The Indy 500 Leverages Social Media for the Ultimate Fan Experience

What comes to mind when you think of spring?

Birds chirping, lawnmowers running and flowers blooming are all signs that warm weather is here to stay. In Indiana, it’s not spring until you hear the sound of race cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you’ve never been to the Indy 500 I suggest you put it on your bucket list. Don’t worry if you can’t make it this year though, because the Indianapolis Motor Speedway does a fantastic job of bringing you all of the action throughout the month long event.

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Let’s start with their Facebook page. May is obviously their busiest month, but even during their non-peak times they are updating their page frequently and getting some impressive engagement. During the month of May, the page is updated at least once a day with what is going on at the track and upcoming events as well.

The IMS takes advantage of the customized tab feature with links to their Instagram account and a collection of videos, as well as a Livestream where you can watch many of their events in real-time.  Even with over 150,000 fans, they are great responding to comments.

Now let’s check out their Twitter account. My only complaint about their Twitter feed is the lack of tweets with photos. We all know how important visuals are with Twitter now and they are definitely missing a big opportunity to showcase the drivers, cars and facility.

On the other hand, they are tweeting frequently throughout the day as well as retweeting and engaging with their followers by answering questions and holding contests. They use social media to alert their followers with weather updates because there is nothing more unpredictable than Indiana weather.

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Moving on to their YouTube channel, which they have been doing a great job with this month. It is updated each week, but most importantly: the videos are short. None of the videos uploaded are over five minutes, with the average length being between one and two minutes. They give a rundown of each day’s practice for everyone who couldn’t make it out to the track as well as insightful interviews. The onboard videos let you experience the track through the drivers’ eyes.

Whether you are a fan of racing or not, I suggest you tune into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s social media this Sunday. Don’t worry about having to jump around to their different social media platforms; their website has put together a fantastic multimedia social media stream. I would love to hear your thoughts on their social media presence. Let’s connect on Twitter.

Cloud Competition is Heating Up

Right now there is a war raging for the cloud, and companies (big and small) are spending large amounts of money for control.

What happens when companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft battle each other? We, as customers, all win. If you haven’t been following my coworker’s blogs, cloud computing is where companies or individuals can rent processing power or data storage as needed.

If you don’t think the cloud is already big, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure, handles 100 petabytes of data per day. So what’s a petabyte? Well, for example, one petabyte can hold 13.3 years of HDTV video. What can 50 petabytes, or about half of the data Azure handles a day, hold? The entire written works of mankind in every language from the beginning of recorded history!

Greenpeace researchers estimate that if the cloud were a country it would be sixth in the world of biggest consumers of electricity on the planet. The cloud is big money too. Amazon Web Services, which was one of the first to offer these services, made close to 4 billion dollars last year. Experts predict worldwide IT spending will grow to 2.1 trillion dollars in 2014.

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Google Cloud Platform Manager Greg DeMichillie said, “There will not be just one company that’s the cloud provider. There will be several.”

Amazon Web Services has been the leader since it was created in 2006 and as of now controls five times the computing power of the next 14 cloud providers…combined. Have you ever watched a television show or movie on Netflix? “Amazon has the chance of controlling the public cloud just like Windows controlled the PC environment for a long time,” says Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus.

Eucalyptus is a company that builds private clouds that can interface with Amazon’s public cloud. A few weeks ago, Microsoft cut prices on its cloud storage service by 65%. Google and Amazon Web Services followed suit by slashing their prices within the next few days. Some companies haven’t ruled out the possibility of cloud services dropping to zero.

Google alone has spent over $2 billion on data centers and equipment. It’s on track to spend over $10 billion per year on data centers.

Competition isn’t good for all businesses though. Smaller cloud service providers will either get bought up by the larger corporations or left in the dust (or cloud…pun intended).

Do you still have questions about cloud computing? We would love to chat!

Heartbleed Bug is Causing Heartbreak

During the 2013 holiday shopping season, hundreds of thousands of shoppers at one of the largest U.S. retailer chains were ‘targeted’ because of a security and payments systems breach from a malware software installation by hackers.

A recently discovered security bug called Heartbleed Bug has been around for almost two years and could have exposed your usernames, passwords, credit card information, internal business documents and more to hackers.

Heartbleed Bug

What is the “Heartbleed Bug?”

