Facebook improves security, money pile growth

Facebook is nipping two of its biggest problems in the bud today: user security, and not making enough money.

Okay, so maybe only one of those is an actual problem; either way, both are being improved over the coming weeks.

Facebook has added two new security features soon to be rolled out. The first is HTTPS functionality to ensure a secure connection when communicating with the website. While boasting improved connection security, Facebook is warning users that HTTPS use will make the website’s pages load slower than normal. As well, many third-party applications are not currently supported in HTTPS, but Facebook hopes to change this soon. Facebook says that HTTPS will soon be the default way to view Facebook.

The other security feature is “social authentication.” Social authentication is based on the same principle as captcha images: they challenge loggers-in to give information about a randomly provided image to prove that they aren’t bots looking to hack users’ accounts. While typical captcha images use random words or strings of letters and/or numbers, social authentication provides the user with an image of a friend on their list, and asks them to name who the person is. Failure to name whoever is in the image means no log in.

This seems like a pretty clever idea, but I see problems coming up for anyone with thousands of friends, or with a bunch of people added that they never talk to or haven’t met in person. Hopefully this feature gives you the option to refresh the person you’re trying to recognize, otherwise you could be stuck trying to guess the name of one of your Mafia Wars friends for hours on end.

The other Facebook news is that Facebook Credits are now required to be accepted by all third-party games. The Credits are purchased with real money, with a dollar getting you around 10 Facebook credits, which can be used to buy items and other virtual goods in Facebook games.

The reason Facebook is making this move is that they get a cut of every Facebook credit spent. Facebook gets a 30 per cent cut of money earned by developers who sell goods through their apps. App developers are still able to use their own virtual currencies, but they must also accept Facebook Credits.

And hey, maybe Facebook can make a buck in a different way from their Credits; with the way things are going in the U.S., Facebook’s pretend money might be more valuable than the U.S. dollar.