QuickLinks - Social networking, user-generated content
QuickLinks - Social networking, user-generated content
Issue no. 389 - 22 June 2008
- DE - Jugend- und Datenschutz in der digitalen Welt
(Deutsches Digital Institut)
Workshop in Berlin am 21. Mai 2008. Teilnehmer u.a. Frank Zimmermann (SPD-Fraktion im Abgeordnetenhaus), Marcus Riecke (studiVZ), Joel Berger (MySpace), Grietje Staffelt (Grünen-Fraktion im Bundestag), Sabine Frank (Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Multimediadiensteanbieter). Die klassischen Instrumente des Jugend- und Datenschutzes werden den Anforderungen der neuen Sozialen Netzwerke nicht gerecht. Dies ist das Fazit des mit hochkarätigen Vertretern aus den Bereichen Politik und Medien, Betreiber und Nutzer der führenden Sozialen Netzwerke besetzten Workshops des Deutschen Digitalen Instituts, Berlin.
Issue no. 388 - 1 June 2008
- Anyone can have a social site now
(Net Family News)
Google has announced Friend Connect, allowing people to add social-networking features to any existing blog or Web site for free. So now it's really true that there could be as many social-networking sites in the world as there are Internet users. Because we've arrived at where creating a blog, a Web page, or a social-networking site is as cut-'n'-paste a proposition as using Word. But let's think about the child-safety implications too. Have the US's state attorneys general thought about age verification for every young Web site owner or blogger and somehow making them as well as MySpace and Facebook impose it on every visitor to their sites? The other issue hardly anybody in the US talks about is how international the social Web is. Do US attorneys general think any law or technology could require overseas sites to verify the ages of US-based users? See also Google to Connect Friends Across the Web (Washington Post) and MySpace, Facebook, et al: Data portability.
- EU - ENISA asks for new legislation on social networking sites
Europe's top Internet security agency, ENISA, called for new legislation to police social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. "Social networking sites are very useful social tools but we must make recommendations for how to better protect people from the risks these sites create," said Andreas Pirotti, executive director of ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency). He suggested that EU legislation be expanded "to cover the taking of photos of people and posting them on the internet," he said, adding that currently there is no need to get a person's consent in order to post a photo of them. He also said there is a "crucial need" to raise awareness about how social networking sites work. Few people realize that they can be offered up as friends to people they don't know. Also, many people don't realize that it's almost impossible to erase material once it has appeared on the internet, Pirotti said.
- The Top 10 Social Networking Annoyances
It's great to keep in touch with your friends and colleagues, but does the price have to be spam, zombie bites, and friend invitations from people you've never heard of?
- UK - Facebook users warned about ads
Credit companies are using the Facebook social networking site to target young people, a debt charity has warned. Credit Action says adverts promising cheap loans for people with poor credit ratings are appearing on the site and many break advertising regulations. In particular, they are promoting two new products - payday loans secured against a salary or logbook loans secured against a car.
- UK - Social networking site bans the over 36s in sex offender claims
A social networking site has deleted most of its users over the age of 36 because it claims older users pose a danger of sex offending. It claims to be forced into the action by the Government, but the part of a law it cites is not yet in force. Faceparty has deleted what it describes as "a huge number of accounts" from its social networking site in recent weeks. It lists 'over 36 years old' as one of its reasons for deletion. "We understand that only a minority of older users are sex offenders, but you must understand that we cannot tell which," it says in its explanation of the deletion of accounts.
- US - 2 key court actions involving MySpace
(Net Family News)
US 'cyber-bully' mother indicted
Issue no. 387 - 12 May 2008
- FR - Eric Besson prend une leçon de web 2.0 chez Dailymotion
Les dirigeants de Dailymotion ont accueilli le secrétaire d'État en charge du développement de l'économie numérique, pour sa première sortie officielle depuis sa prise de fonctions. L'occasion pour lui de se frotter aux réalités du web 2.0.
