Author Archives: Thomas

Facebook is studying everything about you and it’s all your fault.

Run for the hills! Facebook, and well the whole internet, is tracking you! How do they get all this personal information? Oh, that’s right, you gave it to them willingly.

Facebook users and privacy advocates erupted in anger recently after New Scientist drew attention to a 2012 study in which Facebook researchers had attempted to manipulate users’ moods. “The company purposefully messed with people’s minds,” one privacy group complained to the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading

Facebook wants to replace Google Reader with Flipboard style app

Facebook reportedly is working on a news reading app similar to Flipboard, as it looks to cash in on Google Reader’s demise.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook has been working on the project known internally as Reader for over a year, which means that the social network was planning the service before Google announced that it would shut down its identically named service.

ull details of the Facebook Reader service are still to be revealed, but it apparently will resemble Flipboard, aggregating stories from multiple sources and presenting them in a magazine style format. It apparently will arrive as an iOS and Android smartphone and tablet app first, rather than as an online service. It’s unclear whether a web version is also in development.

There’s no word on when Facebook is planning to announce the service, and there’s a chance that the project might not reach the market. Continue reading

Facebook Hashtags: Time to Go Over Those Privacy Settings Again

This week Facebook announced a relatively small tweak. Any phrase with the # symbol before it would become clickable. Yes, it officially brought the hashtag, typically associated with Twitter, to its social network.

It’s a small feature change, sure, but it has far-reaching implications, especially in making what you say on Facebook more widely visible to others. Now, including a hashtag in your post will make it more easily discoverable by others. Facebook itself has said it is looking to make more public conversations on the service.

To that end, Facebook has clarified to ABC News that the new feature respects Facebook’s current privacy settings, similar to how its Graph Search works. Still, the fact that hashtags will make your status updates more visible across the network can be a bit disconcerting to some. As hashtags begin to roll out on the site, here are some privacy and safety items to keep in mind. Continue reading

Why Facebook Feels a Lot Like High School

Facebook Browser

A report released last week from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that Facebook remains the leading social network among US teenagers. It’s also the most reviled. While some teenagers interviewed by Pew claimed they “enjoyed using it”, the majority complained of “an increasing adult presence, high-pressure or otherwise negative social interactions (‘drama’), or feeling overwhelmed by others who share too much.”

In other words, Facebook – as any adult with a profile knows – feels a lot like high school. “I think Facebook can be fun, but also it’s drama central,” one 14-year-old girl said. “On Facebook, people imply things and say things, even just by a ‘like’, that they wouldn’t say in real life.”

Facebook is the living dead: the most popular, least relevant social network where teenagers and adults alike gather out of fear of missing out on things that don’t even make them happy.

“It’s so competitive to get the most likes [on a Facebook picture]. It’s like your social position,” said another. Continue reading

Facebook Home – Addressing Privacy Concerns – Official Responses

Last week, Facebook announced Facebook Home , software which will make Android devices put the social network front and center, essentially turning a variety of smartphones into the long-rumored “Facebook phone.” Matters of privacy quickly became a focus of attention as GigaOm’s Om Malik and others questioned the possibility of increased access to personal information the social network’s new software would provide.

“Home doesn’t change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook, and your privacy controls work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook,” according to blog post by Facebook staff addressing the concerns.

So, it’s the same, only different … right? Not entirely. Since Home does take over your Android phone, it also gains access to some things which hadn’t been previously touched by the social network. Continue reading

Viewership And Social Media Help March Madness Beat The Super Bowl In Ad Revenue Generation

The exciting 67 games spread across the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament are enough to bring weeks of joy to any college basketball fan. The same can likely be said for companies, whose marketing potential is greatly expanded during the course of March Madness as a result of the event’s significant viewership numbers.

When it comes to sporting events, March Madness may best be described as the “Super Bowl” of college sports. According to the NCAA, 181 million viewers tune in throughout the tournament across television, online and out-of-home platforms. 149 million people view the tournament via in-home television. That number exceeds the in-home viewership numbers of the five BCS bowl games combined, which reach 80 million in-home television viewers. Given these numbers, there is no shortage of advertisers salivating at the chance to have their product showcased during March Madness.

