It pays to be more careful about using Facebook when the stock price is low.
Facebook stocks are at an all- time low on the New York Stock Exchange. That isn't saying much, because Facebook has been listed for only a couple of months, but it means more pressure on Facebook to make money for investors.
Facebook makes most of its money from advertisers and you, the user. It earns an average of US$5.90 (NZ$7.40) a year for everyone signed up, and you can bet Kiwis are worth less than that. Your value is not just in adverts that you click: it's also in how many friends you have to whom you can recommend products and services, and how many apps you sign up for. So it's in Facebook's interest to increase the number of friends and apps you have.
You may have noticed lately that people with fewer than 30 friends are being recommended to you as an addition to your friend list. People with more than 30 friends are more likely to be active users, and Facebook wants all its users to be active - logging in at least once a week.
That's fairly innocuous, but the way that Facebook has changed its app sign-up screen is more serious. It used to be that, when you signed up for an app, you would see in large print exactly what permissions you were granting. You'd know, for example, whether an app would gather data about you and your friends, or whether it would post to your wall on your behalf - you could click 'no thanks!' if you weren't happy with that.
Now that information has been moved to the bottom of the sign-up screen, in fine print and grey font. When you view an app on the App Centre, there's just a single button - 'go to app' or 'play game', with no 'cancel' option. To avoid signing up for things you don't want, click the Facebook button at the top left to take you out of the App Centre.
While on Facebook, there's a new app for iPhones and iPads. It's faster than the old version and you can now create an event right from your phone or tablet.
SMART MONEY ON PHONES
This month is a big one for phones. Nokia is expected to announce its Windows Phone 8 handsets this week, and Apple should be announcing its new iPhone next week. At PC World, we've seen information from Chinese suppliers to suggest the new iPhone will be taller, with a bigger 10-centimetre screen, a smaller power/dock connector, and a two-tone back cover.
In New Zealand, smartphones are finally getting affordable. Until recently, I've felt many smartphone handsets were overpriced. Even cheaper models were not worth spending your hard-earned cash on. In most cases, I think even a $100 price drop on most handsets might have encouraged more people to try them. But things are changing.
PC World recently tested 14 smartphones costing less than $400 and found that, even under $200, you can get a decent one.
What do you get for less than $200? A phone that can handle email and internet, with enough storage space to install a few of your favourite apps. You can play simple games, such as Angry Birds, but more interactive games aren't possible. You'll get a screen just under 7½ cm, which can make typing on the on-screen keyboard a little cramped, and low screen resolution can make text in emails and on internet pages seem blocky. Our Editor's Choice, the Vodafone Smart II ($199), has a bigger screen, better screen resolution and is faster than most.
Pay a little more and, for $200 to $400, you'll get longer battery life, a bigger screen and more space and power for apps. Overall, the Sony Xperia U at $399 was the best of the affordable bunch. No phone at that price is perfect but it can be good value.
Zara Baxter edits New Zealand PC World and has been reviewing gadgets for more than 15 years.