Two New Online Tools You Must Use to Combat Hoax

THERE is nothing I hate most nowadays but hoax. Fake news is so prevalent on social media that I recently deleted my Facebook personal account [though I am occasionally still on it for the sake of this blog’s presence].  I swear I never consume content through social media ever again. At least until the political situation is cooling down, which means after the next year’s Indonesian presidential election is over.

Good news is here now!

Two online weapons are already invented to eradicate fake news on the web.  By means of these tools, everyone can discover who initially spread the fake news in their circles. That way, we will easily find out who must be held responsible for any misinformation and later on blacklist these allegedly reckless and irresponsible accounts. So let’s check them out.

Once you enter the Twitter handle in the box at Hoaxy, you can see the analysis of a Twitter account [to find out if it’s a bot or not], its followers, and friends.

HOAXY

To find any culprits of fake news on Twitterverse, you can rely on Hoaxy. The open source tool presents you visualization of how online content gets spread and trackskinks published by two types of websites; i.e. low-credibility news outlets and independent fact-checking organizations. It can also detect bots or automated accounts. Hoaxy welcomes any feedbacks to improve their accuracy.

You can see the result of my own Twitter account in the above screen capture. And interestingly I can also detect all of my followers to know whether they are inclined to be bots or real accounts. Real accounts have lower scores [lower or around 1]; whereas, bots or automated accounts have higher scores [apporachig 5]. Twitter accounts with scores between 1-4 are allegedly using automation tools in some various extents regardless of the possibility if they are real people or bots.

Botometer is qite tricky to use if you are an occasional internet user because it is more technical and the interface is a bit more dull and rigid.

BOTOMETER

The next is Botometer. It assesses the degree of likelihood that an account on Twitter is in fact a bot. The higher the score gets, the higher as well the likelihood of being a bot is. To find bots around us is important because it helps to detect hoax. Hoax or fake news is usually spread by bots or automated accounts to give an impression that it is widely talked about by many people while in fact it is not at all. Botometer also serves us visualizations of scores.

Takeaway:

I definitely recommend using these online tools to stay sane in the Twitterverse amid these political events. But I do hope in the near future it is possible to use the tools  on Facebook and any other social media sites. For the time being, both have shown quite satisfactory  and reliable performance actually. (*/)

Sayonara, Facebook and Twitter! Welcome, Sebangsa!

I remember writing about Sebangsa four years ago [read on: New Indonesian-Flavored Social Media Sebangsa.com Tries to Gain Traction]. It was a new service still and not many people knew its existence. Sebangsa was later on supported by ATSI (Asosiasi Penyelenggara Telekomunikasi Seluruh Indonesia/ Indonesia’s National Telecommunication Service Providers Association), which enables it to survive to its very second.

In 2014, the service launched after Enda Nasution and Indira B. Widjonarko made it. It was far from popularity. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were still widely used. In terms of functions, it had a lot in common with the first two social media services aforementioned. It presented a timeline with multimedia content.

One thing the service has tried to facilitate is the spirit of ‘gotong royong’ or communal solidarity. It accomodated Indonesian migrant workers so its content was uniquely ‘Indonesia’. Group is its best feature. Linguistically, it was also designed to provide more ease of communication among Indonesians. So you’ll find bahasa gaul or Indonesian slang there.

Fast forward four years later, I still know Sebangsa but I am hardly on it. I have been too engrossed with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And thank God, it still exists.

After the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook shameful scandal, I came back to it once again. I gained my access to my already existing Sebangsa account (which is by now 4 years old). As of today I start to be on it more especially after I deleted my Facebook and Twitter private account.

The app cofounder Enda said [as cited by maxmanroe.com] that their strategy was never about getting head-to-head against the giants [read: Facebook and Twitter]. “We are here not to drag netizens out of Twitter or Facebook. It doesn’t matter if they are still on both social media services as our features are different from theirs.”

But if I had been Enda, I would have been more assertive in stating my ambition and proactively acquiring more users in the Indonesian market. Especially in the time of Indonesian public disgust over the scandal involving Facebook. We Indonesians now know more that trusting our data to foreign entities costs us a lot more than mere privacy leak and damage of trust.

It costs us our sovereignty and freedom to determine our own fate [through supposedly intervention-free democracy processes].

Now I know the reason why Facebook and Twitter are strictly banned in China and the country only approves of local social media networks.

If there is a perfect time for Indonesia to reclaim its digital sovereignty in this 21st century [read on: The Indonesian Government Threatens to Ban Facebook in Indonesia] then NOW IS THE TIME FOR SEBANGSA TO SHOW UP.

Leaving Facebook and using Sebangsa sounds more feasible to me because I hate to say that I hate it when people say proudly:”Indonesia is one the biggest Facebook users number in the world.” Indonesians should not feel proud of it because it shows the nation dependency on another nation’s products. And to me, that is a flaw to fix, instead of an achievement to show off. (*/)

My Life After Leaving Facebook

Odd at first, natural later on. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It is so weird to hear a friend mentioned folks on Facebook have been in abuzz about the next general election last night. She seemed to have no idea about my opting out of Facebook. Which is of course understandable because I never want to announce it. I just quit. Just like that.

Why?

My first and foremost reason to leave or use Facebook significantly less than before is because I have no time to keep my wall updated. And every time I am on Facebook, what I see is MOSTLY DIGITAL TRASH. These are things I do not need to digest, things that are totally useless for the betterment of my life and career and everything.  I just killed time by getting on Facebook.

I have deactiveated my Facebook private account surely but I have to admit I still keep a separate account.

Again, why?

Well, before you accuse me of being untrustworthy and unreliable with my statement and view on Facebook, let me tell you I am an administrator of a community which requires me to be on Facebook. This is the last reason why I am once in a week log in Facebook and update the feed.

I have no reason to stop.

And then it came to think of it: why not delegating the task?

And then came another excuse. I have a blog. This very blog. It has a following on Facebook page I founded years ago. As silly as it may seem, I must say Facebook is quite useful to encourage people to visit my blog. Because again Instagram does not allow me to post clickable URLs on my captions. Which sucks a lot. But I really turn to Instagram right now simply because I see much less political content there. It’s mostly about yoga and health and no political views shown liberally by its users and my friends.

I have been on LinkedIn more often lately but it is too silly to post every and each blog post I just publish on my profile because not every piece is related to work. Some are very casual by nature. Far from serious topics and definitely written for sheer fun. Because writing to me is a way to destress as well.

So by ‘leaving Facebook’, I mean I am no longer updating my personal feed ever again. And I do not have any urge to do so. I have much less energy to rant on my Facebook. It is still an awesome platform for sure but it is over for me now. It is no longer cool. It is no longer awesome as it was in 2009 when the first time I logged in and told the world I had my own stances in every thing there is.

But then again, for professional and social purposes I may still be using it. I still want to reach people with Facebook simply because most of them are on it.

It is not about the glamorous side of getting social. It is just the norm. It is a task to accomplish. It is an assignment to be done. Not more. Not less. (*/)

 

How to Be an Influencer Without Being Fake

Many millenials are tempted to gain benefits from online fame. And that costs them more than they can imagine. (Wikimedia)

IT APPEARS EXTREMELY cool to be an influencer. You’re looked upon by almost everyone around you though you know deep down inside you’re just an ordinary person. You know what’s best in you and some people give acknowledgment for that. It gives you a boost in self confidence and life seems so much easier when you’re more known and thus respected by others.

I have some friends in the yoga world who I think deserve this title. They’re well-known in a certain circle. They may not be as famous as actors or worldwide entertainers. But still, they have their own audience. And if this audience is loyal and a given influencer can sustainably build warm  and sincere ties with them, it’s not impossible for the influencer to live a more established life in general instead of enjoying a brief taste of stardom and poof! Gone with the wind.

This very morning I read a concise story of an Instagram celebrity  told on Twitter by some account whose identity is anonymous but responded to warmly by its followers because it sounds so true and real. I felt so intrigued after that to write down a perspective of mine on this highly controversial subject.

Being a selebgram (a term they use to refer to a person with an online fame especially on Instagram), a 27-year-old good-looking young man with a decent, middle-class family background. I know it sounds too surreal like a soap opera plot that the young man – let’s call him Nick – turned from a modest young man living in a small town to an idol with a huge Instagram following. Essentially, he struggled so hard to climb up the social ‘Everest’ called Jakarta.  The path he took led him to a life he never thought of living. As a high-school graduate who failed to secure a high-paying job, he made a totally wrong choice by putting off his college. He at last graduated at 26 but that was kind of late for a fresh graduate to apply most jobs offered. As a consequence, he was trapped in debts yet still never hesitated to maintain the jetset lifestyle. He knew he wouldn’t succeed in conquering the demand of such  lifestyle so he used any tactics to survive. He finally ended up being a gigolo. He sold himself to a ‘sugar daddy’ (some call this kind of elder men ‘gadun‘). He then managed to stay afloat and funded his super expensive lifestyle as an online celebrity. But the next problem was he lost this sugar daddy to a close friend. And that meant he also lost his last financial support. At the end, his Instagram account was suddenly deleted.

