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Don't let porn slip into your Twitter following

If you're on Twitter these days, we have a song for you. It's from the Tony award-winning musical Avenue Q, and goes like this: "The Internet is really, really great ... for porn.''

For months, we've been noticing a growing problem with Twitter accounts that are created for no other reason than to promote pornographic sites online.

It's usually transparent when it's a porn account, because of the pictures and names. Like Hotsuzy_camgirl. Another clue is if the user has no posts and only a bio that directs you to a website.

If an account like that starts following you, it's best to immediately block it so it doesn't show up as one of your followers.

This can be a problem if you use software that automatically follows whomever you follow. If others look to see who you're following, the porn is apt to pop up.

That's what happened with MiamiandBeaches, the Twitter account for The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). It was auto-following back users, and a few accounts, like Hotsuzy_camgirl and kitchesx88, slipped in.

David and Garcia PR in Miami gave us a call to see what we knew about it. So we got in touch with Carolyn Keating, who updates the account for the GMCVB. She said that while she had already stopped using an auto-following program on the advice of her marketing company, she didn't realize until we called her that a few bad eggs were in the mix.

"These things happen,'' said Keating, who went in and blocked all the problematic accounts. "Unfortunately, it was a maintenance issue.''

Keating said she now plans to check the site every day. That's a big-time commitment and maybe more than you have to devote to Twitter. But at the very least, you should comb through your followers regularly, blocking accounts that are suspicious and checking out others' bios before you click "follow.''

Have you learned some social network lessons the hard way? Post a comment below or ask us your social media questions at Poked@MiamiHerald.com.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 04:18 PM on September 29, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook's new status feature may cause headaches

Last week, Facebook announced another feature that should make you scramble to update your privacy settings.

It's called status tagging, and it's very similar to when you tag your Facebook friends in photos or notes, but you're giving them a trackable shoutout in your status update.

Basically, it's also Facebook's way of making their features more similar to how Twitter works. On Twitter, when you mention someone by name, it's preceded by an @ symbol, which alerts them to the fact you're talking to them.

On Facebook, though, it doesn't happen automatically the way it does with Twitter.

If you want to tag someone in a status update, type in the @ symbol, and without a space, start typing the name of a friend, fanpage or group you want to tag. You'll see a drop-down menu of related people or pages -- just like when you search for someone's name you are already friends with.

Select one of them, and it will automatically put them in your status update.

Here's where the potential for problems comes in: Anytime someone tags you in their status, it will show up on your wall, just like it does now when you're tagged in photos or notes.

So, for example, if you have foul-mouthed friends who have a penchant for tagging you in pictures you don't want your boss to see, you may need to make sure they're not embarrassing you in status updates tags, too.

This is a good time to revisit your settings for who can see what on your profile. If you already have strict settings for people who can/cannot see photos tagged of you, maybe it's time to create a strict setting for who can see your wall. (To do this, click on the ``settings'' tab in the upper right hand corner, next to your name, and then visit ``privacy settings.'')

On another note, it's been almost a year now that we've been writing Poked -- answering your questions and setting some netiquette violators straight. We noticed The New York Times and AdAge just started their own online advice columns last week -- it goes to show you that there's a need out there for learning how to deal with this new way of interacting.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 02:27 PM on September 22, 2009 in Facebook , Status updates , Tagging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Burglar commits a Facebook faux pas

Images Some Friday fun reading: a burglar in West Virginia decided to check his Facebook profile while he was ROBBING A HOUSE, and then, forgot to close the page when he left the office.

MARTINSBURG - The popular online social networking site Facebook helped lead to an alleged burglar's arrest after he stopped check his account on the victim's computer, but forgot to log out before leaving the home with two diamond rings.

For more, here's the story from the Journal in West Virginia.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:36 AM on September 18, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook says it's hit the black & 300 million users

Facebook said in its blog today that it had hit the 300 million user mark and that it had started making money.

Facebook logo The company has been quickly achieving population targets that it likes to compare to countries. Right now, if the online community was a country, it would be the world's fourth-largest: after China, India and the U.S. (Although if you considered the European Union a country, that would make it fifth, according to the CIA World FactBook.)

Founder Mark Zuckerberg also said today that the company had started making money, although they used the rather techincal term "free cash flow positive":

"Earlier this year, we said we expected to be cash flow positive sometime in 2010, and I'm pleased to share that we achieved this milestone last quarter,'' Zuckerberg said in a statement. "This is important to us because it sets Facebook up to be a strong independent service for the long term."

