Black Friday and Social Media

By Chloe Hodge

Black Friday is widely associated with standing in horribly long lines in the blistering cold waiting for a store to open at midnight. It is also known for aggressive shoppers and amazing deals.

This age-old tradition is typically the busiest shopping day of the year. However, the digital age has once again found a way to skip passed the dreaded door openings at midnight.

According to an article by Reuters, data indicates a decline in Black Friday sales compared to previous years.

As the digital age has progressed, the swarms of shoppers brawling over the last pair of shoes has decreased. There has been a shift in the way shoppers purchase their Black Friday merchandise. Online shopping was more prominent among shoppers this year. And it makes sense! There are limitless options online and amazing deals. Personally, I shop online for Black Friday to avoid bumping into people and long checkout lanes.

According to Reuters, $822 million were spent by U.S. shoppers though online sales between midnight and 11 a.m. ET. This method of shopping saw a 15 percent increase from last year’s Black Friday. This rate is expected to rise to nearly 20 percent next year.

So, how does social media play into all of this?


First, let’s start with Pinterest. Many of the people are shopping for holiday décor when they enter the local Target on Black Friday. Because Pinterest has thousands of DIY, or “Do It Yourself”, holiday projects, why would you want to spend the extra money? Pinterest enables holiday goers to create or re-pin decorations that would cost them dollars more at retailers. Many Pinterest users create their projects from items usually found at the house.

Twitter has also proved to be a valuable tool for Black Friday shoppers. Like never before, many brands and retailers used social media to campaign for their Black Friday specials. One of the most popular hashtags used last week was #OptOutside, a campaign inspired by R.E.I.’s decision to remain closed for Black Friday so employees could enjoy the outdoors with their families. Victoria’s Secret also utilize social media, requiring followers and users to retweet or social share to unlock online deals.

I am curious to see how Reuters’ Black Friday sales predications pan out next year.



Reuters Data

Facebook Check-In

Chloe Hodge

After the devastating attacks in Paris this week, Facebook utilized its safety feature which gives people on Facebook the opportunity to check-in with friends and loved ones. The check-in tells fellow friends that you are safe.

The “safety check” was implemented last year. When I first heard of the feature, I thought it was a terrific idea. According to CNN, more than 4 million people responded to the safety check within 24 hours of Facebook activating the tool. Because of the initial uncertainty and severity of the terror attacks, I think it was smart for Facebook to utilize the tool – especially since the violent incidents took place in France’s largest city. When reports of the attack surfaced, we were uncertain if the attack was lethal as a terror attack as 9/11 was. We had few details on the attack since the French media was asked to halt their reporting. This tool could quickly and easily notify families and friends that their loved one was okay.

However, many people criticized Facebook for using the safety feature for the Paris attacks when a day earlier another terrorist attack shook the city of Beirut, Lebanon. Mark Zuckerberg responded to the array of concerns and comments in a post on his Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg responds to critism regarding Facebook check-in
Mark Zuckerberg responds to critism regarding Facebook check-in

Facebook first intended this feature to be utilized for natural disasters. It was not until days ago that Facebook decided to utilize this feature for more “human” caused disasters. Prior to Facebook changing its policy, the check-in feature had been used five times- all for natural disasters.

Another Facebook executive, Vice President of Growth Alex Schultz, expanded on broadening the disaster check-in for acts of terrorism:

“There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris. We chose to activate Safety Check in Paris because we observed a lot of activity on Facebook as the events were unfolding.”

Because of trending terms and phrases associated with Paris, the attack went viral quicker than the attacks in Lebanon. It was easier for the social media network to enable it because of the impact it had on social media.


Mark Zuckerberg responds

Facebook enacts Safety Check-In for Parris Attacks

“Walking While Black” and Social Media

by Chloe Hodge

We live in a day-in-age where anything you like, post, or follow isn’t kept private. Any opinion you publish online is displayed for the world to see. For many, social media may become a platform for people to inspire others. That is what happened this past week to the journalism dean at the University of North Texas.

Dorothy Bland posted on Facebook pictures of two police officers in Corinth who pulled her over for walking on the wrong side of the road during her morning workout routine. Bland felt that she may have been a victim of racial profiling and wanted to share with some of her followers her perspective on the incident. Soon, she noticed that her Facebook post had become quite popular. It had seemingly grown viral overnight.

