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There are still secrets despite social media

April 1, 2011

Thanks to Wikileaks, Twitter, Facebook and other relatively new platforms there has been an explosion of articles and literature on the loss of privacy and end of the government secrecy.

It is true that a lot has been released and more people than every have access to such information but it would be immensely naïve to believe that secret back-handers and dirty tricks are things of the past.

There is no question that governments still have people murdered; opposing regimes toppled and continue to support tyrants in order to promote “stability”.

There is still information out there which we the public may never learn anything about and there is more that we will only discover decades down the line.

Those at the top, the likes of governments and multinationals, have access to the latest technology, spend the most on R&R and as a result reap the rewards of the newest discoveries. What we consider brand new and innovative has most probably been possession of an elite few.

So it is inevitable that such organisations will have strategies in place in order to counter act the “threat” of such platforms.

In conclusion, there is still a need for old fashioned investigative journalism. This will occur in tandem with social media, but it cannot be totally reliant upon it. Reporters will still have to stay up late streaming through long-winded documents, chasing up leads and knocking on doors.

If the “greatest” journalistic discovery ever, Watergate, has taught us anything, it is that you are only as good as your sources and you only get those through hard work and luck.

I look forward to learning about other cover-ups and injustices but I will always appreciate all the elements that were needed for them to occur.

The media ‘produces the most information’ on Twitter

April 1, 2011
twitter mosaic

Twitter mosaic image via Flickr

The Tweets of media outlets account for the largest percentage of information published on Twitter, a study has revealed.

According to a new Yahoo! Research study, news organisations Tweet the most updates and links, but celebrities are the most followed category of account.

Another staggering figure outlined in the ‘Who says what to whom on Twitter’ study reveals that just 20,000 ‘elite’ users of the social network generate half of the activity on the website.

The table below taken from the study outlines the top five users in each category, with CNN’s breaking news account the most followed media organisation.

Download and read your own PDF copy of the research study by clicking here.

Social networking a major activity in Argentina, Chile

April 1, 2011

An interesting article from looking at the transformation of internet usage in both Argentina and Chile.

comScore Inc has released results from a study of the most popular online activities in Chile and Argentina. The study found that in both markets, social networking now accounts for more than one-quarter of all time spent online, ranking as the top activity in Chile (28.5% of total minutes) and the second most popular activity in Argentina (27.8% of total minutes).

The study also looked at the top social networking destinations in these two markets and found that Facebook maintained a strong lead, reaching 9 out of 10 Internet users in January 2011.

Visitors spending more time social networking, less time on email and instant messenger

An analysis of how Internet users in Argentina and Chile spend their time online revealed a shift in behaviour toward leisure-oriented content categories. In Argentina, portals account for the largest share of time spent online in January 2011 at 29%, but declined nearly 10 percentage points from the previous year, while social networking surged 12.6 percentage points to account for 27.8% of Argentineans’ total time online. The instant messenger category (down 6.6 percentage points to 19.6% of time spent) and email (down 2.1 percentage points to 7.1% of time spent) both witnessed declines as consumers made use of an increasing array of communication methods including social networking and mobile devices to stay connected.

Internet users in Chile displayed trends similar to those in Argentina. In Chile, social networking ranked as the top online activity by time spent, accounting for 28.5% of total online minutes, up 8.9 percentage points from the previous year, as portals, instant messengers and email all witnessed a decline in share of minutes. Entertainment sites, which accounted for 10.9% of total minutes, gained 1.6 percentage points versus the previous year as online users continued to spend an increasing amount of time consuming entertainment content.

Facebook holds strong lead in Chile and Argentina

An analysis of the top social networking destinations in Argentina and Chile revealed that was the most popular social networking destination in both markets. In Argentina, 11.3 million visitors age 15+ visited from a home or work location, representing 88% of the Argentine online population. In Chile, 6.5 million visitors (approximately 90% of the online population) visited in January 2011.

Latin America is also home to some of the most highly penetrated markets for Twitter. In Chile, reached 13.1% of all online users (nearly 1 million visitors) to rank 11th globally in terms of reach. In Argentina, reached 12.5% of all online users (1.6 million visitors), ranking 13th globally.

