Bad reviews. On September 30th, the soon-to-be-launched app Peeple was described by the app’s co-founder, Julia Cordray, as a “Yelp for people,” that is, a people-rating platform that would allow users to assign number ratings to anyone—anyone at all, fellow Peeple user or not—as long as the critic was 21, had an established Facebook account, used his real name, and could provide his subject’s cell phone number. The Washington Post reported that “you can’t opt out—once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews—that would defeat the whole purpose.” But by October 4th Cordray had changed her tune entirely, describing Peeple as a “positive only app” that will not allow a review to appear until it has been explicitly approved by the subject of the review. An outraged public can take credit for Cordray’s about-face. In the comments section of the Washington Post piece in which Cordray described Peeple’s original iteration, many readers expressed fear and disgust at the prospect of a site that would doubtless facilitate cyberbullying and, for some, encourage crippling self-consciousness. In other words, the very online lynch mob whose power Cordray hoped to profit from wound up turning on her. The irony of that did not go unnoticed. Cordray’s new version of Peeple, which she promises will be part of a “positive revolution” designed to fight back against the kind of online negativity she faced after the Washington Post piece was published, is expected to launch before the end of the year.

Picture perfect. Any social media marketing plan necessarily includes these two goals: Identify your target audience, and attract and engage that audience with compelling content. We’ve written about how neural networks are facilitating marketers’ use of photographs to help find target audiences by automatically identifying the products being used and the activities being undertaken by the subjects of photos posted to social media. Now, companies like EyeEm Mobile GmbH and Neon Labs Inc. are rolling out software to help marketers choose photographs that will engage those audiences with attractive content. The technology that these companies have developed automatically identifies images with qualities that potential customers are likely to find compelling. The software, according to the Wall Street Journal, identifies “patterns common to images selected by professional photographers” or “characteristics shown to trigger brain activity in neuroscience experiments.” The human eye has proven to be more attracted to photographs in which the subject appears to be speaking in mid-sentence, for example, or in which the subject appears to be attracted to something happening offscreen. Since EyeEm debuted two months ago, the startup’s customers have enjoyed a 30% increase in interaction with their online content. The software works for online video posts, too, helping companies to select the most compelling frames for posting. Neon Labs reports that its partners and customers “made 16% to 40% more revenue on their videos due to increased clicks.”

The powers that tweet. Twitter has a handbook explaining its platform to people running for elected office and it runs just under 140 characters pages. That’s right, the social media company notorious for its draconian limit on post lengths took 136 pages to “make sure that people feel empowered with the full story of what Twitter is,” according to NPR’s interview with Bridget Coyne, one of the people responsible for the manual’s compilation. Coyne told NPR that the creators of the “wildly popular” guide went into painstaking detail explaining how the platform works because they “didn’t want to make assumptions.” Still, it’s difficult to comprehend how the manual’s target audience—whom Coyne says includes congresspersons, chiefs of staff and Congressional interns—aren’t likely to be insulted by a manual that dedicates whole pages to topics such as, for example, “The Anatomy of a Tweet,” complete with numbered illustrations pointing out which part of a Twitter post constitutes the “profile photo” and which part is defined as the “tweet text.” Nevertheless, Coyne insists that Twitter continues to get positive feedback about the manual, and says she hopes to eventually publish a second version of it explaining new Twitter features like Periscope. Does all this mean an end to political scandals due to Twitter misuse? Count us skeptical.

