Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Three Gems From the Web - Every Tuesday (18)

Hello and happy Tuesday,

I figured since we will be staying a little more time inside as the cold season is approaching, we might need some good laugh every now and then. Therefore, today I will be proposing three funny and witty Instagram accounts that could sprinkle some humor into your feeds for the winter. Hope you enjoy them:

1. Quarter Life Poetry - is basically a female targeted satire that is accompanied by various drawings or animations to round up the good jokes. They also have an online store where you can buy various items with the messages they create on them. I find them inspiring, creative, and definitely fun.

2. Insta-Chaz - has been recently featured in a BBC interview. This is how I discovered his account and I think it is brilliant. He draws stick-men on post-it notes. That simple. His parallel account Mr. Whale features a whale drawn on post-it notes in various "circumstances". Check him out, you're going to like him.  

3. Girl with no job - by Claudia Oshry is hilarious. She is just making fun of dating disasters, workout procrastinating, and the sort, but she is a real phenomenon with over 2 million followers. 

That's it.

Have a nice week!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Big Data or Big Brother?

Social media is all about trading one's personal information. When you register online you actually choose to provide your personal data (name, email, photos, names of relatives and friends etc.) in return for a service that allows you for a fast and easy way to be in contact with your loved ones. 

As Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the US Center for Digital Democracy puts it: "Facebook’s vision of its member base is a bunch of people naked, exposed and targeted at will by anyone who wants to do so". And indeed this is quite a correct overall picture.

But this is not the main issue here. Indeed there is a lot of information we are willingly providing to social media platforms. We might even say that they know more about us than some of our close relatives or neighbors. But their business model is based on trading our personal information in exchange for profits. As just selling our data will not work for different reasons, a lot of other information is collected about us (behavioral tracking). Selling our social and potentially economic behavior seems to be very lucrative so social media platforms and advertisers are collecting other types of data about us, as they are outlining our social profile so that advertising companies can provide us targeted commercials with the aim of increasing the sales of their clients.
And this is how the big data behind social media is created. Wikipedia says "big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy". The big data behind social media is all about us, about our preferences, about our desires, our likes and dislikes, finally about our life.
This kind of big data created a big controversy (still ongoing today) related to ethics and privacy of collecting such data.

As regards ethics, the issue is the following: Is it fair that our social behaviors are traded as common goods? Is it fair that we are stripped of our right to make informed and free decisions. We are offered advertisements based on what  the advertisers think we want, suppressing offers for products that we might be really interested in. How relevant are targeted advertisements is still very debatable today. It happens to me often to visit a certain product or company's website, without the real intention to buy something and then get tens of targeted advertisements of that particular product/company. I do have the impression that in most of the cases their algorithms are too simple or they make wrong assumptions based on the multitude of data that serves as input. Or it might happen that the algorithms are good, but the range of companies/products or advertisers that embrace this practice is low, so they just serve you what they have.

Besides this, opting out of the tracking is impossible at this point, as no platform offers this solution (except in some paid services) and, in the absence of any legal framework, that cannot protect users against abusive behavior.

As regards privacy, the idea is also rather simple. Although you know you are being tracked and you do provide your consent for the use and sharing of such behavioral data, you never know exactly to whom are they shared with, to what purpose and how they're going to be used. This can give rise to certain abuses (sharing towards companies that will misuse the data) or accidents (data breaches that can lead to public disclosure). There is also the problem of anonymity. Although most trackers claim to track anonymously we know that this is very hard to achieve or very easy to brake, if intended. We have seen some progress in this area in recent years as platforms provide more options on privacy management, but only for data that you agree to share consciously and not for behavior data, that is being tracked through different means. For this data you might also have some options, but only in selecting between various types of commercials that you want to see (see Facebook’s or Google's ad preferences pages), not for opting out  the commercials or stop the tracking all together.

US digital ad spending by device 2013-2019


This business model is highly unlikely to change in the near future as platforms earn their profits mainly from these activities (see picture and the rise of mobile). Nevertheless actions against it are being taken by multiple stakeholders and the user tracking industry is changing right before our eyes.
On the one hand, there are applications that you can use to filter the types of ads platforms will serve you. Opting out from all of them will not mean you will not get any more ads but you will not get targeted ads (one example here). Basically, all platforms offer such features, but tracking is also done by other advertising companies through different other means. In some cases the opt-out is just not there.

There are also some apps that claim on showing you what platforms know about your preferences. One example is here, in a form of a Chrome plugin. Based on this input you can see what your potential profile is and try to change your behavior in such a way that you can fool the trackers. But with what effort and what could be the  outcome?

There are also the apps within the category called "ad-blockers". They will remove most of the ads, delete some of the cookies and try to keep advertisers away from you. You can find many apps of this sort, a useful example might be found here.

All in all, a big battle is carried out there in the Internetosphere for us, the consumers, and our economic behavior. New tracking technologies are on the rise and also new blockers. Legislation is trying to keep up, but it seems to lag at least one step behind (see EU Cookie Directive). Since the stakes are on us, the consumers, we'd better pay more attention to this in the future. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (17)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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This past week I've been watching interesting talks from world-class events themed around technology, social media and the internet era. Since I find some of my discoveries to be so powerful and so useful, I felt eager to share them with you, and what better opportunity than The Tuesday series "Three Gems from the Web".

