Macs and Malware: Does an Apple Keep the Computer Doctor Away?

For a long time, people recognized Apple computers as the safer alternative to the Microsoft machines. After all, while Microsoft users were frequently plagued with viruses and malware, the Macs could securely surf the web without even the need for an anti-virus program. But today, this is no longer the reality for Mac users, and more and more Apple products are being brought into our Seattle stores for data recovery or malware removal. So what gives?

Unfortunately, the supposed impenetrability of the Macintosh OS was always a myth. It is accurate to say that it is a very well-made system, of course; Apple products are more difficult to infect, and generally require more error on the part of the user to contact a virus. However, every system has its faults, and no computer that is connected to the internet is entirely immune to malware.

The reason that Macs enjoyed such a long period of apparent immunity is largely that they were not as popular as Microsoft products. A virus is a computer program and, like any other program, it needs to be compatible with the system that it runs on. It therefore made more sense for hackers to build viruses for Windows, knowing that they would be able to target far more computers for their effort.

That era ended when Apple products took off. The popularity of the iPod brought attention to Mac computers in countries that had never heard of them before, and the new tablets and iPhones have been fanning this fire ever since. At last, Macs are widespread and internationally recognized enough to be worthy of the attention of unscrupulous people, and these unscrupulous people have already jumped on the opportunity.

If you own an Apple computer, make sure that you are utilizing a proper anti-virus program. Even your iPod touch or iPhone can be infected (though this is generally only a significant risk if you “jailbreak” your device). Search the web for a Mac-compatible security program, or consult eBits for more information on malware protection and removal.

Samsung will unveil the next Galaxy phone May 3rd in London

Samsung could be just weeks away from unveiling its next flagship Android smartphone — the Galaxy S III — on May 3 after the company began sending invites with the tagline “come and meet the next Galaxy” for an event that will be held in London at the start of next month.

The invite was sent to Tweakers.net, a well-known Dutch technology website, notifying them of the date and the location. The invite teases another of Samsung’s “Samsung Mobile Unpacked” events, which have served as the springboard for some of the company’s bigger smartphone and tablet launches in recent years, both at dedicated and trade show events.

Samsung has been enjoying the amount of buzz its next flagship Android smartphone is generating, despite the company’s silence on what will be included in the device and when it will launch. The company recently moved to quash any rumours it was to incorporate a 3D display in its future handsets, but has kept details of the handset close to its chest.

Recent ‘leaks’ suggested that the device would launch on May 22 in London but failed to gain momentum. However, other leaks have suggested that the device will feature a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED display and the company’s own quad-core Exynos processor.

Samsung purposefully decided against launching its new handset at Mobile World Congress, instead choosing to launch the device at a dedicated event in the first half of the year.

It appears the wait to see the new Android smartphone could be over, we are digging for more details and will update the article should we receive any further confirmation.

Apple offers refund over Australian 4G iPad confusion

Apple Australia will offer a refund to those who purchased the New iPad under the misapprehension it could hook up to 4G networks in Australia.

The company made the offer today in Australia’s Federal Court, where it was responding to a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sought to stop the company calling the New iPad as a 4G device because “it represents to Australian consumers that the product “iPad with WiFi + 4G” can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case,” as the only 4G network in Australia operates on a frequency the iPad’s radios cannot reach.

The matter made it to court after Apple denied misleading punters in correspondence with the ACCC.

In court today, Apple offered to contact all owners of the New iPad by email and offer them a refund if they feel they have been misled by statements about 4G connectivity. The company has also said it will amend point of sale material to explain that while the New iPad has 4G capability, it cannot connect to local 4G networks. Apple’s defence rests on similar niceties, with its Barrister telling the court the company feels Australia does possess networks that fall under the definition of 4G.

The ACCC sought an order that stickers saying “”not compatible with current Australia 4G networks” be placed upon New iPad boxes, and also asked for corrective advertisements to appear in several publications. Apple’s lawyer rejected the sticker plan as “cumbersome.”

