(CNET News.com) A new site called Please Rob Me has popped up to expose the potential pratfalls of the geolocation craze: If you're pushing a "check-in" from Gowalla, Brightkite, or Foursquare to a local restaurant out to your public Twitter stream, you're broadcasting that you aren't home. Which could be taken to mean that your home is ripe for burglary. Please Rob Me consists exclusively of an aggregation of public Twitter messages that have been pushed through fast-growing location-based networking site Foursquare, one of a handful of services that encourages people to share their whereabouts with their friends. You can filter by geographic location, too.
(Apophenia) by Sarita Yardi. ChatRoulette is a new website that connects you face to face with Internet users around the world. When you go to the site and hit Play your webcam turns on and you're connected to another person. Most times you'll hit Next within a few seconds and be connected to someone else. Sometimes people stop to chat. Basically, instead of surfing the web, you?re surfing people. See also ChatRoulette, from my perspective by danah boyd, The Surreal World of Chatroulette (New York Times) and ChatRoulette: Heads up, parents! (Net Family News).
(NetFamilyNews) Because Buzz is brand-new and a hybrid of Gmail, micro-blogging, cellphone social mapping, and social networking, we're all at the early stages of figuring out its implications for kids - a lot of whom use Gmail. Charlene Li, a mom and well-known social-media-industry analyst, blogged that she had discovered her 9-year-old daughter was using and really enjoying Buzz. The child had had one conversation on it with her friends. The problem was that the kids didn't know their conversation was public.
(The Australian) Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has demanded social networking giant Facebook detail how it will prevent cyber-vandalism in the wake of the defacing of an online memorial site for 12-year-old school stabbing victim Elliott Fletcher. Senator Conroy's blast came as Facebook, in its first public comments since Monday night's attack on the website, defended its reliance on users to report offensive material before taking action.
(Mashable) 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)
(ENISA) Instantly online-17 golden rules to combat online risks and for safer surfing mobile social networks The EU 'cyber security' Agency - ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) presents a new report on accessing social networks over mobile phones, Online as soon as it happens. The report points out the risks and threats of mobile social networking services, e.g. identity theft, corporate data leakage and reputation risks of mobile social networks. The report also gives 17 ?golden rules? on how to combat these threats.
(BBC) Bloggers told they have violated terms without further explanation, as years of archives are wiped off the internet. In what critics are calling "musicblogocide 2010", Google has deleted at least six popular music blogs that it claims violated copyright law. These sites, hosted by Google's Blogger and Blogspot services, received notices only after their sites ? and years of archives ? were wiped from the internet.
(Europa) 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.
(ReadWriteWeb) by Sarah Perez. In December, Facebook made a series of bold and controversial changes regarding the nature of its users' privacy on the social networking site. Those of you who edited your privacy settings prior to December's change have nothing to worry about - that is, assuming you elected to keep your personalized settings when prompted by Facebook's "transition tool." The tool, a dialog box explaining the changes, appeared at the top of Facebook homepages this past month with its own selection of recommended settings. Unfortunately, most Facebook users likely opted for the recommended settings without really understanding what they were agreeing to. If you did so, you may now be surprised to find that you inadvertently gave Facebook the right to publicize your private information including status updates, photos, and shared links.
(RAPID) 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.
(BBC) Facebook dominates the lives of mobile internet users in the UK, according to figures from a mobile industry body. The social network accounts for nearly half of all the time people in the UK spend going online using their phones.
The data, from the GSM Association (GSMA), showed that people in the UK spent around 2.2bn minutes browsing the social network during December alone
(IDG) Blogging is becoming a thing of the past for teens and young adults, who are now far more likely to keep in touch with friends on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, according to a new study Social Media and Young Adults by Pew Internet & American Life Project.
(BBC) Social networking websites have ensured that everyone who has an opinion can put it out in the public domain. The impact of all those online revelations has made France consider the length of time that personal information should remain available in the public arena. A proposed law in the country would give net users the option to have old data about themselves deleted. This right-to-forget would force online and mobile firms to dispose of e-mails and text messages after an agreed length of time or on the request of the individual concerned.
