Posts Tagged ‘ORM’

Facebook Resources for Parents [Updated]

February 27, 2011 1 comment

[Updated]  A colleague recently asked me for assistance in how parents can deal with children using Facebook (a scarier prospect for some than the idea of one’s children driving).  Not having kids myself, it hadn’t occurred to me that children as young as eight are feeling pressure from their classmates to get on social networks.  Seriously.  Elementary-aged children on social media.

Here are a few ideas I had beyond requiring them to provide you with their password so you can log in periodically and make sure everything is on the up-and-up.

Monitor the Internet:  Companies, governments and other organizations are constantly watching the Internet for mentions of their names – so why not parents?  Using tools like these below – you can set up a stream of alerts to be delivered to you either by email, or as an RSS feed you can manage in a feed aggregator like Google Reader so you’ll know if your kids’ names are mentioned anywhere (and hopefully intervene to prevent problems):

Check the Privacy Settings: Facebook’s privacy settings are so obtuse, Wired magazine featured the term “Privacy Zuckering” in its “Jargon Watch” recently.  It refers to the fact that the settings are deliberately hard to understand and operate because Facebook wants you to publish more than you intend to (more data about more people online = more traffic to Facebook = more revenue).  Here’s a tool that lets you scan your Facebook privacy settings to see what is exposed:

  • Reclaim Privacy ( – Keeping up with Facebook is so hard, they recently posted a message that the tool may not be compatible with the latest version.

Monitor Their Devices: This Facebook Setting will let you know if either of the kids logs in to Facebook from a computer or device you’re not familiar with (very handy if you rely on a computer at home to monitor your child’s Internet usage):

Understand the Settings: Here are some articles that help map out the confusing array of Facebook Privacy Settings:

[Update] Understand the Culture: In last month’s issue of Wired Magazine, Clive Thompson wrote an excellent article (“Clive Thompson on Secret Messages in the Digital Age“) that I recommend parents read about how children are adapting to parental oversight of their social media presences.  He describes how young people now communicate via multi-layered messages.  A song lyric might seem innocuous to parents not familiar with the context – but the childs’ friends can get the message.  This means parents need to be fluent in the cultural works their children consume.

Case of Teacher’s Controversial Blog Hits National Media

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The national media has grabbed hold of the story of high school English teacher Natalie Munroe, the teacher whose blog (which contained a number of disparaging references to students, co-workers and administrators) was discovered and brought to the attention of school officials.  A couple of days ago, as I was doing research on social media case law, I ran across Munroe’s rebuttal to the current accusations against her.

Munroe appears to have gone on the offensive in other venues than just the blog and is doing media appearances.  The Huffington Post has a story up here with video from ABC News.

The problem for Munroe is that legal precedent does not support her activity.  Since Pickering v. the Board of Education, (in cases like Garcetti v. Ceballos and Richerson v. Beckon) courts haven’t been very friendly to the idea that the First Amendment applies to public employees.

The Future is Littered With Mashup Bombs

February 14, 2011 1 comment

Mashup Bomb

As we hurtle into the future, we’re leaving a larger digital wake behind us.  International Data Corporation estimates humans will produce 1,800,000,000 terabytes of data this year alone.

Simultaneously, the power to sift through these vast stores of information is getting keener.  In 2009, the team BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos won the Netflix prize by crafting an algorithm for recommending movies with ten percent better accuracy than the movie company’s own engine.

“Mashup Bombs” are what await us as these two phenomena converge.  Our ability to compare the increasing amounts of data will improve and previously undetectable patterns will emerge.  Not only that, but the ability to produce revelations won’t be confined to future data – we’ll have the power to look back through all of the petabytes of data already cached on server farms around the world.

  • What if the GPS records of mobile phones were matched with employee payroll records to spot when people are fudging their hours?
  • What if anonymous publishers could be outed through algorithms that compare writing samples?
  • What if aggregate market data and networks of personal connections could be filtered to show when bidders were given preferential treatment for government contracts?

Things are well underway:

  • Wikipedia + IP Address Location Database= in 2007, a CalTech student named Virgil Griffith created a tool called Wikipedia Scanner that tracked the IP addresses of Wikipedia editors back to their sources and outed institutions from Diebold to the CIA as having edited their own Wikipedia entries.
  • Twitter + Maps = The Centers for Disease Control are monitoring Twitter, watching for keywords related to illness in order to spot pandemics before they get going.
  • Sex Offender Databases + Real Estate Listings + Google Maps = As local governments have begun to publish sex offender photos and profiles on their websites, this information has been cached and combined with real estate listings and Google’s open API for its versatile maps tool.  The result is the ability to see if the location of a house you’re interested in looks like it has chicken pox.
  • IRS Records + Google Maps + Facebook =Fundrace is a site that allows users to map out what political campaigns their neighbors are contributing to, as well as compare those same databases to find out who your friends on Facebook are donating to.

Just because an indiscretion has gone unnoticed is no guarantee that it will go unnoticed in the future.  As a PR pro, I don’t look forward to responding to the indiscretions of predecessors, but that may be something we have to prepare for.

Social Media Crisis Comm Case Study: HS English Teacher Natalie Munroe

February 13, 2011 2 comments
English Teacher Natalie Munroe Responds to Social Media Controversy With her own Blog Post

English Teacher Natalie Munroe Responds to Social Media Controversy With her own Blog Post

[Update: I was able to find a link someone posted to the Google Cache of the original blog: http://tin­­tubjsv]

As part of a webinar I’m presenting this week on Social Media Policy (“Social Media – Campus Policies & Protocol” – February 17, 2011 from 2-3:30 p.m. EST), I’ve been tracking some very recent case studies to discuss with the audience.

One of them was the story of Natalie Munroe, a High School English Teacher who was just suspended from Central Bucks East High School last week Wednesday after a current student happened across her blog ( which contained disparaging comments (including calling one student a “rude, beligerent [sic], argumentative f*ck”) about students, parents and co-workers.  The student forwarded the link to past students of Munroe’s.  Eventually some parents found out about it and notified school officials.

What’s become particularly fascinating about the case is that yesterday, Munroe used her blog to respond with her side of the story (as I write this, the local news media in Bucks County appears not to have picked this up yet).

For what it’s worth – responding via one’s blog is a rather bold and inspired strategy.  In the research I’ve done on cases like these (and in crisis public relations situations generally) people typically regret remaining silent at the advice of counsel and wish they would have weighed in to help influence public opinion on their own behalf.

From a PR perspective, I might suggest to Natalie that she undelete/republish all of the content from her blog.  Here’s why:

  1. hiding it tends to imply that one is admitting that the content is shameful (whereas being transparent tends to be a quality that inspires respect/deference)
  2. it removes the context that the benign portions of the blog provide and allows people to focus on the sensational excerpts posted in the news
  3. as Natalie herself noted, there are already cached copies in circulation anyway

Our society is going to be engaged in a difficult debate about the limits of free speech for the next few years as more people begin to publish information about themselves via social media.

Until we’ve crystallized opinion and established a legal/societal framework around how open we allow people to be depending on their role – it’s best to avoid becoming a case study at all costs.  The nascent legal framework in place and the fact that many judges/prosecutors/jurors/board members are largely ignorant of the intricacies of social media means you can’t be guaranteed a fair trial.

Social Media – Campus Policies & Protocol (Feb. 17, 2011 Webinar)

January 25, 2011 2 comments

Organizations With a Formal Social Media Policy Chart: 29% Have, 71% Do Not Have Source: Manpower, “Social Networks vs. Management? Harness the Power of Social Media,” January 26, 2010

[File under “shameless self-promotion”] If you’re working on a social media policy for your organization, I’m hosting a webinar for Paperclip Communications: “Social Media – Campus Policies & Protocol.” The program is aimed specifically aimed at higher education institutions and will cover legal issues, employer/employee issues, student/faculty/staff “boundary” issues, online reputation management, campus PR issues, and generally provide advice and tips to help keep a school’s use of social media positive and lawsuit-free.

Social Media – Campus Policies & Protocol – February 17, 2011 Webinar
Date/Time: Thursday, February 17, 2011 from 2:00-3:30 PM ET
Length: Approx. 90 minutes
Price: $259
Register here:

It should be a lot of fun; there have been no shortage of fascinating case studies regarding employees and social media policy in the news and this is a topic that I love discussing.  If you’re interested in reading some of my other posts on social media policy and online reputation management, here are a few:

Case Study for Seth Godin’s “Five Ingredients of smart Online Commerce”

January 6, 2011 1 comment

Marketing Guru Seth Goden just wrote a post – the “Five ingredients of smart online commerce.” After a recent interaction with Drs. Foster & Smith, a pet supply company, I thought I’d see how well their site fared by Godin’s metric:

  1. “They sell a product you can’t buy at the local store.” [Success]
  2. “They understand that online pictures are free.” [Fail]
  3. “They use smart copy.” [Success]
  4. “They are obsessed with permission.” [Success]
  5. “They aren’t afraid to post reviews. Even critical ones.” [Fail]
    [It should be noted that Godin doesn’t allow comments/discussion/review on his own blog.]

