Two candidates competing for a California school-board seat are using Twitter and Facebook to debate each other.

It’s just another example of how today’s candidates – even the independent candidates who aren’t getting media exposure in their local newspaper, on local talk radio or on TV news stations – can get their message across to voters through social-network sites, leaving the more “conventional” media in the dust.

Added benefit? Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other online sites provide open and two-way communication with voters.

Breaking news!

Last Friday night, a friend called to say he was stuck in traffic on a major highway. Unable to find out what was causing the delay, which appeared to be miles ahead, he asked if I would tune in to local radio or TV to find out what was happening.

Instead, I went to my Twitter page and entered “accident I-95” in the search field on the right sidebar. Within seconds, Twitter had filtered out all Tweets except those with my keywords. In less than 10 seconds I was able to tell my friend what the delay was from tweets from other Twitterers also caught in the jam, but closer to the accident.

One Twitterer had even taken a cell-phone photo and uploaded it to YFrog, showing a burned-out 18-wheel trailer.

Why wait to read about it in tomorrow’s newspaper or on the eleven o’clock news? Folks with Blackberries, iPhones and other mobile devices know what’s happening all the time, no matter where. Yet another example of how rapidly the “conventional” media is becoming obsolete.

The Drudge Report, online news aggregator that provides links to current news stories, is now linked to Twitter’s Breaking News site. As I wrote last week, an even better Twitter is coming our way.

Lookout PayPal, Google and Amazon!

Facebook has figured out how to make money, lots of it, by selling carbon credits.

Just kidding … but only partly, because what Facebook is selling is virtual thin air. Facebook’s “Credits” have become the “exclusive payment method for most of the games created by Zynga, the No. 1 developer of Facebook applications,” according to a report in the New York Times tech section.

“Zynga is expected to have $500 million in revenue this year, according to the Inside Network, which tracks Facebook applications, as millions of users pay real money to buy virtual goods on games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Through Credits, Facebook will take a 30-percent cut.”

Facebook anticipates that by the end of the year, Credits will be used to buy most of the virtual goods sold on Facebook, totaling $853 million. To capture an even broader market, Facebook is now selling Credits gift cards at Target stores across the country. With more than 500 million users, Facebook is the world’s largest social-networking site.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, says the company may choose to do “a lot more” with Credits in the future, turning Credits into a system for micropayments that could be open to any of the million applications on Facebook. Promising to give PayPal, Google and other online merchandisers a run for … dare I say it?

By the way…

Forbes magazine reports that Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old self-made Facebook billionaire, is positioned at No. 35 on the Forbes 400 with an estimated fortune of $6.9 billion, jumping ahead of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, whose net worth of $6.1 billion ranks him as the 42nd richest American.

Zuckerberg’s wealth comes from private-equity investments in Facebook now valued at between $23 billion and $34 billion.

Meanwhile, several Facebook users turned to Twitter to complain when Facebook went down because of undisclosed tech issues last week.

Twitted one wit on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s feed: “OPB BREAKING NEWS: Facebook is down. Worker productivity rises. U.S. climbs out of recession.”

EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.  A general view of the Bushehr main nuclear reactor, 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran, August 21, 2010. Iran began fuelling its first nuclear power plant on Saturday, a potent symbol of its growing regional sway and rejection of international sanctions designed to prevent it building a nuclear bomb. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi (IRAN - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY POLITICS)

A new era in cyber war?

Like an episode from “Twilight Zone,” wouldn’t it be amazing if something as small as ones and zeros stopped Iran’s nuclear development in its tracks?

Forget bunker busters, smart bombs or on-the-ground special ops. Rogue nuclear facilities could be downed by something as tiny as a bug. A worm. A virus. Turns out that a piece of highly sophisticated malicious binary code might not be so fictionally fantastic. Malicious software known as a Stuxnet computer worm works by spreading through holes in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. It then seeks and destroys a type of software made by Siemens that is used to control industrial components that include brakes and valves. Stuxnet has already infected several power plants, pipelines and factories.

One German industrial-controls safety expert said Stuxnet might be targeting only one plant, speculating it could be a controversial nuclear facility in Iran, which has had more technological infections than any other country.

Blogger Doug Ross at Director Blue has done a great job of explaining it with visuals.

Making it a federal case

Can a wireless provider block text messages they don’t like? Are wireless carriers under the same “must carry” obligations as wire-line telephone providers?

We’ll soon find out when a federal court decides if T-Mobile – in the first federal case of its kind – can pick and choose which text messages to deliver on its network.

T-Mobile is being sued by a texting service that’s claiming T-Mobile stopped servicing its short-code clients after it signed up a California medical-marijuana dispensary.

T-Mobile says it has the right to preapprove EZ Texting’s clientele. Such approval is necessary, T-Mobile added, “to protect the carrier and its customers from potentially illegal, fraudulent or offensive marketing campaigns conducted on its network.”

Register here

Want to get bloggers, Facebook and Twitter users all riled up? Just tell them they’ll have to register to license their online sites.

After an official with the Saudi Ministry of Information remarked that bloggers and web forums would have to register under a new electronic-media law, hundreds of people in a Twitter thread pitched a fit.

After his comments sparked outrage among Saudi Internet users, the Saudi official walked it back, denying that bloggers and web forums would be forced to register under a new electronic-media law. Ministry of Information domestic-media supervisor Abdulrahman al-Hazzaa said his remarks were misunderstood, and said the new law will require online news sites to be licensed, but would only encourage bloggers and others to register.

NEW FEATURE! Favorite videos of the week

Introducing a new feature in this week’s Surfin’ Safari. You’re invited to participate! Did you see a video that impressed you? Send me the link and I’ll try to include it in next week’s roundup. This week’s top three just happen to be politically themed. Send your choice to me, as long as it’s family-friendly, at the email below.

This week’s Surfin’ Safari top three videos:

From the rearview mirror

1938 – “Peace for our time” – Neville Chamberlain

1955 – James Dean dies in car crash

1957 – Sputnik launched, orbits over U.S.

1960 – Khrushchev pounds fists at U.N.

1964 – Warren Commission concludes “no conspiracy”

1988 – Shuttle returns to space after Challenger disaster

1995 – O.J. Simpson “not guilty”

Now playing at the Princess in Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Russell B. Dobbyn, Gulfport, Miss.; Charlotte Kaplan, Nazareth, Pa.; and Will Warwick, Brampton, Ontario, who were among the first to correctly guess actor Kim Darby in her portrayal of Mattie Ross in the 1969 movie “True Grit.”

The film tells the story of a teenage tomboy, Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), on a mission of “justice,” which involves avenging her father’s death. She recruits tough old Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn (John Wayne) because he has “grit” and a reputation of getting the job done. The two are joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who is searching for the same man (Jeff Corey) for a separate murder in Texas. Their odyssey takes them from Fort Smith, Arkansas, deep into the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) to find their man.

The quote was: “Now I know you can drink whiskey and I saw you kill a rat, but all the rest has been talk. I’m not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need at the Monarch Boarding House.”

The bonus quote was: “There’s an old song that says: One white foot buy ’em, two white feet try ’em, three white feet be on the sly, four white feet pass ’em by.”

This week’s quote: “If this guy owned a funeral parlor, nobody would die!”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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