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Archive | Social Media

Facebook Polices Chats for Criminal Activities

Many social platforms, such as Facebook are now undertaking processes to monitor the chat activity of its user base to weed out criminality. Once they find such activity online or supect such activity is present, they can reach out to authorities.

This monitoring is done through software scanners that monitors chat exchanges for words or phrases that signal criminal activity, such as exchange of personal information or vulgarity. The focus would be those users that don’t have an established connection on the site together with some other personal information disparity between users, such as age difference. The scanning system also learns, using previous chat discussions of known felons and predators using the social media platform.

Once the software flags a dubious chat discussion, an email is sent to Facebook security employees who then determines if the police should step in. This may cause privacy advocates to turn on the purveyors of Facebook, as it must keep these scanned exchanges away from its other employees.

The new security measures from Facebook was mentioned in the interview of the company’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan with Reuters News Wire. According to the report, at least one alleged child predator has been brought to court due to the efforts made by Facebook’s chat scanning software.

When asked for comment, Facebook gave a standard response, “We’ve never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at private communications, so it’s really important that we use technology that has a very low false-positive rate.”

It further added, through a statement on the site, the company works with law enforcement where appropriate and to the extent required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook. It read:

“We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law. This may include respecting requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law under the local laws in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally accepted international standards.

“We may also share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to prevent fraud or other illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm, or to protect ourselves and you from people violating our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, courts or other government entities.”

This has been done before, but is this a so-called public service?

Living with Panda: A Year of Complacency, Decisions and Recovery

In the past year, many website owners have been affected by Google’s roll out of its algorithm updates, codenamed Panda and Penguin. The new algorithms have affected how individual and company SEO strategies are implemented. Because of the confidential nature of the algorithm, it is hard to predict what should be done and what should not be done, but one thing is clear: the rules of the game has changed, and these updates are here to stay.

Even as some websites have been decimated because of the onslaught of Panda and Penguin, others have managed to recover their former rankings. The following are tips to consider when undertaking your own SEO plan on your website.

  1. Invest in valuable, fresh and original content. Rehashing content from competitor sites will not help your site overcome the new requisites set by Google. Google wants content that is interesting and unique, so the front page does not contain several paraphrased versions of the same content.
  2. Exercise restraint with SEO. It’s clear now that overly optimized sites will be penalized, which means keyword stuffing on pages or unnatural linking structures are things of the past. In fact, it’s probably safer to ignore what we think of as “SEO” altogether, and focus instead on writing your content and acquiring backlinks in a manner that’s consistent with what an average joe would think to do for his website. This means seeking out blogroll links from websites similar to your own, guest blogging, etc.
  3. Use social media for your own benefit. Google is now expanding into social media in determination of the popularity of a website as well as the links that work to provide benefits for SEO. Let’s face it: your users are on social media. If your website is not being liked, shared, and retweeted, this is a clear sign to Google that it isn’t relevent to your audience. Make your content shareable to many other individuals, and likely your search engine rankings will improve.
  4. Use tools for analysis, particularly Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. Specifically, look at how users interact with your website. How long do they spend on your site on average? How many pages do they visit? Google is looking at these metrics to determine the quality of your site, and you should too. If your users aren’t taking the time to read your content, why would Google present it to them? Use these metrics to make your website more enjoyable to your users, and rankings will follow.
  5. Quality over quantity. Inbound links need to be quality driven and not quantity driven. You want links from authority websites with content that overlaps your own. Old tactics like buying bulk blog comment spam are now more likely to harm than help your website.

Although frustrating to many users, the recent Google updates have moved the search engine in the right direction. Whereas formerly we had to spend our time with SEO trying to improve our rankings, now all that needs to be done is concentrating on the delivering what your target audience wants. Produce great content and provide a good visitor experience, rather than using specific SEO techniques, and your site will not only rank better in Google — it will be generally more useful to your audience, and they’ll be more likely to share it in the first place.

Facebook to Face Rough Seas Ahead?

After being billed to be the biggest IPO stock for a technology company, the back alley discussions are now being put to the public light. These include charges of insider trading, overblown income projections, issues as to stock purchase confirmations as well as other issues are now being uncovered.

While these are in the now, the future, according to one hedge fund manager, is bleak for the company. According to Ironfire Capital founder Eric Jackson in an interview with Squawk on the Street at CNBC, “In five to eight years, they are going to disappear in the way that Yahoo disappeared. Yahoo is still making money, it’s still profitable, still has 13,000 employees working for it but it’s 10% of the value that it was at the height of 2000. For all intents and purposes, it’s disappeared.”

He points out that the emergence of the mobile web and Facebook’s inability to adapt to the new technology may be the cause for the eventual disappearance of this social media giant.

He adds, “The world is moving faster, it’s getting more competitive, not less. I think those who are dominant in their prior generation are really going to have a hard time moving into this newer generation. Facebook can buy a bunch of mobile companies, but they are still a big, fat website and that’s different from a mobile app.”

One of the recent moves of the company is the purchase of the popular mobile photo sharing application named Instagram for US$1 billion last April. The move was viewed as removal of a potential rival and together with the company’s recognition that mobile applications are a potential stumbling block for continued growth in the future.

During its IPO application, the company was required to identify thirty five possible “risk factors and complied with the requirement last February. In this list, the company admitted that its current ad-free mobile platform may pose problems in the future as more and more Facebook users as well as the web in general expands into the mobile realm.

Jackson categorizes Facebook as the second of the three generations of modern Internet companies. The first generation, with Yahoo and Google as main characters, were portals that categorized and simplified the access to the wealth of information available online. The second generation, such as Facebook and other similar sites, have made their mark capitalizing on the emerging social web. The third generation, according to Jackson, are companies that focus on leveraging and monetizing mobile Internet users.

He discusses, “When you look over these three generations, no matter how successful you are in one generation, you don’t seem to be able to translate that into success in the second generation, no matter how much money you have in the bank, no matter how many smart PhDs you have working for you. Look at how Google has struggled moving into social and I think Facebook is going to have the same kind of challenges moving into mobile.”

Facebook Offers New Options for Businesses

Facebook’s listing on the NYSE has made it the biggest IPO for a technology company in history. While there have already been bumps along the road, Facebook is furthering its efforts to secure its future by becoming the go-to social media platform for small businesses to interact with their customers.

The dizzying pace that technology has undertaken has left many small business owners overwhelmed and confused about what is required to be successful online. As a result, many companies have sprung up to provide consulting services for small businesses to gain traction in the Internet marketplace. But this in itself can be overwhelming for business-owners who aren’t familiar with online marketing and the different services offered by different marketing companies.

Facebook is making an attempt to change this. They have opened up its functionality to small business owners, attempting to cut out the contractors by providing marketing to companies for free. While these functionalities are not what these third parties provide, they allow the individual business owner greater freedom regarding their visibility and interaction with a larger customer base.

Some of the new features are as follows:

  1. Administrator Roles. Now, Facebook has provided new roles to assist the small business owner with their business page. These include management, which entails full control in post creation, ads, editing page functionality and apps, comment management, messaging, and Facebook insights. The owner can also review and analyze data regarding one’s traffic to their page.
  2. Scheduling Functionality. This involves putting up posts at given times on your page as if it were posted manually, but with the ability to automate these posts. This is a means to target the highest-traffic times on Facebook to reach the largest number of individuals with product and service offerings.

These two basic functionalities will help maximize visibility on Facebook. Even with all the issues besetting this company, it is still the biggest captured market online, thus one of the best ways to reach out to a captive audience for your goods and services.


Companies: Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

I’m sure everyone by now has seen Dollar Shave Club’s hilarious commercial on YouTube. This is a prime example of a trend that’s gradually becoming more and more obvious: if you make life a bit more entertaining for the masses, it’s a lot easier to get your message across.

This is an older TED talk, but it’s another brilliant example of how comedy can help people get behind a good cause. Anyone remember Mr. Splashy Pants?

Think of how much wider an audience Greenpeace received because of this campaign (albeit an unintentional one in this case). But there’s a lesson to be learned here: if you don’t take yourself too seriously, your consumers will thank you for it.

Even if your goal is to change the world, it’s ok to be entertaining along the way. Live a little. Have some fun.