Android Jelly Bean could come first from Asus

Asus hopes its close partnership with Google will lead it to being the first company to offer devices running Android Jelly Bean – version 5.0.
Asus prides itself on its Android upgrade efficiency, as it was the first to provide tablets running Honeycomb and the first to push the Ice Cream Sandwich update to its tablets.
Benson Lin, Asus’ Corporate Vice President told TechRadar: “Asus is very close to Google, so once they have Android 5.0 I think there will be a high possibility that we will be the first wave to offer the Jelly Bean update.”
Lean, mean, jelly bean machine

Asus announced its 3-in-1 Padfone device at MWC 2012, which sees a mobile phone, tablet and netbook combined into one device running Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Asus hopes the Padfone will help it gain traction in the mobile market and if it produces quality handsets, the promise of a speedy upgrade to Android Jelly Bean in the future may see consumers flock to the Taiwanese firm.
We’ve already heard from LG that it is committed to upgrading its 2012 handset range to Android Jelly Bean once it becomes available, so it will be interesting to see which manufacturer can turn it around in the shortest amount of time.

Intel reportedly delays Ivy Bridge launch until June, manufacturing process to blame

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Intel expects its next-generation microprocessors to go on sale eight to 10 weeks later than initially planned, according to Sean Maloney, executive vice-president of Intel and chairman of Intel China.
In his first interview to discuss Intel’s business in China, Mr Maloney told the the Financial Times that the start of sales of machines equipped with Ivy Bridge – the 22nm processor set to succeed Sandy Bridge in notebooks this year – had been pushed back from April. “I think maybe it’s June now,” he said.

Mr Maloney said the adjustment was not caused by a lack of demand but came because of the new manufacturing process needed to make the smaller chips.
An Intel spokesperson said the company’s plans to start shipping Ivy Bridge in the second quarter had not changed.

Mr Maloney also said the global launch of a series of Intel-powered smartphones would follow the launch in China of the first such handset – a Lenovo phone – in April. He said the Intel-powered Lenovo phone would become available in other countries four to five months after its China launch.

The comments come after Lenovo said last month it intended to push sales of its smartphones in emerging markets outside China this year. Lenovo is China’s largest leading Android phone brand.

Mr Maloney had been viewed as the most likely candidate to succeed Paul Otellini when he steps down as chief executive in 2015, but this career prospect is now less clear after he suffered a stroke in early 2010. Mr Maloney took over as Intel China chairman in July last year, a newly-created position through which the company hopes to give the Chinese market more weight.

China is expected to surpass the US as the world’s largest PC market by unit shipments this year, according to IDC, and the country is already the world’s largest market for mobile phones by unit shipments, a segment which Intel is currently pushing into with its Medfield processor for smartphones and tablets.

“I think give it two or three years, and all phones in China will be smartphones, because the cost is going to be way way down,” he said.

He also emphasised the Chinese server market as a source of strong growth. “First off, it’s not really an emerging market. It’s emerged. Secondly, it’s just the same at the server side. Ali Baba, Baidu, they all want the same servers as Facebook, and really the notebooks are as advanced as anywhere,” he said.

When The Car Is The Driver.

This week the state of Nevada finalized new rules that will make it possible for robotic self-driving cars to receive their own special driving permits. It’s not quite driver’s licenses for robots — but it’s close.

The other day I went for a spin in a robotic car. This car has an $80,000 cone-shaped laser mounted on its roof. There are radars on the front, back and sides. Detailed maps help it navigate.

Do people notice it’s a self-driving car and gawk?

“We get a lot of thumbs up,” says Anthony Levandowski, one of the leaders of Google’s self-driving car project. “People drive by and then they wave. I wish they would keep their eyes on the road.”

Levandowski is in the passenger seat with a laptop showing him what the car can see. Chris Urmson is behind the wheel. But his hands are in his lap and the steering wheel is gently turning back and forth, tracing the contours of California’s busy Highway 85.

“And it can adjust the speed. If there is a particularly tight corner, it will slow down for that,” Urmson says. “It adjusts speed to stay out of blind spots of other vehicles. It tries to match speed with traffic.”

Urmson has been working on this technology for close to a decade. His first car managed to travel just 11 miles on a dusty road. Google’s vehicle is a giant leap forward.

“When we got this on the freeway and it was doing 70 miles an hour and just smoothly driving along the road, you could taste it — the technology,” Urmson says. “You could really feel the impact and how it’s going to change people’s lives. It was just amazing.”

While he was talking, a motorcycle cut us off. The car saw the move coming, and we hardly even noticed.

Google’s fleet of robotic cars has driven more than 200,000 miles over highways and city streets in California and Nevada. Google did this testing in kind of a legal limbo. These cars aren’t forbidden, but, “There was no permission granted for any of that to happen by anybody,” says Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist and robotic car enthusiast.

“It’s essential that there be a place to do tests,” he says. “There’s two ways to do it — the seek-forgiveness strategy and the seek-permission strategy. Frankly, the 200,000 hours I think that have been driven here in California — that’s a seek-forgiveness strategy. Right?”

If anything went wrong, Google would have had a huge amount of explaining to do. So last year, the company hired a lobbyist in Nevada.

“The state of Nevada is close, it’s a lot easier to pass laws there than it is in California,” Levandowski says.

He says Google convinced the state Legislature to pass a law making robotic cars explicitly legal. But the Legislature went further than just creating a place to test these cars — it ordered the Department of Motor Vehicles to create basically a driver’s license for these robot cars.

“I thought it was great,” says Bruce Breslow, director of the Nevada DMV. “My grandfather took me to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City many times. And they were promising me the car of the future as an 8-year-old, and I thought to myself, this finally could be it.”

Starting March 1, companies will be able to apply to test self-driving cars on Nevada roads.

“The test vehicles will be Nevada’s first red license plate since the 1940s,” Breslow says. Think of it like a learner’s permit — those bright red plates will let everyone know there’s a student robot driver behind the wheel.

“And eventually when these vehicles are sold, it will be the first ever neon green license plate that the state of Nevada will ever issue — green meaning go, and the future’s arrived,” Breslow says.

Google says it will probably be years before cars like this go on sale. But Jurvetson, the venture capitalist, says he’s convinced this technology could save thousands of lives “today, already, right now.”

Robots are never distracted. They don’t text or drink or get tired. They see things no human can.

“That front radar catches bounces off the ground,” Jurvetson says. “We were driving behind an 18-wheeler, and we saw the vehicles in front of the 18-wheeler — vehicles we could not see with our eye — because the signal bounced off the pavement … at a glancing angle underneath the 18-wheeler. And so no human will ever have the amount of information that these cars have when they are driving.”

While Nevada may be the first state to create a licensing system for self-driving cars, it won’t be the last; Hawaii, Florida and Oklahoma are already following suit. And Jurvetson says one day we may be asking ourselves if humans should still be allowed to drive.

Fair Labor Association Begins Inspections of Foxconn

CUPERTINO, California—February 13, 2012—Apple® today announced that the Fair Labor Association will conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, at Apple’s request. A team of labor rights experts led by FLA president Auret van Heerden began the first inspections Monday morning at the facility in Shenzhen known as Foxconn City.

“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”

As part of its independent assessment, the FLA will interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management. The FLA’s team will inspect manufacturing areas, dormitories and other facilities, and will conduct an extensive review of documents related to procedures at all stages of employment.

Apple’s suppliers have pledged full cooperation with the FLA, offering unrestricted access to their operations. The FLA’s findings and recommendations from the first assessments will be posted in early March on its website, www.fairlabor.org. Similar inspections will be conducted at Quanta and Pegatron facilities later this Spring, and when completed, the FLA’s assessment will cover facilities where more than 90 percent of Apple products are assembled.

Apple has audited every final assembly factory in its supply chain each year since 2006, including more than 40 audits of Foxconn manufacturing and final assembly facilities. Details of Apple’s supplier responsibility program, including the results of more than 500 factory audits led by Apple throughout its supply chain over the past five years, are available at www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility.

In January, Apple became the first technology company admitted to the Fair Labor Association. The FLA conducts independent monitoring and verification to ensure that the FLA’s Workplace Standards are upheld wherever FLA company products are made.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

German gov’t endorses Chrome as most secure browser

Germany’s cyber security agency today recommended that Windows 7 users run Google’s Chrome browser, citing the application’s sandbox and auto-update features.

In a security best practices guideline, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, known by its German initials of BSI, said Chrome was the best browser.

“Your internet browser is the key component for the use of services on the Web and thus represents the main target for cyber-attacks,” said BSI in its published advice. “By using Google Chrome in conjunction with the other measures outlined above, you can significantly reduce the risk of a successful IT attack.”

