By Jamie Butow
It wasn't social media that misidentified the Sandy Hook Elementary School killer as Ryan Lanza rather than his younger brother Adam -- but once his name was out there Friday, everyone named Ryan Lanza was in the spotlight. Links to Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were shared by mainstream media outlets and Web detectives around the globe.
Once police released the name -- and yes, the name came from police and was then reported by the media as is standard operating procedure -- flurries of Internet searches were underway.
That's human nature. Someone shot up an elementary school and killed 20 children and six adults. We needed to know why. We needed someone to blame.
We wanted to know more about Ryan Lanza. So we looked.
We saw a Tweet from a Ryan Lanza on Friday morning that said "game day fellas."
We saw that a Ryan Lanza cussed a lot in his tweets and was depressed, saying how he wouldn't mind if the world ended soon.
Later, that Ryan Lanza tweeted that all "other tweets were just jokes because I only had around 20 followers."
On Monday he had 5,040 followers.
One Ryan Lanza on Twitter logged on after he got out of school Friday and wondered why he was trending. He gained several thousand followers despite his posts saying that he wasn't "that" Ryan Lanza.
On Monday that Twitter account no longer existed.
We cannot stop ourselves from using the tools at our fingertips -- Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It's how we learn more about everything in this day and age.
What we can do is be sure before we share. I can tell you that the link to Ryan Lanza's Facebook and Twitter pages wasn't shared by The Californian because on the multitude of Ryan Lanzas we found. It was too early to know which accounts belonged to the alleged shooter.
Of course, as it turned out, Ryan Lanza wasn't to blame. It was is younger brother Adam.
But by the time law enforcement corrected itself, dozens of anti-Ryan Lanza pages existed on Facebook. Sadly, many are still there.
Twitter TV ratings
We've all seen the Twitter hashtag pop into the corner of our television during our favorite shows. But beginning next year in looks like tweeting those hashtags will carry some real significance.
Twitter and The Nielsen Co. announced a new television ratings measurement that will gauge TV conversations on the social network. The "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" will launch in time for the Fall 2013 TV season.
Not much has been said about how the system will actually work, only that the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will complement Nielsen's existing TV ratings, which is how advertising rates are set and how networks make programming decisions.
Show us your holidays
Social media classes
I'll be teaching two classes at the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning at Bakersfield College in the spring: Social Media 101 and Social Media for Small Businesses and Organizations.
Social Media 101 is for someone familiar with computers and email but wants to learn to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other sites to keep in touch with friends and family.
We'll discuss each site, privacy and ethical issues, and you'll get to log in and try them for yourself in a computer lab.
Social Media for Small Businesses and Organizations is ideal for small-business owners and people involved in clubs, groups and nonprofits.
You'll learn best practices for reaching and engaging your audience quickly. You will have the opportunity to try to refine social media marketing strategies for your group or business and to discuss the results with the class.
Registration opens on Jan. 6, 2013 online at http://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/levaninstitute.
Links to articles mentioned here and more social media news can be found at Facebook.com/jamiebutow2.