Don’t Fall for Automated Reputation Management Services

So this totally sounds like a scam. The fact that Mashable posted this makes me lose a bit of respect for them as well. This is the title of the post on Mashable:

Change the Top Google Search Result for Your Name for Free

This is supposedly a service from Norton. Norton can’t guarantee what will show up in SERPS for your name by simply putting your name into a form created by Norton, unless it is paid advertising. There are something like 6 or 8 people with the exact same name as me in the US. What if we all sign up for this service? Who gets to be on the top then if there is no money involved? Using ‘Todd Wasserman’ is a poor example if for no other reason than the fact that he is a writer for Mashable.

Furthermore the article referenced about “me on the web” is very misleading as well. Google doesn’t offer a service to get your name at the top of search nor does it offer a service to remove content that they don’t control. Here is a quote from “me on the web”:

“Google doesn’t own the Internet, and we don’t control the content of unrelated sites that appear in our search results. Our search results simply reflect what’s already out there on the web.” You can read more about this by searching “Keeping personal information out of Google.”

They even go further to say that it can only be removed from their results when the problematic content is removed from the internet (i.e. removed from the site where it is found).

So, don’t fall for “services”  like this. The best way to fight unwanted information online is to either contact whoever has posted it and ask them to remove it. Or take control of your online brand by setting up profiles on the major social media platforms, create a blog or website. Then, create interesting content. This will help bring your name to top and push down the competition and unwanted results.

Need help? We can help you create a strategy.  Leave a comment or contact us directly.

Employers: You Might Not Be Able to Demand Access to Employee’s Social Media Accounts

On June 18, 2012 the PA House of Representatives introduced Bill 2332, also known as – PA’s Social Media Privacy Protection Act. The bill is meant deter employers from requesting social media passwords and access to personal social media accounts of employees and prospective employees.

Employers are still able to view and use what is found in the public domain. That means if you are posting something negative about your employer on a social media site, such as Facebook or Twitter, your employer is within their rights to fire. Employers can also restrict usage of electronic devices and internet site.  However the bill specifically states what they are not permitted to do:

Section 3.  Privacy protection.

(a)  General rule.–An employer may not request or require
that an employee or prospective employee disclose any user name,
password or other means for accessing a private or personal
social media account, service or Internet website.

(b)  Refusal.–An employer may not do any of the following:

(1)  Discharge, discipline or otherwise penalize or
threaten to discharge, discipline or otherwise penalize an
employee for an employee’s refusal to disclose any
information specified under subsection (a).

(2)  Fail or refuse to hire any prospective employee as a
result of the prospective employee’s refusal to disclose any
information specified under subsection (a).

Read the full bill here: House Bill – 2332

In my opinion this is absolutely the correct decision. Expecting employees and prospective employees to give up their passwords to social media is a clear violation of privacy. It would be like expecting them to give you their personal email account passwords or the password to their personal voicemail.

What do you think?

As an employer if you’re nervous about how employees are using social media platforms, the best thing to do is have a clear company wide policy with the rules.  If you need help with this reach out to us. We can help you create the social media policy that best suits your business.

Google’s New Privacy Policy To go Into Effect on March 1

Google recently announced their new privacy policy which will go into effect on March 1, 2012. Here’s the overview of the new plan:

Effective March 1st, Google will be consolidating over 60 different privacy policies across Google properties and replacing them with one that they say is a lot shorter and easier to read. The new policy covers multiple products and features. Google says they are trying to create a simple and intuitive experience across all of Google.

How do you think this will effect end user privacy? Good? Bad?

Read it straight from Google on the official Google Blog.

Facebook Updates Privacy Controls: Streamlines Inline Privacy Control

“New: Control privacy inline – when you post or after.”

With Google’s new Google+ network Facebook has been forced to look at their privacy setting and tools again. Their reaction has been to update how you can control your privacy settings. Below is a quick pictorial tour of how the new tool works.

Facebook Privacy controls


Who you’re  hanging out with:  I suspect this is a reaction to circles and hangouts from Google+

Facebook privacy controls - who you're with


Add a location to your posts: This is similar to Twitter as well Google+.

Facebook privacy controls - location

Custom privacy controls: This is not new, but now you can change individual post settings after you post and the wording is changed slightly.

Facebook privacy controls - custom controls

Over all the improvements give you more control and make it easier for the typical user to control who sees their posts.

How do you use Facebook’s  privacy controls?

Facebook Allows to Access User’s Home Address & Mobile Number

In the latest privacy debate surrounding Facebook:

Facebook Allows Developers to Access Users Home Address & Mobile Numbers: Read the Facebook blog post announcing change

This could be something potentially dangerous, as a large majority of people don’t understand the privacy settings. When adding an app you will be prompted to allow the app to access your data, as in the image below:

Adding a facebook appClick image to enlarge

Yes, it is true you have to give the app permission. However, outside of removing all personal info or not adding apps, it does not appear you can stop FB from sharing your private info. There is an option in Account->Privacy Settings->Customize Settings, then under “contact information” where you can configure who sees this info. You can set this to “Only Me”, but this is for people viewing your profile not for applications.

facebook contact infoClick image to enlarge

If you look at the privacy settings for individual apps they include “Access my contact information”and then under that “Online Presence”. What exactly does that mean? For most apps this is also required.

