Facebook makes a push to become a media hub
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook, the Web’s biggest social network, is where you go to see what your friends are up to. Now it wants to be a force that shapes what you watch, hear, read and buy.
The company announced new features here Thursday that could unleash a torrent of updates about what media choices Facebook users are making: Frank is watching “The Hangover” on Netflix, Jane is listening to a Jay-Z song, and so forth. The idea is that those updates will act as guides for those users’ friends, influencing tastes and purchases.
Facebook is not becoming a purveyor of goods, like Amazon.com or Apple. Instead, by teaming up with companies that distribute music, movies, information and games, it is positioning itself to become the conduit through which news and entertainment is found and consumed. Its new partners include Netflix and Hulu for video, and Spotify for music.
“We think it’s an important next step to help tell the story of your life,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who unveiled the new features at the company’s annual conference for developers. He called what Facebook was doing an effort to “rethink some industries.”
—Somini Sengupta, The New York Times
Pakistan’s spies are tied to raid on US embassy, US says
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military official said Thursday that Pakistan’s spy agency played a direct role in supporting the insurgents who carried out the deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last week. It was the most serious charge that the United States has leveled against Pakistan in the decade that the U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan.
In comments that were the first to directly link the spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, with an assault on the United States, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went further than any other U.S. official in blaming the ISI for undermining the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. His remarks were certain to further fray the United States’ shaky relationship with Pakistan, a nominal ally.
On Thursday, Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, rejected accusations by the United States of ISI involvement in the attacks in Afghanistan. “If you say that it is ISI involved in that attack, I categorically deny it,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
—Elisabeth Bumiller and Jane Perlez, The New York Times
China expresses anger over latest US arms sales to Taiwan
BEIJING — Confirmation of a $5.8 billion package of weapon sales by the United States to Taiwan drew an angry reaction from China on Thursday, with newspaper editorials accusing the Obama administration of betrayal and the Foreign Affairs Ministry warning of serious harm to relations. The U.S. ambassador and military attache were summoned late Wednesday night for what the state news media described as a “strong protest.” Xinhua, the official wire service, called the decision a “despicable breach of faith in international relations.”
But news of the deal, confirmed by White House officials on Wednesday, appears to have set in motion a familiar slate of responses by Beijing, which has long considered arms sales to the self-governing island an affront to its sovereignty and a slight to its dignity.
“This is a kind of ritual, and all the players know their roles,” said Yawei Liu, director of the China Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta. “There is a script they follow and then hope things cool down so they can return to business as usual.”
—Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times