How Social Media Can Ruin Your Life

How Social Media Can Ruin Your Life

Social Media can really do it to you.

Oh. My. God.

You did WHAT???!?!?!?

Quick, lemme tweet it!

social media
foursquare (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

No, I’ll take a picture and upload it to Instagram.

And I can’t forget to blog it!

This kind of gaffe deserves a Facebook post, too!

Really?

So you know what’s it like. You post a selfie taken at the ballgame. Except you told your boss that you were home sick, with the flu. You were supposed to be with your significant other. But, oops, you checked into Foursquare. With your friend. You know, the one with benefits. Or maybe you rant against your kid’s soccer coach on Twitter. And he calls you out on it. Hence in May of 2014, The Boston Globe presented a half a dozen ways that social media can ruin your life.

social media
English: Data from April 2011 Editor Survey that lists Social Media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the article presents some boneheaded moves, including a poor choice of a Halloween costume (because evidently the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing are a laugh riot to someone out there), a Candy Crush addiction, and some poorly thought out tweets.

You Did What?

I’m sure that the following will, eventually, be the kinds of behaviors that could be added to a successor article (Note: some of these are real, some are speculative. I won’t name names. So you decide whether any of these have really happened, or are still in the ‘maybe’ column):

  1. How about claiming a permanent injury for your lawsuit and then checking in from a dance contest
  2. What about a court-ordered Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting blown off for a trip to the track – and a selfie with the dogs or horses running their hearts out in the background.
  3. Or dissing your ex, big time, on Facebook or Twitter, and your child growing up to read your sunshiny status updates.
  4. And then maybe a job interview, as you tout your fine record of academic achievement, with old Instagram photos of you showing off your barely passing C-average transcript.
  5. Finally, politicians caught with underage drinking photos, sexting, pictures of their junk, and a panoply of other nuggets of oversharing.

I love social media but man oh man, people! Have a little self-control and some common sense.

… And Facebook for All – All the Rest of It

… And Facebook for All – All the Rest of It

What’s the rest of it? There are really only two areas that I haven’t delved into: Groups and Notes (and keep in mind, FB changes constantly, so these could go away).

Groups

Groups: a lot more self-explanatory than you might expect.

 Rest
Trekkies at Florida Supercon (Photo credit: daspader)

They are, of course, a means for people to gather themselves together. Facebook is enormous and so, instead of looking through several million people to try to find someone who likes, say, Star Trek United, you can hunt for a Star Trek group, join it and, voila! Instant collection of people with an interest similar to your own.

Joining in a group affords few obligations. Get invited to a group event? Well, it’s nice to RSVP, but not necessary. New discussion in the group? Well, it’s nice to participate, but you don’t need to. Add photos? Again, lovely, but no one’s holding a gun to your head.

Group Management

Managing a group differs a tad because it’s good to keep it lively. I’ve already talked a bit about groups before in this series, so I won’t repeat what I’ve said. However, mainly you want to keep discussions going (if any) and interest up. Gathering an enormous number of fans (yes, I know they are called Likes now, but what’s the human term? Likers? That just sounds weird, Facebook) helps with that.

This helps because it’s a somewhat objective means of showing interest in your group or cause or company, but since there’s a proliferation of dual accounts, that’s not necessarily much of an achievement. Plus, since it’s so easy to toss a Share or Like button on any site, and Liking is so easy, having a lot of fans often just means you got your group in front of a bunch of people who are fine with clicking on a Like button, and nothing more. A group with 1,000 fans is not necessarily going to be easier to monetize than a group with only 100.

Notes

Notes became yet another means of getting across information. The main difference between them and discussions? The replies seem more like subordinate-appearing comments versus discussion replies.

Huh?

Yeah, it’s a difference without much of a real distinction.

The main usage I’ve seen for Notes consists of old-fashioned “getting to know you” kinds of notes. You know, the kind where you’re asked your favorite ice cream flavor or the name of your childhood pet. I’ve been on the Internet for over a decade and a half and, frankly, I think I’ve seen all of these by now.

The last bit about Facebook is its very ubiquity. One of the reasons why it is so successful is because it’s, well, so successful. E. g., a long time ago, it hit a tipping point and started to become famous for the sake of being famous, and got bigger pretty much just because it was already huge.

It is well-known to be a worldwide phenomenon. Mentioning it is so obvious, so simple and so well-known that it practically isn’t product placement to talk about it any more, much like mentioning a telephone in a movie isn’t really product placement to give a profit to Alexander Graham Bell’s descendants.

See you online. And, yes, I will friend you if you like.

