Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

84% Of US Adults Don't Use Twitter, Only 4% Of Americans Over 30 Get Their News From Twitter -

84% Of US Adults Don't Use Twitter, Only 4% Of Americans Over 30 Get Their News From Twitter - 

When it comes to Twitter, there seems to be a discrepancy in the publicly available user data. Recall that according to the company's S-1 filing, Twitter's US monthly user base has risen from 10 million in 2010 to just shy of 50 million.

And yet, according to a just released Pew Research poll, a whopping 84% of the US adults were not Twitter users, and perhaps more importantly, of the 16% of adult users, half admitted to using Twitter for news.

Narrowing this down even further, close to half, or 45%, of Twitter news consumers were under 30, which implies that roughly 4% of American adults use Twitter as something more than just a place to vent occasionally, and actually have a productive use for the service.

In attempting to reconcile the two vastly differing sets of numbers, one from the company and one from Pew, one wonders: is Twitter merely the latest platform for "socializing" teens who unfortunately for Twitter's advertisers (who between Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Yahoo and so on, seem to have infinite advertising budgets) don't have access to a credit card? And what happens when, just like FaceBook, Twitter's coolness factor disappears and only the hardcore, and quite paltry, news users remain?

Indeed, Pew confirms that Twitter is largely focused on younger, more educated Americans, even compared to FaceBook:

Twitter news consumers stand out for being younger and more educated than both the population overall and Facebook news consumers

Close to half, 45%, of Twitter news consumers are 18-29 years old. That is more than twice that of the population overall (21%) and also outpaces young adults’ representation among Facebook news consumers, where 34% are 18-29 years old. Further, just 2% of Twitter news consumers are 65 or older, compared with 18% of the total population and 7% of Facebook news consumers..
The fact that Twitter users, by virtue of being less, are more educated than FaceBook users, should not come as a surprise:

Twitter news consumers also tend to be more educated than the general population and than Facebook news consumers. Four-in-ten (40%) Twitter news consumers have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 29% of the total population and 30% of Facebook news consumers.Close to half, 45%, of Twitter news consumers are 18-29 years old. That is more than twice that of the population overall (21%) and also outpaces young adults’ representation among Facebook news consumers, where 34% are 18-29 years old. Further, just 2% of Twitter news consumers are 65 or older, compared with 18% of the total population and 7% of Facebook news consumers.
More from Pew:

Nearly one-in-ten U.S. adults (8%) get news through Twitter, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center, in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Compared with the 30% of Americans who get news on Facebook, Twitter news consumers stand out as younger, more mobile and more educated.

In addition, a separate Pew Research analysis of conversations on Twitter around major news events reveals three common characteristics: much of what gets posted centers on passing along breaking news; sentiments shift considerably over time; and however passionate, the conversations do not necessarily track with public opinion.

This two-part report is based first on a survey of more than 5,000 U.S. adults (including 736 Twitter users and 3,268 Facebook users) and, second, on an analysis of Twitter conversations surrounding major news events which spanned nearly three years. Twitter posts were analyzed for the information shared, sentiments expressed and ebb and flow of interest.

According to the survey, 16% of U.S. adults use Twitter. Among those, roughly half (52%) “ever” get news there — with news defined as “information about events and issues that involve more than just your friends or family.”
So just how does Twitter serve as a source of information distribution:

Separately, Pew Research Center tracked and analyzed the Twitter conversations surrounding 10 major news events that occurred between May 2011 and October 2013. The events ranged from the opening night of the summer Olympics to the Newtown Conn. school shootings to the Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage. Using computer software developed by Crimson Hexagon, researchers examined which elements of the news events were discussed, the tone of the tweets and the ebb and flow of Twitter engagement. From that research, three central themes emerge:

A core function of Twitter is passing along pieces of information as the story develops. Even with the outpouring of emotion after the July 13, 2013, acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, the largest component of the Twitter conversation (39% of all expressed sentiments in tweets about the event) shared news of that verdict without offering an opinion. Straight news accounts also led the Twitter conversations about the Oct. 1 rollout of the Affordable Care Act (42%) and the concurrent federal government shutdown (35%) — two events that stirred political passions.

The Twitter conversation about big news events can shift and evolve, both in terms of sentiment and topic. In the two weeks after the March 2013 Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage, Twitter sentiment was far more opposed to the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage (55%) than in favor (32%). Yet in the month after that, support for same-sex marriage (43%) easily trumped opposition (26%). A study of the aftermath of the Newtown shooting reveals how quickly the focus of the Twitter conversation can change. On Dec. 14, 2012, expressions of sympathy for the victims made up nearly one-third of the conversation; by Dec. 17, it was down to 13%. In the same period, attention to President Obama, the shooter and mental health issues more than doubled — from 11% to 24% of the conversation.

Although sentiment on Twitter can sometimes match that of the general population, it is not a reliable proxy for public opinion. During the 2012 presidential race, Republican candidate Ron Paul easily won the Twitter primary — 55% of the conversation about him was positive, with only 15% negative. Voters rendered a very different verdict. After the Newtown tragedy, 64% of the Twitter conversation supported stricter gun controls, while 21% opposed them. A Pew Research Center survey in the same period produced a far more mixed verdict, with 49% saying it is more important to control gun ownership and 42% saying it is more important to protect gun rights.
So what is the take home? Is the spin here that there is a vast, untapped audience Twitter can reach and expand to? Perhaps, however, it appears that intelligence is a gating factor on just who uses the 140 character-limited service. If so, considering the distribution curve of US IQ, Twitter's best expansion days may be behind it, with only the lowest common denominator left: the tag ends of FaceBook users who migrate to the "cooler" social platform, with zero ad spending intent or capacity.