(ReadWriteWeb) Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told a live audience that if he were to create Facebook again today, user information would by default be public, not private as it was for years until the company changed dramatically in December. In a six-minute interview on stage with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, Zuckerberg spent 60 seconds talking about Facebook's privacy policies. His statements were of major importance for the world's largest social network - and his arguments in favor of an about-face on privacy deserve close scrutiny. Zuckerberg offered roughly 8 sentences in response to Arrington's question about where privacy was going on Facebook and around the web. The question was referencing the changes Facebook underwent last month. Your name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks, Friends List, and all the pages you subscribe to are now publicly available information on Facebook. This means everyone on the web can see it; it is searchable.
(BBC) 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.
(BBC) The White House has appointed its cyber tsar, following a seven-month search. Howard Schmidt, a former eBay and Microsoft executive who advised President Bush, was appointed after others turned down the job. Mr Schmidt has been set the task of uniting various disparate agencies and organisations to shore up the country's defence against cyber attack. See also Obama cyber czar choice worries about smartphones, social networking (Network World).
(O'Reilly) by Andy Oram. Social networking is the Internet phenomenon of the year and deserves an end-of-the-year profile. In a recent 19-month period, Facebook rose from 75 million to 300 million members, and Twitter has gone from perhaps 1.3 million users (depending on how you count them) to an estimated 18 million.
Before the end of the year, I'll post eight related entries that add up to a treatise titled "Being online: identity, anonymity, and all things in between:"
(Mashable) As the Wall Street Journal reports, AOL is in talks to sell ICQ, the once prominent - but now archaic - instant messaging service. The Wall Street Journal also says that Bebo, the social network AOL acquired in 2008 for a jaw-dropping $850 million, may be on the block.
(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 .
(CNET News.com) 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.
(TechCrunch Europe) Facebook's German clone StudiVZ follows the US social network's most successful move by adding support for third-party applications. The 15.7m users of StudiVZ and its siblings MeinVZ and SchülerVZ can now play games from Plinga or Wooga, sing online Karaoke with Mikestar or order Italian food from Pizza.de. CEO Markus Berger-de León has applied tight security policies to third-party apps to avoid the type of scams that TechCrunch recently dug up on Facebook and MySpace. German online privacy laws are among the strictest in the world, even Google Analytics is in danger of being banned in our country. To address this, VZ-Netzwerke works with so-called "business cards": For every app, users have to complete a form with the information they want to share. False names and incomplete data are also possible.
(Daily Telegraph) Sexual offenders are using the internet to fast-track abuse, according to new research. Previous studies into child sexual abuse had shown that offenders spent months befriending a young person, and in some cases their family, to prepare for the abuse. But latest research, from the European Online Grooming Project, shows that the grooming process by offenders using the internet is much faster. Rather than selecting one vulnerable child to abuse, some offenders also appear to target numerous young people until they find someone willing to meet them.
They are increasingly using social networking sites such as MSN and Facebook and are becoming technologically-advanced, often operating in communities sharing indecent images between countries, according to the research conducted by NatCen (National Centre for Social Research), Kingston University and Royal Holloway, University of London - which was presented at the UK Council for Child Internet Safety's (UKCCIS) first annual summit. Prof Julia Davidson, from Kingston University, said. "The research shows that the grooming period has been speeded up with chat room communication becoming almost immediately sexualised".
(Facebook blog) Improving safety online is a group effort. At Facebook, we took another step by launching a global Safety Advisory Board. This group of five leading Internet safety organizations from North America and Europe will consult with us on online safety issues. One of our first projects together will be to overhaul the safety information that's available to you from the Facebook Help Center so that the resources are more comprehensive and include content that's specifically tailored to the needs of parents, teachers and teens. The initial members of the Safety Advisory Board are Childnet International, The Family Online Safety Institute, Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely and WiredSafety. See also press release.
(BBC) 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.
(IPTS) This report by the The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies provides a systematic empirical assessment of the creation, use and adoption of specific social computing applications and its impact on industry, personal identity, learning, social inclusion, healthcare and public health, and government services and public governance.
(CNET News.com) 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.
(Facebook blog) Facebook's current privacy model revolves around "networks" - communities for your school, your company or your region. The plan we've come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone. We're adding the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. In addition, we'll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings.
