National Friends Day …and what it means to create a movement on social media

We’ve all heard it from the naysayers around this time of year: Valentine’s Day is just a silly holiday Hallmark made to increase consumerism. True? I’m not so sure about that (neither is history.com).

But today, I logged onto my Facebook like everyone else, and my Facebook was filled with #friendsday videos. As usual, people had mixed reactions to the holiday, even though Facebook allowed for folks to customize their videos if they didn’t like the original algorithm’s results.

Then, I learned that today actually isn’t National Friendship Day. That’s actually celebrated in August, and today is actually Facebook’s birthday! According to CBS News, Facebook decided to declare today Friends Day in honor of their birthday, to commemorate the friendships that have stayed strong because of Facebook. Not surprisingly, #friendsday was trending on Twitter for most of the day, according to a Mashable article. Even #DiaDelAmigo was popular on Twitter!

This leads me to a bigger question: what does it mean to create a movement on social media? Why are social media movements good? Are they created intentionally? What are the tangible benefits?

For some social media movements, the tangible benefits are money. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a great example of that: $115 million dollars raised in a few weeks during a social media viral movement in 2014.

ALS

For others, like KONY 2012, the goal was awareness. The website states, “Could an online video make an obscure war criminal famous? And if he was famous, would the world work together to stop him?” 100 million views in 6 days is a great accomplishment – I’d say that goal was achieved!

KONY

These are some of the obvious intentional goals. But what about the dress? Was there a purpose to that movement? Was there a benefit? [It’s blue and black, by the way.]

dress

But here’s my challenge for you. What are the benefits for Facebook of a nationally trending Twitter hashtag about a brand-new holiday they just created? Are there perks from the buzz they created? Why would an already-successful organization like Facebook use its currency just to create some video sharing, without any immediate monetary benefit?

I’ll let you share your guesses below. Now, your turn!

Beth Awalt, @eawalt01

co-founder of Starfish Foundation @starfishchange

Emerging Media Graduate Student

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Is Less Really More?

It is undeniable that emerging media have evolved at an unparalleled pace, and possess an inherent power over the evolution of our society. The increasingly quick growth speaks to the rapidity of the emerging media movement and how that has already altered our world. Today, millennials tend to demand instantaneous results on all fronts, and Fifth Third Bank is attempting to capitalize on that demand with a new campaign highlighting the speed of their banking app. The company has “introduced a 30-second commercial, which will air in 15 markets, as part of its “No Waiting” campaign. The spot tells the story of a man who doesn’t have to wait for things, like fish to nibble his line, or his hair to dry after a shower.” But, I think this campaign raises a larger question surrounding how larger companies cater to millennials and their hurried lifestyle. I, myself, am certainly a millennial, and with that I enjoy any sort of emerging media that will assist in making my life easier. But, when things like net neutrality are being compromised for faster and more stable streaming, I question how our actions as millennials are affecting the technological world.

people ipads

Fifth Third Bank’s claims to have “created a mobile banking experience through the Fifth Third mobile app that moves at your speed: now.” And, while I appreciate their effort to engage with millennials in a way that speaks to them, I worry that at a certain point, companies will not be able to move any quicker than they already are, and plateau while the rest of the world continues to demand a speedy turnover time. The speed at which our technology moves is unbelievable, but I fear that with this increasing pace, companies will not be able to satisfy millennials, and the overall success of this emerging media will taper off. This may seem like an unrealistic fear in a world that continues to produce results. But, I believe that for the sake of society, we as millennials need to slow down and revisit the notion of substance, because sometimes, less really isn’t more.

Pasquarelli, Adrianne. “Another Bank Chases Millennials With Digital Games, Ads.” Advertising Age CMO Strategy RSS. N.p., 21 Jan. 2016. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

Molly Wipf @MollyWipf

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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Marriott’s Pursuit of the “Elusive” Millennial

 Is the rest of the AARP world in danger of the millennial traveler? Let me clarify, I love millennials, all of my nieces and nephews are in this group and I am extremely proud of their technical savvy, education, and in awe of their tactical brilliance at absorbing and retaining the seemingly millions of acronyms infused within their other language…texting.  I study emerging media to understand the business side of communication mediums, and above all to be a part of the social waves the Internet and the World Wide Web are brilliantly creating, building, and leading us into the next trending topic.

old man

Bill Marriott by Melissa Golden for Wall Street Journal

This leads me to the focus of my blog, Marriott International, my employer for the last thirty years and their pursuit of almost every type of traveler known globally and locally to our marketing groups, but placing the millennials as their top prize.

