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New Facebook Profile Layout: The Better To Stalk You With, My Dear

If you’re a user of the ever-changing Facebook, then you’ve probably already noticed the new… wait for it… LAYOUT.

A few of my online friends wasted little to no time in sharing their views of the procrastination outlet. Some friends linked the change of layout to Google Plus’ recent accessibility to the public (that’s right, there’s no invitation required now):

One inquired about the profile layout’s effect on Facebook’s mobile app:

The award for “Best Reaction to Facebook’s Layout Change,” in my opinion, goes to the friends who are going to switch social networking platforms as a result of the change and it being too difficult to understand:
What does this profile layout change mean for YOU?
Let’s admit it, Facebook (for many, including myself) was starting to turn into a website where we would spend most of our time aimlessly scrolling through profiles, photo albums and a News Feed. It was the place we went to procrastinate when we had to write a term paper or get a LOT of work done at the office.

If you’re a long-time Facebook user like I am, granted I subscribed and have been loyal since the start of 2007, you may remember the BASIC layout and the original photo uploader with the ability to put “Bumper Stickers” and “Wall Graffiti” on friends’ walls. Remember that?

BUT Facebook has definitely done out with the old and in wit hthe new add-ons and features.

I usually attempt to remain unbiased in these blogs, but I have to say that the new Facebook layout seems like an all-too-easy way to… ahem… stalk your friends.

Here are some of the changes:
Blocking Options
There are new and very extensive security measures that Facebook has now taken with the new layout. It has now become possible to completely block a person from seeing your extire existence online. The settings, however, aren’t as easy to use as they once were.
While before, you could go up to your Privacy Settings and go through each section of your profile and adjust who can see what, it’s not as easy to do anymore.
Idea: Facebook could make privacy settings more user-friendly.

A few months ago, Facebook launched a trial run of this new layout, in which it tested a feature called “The Ticker.” This real-time news feed appeared at the upper right portion of the profile, allowing users to see every Like, Comment and View that a friend made on anybody’s profile.
The part that really bothers me is the fact that it is extremely simple to know just about EVERYTHING that someone is doing in just a matter of seconds. While much of that information was rather easily accessible in the past (e.g., go to a friend’s profile and see his or her’s “action”), it has now become almost brainless to see what people are doing.
Idea: Stop being annoying and weird, Facebook–go back to your friendly and fun self!

Friend Categorization and Subscription
Have you added a new friend yet on Facebook? Are you SURE they’re you’re friend? Or just an acquaintance? Facebook now allows users the option to categorize a new friend as either… OR a list name of your choice. Along with becoming someone’s “friend,” you can also subscribe to friends.
In essence, you can remain friends with whomever you want and subscribe to posts only from those individuals you find “worthy enough” to follow.
Idea: Facebook, stop copying Google Plus–your subscriptions are just like Circles. If I wanted Circles of Friends, I’d go to Google Plus… or just get a REAL social life.

SMS Notifications
This isn’t a “new” feature, but it’s still available and is still a bit creepy. You can take your mobile phone and link it with Facebook… Correction, with somebody’s profile. Each time this person writes a new status, you’ll get a text notification saying something like “Carlos Perez says…. // To reply, simply type your response here…”
A bit ridiculous to keep up on people so closely, yes.
A bit MORE ridiculous to have someone’s information simply texted to your phone.

Ultimately, I see it as this: the amount of information you are willing to publish online is your choice, and it could potentially devastate anyone’s reputation. Once things are posted to Facebook (or Twitter, or Google Plus, or LinkedIn), any content become public domain forever. You’ll notice the three screenshots I took from friends’ profiles, I politely blocked out their photos and last names–I didn’t have to do that.

HOW DO YOU FEEL about the new layout?? Please share!

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Examples of Internal Use of Social Media

170 - Typing

Photo by Flickr user: LaMenta3.

Internal use of social media is something that businesses are slowly beginning to adopt. Some companies use social media outlets (e.g., Facebook accounts, personal blogs) to develop a strong internal voice for employees, wherein they are able to express their concerns or suggestions about their work. Other businesses have specific social media websites that allow employees to connect with one another, in hopes of forming a more comfortable work environment.

In researching this fairly new trend, I ran across three main examples of how businesses are internally utilizing social media.

1) Corporate Blogs

For the avid social media user, blogs are nothing new. There are two primary types of blogs: the public-driven and the internal variety. The public blogs can offer consumers a more intimate view of a company’s product or the employees of the business. From a business perspective, the public blogs can provide targeted content to the public, in hopes to raise revenue or simply interest in the product it is promoting.