(CNET News.com) by Larry Magid. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that more than 3,500 sex offenders from his state have been purged from Facebook and MySpace. Both companies have long had policies against registered sex offenders using their services, but the implementation of New York's new Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act ("E-Stop") has made it easier for the sites to identify perpetrators from the Empire State. Facebook, according to Cuomo, was able to identify and disable the accounts of 2,782 registered sex offenders. MySpace deleted 1,796 accounts
(Hamburg Media School) Um den internationalen Dialog zum Thema „Privatsphäre und Web 2.0“ zu fördern, finanziert die DFG ein wissenschaftliches Netzwerk von fünfzehn internationalen, renommierten Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern. Zum Netzwerk unter der Leitung von Prof. Dr. Sabine Trepte von der Hamburg Media School gehören auch Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt vom Hans-Bredow-Institut sowie als Mentor Institutsdirektor Prof. Dr. Uwe Hasebrink. Das DFG-Projekt „Young Scholars' Network on Privacy and Web 2.0” ermöglicht den direkten wissenschaftlichen Austausch zwischen exzellenten, internationalen Nachwuchsforscherinnen und -forschern. Die fünfzehn Mitglieder des Netzwerkes stammen von der Harvard University, der University of Amsterdam, der Michigan State University, der City University of Hong Kong, der University of Bath, der Universität Hamburg, dem Hans-Bredow-Institut Hamburg, der Universität der Künste Berlin, der Universität Hohenheim, der Universität Mainz und der Universität Duisburg-Essen.
(MakeUseOf) 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?
(Bruce Schneier) 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.
(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.
(BBC) 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.
(CNET) The New Oxford American Dictionary has picked the verb "unfriend," or "to remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook," as its 2009 Word of the Year. [Ed: Other new words were considered including hashtag, netbook and sexting]
(BBC) 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.
(LinkedIn blog) Today we're announcing a partnership between LinkedIn and Twitter - powerful for you. The idea is simple: When you set your status on LinkedIn you can now tweet it as well, amplifying it to your followers and real-time search services like Twitter Search and Bing. And when you tweet, you can send that message to your LinkedIn connections as well, from any Twitter service or tool.
(FT) 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."
(Techcrunch) Berlin police have arrested a man who tried to blackmail VZ-Netzwerke, the holding company for the successful Facebook clone StudiVZ and other German social networks. The man had used crawler software to harvest detailed user information not only only from the group's networks for adult people, StudiVZ and MeinVZ, but also from Germany's biggest social network for pupils, SchülerVZ. The 20 year old man asked for €80,000.
(Business Week) Google and Microsoft will incorporate information culled from social media sites into search pages. Microsoft said its Bing search engine will let users search for Twitter posts known as tweets and, later, for status updates posted to Facebook pages. Google will also include Twitter updates in search results and that it will begin offering a social search tool that delivers information posted by a searcher's friends on social sites.
(Europa) A study says that European interactive websites like video sharing sites and blogs are growing, generating revenue for both owners and contributors. Compared with the US, which hosts the most commonly used websites for content created by users (blogs, texts, videos, music, games and virtual objects), Europe has more contributors. For example, almost 4 in 5 Italian internet users read blogs compared to 60% in the US, 41% of Spanish users write blogs but only 26% in the US, almost 60% of Czech internet users upload photos and 48% of Polish internet users subscribe to RSS feeds, all ahead of the US (see annex). To help the emergence of European Flickrs and youtubes that turn this large European creativity into growth and jobs, the Commission's report highlights the need for new and updated EU rules building a Single Market for content that can be made and shared online by anyone.
(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.
(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.
(BBC) The High Court has given permission for an injunction to be served via social-networking site Twitter. The order is to be served against an unknown Twitter user who anonymously posts to the site using the same name as a right-wing political blogger. The order demands the anonymous Twitter user reveal their identity and stop posing as Donal Blaney, who blogs at a site called Blaney's Blarney.
