QuickLinks - Social networking, user-generated content
QuickLinks - Social networking, user-generated content
Issue no. 407 - 28 March 2010
- UK - Facebook security measures criticised after Ashleigh Hall murder
Facebook was accused of a "glaring failure" to implement advice on protecting children online after the conviction of a man for kidnapping, raping and murdering a teenager he ensnared using the social networking site. The Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, criticised Facebook for not adding a panic button, created by the Home Office's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, to its site. See also Police criticise Facebook safety record after Ashleigh Hall murder.
- UK - Facebook threatens to sue Daily Mail
Facebook has threatened to sue the Daily Mail for damages after the paper wrongly claimed that 14-year-old girls who create a profile on the social networking site could be approached "within seconds" by older men who "wanted to perform a sex act" in front of them. The paper apologised in print and online for the error, which the author of the piece, Mark Williams-Thomas, insisted had been introduced at the paper despite being told it was wrong. Williams-Thomas insists that he was not using Facebook but had been using another, unspecified social network.
Issue no. 406 - 21 February 2010
- EU - Implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles
On 9 February 2010, Safer Internet Day, the European Commission has presented the findings of an independent assessment of the implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU. Download the overall report and see how each signatory has implemented the Principles.
- EU - European Commission calls on social networking companies to improve child safety policies
50% of European teenagers give out personal information on the web - according to an EU study - which can remain online forever and can be seen by anybody. Today, Safer Internet Day, the European Commission is passing a message to teenagers: "Think before you post!" It welcomed actions to protect children using social networking websites taken by the 20 companies who signed the Safer Social Networking Principles last year. Most of these companies have empowered minors to tackle online risks by making it easier to change privacy settings, block users or delete unwanted comments and content. Yet more needs to be done to protect children online, the Commission says. Less than half of social networking companies (40%) make profiles of under-18 users visible only to their friends by default and only one third replied to user reports asking for help. See Think before you post! How to make social networking sites safer for children and teenagers? speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, Safer Internet Day Strasbourg, 9 February 2010. See also European Commission assesses social networking sites' approach to safety of under 18s and video clip.
- A world of connections - a special report on social networking
Online social networks are changing the way people communicate, work and play, and mostly for the better.
- Google Buzz Has Completely Changed the Game: Here's How
Google may have finally figured out social media, even if there have been some major slip-ups in the way. The implications of that realization could dramatically change social media as a tool and as an industry. It's becoming increasingly clear that Google didn't launch a small addition to Gmail - no, it has dropped a nuclear bomb whose fallout will permanently alter the social media landscape. Why? Why has it grown so rapidly? Why has it riled up such strong emotions on both sides? Are the privacy issues going to permanently damage Google? And most of all, what does Google Buzz mean for Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the social media world? For another point of view, see Will people leave Facebook for Buzz? Fat chance (CNET News) .
Issue no. 405 - 24 January 2010
- BeautifulPeople.com axes holiday weight gain members
Dating and social network site BeautifulPeople.com has axed some 5,000 members following complaints that they had gained weight. The members were singled out after posting pictures of themselves that reportedly showed they had put on pounds over the holiday period.
- Reporters put Twitter, Facebook to 'Big Brother' test
Five journalists plan to lock themselves away in a French farmhouse with access only to Facebook and Twitter to test the quality of news from the social networking and micro-blogging sites.
Issue no. 404 - 21 December 2009
- UK - Doctors warned about risk of 'Facebook flirts'
Doctors are being warned not to respond to flirtatious approaches on social networking sites. The Medical Defence Union, a legal body for doctors, said communicating via sites such as Facebook may be a breach of ethical responsibilities. It issued the warning after a number of cases in which patients propositioned doctors after searching for their details on the internet.
- US - FTC's milestone report on virtual worlds
(Net Family News)
The Federal Trade Commission has sent to Congress its close study of 27 online virtual worlds - 14 for children under 13 and 13 aimed at teens and adults - looking at the level of sexually explicit and violent content and what the VWs were doing to protect children from it. The FTC found at least one instance of either sexually or violently explicit content in 19 of the 27 worlds. Half the explicit content found in the teen- and adult-oriented virtual worlds was text-based, while the other half appeared as graphics, occasionally with accompanying audio. Measures these VWs surveyed take to keep minors away from explicit content included "age screens" designed to keep minors from registering below a site's minimum age; "adults only" sections requiring subscriptions or age verifications; abuse reporting and other flagging of inappropriate content; human moderation; and some filtering technology. See also FTC Press Release .
- Find What Happens To Your Email and Social Networking Accounts When You Die?
