There is no such thing as anonymity in social media

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"Conversationprism" by Brian Solis and JESS3 . Creative Commons

Some new social media apps focus on telling one’s inmost thoughts, pet peeves, and personal secrets —things one used to confide only to one’s trusted friends.

Whisper, for Android and iOS, permits users to share their thoughts and feelings on topics such as “Love & Romance,” “Faith,” and “Politics” in apparent anonymity. The theory is that discussions will be more truthful. An example: “I don’t think I could ever be faithful. Bachelor for life.” Well, true, he wouldn’t want that to get around, because it’s one thing to be a bachelor by choice and another thing to be a bachelor if no one will go out with him.

Then there’s Secret, also for Android and iOS—similar except that it shares your “anonymous” posts with your contacts from Facebook… click here to read whole article and make comments



Just what the doctor did NOT order: The doctorbot

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Robotics can replace your doctor? I stopped listening at "doctorbots can keep track of every ... " new development worldwide.

That's a feat but it is not medicine.

Medicine, to the extent that the medics I know understand it, is not just dispensing drugs or surgery based on studies worldwide. It is—just for example—getting an aged senior to see that she might be better off to at least consider a retirement home before she ends up with a hip fracture falling downstairs (much worse late life prognosis).

One country doctor who often visited elderly women who live alone would excuse himself to the kitchen to get a glass of water—and discreetly have a look in their cupboards. Tea and cornflakes, he would say later. No wonder they are sick.

Then, of course, there is learning how to tell people—in a way that they understand and can accept—that their best option is palliative care.… click here to read whole article and make comments



Do new media challenge police violence?

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A plea for calm in local church/"Ferguson, Day 4, Photo 55" by Loavesofbread [Centred pic]

Some officers may have thought so.

The big story about the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, of Ferguson, Missouri (near St. Louis), is quite rightly, the resistance of Brown’s parents to rioting in response to aggressive, probably inappropriate policing.

But there is another small story that could become important. As historian Stephen Smoot explains,

Reporters from the Washington Post and Huffington Post also were taken into custody. Reporters customarily use McDonalds as bases of operation because of free wifi and available outlets to recharge equipment. Police closing the restaurant arrested the two reporters for not moving quickly enough. The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery described later how an officer slammed him into a soda fountain.
Police refused to give names and badge numbers of the arresting officers.
A sign that… click here to read whole article and make comments



Where does the decline of traditional media leave readers?

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At one time, this type of medium was the only source of news for most people (Wikimedia Commons).

Some signals of a major change in media are as simple and minor as this: Twelve or more positions were recently eliminated at CNN. Others are as complex and major as a collapse of ad sales and profits at the New York Times.

Skinny: The Internet and the many new media that burgeon around it have eliminated the role of the gatekeeper—the person in print, radio, or TV—who had special equipment to tell us the news.

Anyone with a cell phone can do that today. Some better than others, to be sure. But the cost or difficulty of the equipment is no longer a barrier. So the iconic media we grew up with are now looking for a new role.

Here are some predictable results:

– Huge media mergers mean… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is Pope Francis off base for warning kids against “futile things” on the Internet?

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Pope Francis 2013.jpg

Not by a long shot.

A British thinksite, The Conversation , offers a piece by Sonia Livingstone, social psychology prof at the London School of Economics, chiding Pope Francis I for warning kids about wasting time on futile things on the Internet:

So what’s it to be for youth and the internet? Time-wasting and futile? Or the first to benefit from the wonders of the digital age?

Well, neither necessarily, and matters are not helped when Livingstone tells us,

This debate has been raging since children first picked up comic books and went to Saturday morning cinema.

Of course. Media are tools. And there are lots of “futile things” on the Internet. Francis is quite right to warn young people not to be drawn into them.

Here’s just one example: Sometimes in recent years, young people have written to me—as a… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is Twitter just a convenience? Or clickbait for harassment?

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You’d wonder when you see some of the headlines.

Twitter is a good way to let people know what is happening. Whether this is your grandad’s 100th or your country’s 200th, your latest column or a record-breaking hailstone, Twitter is a good way to let people know — if you can say it in 140 characters or less, preferably with links.

