While social media is great for organizing rebellions, sharing pictures of cats, and maybe even selling people stuff, some of its most useful applications may be in unexpected areas like health care. In the Netherlands, for example, doctors have found that social media can improve care for patients with chronic disease by encouraging patients to interact with doctors and adhere to care regimens.
The world's leading social networks are taking a stand -- at least for the time being -- in favor of privacy and free speech, according to news reports saying Facebook and Twitter have both rejected requests from the Turkish government to help it track down social media users accused of spreading slander and fomenting rebellion in the recent protests. The government has already arrested dozens of people for allegedly spreading misinformation and making "libelous" comments on Twitter, as well as "inciting rebellion."
Recently a number of new social networks for veterans and active-duty military personnel have launched, with the goal of fostering continuing connections both inside and outside the service. Unsurprisingly, these social platforms also double as professional networks, helping active-duty personnel find postings and veterans find employment back in civilian society.
Nextdoor, a social network for neighborhoods, is a logical partner for municipal governments looking to foster community-based initiatives -- and cities are starting to do just. In recent weeks New York City and Sacramento, CA have both announced partnerships with Nextdoor, and more cities are likely to follow.
Last year the National Labor Relations Board warned employers that certain kinds of social media speech by employees are protected against retaliation or prohibition, including specific complaints about their workplace (for example about wages, hours, benefits, or other conditions); the NLRB pointed out that these cannot constrained because are part of the process by which workers collectively seek redress under the National Labor Relations Act.
You might think the world already has enough social networks, and you might be right about that, but it's not stopping hopefuls from entering the arena with new social platforms devoted to this, that, and the other. So I figured it was time for a roundup of some -- just some -- of the new offerings out there. In no particular order...
The Turkish government's ill-advised war on social media continued this week with the announcement that it plans to ban "fake" social media accounts following weeks of protests organized, in part, via social media, according to a Bloomberg report Thursday. Turkey thus joins the likes of China, where Beijing has required microbloggers on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, to use their real names -- a policy clearly intended to intimidate social media users to discourage them from posting unsanctioned opinions.
Social media and spectator sports are a match made in heaven, what with all the stats to be cited, details to be debated, and trash to be talked in online forums. The San Francisco Giants are taking it a step further by creating an actual, physical space for social media, in the form of the new @Cafe (pronounced At Cafe), located behind the centerfield bleachers at AT&T Park, the team's home stadium.
One of the common criticisms of social media activism is that it people's interest in causes is transient and superficial, lasting the few moments it takes to click "Like" before moving on and forgetting about it entirely. And it may be true that the period of active engagement is fleeting -- but that can still produce significant results, as demonstrated by a social media campaign to sign up new organ donors beginning in May 2012.
There's a long and inglorious history of authoritarian governments targeting vaguely-defined "provocateurs" for exercising their right to free speech. If someone has a complaint or disagrees with the government's policies, you see, they are clearly out to make trouble and are probably either the paid agents or unwitting dupes of malevolent forces inside and outside the country.