Tag Archives: social networking

Mashable: Are social networks becoming personal news wires?

To celebrate its five-year anniversary, Mashable is producing a series of posts on developments in social media. The latest looks at the impact of social networking on news consumption and the idea that social networks have become personal news wires.

Following a discussion of online “friends” evolving into our news editors, writer Vadim Lavrusik rounds-up some interesting ideas about ways to measure source credibility in the future for greater transparency online.

Though news is increasingly social and user-generated, the persistent fear is one of credibility and a flaw in measuring a curator’s knowledge on or interest in a topic. This problem could be improved by enabling users to develop more targeted news feeds on personalized topics of interest, but also by identifying specific sources and curators of information as more or less credible than others.

One idea he discusses, put forward by Andy Carvin a senior strategist at NPR,  would be to measure “who is knowledgeable” about a topic being shared.

This could also include sifting sources based on whether they are eye-witness to an event or are experts on the topic, both of which add value in their own way, he said. Such a model could then help establish a credibility index among users as sources, helping consumers better decide what information is credible.

See the full post here…

NPR publishes results of extensive survey on Facebook

News organisations and journalists wanting to make better use of Facebook to promote and share their work would do well to read NPR’s findings from its survey of more than 40,000 of its Facebook fans.

While NPR admits some of the responses will be skewed because the questions were asked via Facebook, the news organisation does have more than one million fans, so it must be doing something right.

Some important points:

  • “Users don’t think the number of ‘likes’ on a Facebook post will make them more likely to click it”;
  • “The vast majority (84 per cent) of NPR Facebook fans regularly read the links we post”;
  • NPR’s Facebook fans “are more inclined to consume NPR content on Facebook that other news sources”.

Full round-up of results at this link…

And if you fancy befriending Journalism.co.uk on Facebook, our fan page is at this link.

NUJ silver surfers can get together online with new Facebook group

Silver surfers from the NUJ 60+, an organisation dedicated to the unions “old(er) hacks”, can now come together online on a Facebook page launched just for them.

‘Old(er) hacks aloud’, which currently has just five members, offers a space to “seek old mates, share anecdotes, ideas and opinions on the world of journalism today and yesterday”.

Old(er) Hacks aloud! is a way of using the internet to involve those who use this medium and those who will do, in whatever way they want (observing NUJ ethics of course), seriously or to have some fun.

The NUJ, which is affiliated at national level to the National Pensioners Convention, says the 60+ group provides members with an opportunity to “use their vast experience and collective voice”.

Twitter is most-used social network to login to news sites

A Twitter ID is the login of choice on news sites that allow users to sign in with their profiles from other email and social networks.

While Facebook logins dominate amongst users of business-to-business websites and entertainment sites, the social network accounts for just 25 per cent of news site logins, while Twitter IDs make up 45 per cent.

The full statistics and graphics can be viewed on Gigya. As more news sites get ‘connected’ – see the Telegraph and Independent’s recent moves to Disqus and the likely Facebook integration of the new BBC News site – the login patterns that emerge could throw up some interesting insights into how online news readers are interacting with and consuming news sites.

Will Google use email contact lists to build a new social network?

Rumours of Google’s new social network are flying this week. The BNET Technology blog has some thoughtful speculation about its form here.

What will it look like? What elements of existing Google products will it incorporate? And how much control will users have over their profile information and data?

But what’s of interest to me was captured in a tweet by Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief at Mashable – journalists and anyone interested in protecting email contacts data should take note:

Google’s supposed new social network will be doomed unless they start over from scratch on the contact/friends list.

Another Twitter user, Marshall Haas (@marshallhaas), asked him why it was a problem; Ostrow answered:

“Same problem as Buzz … Gmail’s contact list isn’t an accurate definition of who my ‘friends’ are. At all.”

He’s talking about automated ‘friend’-making systems, in which Gmail contacts (i.e. email address book data) are automatically connected to you in a new system – as originally happened with Google Buzz.

Many users were not happy to see private email connections made public via Buzz; an issue Google quickly addressed. When developing its new connection tools for the new social network, Google would do well to remember the furore it faced over auto-friending in Buzz.

On a related topic, a few months ago Journalism.co.uk examined the practice of address book importing, in which social networks use members’ email address books to make connections between users and issue invitations.

As we reported, tools used by social networks to harvest new members can threaten the privacy of confidential sources and put journalists’ careers in jeopardy.

We tested out various services we showed that by using someone’s email address book data, a social network can link users publicly, risking source exposure.

Facebook, the social network on which we focused most of our attention, concerned us with its use of users’ data and descriptions of systems were muddled. We called on Facebook to make their systems clearer.

Facebook’s European policy director Richard Allan later told us: “[I]f somebody were a journalist with a professional [contacts] list, it would make sense for them clearly not to use any of these address book importers at all”.

In subsequent email correspondence with Facebook’s public relations team, I was told that for some users (who wish to import an email address list, but not reveal certain contacts): “… it may be better to upload your contacts from an Excel sheet or similar so you can remove ones you don’t wish to upload”.

While concerned about Facebook’s unclear and potentially misleading settings around address book importing and recommendations, we were impressed by the effort they made to answer our enquiries and we’ll be watching to see how they develop their systems.

Interestingly, this week I received this message from Twitter, in my inbox:

XXX knows your email address: YYY@googlemail.com. But Twitter can’t suggest you to users like XXX because your account (@YYY) isn’t configured to let users find you if they know your email address.

It then provided a helpful button to allow me to: “Review & confirm your settings”.

To explain: a friend (XXX) has shared her address book and Twitter has matched my email address to an unused Twitter account I hold (@YYY). I am then given the option to connect with this person, or open up my account to email address matching. i.e. I have to opt *in* to her sharing of email address book data.

