The Disappearing Web: Decay Is Eating Our History

One of the characteristics of the modern media age—at least for anyone who uses the Web and social media a lot—is that we are surrounded by vast clouds of rapidly changing information, whether it’s blog post,s or news stories, or Twitter and Facebook updates. That’s great if you like real-time content, but there is a not-so-hidden flaw—namely, that you can’t step into the same stream twice, as Heraclitus put it. In other words, much of that information may (and probably will) disappear as new information replaces it, and small pieces of history wind up getting lost.

According to a recent study, which looked at links shared through Twitter about news events such as the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East, this could be turning into a substantial problem. The study, which MIT’s Technology Review highlighted in a recent post by the Physics arXiv blog, was done by a pair of researchers in Virginia, Hany SalahEldeen and Michael Nelson. They took a number of recent major news events over the past three years—including the Egyptian revolution, Michael Jackson’s death, the elections and related protests in Iran, and the outbreak of the H1N1 virus—and tracked the links that were shared on Twitter about each. Following the links to their ultimate source showed that an alarming number of them had simply vanished.

In fact, the researchers said that within a year of these events, an average of 11 percent of the material that was linked to had disappeared completely (and another 20 percent had been archived), and after two-and-a-half years, close to 30 percent had been lost altogether and 41 percent had been archived. Based on this rate of information decay, the authors predicted that more than 10 percent of the information about a major news event will likely be gone within a year, and the remainder will continue to vanish at the rate of .02 percent per day.

It’s not clear from the research why the missing information disappeared, but it’s likely that in many cases blogs have simply shut down or moved, or news stories have been archived by providers who charge for access (something that many newspapers and other media outlets do to generate revenue). But as the Technology Review post points out, this kind of information can be extremely valuable in tracking how historical events developed, such as the Arab Spring revolutions—which the researchers note was the original impetus for their study, since they were trying to collect as much data as possible for the one-year anniversary of the uprisings.

Other scientists, and particularly librarians, have also raised red flags in the past about the rate at which digital data are disappearing. The National Library of Scotland, for example, recently warned that key elements of Scottish digital life were vanishing into a “black hole” and asked the government to fast-track legislation that would allow libraries to store copies of websites. Web pioneer Brewster Kahle is probably the best known digital archivist as a result of his Internet Archive project Open Library).

Although the Virginia researchers didn’t deal with it as part of their study, a related problem is that much of the content that gets distributed through Twitter—not just websites that are linked to in Twitter posts, but the content of the posts themselves—is difficult and/or expensive to get to. Twitter’s search is notoriously unreliable for anything older than about a week, and access to the complete archive of your tweets is provided only to those who can make a special case for needing it, such as Andy Carvin of National Public Radio (who is writing a book about the way he chronicled the Arab Spring revolutions).

As my colleague Eliza Kern noted in a recent post, an external service called Gnip now has access to the full archive of Twitter content [], which it will provide to companies for a fee. And Twitter-based search-and-discovery engine Topsy also has an archive of most of the full “firehose” of tweets—although it focuses primarily on content that is retweeted a lot—and provides that to companies for analytical purposes. But neither can be easily linked to for research or historical archiving purposes. The Library of Congress also has an archive of Twitter’s content, but it isn’t easily accessible, and it’s not clear whether new content is being added.

Twitter has talked about providing a service that would let users download their tweets at some point, but it hasn’t said when such a thing would be available—and even if users did create their own archive in this way (or by using tools like Thinkup from former Lifehacker editor Gina Trapani) it would be difficult to link those in a way that would provide the kind of connected historical information the Virginia study is describing. And it’s not just Twitter: There is no easy way to get access to an archive of Facebook (FB) posts either, although users in Europe can request access to their own archive as a result of a legal ruling there.

For better or worse, much of the content flowing around us seems to be just as insubstantial as the clouds it’s hosted in, and the existing tools we have for trying to capture and make sense of it simply aren’t up to the task. The long-term social effects of this digital amnesia remain to be seen.

Also from GigaOM:
Why Mobile Devices Need Single-Signon Technologies

What Does IPhone Have to Do With Robots?

Open Stack Gets Real

The Challenge of the Connected Car: How to Design Compelling Apps Without Causing Accidents

European Companies Should Gird for Big Cloud Spending

PosSol reviews social media policy

Positive Solutions is reviewing its policy on social media and internet blogging after it was criticised for imposing tough restrictions on advisers.

PosSol partners are allowed to sign up to personal social networking sites and confirm they are financial advisers, but must get compliance approval before using the sites to advertise their business services. Partners are not allowed to blog or tweet about financial services and business activities.

The network has come under fire over its social media policy from Philip Calvert, founder of adviser blogging website IFA Life.

Calvert says: “It seems there really are some dinosaur IFA firms still out there who, unless they take the trouble to learn what social media is, will seriously struggle to be noticed or relevant online.”

PosSol chief executive Peter Coleman (pictured) says: “I have not got any objection in principle to things like Twitter but it is a tricky situation because you run the risk of stepping over the line and saying something which breaks FSA rules on financial promotions.

“We are conducting a review of our policy on this. We are perhaps being too conservative at the moment and we will need to work with the regulator to see what is possible.

“One of the things we are looking at is a series of standard, pre-approved templates so people who are tweeting can use those.”

The FSA says any communications that go beyond “image advertising” must comply with financial promotion rules. It defines image advertising as a communication consisting only of the firm name, a logo or associated image, a contact point and a reference to the types of regulated activities the firm provides and its charging structure.

It says before using “new media”, firms should consider whether risk information can be prominently displayed and if sites such as Twitter, which limit communications to 140 characters, provide investors with balanced information.

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Former 49ers WR Joshua Morgan Gets Kyle Williams-esque Twitter Death Threats: Fan’s Take

Washington Redskins wide receiver Joshua Morgan is in a social media quandary after what transpired at the end of his team’s game against the St. Louis Rams. Due to his careless mistake in Week 2, Morgan is now receiving unmerited criticism and death threats via popular communication tool Twitter.

With 1:19 left in the fourth quarter, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III found Morgan for a pass near the sideline. Following the catch, Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan, often viewed as one of the dirtiest players in the league, push Morgan in the facemask. In retaliation, Morgan threw the football at Finnegan, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

This careless mistake and loss of composure proved costly, as this brought the Redskins back to the St. Louis 44-yard line. Kicker Billy Cundiff was brought on to attempt a 62-yard field goal, missed, and the Rams came away with a three point victory. Due to his mistake, Morgan has taken a bunch of heat directed towards himself and his family on Twitter.

“JOSH MORGAN I WILL KILL YOU IN YOUR [Expletive] SLEEP YOU AUTISTIC [bleep],” one Twitter message said. Other messages on Twitter were directed towards his family:

“I hope your mama loses her foot to diabetes and has trouble walking up/down stairs”

“I hope someone throws a football at ur firstborn child”

Thankfully, Morgan doesn’t take these threats seriously, perhaps in part due to what former San Francisco 49ers teammate Kyle Williams experienced last season. Following his fumbles in the NFC Championship Game last year against the New York Giants, fans went to Twitter to attack him. Like Morgan, Williams experienced hateful comments that wanted to see the young receiver physically hurt or dead.

“You see it all, you hear it all,” Morgan said. “You never let it get to you, especially with me being from D.C. They treated me kind of like they did Kyle Williams last year when dropped a punt against the Giants.”

No matter how big of a mistake someone makes during a game, no one deserves death threats like what Morgan and Williams have experienced. As professional athletes in the public eye, coupled with the public’s ability to communicate to them through social media, players are placed in a vulnerable situation where they are subject to unreasonable and downright despicable comments. Following unfortunate situations like what took place on Sunday in St. Louis, otherwise civilized people can sometimes become unruly idiots making death threats.

While athletes are subject to criticism due to their decisions on and off the field, death threats over the result of a game, no matter how significant, are simply unwarranted.


