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Social Networks

EFF launches Site To Track Censored Content On Social Media ( 39

Mark Wilson writes: There are many problems with the censoring of online content, not least that it can limit free speech. But there is also the question of transparency. By the very nature of censorship, unless you have been kept in the loop you would simply not know that anything had been censored. This is something the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to change, and today the digital rights organization launches to blow the lid off online censorship. The site, run by EFF and Visualizing Impact, aims to reveal the content that is censored on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube — not just the 'what' but the 'why'. If you find yourself the subject of censorship, the site also explains how to lodge an appeal.
Social Networks

Girls Catfish ISIS On Social Media For Travel Money 238

MarkWhittington writes: Yahoo Travel reported that three women in Chechnya took ISIS for $3,300 before getting caught. They are now under investigation for Internet fraud, which seems to be illegal even when committed against the most fearsome terrorist army in modern times. The scam seems to be a combination of the Nigerian Prince con, in which a mark is fooled into giving the con artist large sums of money and catfishing, in which the mark strikes up an online romance with someone he thinks is an attractive woman (or man depending on the gender and preference of the mark.)

Hitchhiking Robot's Cross-Country Trip Ends In Philadelphia 224

An anonymous reader writes: A hitchhiking robot that successfully traveled across Canada in 26 days last year and parts of Europe, has met its demise in Philly. Created as a "social experiment," hitchBOT started its journey in the U.S. in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17 with its thumb raised up and tape wrapped around its head that read "San Francisco or bust." After about two weeks in the U.S., someone in Philadelphia damaged the robot beyond repair. "Sadly, sadly it's come to an end," said Frauke Zeller, one of its co-creators. The Independent reports: "The robot was designed to be a talking travel companion and could toss out factoids and carry limited conversation. A GPS in the robot tracked its location, and a camera randomly snapped photos about every 20 minutes to document its travels."

LinkedIn (Temporarily) Backs Down After Uproar At Contact Export Removal 42

Mark Wilson writes: LinkedIn caused a storm a couple of days ago when it removed the option to instantly download contacts. Many users of the professional social network were more than a little irked to discover that while contact exporting was still available, a wait of up to three days had been put in place. Unsurprisingly, users revolted, having been particularly upset by the fact the change was implemented with no warning or announcement. But the company has managed to turn things around by quickly backtracking on its decision after listening to a stream of complaints on Twitter.

Since Receiving Satellite Tags, Some Sharks Have Become Stars of Social Media 31

Lucas123 writes: A research project that tags the world's most dangerous sharks with four different tracking devices and then offers all the data to the public has taken off, garnering hundreds of thousands of users; one shark even has more then 80,000 followers on Twitter. OCEARCH, a non-profit shark tracking project, has tagged about 130 sharks, from great whites and tigers to hammerheads and makos, and open sourced the data in the hope that it will create citizen scientists who will follow the animals and care about what happens to them. To further personify the apex predators, the researchers at OCEARCH have also given the sharks names such as Katharine and Mary Lee, two sharks that are more than 14 feet long and weight more than a ton. OCEARCH's shark tracker has garnered 10 times the traffic it had last year, and it's expected to grow 20 times more by the end of this year. Along with data from satellite, acoustic and accelerometer tags, the project expects to begin using big data analytics to offer more granular data about the animals and their lives to scientists and the public at large.

"We Screwed Up," Says Reddit CEO In Formal Apology 452

An anonymous reader writes: After moderators locked up some of Reddit's most popular pages in protest against the dismissal of Victoria Taylor, and an online petition asking the company to fire CEO Ellen Pao reached more than 175,000 signatures over the weekend, Pao has issued an apology. The statement reads in part: "We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven't communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven't delivered on them. When you've had feedback or requests, we haven't always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit. Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me."
Social Networks

Reddit Removes Communities To Address Harassment, Users Respond 474

New submitter sethstorm writes: As a change to their community management, Reddit administrators have banned multiple communities (known as subreddits) in a bid to remove harassment. In response, users have responded in different ways — some have pointed out the bias of Reddit admins for leaving known harassers alone such as those in the "SRS" subreddit, others have attempted to re-create the banned subreddit "FatPeopleHate", and many have gone to overwhelm Voat (a competitor).
Social Networks

