eModeration’s Social Round-up #37

 Welcome
to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in
the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams. For more social
media snippets, follow her on @emodkate – or for general twittery,
@KateVWilliams. 

This
week: This week: judges can Google; the Conservative’s Great Social
Media Adventure; and marketing on Chatroulette… in Lycra. Plus: we’d
still love your feedback on these updates: tweet Yay! or Boo! to
@emodkate. It’ll take ten seconds, promise.
 

THE HEADLINES …

So: after months of tossing and turning; of agonized grimaces and broken
nights, Google has finally pulled the tooth that was ailing it, and quit
China
: an April 10 pullout is mooted. In an effort to continue
offering uncensored results to its Chinese users (and not at all to
cling on to the revenue potential attached to 800 million Chinese
internet users – don’t be ridiculous), Google began redirecting
users
to their uncensored Hong Kong site, announcing that they’d be
‘carefully monitoring access issues’.

Sure enough, the Chinese government began
disabling
certain search results, and China’s national mobile
provider dropped
Google
as its default search engine. Chinese netizens found
themselves back where they first began: censored. But to be perfectly
frank, they don’t seem all
that fussed
. China’s increasingly affluent middle class have, till
now, been avid Googlers; but even amongst this key constituency there
was little sympathy for Google’s position, with many, according to the
Telegraph, feeling that the company had been disrespectful of local
mores, a feeling even
more pronounced
amongst ‘mainstream’ Chinese. So when, for a short
while on Tuesday morning, Google’s corporate pages were displayed in
Chinese, many
cried ‘hack’
– despite Google’s protestations.

Meanwhile, Dell and Go Daddy want to join the
Leavin’ Train
, with the latter telling a US Congress committee
hearing that the company no longer had the stomach for
domain-registrations in China, where new regulations now demand photo ID
from anyone registering a .cn domain.

But Westside, Google’s self-penned profile as ‘stout defender of
internet freedoms’ is increasingly under scrutiny. Co-founder Sergey
Brin’s Guardian interview, in which he positioned Google as Poster Corp.
for digital liberation whilst berating Microsoft for working within
China’s rules, got backs
a-bristling
: several commentators pointed out that this was
Google’s own strategy until – ooh, three months ago?

Fred Teng in the
Huffington Post
, meanwhile, calls for tolerance for China, whose
journey from feudal island to globally-connected digital nation has, he
points out, been laudably swift.

There’s not many matters in this world upon which we can all agree – but
the proposition ‘Nestle’s week has been a bit …meh’ might, I suspect,
be
one of them
. Item: their Facebook page was targeted by Greenpeace.
Item: their response went from ‘placatory’ to ‘I’m deleting yo’
account’, then dashed back to ‘I never meant to hurt you’ – in what felt
like moments
, with bystanders gazing on in open-mouthed horror. At
the time of going to press, Nestle’s Facebook page was best described as
a
sit-in
– and this painful episode can’t fail to spotlight the huge
variation in the quality of brands’ moderation policies. Jake McKee has
some useful thoughts here
– upon which we were delighted to comment.

Brace yourselves – Facebook’s latest
privacy battle
could have huge implications for all UGC platforms,
potentially shifting the responsibility for protecting personal privacy
away from users, and onto social networks. European regulators are
investigating whether the privacy of people whose photos and videos are
posted on social networks is being habitually breached.

There’s been a deal of huffing
and puffing
about the upcoming ‘Social Media Election’, with BBC
journalists
explaining Twitter to social slowpokes, and expounding
on how both parties are utilizing it to sway voters. Facebook launched a
new page called Democracy
UK
, where its posting news of a political nature for all and
sundry to comment upon);
ITN hosted live
online debate
during their budget special; and new
tools for tracking party-political
sentiment
– like Yomego‘s,
pictured here – are being launched Left, Right and Centre.

The Tories were first out of the gate: it emerged
that they were outpacing Labour on Facebook by a ‘connection’ ratio
of two to one
. Alas, their social success went straight to their
heads and, minded to build upon their initial victory, they launched a rather
snazzy Facebook campaign
which incorporated a Twitter feed of the
hashtag #cashgordon. Alas, opponents discovered that the feed was entirely
unmoderated
, and took the opportunity to bombard the site with an
awful lot of – how to put it? – brand-negative comments. Worse still,
they discovered that the site didn’t strip html, allowing those
less-than-positive reviews to really, you know, shine
out
. The website was removed later that day.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has described ‘superfast’
broadband
as the “electricity of the digital age”. Outlining
Labour’s plans, he promised ziptastic speeds for every citizen, as well
as a webpage through which to manage their interactions with local
government – a proposal which, according to the government, could slash
billions from the public service budget, and generate a quarter of a
million jobs. 

Best not to mention, then, the ongoing
brouhaha
over the government’s plans for our digital future which,
it must be said, are not meeting with unqualified support.  

THE LOWDOWN … 

Following a tip-off from the FBI, French police
arrested the man responsible for hacking Barack
Obama’s Twitter account
late last year – then released him, after
he claimed that, far from being a master-criminal, he’d simply guessed the
President’s password
(His birthday? “ThePrezz”? or [gulp].. “password?”). All rather embarrassing
for the man they’re calling the first president of the digital age. 

Then, in an intriguing instance of plot-thickening, ReadWriteWeb
revealed
unconfirmed reports that the hacker was the very same
bounder who leaked Twitter’s confidential business plans to TechCrunch,
who chose to publish them, despite a flurry of controversy. 

Truth is, there’s not much in digital life that can
truthfully be called ‘secure’ – this was the takeaway from the annual
Pwn2Own contest
at the CanSecWest security show, which challenges
hackers (sorry, ‘security experts’) to break into a roster of everyday
devices and software. This year, the scallywags succeeded in hacking
into nearly every major browser (Safari, Firefox and IE8), as well as
stealing the entire SMS database of a non-jailbroken iPhone.


Eew. Director of Public Health Peter Kelly this
week claimed that the rise of social networking has produced an
alarming spike
in reported cases of syphilis. Sites like Facebook,
he said, were “making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex,”
and several of the syphilis cases he’d seen “had met sexual partners
through these sites.” Facebook, understandably keen to quash the ‘ridiculous’
idea
, pointed out that correlation is not quite the same as causation. Nevertheless – yikes. 

Ah, hindsight is always 20:20; foresight – not so
much. All the more impressive, then, is the
inspired guess
made by Nik Tyler, who a year ago registered three
domain names: ipaddownload.com, ipaddownloads.com and ipaddownloads.net.
They are now on the market; a million bucks will snag all three. 

You have your lycra tiger-suit ready? And your scary
clown-mask? Good, then we’ll begin our ‘Marketing on Chatroulette’ 101,
as taught by Stage
Two Consulting
. They advise marketing execs wishing to explore the
potential of the latest social craze to “have several masks/outfits
available in case the occasion arises.” Bless.

Facebook’s Gross
National Happiness Index
has landed in the UK, revealing the
emotional ineptitude of the average Brit in all its glory – we are, it
seems, only really free with our emotions in the matter of family, TV
and the Weather. Disappointingly, the Index focuses on extremes of
emotion – happiness, or sadness – and so fails to track those
sentiments which, in my experience, are most frequently demonstrated by
we Brits: ‘mild annoyance’, ‘qualified enthusiasm’, and
‘schadenfreude’. 

This is genuinely rather impressive – Franklin Page, a
fleet-of-thumb employee of text-software company Swype, has beaten the
World Record for texting at speed: you can watch and marvel here.
Huzzah – the astonishing and bizarre viral clip of a Russian
lounge singer
warbling something called ‘Trololo’ has been given
it’s own iPhone app! If you’ve not yet had the pleasure, do take a look:
you will be tickled pink, or horribly disturbed – one or t’other.  

NEWSBYTES … 

Online dating is now so mainstream an activity that
it’s now bigger than the online adult industry, and is worth a humungous
one billion dollars per year, according to this new
infographic
from Online Schools.

A US federal appeals court has ruled
that a judge who is unsure about a matter of common knowledge may use
Google. Never again will a member of the bench be flummoxed by the name
of a popular beat combo.  

Analysts
are predicting
that Apple will bite 40% of the tablet and e-reader
market this year, sending shares zooming. And the iPad is already
attracting high-end and big-name
advertisers
to its apps, causing ripples of relief to bloom
throughout an anxious ad industry. The New York Times reporting that the
going rate is anywhere between $75,000 and $300,000, and adds that it’s already sold its first two
months of post-launch inventory. 

Schoolkids
in Japan
will be using Nintendo DS’s in class before the end of the
year, the education authorities there having spotted the platforms
wealth of educational titles. 

Global web use continues its relentless
upward trajectory
, with users on average spending 5.5 hours on
social networks last month – up more than two hours on the previous
year’s figures. 

New data
from Hitwise
suggests that users who come to news sites via
Facebook are more loyal than those who are directed by Google news.

And finally, stop counting those Twitter stats. New
research
finds very little correlation between Twitter counts and
actual influence – so there.  

That’s all folks!