- IL - Israeli soldier jailed for Facebook photo
A member of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has been jailed for 19 days after posting a picture of himself on Facebook without permission. Reports in the Jerusalem Post claim that the soldier came from the elite 8200 military intelligence unit of the IDF, which specialises in encryption and military information.
- UK government's guidelines for social sites
(Net Family News)
Review by Anne Collier. The UK guidelines are surprisingly digestible for a document coming from a government. The actual "Recommendations for Good Practice" are only about eight pages long (see p. 24), and they also come in convenient checklist form (p. 60). The whole report can be downloaded here. Anne Collier congratulates everyone involved in these guidelines for the milestone the document represents and lists a number of "positives", but also some "neutrals and negatives"
- US - Facebook agrees child safety plan
Facebook is to add a slew of new safeguards to protect young users from sexual predators and cyber bullies. At the heart of the changes are efforts to ban convicted sex offenders from the site and finding better ways to verify users' ages and identities. The agreement was announced by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in a deal along with other attorneys general around America. see also After long negotiations, Facebook agrees to safety plan with state AGs (CNET). Press Release (Attorney-General of Connecticut). Text of agreement.
- Social networking sites allow export of profiles
Google will launch a new product on Monday called "Friend Connect," which will be a set of APIs for Open Social participants to pull profile information from social networks into third party websites. This week MySpace launched Data Availability, a competing product and in a pre-release announcement, we heard about Facebook Connect, another similar product. They will all be a way to securely send personal profile data, including friend lists, presence/status information, etc., to third party applications. The primary benefit of these services is to allow users to maintain a single friends list and to coordinate social activities across different sites that perform different services. see also MySpace lets users share data (BBC).
- Yahoo kicks off re-wiring project
Yahoo users will soon have one place where they can manage all the services they use on the popular website. The company has begun a mammoth re-engineering project that will unify the disparate services Yahoo runs. It hopes the project will transform the site into a vast social network where Yahoo users can quickly find and communicate with each other. The project should also aims to make it easier for web developers to use Yahoo data and services for their own ends.
Issue no. 386 - 20 April 2008
Issue no. 385 - 21 March 2008
- AOL buys Bebo in $850m cash deal
AOL has bought social networking site Bebo for $850 million in cash. The Time Warner-owned web services company said that the Bebo network would be a valuable place for it to sell advertising.
- MeetMoi: dating for those on the go
MeetMoi hopes to revolutionize social networking with the first truly location-based mobile dating service. So whether it is a bar, an office, or a restaurant, users can open their cell phones and use MeetMoi to browse, chat, flirt with and meet people near them. Using groundbreaking technology, MeetMoi looks for people in a specified location and helps its users find local matches. Since MeetMoi values safety above everything, no one's actual location is ever revealed.
- Social Networking Moves to the Cellphone
(New York Times)
Social networks may be nothing new to habitués of the Internet. Several years of competition among Facebook, MySpace and Friendster have generated tens of millions of members. But now the market is teeming with companies that want to bring the same phenomenon to the cellphone. There are so many "mobile social networking" upstarts, in fact, that when New Media Age magazine in Britain tried to identify the "ones to watch," it ended up naming 10 companies.
- US - Berkman Center will head Internet Safety Technical Task Force.
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School will head a newly formed Internet Safety Technical Task Force. The Task Force, comprised of leading Internet businesses and organizations, will focus on identifying effective online safety tools and technologies that can be used by many companies across multiple platforms. The Task Force will evaluate a broad range of existing and state-of-the-art online safety technologies, including a review of identity authentication tools to help sites enforce minimum age requirements. The Task Force is a central element of the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by MySpace and the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking.
- When Mom or Dad Asks To Be a Facebook 'Friend'
More and more moms and dads are signing onto Facebook to keep up with their offspring. Not only are they friending (or attempting to friend) their sons and daughters, they're friending their sons' and daughters' friends.
Issue no. 384 - 24 February 2008
- IE - Social networking guide for parents launched
A new guide to social networking websites was launched by the Minister of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Brian Lenihan. The parents' guide to social networking websites was produced by the Internet Advisory Board (IAB). The guide explains what social networking websites are and how they operate, all in a user-friendly format.
