Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Social Sites Deliver the News

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

It comes as no surprise that many Americans are now getting their new from the web, or more specifically from social networking sites. But the scale of the exodus from traditional media seems to be increasing. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, now more than 3 in 10 US adults get their news from Facebook.

The majority claim that although it’s not the main reason that they log in to the social networking site, they do read the news stories when logged on. Perhaps the more worrying statistic is that only a third of users on the site, get their news from an organisation or journalists news feed. This suggests that they’re getting their current affairs and news directly from friends.
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There are other sites which people are turning too, including YouTube, Twitter and Google Plus. Although in many places and establishments many sites like this including Facebook are blocked (workarounds are common though).

There is no doubt that social media sites like Facebook are going to be a major sources of news for many users in the years ahead. It is hoped that traditional news media with qualified and respected journalists are still represented well on here. The problem is that these sites are largely responsible for controlling what we see and have access to primarily through their algorithms.

The control doesn’t stop there though either, especially if you consider the practice of geotargeting. Websites also control who is able to access their site depending on location. So for instance a site like Pandora or Hulu, blocks anyone who tries to access from outside the USA. The BBC won’t allow anyone to use the wonderful Iplayer application if they are based outside the UK. In fact you can’t watch any of the UK TV stations online if you’re outside the country – unless you use a technique from this video.

Monday, November 19th, 2012

In the UK there has been a series of sex scandals relating to famous and influential people.  It started with the revelations of a TV star called Jimmy Saville and every week another celebrity seems to be implicated.  Much of this is often fueled by a torrent of online gossip and speculation on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.  But for those of us who do tend to gossip a little too freely online there is a cautionary tale to be told.

Last week a BBC documentary (this link if you’re outside UK) covered yet another of these allegations, with out naming the individual involved.  There were some clues however and pretty soon the rumour mill had started up and guesses and accusations were flying around the internet.  Unfortunately the information in the documentary was basically wrong, and the person implied to be guilty of a series of sex attacks was completely innocent.  The name that was flying about the ether was wrong, the accusations unfounded and the accused man very angry and hurt.

The apology came of course in the end, the shambolic investigation by the Newsnight team led to the Director General of the BBC resigning.  Damages were paid and we thought it would then disappear, but not this time.  The falsely accused individual had emplyed a team of Twitter experts to compile a list of all those who had Tweeted and spread the false allegations.  His aim was to sue them all for damages.  The list includes some TV personalities like the comedian Alan Davies and ran to thousands of names.  There was always a sense of anonymity to using Twitter but the reality is that anyone is easily traced by their IP address even if they use false details.

There is little anonymity for anyone online so you should take as much care with what you say online as you do offline.  Also remember that your audience is likely to be significantly bigger!  If you do wish to try and hide your identity then you should be careful about what details you put on any social media accounts.  Also consider investing in a privately run secure connection software which completely obscures your identity online.  There are bonuses to using these because they come with a wide array of servers you can use different IP addresses in different countries – just like these.  So you can switch to a British IP if you want to watch the BBC Iplayer, a US one for Hulu or whatever you need.  Whatever you do though, always presume you have less privacy than you think you do!