67% of Women Keep Social Profiles Private

67% of Women Keep Social Profiles Private

There have been many demographic studies conducted on those most likely to use social media. For instance, a 2011 Nielsen Report found that women between 18–34 who are of Asian or Pacific Islander decent, living in New England with a bachelor’s or graduate college degree, making less than $50K/year, are most likely to use social networks. However, this report, like others, didn’t specifically analyze a crucial aspect of social network use – privacy. Read more

Smartphones Don’t Keep Secrets

Smartphones Don’t Keep Secrets

Recently, I wrote a post on how smartphone apps send users’ private data off to various companies without users’ knowledge. As shocking as some of that information was, a more recent article in the Wall Street Journal shines even more light on the issue, noting that smartphones don’t keep secrets!

Previously, I mentioned some of the “leakiest” smartphone apps that gather and record users’ personal information, including Groupon, textPlus 4, and Paper Toss, but check out this infographic from the WSJ on the popular music app, Pandora:

Read more

I Spy – Smartphone App Privacy Invasion

I Spy – Smartphone App Privacy Invasion

I recently came across this video on the WSJ’s News Hub “What They Know” series and was slightly horrified.

In this feature, Julia Angwin, WSJ.com Senior Technology Editor, explains to Simon Constable, Dow Jones Newswires columnist, how smartphone apps gather and broadcast data about users. However, unlike clearing the cookies on your computer, with a smartphone, the data is embedded so there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it. I suppose smartphone users could refrain from downloading apps altogether, but, let’s face it, that’s never going to happen. Read more

Chatroulette – Shock and Awe or Shockingly Awful?

Chatroulette – Shock and Awe or Shockingly Awful?

After hearing about this supposed “next big thing” called Chatroulette on the radio the other morning, I had to check it out for myself.  Chatroulette is a brand new service for one-on-one text-, webcam- and microphone-based chat with people around the world.  The site was created just a few months ago by Russian teenager, Andrey Ternovskiy.  A recent New York Times article calls it surreal, unnerving, and distasteful, yet, at the same time, enthralling.

Though not brave enough to try the latest fad myself, it’s not hard to gather what happens.  Essentially, you’re thrown into a game in which the site scans the thousands of newcomers joining each day for you to chat with.  Don’t like your result?  Just hit next and you move on to the next stranger.  Don’t worry though, you won’t be chatting by just going to the URL, you have to first click “play.”

The user interface (UI) is quite simple with just a chat box and a video screen for yourself and your partner with boxes that appear as you scroll over, allowing you to select if you would like to receive video or not.  You can see in the top right hand corner that when I went to the site, there were already some 20,000 people using it at that moment all over the world.

While this may be an interesting way for people to generate conversations out of thin air, I can’t help but think that many users are in it for the “shock and awe” factor, especially with several sources saying “nudity is hard to avoid.”  So, with that in mind, perhaps it’s just shockingly awful.  And while inappropriate usage is specifically not tolerated, as outlined in Chatroulette’s terms of service (below), one has to wonder how much good that one bullet point actually does.  Additionally, with many Chatroulette episodes now being broadcast on YouTube, does this raise greater privacy concerns?  …but what is privacy these days anyway, besides harder and harder to protect and maintain?

Terms of Service:

  • You have to be at least 16 years old to use our service
  • Chatroulette does not tolerate broadcasting obscene, offending, pornographic material and we will have to block users who violate these rules from using our service
  • Please use “Report inappropriate video” link to notify us about inappropriate content and we will take necessary steps
  • Everything supplied by the user you are connected with is not property of Chatroulette, and therefore Chatroulette is not responsible for what you will find.
  • By using Chatroulette you agree to our Terms of Service.

It will be interesting to see how this grows, evolves, or dies over the next few weeks, months, years… but for now, if you’re brave enough, play the game and let me know how you fair.

Updating Social Networks, Lessons Learned

Updating Social Networks, Lessons Learned

As a PR professional, securing interviews with big name journalists who write prominent columns or blogs is always exciting.  Your pitch worked, so-and-so is interested in your client, your client will be happy with you, your boss will be happy with you… all these thoughts race excited through your mind as you read that little response, “Sure, what time can your client talk?”

I’d imagine that the journalist, although receiving hundreds of pitches daily, has a bit of excitement too, thinking “I get to interview the CEO of XXX, I get to break this story, this fits in perfectly with my next feature, or I’ve been looking for a follow up with more stats like this!”

In all the excitement, you rush to your social networks to tell the news, updating your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter status that you’re going to be speaking with so-and-so.  But, wait!  Is that really what you want to be doing?  Let’s step back a moment.  The journalist doesn’t rush off to these social networks to tell the world that they’ll be interviewing your client.  This would reveal their source and maybe even the topic of their next article.  It also destroys that element of surprise for the journalist’s frequent readers who wonder what they’re going to write about next.  It could also tip off the journalist or publication’s competitors as to what they’re writing about.

So maybe, like the journalist, updates like that should take a back seat (at least until after the article is published), so as not to destroy the privacy or validity of that awesome interview you just secured.  Your pitch still worked, the journalist is still interested in your client, and your client and boss will still be happy with you, so does the rest of the world really need to know when it’s not even your place to say?

Twitter – in Step with Society

Twitter – in Step with Society

I just watched an entire interview take place over Twitter between Jamie Gangle, Today Show National Correspondent, and Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives.  Appropriately, the interview was on the use and importance of Twitter.

It’s true, as Newt Gingrich tweets, that Twitter teaches you a new style of writing.  And while you may not want to carry over the cryptic Twitter lingo that makes deciphering tweets unbearably difficult, the 140 character limit does force you to write succinctly – something most writers strive for when faced with a maximum word count.  The exception, of course, being the college student struggling to complete a report even with 1.25″ margins and double spacing.


Will Twitter be the next great fad of the century – or is it already?  Will the once-popular cell-phone privacy scare of being able to be reached anytime anywhere spring up once again?  Highly doubtful.  Newt Gingrich, for one, seems to be embracing the increasing interconnectedness of the world through technology; something most people of his generation are not ashamed to admit they are behind the times.


Indeed, people now-a-days do not seem to be afraid of a lack of privacy, but a lack of publicity.  People have so many ways to be in touch with the world and for the world to be in touch with them that it’s become a common desire and need to feel connected, so as not to be forgotten.  This “electronic intimacy,” as Newt Gingrich calls it, is here to stay and Twitter seems to be keeping right in step with society – even if it is only 140 characters with some slightly obscure Twitter lingo (Twingo?).