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Facebook Takes A Stand With Free Access To Women’s Rights Info In Africa

No one should be denied understanding of their human rights just because they can’t afford a mobile data plan. Now women in Zambia won’t be, as Facebook and Internet.org’s new app gives them free Internet connection for accessing women’s rights resources like MAMA  (Mobile Alliance For Maternal Action), WRAPP (Women’s Rights App), and Facts For Life by UNICEF.

Facebook worked with Zambian carrier Airtel and local governments to identify the need for these resources and bake them into Internet.org. But as the app gets rolled out in more countries around the globe, Facebook could cause tension with governing regimes that have historically oppressed women. And that’s a fight worth fighting.

MAMA Internet Dot Org“’Women’s access to technology – and their ability to use it to shape and drive change in their communities – is critical to gender equality” says Global Fund for Women’s President and CEO Musimbi Kanyoro. “This technology will give voice to millions of people, including women, in Zambia, Africa and the whole world, and empower them to share ideas, drive innovation, and build more inclusive and democratic societies.”

The Internet.org app launched this week in Zambia, its first country, as a standalone Android app, a tab in the Facebook for Android app, and as a mobile website available on the feature phones most Zambians carry. It gives free access to a limited set of Internet services including Facebook, Wikipedia, and Google Search, as well as local info on weather, jobs, government, and human rights. Airtel subsidizes this free access because the app proves the value of the Internet to people, some of whom may buy data plans through it to reach the rest of the web.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 2.23.28 PM

MAMA provides critical health information to new and expectant mothers. Facts For Life offers tactical tips for handling pregnancy, childbirth, childhood illnesses, and childcare. And WRAPP lets Zambian women learn about what their rights are, what legislation protects those rights, and what to do if their rights are violated. For example, a woman could find out that she has equal rights to education, as protected by the Education Act of 2011 [Cap 1, Section 22], and can contact The National Legal Aid Clinic For Women if that right is violated.

The former US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer says that “Through Internet.org, women in Zambia will have greater access to vital information and needed services to improve their lives and the lives of their children.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.00.56 PMThe Zambian government has been supportive of the project, but Internet.org could face friction in other parts of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, or the Middle East where gender discrimination is more institutionalized. Facebook has endured censorship in the past by governments that oppose social media and some types of content due to “moral concerns”, including Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia as well as China. Some have lifted their bans, but purposefully giving free access to information that could encourage women and other disadvantaged groups to call for more freedom could potentially invoke governmental ire.

These situations could draw a fine line for Facebook to walk, where it doesn’t want to get its social network banned, leaving users in the lurch, but wants to empower people through the Internet. Hopefully Facebook will do everything it can to make sure these human rights resources are available in the places they’re needed most. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, says “This technology will empower countless women to make a positive impact on their societies and the world.”

Mark Zuckerberg pushed to start Internet.org because he says “I believe connectivity is a human right.” Empowerment through information can cause temporary destabilization and hardship, as we saw with the Arab Spring. But while these may be the growing pains of humanitarian progress, access to knowledge should help us emerge as a more just species.

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Phantom Brings Self-Destructing Photos To Facebook, Twitter And More

A new mobile application called Phantom is offering a way to post personal photos and videos to blogs and social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter, which “self-destruct” like they do in Snapchat, while also offering controls that limit the number of people who can view the content, and more.

The idea to allow for ephemeral sharing on Facebook and other sites is interesting, though the number of controls Phantom offers makes it a bit more cumbersome to share that content in the first place.

How It Works

2_settingsThe app, available on both iOS and Android, lets you snap a photo or record a video, or select an item from your smartphone’s gallery, then mark it up with commenting and drawing tools that are very similar to those found in Snapchat. But instead of just offering a timer function to control how long the image or video is visible to a friend after it’s shared, Phantom also lets you configure how long the content will live, period, as well as how many viewers it can have.

That way, you can set the content to expire after a certain amount of time, no matter how many people have seen it or not. And by limiting the number of viewers, you have more control over how widely a piece of content spreads.

Of course, Snapchat does this too, in its own way – by sending your photo or video just to a selection of contacts, you’re already indicating how many people should see the content you’re sharing. But Phantom big difference is that it’s designed to work with more public networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, WordPress and Blogger. And via a “More” option, you can also share to Tumblr, Pinterest, Whatsapp, LINE, Telegram, Movable Type, iMessage/SMS or email.

It’s sort of like a Snapchat that works everywhere else.

However, because of the many settings Phantom offers, there’s a learning curve to using the app, and that can slow things down. The uploading process of saving the media to Phantom’s servers is a little slower than I’d prefer to see, too.

3_shareBut the end result delivers. Recipients are given a link along with a mosaic image preview. But to open the image, they have to use the Phantom iOS or Android application.

Take A Screenshot, Get Banned

“It’ll be impossible to copy or save the image, because those functions will be disabled while viewing, and user has to keep touching the screen while viewing the image,” explains Phantom’s creator Osamu Date of Phantom’s privacy settings. “Furthermore, the screenshot function will be disabled on an Android devices while view is in progress.”

Phantom also takes a harder line against taking screenshots of other users’ images. Those who do will be automatically banned from Phantom, and will be reported to the user whose privacy was violated.

The idea for Phantom comes from “LinX Corporation,” a big name for what’s really a one-person, bootstrapped startup out of Tokyo, run by founder Date.

The app was actually launched a few months ago, but hasn’t really done much press it seems.

My guess is that they’re having a hard time reaching the international audience, thanks to language barriers and other communication differences. The website is in Japanese. And the email I received suggested I contact Date, “Representative Director of LinX Corporation,” which doesn’t exactly sound like a startup. But I decided to reach out anyway, because I was interested in this idea of controlling the exposure of your content before publishing to big-name social media.

The app is not as polished as it should be to compete in this space, but some of the more viral social apps, including Snapchat and also Yik Yak, have started out a little rough around the edges. The bigger problem for Phantom is not the app’s functions or look-and-feel, but whether or not it can gain the users it would need to stay afloat as a business.

Phantom is a free download here on iTunes and here on Google Play.

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.@HiddenCash Revealed: Making Generosity Go Viral

Give away a dollar, and you’ll make someone’s day. Teach someone to give, and they’ll make a difference for a lifetime.The anonymous duo behind the @HiddenCash Twitter account didn’t quite realize that was the point when they started hiding envelopes of money and tweeting clues to their locations.

With over 700,000 Twitter followers, they’ve become de facto leaders of an accidental movement to remind people there’s some good in the world and inspire them to pay it forward. The previously unnamed half of @HiddenCash agreed to reveal his identity to me, along with the story of how it all started, on a cool night in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Behind The @

His name is Yan Budman, and he fittingly works a the Director of Marketing at Indiegogo, which lets people donate to creative projects. Budman’s eyes squinch up to make room for the giant smiles he’s prone to. It’s the contented grin of a thirty-something nice-guy who’s recently spent a lot of time watching people overwhelmed with glee thanks to his clandestine adventures. This Storify he made shows off a slew of HiddenCash missions and the people they touched.

@HiddenCash began after his longtime pal Jason Buzi (previously outed via voice recognition from a phone interview in May) came into a little money from a business deal. Buzi had always been generous, having donated to charities, done volunteer work, and organized The Great Waterballoon Toss in Dolores Park.

Driving through the Mission together around midnight, Buzi noticed a man who seemed down on his luck on the side of the road. He tried to hand some money to him, but scared him off. “There’s probably a better way to do this,” Budman said. “Like what? We’ll just hide money around?” Buzi replied.

It turned out to be that simple.

Buzi had never heard of Twitter but Budman had been onboard since 2008. He quickly snapped a photo of Buzi’s fist filled with money, and grabbed the handle @HiddenCash.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 12.43.29 PMThe duo hid the first few wads of dough near some of their favorite businesses like Yoga To The People and Sightglass Coffee, where they hoped people would donate to instructors or buy some strangers a cup of joe.

The positive feedback started rolling in immediately. Followers liked searching for the money, even if they didn’t find it. @HiddenCash started talking up the idea of people sharing the cash they found to make an impact on someone else. Several successful cash hunters pledged to pay it forward, with one planning to use the money they found to buy books for a community library. After few more “drops,” Budman tells me, “addiction set in.”

Suddenly, the whole thing took off. Within two weeks , the project had been featured on top news outlets like the BBC, and the Twitter account had boomed to a half million followers.

@HiddenCash

“People were just coming out and meeting each other and really connecting in a positive way. The majority of people weren’t even finding money. There were a lot of parents of kids who were like ‘I went to the beach and they didn’t find anything but they want to give their allowance to the homeless or someone on their way home’. It started creating this movement.”

A lady just handed my little sister a box and walked away? whoever it was thank you!!

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LinkedIn Launches A Standalone Sales Navigator To Help Users With “Social Selling”

LinkedIn is fleshing out its tools for salespeople today with a new version of its Sales Navigator. The biggest difference — the Sales Navigator is now a standalone product rather than an additional set of features on the main LinkedIn site.

Vice President of Sales Solution Mike Derezin and Group Product Manager Sachin Rekhi walked me through the new product last week. The idea, basically, is to give you up-to-date information from LinkedIn about potential leads.

Rekhi argued that the Sales Navigator is part of “the transformation in how you buy and sell products,” particularly when it comes to business-to-business sales. The old system of cold calling is increasingly ineffective, he said: “Buyers are essentially saying, ‘I want you to find me if I’m the right person; I want you to be informed about me; I want you to go in through a warm introduction.’”

He added that social selling consists of four main steps — establishing a presence on social networks, finding the right people, engaging with those people, and building trust.

The Sales Navigator tries to cover all four points. It will recommend the sales leads you should be connecting with on the site, allow you to track updates and news related to important leads and companies (thanks to the recent acquisition of Newsle), and find mutual connections — including other people at your company — who can introduce you.

In the past, we’ve suggested that LinkedIn might become more competitive with Salesforce, but in this case, the familiar phrase about a product being complementary rather than competitive seems to be true. In fact, the Sales Navigator integrates with both Salesforce and (to a lesser extent) Microsoft Dynamics.

You may also have noticed that Rekhi’s outline of social selling doesn’t include actually making a sale. So how do you know if the Sales Navigator is worth the investment?

Well, Rekhi said that according to LinkedIn’s social selling index, salespeople who take this approach are 51 percent more likely to hit their quotas, compared to those who don’t. Plus, he suggested customers can always use their own products and systems to measure the return on investment.

The new Sales Navigator is currently available for desktop and mobile web, and the company has plans to launch mobile apps, as well. You can read more in this LinkedIn blog post.

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LinkedIn Beats The Street In Q2 On Sales Of $534M, EPS Of $0.51

With social networks Facebook and Twitter handily beating analyst estimates for Q2 earnings, LinkedIn today reported its Q2 results and showed that rising tides are lifting its boat, too. Revenue for the second quarter was $534 million and its EPS (non-GAAP diluted) was $0.51 as the company also raised its guidance for Q3 and the full year. The company’s stock is up by around 8% in after-hours trading to $195 a share.

Analysts expected LinkedIn to post earnings per share (EPS) of $0.39 (non-GAAP diluted) on revenues of $511 million. As a point of comparison, last quarter, LinkedIn beat analysts’ estimates on sales of $473 million and EPS of $0.38. Today’s revenue numbers are up 47% on a year ago, when LinkedIn posted revenue of $364 million in Q2 2013.

