• Pepsi Unveils Social Vending Machines
    Social media is coming to vending machines, courtesy of PepsiCo, which unveiled a new touch-screen interactive social vending machine at the National Automatic Merchandising Association conference in Chicago. According to InformationWeek, the machine -- developed for PepsiCo by DCI Marketing and Protagonist -- allows individuals to buy drinks as gifts for friends, who receive redeemable codes via text message. The person buying the gift just has to enter the intended recipient's name and mobile number, along with a personal message - plus a brief video message, if they wish. The recipient can redeem the code whenever the mood strikes.
  • Facebook's Chinese Compromise May Come Up Short
    As noted in a previous column, Facebook seems to be prepared to throw free speech under the bus in its campaign to bring Facebook to China, where the social network is currently blocked. Aware that agreeing to censorship will open it to charges of collaborating with an authoritarian regime, Facebook may try to preserve a modicum of integrity by alerting users to the fact that the Chinese government requires it to engage in censorship. But this compromise -- in reality a fig leaf as it abandons its own core principles -- may still come up short.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Friendster and MySpace Suck It Up
    If anyone needed more proof that social media is volatile and unpredictable, this week should settle the question, as two erstwhile giants of the scene -- Friendster and MySpace -- prepare for humiliating denouements. Friendster, probably the first widely popular social network back when it launched in 2002, has since basically become a punch-line (literally, after Tina Fey took a swipe at it on "30 Rock" a couple weeks ago). Now Friendster is throwing in the towel in the U.S., announcing that it will delete all user accounts and content on May 1 as it prepares to reinvent itself as …
  • Social Media Helps... Epidemiologists?
    Don't call it a killer app, but social media is being adopted by yet another unexpected profession: epidemiologists who study the origins and spread of disease, and who are now using online networks like Facebook and Twitter to identify and communicate with affected individuals.
  • Buckingham Guard Fired for Calling Kate Middleton a "Stupid Stuck Up Cow" on Facebook
    I think it's safe to say that many people are stupid, and even people who aren't stupid often do stupid things. There's no other way to explain the cavalcade of idiotic behavior enabled by social media. My favorite stupid social media trick: people posting incredibly offensive or inappropriate content (photos or text) on social media sites and losing their jobs because of it.
  • Guess Who's On Facebook Now? Debt Collectors
    People are using social media in all sorts of unexpected ways: Law enforcement to publicly shame criminals, divorce attorneys to find evidence of infidelity. Now debt collectors are searching social networks.
  • Facebook Throws Free Speech Under the Bus
    A couple months ago I wrote a post suggesting that in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution, major online players like Facebook and Google should embrace their role as catalysts for political change by helping activists create tools for organizing protests and monitoring their own governments. But Facebook, at least, appears determined to turn its back on the cause of freedom in countries suffering under authoritarian governments.
  • Job Recruitment Shifts to Social Media
    Fish where the fish are, the old saying goes, and when it comes to job recruitment that increasingly means social media, according to the Financial Times, which documents the cultural transition at parcel shipper UPS. FT notes that in five years UPS has gone from spending 90% of its recruitment ad budget on traditional media in 2005 -- including print media, local and cable TV, and radio -- to spending 97% on social media currently, including of course a substantial presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Lots of Kids Use Social Media But Most Don't Know Risks, EU Finds
    It seems like there's always some new study to get parents hyperventilating about the threats posed by online social media, and I've got another one! Admittedly, it's based on European findings but I imagine there's a fair amount of similarity between U.S. and EU online behaviors.
  • DoD Launches Social Platform for Developers
    The Department of Defense is moving -- slowly, cautiously, and securely -- to adopt social media for a number of purposes, including communicating with civilians, recreation for military personnel, and now online collaboration by software developers working for the military (needless to say, all replete with elaborate online security measures that someone will probably figure out how to hack anyway).
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