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iePlexus Social Media News Brief: March 31, 2010

Is China to blame for the latest Google drama? Twitter’s homepage gets a facelift, what some of you are saying about the new look? And why a few third graders are causing some of the biggest controversy of the year so far in today’s viral video…

Reports on Tuesday from China said the nothing within Google Search was being found and would come back with an error message. Normally a controversial search like the Tienaman Square Massacre would be blocked, how easy, simple, and innocent search terms like the word “The” and “Happy” were also blocked. According to CNN.com, Google initially said was due to its own technical tweaks, but now claims it was caused by the Chinese government’s Internet filtering. Jill Hazelbaker a Google spokeswoman who referred to a change Google made to its search engine coding said “Having looked into this issue in more detail, it’s clear we actually added this parameter a week ago. So whatever happened [Tuesday] to block Google.com.hk must have been as a result of a change in the ‘great firewall.” The search engine appears to be back up and running as of this morning.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Mail accounts for 3 journalists appears to have been hacked into by hackers within China. When the journalist tried logging into their accounts Tuesday they were greeted with the message telling them there was an issue with their accounts and to contact Yahoo Headquarters. The company told them about the hackings, however the Chinese government has yet to respond.

Twitter’s homepage got a facelife on Tuesday. The new design, which Twitter calls a test and a “work in progress, is topped by a banner featuring Twitter’s top trending topics. Scrolling over those topics gives an explanation of why a particular word or phrase is trending at the time. Twitter’s new main page also features a block of suggested users of the micro-blogging site, allowing someone viewing the page to scroll over that user’s photo to see his or her most recent tweet. In a Twitter Blog post, the company said “With the new design, we’re intentionally featuring more dynamic content on the front page, revealing a sample of who’s here, what folks are tweeting about, and the big topics that they’re discussing.” We asked you guys on our Facebook & Twitter pages what you thought of the new site. While most of the reviews have been pleasant, @fictionalsaint who uses Twitter applications on his phone said “since I never use the actual webpage, it makes no difference to me.” You can still let us know what you think of Twitter’s new homepage, just send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

Foursquare keeps on releasing new statistics on its growth, and it looks like the location based networking site isn’t slowing down. It’s numbers are nothing less than impressive. Just 2 weeks ago on our blog we wrote that the network grew by more than 100,000 new users within 10 day, thanks to the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. However now the company has reveled that three quarters of a million users have jumped on the bandwagon and it’s only getting started. Foursquare also revealed that there have been over 22 million check-ins by its users. That’s impressive since the company is less than a year old. Many say Foursquare could “become the Twitter of 2010.”

Today’s viral video has caused a massive debate online this week. Posted on Monday : night, “Scarface: School Play” racked up more than a quarter of a million views in its first 12 hours and as of right now has more than 1.3 million views. The video shows what looks like a group of 3rd graders in a Scarface play. The kids substituted popcorn for drugs, and used cleaner versions of swear words like, “motherfudger.” As you would expect, the internet community went berserk, questioning if the video was real or scripted. Turns out, it was an all an act, literally. Marc Klasfeld is the creator of the video said that he was trying to bring awareness to the violence and other things on television that children are exploited to. Klasfeld appeared on HLN’s Prime News last night and said the video was intended to be fun for the kids involved, who were all Hollywood paid actors.

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