Posts tagged Identity
Twitter is an invaluable source for real-time information and building communities through conversations, but for the uninitiated, it’s still a mystery.
On Twitter, there is no coddling the new people who sign up for the service. And when public tweets are suddenly picked up by major media outlets, confusion can ensue.
On Wednesday, Twitter user @steenfox set out to rouse conversation about a very serious and personal topic. “What were you wearing when you were [sexually] assaulted?” she asked. Buzzfeed picked up the conversation and put together a list of the public responses.
The original poster (@steenfox) and advocates across the Internet were outraged at Buzzfeed’s seemingly crass aggregation, and it sparked a conversation about whether or not it’s okay to publish public tweets.
Look, I understand the joy of the thinkpiece. And deadlines. But Twitter is full of people who are here to talk to each other. Not the world
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) March 13, 2014
The legality is cut and dry—yes, publications can embed your public tweets. Whether or not they should is another question entirely.
Identifying victims of sexual assault has always been a journalistic gray area; publications rarely identify victims of rape unless the victim submits their approval. While Buzzfeed claims the author asked for permission before posting all the responses, the original poster says she didn’t.
This is not the first time a publication has come under fire for posting public tweets. After the presidential election in 2012, Jezebel rounded up a list of racist tweets sent from teenagers around the country criticizing President Obama and calling him inappropriate names. Eventually the publication went one step further and outed the students by contacting their schools to ask about the racist tweets, a move that many people said crossed the line.
After the Buzzfeed article was published, a handful of people were confused as to why their post was used at all. The publication eventually removed three tweets that were included in the original post. Continued confusion and discourse over posting public tweets reveals a problem Twitter has yet to solve: It has a user base that misunderstands the tools at hand, and it’s both the company’s and community’s job to better educate new users how, exactly, they tweet.
No, It’s Not Obvious
On Facebook, which is still the world’s most popular social network, you’re encouraged to add friends that you know personally, and grow your community privately by sharing personal information to a relatively small network of people you already know. You can tailor your privacy settings to only allow friends and family to see your posts and comments, or you can have a public page from which publications can embed status updates.
With over one billion users, Facebook’s growth is, in part, due to the simplicity of the social network. It’s about friends, photos, and statuses—mini diaries of your life. The user interface is straightforward: You make friends and you share stuff with them.
When a new user signs up for Twitter, she gets suggestions on whom to follow; instead of friends or family, it’s celebrities like Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. And chances are, if you follow a celebrity, they won’t follow you back.
The average active Twitter user has just 61 followers, compared to the 200 friends an average Facebook user has. But Facebook is a contained, controlled environment: You decide who reads and sees your information, for the most part. Twitter, by contrast, seems arbitrary—the handful of people you follow and who follow you back starts with a rather small pool, but actually has endless reach.
Twitter wants to be “the Internet’s town square,” but it doesn’t do a good job communicating what, exactly, that means, or how people should use it.
In traditional town squares, community members congregate. It’s a place for the exchange of ideas, protests, and city meet ups. In some cases, like protests in Ukraine, news literally happens on the town square, which then makes its way to Twitter timelines everywhere.
Twitter isn’t for everyone, but that’s the goal. In the beginning, the social network attracted early adopters and super users that got it. The tools and community were then built by those same people. The hashtag, for instance, was created by a user, not the company. The people who use it regularly have even formed sub-communities on Twitter that lead to memes that only a handful of groups actually understand. (Weird Twitter, anyone?)
But Twitter still has issues evangelizing its services to the masses, which becomes a problem when folks tweet personal information thinking only their followers will see it. To its credit, Twitter’s “Discover” page helps new users navigate the waters, though it is still unclear how tweets are used, exactly.
See Also: Welcome To Twitter, Now What Can You Do?
In the company’s first post-IPO earnings call earlier this year, CEO Dick Costolo said Twitter is seeing slow growth, even amid increasing revenues. Despite its 241 million monthly active users, adding more hasn’t been easy. Perhaps it’s because the whole point of Twitter is still a mystery to so many people.
Even the company’s founders couldn’t agree on what Twitter is. According to the book Hatching Twitter, cofounders Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and Ev Williams all had different visions for the company that eventually morphed into what Twitter is today—an amalgamation of status updates, breaking news, and memes.
How To Protect Your Privacy
The standard post setting on Twitter is public, but there are ways for users to maintain their privacy. You can make an account private by selecting “protect my tweets” under privacy settings; it prevents anyone who isn’t following you from reading your tweets. Once your account is private, you must approve all follower requests.
