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Monday, May 07, 2012
How Instagram Took America by Storm [INFOGRAPHIC]
Twitter Post by Sex Offender Scares Away Star Football Prospect
20 Mouthwatering Instagram Pics [FOOD PORN]

Klout CEO Hints at Redesign, Local Feature, Brand Page Update
Sunday, May 06, 2012 9:02 PMBrian Anthony Hernandez

Klout has had a busy few weeks, unleashing an iPhone app, brand pages and a new API. But more changes are on deck.

Klout CEO Joe Fernandez hinted at those developments on stage and backstage at Mashable Connect in Orlando.

The San Francisco-based startup will announce this month four more partners for its version of brand pages -- Brand Squads. The feature launched in April with Red Bull.

Fernandez also says users should anticipate a redesigned website this year, possibly rolling out this summer.

Klout's February acquisition of BlockBoard, an app that gives people a way to communicate with neighbors, will eventually spawn a new local feature on Klout. Fernandez was sparse on details but says ideas are still in "white board" phase.

"We're going to be an incredible tool to help people; right now we're just a benchmark," Fernandez said in an onstage interview with Mashable's Lance Ulanoff.

"There's no way to get around the fact that we put a number next to your face and it's tied to your ego."Fernandez, aware of some of the negative feedback people dish about Klout, asserts that the good and bad buzz is a "huge victory."

"There's no way to get around the fact that we put a number next to your face and it's tied to your ego," he says. "I think the controversy and conversation around what we're doing is ultimately good. The world is changing and we're doing something completely new."

The still-in-beta Klout measures influence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare to assign Klout users scores from 0 to 100, but its algorithm is hush-hush so people don't game the system.

Prodded by Ulanoff to disclose more details about the algorithm, Fernandez discussed Klout's evolution of tracking influence, saying calculations began on an Excel spreadsheet before becoming too "dynamic" for that as more social networks were integrated onto Klout.

"We generally look at Twitter, Facebook and Google+," he says. But "there's definitely a weighting system."

He also reminded the audience that the algorithm measures each user's top social network first -- primarily Twitter or Facebook -- and the others are additive, meaning adding more networks would never lower a person's Klout score.

"I don't think we've really built the real Klout product yet -- what you see now on Klout is just a thin layer of what the data is," Fernandez says. "It's something we're excited to move beyond."

BONUS: What Else Does Klout Have in Store for 2012?

Looking ahead, Klout is still building scoring models for seven more services (YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress.com, Last.fm and Flickr) that have already been integrated onto Klout users' dashboards. Klout also plans to add Quora, Yelp, Posterous, Livefyre, Disqus, bit.ly and BranchOut.

SEE ALSO: The Remarkable Story of How Klout Got Started/a>

Klout likely will continue improving its Topics feature (see screenshots below) and Klout Perks platform. The Topics feature, which rolled out in September and lets you gain insights on top influencers and +K recipients for specific content areas, got a visual update in December with a "sashes" and an "Add a Topic" button.

Another feature on the horizon is an "oAuth2-based authentication system" that will soon let users give +Ks to people from outside of Klout.com. For example, a person might give someone else a +K while browsing Tumblr.

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FBI Wants Wiretap-Ready Social Networks Soon [VIDEO]
Sunday, May 06, 2012 5:52 PMSam Laird

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to make Facebook and other social networks easier to use for spying on suspected criminals -- and it wants access ASAP.

High-ranking FBI officials and other government representatives have been meeting with Internet industry leaders to ask them not to oppose a proposed law that would give federal agencies backdoor access to social networking sites, CNET reports. The FBI's argument? As communication has shifted more and more online, previous laws allowing wiretaps on phone lines are becoming less and less useful.

FBI lawyers have reportedly drafted a proposal that if passed into law would require social networking sites to rework their code for easier surveillance. It would also apply to instant messaging, VoIP and email providers that exceed a certain number of users.

The proposal would update the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) of 1994. That legislation originally applied to telecommunications providers, requiring them to provide back-end loopholes enabling easier access for law enforcement to spy on suspected criminals. In 2004, CALEA was expanded to include broadband networks as well.

Expanding CALEA again to apply to services such as Gmail, Skype and Facebook would help the FBI address a worry that senior bureau officials dubbed as far back as 2008 as "Going Dark." The name encapsulates a theory that as communication technologies continue to advance FBI surveillance capability will struggle to keep pace.

Do you think social networks and other digital communication services should be required to code with FBI surveillance concerns in mind? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, jaxxon

Twitter Post by Sex Offender Scares Away Star Football Prospect
Sunday, May 06, 2012 4:18 PMSam Laird

Players tweeting irresponsibly. Embarrassing photos. Unwanted news leaks. Now you can add a new item to the list of ways social media can be a headache for sports teams -- unsavory characters scaring away potential stars.

That's what happened at Ohio State University, where a lauded high school football recruit de-committed from the school after a convicted sex offender posted photos he took with him on Twitter.

Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing, Pa., is one of the mostly highly rated high school linebackers in the country and had pledged to play in college at Ohio State. During a campus visit last month, according to the Associated Press, Anzalone posed for a photograph with an apparent fan named Charles Eric Waugh. Waugh later posted the photo to Twitter and used the network to contact other Ohio State players, recruits and coaches.

Hardcore college sports fans frequently use Twitter and Facebook to tell hotshot recruits how great they'd look in their school's colors. The problem here? Waugh, who is 31 years old and reportedly lives in Ashland, Kentucky, pleaded guilty in 2008 to five counts of possession of underage sexual content.

