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Think your work Blackberry is private?

Today's Poked column was inspired by a coworker, who came to me with a query I suspect is fairly common, about privacy and our work phones. It made me think that many folks have spent quite a bit of time complaining about Facebook and its privacy issues, but it also made me wonder if they've taken the time to look at another privacy issue: what's being monitored on our work equipment like Blackberries.

It also made me realize that I haven't really read our company's IT policy? It's 13 pages long, single-spaced. If I had read past the first few paragraphs, I would have come across a very clearly stated policy -- on page two -- that details how I have absolutely no "reasonable expectation'' of privacy or confidentiality when I'm using company equipment like a desktop computer or Blackberry, even if I'm using my personal e-mail account.

I wonder if Sgt. Quon of the Ontario, Calif., police department read his company policy before he signed it. His was fairly similar to mine. Still, Quon argued that when the police department read personal text messages he sent from his company-issued pager, they were violating his constitutional right against unreasonable search.

Quon took the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against him.

The court took care to say that it was a narrow decision, cautioning that it should not be used to establish "far-reaching premises that define the existence, and extent, of privacy expectations of employees using employer-provided communication devices.''

Journalists, like many professionals, practically live on their Blackberries. (Well, not me -- but I do live on my Droid, although I own it.) They have their work e-mail accounts, but also personal e-mail, Facebook and instant messaging, at least, installed on their smartphones.

I've always been skeptical about anything I do on a work computer or device. But I'm just one camp, says employment lawyer Chris Parlo. Parlo, who is based in New York with Morgan Lewis, says there's a whole other group of people out there, like my co-worker, and like Quon, who have different expectations of privacy.

Parlo thinks the Supreme Court decision has put companies and workers on notice.

Employers need to make sure they have policies that are well-known, clear and broad, so it captures all devices, situations and scenarios in which this might be an issue.

Workers need to have a reality check, too, he says. "I think the average worker has to understand that they're not free to do whatever they want, and should pay careful attention to what the employer has told them about what restrictions of personal use are on workplace devices.''

Have you read your company's IT policy? Did it made you switch from one camp to the other?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:22 PM on June 29, 2010 in Facebook , Privacy settings , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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:


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.



Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:13 PM on June 10, 2010 in Sports , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 03:15 PM on June 8, 2010 in Facebook , Games , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Improve your Facebook page with custom tabs

The Poked column took a hiatus from print today due to the holiday week, but here's last week's column on how to spruce up the tabs on your Facebook page, in case you missed it:

Last week, Facebook created, and then quickly recalled, a restriction on pages that customize their opening page, known as a landing tab. Businesses use this so that first-time visitors see a welcome graphic rather than landing in the middle of a "comment'' page, or Wall.

During the one-day change, page administrators could set up an opening tab only if they had at least 10,000 fans -- now called 'likes' -- or had spent at least $25,000 in advertising on Facebook.

After an uproar from the business community, Facebook opened the customization back up to everyone and said in a statement: "We apologize for the inconvenience this caused to our developer and business community. We are re-investigating the situation, and will not make any further changes without first giving our community standard notice and lead-time.''

For small businesses that don't have landing tabs, it's time to set one up. You can see some examples of this on company pages such as Victoria's Secret PINK, Dunkin' Donuts, Skittles, Dove and Macy's.

If you are an admin for a page, here are a few free tools you can use to create a custom tab. (But note that once someone marks that they like the page, they will see the Wall on the first visit):

  • To create a custom tab, you'll need the Static FBML application. Search Facebook for Static FBML, and then click to add the app. Go back to your fan page, click on ``edit page,'' and that's where you can customize the Static FBML with some html. When done, add the custom tab by hitting the ``+'' tab.
  • To change what tab shows up first, admins can click on ``Settings,'' directly under the "Share" button on the Wall page. A drop-down menu allows you to choose the default landing tab for non-fans.
  • On Facebook, you can find applications that help put a store on your page. Check out the Wishpot store app or My Merch Store by Zazzle. Pages like The Onion and NBAStore.com have used iFanStore by Milyoni -- good-looking, but not free. Prices for Milyoni to build a store start at about $1,000.

If you don't want your store to be your opening page, be sure to put a box promoting the store on the Wall page. Regan Poston, vice president of customer success at Milyoni, said the box promoting the store on the Wall gets four times as many clicks as the Shop tab does.

It's worth the time to welcome your fans with more than just a messy wall. And you might as well learn now ... before Facebook changes its mind again.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 06:19 PM on June 1, 2010 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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