Category Archives: Social Media

Do Not Track Law Comes Closer to Reality

Apparently seeking to mimic the success of the “do not call” registry, on May 9, 2011, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced an online “do not track” privacy bill that would give consumers the ability to block companies from tracking their online activities.  The proposed Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 comes on the heels of another consumer privacy bill proposed by Senators Kerry and McCain.  The competing Kerry bill does not have a “do not track” feature, excludes the possibility of a private right of action (Sec. 406)  and was generally panned by privacy activists as potentially being too pro-business.   On the other hand, an ACLU spokesman described the Rockefeller bill as “a crucial civil liberties protection for the twenty-first century.

Given the support being offered by the White House, the Rockefeller bill has a real chance of being passed into law.  What it will eventually mean to the cost of “free” applications sponsored by marketers and their clients remains to be seen.



Is it Time to Ditch Your Facebook Account?

A recently published study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health shows that the brain’s capacity to move back and forth from distractions diminishes with age.  The findings, which were reported in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 11, 2011), ultimately suggest that multi-tasking may impact our working memory, i.e., the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind.  According to one of the study’s authors, Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, director of the UCSF Neuroscience Imaging Center:

The impact of distractions and interruptions reveals the fragility of working memory.  This is an important fact to consider, given that we increasingly live in a more demanding, high-interference environment, with a dramatic increase in the accessibility and variety of electronic media and the devices that deliver them, many of which are portable.

Other researchers are more direct in pointing a finger at the potential cause of this problem.  According to Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, director of Stanford’s Impulse Control Disorders Clinic, “persons are suffering in terms of cognition and attention spans because of the time spent online.”  Interestingly, some studies have shown that students may be aware that technology is having a detrimental effect on their academic performance and are open to learning time management strategies and strategies for managing cognitive workloads.

What exactly does all of this research mean for the average tech junkie remains unclear.  At the very least, it may be an early wake up call to have a more measured approach to social media.  If the tweets are in the thousands and the blog posts number in the hundreds it may not be healthy to continually jump on an iPad to use Bizzy or check on a Facebook account.  In other words, give it a rest or the work product may ultimately suffer.

[Update:  June 14, 2011]
As per this article in the Daily Mail, Facebook fatigue may be catching on —  six million US users apparently deactivated their accounts in May 2011.