Jul 082013
anonymous comments from online trolls damage the net

One of the truths of social media is it gives idiots an opportunity to expose themselves for what they are.

For businesses using social media idiots posting stupid or offensive content on the company’s site or Facebook page can do a lot of damage to their brand and reputation.

This is the problem Australian airline Qantas faced last week when some fool posted a pornographic image to one of the company’s promotions pages.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, the father of an eight year old reported an inappropriate post to the airline after his son found the image while visiting the Qantas Wallabies page. He was allegedly told by the company’s social media staff “there was nothing we can do about it.”

The father points out correctly that both the airline and Facebook are 24 hour operations so claiming a post that is put up at midnight – one assumes Eastern Australian time – is out of hours seems to be disingenuous.

Until recently, businesses had given social media responsibilities over to the intern or the youngest person in the office. While organisations like Qantas have moved on from that, they largely leave these tasks with the marketing department.

While marketing is a valid place for social media responsibility – it’s probably the most obvious area to establish a return on the functions – it leaves organisations vulnerable to out of hours customer service and public relations problems.

Social media doesn’t knock off at 5pm and spend the evening a bar like the marketing department, it’s on all the time and customers are using it to complain about problems while twits and trolls are gleefully posting things to embarrass businesses.

For those businesses who do operate on a 24 hour basis, and probably all big corporations, it’s no longer good enough for the social media team to just operate during office hours.

Smaller businesses have a different problem – most don’t have the resources to keep a 24 hour watch on their Facebook page but the effects of a social media disaster could be proportionally far greater – so they shouldn’t be overlooking regular checks on what people have posted to their business sites.

What’s happening in social media is part of a broader trend in the global economy that’s been going on for thirty years as the pace of business has accelerated. It’s something that all managers, entrepreneurs and company owners need to understand.

Jan 242013
facebook graph  search

“Married Men Who Like Prostitutes” is juicy search term and the results can wreck marriages, careers and lives.

This is one of the Facebook Graph searches UK tech commentator Tom Scott posted on his Actual Searches on Facebook Tumblr site which lists, mercifully anonymised, the results.

What should worry anybody who uses Facebook is that this data has been in the system all along, advertisers for instance have been able to target their marketing based on exactly this information, Graph Search just makes it quicker and easier to access. This is why you should be careful of what you like and who you friend online.

Tom Scott has a terrific Ignite London presentation which looks at just how vulnerable an individual is by over sharing online. In I know what you did five minutes ago, Tom finds an individual, discovers his mother’s maiden name and phone number all within two minutes.

Facebook isn’t the only service we should be careful of, it just happens to be the one we overshare data with the most. When you start stitching together social media services with government and corporate databases then a pretty comprehensive picture can be made of a person’s likes and preferences.

The best we can hope for in such a society is that picture is accurate, fair and doesn’t cast us in too unfavourable a light.

In same cases though that data can be dangerous, if not fatal.

As potential employers, spouses and the media can easily access this information, it might be worthwhile unliking obnoxious, racist and downright stupid stuff. There’s a very good chance you’ll be asked about them.