Positive I.D. The tech world recently took a giant step forward in the quest to create computers that accurately mimic human sensory and thought processes, thanks to Fei-Fei Li and Andrej Karpathy of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The pair developed a program that identifies not just the subjects of a photo, but the action taking place in the image. Called NeuralTalk, the software captioned a picture of a man in a black shirt playing guitar, for example, as “man in black shirt is playing guitar,” according to The Verge. The program isn’t perfect, the publication reports, but it’s often correct and is sometimes “unnervingly accurate.” Potential applications for artificial “neural networks” like Li’s obviously include giving users the ability to search, using natural language, through image repositories both public and private (think “photo of Bobby getting his diploma at Yale.”). But the technology could also be used in potentially life-saving ways, such as in cars that can warn drivers of potential hazards like potholes. And, of course, such neural networks would be incredibly valuable to marketers, allowing them to identify potential consumers of, say, sports equipment by searching through photos posted to social media for people using products in that category. As we discussed in a recent blog post, the explosive of growth of the Internet of Things, wearables, big data analytics and other hot new technologies is being fueled at least in part by marketing uses—are artificial neural networks the next big thing to be embraced by marketers?

Cruel intentions. Laws seeking to regulate speech on the Internet must be narrowly drafted to avoid running afoul of the First Amendment, and limiting such a law’s applicability to intentional attempts to cause damage usually improves the law’s odds of meeting that requirement. Illustrating the importance of intent in free speech cases, an anti-revenge-porn law in Arizona was recently scrapped, in part because it applied to people who posted nude photos to the Internet irrespective of the poster’s intent. Now, a North Carolina Court of Appeals has held that an anti-cyberbullying law is constitutional because it, among other things, only prohibits posts to online networks that are made with “the intent to intimidate or torment a minor.” The court issued the holding in a lawsuit brought by a 19-year-old who was placed on 48 months’ probation and ordered stay off social media websites for a year for having contributed to abusive social media posts that targeted one of his classmates. The teen’s suit alleged that the law he was convicted of violating, N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-458.1, is overbroad and unconstitutional. Upholding his conviction, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held, “It was not the content of Defendant’s Facebook comments that led to his conviction of cyberbullying. Rather, his specific intent to use those comments and the Internet as instrumentalities to intimidate or torment (a student) resulted in a jury finding him guilty under the Cyberbullying Statute.”

A dish best served cold. Restaurants and other service providers are often without effective legal recourse against Yelp and other “user review” websites when they’re faced with negative—even defamatory—online reviews because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)—47 U.S. Code § 230insulates website operators from liability for content created by users (though there are, of course, exceptions). That didn’t stop the owner of KC’s Rib Shack in Manchester, New Hampshire, from exacting revenge, however, when an attendee of a 20-person birthday celebration at his restaurant wrote a scathing review on Yelp and Facebook admonishing the owner for approaching the party’s table “and very RUDELY [telling the diners] to keep quiet [since] others were trying to eat.” The review included “#boycott” and some expletives. In response, the restaurant’s owner, Kevin Cornish, replied to the self-identified disgruntled diner’s rant with his own review—of her singing. Cornish reminded the review writer that his establishment is “a family restaurant, not a bar,” and wrote, “I realize you felt as though everybody in the entire restaurant was rejoicing in the painful rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody you and your self-entitled friends were performing, yet that was not the case.” He encouraged her to continue her “social media crusade,” including the hashtag #IDon’t NeedInconsiderateCustomers. Cornish’s retort has so far garnered close to 4,000 Facebook likes and has been shared on Facebook more than 400 times.

There oughta be a law? As we’ve reported previously, states all around the country have enacted laws that criminalize the posting of revenge porn—nude photographs published without the subject’s consent, often by an ex-lover seeking retribution. To avoid running afoul of the First Amendment, these laws are typically fairly limited in scope and provide for relatively minor penalties. California’s anti-revenge-porn law, for example, categorizes posting revenge-porn as a misdemeanor, and contains several exceptions. Among other things, California’s law only applies if the poster intended to cause the victim emotional distress—a characteristic that improves the law’s chances of surviving a First Amendment challenge. Arizona’s anti-revenge porn law, in contrast, contains no such limitation and provides that violations constitute a felony. As a result, the ACLU argued that Arizona Revised Statute §13-1425 could lead to a felony conviction for posting a photograph “even if the person depicted had no expectation that the image would be kept private and suffered no harm,” such as in the case of “a photojournalist who posted images of victims of war or natural disaster.” Based on such alleged overreach, a group of Arizona booksellers, publishers, librarians and photographers filed Antigone Books v. Brnovich—a lawsuit to halt enforcement of the Arizona law. A joint final settlement between the Arizona attorney general and the plaintiffs in that case resulted in a July 2015 federal court order that does, in fact, scrap §13-1425.  In her discussion of the settlement, an ACLU staff attorney said that the organization nevertheless views revenge porn as a serious concern. She lauded social media platforms’ and online search companies’ decisions to heed revenge-porn victims’ take-down requests as victories “achieved without a new criminal law and without a new inroad against the First Amendment.”

