Quick Hits: Missouri Teachers Fight Social Networking Ban

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about a lawsuit intended to overturn a new law preventing teachers from “friending” students online and why Facebook and dating don’t always mix.

Missouri Teachers File Lawsuit Against Social Networking Ban

The Missouri State Teacher’s Association has filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s new law preventing teachers from interacting with students on Facebook and other social media websites. The law, which has been described as unconstitutional by Internet law expert Daniel Solove, was created to discourage teachers and students form having inappropriate sexual relationships, but has been criticized as overly broad by teachers’ groups. The law is set to go into effect on August 28th.

Preteens and Teens Embrace Raunchy Online Culture

This article from The Campbell Reporter discusses how young teens are embracing “the raunchy, rude lingo of cyberspace” and what teachers are doing to help students exercise more responsibility online. Quoting the article, “Educators increasingly are joining in to challenge the crude culture of social networks, which they fear unleashes cyberbullying and sexting, heightens the social drama of puberty and teaches the wrong values.” Citing a number of examples from the San Francisco Bay Area, the article shares how digital literacy and education programs, along with anti-bullying legislation, have been proposed to help kids stay safe on the Web.

Facebook Comments Improve Websites

People might say and do stupid things on Facebook, but when they’re using Facebook to leave a comment on a website, they smarten up. According to Jimmy Orr at the Los Angeles Times, whose paper has been using Facebook comments and traditional anonymous comments side-by-side, the difference in the quality of discourse from Facebook commenters was “stunning.” Orr owes the improved comments to the fact that Facebook requires users to provide their real name. When individuals know that their real name and reputation is tied to their comments, they are more careful and less combative online.

Ask Michael Cohen: Why You Shouldn’t Mix Dating and Facebook

Huffington Post advice columnist Michael Cohen answers three questions about the often confusing intersection of Facebook and relationships. For the most part, Cohen’s advice is to keep Facebook out of relationships, especially when dating, so as not to show off your entire life before you can even get to know your would-be date.

How Parents Help Their Kids Get Around Age Limits Online

This interesting article from TIME explores how parents help their kids access Internet websites by lying about their age. Because of the federal law COPPA, children under the age of 13 aren’t allowed to access certain websites. However, some parents believe that there is value in giving their kids access to social networking websites like Facebook and Google+. The TIME piece discusses how Google’s efforts to keep a 10-year-old from accessing his Google+ profile led to his father setting up the boy’s account in his name.

Google Sitelinks Update Means Changes for SEO and Reputation Management Professionals

This week, Google rolled out a significant expansion of sitelinks, capping years of experimentation on the search feature. The changes have kicked off a big debate in the SEO community about how companies may be helped or hurt by the expanded sitelinks.

For those unfamiliar with sitelinks, they are links that appear underneath a search result that link to a sub-section of a website. As its “Inside Search” blog reveals, Google has been tweaking sitelinks since 2006, going from a small single line of sitelinks to the most recent version, which gives each sitelink its own full-size search result.

If you can’t see the expanded sitelinks yet, here are some illustrations using popular websites as examples.

Some people, like Marketing Pilgrim’s Frank Reed, think that the new sitelinks are overkill. Others, like some of the commenters at Search Engine Land, argue that the sitelinks are fine, if only Google would allow site owners to change sitelinks via Google’s Webmaster Tools.  The one thing everyone agrees on, however, is that the new-look sitelinks make it even more important for brands (and personal brands) to secure the number one spot in Google search results and maintain interesting, content-rich websites.

What Google’s sitelinks change represents more than anything else is that the Web is constantly in flux. People will always turn to the Internet to find information — about the weather, about a new restaurant, or even about you. The way that people access that information, however, will change. In order to stay on top of your online reputation, it is important to stay current on the way search engines and social networks index and share information.

That’s what we’ve been doing at Reputation.com since 2006, and it’s what we’ll continue to do now and in the future.

Quick Hits: LinkedIn Backtracks on Social Ads, Clarifies Privacy Policies

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about LinkedIn’s privacy problem and a Canadian politician’s porn problem, as well as some tips on how to protect your privacy and security on social networking websites.

