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How Far Can The Law Control Social Media?

The open nature of the Internet makes it a bewildering place for newcomers. Back in 2009, security breaches and illegal activities led computer giant IBM to state “that the Internet has finally taken on the characteristics of the Wild West where no one is to be trusted.”

What are law enforcement agencies dealing with?

Just like the Wild West, criminals have found the Internet a perfect vehicle for committing all manner of crimes. These techniques have often existed for centuries, but the Internet offers a new way of finding and exploiting victims.

Here are the top three issues facing US lawmakers regarding the Internet.

1. Fraud, theft and criminal damage

Email has given fraudsters unprecedented access to more victims than ever before. With the click of a button, they can send thousands of emails designed to trick people into revealing personal details that can then be used for identity theft, bank fraud or extortion.

Computer viruses are regarded almost as an operational hazard of owning a computer. But they are designed to damage your computer, steal your data and cause general havoc. The offline equivalents would be stealing and criminal damage, which are clearly illegal; and the same goes for computer viruses.

Finally, there are hackers, people who deliberately try to break into computer systems. Again, the intention is usually to steal data, money, or to cause malicious damage.

2. Pornography

The US Government runs an agency dedicated to protecting children from Internet predators. The FBI works to identify and arrest paedophiles, as well as tracking and breaking child pornography rings.

There are also issues surrounding other “adult” pornography, which frequently breaches US publishing laws. Of a lower priority, the Police are still duty bound to investigate crimes reported to them.

3. Crimes against the person

Many people believe that the Internet is the ultimate forum for “free speech”. But some abuse the privilege making statements which are defamatory, slanderous or which breach hate speech laws.

Sometimes these personal attacks are apparently motiveless, leading to an online behaviour known as “trolling“. Police report that rates of cyberbullying increased by 400% between 2007 and 2011, for instance.

As crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne said in an interview, “What is illegal offline is illegal online. People should not be able to use social media to post anonymous abusive or threatening comments without facing any consequences.”

What is the problem?

As more and more of our daily interactions shift to online channels, the police face an increasingly difficult task maintaining law and order. Among the many hurdles they face are:

Technology

Internet and computer technologies continue to develop at an incredible rate. However, the police have neither the time nor the resources to stay on top of every new development.

The creation of laws to prosecute new crimes also takes time often several years. Until the law is passed, Police are often powerless to take proper action until the damage has been done and the criminal has long gone.

Anonymity

Users of chatrooms, forums and social media are afforded some level of anonymity, making it hard for police to unmask the perpetrators of online crime. Electronic detective work can usually identify online criminals in the end, but the process is slow and time-consuming.

There is an added element of difficulty when the crime has taken place on a website that operates from countries outside the US. In this instance, the police generally have to rely on the goodwill of the website operator to get the information they need to proceed to prosecution, which is not always forthcoming.

Bureaucracy

Solving crime can be a painstaking process at the best of times. However, cybercrime often requires liaison between different police forces and departments, the courts and Internet service providers. These third parties often operate their own bureaucracies, making it even harder to bring a case to resolution. Some are even deliberately obstructive because their operating ideologies are distinctly anti-police.

International law

When the crime takes place using a service from another country, issues of jurisdiction can further confuse matters. If a British person is cyberbullied by an American on a website run from Russia, there are three different national laws in effect. Even more confusingly, what is illegal here in the US may be perfectly legal in Russia, making a successful prosecution very difficult, if not unlikely.

Public sentiment

Despite the many potential problems presented by criminals on the Internet, proposals to prevent criminal activity are often opposed. Plans for an opt-out pornography filter (which would have required US internet users to register, or access to adult material would be blocked automatically) were overturned in 2012 following a vigorous campaign suggesting that such a filter was against freedom of speech laws.

Any proposed law which is believed to potentially limit online activities tends to come under similar pressure, making it very difficult to effectively limit loopholes exploited by criminals.

What can we expect in future?

Although the justice system is struggling to keep up with cybercrime, there is no suggestion it has given up. In the future we can expect to see:

More prosecutions

The surge in online defamation complaints to police has generated a similar increase in prosecutions. There is not yet any sign of a slow-down in reports, either.

As cybercrime becomes more common, police are dedicating more time and resources to detecting it. Specialist officers have the skills and expertise required to successfully prosecute more cybercrime cases than ever before.

More civil cases

Where undesirable activities online fall outside criminal law, people are still free to launch civil cases. The recent Twitter case involving a high profile politician being incorrectly named as a paedophile has resulted in dozens of people being sued for libel.

The number of similar cases will undoubtedly rise as people continue to seek damages for untrue or hurtful allegations that are posted on other social media sites.

