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Media Release: Social networks to fall under Advertising Standards Authority’s remit

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) could see its remit extended to cover marketing activity on companies’ websites and social networks, it was announced yesterday.

Says the Advertising Association’s (AA) release, which can be downloaded at this link:

The Advertising Association (AA) has submitted the industry’s recommendations to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), for the extension of the non-broadcast Advertising Code in digital media, which will be administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). This landmark move for advertising self-regulation seeks to address societal concerns and will increase protection for consumers and children.

Marketing communications activity in paid-for space online is already covered by ASA. But the extended remit could come into force by Q3 2010.

A release from the ASA states:

Currently, the ASA’s online remit covers paid-for marketing communications such as pop-up and banner ads, paid-search and viral ads. However, nearly two thirds of the complaints that we receive about online marketing activity are not presently covered by the code. The proposed extension of our remit will plug this regulatory gap, ensuring that consumers enjoy the same level of protection on websites as they do in paid-for space.

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Ethan Zuckerman on hashtags, breaking news and disinformation

April 20th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Social media and blogging

There have been discussions previously on accuracy vs speed when it comes to breaking news on social media platforms such as Twitter (see the debate around the reporting of the Mumbai terror attacks), but Ethan Zuckerman’s recent blog post raised some interesting points relating to the recent Moldova protests.

The #pman tag used to report the protests was also used to spread disinformation, says Zuckerman, who references Jon Pincus’ post on the hashtag as an open channel.

“[I]n the same way that the #skittles tag, promoted by the company as a form of viral marketing ended up being used for NSFW posts, it’s hardly surprising that #pman would attrack trolls and disinformation,” writes Zuckerman.

“On the other hand, participatory tools may be particularly effective at debunking this form of disinformation.”

A commenter on Zuckerman’s blog tested this out during the protests by posting fake, hashtagged updates, and seeing if these were seized upon by the media. The ‘troll/experiment’ was quickly rumbled however.

Zuckerman says he will be looking into whether Romanian speakers will challenge the information spread in English-language updates, as well as whether good or bad nuggets of information spread more quickly.

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Mad to start freelancing in the recession? Don’t panic!

February 25th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Journalism

Needless to say, my New Year’s freelance resolutions didn’t last long, especially not the one about not procrastinating (I mean, have you seen the talking cats on YouTube?). Maybe I should get into viral marketing… Anyway, since we last met I have come up with a belated addition to that little list – thou shalt not take on too much at once.

This current climate is one in which budgets and staff are being cut – forcing new freelancers to enter the market place, and as as an existing freelancer out on your own it’s easy to panic about commissions. Will there be enough to get by? Will it look bad if I say no? Will they pay me if I say yes? Are my rates too high or too low?

It’s understandable, in light of this, that you might jump at any work that comes your way – but one thing that I’ve learned over the past, very hectic three weeks – is to know your limits (unless you want to spend a string of weekends burning the proverbial candle). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about having work during a recession, in fact, I’m a big fan of it, but I really have realised that it’s important to stop panicking.

The nature of freelancing is sporadic, manic even, in some ways – there will be quiet times when modestly-paid web stories or blog posts will be a godsend – but when you’ve got a few big commissions on the go it’s important to leave time to be thorough, rework things and have contingency time in the case of family crisis (and don’t they always happen at the wrong time?).

Maintaining the definition between work-time and home-time is crucial, otherwise you’ll find yourself living in a constant state of guilt – fretting about looming deadlines when you’re eating bread and jam, and taking your copy to read on the loo. That’s no way to live my friends, no way at all.

On another note, I issued my first threat to a rogue payer. After dozens of phonecalls, subsequent rebuffs, ignored emails and left voicemails (for some work I’d done in November), it was time to get heavy. Finally, after stating my case and assuring them that I would be getting my solicitor involved if they failed to pay me in due course, I got put through to the accountant.

“There’s no need to threaten us with court action Miss Birkett,” said the accountant. Oh, but there is – especially when you’re freelancing in a recession.

Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist and sub-editor who specialises in food, hospitality and travel. She can be contacted on rosiebirkett1 at hotmail.com. She also blogs at thelondonword.com and at fiftyfourfoodmiles.wordpress.com. You can follow the series ‘Mad to start freelancing in the recession?’ series here here.

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Food for thought on feeds (but only a third fed)

December 12th, 2007 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Yesterday was a day of thirds for me. Two thirds good, one third not so good. In the first two thirds, I attended a roundtable discussion on RSS hosted by MediaFed, a provider of RSS feed tools and services.

It would have been topped off with an excellent three-course meal had I not had to leave for another meeting after the starter (so only one third of a lunch for me, and those that know me well will appreciate how I grieved for the loss of that sticky ginger pudding).

Ahem, but I digress. The purpose of the first discussion was to get some representatives from the UK publishing industry around a table to discuss their current implementation of RSS feeds and how they expect the platform to develop in the future. Before I summarise the points of the discussion, I think it would be useful to summarise what I think are the key RSS requirements from both readers and publishers.
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