MediaFile

Swine flu: not so bad for CDC.gov

Too bad the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t charge for its information or make money off its website — they could have made a pile of cash on the swine flu scare. (You know, if it wasn’t a government site.)

Web traffic measurement firm comScore says traffic soared at CDC.gov last month, as people visited the website amid concerns over the H1N1, or swine, flu.

In April, CDC.gov saw a 142 percent increase in traffic, or 5.7 million visitors, making it the top audience gainer among websites, comScore said. “When news of the swine flu pandemic erupted, many Americans turned to the Internet as their primary source of information for how to keep themselves and their families safe,” said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president at comScore Media Metrix.

Social networks also continued their tear last month, growing 12 percent to nearly 140 million visitors. That’s about three-quarters of the U.S. online population, comScore says, so chances are someone you know is either is Twittering, Facebook-ing or on MySpace. Twitter jumped 83 percent to 17 million visitors, while Facebook grew 10 percent in April from the previous month to reach 67.5 million visitors. MySpace had 71 million visitors.

Keep an eye on:

Photo: Reuters

On swine flu, Scribd calls itself the “anti-Twitter”

Use Twitter’s name even when you’re dissing it: that could be a good way to ensure some publicity, given the hype around everyone’s current sweetheart. But maybe Scribd, the social publishing startup that lets you upload all kinds of documents online and embed them into blog posts, does have a point about the misinformation that Twitterers could be putting up in 140-character bursts.

After all, at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) conference last week, CUNY J-school professor Sandeep Junnarkar did begin his workshop on Twitter for journalists with a caveat: “Everything you find on Twitter is rumors, false information. That’s the default position.” Kind of like what journalists and students are always told about Wikipedia.

A press release that landed in my inbox from Scribd seeks to distinguish the San Francisco-based startup as “anti-Twitter” — the antithesis of Twitter. Scribd is “quickly becoming a trusted source for unfiltered, detailed information about the swine flu,” the release says.

Google still king of search, Microsoft grows faster

Google remains the undisputed leader in U.S. Internet searches, but Microsoft can claim it is the fastest-growing, according to the latest figures from digital tally-keeper comScore.

Google claimed 63.7 percent of “core” U.S. internet searches in March, not counting mapping, directory or video sites like YouTube. That is up 0.4 percent from February.

Meanwhile, Yahoo and Microsoft, which are still umming and ahhing about combining their internet search efforts in some way, traded some gains and losses.

Facebook game chief sees rebirth of social games

Gareth Davis, games chief at social networking giant Facebook, says we’re in the middle of a “renaissance” in casual video games, as users transform a once solitary activity into a social one.

“Game play is an essentially human activity, a social activity,” Davis said in an interview at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Facebook, which has 175 million active monthly users, has seen an explosion in application development since it opened its platform to third-party developers nearly two years ago. The site now boasts 50,000 applications, the largest category of which is games, with more than 5,000.

Blue Sky for Baidu?

The dreams of Internet moonshot stocks have not disappeared amid the global economic slowdown.

Take Baidu, the No.1 Internet firm in China, which was bequeathed a lofty $432-a-share valuation by Deutsche Bank on Tuesday under a so-called “blue-sky scenario.”

That would be quite a bit above Baidu’s $186.50 opening price on Tuesday, but Deutsche Bank analyst Alan Hellawell points out in a note initiating coverage on Baidu that the stock has traded upwards of $380 in the past 52 weeks and that Baidu’s market cap still pales compared to Google’s.

Note to Yahoo’s Bartz: Ma company, Ma way

 Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has earned a reputation as a strong-willed, no-nonsense executive.

But she may have her met match in Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of Alibaba, which owns and operates Yahoo China.

 “Personally I have a management philosophy: when you see someone in the kitchen, don’t give them directions. Let them do it,” Ma told Reuters during a visit to New York on Thursday. “I do it my own way. I don’t listen to Yahoo.”

Yahoo Big as Ever in Japan

Yahoo’s island of strength in Japan looks as impregnable as ever.

In January, Yahoo increased the number of searches performed on its Japanese sites by 13 percent year-over-year, and continued to hold the top spot with a 51.3 percent share of searches conducted in Japan, according to market research firm comScore.

Google, which is the No.1 search firm in the U.S. by a long shot, saw its search share in Japan slip to 38.2 percent, from 39 percent in September. Total searches on Google sites in Japan increased 5 percent year-over-year in January.

Yahoo’s star property in the land of the rising sun is actually a 34 percent stake in a joint venture with Softbank. The Japanese partnership is one of several that Yahoo has forged overseas, such as its deal with China’s Alibaba Group.

Twitter has journalists chirping

News organizations are all a-twitter about Twitter: Is it a friend or a foe? Should it be embraced or eschewed? Will Twitter kill journalism or revive it?

As journalists learn about Twitter and how they can use it, they also write more about it. In the past day alone, there have been a handful of stories about Twitter.

The Miami Herald wrote about CNN’s Washington bureau chief David Bohrman talking about the importance of newer technologies like Twitter and YouTube. Bohrman said CNN has been using YouTube and Twitter to attract the more elusive younger audience, and had great success with the presidential-primary debates.

A Yahoo and Microsoft deal? Search me

Two days ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Yahoo should team up with his company on search so they can take on Google. That’s not a new idea; after all, Ballmer’s been talking about a search deal of some sort at every public forum for months.

But then, Yahoo CFO Blake Jorgensen sent out a message loud and clear the following day, endorsing the idea of a search partnership. Yahoo is “not opposed” to doing a deal on search, he said, adding that such a deal could be in the form of a partnership or a sale of it search business. When Carol Bartz took over as Yahoo CEO last month, she said her first instinct was to hold on to search, but of course, “everything is on the table.”

So could something be brewing on that front?

Collins Stewart’s Internet analyst Sandeep Aggarwal thinks so. In a research note today, Aggarwal writes the “posturing” from both sides suggests that a search deal is in the offing:

Tweeters as editors, sources, merchants?

In his speech at the Shorty Awards — the first unofficial Oscars for Twitter users — on Wednesday night, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez marveled at the intermingling of new and old media. Then he told the smartly dressed audience that Tweeters are “my editors, my sources, my friends, my focus group. You’re the people who matter to me more than some of the people who are supposed to matter to me.”******All this from a site where everything starts with a simple question: “What are you doing?” As the audience kept an eye on the stage while typing furiously on their cellphones, event organizer Gregory Galant told us Twitter was about much more than “where you write about what you had for lunch.”***This seemed to be confirmed by by this so-very-novice-tweeter reporter’s straw poll of attendees, who were treated to an appearance by fellow-tweeter MC Hammer.******Whatever else it is, Twitter is definitely a commercial tool as well as a social platform. Many of the 26 winners even used their tweet-sized-140-words acceptance speeches for blatant promotion of ideas, blogs businesses or causes.******Rich Tucker, known as @cruisesource on twitter, won the travel award and used his short spot to plug something called the Sofresh Social Media Cruise.***Politics winner @justin_hart promoted a politician while Scott Zagarino @athletes4acure spoke out about prostate cancer when accepting the nonprofits prize.***Martin Sargent @martinsargent, won the weird category and took a dig at the platform itself. “What’s truly weird is that by receiving the $1,000 grant that accompanies this award, I’m 1,000 times more profitable than Twitter. Thank you.” Another contendor for the weird prize, @Matman showed up at the party in an outfit to promote WellComeMat.com******Then there was the mix of attendees, many of whom paid a $60 entrance fee, besides the reporters who gave the event pretty wide coverage.***Nora Abousteit, who runs an open source sewing pattern web site burdaStyle.com, said she depends so much on Twitter for media updates that she changed her cellphone number and service after discovering twitter didn’t work well on her old phone.***Liam, a bemused 26-year-old from Brooklyn went because he is friends with the organizers. “I don’t understand twitter at all. I don’t get it,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of social interaction being boiled down to a computer.”******But Claire Chang of San Francisco-based Psolenoid saw practical uses. Chang, who is developing a twitter application, tweeted that she was going from Times Square to the awards. A reply came in time to share a car with another tweeter. At the end of the night Claire was confidently tweeting for a ride back to the city.******Vonda LePage, communications director for ad agency Deutsche Inc, dabbles with allkinds of social media. New York Times David Pogue may see twitter being “What you make it” but LePage has definite notions about what Twitter means to her – sharing information for business. But you have to be sincere or people will stop following your tweets, “if you only use it for commercial purposes, you’ll be turned off,” she said. As for the idea of telling the world you’re drinking a coffee or upset about something, LePage said, “That’s Facebook.”******(Photos of @Matman and stage screen at Shorty awards/Sinead Carew)