Thursday, July 16, 2015

Digital Help for Visitors to Toronto

With the Pan Am & Parapan Games officially starting tomorrow, a large number of tourists have already begun arriving in Toronto.  As one a specialist in mobile apps with a focus on apps that help people find their way around and learn more about their places, I  put together a list of my favourite Toronto mobile websites and apps.

All the the apps and websites below offer crucial information for getting around Toronto and most include geolocative maps that pinpoint your mobile location to offer customized help and directions. There are sources below to help you find your way to and around Toronto whether by public transit, car, foot, or bike. I have also included some of my favourite sources for finding out more about our city - from restaurants and restrooms to history and hijinks.

Note: I have tested all the desktop and mobile websites but not all the apps.

Pan & Parapan Am Games - Official Source

Desktop Website

Mobile App

Mobile Website

Pan Am Games official website is comprehensive and has all info on the games and cultural events. You can also buy tickets and merchandise. (including Pachi stuffies)

Key Info:
* Sports, schedules, venues, countries participating, events, transportation, and news

Pointing Your Way:
* Interactive map of sporting & cultural venues

* Venue pages have maps and links to directions
* Interactive trip planner provides driving or public transit directions
The app appears to have all info and features of desktop website. It has interactive, locative maps of sporting and cultural venues.

Available on:
Android and Apple.
Mobile website is similar to desktop website and has been mostly optimized for viewing on a mobile.

Key info and functionality present, including their trip planner. But no links found to interactive maps - instead links to Travelinx for transit directions.


Desktop Website

Mobile App

Mobile Website

Regional Public Transit

Triplinx - combines info on transit systems for Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas - specifically Brampton, Milton, Burlington, Mississauga, Oakville, York Region, and the regional GO Transit services.

Key Info:
* Schedules by route, fares, maps, and paratransit services

Pointing Your Way:
* Stop Finder - get nearest transit system by entering address
* Interactive Trip Planner - enter address or venue for directions for transit, car, or bike
No app appears to exist (but none needed as mobile website works well - see note to right) Mobile website is fully optimized.

Mobile website has full content and functionality as desktop website.

Toronto Public Transit

Toronto Transit Commission (known as TTC) is Toronto's only public transit system. TTC serves downtown Toronto as well as Scarborough, North York, East York, and Etobicoke.

Key Info:
* Fares, alerts, schedules, day passes, airport routes, maps,etc.
* You can now buy day passes online!

Pointing Your Way:
* Interactive Trip Planner - enter starting and ending points for routes
TTC's official app just launched this July. TTCconnect is only for buying tickets via Android or Apple

I use TTC Tracker. It's easy to use and hasn't let me down. TTC Tracker gives schedules for buses & streetcars (subways come about every 6-8 minutes) by route or stop.
Mobile website is fully optimized.

It has all essential info, including maps and interactive Trip Planner.


Pearson Airport is the airport most visitors to Toronto use. (There's a little airport on Toronto Island mostly for small flights). Pearson is in nearby Mississauga.

Key Info:
* Arrival and departure updates, parking guide, and free wifi info.

Pointing Your Way:
* Interactive terminal maps showing gates and showing amenities, food, and services
The app appears to have all info and maps of website.

Available on:Android, Apple, and BlackBerry.

Mobile website is fully optimized.

It has all essential info, including interactive terminal maps and customized directions to airport.


Green P Parking is owned by City of Toronto. They provide many of the parking spots here (160 lots containing about 20K spaces). Prices are reasonable (not cheap) and they don't jack up rates during special events (as some lots will).

Key Info:
* Rates per lot, monthly permits, pay tickets online

Pointing Your Way:
* Find Parking function map out nearest lots by address, venue, or intersection entered or by browsing a map - sort by distance or price
* Each lot has a webpage with its location plotted on Google Maps and rates

The app has same features as desktop website, but with additional functionality of paying via your device, setting expiry reminders, and extending meter time.

The app just launched and paying via app is not yet possible at all locations.

Available on: Android and Apple
Only partially available via mobile browser.

In a near-sighted decision, the mobile website only promotes the app. The helpful info provided on desktop website is not available, nor is their parking finder.

But payment functionality is available to members via a browser or text messaging.


Gata Hub - Now that Hailo is gone from North America, a local company offers service to hail official taxis via mobiles. Rather than having to know the specific name of a cab company, this service allows you to request a taxi pick-up in Toronto.

* I haven't used this service
* You can't hail a cab from website
GataHub's app allows one to request a taxi pick-up, estimate a fare, track taxi locations, and get arrival times.

Available on:
Android and Apple
Mobile website is optimized, but one cannot hail or view taxis from website.
Uber Toronto - links riders with private (unofficial) cars. Taxis in Toronto are regulated but Uber drivers aren't, which can result in cheaper rates than taxis. However, Uber rates can fluctuate based on demand (unlike official Toronto taxis).

* I haven't used this service
* UberX service is in legal disputes here
* You can't hail a cab from website.
Uber's app allows one to estimate a fare, split bills with friends, view driver profiles, pay with your mobile, and order a pick-up even if you don't know your address.

Available on:
Android, Windows Phone, and Apple
Mobile website is optimized, but one cannot hail or view cars from website.

Mobile website does have a Fare Estimator.


BikeShare - Toronto has various bicycles stationed in docks in the downtown of the city to rent for short term travel and return it to any of the stations.

Key Info:
* Info on signing up, rates, and overall program

Pointing Your Way:
* Station Map plots the location of bike depots on a map with real-time updates on bikes and docks available

* I haven't used this service
* There are also a few other places to rent bikes in Toronto, but here's a list.
No official app, but various third party apps - search your app store for "bike share Toronto" Mobile website is optimized and offers same functionality as desktop website.
Bike Parking - Toronto is not a bike-friendly city in various ways. One way is that there aren't many (official) places to lock them. The City has some bike parking spots, but they are not always easy to find. A Toronto developer has built a service to address this.

Key Info:
* Find the address of spots or suggest a location for one

Pointing Your Way:
* Enter an address or browse a map of Toronto to see nearest bike parking spots
No app Website works well on mobile browser, but it isn't fully optimized.

Mobile website appears to have full content and functionality as desktop website.

Services and Amenities

Business Directories

Desktop Website

Mobile App

Mobile Website

Yellow Pages is the leader in local businesses listings across Canada. They have extensive listing for Ontario including Toronto

Key Info:
* Search for contact information and addresses of a specific business / organization or browse categories via directories.
* Filter results by rating, neighbourhood, etc

Pointing Your Way:
* View businesses by category on a map or view a specific business' address on a map with directions
The app has same features as website, but with additional ability to search for individuals and well as businesses.

Works well on my Android.

Available On:
Android, BlackBerry, Windows, and Apple
Mobile website is fully optimized.

It allows one to search for businesses or individuals and view results plotted on a map.


SitOrSquat Restroom Finder - addresses persistent problems of finding available (let alone decent) washrooms when you need one.

Listings aren't the most up-to-date or comprehensive, but if you're a newcomer and you gotta go, it's better than the alternatives!

Key Info:
* Search for washrooms and filter results by accessibility, changing tables, family bathrooms,
* Add a life-saver to the list and rate as good (sit) or bad (squat) and attach a photo (of the washroom, no selfies please)

Pointing Your Way:
* See the nearest bathroom to you on a map or enter a location
The app has same features as desktop website.

Works well on my Android.

Available On:
Android and Apple
Does not work on mobile browser.


Finding your way around Toronto's many malls (we love to shop in climate-controlled comfort here) can be difficult. Rather than download various apps, a leading owner of malls here built one app for all theirs.

No website available for content, but here's a useful article of the Top 10 shopping malls in Toronto.
CF SHOP app has directories, maps, events, and promos.

They have an interactive map feature "mark your location in the mall, get directions to your favourite store and even pinpoint your parking spot".

Note: I haven't tested this.

App includes local malls Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens, Shops at Don Mills, Promenade Centre, Fairview Mall, Markville Shopping Centre and others.

Available On:
Android and Apple
Mobile website only promotes the app.

City Guides and Tourist Info

Desktop Website

Mobile App

Mobile Website

See Toronto Now is Toronto's official tourist office website with everything visitors needs to know (although the design could be better). It includes info for the Greater Toronto Area.

Key Info:
* Sites, shopping, events, food, lodging, and promotions
* Onscreen and PDF maps

Pointing Your Way:
* Choose type of attraction or point of interest you are seeking and filter by neighbourhood
* Attractions, events, food, and hotel search result pages list address and plot location on a map
The app has all key content of website, but also allows one to find sites by proximity and locative maps. Also gives distance to sites and directions.

Available On:
Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Apple
Mobile website is fully optimized.

Mobile website has full content and functionality as desktop website.
TripAdvisor - likely the best source of user reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions (although some reviews are clearly fake) all ranked by users.

Key Info:
* User reviews, guides, and a Q&A forum
* Search for sights, nature, shopping, hotels, museums, food and drink, etc.

Pointing Your Way:
* Maps of every location
TripAdvisor's app Toronto City Guide app offers city content from desktop website but works in offline mode.

Offers maps, directions, and itineraries.

Available On:
Android and Apple
Mobile website is fully optimized.

Mobile website has full content and functionality as desktop website. It also offers directions to sites from device's location.
Bloor St. Culture Corridor - Bloor Street from Yonge Street to Spadina (comprising neighbourhoods of Yorkville and The Annex) is a main area for museums, shopping, bars, and restaurants.

Key Info:
* Find out about area stores, cultural sites, restaurants & bars, and hotels with descriptions and contact details
* Lists of cultural events

Pointing Your Way:
* View map of locations by type and click on items to find out more
The app has same features as desktop website. In addition, one can search locations by proximity and view results in a list or by map.

Available On:
Android and Apple
The mobile website is usable and has all the same info as desktop website, but is not fully optimized and using the full map is difficult but possible (just click on it a few times to view entire map).

Food and Drink

Desktop Website

Mobile App

Mobile Website

Toronto Patio Guide - summers are too brief here, but we make up for it by celebrating the good times with gusto and patios are the best way to do so.

Key Info:
* Definitive guide with reviews of patios including contact info, opening hours, type of patio (rooftop, side walk, backyard, etc.)
* Search for bars, restaurants, or nightclubs by name or location (but not cafes stupidly!)

Pointing Your Way:
* Find patios on a map or search by neighbourhood
The app has the same features as website, but in addition one can search by proximity, view results in a list or by map, and get a recommendation by shaking your device.

Available On:
Android and Apple
Mobile website is fully optimized.

Mobile website has full content and functionality as desktop website.
Toronto Food Trucks - portable and convenient food and in increasing diversity.

Info Available:
* Guide of food offerings and truck locations with schedules

Pointing Your Way:
* View food trucks on a map
The app has the same features as desktop website, but in addition one can view trucks in a list or by map.

Available On:
Android and Apple
Mobile website is fully optimized.

Mobile website has full content and functionality as desktop website.
Foursquare Toronto - It is not as much fun as it used to be, but it does do well in recommending nearby and trending restaurants, clubs, and bars. Foursquare has content on most cities in Ontario.

Key Info:
* Members see visits and recommendations from friends
* Filter results by price, specials, open now, etc.

Pointing Your Way:
* Search for food, nightlife, shopping, or"fun" and refine search by address, neighbourhood, or your location
The app has same features as desktop website.

Works well on my Android.

Available On:
Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Apple
Does not allow one to load their website on a mobile.

Historical Information

Desktop Website

Mobile App

Mobile Website

Toronto in Time - offers more than 150 site histories are told through text and images.

Key Info:
* View items by theme (e.g., sport & leisure, law & order, industry, roots, arts & entertainment, fighting, etc.), neighbourhood, suggested routes
* Search sites by keywords (try "Rolling Stones")

Pointing Your Way:
* See points of interest on a map
The app has same features as desktop website. In addition, one can search locations by proximity and view results in a list or by map.

Works well on my Android.

Available On:
Android and Apple.
Mobile website is not optimized and is so hard to use on a mobile that it is essentially inoperable.
First Story - chronicles history of Toronto's First Nations people.

Key Info:
* Blog of history and events related to indigenous people in Toronto

The website does not offer locative or map features. The app is essential for this.
First Story app let's one view aboriginal history points of interest via map or by proximity.

Works well on my Android.

Available On:
Android and Apple.
Not optimized for mobiles and does not offer mapped content. App is essential.
Queerstory - chronicles history of Toronto's LGBTQ people.

Key Info:
* Multimedia (text, photos, or videos) histories tied to 37 locations in downtown Toronto.

Pointing Your Way:
* View location history by category or by map
The app offers same functionality as desktop website.

Works well on my Android.

Available On:
Android and Apple.
Mobile website is optimized.

Mobile website has full content and functionality as desktop website.
Findery - offers people's stories and perspectives on their places. Users upload notes and photos about locations. The result is eclectic and personal glimpses into places as other people experience it.

Key Info:
* Populated by user-generated content so notes are on any and every topic
* Add a note about your experience here

Pointing Your Way:
* View notes by map, satellite, or grid view
* Search for notes about or near address, neighbourhood, or business name
The app offers same functionality as desktop website.

Works well on my Android.

Available On:
Android and Apple
Mobile website is optimized, but does not offer mapped content or search function. Get the app!

Did I miss one of your favourites? Please let me know of other great sources.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Measures of User Experience

I was thinking today about my experience of advising clients wanting to do user testing of their new software or digital media. Typically, clients new to user testing don't know what they want to measure and once introduced to what can be measured they want to record it all.

Having conducted user testing sessions and analyzed the resulting data, I can assure you that more data is not necessarily (and even rarely) better. There are many measures and metrics that are irrelevant to your organization goals and the needs of your users.

Software has not been invented yet that can adequately record everything and there never seems enough people that can be hired to observe and record all that can be recorded. Besides, the sophisticated user testing software is expensive and having more than a couple observers during a user testing session often just makes the participant feel too much like a guinea pig (although a two way mirror to another room can help). And making someone analyze and report on quantitative data that is not necessary and will likely never be used is just a cruel and unusual  punishment.

My advice is to start with determining your goals and priorities first. Then review my list below of some common digital media metrics and measures to figure out which ones will most work for what you want to achieve. (If you are not familiar with the term - just google them as they are quite standard.)

Designers and developers are increasingly interested in measures related to how an application makes users feel. It is important when doing user testing to not think about everything in terms of efficiency. If a new website feature can be used quickly and easily, but makes us angry and never want to return - it has grandiosely failed at a primary goal. The difficulty is in measuring subjective phenomena is being sure that the operational definition used accurately captures the phenomenon. For instance, a user smiling during a test can mean that they are happy, but there are also perplexed smiles and polite smiles that people give to strangers for social niceties.

Usability or User Experience Measures

  • Task completion rate (also failure rate)
  • Task Completion time
  • Path analysis
  • Number of clicks to desired content
  • Number of times user clicked "Help" or "Search"
  • Number of times user asked facilitator for help
  • Error rate
  • Time spent on X (as a measure for "engagement")
  • Most used feature
  • Least used feature
  • Outcome based (e.g. if goal is to learn X)

Affective, Satisfaction, and Hedonic Measures

  • User reported
    • Task satisfaction rate
    • Application level satisfaction rate
    • Favourite feature
    • Least liked feature
  • Feelings observed or reported of 
    • Happy or pleased
    • Frustrated
    • Nostalgic
    • Angry or agitated
    • Sad
    • Confused
  • Social behaviours exhibited (e.g. number of times "shares" feature)

These are just a few of the various many measures and metrics that can be done and each one has its uses and inherit problems.  So heed my works about planning well before testing and really consider if the measure will give you meaningful, useful, and accurate data.

Let me know if I missed a particularly common or useful measure.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Images of Canada

In honour of our great country's birthday today, I made a Flickr album of my photographs of Canada. Check out the obligatory landscapes and landmarks, maple leafs and waving flags, and Canadiana kitsch galore!

I've geotagged all my photos, so you can check them out on Flickr's map to see where they were taken.

Regardez mes photos maintenant...

And as a nice bit of Canadian trivia - Flickr started in Canada. So did the Flat Stanley Project (did you see him here?).

Happy Canada Day!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Attend Our Mobile Cultural Mapping Workshop

Mobile devices get criticized for distracting us from our world. Yet, I've found that mobile media - in the form of location-aware technologies and user-generated content - is growing increasingly sophisticated thereby enabling people to use their mobiles in various ways to enrich their relationship to their places.

Mobile devices can be used to record, geolocate, and share experiences and feelings about a place. They can also be used to access and benefit from reading another person's account of a place in the location that it applies to.

I have enjoyed exploring this topic and continue to research locative media.

However, I don't have a lot of experience in creating my own locative media content (aside from reviews via Foursquare or geotagged photos on Instagram). Last year, I was able to attend and help with a workshop at Mobile HCI conference that taught me the tools and methods to create my own locative stories and artworks.

The workshop was developed by Dr. Martha Ladly, a professor from OCAD University in Toronto. Professor Ladly led this workshop before in Buenos Aires and Florence and she will offer it this August at the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in Vancouver, BC.

This year, I am helping lead the workshop as well. Our workshop called People, Places & Things: A Mobile Cultural Mapping Workshop, is a day-long event on Saturday, August 15, 2015.

The workshop is held at the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University. From there, we'll take our mobile devices and explore the area including the Woodward redevelopment project.  It will be a fun, collaborative, and informative day spent experiencing local culture and history, creating digital art and narratives, and adding it all to mobile maps.

Participants will learn how to annotate their places and geolocate their stories using open source mapping tools, and working with their data inside the Google Earth toolkit.

If you’re interested in attending:
  1. Visit our workshop website
  2. Register for the workshop at ISEA (You can register for just our workshop or the entire conference.)
Please join us in Vancouver!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lost Forever - Remembering Location Based Services Now Gone

In preparing for my prior blog post listing location based services and mobile apps with a prominent locative functionality, I noticed that many of the apps from my prior list (in 2013) were out of business. An even greater number of apps were still "live," but had been abandoned by their creators and not updated in a year, or two, or four.

But I think it's important to remember these apps. Not only are they part of our social and technological history, but many of these apps created new directions and charted paths for future technological innovations. So this post is in honour of the trailblazers now lost forever.

List of deceased location based services:
  • Benefon - released in 1999, possibly the first friend finder feature 
  • Brightkite -  place check-ins and geosocial networking
  • Booyah - make of location based games MyTown and Nightclub City
  • Carrr Matey - pirate-themed parking finder
  • Centrl - geosocial networking
  • CheckIn+ - augmented reality check-in app
  • Citysense - nightlife discovery and social navigation
  • DeHood - tap into neighbourhood buzz to find local businesses
  • Ding Dong - ring your friends with your location
  • Dodgeball - SMS, pre-cursor to foursquare bought by Google and shut down (see CNET eulogy)
  • Dopplr - social travel planning (bought by Nokia and withered)
  • EveryTrail - user-generated trip recommendations
  • Fire Eagle and Friends on Fire - location sharing platform and API, by Yahoo
  • Flook - user-generated geolocated information
  • Glancee - friend finder based on proximity and social and personal commonalities (started in 2010, bought by Facebook and shut down)
  • Geoloqi - bought by Esri and shut down, their apps including DinoDeals - proximal alerts of deals, Geotracks - real-time friend tracking, and Geonotes - leave geotagged notes or subscribe to location-based info 
  • Geopedia - geotargetted Wikipedia entries - as also offered by WikiMe
  • GeoSpot - started in 2005, offered location-based information and search products
  • Google Latitude - real-time friend tracking (merged into Google+)
  • Google Local - proximal recommendations (merged into Google Maps)
  • Google Sky Map - identify the stars near you (open sourced & mothballed)
  • Glassmap - friend tracking app by Groupon (merged into Groupon Now)
  • Goby - suggested fun activities based on your location 
  • Gowalla -  place check-ins and geosocial networking
  • Groundcrew - place centered coordination and mobilization
  • GyPsii - European company that claimed to have the world's largest geosocial network
  • Hidden Park - location based game where fantasy creatures are found in the parks around you
  • HipGeo - geosocial networking and user generated place recommendations
  • Historypin - enabled users to add old photographs and text narratives to locations (website still running, but apps mothballed)
  • Hurricane Party - helps friends find, share, and create spontaneous parties
  • Junaio - augmented reality vicinity info search
  • Local Books - proximal search for book stores and literary events
  • Localmind - get answers about a specific place & real-time events by people who are there
  • Locatio - by Seiko, possibly world's first LBS, launched in 1999 it included locative mapping, wayfinding, geo-targetted weather forecasts, and proximal restaurants, hotels, and sights
  • Loopt - geosocial networking
  • Magitti - local recommendation, from PARC (see ReadWriteWeb article)
  • Mscape - location-based gaming platform by HP
  • Moby - family member tracking and coordination
  • Nearest Subway - locates nearest subway station in various cities
  • Nearest Wiki - content from Wikipedia overlaid on places via A.R.
  • Neer -  geosocial networking
  • Plazes - an early geo-social networking app, bought by Nokia (read eulogy)
  • PinDrop
  • Poynt - local search with proximity based reviews and mapping
  • Rally Up - geosocial networking
  • Red Rocket - pioneering Toronto-based transit app
  • SCVNGR - pioneer in location based commerically oriented gaming
  • Sitegeist -  aggregator of locative info, including census data
  • Sonar - ambient friend finding
  • Task Ave - location-aware reminders
  • Tripbirds- travel tips from friends
  • Trippy - trip advice from your social network
  • urbantag - tag and share lists of places with friends
  • Voxora - voicemail for places
  • Where - proximity-based promotions and deals, by PayPal
  • Whrrl -  brand based groups for recommendations, tips, and deals
  • Zeitag - historical photographs overlaid of users locations
Let me know if I missed one of your dearly departed.  

Also, if you're interested in location based services, I'm conducting a study soon on this topic and would love to hear from you. Check out my study at my research website.

In China Mobiles Thrive While Postcards Wither

In addition to Webslinger, I write the blog Deltiology Deity about postcards. I've loved collecting postcards since I was a kid. In my lifetime, I've noticed the flourishing and then the dramatic decline of the communication medium of postcards. I'm also an avid user and researcher of mobile devices and had the great opportunity to see the birth and flourishing of this medium.

As one medium rises, others will fall. A recent op-ed article by Stephen R. Kelly explains why sending print postcards is dying out in the country of China (although it no doubt applies to all other countries too). I posted this on Deltiology Deity, but this is rare case of both blogs' topics intersecting.

Read the entire article, Why It’s Almost Impossible to Find a Postcard in China. Here are my favourite excerpts:
KUNSHAN, China — For the last seven weeks I have been trying to send a postcard from this “smallish” city of nearly two million.... But finding a postcard, finding a stamp, getting that stamp to stick, finding a place to mail the postcard — even just getting anyone on this state-of-the-art campus to accept the idea of putting a letter in the mail — have proved a challenge, and not just because of my wobbly Chinese. In my travels to the tourist traps around Kunshan, I have seen exactly one Chinese person writing a postcard....
For many Americans, sending a postcard from an exotic locale is still a mainstay of modern travel, if only to prove you actually went somewhere. It’s short and sweet, no heavy messaging required, the Twitter of a block-print age. And who doesn’t enjoy finding a handwritten missive among the supermarket fliers and other invasive species that swarm our mailboxes?...
Even more than in the United States, [Chinese] people appear addicted to their smartphones. Waiting for the train home in the yawning ultramodern Hangzhou station, hundreds of faces basked in the cool blue light of an iPhone or Samsung. Not a pen was in sight....
The relative rarity of the handwritten postcard here is symptomatic of a pell-mell rush toward a digital and depersonalized future. It seems sad to see the broad strokes of Chinese culture and communication shrunk to a 3-by-5-inch screen, and delicate brush lettering now reduced to pecking with two thumbs...
Americans like to imagine that we are the most tech-savvy, if not tech-addled country on the planet. But we have nothing on China. Which means if you visit the Middle Kingdom, plan on sending a selfie from in front of Mao’s tomb to prove you were here. But forget about mailing Mom a postcard.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Hardest Thing About Social Media

One might say that the hardest thing about social media is figuring out the privacy settings to make sure anything embarrsing isn't made public. But I don't buy that argument anymore - as social media sites have made it quite easy and given multiple ways to configure privacy settings. There have been enough high-profile cases of grandiose online humilations with resultingly horrible repercussions from posting inappropriate things for people to know the importance of not making one's online life entirely public.

But to be fair not all social media gaffes arise from people making their account public, some inappropriate material is posted or leaked by people within one's closed social network. As in "friends" posting pix of their friends in compromising situations without permission. So one could say the hardest thing about social media is knowing who to trust.

I do think this is a legitimate concern, but social media sites have made it easier to have offending material untagged with one's name or removed. Norms are starting to change (at least among older users - likely not amongst teens) that posting dubious material about a friend is not funny. Admittedly, there is a long way for both companies and users to improve in this regard.

I think the hardest thing about social media is not posting something you direly want to, but that may return to haunt you.

Case in point, over the years I have been treated unprofessionally by some companies and people and there is no viable way to get justice through official channels. Social media and user-generated content sites can be an excellent source of retribution (and maybe even dishing out deserved revenge). A hotel I once stayed at added lot of charges to my credit card and would not reverse them. It was only because I posted a scathing review about this on TripAdvisor that I got a refund. Similarly, I had the worst customer service experience if my life with Bell Canada trying to get their Fine service installed - official complaints got me nowhere, but it pleases me to no end that my blog post on their lousy service gets thousands of views regularly.

But in these cases the opportunity for the companies to strike out against me was minimal (or at least I hope so). So although  a desire to post something can be profound and the motivation just, there are cases where doing so may cause you more harm than good.

People might think they are protected by sites that allow anonymous posting. But here's another hard thing - the Internet is never anonymous.

First, it is possible to discern an identity by the nature, style, and date of what someone wrote. Secondly, via IP tracking and other means it is possible to uncover people.
So even when you are seething with righteous injustice and no official channels are open to you, consider carefully - and give yourself at least a week's worth of reflection time - whether it is ultimately best for you to post something. Assume that what you are considering posting was read by the person (e.g. a boss a friend) or the worst person you can think of to read it (future boss, CEO) and that it was known to be by you. Because this can and does happen.

Revenge may be a tasty dish, but it may cause indigestion that repeats on you in unpleasant ways. So the hardest thing about social media is not posting something that really needs to be posted.

It's better to seeth privately with injustice of my treatment, than to let a few minutes of venting (however blissful they may be) result in long term damage to you. Instead repress your rage by watching cat videos or filling out online personality quizes until the seething passes.