Facebook buys WhatsApp, Google plays babysitter, and social media gets a little bit smarter | This Week In Social Media

Facebook buys WhatsApp for $19

Oops—make that $19 billion. NINETEEN BILLION DOLLARS. For an app you’ve never heard of (have you?). Move over, Instagram—turns out your $1 billion deal with Facebook last spring was nothing to write home about. WhatsApp is a five-year-old messaging start-up with an apparent user base of 450 million—claiming to gain over 1 million users each day. Messenger, Facebook’s own standalone mobile messaging app, is currently second only to WhatsApp in its share of the smartphone market; certainly a wise acquisition for the social media giant. But is the unbelievable price tag worth it? Twitter users, as usual, are torn. The app does bear a striking similarity to the already pervasive iMessage.

Google forced to babysit Glass users

With increasing reports of businesses banning Google Glass, the Internet giant was finally forced to launch an etiquette guide of sorts for their “Glass Explorers.” The guide, published Thursday, swiftly became the butt of many a joke, as it emphasizes what should be obvious rules—such as reminders to “explore the world around you” rather than letting Google Glass “distract you from it.” Other rules include “don’t be creepy” and “take them off sometimes.” Not kidding. (Though if you’ve ever been around an adamant user of Google’s wearable technology, you know, sadly, that much of the advice in this guide is needed.) Be cool, guys.

European universities develop “social media lie detector”

Santa might see you when you’re sleeping, but social media knows when you are lying—or it will soon. A group of five European universities are working on a social media lie detector, in an attempt to verify online rumors (like the fake photos that stormed social media during Hurricane Sandy). The project, which has been in development for 3 years, hopes to classify online rumors into four different types:  speculation, controversy, disinformation (where a rumor is spread unwittingly), or misinformation. Researchers hope the new system could help identify whether or not information is accurate—especially critical during times of national tragedy, when accuracy becomes more important than ever.