to eModeration’s round-up of all that
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: iPad opening-night reviews; the Jobs-Schmidt kaffeeklatsch;
and Chicken Curry Crispy Pancakes
After months of anxious anticipation, News International announced this
week that, from June, it
will charge TimesOnline readers £1 per day, or £2 per week. The
announcement was met with the kind of fatalistic acquiescence which more
usually accompanies the eventual arrival of a train which will be
taking you somewhere you’re not at all sure you want to go.
Stationmaster Rupert Murdoch – who last year barked gruffly that
‘quality journalism is not cheap’ – is now on track to route his other
news-engines The Sun and the News of the World through the big
paywall tunnel: the success, or otherwise, of his journey will be
closely followed by a
If Britain votes the way it tweets, we can anticipate a slim Labour
victory or a hung parliament. So say the tweeps at political site Tweetminster,
who’ve analysed mentions and sentiment across the microblogging site in
an effort to predict the outcome of the general election. They’ll be
regularly taking Twitter’s temperature as the election draws closer,
focusing particularly carefully on the televised leaders debates.
Early this week China delivered a series of draconian domestic edicts,
which specified in chilly detail the precise tone with which Google’s
exit from China was to be discussed in the media and on the internet –
Mashable reproduces the memo, here.
And, for an intriguing portrait of China’s culture of censorship – one
in which up to 280,000 individuals are paid to ‘astroturf’, blanketing
the Net with comments which paint the authorities in a glowing light –
look no further than to Ars
Ofcom revealed this week that many UK children
aged 8-12 already have social media profiles – despite the fact
that the lower age limit is 13. Research showed that a quarter of
children in that age-range had Facebook, MySpace or Bebo profiles last
year – and that 17% of their parents weren’t aware of the fact.
Meanwhile, the government’s internet safety adviser Prof Tanya Byron told
the BBC that children should be actively discouraged from using
social networks – and she warned that, though the UK leads the way in
keeping children out of danger on the Net, much more could be done to
engage with children themselves, and to improve industry standards for
newer technologies – particularly mobile phones.
Elsewhere, researchers at Newcastle University have developed
technology which they believe could help to trap paedophiles. The
software logs the speed and rhythm at which users type, and can
determine the users age, sex and even culture within 10 keystrokes.
A file-sharing case against a British teenager was dropped
this week, just two weeks before the trial was due to begin.
Michael Wyatt had been charged with copyright offences, following a
heavy-handed raid on his home by police and officials from
music-industry body, the BPI. Wyatt faced a possible 10 years in jail,
but his lawyers successfully argued that the matter should always have
been a civil, not a criminal, case.
Stateside, however, it seems the campaign against illegal file-sharing
is gaining a relentless momentum. The tap was abruptly
turned off at mammoth bit-torrent site Isohunt this week, when a US
court ordered that all copyright-infringing material must be
immediately taken down. But as Mashable
notes, while Isobar provides links to copyright-infringing
material, so does
Google. Is Isohunt’s search box any different than Google’s search
box, they ask?
Meanwhile, some 20,000
individual downloaders have been sued in a Washington court for
copyright violations, and a major Hollywood studio has advertised for
“IT literate” student interns to monitor their peers in suspected piracy
hotspots. The job ad prompted the somewhat partisan but reliably-amusing
Gizmodo to ask, “Are you an unloved member of digital society? Have
you been shunned by your (peer to) peers? Then Warner Bros. has just
the job for you, Judas.”
This week, the wires were fairly buzzing
with the news that Apple chief Steve Jobs and Google boss Eric
Schmidt had been spotted chatting à deux, in a café in downtown Palo
Alto. Relations between the two have been chilly, borderline
frost-bitten, since Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board, and the
unlikelihood of the tête-à-tête unleashed a deal
of speculation that it was a set-up – yet another instance of
Apple’s historically brilliant image-management. This explanation goes
part-way to explaining the Two Capos’ air of studied casualness, but
leaves the critical question – ‘why on earth..?’ – hanging frustratingly
in the air.
The cosy kaffeeklatsch has nevertheless provided much ammunition for
weary chroniclers of the troubled Jobs-Schmidt relationship. TechCrunch
cogitates over which of many iconic cinematic face-offs the
encounter most resembles (I lean towards Bergman’s The Seventh Seal). Gizmodo,
meanwhile, hired ex-law enforcement official and ‘body linguistics
expert’ Janine Driver to confidently
explain that the two men trust one another a measly 33% – and that
one is scared of the other. Can you guess, my dearies, which one is
which? A hearty slap on the back to all those who deduce that Eric fears
Steve – a fact apparently evidenced by the hunching of his shoulders,
in futile hope of making himself a smaller target.
It is fair to say that the British political caste is not, at present,
held in high esteem by the average citizen. But if ever there were a
‘count your blessings’ moment, it is this
piece of news, which reveals that a Bulgarian politician has been
dismissed from a council committee for spending too much time on social
game Farmville – during committee meetings. Attempting to excuse
himself, but succeeding only in ramping-up the appalled hilarity by a
factor of ten, the politician claimed his fellow members were equally,
if not more guilty – because they had reached a higher level in the
Great news for fans of ersatz
retro British ready-meals. Responding to a 4500 strong petition on
their Facebook Fanpage, Findus executives have agreed to reinstate
Chicken Curry Crispy Pancakes: too long absent, you’ll agree, from our
Last week, an alarming Russian lounge singer ‘miming’ to a song called
Trololo. This week: an alarming cat repeats
the disquieting feat. I know: we spoil you.
