Facebook Friends The Fuzz, News Corp. Buys Back Shares, Google Offers In NYC

How the FBI, DEA, and ICE scour Facebook, News Corp. buys own shares, Google’s Offers deal site hits NYC, Plus may hit 10 million users today, and Steve Ballmer admits Windows Phone failings. This and more surprising/important news from your Fast Company editors, with updates all day.


Electronic Arts Acquires Casual Gaming Company, PopCap: The video game giant has made an aggressive move into the online space, with a $750 million acquisition of PopCap, which is best known for the viral hits “Peggle” and “Plants vs. Zombies.” With earnings over $100 Million in 2010 and 30% growth, “PopCap has proven they have the right people and creative culture to sustain this success,” said EA chief execuitive, John Riccitiello. — GF


–Updated 6:45 p.m. EST

Facebook ‘Em. Quick. Take down those pics of you doing bong hits with illegal aliens. The FBI, DEA, and ICE are increasingly getting warrants to search Facebook accounts–without users’ knowledge. Maybe it’s too late. The warrants “typically demand a user’s ‘Neoprint’ and ‘Photoprint’ — terms that Facebook has use to describe a detailed package of profile and photo information that is not even available to users themselves,” Reuters reports. –TG 

–Updated 12:22 p.m. EST

News Corp. Buys Back $5Bn Shares. News Corporation’s Board of Directors just approved a move to repurchase some $5 billion worth of Class A and B shares in the company, stepping up an earlier-planned $1.8 billion repurchase. It’s meant to signal bullish confidence in the wake of News Corp.’s involvement in the U.K. phone hacking scandal, and is hedged with language that could allow a change of mind. Will it work to restore market confidence? –KE

–Updated 10:15 a.m. EST

Google Offers Beta Hits New York, The Bay. Google trialled its Groupon-esque Offers system in Portland last month, and now it gets a bigger test on both coasts of the U.S. New York and Bay area residents simply have to sign up at the Offers website, or use their Shopped Android app, and they’ll get local daily deals that seem to include a lot of food-centric tempters for the first day. It’s “just the beginning,” though according to Google, and Offers will soon hit a big list of other U.S. cities. –KE


Nortel Patent Sale Legally Okayed. The patent treasure trove rescued from the carcass of once-giant Nortel, covering “nearly every aspect of telecommunications,” has just been approved for sale for $4.5 billion by U.S. and Canadian judges. The consortium which won the bid was led by Apple, and we don’t yet know what implication this has for rumors antitrust investigators are examining the deal. –KE

–Updated 8:40 a.m. EST

Google Plus To Hit 10 Million Users. “Serial entrepreneur” Paul Allen has a bold prediction, based on some fairly sound analysis, that Google’s Plus social experiment is about to hit ten million users today–after only a week or so of life. Can G+ keep up this growth rate? Or is it a symptom of rapid expansion into a relatively small potential user-space? –KE

–Updated 6:05 a.m. EST

Ballmer Admits Windows Phone Flops. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer was just pretty candid about his company’s newest smartphone effort–admitting its market share has gone from “very small to…very small” in a year. A surprising admission for a man that actually laughed at the iPhone on its launch (although again he managed a dig at Apple, referring to iPad sales successes as much smaller than Windows ones). It’ll be better in the future, Ballmer promised. –KE

[Image: Flickr user knightbaron]


Cisco Ditching 14% Of Staff. Reports have emerged saying Cisco may be on the verge of cutting about 10,000 staff, or 14% of its workforce. It’s all about trying to get back to some profit growth–and cutting costs is one easy short-term solution to do this–after it lost market share in the Web routing business and had to close the failed Flip camera business. –KE

HP Reshuffles Jon Rubenstein. In a bid to “drive innovation, scale and growth of webOS” HP is repositioning ex-Apple and Palm guru Rubenstein (“the visionary behind webOS”) into a position as SVP of product innovation at the Personal Systems Group. Stephen DeWitt, who had been head of the PSG’s America unit will take over Jon’s old job to “scale” it, and Jon will now be responsible for propelling “innovation across product lines.” Does that sound like a promotion? –KE

Google Takes On Social Photo Sharing. In keeping with Google’s shotgun targeting policy for new businesses, it seems it’s just launched a new photo sharing service aimed at iPhone users, and designed to eat Instagram’s and Color’s lunches. It’s called Photovine, and it’s a very public sharing forum that has a sort of threaded share-and-reply structure. We’re a little confused, as we thought there were other options en route from Google… but what the hey. –KE

–Updated 05:15 a.m. EST

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I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)