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Dark Side of Social Media Part II: Social Terror

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Social Terror

A number of positive things have happened as a direct result of the popularity of social media in society. People have reconnected with family and friends. They have found new jobs and been able to show their talents to the world where, before, they would have gone unnoticed.

But, there is also a dark side of social media. In part I of this article, we discussed cyberbullying which has magnified the effect of bullying to epic proportions never seen before in our lifetime.  Social media has also magnified the reach for cyber criminals, gang members, drug dealers and terrorist. They all use social media outlets to recruit new members. In the article we will focus on terrorism.

The terror group ISIS (or ISIL) has used YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and other social media platforms to recruit and raise funds. Twitter, for one, has shut down thousands of ISIS accounts over the past year. Just like company’s do for themselves and the products they sell, terror organizations do the same with branding campaigns of their own, targeting young people to become soldiers, promotion propaganda and soliciting funding.  In correlation with our article on bullying, many of the recruits ISIS finds through social media are loners who are disconnected, troubled or looking to find an identity for themselves.

A New York Times article entitled “ISIS and the Lonely American” talks about a young, 23-year-old baby sitter named Alex who converted to Islam after trying to learn more about the terror group online. It wasn’t hard to find and contact them. Alex was sent gifts, chocolate, Hallmark cards, books on Islam and even money. She had several conversations with an “ISIS fighter” via Twitter and then Skype. They preyed on her weaknesses. Alex dropped out of college and had a bout with drug addiction. Her grandmother referred to her as a “lost child.” She looked toward ISIS for direction. Luckily for Alex, her family intervened and the F.B.I. were contacted.

Others don’t have someone to intervene. As of July 2015, the F.B.I. has reported that over 200 Americans have attempted to join ISIS. There propaganda efforts on social media have been seen by over 200,000 viewers. ISIS is the predominant terror leader when it comes to PR. Yet, they are not the only terror organization using social media to its advantage. Groups like al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Hamas and many other less known groups are using social media to spread messages of hate.

These groups post videos, tweets and status updates in many different languages. ISIS often posts videos showing graphic images of opposition soldiers they have killed or beheadings. They want to show how strong and superior they are over their enemies, often portraying them as weak and inferior.  They have even disguised themselves as relief organizations in order to reach the opposition’s audience.

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik , the terrorist responsible for killing 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif, used Facebook’s Private Messenger platform to communicate to friends in Pakistan pledging support of jihad.

The Boundaries of Privacy

So how do we control such conversations on social media when these platforms are supposed to be free and open to discuss all points-of-view? Tim Cook and Apple came under fire this week after refusing to break an encryption code to unlock Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik’s cell phone accounts.  The FBI feels obtaining access to the information from the phones can lead them to bigger terror cells possibly. But, Cook had this to say in an interview with NPR, “if you have an open door in your software for the good guys, the bad guys get in there, too.” On the flipside, Twitter has shut down over 125, 000 accounts it claims were connected to ISIS. Twitter also noted that “it works with law-enforcement agencies when appropriate and partners with groups that work to counter extremist content online,” in a recent article in The Atlantic.

Facebook has also agreed to help the U.S. Government tackle social terrorism. Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management told The Wall Street Journal on February 11th,  ‘If it’s the leader of Boko Haram and he wants to post pictures of his two-year-old and some kittens, that would not be allowed.

YouTube, on the other hand, is harder to figure out when it comes to terrorism policies as they often leave it up to viewers to report inappropriate content. Anwar al-Awlaki, said to be a recruiter and motivator for al-Qaeda was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011, yet you can still find his videos and hear his anti-American sentiments on YouTube. So where do we draw the line between freedom of speech and the promotion of terrorism? YouTube seems more concerned with removing videos that are considered copyright infringement, which they remove thousands of everyday. But, you can report abuse on YouTube, as well as most other social media platforms.

For Twitter and Facebook, fighting terror is an ongoing battle. As accounts get taken down, thousands more go up. You can report abusive or suspicious activity on Twitter at https://support.twitter.com/forms/abusiveuser at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/help/434138713297607 and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/reportabuse.

Keep in mind, just as the world is a dangerous place if you wander down the wrong road, the same is true about the internet and social media. Information is power when it comes to keeping loved ones safe from social terror, cyberbullying and all the dark corners of the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Social Media Ruining Your Life?

 

 

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Mixed Emotions

Common Sense Media reported back in November 2015, that teens spend an average of 9 hours a day on their social media accounts. That is more time than they spend with their families, or in school or sleeping. Adults spend about 3 to 4 hours daily on social media accounts, checking updates on accounts like Facebook and Twitter up to 17 times a day.

Though it’s called social media, how social is it really? It’s easy to click a button and send a comment off on social media, but what impact does it have on the receiving end? Teens, especially, have become less connected and in-tune with true emotions. In normal social situations, people converse out loud to each other and can see the emotion reactions their actions and comments have on people they are interacting with. For example, if Joe says in social media, “Anyone who wears red shoes just looks stupid,” sure it may receive some comments, but maybe Mary, who is wearing red shoes, now feels stupid and humiliated and doesn’t comment at all. Joe never has that emotional connect with Mary and may never know that his comments were emotionally hurtful to her. Facial expressions are missing from these virtual conversations. Who know what the future holds with Tweens who may never truly grasp human emotions in the way older adults do.

Google is Your Resume
In the latest edition of the book What Color Is Your Parachute, the author Richard Nelson Bolles explains that in this day and age, how you appear on the internet can be interpreted as who you really are. A virtual resume. So if your Facebook page is full of your political beliefs and your YouTube page full of videos of stupid stunts going wrong, these things could be a reflection of you to potential employers. The book suggest doing a Google search on yourself to see what comes up. Some internet housecleaning may be in order.

I’m at the Pizza Place
Using GeoTags to identify your location can be risky business. By letting people know where you are out for dinner, movies etc. is also letting them know that you are not home. Sure, many of us only have close friends and family connected with us, but say you tag a friend of yours who is with you at the movies. Now, maybe you are letting his business acquaintances know that you are not home. Maybe he doesn’t know them that well. If there is any way this person can find out where you live, you might come home to find valuables missing. Farfetched? “In September 2010, three men burglarized more than 18 homes in the Nashua area of New Hampshire simply by tracking residents’ movements online and, when they were away, broke into their homes and took off with more than $100,000 worth of goods,” as reported on digitaltrends.com.
Also, if you have that ex stalking you, you don’t want them showing up at that restaurant as you are entertaining your new love interest. Right?

A Reward is On the Way

If it sounds too good to be true; it probably is. This old adage applies to social media as well. Messages from people saying that you have won the lottery or claiming some hardship are happening way too often these days. Keep in mind, lottery agencies, banks and credit card agencies will not contact you via email to discuss money won or owed. Always call the agency itself before sending anyone money. Other scams include apartment scams for example, “just send me $800 and I’ll mail you the keys to my beachfront home in Malibu” or promises of romance. “I am a lonely girl from the Philippines, I saw your profile and we have a lot in common! Please send me $1,000 for an airline ticket so we can spend some sexy time together.” Don’t fall for it.

There are so many good things that can come from social media, but like everything in life, there is always a flip side. Take it in moderation and be wary of your actions before you hit the “send” button!

Jay Baer

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Jay Baer is a bestselling author, keynote speaker and marketing consultant. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Baer went on to a career in online marketing in 1994 as Vice President of Internet Connect, Arizona’s first internet provider. He was the National Chairman of Ad 2 from 1998 to 2000 and worked with Senator John McCain during his presidency run in 2000 maintaining his campaign’s website and email services. Baer then went on to found the digital agency, Mighty Interactive. His latest business, Convince and Convert was founded in 2008 and offers social media consultation. His book Youtility hit the New York Times Business Bestsellers List in 2013. You can contact Jay at his website: http://www.jaybaer.com/.

Business Tips: Avoid These Social Media Habits

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When it comes to your social media plan, it’s important to remember that a bit more etiquette is required when posting for your business than your personal pages. And also remember that certain ideas that might fly for your physical business, may not work so well in social media. Here are a few things to avoid on your social media business pages.

  1. Don’t be a spammer

“But I’m a business. I need to sell, sell, sell!” Just like your physical business, being in-your-face pushy is a big turn-off for consumers. Take department stores for example. Walking into a friendly department store with pleasant music playing and plenty of sights, sounds, and smells to explore sure beats getting bombarded with product-pushing salespeople, right? The same goes for your social media pages. Sure it’s OK to mention a latest sale, but you can also mix it up with some fun photos or quotes. How about a photo of the staff wearing some funky, fun hats that you sell? You can also encourage fans of your business to send some of their photos wearing their own crazy hat and post them on you Facebook or Instagram page. This will show that shopping at your business is not the same old boring thing, but a fun way to spend the day!

  1. Don’t slam the competition

Posting negative things about your competitor is just not good business practice. It shows poor sportsmanship. Being the better business without slamming your competitor is a better way to go even if they take the low road and slam your business. Try to take a more unique approach in social media than your competition. If they are posting memes on their Facebook page, use your Facebook page to be more engaging with your customers. You can pose a question like “What’s your favorite type of pie at Thanksgiving?” Or, “What is your favorite winter activity?” Showing that you care about your customer’s interests can be a good way to secure returning customers and also bring in new customers. It’s also a great way to survey your customer’s pleasures. Hmm, better stock up on pumpkin pie and sleds this year!

  1. Don’t ignore your customers

Social media is not just for posting pictures of food and cat videos. For a business, it’s a direct customer service link. One bad review on social media can cause a ripple effect and loss of many customers. So if someone posts: “Harvey’s Hats Stinks! I’ll never shop there again!” it’s important to respond publicly in a positive manner with something like: “I’m sorry you had a bad experience at Harvey’s. How can we help resolve your issue?” This not only publicly offers the unsatisfied customer a chance to resolve the problem, but it also shows other who saw the post to also see that you are making the effort to take care of a problem. It also can result in the unhappy customer, becoming a happy one and removing their post or posting a follow up comment like: “Thank you

Harvey’s for taking care of your customers. I will be sure to buy my next hat from Harvey’s!”

Social media can be a handful for any business to handle, but we have to face the facts, it’s a way of life now and we have to get out in front of it and prepare as best we can.

Sprout Social

Founded in Chicago in 2010 by CEO Justyn Howard, Sprout Social is a social media management tool geared toward businesses. Sprout helps you manage and post to multiple platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. With their Tasks tab, you can manage sales leads, assign specific tasks to team members and assign support to customer service issues. You can view Twitter, LinkedIn and Feedly Feeds all in one place. There Publishing option lets you schedule posts far ahead of time on many outlets. With Discovery you can see who is mentioning you or your business or search for keywords across other social platforms. It also allows you to clean up by deleting inactive or fake followers or cut ties with those you follow who haven’t followed you back. You can also generate reports that measure engagement, provide demographics and show all interactions. You can even compare your Twitter account to your competitors, generate a trends report and connect to Google Analytics. You can email them at support@sproutsocial.com. Look for an exclusive interview with the folks at Sprout Social coming soon!