"You don't want your son to go to a place where there's a potential issue," Anzalone's father told the Reading Eagle on Saturday. "You expect the staff to have some sort of control on how things are handled with recruits when they visit. This is ridiculous."

Ohio State released a statement in which it said the episode was symptomatic of social media's power to enable wide-ranging and unexpected connections, and sent a cautionary email message out to more than 1,000 student athletes.

"The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites," the school's statement read. "This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes."

Is it fair to blame a school if creepy fans contact athletes via social media? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy Scallop Holden, Flickr.

How Tech Is Changing College Life [INFOGRAPHIC]
Sunday, May 06, 2012 2:28 PMSam Laird

College students today are more tech savvy than ever before. Just how important is technology to their academic lives?

More than 90% use email to communicate with professors and 73% say they cannot study without technology. Seven in 10 take notes on keyboards instead of paper, virtually all students who own an ereader and most use digital tools when preparing a presentation.

All that tech has caused something of a dependency too -- 38% of students can't go more than 10 minutes without checking their smartphone or other device. All told, students spent $13 billion on electronics in 2009.

Community college students are less digitally connected than students at four-year schools, but more and more people are making the Internet their education gateway. Twelve million students take at least one class online today -- in five years, that number is projected to exceed 22 million. By 2014, analysts say, more than 3.5 million students will take all of their classes online.

This is all according to research compiled by Presta Electronics. Presta used material from the Pew Research Center, Chronicle of Higher Education, Mashable and other sources to put together the infographic below. Check it out for the full picture of how technology is changing college students' lives.

Do you think technology is changing college for the better -- or are there downsides?

Top 4 Mashable Comments This Week
Sunday, May 06, 2012 1:42 PMKeith Kaplan

This week Mashable readers posted insightful comments on many articles. The post which caught the most attention was the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung's newest addition to its line of Galaxy line of smartphones.

Mashable reader Matt Savard discussed how he thought the screen size of the new device, 4.8 inches, was a bit too large for his taste. He also mentioned the issue of battery life with the larger screen.

Other commenters discussed the popular debate between Android 4.0 ICS and iOS. The debate went back and forth between the features of the Android and iOS platforms, which made for a great read.

At Mashable, we're always on the lookout for thoughtful, insightful comments that add to our stories or further the discussion. Take a look at this week's top comments and let us know what you think of the readers' opinions.

If you haven't commented on a Mashable article before, check out Mashable Follow, our content curation and social tool, as well as our comment guidelines to learn more. We'd love for you to join the conversation.

How Instagram Took America by Storm [INFOGRAPHIC]
Sunday, May 06, 2012 12:22 PMZoe Fox

Have you caught Instagram fever?

The flaming hot mobile app and recent $1 billion Facebook acquisition now has more than 40 million users.

This Online Colleges infographic shares some impressive stats behind the viral mobile photography app. Instagram gains one new user every second. One billion photos have been taken with the app -- that's roughly 58 photos uploaded each second.

Instagram's on track to hit 100 million users -- joining the ranks of LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook -- two years after its initial iOS launch in October 2010.

The infographic, created by an online university database, focuses on college students' adoption of the app. It suggests professors and campus professionals use Instagram to foster community through photo contests. It also recommends that students follow professors to learn about their interests outside of the classroom.

How have you seen colleges use Instagram? Do you think students and professors should interact on social networks?

BONUS: 15 LOL-Worthy Instagram Pics

</ hr>

What's America's Most Engaging Social Network? You'll Be Surprised
Sunday, May 06, 2012 11:25 AMSam Laird

Try to guess America's most engaging social network. Facebook? Wrong. Twitter? Wrong. Pinterest? Wrong again. According to comScore's most recent social networking data, from the month of March, the San Francisco based site Tagged engages users like no other service. It was the only site to finish in the top two in both of comScore's engagement metrics.

Tagged users visited an average of 18 times each during March according to ComScore, second only to Facebook's average of 36 visits per vistor. And each time a Tagged user visited the site, he or she stuck around for 12.1 minutes -- which trailed only Tumblr (14.7 minutes) and beat out Facebook (10.9 minutes).

Tagged co-founder and CEO Greg Tseng says he's happy about ComScore's March data, but that his company has been among America's most engaging social networks for about a year now. The secret to Tagged's success? A pivot Tseng and co-founder Johann Schleier-Smith made around the beginning of 2008.

The longtime friends started Tagged in 2004, at the time angling it to be a Facebook-like social network for high schoolers. Eventually, however, Facebook expanded beyond a closed college network and allowed anyone over the age of 12 to join.

"We took a hard look and decided we weren't going to win," Tseng says. "But we had found out a lot of our users were actually using Tagged to meet new people, so that led us to pivot into a new space called 'social discovery,' where people use sites to make new social relationships."

As opposed to sites like Facebook, where people primarily organize and maintain relationships established offline, Tagged functions mostly as a portal to meet new people online for romance or simply friendship. The site's algorithms encourage users to connect based on shared interests, tastes and hobbies.

Tseng says Tagged's 10 million core monthly active users form an average of 100 million new connections per month. The site has been profitable since 2008, and over the past year tripled its staff to a current count of more than 170.

With social discovery as a whole seen by many to be a rising tide, Tseng believes Tagged's success will continue to grow.

"If I look out at the next five or 10 years, I really see social discovery as big as social networking -- in some sense I think you can think of social discovery as the engine for social networking," he says, referencing Dunbar's number, which theorizes that humans can maintain an average of 150 connections at a time.

"Facebook is the place where you maintain your current 150," he says. "And Tagged will be the place where you refresh that 150."

Do you think social discovery is the next big thing? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci

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