Monthly Archives: June 2012

BBC Partners With Facebook To Bring Social Streaming For Wimbledon And Olympics

Facebook has started streaming live sports events from the BBC in what is the biggest partnership to date between the social network and an international broadcaster.

The application first launched yesterday as Facebook users were able to watch live coverage of the Wimbledon tennis championship, with six simultaneous streams of live matches to choose from. The app is currently in beta test mode, with plans for the BBC to run 24 simultaneous streams on Facebook during the Olympics.

The same geo-IP blocking solution already used to limit access to other services such as the iPlayer will also mean the users outside the UK will not be able to view BBC streams on Facebook.

It is hoped that users sharing information about the live broadcasts they are viewing with their friends will encourage lots of social interaction as they discuss and comment on the action that is unfolding live on their screens. The usual targeted advertising (not controlled by the BBC) will appear on the right of the app as it does with the rest of Facebook.

However, as discussed in a previous blog, there will be no Facebook adverts on any Olympic Pages or broadcasts, as per the restrictions put in place by the International Olympic Committee. The BBC are also not making any money from the arrangement with Facebook.

A Facebook spokesman said:

“We are really pleased that the BBC has chosen to bring its legendary sports coverage to Facebook. Watching major events such as Wimbledon and the Olympic Games is a naturally social activity. Now viewers within the UK have the ability to share their favourite moments with friends and to discuss the action live as it unfolds.”

Will you be watching any of these live events on Facebook over the next few weeks? What would enhance this experience enough for you to watch it online rather than on the television? Please feel free to make your voice heard by leaving a comment below.

Vending Machine Gives Free Iced Tea In Exchange For Tweets

A South African soft drinks company has come up with a novel way of promoting its products by using social media. BOS Ice Tea have developed a vending machine that offers free drinks in response to certain hashtags.

It’s a simple mechanism; users must tweet a certain hashtag, and in order to make the machine dispense a free drink its creators configured a special hashtag filter. When the hashtag appears on Twitter, the vending machine checks it and – if correct – gives out a drink. A screen on the front panel of the machine will then display the tweet.

At present there is only one of these machines, however it will soon be going on a tour of South Africa, to “interact physically with as many people as possible” as BOS co-founder Grant Rushmere explained.

He also said “we use sampling extensively to promote our product.” It makes sense that if you are going to be giving people a taste for free, why not get them to promote your drink at the same time? Twitter is on the rise in South Africa, and if you can get people to mention your brand or product name on the micro-blogging network in exchange for free samples that you’re giving away regardless, then a small investment into R&D for a vending machine that recognises hashtags seems worthwhile to me.

What’s the most intriguing or bizarre social media related advertising campaign that you’ve ever seen?

Twitter Outage And NatWest Technical Glitches – What’s The Connection?

It’s not been a particularly great week in terms of ‘outages’. Earlier today I blogged about Twitter being offline for a couple of hours yesterday. However, this pales into comparative insignificance when viewed in contrast to the current situation being faced by customers of a major bank in the UK.

Since Tuesday, NatWest has had technical problems which have left millions of account holders unable to access money and delayed salary payments to employees whose companies use the bank. This ‘technical glitch’ continues as I write this blog at 16:54pm on Friday, with NatWest saying that they might not have it fixed until Monday. Well, it’s just as well that I’m not counting on them to deliver my salary into my account before I go on holiday next week. Oh wait, yes I am… Cripes.

Anyway, why is this relevant on the SocialSafe blog? Well, while it’s hard to argue that an inability to withdraw cash from your bank account or defaulting on a Direct Debit are the same as not being able to access Twitter, the situations are more similar than you’d think:

People know they have money in their accounts, but they cannot access it. Likewise, people know that they have a wealth of content stored in the tweets they’ve posted, been mentioned in, and the DMs they have exchanged, yet they cannot access it.

Thankfully with the Twitter outage there is still a way to access this content in such circumstances. By backing up your Twitter account (and for that matter, Facebook, Instagram, Viadeo, Google+ and LinkedIn) with SocialSafe, all of your content is stored on your own computer in a searchable offline journal. So if the worst happens and you are separated from the original source, at least your own content that you’ve created isn’t out of reach while someone else tries to fix whatever it is that went wrong. Apologies from the SocialSafe Team that we can’t work the same magic with your NatWest account.

