The Secrets Behind Facebook

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We all remember when we first got Facebook and the difficult time we had getting started. But a recent study done, by The Daily Beast, shows that Facebook has a few secrets about how they choose what goes on users news feeds.

1. Facebook has a bias against newcomers. Those who are new to Facebook have a hard time showing up on their friends' news feeds. Their invisibility only changes when people start interacting with them.

2. Facebook has a Catch-22. Like I said before to start showing up new users need interaction with other users but how will they know to interact if you're invisible? They obviously won't know to interact with you unless you tell them to.

3. The Velvet Rope: "Top News". The "top news" choice on Facebook's news feed doesn't show every post that your friends have made. Obviously it's not all exciting "news" and Facebook doesn't want it's users to get bored so Facebook chooses what is top news. It's not how much activity users have but the type of activity.

4. "Most Recent" news is censored as well. Users think that when they click this option in their news feed they're getting all of their friends who have posted the most recently. Not true. Facebook still chooses what news to put in the "most recent" news feed.

5. Stalking won't up your popularity in the news feed. Users, trying to get noticed by other users by being all over their page does absolutely no good. It doesn't make you show up in their news feed anymore than it would if you didn't stalk their page.

6. Having friends stalk your page does help out your popularity on others news feed. If other users click on your links, photos and such then you'll start showing up in not only their news feed but your other friends as well.

7. Links over status updates help users gain popularity. Posting links is more engaging then status updates and therefore they show up more frequently than status updates. The reason for this is that links bring up user engagement and that results in more time spent on Facebook.

8. Photos and Videos beat out links. Users are more likely to click on a thumbnail photo or video rather than a link. Facebook wants more user engagement and so the more clicks the better.

9. Comments on your posts help your popularity. If you post something that in turn is commented on a lot you're more likely to pop up more in the news feed.

10. Facebook is really just like high school. The popular crowd on Facebook, a.k.a. the people with the most friends, hold a lot of power to who shows up on different users news feeds. The more friends you interact with, that in turn have a lot of friends, the better chance you have of showing up on users news feeds.

For someone who has never considered how Facebook chooses what to post in users' news feed, or even the fact that there are algorithms they use to decide, this study is very eye opening. It is also helpful for those who are working to create a brand for themselves and have a wide reach of who sees them.

So post pictures, links, video and anything else that will generate comments. Get as many people to interact with your page as possible and before you know it you too can be one of the popular people.


Journalism School May Be The Future Backbone of Democracy

While many saying that journalism is a dying profession, others will argue against this until the end. Students at University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism will especially tell you they don't believe this at all.

This article shares why some think that journalism will strive and is a necessity for our society.

Some students are avoiding journalism majors because of the predicted future of the media. Orion de Nevers, a freshman at USC shared, "Information will just all be basically free, so there's no money to be mae in journalism. As much as I would like to pursue my love and all that, I like food, too. And I just don't want to sacrifice it all."

Many of the students here, not to mention all over the world, have been stared at skeptically when they say they're majoring in journalism. People have told them journalism is dead and there's no money to be made in it, but they remain hopeful and confident.

It's easy to guess where the gloomy predictions are coming from. Recently many newspaper companies have been forced to seek bankruptcy protections and are having to see their productions and let go of a good portion of their staff. This demonstrates why some believe that journalism is on it's last path.

USC costs nearly $55,000 a year with all charges included, which is a lot of money to invest in a major in a profession that's falling rapidly downhill. However, Ernest Wilson, Annenberg's Dean argues that this major is still successful and is linked with good citizenship.

Wilson said, "I am concerned, as the dean, at the costs and debt burdens these students take on, but I'm also concerned about training the next generation of people who are doing to provide the backbone of democracy."

He says that the independent press and availability for anyone to use it helps maintain our country's democracy, that this way people will be provided with more information and that although anyone can be a journalist by using the web now, those with degrees in communications will do better in job searches.

Students at the university also claim that they will find success in this field. They know it is different, but still want to learn the new methods of the media.

A professor at Annenberg, Robert Hernandez put it this way, "These students have signed up for journalism school knowing that's the climate they're facing, and they're not thinking 'gloom and doom'. There's something exciting happening in our industry. These folks want to become a part of that."

With flip cameras, cell phones, blog and vlogs, and social networks, journalism may be changing but it's not dying. The director of journalism at Annenberg shares that journalism is not simply cracking up, but realigning.


5 Reason Why You May Be A Boring Online Chatter

Social media is used a lot now a days as ways of communication from one person to the next. Just like there are unwritten verbal communication rules the same goes for cyber communication.

Do the people you chat on Facebook really want to talk to you or are they tempted to block you from chat or not be visible at all?

In a recent article from CNN they talked about 5 reasons why someone would want to block you on Faebook chat. The article also gives examples for each reason.

Reason number 1: You're a downer
You start off the conversation with hi and then being talking about how much your life sucks and about all the bad things that happened during the day. Not everyone has the time to sit and read that all the time. Every now and then is one thing but every day. That would make you want to block that person

Reason number 2: You're dull
In simple text you are a one word responder. Such as answer "nothing" to "what's up" After reading nothing that just puts a damper on the whole conversation and trying to make a good conversation off of one word responses is not very entertaining.

Reason number 3: You over-share
Basically saying that every time someone you talk to signs on you send a link to their chat of a new article to read or a new video to watch. Not everyone has time to sit and look at the link. Some people just sign on check and get off real quick. People aren't going to want to chat if you constantly are sending links to their chat.

Reason number 4: You're invisible
I take this as people who are on but they are idle. You may message them over and over but they still are not going to respond. It is frustrating sometimes when you see that someone is on but they are technically idle and you can't talk with them.

Reason number 5: You put up annoying statuses
While you are chatting with someone if you are continually changing your status to what you are doing or something annoying about your life people are going to get tired of constantly seeing the status changes.


How To: Become a "Popular Kid" on Facebook

In his article, "Cracking the Facebook Code," columnist Thomas E. Weber released a list of 10 discoveries after a one-month experiment to break Facebook's algorithm, which decides who appears in a person's news feed.

Weber's experimentation using "virtual tests" is very interesting, and I encourage all of you to read the complete article at.

At the end of his data gathering, Weber arised with a set of 10 "rules" that Facebook's algorithm seems to follow:

1. "Facebook's Bias Against Newcomers." Weber says that if you are a "newbie," your activity on Facebook won't show up in people's news feeds.

2. "Facebook's Catch-22: To get exposure on Facebook, you need friends to interact with your updates in certain ways."

3. The Velvet Rope: "Top News": It's difficult to get into someones Top News feed. Facebook is selective about who appears in people's news feeds because they don't want users to become over-whelmed with too much information.

4. "Most Recent"News is Censored, Too. This is for the same reason as above.

5. "Stalking" Your Friends Won't Get You Noticed. If you're like me, you breathed out a sigh of relief after reading this discovery.

6. Having Friends Who Stalk You WILL Help Your Popularity.

7. Link Trump Status Updates

8. Photos and Videos Trump Links

9. The Power of Comments. When a person commented on the test subject's post, or continually commented, the subject appeared in more people's news feeds.

10. Why Facebook Really is Like High School. Who your friends are will determine how often you appear in news feeds.

If you are only friends with the "popular kids," or "users of Facebook with 600 or more friends," you are less likely to appear in news feeds. Having friends with less friends leads to more posts in news feeds. This leads to more friends commenting or clicking on your links. This, of course, leads to you becoming more popular and being in more people's news feeds.

Facebook's algorithm can't be changed by users. However, users still have some choices for what is shown in their news feeds. Being comfortable with all of Facebook's settings is key.

By understanding how Facebook works, users can have a more fulfilled experience each time they log in.

Whether you are trying to "get your name out there" through Facebook, or are simply curious why Susie keeps appearing in your news feed, Weber's story gives readers valuable answers.

