Is the Daily Mail running scared?

After a week-long break (gulp) without a connection to my social sphere (31 May – 5 June), two trending topics hit me on my return. First, the Daily Mail’s scare story about BT ‘spying’ on customers through social media, and second developments in the marketing and communications industry as agencies reorganise in response to social media’s inexorable rise.

So where’s the connection I hear you cry? Well, it’s all about influence. Who has traditionally owned it, and who owns it in the social age.

National newspapers (and their proprietors) have traditionally been the influence ‘super powers’, able to decide elections , change legislation, remove politicians from office, and probe into the private lives of anyone in the public eye .

Similarly, in the world of big business and brands, it has been the above the line advertising agencies that have traditionally had the greatest influence with clients, and a voice in the boardroom.

Social media is threatening both of these conventions.

The Daily Mail is beginning to realise that it can no longer pedal it’s alarming brand of scare stories without going unchallenged. Advertising agencies are realising that their clients are more interested in how their brand can resonate in social media, not what (theoretical) audience their latest 30 second ad slot reached.

The Daily Mail’s reaction, to keep grinding the online ‘privacy’ axe, is short-sighted, and smells of desperation. The truth is they will have to accept a new world order where the objects of their stories bite back, and where conversation replaces propaganda. Ironically they have a strong platform in place to engage in social media through their highly successful Mail Online website.

The advertising industry’s reaction is much more constructive. Seeing the disruption that social media has caused they are moving to improve their conversational skills, and ability to win third-party endorsements, by developing PR and social media skill sets.

The difference is that the agency business is used to making change happen, while the newspaper publishers have been in denial that their ‘super power’ status is now changed, forever.

Vive La Revolution! (sorry, I was on holiday in France)

Social networks called to adopt online abuse reporting button

This week the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has called for all social networks to adopt its online abuse reporting button which allows young people to report online abuse and danger straight to the police. Bebo and MSN Live Messenger are among the hundreds of sites who have already added the button whereas a couple of the major networks such as Facebook and MySpace are yet to follow suit.

Facebook advises that it hasn’t adopted the button because its own system is robust but is taking extra measures in this area by urging the Government to create a way for information on registered sex offenders to be securely shared with public chat sites and social networks, so they can remove them.

A Facebook spokeswoman said, “If we can get this data from authorities we commit to removing registered sex offfenders from Facebook within days.” (nma.co.uk 11th March 2010)

It’s unfortunate that these measures are necessary, but good to see that social networks are taking action to make the online space a safe place for young people to occupy and engage.

A double whammy for Google

Google has hit the headlines for a couple of reasons this week.

Firstly as a result of privacy complaints over the launch of Google’s Street View which allows users to look up addresses and see photographs of locations rather than maps. Concerns have arisen over the use of people’s images within the photographs without their consent. Google has also been ordered to hand over records of every single video on YouTube and who it has been watched by as part of a court case involving MTV.

See below for full articles on Brand Republic:

http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/829440/Google-faces-official-complaint-UK-launch-Street-View/

http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/829322/Google-ordered-reveal-details-every-YouTube-user/

From The Crows Nest…..A China Heart

A short while ago, we wrote a piece on how a few blogs from the residents of Cuba were beginning to emerge following the demise of crazy old uncle Fidel. Despite the fact we are still unclear as to whether Raul Castro and his regime either aren’t too chuffed or are perhaps a bit non-plussed about this, it is a breakthrough of sorts and was met by intrigue from the western world. 

  

So yet again, it is pleasing to see that the ‘masters of disguise’, aka the Chinese Government, are letting citizens pass information created by one another with less restriction than usual. This is notably attributed towards recent events of the devastating earthquake to affect the country. Admittedly, nearly 20 people have still had police intervention and been made to publicly apologise for their reporting and personal views. In addition, censorship has also affected messageboards of several forums and communities also. Yet the freedom of information via blogging, text messaging & microblogging is vital in the efforts to help locate crucial news on missing friends and relatives. In terms of the global perception of China, the timing of this act couldn’t have been better, particularly in light of the recent Olympic Torch controversy. It remains to be seen as to whether or not this ‘chink-of-light’ style opportunity of free speech for the people of China will allow for less restriction in future. But for now they can ‘blog for the better’ and show that China has a heart.