New laws

The scams and tricks used by cybercriminals are constantly evolving. The United States legal system will also have to adapt to face these new challenges with relevant and updated legislation.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke unveiled new plans to exclude websites from prosecution where their users were guilty of libel if they pass on the troll’s identity. Should the website choose to protect the troll’s identity, the operator will be held responsible for hosting the libelous material. This plan should become law within the coming months.

Because of the global nature of the Internet, there will also be increasing cooperation between nation states, particularly those who are members of the European Union. The Budapest Convention encourages a joined-up approach to tackling and prosecuting international crime, and the membership continues to grow.

So the Internet will always remain lawless?

Currently the law seems relatively powerless to combat cybercrime effectively. While it is true that the police are always playing catch-up with cybercriminals, they are actively working to increase protection for the public by dedicating more resources to tackling them.

The legal system is also trying to increase protection for the public, but the creation of legislation is a slow and arduous process. However, there is a clear intention to tackle and prevent crime across government.

So can the law effectively police the Internet? Arguably, the answer has to be ‘yes’, because we already have laws to address many of the crimes committed online. Just as hackers will try and steal your bank account details on the Internet, so too will a pickpocket in the high street. The law does not completely prevent crime, but it does give the victim an avenue of redress.

The best advice for staying safe online remains use your common sense. Do this, and you stand a very good chance of staying out of the grasp of dedicated criminals while using the Internet.

How to Time your Facebook Posts to Increase Engagement Rates?

Facebook has users from all over the world, logging in pretty much all through the day, sharing, liking and communicating. When it comes to Facebook, as surprising as it may sound, timing is really important. What you say doesn’t just need to sound good enough to get noticed, it also has to be posted at the right time to be visible to most people in your network.

Increase Facebook Engagement Rates

Here are three effective ways you can time your posts perfectly to get most of your followers to notice them:

1. Post when most of your followers are active on Facebook

This can get a little bit tricky and would require you to spend some time in research. But if you can observe and recognize that golden time when maximum number of your followers engages with your Facebook page, you can share your posts during this hour and know that it will be seen by a larger share of your fans.

Facebook typically registers the maximum activity during the day, which eventually subsides after evening hours. Research has shown that the period between 11:00 AM and 04:00 PM is the best time in the day to post any major news announcement about your brand on your page.

If you have something very important to share with your fans, make use of this window to ensure that maximum people will get to see it.

2. Make sure your posts are always visible in your followers’ News Feeds

Ensure that there is adequate time gap between two posts so that the previous post gets as much visibility as possible before it gets pushed out of the News Feed by your new post.

Posting too frequently can actually have an adverse effect on the visibility of your posts, so time them well.

There are tools that can tell can analyze how your posts are doing in the first 48 hours of being posted. Using such tools, you can identify the right time to post again.

3. Monitor your Facebook posts’ efficiency to constantly improvise

Your audience may not behave the same way followers of another business in a different industry or sector behaves. There are no hard and fast rules that can apply to all brands every group of consumers has a different usage pattern.

The best way to identify your consumers’ patterns is by analyzing their activity on your Facebook page. How much time do your followers spend on your page? How often do they visit, and when does this happen? How many likes and comments do your posts get on an average?

Once you have concrete data to analyze, you will be able to identify how your followers use Facebook. Using this information, you can adjust the frequency and timing of your posts to drive maximum engagement.

The author Vishal Gumber is founder of an Australian app development company Appsquare.

Don’t Tell Facebook Anything You Wouldn’t Want Grandma To Hear

When Facebook made its timeline profiles mandatory, many users cringed as they relived past relationships and embarrassing nights out. So did all of their friends and family, who could now see what was probably best forgotten. Suddenly, it became apparent just how well Facebook remembers. It remembers that time you “liked” Budweiser, and it remembers you joining the “Bring Back Sailor Moon!” group when people still joined Facebook groups. Chances are, those memories are still haunting the side of your newsfeed.

Facebook makes most of its money from advertisers. In 2010, the company violated its own stated privacy policies by selling user information to vendors to help target their sales. Some users found this out when they saw their own smiling faces next to advertisements for products they “liked”.

This trend is particularly unnerving to parents. More than five million Facebook users are under the age of 13, and their “likes” are already being tracked.

Facebook Privacy Fail

Source: Facebook Privacy Fail

Big Facebook Event Tomorrow – Rumors and Speculation

As many of you may have already read in the news, Facebook is holding a launch event tomorrow to announce new initiatives.

Lots of speculation around this event, including a Facebook phone – codenamed Buffy. But one thing is clear that there is some significant announcement that Facebook is going to make tomorrow, as Facebook does not usually hold major press conferences at its headquarters.

