In January, you may have noticed many of your Facebook friends posting a notice claiming to add copyright protection to their updates, photos, and other Facebook content. This wasn’t the first time many users posted the notice; it first popped up in 2012. The problem is that there was no truth to the notice then and there isn’t any now. It was a hoax, and lots of people fell for it. One of the most common falsehoods spread over social media is news of a celebrity death. In a way, it’s probably not a bad thing that people are willing to express their sympathy to the family of the deceased, but, many times, the celebrity in question is just as much alive as Abe Vigoda. One reason we may be so quick to believe these stories without real corroboration is that sometimes social media does break stories before mainstream media. Facebook now offers a way to help its users report, and maybe even cut down on, hoaxes and scams. When multiple users report a news feed story as false, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate, Facebook may add a warning message to the story indicating what others are saying about it. However, the problem isn’t limited to malicious hoaxes. That is Literally Unbelievable At some point, anyone who’s been on social media has seen a friend or contact with a poor sarcasm detector post a link to a story from the satirical publication “The Onion” without realizing the story was satire. In fact, that problem is so widespread that there’s a website devoted to collecting examples of people getting duped by these articles. And once one person posts it to social media, it’s inevitable that someone else will read and believe it, no matter how unbelievable that article might be. The problem gets worse when politics are involved, as perhaps otherwise rational people will apparently believe anything about whichever politicians they don’t like. This got to be so widespread that, last year, Facebook added a “satire” tag to them, and spoiling some of the fun for those of us with more common sense than moral outrage. I Want to Believe Information from the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future’s 2014 Digital Future Report suggests that we’re smarter than this, or at least we claim to be. In 2013, only 14 percent of Internet users said that most or all information posted on social media sites was accurate and trustworthy. For the sake of comparison, 31 percent of respondents said that most or all of the information across the web as a whole was reliable; 71 percent trusted most or all of the information on government websites, and 69 percent believed most or all information posted by established online media. So if we trust our social media friends less than the Internet as a whole, why do we keep falling for these hoaxes? Some genuinely kind souls probably can’t imagine why anyone would spread malicious lies, so they aren’t as skeptical as they should be. Maybe we want to believe these stories because we choose our social media contacts, and we don’t want to think that our “friends” would lie to us, or that we’d choose liars as friends. Maybe we know our friends better than we care to admit, and we shake our heads and say “bless their hearts” under our breath when we see them get fooled. Or maybe—and we really won’t want to admit this—we’re the ones buying and spreading the hoaxes. Image by Sean Macentee/Flikr If someone tweets about a TV show, does anyone see it? That’s what Nielsen, the company well known for producing television ratings, is attempting to figure out. Previously, Nielsen was only able to keep track of how many tweets were made about a television program. Now, however, Nielsen is attempting to track how many people actually see those tweets. Nielsen has discovered that for an average program on TV, the amount of people following the show on Twitter is 50 times larger than those who tweet about it. Therefore, if 100 people tweet about a show, 5,000 people are seeing those tweets.

Marketers Dream

This development is a breakthrough for marketers who have been trying to find the best ways to advertise on Twitter. They were always able see how many people were tweeting about a TV show, but how many people were actually interacting with those tweets remained unknown. Now, by finding out there are so many people engaging with TV on twitter, there is more motivation to start advertising on twitter. Advertisers now have more information, and can target their audience more effectively with the new Nielsen system.

Consumer Nightmare?

Internet users hate advertisements. In fact, 68% of those surveyed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project said they are “not okay” with targeted advertising. Some say they are distracting, others hate that ads often play on their own, and some are just find them irrelevant. Unfortunately, the new Nielsen system will be bringing more advertisements to Twitter, whether we like it or not. With Twitter’s Initial Public Offering on the way, the company needs as many revenue streams as possible to keep investors happy. Television ads are a great way to do it.

