By the London technology team
Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’
When one thinks of the Internet and the millions of debates that take place on social media on a daily basis, the word ‘consensus’ doesn’t normally spring to mind. However, on Tuesday, the Pew Research Internet Project published its report Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’, making a number of key findings. Most notably, the report found that social media users were more willing to share their views if they thought their audience agreed with them. It was also revealed that Facebook and Twitter users were less likely to express their opinions in face-to-face contexts.
Inevitably the report’s findings have garnered much online attention. In the Guardian, Jason Wilson explained that the Internet may in fact be an ‘engine of consensus’ rather than the ‘cesspit of conflict’ that many people think of it as, stating that friendships are often broken and people sometimes ostracised in professional environments for their contributions to online political debates. Furthermore, in accordance with the Guardian’s recent priorities, Wilson stressed the report’s finding that people were less willing to discuss the Snowden-NSA story in social media than they were in person, adding that surveillance may ‘limit politics before it gets started’ and that this should be a key argument in the campaign to restrict the practice.
The Daily Mail also carried the story in Jonathan O’Callaghan’s somewhat alarmingly titled Is Facebook silencing YOUR politics? In this piece the author emphasises that the fear of being mocked is discouraging users from voicing their opinions on such websites.
The full findings of the report can be viewed here and perhaps provide some sort of reassurance that not everyone is like those people who engage in war in the comments beneath Facebook statuses.
Chips, Glorious Chips
Already facing an investigation in China over alleged monopoly practices, the world’s largest mobile chipmaker, Qualcomm Inc, is now at risk of facing another antitrust investigation from the European Union. The EU competition authority can fine companies as much as 10 percent of their global revenues for breaching EU antitrust rules, meaning that Qualcomm would be faced with a fine of up to $2.5bn if found guilty.
Whilst $2.5bn would indeed constitute a record fine from the EU competition authority, it is not the particulars of the Qualcomm case that are of primary interest here. More interesting is what another high profile probe would teach us about the excited state of the chip-making market. The likes of Intel, ARM and Qualcomm are vying for long-term dominance in a market expected to grow exponentially on the back of rocketing mobile usage, the rise of wearables and the widely prophesised ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). An EU competition probe would add fuel to an already explosive situation with the big players greedily eyeing up predictions of massive market growth.
Twitter to offer analytics for free
Twitter announced it will open up its previously hard to get and expensive analytics tools for free. They have created an analytics dashboard for all active accounts, allowing accounts holders to see their impressions, mentions and other tweet related stats. This is big news as it jeopardises the business model of a whole industry of analytics providers and communications firms, who currently charge a premium for accessing this information via third party tools.
The announcement should act as a warning to the advertising, marketing and communications agencies not to rely on previously held assumptions about how content platforms manage their services. The now free analytics will make brands question the need to pay for outside help, and forces businesses that charge for social media analysis to beef up their advice and content creation offerings. Indeed a number of agencies have already come out fighting, saying Twitter’s tools were less sophisticated than agency provided analysis and insight. There is also business potential here, as it could see in-house teams bolster their analytical ability and could be a game changer for small organisations (and egotistical individuals) who use social media as a free marketing platform and don’t have the budget for advertising or external support.
As you can imagine, the announcement was widely covered in the tech and marketing press, with pieces in The Register, TechWeekEurope, PR Week and Marketing Week plus some national coverage in the Daily Mail.