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Top 5 social media screwups of 2009

Neverspeakof2009 As we make our resolutions for the new year, we often reflect on our regrets or mistakes made during the past year.

And boy, there sure were some major online etiquette train wrecks in 2009.

Here at Poked, we realize that every day we're all learning new things about netiquette and best practices. Social media is constantly evolving, and tools like Twitter were new for tons of people this year -- especially folks trying to jump on the trend and use it as a business and customer relations tool.

So today we count down the five worst (and most frequently committed) online faux pas that we witnessed in 2009. Hopefully, history won't repeat itself in 2010.

5. Following porn. Sometimes people have a bad habit of automatically following back everyone who follows them on Twitter -- and it's especially true for people who use Twitter for business. They think if they use a tool to automatically follow back everyone, then they will have a more popular account.

But it just makes you look like a social media loser when you don't pay attention to the names and bios of who you follow (like hotsuzy_camgirl), and you start following accounts created for porn or for spam.

4. Talking smack about your job online. If you wouldn't say it to the boss, don't say it on Facebook or Twitter. It's amazing how many folks complain about work -- during work hours -- on places like Twitter. Maybe they think their bosses aren't wise enough to see what they're writing. But nothing is truly private online, and someone you work with is likely to see it. Chances are your company doesn't appreciate you broadcasting negative views about the company, and you're left looking like an employee who isn't a team player. Not a good impression to give during tough economic times.

3. Sending private messages publicly. Twitter and Facebook are all about instant communication. But we get so used to responding quickly on the go, that maybe we're moving too fast and not thinking before we hit send. Every so often you'll see someone send a message on Twitter that probably wasn't designed for the world to see. Like: Hey, call my cell 305-555-555 to talk about that exclusive secret business deal.

You can rush to delete it, but nothing is ever erased on Twitter. It gets picked up by search engines, even if it only exists online for a few seconds. Trust us on this one: Bridget learned this the hard way. While using text messages to talk to Niala on Twitter, she intended to send her a direct message and called a certain social media consultant annoying. But it went public. She deleted it within seconds, but it only took a minute for the consultant to see it and comment. Fortunately, that consultant was gracious enough to accept her apology.

2. Responding to e-mail with Reply All. We've had e-mail for awhile now, but it's still a hot zone for netiquette disaster. Why do people hit ``Reply all'' in mass messages when it's not something everyone needs to read? It only adds to the in-box clutter and could make you look foolish.

Back in August, one public relations consultant accidentally put 350 e-mails in a CC field, instead of a BCC field (which privatizes the e-mail addresses). Within two hours, our mailboxes were filled with tons of unsubscribe requests from strangers who hit reply all. It made people annoyed at the PR consultant and everyone who hit reply all.

1. Unintentionally sending spam or malicious links. Please, think twice before you click a strange link. You can't be so trusting on social networks these days. Facebook and Twitter accounts are being infected by malicious links through private messages. Click a strange link (usually something like: Hey you're in this video lolz!!!), and you won't be aware that you sent spam or a virus to most of your connections. And if you are a business account, you just lost the trust and respect of many of your followers.

Did you learn a netiquette lesson the hard way this year? Did someone's social media screwup seriously annoy you? Post a comment below or e-mail us at Poked@MiamiHerald.com.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 11:23 AM on December 28, 2009 in Facebook , Status updates , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Getting personal with business-related Twitter accounts

It seems Twitter has found a way to solve a problem many businesses come across while using the service: How do you have multiple employees tweet under one main account, but still show the person behind the account?

It goes back to the core point of Twitter -- the most successful accounts have personality. And the same is true with accounts created by businesses to keep in touch with customers. When you have a face and a name behind the corporate tweets, it makes communication more personal and adds value.

The best success stories come from accounts like Starbucks and ComcastCares, where it clearly says in the bio who is doing the typing.

A few days ago, Twitter started testing a feature that includes the account name of the writer within the bottom of the message (not within the 140-character tweet -- it's only on the website). For example, if Biz (the co-founder of Twitter) logs on the main Twitter corporate account to send a message, it will say in a small font under the message that it was written by Biz, and link back to his personal account.

Mashable has screen shots of what the contributors feature looks like - check 'em out here.

