I’ve got a new article in the most recent issue of the M/C Journal entitled ‘The Social Media Contradiction: Data Mining and Digital Death’. Here’s the abstract:

Many social media tools and services are free to use. This fact often leads users to the mistaken presumption that the associated data generated whilst utilising these tools and services is without value. Users often focus on the social and presumed ephemeral nature of communication – imagining something that happens but then has no further record or value, akin to a telephone call – while corporations behind these tools tend to focus on the media side, the lasting value of these traces which can be combined, mined and analysed for new insight and revenue generation. This paper seeks to explore this social media contradiction in two ways. Firstly, a cursory examination of Google and Facebook will demonstrate how data mining and analysis are core practices for these corporate giants, central to their functioning, development and expansion. Yet the public rhetoric of these companies is not about the exchange of personal information for services, but rather the more utopian notions of organising the world’s information, or bringing everyone together through sharing.

The second section of this paper examines some of the core ramifications of death in terms of social media, asking what happens when a user suddenly exists only as recorded media fragments, at least in digital terms. Death, at first glance, renders users (or post-users) without agency or, implicitly, value to companies which data-mine ongoing social practices. Yet the emergence of digital legacy management highlights the value of the data generated using social media, a value which persists even after death. The question of a digital estate thus illustrates the cumulative value of social media as media, even on an individual level. The ways Facebook and Google approach digital death are examined, demonstrating policies which enshrine the agency and rights of living users, but become far less coherent posthumously. Finally, along with digital legacy management, I will examine the potential for posthumous digital legacies which may, in some macabre ways, actually reanimate some aspects of a deceased user’s presence, such as the Lives On service which touts the slogan “when your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting”. Cumulatively, mapping digital legacy management by large online corporations, and the affordances of more focussed services dealing with digital death, illustrates the value of data generated by social media users, and the continued importance of the data even beyond the grave.

Read the rest at the M/C Journal (open access).

Incidentally, yes, one of the points in this article is already out of date as last month Google quietly launched their Inactive Account Manager. While far from perfect, this Inactive Account manager gives Google users more control over what happens to their Google stored assets after they pass away (well, actually, after they don’t log in for a specified period of time). It is, however, far from perfect.

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Links through to April 22nd (catching up!):

  • Siri secrets stored for up to 2 years [WA Today] – “Siri isn’t just a pretty voice with the answers. It’s also been recording and keeping all the questions users ask. Exactly what the voice assistant does with the data isn’t clear, but Apple confirmed that it keeps users’ questions for up to two years. Siri, which needs to be connected to the internet to function, sends all of its users’ queries to Apple. Apple revealed the information after
    Wired posted an article raising the question and highlighting the fact that the privacy statement for Siri wasn’t very clear about how long that information is kept or what would be done with it.”
  • Now playing: Twitter #music [Twitter Blog] – Not content to be TV’s second screen, Twitter wants to be the locus of conversations about music, too: “Today, we’re releasing Twitter #music, a new service that will change the way people find music, based on Twitter. It uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists. It also brings artists’ music-related Twitter activity front and center: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app. The songs on Twitter #music currently come from three sources: iTunes, Spotify or Rdio. By default, you will hear previews from iTunes when exploring music in the app. Subscribers to Rdio and Spotify can log in to their accounts to enjoy full tracks that are available in those respective catalogs.
  • Android To Reach 1 Billion This Year | Google, Eric Schmidt, Mobiles [The Age] – “Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt predicts there will be more than 1 billion Android smartphones in use by the end of the year.”
  • Soda Fountains, Speeding, and Password Sharing [The Chutry Experiment] – Fascinating post about the phenomenon of Netflix and HBO Go password sharing in the US. When a NY Times journalist admitted to this (seemingly mainstream) practice, it provoked a wide-ranging discussion about the ethics and legality of many people pooling resources to buy a single account. Is this theft? Is it illegal (apparently so)? And, of course, Game of Thrones take a centre seat!
  • “Welcome to the New Prohibition” [Andy Baio on Vimeo] – Insightful talk from Andy Baio about the devolution of copyright into an enforcement tool and revenue extraction device rather than protecting or further the production of artistic material in any meaningful way. For background to this video see Baio’s posts “No Copyright Intended” and “Kind of Screwed”.
  • Instagram Today: 100 Million People [Instagram Blog] – Instagram crosses the 100 million (monthly) user mark.
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Links for November 25th through November 29th:

