Social network sites used most to share stories

Whenever I check my Facebook, I often see news articles shared by my friends. If they are interesting, I will share with some or many others in my friend list. If a friend “like” a news article, it also appears in my page. Just by clicking “share” or “like” buttons, the information is disseminated to many others, who, by chance, read it thanks to their friends’ sharing. Meanwhile, if you want to share via email or SMS, you need to copy the URL, find people you want to share and send the link. The convenience brought by social media tools has helped increase the volume of news stories shared as the amount of sharing via social media has increased. As the users of social network sites (SNSs) keep rising (one person can have multiple online identities), it seems that sharing news via SNSs is the most frequent and easiest way people do today.


According to Hermida et al (2012, p.815 ), “news organizations are rushing into social media, viewing services like Facebook and Twitter as opportunities to market and distribute content.” They add social networking functionality to websites, encouraging users to ‘‘like’’ or ‘‘tweet’’ a story, in order to disseminate it. Olmstead et al. suggested that “if searching for news was the most important development of the last decade, sharing news may be among the most important of the next” (2011, p10).

Let’s look at a Sydney Morning Herald’s online story about a missing girl. The information was shared the most via Facebook, with 5,600 times (by the time I copy this picture).

The share buttons with FB/Twitter/Google+…icons below the image of the journalist allow readers to share the article on their SNSs and it can be seen by many other people. These people do not have to access directly to SMH’s website but still have a chance to read the article thanks to their friends’ action of sharing.


What is people’s most favourite SNS to share news? Facebook. Yes, it is true. About 1.3 bln people or one fifth of the world, log on FB at least once a month. According to SimpleReach statistics, it makes up 20 percent of traffic to news sites. On mobile devices, the rate is much higher and keeps increasing as the number of readers on mobile platform is growing fast.

But when everything goes online, do people change their habit of reading printed publications? Is this the end of printed publications?

My father used to work in a news agency the publications of which include printed newspapers specialized in sports and sciences, among others. I still remember about 25 years ago, whenever there were important sport events in the world, especially relating football, such as World Cup or Euro, football fans queued a long line from early morning to buy a sport newspaper to get “update” information of the matches.

As technology develops, gone are the days people thronged to buy a newspaper. When everything goes online, people’s once habit of reading newspapers seemed to be replaced. Smartphones, tablets…are now more popular and convenient, offering users various chances to access information/news stories and sharing, instead of waiting until the next day for a “new” newspaper. Today, on bus, train or on the street, we often see people, especially the young, stick their eyes on the screen of their smartphones. What do they do with their phones? Checking-in with Facebook, selfie, sharing photos, news and many other things. It seemed that there is little room for printed newspapers these days. The world’s media industry witnessed the closure of many printed publications, including big name Newsweek which discontinued its printed version in late 2012 after 80 years and went all digital.


When everything is available on the public domain and can be shared easily, news organisations, as a result, have to learn how to update news in the fastest way to meet the readers’ demand. This poses pressure to journalists, who are making use of SNSs, especially Twitter, as a tool for breaking news or a source for finding news stories. Technological development requires journalists to have multi skills to catch up with technology. As a result, I myself not only have to improve my reporting skill but also learn how to use SNSs and apply their advantages in my work./.


Hermida, A, Fletcher, F, Korel, D and Logan, D 2012 ‘Share, like, recommend: Decoding the social media news consumer’ Journalism Studies, Vol. 13, issues 5-6, pp 815-824.

Internet Memes to me

“Meme” is a strange concept to me. I have to admit that I have no idea about it even though I may see it somewhere, on my Facebook, for example, or in my daughter’s blog. However, “meme” is not new to many others as it was first launched in 2001.


(Image source:

Wikipedia explains a meme is an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.” In the Internet era, Davison (2012) defines “an internet meme is a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmission”. He further said that what makes it unique is “the speed of their transmission and the fidelity of their form” (Davison, 2012). It is true that in the digital age, when everything goes online, things are shared in every second. It is easier than ever for memes to be viewed “by as many people as want to view it, as many times as they want to, as quickly as they can request it.” (Davison, 2012, p.122).

As “memes can be born, replicated, transmitted, transformed, and forwarded” (Davison, 2012, p. 131), I understand that everyone can create their own memes. Such websites as or enable us to create our own memes, publish them and help spread our memes via Internet (like my first meme above). However, I wonder where are the images come from? It is interesting to know that many of them originated from movie characters. They and their direct quotes from the movies themselves become memes. Or they can be the funny facial expression of someone, including famous persons like US President Obama or Chinese basketball player Yaoming.

The Origins of Meme (

There are many things to discuss about memes. However, memes to me can be hyperlinks, pictures, videos, websites or hashtags which can be spread widely through social media, but the mostly used source for memes these days are pictures.

Some typical examples of memes include the “horse riding dance” in Gangnam style MV. First introduced in July, 2012, Korean pop singer Psy’s catchy tune and the video for it spawned hundreds of parodies and copycat dance videos on YouTube quickly surpassed Justin Bieber’s single ‘Baby’ as the most watched video on YouTube (Memmot, 2014).

Psy’s Gangnam Style ranked No.1on iTunes in 31 countries, No.2 in Billboard 100 and No.1 UK Single Charts. Many people, especially the young, around the world replicate the dancing style in their own ways and uploaded their videos on Youtube. Even prisoners in Cebu, the Philippines, were attracted by the music and the horse riding style . They, thus, created their own music video based on the original version.

With its widespread, “Gangnam style” was the No.1 meme of 2012, according to the memeologists at Know Your Meme. It has many variations, even in comic.

“Gangnam style” is one of the most famous music phenomena in Vietnam over the last five years that I know. It becomes a fever in Vietnam not only because it is a world trend, but also many Vietnamese young people are crazy fans of K-pop. What’s more, the small boy performing in the video is a half Vietnamese and half Korean by blood, which makes Gangnam style closer to the Vietnamese.

The music of the song were heard everywhere. People from children to the young, even the elderly, found it interesting and funny. Gangnam style also becomes a new dancing genre which dancing classes offered their learners. It is also performed in stages with many variations. Young people took this occasion to make a “Hanoi style” video based on the music.

Psy is successful in turning the dancing style into a world’s phenomenon. And two sentences in the song “Oh, sexy lady” and “Oppa Gangnam style” are the most common known by many people, I believe.

I personally think that as it is a trend, a meme may last in a short or long period of time, depending on its audience and its “heat.” There will be other memes dominating the social media in the future, creating a cyber world constantly changing day by day. But for me now, just “Keep calm and prepare the final blog post.”


Davison, P 2012. ‘The language of Internet meme’ in M. Mandiberg (ed). The Social Media Reader, pp. 120-134 New York: New York University Press.

Smartphones and journalism

Smartphones for several recent years have become an indispensable device in our pockets. All smartphones, as the name suggests, have many more uses beyond simply sending text messages and making phone calls. They can be described as a multimedia device which enable journalists to produce content with just one machine, the thing they previously need many to do so. The advent of smartphones has made it possible for them to do part of their job with nothing more than a phone.

Live broadcasting is a complicated work which requires cameras, cables and satellite trucks among others. However, I was so surprised when my Broadcast Journalism tutor showed me a video showing how BBC reporter Nick Garnett uses iPhone to broadcast live. This is the first time I know about Luci Live software for smartphone broadcasting the reporter is using. That’s awesome. According to Nick Garnett, he now does 90 percent of his broadcasting on his iPhone with the support of Luci Live. It transforms iPhone or smartphone or into a mobile IP-codec, software IP-codec for PC/MAC or high quality mpeg-recorder. Reporters only need one device to go live, record audio, edit, add pictures or videos and send to the studio – wirelessly. The first rule of the game, as Garnett said, is “staying connect”. It means journalists have to make sure their connection works, otherwise, their live broadcasts will fail. This, I think, is a disadvantage of the software because not all every place in the world is connected with Internet. However, I also find it interesting to learn a new thing that I may try to apply in my job.

