Safer Social Media

Cyber bullying has become a common occurrence online these days. Social media makes online communication easy and fast. Although these are positive attributes and reasons as to why social media is so popular to begin with, just as easy as it is to communicate with people about your day-to-day life, it is just as easy to bully and attack someone online. In recent years as the popularity of social media has increased and more teenagers join social networks, the amount of cyber bullying has risen along also. Last year, in a study conducted in the U.S., one million children admitted to being harassed, threatened or exposed to some form of cyber bullying on Facebook. To some it may not seem like a big deal because as reflected in the study 90% of these social media users ignored this behavior. However, more than ever this negative behavior is leading to an increase in fatal consequences. Until recently, there has been no full-proof way to manage online bullying.

In 2015 the app My Social Sitter was develop. The purpose of the app is to stop cyber bullying and ensure a safer and negative free social media environment. Using a four step process the app, which is connected to the social media platform of the user: detects, shields, informs, educates and rewards. The initial detection step has the ability uncover any harmful communication being received, and even harmful communication being sent out by the user. This is followed by the shield of protection, which prevents the negative message from advancing to the intended recipient. From there the user is informed whether a message has been posted or rejected within seconds and if they themselves are sending out a negative message they have the opportunity to edit their post. Along with the informing process is the apps ability to detect very serious messages surrounding depression or suicide. In this case the users parents are automatically informed. The final step is education and rewards. From the shielding step users are taught what is appropriate and what isn’t and the end they receive rewards for every positive post, such as tokens or gift cards.

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The newly developed app has many positive attributes with the first being its quick response rate whenever a message has been sent or rejected makes it easy to keep track with what is taking place on your social media. Another point is that the app is able to detect slang and sentiment in six languages, which increases chances of preventing cyber bullying because youngsters don’t usually write in formal English when they’re on social media. Another is the reward, which is a great motivation for kids and teenagers as they’re usually would not pay attention to ideas like this, but in this case they get something out of it. Finally, it keeps users’ social media profiles private from their parents with the exception of the notifications regarding harmful messages.

Personally I think it is about time an app like this was developed. Some social media sites have put regulations in place to try and hinder cyber bullying as much as possible, but it has not been the most effective. For that reason, I think social media sites like Facebook need to begin advertising the product in order to inform more people. Social media use is continuously rising and it is necessary to make it a safe environment because there is no reason bullying should take place. The app gives individual control to users, its fast and creates a more enjoyable online environment.



Facebook’s Takeover Explained

As we have established, Facebook is the most dominant social media site currently, with over 1 billion active users as of early October this year. However, despite this milestone more and more statistics are highlighting Facebook’s decline in popularity. In a recent survey it was determined that about one third of Facebook users had updated their status in recent weeks and 37% of participants said they shared photos on the site. Each of these figures is significantly lower than they were at the same time in 2014. In 2014 half of participants updated their Facebook status and 59% were sharing their photos. Not only, but in comparison to last year the number of social networks people were part of has also increased from 2.5 to 4.3. This hardly comes as a surprise considering the rising popularity of Instagram where people tend to prefer posting their pictures nowadays. Snapchat is another social media platform where people are able to send pictures and videos, along with alternative competitive social platforms Twitter and YouTube. On top of that, despite Facebook’s strong most recent quarter three earnings, the majority of it came from growth in Instagram and Whatsapp, which the company owns.

After reading these statistics it gives an indication as to why Facebook is continuously trying to push itself into other markets. Within the last year Facebook has broadened its reach by focusing on other features like their messaging app, videos, media and their most recent shopping feature. One way or another for Facebook to remain at the top it of course needs to be innovative and expand its outreach, which finally gives a partial explanation to its behavior in recent years.


However, before you begin to assume that the end of Facebook is near, it’s not. Facebook is still the most used social media platform in the world by a large margin with a user gap of roughly 15% between second place social media app, Instagram. Its overall monthly user rate is 1.39 billion in comparison to Whatsapp’s 700 million and Instagram’s 300 million user count.