  • Facebook is holding a press event at its headquarters on Tuesday at 10am PST
  • They have not disclosed what will be announced
  • Facebook has indicated the announcement is a “big deal” and most are speculating it involves mobile
  • This is the first media gathering the company has hosted since it’s Gifts announcement in November

Speculation from credible sources:

Facebook Phone (most talked about theory) — speculation from TechCrunch, Forbes

  • Unclear whether it would be a proprietary FB branded device or a new Facebook OS for mobile
  • The rumored OS, codenamed “Buffy,” is thought to be built around Android
  • The hardware, if it exists, is rumored to be developed by HTC
  • Some speculate it could be a low-end to middle range phone built for the developing country market

Facebook Search – speculation from TechCrunch

  • Zuckerberg had been vocal about his interest in expanding FB’s internal search functionalities
  • This would be an opportunity for FB to further monetize it’s platform, especially in mobile
  • Could enhance/integrate with the recently released Facebook Nearby feature – Facebook’s latest push for small businesses and friend recommendations – perhaps in the form of a web interface or standalone mobile app
  • Would likely be an enhanced functionality with the existing platform rather than an entirely new engine

Expansions on Facebook Gifting – speculation from Forbes

  • Further monetize the platform with selling of physical goods

Stronger push towards gaming – speculation from Forbes

  • As FB’s biggest partner in gaming (Zynga) is dying, FB may be looking to start developing its own games to satisfy its dedicated audience of gamers

Instagram enhancements – speculation from Forbes

  • Since spending $1 billion to purchase Instagram, FB has done little with to integrate with the photo-app so far; this may be their first announcement of deeper integration

Greater integration with automobiles – speculation from Forbes, TechCrunch

  • May not be a coincidence that the announcement is scheduled right after the North American International Auto Show
  • Theories include a Facebook-integrated car that enables seamless FB “check-ins” as you drive or a version of Facebook Messenger for cars (synced with Bluetooth)

Additional theories:

  • Redesigning “Notes” to take on Tumblr
  • Creating a standalone feed for different content verticals
  • An easier user experience to navigate and find things on Timeline
  • A video chat competitor to Google Hangouts
  • New advertising channels

Sources:

Facebook 2012 – The Latest on Everyone’s Favorite Social Network

The Latest on Facebook’s IPO, User Statistics and More

We’re already halfway through 2012, but for sure, we’ve all spent way too much time on Facebook in spite of resolutions that may have been made at the beginning of the year. There is simply something about Facebook that it hard to resist, even though there are a lot of things that can get annoying about it as well.

One cannot discount the story behind the founding of the world’s biggest social network. Even if you have not watched the movie or read the book, you surely have an inkling about its founder, Mark Zuckerberg and how he built Facebook.

On top of its origins, Facebook has simply become so big in such a short amount of time that anyone who has had some entrepreneurial aspirations would not be able to help but show admiration. Hate it or love it, there are lessons to be learned from the story that is Facebook.

Want to keep updated on the stats and other pieces of trivia about the social network that has a love-hate relationship with its users? Check out this infographic focusing on Facebook this 2012. Some tidbits:

  • There are 845 million MONTHLY active users. And that was during the making of the infographic. I am rather sure the number has gone up!
  • 2.5 million photos are uploaded daily
  • 20 minutes is spent per visit (on the average); do you spend just as much time per visit?

Read more about games, Zuckerberg himself, and money below.

2012 Facebook Statistics
2012 Facebook Stats

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Martine Kessler, just like everyone else, is always on Facebook. That is, if she’s not deep into her infographic design work. Aside from Facebook, you can also find her tweeting and writing for many other platforms.

Facebook Vs Pinterest: 5 Things We’ve Learned

Social media platforms have proved to be very useful within the world of business in recent years and it seems that every company worth their salt has a profile on at least one social media platform. Uses vary from brand awareness and search engine optimization to cultivating a forum style environment for communication with customers.

One brand doing very well on the social media front is online jewelery store Boticca. Their stunning products and loyal customer base have made for the natural building of popularity in their social media platform especially Facebook, with their 27,000 likes and Pinterest with their 700 followers.

With the aim of gaining a fuller understanding into their customers and how they act while using social media, Boticca took a sample of visitors to each site, (Facebook and Pinterest) and compared their habits.

Their infographic explains their findings. The ‘5 Things we have learned’ informative diagram gives insights into conversion rates, customer engagement, new users and sales.

 

Facebook Vs Pinterest: 5 Things We’ve Learned was researched and compiled by Boticca.

Facebook vs. Pinterest Marketing
Facebook vs. Pinterest – 5 Things We’ve Learned

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Facebook Attempting To Overtake Smartphone Arena with Glancee Acquisition

Facebook takes another step on its way to the domination over the social smartphone environment. This time, it’s Glancee, a social network based on the location of people that are near you. A little less than a month after its acquisition of Instagram, Facebook has acquired the competitive location-based social application called Glancee.

