A Social Media Moment of Silence?

Just an interesting article I recently came across: “Reinventing Memorial Day: Solutions for Silence and Sacrifice” . It may not be relevant to us in Australia but it’s still an interesting new way to hold a remembrance for our fallen heroes – and this could apply to any of us anywhere in the world – through social media.

The writer, Steve McCallion, suggested a “Social Media Moment of Silence”.

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Is it possible that we could come together as a country to do nothing? … Today is all about social media, TV, radio…24/7, always on. Can we turn off for Memorial Day?

What if we called for a Social Media Moment of Silence? Given the central role electronic communication plays in the lives of Americans, especially American youth, abstaining from it for even a moment constitutes a very real sacrifice. At 6:00pm EST (18:00, when “Taps” is played at the end of the military day) we could have Americans across all time zones make a final tweet or status update, reading simply “Remembering Memorial Day,” perhaps accompanied by a yellow-hued avatar to drive the point home. Those with a specific person to memorialize would follow the word “Remembering” with the name of their fallen friend or relative. Twitter and Facebook users could leave this statement just before going silent, so their friends’ screens are filled with multiple iterations of this simple message.

It would be interesting to see if this could actually happen in the future. You never know. There’s Earth Hour every year and all the major cities already take part in that. To have something like a countrywide memorial service held through social media would really be fascinating and would take us up a new level in the use of social media, or rather, the non-use of social media. To say that abstaining from social media is a very real sacrifice for us is actually quite true for most people, I think.

Well, for one in five workers, having Facebook at work is more important than their job. An article by news.com.au today stated that “… one in five workers said they would turn down a job if it was at a workplace that blocked access to websites like Facebook”. That was a bit shocking, especially at a time like this, but wow social media has really taken over some of our lives! To choose Facebook over a job is huge, but I actually think turning off social media for a memorial would be really unique and meaningful to a certain extent, simply because social media is a big part of our lives and would make a memorial much more significant. So I do hope something like this happens in the future. Now that social media is so integrated into our daily lives that it’s as if switching it off can be like putting our heads down in silence for a moment of prayer, in what other ways can social media be used to signify other important events  in real life?


Too much on Facebook

A very interesting read on Facebook talking about how it’s becoming like a “true democracy”. It’s funny how after reading the article, everything just seemed to fall into place and really ‘click’. It’s really quite true what the author wrote! We’re not simply users on Facebook and adding our friends and writing on walls; we are actively reading and engaging, and with the recent privacy developments, we are also actively voicing our opinions over the changes. There’s a very high level of participation, and FB’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been taking into account its users opinions, just “like a true democracy, and adjusted settings as necessary”. (Read the rest of the article here)

Not all of what the article says is true, of course, and it seems impossible that FB will become so big that it will resemble or become a new government… but I was more intrigued with all the privacy and security issues associated with FB. Sure, they’ve changed the settings to become more simple and user-friendly, but it doesn’t take away the fact that we don’t know exactly what personal info gets shared online to advertisers or third parties… On Quit Facebook Day up to 30,000 users have quit FB, but that’s just 0.008 percent of the FB population (which has over 400 million users) (source).

I know I’ve been going on and on about FB privacy, and naturally I should’ve been one of the first people to sign up for the Quit Facebook Day. But it has come to a point in my FB life that I just cannot bring myself to delete my profile… not after all the connections I’ve made and links I’ve shared and photos I’ve uploaded! It’ll be like committing suicide!

But just by the way, if you haven’t privatised your FB settings, you really should now. A useful tool I found is this website reclaimyourprivacy.org. Just follow the instructions and see what settings you need to change from there.

