Note to Self: Never Tweet “That Dress Makes You Look Fat”

As my Internet law students know from my recent classroom rambles lately I am focused–it sounds much better than obsessed–with exploring and defining the complex relationship between privacy, social media, and electronic data tracking. The issues are not new to me but something has ratcheted up my appetite for privacy stories, like this from the NYTimes about tensions that arise when one partner in a couple objects to the other partner’s public disclosures.

[S]ome spouses have started insisting that their partners ask for approval before posting comments and photographs that include them. Couples also are talking through rules as early as the first date (a kind of social media prenup) about what is O.K. to share.

“Talking through rules as early as the first date?” Do couples handle these conversations face to face or via text? I’m just wondering.

Twitter Me Not

The other day a former student sent me a message. More accurately, I received the message that “[name of student] wants to keep up with you on Twitter.”  I deleted it.  I have nothing against the smart, hard-working student who caused the message to be sent.  I have zero interest–I have negative interest–in keeping up with anyone or anyone keeping up with me on Twitter.   This is not my inner Luddite emerging.   No one I know and no one I want to know is so interesting that I care to consume their intermittant tweets.  This spring  I asked my Internet law students whether they used Twitter.  Perhaps a quarter raised their hands.  Most of them use it to keep up with news stories.  I get that, but see no value in adding 140-character Twitter snippets to the stream of email alerts, RSS feeds, and other info sources I receive now.  I understand why marketers embrace Twitter’s ability to connect them immediately to a dedicated and interested audience.  I understand why celebrities tweet to their fawning fans.  I do not see Twitter every being part of my communications arsenal.  I don’t see the there there.

I’m not alone.  I posted snarkily about Twitter’s mediocre retention rates–6 of every 10 new users stop using it after 30 days.  I read yesterday “the median number of messages a Twitter user sends–ever– is one.”  (emphasis original)  Ten percent of Twitter users send 90% of the messages.  The Harvard Business School study responsible for these findings concludes Twitter “resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.”  Twitter is great for consumer companies, politicians, celebrities, content providers, or others with something to sell.   It is not a revolutionary tool for communication by plain old folks.

From Twitter to Quitter

Reuters reports that Twitter’s retention rate after one month is about 40 percent.  In other words 6 out of 10 new users stop using it within 30 days.  Facebook’s current retention rate is about 70 percent.  I understand how a user could find it difficult to compete with celebrity tweets from Oprah, Miley Cyrus, and Ashton Kutcher, which is why I offer gratis my suggestions for Twitter offshoots:

  • Jitter, for users addicted to coffee and energy drinks;
  • Bitter, for users upset by relationship and work setbacks;
  • Critter, for pet-centric users; and
  • Litter, for 100% disposable messages

The possibilities are endless.

“two idiots with a video camera”

The food-prep gross-out video that two Domino’s employees–make that two former Domino’s employees–posted this week on YouTube provides much at which to marvel.

  • How could these employees not realize Domino would learn about the video?  It’s hard to fathom anyone not getting that, um, hundreds of millions of people use the Internet and these are not wet-behind-the-ears 14 year-olds posting nude pictures on MySpace.  These are adults, chronologically speaking.
  • How could these employees not realize Domino would be appalled by the video, and wouldn’t accept “but we didn’t really deliver the food” as a good excuse for making?
  • It’s no longer your father’s world when companies must closely monitor Twitter to sniff out nascent scandals and rumors, and then respond to them immediately so the non-response does not fuel the story.  “It’s been 5 minutes since the story broke and Domino’s hasn’t put out a press release! WTF!?” (Yes, I know that the first sentence in my Twitter hypothetical does not follow Twitter style conventions.)
  • Isn’t “idiots with video cameras” a great name for a website?