Category Archives: Social media

When in Rome: Team America shut down

From George Weigel at National Review Online:

… Still, the point is that at their press conferences, the American cardinals leaked precisely nothing. The discussion focused on issues, emotions, states of mind, and conclave process; there was no violation of the confidentiality of the General Congregations whatsoever. What there was, however, was a real exchange, with journalists from all over the world — an exchange that helped develop stories of a positive character. What was happening was the New Evangelization, in an extended sense of that term.

So in order to try to solve a problem caused by the unscrupulousness of the Italian press acting in tandem with unscrupulous leakers who had nothing to do with the American cardinals, the Americans’ press conferences — the most refreshing and media-friendly source of positive information and commentary on a story that has riveted the world’s attention, and an extraordinary opportunity to explain what the Catholic Church is — were shut down….

Read it all.

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.18

Social media stats

Well, it is an election year, after all:

12. Vertical Measures

The 19% of social media users who talk about politics and the 24% of Americans who learned about the presidential campaign through the Internet in 2008 are all statistics found via Vertical Measures’s Social Media Election, a well-designed infographic that tracks and measure’s each candidate’s social media engagement.

Check it out.

Election 2012: Things that make you go hmmmmm. . .

So this is purely anecdotal, but I think Facebook postings can reflect what’s happening at large, if you have a wide enough variety of friends that you aren’t just in a bubble. And I have noticed something interesting over the past week. For the past month or two, my die-hard progressive friends have been posting things like this:

But all of a sudden last week, I started seeing less of those and more of this:

Are progressives preparing themselves for a Romney victory? Are they realizing they might still want to be friends with those they have been insulting over the past few months, especially if their man loses? Interesting.

Information warfare: How Facebook gets troops killed

Outside a war zone, we just worry about employers finding out embarrassing info from social mediate sites; inside a war zone, it’s a little different. From the Strategy Page:

The U.S. Army is warning its troops to be careful what they post to on social networking sites (like Facebook). When they post photos of themselves they often reveal militarily useful information. This was discovered in Iraq, where a lot of tech savvy people working with terrorists were able to compile information from what troops posted. This sometimes led to attacks, and this was discovered from interrogating captured terrorists and captured documents and computer data. The background of pictures often indicated targets for the terrorists, or details of base defenses and American tactics. Islamic terrorists have been quick to use the Internet and other modern technology to plan and carry out their attacks….

Read it all, and check out an earlier post, Insurgents used cell phone geotags to destroy AH-64s in Iraq.

‘This is tyranny’: Tens of thousands decry HHS mandate in 146 nationwide protests

Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally in New York
From, a report on yesterday’s Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies nationwide:

Tens of thousands of men and women gathered in 146 protests on Friday, joining a grassroots effort that organizers say grew far beyond expectations. The rallies were held to protest the Obama administration mandate forcing religious universities, charities, and other groups to pay for abortifacient drugs and other birth control for students and employees. …

According to the Friday rallies, the HHS mandate is not a birth control issue, but a religious freedom issue, and a challenge to fight that won’t be ignored.

One fulcrum of the national protests was Washington, D.C., where about 1,500-2,000 gathered on a hot and sunny afternoon before the Health and Human Services building. Beneath the windows of HHS offices was heard the chanting of “We will not comply,” car horns honking in solidarity, and the rallying cries of several prominent speakers, including Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, conservative activist Star Parker, and Lila Rose of Live Action.

Hawkins put the issue in blunt terms, stating simply, “This is tyranny.”

“We are being told that our beliefs, our conscience, no longer matters,” said the pro-life youth leader. “What stops them from targeting someone else next?”…

Read it all.

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.9

And the party is on. . .

7. Dollar Shave Club

Michael Dubin and Mark Levine launched the money-saving mail-order service in April 2011, shipping quality razors for a mere $3. Smart enough, but it was the promotional video that put them on the map. Originally created as a pitch to investors, the hilarious skit—among its declarations: “Your handsome-ass grandfather only had one blade…and polio!”—also won over everyone with an Internet connection this week.

