Time to De-Clutter Your Social Media

bigstock-Window-cleaner-using-a-squeege-30983438Happy New Year! Now is a time when many people make New Year’s Resolutions. This year, instead of making one that you know you won’t follow through with, try something that you can easily achieve. Clean up your social media!

Social media can be fun, but it can also be a time waster. One way to make it work for you is to do a little gardening. Keep the healthy “plants”, and get rid of the “weeds”. When you get done, you will have crafted your social media into a more pleasant and enjoyable place to visit.

Start with your Facebook account. There are a couple of helpful apps that can quickly remove or replace unwanted posts from your Facebook page.

Tired of looking at countless photos of the brand new baby of your friend from high school? Unbaby Me will replace the baby photos with cat photos. (You can select something other than cats if you prefer).

Social Fixer got a lot of use during the recent presidential election, as people used it to eliminate all those political posts. If your Facebook friends are still stuck in November, you may want to give Social Fixer a try. You can set it to remove posts that contain a series of words of your choosing, (which could be something unrelated to politics if you prefer).

My way of de-cluttering my Facebook account was to completely and entirely delete it. Those of you who are still on Facebook might want to read a Forbes article that was written by Elisa Doucette. She walks you through a variety of ways to use the tools within Facebook to tailor what you see from your Facebook friends.

I’ve learned a lot about how to make my Twitter experience a happier one. Go to a particular Twitter user’s page. Find the button with the silhouette of a person on it. This is where to find the helpful tools in Twitter.

Got a friend who re-tweets a bunch of stuff that you have absolutely no interest in? You can turn off their retweets. There is also a button that you can use to block Twitter users whom you do not wish to hear from – ever.

I use this one when I find a Twitter user who appears to be using his or her account specifically to start fights, encourage drama, and to generally be a person who “does not play well with others”. How do I find these people? Usually, they get re-tweeted into my Twitter feed. The people you block lose the ability to communicate with you on Twitter.

You can also make lists on Twitter. Put all of your family members into a list. Check that instead of your main feed for important news and updates from your loved ones. Make a list of podcasts that you listen to, or of the Twitter friends who all play a certain video game. Narrowing down what you see can save you a lot of time!

Image Stock Photo Window Cleaner Using a Squeegee to Wash a Window by BigStock

Identity Theft Made Easy

Viz Top Tip… Make identity theft easy by posting a picture of your credit card on Twitter or other social media.

Credit Card

(The airbrushing is mine)

Quite unbelievably, this young lady posted a picture of her new credit card on Twitter – “Ahhhhh my first credit card buzzing aint the word my friends” – and it was retweeted to me. I was tempted to DM her and ask for a picture of the back but that seemed churlish. Dumber than a box of hammers, if you ask me.

Miss Alex Mathewson, congratulations on acquiring your first credit card but you might want to check your new statement for some unexpected purchases.

Freedom of Speech in the UK

Law GavelIn the latest podcast, Todd rightly asks about the apparent lack of freedom of speech on social media in the UK. Undoubtedly, it’s a complex issue but it is becoming increasingly clear that the right to free speech is under threat here in Britain. In this post, I’ll look at some of the issues, but to start with, I am not a lawyer (thank goodness) and this doesn’t constitute legal advice.

Unlike the USA, the UK does not have a written constitution guaranteeing rights. The closest the Britain gets to this is the Human Rights Act (1998) which only came into force in 2000. The Human Rights Act is the embodiment in UK law of the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf).  The ECHR’s Article 10 provides the right to freedom of expression but as will be noted from part 2 of the article below, there are plenty of possible exceptions. I’ve embolden the part that is relevant to the discussion here.

“The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Obviously, the UK police do not pro-actively monitor social media looking for offensive posts. A complaint has to be received by the police based on someone taking offence at a posting on social media. The UK law has increasingly moved away from “offence intended” to “offence taken”. This was primarily done to increase the power of law in areas of discrimination, where people could avoid convictions by claiming that sexually or racially offensive language wasn’t intended in the way it was taken. Now the law supported those who were offended by the sexual or racial innuendo, regardless of intention. However, the “offence taken” law has grown out of its discriminatory roots to take hold in almost any area of offence.

