Tag Archives: social networks

A response to ‘Mapping a day in the life of twitter…’

16 Mar

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

Twitter Mapping

Please click on the above before you read my blog!

Isn’t that amazing? McDowall’s map is taking data journalism to the next level, and I for one am fascinated by it. On his science blog, he has documented the process of how, using data streaming, he was able to track tweets from all over the world. Four moths ago he hooked a computer up to the Twitter data streaming API and, over the course of a day and a bit, recorded every tweet that had geographic co-ordinates. He worte a python script to parse the 2GB of JSON files and used Matplotlib with the Basemap extension to animate 25 hours of data on a world map.

The resulting animation, plots almost  530,000 tweets-and remember these are just tweets with geo-coordinates enabled. What I personally  found so interesting when I looked at this map was the sheer amount of tweets in the UK and the United States, but let’s face it, this was pretty predictable considering how the majority of us Westerners operate nowadays. (Our daily use of handheld, mobile technology combined with our ever increasing variety of apps, downloads and need for tweets, makes the West a very technologically active place to live). It has just become routine for us to check our facebook pages and refresh our twitter feeds.

I was however shocked to see how many recorded tweets there was in Indonesia. A huge amount really… if you still have the map up on your screen, turn your attention to Indonesia. See how Jakarta glows as brightly as New York and San Francisco! BUT despite the obvious popularity of social networks, I couldn’t help but be shocked at how few ‘white dots’ appeared in Russia?! Or Canada?! How do these communities interact with one another. It baffles me. Note the black spots. With the exception of a few cities, such as Lagos and Johannesburg, Africa remains the Dark Continent.

With Twitter growing so fast internationally it is quite astonishing to think that the world of social media will have to expand even more, if it is to reach the heights of it’s fellow social networks such as Facebook. The last recorded figures showed that there are 500 million Facebook users worldwide. Twitter has over 150 million users, tweeting roughly 65 million times a day!

We are already seeing many journalists benefit from the vast coverage of stories they gain access to through using social networks, in particular Twitter. I for one would always turn to Twitter rather than TV to update myself on the news, entertainment and my friends comings, goings, but more often opinions! Over the past five weeks, social networks have demonstarted just how vital a role they play in the delivery of information right from the source itself (we have all seen the mobile phone footage, tweets and facebook statuses giving us the latest on the current crisis in Japan, New Zealand). So will the open exchange of information have a positive global impact for everyone? Or will social networks remain confined to their borders. I hope we’ll see another map like this, in 2015 with bigger, better coverage!


Libel and Twitter…

9 Mar

by Georgina Leggate


Ranting on social networks can be an expensive affair, as Courtney Love found out after she was accused of libelling fashion designer ‘Dawn Simorangkir’, on Twitter. Love used the social networking site to declare Simorangkir a thief, and her tweets launched vicious attacks on the designer saying she was an outright criminal. Having realised she was going to fight a losing battle, Love decided to settle Simorangkir’s libel suit for £265,000 rather than face the judge and jury herself, in court. This case addresses the question many of us need answering…

What amounts to defamation on social sites? And are alleged defamatory remarks, disseminated on social sites, more or less influential than that of similar remarks reported in other areas of the media?

We’ve all been aware of the changes to Facebook’s security policy over the past year. There have been an increasing number of cases reported of unconventional and concerning patterns of behaviour that some users have adopted whilst using the social networking site. This has inevitably sparked debates which then led to Facebooks’ executives to taking the necessary action.

As a Facebook addict and someone who uses it hourly rather than daily, I am aware of the huge number of different ways in which one can take precautionary actions when using Facebook and there is special link to click on, or tab to tap in to, which gives one clear instructional advice on what to do and what not to do when using the site. It also provides alternate information should you want to seek help or advice from somewhere other than the Facebook site.

How then, has the same treatment not been given to the likes of Twitter. As far as I can see, there are no warning signs on the site. There are no notices to let users know that one of their ‘tweets’ could be held against them and depending on the content and context of your tweet, one could in fact be taken to court. It’s a miracle we don’t see more Twitter Libel claims. Those of you, who’s tweets are like mine, few and far between, are less likely to appear before the court, but too often now I wonder how so many people are getting away with such slanderous and defamatory tweets.

Of course like in the Love case, it is the celebrity’s who will be scrutinised more often, they are naturally going to have more followers than the masses. In my research for this blog, I have struggled to find any more than a handful of cases of libel lawsuits with regards to Twitter. We all know that our online lives, however private we want to keep them are public, so why isn’t more being done to protect the users of these sites.

Twitter may seem to many a bit of fun, and arguably, most of the time, it is, but underneath it all  lurks a very important bit of litigation. Social media libel may not be at the forefront of the average tweeters mind, but it is certainly something to consider before you tweet your tweets. In our clicking culture, we rarely take time to think about what we tweet, how we update our status and the consequences of our actions. This blog,


… should be read by anyone who wants to use social networks safely, and learn about the intricacies of libel law and how it affects social networks. I have learnt a lot from it and my parting message is…. just because you are angry about something, you are passionate about a policy or you are sick of some celebrity, social networks are there to expose you. Whatever remark you make or tweet you tweet ,be aware that legally you are and will always be responsible for your own actions and more importantly your own words.

