A guide to advanced newsgathering using Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is a powerful newsgathering tool. But are you using all the tips and tricks to mean you get to the story before it breaks? Do you know how to hone in to find key contacts?

Joanna Geary (@JoannaUK), head of news at Twitter UK, came in to the London newsroom of The Wall Street Journal on 17 June to share ideas and best practice.

She also gave this ‘advanced newsgathering using Tweetdeck’ workshop during the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.

Here are my notes.

(If you are new to Tweetdeck, here’s a guide to get you started.)

From feeling overwhelmed to feeling informed

Tweetdeck may look like a bind and you may feel intimidated by the thought of having to stare at columns, but filters and smart working can liberate you by excluding some of the noise.

“You then don’t need to stare at those columns all day,” said Joanna. “Tweetdeck is in the background doing your searches for you.”

Tip 1: Embrace the filter button

The filter button at the top of a column is particularly useful.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 14.48.15.png

You may find a particular keyword or hashtag you are tracking is particularly noisy. The filter button helps you filter the things that are useful to you.

  • Exclude keywords

You can exclude words.

Example: If you were tracking the Mandela memorial you may have been tracking the keyword ‘Mandela’ in a column but excluding the word ‘selfie’ (to omit chatter about the famous Obama selfie).

Example: Follow a World Cup list but exclude mentions of ‘England’. (Yes, Joanna was speaking when England’s dreams were still alive.)

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  • Exclude RTs

If you were monitoring the keyword ‘Mandela’, you may have excluded RTs.

You can specify types of user, perhaps you want to track everyone who has a blue verified Twitter tick. This is an option on a dropdown.

  • Engagement filter

This is particularly usedul. You can only show tweets that get a certain number of favourites or RTs. This helps you spot trending tweets early.

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Tip 2: Turn the air blue

Holy shit! WTF was that? Let’s find the fucking breaking news on Twitter!

Joanna also shared keyword advice, useful for potentially finding news before it breaks.

‘Fuck’ is quite a common word used in breaking news. As is ‘shit’ as is ‘WTF was that’.

Get your search tight enough to make it useful, she advised.

Use Boolean searches (OR and AND)

A column search in Tweetdeck may look like this:

shit OR fuck OR fucking

Then you add:

AND fire OR earthquake OR bomb

Then you can remove false positives.

You can remove RTs, mentions of ‘fuck the police’ and “any gangster spelling of that,” as Joanna said.

This will give you a much slower feed of potentially useful tweets. But of course it’s not perfect. You can’t just get a stream of breaking news. What you can do is get your search refined so you might get breaking news.

Show tweets gaining traction

You could also run a search for tweets that only have at least 15 RTs, for example. You might then catch stuff relatively early but before another news outlet has it, for example. Tweak the meter / number of RTs depending what group of people you are looking at.

Tip 3: Search tools

Beyond the search boxes in Tweetdeck and on the Twitter website, there’s the Twitter search URL.

twitter.com/search

This has additional functionality than in the search bar. You can use operators and advanced search. (See links from just below the search bar on twitter.com/search)

For example, you can use from:WSJ #WorldCup to find tweets sent by @WSJ mentioning the #WorldCup.

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(Want a few more Google search operators, many of which work for Twitter? See this post on Google search tips for journalists. And here are other Twitter search tips.)

Searching after a story breaks

If you had been reporting on the helicopter crash which hit the Clutha pub in Glasgow back in November, you may have searched the word ‘helicopter’ and ‘clutha’ and come up with this tweet (sent by MA journalism student Christina O’Neil)

You could then go to Google Maps and look for nearby street names. Your search may then look like this:

Clyde OR Enoch OR Stockwell

You then might want to try limiting this keyword by location, only finding tweets mentioning one of these keywords (Clyde OR Enoch OR Stockwell) sent within 1km of the area the crash happened.

Only 4% of Twitter users turn their location on, Joanna said. So using geolocation will only pick up this minority of people. But it’s worth a go. 

To find the geo coordinates of a location, go to Google Maps, right click on the area, click ‘what’s here’, and you’ll get the latitude and longitude. (You’ll need to take the space out between the two numbers.)

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Alternatively, Joanna recommends iTouchMap.

Your search for geolocated tweets sent mentioning Clutha and within 5 miles of the crash site would look like this:

geocode:55.854481,-4.250136,5mi clutha

If you want to zone in on a user and get an alert whenever that person tweets, click ‘user’ in Twitterdeck.

