The Social Media Briefing: Lessons on 'how to die well'
Death is – to put it mildly – the worst.
Social media can play a part in making an already tough time even harder, for example, the Facebook account of a girl I knew from school who passed away crops up occasionally in my feed and always gives me a weird jolt.
One family showed how social media can be used in a positive way when photographer Christopher Barr documented his dad’s last days on earth on Instagram.
After growing up without knowing his dad and reuniting only to find out Benny was terminally ill, Barr decided to create the project when his dad said he wanted to show him how to ‘die well’.
“We talked about the idea of a visual mná caointe [a Gaelic concept of public grieving],” Christopher told Wired.
“My dad said we die twice – physically, and then the last time someone speaks our name. Now, with social media, he saw we had the opportunity to somehow bend time.”
They took a picture every day for 52 days until Benny’s death in May 2017, and ended up going viral, with people around the world messaging their support.
Although nothing will ever make death easy, wouldn’t it be a pretty amazing twist of fate if social media could actually help people come to terms with one of the last big taboos?
A new app is unfolding as a global sensation
It’s easy to feel like the art of storytelling has been all but confined to the tomes of history – but a new app’s incredible success is suggesting the tale might not be over yet.
Unfold lets users create beautiful, engaging stories – usually through videos and pictures – that they can then share with their social media followers. It’s basically taken the ideas behind Snapchat and Instagram stories and upgraded it.
The team, which I chatted to earlier this week, have had success beyond anything they could have imagined, getting 2.2m followers in their first few months – and it’s about so much more than putting pretty brushstroke filters on selfies. Read the full story below.
This social network has gone off-kiltr
For every Facebook and Instagram there are sadly many more social networks that don’t make it. One such tragedy is social media network Kiltr, which has closed its doors after eight years.
It’s a Scottish social network that lies somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn, as it has more of a work-focussed spin than other networks. It was created by CollectivWorks – which will continue in Glasgow – and supported by Scottish Enterprise.
Founder Brian Hughes released a statement that said: “From the early days of connecting Scots and their businesses across the world, to launching-but-not-launching Version 2…Using technology to let people bring their communities together was at the heart of what we did and will continue to do.
“Progressive technology could provide a new way of democratising media but maybe we were ahead of the curve with that one.”
Continental takes compliance into its own hands
In what may not prove to be the most popular move, German auto parts maker Continental is banning its 240,000 users from using social media on company issued phones.
It’s said it wants to take the burden of complying with data protection laws away from employees, although I’m not sure they’ll appreciate the thought.
The ban will affect about 36,000 phones, and aims to protect the information of third parties who are stored on the phones but whose details could be accessed if the social media apps get a little grabby with the phone’s information.
It’s something that more and more businesses are going to have to think about. In days gone by some companies might have banned apps for productivity reasons, but with the spectre of Cambridge Analytica refusing to disappear and GDPR cracking the whip, this may become an increasingly common step.
Israel goes Mean Girls on Iran
A sense of humour and a love of noughties chick flicks might not be the first thing you think of when you’re talking about Israel, but it seems the country has both.
At the end of last week Iran leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office posted the following extremely serious tweet concerning its near neighbour:
“#Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen. 7/31/91#GreatReturnMarch.”
However the Israeli Embassy in the US replied in rather more jovial fashion with a clip from the 2004 Mean Girls movie.
The response has over 81,000 likes compared to the original tweet’s 10,000, and has seen calls for the embassy’s social media manager to get a raise.
Of course some responses were not as positive, with a pro-Palestinian user replying to Israel’s tweet with an accusation that it stole its land and has been committing human rights violations for 60-plus years.
Could Kim Dotcom be the new Zuck?
Given all of the heat Facebook has been getting recently, being the creator of a new social network may not be the most appealing job role in the world right now. Then again, internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom isn’t known for playing it safe.
His twist on a classic tale though is that he wants the new network to be decentralized so there wouldn’t be an official ‘leader’, to stop it from being the plaything of governments.
Dotcom called on other notorious internet figures such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange to help him set it up – and it may not be such a wild idea as, when he asked his followers whether Twitter was "in bed with the deep state", 89 per cent of 20,000 respondents said yes.