Social Ad Summit Report: Wikipedia Founder On Helping Kidnapped Journos

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Don Draper may not have been in attendance, but Monday’s panels on advertising and the Internet at the Social Ad Summit at the New World Stages certainly had its fair share of slick sellers. Did you know that one in three people working in new media are developing Facebook applications? That might be an exaggeration, but you wouldn’t have known it from the breadth of panel topics, which ranged from “Facebook Fan Page Success: Superpowered Fan Growth” to “Show Me the Money!: Measuring Social Media ROI.”

The main speaker of the day was Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. Though Wales espoused on topics from Everything Bad is Good for You to why he hates the term “crowdsourcing,” his most interesting answers involved the scrubbing the Wikipedia entry for David Rohde when New York Times journalist was captured by the Taliban last year and held for seven months.

“It was a matter of national safety,” Wales explained. “The Times asked us to, and we agreed. It was a very complicated situation, and I had to think to myself, ‘What would I feel comfortable doing?’ When I realized a man’s life was in jeopardy if I allowed this information to be disseminated, I was not comfortable with it.”

As a counter-point to what some could seem as a Big Brother-ing of the user-edited site, Wales provided the example of Wikipedia’s policy on some of their entries on China. Since China just recently lifted a nation-wide ban on the site, but still closely monitors and blocks certain pages on their citizen’s computers, Wales and his team had to make the decision to just scrub the entries completely.

“But we decided that we wouldn’t be the ones to limit users’ rights on the subject,” Wales said, though it would certainly improve his relations with Chinese officials. In fact, knowing the amount of threatened lawsuits and libel cases Wikipedia and Wales have come up against since he co-founded the site in 2001, there’s an argument to be made that the more rigorous the editing on the user-created encyclopedia, the better. But then again, it just wouldn’t be Wikipedia.

After the jump, a look at how Facebook pages are helping magazines from the founder of video marketing firm Involver.

social ad summit.jpgThough we missed Involver co-founder Rahim Fazal’s panel on Facebook fan pages and their applicability to publishing titles, we were able to speak to him during a break, where he graciously walked us through his company’s success working pubs such as Us Weekly and Time magazine.

By putting breaking stories on these publication’s Facebook pages as their status message, Involver hit upon a way to get their clients’ message out to everyone who subscribed as a fan. This brings more incentive to say, friending Us Weekly on Facebook than merely adding them to your RSS feed. Ironic, since Us publisher Jann Wenner has notoriously been so anti-Internet.

If anything, the overarching reliance on Facebook was one of the bigger missteps of the whole day, since almost every corporation represented trotted out their ideas solely for applications on Mark Zuckerberg’s site. It made one long for the days of iPhone reliance — wasn’t that supposed to be the next great leap in software development?

–by Drew Grant

(Photos by Keith Lew)