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Not near a computer? If you are on your mobile, go to the user and ‘switch on notifications’.

The power of lists

Find lists, follow lists, create them yourself. You can now search for lists within Tweetdeck and Twitter. 

Tip 4: Try Widgets 

https://twitter.com/settings/widgets

Collections

Twitter has a feature called ‘collections’ (formerly known as ‘custom timeline’). (WSJ used this to collect @samdagher’s tweets around the Syria election and to collect tweets from reporters covering the D-Day anniversary).

Joanna gave a useful tip: that this feature could be used by reporters flagging up tweets to an editor or reporter for use in a live blog.

(I use this feature to organise tweets I may want to put in a blog post. It’s also a great feature for collaboration. When I created this post with the best #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave memes, I added them to a collection. This allowed my colleague Parminder Bahra to us the same tweets I’d identified in a video.)

Search widget

The search widget allows you embed a Twitter widget for a search term. 

List widget

You can embed a list (tweets by WSJ reporters at the World Cup, for example),  

“It’s essentially an auto-publishing tool,” Joanna said.

Tip 5: Verification tips

The task of journalists checking information is centuries old. The platforms maybe new but verification on Twitter is essentially a fact-checking and common sense process.

Advice:

  • Look at the profile page. “Be suspicious of eggs,” said Joanna
  • Look at join date (displayed on new-style profiles)
  • Look at tweets and replies
  • Who is following them?
  • Who do they follow?
  • Verification tick – which you can hover over to check
  • Look to see if people geolocate
  • Look at the platform people used (Tweetdeck, Twitter, for example. If someone Tweeted from Tweetdeck it’s unlikely they did this from a mobile phone when out and about)
  • Can use WolframAlpha weather in x place at x time
  • Reverse image search Google Image Search / TinEye

We’ve had a number of guest speakers at WSJ recently. Here are my notes on two of the other sessions:

Instagram for journalists

Facebook for journalists

Facebook for journalists

Iain Mackenzie from Facebook came in to The Wall Street Journal’s London offices a few weeks ago (10 April) and gave a talk on Facebook for journalists.

We also had an Instagram for journalists session.

Iain, who used to be tech editor for the BBC News website, shared his tips. Here are my notes from the session.

Journalists use Facebook for three things:

  • Discovery
  • Story creation
  • Distribution

Discovery

Iain gave several examples of how Facebook can be used for newsgathering.

Facebook is sometimes the only place where officials share news, he said.

For example, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is very active Facebook user and shares announcements.

Ukrainian politician Arsen Avakov became acting minister of interior on 22 Feb. On 24 Feb he posted that an arrest warrant had been issued for former president Victor Yanokovych.

Then Medvedev took to Facebook in response.

Some people have ‘pages’ set up, others are personal profiles which you can ‘follow’.

Tip: Manage the flow of information via interest lists

Interest lists are a bit like Twitter lists in that you can create lists of key sources. You don’t have to be following that person / organisation to add them to a list.

You can add a page or person to an interest list by clicking ‘add to interest lists’ > +new list > next > give it a name.

You can make interest lists public and share the URL. Alternatively, you can set to ‘friends only’ or ‘only me’.

On the left-hand side of the Facebook newsfeed, you then see your list.

It’s not algorithmically sorted like your Facebook newsfeed; instead you see it in backwards chronological order.

Story creation

There are 1.2 billion people on Facebook, so it is a great way to find sources, Iain said.

Here are three tips:

1. Just ask people. The BBC World Service does this very well, Iain said. They asked readers for ‘women that have inspired you’ and used responses on air.

2. Find a page that relates to the story. For example, one of the journalists covering the story of the helicopter which crashed onto a pub in Glasgow used Facebook to find the page of the band that was playing in the pub at the time of the accident.

3. Finding people. Iain talked through an example of finding ‘Young Welsh Conservatives’ using Facebook’s Open Graph search. Graph Search is the search feature that treats location, places, dates etc as searchable.

Example search

'People from Wales who like the Conservative Party and were born after 1980'

(Simply type that into the bar at the top of your Facebook newsfeed.)

The results show public information that the user has chosen to make public / share.

This search could then be narrowed by looking for male young Conservatives from Cardiff. 