Have you ever wondered what happens to your email accounts and social networking accounts such as Facebook and MySpace when you die? Who gets access to your accounts, can people get even get access to your account and your stored personal information?
- Millions using social media on Xbox Live
Microsoft said that millions of Xbox Live members have used the new social-media features giving access to Facebook, Twitter, and Last.fm. While the manifestation of each of those services is scaled down on Xbox Live, the rollout has been one of the company's big pushes this fall for its hugely popular online system. The first-week figures show that at least 2 million Xbox Live users have logged into Facebook, and that half a million Last.fm accounts were created in the first 24 hours of availability. Figures were not given for many Xbox Live users have used the service's Twitter feature.
- Pingo penguin brings Facebook connection to life
A robotic penguin, apart from being cute, can bring Facebook connections to life, quite literally. About the size of a small chicken egg and taking the shape of a penguin, the new device is called Pingo. It's an interactive electronic playmate that can move around your desk, express moods, respond to voice commands, sing songs, and read aloud e-mail messages, headlines, stock quotes, and weather.
Issue no. 403 - 24 November 2009
- A Taxonomy of Social Networking Data
At the Internet Governance Forum in Sharm El Sheikh this week, there was a conversation on social networking data. Someone made the point that there are several different types of data, and it would be useful to separate them. This is my taxonomy of social networking data.
- Service data. Service data is the data you need to give to a social networking site in order to use it. It might include your legal name, your age, and your credit card number.
- Disclosed data. This is what you post on your own pages: blog entries, photographs, messages, comments, and so on.
- Entrusted data. This is what you post on other people's pages. It's basically the same stuff as disclosed data, but the difference is that you don't have control over the data -- someone else does.
- Incidental data. Incidental data is data the other people post about you. Again, it's basically same same stuff as disclosed data, but the difference is that 1) you don't have control over it, and 2) you didn't create it in the first place.
- Behavioral data. This is data that the site collects about your habits by recording what you do and who you do it with.
- Girls 'becoming Facebook addicts'
Parents fear their daughters are becoming addicted to social networking sites, a girls' school leader says. Girls seem to be "permanently connected" to sites like Facebook and Bebo, president of the Girls' Schools Association Jill Berry said. This issue now tops the list of parents' worries by some way, she told the association's annual conference.
- UK - Network sites 'need help buttons'
Major social networking sites MySpace and Facebook have been criticised for failing to introduce a help button for children being bullied online. Jim Gamble, from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), hit out as rival networking site Bebo adopted the button. He said there was "no legitimate reason" why MySpace and Facebook had not done the same. see also Networking sites 'alert' police.
- AU - Bebo to shut down in Australia
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Facebook juggernaut has claimed the scalp of AOL Time Warner's $US850 million acquisition of Bebo, with the social media site tipped to close its Australian operation before Christmas as part of a global retreat and rethink. Australians, unlike net users in many other markets, have rapidly given Google and Facebook a near-monopoly position in online search and social networking.
- MySpace abandons race with Facebook
The new chief executive of MySpace has told the Financial Times that the company is no longer interested in competing with Facebook, in effect conceding defeat in the race to become the largest online social network. Owen Van Natta, a former Facebook executive who replaced Chris DeWolfe as chief executive of MySpace six months ago, said the company instead aimed to become an online hub for music and entertainment. "Facebook is not our competition," he said. "We're very focused on a different space."
Issue no. 402 - 18 October 2009
- CA - Social Network Site Privacy: A Comparative Analysis of Six Sites
(Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada)
This report was prepared for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner by Jennifer Barrigar, a consultant and researcher with experience in both privacy law and developments in internet technology. It was originally commissioned in late 2008, and a final report was delivered to the Office in February 2009. Some of the observations made in this report may appear outdated or even incorrect. This is certainly the case with Facebook, one social network that has undertaken successive rounds of privacy amendments in 2009. This is not the case with many of the other social networking sites identified by Ms. Barrigar.
- 'Red-light district' makes virtual world safer
(Net Family News)
Linden Lab, which runs Second Life, has sequestered adult content and activity in the virtual world onto a new continent called "Zindra." Residents of the virtual world have to verify that they're adults before they can search for anything on Zindra or go there (see how the age verification process works). The entire "world" is now classified as either "Adult," "Mature," or "PG".
- Marketing on social networks: Friends for sale
What is a Facebook friend worth? Marketers are eager to use fast-growing social networks to tout their products. An Australian online-marketing company, uSocial, wants to help them?for a price. On September 16th the firm started selling Facebook friends and fans.
- Vodafone launches Internet service in data battle
Vodafone launched a Web service meshing social networks, contacts and entertainment in a bid to fend off stiff competition from Apple, Google and Nokia. Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone operator by revenue, said its Vodafone 360 service would launch on two tailor-made Samsung phones and four Nokia phones in eight European countries by Christmas. Vodafone 360 will allow users to store contacts from social networks such as Facebook and other Internet accounts in one place and will automatically synchronize to users' computers.
Issue no. 401 - 26 July 2009
- Microsoft closing YouTube rival
Microsoft is closing Soapbox, its onetime video-sharing rival to Google's YouTube. Last month, Microsoft told CNET News it planned to significantly scale back Soapbox. Now it turns out Soapbox will be scaled all the way down to nothing. Microsoft will continue to support MSN Video, which has 88 million unique users each month and delivers 480 million video streams each month.
- Online playgrounds - Virtual worlds for children
There is life in virtual reality after all. Remember Second Life, the virtual world that was supposed to become almost as important as the first one? Now populated by no more than 84,000 avatars at a time, it has turned out to be a prime example of how short-lived internet fads can be. Yet if many adults seem to have given up on virtual worlds, those that cater to children and teenagers are thriving. Several have even found a way to make money.
- Tweeting all the way to the bank - Monetising social networks
Can virtual communities make billions of dollars from their millions of connections?
Issue no. 400 - 5 July 2009
- EU - Social networking giants are subject to EU data protection laws
Social networking sites are legally responsible for their users' privacy, Europe's privacy watchdogs have confirmed. The committee of data protection regulators has said that the sites are 'data controllers', with all the legal obligations that brings. Users of the sites are also data controllers with legal obligations when they are posting on behalf of a club, society or company, the opinion said. The committee of Europe's data protection regulators, the Article 29 Working Party, has published its opinion on the legal status of social networking operators such as Facebook and MySpace. It has said that the sites cannot escape their legal obligations just because content on them is often produced and posted by users.See Opinion 5/2009 on online social networking. See also Article 29 Working Party on online social networking(EDRI-gram).
Issue no. 398 - 13 April 2009
- US - Juror tweets could force retrial
A juror who published Twitter messages during the course of a trial has undermined the trial process and its verdict, lawyers have claimed while launching an appeal. The US juror told reporters he did not think posting the messages was wrong. An appeal has been lodged in an Arkansas court against a $12.6 million ruling against a building materials firm. Lawyers for the firm have said that the messages, or 'tweets', revealed the juror's bias.
- At SXSWi, Twitter is the new Twitter is the new Twitter
Ater four full days at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) festival, I think that conclusion is worth a reality check: Twitter is out-and-out dominating SXSWi. If you're part of the conference this year, it feels very much like you simply cannot do anything, go anywhere, talk to anyone, see any panel or have a meal without Twitter having played a role.
- Bebo extends social network across Europe
(IDG News Service)
Bebo is launching local-language versions of its social networking site in five European countries, offering premium video content via media partners. Bebo will offer sites in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch as it seeks to enlarge its user base. It also plans to leverage its Open Media technology, which allows media companies to distribute content on Bebo's network.
- Social networks 'are new e-mail'
Status updates on sites such as Facebook, Yammer, Twitter and Friendfeed are a new form of communication, the South by SouthWest Festival has heard. "We are all in the process of creating e-mail 2.0," David Sacks, founder of business social network Yammer said. Tens of millions of people are using social networks to stay in touch. The growth in such services is being heralded as the start of the real-time, pervasive web.
Issue no. 397 - 8 March 2009
- Facebook Tries to Become a Democracy
(New York Times)
by Brad Stone. A week after its community erupted in protest over changes to its terms of service that appeared to give it control over its users' information, Facebook announced that all significant policy changes on the site would be subject to comments from members and, if they prove controversial, a popular vote. Most immediately, Facebook will open a dialogue with users over a set of principles, or "foundational elements for how we want to govern the site," said Mark Zuckerberg, the company's founder and chief executive. Users will have the opportunity over the next 30 days to comment and vote on these principles, which are posted in a document that tries to harness some of the verbal eloquence of a governing constitution. In making this change, Facebook is conceding again that it goofed with its new terms of service and needs to play closer attention to users.
- UK - Twitter's rapid growth raises regulation issues
The hugely popular micro-blogging site Twitter is a child safety and privacy disaster waiting to happen, according to online safety experts. The site - which has had a yearly 974% jump in UK traffic alone and attracts between 4m and 6m people, including celebrity twitterer Stephen Fry - is open to abuse if it fails to effectively self-moderate. Online safety experts have raised concerns and are calling for swift action to head off trouble for the fast-growing site, which already hosts brands such as British Airways, Dell and Penguin. Twitter's terms state users must be 13 or over, but it doesn't offer a 'report abuse' button or explicit ways to flag offensive material or monitor sexually explicit and racist behaviour and links to adult sites. new media age uncovered links to prostitution and escort services, cannabis seed shops and racist and pornographic material on Twitter.
