Emotional Climate Change

Flashy newspaper headlines drive clicks but they can also mislead readers.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project just released a study of teens’ use of social networks.  It was a joint project with the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), who featured the study at their annual conference in Washington.  Like all of Pew’s work, this study provides a deeply nuanced view of the subject, breaking down behaviors and identifying emerging trends.

At the FOSI conference yesterday, I thanked Pew for helping to describe what they call the “emotional climate” for teens using social networking.   But the media wants to write headlines about “emotional climate change” when it comes to meanness among teens – and then blame it on the Internet. Read more

Just in Time for Halloween: Privacy Advocates Say Cookies are Scary

Halloween is fast approaching and while that makes it a good time to reflect on the treats that internet cookies enable, privacy advocates seem fixated on the bad actors allegedly using cookies to play tricks.  The most recent example of this occurred yesterday morning at a press event on the collection of information through “cookies” and companies who read their cookies when you visit other webpages.

After two hours of discussion, there were examples of harms from data breaches, theft of data, and misuse of public information, all examples of tricks from bad actors.   But nowhere in the discussion were there examples of harm from cookies.

The more I learn about cookies, the more I see them as a treat — not a a trick.  Cookies are benign, have been around for years, and are beneficial to my Internet experience. Read more

Hi, My Name Is …

When you interact with others online, is it better to be anonymous or to use your real name?  Today, a diversity of social network services gives you the choice between anonymity or real names.  But some advocates for free expression want to eliminate that choice.

For those who want to know who their friends are, we have services like Facebook, and for those who’d prefer to remain anonymous when ranting or organizing, we have networks like Twitter.  Choices like these allow users, advertisers, political activists, and entrepreneurs to mix and match online services that were unimaginable a decade ago. Read more

Missouri Legislature Tells Teachers: “We Can Be Friends Now”

You remember that song, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” Missouri school teachers have been asking the state legislature the same question after it passed a law requiring schools to prevent teachers and students from being friends on any social network that is not dedicated for educational purposes.

But last Friday, the Missouri legislature saw the error of their ways, voted to repeal the law, and decided to let teachers be Facebook friends with their students. Read more

Facebook’s Apps Platform: a $15 billion Dance Club for Users and Developers

Dance clubs provide a fantastic venue for both musicians and club-goers.  Musicians can show off new works and find new fans, while dancers groove to the music and make new friends.


It’s more than just fun.   A new study from the University of Maryland’s Center for Digital Innovation, Technology & Strategy (DIGITS) shows that today’s digital “dance clubs” can also generate jobs and some serious economic activity.  DIGITS analyzed Facebook’s apps platform and found that “the Facebook App Economy created 235,644 jobs, adding a value of $15.71 billion dollars to the U.S. economy.”


So how is Facebook’s apps platform like a dance club? Read more

iAWFUL: the 10 Most Awful Laws for the Internet

Today we published our September 2011 “iAWFUL” list of bad Internet laws.  The worst offenders are new burdens on small businesses using the Internet, plus a Puerto Rico bill restricting how 17-year-olds can use social networking.

Our Internet Advocates’ Watchlist For Ugly Laws (yep, iAWFUL is an acronym) is the 10 items of state and federal legislation that pose the greatest threat to the Internet and e-commerce. Read more

New Rolling Stones Lyrics: Getting What You Want AND What You Need

The Rolling Stones said it best, “You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.”  But according to a new study, Internet users are getting what they need and what they want.

Read more