- US - Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Sites Safety
(Attorney-General of Massachusetts)
The text of the agreement with MySpace to better protect children on its website, including the creation of a broad-based task force to explore and develop age and identity verification technology. MySpace acknowledged in the agreement the important role of this technology in social networking safety and agreed to develop on-line identity authentication tools. The attorneys general advocate age and identity verification, calling it vital to better protecting children using social networking sites from on-line sexual predators and inappropriate material. See also Appendix A: Design and Functionality Changes and Appendix B: Design and Functionality Initiatives
- US - MySpace regulation a must: Students agree federal government not right for task
At least one expert and several young MySpace users are somewhat skeptical of a recent agreement between MySpace and the National Association of Attorneys General to tighten security. David Finkelhor, director of the UNH Crimes Against Children Research Center, said there are elements of the agreement that could be "difficult to maintain." See also Key researcher's view on MySpace/AGs accord (Net Family News).
- Kids safer in 'networks' than chat rooms
Social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook are safer places for children to chat than other types of internet sites, according to a new survey. The survey, which involved 1,588 children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old, found 28 per cent had been harassed via a social networking site, compared to 33 per cent for the internet as a whole. The survey, which was conducted by Internet Solutions for Kids in California and the University of New Hampshire, appears in the prestigious journal Paediatrics.
Issue no. 383 - 27 January 2008
- Facing the future Facebook style
Regular commentator Bill Thompson ruminates on the inevitability of Facebook being in the news in 2008.
- Social networking sites claim safety comes first
In a survey by the popular teen site Piczo, which offers creative tools to help users customise their profile pages, users said they felt safer online than they did this time last year, despite what many feel are increased safety risks. Piczo's European managing director, Chris Seth, said online safety falls into two areas; access and monitoring. He said Piczo, which claims more than 10m unique users each month, has worked with the Silicon Valley start-up Keibi on the development of monitoring software. This is used in combination with a team of 20 safety officers, who check random pages and also monitor the site for blacklisted keywords and phrases, aided by scanning software. See also Teens 'under false sense of security' online (netimperative).
- UK - Review to probe suicide websites
The danger of internet sites that encourage suicide will form part of a Government review that is due to report in March. Parenting guru Tanya Byron has been considering the issue as part of her probe into child safety on the web, and is expected to look at the recent cluster of teenage suicides in Bridgend, South Wales. At least seven young people who knew each other have killed themselves in the past year in what are feared to have been copycat acts. There has been speculation they may have used the internet to research and discuss suicide. see also Memorial Web Sites: Tributes or Temptation? British politician questions how memorial sites affect young people, after a rash of suicides (Reuters) and Land of the online death pact fights to save lives from the web (Times).
- UK - Web worries after suicide spate
Social networking websites could be "romanticising" suicide, an MP claims after the deaths of seven young people from her area in the past year. Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon will raise internet use issues with police. Mrs Moon said she was growing increasingly worried by the appearance of so-called "memory walls" on networking sites like Bebo, where members leave messages to mark the death of a friend.
- US - MySpace & 49 attorneys general: Agreement
Two years of negotiation between MySpace and the US's state attorneys general culminated in an announcement that they'd reached an agreement on "Key Principles of Social Networking Sites Safety." Not all is new (MySpace has implemented dozens of safety measures and programs in the past year, including a 24-hour hotline for law enforcement). But a few new social-Web safety developments were announced, and the agreement is a victory for collective thinking and action appropriate to this medium and against the litigation that the attorneys general had been threatening.
Issue no. 382 - 6 January 2008
- UK - Regulation call for web bullies
Leading websites need to increase their self-regulation to tackle a rise in cyberbullying, according to Scotland's largest teaching union. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) voiced its concerns over the amount of inappropriate material about schools, pupils and teachers. General secretary Ronnie Smith said those hosting the websites were failing to exercise proper editorial control.
