Messaging, commenting, blogging, sharing and “liking” now fill up 22 percent of all time spent online each month, according to Nielsen, a market research firm. Nielsen published statistics on Tuesday saying that people spend one in every four and a half minutes of their online time on a social network or blog. The study says that this is the first time social networks or blogs are “visited by three-quarters of global consumers who go online.” This number has also increased 24 percent since the same time last year. In addition, Web users spent almost six hours during the month of April on social sites, versus 3 hours, 30 minutes during April of last year. The most popular social brands online are Facebook and YouTube. In Brazil, the list includes Orkut, a social networking site owned by Google. Last week, comScore reported that Web users were watching 13 billion videos on YouTube a month. Facebook also said that its users were watching 2 billion videos each month. According to the Nielsen report, Facebook managed to steal the show in terms of global time spent online. Its nearly half a billion users spend six hours a month there. Facebook also proved to be the most popular social site in Italy. Two-thirds of Italian Web users visit the site each month. Brazil seems to be the most socially connected country, with 86 percent of its Web users visiting a social network for an average of five hours a month. And Australians spend the most time on social sites, racking up an average of 7 hours 20 minutes in April
Australian police have been asked to investigate internet giant Google over possible breaches of telecommunications privacy laws, the attorney general said on Sunday. The investigation follows complaints from members of the public about activities of Google employees while taking photographs for Google Maps, the search engine’s maps page. The “Street View” service has recently come under fire in several countries. The company has said it inadvertently picked up personal data from some unencrypted wi-fi services over several years. Google said on Sunday it would cooperate with the Australia police investigation. The probe comes amid a wave of criticism worldwide over collection of personal information by internet giants, including Google and Facebook
The Australian prime minister has been following porn sites online – all because of an inadvertent setting on his Twitter account. In addition to having his wife, Therese Rein, as a supporter, he has been accidentally following several seedy sites. These include a porn blogger, an online adult superstore and a handcuffed bare-breasted woman, in addition to dozens of dodgy accounts.
A spokesman for Mr Rudd has since admitted an Twitter automated programme made the prime minister’s account auto-follow those who followed him. “While the Kevin PM Team try to monitor the follow backs, with more than 900,000 followers this is a very large task,” the spokesman said. Although it normally requires a Twitter account holder to view another person’s profile before following, an option allows this to be done automatically.
This can be helpful for people with large followings – Mr Rudd follows around 200,000 Twitter users through his KevinRuddPM account. Industry experts warn that users should be aware that social media networks such as Twitter do have potentially dangerous implications.
“There seems to be an attitude with new media like Twitter that anyone can just get on and have a go without a problem,” Young Media Australia vice president Elizabeth Handsley told the Herald Sun newspaper. “We need to understand the platform and know how it works before using it safely – this is an example of that,” she added.
According to the paper, other profiles followed by the premier include sex show webcams and a gay resort in Thailand’s Phuket region. Mr Rudd has been a keen user of social media and has used Twitter to reveal new policies and even the impending wedding of his son.
Australia is to announce new rules which will force tobacco companies to use plain packaging, reports say. Manufacturers will be required to drop all colour and branding logos from cigarette packets within two years. The move, which is being billed as a world-first, comes after recommendations were made by the World Health Organisation. PM Kevin Rudd, who is to hold elections this year, aims to cut smoking-related deaths to under 10 percent by 2018. The decision is expected to be confirmed by Australia’s Health Minister, Nicola Roxon. Smoking kills 15,000 Australians every year and is the largest preventable cause of disease and death in the country. The law will require all tobacco products to be sold in a standard colour and style with government health warnings by 2012. It follows regulations on tobacco advertising which have helped cut smoking significantly, from 30.5 percent of the population aged 14 and over in 1988 to 16.6 percent in 2007. An Australian think-tank has said that the rules amounted to compulsory acquisition of physical property and warned that it could result in expensive compensation claims.
Australia’s Nine Network said it will be the first terrestrial broadcaster in the world to offer 3D programing, as it announced plans Tuesday to film and broadcast the annual National Rugby League State of Origin series to viewers in 3D, beginning in May. With the first game in the three-match series kicking off May 26, Nine will be ahead of other broadcasters worldwide who are planning to offer matches from the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in June and July in 3D. The State of Origin rugby league series is one of the highest-rated telecasts in the country each year. All three games in this year’s series will be broadcast in 3D. Nine has been planning the telecasts for some months with the assistance of local electronic goods retailer Harvey Norman, the NRL and the federal government. The government is providing digital terrestrial spectrum on a trial basis for the broadcasts. TV manufacturers started bringing 3D capable digital TVs into the country this month, but it’s expected that audiences for the initial broadcasts will be mainly in cinemas, pubs and clubs.
