social media

Photo Credit: Connor Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

UTUnrated, a Snapchat account that receives hundreds of submissions from University students, publishes a daily Snapchat “story” that includes, on an average day, nude photos, videos of people snorting lines of cocaine and the occasional puppy picture.

Kevin Douglass, founder, moderator and philosophy sophomore, started the Snapchat account “utunrated” on April 5 and said the account has been removed twice for violating Snapchat’s policy on third-party apps. Snapchat users submit photos and videos to the account, and Douglass uses a third-party app to collect and post the submissions on Snapchat. The account is on its third handle — “utunrated5.”

UTUnrated often features illegal activities, particularly drug use,  happening on and near campus. UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said UTPD does not usually investigate illegal activities shared on Snapchat or any social media platforms. 

“UTPD does not routinely monitor social media,” Posey said in an email. “However, if something is brought to our attention that warrants an investigation, we will pursue it within the limits of the law.”

Snapchat, popularized by its ephemeral quality of disappearing photos and videos, is currently ranked sixth on Apple’s “free apps” list. Douglass said he selects which of the thousands of submitted photos and videos make the cut.

“[I select] whatever makes me laugh personally [and] whatever I find enjoyable,” Douglass said. “That’s not to say at all that if I don’t enjoy it, I won’t post it. 

Since I’m running this account so that however many thousand people can see things, I know the rest of those 10,000 people don’t want to see … just what my preferences are.”

There have been instances of creepy submissions, Douglass said.

“I won’t engage in anything that promotes violence, physically or sexually, [or] anything unconsensual [sic],” Douglass said. “People will send pictures of someone following a girl in public, and that’s really creepy and really wrong.”

The no-holds-barred approach of UTUnrated is exactly what turned corporate communications freshman Megan Adler away from adding the account to her Snapchat.

“I don’t have it because I’ve seen it, and it’s terrible,” Adler said. “It’s just inappropriate and not right. It’s just trashy.”

Psychology professor Samuel Gosling, who has conducted research regarding social media, said Snapchat permits people to post without accountability.

“I think it’s one of the things that comes up with Snapchat,” Gosling said. “It just disappears, and the fact that you’re doing it through someone else [makes] you feel you’re not an individual anymore. That’s why you see such harsh comments in other places — below videos, on Yik Yak and other things like that.”

According to Douglass, UTUnrated is more successful at its goal than other platforms with a similar purpose, such as Yeti, an app that allows college students to post their life stories, because it works off an app that people already have. 

“I’ve seen similar applications with the same concept,” Douglass said. “They weren’t allowed to post any actual nude pictures or pictures or videos of uncensored things. … Some of the content we get is … a lot of the obscene, vulgar displays of sexual acts, and whatever we get just wouldn’t fall under the guidelines of what Apple would allow in their app store and actively promote.”

This article has been updated since publication. UTUnrated has changed its snapchat username to "utunrated5."

Katie Stone, social media strategist at 360training.com, gives career advice to students at a career info-session, which the Vick Center for Strategic Advising & Career Counseling hosted Tuesday evening, about social media.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

Transferable skills — skills people learn in one place and can apply to another position — are vital when looking for a job in social media, according to a panel of graduates working in the field.

A group of panelists spoke about the importance of social media in the job hunt at a career info-session, which the Vick Center for Strategic Advising & Career Counseling hosted Tuesday.

Knowing how to use a variety of platforms and understanding website analytics are important parts of many entry-level jobs after graduation, the panelists said. 

Megan Jackson, social media strategist at 360training.com, an online learning company, said having internship experience and gaining transferable skills while still in school are the biggest things she has learned looking back on her career.

“Social media skills are something that you can definitely use — [even] if you don’t necessarily want to go strictly into a social media sphere, you can definitely use it in other regards,” Jackson said.

Katie Stone, marketing associate at CATCH Global Foundation, a children’s health care charity, said she suggests candidates teach themselves transferable skills before they need to start looking for a job because it makes candidates more marketable.

“Something that … I [wish I had] studied more, is graphic design and basic HTML,” Stone said. “Those are things that I’ve really valued teaching myself and continuing learning about.”

Stone said working for small nonprofits helped her discover her love for marketing and fundraising, and the excitement of developing the voice of an organization through social media.

“Something that I found really great about working for small nonprofits is they are chronically understaffed, which can be stressful, but it can also mean you get to do everything,” Stone said.

Andy Moore, community management lead at Main Street Hub, an online marketing company, said showing candidates can be successful in creating a brand and engaging followers via social media is what separates potential job candidates.

“I think a common misconception amongst people looking for jobs in social media is that they come into the interview and say, ‘I have Facebook; I know Facebook. I’ve been on Twitter, so I know it, I know how to do it.’” Moore said. “But do you know the ends and outs of it? Do you know how to create your own type of brand or how to have a purpose on any of these sites?”

Thomas Garza, associate professor and director in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, speaks about the use of technology and social media and its impact on political revolutions and regimes in the CLA Thursday evening. He emphasized how increasingly evident the use of technology is promoting social uprising globally.
Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

Social media has increased global awareness of revolutions and made the expression and spread of ideas easier, according to a panel of social media experts. 

A group of experts spoke on campus Thursday about the impact of technology and new media on political revolutions and regimes, especially in non-democratic countries. 

James Stratton, international relations and global studies senior, said he thinks social media helped him spread awareness of the 2010 Arab Spring revolutions. 

“I am very interested in the Arab Spring, [and] before social media, if I wanted to tell people in my social network about the protest, I would have to physically find them or make something on paper, post it up,” Stratton said. “Hopefully, they’d see it. Now I could just whip out my phone.”

After former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, governments caught on to the potentially drastic effects of social media campaigns and learned how one dissenting tweet can lead to a widespread political movement, according to Bahaa Ghobrial, a radio-television-film graduate student who studies social media. 

Ghobrial said when traditional governments acknowledge the power of social media to cause unrest, they begin to worry about political dissidents who before did not pose an obvious threat.

“[To cause a revolution], it has to be everything all together,” Ghobrial said. “So there’s the social movement, but also that the social movement would get the traditional media’s attention. All these newspapers that I have in my study, they start to report on the Egyptian revolution after the demonstration happened and succeeded.”

When social media mobilizes people to protest in real life, mainstream media outlets begin to report on that mobilization, which in turn causes governments take the protesters seriously, Ghobrial said. 

Governments around the world, including those in Russia and Iran, now recognize the increasing power of social media, Ghobrial said. From identifying protesters in videos in order to arrest them, to launching their own compelling campaigns, totalitarian regimes have used social media to their own ends, he said. 

Jessica Weaver, outreach director for the Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies, said she thinks social media’s power to influence public opinion is relevant for every society and government, not just those that are  undemocratic.

“This was a topic that we felt was not only pressing, but relates across all global regions,” Weaver said. 

Edwin Qian, managing information systems and economics senior, left, biology junior Ellen Cocanougher and accounting junior William Herbst are the founding members of the University’s chapter of Not On My Campus.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Over the course of the last week, Not On My Campus, a student-led sexual assault prevention movement, garnered national attention and earned 1,400 signatures on a petition to stop sexual violence on UT’s campus. 

The social media movement, adapted from a program that originated at SMU, is dedicated to starting conversations about sexual violence. Three UT students — Edwin Qian, managing information systems and economics senior, biology junior Ellen Cocanougher and accounting junior William Herbst — launched the local campaign in advance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which begins Wednesday. 

The campaign quickly gained momentum, as participants wrote “Not On My Campus” on their palms and posted photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Sexual assault is a prevalent issue on college campuses across the country, and the full scope of the problem at any given university is often hard to determine, according to Erin Burrows, interpersonal violence prevention specialist for Voices Against Violence. 

According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, 80 percent of Texans who are raped never report the incident to law enforcement. Many national studies have found that nearly one in five college women are sexually assaulted over the course of their college experience, according to a report released by the organization. 

Not On My Campus UT launched an online pledge asking signers to support and empower assault survivors, work with campus resources to promote safety and engage in practices of bystander intervention. Qian said signing the pledge amounts to a public declaration to stand up against sexual assault, which he hopes is the first step in putting sexual violence prevention into practice. 

The movement has not been limited to students — President William Powers Jr. and former football head coach Mack Brown both participated in the social media campaign last week. Members of Not On My Campus said they hope support from alumni and faculty will help their message trickle down to the entire community. UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the campaign helps promote a no-nonsense attitude toward sexual assault prevention on campus. 

“By participating in the #NotOnMyCampusUT campaign, [Powers] is trying to help our students spread that message,” Susswein said. “He is so proud of the stances that our students have taken.”  

In addition to a social media campaign, the group members plan to establish a campus organization and expand outreach through various prevention programs. 

“We don’t just want to be an initiative,” Herbst said. “We also want to be a continuous, strong organization here on campus and be an intermediary source between the student body and the administration.” 

The group plans to conduct bystander-intervention training, hold self-defense classes and work with incoming freshmen to provide survivors with the help and support they need. 

“We know a lot of freshmen are terrified when they come in and experience this type of culture for the first time,” Cocanougher said. “We want to be able to bring awareness about it and educate people about the resources on campus.” 

Burrows, who has advised Not On My Campus since the fall, said reaching over 50,000 students with any campaign is challenging and social media can be an effective way to spread the simple message of consent. 

Burrows said she is glad fraternity and sorority leaders are making a vocal stand about sexual assault on college campuses. According to a 2013 study conducted by researchers at Oklahoma State University, men in fraternities are more likely to perpetrate sexual assault, while women in sororities are more likely to be assault survivors.

“When people are talking about the issue of sexual assault, they talk about the prevalence rates in Greek community, and that is true,” Burrows said. “But it’s not a problem specific to Greek community — it’s a problem in all communities.” 

Since the launch of the campaign on March 23, campus leaders from St. Edwards and University of North Texas have contacted the group seeking advice on how to establish Not On My Campus initiatives at their schools. 

“By bringing it here, it’s going to be the kick-starter that spreads it across campuses,” Herbst said. “If we have a successful program here, it’s going to spread across to other schools.”

Interested in how you can prevent sexual assault on campus? Full event listings for Sexual Violence Prevention Month at UT can be found here.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

Pizzabelli, a new East Austin pizzeria,  is accepting employment applications exclusively through Snapchat.

Earlier this month, Pizzabelli posted an ad on Craigslist, encouraging people to send a Snapchat to the username “hiredinasnap” to apply for a position as a host or bartender. The company said it will use the Snapchats to screen for candidates who create “a great first impression.”

Claudia Giliberti, career services advisor for the College of Communication, said a Snapchat-based hiring process makes more sense for some business than others.

“Probably for this type of job it would be acceptable [to apply through Snapchat],” said Giliberti. “I don’t think it’s bad, honestly. It would allow students or applicants to give an animated version of themselves, you know. They can actually say something and can decide what to share.”

Giliberti said the pizzeria targeted the appropriate age demographic by using Snapchat videos.  

“Considering the age and the salary employees are going to make, it’s a decent tool, because you also want to see the person and see how the person interacts with potential customers,” Gillberti said.

Gilberti said accepting applications through Snapchat videos is part of a new trend of employer involvement on social media.

“Tools like Twitter and LinkedIn...are considered normal nowadays,” Gilberti said. “This is basically following that wave of social media interactions where employers are going to check on candidates, and look at their profiles and read what they post.”

Maria Malibiran, English and public relations junior, said using Snapchat as a hiring tool might create a barrier for would-be applicants who aren’t college students.

“There’s a very specific target demographic [for Snapchat],” Malibiran said. “The pizzeria [is] trying to make it easier for college students to work there.”

Public relations sophomore Abby Bollinger said she thinks Pizzabelli is likely also trying to spread awareness about their brand.

“If I was them, I would also be doing it because I would like want people who are using social media,” Bollinger said. “A lot of professions are looking for young people who are in touch and know how to use social media really well, so they can help them out with that when they’re hired.”

Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

A recent study by University researchers concluded that men tend to prefer women with specific lumbar curvatures — and its promotion prompted criticism on social media.

The study explored the correlation between women’s spinal curves and men’s dating preferences, suggesting that the optimal male preference for a female mate is a 45.5 degree lumbar curvature. The results of the study were based on two experiments with a total sample size of about 300 men, who found images of women with the 45.5 degree angle as the most attractive.

“The principal aim of the second [experiment] was to show that what was assumed to be a butt preference is not that,” said David Lewis, lead researcher and UT alumnus, in an email to the Texan. “Rather, it appears to be a preference for curvy spines.”

When the University’s official Facebook page posted an article about the study earlier this week, it prompted conversations about sexism, feminism and the scientific method generally.

The top-liked comment, from UT graduate Carolyn Fusinato, featured frustration about the focus of the study.

“Please show me a study about what women like [because] it’s 2015. That is all,” she wrote.

Another user called the study “embarrassing” and “shallow nonsense.”

Business sophomore Caitlin Walsh said she thought many people showed an unnecessarily strong reaction to the study.

“I don’t know why there was such a negative reaction,” Walsh said. “It’s just stating a correlation that was found, but they are treating it as inherently sexist.”

Several men and women who commented on the post wrote about women changing their bodies to fit this new standard of beauty. Walsh said she wasn’t sure how much women would be able to do to adjust to beauty standards involving lumbar curvature.

“Are women going to start, like, standing differently, hurting their backs or getting some weird surgery so that their spine is more curvy?” Walsh said. “I feel like it’s not something we can really change.”

