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Status Updates

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Facebook fit. It’s been said that a species’ evolutionary success depends more on its adaptability than any other trait. That apparently holds true for a social media platform’s staying power, too. Facebook continues to flourish despite two hugely disruptive developments that, at least in theory, should have had a negative impact on its standing in… Continue Reading

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An undercover app. Internet innovators have for some time been trying to cash in on the public’s mounting desire for anonymous messaging platforms, with varied success. As we recently noted, at least 11 students at colleges around the country have been tracked down and arrested for threatening violence on the purportedly anonymous messaging app Yik… Continue Reading

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Instagrowth. Instagram’s relationship with Facebook is turning out to be mutually beneficial. Since Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, the photo sharing platform has passed the 300-million-user mark, surpassing Twitter’s 284 million active-user base. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom attributes his social media company’s growth to its decision to translate its app into more… Continue Reading

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Block party. Twitter has revamped its anti-harassment policies to make it easier to report harassment on the network or to block another account. The change follows recent highly-publicized instances of “Twitter harassment,” such as the Gamergate controversy, in which certain prominent women in the videogame industry reportedly became targets of harassing tweets. Twitter users will… Continue Reading

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Yik Yak arrests.  For several months now we at Socially Aware have been writing about how college students have been using the purportedly anonymous messaging app Yik Yak to communicate deeply offensive remarks and threats of violence.  Now The Huffington Post reports that students at seven universities have been arrested for doing just that.  Since… Continue Reading

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Between a lock and a hard place. Should search engines be responsible for verifying the legitimacy of the companies they include in their search results? A locksmith in Lorton, Virginia, is claiming that they should. Mark Baldino of Baldino’s Lock & Key asserts that, despite having paid $1 million in advertising fees to search engines… Continue Reading

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Search stripped? European regulators have several beefs with Google—the digital giant has been accused of tax avoidance and violations of data protection laws—but right now they’re focused on whether the company, which reportedly controls 90% of the online search market in Europe, is wielding illegal monopolistic power. Based on allegations that Google is manipulating search… Continue Reading

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Forget me not. Twitter launched just eight years ago with this tweet from company co-founder, Jack Dorsey:               (Not nearly as dramatic as “Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you”— but I digress.)  Since that inaugural tweet, hundreds of billions of tweets have flowed through Twitter’s network, with 500… Continue Reading

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Commercial free content. Would you pay to diminish the number of ads that appear on your screen while you surf the Web? Google is testing a service that will allow users to do just that. The service, called Contributor, will give visitors to ten web sites that Google has partnered with the opportunity to pay… Continue Reading

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A saving grace for search results. In the first case since 2007 to address the issue, a California state court judge recently held that Google’s search results are in fact protected by U.S. free speech laws, and that Google is therefore entitled to rank  the results it delivers in response to queries however it determines… Continue Reading

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Pay to play. Attention, marketing professionals: The free ride that Facebook has been giving to advertisers is coming to end. We’ve recently discussed Facebook’s recently ban on “like” gating. Now, inspired by its users’ dissatisfaction with the prevalence of promotional content on the Facebook platform, the social media giant will start lowering the priority of… Continue Reading

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Laundry time. Make sure you are getting what you’re paying for. That’s good advice in a lot of areas of human endeavor and it’s certainly true of online advertising. We wrote last month about efforts by the online advertising industry to impose standards on how viewable an ad must be.  Now advertisers have a new… Continue Reading

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That’s a lot of latte. It turns out that Starbucks—not a company in the mobile payments business—was the first company to make in-person payments by mobile phone mainstream. According to recent statements by the coffee giant’s representatives, Starbucks shops handled seven million mobile payments weekly last year, accounting for a whopping 90% of all mobile… Continue Reading

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Tale of the tape. Remember the 1980s? Back then, watching a movie on demand meant visiting your local video store and renting the video tape version of the film that you wanted to watch (assuming it was available). During that era, Congress passed – and President Reagan signed into law – the Video Privacy Protection Act… Continue Reading

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 Lyfted documents? Uber and Lyft, two ride-sharing companies that are both expanding rapidly and trying to take business away from traditional taxis in cities across the nation, have never been on the best of terms. Their rivalry just found its way into the courts, as Lyft has sued its former chief operating officer Travis VanderZanden,… Continue Reading

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Bad chords. A European musician’s attempt to stop a negative concert review from continuing to appear in Internet search results is raising questions about whether the EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling could prevent the Internet from being a source of objective truth.  Established in May by the European Court of Justice, the right to… Continue Reading

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Cuffed links. The Spanish parliament has passed what is commonly known as the “Google tax,” although it’s technically not a tax and doesn’t apply solely to Google. Rather, it’s an intellectual property law requiring online news aggregators to pay fees for describing and linking to stories published by Spanish newspapers; failure to pay can expose… Continue Reading

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Cover your Glass. We’ve addressed in Socially Aware the growing legal hysteria stirred up by Google Glass and other wearable technology. Just as Polaroid cameras were once banned from beach resorts and even the Washington Monument for crying out loud, expect to see all types of businesses and organizations – bars, restaurants, banks, schools, museums, casinos,… Continue Reading

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Back to the future. Socially Aware readers – and editors – of, uhm, a certain age will fondly recall how, during the early days of the dotcom era, we hung out on message boards and in chat rooms discussing (some might say arguing about) politics, sports, movies, music, you name it – with people we’d never… Continue Reading

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Unfree speech? In the United States, the First Amendment would likely prevent the prosecution of someone who posted racist or anti-Semitic messages on a social media platform. But social media platforms operate worldwide, and many nations’ laws are much less permissive when it comes to speech of this type. Following a French case in which… Continue Reading

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Clearing the air. Aereo, the startup broadcasting service that lost big in the U.S. Supreme Court last June, just lost another, and possibly its last, court battle. A U.S. district judge in the Southern District of New York, responding to a motion filed by the major broadcasting networks, granted a preliminary injunction barring Aereo from… Continue Reading

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Time change. Until now, Twitter has made a clear distinction between people you follow and people you don’t follow: You only saw tweets from those whom you followed. Now, the service, in what it calls a “timeline experiment,” will place tweets on your timeline from select users that you are not following. Twitter is using… Continue Reading

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Court spanks parents. In a landmark decision, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in Boston v. Athearn that parents can be held responsible for the social media activities of their kids. The case involved a seventh-grade boy who, with assistance from a friend, created a fake Facebook profile for a female classmate; then, pretending to… Continue Reading

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Doctor in the mouse. What if you could input a list of your current symptoms to Google, and quickly be connected with a doctor for a brief consultation? For a limited trial period, Google seems to have set up such a system for people who are looking for medical advice online. A lot of the… Continue Reading