In recent months, Twitter has pushed its direct messaging product, a service that works just like other messaging apps, but posts are limited to Twitter’s traditional 140 characters. It’s impossible to message all users, however; Twitter requires users to mutually follower each other before messaging.
If Twitter were so obvious, we wouldn’t need articles like this one. We wouldn’t need writers to blogsplain the product, or post condescending subtweets about how people should know how to use it. Because it’s clear people don’t.
For Twitter to grow into the global town square it wants to be, its leaders will need to figure out how to better educate constituents on how to use the service. And hopefully, unsuspecting tweeters won’t have to request their post be removed from listicles because of a simple misunderstanding.
Image courtesy of dicophilo on Flickr.
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You no longer have to identify as “male” or “female” on Facebook. Beginning today, you can choose from 50 56 different gender identities including asexual, androgynous, transgender, genderqueer, and more.
According to the company’s official announcement, Facebook worked with its “Network of Support, a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations” in order to select the 50 new gender identity options. Aside from identity, you can now also choose the pronouns Facebook uses when referring to you—male, female or neutral (they/their).
Here are the 56 we’ve identified so far—they’re only accessible via an autocomplete drop-down menu within Facebook, so please let us know if we’ve missed any:
- Cis Female
- Cis Male
- Cis Man
- Cis Woman
- Cisgender Female
- Cisgender Male
- Cisgender Man
- Cisgender Woman
- Female to Male
- Gender Fluid
- Gender Nonconforming
- Gender Questioning
- Gender Variant
- Male to Female
- Trans Female
- Trans Male
- Trans Man
- Trans Person
- Trans Woman
- Trans* Female
- Trans* Male
- Trans* Man
- Trans* Person
- Trans* Woman
- Transgender Female
- Transgender Male
- Transgender Man
- Transgender Person
- Transgender Woman
- Transsexual Female
- Transsexual Male
- Transsexual Man
- Transsexual Person
- Transsexual Woman
Photo by Flickr user torbakhopper
Updated at 12:29pm PT: Added list of the gender identities and updated the count to 56.
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ReadWritePredict is a look ahead at the technology trends and companies that will shape the coming year.
Pour your coffee, sit down, and log in: It’s the routine of hundreds of millions of knowledge workers.
As businesses add a crazy quilt of online services to the tools we use, those logins keep piling up. Information-technology managers—when they don’t just throw up their hands—have long dreamed of a nirvana called single-sign-on, where one login rules all. And increasingly, those login credentials will live up in the cloud, managed by some Web giant.
Three companies are on a collision course, jostling for control of the keys to our professional identity. They are Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn.
The Google Way
Google Apps is the primary way Google insinuates itself into a business. For $5 per user per month, Google offers email, storage, collaborative documents, and more. All of that comes with a Google Account—the key to other Google services, as well as apps that have integrated with Google. (Google recently eliminated some roadblocks to using Google Apps as a login.)
The tradeoff with going Google is that some of Google’s initiatives—for example, pushing Google+, its don’t-call-it-a-social-network thing that lets you connect and share with friends online—may clash with the sensibilities of corporations.
Yet the integration of Google accounts with Android apps may appeal to those looking to mobilize their workforces. And the price is hard to argue with. The missing piece here is for Google to find a way to make company-specific versions of Google+ that are private and secure for internal information sharing and video chat—and to deal with the frustrations experienced by users who have both personal and corporate Google accounts.
Microsoft’s Cloud Is Rising
While Google may have a head start in Web-based productivity apps, Microsoft is not resting on its big workplace franchise in Exchange email and Office apps. In fact, it may have found a clever, little-noticed way to bring Office users into a vast online directory.
In the 1990s, Microsoft ventured into the dangerous waters of creating a universal Web login when it unveiled Hailstorm, later known as Passport. After a torrent of brickbats from privacy and antitrust activists, Microsoft retreated—but Passport quietly lived on, eventually becoming the Microsoft Account, the service people use to log in to Windows today.
There’s a little-known enterprise version of the Microsoft Account called Windows Azure Active Directory. It is a version of the directory tools Microsoft has long offered to businesses—but up in the cloud, in one big database of employee logins. If you use Office 365, you have an Azure Active Directory account.
At a press event in October, Microsoft’s cloud chief, Satya Nadella, one of the internal candidates to become the company’s next CEO, unveiled a vision for how Microsoft could bring together its powerful desktop-software franchise and its budding cloud services.
