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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | Facebook
Tag Archive - Facebook

Facebook – Keep the Under 13 Rule

Facebook is considering changing their rules for preteens to have Facebook profiles legitimately. I disagree.

Facebook is no book or place for a preteen. Some parents may let their kids lie about their birthdates and set a bad example about rushing gratification. I know several 9 and 10 year olds who have accounts. Just because some parents make bad parenting decisions is no reason to change the current rule.

Some parents also let their teens host keggers for under agers in their homes. Some share their pot, their meth, and their illicit medications with their teens. Just because some parents make bad parenting decisions is no reason to change the rule for everyone to justify their bad choices.

I am not just writing from the viewpoint of an old grumpy mother. I’m writing with the perspective of bad experiences. The creeps in cyberworld require the judgment of an adult to manage. Teens can manage it with adult supervision but still sometimes find themselves in bad situations.

To allow a 9 or 10 year old to have  a Facebook profile makes as much sense as it would to put them in the center of the town square holding a sign that says, “Hi. I’m 9 years old, and I would like to make new friends. Wanna talk?” Even if a parent is watching, the risks are too great.

With my own children, they got Facebook profiles on their 13th birthdays with the rule that their first 2 friends were Richard and me, and their third was a friend who’s also a prosecutor. When they asked why he had to be their friend too, I told them, “If you have to think twice before posting something a prosecutor might see, then you shouldn’t be posting it.”

As a youth leader and as a mother, I have seen bad experiences on Facebook that are just too hot to handle for under 13 year olds. I’ve seen a 15 year old boy who met an out-of-state predator in a cyber chat room. Their meeting later resulted in their becoming friends on Facebook, and the predator friending other boys in the same area. The predator was caught after I called parents and suggested they check their son’s online activities.

As a mother, I’ve also encountered at least 1 bad experience with my own teens. One of them received unsolicited, unwanted messages from a “friend of a friend” who revealed in what she sent that she was cyberstalking my children. We blocked the person. There was nothing explicit to her message. Nevertheless, her contact with under-age children was creepy at best and inappropriate at worst.

The groups, the pictures, and the viruses with almost-explicit images are too much to risk with an under 13 year old. Facebook is supposedly considering adding a layer of protection for adult supervision. I don’t buy it, and I absolutely, 100% do not recommend it.

Further, I’ve read they are going to let parents’ bank accounts be tied to their kids accounts. So if your 10 year old is playing Farmville and has access to your bank account, just imagine the shock when you open you bank statement and nearly fall over. Johnny and Susie were so excited with Facebook Farmville that they stocked their whole cyber barn with cyber livestock that isn’t real. But the charges to your account are real, and you get to pay the bill.

Then we will see news stories of parents appalled at what has happened.

Keep Facebook’s guidelines to age 13. That’s my bottom line recommendation. If they change it, I still strongly recommend parents not allow their preteens to have Facebook profiles.

In the Wild West, the bar on Main Street was no place for kids. Facebook isn’t a Kidbook either.

Facebook and Fish – If It Smells Bad, Don’t Eat It

Imagine a new kind of fish is being offered on a menu with a grand opening. But as you get closer to the fish, it has an “ick” factor to its smell. “Do I really want to eat that?”

“Chance of a lifetime – everyone says this will be great,” those around you tell you.

But it stinks.

“It will be in short supply – those who buy early will be sure to get some. Everyone else will pay more for it later.”

When I get a whiff of it, the hairs on the back of my neck curl.

So do you go with your gut instinct or follow the crowd? That’s what I was thinking last week before the Facebook IPO.

I had no inside knowledge of over-valuation. But as a professional who helps multiple businesses with their Facebook presence, I had a gut feeling Facebook was desperately trying to boost its profitability. The ads got creepier and more obtrusive. Something didn’t feel right.

Yet, at a lunch meeting, an “expert” was raving about the opportunities of the IPO. I told him, “I’m not buying. It doesn’t smell right.”

Those sitting with him stared at me as if I were an Amish Luddite who couldn’t tell a good thing when she saw it.

I will not say I told you so. But I will say I won’t invest in companies when the CEO shows up for business meetings in a bathrobe. If he can’t be bothered, why should I buy?

I still believe in the public relations/reputation management/community building possibilities of Facebook. It can play a great role in top of mind marketing for businesses and can be a means by which they offer additional value to their customer base.

