Facebook offers free WiFi through Cisco, plus updated search

Small-business customers may find themselves checking into Facebook more often, as the social network just announced a partnership with Cisco, trading Facebook check-ins for WiFi access. But that isn't the only new trick Facebook has up its sleeve.

Paul Sakuma/AP/File
In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, file photo, a Facebook User Operations Safety Team worker looks at reviews at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

Imagine it's a Saturday afternoon and you need to get a little work done. You head down to your favorite local coffee shop, grab a hot cup of coffee, open your laptop, and log in to Facebook. But this time, you’re not procrastinating: you’re accessing WiFi.

Facebook and Cisco announced a partnership on Wednesday that would offer free WiFi to customers if they check in to a business on Facebook. The business would then be able to access anonymous data from their customers’ Facebook accounts, allowing them to better understand their target audiences, and potentially run more ads on Facebook.

The program was developed by Meraki, a small cloud-based WiFi based company acquired by Cisco in 2012. The idea behind the program is to give Facebook access to small-business ad revenue, while giving businesses the opportunity to understand their audience better, connect Cisco to a growing mobile audience, plus keep customers connected to WiFi (and their online friends). 

Privacy is a big concern with this new WiFi option, but businesses and Facebook will not track customers’ online activity or individual information. The business will get general demographic information such as age, gender, location, and interests, which Facebook hopes business will use for targeted advertising on Facebook. Eric Tseng, head of Facebook’s WiFi initiative, also told TechCrunch customers will have the option to keep their check-ins private, and set up an automatic check-in for frequently visited locales. For those without Facebook or leery of the privacy Facebook promises, there will be a login option requiring a password, per usual.

The idea was field-tested at a 25 businesses in the San Francisco area that saw their check-in rate jump three times the normal amount. Currently, it is open to any business that uses Cisco as their WiFi router. Will this translate to more advertising for these businesses, ad money for Facebook, or a barrage of check-ins on Facebook timelines? It remains to be seen. But for anyone who has tripped over a jumbled numbers-and-letters password, it is likely a welcome option.

But this is hardly the only new feature Facebook is rolling out. On Sunday, Facebook showed off a new function of Graph Search, which allows users to search their timelines for status updates, photo captions, check-ins and comments, according to a blog post on the company’s website. Searchers can even look for posts in a certain time-frame (so if there is anything from your early days of Facebook you would prefer to be unsearchable, now is the time to double-check your privacy settings). Facebook says this is “slowly” rolling out to a small group of users, but will continue to be released as kinks are worked out.

Facebook also announced a change to its new Home app Thursday, to include posts from Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, and Instagram. Facebook Home is an app that sets Facebook content and navigation to your smart phone’s home screen. Now, users can set the home screen to show posts from any of the above social networks, with the ability to quickly share that content to their Facebook timeline.  Currently this will be available on Facebook for Android Beta, and rolled out as testing continues. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Facebook offers free WiFi through Cisco, plus updated search
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today