People’s addiction to networking sites on rise: study

A Facebook login page is seen on a computer screen in Chicago

People’s addiction to social networking sites is fast on the rise, according to a study which said an increasing number of Facebook and Twitter users check their accounts first thing in the morning while some look at their social media messages even while having sex.

The study conducted by consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo said 53 per cent of people surveyed check their Facebook/Twitter accounts as soon as they get up in the morning, even “before getting out of bed”. Nearly 31 per cent say “this is how I get my morning news“.

“What is it about social media that causes people to spend so much of their precious time trading information with friends, family and even giant corporations? Of course, we already know the answer; it is fun and can be rewarding both socially and financially,” Retrevo’s Director of Community & Content Andrew Eisner said.

The Gadgetology study asked consumers how they felt about being interrupted at various times and occasions for an electronic message. While 33 per cent said they did not mind being interrupted by message updates “during a meeting”, 76 per cent said they can take a break from their meal to check their accounts.

Seventeen per cent said they would read a message on Facebook or Twitter during sex, while 63 per cent said they would check out a message while in the toilet.

Thirty-four per cent of the respondents said they would check their social networking accounts first thing in the morning, before switching on the TV. About 30 per cent of those surveyed said they check or update their Facebook/Twitter accounts whenever they wake up in the night.

People under the age of 25 were more likely to lose sleep keeping an eye on their friends’ posts during the night, the study said. iPhone owners stand out in this study as more involved with social media. They use Facebook and Twitter more often and in more places.

“With over 31 per cent of social media users saying checking Facebook and Twitter first thing in the morning is how they get their morning “news”, could we be witnessing the first signs of social media services beginning to replace ’Good Morning America’ as the source for what’s going on in the world?” the study said.

In more evidence that social media is becoming addictive, 56 per cent of its users said they need to check Facebook at least once a day, while 29 per cent said they can go only a couple of hours without checking their accounts.

Thirty-five per cent said they have to check their accounts at least a few times in a day. The sample size for the survey was over 1000 people across the United States.

According to Facebook, it has more than 400 million active users across the world. Some estimates say Twitter ended 2009 with over 75 million user accounts.

Youngsters prefer internet to family, friends for help

Only a fifth (18 per cent) cross-checked their findings with a friend or parent, researchers found, The Scotsman reported.

Almost nine out of ten young people turn to the Internet to help solve their problems, according to a new survey.

More than half (53 per cent) of the youngsters who took refuge online ended up being more worried after finding the information on web pages, the poll, commissioned by Get Connected, a free confidential helpline, revealed.

Only a fifth (18 per cent) said they cross-checked their findings with a friend or parent, researchers found, The Scotsman reported.

Andrew McKnight, chairman of its board of trustees, said, “These results show that there is a need for young people to be able to verify the information that they find online.”

“In many cases the vast amount of information available on the internet seems to exacerbate their personal worries further.” Andrew McKnight said.

“As a society, we have become increasingly reliant on the internet as a first point of reference for a lot of information.” Andrew McKnight added.

He also said, “It is crucial that we make Britain’s young people aware of exactly where they can turn to for dependable information and support. Get Connected is the safe gateway to these services.”

Ten billion, and counting…

Twitter has seen an upsurge in India in recent months

On Friday, a team huddled together to “watch the big board roll over to 10 billion tweets.” @ev let the world in on this public secret when he tweeted about this milestone on the micro-blogging site, one that he co-founded in 2006. @ev is the twitter handle (unique ID that micro-bloggers go by) for Twitter CEO Evan Williams.

Closer home, that day the Indian Parliament saw a new-age Web 2.0 phrase enter its vocabulary. Taking objection to Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor’s controversial twitter updates, a senior politician warned: “All this tweeting can lead to quitting.” With the mainstream media often using twitter to garner opinion, and Bollywood biggies such as Shah Rukh Khan using this medium to air their views, micro-blogging appears to have arrived in India.