- US - 'Teens rule the Web'
(Net Family News)
That was just one (the Washington Post's) of an interesting range of headlines about the latest Pew Internet & American Life study about US 12-to-17-year-olds online. Here are some key findings:
- "Publishing" as conversing: 41% of teens who are on social networks said that they routinely use those sites to send messages to their friends. When teens blog, post videos, etc., they're "looking to start a conversation as much as they are trying to promote their own creative output".
- Privacy - 66% of teens with social-networking profiles limit access to their pages;
- 64% of online teens in general "engage in at least one type of content creation," up from 57% in 2004. Girls dominate most elements of content creation.
- Blogs, girls; videos, boys - 28% of online teens have created a blog (up from 19% in 2004), and almost all of the new ones are girls'; while 19% of online teen boys had posted video, compared to 10% of girls.
- 39% post photos, videos, and other artistic content; 54% of girls and 40% of boys have posted photos.
- Companies warned not to rush into social networking
Many companies are thinking about how they can take advantage of social-networking technology, but analysts at Gartner are warning against getting caught up in the hype.
- Hi-tech tools divide social sites
Social network sites are moving to make it much easier for software developers to write add-ons for the hugely popular web destinations. Bebo, Facebook, Meebo and Friendster have unveiled plans to help them become more than places to keep in touch. Bebo said it would also support Google's Open Social initiative which aims to create a unified system of tools that can be used on any and every social network site. The Open Social tools are due to appear in early 2008. Social networking giant MySpace is backing Google's initiative.
Issue no. 381 - 8 December 2007
- BR - Google Under Fire Over a Controversial Site
In Brazil, Google is embroiled in an embarrassing episode over its efforts to profit from social networking, one of the fastest-growing activities online. Google has gotten in hot water over its Web site Orkut, which like other social-networking sites allows people to swap information and create personal Web pages. Critics in Brazil released a report showing advertisements on Orkut alongside pictures of naked children and abused animals. Google immediately suspended the ads, but the company is still grappling with the fallout from critics' Orkut campaign.
- Friend trends -- an overview of social networking sites
The growth of social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook has been one of the most interesting features of this century's web, and it's attracting a lot of academic interest. There's now a good overview of the field, Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship, by Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.
- NL - 'Virtual theft' leads to arrest
A Dutch teenager has been arrested for allegedly stealing virtual furniture from "rooms" in Habbo Hotel, a 3D social networking website. The 17-year-old is accused of stealing 4,000 euros (£2,840) worth of virtual furniture, bought with real money. Five 15-year-olds have also been questioned by police, who were contacted by the website's owners.
- UK - Broadcasters woo 'lost generation' in deal with social networking site Bebo
The UK's biggest social networking site announced partnerships with a string of broadcasters, including the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, ITN and CBS, in a move hailed as one of the most significant yet in marrying old and new media. Traditional broadcasters hope that distributing and marketing their programmes to Bebo's 40 million users will help them reconnect with the so-called "lost TV generation" of 13 to 24-year-olds who make up the social networking site's core audience.
- US - Facebook to Strengthen Child Warnings
(New York Times)
Facebook, the popular social networking Web site, will strengthen warnings about child safety on its site and said that it would take steps to improve its process of responding to complaints about sexual or inappropriate content. The company agreed to make the changes as part of a settlement with the New York State attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, who began an investigation last month into whether the Web site was misleading its users by promoting itself as a place where high school students and younger children are safe from adult sexual predators. The settlement did not include a financial penalty, but Mr. Cuomo said it would serve as a "new model" for other sites to follow. See also Facebook made basic error with poor user safeguards, says lawyer (OUT-LAW).
- What kids learn in virtual worlds
Kids who are active members of virtual worlds are learning how to socialize, how to be technologically savvy, and how to be good little consumers. That's according to a group of academics and researchers who met at the University of Southern California to discuss the effects of virtual worlds on children today. Of course, virtual worlds are still so new that researchers haven't had much time to study their impact on kids. But the MacArthur Foundation, a sponsor of the panel discussion, has invested millions in research over the next several years to ask such questions.
