'Privacy and Publicity'

Dec 23, 2019
'Fulbrighter: Net Working?': the O.G. social network goes digital
A conversation on Digital Wellness led by w4rner.
December (Just the single article for the holiday season). Theme: 'Privacy & Publicity'. (Previous article)

'Privacy & Publicity' on… The Internet

Most social media spaces are primarily public. Ever since Zuckerburg thought it would be fun to pull out photos of girls from the Harvard Houses’ Face Books and post them on FaceMash.com, social media has been a space where previously private information has been more widely broadcasted. 

So it should be easy to get publicity right? 

Social media has been a space where previously private information has been more widely broadcasted

Wrong. As Jon Ronson outlines in his masterful work “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”, the viral distribution of post publicity means that everyone is on a random walk to notoriety. Excruciatingly, for Justine Sacco, this meant that dozens of jokes which were probably 7/10 funny got seen by no-one, and her next joke which was probably 2/10 funny, got seen by everyone because gawker.com happened to pick it up and blow her misplaced attempt at irony out of proportion. Being misinterpreted is an especial danger when communicating with text (as I discuss in my latest article on Medium.com/@w4rner), but it still seems crazy how much global attention was put on 20 words from a nobody.

Though I’m still fascinated by these negative cases, I’m increasingly convinced that public attention is generally positive, and there is a whole rising industry of social media marketers devoted to helping people acheive Sacco-tweet levels of attention at will. 

As discussed in last month’s first piece, the algorithms are pretty obscure, so usually the approach is to brute force it. Instagram has a 30 hashtag limit to avoid irrelevant content? Let’s go on https://all-hashtag.com/ and make 60 and post them in the caption and comment. Yay! People follow me if I comment on their stuff? Let’s build fake profile bots and post on 10k people’s profiles. Yay!

What’s Facebook’s response? Develop increasingly complex algorithms to sift through this tidal wave of content to deliver the right stuff. And the tidal wave grows taller.

What’s Facebook’s response? Develop increasingly complex algorithms to sift through this tidal wave of content to deliver the right stuff. And the tidal wave grows taller.


'Privacy & Publicity' on… the Fulbrighter Network 

Can semi-public social media be a better way? Though it seems to bear the hallmark of social elitism, the act of admitting a focussed small number of people into a digital space is the only way to avoid many of the foibles above. It establishes a baseline level of trust which people can lean into and feel comfortable to post more personal content, with the confidence that it will more likely actually be seen.

Can semi-public social media be a better way?

Hivebrite is leading the way, developing a software solution to allow this. As the Fulbrighter community, we have an important responsibility to show leadership, as we are now one of Hivebrite’s largest clients.

As the Fulbrighter community, we have an important responsibility to show leadership

Thanks to contributor Rob Ellis for sharing a preview of feedback from 750 survey respondents of how they would like to see the platform improved: https://fulbrighternetwork.com/news/237563.

Interestingly, Enthusiasm & Uncertainty are two of the key emotions of my time exploring the start-up world. It's due to my enthusiasm for the opportunity here that I started these posts. And due to uncertainty of the direction things will take, I think it's worth us guiding the early design choices made.

It was heartening to see a focus on interactions that convert into meaningful IRL interactions top of the majority’s wishlist! I will keep posting my trips and encourage others to do so!

Similarly people are interested in conversions: funding & jobs, rather than unpaid blogging (why would anyone do that…).


Posts of the Month

1. ‘Humans of Fulbright’

2. 'Promoting Thinkpiece’

3. ‘Invitations to Engage’


Fulbrighter Feature of the Month: Fulbrighter Directory

Rob tells me that “this is in many respects the ‘showcase’ feature that Hivebrite sells the platform on”, but in his opinion “it ain’t perfect”.

I decided to give it a go myself. I’m heading to LA for 2 weeks to explore the film industry, so thought it’s a great use case for this feature. I live commentated on my UX, which you can see at this link!


Would love to hear feedback about whether you think I should continue into the New Year, and if so any ways we can seek to generate more engagement

This post represents the final iteration in this series. Would love to hear feedback about whether you think I should continue into the New Year, and if so any ways we can seek to generate more engagement.

I think I'd take this opportunity to share a couple of stats about this series:

  • reach is low: ~100/article
  • Interest is high: 90% read through, and avg 4m/article. 

It seems then that if we want to raise publicity, we should work harder to share these posts out wider on social networks, both here and abroad (thinking LinkedIn.com/in/w4rner). But perhaps the engagement per reader is only so high due to the more private & focussed community nature of the platform, and would not be able to scale. Let’s find out!

Catch you on the flipside,

w4rner

aka The FlipPh.one/y


About

Fulbrighter: Net Working? is a 2019 series of bi-monthly articles published on the public Fulbrighter news page. It aims to encourage discussion within the Fulbrighter community about how we can make the most of our unique opportunity to co-design a healthy social media space.
Project Lead: w4rner (UK Fulbright Scholar ’17-19) is a tech designer with a particular interest in radical innovations towards Digital Wellness. Their Fulbright Master’s Research explored the new phenomenon of Smartphone Dependence. Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, (and most importantly) Fulbrighter!
Contributors: Rob Ellis, Lina Quinceno.


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