Social Media

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In the short period of time that the city’s Big Burgh mobile app, aimed at helping the homeless find resources, has been available, it has far exceeded usage expectations.

Launched at the end of August, the app has seen 11,000 site visits, said Bob Firth, founder of Informing Design, which created the app.

"To put that in perspective, the app of the entire region of Australian, with 23 million people in the same time period, got 20 percent fewer site visits,” Firth said. “The app for San Francisco, which has 850,000 people, got 35 percent fewer site visits."

I've noticed two distinct ways social media have changed the way we talk to each other about politics. Clearly, they have changed a lot, maybe everything, but two fairly new phenomena stand out.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

When Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 and 2012, some credited his success, at least in part, to his use of Twitter.

This election, the short-length video platform Snapchat, first released in 2011, could help tip the scales for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. 

If you want to gain a couple thousand Twitter followers overnight, it’s not hard.

There are hundreds of websites promising more Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, Facebook likes and even fake reviews for a product on Amazon or a business on Yelp.

These accounts, whether created by bots or real people, are called fraudsters, and social networks and other sites play a constant game of catch-up trying to identify and disable them.

Yahoo has revealed that it suffered a massive cyber breach in late 2014, which the company believes resulted in theft of information about the accounts of at least 500 million users.

The Internet responded in stride — as it has to all recent Yahoo-related news — with the regular tide of jokes about Yahoo's dinosaur status.

Drug Suspect Issues Facebook Warning Not To Call His Phone

Sep 21, 2016
Sean MacEntee / Flickr

Police say a Pennsylvania drug suspect who dropped his cellphone while running away from police took to Facebook to warn his friends not to call that phone number.

Lackawanna County detectives say 25-year-old James Lee Hankins, of Scranton, ran away after police tried to arrest him for an undercover drug deal involving heroin and cocaine on Monday afternoon.

Pokemon Go trainers will do almost anything for a rare find, including getting into a car and speeding around to catch them. And then they tweet about it. According to a study, there were over 113,000 social media messages in 10 days last July that showed people getting into potentially unsafe traffic situations while trying to catch cute virtual monsters.

Elianna Paljug

Georgia Institute of Technology sophomore Elianna Paljug had just watched fireworks on the oceanside Promenade des Anglais when a Tunisian man driving a truck plowed through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers. The attack last week in Nice, France killed 84 people.

Twitter has permanently suspended conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, saying that he subjected other users to targeted abuse. Yiannopoulos' suspension comes amid a recent campaign in which users tweeted hundreds of racist and abusive messages at Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.

Socialize Right Program Teaches Students How To Be Safe Online

May 26, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It seems a week doesn’t go by without a celebrity, athlete or politician posting something controversial on Facebook or Twitter. With more young people communicating via social media how do you keep them from making these kinds of blunders? That’s that goal of Socialize Right and we’ll discover how they’re accomplishing this mission with its developer Eric Sloss and Terry O'Hara, a consulting psychologist for Socialize Right.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Alicia Kozakiewicz recently spoke with seventh and eighth graders at Propel Schools about internet safety and being cautious online. The Alicia Project, Kozakiewicz’s platform, is deeply personal to her life.

David Goldman / AP Images

New Hampshire isn't the only state where there is lots of enthusiasm for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Even though the Pennsylvania primary is over two months away, young voters in the Keystone state are excited about the senator from Vermont including 26-year-old Adam Wells of Aspinwall who runs the twitter account @PittsBern. We'll talk with Post-Gazette Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello, who is covering the New Hampshire primary, about the chances that Sanders will be able to ride his momentum to victory in PA.   

Jason Howie / Flickr

People who spend more than an hour a day, or 30 times per week, browsing through social media often don't get a good night's sleep.

A study from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine found adults who use social media more have a greater likelihood of having sleep disturbances. Nearly 1,800 adults between the ages of 19 and 32 were surveyed on their levels of social media use and how often they had disturbed, or restless sleep. Researchers found 30 percent of participants had high levels of sleep disturbance.

George Lange / Instagram

Through sharing stories on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and other social media sites, we’ve come a long way from telling tales around a campfire and painting pictures on cave walls.  Nowadays, storytelling through social media allows for self-expression through powerful depiction of the senses.

George Lange, famed photographer, Pittsburgh native, and author of the book, The Unforgettable Photograph, says that through his new position ‘Artist-in-Residence’ with Instagram, he inspires both ordinary people and companies to build their brands, including everything from personal snapshots to paid campaigns.

YouTube

The Pittsburgh Citizens Police Review Board has opened an inquiry into the behavior of a Pittsburgh Police officer trying to control the crowd outside the Wood Street T Station on Wednesday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

A group of neighbors in the Mexican War Streets knew the local food pantry was short on food and turned to Facebook.

They said the pantry was well stocked Monday night but more than 100 families shopped Tuesday. They asked for walk-in donations.  

Twitter

As the state budget impasse wears through its fifth month, service organizations and some of their funders are calling on state lawmakers to take action before services and programs statewide face more delays in funding.

