The transfer of power on Friday from Obama to Trump went fairly smoothly. Lots of smiles, handshakes and hugs.
The one bump you probably didn’t see was the transfer that took place online. On Twitter, to be specific.
I tend to shy away from political material in this column. I also avoid talk of politics on my social media posts, holding true to the advice I offer readers.
But a mistake such as the one that happened on Twitter on Friday requires a little unpacking, regardless of how political it appears on the surface.
The fact is it wasn’t political. Leave it to Twitter users to make it political.
In case you missed it, when Twitter transferred administrative power of Twitter accounts from Obama to Trump, several unsuspecting users started screaming, albeit in 140 characters or less.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that about 560,000 users were automatically transferred to the accounts now controlled by the Trump administration. This included the mother-of-all-world-leader-accounts, @POTUS.
@POTUS is the official Twitter handle of the president of the United States.
Twitter quickly corrected the transfer issues.
Dorsey noted in a tweet that users who followed Obama’s new account, @POTUS44, were automatically set to follow the @POTUS handle as well.
@jack: All: we investigated what happened here, and we made some mistakes (which have been corrected). Some context first.
Dorsey went on to say that the Obama administration had actually been working with Trump’s team on the best way to hand-off the accounts. In a way, the teams agreed that it was actually the “people” who owned the @POTUS account, not one individual.
As Dorsey put it:
@jack: Because @POTUS is an institutional account (not personal) they felt it only fair to transition accounts with followers intact, but 0 tweets.
The Trump @POTUS account has a little more than 14 million followers. By comparison, @POTUS44 has 14.6 million. Obama’s old @POTUS account is now nothing more than a collection of his posts as president, something akin to his presidential library of archived tweets.
If you go to @POTUS now, you’ll find only a few tweets, the first of which was posted on Friday at 2 p.m.
Dorsey went on to detail each step Twitter took to fix the transition problem:
@jack: 1. People who followed @POTUS44 (Obama Admin) after 12pET were mistakenly set to also follow @POTUS (Trump Admin)
@jack 2. Some people who unfollowed @POTUS in the past were mistakenly marked to now follow @POTUS
The switch also affected other official accounts such as @VP, @WhiteHouse, and @PressSec. Those who unfollowed those accounts in the past were mistakenly marked to now follow the new accounts.
Like any good leader, and in true Twitter fashion, Dorsey owned the mistake:
@jack: We believe we’ve corrected all accounts to reflect your follow/unfollow intent. We’re sorry for the mistakes made here, and thank you all.
Three-quarters of U.S. residents now own smartphones and nearly 90 percent are online, according to a report published last week by the Pew Research Center.
Smartphone adoption had the sharpest increase. The report shows 77 percent of Americans own smartphones, up from 35 percent in 2011.
Pew Research Center has chronicled this trend and others through more than 15 years of surveys on internet and technology use, according to report author, Aaron Smith.
It’s important to note the distinction in types of phones adopted. There’s a big difference in the terms “cellphone” and “smartphone.” Cellphones are mobile devices, but not all cellphones are “smart.”
According to the study, 95 percent of Americans report owning a cellphone of some type. One-hundred percent of the respondents in the 18-29 age group reported owning some type of cellphone.
The Pew study findings also showed a slight increase in home internet adoption in 2016. This followed a downward trend from 2013 to 2015, during which time home internet use dropped from 70 percent to 67 percent.
A drop of 3 percent may seem insignificant, and likely due to an increase in smartphone adoptions.
It’s a simple case of paying for the same thing twice. Look at it this way: if you have access to a super computer connected to a 4G network in the palm of your hand, do you need internet access at home?
Apparently some Americans still value their at home internet.
Or there could be another reason.
“Even as [internet] adoption has been on the rise, 12 percent of Americans say they are smartphone dependent when it comes to their online access,” Smith said. Smartphone dependents own a smartphone but don’t have home internet service.
“The share of Americans who are smartphone dependent has increased 4 percentage points since 2013,” Smith said. “Smartphone reliance is especially pronounced among young adults, nonwhites and those with relatively low household incomes.”
Those without high school diplomas are less likely than college grads to have internet access at home. Age, income, geographic location, race and ethnicity are all indicators of whether or not a home will have internet access.
“As of November 2016, [73 percent] of Americans indicate that they have broadband service at home,” Smith said. “But although [internet] adoption has increased to its highest level since the Center began tracking this topic in early 2000, not all Americans have shared in these gains.”
Accompanying the Pew report on connectivity is a new set of fact sheets focused on three primary research areas: internet, smartphones and social media. According to Smith, Pew plans to update the subject areas with new information as it’s collected.
