Tag Archives: social media

Facebook, privacy and the new norm

29 Sep

Every time Facebook tweaks their interface people will find reason to complain. Yet the initial irritation wears off and people grow accustom to the changes. And it’s funny – the more intrusive Facebook becomes, we adapt ourselves to this sort of full disclosure and the more integral it becomes in our daily lives. Friends can peak into another side of our virtual selves. Whether or not it enhances our interactions is debatable but privacy still remains the biggest controversy of them all.

I remember thinking newsfeed was TMI when it was introduced. Now I can’t imagine Facebook without it. I disliked the ‘like’ button for as long as I knew it fed information to the third party advertisers. Now I’ve given in some and liked so far as my favorite brands.

Transparency, although similar to privacy, is not an issue for me. I don’t care if people see my wallposts, or notice when I comment on something. What I don’t like are the cookies that are being stored. I don’t like the thought of being traced and having that information used for data analysis and plugged into algorithms. Privacy policies always say they remove our identity from the stats, but we are a stat nontheless. Combined with the masses we create valuable information as a whole. Something seemingly mundane as entering age, location, the when and where we log onto Facebook reveal plenty. That alone can track the daily habits of a young professional like myself.

Facebook has more information than the census could ever accumulate. They say they use sensitive data to best serve us. Perhaps. But, serving us comes with new product placements from paid advertisers. According to one blogger/hacker, Facebook has tracked cookies even after logging out of their homepage. They have only recently admitted to it as a bug and “fixed” it. (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2393750,00.asp#fbid=F0HsYn-e0gy)

Facebook’s biggest change arrives with its introduction of the new timeline. Facebook has astonishingly and maybe not surprisingly stored all of your activity since you first joined. On your profile it has laid out all of the activity on a timeline for you and your friends to see. Information such as every poke, like, check-in and defriending is stored. Reading some of that history threw me for a loop. It knew more than I cared to remember. If that wasn’t enough, they analyze some of that data and chart it. For example, all of your checkins over the month are put together on a map. I can only guess the next step will be analyzing the data further into more charts and graphs and compiling all of your actions into mathematical formulas. Maybe it will predict future activity. We will become walking mathematical functions giving data away to Facebook while others cash in on it. Is it such a terrible thing? Depends on your view of privacy.

I wonder if people will adopt these drastic changes? Will it become the norm just as newsfeed did? Have we finally reached the saturation point of full disclosure? There isn’t much left to say as Facebook continues to excavate our lives. They may know more about us than our moms do and that to me is a very scary thought.


Moment of silence

7 Aug

I wake up to my phone alarm first thing in the morning, stumble out of bed not just to hit the snooze button. I check my inbox immediately and find comfort in new email. New notifications and mentions on my Facebook and Twitter feed give me a momentary rush in the morning which could very well be my caffeine buzz. I ignore my body’s yearn to go back to sleep. I’d rather be checking what I missed in my sojourn in dreamland.

Sound familiar?

The addiction to being online is transforming into the new norm. For me, at least, I need to make a conscious effort to log off. One morning I purposely turned off the radio during my commute. Breaking that morning ritual was not exactly demanding, but it took some convincing of myself to try it once.

Why did I bother? I was turning into a news addict, maybe not a drug addict, but an addict nonetheless. I felt a sense of withdrawal when I didn’t check the news or Facebook for more than an hour. When I tried to focus on work completely, I struggled. I had to listen or watch the news in the background while I worked on the computer or talked to someone. I multi-tasked to no end. I thrust myself into that situation willingly however. Only a bigger distraction could grab my attention. The rest would be forgotten and get lost in the noise.

I realized the distractions and chatter became deafening. It silenced my own thoughts.

That drive in silence felt oddly inspiring. There was an absence of something more than sound – an absence of immaterial things. What used to be a fear of awkward silences became instant gratification from a brief moment of introspection. That morning I practiced my internal monologue and it’s not as laughable as it sounds. I was reacquainting myself with my thoughts and feelings. Instead of reading someone’s rant online or getting flooded by the news, my life was simple again as it should be.

Revisiting Google Plus

4 Aug

A month has passed and G+ has integrated nicely into my life. In the few days I started using it, G+ felt like an exclusive club where we got to hang out with some of the tech bigwigs. People like Myspace founder Tom Anderson and VC/entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki were suddenly reinstating their influence and making a lot of noise – mostly good noise. They loved it and everybody loved it too and shared their devotion to G+ and prided themselves as G+ users.

Having been on G+ for a month now, the growing G+ community took me by the most surprise. I didn’t expect to find the majority of users to be programmers, engineers and nerds like myself who were also into technology. That’s a huge reason why I stayed on G+ and love about it. I’m biased however.

Besides that, people were also adding thoughtful dialogue, sharing new content and making new connections. It felt authentic, closer to a real life discussion than what I experienced on Twitter or Facebook. I felt more confident knowing people were actually adding me to their circles because they found me interesting. There was also little to no spam. That was a huge +1!