But first, a little reminder of why I do this series and to what end? I started it roughly 20 weeks ago (I skipped a few weeks) mainly as a means of becoming useful to you, my beloved visitors. I believe that the older we grow, the more we value our time, and in this ocean of options and information flooding coming our ways, suggestions of good, interesting, quirky, actionable content can be useful to all of us. I've made a habit of asking my friends and the people I meet to suggest great internet resources, and I am sending your way my best discoveries. None of the entries are sponsored in any way. On the contrary, I try my best to include mainly free resources, but sometimes, the paid ones are worthwhile investing in.  And remember, nothing good is ever really for free ...
The bottom line is: I am not trying to sell you anything, I am only trying to be useful and get you engaged with our content because I believe that our choices speak louder than our words.

As for the gem events that I found in the last couple of weeks, here are our three picks:

1. The Nantucket Project - Originally founded in 2010 by Tom Scott and Kate Brosnan, this event is a business, tech and cultural conference held on the Nantucket island in Massachusetts in a tent overlooking the harbor. Great minds gather there every year to discuss on the state of the world with a broad topic as a topic for each year. The organizers offer some subsidized places for students and scholars, but the fees are on the expensive side. Nonetheless, there is plenty of material that you can check and learn from on the social media channels. Here s their YouTube channel.

2. Mastermind talks - Is a entrepreneurship conference but has such a humane and balanced approach that it really impressed me. Attendance is quite selective but there is plenty of material on all social media platforms from past events, that are incredibly valuable. Jayson Gaignard, the mastermind of Mastermind Talks is a person worth checking out, too.

3. CeBIT - I thought it might be nice to add a huge and interesting European event. CeBIT is a German technology fair and conference that addresses everyone interested in technology and innovation. It is more of a conventional event than the previous two but it is also much more affordable. It also holds a special panel for bloggers, which I find very interesting.

There are plenty more out there, and I am sure I am still to discover some of the best ones. But, in case you don't know of these three, and are interested in keeping up with the technology game (and not only technology), they are worthwhile checking out.

Sending good vibes your way!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Facebook Live Map - Some empirical findings ...

I don't know how aware you are about the Facebook Live Map. but if you haven't noticed it, it sits quietly in your left bar on the desktop version of your  Facebook Page, It is the first one in the APPS tab. And, be advised, once you dive in, your worldview might change forever.

It is, basically, a map of the world that is highlighting all the live broadcasts that happen on Facebook, in real time.

I find it astonishingly clarifying, and so might you, if you are curious about the ways society works in the digital era. Recently, I've spent a good few hours (maybe days) on this platform and creeped in other people's live broadcasts so as to get a probe of how people around the world like to showcase their lives. Here are my first 10 purely empirical conclusions:

1. Stereotypes - If you aren't a very nuanced analyst of the world, Facebook Live Map will definitely substantiate your stereotypes. What I am trying to say is that you will find a lot of "in your face" content, exuberance, diversity. People are still testing the platform not realizing how exposed they really get, so they would flirt, smoke, swear, sing, hate or preach with little self awareness; they are truly raw.

2. Countries mysteriously missing - For some reason, Canada doesn't appear on the map. I wonder why? I could not find an explanation online. Help me out!

3. Professional broadcasting - The Western countries, especially the US, show the largest percent of professional broadcasting of all the regions. Although it makes a whole lot of sense for media companies to use this technological opportunity, Eastern Europe, for instance seems clueless in this respect.I haven't seen one company in Romania (my home country) broadcasting live on Facebook while I was looking (by professional I mean conferences, radio or TV shows, lectures, sermons, shows, etc).

4. Mobile data traffic prices  - If you pay attention you can distinguish really easily which countries have affordable mobile data traffic and which don't. How? By analyzing how many outdoors broadcasting people actually make. For instance, US seems much more affordable than Latin America, and Romania seems definitely more affordable than Greece. Just saying ...

5. South East Asia - Is booming with Facebook Live contrary to my expectation. I would have expected that they would be more restrained but they are not. They are also very imaginative with its use. I came across people broadcasting their TV screen transmitting a film or a sports event and commenting it. They also seem to have huge follower numbers as opposed to Europe, at least for the moment.

6. Regional particularities - Appear ever more prominent.As you can imagine, crossing borders is the easiest thing to do on Facebook Live Map. While doing so, the overarching feeling is that languages sound alike, people are alike and behave alike.

I will give you an example: all Scandinavian people go to bed earlier than the Brits, the Dutch or the French. Or, at least, they don't feel any urge to go live at midnight.

7. Middle East - Is all male, but, on the other hand, I went and checked, and the gender imbalance in this region starts with the very creation of a Facebook account. They are, on average, 75% male to 25% female Facebook users in the Middle East.

8. Romania - Is aching with "manele"(Oriental inspired music generally played by the roma/gypsy  minority and associated with a certain lack of culture and bad taste) and bad language.

9. Urban vs. Rural - Urban areas, especially capital cities, are predominant across the globe.

10. New York is awesome even on Facebook Live :))

I will answer the question you are probably thinking of: why does this matter at all?
I would say that Facebook Live Map is an incredibly interesting tool, that can help you explore the world, prepare for the world, and ultimately get exposed, either shamed or appraised. Please don't get me wrong, I am not trying to be judgmental in any way. I cherish the courage and the selflessness of the people who experiment with Facebook Live. I wish I could be this authentic. Nonetheless, for those interested in the social, at a global scale, this tool allows an incredible window for observation.