Much as the compensation culture has grown, a similar one has arisen that “bad things” are always someone else’s fault and they have to pay. Although it started with physical hurt, this has gradually extended to psychological hurt and finally simple feelings. Instead of “sticks and stones will break my bones”, it’s “I’m going to tell on you.”

Finally, both the police and the legal system have increasingly taken a view of what’s legal and illegal rather than what is right and wrong. Consequently, instead of the police looking at the social media post with a bit of common sense and telling the complainant to grow-up, the police are now obliged to follow procedure and take up the complaint.

Overall, these changes in the law and approaches to policing now mean that abusive and offensive comments are taken much more seriously than before.

Let’s take a look at three cases that show the variety of circumstances.

The first tweet to come to widespread notice was Paul Chamber’s tweet in response to his local airport being shut because of snow. “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your (expletive deleted) together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” He was initially found guilty in May 2010 of sending a “menacing electronic communication” but fortunately eventually won his challenge in July of this year. The whole incident was farcical and made the law look stupid.

The second isn’t a tweet but a T-shirt worn in response to the shooting of two police officers that said, “One less pig perfect justice”, pig being an abusive slang term of the police. Barry Thew was jailed for four months for this, but many would have seen this as political commentary, particularly as it was about to be revealed that the police covered up their incompetence in a sporting disaster in which 96 people died by disgracefully blaming football fans killed and injured in the incident.

And finally, Britain has been embroiled in child sex abuse scandal involving a well-loved (but now dead) BBC TV personality. In the wake of this, a living person was named on Twitter as being a paedophile when he was wholly innocent and completely blameless. He’s now suing everyone who repeated the lie unless they apologise.

As can be seen, it’s a complex issue with both the freedom of speech under threat and the rights of others needing to be protected. The Crown Prosecution Service has recognised that there is potentially a problem and is intending to consult with the legal profession and social media companies. The Director of Pubic Prosecution, Keir Starmer, QC, has said that “People have the right to be offensive, they have the right to be insulting, and that has to be protected.

In a recent statement about another tweeting case, the DPP said, “Social media is a new and emerging phenomenon raising difficult issues of principle, which have to be confronted not only by prosecutors but also by others including the police, the courts and service providers. The fact that offensive remarks may not warrant a full criminal prosecution does not necessarily mean that no action should be taken. In my view, the time has come for an informed debate about the boundaries of free speech in an age of social media.

There’s hope yet.

Courtroom Gavel photograph courtesy of Bigstock.

Twitter and Instagram Compete for Your Photos

Twitter and Instagram are getting ready to offer you a few more places to post your photos. Right now, there aren’t a whole lot of details that have been released. Those of you who feel that you don’t have enough of places to post your photos will probably embrace at least one of these upcoming options.

Instagram has announced that it will be rolling out Instagram profiles. This is in response to the request Instagram had from users who wanted there to be an Instagram interface that was on the web. Your web profile will feature a selection of the photos that you recently shared through Instagram. You can put in a profile photo and create a bio.

People can follow your profile, and you can follow the profiles of other Instagram users. Anyone can comment on the photos or “like” them. I suppose it was only a matter of time until Facebook, which bought Instagram, would figure out a way to get its iconic “like” button in there somewhere. You will not be able to upload Instagram photos through your Instagram profile. My best guess is this is to prevent users from opting out of using the Instragram app in favor of the profile.

According to the New York Times, Twitter is going to be adding photo filters to what it can offer users. The purpose, of course, would be to compete with Instagram (and all the ways it lets you alter and play with a photo).

Although Twitter has made a deal with Photobucket in the past, it seems that Twitter is now storing images on its own servers. It appears that Twitter is quietly working on building its own photo filters that will let you alter your photos like you can with Instagram, (only without actually using Instagram to do it). Like Instagram, the filters from Twitter will be accessible through its mobile app. No word yet on when the filters will be ready.

