More Than 300 Sharks In Australia Are Now On Twitter

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By Alan Yu

Sharks in Western Australia are now tweeting out where they are.

Government researchers have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters that monitor where the animals are. When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark’s size, breed and approximate location.

Since 2011, Australia has had more fatal shark attacks than any other country; there have been six over the past two years — the most recent in November.

The tagging system alerts beachgoers far quicker than traditional warnings, says Chris Peck, operations manager of Surf Life Saving Western Australia. “Now it’s instant information,” he tells Sky News, “and really people don’t have an excuse to say we’re not getting the information. It’s about whether you are searching for it and finding it.”

The tags will also be monitored by scientists studying the sharks. Researchers have tagged great whites, whaler sharks and tiger sharks.

“This kind of innovative thinking is exactly what we need more of when it comes to finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict,” says Alison Kock, research manager of the Shark Spotters program in South Africa. Kock tells NPR that the project is a good idea — but that people should know that not all sharks are tagged.

Her program does the same work, but humans do the spotting and tweeting.

Kock and Kim Holland, a marine biologist who leads shark research at the University of Hawaii, agree that the tweets won’t be enough to protect swimmers.

“It can, in fact, provide a false sense of security — that is, if there is no tweet, then there is no danger — and that simply is not a reasonable interpretation,” Holland says, pointing out that the reverse is also true. “Just because there’s a shark nearby doesn’t mean to say that there’s any danger. In Hawaii, tiger sharks are all around our coastlines all the time, and yet we have very, very few attacks.”

In Western Australia, the local government recently proposed a plan to bait and kill sharks that swim near beaches.

Holland says most shark biologists would agree that’s not a good plan, partly because of what researchers have learned using acoustic transmitters. Scientists tracking white sharks, for example, found that the species can travel great distances, going from Western Australia to South Africa in some cases.

“Because we know that they are so mobile, we’re not sure that killing any of them will have any effect on safety,” Holland says, pointing out that great white sharks don’t set up shop along the same coastlines for long. He says the number of these sharks is on the rise — but there aren’t that many to begin with.

“The other side of the coin is that it’s a horrible thing to see when people get killed, so there’s often public outcry for government agencies to do something.”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/12/31/258670211/more-than-300-sharks-in-australia-are-now-on-twitter?ft=1&f=1001

West High Bros – Iowa City teen Jeremiah Anthony starts trending of complimenting classmates on Twitter

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When rogue Twitter accounts started criticizing students and calling them names in Eastern Iowa last year, some Iowa City teenagers decided to take Internet anonymity in a different direction.

Since it started last October, West High Bros — a Web presence operated by West High students — has earned almost 700 Twitter followers and even more Facebook friends.

The idea came after a bullying Twitter account at Linn-Mar High School spurred copycats in Iowa City.

“That’s the opposite of what we’re doing,” said junior Jon Ealy, one of the students who runs the social media account. “A few started up, but this is the only one that’s lasted.”

The strategy is simple: Identify a student, find them on Twitter or Facebook, and say something nice.

“You’re the next great Trojan legend,” “You can make anyone crack up with your corny jokes,” and “You’re a great role model for West High,” are just a few of the compliments the Twitter account has dealt this week.

And it’s not just students who get the love. West High Bros also has sent positive thoughts to Superintendent Steve Murley, City High Principal John Bacon, and even the Press-Citizen: “Nobody covers West sports and activities better than you guys.”

A similar Twitter account has sprung up at City High. City High Average Guys did not respond to an interview request last week.

West High Bros tries to target students who look like they’re having bad days and athletes heading to big competitions.

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“We make a point of always saying something to state finalists, which we’ve had a lot of,” West High junior Jeremiah Anthony said.

The students have kept varying degrees of anonymity. Ealy outed himself when buzz started to grow about who was running the account. Anthony said he doesn’t talk openly about his involvement but doesn’t deny it either. And some of the other handful of users keep themselves totally unattached.

“I feel like it’s more effective if they don’t know it’s coming from one of their friends,” said one user, who even keeps her involvement a secret from her mom.

Most of the students involved are juniors, so they’ll be able to keep the project up for at least two more years, but there’s a goal the students would like to meet before giving up the project.

“I just want it to be so there doesn’t need to be an anonymous account to be supportive,” Anthony said. “When people start saying something nice for no reason, that’s when we should stop.”

Students started the West account and others like it at several Eastern Iowa schools, including City High, last year to counteract those who were using anonymous Twitter handles to criticize and name call.

West High Bros had nearly 1,600 Twitter followers as of Monday — more than twice as many as it had in September, when the group was featured in the Press-Citizen.

“It’s been gaining some legs here, and now it’s very pervasive throughout the school,” Arganbright said Monday.

“We make a point of always saying something to state finalists, which we’ve had a lot of,” West High junior Jeremiah Anthony said.

The students have kept varying degrees of anonymity. Ealy outed himself when buzz started to grow about who was running the account. Anthony said he doesn’t talk openly about his involvement but doesn’t deny it either. And some of the other handful of users keep themselves totally unattached.

“I feel like it’s more effective if they don’t know it’s coming from one of their friends,” said one user, who even keeps her involvement a secret from her mom.

Most of the students involved are juniors, so they’ll be able to keep the project up for at least two more years, but there’s a goal the students would like to meet before giving up the project.

“I just want it to be so there doesn’t need to be an anonymous account to be supportive,” Anthony said. “When people start saying something nice for no reason, that’s when we should stop.”

Students started the West account and others like it at several Eastern Iowa schools, including City High, last year to counteract those who were using anonymous Twitter handles to criticize and name call.

West High Bros had nearly 1,600 Twitter followers as of Monday — more than twice as many as it had in September, when the group was featured in the Press-Citizen.

“It’s been gaining some legs here, and now it’s very pervasive throughout the school,” Arganbright said Monday.