As Facebook remains successful at present, it is unlikely that its popularity will diminish anytime soon. At the moment a reasonable explanation is given to understand its recent actions, which personally I think are wise because although it bothers me now that Facebook wants to be everywhere and that it potentially could be. Just like most things there is tends to be an end, and it will be interesting to see where Facebook will go from here. Will its identity as the leading social media hub remain? Will it transition into a leader of another sector? Or will it end all together?


  • Facebook has a sharing problem. (2015, November 3). Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  • O’Reilly, L. (2015, November 5). Here’s what analysts are saying about Facebook’s strong 3rd-quarter earnings.

Facebook vs. Amazon

As of recently Facebook has introduced a new e-commerce feature to their social media platform. Their strategy involves turning your News Feed into an online store by creating a Shopping tab that can be found alongside the Messages and Events tabs. This new feature is Facebook’s attempt at entering new markets and competing with e-commerce giant Amazon. The project is mainly aimed at big brands and gives them the ability to catalogue their merchandise on the social media platform and have customers buy their products directly from the site rather than clicking on an advertisement and being redirected to their own company website. It also provides the opportunity for customers to contact brands and track their packages through messenger, in a similar way that can be done on brand websites.
Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 2.42.18 PMThere are a number of strengths and weaknesses to this new feature with the first strength being that it allows brands to extend their number of selling platforms, and since Facebook has already established themselves as an effective platform for online communicating and advertising, it makes it very appealing for businesses. Secondly, the feature is free for companies; therefore they are paying nothing for something that will most likely increase their profits. User experience on the mobile application will also improve because unlike traditional advertisements the Shopping feature will have products managed in the same way as photos, which will make them easily accessible and more user friendly. As for Facebook, it means that people will be spending more time on their site rather than users transferring to other websites and; in a positive for Facebook, it will mean that they have greater data collection on their users than anyone else.

However, there are also a number of weaknesses to the feature with the first continuing on from the last point made in the previous paragraph. Facebook will have a significant sized data storage of millions of users, which to everyone else is seen as a major privacy concern. As the feature continues to grow Facebook could also begin to start charging brands for the service and subjecting them to all kinds of rules that could prove to be less beneficial for the companies.

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An interesting question though is what does this mean for amazon? At the moment the feature seems promising and Facebook is clearly a well-established business with a large community, giving it a good starting advantage. However, there are also several other competitors that have moderately successful similar features, but have not come close to taking over amazon, including Google, Twitter and Pinterest. As well as that Facebook has had several failed attempts at entering foreign markets for instance, when they tried to compete with LinkedIn as a professional networking service.

Personally, I do not like the idea, not because it is not a good one, but if Facebook becomes a leader in eCommerce, what’s to stop it from entering other markets. Although there was a failed attempt at competing with LinkedIn as a professional networking site it does not mean it will hinder any plans of Facebook to correct issues and try again. Even then there are many ways Facebook are trying to keep people on their sites for longer, even by introducing hot topic articles. Who is to say that Facebook won’t be the place where you can connect with friends and connect with work or potential employers, shop for clothes, groceries, appliances, catch up on news, internet banking, eventually start doing everything in one place. Where are the boundaries?

Facebook is a business and although I am only one user out of a billion. The idea that everything I need will be in one location; which in theory is convenient. The fact that there is no longer a separation between these different parts of my life is unsettling.


  • Facebook introduces new shopping features. (2015, October 12).
  • Facebook is taking on Amazon with shopping pages. (2015, July 16).
  • Parker, R. (2015, September 22). Facebook’s New Shopping Features, and What They Mean For Your Brand | Return On Digital.

  • Yoffie, D., Slind, M., & Achsaf, N. (2009). LinkedIn Corp., 2008. Harvard Business Review, 1-19.

Social Media and Gaming

“Gamers are loners.”, “Gaming is not social.”, “Everything was better in the past.”
In the old days, when kids went to the arcade, they went with friends. These days, kids lock themselves in their rooms alone with their gaming device. That isn’t social, or is it?