Legal Insurrection focus: Carbonite

Prof. William Jacobson has been doing the heavy lifting on keeping track of Carbonite, one of the companies deciding last week that they could no longer be associated with the Rush Limbaugh radio show (although Carbonite management apparently has no problem advertising on left-leaning programs whose hosts have run into their own language problems).

Not only has the professor set up the Carbonite Accountability Project at Legal Insurrection to post info on where and how Carbonite does advertise, he has also run several posts on the legal and financial repercussions for the company:

I think it will be very interesting to keep track of the company business over the next few months to see if reaction to their CEO’s very public renunciation of Rush has any long-term effect on their bottom line.

FBI releases plans to monitor social networks

Privacy (University of Pennsylvania Law School)
You know, you can check and double-check all the privacy protection options there are on Facebook, Twitter, or any social media site, but you have to know: There. Is. No. Privacy. Online. At. All. Ever. From. Anyone. So don’t ever forget it.

From New Scientist:

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has quietly released details of plans to continuously monitor the global output of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, offering a rare glimpse into an activity that the FBI and other government agencies are reluctant to discuss publicly. The plans show that the bureau believes it can use information pulled from social media sites to better respond to crises, and maybe even to foresee them.

The information comes from a document released on 19 January looking for companies who might want to build a monitoring system for the FBI. It spells out what the bureau wants from such a system and invites potential contractors to reply by 10 February.

The bureau’s wish list calls for the system to be able to automatically search “publicly available” material from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for keywords relating to terrorism, surveillance operations, online crime and other FBI missions. Agents would be alerted if the searches produce evidence of “breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats”….

The use of the term “publicly available” suggests that Facebook and Twitter may be able to exempt themselves from the monitoring by making their posts private. But the desire of the US government to watch everyone may still have an unwelcome impact, warns Jennifer Lynch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based advocacy group.

Lynch says that many people post to social media in the expectation that only their friends and followers are reading, which gives them “the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse,” says Lynch. “But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time, do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US”….

It only makes sense to me that law enforcement and the intelligence agencies would monitor social media sites, but it all comes down to one’s definition of “publicly available” and “online privacy,” so read it all.

Ace: Obama to embrace anti-semitic “Occupy” movement

From Ace:

The media worked night and day to make the Tea Party out to be a racist, violent group of astroturfed malcontents without any legitimate goal, an impression the Democrats were happy to abet. This time around, the make-believe media is delighted to look the other way while the Occupiers demonstrate casual anti-Semitism….

Check it out.

More college officials learn about applicants from Facebook

From USAToday:

The number of college admissions officials using Facebook to learn more about an applicant has quadrupled in the past year, underscoring the effect social media has on U.S. culture and academic life, a survey shows. Googling is nearly as prevalent. . .

Of survey takers who went online, 12% say what they found “negatively impacted” the applicant’s chances of admission. That’s down from 38% in 2008, when 10% said they consulted social networking sites while evaluating students. Among offenses cited: essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs and photos showing underage drinking. . .

The debate over whether it’s appropriate for colleges to look beyond what prospective students submit in their applications remains unsettled. Kenyon College explicitly forbids such activity. “We are not Luddites, mind you. We are trying to practice ethical admissions,” says Admissions Dean Jennifer Delahunty. ” Reading their Facebook pages is like, in another era, wire-tapping applicants’ phones and reading their diaries.”

Paul Marthers [vice president for enrollment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute] notes, though, that information students post online is “fair game.”

Others offer a more positive reason for checking an applicant’s Facebook profile. Wake Forest University Admissions Dean Martha Allman says her younger staffers like to see (an applicant’s) “digital personality.”. . .

Check it out.

Facebook’s “Like button problem”

Commentary from Hot Air on Facebook’s possible solution:

The solution, as detailed in the linked article, is that FB will now offer a new set of buttons associated with web content. They will be “Watched,” “Listened” and “Read” buttons, depending on the content type. (I know, you’re terribly excited. But hang with me for a moment.)

First of all, I can relate to the problem of the “Like” button. We recently had some very serious flooding problems in Upstate NY and a FB page was established where people were compiling flood photos and relief information. It’s kind of weird to hit a “like” button on pictures of people’s homes and businesses being destroyed, but I did it anyway. . .

