The Blog

The Week in Social Media

A little round-up of some things of note that happened in the world of social media this week. Highlights include traditional media outlets being beaten to stories by Twitter, Scottish Terriers stealing the show at the Commonwealth Games ceremony and the inevitable dog gif...

Well, bit of a mixed week really. If you have a flight coming up you'd be forgiven for being a little more anxious than usual...

But if you happen to be a Scottish Terrier then there was a good chance you were making your international catwalk debut at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games...

Big international events are always played out on social media and while it is often a fantastic source of information, journalists are inevitably faced with the monumental task of sorting the truth from the lies, propaganda and the plain misinformed.

The drastic escalation of violence in Gaza is a superb example of this, throwing up questions of morals and ethics as pictures - many far from authentic or even from Gaza - circulate online, each one trying to convince an audience of the narrative it's author wishes to convey.

The speed of social media demands we reassess what is moral to post in the midst of breaking news. This conversation needs to be had between more than just journalists. It should interest everyone who shares on social media. There are problems with Twitter and Facebook policing our posts, so it is far more savoury that we make these decisions ourselves. Perhaps the best thing to do for now is to think before you post.

A more positive effect of social media on the conflict is the ability of Twitter in particular, to challenge the traditionally more dominant narrative provided by mainstream media and states themselves.

Israel is finding its projected narratives immediately online by reporters and civilians on the ground.

Specifically social media has the power to do three things: first, to show people reality - or a version of it - independent of what TV networks show. Second, and I think just as important, journalists on the ground are using social media to report, necessarily short-circuiting the normal editorial processes that used to filter what they said. Third, to get into your real life consciousness much more powerfully than the old media.

This can only be a good thing - especially when you consider in the US the stance from the "number one rated cable news channel", Fox News, appears to be acting like a complete ****hole and shouting down anyone who doesn't agree with your views.

On a lighter note, the Commonwealth Games provided the Huffington Post UK with one its most viral story this week by a long way - a round-up of the funniest Tweets from the opening ceremony.

In a week tinged with various horrific tragedies, it's nice to be reminded that something so simple can provide some much-needed light relief.

Feel good story of the week

A terminally-ill six-year-old American boy just wanted one thing for his birthday - some birthday cards. After his story spread over social media, he got his wish. Check out the mountain of mail he received here.

RELEASES: Reddit Live

Reddit announced its very own live-blog platform this week (complete with incredible dog gif) allowing anyone to start automatically refreshing, real-time commentary on whatever takes your fancy.

Tweets are embeddable so posting pictures and video is possible. You can see an example of one here.

While obviously it's great to give everyone the means to create their own live blog, as The Next Web points out, it Reddit will also be keen to avoid the "online witch hunts" that accompanied the Boston Marathon bombings.

Previously only a handful of established reporters as well as Reddit employees had access to this feature.

Facebook Mentions

This new app is ostensibly aimed at "actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers" (celebrities basically), and is only available to those with verified pages.

Mentions appears to be pretty simple - it provides a simplified feed that only shows posts where a user has been tagged, creating a space where celeb egos can be nurtured by compliments and shot down by troll bile all at the same time.

For publishers (those that are verified anyway), Mentions could provide an incredibly useful tool. It's notoriously difficult to engage effectively audiences on Facebook due to the sheer number of comments generated from posts.

This could provide an easier way to curate comments and find ones worth responding to. All this is speculation for now though, it's only been released in the US presently.

Facebook Save

A nifty new feature that allows you to save "links, places, movies, TV and music" so you can read them later. No more, no less which at the time being basically makes it a poor man's version of Pocket. An offline reading feature would improve it no end.


The inexorable rise of WhatsApp continues. The mobile chat app's latest scalp is Facebook Messenger pushing it into second place with 39% of the mobile internet audience, compared to Facebook's 38%.


Online ethical standards reached new lows with the continuing use of scammers taking advantage of disasters to trick people into handing over personal details or visit dodgy sites.

Just don't you bastards.