Sony and Microsoft don’t agree with these statements. Their latest products, respectively the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, have social media integrated. They blend the online and offline world. For example, when a friend finds a legendary item while playing ‘single player’, the position of this item appears on your single player map too.
While playing a videogame you can also stream your gameplay live. This way your friends can watch you play and via their headsets they can interact with you. There’s even the possibility to aid your friend while using your tablet or phone. (Hunt 2013)

You could say console gamers are finally catching up with PC gamers on the social aspect. Failbetter Games, for example, is pulling people in socially long before Sony and Microsoft did. Failbetter creates unique interactive stories, like Fallen London, “which could be best described as a sort of choose your own adventure story in which you play alongside Facebook and Twitter friends, asking them for help”. (Harper 2013)

Moreover, the crowd-funding website Kickstarter lets both big and small game developers fund their game ideas. This really changes the gaming industry, because fans spread the word themselves via Twitter instead of the developer marketing their games via traditional media. (Harper 2013)

There are countless communities where people spread their love for gaming. People interacting, collaborating and sharing. Building new relationships, maintaining them, even ending some.
It’s like people are all around you, but are they really? Is it the same as having a real person standing next to you, breathing? What is the difference? Do you think people are less social because of these changes in gaming that are supposed to make it more social?

– Hunt, T. (2013) ‘5 Ways Video Game Companies are Leveraging Social Media’. Visited on 4 November 2015 via
– Harper, E. (2013) ‘Insiders Explain How Social Media and Video Games Are Merging’. Visited on 4 November 2015 via

Dislike Button – Facebook Finally Caved!

For years on now Facebook users have been asking for a ‘dislike button’. Facebook never gave in to the request of their users, up until now. On September 15th 2015 Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) announced that Facebook is working on a ‘dislike button’.

Picture 1 - Dislike Button

Picture 1 – Dislike Button

The reason why Facebook never implanted a dislike button before is because they were concerned how people would use it. Facebook wants to make sure that the button won’t be about encouraging negativity the way other sites such as YouTube and Reddit do. Mark Zuckerberg said: ‘we didn’t want to just build a dislike button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts.

Zuckerberg explained however that in some scenarios, when, for example, a friend of yours shares something that is sad, whether it is a relative passing a way, a crisis or a relationship that ended, it may not be appropriate to press that ‘like’ button. In those cases, one might want to express empathy towards the situation. Nowadays this is not possible on Facebook, or at least not in the same simple way as liking a post. By creating an option to ‘dislike’ a status or a photo people can show their compassion.

Picture 2 - Example where one could express empathy with a dislike.

Picture 2 – Example where one could express empathy with a dislike.

We don’t know what the dislike button will look like yet, but there is a chance that the dislike button has a negative effect on ‘regular’ Facebook users. Although Facebook promised that the button will not be just so you can express your resentment on pictures of your friends’ baby.

However, companies, brands and retailers could definitely be affected by the dislike button. Vice president of Forrester research Inc. Sucharita Mulpuru says that the dislike button will be the perfect way to vent about a brand. I have to agree with Mulpuru.

Besides the venting, the negativity expressed towards companies, brands and retailers could have an enormous effect on Facebook-based advertisements. Companies pay Facebook for advertisements, but they don’t want to pay for an advertisement when this will cause a tidal wave of dislikes. So if this will be possible when the dislike button is rolled out, companies might start to avoid Facebook when it comes to advertisements. If this is the case, Facebook could lose a lot of money that they used to generate from advertisements.

However, one could look at it in a different way. Companies could use the like button vs the dislike button as an informal poll. This could give retailers a better sense of what customers like and dislike. This way they use the dislike button in their advantage.

I was wondering what you think!? Is Facebook taking a risk with the implementation of the dislike button? Will companies still use Facebook as an advertisement platform? And lastly, would you be interested in a dislike button, or will this only generate negativity?


How social is social media?

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How social is social media?  

I came across an article, which raised the question ‘how social is social media?’ It made me think and there are a few things that I noticed, but to which I do not have an answer.

