Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Yahoo wins round in Oregon nude photo court battle

According to the Associated Press and the Mercury News:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Yahoo has won a legal battle over removing nude photos that an Oregon woman claimed her boyfriend posted on its Web site without her knowledge or permission.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirms that Internet service providers such as Yahoo are generally protected from liability for materials published or posted on their sites by outside parties.

Cecilia Barnes had filed a lawsuit in 2005 in Portland, Ore., claiming her boyfriend not only posted nude photos, but also created a fraudulent profile and posed as her in an online chat room to solicit sex.

Although the court says Sunnyvale-based Yahoo isn’t liable for those actions, it left open the possibility that Barnes could sue Yahoo over whether it had promised to remove the photos and the profile.

While I’m happy that Yahoo! won its appeal after stating that the loss “‘threatens significant mischief’ to other Web companies” the final line in the AP release is what has me worried.

it left open the possibility that Barnes could sue Yahoo over whether it had promised to remove the photos and the profile.

Barnes next suit– win or lose– will likely influence and change the way that users interact with companies on a daily basis as one “bad apple” (or in this case, rogue agent) ruined the bushel. Rather than allowing their agents to provide more of a customized experience for each user, it’s possible that agents will be forced to adhere to an even more robotic, contrived speech that compels them to respond only to black and white situations– creating more frustration for users who approach companies with “grey” issues.

Looking for the full story on the Yahoo/Barnes case in Oregon? Find it after the jump.

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Social networking and the hunt for a new job

With 533,000 jobs lost in November alone– the largest monthly decline since the 70s, it comes as no surprise that more and more articles are popping up about how to network, find a better career, or prove your value. 

The Wall Street Journal has begun following “eight out-of-work M.B.A.s as they search for jobs in a post-meltdown world,” in an effort to empathize with the downward marketplace, and to provide a positive resource for some of the many Americans who are professionally displaced. 

None of this comes as a big surprise: as the economy changes, the media reacts, so many of the articles have been somewhat lackluster. Most recommend brushing up on new technology so that those who were laid off remain desirable and competitive; others suggest reducing your financial overhead and planning for a layoff, even if you haven’t already been laid off. And nearly every article I’ve come across in the past few months has also recommended networking with your peers. 

For those of us in the social media space, this seems incredibly natural, and almost pointless to mention. Personally, as soon as Yahoo! announced the layoffs, I started checking out the marketplace– seeing what types of jobs were available, and made sure my resume was up to date. Then, when December 10th came around, I was ready to go. 

But a quote in an article in MSNBC caught me by surprise today that seems to somewhat discredit the validity of finding a job on social networking sites. Eve Tahmincioglu, the article’s author, interviewed  Michael Stefano, assistant professor of communications at University of Buffalo for insight on social networking sites and the job hunt. 

Stefano recently conducted an experiment where he had 50 college students select 12 of their Facebook friends and ask them to help with a school project by taking a 10-minute survey. Of the 600 total asked, only one out of seven responded on average, he says. The majority did not even click on the URL to look at the survey.

Helping someone find a job will take a lot more time and energy than that, Stefano points out. While he admits there are anecdotal stories about people finding jobs via these sites, he’s “doubtful” they are statistically significant.

The article goes on to say, “there are no hard numbers that show networking portals are any more effective than picking up a phone and asking friends if they know of any work. And these sites are not far-reaching, having long been focused on professional office dwellers, not blue-collar or service-sector workers.” Granted this may be true (I couldn’t find a relevant ComScore study or Nielsen study that would say otherwise, or even tested the idea in a scientific manner) but Stefano and Tahmincioglu are completely missing the point in these initial quotes: Facebook and LinkedIn are only as reliable of a resource as the people you “friend” or “connect with” on the sites.

Layoff tips

Tips from MSNBC

Stefano argues that he had 50 students ask their Facebook friends to complete a survey and the results were dismal. Perhaps the surveyor should look at their friends, instead of the resource and compare that information. Stefano’s data is completely irrelevant unless he had a control in the study: his students should have asked the same set of 50 friends to fill out the same exact survey through a different medium– either in person, phone, IM, or email, to truly test whether or not it’s the resource or the contact that’s unreliable. 

In addition to this, to continue on saying “finding a job will take a lot more time an energy than that”– well, that doesn’t take a genius to figure out. The likelihood of someone seeing your plea for employment, knowing of a perfect opportunity, referring you, and you being hired is probably slim to none. But, the potential for one of your contacts to see your plea for employment and think of you and refer you to a friend is greatly increased by the exposure that you wouldn’t have gotten had you not posted your new unemployed status on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Tahmincioglu provides an example of this later in the article, and also suggests users create a “Web presence” by creating a social networking page and differentiating yourself by using your middle initial if there are duplicates of your name online. What Tahmincioglu fails to warn novices is that if you’re attempting to look like you “get” Web 2.0– be sure you actually do.

Make sure your online presence accurately reflects who you are in person as well. There’s nothing worse than interviewing a candidate that you Googled prior to the interview and sitting there knowing that she has a photo of herself and Ron Jeremy as her default image on Facebook (trust me, I’ve interviewed many candidates who satisfy this criteria) but sit in the interview and present themselves as incredibly professional and non de-script in person. Online and realistic parity is the best way to find success– both on and offline. 