Image: Stock Photo Using Mobile Phone by BigStock

App.net an Alternative to Twitter

App.net is a Twitter replacement which is based on a subscription. I joined 5 days ago. The cost is $36.00 which is a drop of about 25 percent from the originally $50.00 for the subscription. There is also a $5.00 monthly subscription available. Under App.net you own all your content If you decide to cancel your service you have 60 days to export your data. App.net has promise to make that exporting easy. They promise not to sell you personal data to advertisers or any other third-party.

Unlike Twitter, App.Net actively encourages developers to create third-party apps. Based on users feedback, App.net will distribute $20,000 among developers monthly. Right now there are over 30 mobile apps alone. Most are iOs based, there are some Android apps also and at this point only 1 mobile Window app. I expect more Windows mobile apps to be created once Windows 8 mobile comes out. There is a listing of all the available third-party apps for the various platforms listed on the App.net website. Personally on my Mac I am trying bothWedge and Appetizer. On the iPad I am currently using AppNet Rhino however Netbot by the same people who make Tweetbot just came out and it is also very popular. On my Android phone I am trying Robin which is invite only beta.

Why join app.net

1. There are no ads.
2. It is a place where you can have great conversations.
3. At this point it is mostly celebrity free.
4. So far no annoying hashtag trends.
5. There is 256 character limitation instead of the Twitter’s normal 145.
6. Most third-party apps are set up to allow you to cross-post to Twitter.

The negative

1. You have to pay for the service
2. There is a small but growing membership
3. Not for someone who just wants to announce things
4. Your friends may not be on the service, so you will need to persuade them to join.

I am really enjoying App.net and if you join I am listed as klandwehr

The Google Play Store Comes to Twitter

google play twitter account

The Google Play Store, formerly known as the Android Marketplace,  has finally launched it’s own Twitter account.  It may sound like a pretty minor event, but it could actually be a fairly big deal for all of the Android device owners out there.  Many businesses today have not only taken to Twitter to answer customer questions and handle complaints, but also to run promotions.

The latter is exactly how Google plans to use their new @Googleplay handle.  According to Alex Dumitru over at Android Geeks the Mountain View company “will begin tweeting special promotions, updates and exclusive contents through its official Twitter live channel.”

The Play Store account already has over 28,000 followers, despite having posted only two tweets, and no deals, so far.  It”s actually a bit surprising that it took Google this long to set up something that the Amazon App Store had from day one.  Regardless, it’s better late to the party than never.

Shell’s “Let’s Go” Campaign – Brought to You by Greenpeace

The other day, a good friend of mine retweeted something that was originally posted by Social Media Team @ShellisPrepared. It caught my attention for two reasons. One, this friend doesn’t make a habit of retweeting a lot of things. Two, the original tweet implied that Shell Oil had been the victim of a social media attack.

I went to the Twitter profile of @ShellisPrepared to learn more. Things didn’t look good. Every single tweet mentioned something about “subversive” or “inappropriate” ads that they were trying desperately to remove. My immediate thought was: “Somebody at Shell doesn’t know how to properly use social media”. I would never have known about the ads that they wanted to take down if it wasn’t for them tweeting about it. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to quietly shut down the website, remove the offensive ads, and keep it quiet?

Naturally, I was curious about just what those ads were. The @ShellisPrepared profile contained a link to their new campaign, which appeared to be called “Arctic Ready”. I rushed over to their website. hoping to get a glimpse of the ads before they shut down the website that contained them.

What I saw was a train-wreck of a marketing campaign. There was an easy to use “ad generator” on this page. Anyone who wanted to could choose from one of several photos: swimming polar bears, an arctic fox, a bird with some baby birds, a floating iceberg, and more. Next, you could type in a slogan. The phrase “Let’s Go.” would be automatically added. The best ones would be placed on billboards. This was basically a way to “crowd source” some ideas for their ads.

It was immediately apparent that no one at Shell was reviewing the ads that people created before they went “live” onto the website. Every single ad was negative. Slogans like “Birds are like sponges … for oil!” and “Some say catastrophe, we say opportunity” were generated. Nothing here was positive. People either really hate Shell Oil, or emphatically don’t want oil companies to drill in the Arctic.

Other ads pointed out how badly Shell failed at using social media. Slogans like “We still haven’t noticed we are being trolled”, and “The ad generator is not down for maintenance” and “This is the biggest marketing fail in the history of failing” appeared. The internet has a plethora of trolls, and many of them found their way to the ad generator. Shell got picked on for “not knowing how to internet”, so to speak.

I scrolled through several pages of these ads, laughing all the way. Then, I thought, “Wait a minute! How am I still able to access these ads if Shell is frantically trying to take them down?” It turned out that there was a very good reason for this. The website isn’t run by Shell Oil. It was created by Greenpeace. The entire purpose was to create a user generated attack against Shell Oil.

To me, the most fascinating part of this entire hoax was that no one questioned it. People didn’t question the idea that a company like Shell Oil would be inept enough to set up an ad generator, that anyone could use, and then fail to monitor the contents that people created. Nobody questioned the sight of a big company failing with their use of Twitter.

Goodbye, Apple Ping in iTunes. I Hardly even Used Ya

ping2

Apple announced their social network Ping would be removed in the next version of iTunes. It didn’t build the excitement as Apple wanted it to. Because of the integration of Facebook with iOS6, and also integration with Twitter, Apple decided to retire the network.

Ping was announced on September 2nd, and saw 1 million users in the first 48 hours. After that, it didn’t see the growth it wanted. Of course, it didn’t help to be behind the walled iTunes garden.

Ping

Will Facebook Replace Ping in iTunes?

Since the announcement that Facebook will become integrated in iOS6, it makes one wonder if Ping will get replaced with Facebook or Twitter. That way, you still have a social network in iTunes.

ping3

With a social network in iTunes, you can have people publicly announce what they are watching and listening to. It’s technically free advertisement to say “Hey! Buy from iTunes, because your friend Joe did!”. So it only goes to see the integration happen. Either that, or turn iTunes into web-based software.

According to All Things D, Ping will be removed in the next major revision – coming out this Fall. In the meantime, when you download something from the iTunes, store, just choose the drop-down and share on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Why Cable TV Subscribers Are Making It Miserable To Cut The Cord

This is what I look like waiting for TV shows to be released on Netflix. Not really – this is what I look like all the time. Image Credit – BigStock

There’s a new report out this week (to be filed in the “Duh” folder…right next to “No Kidding”) showing that some 2.6 million cable television subscribers cancelled their service in favor of Internet-based streaming services between 2008 and 2011.

Reported by Slashdot, Yahoo and others this morning, Canadian research firm Convergence Consulting Group summarized the following from their…well, research:

“We estimate 112,000 TV subscribers were added in 2011, down from 272,000 in 2010, and forecast 185,000 TV sub additions for 2012. 2000-2009 annual TV sub additions averaged 2 million. Based on our TV Cord Cutting Model (takes into account economic conditions, annual subscriber additions, digital transition), we estimate 2.65 million (2.6%) US TV subscribers cut their TV subscriptions 2008-11 to rely solely on Online, Netflix, OTA, etc, 1.05 million (1%) in 2011 alone. We forecast cord cutters will reach 3.58 million year end (3.6%) 2012.”

So, essentially, folks are fleeing traditional television for streaming services in decent numbers, but those numbers seem to be slowing. News reports on this are rounding up the typical line-up of culprits for this dialing-back on the rush to streaming – content limitations of streaming services (a.k.a. ‘ I can’t believe Netflix doesn’t have so-and-so) based on sluggish deals being struck by Netflix and others with studios and networks; and the ultimate price-tag of achieving a more robust catalogue of content will break the cost model for places like Netflix and their service will become prohibitively expensive. [Read more…]