Fotolog and Windows Live Profile each ranked among the top three social networking sites in both markets, while Sonico, Badoo and Linkedin also held solid positions within the top 10.

Social media: the enemy of anonymity?

March 30, 2011

Let’s have a look at the impact of social networking sites in the context of the history of the internet. There are those who believe social media platforms are changing the nature of the world wide web altogether, and not always for the best.

Websites that bring people together in a place where they feel able to divulge information about themselves (for example, on Facebook or MySpace) offer an example of how potentially to breathe financial life into online journalism. Media will survive online with no little help from targeted advertising.

The kind of information collected – even by the sites of national newspapers – about readers and users is crucial in adding value to the site’s advertising space. It will keep large organisations afloat, help smaller ones to grow, and, in the future even more than now, help to employ people in the media industry. Although views may vary on the long-term efficacy of the Murdoch business plan, The Times website is an example of a content-provider hoping to attract advertising revenue by promising engaged users, whose interests are known and who will be visiting often and for long periods. This might be commercially more valuable to some advertisers than a site that gets a lot more traffic.

Amazon can recommend what DVDs to buy because they know (in theory) the kind of thing you like. Facebook uses and will continue to grow its targeted advertising programme. It is well placed to do so, because it knows your “Interests”, “Activities” and all the groups you belong to.

And there are many useful and positive consequences of sites that demand information from you. But this was not how the internet was first conceived. There are substantial arguments, as outlined in The Economist’s technology quarterly this month, to support the kind of anonymity that was initially the web’s hallmark. In 1993, in the internet’s early days, a cartoon in the New Yorker featured two dogs in front of a computer. One said to the other: “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.” The Economist tells us the joke encapsulates “the freewheeling anonymity of the early stages of internet adoption.” But that anonymity is being eroded, with information passed around more freely than ever and being used for more sophisticated means. Facebook is at the centre of this.

Facebook, along with Quora, the question-and-answer site, and others, require real names. They even block users suspected of providing pseudonyms. Security researchers have shown that by using your real name you can be identified when you visit other sites. Cookies allow companies to recognise when someone returns to their site from the same computer, and they reveal some browsing history. But they do not normally know your actual identity.

But until a recent change under pressure from campaigners Facebook was sending data about its members to the same advertisers that use cookies to track browsing histories. It would have been possible to have matched up the Facebook data with the browsing information and remove your anonymity.

Meanwhile Facebook itself can track your browsing. If you click on an embedded Facebook “Like” button on another site, that alerts the social network to other elements of your browsing. Indeed, merely visiting a page containing a “Like” button while logged into Facebook will notify them you were there whether you “Like” the thing or not.

My colleagues and I are generally firmly in favour of an open online world, and although privacy is closely guarded by all, anonymity is slipperier. How do you feel about people who know your name and other details also knowing your browsing history? Is it paranoid to feel concerned?

One way or the other, it is argued, anonymity is significant. The reason? It’s liberating. To quote The Economist a final time: “It lets people go online and read about fringe political viewpoints, look up words they are embarrassed not to know, or search for a new job without being thought extremist, stupid or disloyal.”

The net is changing, mainly for the better, but if it is, as Jeff Jarvis has suggested, the real world transplanted online, a place where we live, only better-connected, is there a chance that one day, all of us will essentially be being stalked?

QUESTIONS for Facebook

March 30, 2011

So what do we think of Facebook Questions?  Is the new feature something you will use?

It allows you to send a poll to your friends – either asking them to select from a set of answers written by you or as a more open-ended question to which they can write their own answer.

One guy involved with setting up Questions, Adrian Graham, said: “There are a lot of places you can go on the internet to ask questions of people who you don’t know, but there are very few places you can go to get responses from your friends. We thought that this is where we should focus.”

Here’s a poll…has anyone here made use of Questions yet and what have been the results??

If you’re looking for a brief but decent guide to the Questions function you can find one by Vadim Lavrusik.

Facebook Groups – Like or Dislike?

March 30, 2011

The offices of Facebook are surely an exciting place to be at the moment. A great deal about the network is changing as the company’s commercial opportunities continue to expand.

One set of changes that took place late last year were to Facebook Groups. Now, through a couple of different projects my colleagues on this blog and some others beyond it have had cause to make regular use of the Groups function and have had some time to reflect on its utility.