Luci Live software (Image source:

The convergence of camera and cellphones, especially smartphones, makes it easier than ever for people to become photographers. And for journalists, including citizen journalists, it allows them to quickly share photos as news thanks to the availability of 3G, 4G or wireless service. Though the quality of photographs from cell phones, even smartphones, is still far behind what can be captured with professional photo cameras, there are some obvious advantages. By several simple actions, the journalists can send the photos to their news organisations, share them on their social networking sites. In the digital age where time is one of the factors of pressures on journalists, forcing them to break news in the earliest time to compete with their rivals. Thus a multifunctional smart phone seem to be a useful tool to support them in their work.

(Image source:

Last month, I read an article which showed tips and tricks to take creative photos by smartphone, from unique panorama uses to a clever way to easily take partially underwater photos. I will try someday to get lively pictures for myself and may be for the purpose of artistic photo images with a smartphone.

Furthermore, journalists can also use the smart phone for recording and filing audio scripts. Special applications, such as VeriCorder Audio Pro, facilitate journalists in the job. According to Neal Augenstein, a reporter at WTOP radio in Washington, D.C., who is using the programme, it records good quality audio, allows him to edit and move segments, including taking a sound bite and inserting it between his voiceovers, and then send the audio from his device to his newsroom. I found the programme very convenient thanks to its combined functions which helps the reporter produce a complete product. Those in the newsroom don’t have to spend much time on transcript or edit his/her piece of news.

Apple’s recent release of Iphone 6 and Iphone 6+ with many outstanding functions compared to the previous generation (Iphone5s), including 8MP rear camera in iPhone 6, has offerred Apple fans, including journalists more chances to create photo masterpieces, I believe. Together with Apple, other smartphone manufactures, like Samsung, Nokia, Sony have introduced various new smartphone models to the market, offering users a great number of choices.

The smartphone’s ever-present role as both a personal and professional device offers ample opportunity to practice. However, I don’t think smartphones in particular and mobile media in general can replace journalists. Smartphone in this case plays an important role to facilitate journalists in their job, bringing information to audience in the earliest time. Journalists still hold a key role./.


1. Snowden, C. (2012). “As It Happens: Mobile communications technology, journalism, and breaking news,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. P. 120-134.

2. Goggin, G. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge. Chapter 8, 143-161

Are tweets always reliable?

Twitter, an online social networking website and microblogging service, allows users to post and read text-based messages of 140 characters, known as “tweets”. It is true that these days, Twitter not only plays as a social medium, but also a source of news.

As Twitter is becoming more popular among public community, Twitter users not only shares news headlines, but also act as citizen journalists to report news. Sources of news from Twitter can come from news agencies, governmental offices and the public themselves (Shariff et al, 2014). Thus, a question is whether we can trust Tweets.

Early this year, as the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, MH 370,
was on the way, social-media users spread false rumors including reports saying the craft made a safe landing. One Twitter user posted that he had “some inside news from a pilot uncle that #MH370 has emergency landed somewhere in China! Hope everyone is safe.” (Peption, 2014).

The rumor immediately spread widely through Malaysian media outlets. After that, it was confirmed false by Malaysia Airlines and the Chinese government.


Search for the missing plane is still underway (Image source: 

Similarly, one user with his Twitter account @ComfortablySmug spread lies about Hurricane Sandy which actually killed at least 117 people in the US in 2012. False news reports and doctored photographs were posted, including one saying that the New York Stock Exchange was under three feet of water.

One of several false reports posted by Twitter user @ComfortablySmug
One of several false reports posted by Twitter user @ComfortablySmug

These examples are not enough to affirm that information posted on Twitter , in particular, and social network sites, in general, is unreliable, however, it raises a question of information credibility.

Credibility is a characteristic of information sources. The online Merriam-webster dictionary defines credibility as “the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest.” Since anyone can post information on a website, the possibility of unchecked information creates the possibility of inaccurate or misleading information. What’s more, news outlets often want to be the first to break a story and this can lead to mistakes being made when sharing or retweeting the information. According to Craig Silverman, an award-winning journalist and the founder of Regret the Error, “inaccurate information will be retweeted more than any subsequent correction.”

From the journalism perspective, it is crucial for journalists to judge the credibility of information posted on Twitter that looks useful as when information appears on social media, it’s tempting for news organizations to race to report it first.