LinkedIn Clarifies Privacy Policies, Tweaks Social Ads

Two months ago, LinkedIn began something called Social Ads, in which the website used user information as part of in-site advertising. LinkedIn has since received considerable negative press over the feature, particularly with regard to the fact that users were opted in to the program by default. In response, LinkedIn has tweaked Social Ads to not feature a user’s picture. The company also released a statement apologizing for the faux-pas and pointing out that it could have made the change more visible at the time.

Canadian Political Candidate Embarrassed Over Facebook Pornography

A political candidate in Canada was recently embarrassed to discover that someone had posted links to pornographic websites on his Facebook profile. The candidate, who admits to not being computer savvy, is unsure how the links ended up on his profile, but acknowledged the possibility that it could be a political opponent.

MSNBC Live Chat on Social Networking Security and Privacy

Yesterday, MSNBC tech reporter Rosa Golijan hosted a live Q&A dealing with online privacy and security issues. The Q&A discussed how to keep safe on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. The entire Q&A is still accessible at MSNBC and features a lot of interesting information.

Quick Hits: Twitter’s Planned Features Similar to Facebook

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about Twitter’s new features, why sexting is an issue for schools (even if teens disagree), and why Rebecca Black of “Friday” fame had to drop out of school.

Twitter Adds Facebook-Like Changes

Twitter is rolling out a handful of changes to its popular micro-blogging service, and many of them appear to be taken from social networking kingpin Facebook. This article from MSNBC describes the new features and why Twitter users may like and dislike the ability to see more information about who is interacting with them and what their followers are doing.

Teens Treat Sexting as No Big Deal

In a feature for the New York Times, several teens share their thoughts on sexting, the practice of sending nude or sexually provocative photos of oneself to others via mobile devices or online. Disturbingly, the teens interviewed don’t seem to think sexting is a big deal, even as they acknowledge that the photos routinely get shared with the whole school. For instance, one teen says “About three photos go viral each year and a third of the school sees them.” Simultaneously, however, teens don’t understand the ramifications of sexting. At the end of the article, a different teen is shocked to learn that sexting is actually against the law.

Schools and Politicians Struggle with Teen Sexting and Social Media Use

While teens may not think sexting is a big issue, educators and lawmakers disagree. For instance, should two teens who send nude photos back and forth be charged as sex criminals? This article from the Northwest Indiana Times discusses a new Indiana law that clarifies the issue of sexting, making it more difficult for children to be arrested and charged with child pornography for sharing nude photos with their peers. The article also discusses how texting and social media have contributed to bullying, and some of the steps schools have taken to discourage online harassment.

Unintentional Viral Sensation Rebecca Black Leaves School Over Bullying

Rebecca Black, whose embarrassing music video Friday caused her international fame (or infamy) after racking up millions of views on YouTube, recently revealed that she had to drop out of her school after being bullied about the song. Black, who is now being home schooled, continues to maintain a positive attitude, saying “one thing that you can’t do is let them stop you from doing what you want to do.” The Internet celebrity singer is now trying to build a real recording career.

Educators and Parents Dealing with Missouri School Ban on Social Media

Several weeks ago, the state of Missouri banned teachers from interacting with students on social media websites. Since that time, educators and parents have been trying to work out the specifics of the rules, and figure out a way to keep positive interactions from getting swept aside by a blanket ban. This article and segment from The Early Show on CBS talks about the first amendment issues at stake in Missouri’s decision as well as other ways that parents can help keep their children safe online.

Quick Hits: NYPD Creates Units for Investigating Social Media

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about the New York Police Department’s plans to use social media to catch criminals and the epic fight between Facebook and Google+.

NYPD Forming Social Media Monitoring Units

In an effort to capitalize on the number of criminals who boast about their crimes online, the NYPD has announced the formation of new units that will “mine social media, looking for info about troublesome house parties, gang showdowns and other potential mayhem,” according to the New York Daily News (via Mashable). This is not the first time that a law enforcement agency has used social media in its crime fighting efforts, as numerous local, state, and federal outfits have also turned to social media to help identify criminals.

Facebook Changes Social Reporting Tools

In a note at its Facebook Safety page, Facebook announced several changes to how users report offensive content on the site. In a series of screenshots, Facebook shows how it has improved the reporting function so that users can better specify their issue, request to have a photo taken down, connect with a “trusted friend” for assistance, or block a bully. The changes are specifically geared at helping young Facebook users deal with online harassment and cyberbullying.

