Gettin’ Witty With It


Wendy’s has become infamous for their witty social media accounts. In their most recent Twitter battle, they burned their competitor, Hardee’s, so bad their account was blocked.

This week a new brand entered the social media wit game. IKEA. High-end fashion designer, Balenciaga, copied their iconic blue tote bag. IKEA crafted the perfect response to this $2,145 knock off bag proving that quick, witty, and creative content is the formula for going viral.

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How to identify an original Ikea Frakta bag
1) Shake it. If it rustles, it’s the real deal.
2) Multifunctional. It can carry hockey gear, bricks, and even water.
3) Throw it in the dirt. A true Frakta is simply rinsed off with a garden hose when dirty.
4) Fold it. Are you able to fold it to the size of a small purse? If the answer is yes, congratulations.
5) Look inside. The original has an authentic Ikea tag.
6) Price tag. Only $0.99.

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Three Ways Social Media is Like an Elephant


In the past week the United States got to experience the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. Its hard to ignore “the elephant in the room” when it comes the experience of this transition of power from President Obama to President Trump. Because of this I thought why not dissect the ways these past couple of days have allowed social media platforms to exhibit the traits and characteristics of an elephant.

Elephants are gray: Yes everyone knows elephants are unmistakably gray. Social media is similar. When a case seems to be ‘as clear as black and white’ social media affords the space for someone to throw in alternative facts. When this happens it makes prior information seem questionable thus making the case at best ‘gray’.   The current debate on the size of the crowds for the inauguration is an awesome expression of this.

Aerial shots of the Trump inaugural crowds where taken by members of the media           and published next to images taken of the Obama inaugural crowds. The Trump administration felt the need to present other data for public consideration regarding       the size of the Trump inaugural crowds. The other data wasn’t first induced through         social media but rather through the press conference of Press Secretary Spicer and           the Chuck Todd Interview of Ms. Kelly Anne Conway.

Since their television airings both the commentary of Spicer and Conway have been           viewed over a million times via youtube. The day of the Conway interview the                     hashtag #alternativefacts was re-tweeted close to 380,000 the same day.   Again                   while the information was not specifically introduced via social media, social media         definitely has helped to make a case that seemed black and white at best gray

Elephants are massive: The elephant is the largest land mammal. Even a baby elephant on average weighs 200lbs. With the help of Facebook, the world was able to witness the biggest protest on Washington, DC ever.   This protest was the Women’s March. There were over 600 organized Women’s March protests throughout the world on 7 continents. This massive protest, which was organized in roughly 2 months, was all made possible with Facebook. The most interesting part of the march and its organization was that it was a platform that had infusions of all different agendas: Black Lives Matter, LGBT concerns, Planned Parenthoods, Gender Equality and so much more. There have been estimates of 4 million protest participants worldwide, with roughly 3 million of those in the US alone.

Just like an elephant its hard to look at this Women’s March protest and not marvel           at how massive it was. I mean even a baby elephant needs 22 months in the womb             prior to birth. This protest took a sheer 2 months (and a couple of days) to execute.           Considering the short time and large turn out this protest was and is truly impressive       and it will be interesting to see what happens in the next coming months given the             outpouring of support that was shown for this protest. I’m certain social media will           continue to play a significant role with continuing the momentum from this protest.

Elephants never forget: There is this saying that elephants never forget. And while that might not be entirely true, there have been incidents that help to at least highlight an elephant’s memory can span more than just a couple of days.   I recently read a story of a two elephants being introduced to each other. When introduced there was immediate trumpeting, usually reserved for aggression but these two elephants seemed to enjoy each other. As it turns out, they had worked with each other years ago at a circus. The last time they saw each other was 23 years ago! Click here to enjoy that!

So how is social media similar? The Internet never forgets and as such social media never forgets. Truly no post that was a mistake is ever really forgotten and if you are a celebrity of any sort, then understand that your social media will be used to help corroborate or disprove any future statements you make.

A recent example of this would be President Trump’s previous use of twitter as President Elect.  Because his twitter account was closely followed, its contents were always being scrutinized which would have had one believe that any content placed on twitter by Trump (President Elect at the time) would have be carefully considered.   This weekend after being inaugurated President Trump, visited CIA and stated that the media has been trying to cause a feud between him and the Intelligence Community.   Because the social media never forgets, several articles appeared showcasing the language Trump used just 10 days prior comparing Intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany when it came to ‘leaking’ data about his supposed relationship with Russia.

Again while it seems pretty black and white that Trump did start this feud with the Intelligence Community, the ability of Trump to state he didn’t allows for alternate facts to be presented and although the social media never forgets, at best it makes this situation too become gray…very much like the elephant it is.


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The Social Media Beast

Most of the time, it is difficult to see celebrities as who they really are – people, just like us. Actress Emma Watson, in a recent interview, discussed the addictive and dangerous nature of social media. She is very aware of the need to create boundaries, and has been known to not check her email during off hours as a way to take a technology break.

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Additionally, with anyone who is in the limelight, Watson struggles with the scrutiny of the internet. She has over 33 million Instagram followers and 24.5 million followers on Twitter. Personally, I would not even know what to say to that many people, and the sheer numbers alone would make me feel scared to post.

Retweeting or commenting on something that they post does not always fall on deaf ears. Of course, this is not suggesting that a huge star like Emma Watson reads all of her comments on Instagram, however I am sure she gets the general vibe of how a post was received by the public. When being critical of people in the limelight, such as famous actresses, I have to remind myself that, although this is their job, they are just as susceptible to the risks of posting something online as I am.

“Sometimes the fear of doing things is overwhelming. I get incredibly overwhelmed and sometimes feel hemmed in by that, afraid of that, but I know that if I live in that fear, then my life as an artist, as a human being, really, is over.”

– Emma Watson

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Are You Really Who You Portray Online? Baby Edition. #ParentalOversharing


Lucky me.  I’m at the age where my social media feeds are regularly overflowing with photos of my friend’s children.  Some post photos just hours after being born.  That means the odds of their social media network seeing their newborn child before grandma and gramps and pretty high.

I can understand the exciting of wanting to share a significant milestone such as child birth but to what extent do parents call it quits and let the child develop their own online personality.  I have one friend, who will remain nameless, who is actively trying to “get his child famous using hashtags and cute memes”.

Have we learned nothing about childhood starts from the 90s and 2000s?  Since I respect this person’s friendship I had to bite my tongue and quickly move to a new topic of my head was going to explode.  But the question still remains.

Is it ok for parents to post dozens or hundreds of photos of their children without permission?  My guess is the law would say, as their legal guardian, it’s fine.  Except, I can’t hep but think about what this child is going to grow up into.  We’re just now seeing the impact of social media on the younger generation but now some have their own social media accounts for their actual date of birth.

NPR release an article with a mother who’s child asked if they could not post any more images of him up on social media without his permission.  Prior to this it never even crossed the mother’s mind.  The child bearing generation also seems to forget what happens when you put images up on the internet.  They’re there forever!

NPR mentions that in some cases photos that parents have put up on the internet have ended up in advertisements and much worse pornographic websites!  I’m sure that’ll help a child grow up to live a perfectly normal life.

This generation of parents really need to stop and think about what they’re doing before they post these photos on social media.  They need to review the privacy policies of each of them as best they can but understand they could still be at risk.

“A study done by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan found that, 56 percent of mothers and 34 percent of fathers who discussed parenting on social media, 72 percent of them said sharing made them feel less alone and nearly as many said sharing helped them worry less and gave them advice from other parents.”

So there is the cry for help right there.  Clearly there needs to be a forum for parents to have a safe sense of community to talk about these topics.  Thankfully I googled it and found 10,900,000 results some I’m sure don’t include shameless memes and hashtags of your children on social media.

I may no be the most credible person on the topic since I’m not father but I do understand the importance of developing your own voice and your own personality and I really believe children are going to struggle as they grow up if we have dictated the for them.

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Selling User Data, Why is Anyone Still Surprised? has found itself in the hot seat over the last few days after the New York Times reported that Uber has used its data to keep tabs on Lyft, its largest competitor., which is a free service which advertises itself as an easy way to clean up your inbox. It allows users to quickly unsubscribe themselves from email lists and also organizes subscription emails and delivers a newsletter-style digest of some subscriptions.

After someone grants access to his or her email account, the company is able to scan user’s inboxes for information which it then sells to companies like Uber. The data is anonymous, so individuals’ names are not sold but email addresses which contain information like receipts from services like Lyft.  After the NYT article was published, there was a large outcry of angry users who felt their privacy was betrayed., made a statement that they’ve been open about these practices and that this is not uncommon in the world of data collection. As long as their private policy adheres to and does not sell personally identifiable information, they are free to sell their data. discloses it’s use of personal data in its privacy policy, which says that “we may collect, use, transfer, sell and disclose non personal information for any purpose” and that the data can be used “to build anonymous market research products and services.”

But let’s be honest, how many people read the often extensive private policies? Katharina Kopp, director of policy at the Center for Digital Democracy, said “Under the disguise of being customer friendly and helping their customers to get rid of ‘email junk,’ they allow the profiling and targeting of their unwitting customers by third parties…Their tactics are particularly misleading practice”. In my opinion,  in today’s technological age, people should expect that their information is a hot commodity, so if it’s important for them to keep their information private, it should read the small print. stated in their blog that it didn’t think that people would be surprised at their business model and is making efforts to making their methods more transparent by providing more clearer messaging on its website, it’s app and in the FAQ’s.

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The genocide you don’t know about (but should)

Ottoman Armenians are marched to a prison in Kharpert, Armenia by armed Turkish soldiers in April 1915.

1.5 Million Armenians were killed during the Armenian Genocide. This photograph shows some of those forced on the death marches. (Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star.)

When I was in high school, I had an Armenian friend. I went to her house once and found a book. The title escapes me now, but it was somewhere along the lines of “the Forgotten People.” I asked her about it and she explained it to me.

On April 24th, 1915, hundreds of Armenians were arrested and deported from Constantinople. This catalyzed what is known today as the Armenian Genocide. Countless Armenians were tortured, beaten, placed in concentration camps, and forced on a death march by the Ottoman Empire. 1.5 million Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman empire. We know it happened. There is photo documentation. There is even damning evidence from the former Ottoman empire itself.

The kicker? Certain countries, including the United States and Turkey, the country which succeeded the Ottoman empire, refuse to acknowledge its existence.

Why should I care? I am not Armenian.

My fiancé is Armenian. His family is Armenian. His late grandmother’s mother was among the thousands of people who was forced to march. I remember hearing stories about how her earrings were ripped out of her ears and how she was starved and beaten during the march.

Yesterday, on the 102nd anniversary of the genocide, I wanted to post my thoughts about it on Facebook, but something stopped me. I felt weird posting about it. It felt a little wrong. I kept asking myself, is it appropriative to do so, because I am not Armenian? If none of my non-Armenian friends are posting about it but all of my Armenian friends are posting about it, should I continue with the trend?

Now, I’m sorry that I didn’t post about it and will use my final blog post of the class to do so.

One of the main reasons why the United States does not recognize this event as a genocide is that Turkey is technically an ally of the United States. A bill was set to pass in 2007 in Congress officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The Bush Administration, however, maintained that Turkey was an ally, and the bill was pulled. Trump, of course, did not even mention the word “genocide” on the 102nd anniversary yesterday during an address meant to express solidarity with the Armenian people, which fell flat. Even the Obama Administration failed to use the term to describe the event. This is especially egregious, because President Obama vowed to use the term “genocide” on the campaign trail almost ten years ago. Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. apologized on behalf of the Obama Administration yesterday via Twitter regarding the Administration’s non-use of the term.

Samantha Power Twitter

A series of Tweets posted on 4.24.17 from former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power (Photo courtesy of Armenian Weekly)

Is this part of the reason why non-Armenians don’t post about the genocide? Because our leaders won’t speak frankly about the issue?

Let’s also look at the issue in Turkey. Turkey just held a referendum which secured Recep Erdogan’s position as President. Among several other “reforms,” Erdogan plans to extend term limits for the presidency, which could mean that he will serve as president until 2029. Staring down the business end of a possible dictatorship, how can Turkey break this cycle? Turkish Historian, Taner Akcam, who has dedicated his career to studying the Armenian Genocide and has uncovered incredible amounts of evidence confirming its existence, has a theory which he shared with the New York Times: “My firm belief as a Turk is that democracy and human rights in Turkey can only be established by facing history and acknowledging historic wrongdoings.”

I know there is a lot of ignorance about the issue…I personally wasn’t aware it happened until my friend told me about it years ago as a high school student. Perhaps it’s time that people such as myself try to make this issue common knowledge. Hopefully the new film which addresses the issue of the genocide and was released in the U.S. this past weekend, The Promise, will spread awareness.

So why do I care? I care because it’s true. I care because some of the closest people to me are Armenian. I care because high time the United States acknowledge the atrocities the Turks committed against the Armenian people. I care because I am a citizen of the world.

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Strava is Contagious–Who Knew? Christakis Was Right About Our Social Networks and Behavior



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In their groundbreaking work on the social contagion associated with health behavior derived from the Framingham Heart Study, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler found that behaviors of a friend, a friend of a friend, and even a friend of a friend of a friend (three degrees of separation), had influence on a person’s behavior.  Christakis was quickly to note that “homophily” or people seeking out those that are similar, was not the only reason for people whose friends gained or lost weight, smoked or quit, or exercised or not.  It was the “social network effect,” they said

Experts came to doubt their findings.  They thought it was indeed homophily that influenced those who practiced similar habits.

Until now.

According to a recent study based on Big Data that focused on running whether and how much we exercise can depend to a surprising extent on our responses to other people’s training.  Even virtually.

While the study masked the global network from which the Big Data was taken, the researchers, from the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, eventually gathered five years’ worth of data from about 1.1 million runners from across the globe.  Cumulatively, those in the network had run almost 225 million miles during that time.

Overall, if one person ran for about 10 minutes more than usual on any given day, that runner’s friends wold lengthen their workout by approximately three minutes, even if the weather was discouraging.  Similar results were seen if the other runner ran faster.  So did he or she.

Speaking of he or she, gender mattered.  Men were affected more by their male virtual friends as were women by their female virtual friends.

Bottom line: running can be socially contagious.  And according to the study’s leader, Dr. Sinan Aral, the impacts “go beyond correlation to causation.  In general, if you run more, it is likely that you can cause your friends to run more.”

The takeway for me is that first, Christakis and Fowler were right about social contagion in their work, Connected: The Surprising Power of our Social Networks, and second, the questions, what else is vulnerable (good and bad) about our social networks and our behavior and if we knew, how could it improve our lives.  I’m thinking “alot.”

P.S. I think the data came from Nike.  If you recall in the Piskorski book, Social Strategy, he highlights Nike’s brilliant social strategy in linking Nike runners across the globe via virtual workouts to knit them together and to Nike products.  Just a guess, but I’d bet my spin shoes it’s true.  And speaking of spinning, my spin instructor told me last night that she read that spinning was shown to help symptoms of Parkinson’s patients.  So I looked it up, and indeed spinning, or for that matter any beneficial exercise, was seen to help Parkinson patients.  Here’s the link for it from the Parkinson Foundation:

Here’s the NYTimes reference to the story by Gretchen Reynolds, their health and science reporter in today’s Science Times:


Posted in Big Data, Data, exercise, Fitness, Human networks, Research, Social Behavior, Social Media, Social Media & Psychology, social media and health, Uncategorized | Leave a comment