In addition to reaching hundreds of millions of viewers, March Madness’ particular target audience makes investing in ad space during the tournament more attractive to certain companies than others. 42 percent of all adults who watch the tournament on television are men between the ages of 25 and 54. This statistic motivated companies like Unilever Skincare to develop advertising campaigns specifically targeted at reaching this audience. “We know that men ages 25-54 are 57 percent more likely to watch the tournament than the average adult, which is why the tournament remains such an effective platform for us—we can connect with men in a hyper-relevant fashion with content that resonates,” said Unilever Skincare’s vice president of marketing, Rob Candelino.

Along with a wide television viewership opportunity, March Madness presents advertisers with the possibility of making a significant digital impact. According to the NCAA, 7.7 million social media comments about the tournament are made during telecasts. This social media dialogue extends beyond the game, to discussions about the NCAA’s March Madness corporate partners. The NCAA reports that there are 1.5 billion online conversations that occur about corporate partners throughout the tournament.

Seeing the possibility to gain an even greater reach through social media impressions, companies like Unilever Skincare integrated social media campaigns around their March Madness advertising. “Guys can engage with our NCAA relevant ‘Real Moments’ campaign across our Twitter, Facebook and Youtube channels, as well as through digital and mobile platforms. Our NCAA partnership helps our brands connect with men when they are plugged into and engaged in tournament action,” Candelino said.

With the perks corporations gain from March Madness advertising, it’s arguably not surprising that corporations spend more these days on March Madness ad buys than Super Bowl ad buys. According to Kantar Media , 266 different marketers have spent more than $5.9 billion on advertising during March Madness over the last decade. The biggest ad spend was seen during last year’s tournament, when advertisers spent just over $1 billion. This year’s Super Bowl raked in $976.3 million in advertising revenue. The social media reach of March Madness is arguably driving the increase in ad spends during March Madness, as ad spending has increased by 64 percent over the last two years.

Over the next few years, it will be worth watching to see if this March Madness ad spending trend continues. With the influx of social media over wider audiences, corporations will likely continue to see an increasing value in March Madness advertising. As such, the NCAA and its broadcasting partner, CBS, likely will see no limit to their advertising revenue generating potential.

via forbes

Gangs move between streets and social media

For monitoring gang activity, police have a free intelligence-gathering tool at their disposal: social media. This is just one example from Newport Virginia.

“The graffiti of old is now Facebook,” said Sgt. L.W. Spencer, who leads the gang enforcement unit at Newport Police Department. “They’re trying to portray a certain image in everything that they’re doing on Facebook.”

The communication and activities that play out on the streets have been extended to the Internet and sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube, said Executive Director George Knox of the National Gang Crime Research Center, which supplies research to police. Gangs have long maintained a presence on the Internet, and the popularity of smartphones just makes it easier.

“From the perspective of police investigators, this is an intelligence gold mine because this is open source information,” Knox said. “It’s due diligence for any police department to take that stuff seriously.”

For instance, police made connections between several of the “Dump Squad” gang members in Newport News from a rap video they produced and released on YouTube more than two years ago, Spencer said, watching the video and pointing to the young men that were arrested. Group photos on Facebook show youth displaying gang hand signs and wearing gang colors or other symbols. Young people use Twitter like “walkie talkies” to alert each other to police presence in the area, Spencer said.

In April 2011, 11 men were charged in federal court with different gang-related crimes as members would identify their West Coast Bloods affiliation through Twitter, Facebook and MySpace photos, videos and posts, according to the indictment. The accused members of the Portsmouth-based gang have since been found guilty on various counts, with one man sentenced to life in prison on two counts of murder, according to online court records.

But social media alone doesn’t finish the investigation, as police have to corroborate and confirm any information, Spencer said. To use Facebook information in court, police also need to file search warrants.

“That’s just a piece of the puzzle,” said Sgt. Jason Price, a spokesman for the Hampton Police Division. “It just confirms what we already know.”

Newport News has about 60 active gangs, Spencer said. Hampton has about 10, said Sgt. Derrick Woolaston, supervisor of the police gang unit in Hampton.

