Living with Social Media

Social media has completely permeated our culture.  No one will be mad if you pass up using super-specific social networking sites and apps (like Pinterest), but you’ll definitely get sideways looks if you tell people you’re not on Facebook.

It’s odd that, with all the popularity of social media, theredon’t seem to be any tips sheets or guides on how to “properly” use it. And that’s exactly why EarthLink has put together a quick cheat sheet to help you with the basics:


When the internet was newer, anonymity was key.  Disguising your true identity with usernames like “HappyMom97” was a socially acceptable way to communicate through your computer.  This is no longer the case.  People want to find you (actual people from your past and present, like your friends, relatives, and coworkers), so it’s expected that you will now use your real name and a real photo in your social media profiles (some sites, like Google+, even require it!).  That being said, please NEVER including sensitive information like addresses, phone numbers, or even your current and past employment (the one exception is LinkedIN, a professional social site where it pays to show off your resume).


If you wouldn’t want your mother to read it or see it, don’t post about it or upload a picture of it.  Only share photos of yourself that you’d be proud for an employer to see (the number of employers using social media to check up on applicants and current employees is on the rise), and try to avoid heated discussions.  Those conversations always work better face-to-face, and people reading it can easily take what you say out of context, no matter how well-worded or thought-out it is.


Only “friend” people you know in real life.  If you get a message from a stranger, feel free to message back (most sites allow messaging…like an in-social-media email…between non “friends”), but don’t “add” them until you’ve met or spoken outside of social media.


  • Send a message if you want it to privately talk to someone
  • Post on a friend’s wall if it’s for a specific person, but one of your or their friends might enjoy what you’re sharing (like a recipe or a video of a sleeping cat)
  • Post a status about something general that all your friends might enjoy (like the deal on lunch you discovered)
  • Only comment on a post or status with something relevant (Example: if the original post is “I adore ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE by The Beatles,” comment “Me too!” and not “I miss you…how are you?”  That’s better for a separate wall post or message.

Use these as a jumping off point to get yourself settled into communicating through social media.  It’s meant to be a fun way to represent yourself online, so have fun with it!

2012: the Year in Search, the Year on Twitter

As 2012 winds to a close, Google and Twitter, two of the most influential Internet services, have released some fascinating (and sometimes moving) end of the year summaries.

2012: the year in searchGoogle Zeitgeist 2012

I guess it’s fair to say we were searching for something in 2012. Or should I say 1.2 trillion things. Because that’s how many searches Google reported we made on their Zeitgeist 2012 website.

Click to watch The Year in Review video for a moving look at the year’s milestone moments, or browse through the 11 categories to see the world’s most popular search terms of the year.

In Events, Hurricane Sandy, Kate Middleton Pictures, and Olympics 2012 topped the list. In Consumer Electronics, iPad 3, Samsung Galaxy S3, and iPad Mini took top honors. For People, it was Whitney Houston, Kate Middleton, and Amanda Todd. For Athletes it was Jeremy Lin, Michael Phelps, and Payton Manning.

Be sure to click Select a Country and select the United States to get a much more detailed view of what we were searching for. One interesting tidbit: of all the “How to…” searches, “how to love,” “how to rock,” and “how to vote” topped the list.

2012 Year on Twitter

For a Tweets-eye view of the year, head on over to Twitter’s 2012 Year on Twitter website.

In the Golden Tweets section you’ll learn that the year’s most retweeted tweet (and the most retweeted ever) was President Obama’s succinct “Four more years,” sent out to followers just before he came out to acknowledge his re-election in person.

Justin Bieber had the #2 tweet of the year, the poignant “RIP Avalanna. i love you.”  He sent out to mark the passing away of a 6-year-old fan who was stricken by brain cancer.

Pulse of the planet highlights the year’s most tweeted and retweeted events: the Summer Olympics, U.S. Elections, MTV Video Music Awards, Super Bowl, and more.