Most Members of Anonymous Hacking Group Don’t Support Planned Facebook Attack

This week, numerous reports declared that factions of the hacking group Anonymous were planning to hack Facebook later this year. Now, several of the loosely-knit group’s more prominent voices have declared that the Facebook operation is the work of only a few members and is not supported by Anonymous as a whole. According to ZDNet, the Twitter account for AnonOps wrote in a message, “#OpFacebook is being organised by some Anons. This does not necessarily mean that all of #Anonymous agrees with it.” The apparent lack of support for the campaign is a good indication that it will not have a strong impact on Facebook’s operations.

New York Times: Europe Backs Web Privacy Fights

It is no secret that Europe and the United States of America have widely divergent views on personal privacy policies, but this article by Suzenne Daley in the New York Times shows just how much European governments are doing to give people a “right to be forgotten.” It would seem that European citizens agree, as well. According to the Times, “Three out of four [European Union citizens] said they were worried about how Internet companies used their information and wanted the right to delete personal data at any time. Ninety percent wanted the European Union to take action on the right to be forgotten.”

Facebook vs. Google+ Infographic

Since Google rolled out its Google+ social network earlier this summer, nearly every story on the service has focused on whether it will be able to compete with Facebook. Taking that question to a whole new level, SingleGrain devised a special infographic pitting Google+ against Facebook. The infographic, shared via The Atlantic, details the rapid rise of Google+ in comparison to the sheer size of Facebook.


Quick Hits: Groups Plan to Identify London Rioters with Facial Recognition

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about prisoners on social media and how social media might help send some London rioters to prison. Also, news on how Facebook affects children’s brains.

Google Group Hopes to Catch London Looters with Facial Recognition

As violence continues to grip parts of London, a loose coalition of citizens are turning to the Web to clean up the city and bring looters to justice. TechCrunch writes about one Google group that plans to use facial recognition technology to identify rioters. A similar tactic was used following the post-Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver. TechCrunch asks whether this practice is ethical, calling it “crowdsource justice.”

Woman Wins Injunction to Keep Sex Video Off Facebook

In a first of its kind case, a teacher in Northern Ireland has been granted an injunction preventing her ex-boyfriend from posting a sex video of her online. The woman alleges that her ex had threatened to post the video on Facebook, and also to send it to her bosses and her students. According to the BBC, the woman’s lawyers correctly claimed that “any clips could spread uncontrollably if they were allowed to be uploaded,” which is why a preemptive injunction was necessary.

California Asks Facebook to Take Down Prisoners’ Facebook Accounts

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has asked Facebook to assist in removing the Facebook profiles of criminals in state prisons. According to Corrections Department Secretary Matthew Cate, “access to social media allows inmates to circumvent our monitoring process and continue to engage in criminal activity.” In some cases, prisoners also use Facebook to harass their victims from afar.

Psychologist Investigates Facebook’s Effect on Children’s Brains

Psychologist Larry D. Rosen recently presented a report entitled “Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids” to the American Psychological Associtation. In his presentation, Rosen highlighted numerous findings about Facebook’s impact on children, including both positive and negative effects. The Atlantic Wire reports some of Rosen’s discoveries, including the good news that Facebook makes kids more empathetic and the bad news that Facebook can lower kids’ self-esteem.

Windows Security Vulnerability Discovered at Black Hat Conference

Black Hat, the famous security conference attended by the world’s foremost experts in hacking, is well-known for exposing significant security vulnerabilities in popular technology. CNET’s Declan McCullagh writes that Black Hat researchers recently showed how it is possible to bypass Windows’ built-in encryption tools to access password data for e-mail and websites like Facebook that has been stored in the cloud. In response to the vulnerability, Microsoft encouraged its users to use its BitLocker tool to encrypt their hard drives.

Quick Hits: Outsmarting a Facebook Stalker

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about ways to avoid a Facebook stalker, why more recruiters are turning to Facebook, and why oversharing is contributing to a culture that trivializes privacy.