Groups on Facebook are now far more open: they are not top-down, controlled by the administrator, with a front page that remains in his or her control. Everyone involved controls what appears when you click on the group – which is now, in essence, a wall for posts and comments.

In short, it is no substitute for a web page. There is not even the possibility of appending a strap line to the name of the group. Anything posted below the group name will be knocked further down the wall by the stream of posts by its members. The emphasis, by design, is on the Groups as a place for conversation – somewhere for the informal exchange of thoughts or information. They are no longer the best way to organise people – because information disappears down the wall as soon as a few more people post.

That’s fine, it’s just that people’s use of them might be different to that of the old groups. They are now, we have discovered, great for the exhange of links and short notices in particular – but for a larger organisation of people they are necessarily accompanied by a full website which enables a home page, ‘about’ section and other immovable items.

Facebook might never have said these new groups were a place to do journalism, or a forum on which to formally organise your local Women’s Institute or Ramblers’ Association. But there are many organisers who might wish they could do everyting they wanted in terms of online community management from within Facebook rather than using it as a helpful addition to their projects, which have their base on external blogs or websites.

Anyhow, here is a video tutorial on the latest incarnation of the groups, offered by Mashable:


What do you think? Do you think the best thing is that it democratises the group and makes it a better place to share? Or are the limitations it places on the creator significant?

Shorty Awards celebrate excellence in social media

March 29, 2011

The third annual Shorty Awards took place yesterday, 28 March. Unlike token award ceremonies where red carpets and glitzy

Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford presented a category at the Shorty Awards

 celebs rule supreme, the more low-key Shorty Awards in New York recognise important figures in the cyberspace realm.
People seem to forget how large an influence social media plays in our day-to-day lives – arguably more than films and television, mediums which are celebrated in the Oscars and Emmys respectively. And so, it seems fitting that the Shortys are growing in popularity, with the ever-expanding power of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
Hosted by The Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi at the Times Center, the ceremony saw finalists nominated through Twitter for categories such as Social Media Expert, Innovation, Microblog of the Year and Gaming. According to Washington Square News, this year’s awards featured the first installment of Industry Awards, honouring agencies, brands and industry leaders responsible for the best social media channels, viral campaigns, games and apps – right up @socialjigsaw‘s alley.
Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford, a self-professed avid tweeter who presented awards for Cultural Institutions and Charity, said: “Twitter makes it possible to have a closer connection to public figures and celebrities all over the world.”
The winner of the Charity award was the Trevor Project, a national organisation rooted in crisis and intervention among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth focused on suicide prevention. Charles Robbins, who accepted the award on behalf of the organisation, said: “Social media is where young people get a lot of their information. It is so important that young people know that they’re not alone and that there’s a resource like the Trevor Project out there for them.”
Sixteen-year-old Zack Katz scopped the Weird Award for his tweets that expose people’s most bizarre and quirky antics.
“The fact that they’re all weird makes them normal,” Katz explained of the subjects of his commentary.
And Keifer Sutherland, presenting the award for Best Journalist, discussed the incredible effects social networking sits have had on global events.
“With what is going on in the Middle East and from Egypt to Lybia to Syria, Twitter and Facebook are being utilized in a greater way to unite people together,” he said.
The notorious Rebecca Black was even featured in the ceremony, as musician Amanda Palmer, who has half a million followers on Twitter, collaborated with organisers of the Shorty Awards to create a compilation of some of the most bizarre tweets to the teeny bopper’s song “Friday.”
Keep an eye out for these awards next year, because they are the future. As this generation becomes increasingly internet-savvy and able to manipulate social networks in order to influence the world, there is little doubt that the Shorty’s will become as big, if not bigger, than the Oscars and Emmys.

