How to avoid your ex online

Breakups are rough. Especially in the age of social media, which require a whole extra level of separation. Enter Blockyourex.com, which makes the whole process much easier:

ExBlocker
Thanks to @Skydiver for pointing this one out!

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Posting photos of the kids comes with its own netiquette

Technology has made it easier than ever for parents to document and share every cute kid moment on Facebook.

But that doesn't mean every moment should be shared.

I don't have a child, but I've heard of parents going through a few awkward situations when it comes to posting photos of children. So I spoke to several parents who are active on social networks, and there seems to be a few key issues everyone agrees on.

Keep the bathtub and potty training photos to yourself and the grandparents. Naked photos are too personal to share on Facebook. If you depend on Facebook as the main way to share photos with family, then use privacy settings to limit access just to a select few family members.

Take caution when posting a photo of kids that aren't your own. I've come across a few parents that don't want their children on Facebook at all, so be sure to ask a parent if it's OK to post the pic on Facebook before doing so.

And if you are one of those parents who is worried about what is shared on Facebook, kindly let your friends and family know ahead of time to avoid an awkward situation later.

Out of respect for safety, don't tag a child's full name on Facebook. Some parents told me they never put their own kid's real names online. Some just use an initial when mentioning a child in a status message or in a photo.

If you make your photos public to people outside of immediate family, avoid revealing where the child goes to school. If the child wears a uniform, be sure to crop out the uniform logo in the picture. It's a good way to keep safe from predators. (It's also a policy that the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami sends home to parents.)

Since most teenagers think their parent is embarrassing, a few parents of tweens and teens gave me some advice on how to avoid being annoying online. Some ask their kid if they can post a photo to Facebook before doing so. Others will post regardless, but let their teen do the tagging.

It used to be that mom and dad got out the dusty photo album to show off baby pictures. Now, a whole generation of kids are growing up in an age where the world sees their baby photos before they can talk. So for those that can't wait to show every adorable moment, just ask yourself, ``Would I be embarrassed if this was posted about me?''

As momblogger Karen Ziemkowski posted on her Twitter account, ``your kid is a person, not a pet.'' She keeps in mind that anything she posts will be around when her son grows up.

So that naked photo of your kid covered in poop . . . yeah, not something that should be shared with the world.

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World Cup edition

Bridget's fairly indifferent to the World Cup (she describes herself as someone who "watches the last game") but this is one of my favorite times of the (every four) years! Our friends over at the newly launched Pitch to the Rhino have put together this cool guide of each team's social media presence:

PitchtoRhinoworldcup

And, if you want to follow the game in real-time on Twitter, they've just launched a new web site fully dedicated to the beautiful game. Wired has all the details.

TwitterWorldCup

Go USA!

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Five guidelines to avoid looking like a dweeb on Foursquare, Gowalla

With any new social media tool comes new social media user gaffes.

Location-based social media applications like Foursquare and Gowalla are starting to become mainstream, and it's clear these communities can use some netiquette.

Starbucks foursquare Though each functions a little differently, the idea is much the same, a high-techy personalized version of "Carmen Sandiego." When you arrive at a location, you use the mobile phone applications to "check in," letting the world know: "Hey, look where I am!'' Some marketers are using these oversharing games to their advantage and offering discounts to frequent visitors. (Starbucks does this, and I included a screen grab of their reward here as an example.)

You can also friend your favorite users to see where they are. And you can post your check-in announcements on Facebook and Twitter.

SchoolnightSo why do this? Well, you can collect points and awards with the more you do, and compare  them with other users. For example, you'll get a  School Night award badge on Foursquare if you checked into a place after 3 a.m. on a school night. Or you can get aLuchalibre Lucha Libre pin on Gowalla after checking in at 10 Mexican food spots. (For now, at least, the points won't get you anything more than recognition.)