Former San Francisco 49ers receiver Joshua Morgan getting death threats on Twitter, AP

Redskins WR Morgan says he received death threats via Twitter, Redskins Confidential,

Kyle Williams receiving death threats after NFC Championship, Niner Insider Blog, SF Gate

More from this contributor:

San Francisco 49ers Linebacker Clark Haggans Suspended Three Games: Fan’s Reaction

Fan’s Take: Will 49ers’ ‘Jumbo’ Package Neutralize Lions Defensive Line?

Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers Week 2 Injury Report: Fan’s Review

Packers’ Jarrett Bush Believes 49ers ‘Really Didn’t Beat Us’: Fan’s Take

49ers Win Over Packers Overshadowed by Poor Officiating: Fan’s Take

Austin Chang is a lifelong football fan, San Francisco 49ers supporter, and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @_austinchang.

LiveWorld Extends Range of Social Channel Integration For Its Market-Leading Platform


(OTC Pink Sheets: LVWD.PK) announces the next release of its
market-leading platform with a new wave of social channel integration.

Across social channels in a single efficient enterprise social workflow,
the unique LiveWorld platform aggregates user content, moderates it,
escalates it, tags it for insight, responds to it, and stores it for
audit trails — all while providing a security access layer to a brand’s
social pages.

This technology scales quality human review and management of customer
content on social channels and is in use today by about 100 global
brands across a total of over 4,000 Facebook pages, Twitter pages,
community websites, and customer applications. Companies use the
LiveWorld platform on social channels to protect their brands with
moderation, gain actionable insights, and engage their customers for
marketing, service, and support.

Deeper Twitter Integration

Building on its existing Twitter monitoring, escalation, and response
solution, the new release adds or updates these capabilities:

  • Aggregate all posts authored by a Twitter account
  • Collect Tweets via search keyword
  • Moderate posts published from Twitter account
  • Navigate to Twitter user’s profile
  • View Tweet author’s username / avatar / # followers
  • Aggregate Direct Messages to Twitter account
  • Reply to tweets and direct messages
  • Twitter retweet

WordPress Support

LiveWorld continues to build momentum as a user content management
solution by adding WordPress support to its platform. Brands can now
aggregate, moderate, escalate, and respond to WordPress blogs in the
same enterprise social workflow the platform provides for Facebook,
Twitter, Jive, LiveWorld applications, and custom sites and apps. As of
2011, WordPress is used by 40% of blogs in an estimated 164-million blog
market (source:Blogpulse).

“This new release expands our clients’ reach and depth across the social
web,” said Jenna Woodul, LiveWorld Executive Vice President and Chief
Community Officer, “Our team is dedicated to bringing brands alive
through true social media engagement with their customers. The LiveWorld
platform scales engagement at a global level.”

About LiveWorld

LiveWorld, a user content management company, is a trusted partner to
the world’s largest brands, including the number-one
in retail, CPG, pharmaceutical, and financial/travel
services. We revolutionize the management of user content through
innovative proprietary technology, leading edge services, and deep
integration with client marketing and customer support teams. Scaling
human review of user content and human touch points, LiveWorld removes
obstacles that brands face, allowing them to engage more deeply in
social media. In an innovative approach that encompasses review,
management, and analysis of user content, LiveWorld provides 24/7 brand
protection through “always on” moderation and engagement across social
channels, applications, and sites. The LiveWorld solution offers a
competitive advantage through management of user content in sheer
volume, resulting in amplified brand presence, and proven to improve
social media marketing and increase customer loyalty. LiveWorld is
headquartered in California, with offices in San Jose, CA and New York

For more information, go to
Follow us at @LiveWorld.