Blogs of war. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a civil rights claim brought by a woman who was the subject of negative articles and social media updates written by a Los Angeles county prosecutor and posted to the prosecutor’s personal blog and Twitter account. According to the opinion, the prosecutor, Patrick Frey, posted to his blog eight unfavorable articles about the plaintiff, Nadia Naffe, and “tweeted several dozen threatening and harassing statements” about her. The blog posts and tweets called Naffe, among other things, a “smear artist” and a “liar,” and accused Naffe of having filed frivolous lawsuits against James O’Keefe, a friend of Frey’s with whom Naffe had had a falling out. The Ninth Circuit held that Frey had not violated Naffe’s First Amendment constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because the posts and tweets weren’t related to his work as a county prosecutor. The court noted, among other things, the fact that Frey’s disparaging comments were sent from Frey’s personal Twitter account and blog, both of which specify that they reflect Frey’s “personal opinions” and that they do not contain statements made in an “official capacity.” The Ninth Circuit also noted that the posts and tweets were time stamped outside of Naffe’s office hours.

A good catch. While the options for online dating hopefuls continue to multiply—there are now dating services specifically for farmers, people living gluten-free lifestyles and fire-fighter aficionados—it seems many of the most popular personals sites are merging under the same umbrella. IAC/InterActiveCorp’s Match Group subsidiary, the owner of Match.com, Tinder and OKCupid, among others, just snapped up PlentyOfFish for $575 million. PlentyOfFish, a British Columbia-based dating site that’s free to use but offers upgrades for a fee, currently has 3.6 million active daily users. Its founder and creator, 36-year-old Markus Frind, built the site without any venture capital funding and still owns 100% of it. IAC, meanwhile, owned 20% of the online dating market even before the PlentyOfFish acquisition, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Pin money. The social media site Pinterest, a 5-year-old Internet powerhouse with an $11 billion valuation, is implementing another feature intended to bring in some cash: Buyable Pins. Soon, the site’s users—who, according to demographics reports, are often affluent women—will be able to purchase the items they “pin” or bookmark on the Pinterest platform from Pinterest’s many new partners, which, so far, include Macy’s and Nordstrom. The feature will streamline the online purchasing process by allowing Pinterest users to buy pinned items from several stores without having to leave the Pinterest site or enter their payment information more than once (unless it’s an especially big purchase). Buyable Pins will presumably also facilitate purchase-decision-making by allowing users to sort the items they’ve pinned by price. For example, if a user is interested in buying a new briefcase, he can pin all the ones that caught his eye while surfing the Web onto one Pinterest board, where he can compare pictures of the briefcases side-by-side and sort them from least- to most-expensive. The plan seems worthy of a company that recently raised $186 million in funding and is rumored to be revving up for an IPO.

Driven to distraction. A frightening number of people are interacting with social media when they should be watching the road. As part of a public service campaign to stop distracted driving, the phone company AT&T recently conducted a poll of 2,067 U.S. residents from 16 to 65 years old who own a smartphone and drive at least once a day. While texting is still the most prevalent preoccupation—61% of the respondents reported doing it—a whopping 27% of the drivers polled admitted to checking their Facebook newsfeeds while they’re behind the wheel, and 14% said they are spending time on Twitter. Ten percent of the motorists polled are using Instagram while they drive, and the same number of drivers is allowing the newsworthy and popular vanishing messaging app Snapchat to divert their attention from the road. Perhaps most shocking is the fact that one in ten of the respondents admitted to video chatting behind the wheel. Laws attempting to stop this kind of recklessness have been enacted; 46 states now prohibit texting while driving, Oklahoma most recently. New York Times writer Matt Richtel, who has covered the “texting while driving” issue for years, theorizes that people continue to look at their electronic devices while they drive out of habit, cockiness (we overestimate our own ability to multitask while criticizing the ability of others to do the same) and strong social and marketing pressure to stay connected.

