Facebook safety check-ins

I just got back from a vacation in France and noticed a heavier military presence that what I am used to in Canada. Considering France had experienced some terrorism in the recent past, this had me wondering if such an attack would happen while I was there, and if I would have to use the Facebook safety check-in.


Facebook created the Facebook check-in for natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Nepal and the tsunami in Japan, in 2014 and then later decided to use it for terrorist attacks. Marc Zuckerberg’s announcement of the feature is below, and it includes an image of what the feature looks like.

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During the London attacks there were a plethora of online images created displaying the words #prayforlondon.

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Source: The Guardian


In 2016 there were multiple simultaneous terrorist attacks in France with 128 killed. Facebook created the safety check in to mark themselves as safe. It was created in April that year for the Nepal earthquake. The Twitter hashtag #PorteOuverte, #prayforparis, #StrandedInUS, #RechercheParis, and #UneBougiePourParis. People started using the French flag filter on their profile pictures to show solidarity with France.

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I remember there being a controversy over the safety check-in that it only occurred with when European countries were attacked and not for other countries. Now if I steer the discussion back to my own travel, what would happen if I were traveling to a country rendered unimportant to Facebook? Does there simply need to be a terrorist attack or do people need to die? I remember when two Canadian military personnel were killed by acts for terror. Would Facebook create a safety check-in for that?


Regardless, if I were travelling I would find the safety check-in useful, but not anymore useful than posting words directly into the newsfeed. The people who matter such as my family are not people I keep on Facebook anyway. Additionally, I’d be more concerned with staying safe and following the events on the news than posting on social media.


Twitter Twitter promo:

What do you think about #Facebook’s #SafetyCheck? http://bit.ly/2sEC0Zg Let me know in the poll below!

a) It’s a great feature. I like to know that my friends are safe.

b) Lame. It’s a selective feature and rarely gets used.

c) I don’t know

d) Other


facebookFacebook promo:

Facebook created safety check-ins for the Nepal earthquake and Japan Tsunami. It later created them for terrorist attacks in Europe. Would you use the feature or not? Tell me what you think, below. http://bit.ly/2sEC0Zg

Behold, the offshore data banks… Could Ireland be the new Barbados for tech?

The topic of this blog post is on the phenomenon of social media networking sites’ parent companies being located in Ireland, and the role of governments in protecting these companies as well as their citizens.

Why is Ireland is Twitter’s privacy policy?

I was originally looking to do a comparison between Twitter’s American and “everywhere else” privacy policies. As I read them, they stated that their headquarters were located in Ireland. Later, when I revised the topic of privacy and googled cases where European governments had challenged Facebook, I found numerous articles indicating that Facebook had won a case against the Belgian Privacy Commission in 2015 because it was registered in Ireland and protected by the law of Ireland.

Why did the Belgian Privacy Commission try to use Facebook?

in 2015 for collecting data on individuals who were not Facebook users and monitoring Facebook users when they were logged out, through cookies and pixels installed on their computers. Therefore someone without a Facebook account may unknowingly install cookies and pixels on their computer by clicking on sites with Facebook plug-ins, which breaches consent to do so. The Belgian Privacy Commission recently published recommendations this year pertaining to the processing of personal data by Facebook through cookies, social plug-ins and pixels. They are not giving up the fight to protect the privacy of Belgian people.

Wait, there’s more companies headquartered in Ireland?

After doing a little more digging, I discovered other networking sites and companies that are located in Ireland as well, such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Uber and AirBnB (Worstall, 2013). The incentive for this they say, is the corporate tax rate. If a corporation is located in Ireland, it pays tax on profits made in Ireland, not on the profits made in other EU countries.

Could Brexit mean new HQs in London?

A recent Forbes article indicates that Snap, Snapchat’s parent company is considering moving their HQ to London, England, as opposed to Ireland (Worstall, 2017). With the changes, profits made outside the UK are exempt from taxation, although the tax rate is still higher than Irelands. The reason for the move has to do with proximity to their brands and users, and the larger population which makes it easier to attract young workers.

Looking to the future

It will be interesting to see future trends in where American companies choose to register their parent companies, and if more companies will locate to London or not following post-Brexit policy changes. In Snap’s case, it wasn’t the corporate tax rate, that led to choose London as their next headquarters. Regardless of where head offices locate in the future, for the most part, the world’s online data currently appears to be subject to Irish data use laws.


