The cyber world exploded with the announcement by presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that seven-term Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan would join the ticket as his vice presidential running mate. Almost immediately, the number of Ryan’s Twitter followers jumped to 170,000, according to Fox News, and the event took over five of Twitter’s top 10 trending topics in the U.S.

No sooner had the announcement been made than the Romney/Ryan campaign launched its new Twitter account RomneyRyan2012.

Though rumors began swirling late last Friday night, the news was officially announced via a push notification on a smart phone app at 7:04 a.m. EST on Saturday morning, followed quickly with Tweets from Romney’s official Twitter account. Hints and speculation that Ryan would be Romney’s selection came the day before when Romney’s son Tagg tweeted of their presence in Wisconsin, and observers tweeted that Romney’s campaign plane was in Janesville, Wis., Ryan’s hometown. Savvy “cyber snoops” tracked the charter flight at FlightAware.

Live tweet coverage was provided by Twitchy, which tracked tweets. In last week’s Surfin’ Safari, we told you about Twitter’s new Twitter Political Index, which will measure Twitterers’ presidential preferences.

Bound and determined

Last week, Obama’s top homeland security and counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan furthered Obama’s intention to override the U.S. Congress’ delay on passage of the Cybersecurity Bill of 2012 with executive orders, if necessary (see Surfin’ Safari, Aug. 8).

Brennan spoke before members of the Council on Foreign Relations, assuring them that Obama’s administration was not going to let its attempt to control Internet “security” fail.

“One of the things we need to do in the executive branch is see what we can do to maybe put additional guidelines and policies in place under executive branch authorities,” Brennan said. “If the Congress is not going to act on something like this, the president wants to make sure we’re doing everything possible.”

Keeping both eyes on this one. Could this become another campaign issue? It should be.

Who ya gonna trust?

Does this shock you? Not if you’re a regular reader of this column. According to a report in Politico, Google was hit with a record-breaking $22.5 million fine last week for violating an agreement to “stop snooping on its users.” Google reportedly skirted the default privacy settings on Apple’s Safari web browser, tracking the browsing history of its users.

Going back on its word is not unusual for Google if you examine its track record. Presumably the company’s official motto “Do No Evil” might be matched by its unofficial one: “Better to beg for forgiveness than to seek permission.”

The article also reports, “Facebook is finalizing its November settlement with the FTC, where it is committing to 20 years of audits and $16,000 fines per day for any violation found.”

Ah yes, the perils of modern technology.

Have you heard the one about the Netflix exec who placed his money on Facebook? Put a million bucks down and let it roll.

You didn’t build that

Here’s a site that features clever Photoshops of President Obama in various scenarios with his controversial declaration, “You didn’t build that.” The submissions are open to anyone with a sense of humor and the ability to Photoshop the phrase or its variations onto contemporary images.

App-etites for travel

I recently purchased an iPad 4G and, like a kid in a candy store, am poring through all the yummy apps available for my new device. I travel frequently, so the Flight Track Pro is my first download. At ten bucks, this app lets me track flights, organize, track and update my travel itinerary.

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I stayed at a hotel on the strip. Surprisingly, I was charged $14 a day for Internet access. Next time I’m charged for the “amenity,” I’m following the tips laid out in this piece by Samantha Murphy at Mashable. According to Murphy, a study by J.D. Power & Associates showed that about 55 percent of all hotel guests access the Internet during their stays, with 87 percent of them using Wi-Fi. And as long as we’re on a travel meme, be sure to check out the bonus feature Murphy includes that lists 15 Travel Twitter Accounts to follow.

Here’s a new app that lets you track the economy. Just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, “America’s Economy” app can continuously update you with info on 16 economic indicators and alerts you of changes in employment, personal income, housing construction, international trade, manufacturing and retail sales.

Teens, sex and smart phones

About half of 18- to 24-year-olds are sexting, and 28 percent of teenagers are texting fully nude photos of themselves.

In 2010, the average teen was sending more than 3,000 texts a month. Just 14 percent of teens say they talk daily with friends on a land line. You’ll find these stats in a letter to teens by two women who write about the evolving social implications of the generation that has never known life without the Internet. Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich’s piece is well worth reading, especially for kids whose smart phones are literally grafted to their fingertips.

Viral vids

When Curiosity landed on Mars last week, the cyber sphere clicked over to watch the excitement of NASA behind the scenes.

Here are Mashable’s Viral Video Recap for the week, which include: cats bamboozled by an iPad trick; a pilot’s attempt to guide his plane to a smooth landing; and what a 1,000-foot fall does to an iPhone. And what was it that caused this one to mysteriously go viral since last Saturday?

Bits & Bytes

In memoriam

This week’s Surfin’ Safari column is dedicated to the memory of my friend Dave Logan, who for six years produced “The Andrea Shea King Radio Program,” and frequently helped research interesting items for this column. Dave passed away Aug. 7 after a lengthy battle with leukemia. An accomplished writer and astute observer of current events, Dave posted thousands of opinion posts at his popular website ThirdWaveDave, sharing his perspective on contemporary culture, patriotism and politics. Staunchly patriotic, Dave regularly and frequently wrote of great Americans and historic American milestones, in the belief that knowledge of history was essential to understanding and placing current events in context. He will be missed.

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