The United States has raised concerns with Australia about the impact of a proposed Internet filter that would place restrictions on Web content, an official said Monday. The concerns of Australia’s most important security ally further undermine plans that would make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among the world’s democracies. Internet giants Google and Yahoo have condemned the proposal as a heavy-handed measure that could restrict access to legal information. The plan needs the support of Parliament to become law later this year. Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says the filter would block access to sites that include child pornography, sexual violence and detailed instructions in crime or drug use. The list of banned sites could be constantly updated based on public complaints. If adopted into law, the screening system would make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among the world’s democracies. Conroy declined to comment on the U.S. concerns. Some critics of Australia’s filter have said it puts the nation in the same censorship league as China
An Australian government proposal for a mandatory web filter has been criticised by key internet players Google and Yahoo as a heavy-handed measure that could restrict access to legal information. The government says the aim of the filter is to block access to sites with material that include child pornography, sexual violence and “detailed instruction in crime”. But advocates of free information are concerned that compulsory screening could eventually grow to bar other controversial but otherwise legal material. The statements from Google and Yahoo were among 174 submissions sent to the Australian Department of Communications as part of a public consultation exercise on the proposed filter. Stephen Conroy, the Australian communications minister, said the views would be considered before the final draft goes to parliament later this year. Conroy has previously said he wants the filter introduced to bring the online world in line with censorship standards applied in Australia to material such as films, books and DVDs. The Australian plan was criticised earlier this month by media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which said the proposed filter would hurt free speech. As a result RST placed Australia on its list of countries under surveillance in its annual “Internet Enemies” report on online freedoms.
Over half of Australian newspaper content is driven by PR, a new study in Australia has reported. During the course of six months, 40 students from University of Technology (UTS) Sydney worked with independent media site Crikey to monitor Australian news content in ten newspapers, seven of which are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Nearly 55 per cent of stories analysed in a five day period (more than 2203 articles) were instigated by public relations, Crikey reported. The worst performer was the Murdoch-owned tabloid, the Daily Telegraph: 70 per cent of stories were PR driven. The best of the ten papers was Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald with 42 per cent PR prompted stories for that week. The study, which requires a subscription to read in full, says that it defined journalism as PR driven “if it was instigated from a press release or some other form of promotional material; or if a story clearly presented only one, highly positive slant or framed one source in a promotional manner without including any independent verification or additional source”. It also reported that of 2203 articles, more than 24 per cent, “had no significant extra perspective, source or content added by reporters”. It’s not the first time the Australian press has come under fire for his PR-hungry news: Last October ABC’s Hungry Beast spread a story that Sydney is the most gullible city in Australia, according to the completely fabricated Levitt Institute
Australia Sunday defended its plan to block some Internet content, such as that featuring child sex abuse or advocating terrorism, after a media rights watchdog warned it may hurt free speech. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Friday listed Australia, along with South Korea, Turkey and Russia, as countries “under surveillance” in its “Internet Enemies” report. While Australia does not rank alongside Iran or North Korea in terms of censorship, its proposal to place a mandatory filter on the web to remove illegal and extreme material has raised concerns, RSF said. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants Internet service providers (ISPs) to filter the web to bring the online world in line with censorship standards applied in Australia to material such as films, books and DVDs. “The government does not support Refused Classification (RC) content being available on the Internet,” a spokeswoman for the minister told AFP. “This content includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act.” Under Australia’s existing classification rules, this material is not available in news publications or libraries, and cannot be viewed at the cinema or on television and is not available on Australian-hosted websites. “The government’s proposal will bring the treatment of overseas-hosted content into line by requiring ISPs to block overseas content that has been identified as being RC-rated,” she said. “There are no plans to block any other material that is not RC,” she added.
Hollywood studios lost a landmark copyright court case against an Australia internet provider on Thursday, when a court ruled iiNet could not be held responsible for unauthorised downloads of movies using its service. The suit against iiNet was filed by a group of the biggest Hollywood studios including Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney. The consortium had hoped to prove iiNet not only failed to take steps to stop illegal file-sharing by customers, but breached copyright itself by storing and transmitting the data through its system. Australia’s Federal Court in Sydney ruled it was impossible to hold iiNet responsible for users infringing copyright. iiNet told the court it was not required by law to act on allegations of copyright infringement, that customers were innocent until proven guilty in court, and that the case was like suing a power company for things people do with electricity. The Australian Digital Alliance, a coalition of libraries, universities, museums and galleries, said the ruling would benefit cultural institutions that make their collections available online and can be vulnerable to illegal downloads