Reality

Regardless of consumer sentiment, this is a great development for Twitter. Nielsen has discovered thousands of people check Twitter to see what’s on TV and often find out about movies playing on TV simply because they checked Twitter. They will even sift through the tweets to see what channel it’s on. Now that marketers have these numbers, they will be wasting no time placing advertisements in the middle of all the tweets. If they find that 1,000 people have tweeted about a TV show, they now know 50,000 have seen these tweets. Don’t believe this makes a difference? On October 9th, Comcast came to an agreement with Twitter, to advertise their “See It” feature, which will allow users to click on their tweets and immediately begin watching the show the ad displays. So if the show “The Voice” is trending on Twitter, Comcast can send out an ad that will fit right in with all of the other tweets, and encourage people to watch it. Coincidence? I think not. Not only is this great for advertisements, but this Nielsen system is great for Twitter too. Now, when companies approach them to advertise on Twitter in the TV arena, Twitter has a significant audience rating to justify ad prices. Bottom line, more ads will be appearing on Twitter. It just makes too much sense for all parties involved. Well, besides those of us who don’t like Internet ads. Photo by David Berkowitz The origins of the Internet go back to the 1960’s. As you can guess, the Internet has had many milestones from then until now. Here is our top five, based on historical importance, as well each milestone’s relevance today.

5. The First Purchase Made on eBay

Today eBay has over 100 million registered users. These users have contributed to over 300 million listings of all kinds of items on the website. But it all started with one broken item. Pierre Omidyar created the site in 1995, which was then called “AuctionWeb.” He also made the first sale on the website. Pierre was able to sell a broken laser pointer for $14.83 in 1995. It took only two years for eBay to record its one-millionth item sold. Today, over five billion items have been sold on the website. He may not have known it then, but when Pierre sold that broken laser pointer 18 years ago, he transformed the way goods would be bought and sold.

4. The First Picture Ever Uploaded

Pictures have overrun the Internet. With the development of social media, anyone and everyone can post pictures that they want to the Internet. There’s even a social media app dedicated specifically for pictures. So it’s fitting the first picture ever uploaded on the Internet makes this list. This picture has the honor of being number one. It was actually a photo-shopped version that was uploaded by Timber Berners-Lee, who just happened to invent the World Wide Web, in 1992. The picture is of a parody band called “Les Horribles Cernettes.” This was a revolutionary moment because up until that point, the Internet was seen as only for serious matters. Credit to Berners-Lee also successfully predicting the type of pictures that people would post the most.

3. The First Tweet

Twitter is fairly recent phenomenon compared to other firsts on this list, but the website earned a spot because of how it has changed the way information is shared around the world. Co-founder Jack Dorsey made the first tweet in 2006. It simply read, “just setting up my twttr.” Pretty uninspiring. But that hasn’t stopped the twitter revolution. As of September, Twitter has around 500 million users. These users have sent more than 300 billion tweets, with 500 million tweets being sent every day. Twenty percent of users also report using Twitter to gather news. So while Twitter is a new Internet concept, its place in society is very important. And it all started with a grammatically incorrect sentence.

2. The First Registered Domain Name

Today, there are over 250 million registered domain names on the Internet. In just 28 years, the number of domain names has grown by 250 million times. That’s right, the first domain name, symbolics.com, was registered in 1985. Symbolics was a company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts that built computer systems. Unfortunately, Symbolics sold its historic domain name in 2009. The company now owns the domain name symbolics-dks.com. Although the name has changed, from the looks of the website, it hasn’t changed since 1985. The significance of the first domain name is obvious. Domain names make the World Wide Web what it is. They turned the Internet into a money making machine. Besides businesses creating their own websites, people have been able to sell domain names to prominent companies for absurd amounts of money. Hotels.com was purchased in 2011 for $11 million. Facebook purchased Fb.com in 2010 for $8.5 million. Domain names are essential for success on the Internet and symbolics.com got it all started.

1. The First Email

Ray Tomlinson was the man responsible for this epic feat. Tomlinson was working on a program that could transfer files to other computers. He came up with the idea to apply message functions along with the transfer program, and boom, email was born in 1971. Unfortunately, according to Tomlinson, the first email was simply a test message and had no real meaning. Tomlinson mashed his hands on the keyboard and sent what came up. Obviously, email has become a huge part of everyday life. It remains one of, if not the best, ways to contact a large group of people. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of its importance. Email was the predecessor to all of the incredible technologies people use to connect with each other. The development of email allowed for other messaging systems, like instant messaging and texting. So as slow as email may seem today, without it, we may not have the faster types of messaging systems. That’s what makes the first email ever sent the most important first in Internet history. Photo by whlwcl
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