This feature isn't open to the public yet, but if you want to see an example, check out the Starbucks account, which is testing this feature.

The best way to manage an account like this is to assign one person to the account and say who it is in the bio. But if you need multiple people on one account, there are some ways to make it personable. You could compile a Twitter List of all the employees who use the account.

Make sure the bio says something like, ``Tweets brought to you by these Acme Co. employees,'' and put a link to the Twitter List of their personal accounts. There are how-to List guides on Twitter.

I wouldn't recommend typing the name of the author in every tweet; it looks messy and wastes valuable characters.

If you do have multiple employees managing one main account, check out the free applications CoTweet and HootSuite, which have some behind-the-scenes tools for professionals to track responses and manage multiple accounts.

But no matter what you decide, just be sure your business account has personality and engages with other users. No one likes to interact with a lifeless drone.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 02:07 PM on December 22, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Have you given up keeping your FB life private?

Facebook logo There's been a lot written, blogged and said about Facebook's newest privacy settings. Bridget and I thought the WSJ's Decoder weighing in was an interesting summation of Facebook's attempts to monetize itself and stay competitive with Twitter. Basically, the writer argued that in the face of these changes, she's giving up the idea of her Facebook life being anything private or intimate and just assuming it's all for public consumption. Are you doing the same?

How Facebook is making Friending obsolete

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 01:28 PM on December 16, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Personal texts on work phones can get you into trouble

Do you send personal text messages on a phone your work pays for? Do you have expectations of privacy, even though it's a work-issued device? Check out this NPR story about how putting personal texts on a work phone blew up into a battle over privacy. The Supreme Court will weigh in next week:

Text-Message Case Could Redefine Workplace Privacy

Posted by Bridget Carey at 06:15 PM on December 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What some very smart ninth graders can teach us about technology

A few months back, Bridget and I tried an experiment in being "wired and well-mannered.'' For a week, we made an effort to put our mobile phone behavior on hold if there were people actually in front of us.

MHZNovaHigh And, we sort of forgot about it. That is, until last week, when we encountered some ninth-graders in Brenda Amador's English class at Nova High School in Davie. (Thanks to Nova student Carly Gourley for taking this picture of the class!) They're reading 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, and as part of it, have given up all technology for a week. Amador said she's been doing the experiment for three years now. The goal, she said, is to "recognize the intrusiveness of technology and that it can create social misfits."

Amador's no Luddite; she uses her iPhone in class to help teach. But the veteran teacher said she's also noticed that as more students text instead of talk they have a harder time making conversation -- even looking adults in the eye.

Ninth-grader Marlee Abbott said she realized that she had a hard time communicating ``beyond 160 characters.''

As a run-up to the week without technology, Abbott and her classmates had to track how much they use their mobile phones, computers and other devices. Some realized they sent anywhere from 50 to 200 text messages a day -- and that they had friendships based entirely on texting, but when they actually were face to face with these people, they had nothing to say.

What they've learned so far: If you're instant messaging or texting someone, they can't tell if they have your full attention. (The recipient could be playing solitaire, one student pointed out, and they'd never know.) Conversations, they told us, are hard because they require focusing on the person in front of you and having to listen and respond -- rather than being able to have time to craft the perfect typed response. They love technology, but they're thinking that moderation is the key. Which Bridget and I thought were fairly astute observations that should be shared with adults, too.

One note for parents: It's not the best netiquette role modeling when you tell your kids not to text at the dinner table, but you bring your Blackberry. There are some work emergencies that can't be avoided -- but trust us, your teenagers can tell the difference.

Anything you think parents and/or teenagers should know about being wired and well-mannered?

Finally - Bridget and I did an interview about this topic on WLRN this morning. If you missed it, here it is:

Poked 1984 - WLRN Miami Herald News

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 10:49 AM on December 15, 2009 in Facebook , MySpace , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Florida judges and lawyers: don't friend each other

There's been a bit of news down here lately regarding Facebook and how virtual relationships can impact the legal working world. 

Last week, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Yvonne Colodny had to disclose to lawyers she had unfriended Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones when the commissioner appeared before the judge for arraignment. (Spence-Jones has been accused of stealing around $50,000 in county grant money.) Colodny had apparently accepted a friend request from Spence-Jones a few weeks before - but assured lawyers she immediately unfriended the politician when she was arrested on Nov. 13.