The fact sheets are a “one-stop shop for anyone looking for information on key trends in digital technology,” Smith said.
Predictions are part educated guess, part soothsayer.
At the risk of shooting my credibility in the foot, I’ve never been very good at predicting anything.
Exhibit A: I once predicted that none of us would be driving our own cars in 2017. We’re still a few years from seeing that one play out.
It’s coming. I promise.
When I looked into my social media crystal ball at the beginning of 2016, I saw what the tech prophets saw: a move toward more video.
But not just any video. Streaming video.
Voila, 2016 was the year of video. From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Snapchat, everyone was getting into the streaming game. It was really more conjecture than seeing the future. We were already knee-deep in streaming our own content thanks, in part, to services like Periscope and Meerkat.
So while the prediction was accurate, it was akin to predicting snow for northeast Ohio in January.
There’s so much more to come with live streaming video in 2017. For example, in late 2016, Twitter introduced a 360-degree streaming service via Periscope. The ability to stream in 360-degree video capture is only available to select partners, but the service has great potential.
360 video is a chance for Twitter to avoid another “fail whale” of a year. That’s my weak attempt at saying Twitter had a lousy 2016. We used the term fail whale during the early years of Twitter when users overpowered their servers.
While Twitter is diving head first into streaming live sports with the NFL and now golf, the real growth will almost certainly be in their streaming services for users like you and me.
With this new technology, we can get a full picture of the streamer’s view. So, if the streamer is on a mountain top (with a strong 4G signal), we would get a complete view of the landscape. The best part: the viewer controls the view by simply tilting their mobile device or moving a cursor to a different part of the view.
Want to see 360 video? Check out the first-ever 360 degree video with Alex Pettitt at @Alexpettitt and Brandee Anthony at @Brandee_Anthony. Search for their “360 Sunset in Florida.” Pettit and Anthony provide great 360 video recordings, including a few from Pettitt at last week’s CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.
For more 360 videos, check out @ClemsonFB’s departure from their practice facility, a few days before the FBS Championship game, @Toyota’s introduction of their new concept car at CES, or chef @altonbrown in his test kitchen.
To find these and other 360 videos, search #Periscope360 on Twitter.
What’s up next in streaming media content? Your guess is as good as mine.
You can bet somebody’s working on something big for 2017.
Youngstown State University will play for the FCS championship this Saturday. I've worked at YSU for about 11 years and I'm a huge fan. Many students who have passed through my classes are also students, so I enjoy cheering them on. As a former student-athlete, I know the commitment many of them make to their studies and their teams.
Whether you’re headed to Frisco, Texas, for the game, watching it at Covelli Centre with other YSU fans, or watching at a sports bar or at home, you can watch it “together” with fans all over the world thanks to social media.
Sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Knowing the right social platforms, addresses and hashtags to use during the big game will be just as important as the content of your posts.
Case in point (and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this): Last year I posted a dozen tweets at a social media conference before I realized I was using the wrong hashtag.
It was an honest mistake. I inverted two letters. Ironically, I was tweeting out reactions to cool new social media skills. I don’t have a big ego, but I was really surprised no one was retweeting any of my posts. At the very least, someone should have been favoriting my witty one-liners.
And then I figured it out. It sounds silly, and maybe a little vain, but instead of connecting with other conference attendees, I was out on my own social media deserted island.
It was lonely.
Thanks to YSU’s sports information department, fans have a clear set of addresses and hashtags to use to connect with other fans.
“In athletics, we’re excited to use our social media platforms to give our fans information and images leading up to and at the title game,” said Trevor Parks, YSU’s sports information director.
YSU fans near and far are preparing for the big day, making travel plans, buying new clothes and memorabilia, planning parties.
Add “checking YSU’s social media platforms” to that list.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in our social media followers over the past month, and we hope to have a strong week to give them insight into the big game, our program, players, and coaches,” Parks added.
Parks also provided a rather comprehensive list of hashtags and platform addresses for following YSU.
For example, you can always use the tried-and-true hashtag #GoGuins (short for “Go Penguins”). Parks noted two more important hashtags:
I’m wondering how many YSU students will be using that last hashtag on the 22-hour bus ride to Texas.
On Twitter and Instagram, fans are encouraged to follow the @YSUsports and @YoungstownStFB and use those address when posting tweets and pictures.
Facebook users can like and follow pages for “Youngstown State Penguins” and “Youngstown State Football.”
Snapchat users should add ysusports.
Want to learn more about YSU’s opponent, James Madison University? Check out @JMUFootball on Twitter and follow them on Facebook at “JMU Football” and “JMU Sports.”
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.