- Ad strategy at root of Facebook privacy row
by Eric Auchard. Social networking phenomenon Facebook has beaten arch-rival and former market leader MySpace by most measures of popularity, except the one that pays the bills. While Facebook has outpaced MySpace in bringing in members - it has 175 million active users at the latest count, compared with around 130 million for MySpace - it has struggled make money from them. While MySpace is closing in on $1 billion in revenues, Facebook generated less than $300 million in sales last year. Indeed, Facebook's efforts to drum up revenue have led to it repeatedly becoming the target of some of the biggest online privacy protests on the Web. Its most recent fight earlier this month followed Facebook's attempt to redefine its own rules and assert ownership over anything its members posted on the site. The company has since backed off and is rethinking its policies. See also A false sense of security (BBC).
Facebook 'withdraws' data changes
- Social networks are telcos' new best friend
Everybody at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona wanted to be the new best friend of the social networks. From the world's biggest phone maker, Nokia, to tiny Irish semiconductor start-up Movidia, delegates to the wireless industry's biggest annual gathering couldn't stop talking about Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. The top executive at MySpace, owned by News Corp, said members reaching the network from mobile phones had quadrupled in the last year to 20 million, out of 135 million unique visitors in total, and Facebook has seen a similar leap. MySpace announced deals at the fair with Nokia and Palm, who will adapt some of their phones to make uploading pictures or video to the social network a matter of a single push of a button. The so-called Facebook phone or Social Mobile made by INQ, a spin-off of Hutchison Whampoa's 3, won handset of the year award from the show's hosts, the GSM Association - and everyone involved was eager to claim a share of the credit.
Issue no. 396 - 8 February 2009
- US - Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies
Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States. The Internet Safety Technical Task Force was created in February 2008 in accordance with the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking and MySpace. The scope of the Task Force's inquiry was to consider those technologies that industry and end users - including parents - can use to help keep minors safer on the Internet.
- How to Friend Mom, Dad, and the Boss on Facebook...Safely
by Sarah Perez. Oh no! Your mom just joined Facebook and what's even worse, she wants to be your friend. More and more people are finding themselves in this situation today and unsure of what to do. Friending mom and dad, the boss, or other work colleagues opens up the details of your private life for the whole world to see - and you might not be entirely comfortable with that. What's to be done? If you're not ready to expose everything about you to anyone who asks to be your online friend, it's time you learned how to use Facebook's friend lists.
Issue no. 394 - 7 December 2008
- How dangerous are networking sites?
A court in the US is preparing to hear the case of a woman accused of using MySpace to bully a 13-year-girl who later committed suicide. The case has prompted new concerns over the potential dangers of online social networking sites. Websites like Facebook, Bebo, Twitter and others have come to be seen as an essential part of life for millions of people. They enable users to share their lives with friends around the world, and get in touch with people with similar interests.
- UK - Juror dismissed over Facebook poll
A juror in a sex abuse case was kicked off the case after using Facebook to ask her mates whether the suspect was guilty or not. The female juror was removed from the case at Burnley Crown Court on 18 November. Jurors are forbidden from talking about cases outside court.
- UK - Second Life affair leads to real life divorce
British couple set to divorce after wife finds her husband's alter-ego chatting affectionately with a woman in the virtual world.
- Socialising all over the web?
Websites can now let visitors bring along their friends. A new button is appearing on some websites. It says "Facebook Connect" and saves visitors from having to fill out yet another tedious registration form, upload another profile picture and memorise another username and password. Instead, visitors can now sign into other sites using their existing identity on Facebook, the world's biggest online social network.
Issue no. 393 - 9 November 2008
- A tale of two airlines and their Facebook fiascos
Firms have been exploiting social networks such as Facebook and MySpace to get their messages to a broader audience. But although they have the potential to be useful marketing tools, such networks can also be a source of damaging publicity, as British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic have discovered to their cost. On October 31st Virgin fired 13 of its cabin crew who had posted derogatory comments about its safety standards and some of its passengers on a Facebook forum. On November 3rd BA began investigating the behaviour of several employees who had described some passengers as "smelly" and "annoying" in Facebook postings.
- EU - Social Networks - on the European Commission's Agenda
Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, gave her first public speech on social networks at the Safer Internet Forum on 26 September 2008, which confirms the interest of the EU bodies on this topic. The commissioner emphasized the growth of the social networks in Europe. While praising their success in promoting cultural diversity and enhanced interactivity and, at the same time, in bringing new economic opportunities for the European industry, Reading mentioned also the new issues raised by the social networks on data privacy and protection of minors. The Commissioner took the stance of self-regulation in relation to social networking and announced that the Commission wants to act as a facilitator: "For this purpose the Commission has convened a Social Networking Task Force, which held two meetings in 2008 with 17 operators of social networking sites used by under-18s (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Bebo, Hyves, StudiVZ, and Skyrock), a number of researchers and child welfare organisations. The objective is to agree on voluntary guidelines for use of social networking sites by children, to be adopted voluntarily by the European industry."
- Facebook for suits
Among the few firms benefiting from the upheaval in the financial markets are professional social networks - websites that help with business networking and job-hunting. On LinkedIn, the market leader, members have been updating their profiles in record numbers in recent weeks, apparently to position themselves in case they lose their jobs. The two most popular sites, LinkedIn and Xing, have been growing at breakneck speed and boast 29m and 6.5m members respectively. And, in contrast to mass-market social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, both firms have worked out how to make money.
- UK - Bosses 'should embrace Facebook'
Companies should not dismiss staff who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo at work as merely time-wasters, a Demos study suggests. Attempts to control employees' use of such software could damage firms in the long run by limiting the way staff communicate, the think tank said. Social networking can encourage employees to build relationships with colleagues across a firm, it added.
Issue no. 392 - 5 October 2008
- EU - Euro social networking: Full speed ahead
The social Web has solid support from the European Commission. In fact, the EC's now looking ahead to Web 3.0, which means "seamless, anytime, anywhere business, entertainment and social
networking over fast reliable and secure networks" and "the end of the divide between mobile and fixed [phone] lines," said Viviane Reding, EC Commissioner for Information Society & Media, in a September 26 speech in Luxembourg, according to VNUNET. Europe "must lead the next generation of the Internet," she said. The EC is encouraging SN industry self-regulation and has created a task
force to that end, PublicTechnology.net reports. Participants include MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Bebo, Amsterdam-based Hyves, Berlin-based StudiVZ, and Paris-based Skyrock; "a number of researchers and child welfare organisations. The EC reportedly plans to unveil best-practice guidelines for social-network sites on Safer Internet Day next February 10.
- EU - Social Networking in Europe: success and challenges
Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, Safer Internet Forum, Luxembourg, 26 September 2008. See also Frequently Asked Questions.
- Premières déceptions pour les fans de Facebook
Lassés de voir leur vie privée étalée sur le Web et d'être importunés par de prétendus amis, de nombreux internautes préfèrent se désinscrire des réseaux sociaux virtuels.
Issue no. 391 - 31 August 2008
- Harmful content on the internet: self-regulation is the best way forward
by Simon Waldman. The members of the House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee asked what measures did YouTube take to make sure the content on their site was suitable for it's audience. To which YouTube owner Google's general counsel replied that while they responded to complaints about their content - so a film showing a gang rape, for example, was taken down after 600 views - it is not feasible to look at every piece of content on the site. This contrasted with MySpace - who admittedly have much less content to worry about - who check all their video content. As a result, the committee said they found Google's arguments "unconvincing" and recommended that "proactive review of content should be standard practice for sites hosting user-generated content".
- UK - Facebook: Children evade social websites' age limits
Nearly a quarter of children between the ages of eight and 12 are evading the age restrictions imposed by social networking sites Facebook, Bebo and MySpace, a poll of young people revealed. The results suggest that more than 750,000 children are illicitly using the sites - which are supposed to be limited to teenagers and adults - potentially exposing them to risky communications with strangers. The poll of 1,000 children was commissioned by Garlik, an online information company, which said parents are responding by secretly logging on to their children's social networking pages to detect any reckless online behaviour.
Issue no. 390 - 20 July 2008
- Google deals with sex chat on Lively
Last week I wrote about Google's launch of Lively avatar chat, ending with a caveat that seems to apply to so much of the social Web: that there were sex-related chat rooms in the Popular Rooms list. This week CNET reports the same: "Despite some injunctions to the contrary, sexual overtones are creeping into" Lively, with the qualification that "a little snooping around revealed some evidence of borderline rooms, but nothing as risque as shows in the more permissive realm of Second Life" (which does have ratings so those who want to can avoid sex-related virtual locations). Google told CNET it's taking complaints about these seriously and is "working to remove them."
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