However, I hope Zuckerberg doesn’t throw the Face out with the Stockbook in his quest to generate profits. If he does, he will wipe the Face off the Book.

It all goes back to lessons learned looking at the meat counter:

  • If it smells bad, don’t buy it. And don’t eat it.
  • If it’s sprinkled with lots of spices, the higher price and fancy gourmet name might just be fancy window dressing to hide the fact that the slice of meat is a little grey around the edges and can’t be sold otherwise on its own merits.

Trust your gut.

Facebook Flashing Ads

This afternoon the flashing Facebook banner ads appeared on my Facebook profiles. It flickered, disappeared, and then returned.

Bottom line gut reaction:

  • They will irritate users and will fail to generate profit for the companies that buy them. People will spend less time on profile pages (personal or business) and more time on the news feed which doesn’t have it. So timely posting and Edgerank will matter for businesses.
  • Short term, it looks like a tactic Zuckerberg is using to make his ads more profitable before his IPO.
  • Long term, it’s just plain stupid to irritate your customer base. This new feature will irritate users. The number of clicks on ads will decrease, making them less appealing for businesses to purchases.

The first thing I will tell my clients for whom I develop social media market strategies is:

  • An unintended consequence of the flashing ads is people will spend less time on actual profile pages.
  • Facebook users will rely more heavily upon their news feed for Facebook posts.
  • The best response businesses can make is to post timely, targeted Facebook statuses that inspire and add value to the lives of their target markets.

This goes back to some basic, common sense horse sense:

  • Good writing, great content, and solid  values are timeless and necessary for marketing.
  • Rushing for the gimmick means you will spend a lifetime chasing the next shiny new toy.


You Know Your Web Marketer’s a Bozo If…

Putting out-of-town beside your professional business does not automatically deem competence. Marketers and consultants who crown themselves “experts” sometimes sell their clients a yellow brick road that can lead to the outhouse. How do you know if you’re getting good advice or are talking to a bozo?

If you hear the following, run, don’t walk, as fast as you can away from your self-proclaimed expert:

  1. Search is dead. Don’t worry about SEO. We’ll take care of your numbers so you don’t have to think about them.
  2. Break Facebook’s rules and create fake people to administer your Facebook business page.
  3. Blogspot is the best blogging platform around. WordPress is too much trouble.
  4. Don’t promote your local community on your Facebook business page.
  5. If the share buttons for social media on your blog shift my design by an inch, ditch the share buttons. Appearance matters more than functionality.
  6. Don’t go for quality in blog writing. Just use key words.
  7. If we handle your social media, you don’t. Hands off. We do all the work, and you pay the bills.
  8. We will set up your domain name and Facebook business page for you, in our name instead of yours. We own your stuff so you don’t have to.
  9. We will automate your Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook business statuses to share everything at the same time to save time.
  10. We plan your posts a month in advance. Don’t post anything current or timely. It distracts from our long term market strategy.

Unfortunately, I have met businesses who have been told all of the following by their paid professionals. Note – paid does not equal expert. Frankly, paid does not equal competent.

Hiring the wrong web marketer can be one of the most expensive business mistakes you ever make. 

If you have been told any of the above and want to know how they can hurt you, contact me.


Search Your Colleges. Then Search Again.

If you have teens going to colleges, search their social media footprint.

For years, I’ve told my social media classes that colleges and scholarship committees do social media background searches. Now, as the parent of a graduating high school senior, I see the ways they use social media to better communicate.

When we tour a campus, I now tweet about it to see if their college administration is listening. So far, half respond. I want my teens to learn to use social media well. If a college leads by example, monitors their own Twitter presence, and replies to my tweets, that’s a plus in their favor. For the colleges that don’t, it’s a potential red flag.

My most amusing moment was at a college day when I checked in on FourSquare and watched the Admissions reception table. I stood by the side and noted when one of the admissions counselors saw the Tweet on her phone. She immediately tweeted on behalf of her college’s admissions office. Then, she grabbed the counselor next to her, they looked me up, and then I could see their scanning the room to find me. I said nothing but nearly exploded with laughter the moment they saw me. Neither of them said a word. But later that day, one of them asked, “Do you use Twitter?”

Answer: “Yes.”

I was impressed with the school that gave their scholarship weekend a Twitter hashtag to see if any students tweeted about it. And I enjoyed the professors’ banter with that hashtag. About half the colleges she has applied to have made creative use of private Facebook groups to better communicate with students and their parents. (And you know that means they are also screening students and their social media profiles.)

Now, I see it’s also important to flip the search. Last weekend, I started a Hootsuite page to search  my daughter’s top college choices.

What’s being tweeted about my daughter’s prospective college choices? Who is tweeting about them?

Here’s what I’ve found in 3 days:

  • One college is under pressure to drop certain majors because of declining enrollment. I checked my daughter’s department and preferred major, and it’s not on the list.
  • One college has just had student protests because of a professor’s ill-advised, inappropriate use of Facebook.
  • Some colleges tweet links to their research studies.
  • Lots of students love their college’s sports teams and live tweet during games. And they hate it when their teams lose.
  • Some professors require students to tweet and do an excellent job of engaging students in online conversations.
  • Some colleges promote their career fairs via Twitter. (a very good thing)
  • Some college students blog about stupid things their classmates say in class.
  • Some college students hate the cafeteria food. (Imagine that.)

Colleges do social media background searches to see if a student’s test scores, transcript, scholarship essays, and interviews reflect what the students say and do on social media. I think that’s a good thing.

Parents need to do social media background searches on prospective colleges to ensure that the gorgeous brochures and weekend tours match what is happening on campuses.

Stopping Jerry Springer Syndrome in Social Media

Social media that inspires people and builds communities must be on guard not to fall into a Gotcha Social Media trap.

Social media can be a fantastic venue by which we can shed light on customer service problems quickly. However, it also runs the risk of thoughtless, tweet on the impulse rants that can go viral and don’t give people a first chance to fix mistakes without public humiliation or virtual lynching.

Two weeks ago, when I was angry about a horrid dressing room experience, I wrote a livid blog that roasted the company involved. Leveler heads than my own, especially that of my husband, told me to NOT post the company’s name but give them a chance to fix the problem. So I wrote my blog without mentioning the company, went through corporate channels, and watched to see what would happen. And I chomped at the bit, wanting to do more.

Through my blog, awareness of dressing room safety was raised. The company involved sent national representatives into the store with the problem and fixed them. If the solution works, they will broaden what they have tried here and expand it nationally.

Bottom line? A problem was addressed and fixed without my publicly crucifying the company and turning loose a virtual lynch mob where every socially conscious social media expert jumps on the bandwagon, retweets and shares the incident so we can “make” the company fix it.

So now corporate America knows the effects of gotcha social media. We who are on social media must guard ourselves and our keyboards so we don’t devolve into a Jerry Springer studio audience lynch mob where we yell “fight! fight! fight!” whenever there is an injustice in this world. Sometimes, it’s ok to keep our social powder dry until we determine whether or not we really need to use it.

As the mother of teenagers, I have another worry about gotcha social media. In the past week, we’ve seen what happened when a teen-aged cashier put something racist, offensive, and inappropriate on a restaurant receipt. It went viral, went global, the teen got fired, and the restaurant went into major damage control.

As the mom of 2 teenagers and the friend of others, I worry about what happens to a teen who makes a stupid mistake and does the wrong thing. I’m an adult and I still do wrong, stupid things sometimes. Instead of crucifying the kid who does something wrong, would it sometimes not be more constructive to make it a teachable moment and give a second chance?

It’s easy as someone who can instantly communicate with thousands of people with a single tweet, Facebook status, blog, or pin on a corkboard to air what is wrong with our world.  In the process we might just wreck a life and dismiss it as collateral damage, done as a testament to our new power with social media.

But I wonder – should we find a way to think twice and try to work within the system and work to preserve the dignity of those involved, including those who wronged us, before we rant in front of the whole planet?

Would it hurt us to work a little harder to err on the side of mercy? Isn’t that what the song “Give Peace a Chance” was supposed to mean?

Pinterest = Next Generation Social Sharing

As Mark Zuckerberg changed the rules and interface of his Facebook playground, he opened the door to the next generation of social sharing – beyond faces to things and ideas showcased on new platforms like Flipboard and Pinterest.

Why and What has happened to shift the direction of social media?

There’s a limited amount of time we can spend talking about ourselves and other people before we want more. We want to talk about things we enjoy and ideas we like.  The newer platforms fill this new interest.

Pinterest has created a virtual niche that people – women in particular – can embrace. I like trying new things for dinner or organizing something better. Now, instead of swapping a recipe at the office or over the back yard fence, I can see a pin on my friend’s board – or someone else’s – and if it fits me, I can repin it and share it with my own friends.

I’ve had an address book for almost 30 years and have relied on it. Now, the role of that address book has been supplanted by my phone contacts, Facebook, and LinkedIn worlds. I especially love how Facebook can link with my phone contacts so if I click on your picture, I can call, text, email, or Facebook you instantly.

However. No 2 women ever stood over a backyard fence comparing one another’s address books. The constant changing of the Facebook’s interface accelerated the interest in a different media.  Pinterest is user friendly and offers a quick start, letting me immediately watch the boards of my Facebook friends or Tweeps.

Instead of a linear list of statuses, I see cool pictures of the things that interest me the most. In my case, that involves recipes, some home decor, and home organization plus fitness info and inspiration. If you love photography or travel, you can create your own clipboard of what you love. So instead of telling what I love, I show what I love and learn more about it at the same time.

I’ll still keep my address book, Facebook, LinkedIn et al. Pinterest can’t replace those tools.  It wasn’t meant to. Instead, it takes social sharing to a new level, the new trend.

This is the beginning of the shift of social media to more sharing. If you want to do social media well in the next generation, you’ll need to bump it up a notch – a little less name dropping and personal branding and a little more sharing of content of value with a great picture attached.

I just read several leading gurus who all talked of how Google Plus will become the flavor to taste for 2012. I disagree. It’s a reworked retread of what we already have, wrapped in multicolor analytics with a Google search time bomb for a ribbon.

The real new trend will instead be social sharing that teaches and delights – by way of things and ideas more than people.

The Peekaboo Fake Facebook Security Tip – Why It Doesn’t Work

If you see the following status on Facebook, be on guard. Not only does this lack merit – I list 3 problems with it - it increases your security risk on Facebook:

With the new ‘FB timeline’ on its way this week for EVERYONE…please do both of us a solid favor: Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says “Subscribed.” Hover over that, then in the box that appears, scroll down to bottom where it says “unsubscribe”. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the side bar for everyone to see, but MOST IMPORTANTLY it LIMITS HACKERS from invading our profiles. If you re-post this I will do the same for you. You’ll know I’ve acknowledged you because if you tell me that you’ve done it I’ll ‘like’ it. Thanks

Another version of this includes to unsubscribe from comments and likes. Problems and then the major security risk this causes:

  1. Subscribing just impacts your news feed. If you unsubscribe from someone’s page, all that does is remove that person’s information from your news feed. If you remove the comments and likes, you’ll remove the information from your news ticker. It in no way restricts your own information. It in no way restricts the information from the person whose page you just unsubscribed. You can still view that person’s Facebook profile as you would had you never unsubscribed. That person will still be able to see your Facebook profile as before you unsubscribed.
  2. Unsubscribing like this gives a false sense of security. Following this tip, which does nothing whatsoever to improve security, can give a profile user a false sense of security which could result in that person not following the real, effective steps in protecting Facebook privacy.
  3. Mobile doesn’t show the ticker.  With the increased number of people using Facebook via mobile, the new news ticker isn’t visible. So those who unsubscribe from likes and subscribes are doing steps which impact fewer actual Facebook users.

Often, young children play peekaboo and cover their eyes. Just because they cover their eyes doesn’t make the world disappear. They just don’t see it. This unsubscribe tactic does the same thing.

Finally, the biggest problem/risk with this. I know most of my neighbors and chat with them. I keep an eye on their house, just as they do on mine. What if I went to my friends and neighbors and asked them,

“Please do me a favor. When you drive down my street, don’t ever look in my driveway and see whether or not our cars are parked there. That will stop you from seeing my car and MOST IMPORTANTLY will LIMIT THIEVES who want to break into my house.”

If I publicly post this on my property, who is going to honor my request? The bad guys? Or only my friends who were never a risk in the first place?

If my friends and neighbors don’t glance at my house when they happen to be driving by it, will that improve my home security? No! It just means they won’t notice if I’m not around and someone does break in.

If I get my Facebook friends to unsubscribe from my posts, or my comments or likes, isn’t that comparable? What if I’m not on Facebook for while and my profile is hacked? If I’m hacked and my most trusted friends and neighbors aren’t keeping an eye on my profile via the news ticker and I’m not available, won’t it take longer for me to find out it happened?

Why would I remove my first line of defense in home security or Facebook privacy and tell everyone I’m removing it? You shouldn’t either.


The Whos and Whats of Facebook Timeline Security

Who and What are the keys to Facebook security with Timeline. How do you work with Whos and Whats to share information but protect yourself from harm?

  • WHO. Your first line of defense is who you share your information with. Check your privacy settings – if you are sharing something with Everyone, Global, or Public, then you are saying that information is available to any of the other 800 million Facebook users on Earth, which is 1 of every 13 people on the planet. Then, think carefully about who you accept as friends. If you need to accept certain people as friends for business reasons but are uncomfortable sharing your information with them, then put them on a restricted status. Another new option for Facebook friends is to put someone in the acquaintance group. Then set your privacy settings to restrict what acquaintances can see. Be sure to do the same with your photo albums. Check your privacy settings every month to make sure they reflect the privacy level you prefer. If you tag people in a photo, are tagged in a photo, or tag or are tagged in a Facebook status, then that photo or information is then available to the friends of everyone who was tagged. If you’re uncomfortable with that, then untag yourself.  Basic rule: Sharing means sharing – if you don’t share information with someone, that person can’t use it against you.
  • WHAT. There is no rule that says you must share everything on Facebook. In the questions in the about section, you don’t have to answer all the questions. Choose carefully what you share. If you don’t share it, it’s less likely to be made public. If you have certain information you use in making password selections, don’t share that information on Facebook. Review your old posts and information. If you don’t want them easily accessible, delete them. Yes, right now you have to delete them one at a time – just like you posted them one at a time over time.

Finally, we need to understand what Subscribe means. Today I’ve seen Facebook posts asking friends to unsubscribe from their feed. If you unsubscribe from someone’s newsfeed, all that means is that person’s status updates will no longer show in your Facebook news feed. If you ask your friends to unsubscribe from your news feed, you are simply asking them to no longer see your status updates in THEIR news feeds.  I have not yet discovered a way this reduces the risks of others hacking into your Facebook page.  If someone unsubscribes to your news feed, that person can still access your Facebook page.

The only way I can see unsubscribing increasing security is with mobile devices. If I lose my phone and someone steals it, the thief could look at my news feed and glean information. If you are unsubscribed, the thief would not see your information in my news feed. However, an enterprising thief could still go through my friends on my phone and glean information one at a time.

My caution with the lists of friends is to be careful what you post in the first place. Someone may be placed in the wrong group. You may share your information with the wrong set of friends. The former Congressman Weiner learned last year what happens when you confuse private postings in social media with public ones.

My blog How to Lock Down Your Facebook Privacy Settings will take you step by step through protecting your Facebook privacy.

Bottom line: be careful who your friends are and what you share. It’s the same on Facebook as it is in real life. There is no quick one click fix to social security – on Facebook or real life.  Just think before you share.


Parents of College Applicants and Facebook

This is my first venture watching my daughter apply to colleges and hunt for scholarships. Five of the 6 colleges she’s applied to have responded and accepted her, some with scholarship offers.  While we’re waiting on word from number 6, I brace myself for the daily mail bombardment.   Most of the mail is directed to her, but some of it is for us, with more information about the colleges.

One school has a terribly convenient feature – my daughter was invited to a closed Facebook group for her freshman class, and I was invited to a closed Facebook group for parents of new freshmen. Over 300 parents are in my group, which also includes members of the colleges admissions staff and others.

Parents can post where their kids are from and ask questions about the campus. We compare notes on which programs our kids applied to, and more. If we ask a question about scholarships or other campus info, one of the colleges representatives answers the questions within 24 hours.

The list is rather active, but I’m learning a lot about the college and getting a different perspective beyond what I normally would.

It must be uncomfortable at times for the university. Scholarships are beginning to be awarded, and from the postings of parents, I have a good feel for which colleges have begun awarding scholarships.

As a parent, I like the university’s willingness to take a risk and empower parents and future students to learn more about their potential college.

Social media’s not just for college students any more. Sometimes, it’s for their parents.

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