Now that the craziness of the start of the semester has begun to slow down, I thought I’d do a quick hit on a variety of social media topics that I’ve been thinking about in the last few weeks but have not yet found the time to write about.
A few weeks ago, Twitter updated its rules to make it clear that abuse would not be tolerated. The events that prompted the rule updating included specific bomb threats and threats of rape sent to women journalists and politicians. Many of the comments on the articles covering this story think that it was improper for Twitter CEO Tony Wang to apologize to the women in question. Other comments suggest that it’s stupid to try to police these kinds of threats because it’s not going to make a difference. Still other comments suggest that unless someone breaks the law, Twitter should not “censor” tweets. My main response to these comments is that making direct and specific threats against a particular individual is indeed against the law. It doesn’t seem to be a terrible thing to me that Wang chose to apologize to individuals who had crimes committed against them using his product. In fact, that seems to make good business sense. And I agree that rules alone won’t make a difference in changing the tone of discourse on Twitter. There has to be enforcement of those rules as well. So I hope Twitter will follow up on its promises to make reporting abuse easier and hiring more people to deal with such reports so that they can be handled more quickly. Twitter didn’t handle this issue particularly well, in my opinion, but they are taking some first steps to fix the issue.
I use a variety of social networking sites at varying levels of activity. For example, I’m pretty active on Facebook, regularly posting status updates, photos and links to stories that I think my friends will be interested in. I am far less active on LinkedIn although I have many contacts in my network, mostly current and former students who are using the network professionally. I try to keep up with the various networks that are available so I decided recently to check out Google+. I’ve been using Google Calendar and Gmail for years so it felt like a natural step to set up a profile and get started with Google+. I’ve found so far that it is much more like Facebook than like LinkedIn but there’s a bit of Twitter thrown in. It’s like Facebook in that you have a stream very much like Facebook‘s newsfeed. You also share status updates, photos, etc. just like on Facebook. You can even “like” posts by others (called +1 in Google+). But like Twitter, Google+ has the option to that allows you to follow people and organizations. In Facebook, your friendships are bidirectional in that both parties must agree to the relationship. In Twitter, you can follow someone to be able to see their public tweets and they do not have to follow you back. In other words, a relationship requires only a uni-directional connection. Google+ also only requires this uni-directional connection. So, in Google+, we get the sharing features of Facebook combined with the relationship features of Twitter. But Google+ also offers another feature that I think is pretty cool. One of the problems with Facebook is that all friends are treated equally on the network even if they aren’t equal in real life. That has caused problems for lots of people. So Google+ allows the user to create different “circles” for their connections which will allow the user to easily manage the kinds of material people in a particular circle will see–just like in “real life.” Another interesting aspect of Google+ is the “hangout” concept although I haven’t played with entering them or creating them yet. Perhaps that will be the subject of a future post. The main problem with Google+, however, is that so few of the people I care about are using it. That’s the draw of Facebook–many of the people I care about in “real life” are posting really interesting (and not so interesting) things on Facebook so I keep going back. Until more people migrate to Google+ in a meaningful way, I probably won’t participate very much myself. Google faces a classic chicken and egg kind of problem here.
I regularly check out new social media tools, just to see what they’re about. Some of the tools become part of my repertoire (Tumblr, Flickr) while some do not or, at least, haven’t yet (Klout, Medium). One tool that was quite intriguing to me when I first looked at it but then kind of disappointed me was Storify. It’s a tool that is designed to allow people to curate social media artifacts to tell a story. I wrote one story ten months ago and then forgot about it. As I was thinking about the things I wanted to write about in this round up of my social media activity, I remembered that I had written that one story and went back to check what’s been going on in that social media world. I was surprised to find that my story had 56 views. That may not sound like much activity for 10 months, but I had done nothing to bring attention to the story and none of my friends (as far as I know) are members of that community. I have no idea how many people read each one of these blog posts but I’m guessing it is far fewer than 56 people. So Storify is back on my radar although I’m not sure how I might use it yet.
It’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on in the world of social media. I would like a tool that helps me me keep up with what’s available and helps to put it all together in a way that makes sense.