Social outcast. The government of one of the world’s smallest countries is imposing limitations on social media use, too, but the restriction doesn’t just apply to people behind the wheel of a car, and it’s not being imposed in the interest of driver safety. Facebook was recently banned in Nauru, an island in the Central Pacific with approximately 10,000 inhabitants. Despite the social media giant’s policy of removing most nudity-containing content, the Nauruan government maintains that the Facebook ban is necessary to stop “criminals and sexual perverts.” Nauruan parliament opposition members, meanwhile, believe the ban is an act of dictatorship intended to stop the platform’s use as a vehicle for political protest. At least six other countries around the world block social media, to varying degrees: China, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam.

 

 

Pin pain. As a primarily visual social media platform whose self-described purpose is to help users bookmark and save “good stuff you find anywhere around the web,” Pinterest has raised copyright infringement questions since it became explosively popular in 2012. In many cases, copyright owners are happy to have their images “pinned” on the site, particularly where the copyright owner posted the image for advertising purposes in the first place. Pinned images appear in the Pinterest feeds of the pinner’s followers, and can drive traffic to the copyright owners’ own websites. But it doesn’t always work that way, says Christopher Boffoli, a fine art photographer who is suing Pinterest. “Much of my work is pinned to Pinterest without attribution, which throws out the window the common trope about this kind of use gaining me ‘exposure’,” says Boffoli, whose images have been pinned more than 5,000 times. Boffoli further argues that, contrary to the platform’s promise to “respond expeditiously to claims of copyright infringement,” the site is still riddled with his copyrighted images. The photography blog PetaPixel reports that a trial date for Boffoli’s suit is set for early 2016.

Connecting the data deprived. A new messaging app called Jott is targeting text-message-loving teenagers who have iOS or Android mobile devices, but no data plans. And, judging by the app’s success—Jott is attracting up to 20,000 new users a day—the ranks of the data deprived are legion. Launched in March and already boasting half a million users, Jott allows users who have the app installed on their devices to text each other within 100 feet. Jott’s founder, Jared Allgood, started testing the app at a few schools and it took off, serving as an oasis for tech-deprived students in some of the many U.S. public schools that are practically mobile data deserts. The app eliminates the need for cell towers and Wi-Fi routers by turning users’ individual devices into “de facto cell towers,” Forbes explains, using a technology called mesh networking. Jott isn’t the first messaging app to circumvent the need for an Internet connection or data plan—FireChat, for example, does that too and has been used at events like Burning Man. But Jott is unique in that it allows users to send direct messages to individuals rather than to whole groups.

Only a social smoker? Here’s some news for those naysayers who are convinced that no good can come of society’s obsession with social media: According to a study from the University of Waterloo, 32% of the 19- to 29-year-old Canadian smokers polled were able to stop lighting up for 30 days after three months of using an app or online tool meant to help them kick the habit. Experts predicted the potential helpfulness of these smoking-cessation apps, whose features are varied. Some of the apps appeal to a smoker’s competitive side by pitting the user against fellow smokers who are also trying to quit, while others send signals to the smoker’s friends who can then intervene when the smoker approaches a potential trigger. Success, the experts say, may depend on finding an app that’s a good fit, so hopefuls should try several. The websites of both niche publications and mainstream media periodicals list and review several of the best. And, in other news, The Onion reports that smoking is fine as long as you only do it when you drink.

