Your Social Media Policy vs Students

Social Media on CampusIn the last two weeks several stories appeared in the news media in South Africa about Facebook confession pages from big universities. There’s numerous references to matters that is and should remain private, there are rumors and gossip, and there are mundane confessions like the sort in a private diary.

The process is making people anonymous is interesting:

  1. People submit their confessions via a Google Form
  2. The moderators of the Facebook pages select the gossip to post
  3. People LIKE the pages, comment like crazy and probably laugh a lot

The office environment may have more controls, but the university seems an even more complex beast to enforce a social media policy. Students are known to download movies or music using the campus computer networks. There are certainly a group who are drinking alcohol or smoking pot, even though it’s banned.

Since the advent of the Internet in corporate networks, Internet usage policies have been a consistent part of the HR policy new staff members have to sign. Universities have similar policies, and students are aware of them. However, just because someone is aware of a policy, does not mean they can be forced or compelled to abide by them.

Since most people access social media from their own devices, whether smartphones or tablets, there are not software tools a university network administrator can utilize to compel them to comply. It is not practical to control people’s private use of the Internet, yet their actions can cause irreparable damage to the institution and people vilified.

In the past I’ve suggested the following options for organisations to moderator abuse of the Internet:

  1. Block all access to social media sites
  2. Open complete access to social media sites
  3. Give social media sites before 8am and after 4pm.

As you can see this does not apply because student’s will not stop using the smartphones during lectures, let alone during the bathroom. So what can be done?

Maybe the best method yet is the embarrassment. In the early days of the Internet usage, some companies published top 10 list of “downloaders”. This was done in a way to ensure that people know who was abusing the company network, and this form of naming and shaming was effective in the short term and especially the long term. Your social media policy may include a clause on naming people who abuse their access to social media.




A Conversation About Facebook Hacking

Facebook hacking - Internet scams social media profilesRecently I answered a series of questions via email to a journalist at the Herald newspaper.

How exactly do people hack Facebook accounts and duplicate them? You may be more likely to be a target of scammers and spammers instead of real hackers. Malware is the key ingredient in hacking social media sites. They normally send you a message with a link. The link opens a script, a small software program, which collects passwords from your web browser and sends it to the hacker.

Why do they duplicate the accounts? steal personal information, embarrass their friends etc?

Hackers sell Facebook & Twitter accounts through websites like Fiverr. For example, I go to Fiverr and “buy” 5,000 Facebook LIKES. This is either fake or stolen accounts used to LIKE my Facebook page. The motivation is primarily financial i.e. selling the accounts onto other people. Very few incidents are of a personal nature.

Over the last year has this Facebook hacking becoming more popular? And why?

Facebook has over 1 billion users and is the most active social network. Most people on Facebook have very little experience on the Internet and therefore make stupid mistakes. Since they are inexperienced they fall for phishing or scam emails the more experienced Internet user will not succumb too.

What are some the measures one can take to protect one’s personal information on Facebook?

The best measure is to close your profile. The 2nd best method is to place incorrect information e.g. instead of real date of birth, change the year to something like 1902. Never post your phone number or home address. The more information you post, the easier you make it for hackers and spammers to abuse you. Don’t expect Facebook – the company – to protect your information. They make generate advertising income from your Facebook activities.

What are the dangers of another person being able to access someone’s account?

The dangers include cyber bullying and identify fraud. Identify fraud is a financial risk because bank accounts and cellphone contracts can be opened in your name.

Have the Facebook management implemented any extra security features as a result of the increasing hacking?

Not that I aware. Facebook is a listed company in USA. Their primary focus is finding new ways to generate income not to protect the privacy of their users. In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg said publicly “privacy is dead!”

How would one be able to identify whether your Facebook account has been hacked? And what should one do should one discover that your account has been hacked?

You will notice updates being posted by someone else. The people most disadvantaged are the ones using mobile phones who have a limited display of Facebook features. From a laptop or tablet you can see more of the activities.

Is there anyway of tracking who the individual is that has hacked the profile? If so, how? And who should it be reported to?

In most cases it not easy or possible to track the hacker. You need extremely advanced knowledge of internet security to do so. Since most users are novices online, the best they can do is to change their password. Passwords must be changed at least once every 6 months and include numbers and one special character like @ or #. You must report all spam and scamming incidents to and abuse@yourisp domain.

Facebook is an easy target for hackers and I believe scammers. Hackers are too busy attacking government sites like Wikileaks have demonstrated. Scammers on the other hand are more focused on data mining i.e. the collection and building of vast databases. These databases are re-sold many times to companies who are not always illegal but unscrupulous if you know what I mean.


Do Facebook Junkies Have Real Friends?

Facebook privacy Mark ZuckerbergFacebook is the biggest reality show in the world. It has more than 1 billion unpaid actors who live a portion of the lives online. Recently I was interviewed by the Weekend Post newspaper about Facebook junkies or people who have more than 4,000 friends. It’s also notable I’ve closed my profile again just last week. The goal for me is to stay off Facebook until I’ve completed my long overdue book, The Psychology of Technology.

Anyway as I see it the biggest danger of publishing so much information about yourself online, is the risk of identity theft by scammers and spammers. The more personal information is published on open platforms like Facebook, the easier it is for people to steal your identity and open bank accounts, cellphone contracts and conduct transactions in your name. Those days when Facebook was a walled garden and Google was not allowed to index it’s content is history.

Facebook has ineffective privacy controls at best because they keep changing the rules. Each new feature introduced like Facebook Home, blurs the invisible line between what users want to remain private and what is actually shared. You can find significant amount of information just via Google searches without even logging into Facebook.

The company makes money from using your personal profile information to generate advertising. So it will never put it’s users concerns first while it impacts revenue or their share price.

One update per day is acceptable for most. The moment you post 10 or more updates per day, you are clearly looking for validation from your Facebook friends. For some people its acceptable to do up to 10 updates over a 12 hour period when they are promoting their business. For personal communication I’ve had some real-world friends remove me because my own business updates are to numerous.

The #1 piece of information NOT to post is your location. Make sure you GPS and Location services are turned off on your Smartphones or Tablets. If you don’t, below each update your location will be provided. Using Inbox to communicate with other users instead of public comments helps to increase privacy. The average Facebook user seems to often ignore good manners online.

The number of friends or followers was never an accurate reflection of who you are in real life. It is vastly exaggerated for the majority of Facebook users. One reason for this is the Facebook feature that constantly suggests new friends to you. I estimate at least half of people Facebook friends are people they’ve never met, and may never meet.

Facebook stopped being an closed platform when they allowed profiles to be indexed by Google several years ago. Mark Zuckerburg also demonstrated his attitude towards Facebook users when he said privacy was dead in 2010. People who believe their information or photos or updates are private since that statement are either ignorant or stupid.


How To Manage Your Digital Afterlife

Manage Your Digital AfterlifeIf the psychologist Carl Jung was alive today, he may have said, your digital world is your shadow. In many ways it’s the best representation of your personality and your aspirations because of its interactive nature. When you misrepresent yourself, you’re bound to receive feedback pointing this out.

Twitter streams are like a public journals of your daily activities, for others it’s a place to share inspiration quotes or topics you are passionate about. With the large-scale adoption of Smartphones many pieces of information about your life are automatically added to your digital persona.

In 2011, Adam Ostrow delivered a TED Talk about how to manage your digital afterlife. He posits that our lives will live on indefinitely in the Cloud. There is an increasing number of services to manage your profiles after you die. Google is one of the leaders because of the sheer scope of their reach from email to Youtube, to the forthcoming Google Glass project.

In the final solution we determine what memories we leave behind are important, because those are the ones we’ve chosen to share. Videos and photos may leave a bigger legacy than your blog because. It is through pictures our senses leap into action, remembering the sound of a voice, how they smelled or how it felt when they gave you a hug.

In April 2013, my friend, Andre August, passed away. Just last year I helped him setup his Gmail and Facebook accounts, so he can get in touch with old friends. When I received the devastating news of his heart attack, I resolved to turn his Facebook profile into a tribute. First I posted an announcement of his death and messages flooded in. A few days later I posted the funeral information and people responded. In all the years I used social media, nothing was as gratifying as when printed messages posted on his Facebook, and gave it to his 81-year-old mother.

When we die, we leave behind people, we leave behind memories. People rarely print out photos like they used to because everyone just keeps them on digital devices. Cloud storage of these digital memories will become more valuable as people are afraid to lose them. In a world filled with smart technologies where your data is automatically synced between phone, tablet, laptop or the Cloud, you have nothing to worry about; except maybe a little bit of your privacy.