To be fair to Drs. Foster and Smith – for the most part they’ve handled the transaction well:  I was contacted promptly when I sent an email asking about returning the dog bowl I ordered (which was far smaller than the description posted on the website).  When I tweeted my dissatisfaction, they refunded my money before they had even received the returned product.

However, what I can’t abide is how they handled my review of the product on their website.  They have a section marked “Testimonials” for product reviews.  I submitted a review noting that the size was incorrectly advertised and that the product was unsatisfactory.  Rather than posting my review – they disabled reviews for that product (which they continue to sell).

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In the era of social media – this sort of situation is actually a chance to improve your reputation because it allows the public to witness your dispute resolution process (by preserving it online for people to see).  When you allow engagement on your website or social media presence, you create the possibility for people to happen across examples attesting to your quality

Here’s what should have happened:

  1. The negative review I submitted should have been approved/posted.
  2. Customer Service at that point should have initiated a refund (without me having to post a negative tweet).
  3. Someone should have responded to my negative review explaining the situation (I don’t blame Drs. Foster and Smith for the product description – they likely were misinformed by the manufacturer) and noting that my money was refunded.
  4. Then, I should have been invited to publicly rate my satisfaction with the response.  (Some might worry that I would still hold a grudge and post a spiteful negative review – but then that spiteful act would have been preserved too so people could see that I was just a jerk even though the company attempted to satisfactorily resolve my concerns).

By going the route they chose – Drs. Foster and Smith is missing out on the opportunity to show other potential customers that I was ultimately satisfied with them.  All anyone would see if they happened to search for background on the store (with the exception of this blog post) is my negative tweet and a tweet in response.

Your Visible Social Network: Radical Transparency as the Great Equalizer

October 22, 2010 1 comment

The more information accumulates about us online (with or without our consent), the walls between the compartments of our lives become more porous (eventually they’ll likely disappear altogether).

Information about the people and organizations I am connected to speaks volumes about me.

Whether or not you know it, your social network is visible to others online.  This is important because it means people can view you how your social network understands you.

Even if you lock down your Facebook profile, odds are you allow viewers to see your friends (which can be a great source of information about you; one can easily use the public information your friends display to gain insight about you – what organizations they’re affiliated with).

Even the organizations and people you’re NOT affiliated with can say volumes about you; I anticipate this will become a huge source of inferential data in the future as data analysis tools continue to become more sophisticated and more data accumulates online.  Imagine: an aggregation tool could run an algorithm to find out who you dislike based on an analysis of common connections, interests, and groups and looking for gaps in your circle of connections.

Nothing about this is anything new to police or intelligence agencies – they’ve been gathering this data for years (building cases by interviewing individuals peripheral to a target).  The difference is that now it’s a communication channel available to anyone.

This is why I believe privacy will be virtually impossible in the future.  This has important ramifications for public policy; take medical records.

  • One of the main reasons medical records aren’t largely digitized is privacy concerns – people worry that individuals and organizations outside of the doctor-patient relationship will be able to use that data to the disadvantage of the patient (think insurance companies, banks and prospective employers).
  • Even if you are able to keep your medical records from being posted online – the records of your relatives will be posted.  Conclusions about your predisposition to health issues can be gleaned from the health of your relatives (and organizations whose profitability depends on calculating risks will actively seek out this information).
  • Conclusions about your health can also be drawn based on aggregated data from the region you reside in (the percentage of fast food restaurants, the rates of STD/STI infection, etc.).

Another reality (explained in greater detail in the book “Born Digital” by Urs Gasser and John Palfrey) is that children born today typically don’t have a choice about what information about them ends up online; their parents begin creating digital presences for them while they’re still in utero (by posting sonogram photos/videos, and information on how they intend to rear their children in discussions with friends).  A recent study concluded that 92 percent of toddlers have an online presence.

Update: Apropos of this post – a hilarious Venn Diagram from Dave Makes: