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Tech With Taylor Facebook Graph Search, Conflicts of Interest

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 1:02 am | Updated: 5:50 pm, Wed Feb 13, 2013.

I wrote well over half of this blog before my computer crashed. It's really fine.

1. Facebook Graph Search

Chances are, you've given a lot of information to Facebook. Everything you've ever posted, liked or shared is saved in the company's massive servers.

On Jan. 15, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new way to use that information.

Dubbed "Graph Search," this "third pillar" of the Facebook ecosystem allows users to browse the information of more than 1 billion people on the planet.

It's like Google, but doesn't search the web. So while a normal search of "restaurants in Baton Rouge" would bring up a list sorted by proximity or ratings, searching on Facebook would sort the list by how many friends have liked or posted about the restaurants.

While it's not the same as Google, Graph is a clear attack against the search giant.

Facebook may not have as wide an Internet presence as Google, but that isn't stopping Zuckerberg and co. from fighting their competitors head on.

In other Facebook news…

 

2. Facebook offers free calls on iPhone

Do you live in the US and have an iPhone? Yes? Good, you've got free calls to any other Facebook user over WiFi.

It may not seem like a big deal, but if your workplace or home has terrible cell coverage, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls can be convenient.

And now, more somber news.

 

3. CNET, CBS, and Editorial Independence

CNET, like many tech news outlets, traveled to Las Vegas in early January for CES, the biggest consumer electronics show in the world. 

At the end of the show, CNET compiled a "Best of Show" list featuring all the products that wowed them.Again, just like every other news outlet present. 

The one difference? CNET is owned by the CBS Corporation.

So when CNET named Dish's Hopper DVR "Best of Show," CBS interfered. 

You see, CBS, along with several other networks, is suing Dish over the Hopper's commercial-skipping feature.

So CNET's editorial board was forced to recast their vote and issue the following statement:The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp. We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.

Greg Sandoval, a CNET reporter, quit because of the controversy, saying, "I no longer have confidence CBS is committed to editorial independence."

For journalists, independence is a must-have. Without it, you are not a news outlet — you are a public relations firm. And CBS' meddling has compromised the journalistic integrity of one of my favorite tech blogs.

It's one thing for a company to own a news organization. But it crosses an ethical boundary when that company, essentially, changes the news.

I am sad for CNET's editors, who, according to CNET editor in chief Lindsey Turrentine, fought their hardest to reverse CBS' decision. 

For what it's worth, a CBS statement called the case "isolated and unique," and "In terms of covering actual news, CNET maintains 100 percent editorial independence, and always will."

I'm not the only one saying, "yeah, right."

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