Mark White's blog

Does social media make social activism easy?

Civil rights movement - lunch counterCan social media become an effective tool for influencing mass behavior – for creating or nourishing social activist movements?  Plenty of social media evangelists believe this capability has already been demonstrated –with the rise of the Tea Party movement or in candidate Obama’s presidential campaign. But does information exchange online correlate with behavior change?  Maybe the social bonds we develop online do not lead to actual social activism but only to a more bland form of social networking which we mistake as ‘activism’. So argues Malcolm Gladwell in his recent New Yorker article – Small Change, Why the Revolution Will not be Tweeted.

Citigroup's failed attempt to bludgeon blogger with copyright law

dmca logoYesterday, Citigroup tried to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

They went after blogger Doug Henwood who had posted a 2009 Citigroup research report dealing with the (then) upcoming Government run stress tests being administered to the major banks.

The stress tests, you'll recall,  were meant to assess the strength of the banks' balance sheets and to justify, in the views of many, the enormous bailouts the banks were receiving at the time. The document is  apparently embarrassing to Citigroup since it confirms what many understood to be an extremely softball approach by the government regulators towards the banks.

Social Media PR crisis - a Groupon fail

Social buying is a gathering wave with tantalizing  possibilities that remain largely untapped. There are so many potential win-win situations where businesses can gain customers and customers can collectively negotiate bargains of one sort or another.

Having said that, what prompted a disgruntled customer to say that her experience with social buying company Groupon was "the biggest mistake of her life"? Here is the  blog post gone viral that you don't want to see when you are the communications director of a social media dependent ecommerce company like Groupon.

So, what exactly is Groupon?

Older adults use of social media skyrockets in the last year

When people think of internet use and social media there tend to be unspoken assumptions that older adults are not participating to the same degree as their younger counterparts. Well, think again. This appears to be old news. A recent report written by Mary Madden for the Pew Research Center details the significant increase in  social media use among older demographics  -  a change that is most significant just in this past year. While use of social media has spread across all age groups the most dramatic increase has been in the 50 and older age group. Specifically, use of social media for this group has gone up from 22% to 42% - or in other words - almost doubled.

What a new MIT study suggests about the future of online communities

Sometimes a new scientific study reinforces our previously held beliefs, sometimes it challenges those beliefs and provides new insights. This new study by Damon Centola, an assistant professor of system dynamics and economic sociology at the MIT Sloan School of Management manages to do both.

Centola's study, The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network Experiment, appears in this month's issue of Science magazine and has some interesting, and counterintuitive things to tell us about how information spreads through online social networks and how that information may influence actual behavior.

Are you legally liable for comments posted on your website?

Just a quick update to our previous column about why comments were worth the trouble. For those who worry about legal liability for what commenters may post on their site see this post about a recent legal ruling on exactly this question by Wendy Davis on Online Media Daily. In this case, a TV anchor sued her former employer, the TV station where she worked, for allowing allegedly libelous posts about her in the comments section of their website. The court's ruling says, in part:

News aggregation: Quick Primer on Legality and Best Practices

The Citizen Media Law Project has just issued a white paper entitled The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices.

The 29 page report, available in pdf format, outlines current legal issues related to news aggregation on the web and provides a manual of best practices that should be carefully read by anyone developing, running or contemplating a news aggregation site.

First of all, let's clarify the stakes. According to the report:

SEO and the so-called Ground Zero Mosque

It's a sad state of affairs, but a fact,  that online search is structurally biased towards crowd mentality. So, say there is a term that becomes popular for some reason so that it sticks in people's minds.  It is that term people will use to search for it online. So use of 'ground zero mosque' as inaccurate as it is ranks better in search results than, say, park51.  And naturally, in order to garner better search results websites will use that term online. So the cycle goes.


3 essential things Medieval monks can teach you about using Facebook

This little gem from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation may not be the most serious item to pass your desk today but it has to be the one that makes you laugh the hardest AND the one that you can most seriously relate to...either from one point of view or the other. Clearly, if you have ever either taught or been taught how to do something on the computer this is a reality check that can help you put it all in perspective.

Untapped power of social media - Why Twitter fails but comments work

A post at Nieman Journalism Lab one of the most thoughtful and useful blogs that muses about online trends, talks about how twitter, in spite of all the trappings of social media is actually more of a traditional ‘news outlet’ than we may think. In spite of the huge number of users, most of the interaction goes in one direction – from user to followers and is not 'social’ in the sense of reciprocal or interactive. The article goes on to point out how only a small percentage of twitter users actually generate the largest percentage of tweets and that overall, in spite of it's 'social' veneer Twitter operates more like old one directional news media.

Mainsail through time