If your status updates and photos are open to “everyone”, you risk finding yourself on YourOpenBook.org, which is, in short:

… a Facebook-specific search engine, built upon Facebook’s publicly available API,[1] which enables one to search for specific texts on the walls of Facebook subscribers en masse which they have denoted, knowingly or unknowingly, as being available to “Everyone,” i.e. to the Internet at large. Both an avowed parody of Facebook and an Internet privacyadvocacy website, it was built by San Francisco website developers Will Moffat, Peter Burns and James Home within a few hours on May 12, 2010, and has received nearly six million page views in its first two weeks on-line from over a million people in over two hundred countries. The website has received extensive media attention from, among others, the Wall Street Journal,[2]NPR[3] and ABC News,[4] including international coverage.[5]

(from Wikipedia)

The last I checked there are over 17,000 searches per hour, and I’ve used it randomly before and found that I was able to click through people’s profiles and easily find out at least 5 things about them (where they live, their birthday, their photos, their workplace, their school) from that page alone. So imagine someone going through your profile! It’s crazy!

I recently came across a funny, but scarily true, quote from a friend on FB, which went something like “Before Facebook, I had to break into my friend’s house to find out what music they liked”. And well, compare that to youropenbook.org and think about the potential randoms “breaking into your house” right now and finding out all these things about you. It’s creepy.

But what about Twitter?

With the amount of updating we do on Twitter, it’s insane to think of what people could do with that info. Of course, it seems a bit harder for any privacy settings to be breached on Twitter simply because it has so much less personal information as compared to FB… but did you know that Twitter collects personal information about its users and shares it with third parties? Read their privacy policy and find out for yourself.

If you have Twitter, I’m sure you’ve also noticed how suddenly some brand replies you right after you tweeted about them. A friend of mine updated a tweet about her disappointment with the Telstra service, and within minutes she received a reply from Telstra’s twitter account, with a representative asking her what the problem was and offering right there and then to fix it for her. Awesome customer service, or heavy Twitter monitoring?

Advertisers are watching your every tweet” puts an interesting point forward:

Is that an invasion of your privacy? It’s not like advertisers are sneaking around watching where you surf without telling you. They are listening to what you have chosen to shout to the whole world.

For Twitter users, all this is a reminder that privacy and Twitter don’t mix. Not only is what you tweet there for anyone to read, it is there for anyone to take, copy and exploit. Twitter’s terms of service, unlike those on most other user-generated sites, assert no claim to the users’ tweets or place no restrictions on how others use them.

In other words, don’t tweet anything that you aren’t willing to see on a billboard in Times Square or broadcast on the Super Bowl.

The terms do say, “We encourage users to contribute their creations to the public domain or consider progressive licensing terms.” But there is no way currently for Twitter users to assert rights over their tweets or simply to request that their comments not be used for commercial purposes.

Another interesting fact about Twitter?

All public tweets, since 2006, will be archived by the Library of Congress (source). More than an invasion of our privacy, it has been reassured as a great way to archive our history for future generations to read, especially with relations to tweets regarding major events that’s happened in the world such as those on Obama’s election and on the Haiti earthquake, among others (source). So if you have a public twitter account, don’t publish anything you don’t want future generations to come across while reading the web pages of history!

ChatRoulette “changing the face of social media”

I’ve been following media blogs and twitter profiles, and lately there’s been a lot of talk on ChatRoulette and all the viral stuff that’s been going around social media  such as FB, blogs, and especially Twitter and YouTube. CR is a social platform itself, and is definitely one that’s been getting a lot of attention – maybe too much attention – from internet users cos it’s still new and most of all, because you get to talk to randoms outside of your network and play around with that sense of chance and anonymity.

There’s no doubt that CR is changing the face of social media, as this article points out, the site gives users

…the ability to have a real, face-to-face interaction with words. As real as you can get over the Internet anyway…The newest fad to hit the social media market is sending us back in time to the good ol’ days of communication by speaking, and is giving us the ability to hear a tone of voice, notice body language, while also challenging the pale-faced, instant message gurus to respond within five seconds of a question rather than five minutes.