(Social Media) posted by Ryan Kelly. We embarked on a study as to how people are using and consuming Twitter. Some felt it was their source of news and articles, others felt it was just a bunch of self-promotion with very few folks actually paying attention. But mostly, many people still perceive Twitter as just mindless babble of people telling you what they are doing minute-by-minute. So we took 2,000 tweets over a 2-week period and categorized them into 6 buckets: News, Spam, Self-Promotion, Pointless Babble, Conversational and Pass-Along Value. See also Twitter: "pointless babble" or peripheral awareness + social grooming? by danah boyd. Studies like this one by Pear Analytics drive me batty. They concluded that 40.55% of the tweets they coded are pointless babble; 37.55% are conversational; 8.7% have "pass along value"; 5.85% are self-promotional; 3.75% are spam; and ::gasp:: only 3.6% are news. Twitter - like many emergent genres of social media - is structured around networks of people interacting with people they know or find interesting. The vast majority of Twitter users are there to maintain social relations, keep up with friends and acquaintances, follow high-profile users, and otherwise connect. I vote that we stop dismissing Twitter just because the majority of people who are joining its ranks are there to be social.
(Reuters) 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.
(Economist) 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.
(Guardian) Cynics have long dismissed social networking as a fad - but the appetite for connecting online appears to be growing more rapidly than ever, after Facebook announced that it now has more than 300 million users worldwide. The announcement, made by the company's 25-year-old co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, underlines Facebook's reputation as one of the largest properties on the internet with an audience that could encompass almost every man, woman and child in the United States. The number is almost as large as the entire internet population of China, and equivalent to the number of web users in Europe's ten largest countries combined. It also marks the latest chapter in an astonishing period of growth for the company. The site reached the 250m user milestone in July, meaning that it has added an additional 50 million people in just two months.
(Guardian) The WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan and his promoter, Frank Warren, are squaring up to the social networking site Facebook in a legal battle that could have far-reaching consequences. The pair have engaged lawyers to threaten the US internet company with action over the use of images and names alongside material they consider to be defamatory and racist. Stephen Taylor Heath, head of sports and media at Lupton Fawcett, said that a cursory search of Facebook quickly led to "bogus" pages that used the images and names of the pair to link to material that would be "highly defamatory" if published in a newspaper or magazine. Warren, who has fought several high-profile legal battles, is understood to be determined to force Facebook to change its policy and take responsibility for the more unsavoury opinions of its registered users. There is a legal grey area about the extent to which the operator of a website, or the provider of community tools, can be held liable for comments posted.
(Reuters) The Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. agency that regulates the telecommunications industry, is becoming more media savvy by joining popular networking sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. The agency, which is conducting a series of workshops to hear from the industry and public on what the FCC's national broadband plan should include, is also urging the public to vote on which topics are the most important.
(Net Family News) "As the Twitter audience has mushroomed in recent months ? to 21 million US visitors in July 2009 ? the younger age groups are the ones flooding in the fastest," the comScore blog says about the micro-blogging service. In fact, people under 35 are "fueling Twitter's continued growth," with July usage spread evenly among the 12-17, 18-24, and 25-34 age categories, blogger Andrew Lipsman shows very visually with his growth charts.
(ONI) The summer of 2009 was a hectic one for online social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a bevy of other sites fell under the censors' axe in China and Iran as political events - namely the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the Iranian presidential election - shook both countries. Based on testing conducted in 2008-2009, the OpenNet Initiative has compiled data on the most frequently blocked social media sites around the world. We are proud to present five new social media filtering maps that serve as easy visual guides to the countries where Facebook, Flickr, Orkut, Twitter and YouTube are blocked.
(BBC) A teenager has been detained for three months in a young offenders' institution for harassing a woman on social networking website Facebook. Keeley Houghton swore at and threatened Emily Moore in person and on the internet in July, Worcester Magistrates' Court heard. The 18-year-old of Elgar Avenue, in Malvern, Worcestershire, admitted a charge of harassment on 31 July. She was also given a five-year restraining order. Houghton is prohibited from contacting Ms Moore, or commenting about her on any social networking system or website during that time.
(Heise) Das Social Network StudiVZ hat ein Manifest vorgestellt, mit dem er die Hoheit der Nutzer über ihre persönlichen Daten stärker betont und gleiche Spielregeln für alle hierzulande aktiven Online-Communities fordert. Siehe auch Pressemitteilung.
(BBC) New government guidance has been published urging civil servants to use the micro-blogging site Twitter. Launched on the Cabinet Office website, the 20-page document is calling on departments to "tweet" on "issues of relevance or upcoming events". Neil Williams, of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), published the "template" strategy. Writing on the Cabinet Office's digital engagement blog, Mr Williams - who is BIS's head of corporate digital channels - conceded that 20 pages was a "a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter" but added: "I was surprised by just how much there is to say - and quite how worth saying it is."
(Economist) 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.
(Google European Public Policy Blog) As a host for other people's content, YouTube aims to be a strong platform for free expression, while respecting individual choice and protecting young people from inappropriate content and exploitation. Over the past year, we've bolstered our efforts in four major areas: (1) developing clear policies about what is and is not acceptable on the site; (2) constructing robust mechanisms to enforce these policies; (3) rolling out innovative product features that enable safe behaviour; and (4) upping our educational efforts to increase user awareness of how to stay safe on the site.
(NetFamilyNews) Russians are the most engaged social networkers in the world, spending an average of 6.6 hours in social sites a month, based on comScore's survey of online social networking in 40 countries. "Of the 1.1 billion people age 15 and older worldwide who accessed the Internet from a home or work location in May 2009, 734.2 million visited at least one social networking site during the month, representing a penetration of 65% of the worldwide Internet audience," comScore's press release says.
(CNET News) 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.
(Press Release) In order to comply with Canadian privacy law, Facebook must take greater responsibility for the personal information in its care, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said in announcing the results of an investigation into the popular social networking site's privacy policies and practices. See Michael Geist's summary.
(BBC) A third of young people regularly access Facebook and Twitter via their mobile, a new report has found. The study, published by mobile research firm CCS Insight, found that access to social networking sites was driving the take-up of mobile internet services. Facebook is more popular than Bebo, MySpace and Twitter combined, it found.
(New York Times) Andrew Cuomo, New York's attorney general, intends to sue the social network Tagged.com "for deceptive e-mail marketing practices and invasion of privacy". Tagged, Mr. Cuomo alleges, illegally tried to lure new members by tricking visitors into providing their personal address books, which the company used to send out more invitations. Tagged disguised these e-mails to make it seem like a friend was inviting them to view personal photos
(BBC) Personal details about the life of the next head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, have been removed from social networking site Facebook amid security concerns.
The Mail on Sunday said his wife had put details about their children and the location of their flat on the site.
(CNET.com) Revamped privacy settings are coming soon to Facebook. The social network's privacy controls had gotten so sprawling that they were distributed across six separate pages and 40 different settings. As a result, Facebook's new controls will be more streamlined so as to offer easier and simpler controls about how much everything from entire profiles to individual pieces of content are shared. Users will be introduced to this through "transition tools" that allow them to toggle how open everything on their profile will be - totally public, friends-only, restricted to company or school networks, etc.
(OUT-LAW News) 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).
(BBC News) The number of hate and terrorist websites has increased by a third in the past year, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organisation put the figure at more than 8,000 in its 2008 report Hate 2.0. And the number of so-called hate sites is growing fast, while the use of social networks to push controversial messages is also on the rise. See Facebook, YouTube +: How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate.
(Europa) Tuenti and Rate are popular social networking services for young people in Spain and Estonia. By committing themselves to the "Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU" they take a step forward in keeping their online services safe. Signatories to the Principles committed to send to the European Commission a self-declaration, highlighting the way they implement the provisions of the Principles. As of 17 June 2009 the following companies have sent their self-declarations: Arto, Bebo, Dailymotion, Facebook, Google, Hyves, Microsoft Europe, MySpace, nasza-klasa.pl, Netlog, One.lt, Piczo, Rate.ee, Skyrock, StudiVZ.de, Sulake/Habbo, Tuenti ,Yahoo! Europe, Zap.lu. The European Commission will monitor the implementation of the Principles and it will publish the results of its assessment in February 2010. The "Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU" is a self-regulatory agreement signed on 10 February 2009 by 18 major social networking providers active in Europe. These Principles have been developed by SNS providers in consultation with the European Commission, as part of its Safer Internet Programme, and a number of NGOs, to provide good practice recommendations for the providers of social networking and other user interactive sites, to enhance the safety of children and young people using their services.
