Social Media moves so fast, it’s hard to keep up. Here’s the week’s top stories, in scan-friendly format.

This week:

  • TechCrunch Is Full of What?
  • Social Networking Attracts 75% of Online Europeans - comScore
  • Zcapes Launches Microblogging/Activity Stream Service For Mobile Web
  • Baby Boomers Using Social Media
  • Yelp.com Outed For Mafia-Like Extortion

TechCrunch -- Full of Crap?

In a spat that was handled in blog format for the whole world to see, Last.fm responded to a recent story featured in Techcrunch. The Techcrunch article stated that Last.fm provided data to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that would have given the RIAA information related to who had listened to a recently "leaked" U2 album.

Richard Jones from Last.fm denied the accusation on the Last.fm blog, saying that Last.fm provided no such data to the RIAA. In his post, Jones went on to reference an Ars Technica article that discredited the accusations presented in the Techcrunch article.

Aside from the back and forth arguments between the RIAA, Techcrunch and Last.fm, this episode continues to show the power of social media and blogs specifically as platforms for companies to have 'public' exchanges. Also, it's kind of fun to watch organizations spat, from a spectator's point of view.

Social Networking Attracts 75% of Online Europeans

According to research firm comScore, of the 282.7 million European internet users, 211 million visited a social networking site. This means social networking was used by a whopping 74.6% of the Euro Internet population. Which countries are logging on to social networking sites the most? The United Kindgom and Spain had the highest penetration rates with percentages of 79.8% and 73.7% respectively. The countries of Norway and Austria had the lowest penetration of countries studied by comScore.

These rates of social networking penetration are incredible and should be welcome news to the likes of Bebo, Facebook, MySpace and other top social network sites. The study identifies Facebook.com as the most popular social networking site in France. MySpace and Flickr.com were in also in the top.

Switching gears to Germany, it seems the Germans love their online video. YouTube showed a fast rate of adoption and has become the most popular video site in Germany. Of those asked, 77.1% of online Germans watched online video in the month of December 2008.

Zcapes Launches Microblogging/Activity Stream Service For Mobile Web

With Twitter, you can have a conversation with many of your online friends about any topic whatsoever. Combine this with the fact that Twitter seems to be used heavily at events such as conferences and convention, and you have the need for a micro-blogging platform that is centered around an event or object. This is a niche that Zcapes seeks to fill.

Zcapes allows users to build websites around a specific event that is very mobile friendly. By bringing in web conversation elements from sources such as Twitter, Flickr, Messages, RSS and others, you can build a searchable, mobile website centered around an event or object you're involved with.

We are anxious to see these types of services come mature as the real-time web bridges the gap between cyberspace and events happening in real life.

Baby Boomers Using Social Media

Also from the "how real people are using the social web" department, we have more research from Forrester that counters conventional thinking with regards to social media. The stereotype goes like this: social media participants are 20 and 30-somethings who have been raised on the Internet and therefore Baby Boomers aren't consuming or creating social media.

However, as Jeremiah Owyang's research shows, more than 60% of those who are a part of the Baby Boomer generation actively consume social media content such as blogs, videos, podcasts and so on. In fact, 67% of those asked reported using social media in the form of leaving comments and responding to social media items. This shows that Boomers are not only consuming social media but contributing to it as well!

Any company or service trying to build an attractive product should take heed to these numbers and consider the large Baby Boomer population when formulating their market strategies. Baby Boomers have needs that are specific to their generation and if they are ignored, web service providers and vendors could be missing out on a large portion of the Internet population.

Yelp.com Outed For Mafia-Like Extortion

The premise of social media is that we can all contribute media to one another, eliminating the middle man and letting the peoples' voice be heard. Yelp.com is a web service centered around this idea -- that anyone can leave a comment or review around a restaurant or any business for that matter. The site prides itself on being a place for "Real Reviews by Real People".

However, this popular review website had a PR black eye last week when the East Bay Express, a San Francisco-area newspaper, outed Yelp for their extortionist practices. The Express story stated that Yelp.com salespeople were calling business who received bad reviews and offered to "make them go away", thereby making the business look more favorable on Yelp.com's business listing.

Yelp.com responded with a blog post saying the Express' story was an example of shotty journalism. Yelp's CEO went on to say in his post that the newspaper's story relied too heavily upon the testimony of numerous anonymous sources and was thereby not worthy of trust.

However Yelp.com responds to the story, this type of PR is bad for any type of business who has built their business model around gaining the trust of its citizen reviews and providing unbiased "real-world" results for business establishments.

What is your opinion on Yelp.com and their recent firestorm of bad press? Please leave a comment below and let us know your opinion.