Driven to distraction. A frightening number of people are interacting with social media when they should be watching the road. As part of a public service campaign to stop distracted driving, the phone company AT&T recently conducted a poll of 2,067 U.S. residents from 16 to 65 years old who own a smartphone and drive at least once a day. While texting is still the most prevalent preoccupation—61% of the respondents reported doing it—a whopping 27% of the drivers polled admitted to checking their Facebook newsfeeds while they’re behind the wheel, and 14% said they are spending time on Twitter. Ten percent of the motorists polled are using Instagram while they drive, and the same number of drivers is allowing the newsworthy and popular vanishing messaging app Snapchat to divert their attention from the road. Perhaps most shocking is the fact that one in ten of the respondents admitted to video chatting behind the wheel. Laws attempting to stop this kind of recklessness have been enacted; 46 states now prohibit texting while driving, Oklahoma most recently. New York Times writer Matt Richtel, who has covered the “texting while driving” issue for years, theorizes that people continue to look at their electronic devices while they drive out of habit, cockiness (we overestimate our own ability to multitask while criticizing the ability of others to do the same) and strong social and marketing pressure to stay connected.
Social outcast. The government of one of the world’s smallest countries is imposing limitations on social media use, too, but the restriction doesn’t just apply to people behind the wheel of a car, and it’s not being imposed in the interest of driver safety. Facebook was recently banned in Nauru, an island in the Central Pacific with approximately 10,000 inhabitants. Despite the social media giant’s policy of removing most nudity-containing content, the Nauruan government maintains that the Facebook ban is necessary to stop “criminals and sexual perverts.” Nauruan parliament opposition members, meanwhile, believe the ban is an act of dictatorship intended to stop the platform’s use as a vehicle for political protest. At least six other countries around the world block social media, to varying degrees: China, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam.
Pin money. The social media site Pinterest, a 5-year-old Internet powerhouse with an $11 billion valuation, is implementing another feature intended to bring in some cash: Buyable Pins. Soon, the site’s users—who, according to demographics reports, are often affluent women—will be able to purchase the items they “pin” or bookmark on the Pinterest platform from Pinterest’s many new partners, which, so far, include Macy’s and Nordstrom. The feature will streamline the online purchasing process by allowing Pinterest users to buy pinned items from several stores without having to leave the Pinterest site or enter their payment information more than once (unless it’s an especially big purchase). Buyable Pins will presumably also facilitate purchase-decision-making by allowing users to sort the items they’ve pinned by price. For example, if a user is interested in buying a new briefcase, he can pin all the ones that caught his eye while surfing the Web onto one Pinterest board, where he can compare pictures of the briefcases side-by-side and sort them from least- to most-expensive. The plan seems worthy of a company that recently raised $186 million in funding and is rumored to be revving up for an IPO.