Some Facebook Posts Are Fair Game for Employer, Says Judge




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Reputation Changer: Scam Allegations, Fake Reviews Can Prove Catastrophic for Businesses

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwire – Sep 17, 2012) – The Internet is rich with opportunities, both for brands and for consumers. Social media sites allow businesses to share news about their products and directly engage interested customers, while review sites and online search engines make it easy for consumers to locate information about different products and services. According to a recent blog entry from CIO, however, the Internet may be as rife with threats as it is with opportunities. The blog notes that both online scams and fake, misleading online reviews are growing increasingly prevalent and they pose huge risks to consumers and to brands alike. The report has won the attention of Reputation Changer.

CIO notes that online scams are plentiful and often come in the form of “free” trial offers; according to the report, these free trials often end up having numerous strings attached, and are anything but free to the consumer. Meanwhile, the report notes that many companies are engaging in duplicitous online review activities, penning fake reviews on sites like

The report has won the attention of industry-leading reputation defense firm Reputation Changer; the company has responded in a press statement. “These two trends may initially seem to be somewhat unrelated, but together, they make a broad, important point,” says company CEO Cliff Stein. “They indicate that it’s a jungle out there, in the online world, and there are ample pitfalls — not just for the consumer, but for businesses, as well.”

Stein addresses the issue of online scams first. “At Reputation Changer, scam allegations are taken extremely seriously,” he remarks. “This article does us all a service by reminding us that online scams are very real. However, there is a flipside to that coin, which is that many companies are falsely, misleadingly, even shamelessly accused of being scams, when in fact they are perfectly honest and legitimate.”

This is simply a facet of doing business in the online age, says Stein. “People can say whatever they want to say on the Web, whether it’s true or not,” he explains. “What this means is that companies are constantly finding themselves subjected to allegations of wrongdoing, by disgruntled consumers or maybe even angry ex-employees. These scam allegations may have no foundation in reality, but they can still prove disastrous to sales.”

At Reputation Changer, scam reports are given considerable weight, but so are online reviews. “The other half of the article deals with false online reviews,” Stein explains. “Again, there are two sides to the coin. On the one hand, businesses sometimes write false reviews that mislead consumers. At the same time, businesses can find themselves subjected to false, negative reviews, which ultimately lead to lost sales and lost clients. Like scam allegations, false, negative reviews can end with ruin.”

Stein says that either scam allegations or bad reviews can impact brands immensely, but there are methods they can implement to protect their online identities. “Reputation Changer is devoted to the idea that companies and individuals have every right to control what is said about them online, and that no brand should be powerless against online defamation,” says Stein. “We offer a range of services, including custom-designed reputation management packages, to companies wishing to combat bad online press or negative reviews.”

He explains that Reputation Changer’s methods hinge on suppression. “We cannot prevent people from writing nasty things about a company, but we can offer the next best thing,” notes Stein. “We can minimize the damage done by trying to push those negative listings off the first page of an online search, replacing them with content that helps your brand to shine.”


Reputation Changer was founded in 2009 by an elite team of online marketing and sales professionals, united by their desire to give companies and individuals control over how they are presented online. Now joined by social media experts, SEO technicians, content writers, and account executives, Reputation Changer is widely heralded as the #1 reputation management agency in the world. The company renders its services to clients all over the world.

Why Google could cost you a new job

Martin Lazarevic

Martin Lazarevic says the variety of employers getting police checks on applicants had grown rapidly in the past six months. Picture: Chris Mangan
Source: The Advertiser

JOB-SEEKERS are on notice as employers and recruiters turn to social media, search engines and criminal records to learn the truth about job candidates.

National Crime Check managing director Martin Lazarevic said the variety of employers getting police checks on applicants had grown rapidly in the past six months, and as many as one in 10 checks were catching people out.

A survey by Adelaide software firm Nuage Software shows more than half of human resource managers surveyed ran a Google search on candidates, 74 per cent checked LinkedIn, 23 per cent Facebook and 3 per cent Twitter.

Last week a candidate, Peter Maddern, was ruled out of a SA Liberal preselection because of a critical online blog.

According to Nuage managing director David Wilson, some employers are asking to view Facebook and Twitter profiles at interviews in order to avoid privacy concerns.

