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This article was published on March 18, 2012

From acqui-hires to class action lawsuits, here’s this week’s social media news in review

From acqui-hires to class action lawsuits, here’s this week’s social media news in review

With count them not one but two acqui-hires making social media headlines this week, over at Twitter and Google, there’s been quite the bit of buzz, and of course just as many guessing games, about what Twitter is going to do with Posterous, and how Kevin Rose will contribute to Google. We’ve also come one step closer to finally seeing what is probably the most anticipated app for Android users – Instagram.

It hasn’t been all good news, with several social media giants including Facebook and Twitter facing a newly filed class action lawsuit.

Here’s a quick recap of all things social media for this week.

Twitter acquires Posterous, WordPress imports boosted

Twitter’s acquisition of blogging platform Posterous had the social media news blogs buzzing about what this means for the future of both services, and what it means for its competitors.

Popular blogging platform WordPress seemed to gain the most initially, seeing a 250% increase in imports from Posterous.

Announced on both Posterous and Twitter’s official blogs, the news had many guessing if the acquisition had far more to do with getting the blogging platform’s talent on board, rather than the actual service. That said, there are some ways Twitter could put Posterous’ features to good use.

Our own Matthew Panzarino wrote:

What Twitter will be using the acquisition for isn’t clear, but if I had to guess, it might be to help it build a curated news platform out of its new #discover tab, or perhaps to assist in creating its own ‘tweet longer’ service. As Twitter moves to welcome new users with a shallower technical base, it needs to create ways to display content outside of its traditional ’140 character’ formula, without upsetting the apple cart for existing users.

The news certainly came out of left field. Posterous had been hard at work developing its new services, undergoing a major revamp, and doubling its userbase in the process.

The news also came as a surprise to some Posterous users, who had just been told not 19 days earlier that the company has “absolutely no plans to sell”. Some comments made on Twitter about the acqui-hire poked fun at the timing:

Instagram hits 27 million users, the Android app is spotted

If there’s one questions we’re sure Kevin Systrom is tired of hearing it’s “When is the Android app going to be released?” It may only be a matter of time before that question can finally be put to rest. After the endless rumours, including one which had Instagram arriving to Windows Phone before Android, Systrom flashed a prototype of the app running on the Galaxy Nexus at SXSW.

Systrom said, “It’s one of the most amazing Android apps you’ll ever see. In some ways, it’s better than our iPhone app.” While no actual date was given for the release, meaning that there are bound to be a few more rumour posts popping up about when exactly we can expect to see Intagram in the Android Market, or should we say, the newly rebranded Google Play.

Along with dangling the promise of an Android version in our faces, Systrom also revealed that Instagram has passed 27 million users. The mobile social network has been growing at lightning speeds, having just passed the 15 million user mark in December. Bearing in mind that Instagram has, up until now, been available on only one platform, the figures are impressive.

One door closes, another opens

The news started with Milk shutting down its first app, Oink, and snowballed into Kevin Rose and the entire Milk team joining Google. The rumours started hinting at the fact that Kevin Rose would be joining Google, according to AllThingsD. TechCrunch followed up with the news that Google was, in fact, sweeping up the product team in an acqui-hire, after winning a bidding war with Facebook.

The talent grab is said to have cost Google somewhere between $15 and $30 million, although some estimates put the figure at far less than that.

Google confirmed the news, and in a statement sent to The Next Web, said:

Kevin Rose has an incredible track record of executing on big ideas, and we’re looking forward to working with him and his team from Milk on our social efforts across Google.

Quite fittingly, Rose himself announced the news using none other than one of the products that he will no doubt have a significant role in – Google+.

Not everyone saw the news in a positive light. Chris O’Brien penned a post saying that the acqui-hire sends all the wrong signals to Silicon Valley. He wrote:

“What is Google actually getting for its money that it couldn’t get from a stack of applications flooding its databases? It’s hard to see what makes these guys stand out, other than the brand name of Kevin Rose. And while the valley needs to encourage risk, it seems there wasn’t much risk taking going on here. Worse, it’s always dangerous when there isn’t some sense that rewards are at least somehow tied to performance. It reminds me too much of the dot-com days when people who started terrible companies that quickly tanked still managed to cash out millions before sneaking out the back door. It’s not really taking a risk if you’re going to get rewarded for failure, something that potentially encourages reckless risk taking.”

Pinterest: Between a new look and a spam attack

It wouldn’t be a social media news roundup without some mention of the darling of the industry, Pinterest. While the site’s explosive growth has shown no signs of slowing down, Pinterest has just introduced its first major revamp.

Driving more traffic than Twitter, as well as Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined, it will be interesting to see if the layout change has any effect on Pinterest’s meteoric rise.

Pinterest has completely changed profile page layouts, doing away with the look that allowed some Pinterest users to get pretty creative with their Pinterest profile hacks.

Another significant Pinterest change goes some way to address the copyright issues that have been plaguing the site for the past month. Pinterest has added a ‘Legal & Copyright’ section to the site, and as Simply Zesty reports, it makes it easy for copyright owners to report infringements on their intellectual property.

While the new look has gone down relatively well among users, the Pinterest community is far less impressed with a sudden surge of spam on the site.

GigaOm reports that the site was hit with a javascript code, which was replacing images on Pinterest with ads for Best Buy, a company which doesn’t have the greatest social media track record. But according to GigaOm, the anger has been focused on Pinterest itself.  So far there’s been no official statement from Pinterest on how it’s handling the spam problem.

Path, Twitter, and Facebook, oh my

Cnet reports that social networks Path, Twitter and Facebook, along with Apple have all been hit with a privacy lawsuit. The case, which has been brought by 13 individuals, is taking aim at almost 20 mobile app makers.

The complete list is Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare Labs, Foodspotting, Yelp, Hipster, LinkedIn, Rovio Mobile, Electronic Arts, Burbn, Beluga, ZeptoLab UK, Chillingo, Kik and even the now defunct, Gowalla.

The law suit comes in the wake of a debacle that all started when users discovered that popular social networking app, Path, was uploading entire contact lists to their servers. Path has since apologised for the mess, but the discovery has led to an entire can of worms worth of apps that are doing exactly the same thing.

For its part, Apple has said that apps will have to get explicit user permission to access Address Book data.

That hasn’t stopped the 13 plaintiffs from filing a class action lawsuit. So what are they asking for?

This class action lawsuit seeks to halt and prevent these unconscionable,illegal practices, to mandate fixes to these mobile devices and Apps to prevent these invasions of users’ privacy and the unauthorized access and/or transfer of unencrypted address book data, to require that all wrongfully-obtained data be permanently purged,to impose constructive trusts over the associated benefits these defendants wrongfully and unjustly realized from the stolen data, and to recover damages for the harm suffered by the Plaintiffs and millions of other unsuspecting wireless mobile device owners whose data has been stolen and whose privacy has been severely compromised

LinkedIn spokesman Hani Durzy told Cnet, “Yes, we’ve seen the suit. It’s baffling, because quite simply, our mobile apps do not do what is alleged in the suit.”