It’s curious because in the past, I’ve received follows from people in my email address book to this same Twitter account – an account, I should add, that’s not in my name. I’m surprised therefore they found it without importing their email addresses, but I don’t know this for certain. With only four followers to this account, it seems unlikely two of them should be in my address book!

Anyway, in my case, it wasn’t important whether they followed me via this unused account or not, but anonymous bloggers out there (public service workers or political dissidents for example) should be careful to *never* use their real email addresses when registering social network accounts. Even if the account is in a different name, and the email address is private, the connection can still be made.

For a journalist, Twitter’s new alert system is good news. Twitter may not have answered any of Journalism.co.uk’s numerous enquiries about its address book importing methods, but at least it is developing techniques to allow users to make informed choices about who and how they connect with contacts with whom they have exchanged emails.

Has Twitter changed its ABI system? Did it read Journalism.co.uk’s initial enquiries outlining our concerns? I’ve sent the press people a line, but I’m not holding my breath.

I also contacted Google to ask about the rumoured network and whether Gmail address book data will be used for building membership. The spokesperson’s comment? Simply: “We do not comment on rumour or speculation”.

Independent.co.uk: John Rentoul on how Twitter transforms political reporting

John Rentoul, or @JohnRentoul, chief political commentator for the Independent on Sunday, sums up how he uses Twitter and the impact he believes it has had on political reporting in the UK (managing to avoid the hyperbole of many other love notes to Twitter from journalists):

Most of the time, however, Twitter is like a news service. It is different from social networks in that links are not necessarily mutual. People can choose to follow each other, but the Korean research found that four-fifths of links were one-way. This means that hub Twitterers with a lot of followers act as diffusers of news. When I started on this newspaper as a political reporter in 1995, the main source of UK “breaking news” was the Press Association wire – short bulletins of news, as it happened. Now Twitter fills that gap, as journalists and citizen-reporters let each other know when someone has left their microphone on, or has ruled out standing for the Labour leadership. When Adam Boulton started to lose his temper with Alastair Campbell on live television during the post-election negotiations, people tweeted to tell others to put Sky News on – to catch the best bits. William Hague announced that the talks with the Liberal Democrats were back on on Twitter. It is a way for politicians to speak to – or beyond – the conventional media. But it also offers journalists other ways of reporting.

Full article at this link…

Advertising Age: Calls for Facebook privacy regulation could hit publishers

A US senator has written to the country’s Federal Trade Commission asking for the development of guidelines for how individual’s information on Facebook can be used.

The letter from Senator Charles Schumer follows Facebook’s launch of its Open Social Graph Platform – a series of new tools and functionality for the social network, including deeper links with third-party sites. The network’s new “like” feature, for example, has already been put into use by numerous news sites, including the Washington Post.

The flap couldn’t come at a worse time for online advertising, facing the very real prospect that it will be regulated in the form of privacy legislation that would require publishers, networks or marketers to receive specific consent to use consumer data for a variety of purposes on the web.

(…) Of course, Facebook needs to default to openness because that’s where the service derives its viral nature. The more that is shared, the faster the Facebook web grows.

Full story at this link…

Business Insider: FT deal with Foursquare will offer free subscriptions

The Financial Times is working with Foursquare to provide free subscriptions to users of the location-based social networking site who “check in” to selected locations, Business Insider reports.

The deal will target younger readers, for example by featuring coffee shops and other spots located close to universities and business schools, who may be turned off by the rates for a premium subscription to FT.com.

[T]he Foursquare deal opens the FT up beyond their typical straight-laced business subscribers, and attempts to get a decidedly younger, more web-savvy potential consumer interacting with their brand.

Full story at this link…

Huffington Post announces separate Twitter edition

The Huffington Post is launching a separate Twitter edition of its site, designed to blend news items from the main site with Twitter feeds selected by Huff Post editors. The new edition also features stories that are ‘hot on Twitter’.

All 19 Huff Post verticals now have a distinct Twitter version – see examples of the Media, Technology, and Politics sections at these links – and a Twitter edition homepage launches soon. Visitors to the site can follow links on each original section’s masthead to switch to its Twitter version.

Eric Hippeau, CEO of Huff Post, said:

By creating a Twitter edition of HuffPost, we’re seeking to give our engaged audience another exciting way to follow the news in real-time. Our goal is to build a destination for users to unlock all that’s happening on Twitter in the areas of most interest to them.

See the full Huff Post release at this link…

Reinventing the Newsroom: Social media and ‘refrigerator journalism’

“Refrigerator journalism” – those bits of a newspaper that you’d cut and stick to your fridge. Clippings that have a personal relevance and accumulate to do lists, photos and post-it notes around them.

But can social networks like Facebook replace this idea? Writes Jason Fry:

By taking the fuss and friction out of sharing and making it real-time, Facebook is in many ways a better refrigerator. As such, it’s enormously valuable in reinforcing real-world community, particularly now that it’s becoming fairly representative of more and more real-world communities. On Facebook, strong ties are naturally and easily reinforced, and weaker ties can be strengthened by posting photos and sharing articles and commenting and liking and just reading status updates.

News organisations can make use of Facebook by seeing it as complementary to what they do and a way for their content to be shared with a wider audience.

But will this sharing is valuable, it’s lacking something, says Fry (who goes on to offer his suggestions of a solution to this):

The things we share on Facebook are soon swept away by newer things and lost from view. They’re part of a rich stream of shared experience, but with the exception of photo albums, most of that shared experience is carried off into the realm of ‘older posts’ and effectively lost.

Full post at this link…