As I started using G+ more, I drew boundaries when sharing. Posting became more of a conscious effort and I became aware of my audience. I don’t sync my updates among all social platforms. I use each for specific purposes and feel like each has different effects in amplifying thoughts and ideas.

When I share a post on Facebook, I get responses from a core group of friends. I still tweet, but half the time it’s sorting through spambots and obsessing about your follower count. I still find Twitter trumps G+ on the news front however. With G+, it tries to be both, however it stands out by encouraging people to participate in a discussion with friends and strangers. That is probably the most amazing part.

Now the funny part about G+ is that the people don’t get tired of singing its praises. Somehow discussing G+ with other diehard users convinces themselves how great it is. Outsiders AND insiders hear the fanaticism over G+ and current users have dissected G+ more than the Google engineers who developed it! Bottom line: People really want to preserve this interactive community.

I am a believer in it too and actively using it. I’m still unsure whether I’ll leave Facebook altogether or if G+ will be interesting enough months from now to keep me engaged. I am observing my own social media behavior evolve as I spend more time on it. G+ does increase the social aspect of social media and that is a very good thing. While Facebook remains the lazy way of interacting with friends and Twitter focuses on popularity and online clout, G+ focuses on community. To my surprise, G+ is filling in the social media hole that I felt was missing in other platforms.

Google Plus = A+?

7 Jul

I’ll admit I like the new social media platform offered up by Google. After the exceedingly public failures of Google Wave and Buzz, one would suspect the masses would be leery of another Google offering. But no, the hype was still there, if not more intensified.

I got a chance to try it out about a week ago when Google opened their invitations. My feeling towards it after using it for a week? Google has served up a nice platform and maybe taken a step further to improve the social web experience. It’s Facebook all over again, yet different. It’s also a lot like Twitter, too, much to my liking. Unfortunately the only thing stopping it from succeeding is its timing and it’s a mistake that Google founder Eric Schmidt admitted as one of his biggest regrets with his company. If Google Plus had come out around the same time as Facebook, Google Plus could have outpaced Facebook much the same way Facebook put Friendster into extinction. With its release now, is Google too late?

Honestly, I think there’s still a good chance people will use it. In fact, some may even migrate there from Facebook. Once it’s fully available to the public, however, I can’t predict it will catch on with everybody. Are the features, seemingly a step up from Facebook, enough to compel people into logging onto Google Plus repeatedly like some people are hooked on tweeting and facebook-ing (myself included)? As a well-connected person, I’m already having a difficult time keeping up with tweets and status updates throughout the day. Many use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for specific and different purposes. For me, I use Facebook for play, Twitter for news, and LinkedIn for work. Google Plus seems to want to incorporate all of the above. Probably the immediate concern for Google is will people have the patience to start over again?

The Pros: Organize your friends, acquaintances, coworkers, frenemies into groups immediately (Circles) to publish relevant posts and protect privacy. Video and group chatting made easy (Hangouts and Huddles) and not surprisingly, Facebook just introduced videochat via Skype. You can follow people you may not know personally like celebrities and add them to your circles just like following people on Twitter or Liking something on Facebook. There’s also ‘Sparks’ where you can follow topics much like Google Alerts or following topics on Quora.

The Cons:  People argue that part of the social media experience is sharing and collaborating with all your friends and not partitioning them into groups (or Circles). Timing of release. With Facebook and Twitter, Google Plus maybe redundant. Lacking social-network games like Farmville.

Future additions: Syncing between Google Plus and Facebook and Twitter will likely come about.

Last Thoughts: The introduction of Plus is adding more reason to switch to Android-based phone, namely the next Google phone.

Your thoughts?


29 Jun

Getting spam in your inbox is pretty much the norm now. In fact we come to expect it. If we don’t get any we start to wonder if something is wrong. Sometimes I get hit by twitterbots who message me and I am amused at how these fake profiles couldn’t be any less human. I assume these people behind a façade are actual people? My naïve side wonders why be disingenuous? It’s probably less of a chore when you are yourself. It’s a marketing ploy, and they guarantee fast money.  I understand. But it ‘s sad though, can they really expect something fictitious to create a real following? But It’s way too easy to identify spam. Not just me, but anybody real will delete you, block you and report you. We all need genuine interactions even if it’s online. There tends to be as many spammers as there are anonymous users, but we basically all seek one thing in common: attention. When genuine interaction takes place, it’s refreshing and oftentimes validation of your efforts. It’s nice when some of these interactions are real and meaningful. Social media is social, yes? I think I’ve reminded myself to send more twitter love, comment more. We can always give more attention, poke and check in on someone and like something to give an encouraging nudge. I love twitter for many reasons and finding like-minded people and sharing with others is part of the attraction. I hope we can keep building on this great community and keep creating authentic connections.