social media

We all know that things go viral. Someone’s cat, or a dancing baby. Or that dress – the one that was either blue and black or white and gold. But where does a viral picture or meme start? What spreads one idea around the world and leaves another one dead on the screen?

One researcher at Northeastern University is trying to figure it all out. With his computers gathering data day and night, he’s looking for the roots of what is now known as the “viral cascade.”

a school classroom with empty chairs
comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

State education officials said Oklahoma’s new testing vendor “is absolutely not” tracking students on the Internet when monitoring social media in accordance with the state’s contract.

A provision in Measured Progress’ contract with Oklahoma calls for the New Hampshire-based education and testing vendor to monitor online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook for issues regarding testing. The company is supposed to report those issues to the state Department of Education.

A J Cann / Flickr.com

A new law that took effect Nov. 1 makes restrictions on what social media information current and prospective employees should be required to give employers.

HB2372 prevents employers from requiring employees to provide them with their social media logins, passwords and other information. It also makes it illegal for employers to require the information of job applicants as a condition of employment. 

Sen. Kyle Loveless said the bill establishes needed guidelines for what has become a new, common method of personal communication.

If you're one of the billions of people who use Facebook and Google on a daily basis, you may have noticed some new messaging coming from the websites themselves. Both companies have launched Ebola relief fundraising campaigns in the past week, calling on their massive user logs (translation for nonsocial-media experts: all the people who waste time on these websites every day) to donate money to the cause.

What Are You Agreeing To In Online Contracts?

Aug 6, 2014

Many Facebook users were recently surprised to find that they had agreed essentially to be part of a social science experiment for the company without any notification. However, they agreed by accepting the site’s privacy agreement, known as a wrap contract.

Harold Brooks, Rick Smith and Michelann Ooten speak about storm safety at The Oklahoma Tornado Project's March 12, 2014 forum.
Kate Carlton / Oklahoma Tornado Project

With tornado season approaching, many Oklahomans will turn to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to stay informed of the latest hazards. 

Use of these outlets explodes during severe weather outbreaks, as people try to disseminate information, share pictures and update each other on the course of the storm. But despite their ability to quickly deliver breaking news, social media can often contribute to spreading outdated information. 

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise talk about the righting of the Costa Concordia cruise liner off the coast of Italy, and the two-hour outage of Iran's internet firewall that allowed citizens access to social media. 

Later, a conversation with New Zealand filmmaker Costa Botes. He’s directed documentaries about Canadian sled dogs, a cross-dressing attorney, and the inventor of the Jelly Belly jelly bean.
 

computer screen with Twitter search results for Iran
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Word of the opening of Iran's blocked social media sites was spread, of course, by social media itself: in celebratory tweets and breathless Facebook posts.

Hours later, the same sites Tuesday chewed over the sobering reality that the four-year-old firewalls were back in place.

"We've seen what social media does in other parts of the Middle East in terms of organizing protests and resistance to their governments," says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "So it raises issues of censorship, but also the critical importance of social media in the public life."

Over the past 11 months, the Zaatari refugee camp in Northern Jordan has hosted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s civil war.

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise visited the camp in early June, and witnessed some of the newest arrivals.

Real-time updates on social media are revolutionizing traditional journalism. By following Twitter feeds and other forms of social media, journalists like NPR Senior Strategist Andy Carvin now identify breaking news faster and do a better job following international stories.

Ammar Abd Rabbo / Flickr

Real-time updates on social media are revolutionizing traditional journalism. By following Twitter feeds and other forms of social media, journalists like NPR Senior Strategist Andy Carvin now identify breaking news faster and do a better job following international stories.

“Crowdsourcing is basically just a fancy term for asking for help from the public,” Carvin says. “It's something journalists have always done at various points, but now social media has made it easy to engage people all over the world.”

Carvin calls himself an “informational DJ.” He has used crowdsourcing to cover stories ranging from the Newtown, Connecticut shooting to the Arab Spring.

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