FBI prowls on Facebook – will it prove effective?

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

This is truly taking undercover investigation to a whole new level, but will it work? Here’s why I think that this isn’t a great idea:

1. The success rate of catching criminals is pretty small, considering that Facebook profiles are private, and as opposed to chat rooms that draw “similar” kinds of people, social networking revolves around a messaging/talking to a larger audience. More often than not, the hundreds of friends in your friend list are privy to most of the information, and it is unlikely that any individual would boast about/confide in their entire friend list.

2. Most Facebook individual profiles are private – and with increasing privacy protection and continuous warnings about the dangers of digital identity and content theft, social networking sites and the Facebook audience is getting more and more prudent with how and who they share their information with.

3. The cat’s out of the bag! Even IF Facebook could’ve been a viable tool in the FBI agent’s pocket, public articles such as this make me think that criminals on facebook are going to start being a lot more careful about how/who they talk to.

4. Privacy laws: Going “undercover” in the digital world, especially on networking sites violates many rules outlined in Facebook’s terms and conditions of service, including but not limited to, the explicit forbidding of users creating a fake identity. Should an exception be made in special cases (as with the FBI)? This is up to debate, but personally, I view this as an invasion of privacy.

I don’t doubt the fact that Facebook could be useful in nabbing criminals in a small number of cases, but it most certainly isn’t going to be a revolutionary tool for the criminal justice system, or replace the other tools in an FBI Agent’s arsenal.

Source: PR Associates Blog (2009). How much is too much information in social media. Retrieved from http://blog.prassociates.ca/?p=316

Categories: Uncategorized

Proliferation of Content: THIS is why emerging media wins

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Arguably I’ve discussed the many pros and cons of emerging media in the digital age. However, if I were to pick two clear reasons as to how emerging media is a mark not only of technological innovation, but also psychological innovation – these would be be on the top of my list:

First, emerging media has invited, encouraged and sometimes bullied influential people and institutions to be more… free with their content. Since the internet in its entirety is based on sharing content- blogs, podcasts, interactive websites and forums have become central to branding and consumer relationship management (yes, this is no longer just customer relationship management).

The most interesting and inspirational news that I read today on Yahoo! was an article quoting Harvard University as the next school to offer free digital content via iTunes U. Following similar moves from universities such as Yale, Stanford, Brown and San Jose State, this step is sure to inspire further content collaboration and sharing, leading in turn to a more knowledgeable and skilled student and labor force.

Secondly, the ‘real-time’ nature of digital content necessitates brands to really think on their feet – public relations teams are quicker to respond (with exceptions, of course), brands need to not just ‘react’ but stay one step ahead of their audiences. Perhaps I’m a little too optimistic in saying this, but definitely the ability for news sharing to be instantaneous will also begin to relegate a need for more transparency, more honesty in corporate ethics.

As a colleague once reminded me in a discussion, emerging media is bound to peak, trough and eventually attain a steadier growth state. It may then be prudent to innovate, adapt and tailor emerging media to the brand’s needs, rather than jumping on the bandwagon without caution, or avoiding it altogether – because social and interactive media is here to stay.

Categories: Uncategorized

Tricky IP protection in the vast digital world

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

No one said protecting IP was easy.

With the digital world, difficult has become synonymous with nearly impossible.

Protecting Intellectual property on the internet has become virtually impossible, but is it necessary?Critics of Digital IP protection laws claim that the internet is an open-source platform, so digital protection will hinder, and ultimately ruin the internet’s greatest advantage – free sharing of information.

Discussion in class last week revolved around this very issue, and a large number of my peers agreed that as difficult as it may seem, IP protection is necessary in the digital world.Corporations, brands and individuals express their ideas, opinions and creative expressions via the internet – copyright and patent laws protect the original digital work of the user, which is increasingly becoming an extension of the users’ physical interactions. Corporations use their brand logos and their digital identity to engage with consumers. Without digital IP protection, this engagement would hold no credibility. Users upload and share creative works, without protection – these would inevitably be misused.

Critics and many many individuals will argue that this already occurs today. Fraudulence is rampant in the digital world, and it is increasingly becoming difficult to avoid these scams, so existing digital IP laws are either ineffective, or the means through which they are being enforced are ineffective.

Agreed, I would completely and undeniably agree that digital IP protection laws today are insufficient and ineffective. An appropriate solution seems impossible because of the density of user generated content, and the inability to filter content constantly over the web. However, this doesn’t mean we should stop trying – what seems impossible today may translate to a sophisticated web application that can scan and detect infringement of copyrighted content.

The key point is that we recognize the importance and the necessity for protection of digital content, and learn from the music industry upheaval to reduce fraudulent use of content.

Categories: Ethics

Wikis – A benefit to internal corporate projects

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Most of the topics I’ve discussed in this blog thus far have revolved around using emering media as a tool to reach a wide and open audience. Wikis, while definitely useful for large-scale public usage (Wikipedia being a prime example), are infinitely more useful for smaller groups within organizations.

The threat of publicly open Wikis all revolve around one primary disadvantage – the inability to control access and editing of content. Since the very nature of Wikis is to allow collaboration by encouraging editing by any reader, they have declined in popularity in the general masses. However, they remain a highly useful and flexible tool in collaboration.

In fact,they may be the best emerging tool for schools and corporations. As corporations increasingly use Microsoft Sharepoint (which is similar to a Wiki, while providing control over access and content), smaller companies and startups could benefit greatly from Wikis to work on internal projects, especially with geographically isolated employees/office sites.

Within schools and other educational settings, Wikis provide a way to freely engage and share information, while working on group projects and assignments together without the added threat of overexposure to distracting elements (read post on regulations on social media in schools).

The simplicity of the Wiki interface adds to its benefits – often tools such as Sharepoint and Lotus Notes require extensive training and overwhelmingly complicated interfaces which can deter users. The benefits of Wikis for closed groups and communities is often understated and undervalued – although as we seek more and more accessible digital tools, Wikis may have a chance of resurfacing once again.

Categories: Wikis

Regulations on social media in school

December 29, 2009 1 comment

Should there be an age-limit on accessing and using social media? Many educators, parents and government sectors have strong opinions on the destructive nature of social media access to students.

Although there has been, and will continue to be, tremendous amount of debate surrounding the issue, I think it necessary to acknowledge that social media can and has provided both constructive and destructive value to the general populace. When brought into an educators’ medium, it poses additional threats, and offers tempting opportunities for collaboration. It is then, unsurprising, that this topic has undergone so much debate.

The primary constructive benefit of emerging media is the tantalizing possibilities it offers in connecting students within schools, and even between schools. Intra and Inter-school engagement between students can engage students with their academics in a truly revolutionary way, providing educators with a more aware, and open-minded student set.

The destructive benefit is far more threatening though. Exposing students in schools to engage with social media is opening a new portal for wayward behavior – it can and probably already has resulted in the sharing of non-educational material. Since there is no content filter on Twitter, Facebook or Youtube, this can result in far more leniency and destructive behavior amongst students if allowed.

Proponents of social media in schools as well as critics have valid arguments. Perhaps the solution lies (as it often does) in balancing between the two extremes. Like Facebook when it first started, perhaps a new social media portal restricted to a student pool would provide most value. Developing applications intended to encourage discussion, debate and knowledge sharing can lead students to educate each other, thus enhancing their educational experience. Does such an application exist? If not, what are the constraints to developing such an application? It  will allows students to mingle socially, but has a primarily educational purpose – has something like this been tried?

After the success of educating through traditional media (Sesame Street, Blues Clues etc.), digital media probably can provide great value if the destructive threats are eliminated through a filtered content and streamlined application.

The future of social media

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

2009 has been Facebook’s and Twitter’s year. Almost every other networking site including MySpace and Linkedin have found it difficult to keep up with these two in terms of their popularity and diversity of use.

Why so? Why has Facebook succeeded where MySpace failed, or more intriguingly, will Facebook be a “phase” as well, just like Myspace was?

