The last couple weeks have seen a lot of very public controversy surrounding some privacy "slip-ups" (possibly deliberate) by Facebook and Zynga, the casual game developer behind time-wasting hits including FarmVille and Mafia Wars. According to the Wall Street Journal and at least one class action lawsuit, Zynga has secretly shared user information with third-party advertisers and Internet marketers, in violation of its agreements with Facebook and its users.
No, this is not a joke in very bad taste, much as I wish it were. In addition to being an absurd American tragedy, the story of Alexandra V. Tobias and her infant son Dylan Lee Edmondson, will doubtless provoke more warnings and laments about social ills "caused" by social media. But as in other cases this blames social media for basic human failings, like being evil. Obviously this is a terrible story all round, and I can almost hear media columnists all over the Web gearing up to highlight the social media angle. But once again, I feel obliged …
Interesting news on the virtual goods front: it seems gift cards holding Facebook Credits are now on sale at Wal-Mart and Best Buy, expanding retail distribution that already includes Target. The in-store card sales are touted as "The quick & easy way to get premium items in your favorite games and applications" -- meaning you can use them to pay for "virtual goods" in games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. Boiling the story down to its bizarre essence, brick-and-mortar retail establishments are now selling real cards holding imaginary money to buy things which don't actually exist.
College students are fully as engaged with online social networks and on mobile platforms as you might expect, according to a new survey of 2,207 undergrads at 40 schools by Edison Research on behalf of MTVU in collaboration with the Associated Press and the Jed Foundation. But they are also ambivalent about its impact on their lives -- and positively confused by each other. Indeed, technology seems to be substituting for interpersonal interactions or enabling types of interaction which might never have happened otherwise. For example, the survey found nearly 70% of the college students surveyed "have had an argument …
Young, hip, and growing like gangbusters: This description is equally true for social and place-based media, and with continuing convergence enabled by digital technology -- mobile in particular -- it was only a matter of time before these crazy kids hooked up.
In addition to connecting people all over the world, social media is a great leveler, attracting users from all walks of life and income brackets -- including the rich. A new survey from SEI Networks found that 70% of people with net worth of $5 million or more (whom I classify as the "pretty rich," to distinguish them from the "superrich," worth $100 million or more) are on Facebook or a similar social media site. That proportion is significantly higher than the population at large, with 61% of U.S. adults using social networks according to Pew Research Center.
Advertisers and marketers are obsessed with social media, but large parts of the U.S. business world remain hesitant or uncertain about using sites like Facebook and Twitter, according to a survey by RatePoint, which found that just 36% of small business owners are using social media to reach consumers. That's about half the rate among larger businesses: earlier this year a survey by KingFishMedia of 457 marketing executives found 72% of respondents said their company had a social media strategy, and the majority of the rest said they will have one in place by next year.
Well, isn't that nice: Facebook will no longer include photographs of ex-girlfriends/boyfriends (and presumably, ex-wives/husbands) in the "Photo Memories" part of the member profile page, according to Mashable, to avoid reminding users of their past relationships. The change in policy was prompted by a Facebook protest group, I Hate Photo Memories, made up of people who can't stand to be reminded of their own emotional failures, including their inability to sustain a normal relationship because of their fear of intimacy. Separately, their mothers would also like to know when they are going to get married and have some grandchildren already?
Social networks carry a number of risks for users who are gullible or share too much information, including burglary, scams
, and divorce
. Now you can add deportation to the list.
An intercepted dispatch from Mark Zuckerberg: We think of Cliques as the basic unit of users' social networks -- but we also recognize it doesn't end there. In fact users can create and inhabit myriad social groupings, limited only by their imagination and psychological motivations. And what could be more human than distorting relationships to construct a flattering self-image? That's why we introduced a new group-within-a-group feature for Cliques, called Claques. Basically, we realize not everyone in a particular Clique may be equally supportive of your petty achievements, superficial opinions, and shallow insights.