Tag Archive | "facebook"

Chen Show Mao is the God of social media

Chen Show Mao is the God of social media

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How social media loves Chen Show Mao and vice versa.

Which Singaporean has 30,000 more Facebook fans than Lee Kuan Yew?

Which Singaporean has 30,000 more Facebook fans than Lee Kuan Yew?

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Nope, not Nicole Seah. It’s Justin Ng! Who?

This is a reduction of the original article that first appeared on sgentrepreneurs.

Justin Ng has more than 130,000 fans on Facebook. He is a social media-technopreneur-photographer who employs social media tools to devastating effect.

Well, well. Seems like His Leeness has been overtaken again.

This time round, it is by a somewhat unlikely technopreneur-photographer by the name of Justin Ng.

Ring a bell yet? No? It’s ok, you’re probably not alone.

Well, what’s so awesome about him is that he has achieved what other photographers haven’t managed to do locally.

And that is to carve out a niche for himself on the Internet, particularly on Facebook.

You see, Justin has prior experince learning Windows programming and PHP scripting.

He spent three weeks building his personal iPhone app called “Justin Ng Photo”. It allows users to view ‘live’ photos that are transmitted from his camera.

So he is in fact a geeky, techy sort of guy.

And when did he pick up this photography thing? In 2010.

Unbelievable right? Not only that, he was on stage recently to receive the People’s Choice Award for the Asia’s Top 50 Apps competition.

What Justin does is that he actively markets his app to clients who can download it and view photos of the proceedings that he shoots in real time.

High-resolution versions of a particular photo can be requested. All anyone has to do is send a text message to ask for it.

Heard of anyone else doing that?

So, we’ve ascertained Justin’s got technology on his side

But there’s more. His passion extends to Internet marketing too. Prior to running his photography business, he started a recruitment firm. He generates leads by applying search engine optimisation techniques.

And with his wife dealing with the firm’s day-to-day operations now, he has embarked on a new adventure to promote his photography business: Social media marketing.

Check out the figures and you’ll be amazed at the rate he has scaled the number of Facebook fans.

More than 135,000 fans and counting...

From 5,000 to over 100,000 fans in the span of six months, it has made Justin Ng Photography one of the top Singapore business brands on Facebook, with many top global companies lying in his wake.

One reason for the monstrous growth of his Facebook page is due to a recurring international photography competition he launched in May 2011.

Justin invests S$1,000 (US$786) as the top prize for the winning submission every month, with a panel of judges that includes himself deciding the winner.

Submissions can come from anywhere around the world, as long as it fits into the monthly theme. Even a Hipstamatic photo qualifies.

Once a submission is approved and uploaded onto the Page, participants must tag five of their friends in the photo within three days, otherwise the entry might be deleted. Also, repeated winners will not be eligible for the S$1,000 grand prize, so as to encourage more participation.

The idea is to keep the competition broad, open, and exposed to as many people as possible.

Popularity for his Facebook page surged due to the format of this competition.

His efforts have even been generated measurable, revenue-generating returns.

Before May, he received about five to ten business queries a month. Now, it’s more than 60.

High demand for his services means he now charges S$6,888 (US$5,416) for a package, up from S$2,888 (US$2,270).

“I’m also moving on to other things, like sports photography, and shooting for events. I don’t want to do too many weddings anymore,” Justin said.

His technological edge has also secured him a lucrative contract as the official photographer for Chingay 2012, an annual festival that showcases bright and colorful street floats.

Using technology to project ‘live’ photos onto a projector screen, the organisers fell head over heels for it. He is currently amassing a team of photographers and planning the details for execution.

Justin has also used the same approach to shoot the 64th SCC International Rugby 7s.

And if all goes according to plan, he might just secure the job for next year’s National Day Parade.

This technological adventure is more than just a hobby or a passion. In fact, it is a way to “eliminate” competitors, Justin said rather apologetically.

Photography, after all, is a cut-throat business.

