Social Media Misidentifies London Terrorist–Is There a Lesson Here?

The man social media misidentified as the London terrorist who ran over pedestrians on a London bridge and then stabbed to death a Parliament guard.  This man was actually in prison at the time of the terrorist incident.

Now, for the second time, social media has misidentified a terrorist in the early stages after a terrorist attack. The first well-publicized one was in misidentifying the terrorist brother in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 and now, more recently, in the London terrorist attack by a man who ran over pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, killing four, and stabbing and killing a Parliament guard wounding scores of others after running them over with his rented SUV.

According to the New York Times, in Twitter posts, Facebook messages and a live British television news program, people pointed to Abu Izzadeen, a radical British cleric who was imprisoned last year for running afoul of British terrorism rules. His photos were shared on the internet. His Wikipedia page was updated with the information.

But they were wrong.

Not only was Mr. Izzadeen not the assailant in Wednesday’s attack, but he was also in a British prison, according to his lawyer, Tanveer Qureshi.

“He was not responsible for these terrible and unjustified attacks,” Mr. Qureshi said by email.

The real assailant was identified on Thursday as Khalid Masood, 52, a British-born man who had been previously investigated for potential ties to violent extremism and had a lengthy criminal record.

When 22-year-old Brown University student Sunil Tripathi disappeared in March 2013, his family turned to social media to help locate him, little did they realize the effort would result in widespread accusations that he was the second Boston Marathon bomber.

 In one of the more major media failings in a long line of media failings last week, Brown University student Sunil Tripathi was found dead in the Providence River less than a week after the Boston Marathon bombings.  It appeared he had been missing in the weeks prior but was widely identified as a suspect in the bombings when in fact the real bombers were identified as the Chechen-American brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Though the origins of the rumor are difficult to pin down, it appears as if the speculation about Tripathi’s involvement in the attack began on Reddit before making the leap to Twitter, various news outlets (including this one), and even, reportedly, police scanners.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 2.jpg

Dzhokar Tsarnaev

In the chaos that ensued, Tripathi’s family members were inundated with dozens of phone calls from reporters—his sister got nearly 60—and were forced to take down a Facebook page dedicated to finding Tripathi after it became littered with “hateful, angry posts.” When Tripathi’s body was pulled from the Providence River and officially identified as Sunil Tripathi, it finally putting to rest the rumor mill that had made his family’s life hell.  No foul play was suspected in the drowning or official cause released.

Evidently, fake news works both ways.  It can come from the media, fed by false reports or unchecked reporting, or it can come from the rush of “here comes everybody” in seeking answers quickly and without verification.

In the era of 24/7 never-ending news cycles, the problem seems both acute and chronic.

What to do?were

In the case of the London terrorist, before British officials identified Mr. Masood on Thursday, they urged media outlets to avoid publishing the names of any suspects in the attack. But the pleas did little to stop the misinformation online, particularly in the hours immediately after the event.

A Russian news site published a fake photo of the suspect. Twitter posted false reports of potential victims. And Donald J. Trump Jr. reposted a news report that had incorrectly named Mr. Izzadeen as the attacker.

In the digital era, people increasingly seek real-time coverage, readily supplied by all manner of sources, credible and otherwise. This frenetic online environment has fostered the perfect space for rumor mongering, creating a need for fast and accurate ways to counter false narratives.

The warning and pleas of British officials make sense.  Words warn, inform, as well as hurt. As the old adage attributed to the poet Carl Sandburg says, “be careful with your words.  Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.”  For a journalist or a news platform, that can make or break a reputation.  For someone falsely accused, it can be ruinous for their family’s privacy and perhaps deadly for them.


Posted in Case Studies, Social Media, social media and accuracy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Move Over, Snapchat

apple-clips.jpgApple has just released  Clips, a new iOS app that creates social media-friendly videos. The user can create and share interesting videos with text, effects and graphics. Once the user is ready to share the content, Clips recognizes faces and suggests friends to send to via Messages. The video creator can also post to social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo.

The app is easy to use and gives the user full artistic freedom. There’s effects, filters, animated backgrounds, music and customizable text. As if it doesn’t get any cooler, Clips introduces Live Tiles which is a new feature that lets users create titles and captions using just their voice. Talk about interactive.

Clips is being introduced as an alternative to the “story” feature on Snapchat. Unlike Snapchat, this iOS app will keep videos in the user’s camera roll rather than disappearing after 24 hours.

Clips will be available through the Apple store in April.