Let us know what is your opinion about Facebook Live Map. Do you enjoy it? Do you find any use for it?

Thursday, 29 September 2016

I'm Going to Webstock 2016!


Tomorrow I will be breathing the same air and thinking about the same topics as Adrian Hadean, George Buhnici, Dana Rogoz, Vlad Petreanu, Bromania, Zoso, Cristian China Birta and many more (sorry, names appealing only to my Romanian audience).

And that is because tomorrow I am participating to the new Webstock edition, the most important social media conference in Romania.

The conference speakers are amazing and the organizers are preparing a few surprises, so, if you are interested, go on and check them out on the event website or on their social media.

If you are into social media and live in Romania, you have no excuse not to come and join the event; you can still sign up, or watch the event online on the website.

You can also get involved through voting your own Online Personality of the Year by entering the app here . The winners in this category as well as other categories included in the competition will be announced in the event Gala carried out on the 30th of September at the JW Marriott Hotel in Bucharest. Whoever wants to participate to the Gala can solicit their own free invitation from the organizers, details here..

Webstock is an event organized by Evensys and Vodafone in cooperation with Bitdefender, HP, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Raiffeisen Bank, LG, Staropramen and Siviero Maria.

I will come back with a full account of my experience there, for sure.

Have a happy Thursday. Let me know if any of you will be there tomorrow.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (16)

Hello there,

My favorite things to share, whether on the blog or on my social media account are useful things with a twist. I don't encounter them every week, but when I do, I cannot wait to spread the word and shout out "Good job!" to those who have put them there. I have a few previous posts that are by all means useful. You can check them out  here and here if you happen to like this one. And if you do, do not forget to let us know (it is always so fulfilling to get positive feedback) and share it with your own network.

Without further ado, here are this week's gems:

1. BugMeNot   - is an incredibly useful website. What it does is give you access to shared sign in credentials (username/email and passwords) so that you don' give your details to all the websites you want to check out. This is especially useful as websites now monetize their content through selling their email list to advertising companies, so signing up to a free website, as useful as it might be, will fill your inbox in no time. The downside is that not all the passwords do still work, and not all the websites are yet covered. nonetheless, for the big websites you have plenty of options to chose from. To use it, go to the website and type in the website address and get your bug free sign in details.

2. Soon - this is an app I've been using for the last week. First heard of it from Kevin Rose's monthly journal which I highly recommend. What it does is help you mark down the websites, movies, books, podcasts or restaurants you plan on checking out. Nonetheless, it is more than a notebook as it allows you to check what others are planning to check out in a "trending" section organized by category. thus you can watch the movie trailer directly in the app, or even listen to trending podcasts (my favorite section).

3. Instructables - is a website for creative and crafty people that would like to spend some time building their own interesting and twisted DIYs. It allows you to download the instructions or to view them online. It also works as a sharing community, if you log in you can join groups, share your own instructions, publish articles or like and share others'. Don't forget to sign in via BugMeNot (testi88/hans34).

Enjoy our gems and happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Three Gems of the Web - Every Tuesday (15)

Hello there,

This week's picks are all about home decor and interior design, so if you aren't into this, there isn't much you could learn from today's post. Nonetheless, if you like redecorating, plan on redecorating or want to spice up your place in the near future, you will love my suggestions. They are all YouTube channels, so plenty of material to go through, but believe me, it won't be a waste of your time, at all. What other beautiful way to spend your free time than watching beautiful and inspiring videos?

Robeson Design channel - this is a YouTube channel for those who are looking for more chic and high end designs. The designer and her team will reveal gorgeous California mansions redecorating, but if you dig through her channel you will find plenty of videos in which she will teach design principles, interior design on a budget and even using software such as SketchUp to design your dream home/room.

MrKate - is a DIY/fashion/lifestyle videoblogger  but she has a million of videos strictly concerning home design. The protagonist, Mr Kate and her husband, filmed a series called "OMG We Bought a House" and another one called "OMG We're Coming Over". I suggest you started with these and then you will get hooked. They have a fresh and eclectic way of designing interior spaces that I am sure you will find very inspiring.

BBC Design Rules - if you haven't seen this, you  are missing out. It's the best and fastest way to learn about interior design in the whole wide world. It is a series of 6 episodes available on YouTube going through the principles of interior design that every home owner should know. The filming is impressing, the information is overwhelmingly abundant and useful, and the watching is easy and entertaining. If you are not convinced by my first two choices, try this first: Space and Planning . It is that good!

I hope you find my suggestions useful, if not today, maybe at some point when you will be owning your dream home. So don't forget to bookmark our blog to easily get back to this post, or give us a like on our Facebook page @NewSocialMediaGeek!

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Social Media News of the Week - YouTube demonetization scandal and more ...

Hello there,

I am publishing this week's social media news as picked up from social media. I figured I could do this for you since I am reading all there is about it anyway. I am still trying to figure out which day of the week might work best for you, therefore I am publishing it on Thursday this week. Let us know what you prefer, Mondays or Thursdays?

LinkedIn - publisher changes layout features - new sleek and shiny interface with
drop in/ embed capabilities for slides, podcasts (a link to an audio file),

Snapchat - have removed local stories (curated stories in select large urban communities, such as LA or NYC) they will be focusing on events stories (content around a big/massive global event).
They are also stepping up the add game to become more profitable, and, for fear of losing their users, they will roll only 3 adds a day per user and they are also to include skip add buttons.

