This week’s Social Media Matters column (originally published June 17, 2011)

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, June 17, 2011
Metro section

Facebook’s membership down, but it certainly isn’t out

Reports are surfacing that Facebook membership is dropping in the developed western world, i.e. the U.S. and Canada. According to a recent report by Facebook Insider, the social media giant has lost six million members in the U.S. alone.

Keep in mind, though, that with market penetration of approximately 50 per cent in these areas, there isn’t anywhere to go but down. Many people joined Facebook “just to try it” and eventually left when they felt it wasn’t for them. Facebook membership continues to rise in the rest of the world, more than making up for any U.S. losses.

An article by Peter Pashal posted to PCMag.com mentioned three possible reasons for the recent blip in numbers.

1) Seasonal changes: i.e. college students who graduated this spring and thought it best to delete their college-influenced account (drunken photos, etc.) and eventually put up a more sanitized account that isn’t a career-killer. “Eventually” hasn’t happened yet.

2) Privacy envelope pushed too far: The more tweaks that Facebook makes to its settings, the more people become suspicious. With so many changes, some members may have just got fed up and left out of frustration, confusion or paranoia.

3) Facebook is kaput: Well, that’s a possibility, but so is looking up into the sky tomorrow and seeing a flock of pigs fly by. Membership blips are common with any online service. I doubt that Facebook is on its way out like MySpace or Friendster. Besides, no one can legitimately claim that MySpace or Friendster even came close to the penetration into pop culture and business that Facebook has earned. Is Facebook immortal? Likely not, but I hardly doubt that a few blips in markets where it has significant penetration is a reason for Mark Zuckerberg to hit the bottle.

Featured YouTube channels

Here are this week’s three featured YouTube channels.

CollegeHumor (youtube.com/collegehumor – 1.94 million subscribers): This is an entertaining channel chock full of regularly uploaded original comedy sketches that would please anyone with a dry and sarcastic sense of humour.

ideoProductions (youtube.com/JPizzle1122 – 542,000 subscribers): If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to microwave a “fill in the blank here”, then this is the channel for you! Some of the items the channel’s creators have recently microwaved include a tube of toothpaste, cigarettes, gasoline (oh oh!), a Slap Chop, a mannequin’s head and a chocolate Easter bunny.

Oscars (youtube.com/Oscars) – 61,000 subscribers: Are you a movie addict who can’t get enough of the Academy Awards? Want to relive a recent or retro Oscar win by your favourite actor or actress? This channel archives moments from the entire history of the Oscars.

Distracted driver legislation

In case you’ve been living under a rock, distracted driver legislation came into effect in New Brunswick on June 6. If you’re a social media addict who feels the need to check Facebook, Twitter or your text messages while driving, the party’s over – and the roads are safer. If you’re not fully aware of what this means, the Government of New Brunswick website states very clearly what is allowed and not allowed:

“Telephone calls: You cannot make or take calls when driving unless your telephone is hands-free or single-touch. If there is an emergency, you can call 911. Only while driving a police, fire or ambulance vehicle are you allowed to make or take a call.

Texting: You are not allowed. Ever.

Portable GPS: You can look at your GPS screen, but you cannot program or handle it.

MP3 or other entertainment devices: You can handle built-in devices. If you have a portable device plugged in while you drive, you can listen, but you cannot touch. Display screen: If it is built into your vehicle, it is fine. Otherwise, you cannot have it in your view.

Two-way radio: You can use a two-way radio if driving for commercial purposes or driving a commercial vehicle (a bus or vehicle with gross mass of 4,500 kg [9,900 pounds] or more), or involved in an emergency operation or search-and-rescue.”

If you’re caught breaking the law, you’re subject to a $172.50 fine and lose three points (out of a total of 10) from your licence.

Don’t take a chance. Keep yourself and others safe. Invest in a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone if you have an old one. Get a Bluetooth-enabled earpiece or hands-free device for the car. Better yet, if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, look for a model that has hands-free technology built right in. That way, you can answer your cell simply by pushing a button on your steering wheel and talk and listen directly through the vehicle’s built-in microphone and speakers.

Troll update

Last week, I told you about an online troll who kept posting negative and insulting comments online, including attempting to post comments to my blog and sending e-mails from their workplace. The troll has been identified by their employer and has been banned from using the company’s computer equipment for anything non-work related. Thanks to the employer for following up on my concerns.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.