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Crying Clown


As social media is merging into people’s lives, we use social media to post regular pictures of our daily life, post stories of our daily encounters, we have followers, hundreds of it even thousands. The change for nowadays is that — we don’t just tell stories that are really close to us, but we are showing our daily lives to hundreds of friends who might not even that close to us. In order to show the “better” self, we tend to behave differently in social media than our real life. For example, if I am facing some kind of unfair issues, I would complain to my close friends, get frustrated and move on. But to me it looks negative on social media, and that might let my “less close” friend think I am fragile. As the strong ego inside of me, I would post on social media to joke around and dig deeply into the issue I am facing. It might seems to everyone else that I am a person with deep thought and knowledge beyond my look. However, this person I presented is not the person I really am, and during this process, I blocked my true feeling to my close friends and avoid the effective way of problem solving. Not because I am a hypocrite, but because of the ego inside of me trying to show the positive view of the world. “In a series of five experiments, the authors illustrate the effects social networking has on individuals. Wilcox and Stephen’s main argument states that “people present a positive self-view to others” when online, leading to a increase in self-esteem and decrease in self-control.” The Hunffington Post illustrate more about this issue.

I bet there will be more people doing the same thing as I did on social media, and the true thinking behind it is far from a decisive conclusion. On the one hand social media changed people’s eagerness to be who they are, and that cause social media a fake network of friends since less people is being honest of what we think; on the other hand, people learnt how to present themselves to the public  in a more positive way than we used to be, and that is a really valuable thing in our life. So whether social media is good for us or bad for us? I have no answer to that. But I only know it makes me into a crying clown, a person hiding myself to others just want everyone to be happy and positive.

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How Far Will You Go to Create Your Desired Social Media Image?


Mashable reports on a Japanese company that offers ‘friends’ for rent. Family Romance markets their service to those looking for people to pose in their social media photos with them. The company notes benefits of increased likes, comments and a sense of popularity. Each actor/actress will cost up to $70 for two hours. You can even select specific characteristics including age, gender and attractiveness.

works_hair_pict_1 (1)

I initially thought this was a satirical article and found it quite depressing when I realized it was an actual company. The creation of this service touches upon a more serious topic, the increasing view that our self-worth is equated by our number of social media engagements. It also displays Erving Goffman’s concepts of the contrast of our real lives and those we portray on the internet.

Posted in Social Media, Social Media & Psychology, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

How Important is Your Personal Brand?


When it comes to living on social media, consistency is one of the most important features one can have.  It allows you to easily tie in all different types of social media platforms available.  For example you can find me on almost any social media platform under the username Jaredcwood.

I really enjoy the essence of social media when used appropriately.  Everyone is going to have their own reasons to use social media.  Companies are going to use it to promote and sell whatever products and services they offer.  Non-profits may use it to build awareness around their cause.  I use it to promote an optimistic lifestyle. Simple.

The one thing I spent over a decade trying to obtain was  I made dozens of offers of hundreds of dollars to the owner of this domain but never heard back.  After doing some digging I was able to pull up how this domain was used dating back to to 2013.


As you can imagine I was a bit annoyed that the domain I was longing for was being used for a primarily text based website.  Here I am wanting to promote a positive lifestyle through my thoughts, photos, and videos but who am I to compare this site to one of my own.  Finally I just settled on and launched my site.  I was enjoying the engagement I was getting on my site but in the back of my mind I was always thinking, “But it’s not a .com”.

People reflect on their wedding or the brith of a child as the most memorable experiences of their lives.  On February 15, 2017 I finally understood how that felt, as the owner of had forgotten to re-subscribe as the owner of this domain and I captured it.

Did I feel bad? Not at all.  But the Dallas Cowboys lost their website twice in the last 15 years costing owner Jerry Jones a ton of money to get it back.  There is no chance I’m letting it go now.

But why was this so important to me?

I’ve always been interested in sharing my original content.  Photos, videos, thoughts, advice all of it has proved to be important to even a small population.  Websites like Facebook cloud our message with suggested ads and articles as your message shows up on people’s pages who might not want to see it.  No matter how small or large the population of people who support your message becomes, I know I’m building influence with my social media followers.  I have raw data to support that.  My personal website has over 2000 hits in the first 45 days which has also generated hundreds of new subscribers to my other social media accounts.

Is it an ego thing?  I don’t think so but I could see how you may perceive it that way.  But if you truly care about your message,  you’ll build the consistency to make it easier for your loyal followers to receive.  All major brands do this already.  Do you think the Dallas Cowboys were just going to give up and settle for  No chance…

I currently operate all of my social media accounts, including my website, completely for no profit.  In fact I pay out of pocket to help ensure my consistency.  It’s a proven corporate model that I’ve simply built into my personal life.  I’m not the first person to use this method and I certainly will not be the last.  I just that passionate about sharing my message.

How much does your personal brand mean to you?


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Facebook Live: More Harm than Good?


A new addition to Facebook’s list of ways that people can connect on the social network is Facebook Live. According to Facebook, Facebook Live is a way to have “engaging conversations with your followers… it is the best way to interact with viewers in real time, field their burning questions… and checkout their live reactions…”.

I have been using this as a tool to connect with followers at work recently, and I can attest that it has does what it is intended to do. In an organization with thousands of members located internationally, we were able to engage with them during a recent event, making them feel like they were actually in the room.

For companies and organizations hoping to connect with their constituents and build their followers, Facebook Live is a very useful tool. However, Facebook Live is not only available for groups, but also for individual users. Recently this has created a huge problem for Facebook because users are not always using this tool as it was intended.

Users have filmed themselves attacking others, being attacked by others, and even hurting themselves. These occurrences have been violent, graphic, and even resulted in death in some instances.

Facebook does have rules about what you can and cannot post, but it has been reported that they rushed the release of Facebook Live without properly anticipating these consequences and preparing for them.

While a good idea in theory, Facebook Live seems to have place Facebook in over its head. It will, when monitored correctly, allow for people to engage and connect with others more than ever before. FaceTime, a video calling platform for iPhone users, has connected people young and old, close by and far away, through the intimacy of face-to-face interactions even when through a screen. The difference between FaceTime and Facebook Live, is that Facebook Live allows a single person or entity to broadcast to hundreds of thousands of friends and followers, interact with them in real time, and answer their questions. I am excited to see how Facebook can enhance this experience to make it a safe and effective means of communicating online.

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Crowd’s here, now what?

If a Tree FallsYour social media promotions were amazing! You have a crowd, but now how do you get them to engage?

Take Germany’s Pirate Party, back in 2012, the grassroots political party was at the charge of what they deemed a digital revolution. The party swept onto Germany’s multiparty political scene as a protest of Germany’s traditional politics. They were embraced by 7.8% of voters in the North Rhine-Westphalia region (population: 18 million) in the local election. But when it came to getting their community involved after the vote, virtually no one showed up. They had used their “Liquid Feedback” software to survey their constituents on a controversial ban on circumcision, and only 20 people responded.

So how do you get your crowd to connect and engage in ways that they can organize and collaborate: Recognize that you may be in the midst of a culture change within your own crowd.

Rachel Happe, strategist with The Community Roundtable (CR), developed the “Work Out Loud framework” to outline what you and your crowd can do to incrementally create a more collaborative environment. She notes, community managers and their stakeholders often try to ”jump straight to robust exchanges before a new or immature community might be ready for it.” The framework gives community managers a structure to the community management process along with goals and metrics they can focus on as their community evolves from comfort to connection to trust and partnership.

The Community Roundtable’s Work Out Loud framework defines the following engagement behaviors:

  • Validate Out Loud includes liking, sharing others’ posts, commenting, bookmarking or responding to posts. This is often the first visible behavior beyond consuming what people exhibit and is the equivalent of dipping their toes in the water to feel how warm it is in order to assess whether the social environment is comfortable.
  • Share Out Loud includes sharing documents, graphics, updates and ideas. People tend to start with sharing content that has been written by someone else or approved and as they feel validated and connected, will start to share their own observations and ideas.
  • Ask and Answer Out Loud includes asking and answering questions. Individuals tend to start with logistical questions (“where can I find x?”) and if they find the culture to be validating, supportive and trustworthy they will evolve to asking deeper questions that expose a gap in their knowledge or confidence (“what is the best way to manage a customer situation?”).
  • Explore Out Loud includes open-ended questions or questions about ambiguous topics where there is no right or known answer. This requires individuals to feel like the community culture is both supportive and challenging, making it a safe space to explore, admit vulnerability and share half-baked ideas. This stage is where rich collaboration and innovation lies.

The CR strategists suggest that the community’s most valuable behavior in gauging its cultural maturity is the asking and answering of questions, behaviors that should be encouraged, cultivated, and rewarded.

The bottom line: If you build it, they will come. But you have to work with them to get them to play.

Posted in Community Management, Crowdsourcing, Social Behavior, Uncategorized | Leave a comment