The Heartbleed Bug is an error in OpenSSL 1.0.1. through 1.0.1f, an open-source software that is used to run a large number of websites online. More than 500,000 popular websites that house personal data such as Facebook and Gmail have been affected by this security flaw.

Heartbleed Bug was discovered by online security firm Codenomicon and Google researcher, Neel Mehta, on the same day. The term “Heartbleed Bug” was used instead of the original reference of the bug, CVE-2014-0160, because of its ability to “leak memory content” from the server to the client and vice versa.

The scary issue with this bug boils down to an online hacker’s abilities to access encryption keys, or codes that store personal information that typically appear as numbers and letters, and flip them into readable information if they are not patched or repaired.

What websites were affected?

Several social media sites alongside news websites and online retailers could have been affected by the bug. CNET, in coordination with Alexa.com, has went through the top 100 websites to indicate if businesses have patched the bug so your information is safe. For the most recently updated list by CNET, click here. Your information may still be compromised if OpenSSL is running on businesses’ websites. Fixed OpenSSL has been released to patch the issue.

How to protect your online information moving forward  

You may want to research a few facts Debasree Ghosh shared in her blog about online theft or take quick action with the steps below.

  1. Immediately change your passwords to something with several numbers and letters.
  2. Visit websites like havibeenpwned.cm, PwnedList.com or Shouldichangemypassword.com. These sites are all free and can let you know if your information has been compromised.
  3. Call the customer service departments of websites you have released your personal information to and ask if they were breached.

Were you a victim of the Heartbleed Bug or other online identify theft? Leave a comment below and share your experience.

These Companies Are No April Fools

Happy April 1st, everyone!

Across the globe, this day means many things. For starters, it’s finally spring and the miserable, polar vortex-filled winter on 2013-14 is finally over (hopefully). It also means that April Fools’ Day has arrived. Back in the day (like 300 years back in the day), rapscallions whoopee cushioned, hoaxed, tricked and teased one another on this great day!  In today’s technology-driven world of ecommerce and social media marketing, companies go all out with elaborate spoofs with goals of going viral and brand building. Meanwhile, Human Resources and Public Relations professionals are left chewing their fingernails and entire bottles of Tums!

Here at StrataBlue, we definitely appreciate the power of a tasteful joke and a good laugh. It’s our pleasure to present you with the funniest and best executed examples of April Fools’ Day 2014. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day, so stay tuned for the final winners!

Gold: Google Maps

In a video published yesterday, Google announced their maps division is seeking to fill a new position called Pokémon Master.

In order to be considered for this role, “applicants” must utilize the latest version of Google Maps and complete a challenge that involves locating and catching all of the 150 hidden Pokémon by 2pm Pacific time on April 2nd.

Why it made the list: While obviously a good-humored prank, this April Fools’ Day campaign does help Google accomplish a few serious goals. First, it encourages those who are not currently utilizing the latest version of its map product, to do so and become familiar with its features and functionality. Secondly, it reinforces their corporate culture. In promoting this farse, the tech giant says, “We value employees who are risk-taking and detail-oriented, have deep technical knowledge, and can navigate through tall grass to capture wild creatures.” Wouldn’t you say this is precisely the type of talent the organization is after when filling its actual positions? 

Silver: Tic Tac Shakeless

The well-known mint masters announced today via Facebook a new shakeless variety of their iconic product. Supposedly engineered to be silent, the new container appears to be lined with mini bubble wrap. For buyers, this new “technology” offers one key benefit; no shaking means no sharing.

Tic Tac

Why it made the list: An effective April Fools’ Day gag doesn’t have to leave viewers questioning whether or not it’s real. This campaign, for example, is immediately noticeable as a joke. After all,  Tic Tac says “APRIL FOOLS!” is the Facebook post itself. However, by blatantly marketing against the “shake, shake” sound that the product is synonymous with and encouraging non-sharing, success was achieved. As of this writing, the post has received great engagement stats including over 100 likes and a plethora of positive comments.

Bronze: Publicis Seattle

Who? Publicis Seattle is an agency located in a city that is well known for the amount of precipitation it receives each year. Today, they announced the creation of a new product called Brand Drops. They describe this invention as “the world’s first branded aromatic rain.” By infusing scents into rain droplets, companies can deliver customized scents to reinforce their own products or services. For example, a fast-food chain can sprinkle “french fry” aroma on customers and a car dealership can make it rain “new car scent.”

Why it made the list: Perhaps like me, you had never heard of Publicis Seattle prior to this April Fools’ Day stunt. The fact that they’ve achieved so much positive brand recognition makes this campaign worthy of my top three (at least for now). However, it’s also impressive how much time and effort they invested in developing their Brand Drops bit. They created a robust microsite, produced the above promotional video, announced a product email address, and even developed a LinkedIn profile for Brand Drops CEO. That’s what I call pulling out all the stops. Well done, Publicis Seattle!

What are your thoughts on the above April Fools’ Day campaigns? Whether or not you’re a fan of this humorous holiday, it’s undeniable that a well-executed, tasteful fakeout can be a powerful marketing tool for companies. If you’ve come across other interesting examples of corporate April Fools’ Day gags, tell me about them by leaving a comment below!

 

Social Media Takes Over March Madness

Nothing screams “productivity” like March Madness and social media.

The NCAA knows how to harness the power of social media. The three days after Selection Sunday, there were over 135,000 tweets with #MarchMadness in them. In 2012, @MarchMadness had 38,000 followers and this year they have over 223,000. Last year’s NCAA championship game drew 23 million viewers, second only to the Super Bowl. During the 2013 tournament there were over 16 million tweets about the games in a three week span and the championship game generated 3.3 million tweets on its own.

This year, the NCAA has included ties with Vine, Instagram, Facebook and tablets from Amazon and Microsoft. It is the first time fans will be able to watch live games using an Amazon Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface and smartphones with Microsoft Windows 8 operating systems. The NCAA is also allowing people to access the March Madness Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Instagram sites without leaving the NCAA website this year.

The big upset is one of the main attractions of the tournament that draws even the most casual of fans. This year has not disappointed and the upsets came early and often starting with the Cinderella story of 2014, Dayton beating Ohio State on the first day of the tournament. Riding that momentum, they were able to upset Syracuse Saturday which even caused a shout out from The White House and Barack Obama.

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One team you can almost always count on to show up for the tournament is Duke, but not this year! Mercer took them out on Friday, which if you somehow had Dayton beating Ohio State then this was probably your bracket buster. This was the second consecutive year that Duke was upset in the tournament. They lost to Lehigh last year, who tweeted out to Mercer after their victory.

lehigh

Warren Buffet and Quicken Loans made the biggest news this year. In January, Quicken and Buffet announced they would reward $1 billion to anyone who fills out the perfect bracket.This is almost an impossible feat. The odds of picking a perfect bracket are about one in one billion, but should someone be lucky enough to win, they would be entitled to $25 million annually for 40 years or an immediate sum of $500 million. What would you choose? Unfortunately, it only took three days for the last perfect bracket to fall. Thanks to Dayton and Mercer, the final bracket was busted when Memphis beat George Washington on Saturday night.

How’s your bracket doing? I had Wichita State winning it all so you can imagine how I feel today. Let’s talk sports and social media on Twitter!

Beating Big Brother in China With WhatsApp

Big brother is always watching in China.

In an interview with Sky News about Internet censorship, Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said, “We manage the media according to the law. The important thing is that the media, whether it’s foreign or Chinese, they have to fall in the law of China and they have to serve the interests of the people.”

Internet Censorship in China

China’s history of internet censorship is a common occurrence during political unrest within the country. Chinese citizens are hired to monitor the internet and delete or block any content that negatively associates the Communist Party or top officials of the government. Xiaoming and government leaders are notorious for shutting down websites and reprimanding any citizen that displays public opinion in a manner that doesn’t align with government views. Remember these three events in the past six years?

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  • 2008 – Shortly after the riots in Tibet and around the time leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Chinese government officials sentenced and jailed an activist on AIDS named Hu Jia for three and a half years. Jia was writing articles on Boxun.com, a U.S.-based Chinese language website, about civil rights issues within the country.
  • 2009 – After 140 people were slain in Uighur Riots in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang province, Facebook and Twitter were banned. Two weeks earlier, Google services such as Gmail and Google Talk were also disabled.
  • 2011 – Chinese officials acted ahead of time and disabled Twitter (again) before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Although the Communist Party goes through great efforts to shelter the Chinese people of issues within the country, there are civil rights advocates worldwide making sure they are informed. “Hacktivists,” groups of software and technology engineers, are hard at work building software and other internet tools for people in China and other internet censored countries to access banned sites. Despite its service being blocked within the country, Facebook is trying to enter the market of 600 million Chinese web surfers through a different social tool in the country.