In an interview with Alexandra Wolfe (2014) of the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Marriott spoke about our latest brand, the Moxy Hotels which are aimed at the millennial generation (roughly ages 18 to 33).

In partnership with Inter Hospitality Holding, the hotels will feature small, low-cost rooms with grab-and-go food and the feel of a Silicon Valley startup.  Wolfe reported, “In four years, 60% of our business will be millennials,” says Mr. Marriott, who adds with a laugh, “All of us old folks are moving on.”

Moving on? Who me, after all we’ve been through?

And on top of that I have to lose some of my most pleasurable hotel amenities because it tested low with the millennial group. The latest trend is rooms without work desks.  I need a desk, I love having extra room to work, spread my books about and have space for my Kindle and phone.  I have been to our innovation labs and walked through the redesigned rooms. They are well appointed but each one, we test by brand, all have amenities everyone can enjoy but the overall feel is still millennial. I asked, “Where are the rooms for our disabled and elderly travelers?” They are a growing market group with plenty of capital to spend as well. My guide for the day, an architect for the brands, took note and promised to get back to me on my inquiry quickly. Guess he felt I may need it soon!

marriott room

Desk-less room by Marriott

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/marriott-desks-rooms-millennials/#ixzz3yJaCdzm3

Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | digitaltrendsftw on Facebook

Angela Johnson @aj7124_angela

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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Freedom of Speech

Due to innovative technology, the first amendment is seemingly beginning to evolve as Emerging Media has created several issues with what people are allowed to say on the Internet. In 1996, the Supreme Court case Reno Vs. ALCU dealt with two provisions within the Decency Act of 1996. The objective of this Act was to protect minors from harmful content over the Internet, but when this Act was passed the Court felt it was limiting, “Freedom of Speech”. This was the first incident where freedom of speech and the Internet collided and created a large amount of confusion for what is allowed to be posted over the Internet. The Internet has allowed for individuals to have a voice and express themselves though the web. Sadly, when you look at the bigger picture behind the Internet, millions of people are being bullied and threatened which has caused several platforms of social media to censor and restrict people from posting what they want. Technology is wonderful thing, but when users take advantage of its main purpose, to harm another individual the first amendment isn’t necessarily on your side anymore.

Several of us are victims of social media harassment and have experienced or witnessed users take advantage of others behind a computer screen and lash out about an individual’s religion, race, and sexual preference. Social media has caused so much internal trauma to individuals that people are taking their lives due to overly aggressive users on various social media outlets who are bullying other users. In 2011, Jamey Rodemeyer a 14-year-old freshman from Buffalo, N.Y., was a victim of online bullying and received death threats about his sexual preferences and resulted in him to commit suicide. The Amherst Police Department’s Special Victim Unit opened the case to find punishments for the students who harassed Jamey. One of anonymous students on Twitter went as far to say, “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” while another read, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!” Since this incident occurred Twitter has implemented a strict abuse policy which states, “Engaging in targeted abuse or harassment on Twitter is a violation of the Terms of Service”

jeff chase

These tweets are disturbing, and to be honest bullying on the Internet has become increasingly more serious. According to stopbullying.gov, The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 15% of high school students (grades9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year. Unfortunately, due to the increase use of technology in kids’, they’re growing up in a world with technology that is constantly evolving. Kids are growing up in a world that is centered on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and these social media outlets give them access to so much hurtful things such as Pornography, Cyber Bullying, and overall insecurities.

Social media platforms as mentioned above have begun to take actions in censoring what people are able to publish on the Internet. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are three social media platforms that regularly censors users and work toward a safe interactive experience. Instagram for example has begun to censor what users are able to publish on their site. Recently, Chrissy Teigan and Rhianna posted semi-nude images that revealed too much and it caused Instagram to take down their post. They were outraged by the incident for they felt it was unfair and violated their right. Facebook, another example of censorship has recently allowed for users to report content or even block content that is perceived as harmful or threatening. Although these various social media outlets have tried to limit what users are able to post they most times are unsuccessful due to users not caring and posting anyway.

When it comes to the Internet and its interaction with various social media outlets, is it possible for the Internet to regulate and censor what users are allowed to publish?

Jeffery Chase

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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#EM360Chat – Periscope, is it awesome or scary?

#EM360Chat Facebook

Interested in emerging media technologies? Check out the program’s first #EM360Chat on Twitter held this Friday, October 30th.  Starting at 11 am we will be discussing the new Periscope application, is it awesome or scary? Dr. Elliot King (@ElliotKingPhD) will be leading the discussion. Please reply using the hashtag #EM360Chat using your personal Twitter accounts to the participating Tweets. To follow or find the discussion, the @GoAheadGetAhead Twitter account will be retweeting participants responses or simply search for the hashtag.

Let’s get our Tweet on!

All are welcome.

#EM360Chat

#weRreal

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How Safe Is Your Information?

cell

Have you ever wondered how safe your information is when using networks that are not your own? Well, the state of Maryland has got your back. Maryland law signed a bill in the summer of 2015 that makes it illegal for colleges and universities in Maryland to demand or require any kind of access to a student’s social media account.

So what does this mean for you? Bradley Shear, a social media lawyer for the student press law center says “This bill is not intended to protect people from saying or doing dumb things online,” Shear said. “It’s designed to ensure that they have the same privacy protections that they have in the physical space but in the digital space.” Many have reacted on this new bill that passed in senate for a win for online digital privacy.

Students feel their online profiles are private spheres, but many don’t know that this information can be easily requested or uncovered if it is private. Students were surprised to learn that their information on their social profiles was not protected if using University networks or computers. Should Universities have a right to your information if you are using their networks or computers? Many students use social sites to do group work and to communicate with each other about school related work. The University system of Maryland is concerned primarily about one issue still. How is this new bill going to affect student misconduct including sexual cases and academic integrity?

On the flip side, how does this effect cyber attacks, bullying, and misbehavior on the social realm. “Cyber misconduct is a huge issue…and when the social media accounts of students depict harassment, depression, illegal or unethical acts, universities have the right and responsibility to intervene,” Brennan says. “In order for universities to protect their students, it is helpful that they have access to their students’ profiles.”

The Emerging Media Law and Regulation course brings to light the current social privacy issues we are experiencing in the digital age. We see that privacy is something we value as social beings but it is always something we freely give up. As online social networks are integrated in our lives, we often share too many details about our personal self. It is important to note that, yes, Maryland State is battling for your for social media rights and recognizes that your privacy is important digitally as it is physically. But remember, you are what you post and the Internet knows no privacy. What you are thoughts on Maryland’s new bill?

Justin McDonald

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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Lost Between Ignorance and Paranoia

There are some irrefutable facts. We are watched, all the time and in a thousand different ways.   We are cataloged and labeled, our personal data sliced, read, sold and stored.  That data comes back at us in the form of marketing to us, decisions made about us, and determinations about whether we are law-abiding citizens or threats to the country.

It is also a fact that there is very little that we can do about it.

Privacy is dead and buried. The question is, do we care?

The answer, it seems, is that most of us don’t, until we do.

Today, there is a scale that exists against which we can all be measured.  On one side of the scale is Ignorance – and according to Mashable.com, it is by far the location on the scale where most people are.  These are the folks that live in complete ignorance, utterly unaware of how their data is mined throughout the day with everything they do.  They have no idea of the invisible complexity that surrounds them, and fail to see, for instance, the odd coincidence in how ads on Amazon.com and Facebook seem to match perfectly with what they want.  They are blissfully unaware of just how much the government and giant companies know about them.

On the complete opposite side of this scale is Paranoia – effectively demonstrated in this recent article in The Atlantic.   Those that live on this end of the scale see a hidden malevolence in every click on the keyboard, every website visited, every phone call made, every purchase completed.  They are convinced that not only does the government and big business know everything about them, but that all of that information is used to manipulate every aspect of our lives. They see no benefit in data sharing and data mining and they go to great lengths to cover their trails whenever possible.

But between these two extremes however, lies a range of attitudes including awareness, ambivalence, acceptance, resignation, wariness, concern and fear.   When it comes to privacy, we all reside somewhere on this scale, and the data seems to suggest that the vast majority of us lie somewhere between ignorance and ambivalence.

Earlier this year, John Oliver, on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” presented a scathing commentary on the state of privacy – and as often happens, sometimes the greatest truths are told through comedy.   One fact that Oliver quoted was that a Pew Research study showed that 46% of Americans were not concerned about government surveillance.   This is completely unsurprising.  In fact, I was actually surprised that figure wasn’t higher.  The study points out that while nearly nine in ten polled had heard about the government surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden, only 34% of those who were aware of those surveillance programs have taken at least one step to hide or shield their information from the government.  The study points out that “17% changed their privacy settings on social media; 15% use social media less often; 15% have avoided certain apps and 13% have uninstalled apps; 14% say they speak more in person instead of communicating online or on the phone; and 13% have avoided using certain terms in online communications.”

