Five things you should know about social media (but may not)

Is Facebook really tracking users across the Web? Can anyone sign up for Google+? Can you get kicked off Twitter for tweeting too much? This quick quiz will reveal how much you really know about social media.

Think you can separate fact from fiction in the wacky world of social media?

That depends on whether you believe Facebook will soon be charging for access, Twitter will boot you for tweeting too much, Google Plus is now open to the masses, and other bits of news that passed through the InterWebs this week.

Take this quick five question quiz and see how you do.

1. True or false: Facebook is about to start charging for “gold” access.


This old chestnut got dusted off and got sent across the Webbernets last week following Facebook’s announcements about its spiffy new Timeline interface. This rumor is as false now as it was when it first surfaced at least two years ago. Yet it’s amazing how many people swallowed that hook, line, and phisher (and by “people” I mean certain members of my family who shall remain nameless).

[img_assist|nid=208837|title=No Facebook is not charging for access. Next question?|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=498|height=146]

Image courtesy of Sophos’s Naked Security blog.

It makes no sense for Facebook to charge a monthly fee when it can make so much more money by keeping gazillions of users fat and happy clicking “like” and telling us what they’re watching, reading, and doing. Facebook’s business model is to scoop up all that information, wrap it up with a neat little bow, and then let advertisers use your recommendations to sell stuff to your friends.

Remember, the product Facebook is selling isn’t Facebook. The product Facebook is selling is you.

2. True or false: You can get booted off of Twitter for tweeting too much.


If only that were true. And yet today in my email there came this lovely little piece of spammishness:

Your twitter [account] was suspended for huge tweeting and following.

Following aggressive numbers of users and tweeting too much in an attempt to make attention to your own account can be irritating to other users and is a violation of the Twitter Rules.

Irritating? Most certainly. Against the rules? Sadly not. But a man can dream.

According to the spamlet, the way back into Twitter’s good graces is to sign up for a few dozen affiliate offers. Thanks, but we’ll pass.

3. True or false: Facebook cookies are following you across the InterWebs.


Facebook uses persistent cookies that remain active even after you’ve logged out – leading folks like writer/hacker Nik Cubrilovic to conclude that the social network is using cookies to track Facebook users across the Web. Facebook responded by saying that though these cookies persist, they’re used for other purposes – such as identifying when you log in from a different machine to protect against account hijacking – not tracking. Cubrilovic took another look and grudgingly agreed.

However, Facebook’s new Read, Watch, Listen social media apps will automatically alert your friends about what you’re doing on other Web sites that have these apps deployed – no clicking required. This kind of “frictionless sharing” feels like tracking, and it’s rubbing some people the wrong way.

4. True or false: If you want to sign up for Spotify, you have to use Facebook.


As part of that frictionless sharing that’s causing so much friction, Facebook announced it was integrating with Spotify, the amazingly popular music service that lets you listen to virtually any tune you want at any time.

The tradeoff? People who sign up for Spotify’s free listening service must have a Facebook account. (Existing Spotify users don’t have to be on Facebook.) The good news? You’re no longer required to share every song you play with your Facebook peeps. Bowing to pressure, Spotify has announced it will introduce a “private listening” mode that lets you rock out on your own without your friends eavesdropping.

5. True or false: Now anyone can get a Google+ account.


Earlier this month Google opened up its social media experiment to Joe and Jane Public – no invitation required. But as this was being written there was still one group that cannot sign up for Google’s massive social media experiment: The millions of loyal Google Apps users. (Technically, they could still sign up for G+, just not with their Google Apps account – which makes it kind of pointless.) The reason is that G+ requires its users to have a Google Profile, and g-Apps doesn’t support profiles – yet.

When will Google+ support the most die-hard Googlers? “Soon,” the G-folks say. Just not soon enough for some.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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