Around the same time, the a Florida ethics advisory committee came to the same conclusion about lawyers and judges.

The New York Times story explains the recent opinion by the Florida "Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee" that basically says judges and lawyers can't be Facebook friends anymore.

The opinion doesn't have the weight of, say, an actual Supreme Court ruling, and many think it's gone too far.

My favorite line from the story: "In practice, of course, actual friends and Facebook friends can be as different as leather and pleather, and the committee did recognize that online friends were not the same as friends in the traditional sense."

I'd love to hear what local and other lawyers think about this one.

(Thanks to alert Poked reader - and colleague Scott Andron - who pointed out the NYT story.)

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:10 AM on December 11, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Making a list and checking it twice

Hi all - Bridget's on vacation this week so I'm posting this on her behalf. Because she's not just fashion forward, but ahead of things generally, she wrote this before Facebook made a formal announcement today that it was really rolling out changes to its privacy settings.

Here's what you need to know about it:

Facebook privacy settings are the one social media tool that seems to elude most of our readers (and friends). The questions we get about privacy come as no surprise when you see how messy the system is now. How much do you want your school network to see? Your regional network? Your work network?

FacebookFriends And what about Lists? When you can lump your friend connections into categories called Lists, it gets even messier. I don't want this List of co-workers to see my photo gallery but what about my work network?

If you're a Facebook user, you probably saw the letter posted recently atop the page that addresses this issue from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. In short, Zuckerberg said what Poked has preached before -- that regional networks are useless for managing your privacy.

Networks made a lot of sense in 2004 when Facebook started for college students. It was the first privacy tool the original Facebook users -- like myself -- depended on. But now, when millions of people can be in your network, thinking that a network is a way to keep some information private is a joke.

Instead, you'll be depending solely on Lists to keep unwanted eyes out. Every time you post something, whether it's a status update or YouTube video, you'll be prompted over which people or Lists will have permission to see. It's a huge improvement to the system now, because either someone can see your Wall posts or they can't.

To make a List, click "Friends'' on the top navigation bar. You'll see on the left-hand side there's a place that lets you add to your current Lists or create a new one.

So what are you waiting for? Make Lists for family members. Make Lists for co-workers you don't really want to share stuff with but friended so there's no awkward moment in the office.

Make Lists for the weirdos who used to go to your middle school and sent a friend request but you don't remember ever being their friend.

And finally, a farewell to my Miami network. I would say it was nice to know you, but I really didn't know any of you.

(For more on what Facebook says about the privacy settings, visit their blog.)

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:47 PM on December 9, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A little plea to stop Facebook spammers

In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I'd address that big can of Spam that I got as a gift last week.

It came via Facebook, from a man named Elihu El, who has, over the past few months, issued me many invitations to events or groups, usually something to do with politics and Washington, D.C.

Spam I have no idea who Elihu El is. We're not Facebook friends and we're not a part of any groups together. So I messaged him, telling him that I'm a reporter and asking him how -- and why -- he kept inviting me to all these events.

He responded right away, telling me that he was "politically active'' and that's why he had my contact information. When I asked him how he had my contact information -- especially since, as a journalist, I don't take any public political positions -- he said he wasn't "certain'' how he got my information. In that last message, he adjusted his privacy settings on his profile.

I took that shadow profile image as a red flag and blocked him

I also reported the behavior to Facebook. They make it very easy to do this: just click the tiny blue 'report' button next to a message on an inbox, or the report/block tab just under a person's name in their profile. There's also a ``report spam'' on your Facebook inbox menu, too.

I'm guessing he found my personal e-mail somewhere online and used that to invite me to his events and groups. Because I have that e-mail account linked to my Facebook account, the events were automatically added to my Facebook profile -- and made it seem as if we were somehow connected there, even though we're not.

I'll be honest -- I've been getting e-mails from this guy for months now. In the past, I wanted to block him, but I figured somehow I knew him and didn't want to offend him.

Like many people, I have hundreds of Facebook friends, so assuming I knew this person was logical. But this experience was also a reminder that there are plenty of spammers out there -- and it's our responsibility to call these people out.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 04:19 PM on December 1, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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