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This article was published on May 13, 2012

This week in social media: Google reportedly in talks to buy Meebo, Bing launches social search, and more

This week in social media: Google reportedly in talks to buy Meebo, Bing launches social search, and more

It’s that time of week again when we take a look at the latest social media news, and highlight some of the most interesting stories.

From a not so surprising FTC probe into Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, to Google’s week of new features, updates and more, we take a look at what was being said around the Web about the latest news you might have missed.

FTC launches probe in Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram

Reports emerged this week that FTC is launching a ‘competition probe‘ into Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, with the Financial Times reporting that the investigation could take anywhere from six to twelve months.

The probe doesn’t come as a surprise, as it is standard practice for a deal of this size, and according to GigaOm antitrust expert Andre Barlow said, “The likelihood is that at the end of the investigation the FTC will not require any remedies and the transaction will be allowed to close.”

That said, if for any reason the deal doesn’t close, Instagram is still sitting pretty with a $200 million termination fee, to be paid if either party terminates the agreement before December 10, 2012.

Pointing to the fact that Twitter and Google could possibly be behind the probe, GigaOm’s Jeff John Roberts says:

Facebook can’t have anything to do with Instagram while the investigation is ongoing. The two firms have to continue to act as “competitors.” If the deal is tied up for even six months (an eternity in the tech world), it will give companies like Google and Twitter a chance to catch up in the photo-sharing space. And there is also a PR benefit — the media attention to the purchase helps signify to the world that Facebook is now a giant company (Google, especially, is likely to relish having the regulatory spotlight on someone else for a change).

Facebook has kept tight lipped on the probe, refusing to comment.

Google reportedly in talks to purchase Meebo, while beefing up Google+ features

Although both companies have refused to comment, AllThingsD reports that Google is close to buying Meebo. With a purchase price of $100 million, Meebo has raised more than $60 million in funding over the past few years.

Starting out as a web-based instant messenger, Meebo Messenger, the company has since expanded its services providing a variety of social features and services, including the Meebo Bar and a social recommendation feature that cuts through the clutter and finds content that interests you.

Venture Beat points out, why the Meebo acquisition makes perfect sense, thanks to its latest feature which drives social interaction and sharing through Meebo’s bookmarklet:

Meebo boasts on its front page that it is helping users create “interest profiles.” Of course, targeting — and socially driven targeting at that — is exactly what Google needs to boost its Google Plus efforts. And it’s also something that Meebo doesn’t seem ready to pull off by itself, given Facebook’s dominance in this area. Add to that Meebo’s team of 173 people, many of them engineers, but many also many with solid media and marketing backgrounds attractive to Google’s advertising DNA. It looks like a very nice match.

With no confirmation of the Meebo acquisition in sight, Google has been busy beefing up its social network offerings in other ways. The Google+ iPhone app has finally received a much needed update, while an Android update is expected in the coming weeks.

The sleek design, which we highly approve of here at The Next Web, has led us to believe that this may well be what Kevin Rose and his team have been busy working on since Google’s ‘acqui-hire’ of Milk.

Announcing the update, Google’s Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra wrote:

Sharing is deeply sensory. From cooking a favorite meal to getting together with friends, it’s the smells and the stories and the smiles that make human connections so essential. With Google+ we want to extend these moments online, so it’s only right to focus on the most personal of personal computers: your mobile phone.

To be clear, we’re not interested in a mobile or social experience that’s just smaller. We’re embracing the sensor-rich smartphone (with its touchable screen and high-density display), and transforming Google+ into something more intimate, and more expressive. Today’s new iPhone app is an important step in this direction—toward a simpler, more beautiful Google.

With Google+ proving to be a popular social network among photographers, showcasing images beautifully in its mobile app was inevitable.

ios3 520x747 Google+ gets a sexy new iPhone app that youll actually want to use

This week also saw Google entrench its social network features further into Gmail. If you’ve had email notifications disabled from Google+ up until now, you might want to enable them, as they’ll give you far more access to Google+’s features than it did before.

In yet another move that is clearly all about Google+ permeating every Google product possible, you can now interact fully with Google+ posts through email notifications. That means you can leave comments, +1 posts and view responses instantly in realtime, all without having to leave your inbox.

interactivenotifications 1 520x325 Gmail adds full suite of Google+ features, including commenting and +1s

 Rolling out Hangouts on Air to all users worldwide was yet another addition to the Google+ suite of features announced this week. The feature, which up until now, has only been available to a limited few, means that you Hangouts just got all the more useful. You can host live interviews, conferences or panels, or even a live concert.

But with Hangouts on Air comes great responsibility. After announcing that the feature would soon be made available to all, Google updated its policies for the feature.

To cut a long story short, whoever initiates the Hangout on Air is responsible for all of the content during the broadcast. If you’re interested in the fine print, here’s what Google had to say about it:

You are responsible for all content included in a Hangout On Air which you initiate

You are responsible for ensuring all content included in a Hangout On Air initiated by you complies with this Agreement, including content provided by other participants who may join you in the Hangout. Please choose participants you wish to invite to this Hangout carefully, and if necessary use the blocking feature to stop someone else participating in your Hangout.

Google is offering you a trial of a feature that allows you to live stream Hangouts (the “Live Content”) through Google+ and YouTube. The Live Content will also be recorded and automatically uploaded to your YouTube account at the end of the Hangout for subsequent viewing (the “Archived Content”). The Archived Content will also immediately replace the live stream so than anyone you have shares the Live Content with will also be able to view the Archived Content.

By using Hangouts On Air (the “Service”) you accept and agree to be bound by the Google Terms of Service, the Google+ user content and conduct policy, the privacy policy, the YouTube terms of service, as well as these additional terms and conditions (the “Agreement”). It is important for you to read each of these documents, as they form a legal agreement between you and Google regarding your use of the Service

Bing launches its answer to Google’s Search Plus

With Bing launching something of a competitor to Google’s Search Plus feature, to much less fanfare, Search Engine Land takes an in-depth look at the new feature, and how it compares to Google.

Rather than limit itself to just one social network, Bing’s ‘social search’, is pulling in content from Quora, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and more, with Google+ of course absent, which needless to say, comes as no surprise.

bing1 Bing launches massive redesign, working with data from Quora, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Google+ and more

Search Engine Land conducts three different searches to compare Google and Bing’s social results, but the conclusion is a somewhat lukewarm one when it comes to both offerings, saying that the features have a long way to go. Despite that, Google does slightly edge out Bing with a far more successful set of results on at least one out of three of the searches. To find out more about the in-depth comparison, be sure to check out the post.

And finally…

Have you ever thought about what the most overused words in tech are? Hunter Walk took to Twitter to find out the answer and has shared them on Storify. The final list includes words like gamify, pivot, s0-lo-mo, and more.  (Hat-tip to Simply Zesty for pointing this one out to us).

Check out the complete list on Storify and be sure to share your ‘favourites’ with us in the comments.

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