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Social Snapshot: Facebook's New Timeline, Social Strength, And The Neutrality Of Technology?

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I don't know if anyone has been following some the social spere these past weeks, but it has literally kicked off big time. It wasn't as if we didn't see it coming, and many obsevers I think just wondered how long it would go on for. Social media is creating A LOT of problems which governments and other bodies are having real trouble getting to grips with.


I will try and summarize:


Take the whole are of copyright, which is pretty much annihiliated by the completely borderless nature of social media networks and trying to find a body that will essentially have the mandate to act on your authority. There are online services to send DCMA requests but these services are only as strong as the arrangements it has with enforcement services in the country, and there are still a few countries (I think LAO is one) where there is no copyright. We've all read about Megaupload, the SOPA and other measures, and a big part of what's driving that technology makes these kind of infrigements easy to propogate, it is a credit to where we've come that a grandma can upload a video and send it to their son!


Take privacy. Google's just redone their policy which goes in shortly, i think in large part to frame itself as more socially responsible than Facebook in terms of making the language more accessible- a cursory glance and it looks pretty thin. On the other side of the fence Facebook's new timeline feature is getting some heat because it's essentially providing a way to more easily see what a person has done over time, and as I understand it will highlight actions done in the past that previously would get buried under a deluge of updates and other activity. Why they want to do this might have more to do with making people focus in and be curious about past associations and connections people have made. In doing this the attention is given to Facebook managed items, such as fan pages, groups, and all the other elements that are then offered as targeting functions as part of the advertising platform (indidentally I also loved the idea of edgerank where this other value was supposed to force brand managers to try and focus on a metric, and that most other people actualy understood what that value meant...which they don't whenever I ask them!). I read a superb piece of research that discussed the idea of neutral technology and makes and interesting case in point about just how innocent technology platforms are in shaping human interaction. I don't see any of the platforms as neutral, but some are worse than others) And what happens when a company goes bust, they sell their assets, and there are some groups that will even try and save the data. I don't know if people have quite grasped that social media platforms are being scraped for their lives and all this data will come back to be sold or haunt people in years to come. You thought you were going to be the next CEO but you joined a nazi page when you were drunk at 18 and here's a screen-capture. Goobye career. I'm not advocating any of this, and some will say "I've got nothing to hide". I'm just saying that some people do things and then grow up, and in the past that could be forgotten, but not anymore.


Take user authenticity as problematic because anyone can fake an email address and a birthday and essentially circumvent any mechanism that has been put in place at a technical level by way of a control system. Okay you say, so what. Well, put children in that equation and you can find some pretty nasty content if you surf around inside some of the Social Channels to which children could be exposed. Fine fine disclaimer here and there, but as with any action that is performed in Facebook, the offense has usually to have been done first.


And that's nothing compared to the biggest multiplier of them all: Culture.


You have absolutely no possible way of being able to predict how or where messages that you send or publish are likely to ever going to appear, and to what audience and what you share is permanently inscribed somewhere by somebody on the web. There is this thing with marketing where the more people that see your content, the better it is for your brand, but that might not always be the case, i've seen examples that are pretty shocking. What's more a message you appear may appear in front of someone that didn't actually express an interest in seeing that in the first place. An example might be where you subscribe to some kind of social media channel, and then updates automatically appear on your profile when published and which connected friends or colleagues may then see. Access permissions are where the social platforms are going to be needing the most amount of work.


These are the big battles at the moment in Social, it's fun in there!



Edited by glyn

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