Shriek! Three days to go before the launch of the iPad! And look, Mashable
gives us a handy guide to the reviews which are beginning to trickle
in. The Wall Street Journal apparently declares it is “pretty
close” to being a laptop killer, while the New York Times thinks
it’s “basically a gigantic
iPod touch.” One thing is certain: we can expect much, much more along these lines in the
Two remodellings of the social media space to admire this week:
Glee guys are holding an open casting for the next series on
MySpace – so if you are between the ages of 16 and 26, and possessed of
pizzazz, you may upload your audition from now until April 26.
And Republican Tim Pawlenty, the go-getting
Governor of Minnesota, has requisitioned a Facebook page, on which
he plans to conduct official town-hall meetings.
Our friends and clients at ITV, meanwhile, will soon be using the Pluck
social media platform to allow This
Morning viewers to interact with the programme’s content by leaving
their own online comments. The platform will also extend the social
reach of This Morning – and other shows like Loose Women, Coronation
Street, and the network’s 2010 World Cup footage – by bridging out to
users’ Twitter and Facebook profiles (Full disclosure: we’re delighted
to be breaking this new social media telly ground alongside them. )
79% of people who follow brands on Twitter become more likely to
recommend those brands to others after doing so, with 67% saying they
are more likely than before to buy the brand they’ve followed. Figures
for Facebook fans are respectively 60%, and 51%, according to new
research from Chadwick Martin Bailey.
Meanwhile, 2009 online display ad-spend dropped
4.4% on the previous year – the first time annual figures have
tumbled since 2001.
Roll up, roll up for another ride on Facebook’s
privacy merry-go-round! An update to the Facebook blog announces
that – in anticipation of the launch of its location-sharing feature –
the site has “added the concept of a ‘place’ that could refer to a Page,
such as one for a local restaurant” to it. Which left most of us none
But let’s face facts: there’s not a huge chance that The ‘Book will have
a dramatic change of heart when it comes to privacy – its strategies
are working out pretty well so far. New figures from Website Monitoring
find that 80,000 web sites are now running Facebook Connect, including
two-thirds of the Top 100 US web sites – with a whopping 60 million of
us engaging with external Connect apps each month. Facebook is becoming,
Media Influence notes, a ‘second Web’.
Meanwhile, the site has peremptorily junked
the concept of ‘Fans’, opting instead to have users ‘Like’ brands.
As Facebook cheerily points out, ‘people click “Like” almost two times
more than they click “Become a Fan”’ – leaving others
to point out that many users won’t realise that they are signing up for
brand updates to their newsfeed.
On which associated note, Facebook has contacted
the creator of Facebook Purity, a Greasemonkey script which removes
unwanted app notices – first to demand that he nix the word Facebook,
then to insist that he drop the whole damn thing. Which, since
Greasemonkey scripts live in users’ browsers – and has nothing to do
with Facebook – is what is technically known as ‘a flippin’ cheek’.
A cracking week for Twitter, who twirled their new-look, dynamic
homepage, to gasps of admiration. Well, perhaps not gasps, but you
get my drift. The snazzy redesign for non-logged in users shifts focus
from Trending topics, which now scroll sideways across the top section
of the screen, to a rolling list of popular tweets by featured users –
Slebs, in other words. The Times called it ‘slightly
hypnotic’, and that’s got to be good.
What’s more, the site’s Tweets-per-day index now stands at 53 million,
up 30% from December, with March growth a more-than-respectable 14.6%.
TechCrunch have cunningly identified what they’re calling Twitter’s nine-month
bounce – a regular pattern of adoption in which new users tweet
merrily away for a while, then hit the Slough of Twitter Despond between
3 and 6 months, before finally hitting their air-punching peak after
they pass the 9-month hurdle. From that point, they’re hooked. No
wonder Biz Stone perkily
announced this week that “later this month (we’ll be) revealing
exactly how we plan to make a sustainable source of income.”
Coca-Cola is using the tagline ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ to launch
its Dr Pepper brand into social media, challenging the public to
risk excruciating social embarrassment in the hope of winning ringtones
and cash prizes.
Love it or hate it, you’ve got to bow down to the scope of Marmite’s
ambition. This week sees the advertising and social media launch of two
new political parties on dedicated election site
www.marmitenewsnetwork.com. The Love Party tempts us to “Spread the
Love” by highlighting Marmite’s nutritional values and offering anger
management courses for Marmite haters. The Hate Party urges us “Stop the
Spread” of Marmite, suggesting designated “Marmite-eating” zones and a
compulsory label-change to “Tarmite”.
Tourism Australia is offering the public a chance to win a working
holiday in the Outback if they can through a ‘boomerang’
app far enough. The winner will be the Facebook user who throws the
virtual boomerang via as many Friends as possible before “catching” it
Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher has partnered with
DisneyFamily.com to launch GetHatched.com, “A Chick’s Guide to Life.”
The site offers female-orientated
content on “solutions for the needs of all women”, and offers users
the chance to blog about the challenges of balancing their busy lives.
General Motors, recently given a rocky ride in the wake of its financial
rescue, has beefed up online
customer service with a team specifically charged with monitoring
social media noise, and engaging directly with customers on Facebook,
MySpace and Twitter.
Asda is leveraging the Mum
vote as the general election approaches. They’ve lined up the three
party leaders for web-chats with their customers, and are looking for a
team of Asda mummy-bloggers to share their thoughts on the political
issues that matter to them.
Upcoming blockbuster superhero movie Kick-Ass is being promoted via a
viral Facebook Connect game, which allows users to turn Facebook
photos of themselves or their friends into a self-designed super-being.