I’ve tried CR myself a few months back when it first came out on The Age, and to my horror two of the first three randoms that I encountered were male genitalia… and so I vowed never to go back there again. But weeks went by and more and more tweets and YouTube videos were mentioning CR, and the more I read the more I got interested in it again. I tried it again with some friends behind me – for support, and curiosity…but mostly for fun – to see who we’d encounter. We got “nexted” pretty quickly, but those who bothered to stay and talk to us were actually really interesting and normal people just here to have fun. But soon enough, the topic of conversation steered from asking for a/s/l’s to “show me your boobs” (from two very young boys, may I add!). And so we closed the window on CR again.

Well, the first article moves on to talk about the ‘diversity’ of the “community” on CR:

A recent experiment by New York City filmmaker Casey Neistat found that the Chatroulette community comprises 71% boys, 15% girls, and 14% perverts. Neistat also claims 83% of people involved are “young” with 17% “old.” Another source indicates the average user is 82% male, with 9% of the images displaying male nudity.

Interesting, but does CR really form a “community”???

BodySpaceSociety writes interestingly on “the sociology of ChatRoulette” and relate the new phenomenon to a “world of sheer immorality which will challenge all your values and potentially wreck civilisation“. But the author, Casilli refers to it as a form of community because

Social networking services have often been criticized for creating weak ties – as opposed to real, strong ties connecting individuals with their families, neighbours and peers offline. Chatroulette pushes the envelope by creating disposable social ties, thrown away after one use. According to the people at the Web Ecology Project this operating principle describes a « probabilistic online community », a social group where common practices, distinctive behaviours and a definite cultural identity emerge as a result of a stochastic process.

…the very notion of « probabilistic community » sounds uttely paradoxical to sociologically-trained ears. Since its 19th century beginnings, sociology has been concerned about the difference between the close-knit mutual bond connecting human beings in a « community » (Gemeinschaft) and the anonymous, alienating face-to-face relations that are common in what was described derogatorily as « society » (Gesellschaft). From Tönnies (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 1887) to Putnam (Bowling alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, 2000), the grand sociological tradition has constantly stressed the sharp opposition between the sense of belonging, the togetherness of a community and the shallowness of « totally socialized society » (Vergesellschaftete Gesellschaft, as defined by Th. W. Adorno Thesen über Bedürfnis, 1972).

Chatroulette seems to question these distinctions, as it brings together disparate individuals with no strong ties, who end up sharing a common culture and peculiar codes of conduct.

But as interest in CR keeps increasing, there might be more developments in the future, and possibly the formation of a ‘virtual community’. But for now, I think it’s true what Casilli says… it seems like other than connecting people online and creating ties, albeit disposable ones, among anonymous people from anywhere in the world, it’s also becoming a platform for people to be deviant and it is breaking down social values. Or maybe, it’s just spreading this deviance to random people online and giving us more exposure/awareness towards the prevalence of these things.

Before this we just haven’t had the platform to socialise with randoms online – everyone we talk to on social media platforms have been our friends or family, or maybe other people we may not necessarily know in real life but people connected to us or our network in one way or another. CR has allowed us to look out of that network, this ‘bubble’, and see what’s happening in the other side of the world. And we’re slowly realizing that on the other side of the world there are voyeurs, exhibitionists, perverts, and children who have no problem asking to see you naked and shout obscenities at you if you don’t (for screenshot examples, click here [NSFW]). (FOXnews: Authorities call CR ‘Predators’ Paradise’)

So is CR a good thing or a bad thing? I guess it really depends on how you see it. There’re many entertaining videos on users’ experiences with ChatRoulette, and CR is moving from a simple social tool for perving and meeting new people, to promoting & marketing businesses (BuzzTV viral campaign, Travelocity), making parodies (Lady Gaga “Telephone” parody), making music videos (Israeli band Hovevey Zion), and just simple entertainment (CR Funny Piano Improv). It’ll definitely be interesting to see what will develop from here, but it’s even more inspiring, in a way, to know that this idea was conceived by a 17-year-old high school student. Really makes you wonder who else out there has other brilliant ideas that will change the social media landscape :)

The ROI of Social Media

I’ve been bogged down with work for the whole of last week and it’s been a craaazy week but I’m getting back on track again with editing the documentary, and it’s almost done now, so YAY!

