Business Diary: Now they're selling friends over the web

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The Independent Online

Here's with an idea to make money from Facebook. The company is offering users of the social networking site the chance to "buy" friends and fans following the launch of a similar service on Twitter. Chief executive Leon Hill claims it will help his clients to use the websites as a marketing tool, connecting like-minded people with similar interests. Diary is aware that making money from services such as Facebook ("monetising" in geek speak) and the internet in general is one of the hot business issues of the moment. But, really, that's just so sad it makes diary want to cry.

Council manages to make City look good

Diary is wondering exactly what the reaction of the Financial Services Authority would be if a financial services business was all but shut down by a dodgy memory stick with a virus. At the very least a substantial fine would be levied, and probably some sackings to boot. It happened to Tory-run Ealing council, which had to cut internet and phone links to preserve "core systems and data" and cost its council tax payers millions as the virus spread like wildfire through its computers. But the only comeback was some cross words from the opposition and a finger-wagging from the Taxpayers' Alliance.

BA tries to make TV ads fly higher than planes

British Airways is launching its first TV advert for two years this month, based on the concept of "opportunities" – namely those that arise from doing business face-to-face (and the chance for BA to sell you a flight). But BA's efforts not to sound desperate rather backfire. Particularly when brand manager Abigail Comber says: "This campaign is a demonstration of our confidence in the future... and we're using our money wisely by capitalising on the current low cost of TV advertising." Right.

Green ideas hit by consumer power

On a trip to Borders, Diary was surprised to be given a free bag, given that the troubled bookshop had previously been charging. Isn't that rather contravening best green practice? "Well, the idea was dropped. Staff just got yelled at too much," said a weary shop assistant.

Number of the day: 4.7%

The contraction in the UK economy in 2009, according to the Paris-based OECD's most recent forecast.