Kodak’s public blog is a prime example of this targeted content: the majority of the posts focus primarily on photography and not Kodak’s cameras. Since common sense tells us that photographs can only be obtained through the use of a camera, Kodak is then targeting an audience that would genuinely care about their product (the camera). From there, the audience is more likely to transition from “blog reader” to consumer.

The second type of corporate blog, the internal variety, is primarily used as a community hub where employees are able to meet, share their latest work-related news or troubleshoot any business challenges they are facing. This type of communication is essential in the field of public relations, as practitioners need to stay on top of the latest news and trends, to develop the most relevant campaigns.

In addition, this internal communication provides unity amongst employees who voice their concerns or opinions and are promptly attended to.

2) Yammer.com

Some might argue this as an office version of Twitter. Companies must set up their own corporate account and only then, can employees use their work e-mail addresses to create their own internal account.

With Yammer, business can create profiles and employees can update their company on either progress on a current project or simply how lunch was. This internal social media outlet offers the opportunity to improve internal communication while simultaneously boosting team morale.

From a public relations perspective, Yammer also introduces many employees to the uses of other social media websites (like Twitter). The more familiar and comfortable the employees are with forms of microblogging, the more likely the company will be able to pick up Twitter accounts as both a customer service and product marketing channel.

While I couldn’t log into a Yammer account, I was able to find that businesses such as Cisco, Nationwide and Groupon are using Yammer as a form of interoffice communication.

3) Pligg.com

This corporate social tool is similar to the public social tool, Digg. Pligg can be customized solely for corporate use, in which all social activity among employees will relate to a product or brand. Some companies are building Pligg into their existing intranets, in an attempt to develop social bookmarking with their staff.

From what I’ve discovered, Pligg can be used as a website to motivate an employee’s thinking of an idea through the use of a voting and ranking system that has made its counterpart (Digg) such a large success. A company’s ability to call upon the staff to offer unique thoughts or ideas and voice their experienced opinions in one website is helpful, to say the least.

Ultimately, companies are able to make the most out of internal use of social media by being able to harness collective thinking and collaborative efforts among employees, for a greater outcome.

Don’t Publicize The Publicly Accessible

Is the "Public Paparazzi" following you? Photo by Flickr user Naixn

I want to begin with the story of a group of teachers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C who got in trouble for Facebook. They each had pages on the growing social networking site and each posted a variety of inappropriate comments about their students, their school and their job. Some posted inappropriate pictures of vulgar poses and inebriation. Many parents found this behavior quite unacceptable, and one parents commented that she expected this type of behavior “from teenagers and not teachers.” Teachers have images to uphold, after all, and they shouldn’t tarnish this over the Internet, right? Leaders of the CMS school district took appropriate action and terminated some of their employees. While this story might be two years old, the message remains the same: how public do you want to make yourself regardless of it you have “an image” to uphold?

In her welcoming keynote address at the 2010 SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, Danah Boyd discussed the idea of “privacy and publicity.” Boyd goes on to define that what is public shouldn’t always be publicized. She talks about differentiating between “PII and PEI:” The former, Personally Identifiable Information, is information that people are more comfortable with sharing, what they want others to know and how they want others to find them online. The latter, Personally Embarrassing Information, is what most people want kept secret–it may get into the hands of someone who would use the information mischievous.

But now, from a public relations standpoint, how are practitioners supposed to handle this idea of public versus privacy? With the developing simplicity of anybody to log on the Internet and post about themselves, the ethics of any PR practitioner is highly challenged as he or she must distinguish between what is necessary and what is excessive information to use.

In Boyd’s address, she says that “people regularly calculate both what they have to lose and what they have to gain when entering public situations.” In essence, people aren’t stupid. They know what they’re getting themselves into.

It’s all in the morals of the practitioner, I believe, as to how “limiting” public information is in developing any campaign, etc. A practitioner could be presented with an array of personal information about somebody, but that information (morally) shouldn’t be used, as it could be permanently harming to that individual and his or her reputation.

To the individuals themselves: be conscious of what you do online. You’re putting your information out into a world that can make you go viral in seconds. Literally. The teachers from Charlotte learned the hard way.

While you might not have bad intentions, be aware that you could, as Boyd puts it: “find [yourselves] in a lot of trouble in ways that [you] weren’t expecting.”