To create your own SocialSafe journal today, visit our website or head to our Facebook Page where you can claim a free version to get started.

Hackers Or A Cascading Bug – What Brought Down Twitter?

By now you must all be aware of yesterday’s Twitter outage. The micro-blogging site was unavailable for almost two hours in countries spanning the globe due to two service outages. We first noticed something was wrong here in the SocialSafe office just after 5pm BST, and when some of our Facebook fans responded to our post about the problem we realised it wasn’t just a local glitch.

So what caused the problem? Well, a hacker who calls herself Cosmo from the group UG Nazi – previously affiliated with LulzSec – immediately claimed the she was responsible for the bring down the site via a basic DDoS attack. She said:

“It wasn’t really difficult at all, I myself honestly thought Twitter would be more protected from a DDoS Attack, but I guess not.”

However in a blog post, Mazen Rawashdeh – Twitter’s vice president of engineering – issued an apology and explained that it was a “cascading bug” that caused the outage:

“A cascading bug is one with an effect that isn’t confined to a particular software element, but rather its effect “cascades” into other elements as well. One of the characteristics of such a bug is that it can have a significant impact on all users, worldwide, which was the case today. As soon as we discovered it, we took corrective actions, which included rolling back to a previous stable version of Twitter.”

He also defended Twitter’s previous reliability record over the last six months:

“For the past six months, we’ve enjoyed our highest marks for site reliability and stability ever: at least 99.96% and often 99.99%. In simpler terms, this means that in an average 24-hour period, has been stable and available to everyone for roughly 23 hours, 59 minutes and 40-ish seconds.”

We’re you adversely affected by the outage? Or did you backup your Twitter account content with SocialSafe?

Facebook Adds New Emoticons Menu To Instant Chat Boxes

Some of you may have spotted a new Facebook chat feature today, as the social network has added a pop-out emoticons box to the existing chat window.

Some emoticons had been available in the past, but you’d have had to have known the appropriate character string in order to make anything display itself correctly. With this latest update there are 21 different emoticons in the menu to choose from, including the archetypal Facebook ‘Like’ symbol:

Facebook Chat Emoticons

You can even send an icon displaying a minimised picture of a friend’s profile picture – simply enter the person’s Facebook vanity URL into double square brackets and send it as you would normal chat message. So for my image, I’d type “[[a.d.k.robertson]]” into the chat box.

It’s hard to argue that this is of the greatest importance in the grand scheme of things, and will do little for Facebook by way of pumping up its beleaguered share price, but I’m sure that for a number people this will be just the ticket. And as TechCrunch pointed out, with Facebook looking to explore supervised access for under-13s, emoticons are already a widely used mode of communication for the younger generations, so it makes sense to integrate them at some point.

Do you have a favourite emoticon?

How To Remove Facebook Adware From Your Profile

Facebook users should be aware that there is something called ‘Adware’ that might set up camp on their profiles. One Mashable writer discovered the big ad banner at the top of her profile, just beneath her information and profile picture.

Initially they thought the huge ad (measuring approximately 730 x 90 pixels) on Christine Erickson’s profile was the sign of things to come, fearing that Facebook was testing a new ad display unit. However, another writer for the tech site was more familiar with the situation and recognised the banner for what it was – Adware.

Facebook even have a dedicated page explaining what Adware is and how you can go about removing Adware from your profile if you discover a banner on there. The page also reiterates the social network’s policy on ad positions:

“Facebook ads will never appear as banners in the center, top or left column of Facebook web pages.”

But how would one of these Adware banners wind up on your profile in the first place? In the case of Mashable’s Christine Erickson, she believes it may have happened while uninstalling another extension on her desktop.

If you find that your profile has been the victim of Adware, then it’s best to follow Facebook’s instructions and remove it – chances are that leaving it there will cause Facebook pages to load more slowly and it may also compromise your security.

New Twitter Feature Makes Browsing Celebrity Accounts Easier

Twitter will be rolling out an update over the next few weeks that will make it easier to browse celebrity accounts.

Often when you click on the profile of a particularly busy or popular user, their stream of tweets is awash with replies to other people, so you end up seeing one side of a conversation between two people, rather than just the updates from that user that you want to read.

Verified Twitter AccountsTwitter have found a cure for this ailment by way of a very simple filtering process that allows people browsing a user’s tweets to either view “All” or “No Replies”. Admittedly this new functionality will only be applied to Verified Accounts – so if you were to look at tweet streams of celebrities and brands you’d be able to filter what you see depending on when the new features are rolled out to that Verified Account.

This looks to be a shrewd move by Twitter. In the past CEO Dick Costolo said that around 40% of the service’s users don’t actually tweet – they are just there to listen. By giving these silent users the ability to more easily view the content that they want, Twitter should manage to keep their attention if they didn’t previously have the patience to wade though scores of tweets that were directed at other people.

Do you follow brands or celebrities on Twitter? If so, who? Do you think that this new feature (when fully rolled out) will improve your experience?

Advertising Dropped For Official 2012 Olympic Facebook Page

Facebook have been forced to strip all advertising from the official Olympic Facebook Page that was launched today at a large press event in London, attended by representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and 1993 gold medalist Boris Becker.

In the same way that the Olympic stadia themselves will be ‘clean venues’ with no adverts visible inside, all of Facebook’s Olympic pages must also follow suit, as Christian Hernandez, head of international business development at Facebook, stated:

“We [Facebook] will not be running adverts against these [Olympic] pages.”

The Olympic Games and London 2012 logos have been very heavily protected by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG). This is understandable, given that all companies which are officially allowed to use the Olympic Games logo in any way will have paid millions for the privilege.

Twitter suspended the account of a group last month after LOCOG complained that they were using a doctored version of the London 2012 logo that was being used in a way that could be confusing or misleading with regard to brand affiliation.

But Facebook aren’t the only companies to have made “non commercial” arrangements with the Olympic Games, as dedicated Olympic Twitter and Google+ pages are expected to appear soon and a Foursquare partnership launched last month.

What Will Happen To Your Social Networks When You Are Gone?

While the digital age has heralded incredible advances in communication abilities, it also leaves us open to the possibility that all the work we put into writing blogs, posting messages on friends’ walls and such like, can all be deleted with one click, never to be seen again. When the time comes to sort through the belongings of a recently deceased friend or loved one, diaries and journals are the sort of things that are kept.

But it’s hard to imagine that the same sense of catharsis will be experienced by a social network – who are essentially landlords of a house full of belongings left for them to deal with by an intestate – when it comes to dealing with the profile of the departed. There is no emotional connection between the host website and the user who posted updates every day for several years, so the likelihood is that they will simply delete it. However the friends of that userwill have an attachment to the photos, the wall posts, the comments from that user on their own updates etc.

And before we spend too much time dwelling on the mortality of man, all of this content could also be lost while someone is still alive. Perhaps digital’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. While information can be shared so quickly and in a virtual environment, it also means that it can disappear without a trace just as quickly.

Thankfully backing up social media accounts and taking control of the content you create just got easier. With SocialSafe you can unite your social networks and create your own copy of the digital stories you tell as you forge your own path through the world of online networking. Safely store all the content and contacts from Facebook, Twitter, Viadeo, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+. For more information about how to start your own offline backup journal visit the SocialSafe website.

Twitter Rolls Out Update To Expanded Tweets Feature

As well as tailored trends, today sees the rolling out of an update to expanded tweets on Twitter. The previous (or existing, depending on if you’ve got the update yet) version of expanded tweets would show videos from YouTube and photographs from Instagram. But the new update allows users to see much more interactive content.

Tweets viewed on both a desktop or a mobile device will now be able to show content such as news stories, video galleries and audio clips. If for example a user expands a tweet containing a news article from one of Twitter’s partner sites (this group is growing) then they will see a headline, introduction and sometimes there will be a link to the author’s Twitter account.

Speaking to Mashable, Twitter’s Rob Weeks said: “People can preview articles from news sources like The New York Times, see images from websites like WWE and play dynamic content from broadcasters like BET.”

When it comes to partners such as Soundcloud, audio clips will appear in the expanded tweets. Other partner websites announced are The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Der Spiegel Online, WWE, Buzzfeed, TMZ, BET’s 106 & Park, Lifetime, Dailymotion.

Initial reactions to this news have been positive, although there are some that fear Twitter is moving too far away from what made it popular in the first place – the brief and succinct nature of the updates.

Do you have an opinion? Does this latest update make Twitter more enjoyable due to the richer content, or does this detract from the simplicity enticed you to use the network in the first place? Please leave a comment below.