In some cases you can message people directly. It goes to the ‘other inbox’. You can pay a nominal fee, of £0.41, (to avoid spam). 

Example search:

Pictures taken in Maiden, by people from Kiev.

Facebook also allows you to make contact with newsmakers / real witnesses, Iain said.

Example search:

Iain showed a great example, of looking for photos photos of Tahrir Square taken by people who live in Cairo.

Once these photos are displayed you can then further refine the search.

When Iain tried this search, one particular face stood out from the pictures. He could tell this was of someone called Mohamed Mohsen.

His profile said he was singer and had 32,000 followers (he’s since switched to a Facebook page).

The profile provided a link to his Twitter profile and his YouTube channel, which had a video of him singing on a TV talent show. Mohamed allows anyone to message him so could be contacted.

Iain suggested this would be a good contact for someone attempting to cover the story of Tahrir from afar.

And if you discover a particularly interesting Facebook update that helps you tell a story, it can be embedded within a news site.

Tip: You can embed a Facebook post from that person within a blog on your site.

Distribution

We all know that Facebook drives traffic to news site. Journalists can help push their own stories by either setting up a page or allowing people to follow their public posts.

There is an option to turn on ‘follow’ on any Facebook profile. This means others can follow without requiring a two-way reciprocal arrangement of friendship.

There’s also an embeddable Facebook Follow button that can be added to blogs / websites.

Using Facebook Follow

For followers to see your posts you have to make the post public. That means you can keep photos / posts relating to family and friends as private to your followers.

If you want to check how you appear to the public, click ‘view as’ in Facebook. You can even use a particular name and see how much of your profile any individual sees. You can do this in ‘activity log’.

Here are two tips for using Facebook Follow as a journalist.

Facebook Follow started life as Facebook Subscribe. I wrote a how-to guide on Facebook Subscribe back in 2012 while at Journalism.co.uk (interviewing two people who later became WSJ colleagues). Much of the advice – from Liz Heron (then at NYT), Neal Mann (then at Sky News) and Benjamin Cohen – is still relevant.

Iain’s tips on making yourself worth following:

  • Share behind the scenes photos, engage with people. 
  • 'Sell' your story, don't just post the link.
  • Stephen Sackur from BBC HardTalk does this well, Iain said. He hosted a live Facebook Q&A and got 129 questions.

We’ve also arranged Facebook Q&As. WSJ editor-in-chief Gerard Baker hosted a Facebook Q&A in May.

Instagram for journalists

The Wall Street Journal has in-house training sessions called DJ Spotlight (the DJ standing for Dow Jones).

We recently had Will Guyatt from Instagram and Iain Mackenzie from Facebook come in to the London newsroom to lead lunchtime workshops.

I originally wrote these notes for Journal folk. I’m now posting here having checked with Will and Iain that they agree with me sharing more widely. 

Here are the notes from Will’s talk. I’ll post notes on Facebook for journalists in due course.

Key Instagram stats:

  • 200 million active users
  • 65% of the audience is outside the US
  • 60 million photos are uploaded each day
  • 1.6 likes every day

Instagram is increasingly used by public figures, Will explained.

Clarence House (representing the royal family) posted lots of official shots from Will and Kate’s royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, for example.

Instagram is increasingly being used by journalists

  • Australian photojournalist @danielberehulak shared scenes from the 10 days of mourning following the death of Nelson Mandela.
  • In the Ukraine, one journalist stored images on Instagram. He uploaded the pictures and then deleted when Russian soldiers saw them and ordered him to delete them.

Examples of other news events that provided strong Instagram images:

  • UK floods
  • Helicopter crash in Glasgow
  • Egypt coup

Instagram is used by users who share interesting moments

  • @drewkelly, a teacher in Pyongyang, shares photos from daily life North Korea.
  • @greggboydston, an extreme firefighter in Oregon, shares images. He joined Instagram the week 13 of his colleagues died fighting forest fires, Will explained.

Instagram is being used by news organisations

BBC News tapped into Instagram API and brought in photos shared by people from the Thatcher funeral route in real-time. Here’s the Instagram map.

BBC News launched Instafax, 15-second stories told through simple text and pictures. If you have not yet seen Instafax, see an example.

The Guardian has experimented with account takeovers: Journalists on assignment, perhaps photojournalists, capture candid images. Projects include #GuardianCam and #GuardianCities.

Tools and best practices

Sourcing content via hashtags

Search for a hashtag within the Instagram app.

Sourcing content via location

Gramfeed.com is a good third-party tool to use. Most pics are geolocated so can be found by location.

Here’s an example relevant to today’s news:

Will explained that the previous evening he did a test to see how many images were shared from the Bayern Munich soccer stadium. He located 5,000 Instagram images shared from that one game.

You could search for places with Instagram photos in Kiev, for example.

Will also took the lead WSJ Ukraine story from the day he spoke (April 10). The article mentions the name of two squares. He carried out a location search and found pictures and a video from those specific locations.

UGC (user-generated content)

Instagram is a wealth of resources for news organisations, Will said.

Instagram images can be embedded in news stories / blog posts without the need to get permission from the owner (you do this in the same way that you would embed YouTube videos). (Note, although this is acceptable practice, bear in mind that Instagrammers may have thought they were sharing photos with their network and may not welcome finding that their photos have been embedded on news sites.)

If you want to use the image not as an embed but as an uploaded picture, you must seek permission from the uploader as the copyright is owned by the user.

If you accept to use an image, the acceptable practice from Instagram is to reference the user and say it is from Instagram.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Use the comments section on Instagram and ask for permission.
  2. Direct message the user. You can do this even if they don’t follow you. The quirk is that you have to send a picture, which can be anything and could be a selfie.

Instagram’s Hannah Waldram led a workshop at the last news:rewired conference. My notes on that are here.

Social stories: Reporting (predictable) presidential elections

Here are a few examples of how we’ve tackled social news of the Egypt and Syria elections at The Wall Street Journal.

1. Geolocating questions on Facebook – and getting more than 10,000 comments.

We knew we had a large Facebook following of people from Egypt to the main Wall Street Journal Facebook page. A quick look at the analytics showed Egypt as fifth on the list of countries where our followers live and Cairo as the second in the list of cities (after New York).

We therefore geotargeted a question for Egyptian followers.

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imageHere’s the conversation on Facebook.

Here’s a follow-up blog post.

2. Highlighting the spoiled ballots

Tamer El-Ghobashy, one of the Journal’s Cairo-based reporters, noticed people were sharing photos of spoiled ballot papers, with some choosing to vote for Ayra Stark, Christiano Ronaldo, Florentino Perez or Sergio Ramos rather than for Sisi.

imageHis round up of ballot papers is well worth a look.

3. A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Tamer

That’s taking place at noon ET / 5pm UK time / 7pm Cairo time tomorrow (Wednesday). 

Tamer El-Ghobashy will answer questions on Egypt.

4. A Twitter custom timeline on Syria

Voting has been taking place today in Syria’s ‘election’. Some of the one million Syrians living in neighbouring Lebanon voted at the embassy in Beirut last week.

The Journal’s Syria correspondent Sam Dagher has been doing a fantastic job of tweeting the election build up and day itself.

Using the custom timeline feature in Tweetdeck I was able to create a list Sam’s tweets and share the curated list.

imageTake a look at the list (it’s worth scrolling back so you can see the who week of coverage). Here’s a post where we embedded the timeline.

Perhaps we should end with this bright tweet from Sam. 

Presentations: Talking social at The Wall Street Journal

Here’s a list of presentations I’ve done since joining The Wall Street Journal six months ago. I thought it would be handy to gather my notes and slides in one place.

Coming up:

Interviews:

How to export a Twitter list to an Excel spreadsheet

Having created a Google spreadsheet from that dynamically adds follower counts, I wondered if there is a way to create a spreadsheet based on a Twitter list.

The Twitter API no longer allows you to do this but in my search I came across a useful tool for exporting Twitter lists.

TwExList allows you to export a Twitter list into an Excel spreadsheet, and what is particularly useful is that it gives you a summary of data.

imageFor example, you can:

  • Analyse follower counts*
  • See how active list members are
  • See when members joined Twitter
  • See the percentage of people who are verified
  • Analyse by location
  • Analyse by language

*Of course quality is far more important than quality but sorting by follower count can help a social media manager / editor see at a glance if any reporters with a large following are not verified.

I was able to create a spreadsheet from the WSJ staff Twitter listWSJ accounts Twitter listWSJ reporters based in EMEA and WSJ reporters based in London.

imageIt’s free to create a spreadsheet from a list with up to 50 members, it costs €0.99 for up to 100 members, €1.99 for a list of up to 500 members, €2.99 for up to 1,000, plus there are options for far larger lists. You can pay by PayPal or credit card.

Don’t be put off by the look and feel of the TwExList site (it looks a bit 1995); it’s an effective way of getting data from a list and well worth a few euro.

You don’t need to have access to the Twitter account that created the list as you can export data from any public Twitter list.

One tip: if you want to pull data on list members, you must copy and paste the url which points to the member list (the one with ‘members’ at the end of the url).

imageTwExList also allows you to export other data from Twitter.

Related: Here’s how to create a Google spreadsheet with dynamically updating Twitter follower counts 

Top tip for searching social media: Storyful Multisearch Chrome extension

I wrote about the Storyful Multisearch Chrome extension when it launched (here’s the post I wrote when I was at Journalism.co.uk) but want to flag it up to journalists who aren’t aware of it.

The browser extension was created for Storyful’s journalists to use to quickly search social media. The Storyful folk then generously open sourced Multisearch for all.

Link: Storyful Multisearch

Simply add a search term, check the boxes of the media you want to search and in the click of the button you get your results in different browser tabs.

This week I used Multisearch a number of times:

  • I used it to search for images of the mine disaster in Turkey

As I searched #Soma I spotted a story. I saw that people in Turkey and beyond were showing solidarity with the miners by creating human chains spelling Soma and sharing the photos on social media.

The search led me to create this Storify of the images, which was embedded on a WSJ blog and on the blog of our Turkish-language site.

  • I also used Multisearch to find images of a bomb scare outside the Bank of England

  • And I used it to search for images of an oil spill in Los Angeles

Disclaimer: The Storyful folk are now cousins of WSJ as News Corp acquired the social news agency in December.

5 things I learned at The Next Web conference

I was lucky enough to attend The Next Web conference in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may know that I share quite a few @TheNextWeb links as it’s one of the sites I follow via RSS. (Here are other sites I follow.)

Here are a few of the things I learned at the conference. Most of these nuggets are not related to digital journalism directly but it’s good to learn lessons from beyond the industry.

1. 15% of the world’s population have helped digitise books

You know those (often annoying) Captcha codes you have to answer in order to make a secure transaction online? There’s a valuable byproduct aside from security.

The two random words displayed are actually words from a scanned book. Computers are not good at reading the words and require help from humans. By typing the words you are making sense of the books. The process is effectively data entry by the crowd two words at a time.

So far 1.1 billion people – or 15% of the world’s population – have helped digitise books in this way, Luis von Ahn, who invented Captcha codes, said.

2. People learning English as a foreign language will be able to take a standardised test via a mobile phone for just $20

Duolingo came to my attention as the site where language learners translate Buzzfeed articles.

It works like this: advanced learners translate Buzzfeed and CNN articles with several people working on the same article collaboratively. The learner gets a real rather than fictional article to translate; Duolingo brings in revenue by the service it provides which enables free language learning for anyone with a web connection.

Luis von Ahn, co-founder of Duolingo (and also inventor of Captcha codes), said:

"In a sense, CNN sponsoring language education." 

The free-to-learn site is now branching out and making standardised English testing affordable and possible via mobile.

A learner maybe in Brazil or Burkina Faso but will be able to use a Skype-like video conference option either on a desktop or mobile phone to take the test. Some smart checks are done to ensure the learner is not cheating, with the user showing the examiner all corners of the room, for example.

My colleague at WSJ Lisa Fleisher has written about the new test. It is due to launch tomorrow.

3. People spend just six minutes browsing a retail website

One of the sessions was on the future of shopping.

John Lunn, global senior director at Paypal, said the average teenager spends just six seconds looking at a website and the over 60s only go up to four pages deep into a website.

Lunn said:

"You have to help people make their decisions before they come to you." 

These are important lessons for news organisations. Not only do we need to find ways to ensure those who want to pay for our digital subscriptions make a decision before they come to us, we also need to think about the attention span people have when presented with an article page or homepage.

4. Audiences have their own audiences

That might seem obvious in the days of selfies, memes, YouTube and Twitter. But ‘the guy with the hair’ David Shing – who has the title of 'digital prophet' for AOL – provided a good summary of how brands are now storytellers.

I particularly enjoyed lines such as:

"We must start talking about mobile as the first screen not the second. Nobody walked into this room with a TV.”

This talk also discussed media overload and the fight for attention. And as digital publishers we should keep that oft-used abbreviation of tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) to mind.

But while there’s a drive to be brief, Shingy laid out an argument for longer reads. We’ve moved from the age of information to the age of social to the age of interest, he said. People want authenticity, and slow journalism is part of that.

5. Social scientists are studying social media connections

One of the tools social scientists have created is called NodeXL. It is open source and can be downloaded so anyone can turn Excel into a social media network browser, allowing you to display connections around hashtags, topics or people.

Social scientist Marc A. Smith said:

"We are interested in revealing the shape of the crowd." 

Here’s the social network analysis of #TNWeurope.

One week in social media at The Wall Street Journal

I was part of a panel discussion that considered a world ‘without social media' at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia on Friday.

I decided to illustrate this by talking about what The Wall Street Journal wouldn’t have done last week in a social media-less world. 

Saturday, 26 April

On Saturday, Sam Dagher, our Syria correspondent, would not have shared images of Aleppo. Sam had been to the city the previous week but did not share tweets and images while he was there due to safety concerns.

He tweeted once we was back in Damascus and we packaged his photos into this slideshow.

Sunday, 27 April

On Sunday, Giada Zampano and Liam Moloney would not have been sharing tweets and pictures from the Vatican on the occasion of the canonization of two popes.

We would not have pulled together social media posts from people in the crowds using RebelMouse.

Monday, 28 April

On Monday, we would not have gained Instagram insight into Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, who was shot and injured. This colourful character has more than 63,000 Instagram followers, with whom he has shared pictures of himself cycling, playing sport and with his pets.

Kernes is now recovering in Israel and yesterday shared a photo from his hospital bed.

Tuesday, 29 April

On Tuesday, we would not have used user-generated content in a video. Storyful verified and licensed the footage from Ukraine and we were able to use it in a video package.

Wednesday, 30 April

On Wednesday, Matt Bradley would not have shared WorldStream clips of the Iraq elections. WorldStream, social videos that are up to 45 seconds in length, provide colour, insight and a snapshot of a story.

imageThursday, 1 May

On May Day, the day of protests in Turkey, our Istanbul bureau chief Joe Parkinson would not have re-shared this photo.

In a non-social world, Patrick McGroaty would not have shared this 13-second clip of Mugabe arriving at an election rally in Harare, Zimbabwe.

And Heidi Vogt, our east Africa correspondent, would not have been following John Kerry and sharing tweets and images.

In a world without social media, The Wall Street Journal would not have used Facebook video and an Instagram image to tell this story of an oil train crash in Lynchburg. Both the video and image were verified and licensed by Storyful.

image

Friday, 2 May

On Friday, Matina Stevis, who is based in Brussels, would not have been tweeting on behalf of a journalist in Ukraine and would not have got a safety message out, warning journalists not to go to Slovyansk.

Bojan Pancevski, who is a Sunday Times reporter, found he couldn’t tweet. He therefore asked Matina, a friend, to share the message on his behalf. Matina tried logging into his Twitter account but could not get access so pushed out the message from her own account to her 35,000 followers.

Matina told me that other news organisations called her to find out more information and she was able to share what she knew.

In a world without social media Bojan would probably have sent a text message to Matina and a few others, but the warning message would not have been amplified.

My slides from the talk are here:

2 tips for using Facebook Follow as a journalist

I’m guessing that a major reason deterring journalists from activating Facebook Follow is a concern for keeping their personal and professional lives separate.

Once activated, Facebook Follow, (which used to be called Facebook Subscribe), allows other Facebook users to follow a person’s public updates. It is a one-way, Twitter-like follow without the need for a two-way reciprocal relationship of Facebook friendship.

Here are two tips:

1. Change your privacy settings so people who are not ‘friends of friends’ only get the option to ‘follow’, not add you as a friend.

I was recently at Facebook HQ in London with a colleague who is usually based in the Middle East. My colleague was saying that he gets Facebook requests from people he doesn’t know and wanted to encourage follows instead of friend requests. By hiding the friend request option, he does not have to decline requests.

2. Don’t let followers see the photos other people post on your timeline

Perhaps you don’t want your subscribers to see pictures of you added by a friend. For my Middle East-based colleague, this could avoid the potential embarrassment caused by a friend posting a picture of him drinking a beer on a night out.