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Social Networkers who go "off the grid"

Bridget and I wrote this column for today's paper:

We've noticed a phenomenon lately with folks and social networking: people who go ''off the grid.'' That's what we call people who are on networks but are skittish about being in contact with people . . . which seems to go against the point of joining a social network, right?

Not always.

We talked to quite a few people who are off the grid (and not surprisingly, wanted to remain anonymous). These are people who have suddenly become extremely private.

One female Poked reader joined Facebook because her co-workers were talking it up as a good communication tool that could also help in her work. But once she got there, she was uncomfortable:

``I felt like a lot of people that I didn't care about or who I didn't want to talk to suddenly wanted to connect with me, and it creeped me out.''

Another reader joined Facebook as a marketing tool to connect with strangers. He said he found he couldn't stand the ''virtual smalltalk'' and felt like he had been catapulted back into high school.

''Is there an age that's too old for Facebook? Yes!'' he said.

The 30-something reader thinks he's too old and headed toward LinkedIn, which he sees as ageless.

Both of their immediate ways to resolve the problem was to go off the grid, albeit in different ways. Our female reader limited her profile so it wasn't searchable -- and if you found her, you couldn't send a friend request -- or any message, for that matter. Our male reader simply stopped logging on.

We struggle with this, too. Bridget joined Facebook four years ago during college, when it was more about keeping track and maintaining only a social life -- not for professional reasons

I usually let friend requests pile up, because I just don't want to deal. Initially I wanted them to connect with me on LinkedIn, but that's problematic if they're not on that network.

This is how we've dealt with it. We respect that some people use Facebook as a contact for acquaintances, so Facebook becomes the I-met-you-at-that- chamber-event-last-week, I-haven't-seen-you-in-20-years, or we-were-in-kindergarten-together kind of social network. That's not us. But we want those people to be able to contact us, too. So we've über-limited their access. They only see the bare bones of our Facebook pages. (Helpful hint: Go to your friends page on Facebook to create a label for a group of friends, and set up what that group can see in your privacy settings.)

And our first reader who went off the grid? She went back on Facebook on Inauguration Day, inspired by all the status updates, notes and photos of friends -- and acquaintances -- who were not just in Washington, but all over the world sharing their experiences. ''I kind of got to live that with them,'' she said And isn't that the beauty of a social network: Learning or experiencing things outside of your circle?

Have you gone off the grid for different reasons?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:31 PM on January 27, 2009 in Facebook , Friending , LinkedIn , MySpace | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Popular workers get treated better

Think work isn't a popularity contest? University of Florida last week published this study that talks about how popular workers get treated better on the job.

According to the study, other co-workers were more likely to do things like adjust their schedules to accommodate another person's vacation request or help someone make up work after being absent if co-worker happened to be popular.

The professor who did the study, Brent Scott, said popular workers also were "less likely to be insulted, shunned by their colleagues or to encounter other rude and disrespectful treatment".

The study looked at two groups of people -- 116 undergraduate students who held a variety of jobs, and 139 full-time health care workers at a hospital. It's supposed to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

So makes me wonder...does popularity online with co-workers translate similarly? My experience says yes.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 01:32 PM on January 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Minnesota Public Radio Interview

According to Minnesota Public Radio's web site, it's -4° in the Twin Cities right now.  (It's 69° degrees right now in Miami :). Why do I mention? Because the lovely folks at Minnesota Public Radio interviewed me for a story they were doing about Facebook and the workplace. Check it out here!

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:09 PM on January 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Guide to creating a social media resume

Wanted to share a link from Mashable today: HOW TO: Build the Ultimate Social Media Resume

There's no better way to build YOUR brand than by getting your own URL and then integrating social media on it. If it sounds too complicated for you, then at least get a nice page together using a free site like VisualCV.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 05:15 PM on January 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Posting photos of friends can get dicey

Well it's another Tuesday, meaning another Poked question answered! This question came in from a non-Facebooker about posting photos:

Q: I recently had lunch with an old acquaintance from high school. She took some pictures of me at lunch and when she sent them to me, I noticed it was from her Facebook page. (She created a photo album of her lunch with me and posted it.) I didn't give her permission to post my picture in this way and I don't like it.

Also, I have heard from some other people that several of these old high school ''friends'' have pictures of me on their pages -- some not flattering. I would like to know what are my rights regarding my image and who can use it without my permission? Or do you think I'm being too uptight? I do not have a Facebook profile nor do I want one.

A: The short answer to your question is, because the photos were taken in a public place, you don't have any rights to them. We checked with Holland & Knight lawyer Sandy Bohrer, who pointed out that in a public place, anyone can take your photograph.

He also made a good point: "I would assume if you went to lunch with an old friend, and they took your photograph, that they would share it with family and friends."

Facebook is the modern-day way to share those pictures, which, by the way, are only accessible to people on Facebook who are authorized to see it. That's usually people's network, friends and friends of friends.

Now, that doesn't stop you from e-mailing that old friend and asking her to take those pictures down. Something along the lines of, "Thanks for showing me those pictures, but I'm really not comfortable having them on Facebook, since I'm not on there. Would you mind taking them down?" should suffice.