Those percentages leave the vast majority of people who were aware of government surveillance in the camp of those who did nothing about it – took no action to shield themselves.  On the scale between ignorant and paranoid – they are decidedly ambivalent.   And ambivalence seems to be the attitude most people adopt – whether it is towards government surveillance or big business data mining.   They are aware that they are being tracked, their behavior used as data to market to them, but they tend to view it either as an unavoidable part of modern life, or in many cases, welcome the “customization” that it provides to their lives.

And yet, there does seem to be a threshold.   John Oliver calls it a line in the sand – and that line, humorously in his piece, is when the government has access to personal pictures of our most intimate parts.  Suddenly, when the invasion of privacy becomes intensely personal, people finally seem to move past ambivalence.

It’s a line that I’ve only recently become aware of (and no, I’m not talking about “private” pictures…).   Until recently, I have been decidedly in the ambivalent camp.  My attitude has been that I have nothing to hide from the government, and if data mining allows companies to know more about me and push me products and experiences that I might enjoy, then so much the better.  I have actively embraced new technologies that learn about me with every word, touch and keystroke, and liberally bought from online sites, well aware of how I was being tracked.  In any case, I’ve always felt that even if I was concerned, there was little that I could do about it.

Today however, circumstance began to push me further up the scale.   With an 81 year-old father suffering from a host of ailments including Alzheimer’s, I was doing some research on the Internet about some of the medicines he is on.   With each search I made, I began to notice changes in the ads and links I was presented on Google, Amazon and Facebook.  Suddenly, I was seeing ads for assisted living, for wills and estate planning, for geriatric supplies.   Without thinking, I had exposed what was a deeply personal and difficult part of my life and now, the internet knew about it and was using this information to predict who I was, what I wanted and how I should be treated.  It was eye opening – and it made me start to think more about what I was sharing.  I felt myself being nudged towards “wary” on the scale.

That wariness led me dig a little deeper into just how much “they” know about me. I heard about one of the leading data aggregation companies – Acxiom, and how they allow you to view the profile that have built about you. After an extensive (free) sign-up process that probably collects even more data about you, you can see exactly what data they have collected about you. You can see for yourself here.

I did it and was surprised to see the data points they had on me – and how accurate some were and yet how inaccurate others were.

When you complete the login process you are presented with a dashboard that looks like this:

catagories

As I clicked through each category, I found that it was a combination of clearly public data (how much I paid for my house, yearly taxes, etc), data compiled from my credit report (how many credit cards I have, how many bank accounts) and finally, data garnered from my online activity. It is this last one that interested me the most.   Tracked were things like how many purchases I had made online in the last 7 years, in what categories were the purchases, how old my children were – based on the kinds of things I looked up about them, where I’ve traveled and much more.   As I said – some of it was inaccurate.   According to Acxiom, I’m interested in golf – which I am not in the least tiny bit, but because at some point in the past, I have purchased Golf Gift Certificates for my nephews who do play, Acxiom now thinks I’m a golfer.   There are other inconsistencies and inaccuracies – which demonstrates that data aggregation is not an exact science.

Still I was stunned at the depth of knowledge Acxiom had about me, and shame on me for being stunned. I’m technically literate, well aware of how I am tracked and how my privacy is an illusion, but somehow seeing it all lumped together into a profile was off-putting.

Apparently, I’m not alone.   A recent New York Times article pointed out that “privacy researchers said they are starting to see signs of a backlash. People are beginning to exercise a bit more reserve online or are otherwise engaging in subversive tactics to thwart data miners. Such small acts of defiance might include setting up multiple fake identities, using a virtual private network to shield their browsing behavior and not “liking” anything on Facebook or following anyone on Twitter, making their social networks and preferences harder to track.”

In other words, people don’t care, until they do.  Privacy is a nebulous concept – it’s something we say we value but rarely seem to take the steps to protect it, even when we know it’s being violated.  But when things become personal – when it hits home through a private picture gone public or a personal detail that you’d rather not be marked, marketed and monetized – things begin to change.

Ultimately, the place we all need to be on the scale between Ignorance and Paranoia is a place of awareness.  If we are aware of not only who knows what about us, but also how they know what they know, we can make better decisions about just how much privacy we’re willing to give up.

Bill Margol

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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