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There have been plenty of complaints about privacy and other concerns with Google Buzz, but the biggest problem with it is that it’s just so darn hard to use, and so convoluted in its design. Even quitting Buzz is way harder than it needs to be. Read more »

Google’s donation of $2 million to Wikipedia cements a long-standing symbiotic relationship between the search engine and the user-generated encyclopedia. But is that relationship a good thing or a bad thing? Some critics believe that Google gives Wikipedia preferential treatment in its search results. Read more »

The typical picture of an online gamer may be a teen lacking in social skills, but players of “social games” on sites like Facebook are different. According to a recent survey of players in the U.S. and UK, the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman. Read more »

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Backupify has landed a round of financing for its cloud-based backup service from First Round Capital, Betaworks and some high-profile angel investors including Jason Calacanis. But the new company will have to clear the same hurdles as any other cloud-based service — and then some. Read more »

Google says that it is “very, very sorry” for the way it launched Google Buzz and the features that some felt intruded on their privacy and revealed personal data. The company has made several substantial changes in response to complaints, and says more are coming soon. Read more »

Analysis from Compete shows that Facebook is driving more traffic to major portal sites than Google, and has become a top source for other web sites as well, another sign of how important the social web is becoming in terms of Internet traffic flows. Read more »

A new site called ChatRoulette has been getting a lot of attention lately because it features live video chatting with random strangers, with predictable results. But among those interested in the site is venture investor Fred Wilson, who has invited the founder to New York. Read more »

Just four days after launching Buzz, and two days after making some substantial changes to the service as a result of privacy concerns from users, Google has made another series of changes, including making the choice to follow someone opt-in rather than opt-out. Read more »

Google has been struggling to make sense of the social web and integrate it into some of its products, but the reaction to Google Buzz is another indication of how the company continues to focus on features rather than real human experience. Read more »

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The Icelandic government is expected to put forward legislation that could turn the northern nation into an international freedom-of-information haven, thanks in part to the efforts of Wikileaks and the country’s recent experiences with corporate and government inaction and secrecy during its banking crisis. Read more »

Google Maps now has a series of “labs” features, allowing users to enable or disable enhancements such as aerial imagery (in certain locations only), as well as drag-and-zoom, smart zoom, location-based features, a satellite-imagery guessing game and other new options. Read more »

After a number of Google Buzz users complained that the service was exposing their email and GTalk contacts to the outside world without making it clear it would do that, the company has made changes to make privacy and other settings more obvious. Read more »

Why do so many Apple products succeed when their competitors do not, even though they have more features? Because the company focuses its design thinking on several features that really matter, and ignores everything else, says Gmail creator and FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit. Read more »

Things seem to be humming along in the Facebook game market: Zynga, the leading Facebook game company, with popular apps such as Mafia Wars and Farmville (whose users recently sent half a billion valentines to each other in 48 hours), has agreed to acquire fellow game […] Read more »

Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde has launched a micropayment service called Flattr. The service, which is now in beta, is designed to help users and fans pay programmers, software designers, musicians and other artists for their work easily. But micropayments are a tough problem to solve. Read more »

Music bloggers are upset because they say Google deleted their blogs without warning as a result of DMCA claims about songs they posted. But some of the bloggers say they were given the tracks they posted by record labels themselves as a promotional effort. Read more »

Google Buzz is a bit like Twitter, a bit like Facebook, and a bit like Foursquare, but the one thing that makes it different from all of these services is that it is integrated with email. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Read more »

According to Zynga, the creator of Farmville and other popular Flash-based interactive games on Facebook, over the past two days alone, players with Farmville accounts have sent close to half a billion virtual Valentine’s Day gifts to each other. Read more »

YouTube has launched a violence, profanity and porn filter for the video-sharing site that it is calling “Safety Mode.” When the setting is clicked, searches for certain terms will return no results, and comments on videos are hidden by default, and have profanity replaced by asterisks. Read more »

A new survey shows that identity theft is on the rise, with the number of cases up 12 per cent last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. On the bright side, consumers are reporting more fraud cases, and there have been more successful prosecutions. Read more »

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr and founder of game developer Tiny Speck, talks about his newly launched, massively multiplayer online game Glitch, why he chose 2-D instead of 3-D, and how he thought about starting a bank instead of a game company. Read more »

TweepML, which launched a Twitter-based service offering list management just a couple of months before Twitter launched something almost identical, is now up for sale. The demise of the service is a graphic reminder of the risks of building a startup on someone else’s platform. Read more »

Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s new startup, Tiny Speck, has announced its first product, a massively multiplayer online game called Glitch. The 2D Flash-based game will start alpha testing soon and launch in late 2010, Butterfield says, and includes social elements such as collaborative puzzle-solving. Read more »

Peter Warden analyzed the user profile data and friend settings from more than 200 million Facebook profiles, and found that they naturally segmented themselves into seven regional groups, based on the number of connections between users and those from other states. Read more »

A growing number of authors are signing exclusive e-book deals with Amazon for the Kindle, attracted in part by the higher royalty rates the electronic retailer is offering. In the latest deal, author Gavin de Becker gave Amazon rights to two e-books for a year. Read more »

PayPal says it has suspended personal payments to and from India, as well as transfers to local banks in India. The changes may be in response to new rules in India intended to restrict money laundering. Read more »

Forrester Research touched off a bit of a brush fire this past weekend when it said it would limit its analysts to blogging about research-related topics on Forrester.com and decreed that any personal blogs maintained on other domains must be strictly about personal matters. Read more »

For the first time in 23 years, Pepsico isn’t spending millions on a Superbowl ad, but instead is funding a series of social-media powered community renewal projects to the tune of $20 million, a campaign that appears to have already paid off. Read more »

If you find you just can’t get a fast enough Internet connection, you might want to look for an apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia — a local ISP there named Novus says it will soon launch the continent’s fastest Internet service, offering 200 megabits per second. Read more »

Wikileaks, the non-profit web site devoted to exposing government and corporate secrets, says that it has raised enough money to continue operating, but not enough to pay its staff. The site suspended operations recently to try and raise enough funds to continue publishing. Read more »

According to statistics from Hitwise, an increasing number of visits to news and media web sites are coming from Facebook, which has been promoting itself as a place where users can share news links. Traffic from Facebook has more than doubled in the past year. Read more »

Billionaire sports-team owner Mark Cuban told a media industry conference in New York Tuesday that Google and other aggregators are “vampires” and that newspapers and magazines should remove themselves from Google’s index because there are no benefits to showing up in a Google search. Read more »

If you can get past the salty language, David “Master of 500 Hats” McClure has a good point to make about how the future of web services is likely subscription and transaction-based, and the fact that this model favors Facebook, Google and Apple. Read more »

Amazon has given in to book publisher Macmillan in a fight over e-book prices, in part because of the threat of competition from Apple’s iPad, but will actually make more money from e-books in the short term – even as it loses in the longer term. Read more »

A battle is raging in the blogosphere about whether Apple’s new iPad is good or evil, since it is a closed and proprietary platform with a locked-down content system built in. But the iPad is unlikely to mean the end of hacker culture. Read more »

Wikileaks, the crusading non-profit web service that exposes government secrets and corporate corruption by publicizing secret documents, says it has been forced to suspend operations while it looks for financing. The site says that it needs between $200,000 and $600,000 to continue operating. Read more »

Saul Hansell, who left the New York Times to help run AOL’s new Seed project, says his first big project is finding writers who will interview every single one of the 2,000 artists and bands that are appearing at the SXSW festival. Read more »

Everyone seems prepared to declare the Kindle e-reader dead now that Apple has released the iPad, but Amazon can still put up a fight. Here are five simple ways that the Kindle can compete with the Apple tablet. Read more »

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