How To Beat a Facebook Stalker

In an interesting article for MarketWatch, Jon Friedman discusses how he “beat” a pseudo-stalker who had been persistently bothering him on Facebook. Friedman’s article teaches an important lesson: “Social media, for all of the hubbub, is still in its infancy.” Many people are still unsure of the etiquette they should use online and the results can be embarrassing.

Facebook Privacy Concerns Go Deep

In his Forbes blog, innovation expert Chunka Mui explains why Facebook’s myriad privacy issues are even more pronounced than most people realize. Specifically, Mui highlights Alessandro Acquisti’s recent Carnegie Mellon University study, which revealed how Facebook can effectively be used as a national identification service and how researching Facebook photos can reveal partial social security numbers. In his article, Mui makes the important point that these kinds of issues will continue to grow without proper intervention. Quoting the article, “The technology will get better, and the information that feeds it will grow,” leading to even greater data threats.

Recruiters Turning to Facebook More and More

As Facebook continues to grow, the website is becoming an important asset for hiring managers and job recruiters. This article from Fox News, originally published in the Wall Street Journal, discusses how hiring managers use Facebook contacts to fill positions and why the growth of Facebook as a recruiting tool could threaten professional social networking websites like LinkedIn.

What to do if a Facebook or LinkedIn Friend Dies

For better or worse, most people know how to act when they learn an acquaintance has died in real life. However, the issue becomes much more complicated when the acquaintance is an online friend on Facebook or LinkedIn. This article from the Salt Lake Tribune talks about how to handle the death of an online friend, and what is the proper etiquette when it comes to de-friending the deceased.

Oversharing Trivializes Privacy

In a strongly-worded op-ed, the Winnipeg Free Press takes social media oversharers to task for trivializing privacy concerns with mundane updates about their daily lives. Quoting the article, “We as a society have become willing slaves to social media and in the process happily sacrificed any semblance of personal privacy.” While that might be an overstatement, it does speak to the importance of personal responsibility when it comes to sharing online.

Quick Hits: A History of Photo Sharing on Facebook

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about the history of photo sharing on Facebook, why real name policies online are revolutionary, what one mom found when she went undercover online, and the growth of facial recognition technology.

The History of Photos on Facebook

PCMag shares an interesting infographic from Pixable.com that details how photo sharing has changed over Facebook’s history. The information is very interesting and reveals the many subtle ways that Facebook has pushed users to share more and more photos on the site. Facebook predicts that by the end of the summer, there will be more than 100 billion photos on the site.

Why Real Name Policies are Revolutionary

In a very engaging article for The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal explains why Facebook and Google’s policies of requiring real names are revolutionary. Quoting the article, “In real life, we expect very few statements to be public, persistent, and attached to your real identity… Online, Google and Facebook require an inversion of this assumed norm. Every statement you make on Google Plus or Facebook is persistent and strongly attached to your real identity through your name.” Madrigal’s assessment reflects the growing importance of online reputation management.

Aussie Mom Goes Undercover on Facebook

An Australian mother wanted to see what her 15-year-old daughter might face online, so she set-up a fake Facebook account pretending to be a 14-year-old girl. After gaining 76 friends, the mom set out to see the kinds of things teenagers share online. She was quickly shocked to see cyberbullying, pornography, and vulgar exchanges. While the mom’s actions violated Facebook’s terms of service, they did provide insight into why Australia is debating a possible resolution to allow parents access to their children’s social media accounts.

Facial Recognition Technology Grows Despite Privacy Concerns

Despite considerable concern from privacy advocates, facial recognition technology continues to boom, particularly within consumer tech products.This piece from The Atlantic Wire discusses how consumer interest in facial recognition technology has led to the development of a range of products, including a device that uses facial recognition to customize TV programming based on a scan of who is watching.

Quick Hits: Undetweetable Website Archives Deleted Tweets

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about how deleted tweets are “undetweetable,” Facebook’s upcoming design tweaks, new facial recognition technology, and a guide to Google+ privacy settings.

Undetweetable Archives Deleted Tweets

When someone deletes a tweet, he or she probably assumes that nobody will be able to access it (and rightly so). Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as demonstrated by the new website Undetweetable. The website was created by Dean Terry who says it is meant “to test limits, to question privacy, data ownership and explore the idea of the permanence of online expression.” Twitter has already forced Terry to shut down Undetweetable, but the website still retains all of its archived tweets.