Furthermore, with Weber's references to "Facebook Stalking" and the "popular kids" in High School, you can't help but chuckle while reading.


3 Female Journalists Recieve Courage in Journalism Awards

The International Women's Media Foundation awarded Courage in Journalism awards to three female journalists, including a Tibetan blogger under constant surveillance from the Chinese government, a Columbian radio journalist, and a Tanzanian freelance journalist.

Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan writer who recorded first-hand accounts of the Chinese government crackdown on anti-government portests in Tibet in 2008, was unable to attend the luncheon to accept her award as her passport had been confiscated. In comments made during a video acceptance of her award, Woeser commented that if she had not continued to publish her blog, "the anguish of an entire people would vanish forever behind a veil of darkness."

Claudia Julieta Duque, the second award-winner, was an investigative journalist for Colombia's Radio Nizkor, and was kidnapped twice in an attempt to silence her investigations. In 2004, her suspicions were confirmed when she revealed that Columbia's secret police had tampered with evidence related to the 1999 murder of political humorist and journalist Jaime Garzon. She endured several threats to her life and her family's lives before and after her investigations were published.

The third award-winner is Vicky Ntetema, a freelance reporter working for BBC since 1991, who has been investigating the brutual murders of albinos in Tanzania by witchdoctors. Despite death threats, Ntetema continued investigating and discovered fifty-eight murdered albinos, six with amputations, three with severe injuries, and ten graves of albinos that had been robbed. Ntetema said "the witchdoctors pedal the notion that potions made with albino organs, hair and blood bring wealth." As a result of her investigation, ten men have been sentenced to death, and about two hundred witchdoctors have been arrested.


From Journalism to PR: The 'Other' Side of the Divide

Developing trends in journalism have included everything from new ways of news gathering to upgrading to digital news spreading. But beyond the 'traditional' ways of thinking about technological advances in journalism, there is yet another developing trend: journalists are now transitioning into the realm of Public Relations.

This is an interesting, and to some, quite a daring move for journalists who at one time thought of PR work to be 'less worthy' than that of reporting.

Investigative reporter Nick Davies, who is also the author of Flat Earth News, has been studying these recent changes since 2007. Many 'high profile' journalists have been on the move since then, including former BBC technology editor Darren Waters, who is now the managing director Monument PR Worldwide, and Rav Singh, who became the special projects consultant at The Outside Organization.

A career recruitment consultant even said the number of clients she receives who are journalists looking for a career in PR has gone up by '100 per cent, year on year'.

Why the shift?

It's pretty evident that journalism is changing a lot at the moment. Journalism's low pay and demanding working hours have been the cause for reporters to move toward PR. It can also be noted that the print-news industry in general has suffered from the decline in advertisements, increased competition from online sources, and the recession, resulting in reduced budgets for all.

In addition, the image of public relations has changed as well. Once frowned upon, PR has gone from being a bit of a 'second rate' reporting firm to a communications output machine with better pay.

All the more reason for PR firms to take journalists into employment with open arms.

Journalists have what's called 'news sense' -- meaning, they know what their audiences want and tailor their press releases accordingly. Jez Ashberry, a former editor and journalist, says that journalists often make the best PR professionals because of their ability to be resourceful, quick-witted, write well and know what is of interest.

Many firms and agencies are taking advantage of these skills by hiring experienced journalists to write and create compelling material in 'non-traditional' PR ways.

However, there is some danger: journalism is often times 'one dimensional'. Public relations, on the other hand, often requires a wider range of other skills that involve more than just writing.

Public relations agencies have taken it upon themselves to make transitional courses in 'journalism-to-PR' to help their employees make the transition with the hope of breaking some of the 'journalist mindset.'

This shift in professions has not only emphasized a growing trend, but also the wide range of possibilities available for aspiring journalists and communicators.


Straight Statistics of Americans and their Technology

Americans' technology have an increasing amount of ownership throughout time whereas some of the newer devices haven't taken off yet.

Inthe digital age people use an abundance amount of technology throughout their daily lives. Among these people, I have found statistics specifically referring to America.

Cell phones are popular among the digital age are seen just about everywhere you turn. Eighty-five percent of Americans now own cell phones and 96 percent of 18-29 year olds own a cell
phone of some sort.

Desktop and laptop computers will almost be a necessity in the near future. Seventy-six percent of Americans own either a desktop or a laptop computer.

Although the rising popularity of the mp3 player has not reached its peak, it is still lower than I anticipated for the statistics that I found. A little under half of Americana adults own an mp3 player, which was an increase from the 11 percent in 2005.

A step down from mp3 players, gaming consoles such as the Wii, Xbox, or PlayStation, are shown to be owned by 42 percent of Americans.

Among the newest devices such as the e-Book reader and tablet computers, five percent own a
e-Book and only four percent own a tablet computer.

The statistics are based on a survey of 3,001 American adults (ages 18 and older) conducted between August 9 and September 13, 2010. Download the document HERE for specific detail on the statistics.


Digitalized America

Today's world is filled with digital technology and it is hard to imagine our lives without it.

Much of today's technology makes it convenient to perform tasks in the journalism world. Many devices are now available for you to be able to write, access news, friends, information, and entertainment from where ever you may be.

These days it seems as if everyone has a cell phone and/or iPod or iPod Touch. Both of my grandmothers own one and so does my youngest cousin who has had her cell phone since the 6th grade.

Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project researched seven main appliances of today's age.

Research shows that now 85 percent of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind and is also now a necessity of modern communication. Another fact is that 96 percent of Americans ages 18-29 own a cell phone.

47 percent of Americans own a MP3 player such as an iPod, iPod Touch, or Zune.

Recent technology like the iPad, Kindle, and the Nook are vastly changing today's journalism by making paper media available through their services. These devices are proving their popularity and have a steady increase in purchases.

When you sit and think about how our nation has evolved it makes you realize that we can still only move forward.


Newspapers are Saved

According to a recent article on Mashable, the iPad is going to save newspapers. The iPad offers many features that make reading news on the go easy thanks to a large screen, interactive features, and quick downloads. In order to utilize all of this, however, you actually need to own an iPad.

Current figures show that Apple has sold approximately 3.27 million iPads, and the number is expected to increase. And while many people have indicated that they wish to purchase an iPad at some point, not everyone is willing (or have the finances) to fork over $500.

iPads do seem like a good way to enhance more readership in newspapers, simply because this is a device that can easily be carried. While people might be able to look at newspapers on their phones, it is hard to read the tiny text, and scroll back and forth, up and down to get the full story. Some people have laptops, but those can be bulky, and not convenient to carry with at all times. So why would people choose to carry an electronic device instead of just hit up a newspaper stand?

First off, there is the large variety of newspapers that are already online, several of which are free. When you go to a newspaper stand, there are many selections as well, but it isn't practical to buy five different papers when you could simply have five different windows open on an iPad. With the iPad, you can download the newspaper apps, and open them that way.

Secondly, while there are some free newspaper apps, not all of them are free. For the ones that do cost, the price is generally around three bucks, and that is a one-time deal. How nice would it be not to dig the change out from under the couch each morning to buy your daily newspaper? Already the Wall Street Journal has had more than 650,000 downloads, many of those with paid subscribers.

Even though there seem to be many benefits of using the iPad for newspapers, there are also downsides. There is of course the possibility that you set it down somewhere and someone else walks off with it. Just like a computer or phone, you could accidentally dump water on it, leave it in the hot sun, etc. and fry it. And what about when the iPad updates (like so many devices do), are people going to pay each time to get a new one?

I think that utilizing the iPad to read newspapers is a good idea, though it may not be as practical in a few years. Newspapers are not going to make money at it unless they charge consumers to download their apps. I am anxious to see how this pans out in the coming years.


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