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How to Spot a Lying CEO
 

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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:

Fibbing in the corner office. After a decade blighted by massive accounting frauds and scores of angry investors, researchers have finally detected ways to spot a lying CEO. A professor and student from Stanford's Graduate School of Business studied thousands of corporate earnings calls for common indicators of deception, and today NPR reports the findings. It found top signs to include using words like "we" and "our team" and emphasizing the positive as a form of overcompensation. The Stanford researchers have also put the data into a computerized speech detector that can issue red flags when signs of deception occur. While the researchers have received a lot of requests to use the technology, not everyone has responded so optimistically. At least one commenter said basically: "Thanks a lot for telling CEOs and CFOs how to lie."

Facebook back in hot water. Today's Wall Street Journal reports that several Facebook apps, including the ever-popular FarmVille, have been leaking private user data to outside ad and tracking companies. On Sunday, a Facebook spokesman told the Journal, "This is an even more complicated technical challenge than a similar issue we successfully addressed last spring on Facebook.com, but one that we are committed to addressing." The issue at hand is the free exchange of users' Facebook ID numbers, which outside companies can use to look up even the most secure user profiles. So far, the story reports, at least 25 advertising companies have access to the numbers. In response to the breach, a spokeswoman from Zynga, the company behind FarmVille, told the Journal, "Zynga has a strict policy of not passing personally identifiable information to any third parties. We look forward to working with Facebook to refine how web technologies work to keep people in control of their information."

Getting your brand into Facebook news feeds. This privacy news may make you a bit uneasy, but, let's be serious, you and your brand aren't leaving the social network anytime soon. With that in mind, The Daily Beast has conducted a one-month experiment to help you crack the code that determines who and what appears in Facebook users' news feeds. (Hint: posting videos and photos help, stalking your friends or fans doesn't.)

The wild, wacky companies of alternative energy. Breaking our nation's energy dependence on foreign oil is going to take innovative thinking, and perhaps a little bit of craziness. The Chicago Tribune (via the Los Angeles Times) takes a look at some of the seemingly outlandish ideas energy start-ups have come up with to harness new sources of energy. For example, there's Solaren Corp., which plans to put solar collectors 23,000 miles into space where they'll capture energy and beam it back to Earth. Then there's FreeWind, a company that hopes to strategically place wind turbines at airports to use airplane exhaust to create power. As the company's founder explains, "You have to be a little crazy. And I guess I'm a little crazy."

Company spies selling secrets. The shadowy underworld of international espionage may now be "as simple as downloading data and pressing 'Send,'" reports The New York Times. The issue at hand is the federal court case involving Huang Kexue, a scientist for a chemical lab in Indiana who is accused of "economic espionage on China's behalf." Authorities claim that Huang shared company secrets with Chinese researchers, and had received grants from a state-run foundation there. Perhaps not as compelling as a James Bond movie, but the case illustrates the need to prevent employees from sharing proprietary company information with overseas governments.  "American officials and corporate trade groups say they fear economic spying will increase as China's quest for Western know-how spreads from military systems to everyday commercial technologies," the article notes.

Are music start-ups destined for failure? The founder of Imeem, a Bay Area music-streaming start-up founded in 2003 that's, well, now defunct, told the YCombinator Start-up School what was behind his company's dramatic fall. He also analyzed the models of a host of different music start-ups and explained the "insurmountable challenges" each faces, Mashable reports. The takeaway from Dalton Caldwell's presentation? "Music start-ups are screwed."

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Last updated: Oct 18, 2010




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