Facebook application settingsClick image to enlarge

There are discussions about the benefits of using Facebook’s open graph as a way to surf the net without having to register/login, and some say (obviously including Facebook) allowing developers access to your address and phone number helps this. But do we really want Facebook to control this?

Not all apps ask you for this information. So, at this point the best thing is to be diligent in evaluating apps before you add them. If they do ask for your address and mobile phone number, make sure you trust the maker of the application before clicking “Allow”.

Another important question to ask:

Why do app developers and ultimately advertisers need this information?

Do You Need the Damn it My Mom is on Facebook Filter?

Is your mom getting too involved in your social life? Check out this new app Damn it my mom is on Facebook filter. Watch the video below. Brought you by the folks at Saturday Night Live.

Microsoft & Facebook Team up to Make Search More Social – 4 Things You Should Know

Recently Microsoft has been creating relationships that will give their search engine Bing more market share. The deal with Yahoo and Bing that was announced earlier this year, went into effect recently and is a major consolidation of the search industry. Next up Facebook.

The idea is to bring what your friends “like” on Facebook and sites using Facebook’s open graph to search results. So, when you use Bing to search for a topic in news, articles that your friends “like” through Facebook might show up with their names and profile picture. This will also include movies, cafes, restaurants, etc. Microsoft has also added Facebook profiles to their people search. All of this should help Bing gain more ground in the search engine world. Even though Microsoft is providing search technology for Yahoo the two companies are still making their own decisions about how to display the results.

With this partnership the web is becoming more and more connected. Here a four things you should know.

1. Search is evolving. Google become the powerhouse it is today by creating new technology that did a much better job at deciphering what the most relevant results for users. Using their algorithms and spiders they are able to evaluate large amounts of websites and data to do this. Now with the Facebook Microsoft partnership, Bing will be able to show results that your trusted friends believe are good. When it comes to social, Google is playing catch up.

2. Customer experience will be king. Google’s mantra has always been “content is king”. Well, it is still important, but companies will not be able to stop there they will need to make sure that customer have a good experience with their brand. Now you won’t even have to ask your friends their opinions will simply show up in Bing search results.

3. Search and Social will continue to merge. We are seeing this already, but it will become more apparent that you can no longer think of search/SEO and Social Media as two separate things.

4. We will all need to be master of our domain. Facebook has continues to be under scrutiny with their privacy and individuals ability to set their own Facebook privacy settings. Both Microsoft and Facebook have assured that users will still have control over what Facebook shares with Bing, but they have to actually know how to an make the effort to manage these settings.

Anti-Google Advertisement Aired in Times Square NYC

A consumer watchdog is airing a video attacking Google’s privacy policies. The video shows Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt as the ice cream man giving away ice cream to kids. After giving the kids the ice cream he tells them he is going to take all their secrets. Then he goes on to tell them secrets about their parents.

The kicker though, is the video is being shown over and over on the giant screen in Times Square in New York City!

But interestingly enough the organization is also using the Google owned service, YouTube to promote store and promote the video…

Go to for more info. And remember as cartoon character Schmidt says “If there’s anything you don’t want anyone to know, well.. you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Muuuhaha!

How Safe Do You Feel Online?

Are you worried about online security and privacy issues? How do you know who you are really interacting with online and how do businesses and banks know it’s really you?

In response to action items in the President’s Cyberspace Policy Review (.pdf), last Friday (6/25/10) the US government released the first draft of what they are calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). The draft was developed by a collaboration of government agencies, privacy advocates and business leaders and the idea is to make online transaction safer and more secure by using trusted digital identities.

Through the strategy we seek to enable a future where individuals can voluntarily choose to obtain a secure, interoperable, and privacy-enhancing credential (e.g., a smart identity card, a digital certificate on their cell phone, etc) from a variety of service providers – both public and private – to authenticate themselves online for different types of transactions (e.g., online banking, accessing electronic health records, sending email, etc.).”

One of the main benefits of the new plan is that users will have more control over how they authenticate online. They will have more control over the private information that they use for the authentication.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created a site for the initiative where they will be collecting comments from the general public in response to the plan. So, head on over and put in your two cents!

How Are You Going to Respond to the Facebook Privacy Issue? (Poll)

With the all the stir about the new Facebook privacy changes, there are a lot of people shutting down their accounts and leaving Facebook. What are you going to do? Please answer the one question poll below.

The poll was created by Paul Chaney author of The Digital Handshake and Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media.