The Pittsburgh Foundation partnered with the United Way of Allegheny County to launch a social media campaign using #PAPeopleCount. The groups are asking service providers, nonprofits and residents to let their digital voices be heard.

Flickr user Sean Salmon

As social engagement increasingly becomes centered around mobile apps, many local businesses are turning to location-based apps such as Foursquare and Yelp to attract customers.

But a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences and Stevens Institute of Technology suggests that special deals and discounts linked to social media apps aren’t all that effective at driving customers to businesses.

Trying To Control The Message During The Budget Standstill

Jul 20, 2015
Dave Newman / flickr

  

As the budget stalemate continues in Harrisburg, Republicans in the legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf are engaged in a battle to make sure the voters get their message about who is responsible. Essential Pittsburgh broke down how the media war is being waged with Jeff Ritter, chair of media, communications and technology at La Roche College.

Whether promoting yard sales, selling strollers or reporting break-ins, Pittsburghers get the good out of social media service Nextdoor

The City of Pittsburgh recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its partnership with the service, which places users in private online communities comprised solely of members of their own neighborhoods.

Ever Wonder What’s Behind Closed Captioning?

Feb 3, 2015
Daniel Olnes / Flickr

When working out at the gym or sitting at a noisy bar, you’ve probably watched the scrolling text on the nearby TV screen to find out what’s being said. Closed captions have been available for TV since the early days of Julia Child.

Analyzing Big Data Comes With Big Challenges

Dec 9, 2014
Martin Gysler / Flickr

All those clicks, likes, and retweets you do on social media add up to a huge amount of data that can be worth millions to some companies.

But according to new research, actually using that data is easier said than done.

Derek Ruths, assistant professor of Computer Science at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec stresses that, at a general level, using social media data to predict behavior is challenging.

That's because data analysts are typically asked to study data for purposes different than what the data was originally intended for-- in effect, “trying to extract information that wasn’t intentionally put in there.”

The Media’s Role in Ferguson

Nov 25, 2014
Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen / Flickr

We close our discussion of the Ferguson decision with Jeff Ritter, Department Chair of Communications at La Roche College. He explains how social media has been an amplifier of positive and negative information throughout the proceedings.

Social Media and the Gubernatorial Election

Oct 22, 2014
Tom Corbett/Tom Wolf Campaigns / Twitter

Do Governor Corbett and his challenger Tom Wolf have as many followers on Twitter and Facebook as their campaigns would lead you to believe? We’ll look at the role social media is playing in this year’s gubernatorial election with Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter Andrew Conte.

How Do Musicians Survive in 2014?

Sep 18, 2014
SouthernWI / Flickr

When Justin Currie was the lead singer for the band Del Amitri, he scored a top ten single in the U.S. and was heard regularly on top 40 radio.

But earlier this month he had sold only nine tickets to his upcoming solo show at the Club Cafe.

That's when he posted a desperate message on Facebook saying that he was going ahead with the show and that the people of Western Pennsylvania ought to show up. He joins us along with WYEP Program Director Mike Sauter to discuss the business model for the modern musician.

UPMC / University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

We’re living in age of rapidly advancing technology. With so much of our everyday tasks being done online is it taking a toll on our health? We’ll pose that question to Dr. Brian Primack, director of the new Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Take a look at these additional sources that  discuss social media and its effects on our health and well-being. 

This CMU App Watches Boring Video So You Don't Have To

Aug 7, 2014
courtesy LiveLight

Say you have a large volume of digital video — hours of nanny-cam footage, perhaps, or a wedding reception.

And it’s boring, deadly boring. 

But suppose that, somewhere on that tape, something interesting does happen. Maybe it's just five seconds’ worth of attention-worthy images, buried under a mountain of redundant and predictable ones.

Courtesy photo

Teresa Ferguson was not on Facebook before October 2008. Now she finds it indispensable.

Ferguson uses the site to manage the Facebook page of her daughter Ginny Kleker, who after years of battling a deep depression, ended her life at age 31.

Shortly after her daughter’s death, Ferguson accessed Ginny’s Facebook profile and posted a soul-baring letter describing her daughter's vibrant personality and mental health struggles. She also shared her thoughts as a mother about Ginny's suicide.

The city of Pittsburgh entered into a partnership Thursday with the social networking site Nextdoor, which allows users to connect with others in their city or neighborhood through private websites.

The site has been in the Pittsburgh area for more than two years and is represented in 67 neighborhoods, according to Sarah Leary, co-founder of the San Francisco-based company.

With the partnership, city officials will now have the ability to use the site to relay information to the entire city or specific neighborhoods, Leary said.

Pat Williams / Flickr

 

As national media reports about the attacks at Franklin Regional High School began to unfold last week, a story of one of the injured victims taking a selfie from the hospital quickly went viral and prompted a range of reactions. Was the student showing off or simply communicating to his circle of friends?

Gordon Mitchell and Brent Malin, University of Pittsburgh associate professors of communication talked with us about the importance of media literacy and the evolving relevance of social media in our lives and in mainstream news.

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