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Social media prefers tech to oil spill

Oil spill be darned! In the sphere of social media, we’re talking about privacy and Apple. Those are the latest findings from the Pew Excellence in Journalism’s New Media index for May 24-28, 2010. 
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Oil spill be darned! In the sphere of social media, we’re talking about privacy and Apple. Those are the latest findings from the Pew Excellence in Journalism’s New Media index for May 24-28, 2010. 

While mainstream press remained focused on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, bloggers concentrated on Facebook’s contentious privacy issues. The New Media Index shows that more than a third (37 percent) of news links posted on blogs concerned Facebook and its privacy policies.

Notably, Facebook launched its public relations offensive that final week of May, beginning with a Washington Post column by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, followed with a press conference in which Zuckerberg announced the site’s “simplified” privacy settings, and a meeting with House and Senate staff to discuss the changes. What’s more, May 31 was set to be “Quit Facebook Day.” Before the failed coup saw no significant changes to the site’s 400-million plus membership, everyone was still talking about it. 

Also popular on the blogosphere: That scientist in England who “infected” himself with a computer virus, implanting a compromised RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip in himself to make a point about “the potential dangers of new technology.” That story accounted for 17 percent of blog links.

The third most popular story on blogs concerned both politics and technology. Seven percent of blog links referred back to Dana Milbank’s Washington Post piece mocking the House Republicans Web site. Milbank, it turns out, is popular among bloggers. The New Media Index notes that this is the third time in four weeks that his column finished in the top five blog subjects.

Apple beat out Facebook as the topic of choice on Twitter, with 51 percent of links traded on the microblogging site focusing on the iCompany as it surpassed its longtime rival Microsoft as the world’s as the world’s most valuable technology company in terms of market capitalization. ( is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)

Of course iPad was (and is) still a hot topic on Twitter. Heralded as the savior of the flagging print industry, the touch tablet kicked up a lot of tweets when Wired magazine’s edition for the iPad went live May 26. The four other top stories paled in comparison to Twitter’s Apple chat.

Pixar Animation Studios with its “Toy Story 3” sequel made up 8 percent of the Twitter-link conversation. The New Media Index also found that, “a statement by Representative Darrell Issa, R-Calif. that allegations that the White House offered Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa. a job in order to get him to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary could be an impeachable offense was third at 5 percent.” Coverage regarding the series of suicides at the Foxconn technology-manufacturing company in China also accounted for 5 percent. And a profile on the company behind location-based social network Foursquare was fifth with 4 percent. 

The New Media Index’s findings for the final week of May were in keeping with the results of Pew’s 29-week study on new media released last week. That extended study revealed that blogs relied heavily on emotionally-charged stories on topics such as group rights and ideological passion. Twitter’s main focus leaned toward technology. And top content on YouTube often revolved around the most visual offerings.

To illustrate, here’s a rundown of YouTube’s top five videos for May 24-28:

  1. A one-minute video by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer that uses a puppet to ridicule those who have not read the state's immigration law.
  2. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. congressional speech about immigration in response to comments made by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
  3. A video about Google's commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the video game Pac-Man.
  4. Footage from Russia Today of a bridge shaking violently in the city of Volgograd due to heavy winds.
  5. Matador Julio Aparicio being gored during a recent bullfight in Spain.