He said for the past 18 months he had seen a rising incidence of the practice of checking candidates’ online reputations.

“The internet has a very long memory. An ill-advised or impulsive post can be rapidly replicated across many sites and be impossible to take back,” Mr Wilson said.

“People really do enjoy the freedom of expression on social media but it is worth considering the cumulative effect of their postings.”

Phil Morton, managing partner in the Adelaide-based executive search firm Morton Philips, said the practice was part of their “due diligence and reference-checking process” and had grown in prevalence in recent times.

“When it’s a public domain, candidates will need to be aware,” he said.

This week, would-be Liberal politician Peter Maddern was ruled by the party not a “fit and proper person” to run for State Parliament because of his online history.

The Liberal Party’s candidate review committee, featuring senior figures including Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond, blocked his preselection candidacy in Unley.

Mr Maddern was to run against Opposition frontbencher David Pisoni in the safe seat.

Liberal sources confirmed that online comments contained in a recent blog, where Mr Maddern criticised Isobel Redmond, were the trigger for the decision.

It is also understood party figures feared some of his Facebook posts may embarrass the party should Mr Maddern become an MP.

One Liberal strategist said Google, Facebook and Twitter searches had become a central part of the “due diligence” process in selecting the party’s MPs and candidates.

Business SA chief executive officer Nigel McBride yesterday defended the growing practice.

“Given the cost of employee turnover, employers have every right to undertake this kind of due diligence and are prudent for doing so,” Mr McBride said.

Leila Henderson, who runs content marketing platform and a LinkedIn Group for Australian businesses called How To Make Social Media Work For You, said it was important both sides of the equation were considered – particularly when it comes to privacy.

“No matter what industry you belong to, you need to treat all your social media accounts as if they were open books,” Ms Henderson said.

“It doesn’t have to be hacking, it could be as simple as someone you don’t know accessing your account while at a mutual friend’s house.

“But I think it is pushing the boundary to ask to access a candidate’s personal Facebook during the interview.”

When it comes to checking candidates’ criminal background, a gap in the timeline on a resume or failure to list a reference for a key previous role often tipped employers off that the candidate had a criminal history, according to Mr Lazarevic.

“Of the 25 per cent (of checks) that don’t come back as being ‘no problem’, 5 to 10 per cent come back with something on it,” Mr Lazarevic said.

“It might be a traffic offence or driving an uninsured car, right through to murder.”





Media Decoder Blog: Critics Find a Target in the Circles of USA Today's Redesign

The top of the front page of Friday's USA Today.USA TODAY, via PR NewswireThe top of the front page of Friday’s USA Today.

The day after USA Today unveiled its new edition, the design community was in a fluster about the newspaper’s new look and puzzled by the bold circles that appear in the top, left-hand corner of every section.

“It’s a mess,” said Steven Heller, the co-chairman of the M.F.A. design program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. “It’s a mélange of a lot of things that forces the eyes to cross rather than focus on any one thing.”

But he gave USA Today credit for trying something new.

“It could be the last gasp of what is a newspaper, or it could be the beginning of what is the next stage of newspapers,” said Mr. Heller, who writes the Visuals column for The New York Times Book Review. “I give them a little credit more than not for trying this out.”

Roger Black, an art director who worked on the original design of USA Today’s Web site, said he missed the newspaper’s old typeface, and called the circles in the corner of each section “a little odd” and reminiscent of the Japanese flag.

Memos coming out of Gannett, which owns USA Today, drew more attention to the circle, or ball, with phrasing that will no doubt be highlighted and parsed in social-media realms.

In a note to employees that was published by Jim Romenesko, the chief marketing officer of Gannett, Maryam Banikarim, shared a memo from Sam Ward, the artist and illustrator at USA Today who was behind the ball-centric redesign.

“Just what are our balls?,” he wrote. “Well, they are what we will make of them. I believe our balls are symbols of who we are and where we’re headed. Sure, our competitors will laugh. Let them laugh so hard that they cannot breathe.”