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SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE: Tweets For Sale, Facebook Privacy, Car Crashes, And Poor, Lonely Google+
February 28, 2012
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From privacy concerns to the thoughts of celebrity legs, we present developments from the brave, new world of social media:

As of today, companies looking for social media marketing advantage can access Twitter updates dating all the way back to January, 2010 - a time period considered "historical" in social media terms, and well past the 30-day access limit previously available for commercial searches.

Twitter has partnered with Datasift, a U.K. firm that provides tweet-based market research to clients looking to stay on top of evolving trends and monitor brands. While the Twitter data that Datasift analyzes was formerly limited to updates written within the last month, now the firm can provide customers with a more complete picture from the last two years - and provide Twitter with some added revenue.

The service will not extend to private Twitter accounts or tweets that have been deleted, but concerns have nevertheless been expressed by privacy advocates. Gus Hosein, of Privacy International, told the BBC that "people have historically used Twitter to communicate with friends and networks in the belief that their tweets will quickly disappear into the ether," and the news network quoted online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation as calling the idea "creepy." Adam Clark Estes at the Atlantic Wire suggests that people worried about privacy "start locking your tweets now."

Another option, of course, is to not share private information on a free, worldwide public network, right?

Twitter is not the only social media giant downplaying concerns about privacy, but Facebook's latest headaches have less to do with ad creep than with charges of intrusion. According to a report in the Sunday Times of London, the company has been reading text messages sent by users who have downloaded the network's mobile app, unbeknownst to the users themselves.

A Facebook spokesman has denied the story, even while pointing out that such activity is actually covered by the app's permission guidelines:

"The Sunday Times has done some creative conspiracy theorizing but the suggestion that we're secretly reading people's texts is ridiculous," said Andrew Noyes in a statement.

"Instead, the permission is clearly disclosed on the app page in the Android marketplace and is in anticipation of new features that enable users to integrate Facebook features with their texts. However, other than some very limited testing, we haven't launched anything so we're not using the permission. If we do, it will be obvious to users what's happening. We'll keep you posted on our progress."

If nothing else, Noyes provides a good reminder about why it's worthwhile to read the permission fine print.

The Sunday Times story, meanwhile, was behind a pay wall on the paper's website Sunday, and does not appear to be searchable on the site today.

If fending off accusations of breaching privacy
is the lot of leading social networks these days, the people behind Google+ must only wish that they, too, were the subject of criticism and concern. Instead, Google's entry into the social media game is getting headlines for less controversial - though possibly more depressing, at least for its parent company - reasons: New statistics from U.S. research firm ComScore show that American users averaged only 3.3 minutes on Google+ for the entire month of January, a number that is down from 4.8 minutes in December and 5.1 minutes in November.

In comparison, Facebook users spent 7.5 hours on the site in January, up from approximately 7 hours in December. But at least no one is accusing Google+ of reading your text messages, right?

One thing we learned over the weekend was that Twitter has the power to turn even an appendage (albeit one attached to a famous person) into a celebrity: Angelina Jolie's right leg began tweeting Sunday night during the Oscar broadcast, and already has more than 30,000 followers, despite saying little more than "I'm a leg!" and "Look at this leg!"

But Jolie's limbs have nothing on NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, who gained more than 100,000 followers in under two hours Monday night when he started tweeting from inside his car after a fellow driver crashed into a safety vehicle during a race at the Daytona 500.

After Juan Pablo Montoya's collision caused a giant fireball that brought the race to a halt (neither he nor the driver of the safety vehicle were seriously injured), Keselowski sent a pic of the fire on the track in front of him to his then-85,000 Twitter followers from his phone. By the time the race resumed over an hour later, Keselowski had reached 185,000 followers, and as of this morning was up to over 207,000.

Related Stories at

How To Be A Better Tweeter

Who's Watching You Online? Canada's Privacy Commissioner is Concerned

Image via BugTreat


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