Social media

Social Media Isn’t So Private After All

Even though it’s been around for over twenty years, there aren’t many concrete laws regarding the internet. The FCC recently upheld net neutrality this past February, which means that internet users are protected against service providers who would charge premiums in order to provide better internet speeds. However, one key area of net neutrality that was avoided was privacy. In a recent New York state appeals court ruling, it was found that social media companies like Facebook cannot protect users against search warrants obtained by law enforcement officials to access users’ digital information. The fallout from this decision is fairly simple: your Facebook profile isn’t so private after all.

Many other tech companies such as Google, Pinterest, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yelp filed briefs in support of Facebook, knowing very well that digital privacy was at stake. The government has gone to these companies in the past when they were seeking access to social media accounts during criminal investigations. The biggest concern raised is that the government can obtain digital information from social media profiles and store them for an unlimited amount of time. Even if the person in question isn’t indicted, the government still has the authority to keep their information.

Recent cases over the years have seen courts side with the government over internet privacy on social media. The case that resulted in this ruling was a social security disability scam involving several hundred retired New York City police officers and firefighters. Law enforcement officials demanded Facebook hand over data that included photos, private messages, and other information without informing the people whose accounts were being searched. In the end, Facebook lost out and was forced to comply. Last year a federal judge even ruled that law enforcement officials can create fake social media profiles in order to search through a suspect’s account. The cases have all touched on the complexity of internet privacy and government interference.

Social media has become a much bigger part of mainstream culture, so it’s no surprise that the government and law enforcement officials are turning towards it in order to prevent and investigate crimes. The unfortunate reality is that companies like Facebook are unable to protect user information, and the users themselves are in the same boat. According to a 2014 LexisNexis survey, “the frequency of social media by law enforcement, while already high, is projected to rise even further in the coming years”. Your social media profile is suddenly becoming less and less private every day.

How Facebook is Deciding Who Your Best Friends Are

Facebook has undergone many subtle changes over the years, but now a new feature is changing just how you see your friends on Facebook. With its newest update, Facebook is allowing users to control what types of posts appear on their newsfeed. While this seems to be Facebook’s way of granting its users more flexibility, just how much of this control is being exercised by the user, and how much is still being exercised by Facebook itself?

Facebook is traditionally viewed as the most dominant social network on the internet with over 1.23 billion registered users. If you’ve ever used Facebook then you know just how easy it is to connect with “friends”, whether they be people you interact with on a daily basis or that one kid who went to high school with you 30 years ago. One of the biggest complaints of Facebook’s newsfeed system is that posts made by friends or pages that you’ve liked aren’t filtered in any particular manner. Sure you might be “friends” with certain people on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean you always want to see them post rants about government conspiracies every day. With Facebook’s newest update, you can select which friends and pages you would like to see at the top of your newsfeed, while also giving you the ability to bury your conspiracy theory friends deep into your newsfeed so that you rarely see posts from them. It sounds simple and effective, but the reality is that you aren’t the one controlling your newsfeed at all.

Facebook uses a secret algorithm to determine what types of advertisements and other content you see on your newsfeed. If you are constantly liking or commenting on tech pages, Facebook will display ads for certain tech products or even public figures in that field. It’s a complex system, but the end goal for Facebook is to monetize everyone who uses their site by tailoring ads to your preferences. When you choose what types of friends and pages you want to see on your newsfeed, you’re actually allowing Facebook to better understand who you are, and thereby alter what types of ads you see.

You may think that Facebook has oh so generously given you the power to decide who you do and do not see on your newsfeed. This is true yes, but let’s not forget that Facebook is still a business whose main objective is to earn money. Facebook is no longer gaining users at the rates that it used to a few years ago, therefore they have had to figure out how to monetize their existing users more effectively. This update is solely there so that Facebook can do a better job at advertising to you. Sure you gain the ability to set your personal preferences as well, but that’s really more of an afterthought on Facebook’s part.

Social Media Myths in Business

Social Media is increasingly becoming a more popular platform for those who are starting their own business. Due to the accessibility of social media, many believe that integrating social media into their business is easier than it actually is. There are several common myths about social media in business, and all of them need to be debunked before starting one’s business.

Myth 1: You must be on every social media platform.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest — there are almost too many social media platforms to choose from. The choices can be so overwhelming that you may end up focusing all of your efforts into the wrong form of social media. Research what type of social media platform has the right tools and community features necessary to increase your online presence for your business before deciding which platform to choose.

Myth 2: Social Media has replaced websites

Building your own website is by no means an easy task. Social media provides the means to get your message out onto the internet without any of the heavy lifting. It may save time and effort initially, but in the long run it won’t help you build a larger user base. The best way to combat this problem is to use a premium service that is exclusive to your website. Market exclusive features or information that can only be found on your website, thereby increasing traffic to your site as well as actively attracting more users from your social media of choice.

Myth 3: Social Media is for broadcasting only

It’s easy to see why some might be skeptical of social media’s role in a small business. Too often social media is used like a large bullhorn shouting into the void. In order to turn broadcasting into involvement, you must hook users in. Retail companies often hold sweepstakes or giveaways exclusively on social media. By following a similar marketing model, you can gain more customers who know that the best way to get exclusive features or products from you if they follow you on social media.

Myth 4: You have to spend hours a day on Social Media

Much like broadcasting, you may put all your time and effort into social media posts without anything to show for it. The key solution to this is networking. Send your friends, family, coworkers and anyone else you can think of, information about your business. Eventually your services will get noticed, and your audience will be big enough that you won’t have to communicate every hour but rather every day or every week.

Myth 5: Everyone is on Social Media

A common figure thrown around online is that over 80% of people have heard of a product through social media. The reality is that not everyone is on social media, which is one of the most important myths to understand. If your target demographic is unlikely to be on social media, you may be interested in a technique known as search engine optimization, which essentially allows your website to show up at the top of Google results.

Social Media and business can be coupled together effectively, but it is important to get past the common misconceptions regarding social media. Once you’ve learned about these myths, you can work around them in order to make your business much more successful in the long run.