Pinterest - former head of Google image search is now head of engineering at Pinterest to support future changes in their strategy. They are soon to introduce a native video player so as to make shopping pins possible as well as cinematic pins (it appears they will be looking like GIFs)
It seems that they will be doing their best to keep you on the site longer and to sell you more stuff directly on the platform. Meanwhile, 80% of content on Pinteres is re-pins (professional marketers' content and not user generated content) Woooaaa! - They are finally admitting that they are an advertising platform and according to the envisaged stratgey they will start looking more and more like Amazon. Find more here in an interview with Pinterest president.

Google - shop the look available on native google search, only on mobile and only in the US. Basically, you will see adds attached to images that pop up in your search results that will allow direct links to the clothing items you can see in the images.

Instagram - First of all, they are killing photo map. I've never seen it, so I do not know much about it, other that it tracked the places where you took the photos you publish on Instagram. Not very safe, I would say...
- they will be included natively on the new Iphone - they appeared at the Apple Event and disclosed having worked with Apple to develop GIF features, zoom and filters especially geared towards making the best use of the Iphone 7+ technical capabilities,
- the keyword moderation tool is finally here, rolled out to all its users. You can read more on Venturebeat and see my opinion on it here.

Facebook vertical videos went live for adds only. They are also testing a new feature - "what friends are talking about?" that will pick up conversations in your friends list and pop them at the top of your newsfeed.

Youtube -  recently had a not too little demonetization scandal. Video creators just became aware of the fact that YouTube has been sorting through the video content and pulling out clips that they weren't considering add worthy for various reasons (language, theme, topic, etc). As a consequence, Youtubers didn't get paid for those videos in spite of their traffic. Once they started getting notified about their demonetization issues, they started  protesting and declaring it a form of censorship. What is indeed troubling is that they are using an algorithm, and not human moderation, and creators have little chances to appeal the robots' decision, On another note, they've started testing a new community button with select creators for now that will allow creators to share photo and text on top of their videos and get their subscribers notified about their updates.Here is a link to an explanatory video

Twitter - direct messages now include read receipts, typing indicators and web link previews looking more and more like a messaging app. It also started sending out alerts when someone in your network is live streaming  Read more here.

Apple - well, there is a lot to say about the new Apple launches, but I will leave the tech guys do this, I am only mentioning that with the Apple iOS 10 update Siri will be able to search Pinterest, send message on Whatsapp or LinkedIn, send money on Squarecash and plenty more. That is cool and scary at the same time.

Thank you very much for reading, and remember: likes are great, shares are even better! :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (14)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

This week I am in a happy mood, in part because I am travelling, but also because of this week's three picks. They are three gems to bring a little playfulness and inspiration to our lives. I am sure you will like them once you give them a try:

1. Pick number one is my favorite of the three, is an app/game/website called It is an interactive and innovative platform that will require your basic drawing skills to create beautiful and entertaining story lines. Start by trying episode one and two on the website to get a sense of what it is, and then, go on and opt for one of the available apps to play the full game.

2. Zoobe -  is an app that allows you to create beautiful animated messages to share with friends, family or colleagues that will turn your voice message into a beautiful and amusing cartoon. You have plenty of characters to chose from, and the videos you will create will be very vivid and professional looking. The app is free and available on all platforms. All you need is a good occasion and a little imagination.

3. Makeup Genius - an app developed by L'Oreal to enable women to try on their products before buying them online, is much more fun than it seems. You literally try on lipstick or eye makeup just by holding your phone in front of your face. To give you a sense of how it works, it is very much like the stickers on Snapchat, only that they apply makeup. It is funny and for women could be even useful, at some point, as you can discover new makeup options or L'Oreal products that you like. And yes, make sure, when picking the country you live in, to opt for US or UK so that the selection of products you can try on is the largest available.

These are my weekly picks. Have fun and please try out at least one of them. You will like them for sure!

My best!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (13)

Hello, hello,

Since I figure you are at least a little bit interested in social media, and so as to invite you to think further about its impact, I want to propose three films that have to do with social media, or the future of social media. I would be delighted if you already saw any of these three and you would want to start a conversation on them.

But, without further ado, here are this week's picks:

1. Disconnect - is a very touching and profound film. 

It's been released in 2012 and I think we first watched it 2 years ago. We liked it enough to recommend it to all our friends and family. It makes you think about social media and the way it gets us connected. I am sure you will like it if you take the time to see it.

2. Her - I am not linking the trailer for this one for fear that it would take ages to open this page, but here is the IMDb link. This film isn't particularly plausible right now, but could be in the very near future. It's the story of a man falling in love with an AI. 

3. Inside experience - I am not sure you are familiar with the social film concept. If you are not, read more here. Inside, is thus, a 2011 social film thriller financed by Intel and Toshiba, with the scope of marketing their new laptop release.  It was directed and written by D. J. Caruso and starred Emmy Rossum as Christina. The film was broken into several segments across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Viewers were then challenged to help Christina successfully survive her predicament. The first part of the series premiered on July 25, 2011 for anyone participating in the “real-time experience”. The whole film became available for online viewing on September 6, 2011. Below is the link to the entire film and details of it's making can be found here

Enjoy watching these wonderful films ad let us know what you think!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Social Media News of the Week: You can finally zoom in on Instagram ... and more

Hello there,

Since we're spending so much time trying to understand the social media world and to scratch under the surface so as to get the subtleties and, hopefully, the tendencies of this great human and technological  phenomenon, we thought it might be a good idea to let you know on the latest news that we come across in this area. We thought it could be a way to help you up your game in the social media, or make your journey more pleasant. Let us know what you think.


I am going to start with the biggest news: you can finally zoom in on Instagram photos and videos. Yes, you can now enlarge by pinching it with your fingers. Just go ahead and try it or read  more details here. They are also stepping up the Instagram Stories game with new tweaks and improved discoverability. Since, according to Instagram 1/5 of the users habitually stay on the Search and  Explore tab, Instagram is planning to roll out an algorithm that will include stories suggestions specifically aimed at your interests as drawn from the way you engage with the platform.


Is planning to start sharing revenue with video creators (more details here). They've recently launched a US only feature to include pre-rolled video adds before the Twitter videos and offer up to 70% of the revenues to video creators. If you are in the US and publish video on Twitter go ahead and read further here .


Facebook has started showcasing vertical videos on mobile, for now in live streams and in adds, but soon to be seen all over our news feeds. Apparently they will still be cropped in the news feed although they would still be larger than the horizontal video. This is a good tip for drawing more attention to your videos, in vertical. It seems that Facebook doesn't shy on following all the right moves Snapchat has done.


After being criticized over and over again about its lack of searchability, LinkedIn is finally introducing searchable and clickable hashtags, for the moment, only for the mobile versions.


Has recently launched several creator studios across the globe. They are basically branded video studios where selected youtubers can go and film and create content for the platform. For this matter, LA and New York have special studios dedicated to the US presidential elections. This move is particularly interesting when looking ahead at the future of video sharing platforms. They will probably start professionalizing video creators so as to achieve higher quality content.

Pokemon Go:

Announces a new feature that allows players to pick their favorite Pokémon from their own collection and become best friends with them, helping them earn in-game rewards. The Buddy Pokémon will appear next to the Trainer avatar on the profile screen, and can be switched any time. Details, like whether or not a Buddy Pokémon might help catch other Pokémon, are scarce at the moment. But, Niantic has promised the buddy system will go live soon. Check out more details here.

That is it for now!

Hope you'll find this info useful. Don't forget to share to support our growth.

Have a happy happy week!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Holy Church of Facebook

I feel like I have been dreaming for a good few hundred years and just woke up to learn that Mark Zuckerberg and his respectable wife just visited Vatican and talked to the Pope about eradicating poverty through providing access to the internet via drones.

They had the appearance of a royal family travelling the world and preaching about fighting world hunger, and while the Pope was true to his gentle and humane image, Facebook CEO wore a black tie and looked starstruck. The imagery was not too bad in itself, but the idea still dazzles me. I can see some connection between the internet and battling poverty, but none whatsoever with the Catholic Church. Not to the extent to which a huge religious icon should endorse another huge icon, this time coming from Silicon Valley, with the aim to support world domination of the latter.Of course, I am using big words, but be advised that they are not too far from the humongous ambitions of the two protagonists.

Furthermore, the Internet in general, and social media, in particular, have little to do with sanctity or religiousness and Mr Zuckerberg is neither a royalty nor a philanthropist, but the CEO of a multi billion worth company.

Then, what is in it for the Vatican? It might be access to Facebook's precious big data, or an image stunt to further elate the popularity of the Pope. Maybe they planned a huge project together or a deal to curate Facebook content so as to protect the already shattered image of the Catholic Church. There is plenty they could have planned together, nevertheless, the Church's interest in putting on this "show" is not obvious at all. The Pope would have been equally praised had he declared " People should cherish real connection and communion with the Church instead of social media superfluous and time consuming connectivity" or "... use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and make a message of hope arrive, especially to those most in need." which he actually declared through his spokesman Greg Burke. So why did the Vatican accept to convey to Facebook owner such a huge endorsement?

I would love to hear your opinion on this. Let us know in the comments bellow or on our Facebook page @newsocialmediageek.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (12)

Hi there,

This week's three gems are here. Let us know if you already enjoy them.

1. Spotify: is an app aimed at the music passionate that love browsing through songs and discovering new and exciting tunes. Although there are several good options out there, Spotify is for sure one of the best. It gives you access to an entire world of music, more than you can possibly grasp. The premium version is based on a subscription fee (around 7 euro/month), but you can try it for free for the first 7 days. The best way to go around it is to download in this trial period your favorite music that will remain available for you to listen offline.

Another cool thing to do is, once you have a Spotify account and you are well past discovering and downloading your favorites, head on to Forgotify, a branch out of the initial app, that puts on display unheard, indie, fringe, hipstery music, that will keep you away from mainstream but will also get you engaged and inspired. 

2. Google translate - the app. I might have proposed it before, but even if I did, I cannot stress enough how brilliant this free Google tool is, and how much is changing our worldview. I've been long aware of its features except for the speech input option, which, for some reason, I've been missing.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I am struggling to learn Greek. Well, I hear a lot of words or phrases that I am not sure what they mean and up until now had no chance of finding out because I didn't know how to spell them either. Well now, I just speak them into my phone and, voila! A whole new level. The best part is that your phone can act as your personal translator, you just have to ask people to talk into your phone. If you are traveling abroad you must have this app into your phone. 