Credibility assessment can act as filter of inaccuracies, while providing the content that users find most believable (Flanagin & Metzger, 2000). So how do we assess information credibility? In a research by Castillo C. et al, 2011, discovered that “newsworthy topics tend to include URL and have deep propagation tree” and “credible news are propagated through authors that have previously written a large number of messages, originate at a single or a few users in the network, and have many reposts.”

It’s true that fact-checking is very important for journalists when reporting news. From my experience, when dealing with available information from “public domain” to reproduce news, it is essential to check whether the source is reliable, whether there is byline and links, etc. If there are any doubts, I can make phone calls for double-check.

Silverman and Mandy Jenkins, social news editor for the Huffington Post, in their “B.S. Detection for Journalists,” at the 2011 Online News Association Conference in Boston mentioned checking the credibility of the information as one of the steps to verify news on Twitter. According to them journalists should:

– Check earlier tweets or updates. Did they mention something about why they were on the scene? Is there anything leading up to their news tip that makes sense or puts things in context? Do they indicate plans, location, etc.?
– Ask do any follow up tweets or updates make sense in context?
– Ask does it read authentically? Misspellings, bad grammar, typos can also be a sign of a real person.
– Ask if there is an image attached, check to see if it has geolocation data or exif.” (Click here to see all the steps).

Hope that all of us will be wise readers to identify which tweets are reliable to share./.


Castillo, C, Mendoza, M and Poblate, B 2011, ‘Information credibility on Twitter’, WWW 2011, March 28-April 1, 2011, Hyderebad, India.

Flanagin, A J & Metzger, M J 2000, ‘Perception of Internet information credibility,’  Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly , Volume 77, Issue 3, p. 515-540.

Morris, R M, Counts, S, Hoff, A, Roseway, A & Schwarz, J 2012, ‘Tweeting is Believing? Understanding microblog credibility perceptions,’ CSCW 2012, February 11-15, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Shariff, S M, Zhang, M & Sanderson, M 2014 ‘User perception of Information credibility of news on Twitter’ in M. de Rijke, T. Kenter, A. P. de Vries, C. Zhai, F. de Jong, K. Radinsky and K. Hofmann (eds)  Advanced in Information Retrieval, Springer, pp 513-518.

Web-based information and young people’s reading habit

It is easy to see that young people’s reading habit is changing in parallel with the development of social media. Specifically, the availability and accessibility of web-based information make it more convenient than ever for young people to approach. That’s why, people, especially the young are keen on surfing Internet, skimming online information, reading e-books while neglecting the habit of reading printed publications.

In his research, Andrew Dillon, dean and professor in the School of Information, University of Texas, suggested the way people read online impacts their ability to comprehend texts on paper.

According to him, the amount of time someone spends reading Facebook posts and skimming web pages could impact one’s ability to read and comprehend longer texts on paper as they are spending so much time touching, pushing, linking, scrolling and jumping through text that, when sitting down with a novel, the daily habit of jumping, clicking, linking is just ingrained in them.



Research by Liu, Z (2005, p.700) found that “The screen-based reading behavior is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and reading more selective, while less time is spent on in-depth reading, and concentrated reading. Decreasing sustained attention is also noted. Annotated and highlighting while reading is a common activity in the printed environment. However, this “traditional” pattern has not yet migrated to the digital environment when people read electronic documents.”

Young people in my country are not staying outside the trend. In recent years, the practice of reading printed documents among young people is being challenged by the dominance of social media. It seems that to them updating friends’ status on Facebook, follow or retweet others’ tweets is much more interesting than turning a book from page to page to improve their knowledge.

Like other children of her age, my 15-year-old daughter got used to computers when she was at secondary school. During her summer holidays, she spends two to three hours per night to chek her Facebook notifications, update her status, comment or post new photos, download films, create videos, etc. I remember when I was at her age, I was very interested in reading newspapers and books, especially the ones specialized for young children. I often went to a library in my father’s office to read children stories, such as “The Thousand and One Nights”, “Uncle Tom’s House” “Alice in Wonderland” “Sans Famille” (Without Family), etc., in Vietnamese version. But my daughter seems to have little interests in these kinds of books. What she prefers now are mostly online, reading and writing shortexts, with increased use of animation and colors. If she reads books, they are often comic ones. Some may argue that it doesn’t go against the common trend of the world, however, it may erode young people’s habit of reading paper-based texts, as Prof. Dillon said in his research, reading in short bursts could have damaging effects on comprehension, especially for younger readers who have grown up in a digital age.

