2012 was another exciting year for social media, including the "Social Media Olympics," the rise of Pinterest, Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, and the growing role of social media in political ferment around the world. There were also plenty of not-so-spectacular moments, like Facebook's busted IPO, LinkedIn's security breach, and Instagram's terms of service fiasco. And of course it ain't over: looking ahead, 2013 is certain to be just as interesting, in both the positive and negative senses, for this fast-growing, fast-changing industry.
You know how companies are all worried that their employees are going to accidentally (or deliberately) reveal some crucial corporate secret on social media? Well, the same concerns apply to national security -- at least in Australia, and probably elsewhere.
Sickweather, a social media-public health startup based in Baltimore, predicted the 2012 flu season six weeks in advance of the Centers for Disease Control, using social media trend-tracking and analysis, according to All Things Digital, which first reported the news.
The world is flat, or so we are told -- but thankfully the Internet is a system of tubes that helps us stay in touch. On that note, one obvious application for social networking is bringing together ethnic or regional diasporas, That's the idea behind Parranda, a social network for Puerto Ricans (including those still living on the island and those who have moved away), which officially launches on Christmas Eve.
Here's a year-end puzzle for you: are companies making more major screw-ups than before, or are we just more likely to hear about them because social media allows consumers to voice their dissatisfaction? Or maybe it's both?
It would appear that one of the early dreams of social media -- making it possible to meet anyone, virtually, online -- is dead. Or more precisely, the dream is still alive; it will just cost you a buck.
The only real surprise here is that the number is so low: according to a new survey of 1,922 single British adults by online dating service parship.co.uk, roughly two-thirds (65%) said that they search for potential dates' social media profiles online before stepping out on the town -- otherwise known as "social media stalking."
Media measurement juggernaut Nielsen is getting even more juggernaut-y this week with several big acquisitions and partnerships. On the traditional media side, Nielsen ponied up $1.26 billion for Arbitron, the main radio ratings firm, essentially giving Nielsen total domination of broadcast ratings. But Nielsen isn't neglecting the digital future: the titan from the Netherlands also unveiled a new product for measuring TV-related buzz on social media with Twitter.
Events like Newtown, 12/14, reveal the full range of contradictory feelings within us all. At the most fundamental level, there is the first question: do you say anything at all? Or does saying something somehow detract or distract us from the essential meaning of the event, which is, paradoxically, its manifest meaninglessness? Is it perhaps better to say nothing -- not even a couple heartfelt, incredulous words online or at the water cooler -- and simply allow ourselves to be in the presence of horror?
With cyber-warfare on the minds of security officials around the world, more attention is being paid to the security risks presented by social media. This week an Australian analyst recommended that new military recruits should be forced to delete their social media profiles to limit the security risk posed by this information -- including details about their lives before they signed up to serve.