3. Pwned - it's a website that collects the email addresses and usernames exposed by various high-profile hacks and that will let you know if your personal data has been compromised. You simply have to enter an email address or username you commonly use and the site will cross-check it against recent data breaches, telling you which companies leaked your data and which types of data have been leaked. 

Let us know if you like our suggestions and please feel free to add your own in the comments bellow or on our Facebook page @newsocialmediageek.

Have a great Tuesday and a "big" week ahead!

Friday, 26 August 2016

8 Things That I Can Do on Social Media That I Wish I Could Do in Real Life

Not everything that exists on social media is necessarily worse than real life. There are a whole lot of things that we can do online that we cannot do in real life, and that is probably why we became all addicted in such a short time. Here are my eight picks. Please regard them in a humorous note and feel free to add your own in the comments bellow or on our Facebook Page @newsocialmediageek.

1. Unfollow people: - It is never easy to let go of the negative people in our lives, especially if they live in our proximity. We can all imagine how handy it would be to have an "unfollow" button at work... right?

2. Make myself look 10 years younger: - I wish I had a magic brush that would wipe a good few years off my face that I could use in the mornings, just as you can use FaceTune when posting on social media.
3. Delete something I say: - This is probably the most obvious feature that we would all like to have in real life, retract something we say, than edit our words to perfection. What a powerful tool would that be?
4. Talk to people while on the toilet: - according to a survey published on  92% of social media users checked Facebook while in the bathroom, 49% texted and 30% answered the phone. While I have no true desire to talk to real people while in the bathroom, I enjoy being able to use my time to the max.
5. Sneaking in to see how my boss's husband looks like: - I swear I have nothing to confess, but even if I did such a thing, nobody would know :) ... God bless social media for this opportunity!
6. Get 200 birthday wishes in a day and still be able to blow the candles at the end: - I remember many years back, when I used to be popular (:-)) and social media used to be fringe, I got a lot of "Happy Birthday" calls on my birthday (not even close to 200, though). This activity used to be very draining and occupied a lot of my day, to the extent that when it was finally party time I was exhausted (although very happy). This is not the case anymore. I get most of my good wishes on social media and then, I have plenty of time to stick to the important stuff (i.e. feeling sorry for myself :) ).
7. Brag about superficial things to a few hundred people at the same time without looking (too) bad: - there is no other instance in real life where bragging is so acceptable and so easy. And let's be honest, deep down, we all like to brag. Well, maybe if somebody invented a Bragging World Summit...
8. Let know all your exes, at the same time, that you got engaged: - Imagine how awkward it would be to call/text your exes and let them know that you are off the market and they should quit calling you late at night when they get drunk. Good job Facebook, you've made our lives much easier.

Let us know if you enjoyed this post.

Happy weekend everybody!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (11)

Hello there,

Mondays are the "spring" of every week, they are those first mouthfuls of an incredible gelato cone, they are the first minutes of your workout or the first tunes of a song you love.

That is why every Monday I start pumped with loads of inspiration for the blog, with several topics I want to put out and write about. But this Monday is special, is the Monday after a two week holiday in a paradise. Thus the motivation, inspiration and drive are at alarming rates. So, stay tuned, if you want a slice of that :)

This week's picks are quite random but very inspiring and addictive.

1. Prisma - this is a photo editor app, but a special one. It uses colors and geometric patterns to turn your pictures into artwork. This tool is so great to create a distinctive image of yourself or a scenery, it has several interesting filters and built in buttons to share with your friends on Facebook and Instagram. A downside is that it is getting very popular and I often got, in the last few weeks, a message from the developer that the app is not working due to too much traffic.

2. IChoose - is an app that I use whenever I want to let the universe decide for me. It's a simple app that will toss a coin or roll a dice for you when you don't have them handy. You can even play rock-paper-scissors.

3. Dashlane - is a password manager app that also works as a digital wallet in the sense that you can save your receipts and credit card info in a secure, encrypted and free app. It will basically make your life much easier. You will only have to remember one login for all your accounts and it will auto login for you without any hurdles. I am not an expert in password manager apps, by no means, but it is endorsed by the New York Times and Forbes, so it must be at least above average.

I hope you like my choices for the week and that you are well and rested after a wonderful holiday.

Have a happy Tuesday!

PS: In case you are wondering why I was rambling about Mondays, well, I write this post on Mondays almost every week, that is why.

PS2: Yes, it is us in the Prisma pictures, on a boat on our recent holiday.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Instagram Is Introducing User Generated Censorship

Today's post is about Instagram's coming move to introduce new features available for the public, giving them the ability to censor comments, or to disable them all together. Users will be given the possibility to define words, phrases or emoticons that they don't want to appear in their profile comments. Also, Instagram will introduce the option to disable comments for specific posts. Here is a shot of what the feature might look like from a test made on a brand profile.


According to Washington Post and The Verge, these new features are currently tested and are due to roll out to all users in the coming weeks. This initiative is part of a generalized concern on all social media platforms towards fighting harassment. But will this move succeed in stopping harassment or will it rather hinder communication?

I am about to make a rather philosophical argument, but bare with me for a moment. Let's assume that all social media platforms will follow Instagram's example and give the users the power to censor their walls, picture comments and so on? What would this lead to?

Let's see! First of all, it would lead to fewer conversations, overall. People would make use of the new technical features to block communication when the feedback they'd receive wouldn't suit their expectations. Whereas in any communication handbook you would find that feedback in itself, positive or not, is good because it gives you a chance to adjust yourself to your peers and to alter your behavior for the better, when circumstances ask for it. If given a chance to dismiss the negative feedback in a legit way, supported by technology, some users would be ripped of the benefits of negative feedback translated into self improvement.

Secondly, it is not only the given censoring user who is consuming the content on their profile, actually, it is mainly the others who consume their content. That means that all the learning benefits that other people's embarrassment, bullying and even harassment experiences will disappear, and social media will start resembling less and less the real world. Indeed, people would witness less harassment, I will give them that, but they would also be confronted with less challenging situations that would have helped them grow, they would witness less bravery, less compelling argumentation, and less resolutions, overall.

Finally, one might argue that the changes are not that drastic, because you can already remove comments from your profiles. That is indeed a good point, but let's have a closer look.

  • Up until now, instances of people removing inconvenient comments were seen as inappropriate.  Now, suddenly, Instagram tells us it isn't the case anymore.
  • Censoring the feedback you receive, in an automatic way, will not allow comments to go up at all, which is not the case now, when you have to diligently remove the "bad" comments as they come, involving an actual human being acting in a relatively rational way. 
  • Contrary to the stated purpose of the feature, censoring will not be generally used against harassment, but against open debate, embarrassment, competitors, all of which aren't in fact felonies, but mere acts of life.
All in all, we are still to see what is coming and how it will end up being used. My concern is that these little incremental changes take the social media world in a strange direction, one that will not resemble real life anymore. And, given that, will all those kids that live their lives submerged in these platforms, remain fit for the real harsh world? 

I would love to hear your opinion on this. I promise that I will update this post with any strong points you will be raising.

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Three Gems from the Web - Every Tuesday (10)

Free Books App

I know most of you are on holidays right now, successfully using all the apps that I suggested in my previous post.

Today I would like to focus on reading, an activity that each and any of us should be doing more and more often, especially while relaxing on a sunbed or breathing the fresh air in a beautiful mountain resort.

Therefore, I have searched the web trying to be resourceful and found these 3 amazing appsthat I hope you will find useful:

1. Free Books - Ultimate Classics Library: available on both iOS and Android, this app provides 23,469 free classic books, written and/or audio books (and you have to know how much I love audio books). You can search and browse through the library smoothly, the app works really well with very few adds, and, most importantly, the reader is incorporated. Best part: it's free!

2. Oodles Books - the description on iTunes states: 50000 free books and audio books. The same principle as for the app above but with more adds (pop-up adds and in between book listings adds) but there are also more books. There's also an integrated reader, but not as appealing.

3. Blinkist - have you heard about this app? It is AWESOME! Especially if you are into non-fiction books. It is basically an app that gives you access to summaries of the best non-fiction books ever (well, not all of them, their library has around 1500 titles) in both written and audio. I've read or heard once that the best way to learn something is to follow-on an audio book (read while you are listening to the audio). It works for me. And they are good summaries indeed. Give it a try if you are planning a professional or personal revolution this fall. It will get you inspired, to say the least.

Happy summer you all. 

Hope you take advantage of the free time and read a little. It's a good time investment.

    Friday, 29 July 2016

    Terrorism and Social Media

    Terrorist attacks have become an ordinary happening in today's world. The more they happen, the less affected we become and the less willing to do something about it. Though, if you give it a little thought, you might realize that terrorists are a Facebook user or a google search away from you, your household and your loved ones. Indeed, terrorists are all over social media, using it to achieve the most terrifying objectives.

    Social media plays a tremendous role in reaching out to as many people as possible with low costs. This is an incentive for almost any type of organization, including the less legitimate ones, such as the those  perpetrating terrorism. According to an article in The Telegraph terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda have totally embraced the web and are using it at full capacity for propaganda, recruitment and fund raising. Reportedly, ISIS has a very open approach by being active on most of the social media platforms. According to an article entitled "Terror on Twitter" P.W. Singer and Emerson Brooking wrote that ISIS' posting activity has reached a peak of almost 40,000 tweets in one day, in 2014, during their invasion of the Mosul city in Iraq, when they simultaneously launched a Twitter hashtag campaign #AllEyesonISIS. Content such as video and images is daily uploaded by foot soldiers and then shared globally. In contrast, Al-Qaeda has kept a more reserved presence on social media that relies more on anonymization techniques. The same article mentions:

    "Within hours, images of ISIS barbarity spread throughout the Arab world, sowing fear among Mosul’s residents and defenders. The social-media campaign gave an air of inevitability to the looming seizure of the city, and the atrocities that would follow. Despite the fact that they outnumbered the attacking ISIS force by 15-to-1, the Iraqi army units defending Mosul disintegrated and fled. A militia of no more than 2,000 ISIS fighters captured a city of 1.5 million."

    Another article entitled "Social Media, Recruitment, Allegiance and the Islamic State" by Scott Gates and Sukanya Podder tries to render how the terrorists are using social media nowadays. It seems that ISIS has a media agency Al Hayat that has developed an "effective virtual propaganda machinery". They are constantly releasing videos and other materials that show insights from the group life style. In some content published, one can see troubling images of children holding decapitated heads, whereas in others, you see soldiers holding Nutella jars "to demonstrate familiarity with Western lifestyles". The message that they want to convey is usually about "governance, justice and new construction" by outlining the wrongdoings of the enemy and the lawfulness of ISIS. They are proving semi-proffesional skills by using "video rather than text, takes full advantage of the linguistic skills of members, and makes good use of music - all of which appears to resonate with western youth culture". The authors conclude that the online campaigns carried out by ISIS are "sustained by significant manpower. Linguistic and technical skills are clearly evident".

    ISIS has completely embraced the modern techniques of social media marketing and took their activities to a whole new level, a level that has not been reached, to this moment, by any other terrorist organization. One of the main achievement is that they have managed to expand their operations way beyond their territory through a focused, systematic and efficient propaganda. Moreover, they manage to recruit adepts from both Middle East but also Western countries, profiles that have more differences than similarities in terms of incentives for embracing such a direction, as revealed by this article. Usually the social media campaigns developed by terrorists are used for recruitment (forums, targeted recruitment), intimidation (mass execution videos), coordination (the use of tolls that provide anonymity), propaganda (press releases, tweets etc.).

    On the other hand there is an intense effort from governments, social media companies and many others to fight against online terrorism. As for now, it seems that the terrorists still hold the upper hand, by being able to always make the first move while taking advantage of fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and privacy. Therefore, the fight against online terrorism is on a developing trend as more and more organizations and governments adopt at least one fighting method.

    There are different ways of fighting terrorism online and in particular on social media, each one of them being more or less suitable for various situations. There is no best or worst solution but multiple methods can be applied in changing circumstances. Here there are, the most important ones, in a random order:

    1. Content filtering:  Technically speaking content filtering is done by the company owning the  social media platform. Almost all of them, especially the most popular ones, provide a way of reporting abusive content and some of them also have anti-terrorism policies. According to some sources such as and "Terror on Twitter" YouTube cooperates with highly active human rights protection groups by making them “trusted flaggers” in order to flag ISIS content. Twitter has banned “indirect threats of violence” and specified in their policy that service providers take action on any threat or promotion of violence. Facebook proactively removes known jihadists from its service and can “remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement” in cases where there appears to be a “genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety”. They also have mechanisms allowing all users to flag posts from other users that they find suspicious. At this level of shared policing  all of us can contribute by reporting anything suspicious and making the world a better place. 
    2. Counter-attack through positive campaigns: the main concept here is to try to fill the social media with positive messages aimed at countering the disinformation spread by terrorists. According to "Terror on Twitter" the U.S. government manages a series of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr accounts, such as the “ThinkAgain TurnAway” series, to highlight and counter misinformation spread by ISIS. There are also multiple other examples in this area from other states. 
    3. Monitor and track: an action typically done by law-enforcement. Government agencies can get input for their actions either by "suspicious" reporting done by social media platforms and their users or through using specialized software that detects dangerous profiles or events through special algorithms. Governments have started recently to build specialized teams of experts to deal with the new threats. In January 2016 The White House announced a new task force aimed at combating the spread of terrorist networks online "Countering Violent Extremism Task Force". Although the communication is not very clear on the exact future actions of the group, provisioned activities such as research, analysis, technical assistance, communications and interventions are pretty much hinting at the areas and type of actions that will be covered. According to another article from The Guardian "the British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age". Again, the available information is not very clear on what are their exact tasks, but on the British Army website you can find some basic information together with the fact that they have designated a department called Media Operations and Civil Affairs. Furthermore, a controversial approach comes from Israel, a country deeply confronted with terrorist activities, that uses social media in trying to foresee future terrorist activities based on "specially developed algorithms to monitor the social media accounts" as stated by The Economist.  This way they are able to build a list of potential suspects, and in some past cases, were actually able to stop terrorists before they deployed any attack. A similar initiative has been taken by EUROPOL who established a department called EU Internet Referral Unit. According to their first and only annual report, their job is to coordinate and share the identification tasks (flagging) of terrorist and violent extremist activities, to carry out and support referrals quickly in close cooperation with the industry and to support the EU member states in the same issues. The report mentions that they have removed 8949 types of content from the web. 
    4. Hacking: An unorthodox approach to fight terrorism was adopted by Anonymous, the famous hacking organizations. Late 2015 after the Paris attacks, Anonymous declared war to ISIS. It's not the first or the last message posted by Anonymous on this topic but real actions have also been noticed. According to a video published by Al Jazeera, 39.000 Twitter accounts were uncovered by them and most of them closed. In other cases DDoS and other hacking attacks were reported targeting ISIS websites. 
    5. Legislation: there are also initiatives, although in incipient phases, of regulating the way social media platforms should respond to the terrorist threat. A bill entitled "Requiring Reporting of Online Terrorist Activity Act" was recently reintroduced in the US Senate in December 2015. As described on the Congress website "this bill requires an electronic communication or remote computing service company that obtains actual knowledge of terrorist activity to report relevant facts and circumstances to appropriate authorities". The bill was dropped in the past due to oppositions from tech giants under the justification that "would turn private social media companies into government enforcers" as stated by the article mentioned above. Nevertheless new efforts are made now to revive the bill and pass it.

    We might conclude that the social media has become a battle field, following on the trend of the overall cyberspace, that has even been declared an operational domain by NATO in June 2016 joining the other already existing four air, sea, land and space. We are now assisting to a tremendous arm race on social media where platform owner are playing an increasingly important role. Future policies in this area need a lot of attention and a coherent development, as social media, as a disruptive innovation, has already started revolutionizing the media and internet industries. In the fight against terrorism the right balance between law-enforcement, privacy and freedom of speech must be achieved and protected.