Over the next month, I’m lucky enough to be involved in three separate events focused on infancy online, digital media and early childhood. The details …

[1] Thinking the Digital: Children, Young People and Digital Practice – Friday, 8th September, Sydney – is co-hosted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner; Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University; and Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney. The event opens with a keynote by visiting  LSE Professor Sonia Livingstone, and is followed by three sessions discussing youth, childhood and the digital age is various forms.  While Sonia Livingstone is reason enough to be there, the three sessions are populated by some of the best scholars in Australia, and it should be a really fantastic discussion.  I’ll be part of the second session on Rights-based Approaches to Digital Research, Policy and Practice. There are limited places, and a small fee, involved if you’re interested in attending, so registration is a must! To follow along on Twitter, the official hashtag is #ThinkingTheDigital.

The day before this event, Sonia Livingston is also giving a public seminar at WSU’s Parramatta City campus if you’re in able to attend on the afternoon of Thursday, 7th September.

[2] The following week is the big Digitising Early Childhood International Conference 2017 which runs 11-15 September, features a great line-up of keynotes as well as a truly fascinating range of papers on early childhood in the digital age. I’m lucky enough to be giving the conference’s first keynote on Tuesday morning, entitled ‘Turning Babies into Big Data–And How to Stop it’.  I’ll also be presenting Crystal Abidin and my paper ‘From YouTube to TV, and Back Again: Viral Video Child Stars and Media Flows in the Era of Social Media‘ on the Wednesday and running a session on the final day called ‘Strategies for Developing a Scholarly Web Presence during a Higher Degree & Early Career’ as part of the Higher Degree by Research/Early Career Researcher Day.  It should be a very busy, but also incredibly engaging week!  To follow tweets from conference, the official hashtag is #digikids17.

[3] Finally, as part of Research and Innovation Week 2017 at Curtin University, at midday on Thursday 21st September I’ll be presenting a slightly longer version of my talk Turning Babies into Big Data—and How to Stop It in the Adventures in Culture and Technology series hosted by Curtin’s Centre for Culture and Technology.  This is a free talk, open to anyone, but please either RSVP to this email, or use the Facebook event page to indicate you’re coming.

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A new piece in The Conversation from Crystal Abidin and me …

File 20170502 17277 1wirwwy

DaddyOFive parents Mike & Heather Martin issue an apology for their prank videos. / YouTube

Tama Leaver, Curtin University and Crystal Abidin, Curtin University

The US YouTube channel DaddyOFive, which features a husband and wife from Maryland “pranking” their children, has pulled all its videos and issued a public apology amid allegations of child abuse.

The “pranks” would routinely involve the parents fooling their kids into thinking they were in trouble, screaming and swearing at them, only the reveal “it was just a prank” as their children sob on camera.

Despite its removal the content continues to circulate in summary videos from Philip DeFranco and other popular YouTubers who are critiquing the DaddyOFive channel. And you can still find videos of parents pranking their children on other channels around YouTube. But the videos also raise wider issues about children in online media, particularly where the videos make money. With over 760,000 subscribers, it is estimated that DaddyOFive earned between US$200,000-350,000 each year from YouTube advertising revenue.


Philip DeFranco / WOW… We Need To Talk About This…

The rise of influencers

Kid reactions on YouTube are a popular genre, with parents uploading viral videos of their children doing anything from tasting lemons for the first time to engaging in baby speak. Such videos pre-date the internet, with America’s Funniest Home Videos (1989-) and other popular television shows capitalising on “kid moments”.

In the era of mobile devices and networked communication, the ease with which children can be documented and shared online is unprecedented. Every day parents are “sharenting”, archiving and broadcasting images and videos of their children in order to share the experience with friends.

Even with the best intentions, though, one of us (Tama) has argued that photos and videos shared with the best of intentions can inadvertently lead to “intimate surveillance”, where online platforms and corporations use this data to build detailed profiles of children.

YouTube and other social media have seen the rise of influencer commerce, where seemingly ordinary users start featuring products and opinions they’re paid to share. By cultivating personal brands through creating a sense of intimacy with their consumers, these followings can be strong enough for advertisers to invest in their content, usually through advertorials and product placements. While the DaddyOFive channel was clearly for-profit, the distinction between genuine and paid content is often far from clear.

From the womb to celebrity

As with DaddyOFive, these influencers can include entire families, including children whose rights to participate, or choose not to participate, may not always be considered. In some cases, children themselves can be the star, becoming microcelebrities, often produced and promoted by their parents.

South Korean toddler Yebin, for instance, first went viral as a three-year-old in 2014 in a video where her mom was teaching her to avoid strangers. Since then, Yebin and her younger brother have been signed to influencer agencies to manage their content, based on the reach of their channel which has accumulated over 21 million views.


Baby Yebin / Mom Teaches Cute Korean baby Yebin a Life Lesson.

As viral videos become marketable and kid reaction videos become more lucrative, this may well drive more and more elaborate situations and set-ups. Yet, despite their prominence on social media, such children in internet-famous families are not clearly covered by the traditional workplace standards (such as Child Labour Laws and that Coogan Law in the US), which historically protected child stars in mainstream media industries from exploitation.

This is concerning especially since not only are adult influencers featuring their children in advertorials and commercial content, but some are even grooming a new generation of “micro-microcelebrities” whose celebrity and careers begin in the womb.

In the absence of any formal guidelines for the child stars of social media, it is the peers and corporate platforms that are policing the welfare of young children. As prominent YouTube influencers have rallied to denounce the parents behind the DaddyOFive accusing them of child abuse, they have also leveraged their influence to report the parents of DaddyOFive to child protective services. YouTube has also reportedly responded initially by pulling advertising from the channel. YouTubers collectively demonstrating a shared moral position is undoubtedly helpful.

Greater transparency

The question of children, commerce and labour on social media is far from limited to YouTube. Australian PR director Roxy Jacenko has, for example, defended herself against accusations of exploitation after launching and managing a commercial Instagram account for her her young daughter Pixie, who at three-years-old was dubbed the “Princess of Instagram”. And while Jacenko’s choices for Pixie may differ from many other parents, at least as someone in PR she is in a position to make informed and articulated choices about her daughter’s presence on social media.

Already some influencers are assuring audiences that child participation is voluntary, enjoyable, and optional by broadcasting behind-the-scenes footage.

Television, too, is making the most of children on social media. The Ellen DeGeneres Show, for example, regularly mines YouTube for viral videos starring children in order to invite them as guests on the show. Often they are invited to replicate their viral act for a live audience, and the show disseminates these program clips on its corporate YouTube channel, sometimes contracting viral YouTube children with high attention value to star in their own recurring segments on the show.


Sophia and Rosie Grace featured on Ellen after their viral Nicki Minaj video.

Ultimately, though, children appearing on television are subject to laws and regulations that attempt to protect their well-being. On for-profit channels on YouTube and other social media platforms there is a little transparency about the role children are playing, the conditions of their labour, and how (and if) they are being compensated financially.

Children may be a one-off in parents’ videos, or the star of the show, but across this spectrum, social media like YouTube need rules to ensure that children’s participation is transparent and their well-being paramount.

Tama Leaver, Associate Professor in Internet Studies, Curtin University and Crystal Abidin, Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT), Curtin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Links through to May 21st:

  • Sensis Yellow Social Media Report 2013 [PDF] – The new Sensis Yellow Social Media Report is out (based on a survey of 937 Australians in March and April 2013), showing widespread social media use, with growth in mobile and second screen uses:
    * 95% of AUstralian social media users use Facebook
    * The typical Australian spends 7 hrs/wk on Facebook
    * 67% of Australians access social sites on a smartphone
    * 42% of Australians use social media while watching TV
  • A better, brighter Flickr [Flickr Blog] – Yahoo have majorly redesigned Flickr, giving new free (ad-supported) accounts 1Tb of storage, which is an awful lot of photos. The Android app is now almost identitcal to the iOS app, but the new aesthetics of the web-based version are a big change, looking more and more like every other photo-sharing service around today. Quite a few long-term Flickr users (of which I am one) have voiced a range of concerns about the design changes. Also, what this redesign means for people who’ve already paid for Pro accounts is deeply unclear on the main Flickr pages. (The Twitter account seems to suggest nothing changes.)
  • Yahoo! to Acquire Tumblr / Yahoo [Yahoo News Centre] – Yahoo buys Tumblr for $1.1 billion and, in their words, “promises not to screw it up”. A clever buy for Yahoo, but it’ll be hard to integrate the rebellious/youth Tumblr userbase into the Yahoo brand.
  • Introducing Photos of You [Instagram Blog] – Just in case you momentarily forgot that Facebook owns Instagram, the photo-sharing service has just added the ability to tag photos (remarkably similar to Facebook’s tagging function). Looks like Instagram needs a better map of your personal networks before they can harness it commercially.
  • Follow the audience… [YouTube Blog] – May 2013 and YouTube users “are watching more than 6 billion hours of video each month on YouTube; almost an hour a month for every person on Earth and 50 percent more this year than last.”
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Links through February 23rd:

  • Nielsen Agrees to Expand Definition of TV Viewing [The Hollywood Reporter] – Nielsen ratings reflect that online TV ratings are growing and matter: “The Nielsen Co. is expanding its definition of television and will introduce a comprehensive plan to capture all video viewing including broadband and Xbox and iPads … By September 2013, when the next TV season begins, Nielsen expects to have in place new hardware and software tools in the nearly 23,000 TV homes it samples. Those measurement systems will capture viewership not just from the 75 percent of homes that rely on cable, satellite and over the air broadcasts but also viewing via devices that deliver video from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, from so-called over-the-top services and from TV enabled game systems like the X-Box and PlayStation. While some use of iPads and other tablets that receive broadband in the home will be included in the first phase of measurement improvements, a second phase is envisioned to include such devices in a more comprehensive fashion.”
  • Billboard and Nielsen Add YouTube Video Streaming to Platforms [Billboard] – The Billboard music charts in the US finally adapt to include online activity, including YouTube streaming data, and suddenly Baauer’s meme-tastic ‘Harlem Shake’ debuts at the top of the Billboard chart! The ratings, they are a-changing.
  • Why I’m Done Posting Photos of My Kid On Facebook [Chicago Now] – Short but well written piece on why parents should be more careful about what photos etc they share of their kids online. Author calls parents “online guardians”. “We all want to believe that Facebook takes parents’ concerns about privacy seriously. But the truth is that Facebook is a publicly traded company that cares first and foremost about making its shareholders happy. We have no idea how far it will go to do so, especially since the company is not extraordinarily profitable right now. But what we do know is that Facebook is pushing our boundaries now, often, to see just how much of our privacy we’re willing to give away.”
  • Instagram users begin fightback against stolen photos [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Solid piece on the challenges of photos from Instagram (and the web in general) being used by others without permission. Copyright, theft, credit and ethics all get a mention, but the short version is: if copyright is understood on the web (often it’s not), it’s often not respected whatsoever. For the Instagram examples, I can only image this will get worse, not better, with Instagram moving more solidly onto the web proper, not just mobile devices.
  • Introducing Your Instagram Feed on the Web [Instagram Blog] – Furthering their shift to looking more and more like parent-company Facebook, Instagram have expanded the web presence associated with each username, allowing the liking, commenting and exploring of the people you follow on Instagram without use of a mobile device. The only thing you can’t do is upload an image from the web (yet).
  • Coming and Going on Facebook [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “Two-thirds of online American adults (67%) are Facebook users, making Facebook the dominant social networking site in this country. And new findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project indicate there is considerable fluidity in the Facebook user population: * 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more. * 20% of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so. * 8% of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are interested in becoming Facebook users in the future.”
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Links through to January 16th:

  • Beatles’ First Single Enters Public Domain — In Europe [Techdirt] – The Beatles remain the iconic pop group, so news on VVN/Music that their very first single has now entered the public domain is something of a landmark moment in music:
    The Beatles first single, Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You, has entered the public domain in Europe and small labels are already taking advantage of the situation.The European copyright laws grant ownership of a recorded track for fifty years, which Love Me Do just passed. That means that, starting January 1 of 2013, anyone who wants to put out the track is free to do so.
    Unfortunately, if you’re in the US, you’ll probably have to wait until 2049 or so. And things are about to get worse in Europe too. As Techdirt reported, back in 2011 the European Union agreed to increase the copyright term for sound recordings by 20 years,
  • App Store Tops 40 Billion Downloads with Almost Half in 2012 [Apple – Press Info] – Apple passes 40 billion app downloads: “Apple® today announced that customers have downloaded over 40 billion apps*, with nearly 20 billion in 2012 alone. The App Store℠ has over 500 million active accounts and had a record-breaking December with over two billion downloads during the month. Apple’s incredible developer community has created over 775,000 apps for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® users worldwide, and developers have been paid over seven billion dollars by Apple.”
  • World Map of Social Networks [Vincos Blog]“December 2012, a new edition of my World Map of Social Networks, showing the most popular social networking sites by country, according to Alexa traffic data (Google Trends for Websites was shut down on September 2012). Facebook with 1 billion active users has established its leadership position in 127 out of 137 countries analyzed. One of the drivers of its growth is Asia that with 278 million users, surpassed Europe, 251 million, as the largest continent on Facebook. North America has 243 million users, South America 142 million. Africa, almost 52 million, and Oceania just 15 million (source: Facebook Ads Platform). In the latest months Zuckerberg’s Army conquered Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia and Vietnam.”
  • Over 8 million game downloads on Christmas Day! [Rovio Entertainment Ltd] – Rovio’s big Christmas download haul: “Wow, what a year! We released four critically-acclaimed bestselling mobile games, developed two top-rated Facebook games, and reached more than a billion downloads — all before our 3rd “Birdday”! Angry Birds Star Wars and Bad Piggies in particular have dominated the app charts, with Angry Birds Star Wars holding the #1 position on the US iPhone chart ever since its release! To top it all off, we had 30 million downloads during Christmas week (December 22-29) and, on Christmas Day, over 8 million downloads in 24 hours alone!”
  • R18+ game rating comes into effect [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – Finally: “An R18+ video game rating has come into effect across Australia after a deal between the states and the Commonwealth last year. The change means some games that were previously unavailable to adults can go on sale, whereas others that could be accessed by children will become restricted. The issue had divided interest groups, with some claiming the new classification would protect children but others feared it would expose them to more violent games. Legislation to approve the rating was passed by the Senate in June. Under the previous classification regime, the highest rating for computer games was MA15+, meaning overseas adults-only games were either banned in Australia or given a lower classification, allowing children to obtain them.”
  • Two billion YouTube music video views disappear … or just migrate? [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Despite rumours of massive cuts to major record labels’ YouTube channel counts, the explanation is rather more banal: “Universal and Sony have, since 2009, been moving their music videos away from their YouTube channels and over to Vevo, the music industry site the two companies own with some investors from Abu Dhabi. YouTube, meanwhile, thinks that is only right to count channel video views for videos that are still actually present on the channels – which means that whenever YouTube got round to reviewing the music majors’ channels on its site, a massive cut was always going to be in order.”
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Links for December 18th through December 22nd:

  • From Grumpy Cat to Gangnam Style: The Best Memes of 2012 [Wired.com] – 2012 was a big year for memes, from McKayla Is Not Impressed to Texts From Hillary. And Gangnam Style …
  • Gangnam Style Makes YouTube History: First Video to Hit 1 Billion Views [YouTube Blog] – Gangnam Style the first YouTube video to clock one billion views! “A million views? You know what’s cool? A billion views. Today, a 34-year-old K-Pop artist made online video history when his viral video, Gangnam Style, smashed our records and became the first video ever to reach one billion views. Yup, that’s right one BILLION views! PSY’s success is a great testament to the universal appeal of catchy music– and er, great equine dance moves. In the past, music distribution was mostly regional. It was more difficult to learn about great artists from around the world. But with a global platform at their fingertips, people are now discovering and sharing amazing music from all over the planet, by artists like Brazilian Michel Teló and Belgian-Australian Gotye.”
  • Your Twitter archive [Twitter Blog] – Twitter finally rolls out – for everyone – the ability to download your entire Twitter archive: “Today, we’re introducing the ability to download your Twitter archive, so you’ll get all your Tweets (including Retweets) going back to the beginning. Once you have your Twitter archive, you can view your Tweets by month, or search your archive to find Tweets with certain words, phrases, hashtags or @usernames. You can even engage with your old Tweets just as you would with current ones. Go to Settings and scroll down to the bottom to check for the option to request your Twitter archive. If you do see it, go ahead and click the button. You’ll receive an email with instructions on how to access your archive when it’s ready for you to download.”
  • i-am-cc.org – Free your Instagram photos with a Creative Commons license! – That’s a clever idea: an explicit tool for adding a Creative Commons license to your Instagram photos, and for finding Instagram photos which have Creative Commons licenses.
  • Germany orders changes to Facebook real name policy [BBC News] – “A German data protection body has ordered Facebook to end its policy of making members use their real names. The policy violates German laws that give people the right to use pseudonyms online, said the data protection agency in Schleswig-Holstein. The agency has issued a decree demanding that Facebook let people use fake names immediately. Facebook said it would fight the decree “vigorously” and that its naming policy met European data protection rules. “It is unacceptable that a US portal like Facebook violates German data protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end,” said Thilo Weichert, head of the regional data protection office in Schleswig Holstein, in a statement. … The decree issued by the Schleswig Holstein office was “without merit” a Facebook spokeswoman told tech news site IT World adding that it planned to fight the order.”
  • Coming Soon: Nielsen Twitter TV Rating [Twitter Blog] – The second screen just got serious: “Today Nielsen announced an agreement with Twitter to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,” an industry-standard metric that is based entirely on Twitter data.  As the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming. This new metric is intended to answer that request, and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating. You can read more about the news on Nielsen’s site here. Ultimately, we have one goal for this new metric: to make watching TV with Twitter even better for you, the TV fan. I look forward to sharing more about this effort in the months to come.”
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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 September 24th through September 25th:

  • Disruptions and dividends: a fast broadband Australia [ABC] – A fantastic speech from the ABC's Managing Director Mark Scott, given in September 2012, highlighting the challenges and opportunities the public broadcaster faces in the era of broadband and digital distribution. Scott sees the huge amount of time-shifted streaming of children's television as a harbinger of a future driven by immediacy, while the recent move to make episodes of Doctor Who available online (on iView) the second they finish in the UK signals the only way to answer online piracy: provide a better and easier service.
  • Creepshots and revenge porn: how paparazzi culture affects women [The Guardian] – Disturbing but well-written piece on 'creepshots' and the broader cultural context in which they exist: "… we arguably all live in a paparazzi culture now. Cameras are ubiquitous, as is the technology to share and publicise pictures instantly. The throb of surveillance plays out in different ways. On the more benign side are the mild nerves many people feel when an email pops up to tell them they have been tagged in a Facebook photo, an image that could be from any moment in their life – recent or historical – now public, and open for comments. But it also plays out in more insidious ways. This includes the creepshot websites, and others where people collect images of ordinary women they have culled from around the internet."
  • Facebook Suspends Facial Recognition in Europe [Wall Street Journal] – "Facebook has voluntarily switched off its facial recognition service in Europe following a privacy audit by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC). The company says it wants to reinstate the feature once a form of consent can be found that meets the guidelines."
  • Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation [The Atlantic] – "Park Jaesang is an unlikely poster boy for South Korea's youth-obsessed, highly lucrative, and famously vacuous pop music. Park, who performs as Psy (short for psycho), is a relatively ancient 34, has been busted for marijuana and for avoiding the country's mandatory military service, and is not particularly good-looking. His first album got him fined for "inappropriate content" and the second was banned. He's mainstream in the way that South Korea's monolithically corporate media demands of its stars, who typically appear regularly on TV variety and even game shows, but as a harlequin, a performer known for his parodies, outrageous costumes, and jokey concerts. Still, there's a long history of fools and court jesters as society's most cutting social critics, and he might be one of them. […] Gangnam is a tony Seoul neighborhood, and Park's "Gangnam Style" video lampoons its self-importance and ostentatious wealth, with Psy playing a clownish caricature of a Gangnam man."
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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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