Did you go to the Shorty Awards? Tell us @socialjigsaw

(Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr)

Social media and policing

March 29, 2011

Protestors in Trafalgar Square on March 26

Here’s a follow up to last week’s article on Sukey, the social media tool used by protestors to avoid kettling and facilitate communication.
Last Saturday’s protest, March for the Alternative, was generally considered a success, with only a handful of the 250,000 people who attended it getting arrested. Considering the turnout, the violence and damage which happened towards the end of the day was minimal – unfortunately the media have been criticised for blowing these isolated incidents out of proportion.
This is a different reaction to the previous anti-cuts protests – and other protests in general – where the Met police have been criticised for their more aggressive policing tactics. Most notably, in the unlawful killing of of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller who collapsed and died during the G20 protests in 2009, when PC Simon Harwood, a Territorial Support Group Officer trained in dealing with social disorder, struck him in the abdomen with a baton. The Met is now facing five weeks of intense scrutiny as the inquest concerning Tomlinson’s death begins this week, two years after his death.
However, at last Saturday’s protests, the Met apparently used less violent policing tactics by using social media – just as the protestors did with Sukey. At 7.57 pm, Scotland Yard tweeted: “The Met police thank those outside Fortnum & Mason for their patience. They will not be held any longer than necessary.” They also informed protestors that “the last trains will be leaving central London shortly” and asked protestors to complete online surveys of the police’s performances the following day. This kind of communication gets the message across much more easily than batons and kettling does, because people are actually aware of whats going on.
Although the protestors kettled at Fortnum and Mason might disagree with their temporary incarceration, few can deny that the Met’s tactics were more internet-savvy and therefore less aggressive, resulting in a better protest for everybody.

(Photo: via Guardian)

Twitter responds to Japanese disaster

March 28, 2011

For an insight into how Twitter is reshaping the way breaking news is delivered to consumers, you need look no further than the coverage of the devastating earthquake that struck Japan earlier this month.

According to the New Media Index, 66 per cent of news links posted on Twitter that day were about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The report suggests that Martyn Williams, a reporter and bureau chief for the IDG News Service, was among the first to break the news with his tweet: “Major quake shakes Japan — preliminary M7.8.”

Before long photos, videos and updates from those affected flooded the Twittersphere give an often horrifying first-hand account of the disaster that struck the coast of north-east Japan.

According to the research, for the entire week of 7-11 March, 20 per cent of the news links were about that subject, making it the top story.

Twitter is now a source of breaking news, where users can often find content faster than through traditional outlets.

The growing trend may unsettle some of the large media corporations, with the thought of users by-passing their publication completely a genuine cause for concern.

But in truth Twitter is a journalistic medium that must be embraced by media both old and new.

By keeping users up-to-date with breaking stories through their own Twitter profiles, large media companies can enhance their brand image, and make users more likely to visit their outlet directly in future.

Twitter is now an accepted part of journalism, with tweets from celebrities being used as sources for news articles on an increasingly frequent basis.

While it is attractive for users to get their news directly from the celebrity/sportsman/spokesperson they follow on Twitter, by aggregating and republishing Tweets as stories, news outlets are playing an important part in new media journalism by ensuring their own readers are kept up-to-date.

By having an active presence on Twitter and incorporating social media into how they function, news outlets can ensure their service keeps pace.

(Photo: via Wikipedia)

Wi-fi coming to London Underground platforms ‘by 2012’

March 28, 2011

london undergroundLondon Undergound has confirmed plans to bring Wi-Fi to nearly half of its station platforms in time for the Olympics in 2012.

The announcement comes after a ‘successful’ test of tube hotspots last October by BT.

Now, Transport for London is inviting telecom companies to bid for a contract to provide the service by June 2012.

The proposal is to provide internet access at around half of the 270 subterranean stations on the London network.

Once implemented, the service could prove extremely useful for commuters looking to keep up-to-date with their various social media profiles while on the move.

The plans appear to form part of Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s pledge last year to have ‘London-wide’ Wi-fi in place by 2012.

“I think people do want the facility of looking at their Blackberry, or whatever it happens to be,” Johnson said of the plans last June.

The announcement may however cause concern among the capital’s free daily newspapers handed out at tube stations across the capital.

It will be interesting to note whether the new service has any kind of effect on circulation figures and commuters are given the choice between snatching a copy of their favourite paper or browsing the web on their mobile device.

London is not the first city to consider city-wide Wi-fi. Venice, Italy, has already launched a hotspot network in 2009, which claims to be the largest of its type in Europe.

Access to the Venice system is free for residents of the town, but tourists wanting access have to pay 5EUR a day.

(Photo via Flickr – jessicamelling)