A fake never succeeds…

Though a fake person who fail can still look as wise, successful and glamorous as really successful people, in actuality they may be as miserable as or even more pathetic as ordinary people without fame.

So what to do if we still want to be an influencer with fame and financial stability?

Build reputation organically

Put our best self out there and introduce ourselves to as many people as possible. Make them know what we do and what our true passions are.

This takes a great deal of time. This could be years or even longer. But that’s worth the wait.

Why?

Imagine a tree growing so slowly. That means its root also reaches more deeply into the soil. In time of storm, this proves helpful to wither any blowing wind coming. The tree won’t tumble too easily. Thanks to the deeply-penetrating root down there.

The same thing applies to online reputation. The virtual world allows us to be famous overnight but the thing is such instant fame doesn’t last forever and it is mostly about negativity (people tend to rave more about bad news than good news). It fades away eventually. Some very rapidly; some others gradually. There has much to be done to maintain this level of reputation.

Make use of our best talents and skills

Expenses for making our image up are not necessary if we already know our best strengths beforehand. That way, it’s easier for us to find focus in creating content and selecting a suitable niche. If we know our best talent is cooking, find a way to cook dishes or cakes that require ingredients that cost within our budget or, even better,  ingredients that any other parties would love to supply for free or at lower prices. This way, we can avoid unnecessary expenses and thus make more money in the process.

Devise a sustainable business model

Fame is the best asset but though it’s very invaluable, it’s also very easy to vanish and temporary by nature. One may become very famous one day and soon forgotten so easily once another star is discovered or after the public is fed up.

That said, it’s advisable that an influencer set up a proper business model. It’s a design for the successful operation of a business, identifying revenue sources, customer base, products, and details of financing. Earning money as an influencer looks effortless but actually it is not. One needs to compete against any other fellow influencers. This is necessary if one wants to make a stable living from being an influencer on social media. An influencer is a content producer and to produce great quality content s/he needs a sum of money. Along with money, it also takes expertise and creativity that never drains.

Dare to be yourselves

We might not give it a thought from the very beginning but are we ready to allow us to be ourselves later on? This is not an easy question to answer. Decide how much of ourselves can be exposed throughout our career as an influencer. Would we reveal almost everything of our private details to the rest of the world or would we retain most of privacy and only give out most profesionally relevant parts of our personal life to audience?

Build network and be humble

Once we rise to peak of stardom, it won’t hurt to stay down-to-earth along the way. Bear in our mind that to stay on top forever is impossible and it’s only made possible if we have a tightly-knit network and friendship. People with unfit personalities will soon meet their fall from top. That’s the universal law that applies also in the influencer world. (*/)

Where to Go when You Start to Get Sick of Social Media

After the world goes hyper connected, now some people around the world is imagining a less connected, smaller world. Globalization is overrated suddenly and we’ve all heard the advice and plea to go local (I’m not discussing about foods anyway).

Admit it, we know we’re getting tired and sick of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

Me too.

I notice I’ve been recently spending less time on those three huge social media services and more or less, feel similarly concerned with all the developments. It hit me especially days ago when I saw a friend lost his job at a media company after lashing out his insult (or tweets he considered as “criticism”) on Twitter.

It got me thinking, “That could’ve happened to me, too!” I cringe.

Social media and the web suddenly turned into a jungle where social niceties are no longer part of norm. Everything is so wild, blatant, shameless, gross.

Unberable, indeed.

So I’ve had enough of it all. The bickering, the twitwar (wars in Twitter), the derogatory updates on Facebook, the degrading remarks on someone else’s behaviors and the tendency of cowardly virtual vigilante justice by netizens (web users as well as abusers). Those go beyond my ken.

To solve that gruelling pain of an increasingly digital world society, some niche online communities and narrower social media services which offer greater privacy level and convenience of sharing sensitive stuff appear and begin to attract the attention of wider audiences around the globe.

Let’s take Patreon, TinyLetter, Finstagram (still sound so mainstream though), Amino as examples. As reported Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Verge wrote last year, Americans feel the urge to avoid being on mainstream social media sites like Facebook (Instagram and WhatsApp are also owned by Facebook, so the three are basically a single entity) and Twitter.  People’s resentment towards these two is higher than the one of other big tech companies COMBINED (e.g. Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon).

I myself have turned to some old ways of connecting with people to get my messages across. These are:

BLOGGING

I know some social media thought leaders who used to be avid bloggers around me. Their then-popular blogs are now left forlorn and deserted like an old dog kept on the corner of the house where a small cage is shoved and ill-kept.

Yes, social media is partly the culprit of their reluctance to write in longer forms ever again. There I say it!

EMAILING

A friend was surprised to see me say hello one day via email. What’s wrong with emails? “You usually contact me on Facebook,” he explained his surprise. I laughed, not so out loud though.

To him, I liked the privacy email offers as a medium of our conversation. No one else – well perhaps God, some ‘big brothers’ – knows our chat. And it feels good because I can make a joke especially made for him without being afraid anyone else is annoyed or offended. As an intoverted communicator, I feel protected and safe.

KEEPING A DIGITAL DIARY

After my physical personal journal getting read, I resolved that there is no place is safer than a private digital diary no one has an access to. This is where I can blurt out everything including words I cannot publish on the ‘open jungle’ called internet. Just make sure you have a really really string password, and you’re good to go with your anger, irk, disappointment, without feeling remorse after posting it. This is done by setting up a free blog on any platform like WordPress or Blogger and then set the privacy as “closed” or “private”. Don’t let the search engines crawl it. And definitely don’t tell anyone what the URL is (but even they know they cannot access, unless you are willing to). (*/)

Internet, Penulis dan Jurnalis

14708085_10209054307732232_3047029084795165360_o
Empat pembicara Eko Endarmoko, Arif Zulkifli, Mardiyah Chamim dan Leila S. Chudori (dari kiri ke kanan) tampil di panggung Festival Menulis Sabtu (22/10/2016) di Gedung Tempo, Palmerah Barat, Jakarta. (foto: dok pribadi)

Bagaimana revolusi internet membantu para penulis dan jurnalis?

Internet kerap dituding menjadi biang keladi kemunduran dunia kepenulisan. Saya paham alasan di balik caci maki itu karena pengarang sekelas J. K. Rowling saja harus rela karyanya diunduh gratis di forum-forum dunia maya beberapa saat setelah peluncuran bukunya. Dan untuk memahami kemunduran dunia kepenulisan global, kita baru-baru ini dihentak dengan kabar bahwa seorang penyanyi dan penulis lagu gaek saja bisa diangkat menjadi penerima nobel sastra tahun ini. Sungguh menohok!

Kenapa ini bisa terjadi? Karena regenerasi yang lambat mungkin. Itu teori saya. Dan internet memang ada andil di sini. Pasalnya, internet membuai muda-mudi untuk ‘bermasturbasi’ secara intelektual dengan gaya penyampaian pikiran dan emosi yang cekak dan lebih cepat direspon. Kenapa harus pusing membuat novel ratusan halaman dan belum tentu juga disukai orang dan menghasilkan uang kalau menulis status atau cuitan atau cuap-cuap di video saja sudah bisa memuaskan hasrat berbagi dan menghasilkan ketenaran dan penghasilan?

Tapi jurnalis sekaligus novelis Leila S. Chudori menampik tuduhan bahwa internet momok bagi penulis. Justru jika kita mencermati, internet membantu penulis dalam banyak hal. Salah satunya dalam hal memasarkan buku kepada peminatnya. “Dunia digital sangat membantu dalam sisi marketing,” tandas novelis cum jurnalis tersebut.

Sebelum era internet, setelah peluncuran buku, ya sudah, tidak ada respon atau perbincangan lagi dari masyarakat pembaca. “Belum ada masukan langsung dari pembaca,” kenang Leila soal sensasi meluncurkan buku di zaman mudanya. Buku-buku Leila yang diterbitkan di era prainternet biasanya lama mendapatkan masukan dan tanggapan.

Ia mengakui pers juga turut menyebarkan kabar peluncuran bukunya. Tapi Leila menggarisbawahi bahwa dirinya sebagai pengarang tidak bisa memastikan bahwa karyanya diterima baik di masyarakat pembaca atau tidak.

Di zaman digital ini, perbincangan tentang buku bahkan sudah mulai sebelum buku yang dimaksud dijual secara bebas. “Keterlibatan pembaca mulai ada di sini, bahkan hingga urusan memilih sampul (cover) untuk buku yang akan diterbitkan,” tuturnya tadi siang (22/10) di ajang “Festival Menulis” yang digelar oleh Tempo Institute, Jakarta.

Leila menyoroti fenomena menjamurnya klub buku di dunia maya seperti Goodreads.com. “Dulu klub pecinta buku itu eksklusif, seperti pertemuan arisan. Tapi sekarang klub buku bermunculan di internet, dan semua orang kalau mau bisa masuk dan ikut membahas buku,” terang perempuan yang menjadi salah satu nara sumber di festival tersebut, selain pimpinan redaksi Tempo Arif Zulkifli, direktur Tempo Institute Mardiyah Chamim, dan penulis thesaurus bahasa Indonesia Eko Endarmoko.