What is WhatsApp

Purchased by Facebook in February for $19 billion, WhatsApp is a “cross-platform mobile messaging app” that sends messages over mobile broadband through data plans. Over 450 million users worldwide have downloaded the service and millions continue to do so each day. Facebook’s Messenger service for mobile devices was second to WhatsApp in number of users within the first four years of launch of the company.

WhatsApp-Graph

(Photo courtesy of Mashable)

WhatsApp is free to download, has no charge of usage for up to a year and eliminates the problem of international texting fees. Users have the capabilities to create groups, send multimedia messages and share news and events with each other. Forbes contributor Doug Young, a former Chinese company news chief for Reuters and financial journalism instructor at Fudan University in Shanghai, believes if WhatsApp can “steer clear of other politics, it might be able to find a limited but lucrative audience of Chinese white collar workers attracted by the app’s more international image and exposure.”

Competition in Mobile Messaging Market

WhatsApp will have to put up a fight against Hong Kong based Tencent’s similar WeChat service. It is now China’s second most popular instant messaging tool and is also free to download. Brands are particularly excited to be able to connect with users through the instant messaging services without being blocked on traditional Chinese websites. For example, condom maker Durex has sent messages to WeChat users asking them to share their “love stories” as part of a campaign strategy. Having a like competitor isn’t all that bad in the market, however. Since WhatsApp’s acquisition by Facebook, WeChat’s shares have risen 9.4%, giving it a market capitalization of $150 billion.

What do these two apps mean for people in living in controlled, media censored countries like China? Because WhatsApp is not based out of China, it is less likely to be monitored for content the Communist Party would deem “insensitive.” Young also reported in a self-monitored poll that his non-Chinese friends living in China are reluctant to use WeChat because they fear their conversations may be monitored.

Perhaps the main benefactor of both of these mobile apps and others floating in the saturated mobile messaging market will offer open conversation, without hesitation, to the Chinese people.  Whether that be for citizens within the country or with family members across different pockets of the world, Chinese citizens will have the ability to communicate their opinions and thoughts of their government without fear of jail time or worse.

What are your thoughts on Facebook trying to enter the Chinese market through WhatsApp? Could WhatsApp or WeChat be the solutions for citizens to communicate in media censored governments? Will these tech startups help to break the barrier of global disconnectedness that China has? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Russia vs. Ukraine: The Cyber War

The Russian vs. Ukraine battle has taken to the internet. Battles are no longer being fought solely on the ground anymore, they are being fought on the internet and in boardrooms.

Russia has used similar cyber war tactics in past conflicts as well. During the Russian-Georgian conflict in 2008, Georgia was hit with web defacements, massive DDoS (Distributed-Denial-of-Service) attacks and limited Internet access. The message “win+love+in+Rusia.” was spread throughout the servers hosting important Georgian websites including the government and transportation sites.

What is a DDos attack? DDoS attacks are when people attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by interrupting or suspending services of a host connected to the internet. One of the tactics is flooding a website with so much traffic that it cannot respond to legitimate requests. The majority of these attacks have been done by people and groups not directly associated with either government.

These attacks aren’t all on the digital side either. The Russians are also using old school tactics to attack Ukraine by switching off phone service. This is a big threat because Russians installed Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure during the Soviet Era. One pro-Russian group who goes by CyberBerkut has taken credit for blocking over 700 Ukrainian government phones. “I confirm that an IP-telephonic attack is under way on mobile phones of members of Ukrainian parliament for the second day in row,” Valentyn Nalivaichenko, the head of Ukraine’s SBU security service, said in a news briefing this past week.

Hacking is very popular in that part of the world. Hackers on both sides are launching attacks on various websites and agencies. The hacker that broke into Target’s database and stole 40 million credit card numbers is allegedly from Ukraine. Russian universities offer top-notch computer security degrees as well. Russia Today’s website was also the victim of hackers, who broke into the site and effectively changed the word “Russia” to “nazi” in headlines and articles. One headline read “Putin: Nazi citizens, troops threatened in Ukraine, need armed forces protection” after the hack.

Russia-Today-hacked (1)

The group “Anonymous Ukraine” has even gotten into the mix by hacking over 100 mb of emails from the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) led by former boxer Vitalia Klitschko. One email by Kitschko that was leaked thanked the Lithuanian president for funding Ukraine’s protests. The email hack was part of a campaign called OpIndependence that has a goal to keep Ukraine independent from NATO and the EU.

Have you been following this event and the impact that social media and the internet has had? Let’s chat about it on Twitter or in the comments below.

The White Elephant: Social Media Sites and Racism

Social Media moves at light speed. Every new idea or cool marketing idea is quickly digested and forgotten for the next big thing. This is just as true when it comes to controversy. Does anyone remember Justine Sacco? For someone that created such a buzz, no one seems to be talking about her anymore.

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As a quick refresher, Sacco was a high-level PR executive who tweeted out the above missive before heading to Cape Town, South Africa for vacation. During her long flight from LA to Africa, the tweet went viral. After Sacco landed, she was promptly fired from her company, and she issued an apology for her comment.

And then we all sort of forgot about it. At least, I did. I wrote it off as yet another Alicia Ann Lynch incident and moved on to the next big thing. But Justine started nagging at me as the weeks passed. As an apparently white male in my 30’s, I have an unparalleled level of privilege most others cannot imagine—even in the United States. Perhaps it was so easy for me to move on because I wasn’t that affected. I’m not a person of color.

Once I became aware of my own ignorance, I knew I needed to write something about race in social media. The main issue was where to start. Just one which Google search brought up an army of incidents like Justine Sacco. But I didn’t want to just throw up news clips about racial discrimination. The only reasonable thing for me to do was reach out to people I knew, and ask about their experiences on social media. Some of them wanted to be named, and others did not. I will respect that. Of course, once I addressed the white elephant in the room, things only seemed to get bigger. While I was interviewing people for this piece, two racially charged issues happened right in my backyard on social media. I’ll get to those in a moment.

#NotYourAsianSidekick was created by 23 year-old freelance writer Suey Park in order to start a conversation about feminism and stereotypes in the Asian community. Suey didn’t expect the hashtag to become a trending topic on Twitter, with thousands using it and commenting on the subject. Perhaps most surprising was the amount of Caucasians and Asians speaking out against Suey, telling her she was going about change in the wrong way.

I talked to my fellow colleague Debasree Ghosh about her experiences as an Indian American on social media sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. “There is always instances of racism on social media,” said Ghosh, remarking on when she has targeted because of her race on these sites. However, Ghosh has had a generally good experience on social media, explaining that there have always been other people of color to offer support and understanding. “There are a lot of Asians on [social media] and I know I’m not the only one going through this,” she says. “Racism will always be out there. The thing is that you should learn not to be affected by it.”

As a white person, I’d like to believe it is that easy when it comes to social media and race. Unfortunately, it’s just not the case for everyone, and I’m not so sure it should be. Perhaps we need to be affected by it. The subject just gets murkier from here.

Park Tudor (a private school in Indianapolis) decided to have a special menu for Black History Month. The private school served fried chicken and collard greens as part of what they considered a program of cultural diversity. This caused a large amount of outrage from African American students and those in the community. Among them was local musician Rusty Redenbacher, who engaged in a series of hot tweets directly with the school.

Park Tudor Tweet

Park Tudor later apologized to Redenbacher and the community, but this doesn’t change the fact that as of 2014, people are still serving fried chicken when they think of African Americans. When I asked Redenbacher if he sees much racism on social media, he had the following to say:

Every. Damn. Day. It’s no different than real life, man. There’s still human beings composing thoughts and directing them towards people. Racism is just a part of life in America. Why wouldn’t it be a part of social media?

Rusty Redenbacher

I knew racism in America was alive and well (I have the internet), but I sort of blindly hoped it wasn’t such a part of everyday life for the people I know who aren’t white. But as I continued to read Redenbacher’s responses to my questions, the truth was becoming clear. The elephant in the room was getting heavier.

Papa Roux is a local, popular destination in Indianapolis for Cajun food. On Fat Tuesday, owner Art Bouvier sent out the following picture of himself with a customer.

Papa Roux Facebook Post

Bouvier immediately began receiving criticism on social media for the picture, which he brushed off… at first. After the complaints continued, the Papa Roux owner claimed to have every right to wear Black Face due to his heritage, and his involvement with Mardi Gras and the Zulu tradition of wearing such make-up. A lot of former fans didn’t accept the explanation, and Bouvier later apologized for offending people, but not for his actions.

For the sake of some journalistic integrity, I will admit that I interviewed all my contacts well before this issue happened, but I could not go without addressing this event in a blog about race and social media. I don’t think there is any question about blatant racism on social media. Like the classic definition of pornography, everyone knows it when they see it, even if they can’t define it immediately. The problems come when we start talking about institutional racism and the basic misunderstandings of the privileged. Redenbacher again: “I really hafta weigh my words. I try not to jump on stories without checking them out first. I’m only flying the flag for things I believe in in the hopes that somehow, someway, I can influence someone to join the charge.”

So the problem seems to be that a few haven’t joined the movement. A few smaller institutions continue to be culturally insensitive, but we’d never see something like that from Silicon Valley, right?

Brogrammers is a much debated term and often hated by those near the subject. A “brogrammer” refers to an IT or social media male that engages in a frat house mentality instead of the typical nerdy stereotype most programmers are put under. People in IT and social media—usually white males if you do a quick Google search—really hate this term and bemoan anyone that uses it.

But is there any real call to use the term? Late last year a Twitter executive said that “whoever caused” a nearby transportation strike should be thrown to the dogs. Less than two months later, a start-up CEO called the local homeless population “trash” that should keep to itself. I’m not sure what is more privilege-related than calling the lower class trash and saying that people striking should be fed to dogs.

Ben Grossman Tweet

You learn more about your friends, family, [and] colleagues via social media outlets as opposed to face to face discussions,” says Rayfield Johnson, an African-American in his late twenties who works in the computer science field. “There have been a lot of instances of racism (direct and indirect) from my experience on the social media websites.” Johnson appreciates using social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, but considers them tools to keep in touch with friends and colleagues. Like Rusty Redenbacher, Johnson looks at social media as a microcosm of the world at large.

I couldn’t make any true demands about regulation of the social media sites, as that would negate the premise of what it was built on. Social Media is what it is, and should be taken as that. As a person who works in the IT field, I don’t put much blame into the tool itself, as the issues that result in such tools are usually ‘user error.’

Rayfield Johnson

I want to believe those human errors are small and isolated, but in doing my research and talking to three reasonably different people of color about their experiences on social media sites, I came to one conclusion: All three had dealt directly with intentional racism. What does that mean? Perhaps we all don’t really comprehend what it means when someone like Justine Sacco quips about race in such a casual way. She’s most likely doing it because she’s been allowed to up until now. In fact, that is exactly the case. The PR executive had tweeted wildly culturally insensitive content before the Cape Town event.

But I don’t want to demonize Sacco or anyone else, even though that’s what Twitter did, however briefly. She is a product of her environment. It’s dangerous to mark someone like her as an “other.” By separating Sacco from the rest of our community, it allows us to believe we are above or beyond that standard of thinking. And all evidence so far is pointed to the contrary.

So what can we do? In the midst of unintended and deeply, painfully intentional racism on our social platforms, how can any of us help? Believe it or not, I’m not thinking about the power of love. It’s ironic that we have so many tools to talk to each other, but we rarely seem to use them for real communication.

I believe one day racism will be a thing of the past. And I don’t mean to say that we should all go post-race and forget about the events of the past. I mean that there will literally be a time when people no longer care about ethnic backgrounds or skin color. I also believe we can hasten that day by using all these powerful social media sites we are plugged into. Mark Twain once said that travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. When the world is so small and accessible, how are we not all accomplished travelers? But perhaps Rusty Redenbacher says it best: “I’m thankful to talk WITH anyone that is willing to listen. There’s a big difference between talking TO people and talking WITH them.”

Thank you for reading. It was my primary intention to present these people with the utmost respect and dignity. If you liked what you read, please feel free to comment below, or send me a message on Twitter.

Euromaidan: The Vital Role Social Media is Playing in Ukraine

For those few that still think social media doesn’t have a global impact, just take a look at what is happening in Ukraine right now. From gathering thousands of protesters to the Square to showing where a bathroom is, social media is being used as a strategic tool in this incident.

“Facebook has been our lifeline, we check in with our friends who go to the protests, and when I see that they are online again by looking at the active green dot on Facebook, I am relieved they are okay,” Kateryna Monastyrski said about staying in contact with friends who are in Ukraine right now. She is Ukrainian but currently resides in South Florida.

Euromaidan, or “European square” was the name coined for the revolutionary movement. The official Facebook page for Euromaidan which was created on November 21st and has over 272,000 likes. This page (along with a few activists on social media) was the catalyst for thousands of people to gather on Kiev’s Independence Square. The Facebook page is all in Ukrainian, which suggests that this page is for information spreading to locals instead of the world.