Whatever you decide to do– whether it’s create a social networking page to make yourself more googleable, or, update your LinkedIn page to keep your professional skills up to date, be sure to reach out to the people you know first. You’d be surprised by how many referrals/connections you’ll end up with, and you’ll have the added bonus of getting past the “black box” of mindless online resume submissions by actually knowing someone at the company. Either way, good luck, and happy hunting!  

Facebook: you got served?

Lawyers in Australia have recently started using Facebook to serve legal papers, says Reuters. In the article, an Australian attorney says:

“We couldn’t find the defendants personally after many attempts so we thought we would try and find them on Facebook,” lawyer Mark McCormack said.

“We did a public search based on the email address we had and the defendants Facebook page appeared.”

He said that was enough to convince the court, which found Facebook was a sufficient way of communicating legal papers when it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to personally deliver documents.

This may seem like a giant win for the legal system, but seems like a potential loss for many citizens as the question of authenticity and validity comes to mind. The article fails to outline the steps that the Australian legal team took to verify that the Facebook account actually did belong to the correct plaintiff, but with so many duplicate names and spoofed pages on the internet, it makes you wonder if this is truly fair to the party at fault. 

Celebrities have long been victims of online spoofing– recently, the New York Times featured an article about Shaquille O’Neal claiming his namesake on Twitter because an impostor was using his name to send messages to Shaq fans– pretending he was the real deal. Kanye West is yet another celeb to fall prey to fans wishing to fool other fans.

Kanye

But celebrities are the extreme– it becomes difficult for everyday users to discern who is actually a celeb online (making sites like Twitter and MySpace the perfect place for posers to make their mark), but when it comes down to legal matters, it’s very easy for the judicial system to distinguish who actually is a celebrity and who isn’t– both on and offline. 

This isn’t the case with everyday users. For most people, a quick visit to a site like How Many of Me  will prove the fact that you’re not the only one with your name. When you take that information, add in the ambiguity of the internet, and the ability to spoof simple information like email addresses, home addresses, and even photographs, online verification becomes nothing more than a false sense of security and identity.

Who is to say that the Melissa they serve papers to on a Facebook account is really the Melissa they intended on talking to? Currently there are over 435 different Melissa’s in the US that have my same first and last name, according to US Census data.

Personally, I have somewhere between 5-10 social networking profiles online– if each of the other Melissa’s follow suit, that’s anywhere between 2,175- 4,350 profiles to sift through, including all of the abandoned and neglected profiles that none of us visit. This sets up users for a nasty surprise upon login, especially if a user isn’t a regular visitor of that particular social networking site that the legal team targeted. 

In addition to this, posting a message on someone’s Facebook wall also seems to open up Pandora’s box for spammers and additional legal action. As it stands, there are already enough ways for people to retrieve a person’s identity– allowing for legal action on Facebook seems like yet another way for people to maliciously attack users. 

All in all, posting a message on someone’s wall on Facebook shouldn’t suffice as legal notice until it’s been verified that that in fact, is the correct person and Facebook and the Government come up with a stable way of doing so. Until then, it will be hard to take it seriously.

Koobface: Facebook’s Latest Battle

facebookEarlier this week my Facebook inbox greeted me with a friendly mail notification, from a long lost “friend” whom I haven’t spoken to in ages. In the email, was a link, telling me I look awesome in this video.

At first I was flattered. I mean, who wouldn’t be? A long-lost friend managed to find me, tape me, and somehow managed to capture my “awesomeness” in a video? It seemed too good to be true. And, it also seemed like a hoax.

By now, we’re all familiar with the MySpace viruses– so much so that Tom and his crew over at FIM have had to warn you (Facebook has followed suit) whenever you are clicking a link that takes you off their site. It only seemed like a matter of time before Facebook got hit with their first real gem of a virus– and it’s name is Koobface.

PC World writer, Brennon Slattery describes the virus’ behavior:

Once the URL is clicked, “Koobface” prompts you to update your Flash player before the video can be displayed. Therein lies the virus, cloaked in a “flash_player.exe” file. According to the Kaspersky Lab, an antivirus organization working closely with Facebook, “the worms transform victim machines into zombie computers to form botnets.”

The McAfee Security Blog explains that when “Koobface” infects your computer, it prompts a downloaded service named Security Accounts Manager (SamSs) to load on start-up. SamSs then proxies all HTTP traffic, stealing results from popular search engines and hijacking them to lesser-known search sites.

For many users, “Koobface” will come as a wake-up call about internet safety. Many of us go about our daily internet lives convinced we know which sites are safe– and, I’d bet you’d be hard pressed to find a user who thinks MySpace is safer than Facebook– but all it takes is a few clicks for a your personal computer (and information) to become a thing of the past. Who knows, maybe will double as the perfect opportunity to remove all those pseudo-friends on your Facebook friends list, you know, just to reduce the risk of infection.

Flip shuts down

Flip.com, a Conde-Nast creation has announced that it’s closing its doors toFlipday. The site, which was targeted towards teens and tweens, and encouraged users to make online photo albums/scrap books is officially shutting down on December 16th.

If you have anything on Flip.com, now’s the time to save it, or pull it down.

The recession/economy not only kills jobs, it kills creativity too.