It's fine not to have or want a Facebook profile -- but many people do. That means assuming that if people take your picture, it has a good chance of ending up online, so if you don't want it there, make sure you speak up.

Another tip: Why not create a bare-bones Facebook account so you can monitor all these things yourself? At least that way, you can post pictures of yourself that you do like!

Send us your ugly pictures from high school and we'll post them to our blog. If you share yours, we'll share ours. As always, non-Facebookers and social media geeks are welcome to send questions of netiquette to poked@miamiherald.com.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 02:02 PM on January 13, 2009 in Facebook , Pictures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Privacy settings can’t always protect you from your Facebook friends

I love my friends, but sometimes they have no clue about social networking etiquette.

Posting embarrassing photos is something friends often do, but at least I have control over photos. I can always un-tag myself or set up privacy settings.

But posting my phone number on someone's public profile wall? That's a netiquette offense!

Here's how it happened: Last night I was heading over to a friend's house to watch the BCS Championship game (GO GATORS!). But I wasn't too clear on which road to turn on to get to the place. When I call the guy that lives there, his phone didn't seem to be working. (Phone kept saying his number was no longer in service.)

So I call up my roommate at home and ask her, "Hey, can you send a Facebook message over to the guys that live there and tell them to call me with directions? Put my phone number in the message."

I assumed she understood that to be a private Facebook message. Instead, she put my phone number on their public walls. I didn't realize this until I checked my Facebook account this morning.

My roommate sleeps during the day, so I sent a message to the guys asking if they could take it down. I feel so embarrassed and I had no control over it!

Was it my fault for not specifying to my roommate how to send the message? The lesson learned is that I shouldn't have assumed everyone has the same privacy values I do. What isn't a big deal to my roommate was a big deal to me. So I guess I can't really get mad at her. What would you do in that situation?

In my roommate's defense, I did wake her up from a nap when she sent the Facebook messages. So she was a bit groggy and just being nice and doing me a favor. For all I know, maybe she thought I asked her to post my phone number on their walls.

I'll get over it, but nevertheless it inspired me to write this post as a warning to the rest of you out there --- don't ever discuss private information about your friends on other people's walls, since they have no control over who sees it. When in doubt, send a private message. And in my case, when asking someone else to send a message on a social network, be specific!

-- Bridget

Posted by Bridget Carey at 12:08 PM on January 9, 2009 in Facebook , Privacy settings | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Weed out your friend list and get a free Whopper

Bridget and I just had a great time sending up some people in flames for a free Whopper. It's a new promotion by the folks over at Burger King who have created a Facebook Application aptly titled the "Whopper Sacrifice." When you defriend 10 people, you'll get a coupon for a free Whopper.

Nialawhopper Ok, fair and obvious warning for the world of Netiquette: This clearly is not the best thing to do to coworkers, because the people you defriend are told what you've done. As soon as Bridget watched my profile picture burn up in flames, with the tagline: "You liked Niala. You love the Whopper", I got a notification that said basically the same thing.

But it's pretty funny. Bridget reports that she felt extreme satisfaction watching some people go up in flames. (About half of the people she burned are really close friends, and did it as a joke. The other half... well... sayonara!) We both secretly wish we could do this to more people, but for different reasons: I wish I could get rid of people I friended too hastily, but know they will take offense if I send them up in flames. Bridget just wants more free Whoppers. (The application says it is limited to one coupon per profile.)

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 02:08 PM on January 8, 2009 in Facebook , Friending | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

New Year's Resolutions for Life Online

Happy New Year! We hoped everyone enjoyed the holidays, and is feeling ready for 2009. Probably you've already made all your usual resolutions like diet and exercise. In today's column we made some suggestions for setting similar goals for your professional social networking life. Without further ado:

• Cut the fat. Do you have many ''friends'' on Facebook that are professional contacts? Are you using privacy settings to keep them from seeing your unprofessional social life adventures? Sort through your list of friends and make sure all your professional contacts are set on a limited profile. Develop the habit of using a limited profile when befriending new work associates.

• Get your profile in shape. Update and expand on your LinkedIn profile. You don't want a colleague or recruiter to see an out-of-date résumé. And while you're at it, bulk up your profile by adding some LinkedIn groups that match your professional interests. The more active you appear to be on a site, the more attractive you'll be in the professional world.

• Practice safe clicks. Don't click first and ask questions later. Phishing scams under the guise of fake links are on the rise in social networks, and there's no better way to annoy a colleague or business contact than to send a bogus link. These links direct people to a site that can steal your password, corrupt your account or spread malicious links to other connections on your network.

• Clear out profile clutter.
Are you an application collector? Go through your pages and clear out applications you don't use or want visible.

• Join a new network. Explore new social networks. Twitter can be a great resource for professionals to expand connections. Whereas Facebook is more about making connections with people you know in the real world, Twitter is about connecting with strangers sharing your interests. It's a place to follow people in your industry and get questions answered.

And finally . . .

Our New Year's Online Resolution is to remember the Golden Rule: Don't be an application, invite or network pest. Recognize boundaries -- everyone might not feel the way you do about privacy and adding friends, especially when it comes to colleagues on social networks.

What are some of your resolutions for 2009?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:40 AM on January 6, 2009 in Facebook , Friending , LinkedIn , Privacy settings , Security , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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