“Every time someone signs up for Office 365, they’ve populated Azure Active Directory,” Nadella noted. Microsoft is also encouraging It managers to sync their old-school “on-premises” directory servers with Azure, adding to the accounts Microsoft tracks.
Nadella mused about the “notion of having an enterprise directory that’s fully programmable and accessible through interfaces” to software developers. In other words, that Microsoft login might not just be the tools to your work email and Office apps online—it might become the way you access hundreds of third-party apps, especially on devices running Windows 8 or Windows Phone.
Don’t count out Yammer, either. While the online-collaboration tool has mostly been quiet as a subsidiary of Microsoft, which acquired it last year, it had been preparing a big push to lure app developers to use its accounts as logins. Microsoft could revive that strategy, either independently or as an arm of the Azure push.
LinkedIn’s New Connections
If you’re still thinking of LinkedIn as a place to hunt for jobs, catch up: The professional network has been refashioning itself as the hub of its users’ daily work lives.
Right now, LinkedIn users post updates publicly. But LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has been talking about how his employees have access to a special version of the site where they can share updates and collaborate internally—an unreleased competitor to Microsoft’s Yammer.
In 2013, LinkedIn also rolled out a new contact-management feature and a host of mobile apps—including a controversial one, Intro, which essentially inserts LinkedIn as a middleman for your email, adding details about your correspondents to every message.
LinkedIn also owns Slideshare, a tool for sharing business presentations, and runs Pulse, a Web and mobile app that pulls together the news headlines your colleagues and peers are reading.
And for some time, though it’s far less known than, say, Facebook’s tools for logging into apps, it has offered a platform that lets developers log users in using their LinkedIn profiles.
Put it all together, and LinkedIn has many of the same things Microsoft and Google do: a professional identity that’s portable on the Web, and tools for email, contacts, and collaboration around information.
LinkedIn has one key advantage over Microsoft and Google: It is organized around the modern way we work, where not everyone has the same ending to their email address. The network of contractors, vendors, and partners who swirl through our daily lives may not be in the same single-sign-on directory. But odds are they’re on LinkedIn.
Battles Inside And Out
Microsoft and Google, of course, have been in open warfare for some time, and crow about stealing each other’s customers. No surprise there. But it will be interesting to watch if Microsoft insists on keeping Windows Azure Active Directory on Windows Devices—or makes a play to get in the world of Android. That will likely be a test of whether Microsoft’s new Devices group, bolstered by the addition of Nokia’s handset business, has the upper hand—or if Nadella’s cloud army will be triumphant.
Google, too, has its internal battles to fight. Google Accounts are where Google+, Google Apps, and Android all intersect. Google CEO Larry Page has tried to cut down on internecine warfare by pushing out Andy Rubin as Android chief and installing Sundar Pichai, who now oversees Google Apps and Android. And Google+ chief Vic Gundotra has been persuasive in pushing his sharing tools as a “social layer” throughout Google. But making Google’s services work smoothly inside and outside of corporations may require some serious architectural changes—and not all Googlers will be happy about it.
LinkedIn has the least to lose and the most upside here. And one of its virtues may be that it is neither Microsoft nor Google. Already, it has made a very interesting friend in Apple, which welcomed LinkedIn inside its Mac OS X operating system. Though we haven’t seen many examples of apps taking advantage of this, it’s an interesting beachhead that few have taken notice of.
Others Waiting In The Wings
Could others make a play for this market?
Twitter is an obvious contender. It is popular as a login option, particularly with apps that let users generate or share content, like news readers. And many enterprise apps are integrated with Twitter. (Take, for example, the content-management system which published this story on the Web and on Twitter simultaneously.) For many users—particularly journalists, marketers, and celebrities—Twitter has also become their public-facing persona online.
Yet it’s hard to reconcile Twitter’s town-square feel with the cloistered campuses of corporations. Twitter may end up always being a megaphone, not an intercom.
Salesforce, too, is worth watching. In 2012, the software maker launched Salesforce Identity, and it opened up the service to app developers a couple of months ago. It’s less of a source of identity like a Google or Microsoft account, and more of a bridge to various online accounts, but it could grow to become something more.
What’s clear is that becoming the way people log in to work applications is increasingly valuable, as more and more of our tasks shift completely online. Those who check our IDs aren’t just gatekeepers: They hold the keys to hundreds of millions of users who could become customers for the next great enterprise app. As such, the war over professional identity matters to employees, managers, and app developers. It will be an epic contest.
Photo by Flickr user wonderferret
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