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Facebook Adds Lexicon, Mini-Feed Features

Yesterday we mentioned that Facebook would be delaying their redesign until later this spring—but that hasn’t stopped the social network from rolling out a few new features in the meantime.

The first feature, announced yesterday, is called Lexicon. The feature is designed to show the popularity of terms on the site’s millions of “walls.” (For the uninitiated, the “Wall” is the section of each individual or group profile page where people can leave messages.) Lexicon generates graphs and charts of the information to show, as CNET puts it, “how many Facebook members are talking about” your query. CNET compares the data to Google’s Zeitgeist.

Facebook says of the new product:

Twitter, Your “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

The next time your boss asks you why you spend so much time on Twitter, there’s a new reason you can add to the normal “I’m building buzz and making connections” speech.

Twitter might just help you get out of jail.

According to the The Mercury News, a 29-year-old UC Berkeley journalism student used Twitter to alert his network he had been arrested by Egyptian police for nothing more than taking a photo. As he was being carted off to a jail–presumably without many of the rights you’d expert in the US–he managed to alert his Twitter followers.

Meebo Hires New CRO to Raise Revenue

Multiple platform instant messaging web service Meebo has hired Carter Brokaw as their Chief Revenue Officer. Meebo launched in September 2005 with investment from Sequoia Capital and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Meebo has been popular because it can let people chat online, in most cases even if a firewall would block IM. Translation – you might be able IM on your college network or at work.

Meebo has focused on raising revenues and capital. First, they looked for a buyer, Techcrunch says the rumor is Meebo was hoping to be bought, with a $250 million valuation. Even though their revenues are said to be around $1 million. So rather than sell, they’re getting another round of capital – this time with a valuation of between $175 – $200 million.

Facebook to Settle with ConnectU

As with most legal battles, the ConnectU suit against Facebook has begun to drag out: first filed in September 2004, the legal battle over who originally created the source code for Facebook is still ongoing. Last July, a Massachusetts Federal judge ruled that ConnectU needed concrete evidence to bring their suit. It looked like the suit would die after the ruling stated that “claims must have a factual basis.”

But that’s not how our wonderful legal system works in the United States. The suit was once again opened after a circuit court judge granted ConnectU the right to file an appeal last Thursday. CNET reports:

Scrabulous Battle Heating Up: Scrabble Launches Own App

board of an abandoned scrabulous gameIf you haven’t been following the copyright battle over the popular Facebook app Scrabulous, here’s a bit of catch up: Scrabulous is an online version of the board game Scrabble—but it was launched (as an independent site and later a Facebook app) without proper authorization from the joint copyright owners of the board game, Hasbro and Mattel.

To further complicate the issue, the digital rights to the game are jointly owned by two other companies, Electronic Arts (who has a deal with Hasbro) and RealNetworks (who has deals with Hasbro and Mattel), neither of which authorized the Scrabulous site and app.

Hasbro and Mattel threatened to sue the creators of the Scrabulous site and app, Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla of Calcutta, for copyright infringement. About a month ago, there seemed to be a possibility that RealNetworks would buy the Scrabulous app and/or site, legitimizing the use of the copyright.

While You Enjoy your Day Off Facebook Adds IM

Facebook’s 67 million users can now instant message each other – or at least some of us can. The new feature is being integrated gradually.

The IM service is an in-browser client, and you can chat with your Facebook friends that are logged in. So far it doesn’t support external IM services, like Yahoo or MSN Messenger.

The way the launched IM reminds me of how my college grounds department cut down trees on campus – on the weekend. Why? So botany professors or tree lovers wouldn’t notice. It’s been suspected that Facebook is taking a similar tack by releasing the feature when not as many people will notice.

MySpace Announces iTunes Rival

current myspace music headerMySpace announces today that they will launch MySpace Music, a service to rival Apple’s popular iTunes music player and marketplace. Like iTunes, MySpace Music will feature streaming music, paid DRM-free MP3 downloads and music-related merchandise.

MySpace Music is a joint venture with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. The other major recording company, EMI, may still sign on, possibly even before MySpace Music launches. The launch dates has not been set, but MySpace CEO Chris De Wolfe says that commercial features will roll out over the coming three or four months.

MySpace Chief Operating Officer Amit Kapur told Reuters that through this venture, MySpace Music “goes from being a promotional vehicle to being a commercial vehicle.” MySpace already features 5 million artists and 30 million members who listen to music through the site.