Love Case: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/courtney-love-settles-twitter-defamation-case/?partner=rss&emc=rss

social networks: demographics and democracy

27 Feb

by Georgina Leggate


Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya…social media has been the driving force behind most of, if not all of, the 2011 protests that have taken place in the Middle East. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook not only played a huge role in the pro-democracy surge but they have provided a platform of communication, which is accessible to all areas of society. These networks have acted as a starting point for all of the protests and have given eclectic groups of repressed citizens, a taste of freedom.

The rich, the poor, the educated, the non-educated, thousands of individuals have been part of what we now call ‘the revolution’. Social media enabled both the protesters and their followers the world over, to support mass movements against autocratic governments.

Social networking also has the amazing ability to crush and flatten hierarchy. Let’s take the Egyptians for example. It is easy to think that the poor or the unemployed triggered the demonstrations, when in-fact there was a growing culture of frustration amongst all socio-economic classes across Egypt. Due to Mubarak’s repressive regime, class distinctions have become more and more blurred. Low pay, low moral combined with high levels of intellect and motivation created a spark that was going to fire up in to something much more.

The reality was that the individuals behind the progressive movement were young, educated and often, privileged men who had access to the Internet and had the ability to use it. The ever-increasing world of social networks that protesters used, gave them a voice.

The use of these social networks enabled technologically savvy protestors to make extraordinary use of the Internet and mobilise the masses. Despite an authoritarian government, social media gave the Egyptians back the power to the people as they usurped the incumbent Egyptian leadership.

Social media was used as a platform to reach citizens in their own country, neighbouring states and crucial, global, expat communities as well.

Unbeknown to the Egyptians, they were to start something quite spectacular as they gained national and international support. This ‘something’ was the ‘revolution’ which arguably stemmed from a large dollop of dictatorship, a sprinkle of civil unrest, a pinch of the people served with a large spoonful of social networks .

me and social media… a love/hate relationship

19 Dec

by Georgina Leggate


There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there are many advantages to the ever-increasing world of ‘social media’.  Nowadays, no one wants to wait until Christmas before they can see their family; they want a Skype account that will allow them to communicate with people in places far and wide. I speak from experience: my brother (who is working in Abu Dhabi) and his girlfriend (who lives in London) have had a relationship on Skype for the past 6 months! I appreciate that social media plays a crucial part in online journalism, but I do find all my different social media ‘accounts’ incredibly distracting, disorienting and unavoidably addictive. Having said this, social media in online journalism is now not an option, it is something of a phenomenon and will inevitably play a huge part in my life and future as a journalist.

The 10 o’clock news is no longer good enough for the average Joe Blogger

Just like no one wants to wait for people, no one wants to, or is prepared to, wait for their update of the daily news. Yes, we have 24-hour news that brings us live broadcasts throughout the day, but it is no longer enough! Our generation (and in particular, our generation of ‘multi-platform journalists’) wants contact with the people. We want opinions. We want first-hand experiences. We want witnesses on the ground, at the crime scene, we want people that are snowed in, snowed out. We want instant calls, instant messaging and instant updates all with our instant cup-a-soup. And, what’s more, we don’t just want it, we now demand it and social media provides us with it.

I have been on my laptop for no longer than eight minutes and I have taken in more news, more celebrity gossip, more travel updates and more information than I would have done if I had sat for half an hour reading the newspaper. I have, admittedly, become slightly addicted to this ‘social media hub’ in which I have immersed myself.

Even as I write this blog, I am reading breaking news stories that are being updated faster than I can type. The words that news readers are speaking rapidly lose their value as someone else, somewhere else is revealing new information via Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Bebo, Delicious, the list goes on.

Smart phones

Handheld devices, which are inevitably linked to Twitter et al, will enable news and current affairs to be read faster than my blog will. Handheld devices such as the ‘smart phone’ can help us access news, quicker than the human body can: the movement of information is no longer paralysed by human limitation.

It’s got to be a good thing but why do I always feel that I am spending considerable amounts of time working on and adapting to my new online life?! Or is my enthusiasm misplaced? Is it merely because I am a beginner blogger, a tweetanger and a Facebook fresher? Only time will tell.

I have recently enrolled on a Television Journalism course at City University throughout which I am expected to spend more time on the Internet, watching television, updating my blog and ‘tweeting’ than I am sitting with my head in a book. Gone are the days where it was good enough to be able to ‘use the internet’. I now have to be able to know a multitude of sites like the back of my hand and in turn be able to compare and contrast them.

There is no longer a job for the journalist who says ‘I can’t do that. How do you tweet? What’s Delicious? I’m rubbish on computers’. Fact is, the keyboard is the new pen, Word is the new paper and social media is the new news broadcaster.