  • Aussie viral video, ‘Dumb Ways to Die’, lives on [The Age]- “Australia’s fastest-spreading viral video, “Dumb Ways to Die”, has taken on a life of its own, inspiring more than 65 cover versions, 85 parodies and 170 re-posts on YouTube. The original clip, made to promote safety on Melbourne Metro Trains, has amassed more than 28 million views on YouTube since it was posted on November 14. Its creator, ad agency McCann Worldgroup Australia, said its “conservative” estimate was that the campaign had generated $50 million in “global-earned media value” so far, in addition to more than 700 press hits. A new parody clip by Seattle-based creative team Cinesaurus about the Curiosity Mars mission, dubbed “Cool Things to Find”, joins dozens of other parodies and covers including a classic rock version, a Russian cover … “It’s entered popular culture,” said John Mescall, executive creative director of McCann Worldgroup Australia.”
  • Google is publisher according to Australian court [David Banks | Law | guardian.co.uk] – “Google will have to be quicker to remove defamatory content, at least in Australia, after it lost a $200,000 libel action there. […] the tale of Australia’s most successful libel litigant may give Google and other search engines pause for thought. Milorad Trkulja, a music promoter, took action against Google over material online, which linked him with criminal figures in Melbourne. Trkulja has never been involved in any criminal activity, but was unfortunate enough to have been shot in a restaurant in 2004. His lawyers wrote to Google in October 2009 asking for the offending material, which included a number of images, to be removed, but received a reply saying that in line with Google’s policies on content removal he should contact the owners of the website concerned instead. Trkulja sued Google and the jury concluded that the search engine was the publisher of images of Trkjulja and related information which suggested he was involved in crime … “
  • The one-way street to digital lock-in [The Age] – A simple but very important reminder from Hayley Tsukayama that when you buy a mobile device, you’re not just buying a device – you’re committing to a cloud ecosystem and a provider of apps and content that you’ll be locked into for a long time, and probably can’t easily transfer between devices. iPhone apps won’t ever work on a Nexus tablet, nor will Google Play books end up being read on iPads any time soon.
  • PSY Passes Bieber; ‘Gangnam Style’ New Most-Viewed Video of All Time [YouTube Trends] – “Today, global sensation PSY and his wildly popular “Gangnam Style” music video surpassed Justin Bieber’s “Baby” as the most viewed music video (and overall video) of all time on YouTube. As of noon on Saturday (24 Nov 2012), the viewcounts stood at 805 million to 803 million.”
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Links for September 25th through October 7th:

  • Facebook surpasses one billion users as it tempts new markets [BBC News] – "Facebook now has more than one billion people using it every month, the company has said. The passing of the milestone was announced by founder Mark Zuckerberg on US television on Thursday. The company said that those billion users were to date responsible for 1.13 trillion "likes", 219 billion photos and 17 billion location check-ins. The site, which was launched in 2004, is now looking towards emerging markets to build its user base further. "If you're reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you," Mr Zuckerberg wrote in a status update. "Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life." Statistics released to coincide with the announcement revealed there were now 600 million users accessing the site via a mobile device – up 48 million from 552 million in June this year." [Chart Source]
  • Jill Meagher | Trial by Social Media A Worry, Experts Say [The Age] – "The case of Jill Meagher has had the country talking, particularly on social media, but now that someone has been charged it's time to stop being specific, experts say. Jill Meagher was mentioned on social media, both Twitter and Facebook, every 11 seconds early this morning. And the CCTV footage which showed her walking on Sydney Road on the morning she disappeared was shared on the same platforms about 7500 times within two hours … .A Facebook hate group against the accused in the Meagher case has already attracted almost 18,000 "likes". Victoria Police has posted a message on its Facebook page this morning warning users of their legal responsibilities in posting and reminding that "it is inappropriate to post speculation or comments about matters before the courts Thomas Meagher, Jill's husband, today urged people to consider what they posted on Twitter and Facebook."
  • Your YouTube original videos now available in Google Takeout [Google Data Liberation] – YouTube just became a lot more interesting as a storage space for video, not just a distribution platform: "Your Takeout menu is growing.  Today's entrée:  YouTube videos. Previously, you've been able to download individual transcoded videos from your YouTube Video Manager.  But starting today, you also have a more efficient way to download your videos from YouTube. With Google Takeout, you can download all of the original videos that you have uploaded in a few simple clicks.  No transcoding or transformation — you’ll get exactly the same videos that you first uploaded.  Your videos in.  Your videos out."
  • Rupert Murdoch backs down in war with ‘parasite’ Google – Telegraph – "News Corporation plans to reverse an earlier decision to stop articles from its quality papers, such as The Times and The Sunday Times, from featuring in Google’s listings. The effort to stop users from accessing content for free will be watered down, with Google featuring stories in search rankings from next month. The move comes amid fears that the newspapers’ exclusion is limiting their influence and driving down advertising revenues. Sources claim the change was a “marketing exercise”. In the past, Mr Murdoch has lambasted Google as a “parasite” and a “content kleptomaniac” because it only allows companies to feature in search rankings if users are able to click through to at least one page without paying."
  • Google Play hits 25 billion downloads [Official Android Blog] – Google announces that the Google Play store now offers over 675,000 apps and games and that there have been over 25 billion individual app installations to date. (September 2012).
  • Facebook raises fears with ad tracking [CNN.com] – "Facebook is working with a controversial data company called Datalogix that can track whether people who see ads on the social networking site end up buying those products in stores.
    Amid growing pressure for the social networking site to prove the value of its advertising, Facebook is gradually wading into new techniques for tracking and using data about users that raise concerns among privacy advocates.[…] Datalogix has purchasing data from about 70m American households largely drawn from loyalty cards and programmes at more than 1,000 retailers, including grocers and drug stores. By matching email addresses or other identifying information associated with those cards against emails or information used to establish Facebook accounts, Datalogix can track whether people bought a product in a store after seeing an ad on Facebook. The emails and other identifying information are made anonymous and collected into groups of people who saw an ad and people who did not."
  • Facebook Is Now Recording Everyone You Stalk [Gizmodo Australia] – Facebook has announced that they will now record your Facebook search history; every time you search for someone's name, that information will be stored, accessible as part of your 'Activity Log'. The search entries are individually delectable and only visible to you (and Facebook) but the existence of a Facebook search history is a sure sign that Facebook sees real value in recording – and thus data crunching and somehow monetizing – your search history.
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Links for August 29th through September 3rd:

  • Navigating the new multi-screen world: Insights show how consumers use different devices together – Google Mobile Ads Blog – New report funded by Google: “The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior” "discovered that 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal, whether that’s on smartphones, PCs, tablets or TV. We set out to learn not just how much of our media consumption happens on screens, but also how we use these multiple devices together, and what that means for the way that businesses connect with consumers. In understanding what it means to multi-screen, we discovered two main modes of usage:
    * Sequential screening where we move from one device to another to complete a single goal
    * Simultaneous screening where we use multiple devices at the same time
    We found that nine out of ten people use multiple screens sequentially and that smartphones are by far the most common starting point for sequential activity." [Full Report PDF]
  • UKNova made to halt television and radio torrent links [BBC News] – "UKNova has stopped offering BitTorrent links after becoming the latest file-sharing site to be targeted by copyright defenders. Its administrators said they took the action after receiving a demand from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact). UKNova had pitched itself as a free catch-up TV and radio service and had asked its members not to add material available for sale elsewhere. It has been in operation since 2003. UKNova's use of BitTorrent links meant it did not keep any pirated material on its own servers, but rather provided the means for its members to download and upload material to and from each others' computers. […] Unlike many other file-sharing sites, UKNova did not run adverts on its pages. One of its administrators said it was not run for profit, had survived purely from voluntary donations and nobody involved had been paid."
  • Apple kills Star Trek [YouTube] – Clever re-dub of classic Star Trek: The Next Generation footage in the aftermath of Apple's patent lawsuits. Things don't go well for the Enterprise!
  • Are Apple’s innovations inside us now? [CNN.com] – Douglas Rushkoff: "Imagine that we were just developing spoken language for the first time. And someone came up with a new word to describe an action, thought or feeling — like "magnify" or "dreadful." But in this strange world, the person who came up with the word demanded that anyone else who used it pay him a dollar every time the word was uttered. That would make it pretty difficult for us to negotiate our way to a society that communicated through speech. That's the way the patent wars on smartphone and tablet advances are beginning to feel to me. […] Usually, advancements of this sort are developed through consortia of companies. The HTML standards through which the Web is rendered are not owned by a single company, but developed together and used by everyone. Imagine if one musical instrument company owned the patent on the piano keyboard, and another on the tuning of a violin. Or what if every typewriter company had to develop its own layout of letters?"
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Links – catching up – through to August 22nd:

  • Instagram 3.0 – Photo Maps & More [Instagram Blog]- Instagram releases a substantial new update for iOS and Android, adding a new photo maps feature. If the user chooses to do so, the photo maps places all geotagged photos onto an interactive map of the globe which can be navigated by Instagram users’ contacts.
    Instagram 3.0 – Photo Maps Walkthrough from Instagram on Vimeo.

    While the maps function is being rolled out with very clear warnings about revealing locations publicly – with tools to remove geotags from some, groups or all photos – this rollout will no doubt remind (and shock many) users that the geographic tags on their photos mean that these aren’t just photos – they’re important and complex assemblages of data that can be reused and repurposed in a variety of ways.

  • Google to push pirate sites down search results [BBC – Newsbeat] – “Google is changing the way it calculates search results in an effort to make sure legal download websites appear higher than pirate sites. The world’s biggest search engine announced the change in a blog post on its website. The move has been welcomed by record companies in the UK and Hollywood film studios. Movie and music firms have complained in the past that Google should have been doing more to fight piracy. They say searching for an artist, song or film often brings up pages of illegal sites, making it hard to find a place to download a legal version. From next week, search results will take into account the number of “valid copyright removal notices”. Sites with more notices will rank lower, although Google has not said what it considers a valid notice.”
  • Gotye – Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra [YouTube]- Fantastic remix by Gotye, using a huge range of fan remixes of Somebody that I Used to Know and mashing them together. Comes with a full credits list, too: http://gotye.com/reader/items/original-videos-used-in-somebodies-a-youtube-orchestra.html (A great example for Web Media 207.)
  • Facebook removes ‘racist’ page in Australia [BBC News] – “A Facebook page that depicted Aboriginal people in Australia as drunks and welfare cheats has been removed after a public outcry. The Aboriginal Memes page had allowed users to post jokes about indigenous people. An online petition calling for the removal of “the racist page” has generated thousands of signatures. The government has also condemned it. The page’s creator is believed to be a 16-year-old boy in Perth, reports say. “We recognise the public concern that controversial meme pages that Australians have created on Facebook have caused,” Facebook said in a statement to local media. A meme is an idea that spreads through the internet.”
  • Twitter ‘sorry’ for suspending Guy Adams as NBC withdraws complaint [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Twitter on Tuesday reinstated the account of a British journalist it suspended for publishing the email address of an executive at NBC, which had been attracting a significant amount of incoming fire over its Olympics coverage. The incident has not done Guy Adams of the Independent much harm. Apart perhaps from a little hurt pride, he has returned to the twittersphere with tens of thousands of new followers. For NBC, it was another blow to its already battered reputation over its coverage of the London Olympic Games. But Twitter found itself in a deeply unfamiliar situation: as the subject of one of the firestorms of indignation that characterises the platform, but which are usually directed at others.”
  • Murdoch’s tablet The Daily lays off nearly a third of its staff [Media | guardian.co.uk] – “The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s tablet newspaper, has laid off close to a third of its staff just 18 months after its glitzy launch. Executives at the News Corp-owned title told its 170 employees on Tuesday that 50 of them would be let go. Sources told the Guardian that security staff were brought onto the Daily’s editorial floor at News Corp in New York to escort the laid-off employees out of the building. Earlier this month the paper’s editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo denied reports that the media giant had put the title “on watch” and was considering closing it. In a statement Tuesday Angelo said the title was dropping its opinion section and would be taking sports coverage from Fox Sports, also part of News Corp, and other partners. In another cost-saving move the title will also stop producing pages that can be read vertically and horizontally on a tablet, sticking to straight up and down.”
  • If Twitter doesn’t reinstate Guy Adams, it’s a defining moment [Dan Gillmor | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk] – “Once again, we’re reminded of a maxim when it comes to publishing on other people’s platforms: we publish at their sufferance. But there’s a corollary: When they take down what we publish, they take an enormous risk with their own futures.
    This time, Twitter has suspended the account of a British journalist who tweeted the corporate email address of an NBC executive. The reporter, Guy Adams of the Independent, has been acerbic in his criticisms of NBC’s (awful) performance during the Olympics in London. Adams has posted his correspondence with Twitter, which claims he published a private email address. It was nothing of the kind, as many, including the Deadspin sports blog, have pointed out. … What makes this a serious issue is that Twitter has partnered with NBC during the Olympics. And it was NBC’s complaint about Adams that led to the suspension. That alone raises reasonable suspicions about Twitter’s motives.”
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Links for July 25th through July 30th:

  • Apple, Microsoft refuse to appear before IT pricing inquiry [The Age] – “A[n Australian] parliamentary committee wants to force computer giant Apple to appear before it after members became frustrated with the company’s refusal to co-operate. Hearings into the pricing of software and other IT-related material such as games and music downloads will begin in Sydney tomorrow but neither Apple nor Microsoft will appear. ”Some of the big names in IT have taken local consumers for a ride for years but when legitimate questions are asked about their pricing, they disappear in a flash,” Labor MP and committee member Ed Husic told Fairfax Media. ”Within our growing digital economy, there are reasonable questions to be answered by major IT companies on their Australian pricing. These companies would never treat US consumers in this way.” Both Microsoft and Adobe provided submissions to the inquiry.”
  • Don’t tweet if you want TV, London fans told [The Age] – “Sports fans attending the London Olympics were told on Sunday to avoid non-urgent text messages and tweets during events because overloading of data networks was affecting television coverage. Commentators on Saturday’s men’s cycling road race were unable to tell viewers how far the leaders were ahead of the chasing pack because data could not get through from the GPS satellite navigation system travelling with the cyclists. It was particularly annoying for British viewers, who had tuned in hoping to see a medal for sprint king Mark Cavendish. Many inadvertently made matters worse by venting their anger on Twitter at the lack of information. An International Olympic Committee spokesman said the network problem had been caused by the messages sent by the hundreds of thousands of fans who lined the streets to cheer on the British team. “Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say ‘Don’t, you can’t do it’,… “
  • Olympics 2012, Sir Tim Berners Lee and Open Internet [Cerebrux] – Great to see the 2012 London Olympics celebrating World Wide Web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. “Flash forward to last night, he was honored as the ‘Inventor of the World Wide Web’ at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Berners-Lee is revealed in front of a computer keyboard into which he types a message, which is then rendered in lights in the stands of Olympic Stadium: “This is for everyone.” and a message simultaneously appeared on his Twitter account: Tim Berners-Lee@timberners_lee This is for everyone #london2012 #oneweb #openingceremony @webfoundation @w3c
    28 Jul 12
    . A great quote that resembles the openness and the fact that some things should belong to humanity.”
  • The Rise of the “Connected Viewer” [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “Half of all adult cell phone owners now incorporate their mobile devices into their television watching experiences. These “connected viewers” used their cell phones for a wide range of activities during the 30 days preceding our April 2012 survey:
      1. 38% of cell owners used their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks in something they were watching
      2. 23% used their phone to exchange text messages with someone else who was watching the same program in a different location
      3. 22% used their phone to check whether something they heard on television was true
      4. 20% used their phone to visit a website that was mentioned on television
      5. 11% used their phone to see what other people were saying online about a program they were watching, and 11% posted their own comments online about a program they were watching using their mobile phone
      6. Taken together, 52% of all cell owners are “connected viewers”—meaning they use their phones while watching television …”
  • RIAA: Online Music Piracy Pales In Comparison to Offline Swapping [TorrentFreak] – “A leaked presentation from the RIAA shows that online file-sharing isn’t the biggest source of illegal music acquisition in the U.S. The confidential data reveals that 65% of all music files are “unpaid” but the vast majority of these are obtained through offline swapping. […] In total, 15 percent of all acquired music (paid + unpaid) comes from P2P file-sharing and just 4 percent from cyberlockers. Offline swapping in the form of hard drive trading and burning/ripping from others is much more prevalent with 19 and 27 percent respectively. This leads to the, for us, surprising conclusion that more than 70% of all unpaid music comes from offline swapping. The chart is marked “confidential” which suggests that the RIAA doesn’t want this data to be out in the open. This is perhaps understandable since the figures don’t really help their crusade against online piracy.”
  • Robin Hood Airport tweet bomb joke man wins case [BBC News] – Finally: “A man found guilty of sending a menacing tweet threatening to blow up an airport has won a challenge against his conviction. Paul Chambers, 28, of Northern Ireland, was found guilty in May 2010 of sending a “menacing electronic communication”. He was living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, when he tweeted that he would blow up nearby Robin Hood Airport when it closed after heavy snow.
    After a hearing at the High Court in London his conviction was quashed.”
  • The Instagram Community Hits 80 Million Users [Instagram Blog] – As of July 2012, after finally launching an Android app, and being purchased by Facebook, Instagram has 80 million registered users, who’ve posted cumulatively more than 4 billion photos.
  • Music stars accuse Google of helping pirates rip off material [WA Today] – “LONDON: Roger Daltry of the Who and Brian May of Queen are among rock and pop stars who publicly attacked search engines such as Google for helping users get access to pirated copies of their music. Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin have also signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph in London calling for more action to tackle the illegal copying and distribution of music. Other signatories include the producer and creator of The X Factor, Simon Cowell. The letter, which will also be sent to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, this week, highlighted the role that search engines can play in giving people access to illegal copies. Search engines must ”play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites”, the signatories said, adding that broadband companies and online advertisers must also do more to prevent piracy.”
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Links for July 10th through July 19th:

  • Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Stupid Blackout; Viacom Sheepishly Turns Web Streams Back On [Techdirt] – Geography isn’t the only rationale behind imposing digital distance: “Last week, we wrote about Viacom’s really short-sighted decision to use its fans as hostages in a silly dispute with DirecTV over fees. To prevent any DirecTV customer from seeing any of its key shows, Viacom stopped streaming them online… for all customers, meaning that even those who had nothing to do with any of this couldn’t legally watch the shows they liked. As we noted, this would likely only serve to drive more people to find unauthorized versions…. Of course, one of Viacom’s most popular shows — and one of the key ones turned off from streaming — is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which had been on break last week anyway. However, it returned last night with a vengeance, and target number one: his corporate masters at Viacom for acting as if they were China in blocking the internet, and likely driving more fans to unauthorized streams.”
  • Face blurring: when footage requires anonymity [YouTube Blog] – YouTube launches a face-blurring tool within YouTube: “Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube.”
  • Shell social media oil spill a ‘coordinated online assassination’ [The Age] – Shell’s brand has been hijacked in what marketing experts say is a “social media oil spill” and a “coordinated online assassination of the Shell brand”. It’s a fake PR disaster that has snowballed into a very real one for Shell as web users are under the impression that it is an official company campaign. It started when an Arctic Ready website appeared online about two months ago that looked almost identical to the Arctic section on Shell’s own site. The site appeared to be an educational site about Shell’s oil drilling in the Arctic – complete with “Angry Bergs” kids game – but invited people to create their own ads by adding their own marketing copy over supplied photographs of the Arctic. User-generated ads could then be shared on social media. … For all intents and purposes, it looks like a real Shell marketing idea that has spun out of control …
    But in reality … the Arctic Ready website, and the viral video, were created by activists Greenpeace and The Yes Men.”
  • Downloads: ‘It’s cheaper to pay a wage, fly to the US and back twice’ [SMH]- “Australians are paying 50 per cent more than American shoppers for downloaded music and games, as well as computer software and hardware, consumer watchdog Choice says. In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into IT Pricing, Choice says Australians are on the wrong end of of international price discrimination by copyright holders. New research carried out by the group found price differences across a range of IT products including iTunes downloads, PC games, personal and business software, Wii console games and computer hardware. “In Australia you pay, on average, 52 per cent more than an American consumer will for the same 50 top iTunes songs,” says Choice head of campaigns, Matt Levey.””A selection of 44 popular home and business software products were, on average, 34 per cent more expensive in Australia than the US.”
  • Council’s new social media policy – rethinking our networks [Marketing Summit 2012] – While these things are never perfect, the new Australia Council for the Arts Social Media Policy is well-written, mindful of the specificities of social media platforms and engagement (not risk!) centred. This policy will probably prove a useful template for corporations and organisations trying to figure out their own policies for social media use. Kudos to former Creative Commons stalwart Elliot Bledsoe for spearheading the new policy development.
  • Facebook scans chats and posts for criminal activity [Internet & Media – CNET News] – Facebook is intensively data-mining Facebook chat; the justification: “If [Facebook] detects suspicious behavior, it flags the content and determines if further steps, such as informing the police, are required. The new tidbit about the company’s monitoring system comes from a Reuters interview with Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan. Here’s the lead-in to the Reuters story: “A man in his early 30s was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day. Facebook’s extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police. Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day.” Facebook’s software focuses on conversations between members who have a loose relationship on the social network.”
  • Facebook set to unfriend anonymous snooping[The Independent]- I genuinely doubt this will be rolled out on Timelines; it’d reduce time spent on Facebook. Stalking – more advertising views, after all.”The end is nigh for anonymous stalking on the social media website Facebook. The website has announced that it is going to start letting users know who has viewed items on the social network, a change which is expected to cause the amount of online snooping to plummet. For now, the change to the Facebook website, which has more than 900m active users, applies to group pages, meaning users can see who has visited any group of which they are a member. But already there are suggestions that Facebook may unfurl the technology across the site, meaning the naughty-naughty-stalky-stalky generation may soon see their fingerprint-free snooping habits curtailed, or face the embarrassment of their ex’s new boyfriend/girlfriend realising they were too curious to resist an online-curtain twitch.”
  • CV Dazzle: Camouflage From Computer Vision by Adam Harvey – “CV Dazzle™ is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection. Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook (see CV Dazzle vs PhotoTagger by Face.com). [Via Jill]
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Links, catching up, through to July 10th:

  • What to Watch? AUDIENCE MOTIVATION IN A MULTI-SCREEN WORLD [Screen Australia: Research] – New report from Screen Australia (released June 2012) which investigates the viewing habits of audiences in Australia. The report is careful to highlight the ongoing impact of traditional methods and advertising, but focuses most significantly on social media users. The report characterises 35% of Australians over the age of 14 as ‘connectors’ who both enjoy screen culture and are frequent social media users, often using social media to discuss their favourite content. The reach of these online discussions, and impact on other viewers (including those who don’t use social media) is substantial and significant. [Read the full report.]
  • Recruiting Via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter Continues To Grow [AllFacebook] – “A total of 92 percent of U.S. companies use social networks and social media to recruit talent, up from 78 percent five years ago, according to new research from recruitment platform Jobvite, which also found that although LinkedIn remains dominant in the sector, Facebook and Twitter continue to make inroads. Other findings in the 2012 annual Social Recruiting Survey from Jobvite: Two-thirds of companies now use Facebook for recruiting, while 54 percent use Twitter. LinkedIn continues to rule this category, at 93 percent.” [Infographic]
  • Origin of the @reply – Digging through twitter’s history [Anarchogeek] – A quick overview of the social emergence of the @reply convention on Twitter.
  • Some YouTube Partners Are Making Tens of Millions Of Dollars A Year [SFGate] – “Speaking at IGNITION West, Shishir Mehrotra, vice president of product management of YouTube, said the channels have increased engagement. Mehrotra also said TV creators are now running test shows on YouTube before running it on TV. “We are the world’s biggest focus group,” he said. Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff, who was leading the discussion, questioned whether or not we are going to see big time stars come out of YouTube anytime soon. Mehrotra answered, “hundreds of people are making 6 figures, some are making tens of millions of dollars.””
  • Twitter ordered to hand over Occupy tweets [BBC News] – “A US court has ordered Twitter to release old messages and details about a user arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. The micro-blogging firm contested the subpoena, saying the tweets were owned by users rather than the company. But a judge said defendant Malcolm Harris’ privacy would not be violated if the material was handed over. Earlier, the American Civil Liberties Union commended Twitter for defending free speech rights. “If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy,” Judge Matthew Sciarrino wrote in his decision. Nevertheless, the judge said he would personally review the information and would only release the relevant sections to prosecution and defence lawyers.”
  • Facebook’s email switch prompts criticism by users [BBC News] – “Facebook is facing a backlash from users after replacing email addresses listed in members’ contacts with those provided by its @facebook.com system. The company said it had acted to make details “consistent” across its site. If Facebook’s email system takes off it could drive more traffic to the firm’s pages helping boost advertising sales. But some users have branded the move “annoying” and “lame” and publicised instructions on how to display original addresses instead of the Facebook ones.” And here’s a guide on Forbes showing how to change your Facebook email address back if you’d prefer.
  • Gamers get adults-only R18+ classification [The Age] – Finally! “An adults-only computer game rating category will at last become a reality with legislation passing federal parliament yesterday. The new law fulfils the Commonwealth’s part of a deal with states and territories to include an R18+ rating in the games classification system. “These are important reforms over 10 years in the making,” Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said in a statement yesterday. “The R18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material. […] Previously, the highest rating for computer games has been MA15+ meaning overseas adult-only games are usually banned here or given a lower classification allowing children to obtain them.
    The new laws bring computer games in line with the classification system for films and other material and make Australia more consistent with international standards.”
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Links for June 5th through June 15th:

  • Hundreds of dollars, no sense as Gillard’s #cashforyou tweets backfire [The Age] – Poorly thought through promotional hashtags – a new Australian tradition, it seems: “The federal government has been bombarded with scorn on Twitter this morning after its ministers used the hashtag “cash for you” to promote its School Kids Bonus. […] Ms Gillard’s advisers, known as TeamJG on Twitter, tweeted: “Talking to parents & students about the Schoolkids Bonus at Marrickville West Public School #cashforyou.” #cashforyou has quickly become the top trending topic on Twitter in Australia today, ahead of usual placegetters Justin Bieber and local singer Reece Mastin. But the hashtag has drawn scathing responses from users. “#CashForYou? That’s the line the ALP is going for? At least when Howard did middle-class welfare he wrapped it up in patriotism,” tweeted one. Another read: “I’m worried the #cashforyou message might be too subtle and nuanced to really cut through.”
  • YouTube chief mulls paid subscription [Reuters] – “YouTube is exploring selling subscriptions to access to some of its video offerings, potentially providing a way for certain cable channels to be available outside the traditional “bundles” offered by cable network providers, said YouTube boss Salar Kamangar. Cable channels with smaller audiences will in the future migrate to the Web and become available on an “a la carte” basis, Kamangar said at the Reuters Media and Technology Summit on Thursday. […] “We don’t have anything to announce now. It is something that’s really important to a lot of our top existing content creators as well as ones that aren’t on YouTube today, so we’re taking very seriously and we’re thinking about it very carefully,” said Kamangar, Google senior vice president, YouTube and video.”
  • The IOC to show live coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games on YouTube in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa [YouTube Blog] – In short, anyone in a country that DOESN’T have a broadcaster paying the IOC for exclusive rights TV rights will be getting the Olympics for free on YouTube. Australians, however, get a team led by Eddie McGuire. *sigh* “This summer, from July 27 to August 12, the world will turn their attention to London to watch the daily trials and triumphs of the greatest living athletes at the Summer Olympic Games. Today, we’re excited to announce that millions of Olympic fans from across 64 territories in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will have a chance to watch the games live from London on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/olympic. In total, the IOC’s YouTube Channel will offer fans in these countries over 2,200 hours of high-definition sporting event coverage from London 2012, including all the medal finals.”
  • The Yellow Australian Social Media Report 2012 [Sensis] – “The consumer survey found that 62% of internet users have a presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. Facebook dominates the social media space, capturing 97% of social networking users. it is used by more than 90% of social media users from both sexes and all age groups, with average users spending more than six hours a week on the site. Whilst some sites have dominated in the social media space, this is sometimes at the expense of other site. People were most likely to nominate having stopped using MySpace in the past year.” [Full Report PDF]
  • picplz shutting down [blog plz] – Just two months after Instagram launched their Android version and PicPlz, one of the better (and much earlier) Android photo tweaking and sharing apps is shutting their doors. They’ve given a month’s notice that all data will be deleted and PicPlz erased on 3 July 2012.
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