“LinkedIn delivered strong financial results in the second quarter while maintaining investment in our member and customer offerings,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, in a statement. “We made significant progress against several key strategic priorities including increasing the scale of job opportunities on LinkedIn; expanding our professional publishing platform; and continuing the strategic shift towards content marketing through Sponsored Updates.”

LinkedIn, however, also posted a GAAP net loss for the quarter of $1.0 million, versus net income of $3.7 million a year ago. Non-GAAP, the net income was $63 million, versus $44 million in Q2 2013.

On the back of its generally strong results, LinkedIn also raised its revenue guidance for the quarter ahead and the full year, above the estimates from analysts. It says it expects to Q3 revenues of $543-547 million, versus First Call and FactSet revenue estimates of $541m. For the full year, it bumped up numbers by $75 million to $2.140-2.150 billion; First Call and FactSet both estimate $2.12 billion.

LinkedIn, a social network built around people’s professional/working connections, passed the 300 million registered user mark in Q1. But while LinkedIn has evolved into the most ubiquitous of the “professional” social networking platforms in places like the U.S. and Europe, many have wondered how the company’s growth will fare in the future. (Indeed, LinkedIn’s stock has been punished in quarters past because of the slowing revenue growth, even when LinkedIn has actually beaten estimates. At market close today, it was at around $180 per share, down significantly from a 52-week high of nearly $258/share.)

LinkedIn’s growth question is focused on a few key areas: in terms of picking up new users beyond the white-collar workers who are its current bread and butter; moving into new geographies; and maximising revenues on users that the company already has.

In the last quarter, LinkedIn made some key moves to bolster the third of these areas, building revenue potential from its current user base. They included the acquisition of Bizo for $175 million. Bizo provides targeting and analytics for business — technology that LinkedIn intends to integrate with its current products to, in LinkedIn’s own words, breat a “more powerful tool for brands that want to build stronger relationships with professionals.”

In other words, this will help build out LinkedIn’s advertising and marketing business — one area that people will be scrutinizing when they compare LinkedIn with other publicly-listed social networks like Facebook and Twitter, who are pushing hard on their ad sales, specifically in the area of mobile.

Mobile, overall, is another area where LinkedIn has been working hard to build a bigger audience. It already has a large audience accessing the site from mobile devices — 45% of traffic from its 313 million users comes from mobile, Weiner noted today — so this is about trying to capitalize on that.

In addition to relaunching its main mobile app, it’s also been looking at ways of expanding its audience through different apps and services — for example through its Connected app, a relaunch of its Contacts app that hints at how the company wants to build leverage new technology and concepts like anticipatory computing and AI to make interacting and using LinkedIn less taxing and more seamless. (More use, after all, translates to more data and more revenue opportunities for social networks.)

This quarter, LinkedIn shifted around its accounting a bit and put its recruitment media products into talent solutions from their previous home of marketing solutions — which essentially makes sense since now it’s in the same category as LinkedIn’s other job-related businesses. Revenues for both of these categories, along with premium subscriptions, all rose by over 40% over last year, with talent solutions reaping the biggest growth (49%) and biggest sales of all at $322 million, keeping its position at an even 60% of revenues compared to last year.

Marketing solutions and premium subscriptions were roughly equal in their revenue contribution at $106 million and $105 million, respectively, both up 44% and each accounting for 20% of overall sales. We’ll listen in to the conference call in a bit to see whether LinkedIn or analysts have anything to say on this front. One thing I would point out is that although LinkedIn is trying to position itself as a community platform and a place to visit more than when you are looking for a job (or to hire someone), it seems like this remains at the heart of its business. (And to be clear it is not one that it is ignoring — witness the company’s acquisition of Bright to boost its job listings.)

In its non-recruitment business, another data point reported today: LinkedIn is now seeing 30,000 weekly long-form posts “after ramping posting capability to 15 million LinkedIn members,” the company writes. “Since launching in February, traffic to publisher and Influencer posts has risen more than 100%.”

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