Lewis said he felt many people misunderstood the purpose of the study. The research will be valuable to society because it addresses some of the roots of cultural perceptions of beauty, he said.

“If we want to create societal change, then understanding the deep roots of [perceptions of attractiveness] is critical,” Lewis said. “Without an evolutionary perspective, we might have continued to hold a misconception about the world. Instead, we now have both a clarification of our assumption and a new discovery.”

As the only time college ball supersedes professional sports, the NCAA Tournament bestows a maddening amount of attention on colleges. When lower-seeded teams pull off scintillating upsets, fans laud their perseverance, grit and character. When storied teams fall in early rounds, fans lament their mistakes, poor decisions and lack of heart. It takes little more than a few seconds — the time required for a buzzer beater — to change the storyline.

This suspense and unpredictability attract millions of fans to follow the tournament each year. Emotions packed into game-changing moments reel us in. The heartbreak of lost chances pulls at us.

But in recent weeks, the tournament isn’t the only college news making headlines. Joey Casselberry, who played first baseman for the Bloomsburg University baseball team through last week, changed his own storyline Friday night with a single tweet about the female Little Leaguer Mo’ne Davis. 

 “Disney is making a movie about Mo’ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That slut got rocked by Nevada,” he tweeted.

Trash-talking is nothing new in the worlds of social media and sports. Casselberry’s message, sans the slang, jabs more at Davis’ athletic ability than at her character or gender. But society doesn’t condone speaking derogatorily about women, much less a 13-year-old girl, in a public forum. On Saturday, Casselberry was promptly dismissed from the team.

(Davis later asked the university president to reinstate Casselberry since she “knows he worked hard to get where he is” and didn’t want him to ruin his dreams. No luck.)

Casselberry’s consequences are the latest in a series of college kids’ errors rocking national headlines. Including a videoed racist chant at OU and a Facebook group at Penn State with photos of nude women, social media accountability is surging rapidly. None of these three instances showed new phenomena in society — racism, nude photography and derogatory language — and yet each instance garnered much attention and will stunt the students’ futures. Why?

Higher education spans further than professional aspirations and academic competency. College campuses aim to foster diversity, broaden students’ horizons and — to borrow the motto of the Plan II Honors program in the College of Liberal Arts — enable students to make for themselves a life, not just a living. When students act counter to these goals, they face the consequences.

The rabble-rousing unfolding on college campuses in the past few weeks doesn’t suggest new trends so much as new accountability for old trends. As college students in the digital age, we must remember that technology enables others to watch at any time. Though 20-20 hindsight frames these instances as cases of stupidity or prejudice, each is more unique for its consequences than its initial actions. Sadly, such depravity trickles through all college campuses (and far beyond campuses), often without malicious intent. Lessons of morality and sensitivity abound. But another lesson lies beneath these scandals as well: humility.

College students have a penchant for strongly overestimating their capabilities, invincibility and sphere of influence. We’re simultaneously able to capitalize on campus opportunities and make poor decisions after hours, right?

No.

Thinking twice (maybe three times) about the impact of our actions beyond our personal spheres is a crucial life lesson. Our storylines, and storylines of many others who are intertwined, can change irreversibly in no time. Let’s channel such moments and decisions in both life and on social media into positive outcomes — change people’s lives for the better instead.

Epstein is a Plan II and journalism senior from Dallas. Follow Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

Photo Credit: Lydia Thron | Daily Texan Staff

The time between an album’s announcement to the tour’s final show used to be fairly standard: advertise the album, release a few singles, drop the record and promote the album with videos and a tour. 

This standard is undergoing major revision as many popular artists ignore it completely by implementing spontaneous album releases. Years of experimentation have led labels to abandon extensive PR and instead rely on hype and social media to drive an album’s sales, avoiding the undermining effects of a potential leak.

Staying relevant has always been crucial in music sales, but few acts have perfected this. Although social media was not prevalent when the White Stripes toured, Jack White and Meg White performed seemingly random day shows — playing on a boat, a public bus or even a bowling alley — before their concerts to promote their concerts and sell tickets.

This trend trickled over from live performances to album releases, such as Beyoncé’s surprise release of her self-titled fifth album. The impact of the release was massive; social media buzzed for days about the release and the album received critical acclaim and debuted at number one in the U.S.

Social media was at the core of the success of Beyoncé’s album. Spreading the news of an artist’s new album is as simple as hitting the retweet button. Dave Junker, advertising and public relations lecturer, said the crux of social media is that it costs almost nothing for a PR group to use; the user does all the advertising.

“Beyoncé is a prime example of how this model works,” Junker said. “The surprise release of her album allowed the loyal fan base to help promote the album. It becomes an organic thing, a bit of a sensation.”

Junker said when users’ Facebook and Twitter feeds fill up with comments on a new album, people are more likely to purchase the record. 

Other artists have followed suit. Drake mirrored Beyoncé’s model: He released his mixtape via Twitter, received more than 110,000 retweets and sold almost half-a-million albums in three days. 

Junker said piracy plays a major role when considering how to announce and release a record. 

“The main reason labels are pursuing these quick releases is to minimize the potential impact of some of the albums getting leaked,” Junker said. “As artists and management struggle to handle how quickly the industry is evolving, these quick releases help avoid major pitfalls.”

If people get word that an album was released, Junker said they are more likely to support the artist by purchasing a digital or actual hard copy than downloading an illegal copy. Piracy is unavoidable once the album is released but eliminating the possibility of an accidental release or leak before the album formally releases increases sales.

This trend may or may not be temporary, but one thing is for sure: it works.

Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu compete in the executive alliance debate against candidates David Maly, Steven Svatek, Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi in the Union Ballroom on Monday night.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

With one day left of voting, Student Government Executive Alliance candidates spent Wednesday tabling in the rain and making final pushes on social media.

Braydon Jones, a government senior, said he and Kimia Dargahi, an international relations and global studies senior, will be listening to student opinions until the end of the race.

“We still believe in our platform,” Jones said. “We still believe we have a lot of listening to do. It’s not over yet.”

The campaign team for journalism and economics senior David Maly and civil engineering junior Stephen Svatek are working to talk to as many students as possible, according to Maly.  

“We’ve absolutely been busy, just working on last minute outreach efforts,” Maly said. “I feel like with any election, you have to give it all you’ve got, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Xavier Rotnofsky, a Plan II and linguistics junior, said he and Rohit Mandalapu, a Plan II and economics senior, read palms and traded secrets in the West Mall on Wednesday and said they will table again tomorrow, even in the case of bad weather.

“We’re not expecting a certain outcome. We’re just taking it a day at a time,” Rotnofsky said. “We’ll be out tabling [Thursday] on the West Mall regardless of inclement weather.”

The delay will have no affect on the campus-wide voting schedule, according to Election Supervisory Board chair Nick Molina. Voting will still end at 5 p.m., and winners will be announced at 6:30 p.m. In the event that the University cancels classes entirely, voting will be extended to Friday at noon, and the announcement will be made at 1:30 p.m., Molina said. 

Photo Credit: Ethan Black | Daily Texan Staff

The development of the Internet and social media has created a space for people to share diverse ideas and views — but not necessarily to converse with others from different perspectives, according to a visiting professor.

“We are living in a world where things are sharable but not shared,” said Koichi Iwabuchi, media and cultural studies professor from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. “Many polarized voices are competing to gain visibility without dialogue among themselves.” 

The digital media has increased the accessibility of information, but many of the circulating ideas are harmful, according to Iwabuchi.

“[Digital media] has become a center for the connection of new ideas, but we need to rethink the nature of these kinds of connections,” Iwabuchi said.

Iwabuchi used examples of increased Japanese hate speech against Koreans to show how digital media has the power to spread prejudice as much as it has the power to spread information.

“The tolerance of such bigotry was made possible by the Internet,” Iwabuchi said.

Despite the negative impact Iwabuchi states digital media has on societies, Plan II freshman Samantha Gorny said she believes social media is combining with global media to create a space where ordinary citizens have an opportunity to be heard.

“Videos, blogs and forums are challenging the traditionally conservative media coverage of issues and events,” Gorny said.

Five hundred million tweets are sent out per day on Twitter, and Facebook has more than 1 billion active members, according to each of their websites. Experts, as well as everyday users, have attributed the urgency of the Arab Spring, a region-wide revolution that began in December 2010, to social media’s ability to distribute information quickly.

According to chemistry senior, the Internet provides a platform for revolution and freedom of expression, but its openness inevitably results in negative push back. 

“These people get so far lost in their own opinions, where they continue to get positive feedback from the same kind of people,” Nyugen said. “There are no opposing opinions because the opposing opinion is doing the same on another website.”

The speed at which information spreads and the anonymity provided through digital media results in more people participating in hateful behavior, according to Iwabuchi.

“The most threatening to us is not [a mob], but those invisible people who click to endorse the racist action and speech — the silent clicking majority,” Iwabuchi said.