Webometric Thoughts

July 20, 2009

Social Media Non-Adopters: Engagement v. Exposure

Filed under: BCSMC,Twitter,spam — admin @ 8:04 am

The topic of last Tuesday’s Black Country Social Media Cafe was Social Media Non-Adopters. Although the group chose the topic it was quite a quiet event, so we dumped the panel-at-the-front format in favour of a round table discussion. Despite the limited numbers (or possibly because of the limited numbers), it turned out to be a really interesting discussion, covering numerous different topics under the umbrella of ‘Social-Media Non-Adopters’; from the protocol of ReTweeting on Twitter to turning your avatar green for Iran![Nb. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of many social media campaigns].

The area of discussion I found most interesting was that of ‘Engagement v. Exposure’: When we encourage people to participate in social media are we giving them the support necessary to engage successfully and deal with the problems that come from potentially exposing yourself to communication with some of the world’s less desirable elements.

One seemingly innocuous example was that of retweeting, i.e., re-broadcasting a message in Twitter by updating with someone else’s message with ‘RT’ and the original messenger’s username at the front. Whilst a RT is generally seen as highlighting the noteworthiness of someone’s content, it can also be used to attribute content to a person who never twittered it. Such false-attribution could be anything from adjusting a comment for length, to attributing something embarrassing/slanderous to someone. Most such examples are examples of misinformation rather than disinformation; they are not deliberately trying to give a false impression. And most disinformation is more likely to be in an attempt to drive traffic than to be slanderous, for example:

‘RT @stephenfry Probably the most interesting person ever http://bit.ly/LnyqI

Which is probably more likely to generate traffic than the same quote without the Stephen Fry attribution.

Responses from Twitter show a mixture of those who accept the need for shortening tweets, and those who expect a carbon copy.

The problem of celeb-attribution-spam was the topic of a post at bloggingtips last week, unfortunately they are not all as obvious as this:

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