Facebook to Allow Users to Login with Less Info

Facebook to Allow Users to Login with Less Info

According to The Boston Globe,  Facebook announced in late April that, “its 1.3 billion users would soon be able to limit the information they reveal to other websites or mobile applications when they log in through their Facebook identities.”

Facebook
Facebook (Photo credit: Scott Beale)

The idea behind this move is to address users’ concerns about revealing their personal data just to check out a website.

The enormous social networking site is also considering making it possible for users to log into other sites anonymously.  That is, the login would be anonymous to the other site, but not to Facebook. Because, of course, Facebook wants to gather (presumably) anonymous data for the purpose of aggregating it and better understanding user behavior.

One of the reasons why Facebook has grown so enormous (1.3 billion users) is because it reveals such intimate details to online businesses. Likes are routinely scanned. Birth dates are revealed. Even photos and friend lists are sometimes shared with outside businesses. The aggregation of quantitative data (we are studying this at Quinnipiac, in ICM 524,  which is the Social Media Analytics class) is vital to any number of sites understanding people’s behavior on the web.

The truth is, any person who believes that any of their clicks are not being counted, timed, compared, or otherwise measured is in for a real surprise. They are.  And this is not necessarily any sort of a bad thing, I might add. For data to be best understood, there really does need to be an awful lot of it. And what better site to bring a lot of data than the behemoth itself, Facebook?

Caveat clicker.

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Snapchat Settles with FTC over Privacy Issues

Snapchat Settles with FTC over Privacy Issues

Snapchat ends up settling with the FTC over privacy issues. The Boston Globe reported this year that the images being passed by the Snapchat app weren’t vanishing without a trace, as advertised.

Catching up with Taylor
Catching up with Taylor (Photo credit: ekai)

The temporal nature of its content proved extremely appealing to younger Internet users, and now it turns out that Snapchat’s content is a lot more durable than anyone wanted it to be.

There were a number of ways that content could be copied, including taking screen shots of the app.

But wait, it gets worse

According to the article, not only was the content kept, but, “ Snapchat transmitted users’ location information and collected sensitive data like address book contacts, despite its saying that it did not collect such information. The commission said the lax policies did not secure a feature called “Find Friends” that allowed security researchers to compile a database of 4.6 million user names and phone numbers during a recent security breach.”

Oops.

Remember This?

It was only 2013 when the company was offered a multi-billion dollar buyout by Facebook. They refused, thinking they could do better.

Double oops.

Going Forward

The FTC isn’t messing around. Per the article, “Snapchat will be prohibited from misrepresenting how it maintains the confidentiality of user information. The company will also be required to start a wide-ranging privacy program, a sort of probation, and will be independently monitored for 20 years. Fines could ensue if the company violates the agreement.”

Yeah, that’s gonna stink for a while.

There are a few morals to this story, I feel.

  1. Don’t be greedy. Facebook’s paying billions of bucks! What were the owners of Snapchat holding out for? Their own country?
  2. Don’t promise stuff you can’t deliver. 
  3. Don’t assume your users are so clueless that they won’t find workarounds. Never underestimate a determined user.
  4. And, for the users, don’t assume your content is private unless you have absolute control over all security and privacy settings. And the best way to have that kind of control is, don’t put your content online if you want it to remain private.
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Using Twitter to Track Drug Side Effects

Using Twitter to Track Drug Side Effects

According to the Boston GlobeBoston Children’s Hospital researchers have found out that online postings could be a new way to identify problems with drugs sooner.

Using Twitter to Track Drug Side Effects

In an FDA-funded study published in the journal Drug Safety, researchers from Children’s, the FDA, and elsewhere searched through Twitter posts mentioning 23 commonly used medications. The list included antidepressants, sleeping pills, and popular over the counter remedies such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, and even vaccines. The study was conducted for over a six month period between 2012 and 2013. Of the 60,000 tweets mentioning these drugs or vaccines, 4,401 of the postings described side effects that were blamed on the medications or vaccines.

This methodology certainly appears to be promising. Twitter is, by definition, a quick hit. No one is going to go into detail about their complaints. Further, since people are already at least somewhat cognizant of online issues with their own medical privacy, they might not want to go into too much detail. However, most people would, I believe, feel comfortable enough to tweet something like the following –

  • Aspirin is making me nauseous
  • I think Prednisone is giving me a rash
  • I don’t like taking Lipitor

For any researchers searching for information about side effects, Twitter and other social media platforms might prove to be useful. However, a caveat is most definitely in order – some people go to social media platforms pretty much for the sole purpose of complaining.

Context, as it often is, is important.

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