Tag: myspace

Social media debate: A week without Facebook?

Social media debate: A week without Facebook?

One small college’s bold experiment draws praise, criticism, and even a jab on late-night TV.

A central Pennsylvania technological college with fewer students than many Facebook users have friends is blacking out social media for a week. The bold experiment at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology — which has drawn praise, criticism and even a jab on late-night TV — means students and staff can’t access Facebook, Twitter or a host of other ubiquitous social networks while on campus.

Provost Eric Darr said the exercise that began Monday is not a punishment for the school’s 800 students, nor a precursor to a ban, but a way for people to think critically about the prevalence of social media.

The blackout comes on the heels of a report that Web users in the U.S. spend more time socializing on Facebook than searching with Google, according to data released last week from researchers at comScore Inc.

Still, Darr said he can’t believe the controversy generated in the Twitterverse, blogosphere and academia, with some accusing the school of inflicting “a terrible thing and an infringement upon people’s rights.”

“By and large, the students are supportive of the whole exercise and don’t get so worked up over it,” Darr said.

On campus, attempts to log in to MySpace or LinkedIn return the message: “This domain is blocked.” E-mail, texting and other Web surfing is still allowed, but not instant-messaging.

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The truth behind all those Twitter tweets

The truth behind all those Twitter tweets

By uploading a photo from your phone, you could be sharing more than you intended.

1. “Want to make a big impact? Good luck.”

Twitter, the social-media platform that lets users communicate in short posts called tweets, has exploded since its launch in 2006, from 15,000 accounts then to 200 million today. “Active users” attract an average of just under 5,000 followers (those who choose to receive a given user’s tweets automatically), according to independent research site Twitalyzer — but the number of subscribers isn’t necessarily the best measure of impact. “Not all Twitter accounts are created equal,” says Twitalyzer creator Eric Peterson.

Harvard Business Review found 10 percent of users create 90 percent of Twitter’s content. But while Lady Gaga and President Obama rank among the most followed (roughly 12 million and 9 million, respectively), Twitalyzer each day deems a different user “most influential” — like San Francisco “interaction designer” Joshua Kaufman, who has fewer than 7,000 followers. “It’s not a popularity contest,” says Peterson; it’s the frequency and volume of communication — how often and with whom you converse — that determines who’s making a mark. Twitter, for its part, says you can have an impact whether you have “five followers or 5 million.”

2. “It’s not just photos that you’re sharing.”

Ever snapped a photo with your phone, then uploaded it to post on Twitter? You may have shared more than just an image. ICanStalkU.com was set up by tech consultants to alert Twitter users that their smartphone pics are embedded with GPS data, making it so easy to determine your precise latitude and longitude that “a first grader could stalk someone,” says cofounder Larry Pesce. For its part, Twitter’s image-hosting service strips geotagged data from phone-uploaded pics, but third-party services like TwitPic are still vulnerable. Twitter has twice suspended ICanStalkU’s account, calling the site’s cautionary tweets spam. But Pesce says, “If we thought of it, someone else much more evil and smarter has been using it.”

3. “Social media is a slippery slope.”

You don’t have to be a congressman with an unfortunate surname for Twitter to have a disruptive impact on your personal life. Tracy Musacchio, a college instructor in New York, says a friend “likes to Twitter-stalk” her, leading to off-line arguments about things she’s tweeted. And couples therapists are reporting that discordant views on Twitter and other virtual-media etiquette are being cited more often as stressors in relationships.

Tara Fritsch, a marriage counselor in Oklahoma, says she helps about half her clients with social media related issues. Sites like Twitter don’t cause partners to be unfaithful, she says, but “simple opportunity” can lead some to take the plunge. (Twitter says it provides guidelines for acceptable behavior, but “no policy could prevent” users from engaging in extramarital affairs.) Bottom line: “Don’t kid yourself into thinking that things that happen in the virtual world have no impact on the real world,” Fritsch says.

4. “We’re helping journalists…”

Many reporters and news outlets are turning to Twitter for instant material and sources for breaking stories. Its efficiency in generating swift and concise feedback on everything from viewer reactions to American Idol to on-the-ground developments after natural disasters have made Twitter a resource for journalists looking to tap into civic discussion. Gregory Galant, CEO of Sawhorse Media, says that before Twitter became mainstream, it was a forum for journalists. His website, Muck Rack, serves as a directory of journalists, which the public can use to verify whether tweeters are credible reporters — important, since news often gets broken on Twitter before major news outlets report it. For example, he says, in June 2009, “news of Michael Jackson’s death was trending among the journalists we follow” before ever hitting the mainstream media.

5. “…but also hurting them.”

The death of Osama bin Laden was tweeted by Donald Rumsfeld’s chief of staff Keith Urbahn more than an hour before President Obama’s official address to the nation and before most news outlets had posted it on their Web pages. That tweet turned out to be true. But as more top stories get broken on Twitter, journalists using the site to try to keep up with a never-ending news cycle sometimes rush to report information that isn’t accurate.

Thomson Reuters, for instance, was among several news outlets that erroneously tweeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was killed in the Arizona shooting in January. (A spokesperson for Reuters says the organization is now enforcing a stricter social-media policy.) And just how effective are the tweets by major news outlets in drawing users to their websites? According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which examined traffic at 21 top news sites in the U.S., links from Twitter drove visitors to only nine of those sites, and Twitter referrals accounted for 1 percent or so of total traffic, on average.

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More employees visiting social networks at work

More employees visiting social networks at work

Although several companies are regulating social networking sites, employees are finding ways around the blocks of security, according to a new survey by Trend Micro.

The survey included 1600 users in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, found the world of social networking at work increased by 19 per cent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2010. The largest increase in social networking in the workplace over the past two years has been found among users in the United Kingdom, which had an increase of 6 percent, and Germany with an increase of 10 percent.

“Social networking is an extremely important tool for both personal and professional relationship-building. And while most companies’ concerns about social networks in the central office in the loss of employee productivity, they can not understand is that many social networking sites are built on technologies interactive give unlimited opportunities for cybercriminals exploit end users, stealing personal identities and professional, and corrupt corporate networks from malicious software, “said David Perry, global director of education for Trend Micro.

“With the right security solutions and guidelines for social networking implemented, there is no reason why companies choose to allow their employees the opportunity to visit these sites should be too exposed to these risks.”

Excluding Japan, there were no major differences between users and small businesses from large companies, but the investigation revealed laptop users are much more likely than users to visit the local sites social networking. Overall, the use of social networks through laptops rose 8 percent from 2008 to 2010. In the U.S., it rose 10 percent and in Germany, up 14 percent.

In 2010, 29 percent of laptop users, compared to 18 per cent of desktop users surveyed said they visited these sites at work. In Japan, 2010, employees of small businesses were much more likely than large companies to visit social networking sites – 21 percent of small firms compared to 7 percent of large companies.

For all countries surveyed in 2010, users of phones that can connect to the Internet outside the corporate network are more likely to share confidential information via instant messaging, e-mail and social applications that media which are always connected to the corporate network.

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