Some other fun FB stats: about 70 percent of its users are outside the United States - and the fastest growing demographic is people over age 35.

For more stats, click here.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 08:41 PM on September 15, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Listen before you type

People tell us all the time that they want to get started on sites like Twitter, but they don't know what to say -- or do.

So here's some advice for them, as well as to others already immersed in the world of social media: Use your ears.

That's the one thing that stood out when I spoke with Peter Shankman recently. He's a New York advertising and marketing executive who runs one of the few organizations that has made money from social media. Shankman likes to say he thinks social media isn't a broadcast platform. It's not just a way for you to shout, or scream your opinions to the world; it's a two-way street that involves engaging people. There's a reason we use the word interactive.

That's a lesson many people who use social media probably don't do frequently enough. But it's also essential for people who are just getting started.

"The first thing people have to do when they get on social media is to listen,'' he said. "The concept of talking will come next.''

That's what Shankman did when he started a site called Help a Reporter Out (helpareporter.com), which connects reporters to sources. Within a year, it went from a Facebook group to a company that made $1 million in advertising revenue, Shankman told a group of local public relations executives.

It helps to think of social media as the process of listening then talking, then doing more listening.

For example: You're a small-business owner who has thought about opening a Twitter account. Sign up. Fill out the profile, making sure you've added an appropriate photo.

At this point, most people start hawking: Buy my product! Visit my store! Instead, start following people with similar interests. When you find something that deserves repeating, retweet the message. Join in on conversations and offer valuable commentary.

Use it as a platform to showcase your expertise -- not just to push out links to your business. And, make sure you're asking your customers or clients what they want.

People are increasingly getting their information from social media networks. That's why you want to be part of the conversation, and why it's so important to be engaging while you're there.

Here's more of my interview with Peter:

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:26 AM on September 15, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter , Web/Tech , Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

How to tag your friends in a Facebook Status update

Today Facebook launched the ability to tag your friends, groups, or fan pages in a status message (not in the comments -- just in the original post).

Here's how you do it. When you want to tag something, type the "@" symbol and start typing their name. You'll then get a list of suggested friends or groups -- just like when you go to search for someone.


Click the name of the person you want to tag, and the "@" symbol goes away and the name becomes a clickable link back to their page.

Now Niala is notified that I tagged her, the same way you're notified if you are tagged in a photo or note.

Tagging friends worked for me, but it totally wigged out when I tried to tag the Poked fan page:


Hopefully that glitch will be fixed... anyone else have a problem trying to tag a group or fan page? Perhaps it's because we have a colon in our fan page name.

[UPDATE: Facebook has told us they're looking into the glitch.]

CNN interviewed Randi Zuckerberg about the new feature and if this was a way to keep up with Twitter, which uses the @name feature to tag users. You can watch the interview below.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 07:03 PM on September 14, 2009 in Facebook , Tagging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Twitter usage projected to be 18 mln by end of the year

eMarketer.com released a story today that's caused quite a bit of chatter on Twitter that projects Twitter usage will surpass 18 million people using the site at least once a month by the end of the year. If true, that would be a huge increase over the year - but still adds up to just about 11 percent of all adult Internet users.

If you want to read about it, click here, but here's their chart:


Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 05:14 PM on September 14, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Peter Shankman shares some social media tips

Marketing and advertising executive Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out (Helpareporter.com) was in town recently for a local Public Relations Society of America conference. I interviewed him for the Miami Herald Business Show, a weekly web show that I do for MiamiHerald.com - if you didn't see it, check it out here.

I did a few Poked extra interviews with Peter for you guys - first off, here's Peter's thoughts about his netiquette pet peeve (Bridget and I are going to write about this in our column this week):

We also talked about where he sees the future of social networking going. Specifically, I asked him about the next two years and what kind of evolution we'll see:

What do you think?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:07 AM on September 14, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Forget blogs, Twitter is top choice for Fortune 100 companies

If your company is talking about incorporating social media, you'll probably be interested in this research by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital Media. (I stumbled upon this on the Fuel Lines blog.) It looked at Fortune 100 companies and found a little more than half are using Twitter. About 29% have a Facebook fan page.

The slideshow below breaks it down and gives some examples of how these top companies are effectively using Twitter and Fan Pages.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 11:12 AM on September 9, 2009 in Facebook , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don't let Facebook ruin your relationships

Because of Labor Day we won't have a column next week, so this weekend we'll leave you with this very important public service announcement video by Throw'd TV.

Don't let Facebook cause things to get "complicated."

Posted by Bridget Carey at 03:17 PM on September 4, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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