Opinion

Secrecy, Privacy, and Ephemerality in Social Media

Picture 9-11-2014In a world where millions of people post every thought, photograph, or video to our social media profiles, we have effectively given up our privacy. And yet we still cling to the idea of privacy, even if that just means setting some sort of limit to the people who see all the things we’re posting for everyone else to see. Social media security has been a hot-button issue for this reason and over the course of the past couple of years, there have been a large number of breaches and hacks where social media users’ information has been compromised. I’ve talked before about hacks that affected Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, but these are not the only social media networks and apps that have had breaches in their security.

Back in June, the simplistic social media app Yo was hacked by three college students, who were able to get the phone numbers and contacts of every Yo user as well as being able to send them false messages that appeared to be from other users. Considering Yo was developed in merely eight hours, it wasn’t a huge surprise that there were security issues, but what’s disturbing is how quickly users latched on to the new hot social media app without considering that their personal information might be at stake. The social network Secret was marketed as the ‘anonymous social network’ but hackers last month were able to find an easy way to make it a lot less anonymous.

Though Yo and Secret have issued fixes to these security breaches, as have the larger, more popular social networks, it would not be crazy to say that our faith in social network security is waning. Facebook is making efforts to change things; they acquired a cybersecurity start-up company called PrivateCore last month in an effort to help protect the data of Facebook users. However, with the state of social media privacy and security still unsure, there are other things people and social networks are turning to (including Facebook).

Ephemerality is the nature of apps like Snapchat, Bolt, Slingshot, and plenty of similar social media applications. The idea here is to ensure some manner of privacy by making messages, photos, and videos only appear temporarily before being deleted forever. Recently, Facebook began testing their own new ephemeral feature, which will allow users to use a ‘Choose Expiration’ function. This feature will give posts a life expectancy from anywhere between an hour and a week. Thus far, this feature has only been available to a small set of users operating Facebook for iOS and it is unclear what the future of the feature may be.

Social Networking for Kids

Picture 8-21-2014When Facebook was initially launched in 2004, it was geared only as a social network for Harvard University students. During this period of time, teens and technology-savvy adults were dipping their feet into other social networks like Friendster and MySpace and business-oriented networks liked LinkedIn were also being launched. Eventually, Facebook expanded to allow other college students to join, which in turn led to high school students, until eventually anyone over the age of thirteen was able to join Facebook.

I remember a time not very long ago where the mention of Facebook would usually bring a confused look to a person’s face. These days, Facebook and other social networks like Instagram and Snapchat are ubiquitous. Everyone’s hearing about them and more than a billion people on the planet are using them. Even though children don’t meet the terms of use for networks like Facebook and Instagram, there is no proof of age required to create an account. Thus, kids are on Facebook and other social networks, and there’s not much that can be done about that.

However, there may be ways for parents to better introduce their children to the world of social networking, considering they will inevitably find out about it themselves. After all, these days, posting a picture of a newborn baby on a social network is extremely commonplace; these kids are already on social networks whether they like it or not literally as soon as they’re born.

One social network that has recently been created specifically for kids is called Kuddle, which is essentially a facsimile of Instagram that has been designed for kids to be safely introduced to social media and share pictures with their friends. Thanks to security and safety features, photos must be approved by parents who are notified every time their child uploads a picture. There are no comments allowed on photos, which is intended to prevent cyber-bullying, although kids are allowed to draw on their own photos and add captions.

We currently live in a world where children are going to be exposed to social media at younger and younger ages. Many people I knew growing up got their first cell phones in high school, but it’s become more and more common for parents to purchase cell phones for children as young as eight years old or even younger, often for safety reasons so that children can more easily stay in contact with their parents. Cell phones and social media are nearly interchangeable these days, so it’s probably a good thing to find safe and positive ways to introduce children to social media like Kuddle.

Be Careful What You Put on Your Social Profiles

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Internet privacy has been a huge issue in the news lately, and for good reason. With the massive amount of information we all offer on the Internet, through social networks, blogs, personal websites, and other venues, it’s no surprise our privacy has become a bit muddled. We oftentimes trust that no one other than our ‘friends’ (thanks to the language used by many of these social networks) will be able to see our information, but this is not always the case. When you look at your ‘friend’ list on Facebook, you may forget that some of the people on there are not your friends at all.

Furthermore, there are ways that information can be accessed without even being friends with someone. If it’s on the Internet, there are often ways to get to it. A few months back, this was something that came under some scrutiny when a ‘super search engine’ known as RIOT was uncovered. The purpose of RIOT (Rapid Information Overlay Technology) was to search through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social networks in order to get information on terrorism suspects, particularly in regards to their recent locations and activities.

Many people believed that the RIOT software went too far and was a violation of American constitutional rights to privacy. There have been similar complaints, albeit to a much grander scale, upon the recent information regarding the NSA surveillance program known as PRISM. The controversy behind PRISM similarly stems from the government being able to monitor people’s actions on the Internet. Supposedly, PRISM allows the United States government to dig into e-mails, social networking details, photos, videos, and much more.

While the PRISM controversy still builds, social networking privacy has long been an issue on a smaller scale. While websites like Facebook and Twitter provide a number of customizable privacy options, it is still recommended that one double-checks the things they say before one posts those things on the Internet. These days, people are regularly fired for the things that they post on Facebook and Twitter and it is becoming a well-known fact that companies tend to snoop on potential employees’ social networking pages during the hiring process. With all this being said, be careful what you post on the Internet, because once it’s out there, there’s no getting it back.