Facebook has survived all its successors in social media due to its one faithful rule – continuous innovation. Users and critics alike will have to concede that Facebook provides an incredibly integrated platform, and a space for individuals to not just exist, but to grow and network. Along with it, it has leveraged the building of applications from third party developers (much like the iPhone has) to really provide new content and features continually. Why would users deviate away from a platform where they can network, keep in touch, play, share, and inform with over 350 million users?

Then there’s the hype around Twitter. A simple concept, perhaps too simplistic to begin with – but that’s the core value of the Twitter strategy. No extra bells and frills, it is simply a way to keep your friends, family, acquaintances and the world informed. It is a place to share opinions and information, virally pass on messages, and gain exposure. It’s uncluttered mission, and interface has pushed it to being the top site used not only by individuals, but by companies as well.

Going into 2010, where is the future of social media?

All of a sudden, decoupled Facebook and Twitter accounts just don’t satisfy anymore. Consolidation and integration is demanded of social platforms that are migrating to other technologies like the mobile space. One account, for multiple networks and features, are far more appealing. However, this has to happen without the loss of the advantage created by platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. I think it is then, fair to say, that 2010 will see the rise of applications within which users can access and manage their entire online identity including their blogs, their

Another area that is gaining considerable momentum is the introduction of “Geo” applications such as Foursquare (primarily for hand-held mobile devices) which approach social media from the opposite end of the spectrum. Their mission is location-specific information, which is immensely useful in exploring a city that you live in, work in, or are visiting. These applications are sure to gain appreciation also due to their emphasis in community and city engagement. They encourage local communities and bring residents closer together, bringing intimacy to a far flung digital world.

Oops, I did it again

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

No, not the Britney Spears hit. Like the physical world, digital users have created digital etiquette (dubbed “netiquette”) to ensure appropriate usage of the online world. Long gone are the days where our professional world was divorced from our online personal identity, it is now imperative that we realize (if we haven’t already!) that companies, brands, recruiters are taking up an active presence online, and increasingly so in social media. There are long netiquette lists of dos and donts on the internet, but here’s my personal list:

1. Think before you type: Nothing on the internet is truly private, so take a minute to think before you update your status on Facebook or tweet about your life. Do you really want that to be public? Maybe your friends can handle it – but what about your family overseas? and your boss? your colleagues? your potential employers? Words cannot be taken back, even in the digital world.

2. Take privacy settings seriously: Social media applications are constantly tweaking and reformatting their privacy settings, because they know, better than their users do, that privacy is a shaky veil – it’s not impenetrable. Review weekly or monthly your privacy settings online, and ensure that the changes made aren’t affecting the existing filters set up.

3. Be cautious: The integration features, as well as the platforms available are tempting, but once again not fool proof. Did you know that on Facebook – if you tag a friend in a photo, then all his/her friends have access to that particular album? Even if they aren’t friends of yours and/or part of your network, they can view that album. Instead try using Flickr to upload your photos, and send the link to the album to your friends via email – it’s more secure, ensures that your pictures are shared only to those friends that you want to share it with.

4. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to: So you CAN install that superpoke application on Facebook, and you CAN provide a running update of every single detail of your life. You CAN complain about your job, and you CAN upload inappropriate photos. Doesn’t mean you should.

5. Leverage your online presence: Create an online identity. Manage it well. Get involved in forums where you want to be seen, leverage your facebook and twitter accounts to promote your blog, network and establish a connection with the people you admire and wish to learn from. The transparency of the internet means that your online activity creates an impression about you – make sure that impression counts. It can be useful when you decide to start that marketing blog, or apply for a job you really want.

6. Google search yourself, from time to time: It’s best to be aware of the activity surrounding all your online accounts. You may not realize what your online identity says about you. This way you can delete and control the damage that you might have made when you were 15 and used to blog incessantly about your angsty life. Or leverage it, if that’s what you want to do. Either way, it’s best to know what you are saying about you (and maybe what others are saying about you as well) on the web.

7. Take responsibility for your online presence: Integrity is an admirable attribute on the internet as well. If you’ve publicly made a mistake, own up to it, then rectify it. Unlike the physical world, negative impressions travel fast, and cause long lasting damage.

Got any more you can think of? Feel free to add to the list by commenting on this post.