But doing this course has been really interesting, and I like that I can learn things from my subjects and tie them in together… for one of my other assignments I’m focusing on social media, and came across this video by socialnomics09 about the ROI of Social Media and it’s really interesting to look at all these numbers and realize the effectiveness of social media in terms of marketing anything and everything globally and getting very good returns!

Social media is good for marketing and all… but what about using social media to generate awareness in social issues?

I was interested in looking at how social media could be used in addressing problems affecting youths, and considering youths are one of the heaviest online and social media users, it would be more effective to target them online instead of using traditional media like ads

If you’ve heard of TWLOHA, you’ll realize the capability of social media in spreading awareness. TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) is an American-based nonprofit organisation aimed at spreading awareness about depression and suicide, and since its conception in 2006, TWLOHA has spread globally and helped thousands of people get help and stay alive by bridging the gap between traditional means of getting help (therapy, hopelines, etc.) and the people who need help. They don’t try to give you information about depression; rather, they are there to show you that they understand and know what you’re going through, and assuring you that as much as pain is real, hope and help is real as well (TWLOHA’s vision).

One of the more interesting aspects about TWLOHA and how they grew is the fact that they did so through community and participation, as well as social media, and as such is viewed more as a grassroots movement instead of some charity organisation. A sort of community was formed in the sense that anyone who knew about them were not only sufferers but also people affected by sufferers (friends..family..) and supporters of their cause – and their cause was spread through social media, word of mouth, and merchandise… but most importantly, their supporters became their “brand advocates” by supporting and promoting TWLOHA widely among their own networks and communities. TWLOHA was also heavily supported by popular bands in the U.S. who would wear their merch and from there, spread the word of TWLOHA to their fans… TWLOHA then became topics of interest in band forums, and their fans quickly became supporters of TWLOHA as well… and I guess in a way I’m becoming TWLOHA’s advocate as well, by spreading their cause to you, my readers, through social media such as this blog, and my Facebook and Twitter.

So I thought it would be really interesting to see how social media could be used to spread awareness on other youth problems such as mental health and substance abuse among youths.

Also… if you’re interested in supporting TWLOHA or other great causes, you should check out SocialVibe as well. It’s a social media and a community aimed at connecting people with charity organisations to generate attention to worthy causes and also to help raise money through donations that YOU help raise by spreading the word to your networks :)

Music recommendation & Youtube

I previously came across an article about research conducted by Gartner (an IT research firm) on how UK consumers find music online, where they found that word-of-mouth recommendations is the most powerful way of driving consumers to purchase music. One of the key points the article pointed out was the need for download services and labels to form partnerships with social networking sites.

From the article:

The key is those ‘click to purchase’ links, and while it sounds obvious that consumers are more likely to purchase if there are fewer steps in the discovery/purchase process, these links are not as ubiquitous as they should be. That counts for the desktop and for mobile. Against a background of unreliable ad revenue, social networking sites need to increase opportunities for users to buy music they are sharing.

Labels also need to keep exploring social networking tools that help them tap the interest and trends of content sharing and the discussion around that sharing, particularly around streaming.

