Privacy Who?

I’ve heard it a million times from my mother, “watch what you put on social media!” I get it; the Internet is a useful and powerful tool – everything I do and type can one day be used against me. In fact, it has and I can name several occasions. Recently, I discovered a site that spits out all of the dirt on individuals and extracts it not only from the web, but also police records and court case filings. InstantCheckMate has redefined what it means to fully and completely remove an individual’s privacy – and of course, it does it at a cost! I started a quick search on myself; but, refusing to insert my debit card number to the lines provided, I settled with the reviews of the search engine. To users’ surprise, this was no “Google Search” – the website revealed far more than most users could even recall, dating twenty and thirty years back. Too bad for people who have “mid-life Crisis” – looks like your actions could be literally following you forever. I have a question for my readers, I suggest you to consider. First, how can such an engine have the ability to access the world’s personal data? Secondly, what does this mean for privacy – even those not connected to social media? It appears to me that regardless of an individual’s presence on or off-line, InstantCheckMate can (and will) track you down.

To learn more about InstantCheckMate, check out “New Website Reveals Personal Information Even Google Can’t Find.”


An App that Brings My Thoughts to Life.

I haven’t been this happy or excited in the last two days! I have been texting like crazy ever since I downloaded Bitmoji, yesterday. The app is similar to Emoji, keyboard application, but it allows you to personalize the animated faces. I use to complain that Emoji didn’t have any brown or black people that looked like me; the opportunity has now been snatched and not only am I seeing brown people – but I’m literally seeing myself, in character form. The idea of an animated depiction of real life allows communication lines to be more and more direct. People no longer have to study in depth the context clues like capitalization, periods, or exclamation marks to convey how he or she feels. We have the opportunity to use an animated version of us that directly places our thoughts and body languages through text. The app is also surprisingly diverse. Not only can you make your animated character into any color, including those that I’m fairly certain don’t even exists in skin tones, but you’re also given the option to change his or her size and attire. The application conveys freedom of expression, at its core. However, there is a Catch. The App doesn’t allow you to integrate text into the messages with your personalized Bitmoji. Instead, a picture is sent of the bitmoji separately from the text message, similar to picture message. The issue poses a rather small inconvenience, but every detail matters. I currently love the application, but I can’t promise that by this time next week I will not have sacrificed it for more storage space.

The World Is A Stage…IF you’re tapped into Meerkat

During the Ferguson rallies and protests, twitter users across the globe witnessed the tweets and pictures of the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri. I don’t know about you – but I believed a good 40% of what was projected on my timeline (and to be honest that’s probably a fairly conservative estimate). While yes, twitter allows for the world to be a journalist – where is the credibility?? Often, I find anything hard to believe, unless I see it with my own two eyes. Recently, there was a launch of an app called Meerkat. Meerkat records live video-stream and notifies twitter audiences that the user has gone “live.” This allows people, like myself, to essentially tap into the scene and gain a first-hand witness of exactly what’s going on. Now this is HUGE. Video is becoming more and more essential to grabbing and obtaining the attention of social network users. The live feed makes for authenticity and establishes the type of credibility that’s typically reserved for people of high social status or academic achievement. Different from other video recording applications such as Snapchat, YouTube, or Vine – Meerkat captures live feed and doesn’t even allow the user to edit what the world Is witnessing. Meerkat even allows users to save a shortened clip of the recording. I’m going to try this app out myself and check back in! Stay Tuned in the coming weeks!

Google Feud: Are you in tune with the World?

Google recently launched Google Feud, a game based solely on the company’s search query, incorporating the world’s most searched about topics. Google Feud is a mix between the television game show, Family Feud, and the entertainment we all get from guessing how Google autocompletes our sentences. You begin by selecting a randomized search query, in one of four categories: culture, people, name, and categories. The player is then able to make 3 attempts at filling out the search query and will gain points based off results most likely to populate the query, in a real-life instance.

What I find is most interesting about this game is how much the game teaches players about reality. Since topics are constantly changing in what’s popular on social media and the news so will the answers to the game. In a way, the game judges how informed a person is on popular topics of today. Engagement in Google Feud will lead to people questioning their sense of reality.

To me, I believe Google is practically handing out useful data to people regarding keywords and search results! Maybe playing the game can bring people far more than a “win.” Can more be gained from such a game? And if so, who will be the first to benefit?

For a further breakdown of the game, checkout the article, “This is the Goggle Autocomplete game we’ve been searching for.” 

MasterCard and Mashable Encourage Innovation

I am a firm believer that most billion-dollar ideas begin with average Joes. Those who aren’t the highest educated, who probably don’t know anyone of much social status, and most importantly lacks the knowledge to move forward in the execution of such an idea! I am almost a UNC graduate and I’m currently struggling with this issue, myself. What do I do when I have a billion dollar idea? Where do I start? And how can I even move forward when I lack trust in anybody to actually share my idea?

If there was a downloadable application that listed step-by-step directions for what to do when you have a billion-dollar idea, I would be all for it (so someone create it, quick)! I prompt you with my own personal issues to hopefully strike the relevance in what Mashable and MasterCard teamed up to put on, “The Priceless Elevator Pitch.”

The event gave all MasterCard holders the opportunity and outlet to share their start-up ideas on an elevator for 60-seconds. The winner with the best idea was granted $15,000 to begin the execution of their idea. The event drew in MasterCard holders, everywhere, and increased the social media presence of both companies. All pitches were posted on YouTube for the world to see. Wow. All of these people entered the competition to compete for $15,000 and ended with mass YouTube exposure of their start-up ideas, catching the eyes of people across the globe.

The event was a great way to encourage innovation. I expect Mashable and MasterCard to receive much positive attention, for this, in the coming weeks. I think it would be smart if the companies followed the journey of the “idea winners” via social media and allowed publics to follow the journey!

For more information on “The Priceless Elevator Pitch,” read Priceless Elevator Pitch: Pitch your startup at Mashable House for a chance to win $15,000.

We May Wear the Pants but We’re Not in Control.

The last two days, social media platforms around the world have been filled with angry users who want to know one answer: Is the damn dress black and blue or white and gold. The answer à the dress is black and blue. White and Gold people do not stop reading here – you are not crazy; I too have seen white and gold. If you’re really curious to know the science behind why we see different colors, check out The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Color of this Dress. I personally gave up care half an hour ago (kicking stress out of my life); I am more interested in explaining why the dress has went viral and what this tells us about the impact social media has on our lives.

A List of Relevant Topics to be concerned about in the World:

  • Poverty
  • Hunger
  • Climate Change
  • The Economy
  • International Terrorism
  • Availability of Energy
  • Increasing Global Population
  • Spread of Infectious Disease
  • Armed Conflict
  • Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

With all of the problems in the world, we are in tears over the color of a dress that no one can seem to agree on. I have read countless articles that are attempts to determine the color of the dress but I believe we have a far bigger issue at hand: Why is this such a great concern? Well, I have an answer: because of our inability to escape social media.

If you’re alive and on the web I know you’ve seen the dress, the articles, and the furious users who are making their best effort at articulating a compelling reason as to why the dress is the color he or she believes. Issues relevant on social media are inescapable and information we intake is no longer up to us, but everyone we follow. It’s the Bullwhip Effect but for Social Media! Literally. The bullwhip effect of business is an observed phenomenon in forecast-driven distribution channels. It refers to a trend of larger and larger swings in inventory in response to changes in customer demand. In Layman’s terms it means a small change can create a big impact.

The controversy over the color of this dress probably stems from a conversation amongst a small group of friends that ended on their followers’ timelines. As more and more people joined the conversation, the more relevant the issue became. Before long, the world was talking about it and CNN was working hard to get out an article on it.

This goes to show that users and journalists (thanks CNN) aren’t choosing what conversations to partake in. We’re all thrown into the social media arena and we choose to swim, by furthering the conversation, or sink into irrelevance.

Facebook Encourages People to Not Give Up

Social Media has become a virtual reality for the way we engage, stay informed, and communicate with one another. Conversations and engagements held off-line are mirroring, more and more, conversations that occur on-line. A mimic of reality on-line creates the same ugly truths and issues that take place, off-line. Every-day, someone threatens to commit suicide via a social network, most commonly on Facebook or Twitter. Facebook has developed a new feature that combats real issues on-line, keeping in mind a user’s privacy. The feature is aimed at preventing suicide; it has been reviewed and studied by suicide survivals to ensure its projected success.

Here is how the feature works. When users see a friend’s post that is suspect for depression or suicide, users have the option to click a button that triggers the pop-up of two options to either directly connect with the user or report the post to a Facebook analyst. The Facebook friend who posted the post will be notified, anonymously, of resources, such as a suicide 24-hour help hot-line, and tactics to help them through their feelings of suicide. This feature has been reviewed by suicide survivals to ensure its success.

I’m interested to see the results of such a valuable tool. I think suicide is an important issue, especially as it often correlates with social media. The development of such a feature has increased the relevance of Facebook amongst society. It at least encourages myself to use Facebook more since they have taken an active role in corporate social responsibility on a platform that needs it most.

For more information on how Facebook plans to reduce suicide rates, check out this video: Facebook reaching out to users who might be suicidal