It is also an extremely active Facebook page with multiple posts added every hour with each one receiving numerous Likes and Shares. The posts on this Facebook page range from letting protestors at the Square know where a hot meal is being served to informing people all over the country about current events. Learning from past protests they built a digital map for people as well.

When fugitive President Vikto Yanukovych had a press conference last week after fleeing his mansion, “Euromaidanfinger” became popular on Twitter. “Euromaidanfinger” is when a person takes a picture of their hand flipping off Yanukovych while he is on their television.

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Just recently the Russian Prosecutors’ General Office blocked access to more than a dozen “Ukrainian nationalist organizations” on social media. The organizations were apparently promoting “direct appeals to carry out terrorist activities” and encouraging “participation in unsanctioned mass actions.” Vkontakte is the largest European social network with more than a 100 million active users. Apparently one of the group’s pages was hacked and a message was sent to the Russian terrorist Doku Umarov asking for help with fighting the Russian army.

One of the most powerful things social media has shared with the rest of the world during these protests are the images of the events. Not so much the images of armed guard but those of the bloodied faces of the civilians. You can really see the fight and the passion in the eyes of these protesters, which does more for an outsider than reading about the attacks or watching a newscast.

131201133901-02-ukraine-protest-1201-horizontal-galleryWounded photographer at Kiev protest

 

Check back next week when I will recap what has happened in the recent days and how social media has further impacted this event. If you want to connect with me between posts, you can find me on Twitter or Google+.

 

J-Law Falls Again, Ellen Breaks Twitter and DiCaprio Doesn’t Win

Did you happen to catch the Oscars last night? Even if you didn’t, social media gave us a play by play on who wore what, what was going on backstage and in the audience. In fact, 14.7 million tweets were sent out during the 2014 Oscars! 

Here are some of the winners from last night. Get the list of all the winners here. Were you disappointed your pick didn’t win?

  • Best Picture 12 Years a Slave
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Best Animated Feature Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)
  • Best Directing Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
  • Best Original Screenplay Her (Spike Jonze)

#MyOscarPhoto

Before the Oscars even began one of the social media strategies they used to get people more involved was the #MyOscarPhoto hashtag. Fans who follow @TheAcademy and tweet a red carpet-ready photo of themselves using hashtag #MyOscarPhoto will be eligible to have their photo featured on the red carpet.

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On Oscar Sunday, arriving nominees, presenters and performers will pose in front of a video wall showcasing fan-submitted photos and generating unique images that will be tweeted back to the original submitter through the @MyOscarPhoto Twitter account.

Below is a great example from @HannahONews. To see if your photo was selected, check out @MyOscarPhoto!

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Jennifer Lawrence Falls….Again

Remember last year as Jennifer was going up to get her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and she tripped on her Dior gown? Well this year she tripped before anything even happened. Lawrence stepped onto the red carpet in a slender red Dior dress, turning to wave to fans at the expense of watching her footing and falling on a member of her party in front and immediately bursting into hysterics. Check out this vine someone generously posted for us to enjoy.

I think the meaning of #Lawrencing should be changed to someone who trips over their dress. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check this out.

 

Most Retweeted Photo Ever

Ellen DeGeneres’ night hosting will go down in Oscar and Twitter history because the group selfie Bradley Cooper took of her and an all-star cast of actors is now the most retweeted tweet of all time. The record took all of 46 minutes to shatter, and the retweets kept coming.

Six minutes later, it became the first tweet to reach the million retweet mark, just before 8 p.m. PST.

I’m surprised it took that long. I mean, it featured not only DeGeneres and Cooper but also Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, among others.

At the time this blog was written this photo got 2.6 million retweets and 1.3 million favorites. The previous record-holder was Barack Obama’s re-election portrait of he and his wife.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio Lost….AGAIN

DiCaprio just can not seem to win. If you saw Leonardo in The Great Gatsby or The Wolf of Wall Street, you would say he gave the performance of a lifetime. Well…the Academy didn’t think so and gave the Oscar to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. If we were to caption this photo it would say “It was supposed to be mine.”

Don’t worry Leo, you are in good company. Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. have yet to win Oscars, too!

leo

What did you think the highlights of the Oscars were? There were a lot of things I didn’t mention, Ellen passing out pizza, Jared Leto’s speech, and Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing U2. Let me know in the comments below or strike up a conversation with me on twitter, @YuppitsDebbie.