Saya sepakat saat Leila mengatakan pangsa pasar buku fisik di tanah air belum sepenuhnya terlibas oleh produk e-book atau buku elektronik. Kenapa? Karena pembaca Indonesia umumnya masih menyukai buku yang bentuknya bisa dipegang. Kalau menurut saya, buku fisik lebih sesuai untuk Indonesia karena di negeri yang masih rendah minat bacanya itu, buku fisik memudahkan kita untuk menyebarkannya ke mana saja di seluruh pelosok negeri ini tak peduli ada sambungan internet atau tidak, ada toko gawai atau tidak di sana. Tapi e-book? Lain sama sekali. Konsumsi e-book tergantung pasokan listrik, kestabilan koneksi internet, ketersediaan gawai yang sesuai dan banyak faktor lain.

Sementara itu, pengaruh revolusi internet pada dunia pers cetak menurut Arif Zulkifli sudah sangat terasa. Buktinya Tempo sudah menempuh strategi khusus dalam memasarkan produk digital mereka. Ia menjelaskan bahwa saat majalah Tempo versi cetak dijual mulai hari Senin, majalah yang sama dalam versi digital sudah bisa didapatkan hari Sabtu pekan sebelumnya. “Saya sering menggoda pembaca di Twitter pada hari Sabtu, karena hanya mereka yang membaca versi digital yang bisa ikut berdiskusi,” ujar Arif menyingkap taktiknya agar pembaca Tempo mau bermigrasi ke layanan berlangganan digital.

Arif yakin bahwa pertumbuhan pelanggan cetak akan melandai dan pertumbuhan pelanggan digital akan mendaki terus hingga keduanya akan bertemu di satu titik. “Di titik itu, saya kira kita bisa menjual versi cetak Tempo 500 ribu per eksemplar. Kenapa? Karena kita bisa buat eksklusif sehingga hanya orang kaya yang hanya bisa membeli majalah Tempo cetak,” terang Arif. Sementara itu, para pembaca proletar seperti saya dan Anda akan didesak untuk mengunduh saja versi digitalnya karena harganya jauh lebih murah. Arif mengatakan diskonnya bisa sampai 50 persen bahkan. Penjelasannya memang masuk akal karena memproduksi majalah cetak sangat boros biaya. Ia menjelaskan kewajiban membayar agen, biaya pembelian kertas, tinta dan sebagainya. “Digital menolong kita dalam banyak hal,” kata Arif.

Arif juga yakin bahwa Tempo bisa bertahan di era transisi cetak menuju digital karena memiliki keunggulan konten yang khas: long form. Produk jurnalistik long form yang makin langka itu bisa disajikan dalam bentuk digital juga, tegas pria yang tidak setuju jika dikatakan konten media digital itu dangkal. Dalam hal ini saya sepakat karena masalah cetak atau digital cuma perkara medium atau alat saja. Tidak usah terlalu dipusingkan perbedaannya sebab konten apapun jika memang menarik akan selalu didatangi pembaca. “Orang sudah mulai kembali ke long form,” Arif berujar. Cukup masuk akal karena siapa yang tidak muak dengan berita-berita penuh tipu daya di dunia maya dari berbagai situs berita ‘abu-abu’ yang menjadi corong kepentingan segerombol cecunguk yang haus kekuasaan dan kekayaan.

Keunggulan itulah yang tecermin dalam semboyan Tempo: “Story behind news” (cerita di balik berita). Itu karena (majalah) Tempo sadar mereka tidak bisa terbit saban hari atau memutakhirkan perkembangan sebuah kasus segesit media daring dan televisi. “Kami sadar kami akan kalah dalam hal kecepatan jadi kami fokus ke cerita-cerita di balik berita-berita yang Anda semua konsumsi di dot com dan televisi.”

Perihal revolusi internet, Mardiyah menambahkan bahwa dari sudut edukasi kepenulisan, tersedianya ruang berkreasi yang tanpa batas di internet menjadi sebuah peluang besar yang tidak bisa dilewatkan. Ia menyinggung soal maraknya kabar bohong (hoax) di dunia maya. Di sinilah masyarakat makin membutuhkan orang-orang yang memiliki keterampilan menulis yang memadai untuk mengemas gagasan dan pemikiran secara runtut dan logis serta kritis — tidak sembrono apalagi menyajikan kebohongan atau menyembunyikan fakta yang dirasa tidak menguntungkan — agar bisa dinikmati khalayak yang lebih luas.