Only on Twitter chronicles the year’s events that really came to life on Twitter. Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab live-tweeted the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars. Astronauts on the International Space Station tweeted about their unique view of superstorm Sandy. And a James Cameron sent a tweet from the Mariana Trench, 35,755 ft.  below sea level.

Visit Trends to see all the topics and hashtags that surged in popularity during the year and check out New voices to see all the celebrities, politicians, and other noteworthy people who joined Twitter during the year.

If you’re one of our dial-up, DSL, cable Internet or other high-speed Internet access members, let us know which of these events, people, or topics you searched for or Tweeted about in 2012.

2012 Election: And the Winner Is…the Internet

Tuesday’s national and statewide elections may or may not have gone your way. But they certainly went the way of the Internet. We got a taste of it in 2008 and 2010, but the 2012 elections certainly put the Internet and social media front and center. It’s clear today that they have changed how elections are reported, analyzed, followed, and discussed.

There were lots of great websites to follow the election throughout the campaigns and they are still providing interesting post-election insights and analysis.

CNN’s Election Center is filled with ongoing election-related news and interesting looks back at the campaigns.  Of note are detailed election demographics from exit polls and a look back at 21 defining moments from the campaigns.

Google offers another very interesting site for the 2012 election. There’s a compilation of all the latest news, an interactive election map for President, Senate, House, and Governors’ races that even lets you drill down on the results to the county level. The election site also features the YouTube Live 2012 Election channel and showcases interesting search trends related to the campaign.

Election Forecast map - FiveThirtyEight blog at

The FiveThirtyEight blog, part of  the Politics section, generated a lot of interest and traffic with Nate Silver’s in-depth statistical analysis and predictions (as of this writing he’s 49 for 49 in state-by-state predictions, with one race still not 100% confirmed). FiveThirtyEight does not yet have any post-election content but the Politics section is full of news, analysis, and opinion.

Social media sites, especially Twitter and Facebook, were central to the election this year.

Twitter’s @gov team tracked “creative and effective uses of Twitter for civic engagement” and the TWINDEX tracked tweets related to the candidates (and gave the candidates scores to rank their activity), plus issues, and hot topics. The Twitter Political Engagement Map showed state-by-state engagements with the candidates’ tweets throughout the campaign.

President Obama even announced his victory first to his 22.7 million Twitter followers  and 32.7 million Facebook fans before he made his televised speech. Reportedly, Obama’s tweet set a record for most retweets, and Election Day 2012 became the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history.

And speaking of Facebook…the U.S. Politics on Facebook page (with 246,000+ Likes) was an active campaign watching and discussing hub. The page posted just yesterday that there were 71.7 million election-related mentions across Facebook posts in the U.S. on election day alone. The election also received a 9.27 (out of 10), the highest score for buzz on the Facebook Talk Meter for U.S. users in 2012. The page is also featuring snapshots of the most meaningful Facebook posts from Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Leave us a comment and let us know how you used your Internet access to follow the election or promote your political views.

The Top 3 Fake Hurricane Sandy Photos Being Shared on Social Media

Hurricane Sandy is everywhere on the news, and (for those with a reliable internet connection), on social media as well.  Many first hand accounts are being spread through social media, but so are a few fakes.  Here are the top three faked Hurricane Sandy photos to be aware of.

  1. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
    • This photo has been circulating as being taken during a downpour brought on by the hurricane hitting DC.  While it is a real photograph, it’s from September of this year, and was not taken during Sandy.  Below is a photograph that The National Guard shared that is actually from the beginning of the storm.
  2. Waves Around the Statue of Liberty
    • This photo makes the storm look more than terrifying; it makes it seem apocalyptic!  And there’s a reason…it’s actually from a movie.  Specifically, the screen shot is from the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” in which NYC is flooded.  Someone added a news bar at the bottom to make it seem realistic, but the picture is indeed a fake.
  3. Clouds Over the Statue of Liberty
    • This photo is actually a composite made from two photos: one of New York Harbor, and one of a cloud formation from 2004 (that wasn’t even in New York!).