The gangs may be as few as three people and are usually a neighborhood group claiming affiliation with either the Bloods or Crips, Spencer said. Often, police aren’t dealing with rival gang fighting so much as infighting, Spencer explained. However, what makes it difficult to accurately tally the number of Peninsula gangs, comprised mostly of youth, is that members switch from one gang to another, and even to supposedly rival gangs, Spencer said.

This is evident in Newport News police seeing more “amateur-like” graffiti combining symbols, Spencer said. Hampton is seeing less “tagging” and the graffiti there is also filled with mistakes, Woolaston said. Local gangs aren’t organized as portrayed on TV, and youth will join and switch gangs for acceptance or protection, Woolaston explained.

“There’s less criminality and more socialization,” Woolaston said, adding Hampton police are seeing fewer gang-related crimes compared to five years ago.

Youth continue to be influenced by the glamorization of the gang lifestyle as it appears in movies and music, police said.

The people committing the crimes would do so whether they were in a gang or not, Woolaston explained. Even so, proving gang affiliation in court can tack on more time for sentencing and make it easier for police to prosecute a gang’s future criminal activities, police said. Spencer said the streets in Newport News are safer than 15 years ago although police continue to monitor gang hot spots in the Southeast community, like 23rd and Chestnut Avenue, and 33rd Street and Roanoke Avenue.

As far as how gang members use social media, each person or gang member is different. Spencer said youth seem to use it to portray an image of “money, power and respect,” although some use it as an intimidation tool. Knox said gang members will post or message witnesses to keep them from testifying. Spencer said he hasn’t heard of gangs recruiting through social media in Newport News, although Knox said this happens across the country. In 2008, Hampton police charged a 15-year-old boy with making gang threats and recruitment of persons for a criminal street gang through MySpace.

Spencer advises parents to know what their kids are doing online, to pay attention to who “friends” them on Facebook and to be wary when their children don’t accept their friendship.

 via dailypress

How Social Media Propelled Fallon’s Tonight Show Take-Over

Comedians Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno arrive in the press room at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in Beverly Hills on January 13, 2013.

As news began to surface this week that a promotion was in the works, Jimmy Fallon read through a series of tweets on-air at Late Night. The tweets were part of his recurring bit themed around a particular hashtag in this case,  #WhyDontTheyMa keThat . (A personal favorite: A ‘nobody cares’ button on Facebook ).

Ideas like Late Night Hashtags demonstrate Fallon’s unrivaled ability to connect with fans to create show material. His rise to the top of late-night offers a lesson for those expecting to make it in the content business: If you can’t find ways to engage people in program creation, you might be dismissed for someone who can.

Ed Bark at CNN suggests that Twitter was the ace card that propelled Fallon into The Tonight Show chair, adding:

“if this indeed is Fallon’s time, it may be in large part because we live in very different times. The Internet-driven ‘social media’ didn’t exist during Carson’s storied 30-year reign. He simply had to deliver a conventional TV audience. He did so year after year against a variety of competitors in a much less crowded late-night field.”

If you look closer, Fallon’s rise is not only about Twitter, and goes beyond using social media tactics to amass a fan base. In Fallon’s case, similar to Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel, contributions from fans are core to their creative strategy. Social currency is baked directly into the material.

Is the late-night format dead as Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post now suggests? In a sense, yes – the standalone, traditional model is no longer viable. But is that new? Fallon and his late-night contemporaries have optimized content for social engagement for years. They produce show material in multiple formats. They distribute content across many platforms. Because it’s good, their content shared widely across social networks. Tune-in may not sustain the franchise. NBC is betting multiplatform distribution and access to compelling content will.

Which brings us back to the product itself. Every week, Fallon challenges his eight million followers to come up with ideas based on games he creates (e.g., #howigotfired#awkwarddate). These bits become global trending topics, some as quickly as in twelve minutes .

Think about that approach in contrast to Leno’s world and the previous generation of late-night ringleaders. Audiences like to engage with the hosts of programs they watch, and have easy means to do so. To meet that demand, NBC has elevated the socially-savviest of them all, one who surely bring a fresh, contemporary style to The Tonight Show.

via Forbes – Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife

The Social Media #Fail of the Mark Sanford Race

The GOP primary in South Carolina’s first congressional district was almost completely unsurprising. Pundits expected Mark Sanford to ride name recognition into a runoff berth, then to have the advantage in the runoff itself. He did. The only surprise along the way was the defeat of State Sen. Larry Grooms at the hands of Curtis Bostic, a social conservative who edged him for the right to go mano-a-mano contra Sanford.