It’s pretty interesting… and I think it kind of taps into social networking sites as grounds for social capital …

I’m anticipating far more creative options for location-tagged music, so a certain location like a bar or gig venue would alert music fans to new tracks related to that venue, possibly those left ‘tagged’ by your friends. And then a handy click to buy bit.ly link when your phone accesses that recommendation…

Also more recently, an article on Lady Gaga & her using social media to gain popularity

The hot topic of the conversation was YouTube and Twitter. Carter said openly that he and Lady Gaga “create music videos for YouTube.” Braun agreed with Carter, saying that Bieber represented a new strategy of creating a breakout teenage star. Braun said that previously teenage music stars has to have a show on Nickelodeon or Disney. But Bieber changed this; he was found on YouTube and his first videos singing Aretha Franklin’s Respect saw 55 million views by the time the artist signed a record deal with Universal Music. He ended up going Platinum shortly after

Gaga originally broke out on YouTube and MySpace Music (which Braun was quick to say is dead)…

And what about Twitter? Both managers said that Twitter is a great way to connect with fans, especially for artists who were discovered by fans on YouTube. Twitter breaks down the layers between the artists and the fan, says Carter. Braun says that Bieber loves talking to his fans over Twitter (perhaps that’s why he’s always a trending topic!).

I guess it comes to no surprise that Twitter and Youtube are fast becoming starting platforms for hopeful singers who want to break into the industry, hoping that some music producer will chance upon a video of themselves singing at their best and sign them up for a record label. Chances are slim for many, but if you’re lucky you actually get spotted and picked up! But mostly, I’ve seen many YouTube singers get started on their own by gaining popularity on YouTube before going on to becoming independent musicians making CDs and selling them to their fans.

YouTube, of course, saw this as a big opportunity for them, and in March this year announced a plan to entice independent musicians to share ad revenues (read the article here) dubbed “Musicians Wanted”.

YouTube’s also been a tool used to publish videos on ChatRoulette, further propelling the viral effect that’s been the driving force behind CR, which in turn is also being used to create viral ads – have you seen the Lady Gaga “Telephone” video on CR? Or the piano improv guy? They’re all quite hilarious so you should go have a look… to relieve some stress haha! ;)

The future of FB

Very recently, FB has made some changes that has further limited users’ control over their information. Read articles about it here. In a nutshell, users can no longer hide their name, profile picture, networks, friends list, current city, and pages that they are “fans” of (now, they’ve changed it to “like”). This also includes user activities, like liking, commenting, adding a friend, writing on walls, etc. You still have options to adjust the visibility on the profile page, but funnily, all the FB pages we’re connected to are public (for the benefit of advertisers and data miners…?)

After reading danah boyd’s article “Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad?“, it could seem that FB might be walking dangerously close to being shunned by its users… but I think that users, like myself, are so dependent on it to connect to our friends that privacy settings would not bother people. But in some of boyd’s other essays, such as “Living and learning with social media” and “how youth find privacy in interstitial pages“, she points out that for youths, privacy is more about control of space, of information, and of trust. She was talking about it in terms of youths’ privacy at home (parental surveillance) and online (technology to assert privacy)… but in a way it can be related to online privacy right now, and how online privacy is dead, but as long as users feel that they have control over their information, they wouldn’t really care much if the privacy settings are being altered. After all, most users go online to, in a way, publicize themselves and make themselves known. These are the people who wouldn’t care too much about privacy settings. But for other users who go online to connect, and are concerned with who gets to see their information, they need to be more aware of privacy changes.

On a more interesting note, Facebook is also expanding on social media fads (there were live Twitter updates, and social gaming) to community pages. Their concept of fan pages will be applied to concepts, places, activities and ideas, rather than just brands. It aims to be “the best collection of shared knowledge” on topics and will source content from Wikipedia, and FB users can contribute to it as well (from The Facebook blog). It will be really, really interesting to see what changes go on in the next year.

And even MORE interestingly, FB is launching a new set of tools that can bring the FB social experience to any website! In short, web publishers can add a plug-in on their website, and let visitors ‘like’ their content (stories, photos…) and these will add on to their FB profiles. And apparently, then, all webpages can look like an FB page.

