Social Media

‘Social media’ conjures up thoughts of instant internet communication, global chatter over the web, computers, mobiles, tweets, posts etc. But there is a communication form that predates these modern tools – political street art. Street art can be dated back to ancient Egypt and throughout history it has been employed by those with a political point to make.

Dead TwitterReports Lucas Shaw via Reuters:

Did social media just prematurely kill off the leader of North Korea?

Rumors that Kim Jong-un, the country’s supreme leader, has been assassinated just months after he took power originated on Chinese microblogging service Weibo and have now spread all over Twitter.

Others are reporting that Jong-un, believed to be 28 years old, may be on the run rather than dead, but both reports claim that some kind of coup is taking place.

One person on Weibo wrote (loose translation): “north korea’s biggest leader kim jung un, this morning in beijing time 2:45 am, had his residence broken into and was assassinated by unidentified people, who were shot dead by his bodyguards in korea’s embassy in beijing, vehicles are rapidly increasing in number, and have surpassed 30 of them, this sort of battle formation hasn’t been seen in over two years. please verify this.”

El Shabbab, the fundamentalist Islamic insurgency group fighting to control southern Somalia, reject most things Western and/or modern, but ironically have embraced Twitter, garnering thousands of followers. In addition to straightforward updates…

Matt Stopera writes on BuzzFeed: After Christopher Hitchens passed away, the title of his book, God Is Not Great, started trending on Twitter. Here’s how some people, mostly “Christians,” reacted: [Click above…

Last week John Pospisil, the editor of, passed away, but his Twitter feed continued updating, since he’d configured it to re-tweet all the headlines from his group technology blog. “Eventually I…

Chicken Pox PartyRight, because you’re “afraid” of vaccines, let’s deliberately put pathogens in the mail. Reports KPHO CBS 5 News:

PHOENIX — Doctors and medical experts are concerned about a new trend taking place on Facebook.

Parents are trading live viruses through the mail in order to infect their children. The Facebook group is called “Find a Pox Party in Your Area.” According to the group’s page, it is geared toward “parents who want their children to obtain natural immunity for the chicken pox.”

On the page, parents post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail. Parents also use the page to set up play dates with children who currently have chicken pox. Medical experts say the most troubling part of this is parents are taking pathogens from complete strangers and deliberately infecting their children. stemming from the inevitable confusion over marital duties in the internet age, via Yahoo! News:

A 36-year-old Texas man has pleaded not guilty to battery charges after allegedly attacking his estranged wife for failing to “Like” a status update he posted to Facebook.

Benito Apolinar had posted an update to his Facebook page about the anniversary of his mother’s death. Angry that the post had elicited no response from his wife of 15 years, he confronted her after dropping off their children at her home in Carlsbad, New Mexico on Tuesday.

“That’s amazing everyone ‘Likes’ my status but you, you’re my wife. You should be the first one to ‘Like’ my status,” he allegedly told her before punching her in the cheek and pulling her hair.

Google and Facebook would have you believe that you’re a mirror, that there is one reflection that you have, this one idea of self. But in fact we’re more like diamonds, you can look at people from any angle and see something totally different.

4chan founder Chris Poole discusses the problem with personal identity as conceived by Facebook and Google. Basically, that they expect us to maintain a single, consistent persona throughout life, which is not how we actually exist:

Sal LabarberaSimone Wilson writes on LA Weekly:

Local arts blog LA Taco is fuming over the “callous” Twitter activity of LAPD Homicide Detective Sal LaBarbera. (As of December 2007, according to the Los Angeles Times, La Barbera was “a 20-year homicide veteran who heads the Watts homicide squad in LAPD’s South Bureau.”)

LaBarbera is certainly active on Twitter — throwing out RTs, #FFs and hashtags like he was born to the social-media generation. (The detective is also big on @ing journalists from local news stations and the Times.) His handle on the medium is pretty impressive for a weathered murder cop…

… and right out ahead of other police departments’ slow struggle to incorporate social media into their investigative work.

Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff explains why limiting access to social networks is not the answer to preventing riots, for CNN: In the past, people seemed to require a massive “cue” to form…

NYPDRocco Parascandola reports in the NY Daily News:

The NYPD has formed a new unit to track troublemakers who announce plans or brag about their crimes on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. Newly named Assistant Commissioner Kevin O’Connor, one of the department’s online and gang gurus, has been put in charge of the new juvenile justice unit. He and his staff will mine social media, looking for info about troublesome house parties, gang showdowns and other potential mayhem, sources said.

The power of social media to empower both criminals and cops has been on full display in London this week, where riots and looting have been spreading dramatically. The rioters have been using Twitter and BlackBerry messages to choose targets for looting or burning – and to alert one another about police positions.