What I learned In FRS 101

Because it’s my last blog post I felt it would be appropriate to end the semester with a post that highlights everything I have taken away from this course. I have learned many new facets about programming, apps, and the technical side of Facebook and social networking. In addition, to my benefit as an avid Facebook user I became more familiar with privacy settings and the goals and ambitions of the company itself. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that each week seemed to incorporate a different aspect of Facebook or social networking, ranging from Supreme Court cases to using Facebook for psychological testing. Another great opportunity this course offered was the ability to interact with many guest speakers who are experts in their field. One thing I regretted was forgetting to ask Aneesh Chopra what I should say to his friend, President Obama, when I meet him (The Princeton Field Hockey Team will be visiting the White House in the Spring) =). In addition I felt that although I was extremely nervous and it involved extensive preparation I really enjoyed the ignite style presentations. I felt it helped me improve my public speaking skills, while also being able to learn about many different aspects of Facebook/social networking in a short time span. I really enjoyed Bobby’s presentation because I liked how he compared the possible twitter IPO to Facebook’s disappointing IPO result. Like Bobby recognized, I feel as if twitter seems to be surpassing Facebook as the new innovative social network controlling the mobile sector. Gabriella’s presentation highlighted twitter’s successful evolution into a new networking powerhouse that I really enjoyed as well. I found Lovia’s presentation very interesting and I liked how it contrasted with my presentation. In addition, Aneesh Chopra’s description of the government’s utilization of challenges at challenge.gov highlighted the benefits that I expressed in my gamification presentation. I enjoyed researching and having my presentation reflect success in gamification because, as an athlete, I feel as if it is very successful in my training regiment. Amateur athletes work every day not for material rewards, but rather for the shear recognition of being the best. I also believe in a progress bar/check-in/check list system. I think this enables you to successful complete short-term goals while also working towards your long-term goals. This system can also help you focus on specific areas of improvement and prevent one from being overwhelmed or loosing focus.

I’m very appreciative to my classmates and professors for creating a great learning environment and experience for my first semester at Princeton.

Facebook Messenger Above the Rest?

A Time article came out this morning revealing Facebook’s newest mobile intentions. The company is creating a new version of the messenger app for Android that only requires a name and phone number, without needing an actual Facebook. Although the app is only available in South Africa, India, Australia, Indonesia, and Venezuela, it’s projected to be implemented in the U.S and all countries in the near future. The app allows users to chat with no cost and without having to be logged into Facebook. According to Facebook it’s attempting to “assault the lowly text message”. However, if Facebook wants to take over the messaging game it has steep competition coming from SMS messaging and other apps, including the popular WhatsApp and Viber.

The problem with Facebook’s ambition to take over the messaging scene is that SMS has a monopoly of sorts on messaging. Most people use texting as there primer choice for communication along with emailing and the occasional phone call if people are feeling social. According to Portio Research, standard text messaging handles an average of 21 billion messages per day! Usually users associate Facebook messaging as a means of communicating with someone if you don’t have his or her number or if you’re on Facebook and you want to message someone on the computer. It’s primarily a computer based communication system like the once popular AOL that has now taken an antiquated status. Although SMS messaging can be very expensive when communicating to foreign recipients, it has a well-established network already in place for most cellphone users. It would be inconvenient to commit to using the Messenger app when your cellphone has built-in SMS functionality. Once you’re committed to using the messenger app the conversation is locked into Facebook unless you have the appropriate Android phone that integrates your conversation into text messages. When you send a text message your under the impression that your messages will arrive instantaneous to the recipient, however the messenger app seems to hold less confidence that it will get to their desired locations by its users.

The only way to truly threaten the success of SMS is if Facebook Messenger took a note from Apple’s iMessage. iMessage automatically replaces SMS messages with iPhone users. This type of smartphone integration could be utilized if Facebook came out with it’s own smartphone. Based on Facebook’s mobile track record it’s safe to say this may not happen in the near future. In addition, other well-established apps bring steep competition. Rival WhatsApp is already a Top 5 messaging app in 141 countries servicing 10 billion messages per day.  It looks like Facebook has a hard battle to take over a messaging game where there are many networks already place, then again there were well established social networks in place when Facebook was created, which played out rather nicely for Facebook. Sit back and see were the Facebook Messenger goes.