Social Media Promotion


What do you think about American #socialmediacompanies registering #parentcompanies in #Ireland? https://goo.gl/I0Rmf2

Do you think that #Brexit will mean more #tech companies for #London? https://goo.gl/I0Rmf2



Social media companies have been registering parent companies in Ireland due to a lower corporate tax. However cases against Facebook for privacy breaches have been overturned because Irish law protections.




Gibbs, Samuel. 23 February, 2015. Facebook’s privacy policy breaches European law, report finds. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/23/facebooks-privacy-policy-breaches-european-law-report-finds

Ausschuss fur den Schutz des Privatlebens (Commission for the pretection of privacy). 16 May, 2017. The Belgian Privacy Commission publishes new recommendations relating to the processing of personal data by Facebook through cookies, social plug-ins and pixels. https://www.privacycommission.be/de/node/19987

Worstall, Tim. 13 Spetember, 2013. What A Surprise, AirBnB Chooses Dublin As European Headquarters, Here Comes The 2% Tax Rate. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/09/13/what-a-surprise-airbnb-chooses-dublin-as-european-headqaurters-here-comes-the-2-tax-rate/#b61dc0a42a55

Worstall, Tim. 10 January, 2017. Snapchat’s London International HQ Decisions Rests On One Single British Policy Change. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/01/10/snapchats-london-international-hq-decision-rest-on-one-single-british-policy-change/#367d40a96b7e

Facebook spends $23 Billion in acquisitions

Source: Business Insider. http://bit.ly/2mbWv9Y

This blog post is on Facebook acquisitions, and in large part a reaction to this infographic. My findings are based on an evaluation of the infographic illustrating a timeline of app acquisitions by date, and for the dollar amount purchased. I conclude that as of 2012, Facebook has taken measures to remain ahead of the competition in mobile apps and in new markets. Through it’s app purchases, we can see that it is positioning itself to be a leader in the world of virtual reality.


Facebook spent over $23B on apps!

The infographic illustrates that from 2005 to 2016 Facebook spent a total of $23,124,700,000     -more than the GDP of Fiji, Zimbabwe and Maldives combined on the acquisition of 60 apps! The year 2012 seems to have marked a new phase in Facebook’s purchasing decisions, through the purchase of apps for billions of dollars. It acquired Instagram for $1 Billion, in April 2012, the first of apps bought in the billion dollar range. WhatsApp, a messaging app was purchased in February 2014 for $19 Billion, and Oculus VR, a virtual technology app was purchased for $2 Billion in March 2014.

     World Domination! Mouahahahaha!

Source: giphy.com

     According to an article in The Atlantic “Facebook wants to dominate in the three areas WhatsApp excels in: apps, messaging, and usage in the developing world. John Herrman from Buzzfeed (Meyer, 2014) said it is “one of the only services that could plausibly claim to be cannibalizing Facebook on a large scale, and one of a small few that pose it an existential threat.” According to Meyer (2014) three reasons why the purchase of WhatsApp fits into an emerging pattern of Facebook’s are (1) to dominate mobile apps, (2) dominate messaging apps, and (3) dominate the developing world.

    An example of Facebook buying apps when they start to dominate are the purchase of Instagram in 2012 for $1B, and unsuccessful bid to buy Snapchat for $3B. Messaging apps can compensate for slumping news feed usage, and they are “one of the few parts of the social web that grew over the past two years.” (Meyers, 2014). As for wanting to dominate the developing world, the argument is that they may have maxed out its membership among U.S. users. WhatsApp has seen huge growth in the developing world.

Facebook paid $85M -little in comparison to other purchased apps, for Parse which is “a cloud company that hosts backend services for app developers.” (Edwards, 2013). Because Parse hosts backend resources like analytics, for mobile apps, it can see if apps are growing or not, and before anyone else knows about it, allowing Facebook to acquire other apps that could be a threat before they turn into one. Apps that are hosted by Parse are more likely to be acquired in this manner. The purchase of Instagram for $1B was considered to be one of Facebook’s smartest acquisitions ever in consumer tech (Luckerson, 2016).

Facebook was unsuccessful in acquiring Snapchat and has been trying to copy. The latest example of this is, according to Mathew Ingram (2016) “when Facebook-owned Instagram introduced a new feature called Stories that lets users share a collections of photos and videos that disappears after 24 hours” which is identical to Snapshat’s Stories.

When one looks at the apps in the infographic it does not bring ease to the privacy valuing individuals. Of concern to those who value their privacy are: Face.com, a facial recognition Platform, purchased for $100 Million in June 2012, Jibbigo, a speech recognition and speech-to-speech translation app which translates voice snippets to and from 25 languages, (Constine, 2013), purchased for an undisclosed amount. Wit.ai is another speech Recognition app that was purchased for an undidsclosed amount in January, 2015.

With regards to Facebook’s virtual reality endeavours, it purchased Two Big Ears in May 2016, which is an app to support virtual reality audio and build ultra realistic 3D audio, mainly to support the virtual reality app Oculus VR (Matney, 2016) which Facebook purchased in May, 2014. Surreal Vision and Pebbles Interfaces are two augmented reality apps purchased in May and July of 2015.


In conclusion, Facebook is well poised to dominate the apps market thanks to it’s purchase of mobile analytics apps, such as Parse, which allow it to monitor startup apps and purchase them before they become major competitors, such as Instagram and WhatsApp. WhatsApp’s purchase of $19B vs Instagrams purchase of $1B is telling, that messaging is still more widely used and has greater reach in the global market/developing world. Out of the just over $23B spent on the acquisition of over 60 apps, over 80% of that was spent on the acquisition of WhatsApp alone! Facebook is maintaining it’s dominant position in the next big craze, virtual reality through it’s purchases of virtual reality apps. If ever anyone wants to make millions or even billions, I would recommend they use a backend user which is owned by Facebook, such as Parse so that Facebook can monitor its performance for a potential purchase.


Twitter promotion:

What do the trends in #Facebookacquisitions say about the future of #socialmedia? Click here to find out: (http://ow.ly/xxxxxxxxx) #AI


Facebook promotion:

In just over 10 years, facebook has spent approximately $23B on the aquisition of over 60 apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, and even virtual reality apps. Find out more: (http://ow.ly/xxxxxxxxx)





Constine, Josh. August 12, 2013. Facebook Acquires “Mobile Technologies”, Developer of Speech Translation App Jibbigo. Tech Crunch. https://techcrunch.com/2013/08/12/facebook-acquires-mobile-technologies-speech-recognition-and-jibbigo-app-developer/


Edwads, Jim. September 6, 2013. This Guy Thinks A Little-Noticed Facebook Acquisision Gives It A Head Start On Finding The Next Instagram. BusinessInsider. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-facebook-acquired-parse-for-app-acquisitions-2013-9


Ingram, Mathew. August 2, 2016. Here’s Why Facebook Is So Desperate to Buy, Copy or Kill Snapchat. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2016/08/02/facebook-snapchat-2/


Matney, Lucas. May 23, 2016. Facebook just bought VR audio company Two Big Ears and is making their tech free to developers. Tech Crunch. https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/23/facebook-just-bought-vr-audio-company-two-big-ears-and-is-making-their-tech-free-to-developers/


Meyer, Robinson. February 19, 2014. Why Facebook Just Spent $19 Billion on a Messaging App. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/02/why-facebook-just-spent-19-billion-on-a-messaging-app/283959/

COM0011 – Let’s talk sexting. But first, let me take a selfie.

I decided to write my first blog assignment on the social media phenomenon of sexting. Sexting is a word that combines the word sex with texting with the end result being the word “sexting” which is actually in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. After delving into this topic, I realize how vast it actually is, and may be better tackled by a PhD student, than someone writing a blog post. I chose this topic because it’s certainly an aspect of social media that can’t be ignored. Let’s face it, most humans like sex, and is it ultimately one aspect of humanity – like all others, that inevitably make their way into social media.

It’s pretty timely that Anthony Weiner’s sentencing for sexting a 15 year old, is making headlines as I write this. See article. One would think he would have taken precautions by sending the explicit material over an auto-deleting messaging app such as Snapchat, but this actually occurred over TWITTER of all places! And I don’t know about you, but I have never heard a female say she enjoyed receiving a dick pick. Have you? HAVE YOU?

If you’re like me, your reaction is somewhat like this one:

or this one:

Other than the dick pics, when it comes to sexting, there seems to be a lot of selfies verging on narcissism, and revealing body shots. What is this obsession that people have with taking pictures of their body parts?

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Source: Anderson, Mark. Narcisyphus

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Source: Wilkinson, Signe. More Like Weiner


Below I discuss findings of PEW Research Center surveys on Americans’ use of social media sites and chatting apps, and of how teen’s flirt over social media. I then bring attention to the 2017 Dirty Dozen list of the US National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE).

What does the research say about Social Media and sexting?

The Pew Research Center brought up a very good point in their report Teens, Technology, and Romantic Relationships[1] that teens not only spend a lot of time living out their relationships on social media sites, but that “Adolescence is a time of incredible physical, social, and emotional growth, and peer relationships – especially romantic ones – are a major social focus of many youth.” Citing several researchers, Hasinoff’s journal article echoes this through research that demonstrated that “these technologies are integral to youth sexual identities, and relationships.[2]

While the majority of teens (age 13-17) surveyed in the PEW Research Center’s survey had not yet had a romantic relationship, social media was the top medium for flirting. Sending sexual images was reported by only 10% of the teens surveyed (see Figure 1 below). One positive and interesting finding was that both boys and girls enjoy social media as a space to show their significant other how much they care about them, and to feel closer to them. Peer and romantic relationships are a focal point of teens’ lives, and social media is an important place to make that happen. They explore romance and new digital identities as they grow, said the report.

Figure 1: Percentage of teens that reported flirting on social media in the PEW Research Center survey.

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Chart by Marielle Gervais with data from Pew Research Center


The Pew Research Centre’s Social Media Update 2016[1] indicated that messaging apps were popular chatting tools amongst American smartphone users, as opposed to simply chatting on social media sites, particularly among younger smartphone owners. The survey results (see Table 1 below) indicated that 72% of Americans use messaging apps. They divided the apps into 3 categories: (1) general-purpose messaging apps such as “WhatsApp or Kik”, (2) auto-delete messaging apps, such as “Snapchat or Wickr”, and (3) anonymous messaging apps such as “YikYak or Whisper”. Of the 24% of Americans that use auto-deleting messaging apps such as “Snapchat or Wickr”, 56 % are in the 18-29 age range, more than 4 times the share among 30-49 y/o (13%). It does not indicate the percentage among the 13-17 age range.

Table 1: Popularity of types of messaging apps among American youth

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Proceed with caution!

Between 2013 and 2017 messaging apps and social media sites Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr have been put on the US NCOSE’s Dirty Dozen list of corporations that profit from sexual exploitation. For those who are unfamiliar with Snapchat, see Intro to Snapchat on YouTube. It’s essentially a messaging app to share photos that auto-delete after a few seconds. This makes it a convenient venue for posting discrete or compromising photos. NCOSE argues that (1) Snapchat is one of the most popular social media tools stating that it has 100 million daily active users, and that 71% of them are under age 25. There are approximately 6 billion daily Snapchat video views, they say, (compared to Facebook which as 8 billion video views per day). That’s a heck of a lot of views from the under age 25 demographic. The second reason it’s on the list is that “it is frequently used for sexting and sharing self-produced child sexual abuse images.” The third reason is that Snapchat is now profiting from young people producing sexual images through the creation of Snapcash.

NCOSE’s issue with Twitter isn’t so much the sexting as it is the facilitation of under age pornography. The evidence against Twitter in NCOSE’s letter to the CEO is horrific. Facebook was removed from the list after 2015 for taking action in removing child porn images and links that lead to child porn. The evidence NCOSE provides about Tumblr providing porn to children is quite disturbing. After 2014 it was taken off the Dirty Dozen list, but I could not find out why.

I guess the danger with teens and sex in the digital age is that, as Parry Aftab -a Digital Privacy & Cybersecurity Lawyer stated, “teenagers are ‘disconnected from the immediate consequences of their actions online, [so] many “good” kids and teens find themselves doing things online they would never dream of doing in real life.”

So what can we conclude from this?

To sum it up, the under age 25 demographic in America watches 6 million views on Snapchat daily, compared to Facebook’s 8 million views total for all Americans, and Snapchat is currently on NCOSE’s Dirty Dozen list. We do know is that 10% of surveyed teens ages 13-17 have sent flirty or sexy pictures of themselves to a romantic interest in 2016, but I do not have data on their preferred platform. We know that 56% of Americans aged 18-29 with a smartphone use auto-deleting apps such as Snapchat or Wickr. Seeing as Snapchat and Twitter are currently on the Dirty Dozen List of the US National Center on Sexual Exploitation, youth should be advised to be careful interacting with strangers on these platforms. After all, Anthony Weiner used Twitter for sexting with a 15 year old.


Other thoughts

I don’t want to say that sexting is all bad. In some cases it’s an occasional thing, or in other cases can keep the spark alive in a long-term or long-distance relationship. Where it gets unhealthy is when that becomes the societal norm. When you sext everyone you meet. It certainly seems like young people do it to explore their identities online. As time goes on we will be able to further analyze these trends as the generations evolve. One of the drawbacks of this blog post is that it didn’t really explore older generations, but after all Facebook did just celebrate its 10th birthday.

My hashtag research on #sexting opened my eyes to how much sex is actually on social media. I thought Twitter was a safe and innocent place until I did this research. On the other hand, I also saw the opposite end of the spectrum, which included campaigns to end sexual exploitation that use the hashtags #whyifight, #fightthenewdrug, #2smrt4u, #cse, #superohero2017, and #cleanuptwitter.


Social Media Promotion


#AnthonyWeiner sentenced for #sexting a 15 y/o on @Twitter. http://nyti.ms/2q0zhFb Be a #Superhero2017 #CleanUpTwitter #DirtyDozenList #CSE

#DYK that #teens experiment with #onlineidenties through #sexting? Here are some online safety tips: http://bit.ly/2qcyf8t #SafeSexting

Curious what surveys say about #sexting? @PewResearchCenter has the data: http://pewrsr.ch/2fIeTTY http://pewrsr.ch/1KShdjT #SafeSexting


Facebook Posts

In the digital age, sexuality will inevitably be a part of social media, and that includes sexting. Research shows that teens explore their changing sexual identities online, and though only 10% of American teens have sent sexy or flirtatious photos of themselves to someone they liked, it’s always smart to know the risks and how to stay safe. #SafeSexting.

AnthonyWeiner was sentenced to 27 months in jail for sexting with a 15 year old on Twitter. Find out why Twitter and other companies are on the #DirtyDozenList. http://nyti.ms/2q0zhFb   http://bit.ly/2mbWv9Y




[1] Greenwood, Shannon, Andrew Perrin and Maeve Duggan. Pew Research Center. Social Media Update 2016: Facebook usage and engagement is on the rise, while adoption of other platforms holds steady. November 11, 2016. http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

[1] Lenhart, Amanda, Monica Anderson and Aaron Smith. Pew Research Center. Teen, Technology and Romantic Relationships. From flirting to breaking up, social media and mobile phones are woven into teens’ romantic lives. October 1, 2015. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/01/teens-technology-and-romantic-relationships/

[2] Hasinoff, Amy Adele. New Media & Society. Sexting as media production: Rethinking social media and sexuality. Vol. 15, no. 4 pp. 449-465




Anderson, Mark. Narcisyphus. Andertoons. Selfie Cartoon #7599. http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/more_like_weiner_20130806

Wilkinson, Signe. More Like Weiner. August 6, 2013. http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/more_like_weiner_20130806


Youtube videos:

Snapchat. Introducing Snapcash! November 17, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBwjxBmMszQ

Snapchat. Intro to Snapchat. January 17, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hiv4KeoBeuo



Greenwood, Shannon, Andrew Perrin and Maeve Duggan. Pew Research Center. Social Media Update 2016: Facebook usage and engagement is on the rise, while adoption of other platforms holds steady. November 11, 2016. http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

Hasinoff, Amy Adele. New Media & Society. Sexting as media production: Rethinking social media and sexuality. Vol. 15, no. 4 pp. 449-465

Lenhart, Amanda, Monica Anderson and Aaron Smith. Pew Research Center. Teen, Technology and Romantic Relationships. From flirting to breaking up, social media and mobile phones are woven into teens’ romantic lives. October 1, 2015. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/01/teens-technology-and-romantic-relationships/

National Center on Sexual Exploitation. The 2017 Dirty Dozen. http://endsexualexploitation.org/dirtydozen-2017/

Trueman, Patrick President & CEO, National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Letter to Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-Founder of Twitter. February 15, 2017. http://endsexualexploitation.org/wp-content/uploads/dd_twitterletter_02-14-2_001.pdf

Weiser, Benjamin and William K. Rashbaum. The New York Times. Anthony Weiner Pleads Guilty to Federal Obscenity Charge. May 19, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/nyregion/anthony-weiner-guilty-plea-sexting.html?_r=0