(Guardian) As foreign journalists were expelled from Iran or confined to their hotel rooms, and as events moved at speed through the day, web users across the world turned in enormous numbers to their counterparts in Iran, who were using blogs, YouTube and social networking sites to spread information that would otherwise not have reached a wide audience. As one Twitter user with apparent links to the opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi put it: "Everybody try to film as much as poss today on mobiles ? these are eyes of world." Mobile phone footage and grainy pictures were copied on to blogs and news sites, while mainstream broadcasters, their correspondents constrained, relied on user-generated footage in an attempt to circumvent the censored state broadcasts.
(CNET News) While 99 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have profiles on social networks, only 22 percent use Twitter, according to a new survey from Pace University and the Participatory Media Network. This is consistent with what some observers have said about Twitter's recent push from early-adopter territory into the mainstream: that it's catching on with a slightly older demographic than the teenagers and college students who formed Facebook's initial core. But of those young people using Twitter, the survey found that 85 percent of them follow friends, 54 percent follow celebrities, 29 percent follow family members, and 29 percent follow companies - not stellar news for the brands and marketers that have flocked to Twitter as the latest "conversational" destination.
(Times) Facebook was under increasing fire allegedly hosting pages promoting hatred against Jews after a report found that militants and hate groups were increasingly using social networking sites as propaganda tools to recruit new members. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Jewish human rights group named after the renowned Nazi-hunter, said it has found a 25 per cent rise in the past year in the number of "problematic" social networking groups on such sites as YouTube. A third of the new postings were on Facebook alone. The centre said it had identified more than 10,000 websites, social networking groups, portals, blogs, chat rooms, videos and hate games that promoted racial violence, anti-Semitism, homophobia, hate music and terrorism.
(Guardian) Pressure from US officials has forced classified advertising website Craigslist to pull the shutters down on its controversial sex adverts in favour of a new, closely-monitored system. In an announcement, Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster said the site would be closing the "erotic services" category. Instead, the site will open a new "adult services" category, in which every advert will be manually approved by staff before it is seen by members of the public.
(Guardian) The latest comScore data is good news for Facebook, ranking the site as the sixth most popular website in the world with 275 million unique users each month. Facebook now accounts for 4.1 minutes of every 100 minutes we spend online. The site accounts for more than 30% of all time spend on social networking sites, up from just over 12% a year earlier. Facebook has seen very strong growth in Europe over the past 12 months, ranked as the most popular social networking site in 11 of the 17 countries comScore monitors.
(OUT-LAW News) 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.
(CNET) 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.
(BBC) New figures just out show that the number of people using Twitter in the UK has gone through the roof over the last year. Market research company Nielsen Online says Twitter grew by 1,689% from February 2008 to February 2009. That means there are now more than 1.78 million people signed on. This time last year the social networking site only had 100,000 members. The same figures, however, show Facebook is still far and away the leading social networking site, with 17.8 million users and steady, strong growth of 114%.
(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.
(Digital Natives) by Sarah Zhang. Last month's outcry over the change and then quick reversal in Facebook?s Terms of Service proved that users will demand an active role in control over their own information. It brought to the forefront the issue of our digital dossiers. My digital dossier compromises of much more than a Facebook profile of course ? in fact it's a little alarming how much information is thrown in there ? and it is often difficult to know exactly what is in my digital dossier and how much (or how little) control I wield in creating it. PC Magazine recently published an excellent and comprehensive article on how to delete accounts on 23 popular web services, ranging from Google to eBay to Friendster.
(BBC) 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.
(Ars Technica) Is it time to revisit and tweak a critical portion of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)? Adam Thierer, Director of the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Center for Digital Media Freedom, and John Palfrey, Harvard law professor and Vice Dean, debate whether ISPs and social networking sites should be more liable for the things their users post.
(Inside Facebook) The famous Dunbar number, or "theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships", is generally accepted to be about 150. However, in a recent interview with The Economist, Cameron Marlow, a research scientist at Facebook, shared some interesting stats on Facebook users' social behavior patterns. His findings: while many people have hundreds friends on Facebook, they still only actively communicate with a small few. Or to quote the author of the article, "Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever." see also Primates on Facebook (Economist).
