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Google and Facebook Said to be in Battle to Acquire Social Mapping App Waze

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This week's need-to-know social-media news.

There may be another billion-dollar startup on the horizon, and this time it's based in Israel. Reports surfaced recently indicating that Facebook was in deep negotiations to acquire social mapping tool Waze, which crowdsources tips on car traffic, road conditions, speed traps and other hazards in order to provide users with ideal driving directions. Now it appears that search giant Google is getting involved, possibly creating a bidding war for Waze.

Waze is reportedly seeking more than $1 billion. Based in Israel, Waze also has an 11-person team in San Francisco.

For Facebook, adding Waze's mapping technology can make sense. Fellow Silicon Valley tech titans Google and Apple already have their own mapping software, and Waze could allow Facebook to compete while maintaining its emphasis on social tools. If Google were to buy Waze, it could eliminate a competitor while gaining the technology to enhance its own maps app with social features. If all negotiations break down, the four-year-old startup may seek more venture funding. -- Bloomberg News and Reuters

Twitter's two-factor authentication might not be enough to stop hackers.

With the Twitter accounts for major brands getting hacked in recent weeks, Twitter has added two-factor authentication to its sign-in process, requiring users to enter a six-digit code that Twitter will text to their phone for every sign-in. But the new feature won't stop hackers from obtaining log-in info via email phishing attacks, Information Week reports. And Twitter does not support two-factor authentication for multiple account managers, which causes an issue for big companies which often share social-media duties among several employees. -- Information Week and Mashable

Flickr experiences outage following relaunch.

When you relaunch a website, make sure in advance that it can handle a potential surge of user traffic. Four days after Flickr got a major makeover, many of its 89 million users experienced a severe slowdown in the popular photo-sharing service, while others were unable to access the site at all. Presumably, its servers were overloaded by increased interest from users as well as all the photos being uploaded to the site's new high-res interface. -- TechCrunch

Google makes Google+ photo content searchable.

You know all those photos of flowers and sunsets you uploaded to Google+? Now you can search for them on or Google+ using the phrase "my photos." For instance, type "my photos of flowers" into the search engine and you'll be given a thumbnailed list of your photos that match that description. Google is using so-called "computer vision" to scan the content of your photos and serve you the relevant ones. The tool is in its early days, but given the machine learning component, its accuracy is bound to improve with time. -- TheNextWeb

New species of inspect identified -- over social media.

A recently identified lacewing, a type of flying insect, was selected for a list of the top 10 newly discovered species after being discovered and described over social media. Photographer Hock Ping Guek snapped a photo of the bug in a park near Kuala Lumpur and uploaded it to Flickr. An American entomologist saw the picture and realized it might be noteworthy, after which Guek sent a specimen to another scientist at London's Museum of Natural History, who confirmed that it was a new species. The three men collaborated using Google Docs to write up a description -- a milestone for amateur science and social media knowledge sharing. The list of new species was compiled by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. -- Guardian

Brian Patrick Eha

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Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.