Dorothy Bland's encounter with Corinth police
Dorothy Bland’s encounter with Corinth police

If the viral post did not catch our attention, the opinion column in The Dallas Morning News may have opened our eyes. In her article, Bland describes her encounter with the two officers who pulled over to talk to her in her Corinth neighborhood. She shared her perspective on the incident and the aftermath. She shares what she believes is a snide remark made by one of the officers.

The column published by The Dallas Morning News also includes a video of the incident and a response Corinth Police Chief Debra Walthall.

The article has sparked debate about racial profiling. When the article was published on social media, the Internet went crazy. Many people commented on the post questioning the authenticity of Bland’s story. Many other users online spoke in support of Bland, saying that it was a harmless article because she classified the piece under the ‘Opinion’ column.

The story even caught the attention of former Dallas mayor, Ron Kirk. He criticized Bland for injecting race into an issue where it shouldn’t have been injected.

I followed the article for days on Twitter and Facebook and observed the relevance of social media. It allows for people to become engaged with one another and to become informed about relevant and important issues.

I wrote earlier in the semester how some revolts, such as the Arab Spring, utilized social media to organize events that further expanded their prominence. Engaging online users to discuss diversity issues may influence the way we interact with each other. In the midst of police brutality concerns, it will be interesting to see how social media influences diversity discussions.


Dallas Morning News

Mayor Responds

Using Social Media for Breaking News

Chloe Hodge

Breaking news has changed over time as social media has blossomed into a live report platform. Earlier in the semester, my newswriting professor taught us how to report breaking news using various social media platforms. He stressed how to break news over Twitter more than the other social media sites.

The first thing my professor mentioned to the class was to remember the first rule of Twitter: 140 characters or less. That is all the room you have to give the who, the what, the when, the where, and the why.


First, give an introduction about what you are reporting about. Always start off your live reporting on Twitter by saying what you hope to discover or accomplish.

The next thing my professor taught us was to give constant updates. If you are doing a “man on the street” type of story, give live updates informing the readers or followers where you are. For example:

From my Twitter Feed. How to  update viewers on stories.
From my Twitter Feed. How to update viewers on stories.

If it is possible, you should try to include the interviewees’ Twitter handles. This can help establish credibility and enhance your readership. You can ask for this information at the end of the interview. Always make sure that they are okay with you tagging their personal username onto your Twitter.

The last thing he mentioned to us was to publish our news feed for that particular story onto Storify and put that feed or link on your blog. This can make it easy for potential employers to see how well you engage the community with news through your own Twitter.

According to the Poynter Institute, you need to use Twitter for starting conversations. Poynter says too many journalist rely on their bios to gain followers. The institute encourages that journalists start conversation to increase readership and feedback. Every follower knows that there is a person behind the screen tweeting news reports out. They want to hear your favorite part of covering that story or what some of the obstacles for getting that story were.

The Pew Research website says that over half of social media users will share news and a little less than half will be discussing news events. If you engage your followers, you can enhance their overall experience.


Arrested by Social Media

By Chloe Hodge

Social media has made the world much smaller. This point proves to be evident time and time again. We reconnect with childhood friends that we haven’t seen in years. We are able to make connections with professionals in a variety of fields.

Social media is not only responsible for simplifying long-distance interaction in live time, it has also lead to happy endings. We are now living in an age where oversharing can put you behind bars. There are essentially two ways that publishing certain content may land you in jail. You could be a “dumb criminal”, meaning that you incriminate yourself.

My favorite example of someone selling themselves out is from a case that happened in Florida, leading to a man being awarded 142 felonies after police discovered his Instagram account. The account had numerous photos that showed the man posing with guns, cash, and illegal narcotics. When police investigated the man’s home, it was discovered that he was the ring leader in a string of robberies. Investigators confiscated stolen jewelry, weaponry, and other valuable items from his home. The robberies that the Florida man led targeted nursing homes and retirement communities.