In the future there will be the equivalent of the digital undertaker whose job is to clean up your profiles and preserve it for posterity. Holograms of the late rapper Tupac “resurrected” in 2012 leads to interesting alternatives to reincarnation. It is conceivable with the sophisticated artificial intelligence emerging, that can process the billions of tweets, status updates, blog posts, accurate psycho-graphic profiles of people may be developed. Using well established techniques of psychological profiling to identifying serial killers and other groups, your digital personality may one day amuse your great-great-grandchildren like Harry Seldon in the Isaac Asimov novel, Foundation.




Facebook's new ad tracking partnership stokes privacy concerns

Facebook is pairing up with Datalogix to track whether people who see ads for products on the social networking site actually go out and purchase them in stores.

To measure how well Facebook’s ads are performing, Datalogix will match up email addresses and other information from loyalty cards and programs at more than 1,000 retailers with Facebook account data, the Financial Timesreported. The emails and other identifying information will be anonymized, the Times said, and Datalogix will prepare a report for Facebook and its advertisers that highlights which methods and demographics targeting result in people buying advertised products in stores.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that it is working with Datalogix and said the social network also tracks the performance of ads through its own advertising tool and partnerships with Nielsen and ComScore.

“We know that people share a lot of information on Facebook, and we have taken great care to make sure that we measure the effectiveness of Facebook ads without compromising the commitments we have made on privacy,” the Facebook spokesman said. “We don’t sell people’s personal information, and individual user data is not shared between Facebook, Datalogix or advertisers.”

But at least one privacy advocacy group says Facebook’s partnership with Datalogix raises a red flag.

Jeff Chester, the executive director of consumer digital rights group Center for Digital Democracy, said this recent partnership is one in a series of moves Facebook has made that could violate the settlement terms it finalized with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In particular, Chester argues that Facebook hasn’t been transparent to users about the data targeting and tracking activities it’s using for the new Facebook Exchange program, which offers marketers a way to purchase ads via real-time bidding.

“The FTC can’t be [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg’s privacy babysitter, but they clearly need one over there,” Chester said. “The expansion of data targeting by Facebook, such as the work it’s doing on Exchange, the role of sponsored stories on mobile, and partnerships with Datalogix and others clearly warrant an investigation.”

Facebook finalized its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission last month and agreed to take extra steps to secure the privacy of their users’ information. Among the settlement terms, the social network agreed to get users’ consent before sharing information that overrides what they chose in their privacy settings, maintain a comprehensive privacy program and be subject to audits every two years.

Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said this new partnership with Datalogix doesn’t raise immediate privacy concerns at this point.

“It sounds like they’re trying to set it up in a way that’s privacy protective,” Brookman said, though he cautioned “obviously it could be done in a bad way.”

Based on the initial reports of the partnership, Brookman said it sounds like “this [data] matching occurs in a perfect black box, which I’m OK with.”

By Jennifer Martinez

Source :


Online gambling promises new revenues for Facebook

Comment: This seems a latest attempt to ensure revenue and cash flow grows after listing for Facebook.

UFacebook gambling UK BingoK-based online gambling holding Gamesys has launched a new Facebook app called ‘Bingo Friendzy’, the first to hit the social network’s App Center that lets UK users aged 18 and over to play an online game for real cash prizes. The Bingo games will be offered to UK users from Tuesday.

Gamesys, which operates the UK’s leading Bingo and Slots website, says the new Friendzy App comes with a series of 90 Ball Bingo and Slots games that enable adult Facebook users in the UK to play for real cash.

Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s Head of EMEA Gaming Partnerships speaks on the launch:

“People love playing new types of games with their friends on Facebook and real money gaming is a popular leisure activity in the UK.

We’re delighted to be working with Gamesys to enable them to offer their games on Facebook so that people can enjoy playing more games with their friends.”

Facebook has effectively partnered with Gamesys to fuel the distribution of the new game on the social networking service, and plans to team up with more gambling companies in the future.

Gamesys says a series of controls should protect users under 18 years of age, as well as “vulnerable people”. Also, in line with gambling legislation, all users will have access to a number of self-help tools to limit their spending and exclude themselves from playing at anytime.