But Facebook is still trying to steer away from having a “dislike” button. As one author noted, it could lead to an explosion of oversharing. But this left me wondering… if there is still a “like” button clearly displayed and somebody goes to the trouble of choosing the “read” or “watched” option, doesn’t that sort of become the default “dislike” button?. . .

Check it out.

The Mail: Women gossip for FIVE hours every day, claims study

I saw this last week and thought huummm. . . and then I realized they’re talking about women in the U.K., not in the U.S., so we’re safe!

Most women prefer chatting to their friends to anyone else but say they talk to their partner, mum and their best friend about completely different things.

Husbands are most likely to get the brunt of work talk, with a daily update from on how their partner’s day has gone and who has annoyed them while the more juicy gossip is reserved for a woman’s best friend.

But 36 per cent of women say they cannot be trusted to keep a friend’s secret and that they regularly tell their partner things they are told in confidence.

Most women prefer to chat face to face and also like to talk to friends one on one rather than in a big group.

Check it out.

A Google+ update

From Cool Hunting:

When Google+ launched last month it seemed like a particularly novel way to stay socially organized, but we still weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Turning to the digital community and beyond, we asked around to see how some of the earliest-adopters are engaging. . .

Despite initial hesitations, most are checking Google+ two or three times a day. Ben Lerer, a Thrillist co-founder, and Taj Reid, who’s the brains behind WeJetSet, point out they visit more thanks to the mobile app. And, as illustrator Keren Richter predicts, while it doesn’t have the same activity as Twitter or Facebook, it “has a chance of catching on.”. . .

Is Google+ better for business or social aspects?

Brett: My job is very tech-centric, so my circles lean more towards people I’m interested in because of work rather than people I know in a social context.

Jeff: Socially. We’ll see how their business model turns out for the service. I have a feeling it will not be free.

Jean: So far it’s the same mess I have on Facebook and Twitter.

Matt: I’ve started creating some client-specific circles that I’m monitoring, but its just the beginning of that. Once they open up the API and allow for third-party developing, I think I’ll both use the system more and it will drive a lot more adoption. I can imagine ways my small groups of trusted individuals can connect in more exciting ways, but it will depend on how well done the API is.

Keren: I’m not the most business-minded. Right now, it’s mostly for friends and memes, but it’s not SO much better than Facebook that there will be a mass exodus.

Interesting. Check it out.

What the hell is Tumblr? And other worthwhile questions

A bit old (2009) but still relevant–from Fast Company, a rundown on Tumblr:

If you’re a nerd, you have spent the last year explaining to your friends the virtue (or downfall) of Twitter and Facebook. In another year, you’ll have a third prong to your presentation: Tumblr.

Tumblr is a little bit the long lost cousin of its other buzzword counterparts. Like Twitter, it takes the now-antiquated medium of the blog and refreshes it with a new format, a centralized platform, and more interactivity. Like Facebook, it’s yet another face on your online personality, a scrap book of the Web-you. In one sentence, Tumblr is a blogging platform that makes it easier to post video, audio, words, social bookmarks, photos, and even other people’s blog posts into your blog, and share it with other people. Instead of having to upload things to YouTube, Delicious or Flickr, or create your own WordPress database before posting things, you can put your media directly into Tumblr from your computer or mobile phone. It’s blogging, the way blogging was meant to be. . .

Tumblr isn’t just about including media in your blog–it’s also about including people. That’s what gives Tumblr its high 85% retention rate; out of the 1 million blogs now on the platform, the vast majority are still adding new content all the time. Compare that to the high drop-off rates with traditional blogging and microblogging on Twitter, and you can see that something special is going on. The tumblelogs themselves seem to tingle with potential.

A lot of that retention is thanks to Tumblr’s elegant feedback system. Instead of the standard comment box at the bottom of a post–which incites spamming, flaming, and congested aesthetics–tumblelogs have a few other options for feedback. . .

Check it out (and yes, I’m on Tumblr, too).

Groupthink: It’s a terrible thing to waste

In anticipation of the upcoming–and already starting–2012 campaign season, especially “the tea party as terrorist” motif that has hit recently, my reminder to all of journalism’s tendency towards groupthink (or worse).

