March 28, 2008 11:53 AM PDT

Week in review: Social media open for business

It was a week chock-full of headlines about companies merging, collaborating, or restructuring: Motorola announced it will split in two; the XM-Sirius satellite radio merger got Justice Department approval; and BitTorrent and Comcast have found some common ground on file sharing.

But among those stories, one that stood out for its potentially lasting implications was the formation of the OpenSocial Foundation, a nonprofit group to support the OpenSocial initiative that Google kick-started last year to promote a universal standard for developer applications on social-networking sites.

In what CNET reporter Caroline McCarthy termed "the Justice League of social media," the OpenSocial Foundation was announced by partners Google, Yahoo, and News Corp.'s and is expected to be formed within 90 days, with more partners from across the Web on board.

Its specific goal is "to ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the Web." And it's a particularly crucial move for Google, which has been eager to emphasize that OpenSocial is a community standard, not a Mountain View, Calif.-based project.

Of course, noticeably absent from the current partner list is Facebook, the site that started the social-networking platform craze in the first place. OpenSocial was a response to that mania, and an attempt to come up with some continuity among the disparate developer strategies.

And Facebook won't likely be joining the OpenSocial Foundation, at least in the near term. "As the largest contributor to the memecached system, Facebook has long been a leader and supporter of open-source initiatives but will not join the foundation," a statement from the company read. "The company will continue to evaluate partnership opportunities that will benefit the 300,000 Facebook Platform developers while improving the Facebook user experience."

"The majority of (Facebook's) users are in a demographic that can change their mind in an instant, leaving Facebook wondering 'Where did everyone go?'"
--CNET reader

Practically speaking, OpenSocial competes with Facebook's system by letting user data cross-pollinate between sites and services using a single API (application programming interface). A photo-sharing application, for example, could tap into the social graphs of Orkut, Bebo, MySpace, Ning, or other services without any code changes.

But's Dan Farber points out that Google is making Facebook's choice regarding OpenSocial more difficult by granting the OpenSocial code to the nonprofit foundation, which will be "independent of any undue influence by any one party," according to the Web site.

Still,'s Charles Cooper questions Facebook's decision to sit this one out. And at least one reader agrees that Facebook, while a hit, might just be a "flavor of the month" in the grand scheme of things.

"The majority of its users are in a demographic that can change their mind in an instant, leaving Facebook wondering 'Where did everyone go?'" the reader wrote in's Talkback in response to Cooper's blog.

File-sharing detente
After months of sparring, cable provider Comcast and file-sharing company BitTorrent agreed this week to work together on ways to make their technology more compatible. Comcast, of course, has been on the hot seat in recent weeks over its practice of stymieing the peer-to-peer traffic of BitTorrent users.

The two companies announced a "collaborative effort," in which the cable operator would devise a method to manage its traffic on a "protocol agnostic" basis, while the file-sharing application firm would work on making the process of transferring large files work more smoothly on that network.

The agreement doesn't mean that Comcast will stop doing traffic management deemed necessary to keep its pipes unclogged at peak congestion hours, but BitTorrent President and co-founder Ashwin Navin, speaking to a crowd at a tech policy forum in Hollywood, Calif., said he's OK with that.

Comcast's Joe Waz, senior vice president for external affairs and the company's public policy counsel, was also present at the forum and in an interview with offered more details on the decision to work with Comcast.

Meanwhile, a prolonged legal fight with the movie industry forced TorrentSpy, BitTorrent's popular search engine, to shut down Monday. That left some wondering who the Motion Picture Association of America will target next. Unlike TorrentSpy, IsoHunt, for example, is determined to have its day in court.

The MPAA, for its part, is calling on broadband providers to pull the plug on copyright-infringing users. Jim Williams, the MPAA's chief technology officer and senior vice president, said on Thursday that it's in the best interests of Internet providers to sift through data traveling across their networks and interrupt transmissions that violate copyright law.

"Much of the Internet is being clogged up with stolen goods," Williams said at the same tech policy conference. "Basically you have a bunch of free riders who are hogging the bandwidth (and taking) it away from legitimate consumers.

Motorola redials handset biz
Motorola, whose cell phone business has been in a death spiral for several quarters, announced Wednesday that after a two-month formal analysis, it has decided to split the company into two publicly traded entities. One will handle handsets and accessories while the other will continue to concentrate on wireless broadband and enterprise communication products.

CONTINUED: The future of Firefox…
Page 1 | 2

See more CNET content tagged:
OpenSocial, Facebook, social media, BitTorrent, Week in review


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Comcast used BitTorrent Inc. like a Tool
Just by way of re-introduction if necessary, I?m probably a key figure as to why we?re all talking about Network Neutrality again. I was having a problem uploading on Gnutella in early 2007. I tracked it down to Comcast using Sandvine-injected RST packets and documented it. Blog stories led to press stories which led to independent confirmation. And here we are today.

Today Comcast and BitTorrent seems to have solved world hunger ? and I?d love nothing more than to be optimistic about it. But I cannot be. As they say on Slashdot ? show video, or it didn?t happen. This deal is treachery, relies on how much we can trust the word of Comcast, and leaves the public interests out in the cold.

I think it?s strange that anyone believes a word that Comcast says. This is the Comcast that:

1. Told the government that they would not degrade traffic in order to convince officials that network neutrality regulations were not needed.

2. Started degrading P2P traffic the very next year, and failed to tell anyone what they were doing.

3. Used a system that utilized forgery, and successfully placed blame on the other peer instead of Comcast.

4. Denied it when caught.

5. Then changed their story when the denials were not believed, but still never came out and said what they were doing.

6. Then they justified their actions by throwing their other Cable-Internet brothers and sisters under the bus with their ?they do it too!? defense.

7. Then stealthily changed the AUP days before an FCC filing where they referred to the new provisions.

8. When the changed AUP started getting press attention, they stated that a prominent story on alerted millions of visitors of the change and accused Marvin Ammori of crying wolf. (Google cache proved that nothing alerted users to the changed AUP until the day after the press started asking questions.)

9. Then they packed the Harvard FCC hearing.

This company has not demonstrated that you can trust its promises, nor can you believe its assertions. Comcast just used BitTorrent Inc. as a tool to try and defang the FCC.

BitTorrent Inc. is a content provider. Vuze, who actually DID make a complaint and petition to the FCC, is a competitor. Neither BitTorrent, Vuze, nor Comcast represents the interests of 12 million Comcast users nor the The Internet Society nor the public. And this middle-of-the-night deal was made without their input.

Nothing has changed. The RST interference continues. It was a wrongful act. BitTorrent Inc. has no right making a deal with Comcast allowing it to continue to commit wrongful acts until it finally decides it is ready to stop. The correct relief is to stop the interference immediately and to FULLY DISCLOSE what it did and to accept responsibility for those actions. (Even today, Comcast?s Policy VP refused to answer questions about the interference.)

Their word is worthless. Until the interference stops, I have no reason to believe it will. Until either meaningful competition returns to broadband, or until sufficient government regulation enforces Network Neutrality, we have no reason to think that this agreement will last through the night.

Robb Topolski
Posted by funchords (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow, you're my hero. Not.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Week in review: More Vista FUD
"So do all roads lead to Vista?" Of course they do, as the numbers show (Microsoft Windows Vista's market share has been constantly rising in a ratio of around 1%/month for more than 1 year already) and even the biased (because we can see the level of bias most users show against Microsoft in their comments here - certainly enough to make them vote anything against Microsoft even if it goes against reality) pole confirms that (most people are merely - and ignorantly, I might add - holding out as long as they can - not long, I say, LOL).
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Take Facts:

Have Fun and Learn to kill:

Welcome to Internet !!!
Posted by sporitus (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Take Facts:

Have Fun and Learn to kill:

Welcome to Internet !!!
Posted by sporitus (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I always learn something from your articles. Social media is now ruling the Internet Marketing. yes I agree that Facebook is the site that started the social-networking platform craze in the first place.
Posted by SEosanata (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.