Facebook has had an interesting week so far. It’s been under public scrutiny for having been named in the NSA’s PRISM program, and on the more positive side, the social network finally rolled out hashtags. But there are a few other developments that have slipped under the radar, including evidence of a Facebook RSS reader, and the removal of Sponsored results. Check out all the little things that slipped by beneath the week’s big stories.
Facebook opens up first data center outside of the U.S.
Facebook opened up its first data center outside of the United States, located close to the Arctic Circle in a small town in Sweden called Luleå. With inordinate amounts of data that users are publishing on Facebook, the social network is getting clever with how it manages its server farm. And the data center is green to boot.
Luleå is cold, and the temperature normally sits at around 36°F, an ideal environment for cooling the heat emitted from the rows and rows of servers. The excess heat, Facebook says, will be used to heat up the adjoining offices. But the location has another perk: Facebook is able to reduce the number of background generators needed by 70 percent thanks to the the Luleå river and its dams nearby.
The tech inside of the data center is all based on Open Compute Project designs, an initiative started by Facebook to invite other companies to share server and data center designs so these enterprises can instead focus their efforts on what really matters – the product. And the servers run extremely efficiently.
“All this adds-up to a pretty impressive power usage efficiency (PUE) number. In early tests, Facebook’s Luleå data centre is averaging a PUE in the region of 1.07.” For a frame of reference, 1.00 is the ideal PUE number that indicates 100 percent efficiency. Most run-of-the-mill data centers run on 2.5 PUE.
George Takei isn’t the brain behind his brilliant Facebook Page
And the world comes crumbling down. George Takei hasn’t been spending his entire day in front of a computer, drumming up content to post on his Facebook Page. Yep, Mr. Takei has been using “ghost writers,” interns, his husband, and himself from time to time to help populate his Facebook Page.
As much as we’d like to believe that celebrities have all the time on their hands to be tweeting and Facebooking constantly, that’s just not the case. Word got out no thanks to journalist Rick Polito’s slip of his tongue when he sent over an email introducing himself to Jim Romenesko’s media watch blog. According to that email, Polito says he’s been paid up to $10 per Facebook post, and many of his posts’ material come from fans of Takei.
Is Facebook building its own RSS reader?
TechCrunch has been tipped off by developer Tom Waddington, who spotted peculiar code, and Facebook isn’t talking. Inside of Facebook’s Graph API Code, there’s a tag referring to “rssfeeds.” Waddington, checking out this new entry in the code, attempted to gain access to the RSS feed via the API since he recognized that users had RSS feeds, with each feed having multiple entries, and a list of subscribers, as he describes it. To add more fuel to the speculation, the hidden RSS feed list is completely different from the friends list and interest list.
So if he’s right, well Facebook users might have a Google Reader alternative on their hands.
Parse announces 100,000 apps built on its platform
If you weren’t aware, Facebook spent purportedly around $85 million acquiring a B2B startup called Parse. The startup probably isn’t much of a concern to you, aside from its affiliation with Facebook, but all you need to know is that 100,000 apps have been built using Parse’s back-end tools, which helps developers build an infrastructure to get their mobile platforms running in no time. In April, Parse had 80,000 apps developed using its tools. This means more revenue – from the B2B side of Facebook’s development strategy – and quite possibly also means that Facebook is closer to a day when the social network can allow Parse integrated developers integrate and purchase Facebook ads from Facebook’s Ad Exchange.
Facebook is getting rid of Sponsored Results
The ads that may show up when you type anything on Facebook’s search bar, otherwise known as Sponsored Results, will be axed as a part of the social network’s initiative to pare its 27 advertising products. Say goodbye to this starting sometime in July. According to Inside Facebook, developers feel that Sponsored Results just aren’t as effective as the mobile app ad installs that were launched to Facebook’s mobile News Feed in October 2012.
Facebook’s spokesperson provided Inside Facebook the following statement:
“In keeping with the goal of streamlining our ad products, starting in July advertisers will no longer be able to buy sponsored results. We’ve seen that most marketers were buying sponsored results to advertise their apps and games, and we already offer mobile app install ads and Page post link ads on desktop to achieve these same goals.”
It’s back to the drawing board for Facebook to figure out how to monetize from its search results, in addition to its search result ad units. We have one idea how they might do it though.