The State of Social Media in 2013:
The BBC has reported that Facebook is being sued for its use of the “like” button and other features of the social network. It is being sued by a patent-holding company, Rembrandt Social Media, acting on behalf of a dead Dutch programmer called Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer.
Rembrandt Social Media said Facebook’s success was based, in part, on using two of Mr Van Der Meer’s patents without permission. Facebook said it had no comment to make on the lawsuit or its claims.
“We believe Rembrandt’s patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence,” said lawyer Tom Melsheimer from legal firm Fish and Richardson, which represents the patent holder.
Rembrandt now owns patents for technologies Mr Van Der Meer used to build a fledgling social network, called Surfbook, before his death in 2004. Mr Van Der Meer was granted the patents in 1998, five years before Facebook first appeared. Surfbook was a social diary that let people share information with friends and family and approve some data using a “like” button, according to legal papers filed by Fish and Richardson. The papers also say Facebook is aware of the patents as it has cited them in its own applications to patent some social networking technologies.
Do you think the Like button is something that can and should be patented? Tell us your thoughts on the suit in the comments.
Last week, Australian teenager Matt Corby uploaded a photograph showing an 11-inch Subway sandwich. The original Facebook post has since been deleted, but Subway did respond to Corby.
“Hi, Matt. Thanks for writing. Looking at this photo, this bread is not baked to our standards,” Subway wrote on Thursday in response to his post.
“We have policies in place to ensure that our fresh baked bread is consistent and has the same great taste no matter which Subway restaurant around the world you visit. We value your feedback and want to thank you again for being a fan.”
If it were just one sandwich, the picture probably would not have gone viral, but apparently it touched a nerve with sub sandwich eaters. Quite a few other Facebook users posted similar pictures of a Subway footlong as 11 inches or a bit less. By the time Subway Australia responded in the comments of this Facebook post, they could no longer pretend it was an isolated incident.
So if a Subway Footlong® is not intended to be a measurement of length, does the same logic apply to a 6-inch sandwich, which is made from cutting a Footlong® in half?
I have not seen a picture of a 13 inch sandwich, at least not yet. A quick survey of New York City sandwiches found four out of seven at 11 or 11.5 inches.
Some say that the internet uproar over an inch of sandwich is silly. Others point out some of the greater implications of the controversy:
- What happens if the Footlong® was actually only ten or even nine inches?
- What if we decided the physical money we pay for the sandwiches with was not intended to be a measurement of money?
So what do you think – is this a tempest in a teapot or a place where customers should draw the line?
Just a month after Pope Benedict XVI launched his official Twitter account, other representatives of the Catholic faith are giving new meaning to the term, “religious text.”
The Holy Name Province, self-described as the largest group of friars in the USA, announced that they are now accepting prayer intentions via text.
Called “Text a Prayer Intention to a Franciscan Friar,” the program encourages participants to text the word “PRAYER” to 306-44, according to a release. Senders will then receive a welcome message inviting them to submit their prayer intentions. After they are sent in, participants will receive another text confirming that their prayer has been received and will be prayed for.
Father David Convertino, executive director of development for the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, said in a statement:
“With technology changing the way we communicate, we needed to offer people an updated way to ask for prayers for special intentions and needs either for themselves or others”
I see this as a great use of technology, an organisation which has existed for years, which many would see as irrelevant offering a connection in a thoroughly credible manner. Do you think text messaging is a good way for religious bodies to connect with their followers? Discuss in the comments below.
A recent study found that 75% of homeless young people use social networks to stay connected to others – a number comparable to that of university and college students.
The study, led by the University of Alabama’s Rosanna Guadagno, surveyed 237 college and 65 homeless young people that were an average of 19 years old. A vast majority of both groups reported using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook for at least one hour each day.
Over 90 percent of college students reported using social media programs for at least one hour every day.
“To the extent that our findings show a ‘digital divide’ between undergraduates at a four-year university and age-matched participants in a program for homeless young adults, it is mainly in types of Internet use and not access to the Internet, and that divide is relatively minor. Since it is clear that the proportions of undergraduates and homeless young adults accessing social networking sites are similar, we assert that the term digital divide is not descriptive of the young adult population.”
Another recent study from the University of Dayton found that homeless youth are closely linked to social media in their daily lives. They don’t only use such networks for social contact and equality, but as a means to solve practical daily issues.
Art Jipson, the head of the Dayton study, found that the homeless use social media as a place where all people are treated “equally,” and through a series of interviews, discovered that it can also be a medium to find social services, somewhere to sleep and their next hot meal.
I’d be interested to know if any similar research has occurred in the UK with the ever increasing group of sofa surfer teenagers.