So how has Twitter been able to go where social networks and blogs haven’t? The beauty of twitter lies in its simplicity. It revolves round a plain premise: ‘What’s happening?’ In 140 characters, no more, users can punctuate their replies with wit, intellect, news or information (increasingly so) and, of course, brevity. Being text-based, your information stream is uncluttered, selective (depending on whom you choose to follow) and satisfies that inherent desire to talk to the world.

Indian trending topics

Seconds after cricketer Sachin Tendulkar scored his double century or controversial Swami Nityanand made headlines, twitterspace was abuzz. So #Nityanand was seen ‘trending’ worldwide for at least four hours, as have #Budget, #Mumbai4all (in response to the Shiv Sena caveat) or #FunnyIndianAds. Twitter user Tinu Cherian says Indian tweeple — twitter parlance for microbloggers — are excited. “Some of these topics had 600 people tweeting at the same time. We hope Twitter will take note,” he says. Indian twitter users lament the fact that Local Trends — a feature that makes Trending Topics location-based — has not been rolled out in India.

What makes it click?

Kiran Jonalagadda, who became a twitter celebrity of sorts when he tweeted live updates from the site of a fire accident in Bangalore, discovered himself “swimming in retweets” — with 400 messages in an evening. He believes that being primitive and crude is Twitter’s USP. “Twitter does what it does and nothing else, unlike facebook which tries to be all. So when something is going on, on Twitter it is very easy to jump into the action.” That the @name (syntax) is universal is significant too, he adds. Further, Twitter’s simple API has allowed for multiple clients, so it is easy to use across platforms, be it on the desktop or mobile phone.

Online content should stay free, feel most Indian surfers

NOT WORTH MY RUPEE: A survey concluded that most Indian surfers are unwilling to pay for online content.

A majority of Internet surfers in India feel online content should come free, says a survey. However, a good number of them do not mind spending a little if the quality of content is better, the survey added.

According to the study conducted by global consultancy firm The Nielsen Company, nine out of 10 Indians believe that free content on the Internet should remain free in the future.

However, three fourth of the Indian surfers surveyed are willing to pay for the content if the quality is better than the free one currently online.

“Internet is a huge space and content is available for free at the click of a button. Out there exists immense quantity of information but most of it lacks in quality, and this stress on quality by consumers will be a major factor in driving consumers to pay for online content,” Nielsen Online Associate Director Karthik Nagarajan said.

Around 69 per cent respondents said that they would rather pay for individual pieces of content instead of subscribing to the entire website. While another three fourth of the consumers would stop using the website if they have to pay for the content because they can find the same information on a free site, the survey said.

Indian consumers would not mind paying for books, magazines, music, games and movies in the future, while some of them are already paying for books and magazines, it said.

The survey said that half the respodents were prepared to pay for books, while 47 per cent were ready to buy magazines and music. Around 46 per cent were ready to pay for professionally produced videos, 45 per cent for theatrical movies and 44 per cent respondents for games.

Interestingly, a small number of Indians had earlier paid for news and newspaper content and they are not willing to pay for these online contents in the future.

The survey revealed that just 10 per cent of Indian consumers said they had previously paid for Internet-only for news content and 12 per cent had paid for newspaper content online in the past.

In addition, 49 per cent of Indians said they would not consider paying for online newspapers or Internet-only news sources in the future.

The Nielsen, which polled more than 27,000 surfers in 54 countries found that majority of consumers in India are not prepared to pay for consumer-generated content such as blogs (70 per cent), social communities (61 per cent), and consumer generated video (60 per cent).

Just one button for all home entertainment


Today no urban home is complete without a television set, a set-top box, a DVD player, music stations, play stations and laptops. Each of these devices comes with a separate remote control. To make things simple for you, Logitech has introduced its harmony or universal remote control.

With evolving technology, the company wants to build an eco-system around different screens such as television, smart phones, power points and net books, says Ashish Arora, vice-president and general manager, Digital Homes, Logitech. “Millions of families around the world are investing in better home entertainment systems. However, each new device adds another remote to the coffee table, and another level of complexity to what should be an enjoyable experience.”

To get you to your entertainment faster, the remote offers one-button control. Instead of a complex series of button presses or complicated lists of what to turn on or which button to select after completing the online set-up, you just select what you want to do — such as ‘Watch a DVD.’ The remote will do the rest.

