eModeration’s Social Media Round Up #26

to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in
the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams (@emodkate).

In this update: Do U Haiku?; Facebook in ‘News’ news; and Engadget’s off-switch.

And do remember to check back later in the week, when we’ll be casting
a perky eye over Facebook, Twitter, and the most social brands.


Hillary Clinton this week dispensed a blunt warning:
the West urgently needs to develop its virtual defences against cyber
terrorism. The US Secretary of State declared that tanks, bombers and
missiles were “no longer sufficient” to protect cyber and energy
networks – nor to neutralise ‘threats of terrorism and destructive

A Tory government would apply market-based thinking
to deliver superfast broadband speeds of ‘up to 100 Mbps’, the Shadow
Chancellor George Osborne said this week. He’d let private investors
piggy-back BT’s ‘local loop monopoly’ to fund cabling upgrades – and
would happily extend the current 3.5% levy on the license fee if
private investment failed. But Labour critics crowed
that the move would be cheering news for both Rupert Murdoch’s Sky, and
The Carphone Warehouse – whose cofounder has donated £150,000 to Tory
Party coffers.

Ach, they grow so fast! You look away for five minutes and the next
thing you know, your little social network (bear with me) has grown
into a strapping news portal! Facebook this week celebrated its 6th (I know!) birthday by crossing the 400m user mark, updating its look
– and becoming a player in online news. Last week, 3.5% of visits to
sites in the news and media category came from Facebook – up from just
1% this time last year, and comfortably outranking Google News to claim
fourth place in the Big List of News Portals. (Intriguingly, Venturebeat here analyses the extent that Facebook could administer First Aid to newspapers.)

Elsewhere in the world of online news, a steely-jawed (bear with me again) Rupert Murdoch reiterated his attachment
to paywalls – and simultaneously delivered a sideswipe at The
Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, who recently said that news-subscriptions
were akin to “sleepwalking to oblivion”. Murdoch’s response: a John
Wayne-esque “sounds like BS to me”.

Meanwhile, NewsCorp’s strategy is attracting renewed attention, after Star TV’s head honcho was bussed in
to oversee News International’s online sites. Commentators are
intrigued by the possibility that Mr Murdoch is contemplating an extra
50p a week on Sky subscriptions, to help pull off his putative paywall
plans – and they cite magazine rival Newsday’s recently-averted paywall disaster,
in which a laughable 35 initial subscribers to Newsday.com was
translated into a respectable 1.5m users by bundling online news in
with cable subscriptions.

Mega-tech site Engadget took action
this week, after a mass Trollathon broke out on their comments pages,
following their coverage of the iPad launch. After page upon page of
abusive posts – many of which accused the site of being Apple stooges –
Engadget’s weary editor Joshua Topolsky took action, and flicked the
‘comments’ switch to OFF. Whilst the strategy does not feature heavily
in the book of social media best practice, it’s hard not to admire his
grit (though we’d love you to come and have a word with us next time,


Three elegiac cheers for Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who poignantly tweeted
his resignation haiku this week: “Financial crisis / Stalled too many
customers / CEO no more.” Here at the Round-up we feel that Haiku – a
form beloved of all rilly-deep (but also rilly time-poor) thinkers
everywhere – should certainly be more widely employed; join us in
agitating loudly for Twitter to formally adopt a five-seven-five
syllable rhyme-scheme for its outage notices.

She’s in and out like a fiddler’s elbow, that Lily Allen. The Sun reports that the headstrong songstress has at last returned to Twitter,
after an interruption of four whole months. “Hello, I’m back” was her
re-opening gambit – and she promises “exciting news” to come. Out of
chaos, comes order.

In confirmation that there’s nothing we Websters like more than a
snifter of salacious tittle-tattle with our morning tea, Forbes
magazine has crowned Perez Hilton King of the Web
– news which cannot but conjure visions of Michael Arrington (2nd),
Pete Cashmore (3rd), and those Twitter guys (4th) all doing brave
smiles, whilst furiously penning Op Eds deploring the rise of Sleb-Web

Facebook has rushed to nix the page belonging to notorious underworld boss
Colin Gunn, after he used the network to make not-even-thinly-veiled
threats against former associates. The gangster – who is currently
serving a 35-year sentence for conspiracy to murder – managed to
maintain a Facebook page despite rules which say prisoner’s access to
the internet must be strictly supervised.

And in Incontrovertible Proof that the coming general election will be
all about social media (well, maybe a bit about the Economy, and Tax,
and other stuff), Labour MP Derek Wyatt has launched an iPhone app
to let voters tell their local MP what they think. Currently, Mr Wyatt
is the only member using the service – and he’s stepping down at the
next election – but we’re quite sure more will be along presently.


In an admirably imaginative collaboration, Childline has partnered
with teen girls’ social net Stardoll to encourage young women to
express their emotions, through a range of online tools. The move
follows an earlier partnership during National Beat Bullying Week – a
contest which attracted 250,000 votes. Read more here on the eModeration Blog.

In a comprehensive rundown of the social media habits of teens and young adults, the Pew Research Centre reports that 62% of US teens
head online for news and current affairs – rising to a mammoth 77%
during a major event like an election; a massive 86% of social
networking teens post comments on friend’s pages; and teen blogging has
dropped from 28% to 14%. For the full monty, Pew’s research is here.

Meanwhile, another study finds a link between excessive internet use and depression – but doesn’t say which comes first. Researchers from Leeds University
found that small proportion of teenage web users could be classed as
‘addicts’ – and that this group were more likely to also suffer from
depressive illness.

Speculation mounts that Amazon is planning to upgrade
its e-reader Kindle with touch-screen tech, to go head to head with the
iPad. The company this week acquired New York start-up Toucho, which
has recently been working on an interpolated, pressure-based – and
cheap – touch-screen capability.

In other Amazon news, the e-tail giant was this week forced to back down
in its standoff with publisher Macmillan, and accede to the publisher’s
demands for a higher cover price for bestseller and hardback releases.
Macmillan’s titles – including the current Man Booker winner – were
briefly removed from Amazon’s virtual shelves as the two tussled over a
disputed price hike.

Skittles.com – whose social media makeover
gained much industry attention last year for its inclusion of a live
stream of Tweets on the brand, whether or not they were positive – has
stepped back from a strategy of absolute transparency. The new site
offers users a range of ‘offbeat’ shareable content including YouTube
videos and quirky photos – but the ‘chatter’ stream has now gone.

That’s all folks!