Playground Buzz – The Most Intriguing Social Media News of the Week

By Affinitive

It’s Friday! We’ve been either attending or livestreaming Social Media Week panels and caught up in #Linsanity  (yes, us too) and all its ever enduring puns and memes here in the office. When not live tweeting the Grammys or looking at breakdowns of the social media industry, we’ve been linking each other to these stories.

We’re logging off for the weekend with these in mind:


Facebook Now Verifies Accounts and Pseudonyms:
Facebook has rolled out the ability to verify accounts and opt for a preferred nickname instead of your given birthname. While the benefits or ploys at verifying accounts are still up in the air, verifying one’s Facebook account promises more prominent placement in Facebook’s “People to Subscribe to” suggestions and gives the platform a boost to square off with Twitter regarding interest graphs. To ensure that the wrong accounts are not verified, Facebook has announced that they will manually approve alternative names. While the feature is beneficial to celebrities, journalists, and other personalities, its use and benefit for the regular layman is still unclear.

 Could It Be? Timeline for Brands?
Brands have been waffling about whether Facebook’s Timeline feature would be extended to them – if at all, since as of December, brands were not included in the overall rollout. Things seem to be leaning more towards “yes” however, as reports have come in that Facebook will use its Feb 29th conference to announce a beta program for brands. Exciting, and about time!

Apple’s Address Gate Gets Hairier
An iOS app from Path has been wreaking havoc for Apple this past week after it was discovered that it uploaded your iPhone address book to servers.  The “Find Your Friends” feature has been the cause of some serious contention and has escalated as more Apple apps (Foodspotting, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) have been lambasted for more or less following suit. In other news,  this chart from Asymco demonstrates that within the past four years, Apple has sold more iPhones than Macs ever, which would quietly support the decision to make recent OS X release Mountain Lion more like its iOS.

Candidates See Real-Time Reactions on Twitter
If folks like Newt Gringrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum were to see the public’s reactions to their blips and soundbytes in real time, would they change their tune when on the podium? Twitter is working hard to find out. Twitter’s Director of Content and Programing Chloe Sladden said:

“The essential mission of Twitter is that the more information that’s out there and the more dialogue, the smaller the worlds feels, and that has to lead to more understanding and empathy. Twitter did not cause the Arab Spring, but it’s powerful to be that sidekick and allow people to take a mission and grow a movement. Information wants to be free”

Sladden went on to say that Twitter and Fox News ran a pilot program during the South Carolina primaries, where viewers were asked to tweet a candidate’s name with either #dodge or #answer to signify if they were satisfied with their responses. During breaks and after the debates, responses were broken down into graphs that analyzed which candidates came off as transparent or shifty. While Fox Network rejected the program because they felt that Twitter wasn’t a representative sample of the U.S., Twitter will continue efforts.

Pinterest Quietly Monetizing Off User Links 
At this point, we all know that Pinterest is rapidly blowing up and growing, but we weren’t quite prepared for the revelation that Pinterest generates revenue by modifying user submitted pins.

What does this mean?  Quite simply, the process goes as thus:  if a user posts a pin to Pinterest, and it links to an ecommerce site that has an affiliate program, Pinterest modifies the link to add their own affiliate tracking code. Should another user click on your pin to make a purchase, Pinterest gets paid. It’s certainly clever of the brand to take a unique revenue raising method, but Pinterest has not disclosed this information to users, which makes it disconcerting. Our suggestion is that Pinterest announce this practice in a show of good faith and transparency before some ugly fallout occurs. In other bizarre and surreal Pinterest news, the U.S Army is an active member of the community, with various boards dedicated to our troops. Hooah?

Supposed Google Drive Screenshot Emerges 
One Geekwire reader was allegedly graced with the early activation of Google Drive for him and even sent in the screenshot to prove it.  While the timing makes perfect sense, it’s always possible that the screenshot can be a fake, as Google’s logos and icons aren’t exactly the most difficult to mock up.

Whitney Houston & Twitter
In unfortunate and unsavory news, singer Whitney Houston passed away last week. In a turn of events that have now become familiar, social media platforms such as Twitter were the first to pick up and spread news before news outlets themselves. The first tweet about Houston’s death was tweeted a good 55 minutes prior to the AP’s announcement. In other news, Houston’s funeral will be livestreamed tomorrow and the service broadcasted through AP Live.

Did we miss a bit o’buzz? Let us know and join in on the conversation here!