Social Media

New Businesses, Legislation Look to Address Online Privacy Concerns

The rampant use of social media sites and online networks has made personal information more readily available than ever. And with sites like Facebook constantly having their privacy settings and policies called into question, people are becoming increasingly concerned with monitoring and managing their online image. The issue of online privacy has helped spawn a completely new industry with startups offering a plethora of services centering on targeted marketing and persona information.

There are always two sides to any story, of course. Some of these companies are seeking to help businesses capitalize on this new and readily available personal information, while others take the opposite approach by helping individuals maintain online privacy and monitor how their information is being utilized. According to Forrester Research, online identity protection is now a $2.5 billion industry, and it continues to grow by 12 to 15 percent each year.

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Apple Announces Plans to Branch into TV, Social Media for Music

For the last several years, Apple has been a trailblazer when it comes to computers and music players, but the company has recently announced several plans to expand the breadth of their products and services. Earlier this week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a slew of new software, programs and devices that will be yet another step in the company’s efforts to dabble in all forms of media.

One of the headline innovations is Ping, a social network for music fans that has been integrated into the latest version of iTunes. Much like Twitter, Ping users will be able to follow friends to find out which artists and songs they’re listening to. The new social network will also allow users to receive breaking news from their favorite bands and receive the most up-to-date concert listings. In the same vein as the Genius feature, which was introduced a couple of years ago, Ping will work to help users discover new music that is catered to their tastes.

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Facebook Earns Patent for New Targeted Search Algorithm

With thousands of companies vying to be the next internet success story, protecting new software, algorithms and other proprietary information is always a concern. Companies are constantly fighting to prevent competitors from taking advantage of their innovations, and like most other industries, the best way to get legal protection is by filing for a patent.

Searches are one of the most lucrative and widely used aspects of the internet, as is evidenced by the massive success and ubiquitous nature of Google. On numerous occasions we’vediscussed how searches are becoming increasingly personalized, leading to more targeted and effective marketing campaigns. Capitalizing on this trend is obviously a top priority for internet companies, and Facebook has just established itself as the leader in this race thanks to a patent on a new search algorithm.

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How to Be ‘Liked’ on Facebook

There’s a consensus in both the business and online communities that social networks will play an integral role in the future of commerce. As such, it’s important to establish an online presence for your small business now, while the industry is still young and you aren’t too far behind the curve. And as the king of social networks, Facebook should be one of the primary focuses of your online activities.

Although it started as a site purely dedicated to social networking, Facebook is constantly adding new features catered towards businesses, clubs and organizations. If you are just getting started, the fist line of business is to create a fan page. Note that this is different from a personal profile, and it’s an important distinction to make because the two profiles function differently and have different security options. A fan page will also provide you with analytical information that you can use as a gauge for how your strategy is working.

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How Will Your Business Use Social Media in the Future?

With the fluidity of social media, it’s difficult for anyone to effectively predict where the future lies. What is for certain, however, is that social media is incredibly popular and will be around for some time to come. According to a new Nielsen statistics, internet users now spend about one-quarter of their time on the web visiting social networking sites, more than double the nearest competitor (online games).

Part of the reason for this trend, at least in my opinion, is the immense breadth of social networks. Not only are there networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, we also have a litany of smaller, niche sites offering a specific service. These types of sites allow people to personalize many aspects of their online experience, eliminating the need for many traditional channels, such as e-mail, search and general entertainment sites.

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Personal Data from Millions of Facebook Accounts Published in Torrent

Up until recently, concerns over Facebook’s privacy settings and policies have been largely hypothetical, but that all changed today when Ron Bowes, an internet security consultant, uploaded a torrent to the web with personal information on 100 million users. Facebook has come under severe scrutiny in recent months for holes in their privacy settings and policies, and this recent divulgence of data exemplifies the amount of personal information that many Facebook accounts make readily available.

It should be noted that Bowes simply used information that was already open to the public by only including searchable Facebook profiles. So the information in his list could be acquired through a simple search engine query. The purpose of releasing the information was to raise people’s awareness of how much personal information they make available online, Bowes said.

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New Report Shows Women Dominate Social Media

Last week we reported on women’s role in the ever-changing field of social media, and a recent report by comScore provides quantifiable evidence that women are making their presence felt through myriad social networks. “Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet” is a comprehensive report with statistics on social media usage, search activity and online shopping, among others.

Men have traditionally been the primary internet users, but women are now responsible for the lion’s share of internet usage, a trend which many attribute to the rise of social media. According to the report, over three-quarters of women visited social media sites during May, compared to less then 70 percent of men. And the trend holds true across all countries, not just the US. In Japan, South Korea and even Russia, women are the ones dominating social media sites. On average, women spend 30 percent, or 1.5 hours, more per month on social networks than their male counterparts.

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Afghan War Reports Leaked Through Wiki Site

When Daniel Ellsberg was trying to bring the information in the Pentagon Papers to light, it was difficult to find a viable means of disseminating the information to policymakers and the public. In order to garner media attention for the detailed, confidential war records, Ellsberg eventually had to turn the Papers over to the New York Times, who published the contents of the records in a series of articles. In an eerie case of history repeating itself, The New York Times, The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel were recently given access to a significant cache of classified reports known as the Afghan War Diary.

But unlike Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, the source that brought the reports to public attention wasn’t a high ranking US official, it was a website. WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to publishing leaks while maintaining the anonymity of its sources, gave the three aforementioned publications access to the Afghan War Diary weeks in advance under the condition that they wouldn’t report on the information until July 25, the day WikiLeaks published the diary to their site.

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Facebook Celebrates 500 Million User Milestone

Earlier today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced via a blog post that the social media site has officially reached the 500 million user plateau. If you follow social media news scene with any regularity, this comes as no surprise. But the significance of this achievement shouldn’t be overlooked, especially since this may still just be the beginning for Facebook.

Facebook launched in early 2004, and it took the company nearly four years to reach 100 million users. From that point, Facebook’s growth has been exponential, with the latest 100 million new users added since February. And due to new mobile technology that allows people to access the site easier and more quickly, some are predicting that one billion users by the end of 2011 isn’t out of the question.

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How Do Social Media Sites Make Money?

From small businesses to international corporations, everyone is looking to capitalize on social media to expand their clientele and promote their business. One of the main draws of various social media sites is the fact that they are free, which is pretty amazing considering Facebook alone has over 500 million users. As you can imagine, creating efficient software that performs flawlessly on this scale is a labor-intensive task requiring a full team of individuals. And since these social media sites are free, the obvious question then becomes how do these companies stay afloat, let alone turn a profit?

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