Twitter offers celebrity shortcut

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter is trying to make it quicker and easier to track the world’s most interesting people on its short-messaging service.

The new shortcut is being provided by a Twitter “follow” button that can be placed on websites to highlight celebrities, athletes, reporters and other people who tweet their thoughts and share other information.

More than 50 websites already have agreed to use the new feature announced last week.

The publishers latching on to Twitter’s Follow button include AOL Inc., Yahoo Inc., The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated and TV Guide. The famous people using the feature include Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga, who already has the most Twitter followers at 10.6 million.

‘FarmVille’ creator launches new game

NEW YORK – The creator of “FarmVille” and “FrontierVille” is ditching the “ville” suffix for its latest Facebook game, “Empires & Allies.”

The game from Zynga launched last week. It is like a mix of the classic strategy game “Risk” and “CityVille,” where players oversee virtual cities. Unlike the company’s other games, which give points for helping neighbors, “Empires” lets Facebook users play against one another.

‘Call of Duty’ online service planned

NEW YORK – Activision knows it’s more fun to blast on-screen enemies into oblivion with friends, so this fall it’s launching an online service for its “Call of Duty” games that’s part Facebook, part player matchmaker and part organized sports.

It’s the logical next step for Activision Blizzard Inc., whose “Call of Duty” franchise has enjoyed unprecedented success. The latest title, “Black Ops,” has sold 22 million copies worldwide since its November launch. More than 7 million people play every day online.

The service officially launches on Nov. 8 with the next “Call of Duty” installment, Activision said. A test version will be available before that, but Activision isn’t saying when.

Two years in the making by a specially created game studio called Beachhead, the service, “Call of Duty: Elite,” lets players form groups, compete by skill level or interest, share statistics like baseball fans and create video clips of their best “Call of Duty” moments, among other things.

“Elite” will be accessible from game consoles, computers and smartphones. It’s as if “social networks and organized sports had a baby and they gave that baby a flamethrower,” as Activision puts it.

Google’s version of the ‘Like’ button

SAN FRANCISCO – Google Inc. is hoping other websites will like its recently introduced system for recommending online content and ads.

The Internet search leader has been using a “+1” recommendation button on its own site for two months. It became available to other publishers last week.

The +1 feature is similar to the Facebook “Like” button that has become a staple at thousands of websites.

Pressing the +1 or Like button enables people to recommend an article, photo, product, video, song or some other kind of material to their online connections. The personal endorsement also says something about an individual’s interests and preferences.

That’s something both Google and Facebook want to know more about so they can do a better job placing the online ads that generate most of their revenue.