Groupthink as sheep

Groupthink: It’s a terrible thing to waste. That seemed to be the view of a group of left-leaning journalists, writers, and pundits from 2007 to June of 2010, when exposure of the private “Journolist” group became more or less public and its organizer, Ezra Klein, now a blogger with the Washington Post, shut it down.

So what was Journolist? A members-only email discussion group of several hundred liberal writers, journalists, professors, and others, including staffers of news organizations from Time, the Baltimore Sun, Politico, the Huffington Post, the New Yorker, the Nation, CNN, the Guardian, Salon, NPR and the New Republic, that commented on the topics of the day “off the record.”

What’s the problem with that? Of course, people in the same fields interested in the same topics want to get together and discuss important events and their thoughts and opinions on those events. So far, so good.

But what if something different ended up happening?

What if, instead of commenting and observing the news, part of the group ended up working to determine what and how certain news stories would be covered? And what if this period of consultation and cooperation just happened to coincide with the run-up to a presidential election? Unfortunately, these are not just hypothetical questions.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives the press the freedom that any representative democracy needs to ensure that there is no governmental interference with reporting information. Yet, the caretakers of this special status, the objective watchmen of our political life, the journalists themselves, decided to run their own interference on how to report events—and that is unfortunate, not only to our republic but to the entire idea of a “free press.”

So you want specifics on Journolist? (I know I would.) Check out the Daily Caller, the website that broke the story in June 2010. Here are just a few:

* As conservatives were criticizing then-Senator Obama for his long-time connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, some Journolist members discussed a counterstrategy. Spencer Ackerman, then with the Washington Independent, wrote in April 2008:

If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction. . .

So apparently lying, not to mention libel, is now a journalistic requirement, as a liberal journalist worked to trash the reputation of conservatives merely because they disagreed with him. Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard executive editor, noted that:

[N]o one on JournoList endorsed the Ackerman plan. But rather than object on ethical grounds, they voiced concern that the strategy would fail or possibly backfire. . . . It was sad to see what journalism, or at least a segment of it, had come to.

* When Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain chose Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, there were Journolist discussions on how to mitigate any advantages Palin might bring to the ticket.

Ed Kilgore, managing editor (and not a reporter) of the Democratic Strategist, had his take on how Palin should be presented in the media:

I STRONGLY think the immediate task is to challenge the ‘maverick’ bullsh*t about Palin, which everybody on the tube is echoing. I’ll say it one more time: Palin is a hard-core conservative ideologue in every measurable way.

Time’s Joe Klein wrote a piece for that magazine that reflected parts of the conversations on Journolist. Klein posted on the private listserv:

Here’s my attempt to incorporate the accumulated wisdom of this august list-serve community

—and Klein’s article did contain arguments developed by other Journolisters as he praised Palin personally, but questioned her “militant” ideology.

So, what’s the deal now? I mean, Journolist was disbanded in 2010, right? Well, after President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address, all three broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, described the tone of the speech as being “Reaganesque.” Spontaneous or synchronized? And the following week’s Time Magazine issue had a picture of Presidents Obama and Reagan on the cover. Coincidence or collaboration?

Not sure about that one? What about looking at the media coverage of the undercover videos from Live Action, an anti-abortion group, taken at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country in recent months. In the videos, reporters posed as a pimp and prostitute to see whether the clinics were following underage and child sex-trafficking reporting laws, and often the PP personnel were not. That fact alone is worthy of extensive reporting, since our tax dollars help fund PP and they seem to be willing to overlook sexual exploitation of young girls. Yet, the response from much of the mainstream media so far has been mainly to attack the messenger, Live Action and its founder, Lila Rose. Is this coverage just a reflection of the homogeneous ideological make-up of the newsroom (i.e., groupthink) or a more organized effort to influence news coverage?

Because of the Journolist debacle, I’m not sure—and you shouldn’t be either.

So, as the Roman satirist Juvenal asked: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchmen?)

If we’re smart, we do, each and every one of us.

Power Line: Doorbell

Doorbell from Power Line

Social media rankings

Current social media rankings from VentureBeat
Interesting info from VentureBeat.