- For college students, if it's Facebook, it's love
For the Facebook generation, love now comes with a drop-down menu. With profiles on the Facebook social-networking site almost de rigueur on college campuses, students can define their relationship status with menu choices ranging from "married" to that perennial favorite, "It's complicated." "It's complicated" could also describe the emotional calculations people in their late teens and early 20s make as they decide whether their relationships are what they call "Facebook-worthy."
- Google opens up social networking
Google has launched a system that will allow developers to create applications for a variety of social networks. Developers currently have to customise their designs for a particular site with many partnering with the hugely popular Facebook. Google's OpenSocial system will allow a wider distribution for tools like Facebook's music recommendation service iLike and its Top Friends application.
- Online drama proves a lucrative hit
They cost thousands, are watched by millions and attract big sponsors. No wonder social network Bebo is about to launch its third reality drama. A new reality series from Big Brother producer Endemol follows the fortunes of six young people as they travel the world - but you won't find it on BBC 3 or Channel 4. The Gap Year is online social network Bebo's third original content commission in six months; part of a bold strategy raising eyebrows among programme-makers and broadcasters. While TV-style content is widely available on social network sites such as MySpace and YouTube, it generally falls into one of three types: user-generated content, existing broadcast TV content, or brand content created for advertisers. However Bebo - with 10.7 million regular users in the UK alone, according to latest research from HitWise - is developing a portfolio of video-based, original content.
Issue no. 380 - 30 September 2007
- AU - Task force to investigate safety of Facebook, MySpace
The Federal Government has announced a new working group which will investigate the safety of social networking sites and the danger they pose to Australian children. The task force will look at sites like MySpace and Facebook and see how paedophiles can infiltrate them and use the internet to get closer to young people. The Social Network Consultative Group is part of the Government's $189 million NetAlert program.
- Do social network sites genuinely care about privacy?
Very deeply, because it's only by guarding it jealously and parcelling it up and then selling it to someone else that they can make any money. Thus this season's poster child for social networking, Facebook, announced on its blog that in a few weeks, it will make parts of its 40 million users' details, such as their names and pictures, available to the major search engines - Google, Yahoo! and MSN Live - and so visible to anyone online. Why? Simple: money.
- Facebook lets users publicize themselves
Facebook, the social-networking site that has enjoyed explosive growth in new members over the past three months, said it plans to let users tell the rest of the world how to find them on the site. Facebook will begin notifying members they have a choice over whether to keep their listings private or to allow Facebook to make their name and profile picture available when outsiders search the site. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based site has grown to 39 million members, up 62.5 percent from 24 million in late May.
Issue no. 379 - 2 September 2007
- Pull down the walled gardens
Internet law professor Michael Geist says the walled gardens of social networks should be pulled down. Internet users are repeatedly required to re-enter their personal information for each new network they join and find that each network is effectively a "walled garden", where the benefits of the network are artificially limited by the inability to link a friend in Facebook with one in MySpace.
- UK - Bank's U-turn on student charges
A student campaign using the social networking website Facebook has forced an international bank into a U-turn over charges. HSBC is to abandon plans to scrap interest-free overdrafts for students leaving university this summer. Thousands of students on Facebook had threatened to boycott the bank. The National Union of Students said this made all the difference to the protest.
- Mobile operators see 10 times more potential in social networking
The success of social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo and even YouTube could represent the next boom for the mobile phone operators. Revenues from putting so-called user-generated content - meaning content such as videos and blogs created by consumers rather than media organisations - onto mobile phones is expected to rise more than tenfold over the next five years, according to estimates by Juniper Research.
- Way Too Good for Facebook or MySpace?
Better known as "aSW" to its members, aSmallWorld is one of a handful of private online social networks where big is bad. Membership in these networks, not unlike the exclusive country clubs where the rich and powerful hobnob, is carefully guarded.
Issue no. 378 - 5 August 2007
- Etiquette pitfalls in the social web of wannabe friends
The huge expansion of online social networking sites has opened up an etiquette minefield, complete with snubs, awkward faux pas and ample opportunity to give and take offence. With networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace expanding expedientially, the rise of cyber friendships has brought with it a new set of social niceties, conventions and potential embarrassments.
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