Social Media Offers Politicians a New Means to Reach Constituencies

Politicians have been devising ways to communicate with the public and reach out to their constituencies since the inception of the democratic system. And while each form of new media has given legislators more opportunities to communicate their manifold messages, the communiqué has often been filtered through reporters and the discourse has been decidedly one-sided. Social media, unlike any previous innovation, has fundamentally changed the way voters glean information about public officials. Not only do candidates now have unbridled access to the electorate, but social media also offers voters a way to voice their opinions in an open forum.

Traditionally, a candidate needed to take out ad space in order to deliver a message that wasn’t filtered through a journalist, and aside from an op-ed piece, there was little opportunity for conversation or to gauge the public response. With social media, however, there is no intermediary or barriers of communication. Politicians now have the capacity to justify why they voted for a piece of legislation, elected a certain cabinet member or any other decision in their own words—and voters have the chance to respond. (more…)

Blogging with Duplicate Content Proves to be Counterproductive

If you’re thinking of using duplicate content for your blog posts, you might want to rethink this strategy if your goal is to create the most effective blog possible. Duplicate content is created when people visit different places on the Internet, such as Wikipedia or Ezinearticles.com, copy an article and paste it on their blog, pretending they wrote the text.

The problem develops when the search engine spiders try to index this duplicated post you have published. The spiders will recognize that the information reads verbatim to that of another source or multiple sources, depending on how many other webmasters have already copied this information. (more…)

Social Media Coming To A Game Console Near You

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It seems like only yesterday, that everyone in the neighborhood had a brand new gaming console called Nintendo.  Playing a 2-D version of Mario was the most high tech game at the time, and a few years later, the release of the Super Nintendo blew America away.  It was the Nintendo 64, where everyone first began to grasp the idea of 3D graphics in games and since then, the PlayStation, Xbox & Wii have become some of our favorite gaming systems.  From being able to only play games, to being able to actually work out daily, video game systems have come a long way.  So what will come next?

Luckily we won’t have to wait long.  Next Tuseday, November 12, 2009, Microsoft plans to release the latest version of the Xbox360.  The new software will be a step up from the current version, heading to the internet integrating the world of social media.  In June, the company announced they’d release the console which would include Facebook, Twitter, last.fm, and Zune video.  (more…)

Can Apple Overcome Past Tablet Troubles?

apple_tabletIn a recent New York Times piece, Brad Stone and Ashlee Vance lent some much needed perspective about Apple’s maybe-kind of-sort of-impending Tablet. Depending on which vague rumor or piece of conjecture you decide to believe, the Apple Tablet will either “redefine print,” “bridge the gap between laptops and iPhones,” or save the planet from a catastrophic asteroid strike.

OK, so I made up that last possibility. Still, the level of hyperbolic publicity surrounding the device is astounding. While I don’t question the claim that Apple has revolutionized both the cell phone and mp3 player markets, I’m not yet willing to award them another success by default. As Stone and Vance point out, tablet devices have been attempted before and the results have been middling to put it kindly. (more…)

Mashable Announces 2009 Open Web Awards – Social Media Edition

owa-logoFor the third year in a row Mashable, the popular social media site, is hosting the Open Web Awards: Social Media Edition.  There are 50 nomination categories this year, which is almost double of the amount of categories there were last year.  The Open Web Awards is  an  international online voting competition that covers major achievements in web technology and  in Social Media.  Mashable’s website does say they have extended the voting time by nearly a month and came up with the new categories for voters to reflect on the changes of web culture within the past year. (more…)

Mark Cuban: Keeping it Classy

mark-cubanIt’s no surprise that tempers run high in professional sports, but this becomes especially true when it comes to the playoffs. But tempers did more than run high during game three of the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets NBA playoff game. After the Nuggets walked away with a referee-aided 106-105 win to make it a 3-0 series lead, tempers finally bubbled over.

After the controversial game came to a close, notoriously hotheaded Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had a few choice words for the scorer’s table. Then, after passing Lydia Moore (the mother of Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin), Cuban informed her that her son was a “punk.”

In the aftermath of the lash-out, reports have become widely varied. But whatever the exact wording of Cuban, there was definitely an exchange that was viewed as inappropriate by the Nuggets camp. As an owner, Cuban was expected not to contribute to the kind of heckling, name calling, and low class shenanigans that usually occur during these heated games. But such is the class of Cuban.

And he continued to demonstrate that highbrow level of sophistication that only $1.8 billion can buy by apologizing to Martin and his mother…via his blog. That’s right. Rather than issuing a face to face apology, Cuban simply posted a halfhearted, more than a little self-serving apology on his personal blog.
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Wikipedia NOT the Most Accurate Encyclopedia?!

wikipediaIt took the loss of a musical icon, but a 22-year-old Dublin student finally proved what just about everyone suspected. Wikipedia may not be the most accurate source of information available on the internet.

When famed composer Maurice Jarre died on March 29, 2009, the world was saddened by the loss of a talented and prolific composer and conductor. Born in Lyon, France in 1924, Jarre was responsible for scoring much-loved films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and A Passage to India. For his work on these three films, Jarre was awarded three separate Oscars.

But as much as the musical community was reeling from the loss, they were at least left with some comforting words. “One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear.”
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