Tag Archives: social-networking

Resources for Community Building

Richard Millington—online community builder for the UNHCR and one of Seth Godin’s 2008 interns—has compiled over 100 of his best posts from the previous two years.

There’s a wealth of valuable information at FeverBee and this list is a great introduction to the topic of community building. A few of the twelve categories Millington has used in organising his posts:

  • Pre-Launch and Strategy
  • Building An Online Community Website
  • Increasing Participation
  • Measurement/ROI
  • Monetizing

Identification through Anonymous Social Networking Data

Anonymity is “not sufficient for privacy when dealing with social networks” is the conclusion from a study that has successfully managed to de-anonymise large amounts of sanitised data from Twitter and Flickr.

The main lesson of this paper is that anonymity is not sufficient for privacy when dealing with social networks. […] Our experiments underestimate the extent of the privacy risks of anonymized social networks. The overlap between Twitter and Flickr membership at the time of our data collection was relatively small. […] As social networks grow larger and include a greater fraction of the population along with their relationships, the overlap increases. Therefore, we expect that our algorithm can achieve an even greater re-identification rate on larger networks.

There’s been some meritorious coverage of this study. This from BBC News:

The pair found that one third of those who are on both Flickr and Twitter can be identified from the completely anonymous Twitter graph. This is despite the fact that the overlap of members between the two services is thought to be about 15%.

This from Ars Technica:

It’s not just about Twitter, either. Twitter was a proof of concept, but the idea extends to any sort of social network: phone call records, healthcare records, academic sociological datasets, etc.

via Schneier

Overcoming Network Effects

A network effect is “the effect that one user of a good or service has on the value of that product to other people”. When there is a positive network effect we say that the good or service in question increases in usefulness the more users there are, like the telephone or online social networks.

Of course, being in a business or sector that relies on positive network externalities brings with it one inherent problem: getting to the sociodynamic critical mass. Chris Dixon looks at six strategies for overcoming strong network effects; the so-called “chicken and egg” problems.

  • Signal long-term commitment to platform success and competitive pricing: Microsoft’s $500m promotion of the xbox platform.
  • Use backwards and sideways compatibility to benefit from existing complements: Microsoft with DOS and Windows versions, Apple with Bootcamp.
  • Exploit irregular network topologies: (Early) Facebook and JDate for social networking and dating respectively.
  • Influence the firms that produce vital complements: Sony and Philips influencing Polygram for their CDs.
  • Provide standalone value for the base product: Recording of television on VCRs.
  • Integrate vertically into critical complements when supply is not certain: Nintendo’s games consoles with games funded by Microsoft and Sony.

via Ben Casnocha

Privacy Salience and Social Networking Sites

Privacy could become a competitive feature of social networking sites, suggests Bruce Schneier in an article that looks at the interesting topic of privacy salience: the suggestion that privacy reassurances make people more, not less, concerned.

Privacy salience does a lot to explain social networking sites and their attitudes towards privacy. From a business perspective, social networking sites don’t want their members to exercise their privacy rights very much. They want members to be comfortable disclosing a lot of data about themselves.

[…] Users care about privacy, but don’t really think about it day to day. The social networking sites don’t want to remind users about privacy, even if they talk about it positively, because any reminder will result in users remembering their privacy fears and becoming more cautious about sharing personal data. But the sites also need to reassure those “privacy fundamentalists” for whom privacy is always salient, so they have very strong pro-privacy rhetoric for those who take the time to search them out. The two different marketing messages are for two different audiences.

Taming White House Trolls

When the Obama administration embraced blogging, sans commenting, on the White House website there were a number of detractors saying that Obama had retreated from his campaign promise of providing a site enabling public discussions. The reasons why are fairly obvious, but Clive Thompson looks at how the WhiteHouse.gov blog could enable commenting and successfully/safely control trolls (the original link is currently 404. Google’s cache of the post is up).

If the White House were to use humans to filter posts, it could get into some dicey political situations. If it were to outright ban them, it could draw First Amendment lawsuits. So the genius of modern troll-taming techniques—leaving trollery intact, but mitigating its impact—neatly fits the bill.