That said, recent events suggest we should exercise care in what we tweet:

A New York City DA subpoena’d Twitter over a parody Twitter account Then there is the lawsuit over a spoof Twitter account satirizing the mayor of a mid-Western American town. Tweet?

Twitter-based lawsuits happen to more people than we might expect. Tweet tweet.

Turkey shut down Twitter earlier this year, due to claims about inappropriate tweets. (Some there were also… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Internet is no friend to plagiarism

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This column is mainly directed at people going back to school, who will necessarily do a lot of their work on the Internet. As do we all.

At one time, plagiarism (the use of someone else’s words or ideas without attribution) was hard to detect. There was no Internet. No one could be sure we weren’t using someone else’s words. We might be sure it began with us, but did we really know?  

Today anyone can enter a string of text, so there have been a number of famous “outings” of plagiarism.

For example, a US Senator is claiming post-traumatic stress disorder to account for accusations of plagiarism to earn a master’s degree. Similarly, a CNN editor was terminated in May of this year, following accusations of plagiarizing about 50 stories. A New York Times article faces a similar accusation, as does a popular buzz site.

Quite apart from any… click here to read whole article and make comments



People seem to be turning against the i[can’t]Carebots—robot caregivers for the elderly

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Against the futurists' proposed robot caregivers, Princeton anthropologist Zeynep Tufekci comments

Of course we have enough human caregivers for the elderly. The country –and the world— is awash in underemployment and unemployment, and many people find caregiving to be a fulfilling and desirable profession. The only problem is that we –as a society— don’t want to pay caregivers well and don’t value their labor. Slightly redistributive policies that would slightly decrease the existing concentration of wealth to provide subsidies for childcare or elder care are, unfortunately, deemed untouchable goals by political parties beholden to a narrow, über-wealthy slice of society.

Yoo hoo. I (64) visit my 95 year-old dad several times a day at a retirement home five minutes away on foot, in Ottawa, Canada. We’re safe but boring, even in a polar vortex.

Here is how it looks here: The caregivers help my… click here to read whole article and make comments



Ciao Facebook? The kids are moving on?

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whatsapp facebook indagine UE

From Giuseppe Romano, one of our friends at Family and Media EU,

Why did Facebook buy WhatsApp? In February, the 19 billion dollar price tag shocked digital network markets. The WhatsApp application for smartphones enables quick and cheap text and voice messages, and attachments.

It’s an acquisition, not a merger. The two companies expect to act independently for now. But the WhatsApp purchase may signal a key market evolution, if not revolution.

Word on the street is, “Facebook is too old.” Younger people prefer immediate messaging, using applications like WhatsApp. If so, Facebook was astute enough to buy its most serious competitor before it started bleeding red ink.

The data from research tentatively supports this view. Facebook peaked in popularity and use in 2012, with a billion users. It was a dizzying, almost epidemic growth for the social network, which celebrated its tenth anniversary on February… click here to read whole article and make comments



Beyond the cookie: Bold new ways advertisers are spying on us

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Canvas fingerprinting/photomontage by Frank C. Müller

In Canada’s Globe & Mail, Shane Dingman recently reported on a whole new generation of super snooper privacy busters. The one grabbing the most ink is canvas fingerprinting:

Canvas fingerprinting, which can command your browser to draw a unique identifier and then log your online behaviour, is nearly impossible to detect, does not fall under “do not track” voluntary systems and evades most conventional ad-blocking software.

Security researchers at Belgium’s KU Leuven University and Princeton released a study Tuesday (link and abstract below) reporting that at least 5,542 of the top 100,000 sites use CF, mainly through AddThis, a Virginia-based online advertising firm that controls 95% of the business, according to Information Week.

Eleven identified instances of fingerprinting used software created by such providers as Ligatus and Admicro but 9 of the enterprising snoop groups had built their… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Connecting is MercatorNet's blog about social media and the virtual self. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your tips and suggestions. Post comments. We want to make it as lively as possible. The editor is Denyse O'Leary, a Canadian journalist. 

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