Zynga, Facebook’s largest gaming partner by a margin, is also planning to venture into the real-money online gambling space in the near future.

source: The Wires / Business Day


Social media tools

Social Media Tools Ramon Thomas South AfricaThere are plenty of social media tools that can be used in the different social media internet sites. These social media tools were set up to be used to enhance the different activities that one can do in these websites. There are tools that provide and edit pictures, video and audio files. Some social media tools are measuring tools or enhancement tools that can make one’s website more accessible to the public. There are social media tools that manage the content of the pages that are to be published in the websites

The more important social media tools are blogging tools and twitter tools that maximize the use of these activities in developing a market for those engaged in internet marketing. Blogging and tweeting are by themselves social media tools that can be used to enhance the value of an account or website. The numerous social media sites dominating the internet today has inspired many developers to provide more social media tools that can be used in conjunction with the popular websites.

Those who wish to make use of the different major social media internet sites are advised to rely on advisors or coaches who offer their services and who can determine which of the social media tools are applicable for one’s situation. These coaches can provide effective methods of using the facilities of the different websites and utilize these sites as possible outlets for the products or ideas that their clients may wish to sell. It must be understood that the techniques and skills that can be used to fully convert one’s contacts in the social internet sites to actual customers have been carefully studied and planned by experts who are willing to impart their knowledge and to show their clients the best way to use the different social media tools to achieve this goal.


Google plus is a minus

Google+ book by Guy Kawasaki
Most people in my workshops have either not heard of Google+ or do nothing after signing up. They feel this way because like 850 million other people, they invested heavily in Facebook profiles Google’s new social network arrived. They lament, not another social network, another profile to update. Does anyone even remember Orkut?

Google+ launched in June 2011, 7 years after Facebook, and 8 years after LinkedIn opened their doors. What many South Africans may not know is that it’s the big G’s second attempt at social networking after the failure of Orkut launched in 2004. For me Google+ is not valuable because nobody cares enough to spend real time on it. When I post an update, I do not even look at who comments.

The value of a social network is proportional to the engagement from you and your network. So when you post and nobody responds, the value is low to almost nothing – there is no engagement without feedback or sharing. After listening to investor Roger McNamee during a Bloomberg (DStv channel 411) interviewed, it confirmed my original scepticism.

Before it launched to the public, you required a Google+ invitation to join. This was the same way Gmail launched, and it was a form of permission marketing (thanks Seth Godin) that worked for the email product. For Google+ it’s become more of a form of spamming people into creating profiles.

Bruce Mubayiwa, a LinkedIn consultant, thinks Google+ prospects could get more interesting as Google increases integration. He believes there are plans to weave in Google Analytics and this could increase usage of Google+ overall.

The key realisation is that managing multiple social networks is unproductive. In the 21st century time or attention is the most valuable resource, not gold or silver. Microsoft and Google face substantial challenges as global usage of the Web moves away from the Desktop to apps on smartphones and tablets. That means more and more Internet users bypass search engines because they engage from their Twitter or Facebook apps directly.

Google must do whatever it takes to catch-up with Facebook. People have agreed to give enormous amounts of personal information to Facebook. In return Facebook gives them an online social experience like no other. In contrast Google is not where you go to connect with your family or friends. You use it mostly to search for information, maybe send emails and get on with the favourite social network or shopping site.


SMS' Can Relieve Stressed, Lonely People

SMS Text Messages Relieve Stressed, Lonely PeopleBERKELEY — Text messaging often gets a bad rap for contributing to illiteracy and high-risk behaviour such as reckless driving. But a social welfare professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has found an upside to texting, especially for people who feel stressed out, isolated and alone.

Text messages in cognitive behaviour therapy can make people feel less isolated

Adrian Aguilera, a clinical psychologist who treats many low-income Latinos for depression and other mental disorders, said his patients report feeling more connected and cared for when they receive text messages asking them to track their moods, reflect on positive interactions, and take their prescribed medications.

“When I was in a difficult situation and I received a message, I felt much better. I felt cared for and supported. My mood even improved,” reported one Spanish-speaking patient in Aguilera’s cognitive behavior therapy group at San Francisco General Hospital.

The project began in 2010 when Aguilera developed a customized “Short Message Service (SMS)” intervention program, with the help of UCSF psychologist Ricardo Munoz,  in which Aguilera’s patients were sent automated text messages prompting them to think and reply about their moods and responses to positive and negative daily interactions.

