The Latest from Facebook: Places, Privacy, and Auto-Play

Facebook Places directory

As you know probably know by now, Facebook is constantly making changes to their website and user experience to try to be the best social network online. Here’s what they’ve been up to lately:

A New Places Directory

If you’re headed to a city that you’ve never been (or simply want to know more about), Facebook can now help. With its new Places directory, users can type in the name of a major city and Facebook will respond with a list of bars, restaurants, hotels, cafes, attractions, and other things to do in that area. Each result is a company with its own Facebook page, so you can get more details about it just by clicking on the name.

The tool uses Facebook’s own Graph search and page locations API to operate, but still is still pretty basic. For example: You can’t use it to search “best pizza in Orlando” or “hotels in Denver,” you have to keep the search to just the name of a city. But we’re sure that’ll change with time.

An Updated Privacy Policy

Facebook worked with the Council of Better Business Bureaus to rewrite its privacy policy, now called “Privacy Basics.” The previous privacy policy included a lot of legal jargon and was quite long to read, but the new policy has language that’s more casual and is just 2,700 words (compared to the previous 9,000). You’ll find three privacy sections: “What Others See About You,” “What You See,” and “How Others Interact with You.”

The policy doesn’t mean any changes for data collection, and still includes a disclosure about using the network for financial transactions. Overall, the goal was to be more revealing and Facebook currently has a page for users to submit comments or questions that it will consider in future updates.

A Growing Video Audience

In the past several months, Facebook has been focused on video marketing. First there were auto-play videos in users’ Newsfeeds, which were then followed by auto-play video ads. Now, the social network wants to target YouTube. While Facebook’s video viewers have been increasing, YouTube currently accounts for 20% of the entire U.S. video ad market, and Facebook wants in on the action.

The company has been making a dent in YouTube’s viewers – just recently, Facebook launched the latest John Lewis Christmas ad and according to Business Insider, Facebook stole 40% of the online audience. Facebook also recently formed a team to get YouTube stars to create content specifically for Facebook. (Right now, YouTube stars may mention their videos on Facebook, but they link them back to YouTube.)

So what do you think – will Facebook overtake YouTube when it comes to video viewers?

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