Possible, Living without WhatsApp

What was cool becomes uncool and sickening. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Someone asked on Quora:”What does it feel like to delete your WhatsApp account?” Some people mentioned about the inefficiency of living a life in a modern, digital world of the 21st century. But some others lauded the option of living without the chat application as their lives seem to be back to normalcy. They have lived without it and claimed there was nothing wrong about getting rid of WhatsApp.

Whatever. In addition to my security concern that I have learned long time ago (read on: “WhatsApp Flaw Leaves Users Open to Spying) , this is my own experience.

Well, I haven’t gone that far to be frank. I only uninstalled the application on my smartphone. And it was at first not because I hated the application but because of the insufficient storage capacity on my smartphone. To note, I used to have an iPhone 4S with 16GB capacity but now that I lost it somewhere on the road, I had to resort to an Android one with storage capacity half of the iPhone. Poor me, I know. But the screen is more satisfying. I got another extra inch of screen to type and swipe on. Such a relief.

The limited capacity is actually a blessing in disguise. I really had to select applications that really really really mater. Ones that I need most. A friend told me to download and use Sebangsa app, an Indonesian social media with the same functions of Facebook added with some Indonesian flavors. But with all the limitations, I don’t think I can manage the time for the app. Sorry.

Aside from the less spacious memory of my smartphone, I also noticed recently that I got restless when I saw a notification from the application. It used to be a great and meaningful way to connect actually but once too many people are on it, I saw more and more people form groups of WhatsApp. What was cool back then now gradually look sickening and obnoxious.

On WhatsApp, I suddenly came to a realization that all the interactions are somewhat unnecessary and inessential. “What is it all about?” I mumbled to myself when one night I was trapped in a war of words with a bunch of pals in a group. They should’ve been kinder than this. But on WhatsApp, what I saw was their vanity. I too saw my own ugliness. As I read again my sentences, I realized I was a horrible chatter. I gave an impression of an arrogant, self-centered man. And it all came down from an uncontrollable exchange of arguments and jokes and trivial stuff that consumed too much time and energy.

On the family WhatsApp groups, a new day always started with an upload of photos or icons. And the next hour, I shall read one or two articles copied and pasted so liberally from whatever sources. The content was like a stone thrown into a pond, causing ripples and stirs. Suddenly more responses were given by participants. Some stayed silent. And then a joke was hurled into the arena, and more notifications popped.

Now I have had enough. This is INSANITY that I had to stop!

I also deleted my Path application, reasoning I have no time to manage the account. I have come to a resolution. WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Line are enough for me.

Why WordPress? Because the application serves as a mobile blogging tool for a writer like me. I can post anything by means of the application  without delay when it’s really necessary.

Why Facebook? Because to date it proves to be the most widely used social media service on earth. And I get more visitors and acquaintances from it.

Why Twitter? Because I can share more words continuously without annoying my friends, just like on Facebook.

Why Instagram? Because it’s the only one social media service uniquely based on visuals. So unique that Facebook and Twitter combined cannot equal the experience.

Why Line? Well, I don’t want my digital life to be owned by Facebook (WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook, to remind you) so I quit using it and opted for Line (for the sake of more funny emoticons).

Teman Maya 101

Gain fame and bucks through social media. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Bergaul di dunia maya tetap ada batasan-batasannya. Apa saja? (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Saya hampir tidak pernah menolak ajakan berteman di dunia maya. Pendekatan saya sederhana saja. Kalau memang sudah kenal sebelumnya, nantinya setelah berteman di jejaring sosial akan lebih erat. Jika belum kenal sama sekali tetapi masih ada persamaan minat atau bidang kegemaran, tak saya bakal jadikan masalah besar. Saya terima saja. Toh semua orang itu pada dasarnya baik, sampai terbukti sebaliknya.

Namun, itu bukan berarti saya terlampau permisif. Saya juga punya kriteria sendiri untuk memangkas tali pertemanan virtual. Atau kalau saya masih menganggapnya berharga dan masih ada harapan, saya akan sembunyikan saja status-statisnya agar tidak tertampil di newsfeed saya. Dengan demikian, hidup di Facebook jadi lebih tenang.

Kriterianya sekali lagi simpel saja, karena saya orangnya tak pelik sebetulnya.