Facebook Working on Unfiltered News Feed, Expanded Like Buttons to Improve Advertising

ZDNet writes that Facebook is experimenting with an unfiltered news feed and expanded functionality for the site’s ubiquitous “like” button. Facebook is making the changes to improve advertising on the site. As ZDNet explains, “Facebook’s algorithms don’t display every piece of content that is shared, limiting the impact of the various advertising campaigns launched on the website. Facebook engineers are reportedly working to create an unfiltered News Feed that would show everything your friends are doing on the social network: from what games and apps they are using on the site to what Pages of companies and products they Like.”

Facial Recognition Software Tracks Faces Over Time

A new software program from a University of Washington scientist and Google engineer is pushing the limits of facial recognition technology. The software, which has already been incorporated into Google’s Picasa photo-sharing service, synchs an individual’s facial features and expressions across multiple photos to create a movie. In Picasa, the feature is known as Face Movie and it also includes a name tagging feature. While technologically impressive, this software raises numerous privacy questions. If software like this can do such a good job of organizing unstructured photos, what could it do on a website like Facebook, where there are billions of available images?

Lifehacker Guide to Google+ Privacy Settings

Gawker’s Lifehacker blog has a great guide to Google+ privacy settings. Included in the guide are detailed instructions on how to conceal one’s profile, manage Google’s Social Circles feature, and how to ensure your posts don’t unintentionally end up being public.

Quick Hits: New Jersey Politician Resigns Over Nude Photos

In today’s Quick Hits, we talk about another political scandal involving nude photos, a mini-conference on Facebook breakups, and Foursquare’s potential privacy concerns.

New Jersey Politician Resigns Over Nude Photo Scandal

Thanks to Rep. Anthony Weiner’s long and embarrassing sexting scandal, most politicians will now think twice before sending nude photos of themselves online. Unfortunately, for one New Jersey politician, Weiner’s revelation came too late. The county politician, who had been sexting with a woman for years, was recently forced to resign when the woman shared his photos with a local conservative blogger. The politician is now investigating legal action against the woman and the blogger for possible criminal and civil violations.

Google+ is the Fastest Growing Website to 25 Million Users

Demonstrating why it might be a viable competitor to Facebook, Google+ has reached the 25 million user milestone faster than any other website in history. It only took Google one month to accumulate 25 million users. By comparison, Facebook and Twitter reached that milestone in three years and two and a half years, respectively.

Teaching Teens to Break Up on Facebook Responsibly

How to break up on Facebook is not a lesson that you’ll see taught in most classrooms, but a group of public health officials recently discussed the issue with 200 teens during a special one-day conference sponsored by the Boston Public Health Commission. Facebook is the hub of many teens’ social lives, and going through the public embarrassment of an online break up can be especially traumatic. The conference also hoped to teach teens a sense of personal responsibility in their interpersonal relationships by showing that face-to-face communication is the best way to end a relationship.

Should Employees Be Disciplined or Fired Over Facebook?

In his iGeneration blog for ZDNet, Zack Whittaker asks whether its right for companies to discipline or fire employees for online misconduct. In the article, Whittaker talks with a representative from the National Labor Relations Board, and discusses how labor law may be changing to reflect the new realities of the digital age.

Foursquare’s Business Plans Could Pose Privacy Risk

BNET’s Erik Sherman writes about the location check-in service Foursquare and its new plans to gain revenues. According to Sherman, Foursquare’s plan “is to help merchants recognize consumer behavior and then market more effectively to them.” On the surface, that sounds similar to what other social networking websites have done, except there’s one key difference. As a location-sharing tool, Foursquare has access to information on where people go and what they do. Therefore, the personalization being touted is much more advanced.

As Sherman explains, “The minute you start analysis on people at specific stores, particularly smaller stores with repeat customers, consumer anonymity begins to fade. If someone came in with a coupon for five people, you start to remember them. Set the right specials, and a store owner could begin matching faces, names (especially from credit card purchases), and online identities.” These plans could set up Foursquare for some uncomfortable questioning in front of an increasingly privacy-conscious Congress if things don’t go well for the company.