BSI ticked off Chrome’s anti-exploit sandbox technology, which isolates the browser from the operating system and the rest of the computer; its silent update mechanism and Chrome’s habit of bundling Adobe Flash, as its reasons for the recommendation.

“This [sandbox] protection is implemented most consistently in Chrome…[and] similar mechanisms in other browsers are currently either weaker or non-existent,” explained BSI.

BSI, for “Bundesamt fuer Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik,” has a habit of making software recommendations, particularly about browsers, unlike U.S. agencies. Two years ago, for example, BSI urged Germans to stop using Internet Explorer (IE) until Microsoft patched a vulnerability that had allegedly been used by Chinese hackers to break into networks owned by Google and dozens of other Western companies.

Unlike in the U.S., where Windows 7 users are automatically handed IE as the default browser, Germans are shown a browser ballot screen when they first run Windows. The ballot screen lets users choose which browser they want to set as the default, and if necessary, download and install it.

That selection process stems from a settlement Microsoft reached with European Union antitrust regulators in 2009, two years after Opera Software officially complained that IE’s bundling with Windows and the browser’s default status stifled competition.

Not surprisingly, Google was happy about the recommendation. “We’re particularly honored to see several of [Chrome's] security benefits recognized in the report,” wrote Wieland Holfelder, who heads Google’s engineering efforts in Germany, in a Friday post to Chrome’s official blog.

BSI also recommended Adobe Reader X — the version of the popular PDF reader that, like Chrome, relies on a sandbox to protect users from exploits — and urged citizens to use Windows’ Auto Update feature to keep their PCs abreast of all OS security fixes.

To update applications, BSI gave a nod to Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector (PSI), a free utility that scan a computer for outdated software and point users to appropriate downloads.

Chrome currently accounts for just 14.3% of all browsers used in Germany, according to Irish Web measurement company StatCounter. Mozilla’s Firefox has 51% of the German market, while IE accounts for 24.8%.

While Mozilla is making progress on silent updates for Firefox, the company won’t wrap up the project until June at the earliest. Nor does Firefox include a Chrome-esque sandbox, although developers have been working on separating each tab’s process, something Chrome also offers, to make its browser more resilient to crashes.

Worldwide, Chrome is more popular: StatCounter’s data shows that Chrome’s 28.4% share put it in second place behind IE’s 37.5% but ahead of Firefox’s 24.8%.

Hollywood Still Doesn’t Realize That The Internet Drives Popular Culture Now

Stewart Baker, the former DHS official whose warnings about how SOPA would wreak havoc on online security were instrumental in convincing many of our elected officials that SOPA and PIPA were half-baked legislative disasters, now has a fascinating writeup for The Hollywood Reporter, trying to explain why the Republican Party turned strongly against SOPA/PIPA. We’ve pointed out a few times, that the different reactions by the Democrats and Republicans to the online protests threaten to cost the Democrats a generation of voters who had previously looked to them as the party that “got” the internet.

Of course, where it gets even more insightful is Baker’s analysis not just of how the Democratic Party appears to have miscalculated badly the reaction to these bills, but how truly and spectacularly Hollywood has failed to understand what happened — in part because Hollywood still thinks that it drives pop culture. The truth, however, as Baker points out, is that the internet drives popular culture these days… and on the internet, Hollywood is a big bully:
The [entertainment] industry still doesn’t understand its adversary. From the start, studios saw the fight over SOPA as a struggle with a bunch of other companies — Google and Internet service providers among them — that were hoping to profit from the Internet travails of the entertainment industry.

That turned out to be wrong. In fact, the industry is fighting what amounts to a new popular culture.

Unlike the old pop culture Hollywood dominated, this one is largely independent of the music, movie and broadcast industries. In fact, people who spend hours online instead of watching TV or going to movies will probably encounter the entertainment industry only when YouTube videos of their kids dancing to Prince or spoofing Star Wars are pulled down by Hollywood’s bots, or when the RIAA threatens to sue them for their college savings, or when digital rights software makes it hard to move their stuff to a new tablet or phone.

To the entertainment industry, these episodes might seem like collateral damage in the fight to stop piracy. To the new pop culture, though, collateral damage and misuse of enforcement tools are everywhere, and they threaten everyone. The content industry has made itself into the villain. Increasingly, it looks like an occupying power, obeyed at gunpoint, despised for its ham-handed excesses and resisted from every dark corner. Unfortunately for Hollywood, as its customers migrate to the Internet, it is losing not just their money but their hearts and minds as well.
There’s a lot more in Baker’s article about the political implications of all of this, which are worth thinking about as well, but I wanted to focus on this key point. Last week, at the Midem music industry conference, I was amazed at how many people from the legacy music business believe, 100%, that the reason SOPA/PIPA were stopped was because Google stepped up its lobbying efforts. I can’t even begin to count how many conversations I had with people trying to explain to them that Google only played a small role in what happened, really jumping on the bandwagon pretty late in the game. It was a widespread group of internet users who spoke up, and that really has changed the equation. And Hollywood still can’t seem to wrap its mind around that.

That may be because Hollywood was popular culture for so long. It seems to just assume that this is still the case, when there’s an awful lot of evidence suggesting otherwise. And really, that explains both Hollywood’s confusion in how to deal with all of this, as well as one of the reasons it’s lashing out. When Hollywood no longer drives pop culture, it loses its influence, and as it loses its influence, that’s going to spell trouble for its business model. The biggest threat to Hollywood’s dominance isn’t piracy. It’s that people no longer view Hollywood as the main source of pop culture any more. Art forms often lose their popularity over time. A few years back, we pointed to a quote from Paul Oskar Kristeller that seems worth highlighting again:
There were important periods in cultural history when the novel, instrumental music, or canvas painting did not exist or have any importance. On the other hand, the sonnet and the epic poem, stained glass and mosaic, fresco painting and book illumination, vase painting and tapestry, bas relief and pottery have all been “major” arts at various times and in a way they no longer are now. Gardening has lost its standing as a fine art since the eighteenth century. On the other hand, the moving picture is a good example of how new techniques may lead to modes of artistic expression for which the aestheticians of the eighteenth and nineteenth century had no place in their systems. The branches of the arts all have their rise and decline, and even their birth and death.
Perhaps it’s not piracy that Hollywood is fighting here. Maybe it’s the industry’s own cultural relevance.

Facebook Files for an I.P.O.

It sure pays to have friends.

Facebook, the vast online social network, took its first step toward becoming a publicly traded company on Wednesday as it filed to sell shares on the stock market. The service, hatched in a Harvard dormitory room nearly eight years ago, is on track to be the largest Internet initial public offering ever — trumping Google’s in 2004 or Netscape’s nearly a decade before that.

In its filing, Facebook, which has more than 845 million users worldwide, said it was seeking to raise $5 billion, according to a figure used to calculate the registration fee. The company will seek to have the ticker “FB” for its shares, but did not list an exchange.

The filing
Tracking Facebook’s Valuation
Goldman Invests in Facebook at a $50 Billion Valuation (Jan. 2, 2011)
But many close to the company say that Facebook is aiming for a far greater offering that could value it as high as $75 billion to $100 billion. At that lofty valuation, Facebook would be much bigger than many longer-established American companies, including Abbott Laboratories, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, Goldman Sachs and Ford Motor.

“Facebook’s I.P.O. marks another stage of the Internet’s evolution,” said Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter Group, a technology consulting firm. “It’s so valuable, because it’s not just about content, it’s about our connections.”

The filing sheds some light on how its meteoric run has turned the upstart into a formidable money maker. The company, which makes the bulk of its money from advertising and the sale of virtual goods, recorded revenue of $3.7 billion last year, an 88 percent increase from the prior year. During that period, Facebook posted a profit of $1 billion. It is still a fraction of the size of its rival Google, which recorded revenue of $37.9 billion last year, but many analysts believe Facebook’s fortunes will rapidly multiply as advertisers direct more and more capital to the Web’s social hive.

Facebook, unlike any other site, has come to define the social era of the Web. More than a portal, its value lies in its dynamic network of social connections and the enormous amount of information shared by its users. In many ways, Facebook is a data processor, archiving and analyzing every shred of information, including its users’ interests, locations and every article and link that they “like.” The collection of data is a potential goldmine for advertisers, keen to better understand and target consumers.

“Facebook changed the way entrepreneurs thought about platforms and sharing,” said Shervin Pishevar, a Menlo Ventures partner who built games on Facebook as the former chief of the Social Gaming Network.

Indeed, the social network has become something like an economy into itself, fostering businesses like the music service Spotify. The game maker Zynga, which went public late last year, generates more than 90 percent of its sales from Facebook.

“Facebook has become the biggest distribution platform on the Web,” said Daniel Ek, the founder of Spotify, a service that accepts only Facebook users. “We noticed that users who connected our service to Facebook were three times more likely to become a paying user.”

But for all the promise of Facebook, the company is still trying to figure out how to properly extract and leverage data while keeping its ecosystem intact. For all its billions, Facebook makes a small sum on a per-user basis. Last year, it made a little more than $1 per user.

The Wall Street firms underwriting the I.P.O. are Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and Allen & Company.

Facebook has come a long way from its scrappy start-up days.

Mr. Zuckerberg, a freckle-faced computer prodigy from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., started the service, then known as Thefacebook, in his Harvard dorm room in February of 2004. He rolled out the site carefully, first opening it up to other Ivy League schools to keep the community intimate.

Some of Mr. Zuckerberg’s classmates sent e-mails to old high school friends, cajoling them to join the site. By the end of 2004, the site reached one million users.

“That’s the kind of stuff I do — small little projects, and eventually they all fit together,” a young Mr. Zuckerberg told The Harvard Crimson.

Like Google, Facebook was not the first in its category. Start-ups like Six Degrees.com, Myspace, LinkedIn, Friendster and others predated the service. But Facebook quickly eclipsed the competition by drilling down on the mechanics of sharing.

In 2006, Facebook made it easier for users to keep tabs on their connections by introducing news feeds. These data streams made sharing automatic, broadcasting short bursts of information, updates and announcements, from friends in real time. One year later, Mr. Zuckerberg rolled out the Facebook Platform. The move effectively collapsed the walls that separated the service from the rest of the Web by allowing third parties to develop applications on the site. The policy of openness and Facebook’s pursuit of so-called “frictionless sharing” has made it nearly impossible to escape its long shadow online. Over the last four years, its user base has grown to 845 million from roughly 50 million. On average, users spend more than 9.7 billion minutes a day on the site, according to the filing.

Mr. Zuckerberg has been made wealthy by Facebook, and an I.P.O. would make him wealthier. When Facebook was valued at $23 billion, Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $6.9 billion. At a market value of $100 billion, Mr. Zuckerberg’s 28.4 percent stake in Facebook would be worth $28.4 billion.

Yet his ambitions seem more akin to Alexander Graham Bell than to other Internet billionaires. Mr. Zuckerberg says he wants to “make the world a more open place,” according to his Facebook profile.

In recent months, his team has rolled out more features toward that end, like Timeline, which makes it easy to scroll through a user’s entire history, and new partnerships, with companies like Ticketmaster, that will allow users to pull even more data from outside publishers into Facebook’s platform. The company is also said to be designing its own mobile phone, which will give Facebook an even larger footprint in its users’ digital lives.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s push for openness has not always been embraced by the online community, which, at times, has been leery of his efforts to reset the boundaries of what people should share. Facebook, as the protector and transmitter of personal information, has to maintain a delicate balance between financial interests and the privacy concerns of its users. Major changes to Facebook’s platform have frequently inspired fierce backlashes, including calls to boycott, lawsuits and the ire of lawmakers.

As Facebook’s influence grows, so too does scrutiny from Washington. In November, Facebook reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, after the regulators accused the social network of misleading customers on privacy issues.

With sharing at the center of Facebook, and the new Web, analysts also wonder whether the constant chatter will create too much white noise. As psychological barriers to sharing fall and companies become more deft at leveraging social media, there’s a legitimate concern that platforms, like Facebook, will be less valuable without the proper filters.

And user growth has slowed in some mature markets. In the United States and Canada, the company added three million users — for a total of 179 million — in the fourth quarter of 2011. In the previous quarter, Facebook had added seven million users.

“What are the limits of sharing?” Ms. Li, of the Altimeter Group, said. “At what point does the presence of all these partners on Facebook, all this sharing, begin to degrade the quality of the site overall?”