Yang pertama dan utama, tentu saya lebih suka orang-orang yang hanya membagikan tautan-tautan berisi berita-berita yang sudah terbukti keabsahannya serta menghadirkan dua sisi yang berbeda sikap, opini atau pendirian. Sekali dua kali mengunggah tautan dari situs-situs yang sarat ujaran kebencian (hate speech), saya masih anggap khilaf. Tiga kali, rasanya sudah tak tahan lagi. Kalau betul-betul parah dan terlalu sering kekhilafannya, saya ucapkan selamat tinggal dari beranda berita saya. Saya tak akan melihat status dan unggahan apapun darinya sampai keputusan saya berubah. Tak perlu buru-buru membuangnya dari daftar teman, karena ia masih bisa membaca konten unggahan kita yang (insya Allah) lebih positif. Termasuk tautan dari blog pribadi saya. Cukup membantu menaikkan peluang kunjungan ke laman saya.

Kriteria kedua bisa jadi ialah kadar interaksinya. Kalau interaksinya alami dan organik alias tidak dibuat-buat (misalnya tidak melulu bicara soal barang dagangannya, atau tidak membicarakan satu isu terus menerus sampai lawan bicara hendak muntah), peluang teman maya itu dipertahankan akan lebih tinggi.

Selain ada teman maya yang mengesalkan orang lain, ada juga teman maya yang sering membahayakan dirinya sendiri. Contohnya saja, teman yang sering membagikan dengan bangga data-data pribadinya, mengetikkan nomor ponsel pribadinya di kotak komentar status dengan tingkat privasi publik yang berpeluang diakses banyak orang yang tak dikenal dengan itikad yang belum tentu positif, atau mengunggah foto-foto tiket perjalanan pesawat dan kereta apinya yang mungkin memuat data pribadi yang peka dan rawan dibajak pelaku pencurian identitas atau peretas yang kelewat ‘cerdas’.

Dan saya juga kurang bersimpati dengan mereka yang membagikan tanpa pikir panjang konten foto, teks atau video yang berpotensi memicu tindak perundungan saiber (cyber bullying). Ini mirip tindak main hakim sendiri, mengeroyok satu orang yang diduga — keras atau tidak — sebagai biang masalah. Hanya saja cuma terasa di ranah Internet. Jika betul ia bersalah, laporkan saja ke pihak berwenang untuk segera ditindak. Jangan sampai juga kita para pengguna Internet diperalat pihak tertentu yang ingin menyudutkan pihak lain yang mereka benci atau ingin habisi.

Saya pun gerah jika menemukan ada orang yang menuliskan hal atau mengunggah konten yang mengandung isu suku, agama, ras dan aliran dengan tujuan memperolok atau menjadikan bahan lelucon yang kurang berkualitas apalagi cerdas. Belum lagi yang mengumbar tautan ke laman-laman berita kebohongan (hoax). Hal itu cuma menunjukkan kedangkalan pikiran yang memalukan.

Dan juga ada orang-orang yang tak mau bersusah payah menyusun konten sendiri, lalu dengan egois menjiplak dan menyebarkannya seolah-olah buatannya sendiri. Tak mau memberi pengakuan atas jerih payah orang lain berupa pencantuman sumber. Saya pernah jadi korban juga. Ada tulisan di blog saya yang dibagikan begitu saja dalam bentuk status Facebook. Dan si fulan penjiplak enggan menanggapi. Yang penting dapat likes lalu terkenal, begitulah taktik liciknya.

Satu jenis teman maya yang membahayakan diri sendiri adalah kelompok yang kerap mengunggah foto-foto seluruh badan yang berisiko dipakai pihak tak bertanggung jawab untuk membuat akun palsu.

Lalu yang terakhir orang-orang yang begitu gemar mengunggah foto-foto anak-anak mereka. Siapa yang tahu tindakan sesepele itu bisa berujung petaka pada anak karena memancing para pelaku pedofilia mendekat?

Making Money as an Online Buzzer

Gain fame and bucks through social media. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Gain fame and bucks through social media. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Believe it or not, as a terminology, “buzzer” was, I suppose, coined and is only used in Indonesia. Why so? So here’s my story. Sometime ago, I mentioned this in a question I aimed at  a foreign social media practitioner. He seemed perplexed upon hearing my question and this seemingly novel word (to his ears), making me explain in such a length so as to make him understand what a buzzer really means.

In short, a buzzer is defined roughly as “a person getting paid to promote or endorse brands or products on the jungle of social media”. Here’s what you may need to know about how to become one and of course, how to make money — a great deal of money — of it as told by Kartika Putri and Elisa Koraag. Both are bloggers and avid social media users.

First thing first, get your Klout score up! You have got to be famous in some sense, not necessarily insanely famous but you need to find your audience on the web. Because once again, it’s all about getting social, getting messages across. What matters most is the amount of interactions made by a potential buzzer. Go visit klout.com where you can easily measure your stardom level on the web. You’ll have to connect it to your social media account. In general, it does crawl and quantify your social media presence. To be a legitimate and highly promising buzzer, you’re strongly required to score 60 or above on klout.com. If you only score lower than the threshold, don’t bid farewell already. That means you just need to try a little bit, or much, harder to win more audiences by building more interactions.

