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(Adrian Wyld)
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For Facebook, use of virtual money rises in virtual world Add to ...

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Virtual world, virtual money With a milestone under its belt, Facebook is setting the stage for what The New York Times calls "a virtual currency system that some day could turn into a multibillion-dollar business." For more than a year now, a virtual currency known as Credits has been used to buy some games on the social networking service. Earlier this month, The New York Times reports, Credits reached a milestone deal by becoming the sole payment mechanism for many games from developer Zynga. Facebook gets 30 per cent. The newspaper said Facebook projects that its virtual currency will be used to purchase much of what is sold on the site, a Facebook market forecast to hit $835-million (U.S.) this year. It quoted sources as saying the company hopes Credits will become the payment method on Facebook, for any application.

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Credits gift cards can already be purchased in Target outlets in the U.S. and, The New York Times said, the company could in time compete with other online payment methods, such as PayPal.



Privacy chief probes 'Like' button Canada's Privacy Commissioner has concluded its initial investigation of Facebook, but the watchdog said complaints about the social utilities new 'Like' button and other features has prompted it to open a new probe. The privacy regulator announced today that Facebook had complied with an agreement struck last year to enhance privacy settings to make it easier for users to protect data stored on the social utility. But now, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart told Globe and Mail report Jacquie McNish, "we have a complaint about the increasing usage of the Like button."

Facebook introduced its light blue Like button in April to encourage people to vote on products, media stories and other content on the Internet. Many users clicked the button without realizing that their personal tastes would be widely distributed on the Web to attract additional Internet traffic.



Potash fight heats up The takeover battle for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan is escalating, moving into the courts as the company tries to fend off BHP Billiton Ltd.'s $38.6-billion (U.S.) hostile bid. Potash has now launched a lawsuit against BHP, alleging it made "false and misleading statements and omissions" in its offer and regarding its plans to acquire the business. The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Illinois, doesn't seek monetary damages, but asks for complete and accurate disclosure.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. BHP responded in a statement that it believes the lawsuit has no merit and it will fight it "vigorously."



The skinny on RIM's tablet The tech world is abuzz today on reports that Research In Motion Ltd. could take the wraps off a new tablet computer as early as next week, The Wall Street Journal reports. The tablet, which would rival the popular iPad from Apple Inc. and has been a subject of much speculation recently, could be introduced at a developers' conference in San Francisco, the news organization said. Some at RIM have dubbed the device the BlackPad, and, the Journal reports, it is scheduled to be released in the fourth quarter. With a seven-inch touch screen, it will have one or two built-in cameras, Bluetooth and broadband connections.

But, the report said, it will only be able to connect to wireless networks through a BlackBerry. And, in what the Journal called a significant development, the BlackPad would have a new operating system built by QNX Software Systems, which was acquired by RIM this year.

Streetwise columnist Boyd Erman adds that RIM could introduce two sizes of the new tablet.

Related contentBlackPad tweets

This is a key time for RIM as it battles Apple's iPhone and the Android operating system from Google Inc. Analysts had been down on the company's stock, though its earnings last week buoyed investors. The Journal noted that a new RIM tablet will face what's shaping up to be a crowded field. Samsung Electronics Co., Acer Inc. and others are also rushing for a tablet.

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