Pinterest is a really fun site to look at creative ideas from around the world. Personally, one of the reasons I have not gotten hooked beyond contemplating pictures on the various boards, finding out more about them is not always easy. There is a link included in the Pin enabling users to visit the original location of the post but it takes you to the general page and not to the actual article or picture that you are interested in. The topic in question may be far down the feed and difficult to find. Also, once the information is located, it is often lacking in detail and disappointing, especially for DIY projects. This happened to me a few times and discouraged me from further pursuing the site. That said, it can be a lovely place for frivolous window shopping.
A more concerning feature of Pinterest is issues about giving credit to the original author of the idea. Pinterest encourages people to get permission to post but at the same time it makes it easy to pin things seamlessly with one click. With this lack of difficulty, Pinterest is prompting its users to commit copyright infringement although in their terms of service they explicitly state that content posted should be either owned by the user or be non-infringing. This runs counter to their promotional material which says you can “save ideas from around the web with one click (Pinterest, 2017).” This is especially concerning for creators who are not receiving credit for their work. Particularly when, as described above, even if the origin of the Pin is enclosed, the information can be difficult to find within the site.
Pinterest: https://about.pinterest.com/en/browser-button, published 2017, accessed March 27, 2017.
Google+ offers an interesting platform with which to connect with your social community. This includes people you already know but also those you do not know but have similar interests with. It provides a way to connect with larger communities that do not necessarily exist in your geographic location, for example: people who enjoy in photographing children’s toys staged in a real setting. Google+ provides a place where such passions can be displayed and shared with others who have the same soft spot. The fruit of this meeting of the minds can then be followed by other users. Google+ offers an exciting space where like-minded people can encounter and inspire each other. This is also enjoyable for those who act as an audience.
Previous criticisms of Google+ were that if you signed up for a Gmail address you were forced to also have a Google+ account. This is no longer the case. As well, Google+ requires a lot of personal information to open an account which is dubious coming from a company that then sells this data for targeted advertising. In general, it is good practice to give as little information as possible to these types of services because you do not necessarily know what is done with it. Having to use your real name and the fact that you can follow anybody on Google+ without them having to accept you can provide perfect ground for anyone who wants to stalk someone. It can be done without the user knowing. Thus, it is important to take steps to protect your identity while benefiting from the service.
WordPress is an interesting blogging tool because it is relatively easy to use and one can choose to share their website publicly or privately. Another positive aspect of this blogging service is the fact that it is available through open software which makes it modifiable by users. It is thus continuously being improved with the input of those who have first hand experience with it. As well, since the WordPress community is so large, if a user has any issues or problems it is very probable that someone else has had a similar issue and a solution will be easily found. The fact that knowledge in coding or computer language is not required to create good-looking blogs is also a bonus. However, this same aspect has been highly criticized by professionals who build and maintain websites. When they are tasked with maintaining websites created by amateurs using WordPress, there are often a lot of problems that are not easily fixed—finding a solution takes time and is complex. WordPress has been criticized by these professionals who volunteer their time and expertise at WordCamps and develop new themes and plugins for the content management system. They disapprove of its high reliance on the volunteer community without providing enough support for its clients. In practice, this means tutorials are inconsistent and forum threads are often unresolved. WordPress would be wise to improve their support team to adequately assist its large user base. It should also find ways to show their appreciation for the volunteers who have helped make it what it is today.
Twitter offers an interesting platform to share what is going on in real time. This is especially important for events or occurrences of public interest particularly if they involve some kind of danger, for example a bomb threat. It also allows everyday people to interact with celebrities and encourages dialogue between community members which is empowering and fosters communication that would rarely happen under different circumstances, if at all. At times, the content found on Twitter can give short bursts of information that make users feel like they are plugged into a shared community mind. Yet this easy access to other people has a downside as it has been negatively applied to spread hate speech, threats and misogynist messages. Many are sure that Twitter has not done enough to combat this kind of nasty behaviour that some individuals display on the platform. Twitter has had a difficult time addressing this issue although they have taken steps to do so, such as trying to facilitate the signalling of hateful tweets. Nevertheless, some are still being harassed to the point of leaving Twitter or deleting their accounts.
In a more positive light, people are playing with the platform creatively by the practice of Twitterature, the use of Twitter as a literary medium. This form of literature can be limited to 140 maximum characters or it can be a novel that extends over hundreds of tweets, sent over many months. This use of Twitter is an enchanting demonstration of technology being adapted, in a positive way, to bring forth something completely different and unexpected.
Myspace is a great place for music if you have a MySpace account or an account with a major social networking website such as Facebook or Twitter. On this website you can read about music news, listen to your favourite music or search for new music discoveries. Unfortunately, although it boasts having one of the largest collections of music available for streaming, you may not find music if it is more obscure or not very well known. If you are a musician, you can use Myspace to promote yourself and your music with little distribution costs. If you are a music fan, Myspace is definitely a social network that you need to be a part of because it allows you to connect with other people through your favourite music which is pretty special. You can also directly connect with musicians you admire and musicians can do the same with their fans. Consequently, it fosters community between musicians and their fans.
Unfortunately, Myspace has been criticized recently for making music available that it does not have the rights to. Its rebuttal when confronted with this accusation was that it was users that were uploading the music and not Myspace which in their opinion made them not responsible for not having the rights to the music. Myspace was further criticized for their ignorance of the situation. This is a terrible position for a website whose sole purpose is the sharing of music. Musicians need to be recognized through payment for their music. It is really unfortunate when a powerful music website like Myspace does not recognize this.
Instagram is a fun way to share your world through filtered photographs and videos. One appreciated aspect of the application is that account settings can be modified to be private or public. This gives the user control over who sees what they upload. A public account is accessible to anyone. This is desirable especially in a business context where reaching a large audience for promotion purposes is key. However, if a user only wants a select number of people to see their photos and videos, the account can be set to private. The user thus controls who sees their photos by only allowing followers that have previously been approved—people that have requested permission to see photos and videos. This also ensures photos will not show up in public searches or hashtag groups.
Facebook is a great website to facilitate connections between friends and family. This is not always necessary with close friends but it is useful when connecting with people with whom you have lost touch, have not seen in a long time or who have moved far away. Although these connections may be fleeting and superficial since you may only exchange likes on photos, they are generally positive. It is enjoyable to reconnect with people you used to know and see where they are today. However, in order to be a Facebook member, you must give Facebook full power over anything you post on their site. What is specifically concerning is how photos or other content uploaded to Facebook can be used by Facebook or someone else in a way that the user has no control over. A photographer retains intellectual property rights over an image they upload to Facebook but this photo can now be used by Facebook as long as it is on Facebook. If the author deletes the photo from the site but it has been shared with someone else, and thus is still on Facebook, it can be used by Facebook anyway. By agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service, you agree to Facebook using your content in any way the company likes without needing to compensate you or even let you know. There is no way around this other than not to post content on Facebook or not to post content that you do not want to see used in a way you did not intend. Unfortunately, behaving in this way can hinder a user’s possible connections and ultimately defeat the purpose of being on Facebook.