That said, if you want to get into the game, I recommended you play nice and follow these five basic guidelines to avoid looking like a twit:

1. We know you go to work every day, and you're awesome for doing so. But please spare the world and avoid publishing these mundane check-ins announcements to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. You can get the Foursquare or Gowalla points even if you don't share it with Facebook and Twitter. It adds pointless noise to your profile feeds.

2. You can also spare the world from announcing on Facebook and Twitter every time you visit some fast food drive-through or grocery mart. Unless there's something special going on at the time, you look pretty lame bragging to the world that you're picking up some milk or getting a Crunchwrap Supreme.

3. It's a bad idea to create a check-in location for your home or your friend's home. Sure, it's a cheap way to get more points. But it lets everyone in the neighborhood see what user lives there. (And when that user isn't home.) If you regret making a check-in for your home, contact the support team to remove it for you.

4. When you're one of the first users in an area, sometimes you have to create the profile of the place. Please, for the sake of being a good community player, take the time to spell the place correctly and use proper punctuation. I've seen way too many instances where names are spelled wrong, so people create doubles and clutter the space.

5. Speaking of clutter, don't create check-in locations for every room of your building. A church near my home even has a check-in for every men's and women's bathroom. Aside from the gross oversharing, it crowds out other places that are near me. If my app doesn't show the CVS near me because you would rather let the world know you are mayor of the bathroom, I think it's time to put down the phone.

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Social Media, Oil and BP

As if BP didn't already have enough, among other things, enough of a public relations debacle to deal with regarding the oil spill, it has yet another issue: a fake BP account that I noticed this morning after Mallory Colliflower tweeted about it. The kicker: it has almost three times as many followers as the official BP account. Ouch.

Bp The tweets are obviously sarcastic, and I noticed today they changed their logo from the official BP one to one that makes it clear they're not exactly official BP public relations.

The account had, when I last checked, more than 12,000 followers. The official BP account, BP_America, has 4,500.

It began on May 19 with this tweet: "We regretfully admit that something has happened off of the Gulf Coast. More to come." While I can't understand why anyone who reads more than two tweets thinks it's an official account, it seems that many people do, according to one Wall Street Journal blog post.


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Miami-Dade Courts joins Twitter

11th_Circuit_Seal_-_No_Chief_Judge_-_High_RES_ART_PROOF_Black Order in the Twitterverse! The Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida joined Twitter today under the account @MiamiDadeCourts.

The Circuit is doing this to share links and press releases regarding the courts, according to it's first tweet.

But I wonder how many folks will try to communicate with the account or if it will answer questions over time like a business account. (Dear @MiamiDadeCourts, I can't make it to jury duty tomorrow...)

There are actually a few other courts that joined Twitter, including Clark County Courts, Illinois Supreme Court, Tennessee Courts, and New Jersey Courts.

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Facebook protests growing

We've already blogged a bit about the increasing amount of people who are getting sick of Facebook's privacy issues and canceling their accounts. Anecdotally, through Twitter and personal requests, I'm seeing a lot of AntiFacebook people at least publicly contemplating the step.

Now, there's a formal movement, started by Alana Joy. On June 6, they're asking people to stay off Facebook as a protest of the privacy changes. There's a Twitter account for it, (so far, about 400 followers) and even, yes, a Facebook group.

PR and social media consultant Sarah Evans has a detailed blog post with a pithy title (telling Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that he can go "Zuck" it) about why she and others have joined this movement. It also has some quick links to other stories done by PCWorld and the like about the changes.

Are you thinking of dumping Facebook, or joining the protest? Let us know!

Updated: as of 1 p.m.

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How strong are your passwords?

Think malware is just something annoying, but not costly?

A study out today from Consumer Reports calculates Americans have lost $4.5 billion over the past two years, including replacing more than two million computers, because of malicious programs. (They're livestreaming an event today at 12:30 p.m. to talk about the report)

Something as simple as a better password can help.

I'm the first to admit that I fail at the password protection test. Unlike my super techie friends, my passwords are pretty lame because of my fear of forgetting them.

