Tag Archives | Social Media

Moms, “Food Fears” and the Power of the Internet

food ingredient fearsA great dissection of the corporate food lobby’s fear of social media and the Internet over at The Lunch Tray

Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, has published a new study in the journal Food Quality and Preference entitled “Ingredient-Based Food Fears and Avoidance: Antecedents and Antidotes.”  This study, co-authored by Aner Tal and Adam Brumberg, seeks to determine why people – mothers in particular – develop so-called “food fears” about certain ingredients (such as sodium, fat, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, MSG and lean finely textured beef) and what the food industry and government can do about it.

The study’s ultimate conclusion, that “food fears” can be addressed by “providing information regarding an ingredient’s history or the other products in which it is used,” is hardly controversial.  But some other things about this study raise red flags, starting with the fact that what might be entirely legitimate concerns about particular ingredients are uniformly (and patronizingly) characterized as “food fears,” and that the study’s findings have been overblown and mischaracterized not just in the media but in Dr.

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Can You Find the “Hidden Weed” in Vancouver?

608px-Medical_MarijuanaDo you like scavenger hunts? Are you looking to score some herb, man? Well, if you live in Vancouver and like to frequent Twitter, you can check out HiddenWeedYVR, an account that leaves clues about stashes of hidden weed throughout Vancouver.

VIA National Post

“Hidden Weed” is a different take on “Hidden Cash,” the money craze started by an anonymous millionaire real estate investor in San Francisco in May. The man started hiding envelopes, each with a $100 bill, around the city and used Twitter to help strangers find the money.

The “Hidden Cash” craze has spread throughout the United States and Canada. Vancouver has also seen “Hidden Beer” and “Hidden Weed,” which started June 4 and had more than 2,300 followers Monday.

“It’s making everyone happy at the beginning of summer,” said Robert Craig, who found a marijuana “prize” on Sunday. “It’s pretty funny. It’s pretty lighthearted.”

He was following the Hidden Weed Twitter account when he saw a clue indicating the marijuana was six blocks from his house.

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United States Secretly Built “Cuban Twitter” To Gather Personal Data And Foment Unrest

cubaA Cuban social media platform called ZunZuneo with tens of thousands of users was in fact an espionage project concocted by the U.S. government. Although, what social network isn’t about covert data mining? The Independent reports:

In an apparent throwback to the Cold War, the US government spent $1.6m building a social media network with the aim of undermining the communist government in Cuba, it has emerged.

Documents obtained during an investigation by the Associated Press show that the project, which lasted more than two years and drew thousands of subscribers, was built with secret shell companies and was financed through foreign banks.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was reportedly behind the project which saw the creation of a ‘Cuban Twitter’ dubbed “ZunZuneo” – slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. Users of “ZunZuneo” were entirely unaware of the involvement of the United States government agency and that American contractors were gathering personal data about them.

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How Misinformation Spreads on Facebook

RIAN archive 988824 Facebook social network's pageSarah Gray reports for Salon (via AlterNet) on research about how people on Facebook interacted with “trolls” posting false information; she says the results are depressing:

From the steady roll of theories on what happened to Malaysian Arlines Flight 370, to Sarah Palin’s “death panels” panic, to Donald Trump’s birther theories, misinformation spreads like wildfire in the age of Facebook.

In 2013, professor Walter Quattrociocchi of Northeastern University along with his team studied how more than 1 million Facebook users engaged with political information during the Italian election. During that election a post appeared titled: “Italian Senate voted and accepted (257 in favor and 165 abstentions) a law proposed by Senator Cirenga to provide policy makers with €134 billion Euros to find jobs in the event of electoral defeat.”

The post was from an Italian site that parodies the news. According to  MIT Technology Review it was filled with at least four major inaccuracies: “[T]he senator involved is fictitious, the total number of votes is higher than is possible in Italian politics, the amount of money involved is more than 10% of Italian GDP and the law itself is an invention.”

Despite the blatant falsehoods of this  parody news post, the story went viral — shared over 35,000 times in less than a month.