Social Media can be fun, but it can be a little bit less fun when you see things you don’t want to see. Or when you get bullied, stalked, see videos about war and refugees these days… Cyber bullying is bigger then bullying at school, mostly because of the increase in social media. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to know the news and what is going on. But there is a difference between reading a newspaper – whether that is online of offline – and scrolling down your Facebook page and see images you’d rather not see. Should you have a choice in what you want to see? Should there be some kind of filter so you can avoid messages related to the topic you don’t want to see? Do you make Social Media more or less social by avoiding those things you don’t want to see? Because, what’s left without it? Should Social Media only be fun?

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For example the Dutch ‘Zwarte Piet’ discussion. In the Netherlands we have a feast similar to Christmas, only called ‘Sinterklaas’. The discussion is about racism and that Zwarte Pieten (black pete) is discrimination and that the Zwarte Pieten reminds people of slavery. People have set up a Facebook page called ‘Pietitie’ where you can sign if you want the ‘Zwarte Pieten’ to stay. The discussion is still going, but opinions differ. Of course there should be freedom of speech, but you can go to far with it.

On the other side, social media is getting more and more commercial. We are used to the advertisements, but what is so social about these advertisements? It is all about marketing, integrating advertisement into social media and calling it social commerce. Did you know that 86% of the people have used social media for customer service and 1.000.000 people view customer service related tweets every day? Social media is thought to be a better customer service platform than a call centre. And 32% of the people who used social media to get in touch with the customer service, expects a response within 30 minutes. Social media needs to be quick and useful.

There are a lot of different reasons to use social media. I came across a funny infographic about the social media use between men and women. Women are more likely to use social media to stay in touch with family and friends, to share photos, for entertainment and self-help, while men use social media more for business reasons and dating compared to women. To me social media is mostly about getting in touch with friends, interaction and entertainment. But, as it seems, social media is so much more then these things. It is about news, about advertisement and customer service. So in a way it is social. But how social? What is social media to you?

No More Facebook Like-Gating Soon!

What does it mean – No more Facebook like-gating? Recently, Facebook just changed its platform policy to ban the practice that as known as ‘like-gating’. Here is what the policy content has been updated:

Only incentivize a person to log into your app, like your app’s Page, enter a promotion on your app’s Page, or check-in at a place. Don’t incentivize other actions. Effective November 5th, 2014, you may no longer incentivize people to like your app’s Page.

It is very obvious that Facebook no longer wants Facebook Page mangers to use any kind of promotions or giveaways in exchange of likes on their pages.

Why Facebook wants to change the situation? Why does it matter to normal Facebook users or Facebook Page managers? Here is my thoughts.

The biggest reason why Facebook wants to change the policy is because Facebook wants to improve both users’ and advertisers’ experience with Facebook. Here is the answer directly given by Facebook:

To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

I believe banning like-gating will be beneficial for both sides (users and advertisers) in the end as well. On the one hand, for a normal Facebook user, many times they will like a page in order to enter a contest, get a reward or a coupon, while how much they really like a page or a company is hard to be predicted. Moreover, many users are already complaining about they get invited for such promotions quite often on Facebook, while they feel quite annoyed. That’s exactly the problem that most Facebook page managers treat Facebook as a very commercial platform and even apply many pushy marketing strategies when they promote products or companies. On the other hand, for advertisers, banning like-gating is surely a good news, since they can get to know their target groups more accurately. Otherwise, if Page Like only based on like gating, then most of the time, those users are not highly engaged. Besides, if this policy can really improve users’ experience with Facebook. Then more people will be present online longer, which helps increase the exposure chances of advertisements on the home page in a longer term.

Now the trend is changing from like-gating to action-gating on Facebook, which requires Facebook marketers to create more high-value and audience-engaged posts online in order to attract more fans. In general, I believe this action will help Facebook have a better business model and a better user feedback.

So what do you think of this policy made by Facebook? What kinds of influences do you think this decision will bring on Facebook users/ advertisers/ Facebook marketers? Share your thoughts with me! 😀