The only botched prediction I could find, really, was this one.

An independent analysis by political observer Laughton Chandler has predicted a GOP winner of Tuesday’s runoff election: Curtis Bostic.

The prediction was made by analyzing social media. According to the data, Bostic will win with more than 55 percent of the vote. His rival would earn more than 44 percent of the vote.

What in the what? The actual result was 25 points off that: Sanford 57, Bostic 43. Why was a “social media analysis” so wrong?

Simple: The Bostic campaign bet late on social media without really understanding its relevance. In the short two-week stretch of the runoff, the campaign hired roving new media guru Ali Akbar to beef up its presence. Akbar bought the web domain “,” and hashtagged the slogan. Rick Santorum, whose PAC has co-sponsored Akbar’s CPAC “Blog Bash” parties for two years running, flew down to South Carolina for one day of campaign events with Bostic. On Twitter, certainly, mentions of Bostic surged from nothing to something., a news site co-founded by Akbar in 2012, became a one-stop shop for #SC01 news, with a jaundiced view of Sanford.

Sanford’s allies responded with LOLs. Wes Donohue, a media strategist for Sanford, repeatedly mocked the Bostic strategy with tweets. “#trustcurtis to hire the same bloggers who were paid to smear Mitt Romney,” he wrote. “#trustbostic to fund an out-of-state blogger to smear a South Carolinian.”

The Sanfordites didn’t really understand the play. The April 2 election was going to be low-turnout. In 2010, for example, the runoff that started Tim Scott’s ascent to Congress saw 68,000 votes cast. The April 2 election turnout was around 47,000. What difference did it make if bloggers outside the district suddenly cared about Bostic?

“This campaign needed delegation and a solid field plan if they didn’t have the funds to build rapid name-ID against a candidate with negative name recognition,” Akbar told me this morning, before heading back home from the district. “The Bostic campaign had neither. But it did have a candidate of extreme integrity. If we had one more week, we could’ve got in on fate and momentum.”


SEC clears up ‘confusion’ over social media rules

Companies can use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to unveil key information about their operations as long as they’ve told investors where to look for it, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday.

The decision averts a showdown between the SEC and Netflix. The Internet video streaming service got into trouble with the agency last year after chief executive Reed Hastings used his personal Facebook account to boast that his company had streamed more than 1 billion hours of content in June.
The SEC told Netflix that the July posting may have run afoul of a rule that requires companies to distribute important information broadly to the public, and avoid feeding it to a select group of shareholders who could trade on it ahead of other investors.

When the SEC warned that Netflix may face enforcement action, the agency was widely mocked as a plodding regulator unable to keep up with evolving technology.

The SEC said that its disclosure rule allows for such changes.

In 2008, the agency determined that companies can use Web sites to distribute material information as long as they’ve alerted investors that the sites would be used for the purpose. On Tuesday, the SEC issued guidance making it clear that the same principles apply to social media.

“Most social media are perfectly suitable methods for communicating with investors, but not if the access is restricted or if investors don’t know that’s where they need to turn to get the latest news,” George Canellos, acting director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement.

The SEC said it came to realize during the Netflix investigation that there was confusion about how the fair-disclosure rules apply to social media, so it decided not take legal action against Netflix.

But it also pointed out that Hastings had not previously used his Facebook page to announce company news, and Netflix never notified investors that Hastings’ personal Facebook page might be used to disseminate information about the company.

In a company filing, Hastings had said that the information he relayed on Facebook was not “material.” But the SEC suggested that it was, citing a rise in the share price, which jumped from $70.45 at the time of the Facebook posting to $81.72 at the close of trading the following day.

A Netflix spokesman said the company appreciated “the SEC’s careful consideration and resolution of this matter.”

Eugene Goldman, a former senior counsel in the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement that the SEC had cleared up the confusion about the use of social media. “Next time material information is disclosed on an executive’s Facebook page without the company alerting all shareholders to look there for information, the matter will likely be met with an SEC lawsuit,” said Goldman, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery.