Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:
- Mark Zuckerberg Says Privacy Is In The Past
- Social Networks Help Raise Money for Haiti
- Facebook Now Allows You To Comment Via Email
- Exploring Tweets: What Twitter Users Talk About
Mark Zuckerberg Says Privacy Is In The Past
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of the popular social networking site Facebook, recently stated to a public audience that if he were to build Facebook again, users' status updates and other information would be made public by default, not private as it once was. Unless you've changed your privacy settings, these items are now made public: Name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks and friends list.
This about face on security is quite alarming, as Facebook is a very popular service that meets the social needs of many online netizens who trust the social networking utility with a fair deal of personal information. Zuckerberg doesn't seem to realize this when he says, "We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are."
Facebook currently has about 350 million users on the site with thousands more being added each day. The social networking upstart would not have likely gained such a vast audience if all user information and updates were publicly distributed. For illustration, look at Twitter's growth, which hasn't been nearly as rampant as Facebook's. Twitter follows a model of publicly available updates whereby almost anyone can see your status updates.
The fact is, on Facebook, as with email, users have an expectation of privacy and if Facebook doesn't keep conscience of this, their popularity and potential profitability will be in jeopardy.
Social Networks Help Raise Money for Haiti
If you're active online, you may have seen efforts to help raise money for the victims of the Haitian earthquake. There is a campaign to text the term "Haiti" to a shortcode and US$ 10 will be given to the American Red Cross and deducted from your phone bill. According to the Red Cross, they have raised more than US$ 3 million, which is a remarkable number.
How did the Red Cross raise such an enormous amount of money? The answer is simplicity: they immediately set up a simple donation method by utilizing a simple SMS message. Also, social networks such as Twitter or Facebook have been active with messages spreading the word about this easy way to donate to the Red Cross. Twitter has shown the term as a trending topic for the last few days since the earthquake.
However, with all this text messaging and social networking powered giving, there are a few warnings to throw out. Be sure you know who you're giving to as there are fraudulent organizations that have been set up that can take advantage of this situation. Before you give to any organization, make sure you verify its legitimacy with a trustworthy source.
Facebook Now Allows You To Comment Via Email
Facebook can be seen as a very distracting force. Considering the social networking site can contain images and thoughts of your closest friends and relatives, the site has a stickiness factor like no other on the Internet. This is why some workplaces have banned the site altogether on their corporate firewalls.
How do you get around these restrictions if you are Facebook? One way: allow interaction with Facebook via email! We've had email updates from Facebook for a long time. That is, whenever anyone replies to a status update, comments on a photo or posts on your wall, Facebook provides a friendly email to alert you to the new activity. The new feature provides users with the ability to reply to the email and have the update appear in Facebook, without having to log into the Facebook site.
This new feature will easily allow workers to correspond with Facebook friends via email, spreading the productivity level drop over to Outlook or whatever email client corporate users happen to be using.
Exploring Tweets: What Twitter Users Talk About
Those who are opposed to using Twitter often say they are not interested in the service because of the lame comments about users' cats or what they had for lunch. This indicates that the public sees Twitter conversations as pointless exchanges between users of the service.
To explore this idea, TextWise conducted a study to see what Twitter users talk about and gained context about the millions of messages exchanged on Twitter. By looking at 8.9 million messages composed by 2.6 million users, the organization sought to peek into the language behind the tweets sent out every day.
Of these 8.9 million messages, 31% of them were replies to tweets posted by other users, and roughly 6% were retweets (which are re-broadcasts of earlier messages). Sharing links is a popular activity on Twitter, as roughly 22% of tweets contained a URL of some type.
English is the most popular language on Twitter, comprising 61% of all tweets. Looking deeper -- what do Twitter users talk about? 30% of all tweets are user's current status, such as "sitting at Starbucks" or "Waiting for my lunch partner to show up" and 27% of the tweets are private conversations. This means roughly only 10-20% of the messages on Twitter are meaningful for a broad audience.
Looking at these figures, it seems that to 'get' Twitter, you have to be an active user on the service. This is because from an outsiders point of view, the stereotype is true: Twitter is mainly composed of people talking to each other about subjects, offering little value to those outside the network.