Is Hate Speech in the Connected World Here to Stay?

Expressing hate is so easy with just a few taps on the keyboard.

Expressing hate is takes just a few taps on a keyboard.

Hate speech has been around for a long time, but the connected world has amplified it. Sometimes hateful and threatening comments on social media and in comment sections feel like they are run-of-the-mill daily events. Sadly, Twitter, an awesome social media communications platform — one that I and many educators use and adore — has offered one of the easiest pathways for hate speech amplification. Twitter makes it easy to be “sort-of” anonymous.

For a good overview of Twitter’s online hate problems, take a few minutes to read Jim Rutenberg’s New York Times article, On Twitter, Hate Speech Bounded Only by a Character Limit. Rutenburg shares some of the hateful accusations he’s received and talks about the the challenges that Twitter faces with so much hateful, accusatory, and threatening speech. He notes that Twitter, which is no longer growing its subscriber base, is now for sale. Gutenberg speculates on who might purchase it. “You have to wonder,” he writes, “whether the cap on Twitter’s growth is tied more to that basic — and base — of human emotions: hatred.”                                                    Continue reading

That Nasty Spam Won’t Affect Me … but It Did!

I know a lot about technology. I’ve taught people from preschool to aging seniors. I write blogs, participate in social media sites, and love my e-mail. I know enough to keep my digital accounts out of danger, until now, that is …

On Thursday early evening, I came home, terribly tired — maybe too tired to work on technology tasks. With a cup of tea I sat down to look over my blogs and Twitter account where I discovered a funny message, from someone I know and respect. That Tweet reported on a not-so-nice Tweet about me, and I only needed to click on the link to check it out.

Now I have been teaching digital common sense and responsibility for nearly 20 years. I have made presentations to kids, parents, teachers, church members, seniors, and even newly arrived  immigrants about taking care, not opening attachments, and not clicking on links. But in this case I did not even think about it. I clicked, and the naughty link did its work, sending out copies of the message to every one of my followers.

Continue reading

Twitter Hoax — Watch those Tweets!

If you use Twitter, watch out for a spam tweet — usually a direct message tweet that tells you about a “crazy personal message.”  Do not click on the link that accompanies the message. If you do you may send out the hoax to your Twitter followers. If it goes on for too long before you do anything, it may also send out a message from your account.  Oh, and the  original message may come from someone you know, like, and trust. Mine did.

Because it’s a scam, do the following things.

  • Change your Twitter password.
  • Disconnect from all connected accounts such as Facebook, newspapers, Linked-in, etc. Wait a day or so to reconnect.
  • Log out all devices.
  • Restart all devices as needed.

You should be ok.  However, keep an eye out on your Twitter account.

Twitter Stats for the State of the Union

Politico, a Washington weekly newspaper that meticulously covers all things political, published this nifty Twitter graphic illustrating the tweeting environment during 2012 State of the Union (SOTU) speech. The data collection begins around 9:05 and continues until 10:40 eastern time. President Obama entered the chamber around 9:05 and and the Republican response ended around 10:40.

The infographic includes a huge amount of data, illustrating the times (and issues), when the frequency of #SOTU tweets went up, and other hashtag (#) topics that people included in their tweets.

Twitter’s infographic illustrates an enormous amount of social networking activity. Use it as a classroom or dinner table conversation topic. providing a glimpse into real-time civics and history.

Learning More About What You Don’t Know

I am just back from a huge technology conference in Philadelphia, the International Society for Technology in Education(ISTE), and I blogged from the event  uploading nine or ten entries on a separate MediaTechParenting page. I also tweeted — sometimes using Twitter myself and at other times just watching, reading, and processing the tweets of others.

During the week — before, during, and after the conference — Twitter was my most important communication too. Over the four days it let me know where especially great workshops and presentations were occurring, helped me discover other people who shared my interest, kept me up-to-date about who was blogging, informed me about presenters who were sharing resources beyond their presentation rooms, and yes, even announced the location of the special snacks each afternoon. Without the #ISTE11 Twitter handle, and also the continuing back channel tweets on #edtech and #edchat, my week would have been slower, less interesting, and nowhere near as dynamic.

Continue reading

If Every Family Had a Blog…

How would digital literacy and behavior improve if more families saw blogging as a way to communicate, connect with extended family members, and teach their children the basics about global communication? Would they be thrilled that their children had a big head start developing digital citizenship skills? Would they be delighted at all of the writing taking place and take pride as they watched children develop stronger writing skills?

Blogging is safe and easily managed. While we’ve all heard the scary stories, such as people going online and writing mean comments or nasty rumors that go public or even viral — in truth just about all blogging is safe and fun. Blogging teaches people to write, revise, write more, and publish for a community of readers.

Imagine, for a moment, if a family with two children, age five and seven, along with a bunch of relatives, starts a blog.

  • Family members, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins write, post, and comment. Parents are editors and managers, at least at the beginning, modeling and demonstrating how to use technology (social media) appropriately. Gradually family members share responsibilities.
    Continue reading

Experiment: Go Without Social Media for One Week

Can your family go for a week without social networking activities? In my family we go nuts when our Earthlink DSL goes down, which happens for a few minutes at least once each evening, let along not getting to use some of the most valuable web-based tools for a week.

Harrisburg University, a small college in Pennsylvania asked students and faculty to go without YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more for one week, not to punish the college community, but to examine why they use these resources and why people need them. The university community is asking questions such as “What part the social networking tools play life and business?” and “What would happen if social networking were not around?”

Continue reading