(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.
(Daily Telegraph) Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Friends Reunited have taken over from pubs and nightclubs as the most popular place to find love, it has emerged. One in four British people are dating - or have dated - someone they met through online community websites. And over a third have got back in touch with an old flame through the sites. One in ten have even had gone a step further and had an affair or a one-night stand with someone they met via a social networking site.
(Reuters) 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).
(NMA) 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.
(Guardian) Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist. The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children. See also Why Social Networks Are Good for the Kids (TechCrunch) by Sarah Lacy.
(BBC) Museum visitors will be able to share their cultural passions in a social networking website. A group of the UK's most famous museums, including the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, is creating a collective website. As well as finding information about exhibits, museum lovers can use the website to create communities based on their historic and creative interests.
(Reuters) 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.
(BBC) People's health could be harmed by social networking sites because they reduce levels of face-to-face contact, an expert claims. Dr Aric Sigman says websites such as Facebook set out to enrich social lives, but end up keeping people apart. Dr Sigman makes his warning in Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology.
(New York Times) by Saul Hansell . Over the last few days, a lot of Facebook users were left wondering whether the company had ambitions to turn their goofy photos into a coffee table book and adapt their wall postings into a Broadway play.
As best as I can tell, Facebook has no such plans. But that's hard to tell when you read that its user agreement allows it to "use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers)," all the words, pictures and everything else created by its users. When you sort through it, the fierce reaction from Facebook's users may indicate a new and useful sensitivity to legal fine print. See also Whose data is it anyway? (BBC) and Facebook: You Own All Your Data. Period. (But See You at the Next Privacy Uproar) (TechCrunch).
(BBC) The founder of Facebook says the social network will return to its previous terms of service regarding user data. In a blog post Mark Zuckerberg said the move was temporary "while we resolve the issues that people have raised". Users had complained after new terms of service seemed to suggest Facebook would retain personal data even if someone deleted their account. Originally defending the changes, Mr Zuckerberg had said it was to better reflect how people used the site. He had said the changes were made to ensure that if a user deleted his or her account any comments or messages he or she had left on a friend's Facebook page would not also disappear. see also Facebook still showing growing pains by Darren Waters and Facebook?s privacy storm by Jonathan Zittrain.
(RAPID) A video clip on cyber-bullying has been produced for the European Commission. It is available in all EU languages plus in Norwegian and Icelandic. The video will be broadcast on public and private TV channels all over Europe throughout 2009 and will kick off on Safer Internet Day (10 February). A longer version of the video will also be posted on the internet on sites popular with teenagers such as: Arto, Skyrock, Piczo, Habbo Hotel, Myspace UK, YouTube, Dailymotion, BeboIE. The video clip shows a young girl who is victim of cyberbullying, but fights back and reports the problem to her social networking site. Her appearance goes through different stages of transformation, reflecting the way that bullies are distorting her photo on a website. Finally, the girl takes control by pressing the "Report abuse" button available on the social networking site and everything comes back to normal. "Block bullying online! Keep it fun, keep control" is the final message of the video. It shows young people that there are solutions to the problems they may face on the Internet. The video closes with the website and phone number where teenagers can find help and advice in their country. The video clip can be seen at http://www.keepcontrol.eu/.
(RAPID) Online technologies are becoming a favourite way for young people to communicate. However, they need to be aware of the potential risks they may encounter in the online environment, and know how to deal with them. INSAFE, the network of European Safer Internet Centres, has initiated the Safer Internet Day, an annual international event that will be celebrated in 2009 for the sixth time. The flagship event of Safer Internet Day 2009 will take place in Luxembourg, and will be attended by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. It will focus on social networking, a phenomenon which has been quickly and widely adopted by young people in recent years. On 10 February, the main social networking sites active in Europe will sign an agreement in which industry will commit itself to maximize the benefits of the internet while managing the potential risks to children and young people. To empower children and young people to deal with these risks, on Safer Internet Day the Commission will launch a Europe-wide communication campaign and unveil a video clip on cyber-bullying, one of the most frequent problems young people encounter on the internet.