Lucrative jobs are reserved for the very best.

And the situation is made worse ever since the price of DSLR cameras have fallen, lowering the barriers to entry for any aspiring professional.

But to beat the odds, you need a bit of savvy.

As well as employ technological know-how and cunning.

Until then, you won’t just be a credible photographer.

You’ll be Justin credible. Get it?

Just incredible?

Ok, lame.

PAP, WP found seats in parliament despite putting out least content on Facebook, Twitter

PAP, WP found seats in parliament despite putting out least content on Facebook, Twitter

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Rate of Facebook updates did not translate into votes.

Should the PAP mourn the loss of one GRC and one SMC? Now we know that even if they put up 10 million Facebook updates, they would still have lost six seats. Should have prevented housing prices from exploding...

Despite putting up only 47 posts on the PAP Facebook page, the incumbent managed to win 81 out of 87 seats in parliament.

The PAP took a decentralised new media approach this election in which its electoral candidates individually engaged with voters.

It is, however, arguable that this shouldn’t even be considered an approach in the first place.

It appeared more as a last resort.

The Workers’ Party, on the other hand, put out 102 posts, with a larger proportion of them, compared to other parties, consisting of photos.

There are three non-scientific principles that can be drawn from these results:

Primo, gerrymandering still works.

Secundo, pictures speak louder than words.

Tertio, do the grunt work and walk the ground because new media only gives you false hope.

This article is a 60-second reduction of the original article published in The Straits Times on Oct. 5 (below).

Stopped playing The Sims Social? Your Sim will be disappointed

Stopped playing The Sims Social? Your Sim will be disappointed

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Expect an email and more money from your Sim once you stop playing.

These days, everyone on Facebook is playing The Sims Social, building the biggest houses and making friends with neighbors. You can even date someone else’s Sim and engage in ‘WooHoo’ with them, which is euphemism for sex. That requires permission from your friend, naturally.

But what happens when you stop spending time with your Sim?

Well, it gets jealous, like a neglected child. It starts sending you an email attempting to induce a guilt trip, and will even give you 2,000 Simoleons to entice you back. Talk about freaky.

Ex-CEO of Singapore-based tech start-up disses Facebook, Google

Ex-CEO of Singapore-based tech start-up disses Facebook, Google

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Start-up subsequently releases statement distancing themselves from ex-CEO.

Johan Stael von Holstein, the ex-CEO of MyCube, a Singapore-based company that seeks to build the world’s first Social Exchange by allowing users to own, control, and monetise their digital data, recently tweeted on Sept. 22: “Best part of being a free agent again is that I can say what I want. I despise what Google and Facebook does and Zuckeberg IS the devil.”

Stael von Holstein, an ardent advocate of online privacy, ownership and control, made these comments after a string of events in recent months where he exited the post of CEO of MyCube to become chairman and ambassador, only to announce that he would step down as chairman but still maintain second-largest ownership of the company.

This string of events started on Aug. 8, following an investment from Black Ocean to become the majority owner of MyCube, the start-up announced that Stael von Holstein would still remain as chairman and ambassador despite stepping down as CEO.

However, on Aug. 18, Johan released his own public statement on Google+ saying he would step down as chairman while maintaining second largest ownership “for the time being”.

MyCube subsequently clarified in a statement on Sept. 26, following the Sept. 22 tweet, that Stael von Holstein was no longer part of the start-up: “Please note that former MyCube CEO Johan Stael von Holstein no longer has any ongoing role with MyCube and will not be serving as company ambassador as previously announced. Any public statements by Stael von Holstein are his opinions alone and not endorsed by or representative of those of the company.”

It is unclear the exact events that transpired but Stael von Holstein has been known to be a vocal critic of the invasion of privacy and ownership of private data by social networks like Facebook and Google+.

A couple of weeks ago, New Nation reported on the winner of MyCube’s uber-prestigious marketing campaign which saw the hiring of 33 interns from 19 countries with exciting perks, plus the top-performing intern walking away with $10,000 extra cash to pursue his own entrepreneurial activities.

These comments by Stael von Holstein come on the heels of the widespread discussion of recent changes to Facebook’s apps where user data is mined and effortless sharing is encouraged on Facebook so that users can access more content by third-party providers.

Read the original article here.

Effortless sharing on Facebook is killing taste

Effortless sharing on Facebook is killing taste

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If Mark Zuckerberg has his way, everything you do online will be shared by default. And that sucks.

Three years ago, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg noted a mind-boggling statistic about the Internet.

Every year, people share twice as much online than they did the year before.

If you Liked 200 news articles this year, you’ll Like 400 next year, and have only Liked 100 last year.

People have come to call this Zuckerberg’s Law, and it’s obvious that Facebook sees “sharing” as the cornerstone of its future endeavors.

This is so as the more people share through Facebook, the more reasons people will have to keep coming back to Facebook, and the more central Facebook becomes in their lives.

So far, this seems to be working: recently, on a single day, Zuckerberg said 500 million people logged in to Facebook.

Now, it might just be the case that whatever you read, you watch, you listen, you buy, everyone you know will hear all about it on Facebook.

What this means is that you don’t have to bother with the “friction” of choosing to tell your friends that you like something.

Zuckerberg, at a developer conference last Thursday, called automatic or effortless sharing “frictionless sharing”, which is what lies behind a grander vision of the Web.

This is where Facebook apps will share with your friends whatever it is you are doing or experiencing.

For example, on a music sharing app (Spotify) on Facebook now, merely experiencing something is enough to trigger sharing.

A Ticker box appears on the right side of your page which tells your friends what you’re listening to and plays it for them if they click on it.

However, frictionless sharing is missing the point about sharing: Sharing is fundamentally about choosing.

You experience a huge number of things every day, but you choose to tell your friends about only a small number of them, because most of what you do isn’t worth mentioning.

“One thing that we’ve heard over and over again is that people have things that they want to share, but they don’t want to annoy their friends by putting boring stuff in their news feeds,” Zuckerberg said during his keynote.

This doesn’t sound like a problem that needs solving. Because if Facebook users aren’t sharing stuff because they worry it will bore their friends, then this sort of filtering works.

But Zuckerberg, nevertheless, has the solution.

“Our solution was to create a new place that’s lighter-weight where you can see lighter-weight stuff—that’s how we came up with Ticker”, he said.

If you translate “lighter-weight” to boring, you’ll understand what Zuckerberg is saying: Facebook now has a place on its site reserved especially for boring updates.

But Zuckerberg is right that the Web is better when everyone shares more.

Just that you should also consider not sharing if you have no strong feelings about it, especially if you suspect that your friends will consider it just another bit of noise in their already noisy world.

So do everyone a favor and don’t say anything about it all.

This is a 60-second reduction of the original article here.

Is Singapore a renaissance city?

Is Singapore a renaissance city?

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Not quite, but it’s getting there. All the government has to do now is to become less of a control freak.

By Terence Lee

Crazy Horse is lame compared to nyotaimori --serving sushi on a naked women's body. Secret Cooks Club -- a private dinner club in Singapore -- organised one such session recently.

SOMETHING strange is happening in Singapore, the nipple of an island-state in South-East Asia that’s more well-known for caning naughty American brat Michael Fay and banning chewing gum.

It’s no longer boring.

For years, the liberal Western media have drilled into readers ad nauseam about Singapore’s human rights violations and strict government control on every aspect of their citizens’ lives.

Most recently, a German TV variety show ridiculed the country, claiming that Singaporeans with fever are barred from entering any building. “Singaporeans are not just crazy, they are tremendously crazy,” concludes the host of the show.

Singaporeans, predictably, went mad over it.

But I think being called “crazy” is a good thing. I’m sure Singaporeans will agree that being labelled as bonkers is a step up from “boring”. Remember that just a while ago, a local journalist was whacked silly by her countrymen for calling Singapore a stale place.

Perhaps we can attribute another trait to Singaporeans: Hard-to-please.

Think of it this way: People are more likely to visit Singapore if it’s a “crazy” place rather than a “boring” place, right? No harm swindling tourists of a few extra gazillion dollars just so they can ogle at exotic Asian women (which Singaporean man cannot get),  and buy a few kitsch souvenirs from exotic Chinatown (which locals find too plasticky).

These things aside, the perception towards Singapore amongst liberal Western know-it-all journalists are indeed showing signs of change.

Take this article by the New York Times, for instance, which talks about the expanding “cultural realm” in the island-state. Singapore has a developing art and indie fashion scene. And if you want food, there’s plenty, and in all varieties.

Another write-up, this time by the Guardian from the United Kingdom, expands on this theme, exploring Singapore’s “culinary renaissance”. Secret dinner clubs are thriving in Singapore, and one of them, Secret Cooks Club (which is no secret anymore), recently held a dinner with sushi served on a naked woman.

If that isn’t crazy and sexy, I don’t know what is!

There are more examples.

The Pink Nipple swells.

Just a few days ago, a record 10,000 supporters donned pink and turned up at the Speaker’s Corner to support the right for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender people to love and be loved. The event, called Pink Dot, culminated in the formation of a giant, well, pink dot on the field. In a country where homosexual sex is banned, such show of solidarity is astounding.

That same week, Echelon 2011, a fledging annual conference for tech startups, was held. Eager young entrepreneurs from Singapore and Asia converged at the National University of Singapore to display their wares and network with angel investors and venture capitalists from all around the world.

The highlight of the event was a competition where 11 startups from Asia pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges consisting of established entrepreneurs and investors. It’s no surprise who won: Lee Min Xuan, who co-founded Playmoolah with fellow Singapore belle Audrey Tan, impressed judges and the audience with her solid presentation and quick wit.

Just a flash in the pan, you say?

Not quite. Last year, local mobile security company tenCube was acquired by McAfee in a deal estimated to be worth about US$25 million, making CEO and founder Darius Cheung a very rich man.

And consider how Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and CD Baby founder Derek Sivers (both big names) have both made Singapore their home. I must say something is indeed brewing in the kitchen, and it smells really good.

That brings me to my next point: Singapore, as a renaissance city, is still a dish being cooked. It’s work in progress.

So far, the government has its hands in everything: Arts, media, business, and people’s sex lives. Yes, they care about who (or what) gets into your pants. No doubt, initial government support and funding is crucial to grow Singapore’s cultural and creative space. But letting go is crucial for maturation.

Already, this is slowly happening in the political realm, where laws governing politicking using social media were loosened. Just as importantly, no politicians were sued during the last elections.

But more can be done: Censorship of positive gay portrayals in the local TV channels still occur. In that space, gays are treated like bogeymen who are used to scare children. The Singapore entrepreneurial scene, while growing, can do with more mentorship and private funding.

As Singaporeans embark on a trip towards cultural and financial nirvana, I propose they smell the roses a bit more. Stop the car, pee in the bushes, shag your wives, and watch the sunrise together.

Alternative news websites like The Online Citizen and Temasek Review, while serving an important function in the country, whine way too much. They feed off the negative energy of angry Singaporeans, creating a vortex of discontent and pessimism.

And in the process, they forget that Singapore is in many ways the envy of the world.

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How politicians can get started on new media

How politicians can get started on new media

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With these 5Cs, politicians can more effectively master social media as an engagement tool, says Ryan Lim, business director of social media consultancy firm Blugrapes.

Avoid ending up like Tin Pei Ling. Photo: SPH

POLITICIANS should approach social media like a courtship. Start slowly, first wooing your voters and attracting them to you. Once you have established trust, engage your followers and get to know each other better. Finally, make a long-term commitment with them and ask them to put their faith with you.

For politicians who have not yet gotten on the social media bandwagon, here are some guidelines on how to start:

Content – Planning content is the most important thing when entering any social media platform. Know what you want to share with your voters. They wish to understand your views on key political issues, as well as your personal and party manifesto. Top scores will go to politicians who allow their personality to shine through, revealing a human side to politics, rather than a faceless party.

Community – Leverage upon the social media platform that the majority of your targeted voters are on. Platforms such as Facebook and Foursquare have targeting tools, which can be used to your advantage. You can also benefit by localising your messages and organizing events. Not all voters are equal, and you may wish to focus your limited resources on winning a few key voters over, who can then have a positive multiplier effect on the masses.

Benefits of using social media

Technology-savvy politicians can leverage upon social media to complement their engagement efforts. The main benefits of using social media for politics include:

Cost – Online rally platforms are faster to create and cheaper to operate. This levels the playing fields amongst all parties, as the more established politicians with deeper pockets no longer hold an advantage.

Constraints – Unlike the number of rally sites in Singapore, real estate in social media is virtually unlimited. The public can see opinions and discussions, allowing them to understand about new candidates and what they believe in. With viral marketing, they can also see what their trusted networks are following.

Communication – Social media allows candidates to engage directly with their voters, building up personal relations in an easy and safe manner. Voters can virtually follow candidates, through updates on platforms like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter.

Conversation – Talk to your voters; not down at them. Social media is about being social, so interesting conversations are important. Welcome anyone who has taken the time to connect with you. There is no better endorsement than unsolicited praise from your supporters, so do remember to thank them! With social media, everyone will be able to see good and bad comments. There will always be instances when people will not support you. However, never abuse or attack them. Take it in your stride and respond graciously, remembering to accept and learn from their views.

Care – Show that you care for the welfare of your voters. Respond to their needs and concerns. While it may be tempting to use social media as a broadcast platform, vague and general responses will show a lack of sincerity. So be prepared to spend time engaging with voters on a one-to-one basis.

Commitment – Any social media effort requires long-term commitment to sustain what was started, and should never be used for immediate and temporary gains. Do not launch a Facebook page just to garner votes, only to let it become a ghost town once you’ve been elected. Sustain the community that has been built up over the duration of your tenure. This is a community that is interested in you, and can be used as an effective forum for governance and as a feedback channel on policies and engagement.

Exciting times ahead

The 2011 General Election in Singapore was an exciting event. It was the first time that Singaporeans voted during the social media era. Social media became the platform to showcase and disseminate information for public consumption. Those parties that were able to do this well were able to galvanize their supporters, engage the public and win their votes.

The emergence of “citizen reporters”, the viral spreading of messages over social media platforms and the ability for parties to really engage with the people resulted in the rapid and effective dissemination of information. Overall, the rise of social media in Singapore resulted in a more balanced coverage of political issues.

This article is contributed by Ryan Lim, Business Director of Blugrapes, a leading social media consultancy firm based in Singapore. The company has a track record of launching and maintaining social media solutions for organisations including Fortune 500 consumer brands across 15 industries. In Singapore alone, over 1 in 20 Singaporeans would have engaged in any one of Blugrapes’ social media solutions.

When importing contact lists into social networks is a bad idea

When importing contact lists into social networks is a bad idea

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Connecting with people has never been easier with Facebook and Tumblr. But beware the implications.

By Lee Jian Xuan


PRIVATE blogs are a dime a dozen these days. After the anti-establishment streak that informs most of our secondary school web-capades, those of us who still troll cyberspace tend to settle down, older and wiser and open a weblog for penning down more private thoughts, with the odd bad fictional piece thrown in. In any case, we guard these fiercely, restricting access only to a select few.

A week back, an old friend stumbled upon my private Tumblr, which puzzled me: I’d never once publicized or given the URL away. A brief chat with her soon revealed the answer.

Apparently, anybody can load their entire Gmail/AOL/Yahoo/MSN contact list into this and voila, discover all the Tumblrs created by their contacts who unsuspectingly did so with those e-mails. Friends, parents, rebellious cousins, office kaypohs, your karung guni man who just set up his website last month: ANYBODY you ever had contact with online is suddenly privy to your innermost thoughts and belated teenage angst.

Which to me highlights a glaring flaw with Tumblr (along with many other social networks) – users were never made aware of this feature as it was implemented in a later phase of the site’s development. This option only appears at the bottom of the ‘Goodies’ page.

Well, SQUEEZE ME, because this feature should sure as hell take centerstage. If people I don’t even talk to (these constitute 90% of my contact list) are sniffing around my Tumblr posts, I deserve to know. Some of the stuff I write about there is more private than my email inbox, which mostly consists of Singtel trying to sell me crap I don’t need.

And they need to put it up HIGH, like,


And what is it with this add-friends-from-your-contact-list nonsense anyway?

I understand that we’re living in an age where we check into 5792005 social networks on a regular basis and this is an attempt to streamline the arduous process of manually adding contacts on YouTwitFace, but we need some gatekeeping power.

I only add people whom I’ve met with before and whom I’m generally interested in getting to know. And I do so after reading their profiles and deciding if I’m comfortable sharing my profile with them.

Because a) we don’t add the same people to each network, b) we don’t communicate the same messages on each network and c) each network serves a fundamentally different purpose. If I said half the things I said on Twitter on Facebook, my ass would be standing on trial now for defamation/libel/sedition.

Similarly, you wouldn’t post Tumblr reblogs onto FB either. It’d make zero sense to most people and elicit asinine comments from well-meaning but clueless relatives like: ‘Wah boy so original ah!’

I don’t know about you guys, but having dabbled around with social media so much in the past few years, I’ve learnt that if anything, friend requests should be sincere. Yes, the fact that such a function can be performed with the click of a button (or even worse, on a large scale with these silly import/export options) inevitably cheapens it somewhat.

But for me, I only add people whom I’ve met with before and whom I’m generally interested in getting to know. And I do so after reading their profiles and deciding if I’m comfortable sharing my profile with them.

And I genuinely hope it’s the same the other way around when people add me. I hope that the user on the other side of the screen at least took the time to run my name through a search, click on my profile, check out my interests, even read what I’ve written.

Instead of ‘importing’ me like I’m some kind of nameless cipher alongside his army sergeants, neighbors, project mates, clubbing kahkees, fuck buddies and whathaveyou.

We’re already living in an era where social contact has been grossly de-personalized. Let’s not make it any worse than it has to be.

Jian Xuan is a second-year student from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information, Nanyang Technological University.

Want to have the blogosphere in your pocket? New Nation has an app for that. Available on the Android Marketplace.

Who values online privacy anymore?

Who values online privacy anymore?

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Corporations can mine data all they want – so long as it doesn’t affect the user experience.

By Fang Shihan

Photo: JASON / Creative Commons

WHEN Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Christopher Poole of 4chan last thrashed out the ethics of anonymity in cyberspace, the former said “not putting down your real name is tantamount to lying”, while the latter responded “well… people are shy”.

I’m paraphrasing. 4chan is better known as the crazy forum that incubated celebrated ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous and judging by some of the content posted there, it does make sense for some users to stay anonymous.

4chan has 12 million unique visitors per month while Facebook has 500 million users. Facebook, last valued at $89 billion clearly makes truckloads more from advertising revenue due to their more reliable user data.

Of course, both Facebook and 4chan are right in addressing the privacy concerns of their respective users. But the two social media giants are missing out a quickly evolving characteristic of internet users – they don’t care about anonymity or privacy anymore.

Aside from a minority of high profile individuals, most people don’t feel the need to guard their data trail. Partly because they feel that they’re not significant enough to warrant notice and partly because they’re likely to post updates only once every few days and don’t have much of a trail. While public figures like George Yeo or Paris Hilton probably have to worry about stalkers finding their home addresses, the majority of online users are average, less than average, and may even look like this.

Under normal circumstances, no one would bother digging up all the online rubbish left behind by Tan Ah Lian. Unless you’re a victim of overenthusiastic sedition enforcement like Abdul Malik.

Even the ‘dangers’ of behavioral advertising registers hardly a bleep on the minds of internet users. Behavioral advertising selects advertisements for users based on their preferences. It saves advertisers time and money by increasing the probability of their ad having an impact. At the same time, privacy advocacy groups such as this one argue that companies have no right to use users’ surfing patterns for their purposes.

The thrust of the privacy argument now isn’t about the sanctity of privacy per se, but because companies can profit from your data without giving a cent to you. Facebook and Facebook app developers came under fire in October last year for leaking user information. Aside from some minor embarrassment quickly corrected by promises by both companies to protect their user IDs, nothing much came of the incident.

Users really don’t care much about their privacy, or even the fact that companies are profiting from user data, unless of course, they could potentially make a substantial amount by letting companies monitor each click, ‘LOL’ or online search. Data mining requires economies of scale – a database is worth a lot, but a single click is not.

Critics of behavioral advertising also overestimate the impact of online advertising on online users. As I’m writing this while surfing Facebook, there are four ads on the right column – skincare, iphone printer, forex and a dining cashback card. Nothing I’d be upset about and also nothing I’ll pay much attention to. The one and only Facebook ad I ever clicked on was about the NUS Masters program. Again, it’s not something I’d mind lurking around at the side of my screen.

if you’ve been consistently using the same pseudonym for a few years, then you’re not really anonymous either. The only difference between an account profile names Tan Ah Lian, or MissFlower82, is the name.

While privacy may be overrated, online exhibitionism is underrated. The advent of blogging, tweeting and other platforms that enable anyone to communicate to many has created a class of everyday celebrities broadcasting anything from food to fashion to politics. This phenomenon of a one-way communication directed at a following or a two-way dialogue within a community of friends, has made privacy more of an obstacle than a necessity.

People want to be heard. More so for people who seek to find like-minded souls. Subcultures especially, flourish in cyberspace due to the ease of finding someone halfway across the world with almost identical tastes, habits and sense of humor. A private person has few friends online and let’s face it, we all get a kick from seeing the number of unique visitors rise on our blogs.

Then again, privacy advocates may argue that one can blog, tweet and Facebook under a pseudonym to remain anonymous. And it’s true, there’s a large group of online users that do just that. But as with all other consumer-oriented platforms, convenience is key to retaining usage. It’s too difficult to maintain different usernames and passwords all the time.

In any case, if you’ve been consistently using the same pseudonym for a few years, then you’re not really anonymous either. The only difference between an account profile names Tan Ah Lian, or MissFlower82, is the name. Behavioural advertising works on the basis on online habits. Unless you’ve been religiously using a VPN, the ads will get to you too.

Aside from big evil corporations out to bombard your liberty with ads they want you to see, governments have also been accused of infringing onto the privacy rights of online users. While the U.S. is still debating about how the patriot act would infringe on citizens’ civil rights, governments on this side of the globe never had to worry about citizens demanding privacy rights. Don’t like what they say? Throw em’ in jail. Period. The debate about privacy laws is nascent, to say the least.

In such a situation, yes, privacy and anonymity are valued for security reasons. But governments rarely utilize user data except for internal security reasons as well. Furthermore, politically-charged sites pale in comparison with commercial ones in terms of the number of users. This is in no small part due to a lack of advertising revenue for the former.

So while it is unethical to sell user information to advertisers without notifying the user, and it’s somewhat an infringement of privacy when companies monitor user behaviour via targeted advertising; the very painful reality is, none of these sites can survive without advertising.

Don’t be hoodwinked: Social media will have limited impact on GE

Don’t be hoodwinked: Social media will have limited impact on GE

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Trust me, the only version of Windows the computer illiterate folk operate regularly is on hinges: Their kitchen window.

By Belmont Lay

WITH the General Election due, I have a pronouncement to make: My sincere belief is that social media will have a limited impact on the outcome of the voting results this time round.

Simply put, social media being influential is overrated.

And I’m terribly afraid I might be the only person who actually realises this.

You and I have heard about the oft-cited example about how powerful social media such as Facebook and Twitter are as tools to galvanise support from the constituents.

We are often reminded that Barack Obama used social networking to win his 2008 presidency because he connected with the younger voters and encouraged a larger turnout using a medium that translated online participation into offline action.

(You can read the latest example of this argument laid out by 16-year-old uber tech blogger, Xavier Lur, here.)

In Singapore, it is true that we see a lot of people compulsively molesting their iPhones in the spirit of navigating a Facebook page even when they are on the go.

And yes, you can discharge your democratic duty these days by dispensing dissenting views while moving your bowels, if you so happen to have access to 3G while on the throne.

Happily, of course, when you’re done, you can use Twitter to conveniently declare to your universe of 15 followers that a so-and-so minister as well as your toilet are so full of shit.

For social media users with some clout, any kind of declaration such as these can be influential. Indeed.

However, just by thinking a little deeper, I can name you just two counterarguments to ruin Xavier’s point about the powerful effects of social media that really has nothing to do with social media at all but more to do with context: 1) Voting in US is not compulsory 2) Singaporean voters don’t just have to deal with two choices.

In the US presidential elections in 2008, it is the whole country voting by choice for either the optimistic black man with a vision and no policy or a very old man who can barely comb his own hair.

That’s it.

In Singapore, matters are vastly differently.

For one, we are not in the business of electing presidents this GE. We are electing individual candidates.

I am thankful that non-users of social media are not subjected to the tyranny of this sort of free flowing rubbish that comes out from the Internet and so-called influential social media.

Hence, there are so many bloody constituencies cut up in so many ways.

There are as many candidates from the incumbent and opposition as there are brothels in Joo Chiat.

And there are more political parties than I have cousins.

True, Singapore might have 2.35 million Facebook users at last count. But that also just means that there are another 2.35 million, at least, who don’t use FB.

And when you think all that funky 2.35 million FB users form a critical mass, you realise one thing: 50% are apathetic (because that’s who they really are offline), 25% are simply pathetic and sexually frustrated, 20% are stalkers and the remaining 5% are wholeheartedly, politically-minded.

Plus, based on the fact that voting in the US is not compulsory, they have a self-selection bias. The Americans who care about the vote will show up. The Americans who don’t, won’t, and they can’t spoil the winning chances of those who turned up.

But in Singapore, when voting is made compulsory, shit happens.

Because Singaporeans can be paranoid, they will still vote for the incumbent just because there is a serial number on the voting slip and since voting is compulsory, it means someone somewhere is keeping count (according to the Singaporean logic), and hence, losing their jobs and their house and their dog is a real possibility for anyone who tried anything funny like put an “X” next to the non-PAP candidate’s name.

Therefore, people harnassing the power of social media will have their efforts thwarted just because anyone who can vote will show up and this causes votes to go all over the place, including being spoilt.

Oh wait. Did I mention that because the other 2.35 million non-users of FB cannot be influenced by FB, this election is as much about non-social media users as it is about social media users?

So here’s the point of today’s missive: When you remove the context from the argument, you are left with a narrative that resembles a myth.

And people who buy the myth subscribe to the lie and regurgitate the same kind of rubbish in all their naivety and foolhardiness.

They usually end up doing it over social media.

And I am thankful that non-users of social media are not subjected to the tyranny of this sort of free flowing rubbish that comes out from the Internet and so-called influential social media.

If you actually made it this far reading this, my suggestion is to turn off your computer and spend some time with your children, parents and real friends who are offline and find some real people (not avatars) to talk to by having a rational proper discussion about politics or why your vote is indeed secret.

But as always, feel free to share this over Facebook or retweeting it.

Thank you.

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