Tag Archives: Social Media

Amateur Videos, Photos Crucial In Boston Bombing Investigation

To post or not to post? That is the question

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Some may think it just a tad early to publish an analysis like this one from Purple Car but for those helping those helping others deal with this tragedy, I think it’s a worthwhile read. If you are uncomfortable with thinking about this right now, I fully understand. Perhaps you can bookmark the link and come back to it later. It really is a good topic of discussion for social media and emergency management (SMEM) and the blog is well worth adding to one’s feed.

What is and is not appropriate to post during and directly after a tragedy like the #BostonMarathon explosions or #SandyHook is something that I think we all grapple with. Note that I make a distinction between posting as a bystander and posting as virtual operations support teams (VOST), in which case, one would have specific knowledge of the incident.

My personal [bystander] rules tend to be:

  1. Does the post help people (donation links, missing persons, etc)?
  2. Does it inform without conjecture (need to know – road closures; evacuation info, e.g., rather than simply breaking news)?
  3. Does it comfort (think Mr. Rogers)?

If it does none of the above, I would question its usefulness. What do you think? Do you have different rules? More rules?

Incredible new search technology: Google Nose

via Tastefully Offensive

Owning up to bad posts

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve had a couple of experiences of inadvertently sharing old or bad information in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I’d mention this.

The first of these was a missing person announcement that was published on Facebook by a local police department. I saw the post 2 minutes after they published and I dutifully amplified the call for help. One of my friends saw my post and amplified it as well. A follower of my page then stated that the man had been found, so I asked if she a URL, so I could verify the find. She did not but she pointed me to someone’s personal profile that said he had been found “but there was no further information”.

When I went back to the police department page, the post was still there but someone else had left a comment saying that they were late in posting. I asked for them to verify their info because I had already amplified their request. Another ten minutes went by and my post disappeared. How odd! So did the post of my friend and so did the police FB post!

There are 3 lessons to glean from this first incident.

  1. Facebook cascades deletions. If you post something that others amplify and you delete your post, you also delete all the shares that went with it, comments and all.
  2. If you’re going to delete a post, I suggest saying, “Oops! We made a mistake.” OK, something a bit more formal, perhaps – but don’t leave people guessing as to what happened to your post and theirs.
  3. Verify information, even if it comes from a trusted source. Everyone makes mistakes – even official entities.

The second thing that, regretfully, I posted is still there for all to see from yesterday. I received an e-mail from what I considered two reliable sources (one forwarded from the other) and I posted the information, as it was attributed to a local police department. Within about an hour, I got a response to the autotweet from my friendly, wonderful city EM, saying check out the topic on Snopes. Physician heal thyself. For all I remind people to check Snopes, I did not and the scam message was a hoax.

Unlike lesson #2 in the previous incident, I put an update at the top of my blog post, so that anyone clicking through could see that I was correcting the amplified misinformation. In addition, I clearly need to re-learn lesson #3.

No one has retracted the e-mail, thus far. Hopefully, they will. The EM that informed me of the hoax said he receive the same hoax e-mail 5 different times. Clearly, I’m not the only one who got caught.

Verify twice, post once. Verily.

Feeling a bit bookish today


A few posts have popped out at me today in my RSS feeds, involving books and other print media. That, in and of itself, is a bit odd, since this blog post will never see actual print.

Sunday’s segment of 60 Minutes on NOLA and the partial demise of the Times-Picayune left me on the fence about newspapers going digital. Here’s the segment, online:

I have watched many local papers get thinner and thinner in my lifetime . At some point, many of them go to recycle by the time I reach the house from the mailbox. What is there is often recycled, as well – repeating some AP story that I saw online the day before. What’s left is a bunch of ads I didn’t really want or need.

On the other hand, I was happy to see that the Picayune remained in print 3 days a week. As I’ve said in the past, there is something to be said for the feel of paper and enjoying the news, sparse though it may be, over a cup of coffee. I still get the Sunday NYT and enjoy reading the best bits – Week in Review; the Magazine; and the Book Review. There’s something – well – Sundayish about it.

More importantly than my guilty pleasures, however, is that we still have a pretty large digital divide in the US. According to the video, fully 1/3 of the city of New Orleans is without internet access. Theirs is not just a want, it’s a need. Is having a paper only a few days a week enough? For me, that depends on the paper itself. one of the former editors complained that you couldn’t keep up journalistic standards with that infrequency. I think it is possible but it would be more geared toward thoughtful analysis, rather than quick hits of news. Frankly, given how much misinformation comes out when the press tried to jump on a story as it’s happening, I find the news more trustworthy, when they wait and get the story right.

I’m not sure how to find the happy medium. There is a need for quick news and that shouldn’t be restricted to those of us with high-speed internet. Libraries could be of use here, if they could obtain enough funding to serve people in underserved areas. They could also serve as gathering places for community, while providing the information to make better community decisions. Michel Scott of newgeography.com has an excellent piece on this concept:

Ray Oldenburg, author of The Great Good Place, coined the term “third place” to describe any environment outside of the home and the workplace (first and second places, respectively) where people gather for deeper interpersonal connection. Third places include, for example, places of worship, community centers, and even diners or pubs frequented by the “locals.”…

…Libraries and bookstores clearly are long-time ‘third places’ That shouldn’t be a surprise, given that books serve as the lingua franca of new ideas. Notice, though, that these establishments frequently provide coffee bars, meeting rooms, Wi-Fi access, public computer terminals, and other amenities. They serve as accessible retreats for community groups and clubs, offices for transitioning job-seekers or home-based business owners, logical meeting places for children’s literacy organizations, havens for latchkey kids, and bases of operation for homeless men and women as they try to reintegrate into the community. These are the features, probably more so than the rows of books and racks of periodicals, which grant libraries and bookstores their ‘third places’ status.

I do hope that we, as a society, manage to address these challenges successfully.

Facebook to go all Mission Impossible with self-destructing photo messaging app

Sorry, but I’m skeptical that these things will really be deleted completely.

The importance of being human

Why are you on social media? Is it to sell something? To meet new people? To network with people you already know? To inform or advocate?

Even if your choice is information and advocacy, if all you ever do is shout through a megaphone, you are defeating the purpose of *social* media. If your job is outreach, then 2-way communication is a must. Do you actually care about the person to whom you just provided information? Do you care if he understood what you said? If not, then you probably aren’t being as informative as you think.

Here’s my real world analogy: Suppose you walk up to someone on the street and tell them something you think is important and walk away, regardless of whether that person has questions? What would people think of you? Frankly, how would you even know if your point got across?

Translated to social media:

  • Do you answer comments? Do you respond to mentions on Twitter? You should.
  • On Facebook, when someone thanks you for a post in a comment, how long does it really take you to hit that Like button? You’re there, looking at it already – it’s not that much of a time drain.
  • On any platform that allows comments/questions, are you too busy to answer? It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I will get back to you on that.”

Social media is a communication tool, just like a telephone.  If someone called you and asked a question, would you hang up on them? If you did, you’d have some very angry customers. If you don’t have time to answer the phone or respond to social media enquiries, then maybe you should consider a different medium or enlisting a community manager.

Comments and questions are welcome here!

Thanks @JazMans on Twitter for pointing someone to this post. I’m about ready to block said person. My favorite lesson to EMs when teaching them about social media is, “It’s not all about you!”


Pretty strong title, even coming from me, but I have some frustration this morning that has been building for some time. This morning it kind of came to a head.

If you don’t know this, I want to be very clear… Social media marketing is not a direct marketing or push marketing platform. Done properly, social media marketing is about relationships. Connecting and engaging with your target market that results in trust and digital friendships.

I frequently get the social media newbie situations where only out of inexperience, requests are made for follows, article sharing or just plain sales pitches upon connecting. This I understand and expect, so I try to be very patient and helpful with these folks. I attempt to improve their understanding of social media so they do not damage themselves too badly, or for too long.

I also have a few folks that are not social…

View original post 380 more words

The Spy Who Tweeted Me: Intelligence Community Wants to Monitor Social Media

Word to the wise… That advice about not posting anything you wouldn’t want you mother to see? You may want to make that Mama, Papa, and DARPA.

A research arm of the intelligence community wants to sweep up public data on everything from Twitter to public webcams in the hopes of predicting the future.

The project is the brainchild of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or Iarpa, a relatively new part of the spy community that’s supposed to help investigate breakthrough technologies. While other projects exist for predicting political events, the Open Source Indicators program would be perhaps the first that mines data from social media websites.

The idea is to use automated analysis to sift through the deluge of publicly available data to help predict significant societal events, like a popular revolution. The nascent project, called “Open Source Indicators,” is just the latest move by the national security community to come to grips with the flood of information now available on social media. As Danger Room’s Lena Groeger has reported, it’s also intended to predict natural disasters or economic disruptions.

The science underlying the project is the notion that early indicators of major social upheavals might be hidden in plain, socially-networked sight. “Some of these changes may be indirectly observable from publicly available data, such as web search queries, blogs, micro-blogs, internet traffic, financial markets, traffic webcams, Wikipedia edits, and many others,” the announcement, published August 25, says. “Published research has found that some of these data sources are individually useful in the early detection of events such as disease outbreaks, political crises, and macroeconomic trends.”

Indeed, social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, garnered major attention during recent events like the Arab Spring, and have been credited with helping to organize protesters and even foment revolution. Authoritarian governments trying to hold on to power noted the trend, and attempted at times to shut down access to those sites — and occasionally the Internet as a whole — in the hopes of stymieing efforts to organize protests.

The idea of the U.S. intelligence community culling data from social media is still a new one, and is likely to raise a number of questions. For example: what constitutes public data?

Iarpa, for its part, defines public data as “lawfully obtained data available to any member of the general public, to include by purchase, subscription or registration.” That raises its own host of questions, like whether the intelligence community could register a fake profile on Facebook, in order to “friend” people and obtain more information.

For those who fear the all-seeing surveillance state, Iarpa says there are some things the program won’t do. It won’t be used to predict events in the United States, for instance. Nor will it be used to track specific individuals.

crossposted at the Medill National Security Zone

Photo: Lena Groeger

ACLU Guide to New Facebook Privacy Controls

The American Covil Liberties Union has a guide to changing you Facebook privacy setting, given the newly touted features. You might want to book mark the site, as a commenter pointed out he could not yet see these features and it seems to be in the midst of being rolled out.