Amid its efforts to stay updated the latest trends of the changing technological advancements, Facebook penned down another deal to acquire Glancee – an endeavor to get hold of smartphone arena. This step by Facebook is seen as an attempt to settle its dominance in the smartphone world.

Facebook said in a statement:

“we are delighted to confirm that Facebook has acquired Glancee. The acquisition closed today. We can expect co-founder Andrea, Alberto and Gabriel to join the Facebook team to work on products that help people discover new places and share them with friends.”

Facebook has not disclosed the terms of acquisition of Glancee yet. Recall that less than a month ago Facebook took the mobile platform based on sharing photos, Instagram, for $1 billion, now the largest social network in the world has said that his sights are set on the mobile environment.

For those unfamiliar with the application, the concept allows users to meet new people who also use the application and are near to your location, providing details which you have in common— as friends or colleagues. Apparently, this acquisition by Facebook could come from the hand of a major update to its mobile app that allows the user to also add options of location and image editing if you choose to also share with Instagram filters.

It’s easier to buy companies and polish them to get to work on something new and this may be the secret behind these purchases, but you never know, at the end of the day you still did not understand why Mark Zuckerberg bought FriendFeed for example, or is it possible that it was simply a competitive play.

What are your thoughts on the latest acquisitions by Facebook?

Facebook [Next Generation] Open Graph Apps

Everyone has likely seen Spotify popping up in their News Feeds since last year, but Facebook continues to roll out new Open Graph apps – over 60 in just the last few weeks. With that in mind, I wanted to share a quick overview of how Open Graph apps are starting to (and can) be utilized.

Entertainment is the most robust category so far, with over 18 associated apps available. It is also important to note that Timeline, once optional, is now mandatory and is rumored to be available for businesses soon. With that in mind, OG apps should be developed with Timeline in mind to ensure the widest audience.

The general concept to embrace is frictionless sharing. Open Graph apps require users to allow continuous publishing permission and feature actions that can be automatically shared, rather than explicitly asking users to share individual actions (i.e. the Like button plugin).

A few high-level notes on who and what has rolled something out:

Brands:

  • Ford Mustang
  • Ford Grab-a-Badge (http://social.ford.com/grab-a-badge)
  • AutoTrader

Apps:

  • News – Washington Post, Yahoo! News, USA Today
  • Travel – Where I’ve Been, TripAdvisor
  • Giving – Causes
  • Food – Foodily, Foodspotting
  • Shopping & Fashion – Pinterest, LivingSocial (no Groupon!), GiftRocket
  • Fitness – MapMyFitness, RunKeeper
  • Entertainment – Hulu, TicketMaster, StubHub, DailyMotion,

Noticeably absent:

  • YouTube
  • Groupon

There is also a distinction to be make between how app activity appears in the News Feed/Ticker and users’ actual Timelines. In short, there are more aesthetic and functional options available now than ever before.

In terms of visibility, there are two algorithms at play in the News Feed: EdgeRank and Graph Rank. EdgeRank priority is mostly governed by an item’s affinity, weight and time, relevant to a user’s personal network. At this point, not much is known about the parameters for Graph Rank. In brief:

  1. EdgeRank dictates what “normal” status items appear in any given user’s feed.
  2. Graph Rank determines how Open Graph application activity is distributed.

Feel free to browse all 60 apps and watch some of FB’s ultra PR-friendly video overviews. Enjoy.

How to Market Your Biz on Facebook – 3 Simple Tips

About 70% of small companies market themselves on Facebook, online business network MerchantCircle reports. Use the site the right way, and you’ll turn fans into customers.

Take it Offline

Give followers a compelling reason to get to the point of purchase. You might offer, say, a discount or promo T-shirt if your fans come to your store and say a certain word, says Patrick Schwerdtfeger, author of Webify Your Business. Similarily, you could promote events via Facebook the way Anna B’s Gluten Free Bakery in Richmond does – the business posts on its wall when its fresh bread will be delivered to Whole Foods.

Build Hype

Rather than simply plugging products, get people excited about them. Schwerdtfeger suggests using the status update to post questions that will spark conversation – a camera retailer might say, “Most people use our underwater camera to take pictures of friends at pools. Where have you used yours?” Yeti Coolers in Austin uses a monthly themed photo contest to get people psyched about its wares; the winner gets a free cooler.

Form Relationships

Don’t just post and let the conversation die. Respond to comments, even complaints. “You want people to not only be aware of your brand, but engage with it,” syas Lon Safko, author of The Social Media Bible. Direct contact builds loyalty, which builds business!

What methods can you suggest to help grow your business through Facebook? Leave your tips in the comments!