Bridget and I have realized that it would be easy for the two of us to figure each other's passwords out -- and if that's the case, it's probably not that hard for someone else to do that, too.

This week we're changing that. We're taking control of our passwords and creating a system that makes it easy for us to remember them, but really difficult for others to figure out.

I've probably missed the window for calling this spring cleaning, so maybe think of this as a May e-Cleaning.

To avoid the disaster of forgetting all these passwords once you've created them, come up with a system. Find an odd combination of numbers and or symbols. Don't use your birthdate, or your kid's birthdates, or an anniversary. If you can't deal with a random number combination you make up and memorize, use something like your dog's birthdate, your best friend's birthday -- combinations others can't figure out.

Yes, this is a pain. I've already created several passwords that I've forgotten, but it's just the hassle of clicking "forget password" and waiting for the email to come. This helps you remember your password, and, it's worth it.

Consumer Reports recommends inserting a random symbol into a password as well. To make it easier to remember, find one you like and use the same one each time.

Now that you've gone through the trouble of creating better passwords, be aware of phishing scams that try to steal your login data. If you click on a link that someone's shared with you, and it asks for your user name and password, stop and think before you fill it in: Is this legitimate? If the URL looks complicated for a sign in page, it should raise a red flag.

Do you have a system for managing your passwords?

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Should Shamu return to Twitter?

Is it too soon to bring Shamu's Twitter account back?

That's the question SeaWorld's social media team is struggling with after a trainer was killed during a show by a whale named Tilikum.

Shamu still does shows at the park, but the humorous voice behind the Shamu Twitter account -- which has engaged with fans with jokes, trivia and photos -- hasn't spoken since Feb. 25.

With over 10,000 followers, the Shamu account was a highly successful way for the theme park to get involved with the community and promote the park. Currently, the park is sending all marketing messages from the vanilla-flavored account SeaWorld_Parks.

To SeaWorld's credit, its marketing team worked hard after the tragedy to address the touchy questions and comments thrown upon them on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Instead of dodging questions about whale captivity, the team would responded to as many people as they could with how they care for the animals and the conservation work they do.

As time passed, the page filled with fans commenting about their love for the park and the whales.

Anne Fischer, the senior manager for lifestyle and digital marketing at SeaWorld, traveled from Orlando to the Florida Atlantic University campus in Davie to discuss this with the audience at last week's Social Media Club South Florida gathering.

She said in hindsight, her team would have done a few things differently. The SeaWorld team had not previously crafted strategy of how to handle a crisis like that.

"We weren't prepared to the degree we should have been,'' Fischer said.

She wished she could have done more, such as being able to understand tools to monitor what was being said on the Web. Or being more on top of deleting the inappropriate photos people were posting on the Facebook page.

She asked the audience if the Shamu Twitter account should be reactivated. After the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, is it too soon for humor? Or has enough time passed? And if the account reactivates, will it have the same tone?

Audience members had a hard time giving a definite answer. One person said it would be crazy not to use the Shamu account because of how large of a marketing tool it is for the park, but it's too soon to launch it now.

I'm on the side of bringing the account back. It always has been a favorite account of this column; every tweet brought a smile to Niala and I, and the world could use more smiles.

I'd start it back slowly. Give it a calm tone of showcasing cute photos of other animals. And I wouldn't make any cracks about being hungry or trivia about the strength of killer whales.

But that's easy for me to say when I'm not in SeaWorld's shoes.

So what do you think?

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Businesses and social media

Last we, we wrote about businesses and social media -  how companies like Darden Restaurants, which handle a group of chains including Olive Garden and Red Lobster, are handling their social media outreach. The businesses had gotten together for a South Florida Interactive Marketing Association event that featured Pete Blackshaw, a Nielsen executive who handles digital web strategy.

I also spoke with Blackshaw for this week's video show:

He offers some really interesting advice, but I wonder how many companies follow that. How does your business or brand handle social media?

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