 

Lest we forget. Established a year ago this month by a European Court of Justice decision, the right to be forgotten requires search engines like Google to comply with an individual’s request to remove “inadequate, irrelevant,” or “excessive” links that appear in search results when someone conducts an Internet search of the individual’s name. The ruling gives search engines broad discretion—so broad that Google has so far rejected more take-down requests than it has granted (457,958 compared to 322,601). In determining whether to grant a take-down request, Google says it considers “whether the results include outdated or inaccurate information about the person.” The Internet giant also weighs “whether or not there’s a public interest in the information remaining in our search results—for example, if it relates to financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or your public conduct as a government official (elected or unelected).” Ars Technica gave some examples of the take-down requests that Google has refused: a Hungarian high-ranking public official’s request to remove content about his more-than-20-year-old criminal conviction, and a French priest’s request to remove articles about his excommunication from the church. Perhaps not surprisingly, Google has removed more URLs from Facebook than from any other site.

Information wants to be (not quite) free. In its early years, the Internet was often seen as a vehicle for democratizing data, taking information that was previously accessible only to a select few and making it available to the masses. Many Internet entrepreneurs still espouse those ideals, developing business models that cut out the middle man to make goods and services that were once seen as luxuries, such as  high-end eyewear and financial planning services, widely available at affordable prices. The current trend, however, seems headed in a different direction entirely, with new sites and apps offering luxury concierge-like services at high prices. For example, Postmates, an app that provides couriers to fetch goods from stores and restaurants, recently dropped four mint mojito iced coffees right into the hands of one Wall Street Journal reporter who admits he “paid nearly $30 for the luxury.” Many of the entrepreneurs behind this new wave of “errands apps” nevertheless maintain that they fully intend to make their services available to people of all income levels. Two such executives are Tri Tran, a co-founder of the prepared-meal delivery service Munchery, and Nick Allen, the creator Shuddle, an app that sends cars driven by well-vetted chauffeurs to ferry children to and from playdates and other appointments. Both plan to lower their prices once they have acquired more customers—Munchery hopes to be able to buy in bulk and Shuddle intends to provide carpooling services. But New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo is skeptical, arguing that economies of scale (i.e., ones in which prices drop as fixed costs are spread out over more customers) are rare in the tech world. “I remain unsure if they will ever get to the point where they can serve the masses,” he concludes. “Yet even if Shuddle and Munchery do not get their prices low enough to go mainstream, they deserve credit for trying.”

Search me. Speaking of Google, here’s a potentially embarrassing way to pass some time: view, download and export your entire Google search engine history—or at least all of the searches you conducted while you were logged into your Google account (of course, as The Washington Post points out, if you have Gmail you’re likely logged into your Google account almost all the time). An unofficial Google blog contains the instructions. Simply visit the Google home page and type “Google Web History” into the search bar. When you reach that page and login using your Google ID, you should see all of your searches over the past few days immediately. You can further download and export your entire Google search history by clicking the three-vertical-dot icon in the upper right-hand corner of the Google Web History page and selecting “download searches” from the dropdown menu. The point, says The Washington Post, is to give people an easier way to transfer their data from Google to other services, such as AOL. Since Google will deliver your query history in a file format that may be unreadable to you, the newspaper suggests you open the result in your computer’s notepad or other plain-text editing apps, and search for the term “query text.”

Facebook: Fact or fiction? These days, courts are more and more frequently faced with disputes over whether, as part of the discovery process, a litigant should be entitled to view the opposing party’s social media posts. As we’ve discussed, some courts deciding physical and emotional injury claims have held that the photos and status updates that the plaintiffs in those cases posted to Facebook were relevant to proving or disproving those claims. But are they always? A recent column in Slate points out that some judges and experts are questioning whether a person’s social media posts are adequate reflections of his or her emotional well-being. In one 2013 case over alleged disability discrimination—the plaintiff claimed her work supervisor mocked her after she told him she’d been diagnosed with adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—a federal district court judge in New York held that “The fact that an individual may express some degree of joy, happiness, or sociability on certain occasions sheds little light on the issue of whether he or she is actually suffering emotional distress… For example, a severely depressed person may have a good day or several good days and choose to post about those days and avoid posting about moods more reflective of his or her actual emotional state.” We at Socially Aware tend to agree with this more skeptical view of the extent to which one’s “social” life reflects one’s real life. After all, if a woman can fake an entire vacation on Facebook, many of the platform’s users are likely posting status updates and pictures that are out of sync with their actual moods.