Besides your Klout score, brands or corporations usually take your level of interaction into account, which means you really have to speak with people there. You can’t tweet all the time, on your own, without caring about others. Don’t be a cocky douchebag, thinking you’re the one and only important person on the web. If no one responds to your tweet, likes your Facebook statuses, or love your Tumblr posts, please try to engage with them at first. And there’re a lot of things you can do to connect with people with the more and less similar interests. So brands or companies will be interested in social media users who can make people interact voluntarily and naturally with each other.

A blogger may become a buzzer as well. What it takes to be a buzzer blogger? I don’t mean to be geeky but start paying more attention to your page ranks so companies acknowledge what you’re doing on your blog, which is worth paying and means something to their online image building. Having a higher page rank of a blog translates to a better opportunity of securing a buzzing gig. Another metric used to determine your blog’s authority and worth is Domain Authority.

Wait, what if you only keep a blog on a free platform such as Blogger or wordpress.com? Would that be an issue for you to be a buzzer. It’s lucky of you who don’t keep a paid, self-hosted blog, but to be a blogger buzzer you don’t have to buy a domain. But in some cases, you may need to upgrade later on. For those who blog on free platforms like this, the most common measurement to use is page views of the blog.

Other than that, Alexa rank of a blog plays a relatively significant role for a buzzer blogger to attract brands. I sometimes think it’s ridiculous to use Alexa rank as the sole parameter of a blog’s performance but well, that’s the fact. Deal with it.

Speaking of rates, it’s not an easy task. You have to really know yourself and your level of experience, skills, and also your strengths and weaknesses, so you can set up a quite fair rate card by yourself. A rate card basically tells those brands how much you want yourself to get paid after publishing a piece of writing on your blog concerning their products or brands or company events, you name it. So if you have a bigger scope of audience, you’re more likely to win.

It’s not always about money, however. A buzzer may decline to provide her endorsement or publish advertorials on her blog(s) whenever she feels decent to do so. For instance, if you’re known to be a health blogger, it’s very unlikely that you’ll accept an offer from a fast food brand. No to mention promote their nutritional values in the foods!

Conversely, if you get an offer by a brand you like so much, you may ignore the financial rewards of it and focus on the satisfaction of introducing it to a much wider audience. But I’m not sure many people would do that.

Jagonya Coklat yang Keok

‎Menemukan coklat Cap Jago bagi sebagian orang adalah sebuah bentuk nostalgia penuh makna. Persetan dengan rasa atau kualitas coklatnya. Brand ini memang bukan mengenai sensasi eksklusif atau mahal. Dengan harga yang begitu terjangkau bahkan bagi anak-anak sekolah dua dekade lalu, produknya tidak berbahan dasar coklat bermutu super tinggi dari Belgia, atau dikemas dengan material pembungkus yang ‘wah’. Kesan merakyat memang menjadi nilai jualnya.

Kesetiaan pelanggan coklat Cap Jago rupanya masih belum luntur jua. Pagi ini di Facebook, saya kebetulan temukan sebuah fanpage. ‎Coklat Cap Jago, begitu namanya. Trenyuh, karena di dalamnya saya tidak menemukan ada informasi menarik apalagi interaksi yang terbangun apik antara si pembuat laman dan para liker. Seorang di antara mereka meninggalkan pesan yang bernada nostalgia. Ia menyebut keakrabannya dengan brand coklat ini semasa kecil. Ada lagi yang membeli coklat itu dalam jumlah banyak. Mungkin ia akan menjualnya lagi. Sementara itu, ada seseorang yang tampaknya seorang mahasiswa yang tertarik mengangkat riwayat coklat Cap Jago dalam karya akademiknya.

Sayangnya, tak ada jawaban.

Ada keriaan tersendiri memang begitu kita menemukan sesuatu dari masa lalu kita hadir juga akhirnya di jagat maya. Sesuatu yang mengingatkan kita pada era pra-Internet, zaman pra-smartphone, yang ironisnya ikut tersedot pula ke layar perangkat kita.

Jikalau saya mendapatkan kesempatan dan wewenang PENUH (karena bagi saya akan sukar jika bekerja dengan penuh campur tangan) untuk menjadi pengelola ‎fanpage Coklat Cap Jago ini, saya akan pastikan semua cerita nostalgia itu menjadi kekuatan yang utama bagi kebangkitan brand ini. Its strength really lies in the brand’s story.