Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • How Social Networking Sites Are Selling Your Identity
  • Twitter Users Like Ads
  • New England Patriots Build Their Social Presence Soley on Facebook
  • Facebook Users Are Urban And Affluent

How Social Networking Sites Are Selling Your Identity

When users entrust a social network with their personal data, they do so hoping the information is not taken for granted. That is, we expect a bit of privacy with regards to the data we leave on such sites.

If you fall into this category, you'll be alarmed at a new article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that outlines how third parties are getting access to your personal information. Sites such as are utilizing cookies from up to ten different tracking domains. These sites are using hard-to-delete cookies that remain on your computer system long after you've browsed the site.

Many sites on the Internet use cookies to enhance their website and make them more usable, but these third party tracking cookies called into question should alarm even the most passive web user. The EFF shows us that our web browsing data is being passed to websites and companies we have no existing relationship with.

How can you protect yourself? The EFF suggests strengthening your cookie policy, disabling Flash Cookies and using a proxy server, if possible.

Twitter Users Like Ads

Amongst users of social networking, it seems Twitter users are much more open to the idea of advertisements and engaging with brands. In a recent study from Interpret, a research firm, Twitter users are twice as likely to interact with brand advertisers on the popular social messaging site. That is, 24% of Twitter users rated and/or reviewed products online versus 12% of other social network users. Also, 20% of Twitter users said they would visit company profiles on the service.

Why might this be? Perhaps because of how the Twitter user experience is architected. Twitter is a constant stream of information and messages rather than a destination social site where users are more likely to be put off by ads in their face. Also, Twitter is a trust-based social network where brands are forced to interact with users in a more engaging and authentic way.

Do you mind Twitter ads?  Are you more likely to converse with a representative from a company on Twitter versus Orkut, Facebook or another social networking site?

New England Patriots Build Their Social Presence Only on Facebook

There is a debate that occurs inside companies who want to engage with users in a social networking capacity. The lingering question is: should a company build their presence on their own website using their existing assets or engage the public on a third party site such as MySpace, Facebook or Twitter?

The New England Patriots, a US-based professional football team has opted to build their social media hub on Facebook, the current power player in social networking. The teams "Fan Zone" is a place on Facebook where users can see an event calendar, play fantasy football and play trivia games based on Patriot players of today and yesteryear. The most glaring fact is that this is not available on the Patriots official website, rather it is all housed in Facebook.

This approach has obviously taken some of the importance of their official website away. The Patriot's organization better hope that Facebook doesn't suffer the same fate as MySpace, the once dominant social networking site. That is, if users flock away from Facebook, all the work and energy spent building up the Fan Zone may go to waste.

Facebook Users Are Urban And Affluent

What type of demographic does Facebook attract? According to Nielsen, if you are in the US and you utilize Facebook, you are affluent and most likely living in an urban environment.

We often hear of a digital divide in the United States consisting of more affluent people having access to the Internet and poorer populations that are not able to get access to online resources. It appears that this gap is appearing with regards to users of social networking sites as well.

Of those in the higher income demographic groups, these users are 25% more likely to use Facebook than those in lower income brackets. Additionally, users who are less affluent are more likely to be on MySpace. 

It is not apparent why Facebook attracts more affluent users. Perhaps because it is new and popular amongst professionals and MySpace is more attractive to teenagers who have much lower incomes.  As Facebook continues to grow its user base, this trend is likely to continue.