SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook's Role in Revolutions

The social networking site has kept a low profile amid uprisings in the Middle East. Plus, an employee strikes back and the rest of the day's news.
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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

As uprisings grow, Facebook is silent. As the protests in Tunisia and Egypt inspire similar uprising across the Middle East, one thing has become abundantly clear: this could not have happened without Facebook. But despite the media attention, the Silicon Valley company has been pretty much silent about the revolts. "You might think the company's top executives would use this historic moment to highlight its role as the platform for democratic change," The New York Times noted.  "Instead, they really do not want to talk about it." As concerns mount about Facebook's ability to keep user's information private, Elliot Schrage, the vice vice president for global communications, public policy and marketing at Facebook, offered a somewhat evasive statemenet. He wrote, "We've witnessed brave people of all ages coming together to effect a profound change in their country. Certainly, technology was a vital tool in their efforts but we believe their bravery and determination mattered most."

Tongue cleaner cleans up. Orabrush, the world's No. 1 tongue cleaning brush, announced today it has closed a $2.5 million investment round. True Ventures of Palo Alto and 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners are behind the funding, which will be used to further the brand's vibrant and viral online presence (most notably a YouTube series called "Diaries of a Dirty Tongue") and scale its business with retailers globally. The company, already a social-media hit (especially for a FDA-approved oral hygiene product) is also eyeing the social media space, said Orabrush's CEO and president, Jeff Davis.

Facebook's got new frenemies. Since Facebook announced it will be moving to a new location in Menlo Park, Calif., businesses in Silicon Valley are starting to feel the pressure. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is ramping up its hiring and continues to add new features to its site, which means there's potential it will soon poach employees and customers from its nearby competitors.  On the other hand, analysts contend that Facebook can also provide competitors witha great deal of opportunities—if only they'd accept their offers of friendship.

"Small Business Lending Fund" to come up short. After trumpeting a new $30 billion fund designed to boost small-business lending, the Obama administration says the plan will fall far short of its $30 billion goal. "The program has faced an uphill climb," according to the Huffington Post, since many banks and businesses refused to tap the fund "for fear of after-the-fact program changes." Reflecting those challenges, the White House said it will allocate just $17.4 billion instead.

How not to treat your employees. Meet Anthony Dingle, the New York Housing Authority Superintendent who has just filed a lawsuit against his boss, claiming the very sound of her voice made him vomit. "I was constantly being attacked by her," Dingle told the New York Post through his lawyers. "I felt like attacks could come at any time. Every time I heard her voice, it triggered a sickening feeling in me." Dingle says his boss, Demetrice Gadson, even harassed him while he was at his uncle's funeral. According to the Post, "Gadson allegedly fired off e-mails to him that ripped him for not requesting overtime to address certain issues and accusing him of 'not knowing his role.'" In addition to the sick stomach, Dingle suffered a bleeding prostate and turned to a therapist to help him through his emotional distress.

HP's new CEO acquires his first start-up. The Wall Street Journal reports Hewlett-Packard has made a deal to acquire Vertica Systems Inc., a real-time analytics startup company based out of Billerica., Mass., that quickly spots trends hidden in large amounts of data. The acquisition is the first for HP CEO and President Leo Apotheker since assuming his new post in November, following the resignation of CEO Mark Hurd in August. "Combined with HP, we will be able to better help customers develop flexible business performance solutions that improve decision making and streamline business processes," said Vertica President and CEO Christopher Lynch. This acquisition is likely a response to HP's rivals—namely, International Business Machines Corp., EMC Corp., and Oracle Corp.—all recently building or acquiring software that analyzes large amounts of live data.

Subscription-based apps. Apple has officially announced a new subscription service for its digital content. Wired reports that every time Apple brings in a new subscriber, Apple gets to keep 30 percent of the revenue. If the publisher of the app brings in the subscriber, they get to keep all of the revenue. Apple CEO Steve Jobs says that "We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.'

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Last updated: Feb 15, 2011




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