A View from an Uninformed User

In regards to the new facebook hoax status:

“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.”

I decided to interview one of my friends who recently posted this on her newsfeed. I wanted to get her perspective of why she posted and how she felt after she knew it was totally false. In order to preserve her identity, I simply refer to her as a friend.

Q: You just recently posted on facebook about the company changing the terms and services, what made you post this?

A: “I posted that status just to be careful, in case I really needed to copyright or whatever it is that the terms said.”

Q: Did you read your post before posting it on facebook?

A: “I read half of it then posted it.”

Q: Did you think to go to facebook and look at the terms and service yourself?

A: “Nope. I really had no desire to do so.”

Q: Now, that you know this is false, what would you have done differently before you posted?

A: “I probably would have read it or checked the terms.”

Q: Have you ever read the facebook terms and services?

A: “Never. I don’t care too.”

Q: If not, then why did you have the desire to post in regards to a change in terms and services?

A: “Just in case they would delete my page or something.”

Q: If facebook did change the terms and services why would you think your posts would protect your account from any of the changes?

A: “I really just copied what everyone else was doing.”

Q: Would you remain a facebook user if facebook changed the terms and services?

A: “I would probably remain a user. Facebook is too much a part of my life now.”

Q: What’s primary reason for being a facebook user?

A: “I use facebook just to interact and keep in touch with friends/family.”

Q: What do you like most about facebook’s features?

A: “I like having the ability to talk to friends all over the country.”

Q: What do you dislike the most about facebook’s features?

A: “The lack of privacy and trouble it causes.”

I feel as if this interview reveals why the “hoax” made it to everyone’s newsfeed. It’s the facebook users, like my friend, who are concerned, yet not concerned enough to research the problem that intensified the situation. If she simply went to the facebook terms link or searched in google she would have saved herself the embarrassment of the ignorant post. I find it interesting that she was very worried that “I posted that status just to be careful in case I really needed to copyright or whatever”, however she has “never” looked at the terms and has “no desire to”. In addition, at the end she mentioned the privacy issues regarding facebook. Maybe if she read through the terms and privacy regulations there would no longer be issues.

Work together to stop cyberbullying


Cyberbullying has drawn a lot of attention from the media, school administration, and left parents apprehensive towards social networking. And frankly it should. Cyberbullying is very hard to detect, hard to identify who the bully is, and when it is identified it’s hard to prevent further emotional attacks. There needs to be measures in place to stop this extreme harassment and further pain, but it becomes a very difficult task when parents can’t monitor everything there child does online and public school jurisdiction is limited by the constitution.  In class, I shared a story that affected my high school. Two students engaged in a verbal conflict on facebook via wall posts. As the fight escalated many people got involved while others were glued to their computer screens watching it all unfold. The next day the students confronted each other in the cafeteria and the fight accelerated into a physical altercation. Both students were sent to the office and were suspended. The following day a students who was a mutual friend of both parties was called into the office and asked to log onto facebook in order for the administration to further investigate this situation. The student proceeded with the request and allowed the teachers to examine each snarky rejoinder.

In this situation it was very clear that the school needed to get involved and take action. I believe that the administration handled it correctly in regards to the constitutionality of its actions. Because the physical alternation occurred on school grounds; they had jurisdiction to punish the students through suspension. In addition, I believe that asking another student to log in to their facebook account was valid. They were not requiring the student to log in or give them their password. The comments and cyberbullying was not through direct message but rather on a public forum for all of there friends to see. The metaphor of asking a person to open the door and looking out into their neighbor’s window I believe validates the actions that were taken. Schools have additional rights to ensure the safety of students learning environment, which further exemplifies that these proceedings needed to be taken.

When bullying or character attacks are geared towards children, their needs to be greater protection or more awareness than it would be for adults. Children are much more impressionable and more likely to make rash and permanent decisions. That’s why its important that parents and schools work together to combat the harsh reality of cyberbullying.

Gamification: productive or destructive?

According to Wikipedia, Gamification is the use of game mechanics and techniques in non-game contexts in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used.  Although many prominent app developers poke fun of this concept, “Clickification”, I believe that there are certain ways to utilize gamification in a healthy and productive way. There is a legitimate reason Cow Clicker and other apps calling for the completion of mundane tasks have reached such great popularity. Users obtain satisfaction upon completing a task and ultimately completing it in a superior way. The simple tedious tasks become worth it when you recognize your crops in your farm are slightly more abundant than your neighbor’s farm. Gamification can be an extremely powerful tool if your motivation matches the possible outcome.

For example, in class I used the metaphor of a “jar full of marbles”. In order to teach me about hard work and responsibility my dad provided me with this metaphor. After every run, lift, practice, late night workout, or study session my dad said you were putting a marble into your jar.  Soon my jar would be full and you would empty  it and continue this process until I reached my goals. I was given no material prize for completing my task or filling my jar. Instead, I felt extremely satisfied with knowing that at some point I will have more marbles then my opponent and that will help me succeed and reach my lofty goals. This simple possibility of achievement pushed me to work hard and has lead me to attend Princeton University and play on the field hockey team.

However, this application of competitive techniques was successful because I performed the actions for long term goals, it becomes apparent that when one expects everyday materialization in return of  task completion gamification can be dangerous.  For example, my five-year-old nephew is extremely precocious. In order to get him to finish his dinner, my sister told him he could get a toy truck. He has utilized her bargain and now manipulates his way into negotiating everything his mother asks him to do. This is a habit in children that are very hard to break. I’ve seen this behavior continue with many of fellow students. In high school I would hear that parents were giving their teens a 100$ for each A and for each goal. Although this may be effective in the short term it wont last or instill a work ethic. At some point the money will stop and they will have no self-motivation. There satisfaction for completing tasks are no comparison to those that push themselves towards greatness.

In conclusion, I believe gamification can be extremely effective in the long term when it’s self-inflicted. I gladly perform the unglamorous everyday tasks because I know the satisfaction I get when I fulfill my goals will be momentous.

Facebook Losing it’s “cool”

When Facebook emerged into the social media world there were other well developed and popular networking powerhouses (MySpace and Friendster). What boosted Facebook above these similar sites is the exclusivity/ or “cool” factor.  However, Facebook’s cool factor has diminished in recent years  greatly due to the network effect. Originally Facebook was home to solely college users but slowly became open to the public. Now everyone’s younger sister, older adult brother, parents, grandmas, aunts, uncles, and pets are clicked into the social networking site. Thus, it becomes extremely clear why this once exclusive “finals club esk “ site has lost its touch. Additionally, Facebook is not only lacking in the “cool” factor but it’s falling behind the technological surge. Facebook continues to remain a fundamentally web company and can’t capitalize on the mobile trend.

In order to thwart this drift and fix its mobile problem, Facebook bought the trendy mobile app Instagram for $1 billion. Unfortunately this week the new “cool” app has seen traces of Facebook influences that may have negative affects on the popular mobile app; the initiation of the instagram page. This page essentially creates a website for instagram users. Its almost as if Facebook is attempting to strip the uniqueness that attracts so many people to instragam. The beauty of instagram is that it uses photos instead of words. People can be more creative without worrying that they will run out of characters or there word choice will offend someone.

Other mobile apps with purely image based communication have also seen a rise in popularity. Namely  an impermanent photo messaging app, snapchat, has been taking over the tech scene. Evan Spiegel, co-founder of snapchat, states that its app is attempting to “make communication fun again”, in a world of impersonal tech driven messaging. Snapchat shares over 20 million snaps everyday and continues to grow. The app is currently #19 on the free apps charts and third overall, trailing behind Youtube and Instagram, in free photography apps charts.

Facebook’s potentially negative influence is not only recognized through the user experience but also through instagram’s stock prices, which have declined since April. Is Facebook calculating this destruction in order to bring more traffic back to Facebook or do they simply not understand what makes instagram and other mobile apps “cool” by today’s standards? They have enough cash to simply buy and competitors who are potentially threatening. But, wouldn’t be easier to continue the success of instagram considering the $1 billion investment?

An account from a Harvard Gentlemen

After watching the movie the “Social Network” in this week’s class, I was very intrigued to understand the lives of the college students who were involved in Facebook’s inception. I tracked down a class of ‘04 student who gave me his perspective of campus life during one of the most revolutionary times for social networking. In order to preserve his identify, I simply refer to him as the “Harvard Gentlemen” through the interview.

Q: Did you use or know/hear of Facemash?

A: “Don’t remember, I remember hot or not.”


Q: When did you join Facebook?

A: “December 2004”


Q: How did you hear about this new site?

A: “Word of mouth on campus, we had hard copy physical freshman Facebook that we thought evolved into this.”

Q: What attracted you to the site?

A: “Ability to check out hot girls on campus.”


Q: Did you know Mark Zuckerberg or the twins?

A: “I Knew of mark and knew the twins on a casual basis.”

Q: What was Zuckerberg’s reputation like on campus?

A: “Smart computer programmer, I wasn’t close enough to know his reputation intimately.

Q: What was the twins’ reputation like?

A: “Over privileged brothers who were on the crew team.”

Q: Did everyone know that the twins were promoting a similar website at the time?

A: “Somewhat, they knew of connect U it was during the embryonic stages of the social media craze with MySpace.”

Q: Do you think there is truth to the claims that Zuckerberg stole the twins’ idea?

A: “Well yes and no. It seems like there was no evidence to prove the deal was in writing or legally protected. Intellectual ownership of an idea does not apply when social networking websites are already in place. It’s whoever gets to the market fastest and with the best product that gets the best return. And that’s what Zuckerberg did.”

Q: Did you watch the “Social Network”? If so, what did you think?

A: “It was somewhat accurate I believe, although Hollywood took the liberty of glorifying campus life: finals clubs, girls etc.”

Q: Did you think Facebook would take off like it did?

A: “I thought it would grow but didn’t think it would be a globally phenomenon. I would have sold much earlier on.”

Q: Why do you think it took off like it did?

A: “People want to constantly interact in today’s society, it’s another medium to do that, its also another place to market yourself to others for relationships, business, etc.

Q: Was the misogyny prominent in the movie common place on campus and in finals clubs?

A: “Eh not in my experience but finals clubs were more a place to meet women and invite them to private parties than anything else.”


The Harvard Gentlemen’s account is very interesting when compared with the Hollywood fantastical version. In my opinion the reputation of the twin’s seems to translate well throughout the movie as most of the audience has very little sympathy for them. Also, the Harvard Gentlemen refers to the fact that he did not know Zuckerberg really at all, which also well portrayed in the movie, as the character seemed very isolated and introverted. However, as for misogyny on campus, it seems to deviate from reality on campus. Thus, reflecting solely on the tech world and the environment in both Silicon Valley and silicon alley. For the most part it seems the partying depicted throughout is not only used to glorify the life of a programmer, but also juxtaposes the age and immaturity of Zuckerberg that belies his technological brilliance and ingenuity.


Insanely idiotic rambles

Last night I watched the 2nd presidential debate unfold not only live on my computer screen, but also on my Facebook Newsfeed. Every minute a knew status would appear that would stress how well their desired candidate was doing regardless of their performance. Kids from high school who never took a politics/government class had, to my surprise, a lot to say.  I couldn’t help but observe that these students have never professed any other indication that they were interested or knew of anything about the political race.  Thus, leading me to believe that the Facebook platform had a lot to do with this influx of declamatory statements. Firstly, Facebook allows one to make a widely contentious status and hide behind a computer screen rather than having to defend their statement in person. Additionally, one can enhance their “Facebook persona” with a political statement in order to put forth a contrived intellectual façade.  And finally, it has the potential to gain more social capital through friends liking the page who affiliate with the same party. Once one of your friends likes your status you become instantly gratified and have a shared common bond. However, what started as simple “Go Mitt”, or “Barock the vote” status rapidly manifested into personal attacks and disrespectful statements. Some people responded with comments “Bring out the popcorn…round 1 starts in five,” regarding these infamously callous Facebook fights. I don’t have a problem with students becoming involved in the presidential race; in fact I promote it! I do have a problem with Facebook users exploiting the social network to attack others beliefs or argue extremely polarized thoughts with minimal education on policy issues.

Facebook was also buzzing with political memes and groups putting a facetious spin on the debates’ mishaps. After the first debate “Big Bird” was trending the web, but last night it was “binders full of women” that gained the most attention. Romney was quoted stating this remark when answering a question about rectifying gender inequality in the workforce. According to CNN.com, “binders full of women”, spiked approximately 214,000% more than any other debate-related word or phrase. Presently the “binders full of women” Facebook page has gained more than 300,000 fans, #bindersfullofwomen was trending in the U.S, and the statement now has its own twitter account with nearly 1,700 followers.  Thus, demonstrating how Facebook has transformed the standard profile centered-friend connection purpose and become a platform for not only candidates to gain supporters but users to profess their political beliefs or political mockery. Unfortunately for many educated voters on Facebook these statuses can make you feel as if you’re the moderator in the Billy Madison movie.

~ “Mr. Madison, what you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” ~


Facebook: The new psychological test generator

Facebook’s use of psychological testing has created a conduit into the brains of its users. Before, these tests were done in labs, were costly, difficult to generate a substantial test group, and had many limitations. However, facebook can tap into 23 million unaware users, testing normal behavior, in a natural setting, without deception or reactivity; thus, severing as a tool for amazing research opportunities that will allow greater efficiency for businesses. One of the questions brought up in lecture was whether “we” believed that these tests were ethical. Our lecturer brought up the idea that the test subjects were clearly unaware that they were being tested. Overwhelmingly no one really answered the question and unanimously we agreed that it was perfectly ethical. This response can be attributed to two reasons. Firstly, we have talked about this topic in abundance and I think a lot of us were “all talked out”. And secondly, I think we have come to the conclusion as a class that everything we do on facebook is basically a test and nothing is private. Facebook is a social networking service. If you are that paranoid about security and if you are writing things you really don’t want to leak out, then this is not the site for you. Also, I think there is a recognition that facebook is a business and has the ambition to transition into a research powerhouse like Google. Without these tests facebook can’t determine the best way to use it’s information to get its users to click on advertisements or “like” a certain business or product. Professor Felton brought up the notion of right of publicity.  Celebrities that buy a certain product cannot become spokespeople unless that business gets permission/creates a specified agreement or contract with the celebrity. Applying this to social networking, your friend did not directly consent to have their name attached to a certain product: “Steve likes Cheerios”. And in this case Steve is famous to you. However, I fine faults in this argument. I believe Steve gave up his right to publicity when he liked the product on facebook. Steve is aware that anyone of his friends can look at his page and see that he liked that product.  Steve clicked “like” because he wants to let all of his friends know he likes cheerios. Inadvertently Steve has now become the new face on the cheerios box.


The Promotion

A USA Today article came out this evening regarding facebook’s plans to potentially initiate a “promote user post” feature. This feature would charge users to promote their posts, similar to the same process advertisers use. One’s desired post would appear at the top of their friend’s news feeds. According to Facebook software engineer, Abhishek Doshi, “Every day, news feed delivers your posts to your friends. Sometimes a particular friend might not notice your post, especially if a lot of their friends have been posting recently.” Facebook execs did not specify how much these “promotions” would cost, but there have been talks of a $7 charge per post.

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