Facebook commits to UK support

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg committed to increased support for UK brands and content providers at the social network’s first official London Developers’ Garage event yesterday.

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Speaking at the event, CEO Zuckerberg stressed the importance of the UK to the company, and highlighted personalisation and its virtual currency Facebook Credits as key themes for the year ahead.

“We’re in Palo Alto and it’s easy to lose track,” he said. “Most of our users and developers aren’t in the US so it’s important we get out.”

Facebook Developers’ Garages are significant events for the company. At its F8 event in the US in April, it announced significant developments including the social graph and social plug-ins. Although the London event didn’t include any significant announcements, Zuckerberg’s support was welcomed by the UK developer community.

Speaking to new media age after the event, Zuckerberg said this was only his third visit to the UK but he would be coming more regularly, “as long as the community of developers and users is so important.”

Christian Hernandez, Facebook’s head of international business development, said, “We’re employing more technical support people in Europe, but this can only go so far, which is why we need trusted partners.”

Joanna Shields, Facebook VP for Europe, revealed the company had 26m active users and promised to provide more investment in providing the branding potential of online to woo big-brand advertisers from TV.

“We offer a fantastic alternative to TV for brand advertisers and you’ll see a lot of brands moving to reach the people they used to be able to reach on broadcast TV,” she said.

Facebook’s virtual currency, Facebook Credits, was a big theme of the day. Currently employed by select games developers on Facebook, it offers two-click purchasing from a pre-paid account. Hernandez said it was working with some of the bigger developers to “get liquidity in the system” before scaling it up.

Zuckerberg was also keen to stress that Facebook users “own their own data”. In recent months, the company has launched tighter privacy controls following a storm of bad publicity around how users’ details were shared online.

“But where people can take their data to other places is complex in practice,” he said. “We recently changed the restriction on developers caching data for 24 hours but then faced criticism on privacy, so there’s tension between the two. This is all part of the world changing, but people do own their data.”

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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