Instagram photos lead to man receiving almost 150 felonies
Instagram photos lead to man receiving almost 150 felonies

Another way that social media may land you in jail is by having friends who will assist you in getting arrested. In 2013, a Hawaii man was arrested after a video posted to LiveLeak, a video-sharing website, showed what appeared to be him drinking alcohol while driving a car. In the video, the man turns to the camera and says, “We all know drinking and driving is against the law … But they didn’t say anything about driving then drinking”. The man claimed that there was actually no alcohol in the bottle and that the video should have been taken as merely satire.

As the world gets smaller as social media users grow, you must be careful about what you post online. It could cost you jail time!


Drinking and Driving

142 Felonies from Self-Incriminating Instagram Posts


Chloe Hodge

At the beginning of the semester, the class was instructed to follow a variety of subjects. We were told to follow a number of news entities, businesses, brands, and so on. Subsequently, my Twitter feed is submersed in an array of subjects from breaking news to advertisements to gossip.

I once refused to sign up for Twitter. Today, I view Twitter as a valuable education tool- if you use intend to use it that way. It is not a site that I log-on to merely to kill time. It has actually helped me succeed in some of my courses.

The organizational structure that Twitter offers is ideal for resources that hold value to one’s education. For example: Over the summer, I enrolled in a simulation course that examined the legislative process. We were encouraged to keep up with CSPAN and a number of political magazines and newspapers. On my Twitter, I followed many federal committees, such as the committees for Ways and Means, Financial Services, Education, etc. I learned so much by the tweets that these committees published on their official pages. I could better grasp some understanding and knowledge pertaining to current events and some issues that each particular committee dealt with.

Recently, I have learned about Tweetchats, which have blown my mind. I could imagine Tweetchats being extremely useful for businesses, classes, and online workshops. Being able to communicate in live time from people from various parts of the world is remarkable. These Twitter chats offer diversity in many topics. It helps spread ideas for many interests by mixing different cultures and backgrounds. I have already began dabbling in Tweetchats and have been able to connect with others in my degree field. I have been able to connect with people from all sorts of backgrounds. I still, however, share a common interest with these individuals.

Furthermore, Twitter offers a nifty educational tool through its hash tags. This allows for any school or classroom to discuss classroom or syllabus material, similar to what JOUR 4270 does every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. I certainly look forward to future Tweetchats and may continue to utilize them beyond this class.

Screenshot of Live Tweetchat from my Twitter
Screenshot of Live Tweetchat from my Twitter


The Role of Twitter in Citizen Journalism

Chloe Hodge

The world was introduced to Twitter as being a platform to ‘follow’ and interact with celebrities, organizations, politicians, and other public figures. That is what made Twitter so unique. It offered the opportunity to interface and communicate with high-profile people and groups or organizations, which is something that other social media outlets such as MySpace and Facebook failed to do.

Today, Twitter has blossomed into one of the most interactive media platforms. Then, the social media outlet was utilized for its ability to offer its users easy communication with public figures and organizations. As of 2013, there are approximately 241 million active users on Twitter.

From its beginning in early 2006, many important news stories have broke first on Twitter. The killing of Osama bin Laden is, perhaps, one of the more prominent cases where the news broke via Twitter. Sohaib Athar was up late enough on May 1, 2011 to unknowingly live-tweeting the raid and killing of the al-Qaeda founder.
Live feed of Osama bin Laden raid and killing. Tweets by Soahib Athar.

Approximately two years prior to the Osama bin Ladin killing, the news of a jet making an emergency landing on the Hudson River broke through similar tweeting. Janis Krums was on a rescue ferry to retrieve the passengers of U.S. Airways flight 1549 when he live-tweeted the rescue before it was published by any news agencies.

The impact that Twitter has had on breaking news has made it simpler for citizen journalism to thrive. Today, social media users continue to break local and national stories.

On August 26 of this year, Vester Lee Flanagan, the gunman involved in the WDBJ slaying of two reporters, not only live-tweeted the tragedy, but he used other forms of social media to post his point-of-view video of the shootings. Aside from the footage during the live newscast, Flanagan provided important information-such as his anger and apparent motivation for the killings- through Twitter in real time.

The role that Twitter has had on breaking news stories will remain substantial and continue to be an asset to news stories and citizen journalism.


Hudson River Jet Landing

Discovery Shooting and Twitter

WDBJ Shooting