Other remote control devices have an intelligent chip, which is programmed for that particular gadget, says Mr. Arora. With the wear and tear of the product, the remote also dies a natural death.

But the company’s remote controls are connected through the Internet. Through the Internet, Logitech collects the model and content details of devices. It receives data such as model number and gadget names from the Logitech server and programmes them into the remotes.

Internet nominated for ‘2010 Nobel Peace Prize’

The Internet was proposed by the Italian edition of the popular ‘Wired’ magazine for promoting “dialogue, debate and consensus through communication” as well as democracy, the media reported. Wikipedians from across the globe participate at a conference in Bangalore on January 13, 2010

It’s official. The Internet, which has virtually revolutionised the world, has been nominated for the ‘2010 Nobel Peace Prize’

The Internet was proposed by the Italian edition of the popular ‘Wired’ magazine for promoting “dialogue, debate and consensus through communication” as well as democracy, the media reported.

Premier endorsers of Internet for Nobel Peace Prize nomination include 2003 Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and famous Italian surgeon, known for his contributions to breast cancer treatments, Umberto Veronesi.

’Wired Italy’ has also launched a dedicated campaign, ’Internet for Peace’, which will carry on till September 2010, featuring different stories and experiences of those, who with the web, have tried to do something concrete to promote peace and harmony in the world.

“We have to look at the Internet as a huge community where men and women from all over the world and with very different religious views can communicate and sympathise, spreading a new culture centred on collaboration and sharing of knowledge that breaks all barriers.” Riccardo Luna said.

“For this reason, the Internet can be considered the first weapon of mass construction, which we can deploy to destroy hate and conflict and propagate peace and democracy.” Riccardo Luna added.

“What happened in Iran after the latest election and the role the web played in spreading information that would otherwise have been censored, are only the newest examples of how the Internet can become a weapon of global hope,” Riccardo Luna, Editor of ‘Wired Italy’, said at the launch.

Companies vow to protect private online data


Important to look at safeguards and whether sharing information requires etiquette


CHENNAI: This Thursday (January 28) was observed as the Data Privacy Day by the United States, Canada and 27 countries of the European Union that accord as much importance to personal data security online as to privacy in general.

It was also a day when several huge corporations — some of which are under the scanner for their privacy policies — renewed their pledge to safeguard private data of millions of its users.

In a scenario of increased information sharing online, especially on social networks, it becomes important to step back and look at not only the safeguards on personal data online but also whether online information sharing requires any etiquette.

Some companies have started systematic monitoring of online activity, especially on social networking sites such as Orkut and Facebook, of their employees to an extent where they consider online data “professional data;” and hence ask them to show some restraint.

Earlier this month, Facebook’s young billionaire-CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

It was both in defence of Facebook’s new controversial privacy policy, which has received flak from several quarters, and also a commentary on whether the notion of privacy itself no longer exists the way it was a few years ago.

While the U.S., Canada and some European countries have explicitly laid out Data Protection Acts and agencies monitoring them, in India the issue falls under the Information Technology Act, and some of the prosecuting powers are vested with the office of Industry Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) working under the Information and Technology Ministry.

N. Vijayashankar, a cyber law expert, says most of the rules and regulations of data security, as they exist in the American and European countries’ data protection Acts, have been incorporated in the revamped Information Technology Act of 2008.

India not having a separate privacy law still will mean that online users disgruntled with misuse of private data have to find ways under other Acts to get justice, he says.

There have been a lot of concerns on what the big companies such as Google and Facebook will do to safeguard online data. But another aspect of data privacy is also about what individuals voluntarily disclose on social networks. Often on Facebook and LinkedIn, people unwittingly disclose professional information that could end up either with those who must not get it or even in the hands of hackers.

In one recent instance, a software service provider in Chennai was looking for investments and one of its senior executives put out the information on his LinkedIn profile. It was brought to the notice of the CEO, and the information was asked to be pulled out. “It would have reflected badly on the company had the sensitive information reached the attention of competitors. On a social network, such news goes viral immediately,” said one of the representatives of the company, speaking on condition of anonymity.