger for Android

Facebook said Monday that it has created a Facebook Messenger for Android beta program, meaning the social network will give anyone who wants to help bug-test its messaging app early access to a prerelease version of Messenger.

The company has promised its Messenger testers multiple updates per week and access to experimental features. Facebook even hinted that its Messenger for Android guinea pigs might get to test new types of sharing, though the company left out specifics.

The Messenger beta program is similar to the company's Facebook for Android beta testing initiative, which the social network kicked off this … Read more

WhatsApp CEO: We won't compromise your privacy for Facebook

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum reiterated in a blog post Monday that his hit messaging application will not bend to its soon-to-be overlords at Facebook. With the note, the messaging chief tried to assuage fears that his application would become lax in its approach to member privacy.

Last month, WhatsApp agreed to be acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in cash and stock. When the deal was announced, Koum promised the app's 465 million monthly active users that nothing would change. Some members, however, are understandably skeptical given Facebook's history of collecting and sharing member data with advertisers.

"… Read more

Chrome extension turns ads into social media feeds

If you want to rid your Web browsing experience of ads, your best bet is AdBlock. If you want to replace the ads on some sites with equally or arguably more distracting feeds from Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, however, then there is the Post Forward extension for Chrome.

After you install the Post Forward, you can then head to the extension's site or click the button the extension installs to the right of Chrome's URL bar to connect to any of three aforementioned social networks. The extension will then replace ads on some sites -- a select few … Read more

How a selfie with a rapper can improve your Facebook status

On occasion, I'm forced to disappear to the Wine Country in order to commune with nature.

If I feel that the last vestige of niceness is disappearing from me, a few hours spent in the company of the people of Napa and their grape products creates a reawakening, as well as a need for a hotel.

Late on Friday afternoon, I was sipping some very fine Honig cabernet when a young man engaged me in conversation.

He was 24 years old, he had a flip phone, and he was in crisis.

"I've got to leave in a … Read more

Facebook makes wrong call on anti-Semitic page

For the past several years, Facebook and several other prominent social-media companies have been wrestling with how to respond when their popular platforms are being abused by bigots to spread racist speech and hateful propaganda, including Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

Much of the debate has centered on a discussion over the difficult concept of what exactly constitutes hate speech.

As defined by Facebook's own community standards, people have a right to post "ignorant and untrue material about people and events" on their personal pages. But any content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national … Read more

Is this Amazon's game controller for a TV box?

CNET Update goes whale watching:

In this episode of Update:

- Check out the latest clue in the Amazon media box mystery: photos of a Bluetooth video game controller, posted by Zatznotfunny.com. All signs point to Amazon releasing a streaming-media box in March or April.

- Catch selfie mania with Apple's new Selfie Section in the iTunes App Store. This must be great news for Manhattan, Miami and Makati City -- the top places for selfies according to Time.

- Go whale watching on Vine, now that #Whaling is trending.

- Expect to see video ads play in your Facebook News Feed. … Read more

WhatsApp calling spotted in the wild?

Answer the phone -- WhatsApp is calling.

Friday, screenshots purportedly depicting the widely popular messaging app's coming-soon voice-calling features made their way to the Web courtesy of the blog iPhoneItalia. The shots, seen above, reportedly depict a beta version of WhatsApp for iPhone with a new interface for making calls.

The images suggest that WhatsApp with VoIP is on its way sooner rather later. Just weeks ago, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum promised to give the messaging app's iPhone and Android users voice communication options. He said voice calling would be added in the second of quarter of this … Read more

Scrabble to get new official word: Twerk? Derp? Photobomb?

Sneaking in a made-up Scrabble word and getting away with it is almost as much fun as playing a legitimate one that uses three Zeds -- Zyzzyva, anyone? Word nerds who attempt to sneak illegal words like "huzzah" and "bazinga" past their friends may be happy to know that they can now nominate a new word into Hasbro's official Scrabble Players Dictionary, which hasn't been updated in more than nine years.

Fans have the chance to chime in on the Hasbro Game Night Facebook Page comments section to suggest their favorite new word to be added, now through March 28. … Read more

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg phones Obama about NSA

It's no secret that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks the National Security Agency has overstepped its bounds when it comes to the agency's surveillance practices, but on Thursday the social network's chief said he took his gripe directly to the nation's commander-in-chief.

"I've called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future," Zuckerberg said in an update to his Facebook page. "Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform."

Zuckerberg's status update comes … Read more