Or perhaps there is an optimistic case, and more Americans will ditch existing news outlets, and move aggressively to Twitter. One can hope. However, what is certainly unknown is just how the company's aggressive push into monetization impacts those who provide free content on Twitter, and whether in an attempt to monetize this "free content", Twitter will follow legacy media and start imposing paywalls and gates. If so, then just like Facebook, Twitter will merely be a brief stepping stone on the path to the next bigger, better and cooler social media platform which works great.... until it too has to start monetizing itself. Because if there is one thing that has become clear, is that in a world in which information always find a way to be exchanged instantly, and freely, anyone attempting to monetize such infromation flow always has an uphill climb.


Eating While Driving Raises Chance Of Accident By 80 Percent... -

Eating While Driving Raises Chance Of Accident By 80 Percent... - 

Experts say eating while driving can increase a motorist’s chances of a car accident by 80 percent.

Ryan Harrison, an editor in Burbank, said long hours at work means more time in his car.

“I’d rather just eat on the way home, so I’m killing two birds with one stone,” he said. “I would make scrambled eggs before I go to work and then I’d eat them on the way to work, and I’d also eat yogurt. It’s definitely convenience.”

With so little time and so much traffic, Los Angeles freeways have turned Harrison’s car into a personal dining room.

“There is so much traffic here that you have to drive so slowly and there are so many stop lights,” he said. “I need to eat while I’m driving just to save time.”

Officer Juan Galvan of the California Highway Patrol office in Glendale said that while Harrison’s behavior isn’t illegal, it is unsafe.

“Usually when people take a bite and if they spill, what’s your first reaction? Your first reaction is to let go of the steering wheel or drop whatever it is you’re doing because you want to clean up the mess you possibly caused,” Galvan said.

Law enforcement officials say much like texting and driving, eating also falls under the category of distracted driving.

Asked if the CHP has seen an increase in drivers who eat, Galvan said, “We did have a [Distracted Driving Awareness Month] in April. Over 10,000 enforcement contacts were made and over 240 citations were issued for an unsafe speed related to distracted driving. So, quite possibly, there could have been a good majority that were eating.”

The officer added, “We don’t have a specific section, but for somebody that is eating while driving, now we can go with the unsafe speed section. What is the safe speed for you to eat and drive? The safe speed is ‘zero.’”

Harrison said there’s more to the distracted driving debate than just taking a bite behind the wheel.

“If they make it so you can’t eat and drive, they should take away being able to put on make-up. I’m not going to be eating my hamburger if I’m trying to get across six lanes of traffic and avoid pedestrians and stuff,” he said.


Head of U.S. Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Unit -- Charged with Groping Woman... -

Head of U.S. Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Unit -- Charged with Groping Woman... - 


The man in charge of the Air Force's sexual-harassment enforcement was himself indicted on a sexual assault charge in an Arlington court Monday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffrey Krusinki was arrested back in May for allegedly groping a woman in Arlington.

She claims he grabbed her breasts and buttocks in a parking lot in Crystal City.

Officers who arrested him say he was drunk.

Krusinski was head of sexual assault prevention in the Air Force.

His trail starts Tuesday in Arlington County Circuit Court.

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More Than 40% of Consumers Don't Recognize Red Flags of a Scam -

More Than 40% of Consumers Don't Recognize Red Flags of a Scam - 

If you haven't received an email by now offering you a huge sum of money in exchange for a small initial deposit or fee, you should feel a little left out.

According to "Financial Fraud and Fraud Susceptibility in the United States," a new report from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, 67 percent of consumers have received this type of email. Another 36 percent have received a letter that says they've won a lottery in a country they've never visited.

The survey found that all told, more than 8 in 10 consumers have been asked to participate in a potentially fraudulent offer.

While most people who are targeted by a scam aren't drawn in, 11 percent of those surveyed had lost a significant amount of money due to a fraudulent offer. But oddly, when asked if they had been a victim of fraud, only 4 percent admitted that they had.

Americans age 65 and older are not only more likely to be targeted by scammers, according to the FINRA research, but they're more likely to lose money if they are targeted -- 34 percent more likely than respondents in their 40s.

Red Flags Aren't Obvious to Everyone

It's frightening how frequently we miss the signs that someone's out to scam us.

FINRA found that more than 40 percent of the people surveyed failed to recognize some of the signs of a fraudulent offer, including some classic red flags, such as offers that tout:
A 110 percent annual return on an investment
A fully guaranteed investment
A promise of a daily rate of return of over 2 percent
In addition to the indications above such as unrealistic promises of a high return without risk, the Better Business Bureau says some of the most common red flags for a scam that consumers ignore include:
Your gut instinct tells you something is off. If something doesn't sound right or feel right, don't brush your instinct aside. At the very least, do some investigating.
High-pressure tactics. If you're told something is only available for a limited time or you're pushed into making an impulse decision, this often indicates a scam.
You're asked to use a money transfer. Money transfers can't be traced, so chances are higher that if you're asked to send money that way, you're being scammed.
You're asked for personal information. Scammers commonly ask for things like your address, phone number, banking information, and birth date to gather information about you that can be used for identity theft or to charge a credit card. They can use a variety of ways to reach you if they have some information and can ask you to log in or give them a password via email or phone that can seem legitimate.
Vague details. Most scammers attempt to give out as little information about themselves or the specifics of a deal or an investment so that there's less likelihood they can be caught.
No contact information. If you can't call back or reach the person who's contacted you, that's a good indication they're not legitimate.

While con artists constantly come up with new variations on old themes to steal your money, staying vigilant and watching out for these warning signs can help protect your bank account from their scams.

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