With FB already having so many interactions (chat, mail, media sharing, profiles, and in the future, community, and open web interactions), what will Facebook become? It will no longer be a SNS, but some morphed up super-interactive social networking platform that will be, basically, EVERYWHERE! Soon, it will dominate the web…. and well, I’m just wondering what will become of it. Will it displace other SNSs like Myspace? How will its users react to all these new developments? And how will we define FB in the future?

Related articles:

Why Facebook’s new profile changes matter

Facebook data and privacy: So much has changed in two years

Facebook further reduces your control over personal information

Facebookipedia? Here comes ‘Community pages’

Facebook shows off new tools to socialize the entire web

More related articles from googlesearch

Committing social suicide….on the web

Have you heard of suicidemachine.org? The Web2.0 suicide machine (W2SM) was launched in late December 2009, and uses a program that methodically deletes all user info from social networking sites. All you have to do is go to their homepage, and “commit”, which involves

The suicidemachine homepage encourages users to “liberate” themselves from SNSs:

Tired of your Social Network?

Liberate your newbie friends with a Web2.0 suicide! This machine lets you delete all your energy sucking social-networking profiles, kill your fake virtual friends, and completely do away with your Web2.0 alterego. The machine is just a metaphor for the website which moddr_ is hosting; the belly of the beast where the web2.0 suicide scripts are maintained. Our service currently runs with Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and LinkedIn! Commit NOW!

It targets Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn and Twitter, and even has a “memorial page” to ‘commemorate’ social network suiciders.

Earlier this year, Facebook blocked the site’s program, stating that it’s a violation of FB’s TOS. Read more here. But regardless of that, W2SM believes that what they’re doing is not unethical, as people should have the right to delete their online profiles and data whenever they want. From W2SM’s FAQ:

FAQ: Why do we think the web2.0 suicide machine is not unethical?

Everyone should have the right to disconnect. Seamless connectivity and rich social experience offered by web2.0 companies are the very antithesis of human freedom. Users are entraped in a high resolution panoptic prison without walls, accessible from anywhere in the world. We do have an healthy amount of paranoia to think that everyone should have the right to quit her 2.0-ified life by the help of automatized machines. Facebook and Co. are going to hold all your informations and pictures on their servers forever! We still hope that by removing your contact details and friend connections one-by-one, your data is being cached out from their backup servers. This can happen after days, weeks, months or even years. So merely deactivating the account is just not enough!

Another site offering a similar service is Delete Your Account, which emerged soon after W2SM. The site offers detailed information and direct links for users to delete their accounts from all of the major social networking, blogging, shopping, etc. sites and services across the web.

Is this a trend? I think one of the issues that bugs users is online privacy, which has been an issue for a long time now, particularly with FB, which keeps all your online data, e.g. pictures, even after you deactivate/delete your account. It seems like for many of us, it will be impossible to ‘disappear’ from the web completely, and it’s difficult keeping track of what happens to our personal info once we put them on the web. It’s so public, so open, and unless you read the TOS before signing on to SNSs, you won’t know that most of the info you publish online, such as on FB, becomes their property. This simply means that all your pictures, the things you say in your profile, everything, basically becomes FB property and they can do whatever they want with it and you can’t do anything about it. From FB’s Privacy Policy:

Deactivating or deleting your account. If you want to stop using your account you may deactivate it or delete it. When you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted. We save your profile information (friends, photos, interests, etc.) in case you later decide to reactivate your account….

Limitations on removal. Even after you remove information from your profile or delete your account, copies of that information may remain viewable elsewhere to the extent it has been shared with others, it was otherwise distributed pursuant to your privacy settings, or it was copied or stored by other users….Additionally, we may retain certain information to prevent identity theft and other misconduct even if deletion has been requested.

Be careful the next time you decide to post something up… especially when you’re using third-party applications.. you don’t know what information they get off you and what they’ll do with it.\

Related articles:

How to disappear from Facebook and Twitter

Web 2.0 Suicide Machine Offs Your Online Identity