Cutting words. Stories about people being fired or having a job offer rescinded because of their social media missteps have been around almost as long as social media itself, but they usually involve “what were they thinking?” types of behavior. We recently came across one that is a little less clear-cut. An engineer who’d just gotten job offers from Uber and Zenefits tried to crowdsource information that would help him decide between the two employers by posting what he considered to be the pros and cons of each opportunity on Quora, a Q&A social network that allows users to pose questions to the community. He said good things about both companies, but in his “cons” list for Zenefits, he wrote, “My biggest problem with Zenefits is that it isn’t a buzzword like Uber. Most people won’t know what Zenefits is (or so I think). I think that this isn’t as exciting a brand name to have on your resume when applying to the likes of Google.” Zenefits CEO and co-founder Parker Conrad saw the Quora post and responded, right on the thread: “Definitely not Zenefits (n.b.—we are revoking the questioner’s offer to work at Zenefits),” he wrote. “We really value people who ‘get’ what we do and who *want* to work here, specifically. It’s not for everyone, but there are enough ppl out there who do want to work here that we can afford to be selective.” Conrad later edited his response, deleting the part about revoking the engineer’s offer, but his decision stands: The engineer is no longer welcome at Zenefits. Reactions on Twitter went both ways, The Washington Post reported. And some commentators felt that both parties were at fault.

Here today . . . Perhaps inspired by social media users’ concerns that their posts will be used against them in the ways we’ve just described—and, in the case of Cyber Dust, billionaire investor Mark Cuban’s receipt of a subpoena for his own text messages—new disappearing messaging apps are springing up all the time. One that recently got the attention of the crowd at a tech conference in New York is the photo-sharing app Rewind. Rewind allows you to create photo timelines through which the members of your network can scroll. As a result of the scrolling feature, a whole set of photos only takes up the space of a single photo in users’ feeds. The posts vanish after 24 hours. According to Tech Crunch, by making the photos disappear, the app’s creators hope “to elicit the same sort of spontaneity as Snapchat Stories,” which have been heralded as the future of social media.

 

 

 

 

 

Social discovery. Are the photos and status updates that you post to your social media accounts discoverable regardless of the privacy settings you choose? If they contain information that is especially relevant to the case, they probably are. Take, for example, two recent cases in which courts have required litigants to produce information contained in their Facebook accounts. In Nucci v. Target the Florida Court of Appeals denied a personal injury claim plaintiff’s petition to quash an order compelling her to produce photographs from her Facebook account from two years before the accident to the present. The plaintiff sought emotional and economic damages stemming from a fall that she alleged was caused by a foreign substance on the floor of a Target store. The Florida court held that the photographs were “powerfully relevant” to the plaintiff’s damages claim since the quality of her life before and after the accident was at issue, and because surveillance videos of the plaintiff called her account of her post-accident life into question. The court held that this relevance “overwhelms” the plaintiff’s privacy interest in photos posted to a Facebook account despite privacy settings that prevented the photos from being seen by the general public. In the second case, Crowe v. Marquette Transportation Co., a federal district court in Louisiana ordered the plaintiff to produce a complete copy of his entire 4,000-page Facebook history, including the private messages he sent via the Facebook platform. The defendant Marquette alleged that investigators had discovered that the plaintiff in this worker’s compensation case had sent a Facebook message admitting that he was injured while fishing, not while working for Marquette. When, during a deposition, the defendant was shown a printout of the Facebook message, which appeared to have been sent from an account bearing his name, the defendant denied sending the message and testified that his account had been hacked. The district court held that “Marquette is entitled to analyze the thousands of pages of Facebook messages [that the plaintiff] exchanged with others… particularly given his [Facebook-account related] testimony.”

Smartphoning it in. A recent survey from Pew Research Center shows that the number of Americans with smartphones has jumped to 64%—a 29% increase since 2011. Despite the fact that the great majority of those smartphone owners (90%) have other means of accessing the Internet from home, 35% of them “frequently” use their phones to follow along with breaking news, 62% of them have used their phones to look up information about a health condition, and 57% have used their phones to do online banking. Whether someone has used his or her smartphone to access career opportunities, according to Pew, is largely dependent on whether a person is what the research firm calls “smartphone-dependent”—i.e., one of the 10% of Americans with no high-speed Internet access beyond their smartphones’ data plan. Of the smartphone-dependent people surveyed by Pew, 63% used their phones to access job openings in the last year, and 39% used their phones to submit job applications in the last year. Of the overall pool of cell phone owners surveyed by Pew, only 43% and 18% performed those job-search related activities, respectively.

Schadenfacebook. Bummed out by all of your friends’ check-ins at swanky restaurants and photos of their perfect offspring in your newsfeed? It turns out that you can get a handle on the depression that we’ve come to associate with social media use without swearing off your virtual networks altogether. Forbes reports that two new studies—one by the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology and one out of the University of Houston—have attributed the negative feelings that social media users sometimes experience to the same underlying mechanism: social comparison. And that’s something you can control. So the next time you find yourself clicking back through your old college buddy’s montage of his trip to Machu Picchu, remember: Most people only post the highlights of their experiences, not the reality of their daily lives. And, Forbes’s contributor suggests, “it wouldn’t hurt to post about those quieter, less glamorous moments, too. That might actually go a long way in making people feel more connected, instead of just the opposite.”

Photo negative. Daniel Morel, the photojournalist who was awarded $1.2 million in damages from news agencies that distributed his iconic Haiti earthquake pictures without his permission after he posted those pictures on Twitter, will not be collecting attorneys’ fees. A federal district court in New York has denied Morel’s motion for an order compelling Agence France Presse and Getty Images to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs that Morel incurred while pursuing his copyright infringement claim against those two companies. In her opinion, Judge Alison Nathan wrote that one “particularly important consideration” factoring into her decision to deny attorneys’ fees was the fact that the Morel’s underlying copyright infringement suit “raised a relatively novel issue, the adjudication of which may… help further define the contours of copyright law in the digital age.” Indeed, Judge Nathan’s opinion in the underlying case, which held that Twitter users do not lose ownership rights in their content simply by posting that content to Twitter, was one of the first cases to examine the rights of a user posting his own (as opposed to someone else’s) copyrighted works to a social media platform vis-à-vis other users of the same platform (we suspect that we’ll see many more such cases over the coming years). Moreover, although Morel’s fee motion was denied, the case remains a stark reminder to companies that just because content has been made available on a social media network, that content isn’t necessarily available for use off of the platform, absent consent from the copyright owner or the platform provider (assuming such provider has acquired the necessary rights from the copyright owner).

Photo shop. And while on the topic of photographs, social media and copyright law, one enterprising company—Lobster—is trying to create an efficient, low-cost way for companies to license photographs posted to social media platforms for off-platform use. People post countless new images to social media regularly; Seventy-million new photographs are posted to Instagram alone every day. That’s a lot of content, especially when you consider that Getty Images, a go-to source for many businesses’ graphics needs, has an archive with 80 million images total. Lobster seeks to create a market for the almost unimaginable pool of photos posted to social media by facilitating the licensing of those images. Having secured approximately $386,000 in funding so far, the company just recently added a search function that, according to TechCrunch, “allows users, usually corporate marketers, digital agencies or publishers, to run a search across various social media for specific imagery and then request a license for that content through the platform.” Images cost $0.99 or $1.99, depending on the platform. For now, only photos posted to Instagram and Flickr are available on Lobster, but the start-up hopes to expand its service to include pictures that have been posted to Twitter, Vine, Facebook and Vimeo. To make their content available for licensing, Instagram and Flickr users need only include the hashtag #ilobsterit.

Photo (over)sharing. You know them: Those parents who assume their kid’s every move will be as fascinating to their entire social network as it presumably is to their immediate family. They post photos of their children engaged in all kinds of activities—even intimate ones like potty training and bathing—to Facebook and Instagram several times a day. This “oversharenting” is popular: 74% of the people who responded to a recent poll of parents with children four-years-old and younger said they know of another parent who has shared too much information about a child on social media. And 27% said they know of another parent who has shared inappropriate photos of a child. Now, according to ABC News, some people tired of the endless parade of kid photos in their Facebook newsfeeds are fighting back by telling the oversharenters how they feel. One objector has even created an entire blog dedicated to criticizing the oversharenters. If that’s not enough to make oversharenters reconsider their posting habits, perhaps this advice from the University of Michigan’s Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit will: “The federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) limits the collection or release of information via the Internet prior to 13 years of age; ironically, by that age, many children have a lengthy ‘digital profile’ based on their parents’ social media use. Parents need to be thoughtful about their use of social media to discuss parenting issues, and are encouraged to be diligent about understanding privacy policies that could impact the way their child’s information is shared.” Let’s face it: It’s hard enough for recent college grads searching for a job to live down those drunken party photos posted to Facebook—do they need to worry about those embarrassing potty training videos as well?

Home(page) renovation. In an effort to encourage return visits from the 150 million Internet users who visit Twitter every month without signing in, the social media giant has revamped its home page. Now, instead of just “a background photo, a few lines of text, and a prompt to sign up or log in,” Twitter’s home page features boxes with the names of several of the platform’s most popular content topics, including “Actors & Actresses,” “Cute Animals” and “General News Sources.” A click on one of the boxes will take you to a timeline of tweets from some of the most popular commentators who tweet on that topic. Whether the new homepage will be enough to help Twitter expand its active-user base remains to be seen. LexBlog’s Kevin O’Keefe thinks that, to get more attorneys to join, the platform will need to go a few steps further by breaking down its content into niche areas of law.

Teen traffic. A new Pew Research study shows that Facebook is still the most popular social media platform among the members of an age group that many companies consider a crucial target market: 13- to 17-year-olds. Of the 1060 teens surveyed, 71% reported using Facebook. Snapchat, the vanishing messaging app that seems to be make news almost every day (for some reason or other) is up there (41%), too, right behind the photo sharing site Instagram (52%). Interestingly, teens from households with incomes greater than $75,000 are much more likely than teens whose families earn less than $30,000 to call Snapchat their top social media platform (14% compared to 7%). And teenage girls are more likely than teenage boys to use what Pew classified as “visually-oriented social media platforms”: Instagram (61% of girls vs. 44% of boys); Snapchat (51% of girls vs. 31% of boys); online pinboards like Pinterest (33% of girls vs. 11% of boys); and Tumblr (23% of girls vs. 5% of boys).

Rules for the nude and rude. Instagram has amended its Community Guidelines, which formerly simply asked users to be polite and respectful, to specify that the photo sharing platform will remove “content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages.” Instagram also amended its original guidelines to amplify its blanket prohibition on nudity. The new guidelines specify that Instagram will allow nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures, and “photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding,” but will not allow “close-ups of fully nude buttocks.” And, in the interest of discouraging users from posting images that they have “copied or collected from the Internet,” something the platform’s guidelines always proscribed, the new guidelines contain a link to a page that informs users about their intellectual property rights. But Techcrunch notes that because Instagram, unlike Youtube, still “doesn’t offer any copyright fingerprinting system to automatically remove infringing media,” there remains a gap between the photo sharing platform’s intellectual property policy and its enforcement.