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Responds In Nepal 25

An anonymous reader writes with news about the efforts of the The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to help in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal. The team asks those living in the affected areas to help out by reporting which buildings are damaged, which are still standing, and where fissures and other quake damage is located. has a profile of their efforts which reads: Since the devastating earthquake in Nepal, there have been responses from all over the world from relief agencies, governments, non-profits, and ordinary citizens. One interesting effort has been from the crowdsourced mapping community, especially on, a free and open web map of the world that anyone can edit (think the Wikipedia of maps.) The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), an NGO that works to train, coordinate, and organize mapping on OpenStreetMap for humanitarian, disaster response, and economic development, has mobilized volunteers from around the world to help map since the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

Is Facebook Keeping You In a Political Bubble? 179

sciencehabit writes: Does Facebook make it harder for people with different political views to get along? Political scientists have long wondered whether the social network's news feed selectively serves up ideologically charged news while filtering out content from different camps. Now, a study by Facebook's in-house social scientists finds that this does happen, though the effect seems to be very small. "There's a growing concern that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to more precisely engineer our informational environments than ever before, so we only get info that's consistent with our prior beliefs," says David Lazer, a political and computer scientist who authored a commentary on the paper.

Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed 359

An anonymous reader writes in with this story about what happened to Google+ from an employee perspective. "Last month, Google announced that it's changing up its strategy with Google+. In a sense, it's giving up on pitching Google+ as a social network aimed at competing with Facebook. Instead, Google+ will become two separate pieces: Photos and Streams. This didn't come as a surprise — Google+ never really caught on the same way social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn did....Rumors have been swirling for months that Google would change its direction with Google+. Business Insider spoke with a few insiders about what happened to the network that Google believed would change the way people share their lives online. Google+ was really important to Larry Page, too — one person said he was personally involved and wanted to get the whole company behind it. The main problem with Google+, one former Googler says, is the company tried to make it too much like Facebook. Another former Googler agrees, saying the company was 'late to market' and motivated from 'a competitive standpoint.'"

Nepal Earthquake: Facebook To Google, How Tech Is Helping Survivors Reach Out 39

An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Nepal, many social media sites and mobile applications have come up with features that could help locate friends and loved ones. From the Times of India: "Social networking website Facebook, and Google's Person Finder have helped locate the whereabouts of those stranded in quake-hit areas. For instance, members of one Himmatramka family residing in Birgunj in Nepal marked themselves safe on Facebook. 'Our relatives back in India were worried about our safety. So, we marked ourselves safe to inform them,' said Nitesh Himmatramka.

LG Will Lend You a Free Phone If You Talk About It On Social Media 22

jfruh writes LG will let people in a host of countries use its G4 free for 30 days — with the hope that this will result in positive buzz on social media sites. From the article: "By offering 4,000 people a G4 for 30 days, the company hopes to create some buzz around its new device as flagship devices from its rivals Samsung Electronics and HTC go on sale. The Consumer Experience Campaign kicks off in South Korea on Wednesday, and will then expand to Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, U.S., China, India, Brazil, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, LG said."

SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag 124 writes Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its "leadership in the care of killer whales" and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly.. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld's social and PR folks just really have no idea what they're doing. Even so, you'd think they'd have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let's review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald's anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald's horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they'll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."

Google+ Divided Into Photos and Streams, With New Boss 146

An anonymous reader writes It seems Google+ will see some significant changes under new boss Bradley Horowitz. Google+ will be separated into different products: Photos and Hangouts will be split out, and the social part is now called "the stream". From the article: "Google+ has taken a lot of criticism — notably the infamous 'ghost town' knock that it's devoid of users and concerns about Google's attempts to force its relevance by tying it in with functions like search results and YouTube comments. But Google executives have denied the 'ghost town criticism over and over. In part that's because the company used Google+ to describe more than just its Facebook-esque service for posting and commenting — the part now called Streams. For Google, Google+ also has been the "social spine" that unifies Google users' activities under a single unified identity."

Facebook Puts Users On Suicide Watch 187

Mark Wilson writes A few months ago Twitter was criticized for teaming up with suicide prevention charity Samaritans to automatically monitor for key words and phrases that could indicate that someone was struggling to cope with life. Despite the privacy concerns that surrounded Samaritans Radar, Facebook has decided that it is going to launch a similar program in a bid to prevent suicides. Working with mental health organizations including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and, Facebook aims to provide greater help and support for anyone considering suicide or self-harm.