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Michael Jackson Delays the Revolution!

28. June 2009 – 19:04 by Susie Ruston

Last week many popular news sites (CNN, BBC, techradar etc.) reporting the unexpected death of pop legend Michael Jackson caused a world-wide slow down of the Internet which caused many popular engagement channels such as Twitter to crash! 

His death generated the most tweets per second on Twitter since Barack Obama was elected president. In fact many of my friends in remote locations at festivals such as Glastonbury (UK) learned of the shocking news through SMS and Twitter on their mobiles, Blackberry’s and iPhones as cyberspace began to go into frenzy.

This event raised many fundamental issues about the capacity of the internet that is critical to participation and democracy, as well as highlighting the global difference in how countries trust official and unofficial sources of information 

For example, the “Michael Jackson outage” on the net (caused by the West accessing many ‘official’ sources of trusted information) resulted in many users who were finding the tool critical for organising protest in Iran unable to access their usual sources of ‘unofficial’ information, thereby effectively delaying demonstrations. 

Ironically, despite the mainly unsuccessful efforts of the Iranian regime to shut down participation in the form of protests by denying citizens access to technology, it was actually the West who temporarily (albeit unintentionally) succeeded in achieving this feat through its overuse.

A clash of hunger for knowledge from official sources vs. the need to organize knowledge against official sources does raise interesting contrasts and demonstrates how far new media has the ability to focus our thoughts and actions in a modern world.

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Bad Week for Social Networking

4. March 2009 – 21:32 by Susie Ruston

Facebook has had a bad week with five different security issues coming to light.  Hackers are coming up with new ways to steal valuable data from users by manipulating the trust and social links that drive the network.  The latest being the posting of a fake YouTube link within profiles which releases a malicious malware when clicked. (

So how do we stay social online whilst protecting ourselves? A 2006 study by Awad and Krishnan noted that whilst users will express very strong concerns about the privacy of their personal information, they will be less than vigilant about safeguarding it. A statement that possibly reflects my own use. As a non-techy-type I know not to include my date of birth in a public online space, but am I being too trusting by providing other personal information in the pursuit of social interaction?

With the upsurge of these hard-to-spot attacks, do I need to do more to protect my own data, or do we need Social Network sites to have higher levels of protection mechanisms and policies to protect members?  Or, will measures like these affect the use of the sites?