The psychologists published the results of the project last year in the journal, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Aguilera has since been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“We are harnessing a technology that people use in their everyday lives to improve mental health in low-income, under-served communities,” said Aguilera, whose passion for addressing mental health issues among the poor was sparked while growing up in a Mexican immigrant community in Chicago.

Recent statistics bear out Aguilera’s outreach strategy. The 2011 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project survey found that African American and Latino mobile phone owners send and receive more text messages than do Caucasians.

Of the 2,277 adult cell phone users surveyed by the Pew Foundation, the most active senders and receivers of text messages (at least 50 messages a day) were non-whites, earned incomes below $30,000 and did not graduate from high school.

Aguilera came up with the texting idea when he realized that many of his patients had difficulty applying the skills they learned in therapy to their daily lives, possibly because of the many stressors they routinely faced. They could not afford laptops, electronic tablets or smart phones, but most had a basic cellular phone and a prepaid monthly plan.

“The people I wanted to impact directly didn’t have as much access to computers and the Internet,” Aguilera said. “So I thought about using mobile phones to send text messages to remind them to practice the skills covered in therapy sessions.”

The feedback from patients offers new insight into the human need for regular contact or check-ins for mental health professionals, even if only through automated technology, Aguilera said.

While the text-messaging sessions are designed to last only a certain number of weeks, about 75 percent of the patients requested that they continue receiving the messages. When the program stopped for a week due to technical problems, some really noticed the difference.

“When it stopped, I missed it,” the patient reported. “My life is so crazy, I need a reminder to think about how I feel.”

Adrian Aguilera, a UC Berkeley social welfare professor and clinical psychologist

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Social network interview about Facebook

Every now and then students contact me while doing research on articles I’ve written on this blog or interviews published on my work. So this one started out very interesting although the eventual questions were not asking the right questions I believe.

Student Request

I’m studying journalism at Stellenbosch University, and have to write an in-depth article about something, and I chose Facebook . So it’s not for any publication and the deadline is Wednesday.  Since it’s about facebook do u mind if we do it via facebook? and the other reason would be that im currently busy with exams so i cannot really go anywhere.

I would like to know your opinion about social networks in general? what u think…do they actually provide a service or is it just to make money? facebook has a shaky history with both good and bad comments…do u think it will die down after the rush is over or will it actually become a real option for building networks…or do u think it is finally reaching it’s peak?

here goes…

  • your opinion about social networks, especially facebook?
  • has it brought change into your life / business? how
  • does facebook have a future in this competitive market or not?
  • why is facebook so popular?
  • your opinion about social networks, especially facebook?

Social networks are the unification of the Web in the post Search Engine era. What I mean by this is that since the rise of Google in 2000/2001. Social networks connect people more directly than email, websites or search ever could do. And it plays on the social nature of human beings to connect, flirt, chat, watch, observe, challenge each other. It essentially maps the psychological and emotional nature of the human being onto the Web.

Facebook is a special case because it has integrated every other concept that has gone before and amplified the interconnectedness between “friends” or between groups. It also allows other websites from blogs to major news websites to connect into Facebook. Starting out among students in 2004 it now dominates as the leader of ALL other social networks.

– has it brought change into your life / business? how

Yes, it has allowed me to connect with old friends and new friends easily and quickly. More and more people recognise me in the real world from my Facebook exploits. Imagine Liezel vd Westhuizen or Lee-Ann Liebenberg actually recognising me from Facebook/Twitter and being happy about it. That’s what’s happening to me.

It has also led to very intense business relationships because my life is now an open book. And my clients can see what I get up to in the evenings or on the weekends. I have to strike a delicate balance between what is privately private or publicly public.

– does facebook have a future in this competitive market or not?

Yes, Facebook will remain the leader for a very long time to come. There are many new social networks trying to compete with Facebook. So they have nothing to worry about because simply in pure size they are the King Kong on the block. Since they surpassed MySpace in 2008, there is almost no other competition in this market for them. The only way to compete is to focus on niche social networks in the way that allows users to do so.

– why is facebook so popular?

For all the above reasons and more. Facebook has managed to innovate on a regular basis the functionality and freedom people have to update their friends and play online. It’s the dominant social network on mobile phone now. And with more than 800 million users worldwide, it’s  of the total o