Weekly high-tech hot topics in the blogs: Facebook privacy, Twitter adverts

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The Independent Tech

Hot topics in the tech blogs for the week ending May 28: Facebook updates its privacy controls to give users more privacy, Twitter bans third-party networks from posting ads in the stream, Bach and Allard leave Microsoft as it restructures its entertainment and mobile sectors, iPhone gets cheaper before its imminent update, and Google removes the beta tag from its Mac and Linux versions of Chrome.

Facebook privacy controls
After weeks of complaints over Facebook's reduced privacy controls and third-party information sharing, Facebook did an about-face and made it (slightly) easier for users to keep their information private. The major changes included reducing the number of settings required to make all information private, giving users more powerful controls for basic information, and making it much easier to turn off all Facebook applications. The Electronic Frontier Foundation said "Facebook's New Privacy Improvements Are a Positive Step, But There's Still More Work to Be Done", Ars Technica wrote, "Facebook finally gets it with new, simpler privacy controls" and the Technology Liberation Front gave "Three Cheers for Facebook's Privacy Management Upgrade."

Twitter and adverts
Twitter announced it was banning third-party ad networks from using its API this week, effectively banning rival ad networks from posting in-stream ads. Wall Street Journal All Things Digital writer, Peter Kafka summed up the situation saying, "Twitter's Free Love Era Comes to an End: Time for Developers and Publishers to Pay Up" whilst Search Engine Land posted an FAQ explaining "Twitter's New Rules On Third-Party Ads." The Next Web said users should be pleased with the changes as "every point genuinely appears to be in the best interests of user experience and content ownership. Both integral to twitter's long term success."

Bach, Allard leave Microsoft
This week Microsoft announced that Chief Experience Officer, J Allard, and Entertainment and Devices President, Robbie Bach, would leave the company as part of an initiative to restructure and become more competitive in both the entertainment and mobile sectors (or as games blog Kotaku put it: "Father of the Xbox, Head of Gadgets and Fun Leave Microsoft"). Asymco speculated that the company's loss of the HP account was the "reason Robbie Bach was fired" whilst ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley commented "I think the Entertainment and Devices division needed a shaking up. I'm just not 100 percent convinced that Ballmer is the right guy to be leading the mobile and gaming charge."

iPhone gets price cut before being updated
The blogs started buzzing this week as the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, cut the price of the Apple 16GB 3GS iPhone by $100 ahead of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple is expected to announce the launch of its fourth generation iPhone at the WWDC, causing speculation that Wal-Mart is either trying to sell of any extra stock ahead of the launch or that the 16GB iPhone is set to become the entry-level phone in the future and that Apple will stop making the 8GB iPhone altogether. After a very public outing of Apple's next-generation prototype device just months before Apple's largest annual event (WWCD) technology bloggers are all but certain that Apple will reveal a new phone at the conference. Technology blog Engadget has said the next-generation device will be updated with a front-facing camera and support for video chat.

Chrome update takes Mac and Linux versions out of beta
Google's Chrome browser for Mac and Linux platforms officially graduated from beta to "stable" on May 25, bringing with it many new features and speed increases. According to threatpost.com, the release also resolved "at least two ‘high risk' vulnerabilities and several security-related denial-of-service crashes." Google announced the news on its Chrome blog on May 25 saying, "Our stable release also incorporates HTML5 features such as Geolocation APIs, App Cache, web sockets, and file drag-and-drop."