But the other side of the coin is that it is easier to look up things we do not know, allusions, symbols or myths, than it used to be thanks to online resources. What’s more, information from e-newspaper or social network sites is updated faster than in printed documents. Additionally, hyperlinks can navigate readers to the hypertexts they would like to explore more in a very convenient way, which helps saving readers’ time and even money.

Young people have the right to decide whether to read online or printed publications. However, I am sure that not only me but also many others are still keen on reading paper-based texts, considering it an effective way to improve focus and concentration, better wring skills, have stronger analytical thinking skills and so on.

In Vietnam, to promote people’s habit of reading, April 21 has been chosen the “Vietnam Book Day.” The first of its kind was held this year to contribute to promoting, encouraging the reading culture, that contributed to building a learning society./.


Liu, Z (2005), ‘Reading behavior in the digital environment’, Journal of Documentation, vol. 61 iss 6, pp.700-712.

Karim N S A & Hasan A (2007), ‘Reading habits and attitude in the digital age,’ The Electronic Library, vol 25, iss 3, pp.285-298.

Lenhart, A, Purcell, K, Smith, A & Zickuhr, K (2010), ‘Social media and young adults’, Pew Internet & American Life Project,

Social networking sites’ impacts on young people

Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become an indispensable part of people, especially young people, in modern life. Let’s see how these sites effect the young generation.

social media

Social network sites are defined as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse the list of connections and those made by other within the system” (Boyd & Ellison, 2008, p. 211). With their unique characteristic of “enabling users to articulate and make visible social networks” (Boyd & Ellison, 2008, p. 211), one of the benefits of the social network sites is socialization and communication. Joining social media is a way to help young people stay connected to each other even they are miles apart. It is also a way to strengthen relationship among the youth, helping them reconnect and keep up with their old friends.

These sites offer ideal spaces for young people to speak out their ideas and exchange information in virtual communities and networks. In other words, they feel free to raise their voice, share their stories and get their opinions. Teenager Samantha Goodyear once wrote in her blog that “I used my Facebook as a platform to let my friends know my opinion of it all.” She added “Social media platforms like Twitter have given me and so many teenagers a lot of power.”

Added to this, social network sites open the world up to the young people, making it a smaller space than it has ever been before. When it comes to social network, everyone is equal, regardless of location. Thanks to this, young people have chance to widen their relations by making friends with people from all over the world. Social network sites bring them closer together.

Despite benefiting from the said-above usefulness brought by social media, users also face many risks. One of the risks which raises most concern is cyber bullying which mostly occurs on social media sites, such as Facebook. According to U.S. Legal Definitions, Cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them. On social network sites, people can post whatever they want even they are true or not. The rumours can spread widely and receive a huge number of comments. No matter how positive or negative the comments are, the devastation of these online attacks can leave deep mental scars, even worse, victims commit suicide.


Privacy invasion is another matter of concern for users of social network sites. Boyd and Ellison (2007, p.212) said “after joining a social network site, an individual is asked to fill out forms containing a series of questions. The profile is generated using the answers to these questions, which typically include descriptors such as age, location, interests and an “about me” section. Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo.” However, facts have shown that users’ profiles or things they post are at risk of disclosure to third parties. Even worse, their accounts will be hacked by cyber crimes like identity theft and personal information will be used for wrong purposes.

It is also a waste of time if young people spend hours on visiting social network sites. While it is true that some of that time is likely spent in making and maintaining important business, social or professional connections, it is also true that it is easy to become distracted and end up spending valuable time on games, chats or other non-related activities.

In conclusion, social network sites, despite of its negative impacts on young people, as mentioned above, is still of their favour and the number of users of the sites, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+, keeps rising day by day. Our young generation, including my children and your children, is contributing to increasing the number. As parents, we should control and might act as wiser users to help them avoid the consequences caused by social media adverse side./.


Boyd, d. n Ellison, N (2007): Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship.