All a-flutter and a -Twitter over HPB’s rude tweet

Subscribers to the Singapore Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) Twitter account must have received a rude shock when they saw a rude Tweet instead of HPB’s usual tweets on topics such as the flu epidemic and healthy living.

That tweet was quickly deleted and followed up by apology tweets from HPB, saying that the profanity was a mistake. It was human error. A staff member in charge of tweeting for HPB had sent the rude tweet thinking that it was from a personal account and not the company account!

In a way, HPB showed its maturity in how it dealt with the situation. Instead of being defensive, it apologised for the rude tweet (and I’m pretty sure the staff involved has been counselled). Many netizens also showed their maturity in accepting the apology. Instead of deriding the organisation (a government body no less), many were understanding of the human error on the part of the staff and accepted HPB’s apology.

But I’m sure that has not stopped the PR and corporate comms divisions of many other bodies from holding emergency meetings on the corporate use of new media, and using the HPB example as a cautionary tale.

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Could have been a love story

Came across this little cute could have been love story on Youtube.

It shows a pair of friends communicating via the Facebook chat function, and while they are clearly into each other (to the viewer), they keep revising what they want to say, stripping off all sentimentality and emotion from their original expressions and paring them down to seemingly nonchalant and platonic responses, such as a simple cool.

While social media platoforms do make it easier for someone to access another person and communicate with each others, especially in real-time, the usual should-I say-this and what-will-he/she-think-of-me-if-I-say-this hang-ups still remain in (budding) relationships.

In a way, that’s quite reassuring and that’s what makes this such a cute little story. Could-have, should-have…well, it could have been a love story. Enjoy.

I’m sure you will smile when you watch it.

China Blog Helps To Trace Kidnapped Children

There’s been recent news of how a microblog set up in China has helped to reunite parents with their long-lost abducted children. Set up on China’s Sina.com by a Chinese professor,Yu Jianrong,  known for “championing the rights of China’s huge underclass”, the microblog gets people to take photos of child beggars and orphans and upload them to the site. One could easily send photos to the campaign’s email address: jiejiuqier@sina.com or use the mobile app for it.

It was just one such photo that led to the happy reunion of a father and his six-year-old boy who had been kindnapped three years earlier. Six other children have apparently been able to have happy reunions with their families, through the help of the microblog.

These have captured the attention of the Chinese government and have sparked renewed efforts by the state police to crack down on such abductions. The sad plight of kidnapped children who are often  forced into a life of slavery and hardship have been documented in various websites and blogs. One example is a project on Kickstarter that features documentary on the issue.

Unfortunately, just as the microblog has been hailed as a success in helping to rescue some of the children from their sad plight, there are others who now say that the online campaign is flawed and has put the children’s lives in greater danger. Because of the sudden interest in taking photos of the child beggars and posting them online, some say that the kidnappers will now resort to more serious ways such as disfiguring the children to prevent them from being recognised by their families.

Thankfully, efforts to rescue kidnapped children will be  more sustained. There will be a special fund set up for long-term help for a nationwide crackdown on child begging. Yang Peng, secretary-general of the One Foundation, announced on his sina.com.cn micro blog on Saturday that a dedicated fund will be established and affiliated to the charitable organisation.

Let’s hope that with sustained and concerted efforts by all, there could be a stop to this ruthless problem and the children can be protected.

The Apps Way to Faith

Early Christian believers would have used the Appian Way on their pilgrimage when in Rome. For the modern day pilgrims, they have the Apps way to religion.

I have written before about how many religious organisations are using new media to reach out to people, and help connect them with their faith and religion. A recent article by the Straits Times wrote on the availability of phone apps that help users to connect better and grow their faith. Using iPhone apps, believers can now whip out their iPhones and other smartphones to read the bible, Koran or Buddhist tracts.

Just a quick check online shows the multitude of apps available to those who seek a higher connection. They allow you not just to read, but to bookmark, to make notes, to share notes and to even hear the verses being read aloud.

Some feel that new media and such devices help the young, especially, to enhance their faith, while others feel that using these new media tools detract from real faith.

As for me, I’m glad that I can now download my favourite sermons on my iPad, and flip to the right chapter and verse on my digital bible using my iPad app, and find the page where I left off with the help of my digital bookmark that does not slip out.

Whatever that helps you to enhance your relationship with God, I think that’s a step in the right direction.

Egypt protests with new media

The world is reeling from the shockingly quick descent of Egypt into chaos and destruction as the country implodes with riots and violence, with many of the Egyptians calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

New media platforms in the likes of Facebook and Twitter have been added to the heady mix of volatile politics in the region. Often seen as tools for democratisation that give voice to the everyman, Facebook and Twitter were used by the Egyptians to stir up sentiments against Mubarak, and garner supporters to organise anti-government protest marches. This resulted in the government shutting down the Internet, adding much fuel to the already raging fire of hatred and discontentment.

To add to all this is Kenneth Cole’s infamous tweet: 

Millions are in uproar in #Cairo,” the tweet read. “Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC

Kenneth Cole angered many, who saw him capitalising and trivialising the Eyptian political crisis. Cole has since tweeted his apology. An obviously offended person actually put up the tweet on one of the store windows. Cole has tweeted that it was a prank and that he was not responsible for the inappropriate store display.

Looks like Kenneth Cole’s new media faux pax serves as important lessons in new media PR for all. On, what a twit, er, I mean, tweet.

We can continue to follow the unfolding situation in Egypt through tweets: http://twitter.com/#search?q=egypt%20protests and http://twitter.com/#search?q=egypt%20. Youtube is also full of videos showing angry protests in Cairo. The political struggle is also one played out in new media.