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On Facebook? Careful: You Can Catch a Bad Mood

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Pic: facebook log in (C)

Researchers claim that Facebook has the power to spread moods in a viral fashion. Here’s the good news, though: Positive moods spread more easily.

Via BBC News:

“What people feel and say in one place may spread to many parts of the globe on the very same day,” wrote the report’s authors.

They added the data suggests that “online social networks may magnify the intensity of global emotional synchrony”.

Positive spreads faster

Researchers have long known that emotions can be spread through people via face-to-face interaction, but the new frontier is to examine whether the effect translates to social media interactions.

The researchers – some of whom were Facebook employees at the time the research was carried out – analysed the emotional content of billions of updates posted to Facebook between January 2009 and March 2012.

To test whether emotions spread, they looked at how updates changed when it rained.

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Facebook Strike as Self-Awareness Course

Pic: Rishibando (CC)

Pic: DKalo (CC)

More than once I’ve been struck with the desire to abandon Facebook, and at least one of those times I actually deactivated my account. The reasons for my frustration have varied over the last six years or so, from their sudden formatting changes to prioritize business interests, to the way they mine user data regardless of privacy settings. Other reasons have been more personal, like not having a sufficient method for determining who gets to see the more eccentric or extreme parts of my personality, or simply feeling like I waste too much time on the site.

At the end of 2013, a new kind of Facebook frustration began creeping over me. My attempts to explain it to people only seemed to make it worse, especially because – as I realized – I was creating a paradox by using Facebook to denounce Facebook. Then in late December, I simply stopped posting.… Read the rest

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Facebook About to Lose 80% of Users

Facebook LikeFacebook users abandoning the ubiquitous sharing site in droves sounds unlikely but a serious academic study suggests it’s going to happen, reports TIME:

Facebook’s growth will eventually come to a quick end, much like an infectious disease that spreads rapidly and suddenly dies, say Princeton researchers who are using diseases to model the life cycles of social media.

Disease models can be used to understand the mass adoption and subsequent flight from online social networks, researchers at Princeton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering say in a study released Jan. 17. The study has not been peer-reviewed. Updating traditional models on disease spread to assume that “recovery” requires contact with a nondiseased member — i.e., a nonuser of Facebook (“recovered” member of the population) — researchers predicted that Facebook would see a rapid decline, causing the site to lose 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.

Basically, Facebook users will lose interest in Facebook over time as their peers lose interest..

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Scientist Searches Twitter for Time Travelers

Picture: Babbell (CC)

Picture: Babbell (CC)

Robert Nemiroff and a team of grad students at Michigan Technological University have been searching Twitter for prescient content: Information that could not have been gained without knowledge of the future.

Via Raw Story:

As Nemiroff and one of his graduate students, Teresa Wilson, note in “Searching the Internet for evidence of time travel,” travel into the future is a commonplace occurrence — you are doing it as you read these words. Even accelerated time travel into the future is “on firm scientific footing,” as demonstrated by “the twin paradox.”

Time travel to the past is “controversial, at best, and impossible according to conventional views of the laws of physics.” But both Special and General Relativity allow for the possibility, however impractical, of traveling into the past, and it is conceivable that our contemporary “conventional views of the laws of physics” may be contravened at some point in the future, thereby allowing for someone from the future to travel into their past, which would be our present.

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How Accepting A Friend Request Will Soon Alter Your Credit Score

credit scoreThe The Next Web writes that you will soon be “empowered” by having every mundane aspect of your life mined for data:

Are you only as good as the company you keep? Before you accept that next friend request, consider what that person says about you, what that association might eventually cost, or be worth – even in the financial sense.

Where you live, who you friend on Facebook, the frequency you shop at Trader Joe’s, how much you spend – all of this information will be picked up, shared, and analyzed amongst the various connected devices and services you use.

This wealth of data will also be applicable to your financial decisions. “Who you are” as a consumer will no longer be based solely on your purchases, investments or credit file, but will also consider your daily routines, such as browsing the Internet, where you shop, and more.

Technology and new services are now making it possible to incorporate entirely new, more relevant data into a credit profile — data that is mostly consumer controlled or contributed and generated by simply gathering and delivering your lifestyle data.

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