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Google Car Doesn’t Need Humans

The biggest problem on the road?  All those pesky people.  It seems that Google has isolated the same problem with their car as they have with their algorithm and are working to deal with it in much the same way … take all those unpredictable humans out of the equation.

To do this Google announced yesterday that they are building their own vehicles (about 100 to be specific) and here’s the kinda-creepy part, the only human-interaction component is a red emergency button to stop it.  No steering wheel, no brake or gas pedal.  Nothing. The argument is that human interaction is more likely to cause an accident than an automated system.  Are they right?  Well, there’s obviously no large-scale evidence to support or refute the claim but with the large number of robotic acquisitions Google has been making of late, they’re certainly well positioned to give the effort a solid run.

One of the interesting features of this technological move is that the car can be requested from any Android phone and with the destination also programed from the phone meaning getting your car with arms full of shopping just got a whole lot easier as it would exit the parkade and meet you in front of the store with the click of a button or (presumably) a voice control.

There isn’t a whole lot of detail out on the car yet but here’s the fuzzy-little video put out to promote it.

I’ve got to say, with the number of less-than-qualified drivers I encounter on the road I hope sincerely that it works and can imagine the mobility it will lend to people who otherwise cannot drive themselves.  While I find it a bit odd, I’m sure there was a time when fire did too.

And Facebook Eavesdropping

And speaking of things you can do fro your phone, Facebook will be adding a function that allows them to listen in while you’re updating your status.  They will be listening to the background noise to enable you to share what you’re watching and/or listening to.    Now you might be thinking, “If I wanted to share what I’m watching I’d simply include that in my status update.”  Interesting thought but apparently Facebook is pretty sure you might not know you want to share this enormously invaluable piece of pop culture with all the folks you know.  I mean, if I can’t know which of my friends is watching Honey Booboo or listening to the latest by Justin Beiber how am I to know who I should unfriend?

Think of it as a culture-based filtering.  Perhaps they could add a feature to automatically unfriend people who have horrible taste, put them all in a driverless car and send them all to a cave so they don’t have cell phone access.

Google & Facebook: Together to make the world a better place.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:49 am on May 28, 2014

Categories:Facebook,Google

 

Google stock soars: Titan Aerospace + Public Glass Explorer

It would take a lot of thunderbolts and lightning to frighten a company as resourceful as Google.

After some of the bad news earlier this month, Google had a very good day on the stock market and is soaring high on several big announcements.
 

Google
NASDAQ: GOOG – Apr 15 6:13 PM ET
536.44 +3.92 (0.74%)

 
As of today, April 15th, starting at 6am, Google started taking public orders for the Google Glass Explorer product.

What’s the catch? You have to be a US citizen because the Glass Explorer program is focused on the US and doesn’t have a lot of support for other countries yet. D’oh!

Also, at $1,500, you probably need to have a solid bankroll or a game plan to make the money back by producing videos and taking images that you can promote as ‘through glass’.

The official post on Google Plus took several minutes to finish loading thanks to the comments from people who range from excited, to angry, depending on their global location and access to the needed funds.

There’s no mention of the public access to the Explorer Glass Edition on the official Google Blog, but last week they had Dr. Jane Goodall discussing the tools she used to document and learn about chimpanzee behavior.

When I consider the additional images/video Dr.Goodall would have been able to collect and share if her studies were done with today’s technology/tools, it really boggles my mind.

Still, I don’t have US citizenship, or $1,500 laying around, so all I can do is write with jealousy. :)

Speaking of funds, Google also just purchased Titan Aerospace, the same company that has successfully built self-powered gliders that can sustain an altitude of 65,000 feet for up to three years.
 
Photo of the Solara 50 self powered glider.
 
The only figure that news sites will quote is the $60 million US that Facebook had previously offered to purchase Titan Aerospace, and the assumption is that Google obviously offered even more.

How much is it worth to Google to be able to update Google Maps image data without sharing the cost of satellite images? Millions.

What’s the value of traffic and exposure if Google’s drones can provide near real-time updates of forest fires and other large disasters? Priceless.

These self-powered gliders can apparently supplement Google’s Loon Project which provides internet access to low density population areas using ‘smart’ balloons that use the various wind layers to control their location.

If a balloon is going the wrong direction it can raise or lower to get into a different layer of wind for some limited control of it’s travel. When a balloon needs maintenance it can be deflated slowly to bring it back to ground safely, and in the event of a malfunction there’s a parachute in each balloon.

Currently the Loon project is focused in New Zealand with a future goal of establishing a contiguous ring of balloons around the 40th southern parallel that will provide uninterrupted internet access for anyone living in the 40km range of the ring.

With the purchase of Titan Aerospace and it’s gliders, Google has even more options and folks are already starting to wonder about a hybrid balloon using some of the glider technology that Titan Aerospace is bringing to the table.

Honestly, between selling connectivity and providing discounted image data for Google Earth, this purchase unlocks a ton of potential and could easily pay itself off in short order because Google’s in a great position to actually use the technology.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:00 pm on April 15, 2014


 

Oculus VR SOLD to Facebook

About an hour ago (it will be by the time I post this) it was announced that Facebook has acquired Oculus VR, makers of the Oculus Rift virtual headset for roughly 2 billion in cash and stocks.

oculusvr soldout

Targeted marketing: Now in 3D!!

If you review the products that Facebook has purchased/acquired recently you’ll see a very consistent logic in going after products that they can control and lock down to their own services. The goal is very simple, get a technology off the public market so you can control it, brand it, and eventually monetize it with user tracking and advertising. All of which are bad for the Oculus VR’s development.

So what was an exciting new product is instantly becoming a pile of speculation and distrust, not even 7 days after the DK2 kit became available for purchase, and exactly 1 week from April Fools?

Talk about ‘deeply’ suspicious folks! In the first half-hour of the news break on Reddit the /r/oculus threads are full of people overusing ‘sell out’ and just pummeling Palmer Lucky, the man who used to call the shots over at Oculus VR, with insults and insinuations.

Just 1 hour ago Minecraft’s Markus Persson (AKA: Notch) has already publicly hit the NOPE button:

While this means that Minecraft won’t officially support the Oculus Rift, it really boils down to needing user-based modifications to support the Oculus hardware as Mojang won’t be wasting time on a Facebook property.

This is just hours after the announcement so I would expect Minecraft to be tip of the iceberg when you really sit down and think about who’s in business with Facebook:

- Microsoft
- Oracle
- Nokia
- Zynga
- etc..

Things over at Facebook are a bit of an axis of evil in terms of IT culture, soliciting a slew of ‘dark side’ remarks from upset users replying to Palmer Lucky’s sale post. It’s my opinion that as many people who would complain about losing access to such a device, there’s many more that would understand that this could be the end of a great thing today.

It reminds me a bit of a movie I watched where there’s a jolly fat kid carrying around his bag of candy pieces only to have a bully come along, steal a candy, stick it in his nose, and then drop it back into the bag with a shake to make sure it’s well sorted.

At this point the entire first page of the Oculus VR subreddit is entirely devoted to negative responses to this news, including this juicy revelation:



People are now shifting interest and focus to other projects and /r/virtualreality just got subbed in for a ton of ex-oculus fans.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:58 pm on March 25, 2014


 

Blogcology Dec 19, 2013

Davecology

Dave Davies’ recent Search Engine Watch article takes us back in time by reviewing Google’s methods of madness from 2013. What was great about this article is that it makes sense of Google’s events and algorithms as far back as 2012 and how it all came together for the present day. He discusses on the show that 2012 was a case of tearing off the band aid where 2013 was more about learning to adapt to the changes.

His 2014 forecast was intriguing as he sees Google continuing pursuit of a mobile search environment. Since they own a majority of the OS market this makes sense that their direction increases their focus on communications between desktop and mobile.

Dave’s projection for Google technology acquisitions in the New Year will be primarily on advertising. With a rumor of a gaming console he seems to think could deliver convenience through offering live time shopping from the television or console. Like ordering a pizza while playing a game or watching TV without shutting the entertainment down to do so.

Definitely an entertaining read that places the pieces to the puzzle in subsequent order and paints the perfect possible future for Google.

Faceology

These days’ people aren’t seeing the usual views from friends that they might be used to. According to Jim he sees Facebook as a “liberal echo chamber” because of the limiting results of visual updates. The new algorithms give you what you think you want to see but leaves out what it decides are not of interest of you. Jim made a point that the washed out delivery of content is making this social platform a less interesting environment. Dave referred it to “filtering to placate” a trend that not only Facebook has followed but Google as well. The lack of debatable posts is less engaging but it’s also creating less time on site. A benefit for Facebook users but a considerable loss for the social giant.

Googecology

The boys were discussing the blunt warning from Google to spammers. Pugnacious, was the word Jim used to describe Matt Cutts latest video thwarting off the evil of spammers. This takes place of after a massive spam hunt on link networks such as Anglo Rank. Matt laid down the law and showed muscle behind Google’s intent to end dishonest work on the web. I would have to definitely agree with this bold move from Matt and think that this could end up being the year that spammers lie six feet under.

Sumcology

• You could be ordering pizzas while shooting zombies
• Facebook -  we want the good, bad and ugly
• Filtering to placate can result in boredom
• Pugnacious, is just fun to say

SEO news blog post by @ 1:30 pm on December 20, 2013


 

#RestoreTheBlock: How Twitter Nearly Enabled Abusers

A few big things happened on Twitter last night. Scandal aired its midseason finale, shocking and delighting its diehard fans as they tweeted along; Beyonce released a brand new album on iTunes with virtually no warning or hype, bringing an early Christmas surprise to her listeners. But for about five or six hours in the evening of December 12th, users everywhere were up in arms over a change to Twitter’s blocking policy, which had been quietly announced that afternoon. People didn’t really take notice of the change until an article on Forbes.com outlined the new rules; but as word spread, it became clear that Twitter had made a very, very big mistake.

restoretheblockTwitter has always struggled with the privacy and online safety of its users. If you blocked an account, that person would no longer be able to follow you or see your tweets or profile photo, and any @replies they made would not show up in your mentions tab. A blocked person could log out of their account and still view your public profile and tweets, but taking away the ability to interact went a long way towards preventing harassment and abuse.

Under the new rules, blocking someone on Twitter effectively just muted them. They could still follow your account, reply to you, and retweet your posts to their followers; you just wouldn’t see any of it. A company spokesman told Forbes that the change was meant to placate the angry responses from blocked users; “We saw antagonistic behavior where people would see they were blocked and be mad,” said Jim Prosser. The paper-thin excuse, literally chalked up to people’s feelings getting hurt, was supplanted by a more cynical theory that Twitter was trying to prevent users from blocking promoted advertisements now that the company had gone public.

Anyone who knows how stalking works online can see the problem with this immediately; it put the blinders on the victims, instead of punishing the perpetrators. Millions of people use the block function to prevent death and rape threats, online harassment, and other abuse; now someone could still maliciously threaten them, and they just wouldn’t see it. Furthermore, the inability to force an unfollow meant that if a spambot followed you, you were stuck with them forever; you wouldn’t see them, but they’d still be able to see your tweets and use them to hawk whatever they sell. From an SEO standpoint, it was disastrous; we’ve spent months or years telling clients that the numbers of followers do not matter, but rather the quality of who you interact with on Twitter; with the new blocking rules, there was nothing to stop #Teamfollowback members from keeping an account in their virus-like circle of self-indulgence, even if you couldn’t see it.

What really horrified me, though, was remembering that I wrote about Twitter way back in August—and how they announced that they were going to begin work on a ‘Report Abuse’ function in the wake of the death and rape threats to the British woman who did nothing but get Jane Austen’s face on the £10 note. Four months later, we got a step in the entirely opposite direction—being invisible to your target is a stalker’s dream. The solution was not to “just make your account private”; part of Twitter’s appeal is its use as a networking and communications tool, and telling victims of abuse to make their accounts private is putting the onus on them instead of on the perpetrators. Twitter users all over the globe felt the same way as I did; political analyst Zerlina Maxwell, herself a victim of vicious abuse on Twitter, quickly created a change.org petition calling for the reinstatement of the block button, which got over 2,000 signatures. The #RestoreTheBlock hashtag erupted into a rallying cry, even as it suspiciously disappeared from the Top 10 trends list.

Luckily, Twitter reversed their decision, and reinstated the original block features shortly before 8pm. It’s refreshing to see a company acknowledge that they’ve made a mistake and move to correct it; it’s one of the reasons why Twitter has maintained a better policy record than Facebook when it comes to changes in user experience. I’m glad that none of us had to see the long-term ramifications of the mute-block function; it spelled disaster not only for those facing harassment, but also for companies wishing to establish an authoritative, trustworthy profile on one of the most popular social media sites on Earth. Twitter has promised to continue refining the safety features of their service, and I hope that this lesson is a reminder of what they actually need to do to make their website a safer, more effective communication tool.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:01 pm on December 13, 2013

Categories:Twitter

 

Electric Love: Apple Acquires Topsy

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Apple has purchased Topsy, the leading Twitter search engine and analytics tool, for a rumored $200 million or more. While Apple has not released a definitive statement on what they plan to do with the service, the social web has been abuzz with what this partnership could mean for Apple’s iOS operating system and for Twitter users worldwide.

 

It is, in fact, impossible to have too much fun with Photoshop.

It is, in fact, impossible to have too much fun with Photoshop.

The San Francisco-based company launched in 2007, and is widely acknowledged as one of the best Twitter search engines in existence, thanks in large part to its incredible index; the service can access every single tweet in existence from 2006 to the present—approximately 540 billion tweets in total—making it an immensely helpful for social analytics. Throw a few keywords into the analytics search engine—“star wars” versus “star trek”, for example—and you can see how many tweets per day mention each key phrase, and who comes out on top (for this week it’s Star Wars, surprisingly). Users can also explore their entire Twitter backlog, examining which of their tweets has had the most influence on the social sphere as a whole and who they influence the most.

From roughly 2008 to 2010, Topsy was one of several “real-time” social search sites fighting for prominence; it competed with other companies like Collecta, Crowdeye, Tweetmeme, and Scoopler, to name just a few. However, the major search engines began including real-time results in their own algorithms, killing off most of these tools—except for Topsy, which remained strong as one of the few companies with full access to Twitter’s entire back index of tweets. The company won the race for good when the same search engines either shut down their social search functions or lost access to Twitter’s veritable “fire hose” of tweet data; Topsy retained what Google couldn’t keep. So it’s not surprising that Topsy was a hot acquisition property, but its purchase by Apple is an interesting twist.

There are tons of ways in which Apple could use Topsy’s services, but unlike the company’s other recent acquisitions it’s not immediately clear how it will be applied. Some analysts predict that Topsy’s information may be used to help improve app recommendations in Siri, the App store, and iTunes; if you think about it, Twitter is a far better way to discover connections between properties. Apple’s Genius tool can use a mathematical algorithm to recommend Bob’s Burgers if you’re a fan of Archer, but Twitter trends may show that people who talk about Archer are overwhelmingly more likely to also mention Breaking Bad—the crucial human element of choice and preference that may have slipped past Apple’s algorithm. Apple is also highly likely to use Topsy’s data to improve its digital voice assistant, Siri; they integrated Twitter information into Siri with the iOS 7 update, and Topsy would greatly improve the results.

While the details of what Apple plans to do with Topsy aren’t yet clear, it’s an intriguing turn of events; no one really expected that data to end up in the hands of the consumer electronics giant, and considering Apple’s recent competition with and separation from Google services it’s clear that the developers are seeking alternative methods to accurately search the web in all its forms. Whatever the outcome, it seems that little Topsy has, at last, found electric love.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:16 pm on December 3, 2013

Categories:Technology,Twitter

 

Why I Can’t “Like” George Takei

Or: Facebook Done Wrong

George Takei

Pretty much every search marketer has taken a lesson from George Takei and his amazing use of social media.  I know that I for one, as a huge Star Trek nerd and Internet Marketer on top of that have “Followed” him since his earlier days on Facebook.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found that I could no longer Comment on his status updates or even Like them.  So why would this be?

Let me begin by noting that at no time in any of my Comments did I make any statement that might be considered offensive.  I don’t object to his orientation, I love Star Trek and I’ve got way too much to do in my day to troll (and if I wanted to there are just so many people I’d rather launch into objections on).  So what happened that resulted in me having my ability to Like or Comment on George Takei’s Facebook page blocked you ask?

It Started With A Comment Being Removed And Then …

It started with a comment getting removed.  I can’t remember the specific product over at Amazon that was being promoted on his Wall that I Commented on but I do recall that when I clicked the link my first though was, “Really?  This is what you’re promoting?”  Rather than insert that comment (which would have matched quite a number of others at the time) I decided to do a little snooping.  It seemed suspicious to me that all the links were through bit.ly (though he now uses different URL shorteners).  I mean, when I just find something I like I don’t usually shorten the URL unless I either need to track it or hide it.  So which was it?

Well here’s where I got myself in trouble with Mr. George Takei (or more likely, the folks managing his social media).  I noticed that the URL shortener lead to an Amazon URL (like … every time) and they all have an affiliate ID (I know as it looks just like the IDs I use).  So we can now eliminate the need for tracking since that’s available through the affiliate program itself.  All that leaves is hiding the URL.

Well, I decided to make mention of it and props to them for responsiveness – within about 30 seconds it was removed.  I should note that at the same time as my one comment noting that the link was an affiliate link and they should be open about it and not promote crap, there were numerous comments on his wall that I’d deem as downright offensive.  Those stayed – mine was removed.

Well – I let it go for a bit but I started seeing more and more affiliate links and to worse and worse products.  I decided to make mention of it again and this time included a note that without disclosing that there was profit behind the link, that they were likely violating the law which requires disclosure of such.  And that was the last time I was able to Comment on George Takei’s wall on Facebook, or even Like a post … I’d been blocked.

And So …

I use this as a horrible example of how to interact on social media and one which could backfire.  If I’ve noticed then certainly others will and if the products marketed on his wall continue to be second-rate there’s sure to be a loss of interest.  People followed George because he was entertaining and honest and if that’s gone – then what’s left?  And do I even need to mention that posts like this one, not particularly positive, are likely to creep up?

Getting back to my Treky roots however I have to hope that things smooth over and that the social media folks stop trying to eke a buck or two at every turn and stick to promoting George himself, being clear when they’re profiting of links they post and hopefully stop being skewed by their Amazon affiliate ID and post links to genuinely interesting things.  And if any of the social media managers of George Takei read this: ThinkGeek has an affiliate program and their products are far more entertaining than what you’ve been posting lately.  Just be sure to note the profit you’ll be making.  People don’t mind if it’s genuinely interesting.

SEO news blog post by @ 8:02 am on

Categories:Facebook

 

Fascinating Finds from the Web Graveyard

We SEOs work with the World Wide Web and the Internet every single day, and probably spend a great deal of our off time on it as well. One of the brilliant things about today’s technology is that we’ve become used to its rapid evolution and continuing changes, even when it means our jobs get a little more challenging. When I joined Beanstalk twenty months ago, we were at the very end of an era —Google’s Panda had literally just been released, causing SEOs all over the world to rework their strategies. This year’s Hummingbird has required another alteration to the way we work with our clients and the web in general.In the perpetual race to out-puppet the puppetmaster that is Google, we have come to assume that many things are concrete: the importance of certain social media properties, a set of specific tools to be used to gauge your success, and a general sense of what Google deems important in the rankings race. But the wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is anything but concrete; in the three or so decades of modern browsers, the Internet has grown exponentially and for every successful website or product there are handfuls of other tools that didn’t work. It’s fascinating to go back through history and imagine what could have been if these sites had won the race to the top. In the spirit of Halloween, I took a stroll through the graveyards of a few choice sites and tools to dig up some of the oddest web products now laid to eternal, irrelevant rest.

Google Lively

 Courtesy of http://news.cnet.com/i/bto/20081119/google_lively_screen2_560x392.JPGGoogle didn’t become the most successful web company on the planet by playing it safe; it’s widely known that its employees can spend 20% of their time on developing crazy projects. If you have a news alert for ‘Google patents’ you’ll inevitably find that the company is always filing the weirdest claims on technology that isn’t even possible yet — or, weirder still, releasing news related to a brand new piece of tech which was patented years before being realistically viable. But you don’t get to the summit of Mount Everest without encountering a few frozen corpses (they serve as landmarks), and you don’t become Google without some flopped experiments.

One of the most fascinating of Google’s discontinued products is Google Lively. It was an online 3D social arena which looked a great deal like Second Life, except that it was integrated with the Internet and accessible from one’s browser. You could explore a three-dimensional realm and chat with up to 19 other people in the same room. You could also hang Youtube videos on the “walls”, embed your personal Lively area to your blog, and read your email. Second Life users disliked the non-customizable realm and the lack of virtual commerce, and Google quietly shuttered Lively after only six months of life.

Jaiku

Right now we all rely on Twitter — for news, for gossip, and for collectively sharing how awesome the last season of Breaking Bad was. But before our beloved little blue bird there was Jaiku, a Finnish-based micro-blogging service that took its name from a play on the Japanese haiku. Released in 2006, Jaiku was compatible with Nokia phones and allowed users to post short messages, similar to how Twitter works right now. The company was acquired by Google to open-source the product; in 2009, Jaiku re-launched on Google’s App Engine. But the little bluebird had taken over the world by then, and Jaiku became defunct in 2012.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:37 pm on October 23, 2013


 

Twitter TV and Nielsen

A Good Baby Step Towards Accurate TV Ratings

It probably won’t come as a surprise to many that I’m a nerd. It’s tough to work in SEO and not be a little geeky; I highly doubt that you’ll find the typical football jock seriously considering the factors which go into your average Google search. My boss (fearless leader Dave) interviewed me in an office that was literally plastered with Star Trek posters and Jedi figurines. We celebrate May the 4th as a serious office holiday.

So what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been a fan of many quirky, nerdy, off-beat television shows over the years, and I’ve had my heart broken many a time by the callous treatment that such shows receive from their parent networks. Firefly, Futurama, Pushing Daisies, Arrested Development — all of these shows had absolutely brilliant potential, were often critical darlings, and were sometimes the best thing on TV, but all of them met their end far too soon. But what some people may not know is that watching a beloved show on network TV doesn’t actually count towards the ratings unless they are a part of the Nielsen Family audience measurement system, which has been the dominant market analysis company since before the invention of television itself.

Nielsen ratings are currently acquired through two avenues: viewer diaries kept by a target audience (always in the US), and small devices called Set Meters that are attached to a family’s television to gather viewing habits every night. If you don’t have a Set Meter in your home, then you’re not contributing to the ratings data. This truth can be a frustrating experience for fans of cult TV shows; despite a vocal following, the numbers often don’t correlate to the love. The Nielsen system has been criticized as both statistically flawed and hopelessly out of date; not only do the sample sizes fail to reflect the actual TV-watching population accurately, but the Nielsen system has overwhelmingly failed to account for the increasing number of Internet viewers, many of whom have ditched traditional televisions entirely. So it’s refreshing to hear the news that Nielsen and Twitter have teamed up with Social Guide to launch Twitter TV, a ratings service that measures which US television shows have the largest audience on the social network.

The chart aims to track an overall audience for each show based on the total number of tweets mentioning the program, and how many unique accounts are producing them. It’s a potential ratings gold mine for advertisers, and the initial rankings have revealed what nerds across the nation have always suspected: there is a huge gap—practically no overlap, according to Variety—between the highest rated shows and the most-tweeted shows. On Twitter TV’s charts, the most tweeted-about show for the week of September 23 was “Breaking Bad”; the top ranked show as measured by Nielsen was NBC’s “NFL Football: New England at Atlanta.”

While it seems that change is on the horizon, unfortunately Twitter TV isn’t quite the cult-show savior we’ve all been waiting for. The suits have all been clear that Twitter TV ratings do not translate into audience share; that’s still largely being decided by the Nielsen families. The main goal is actually related to commercial and advertising potential, as Twitter gears up for its IPO and anticipates working with major networks to coordinate advertisements seen on highly tweeted shows. But it’s a good baby step towards a more democratic view of TV, along with the proliferation of web-only series on Netflix and Hulu. As a recent convert to the CW show Supernatural (don’t judge me, the actors are pretty but the writing is solid too), I am gripped with anxiety as the ninth season premiers tonight, worrying that it will be the last, and that this new beloved show will fall under the same ruthless axe as previous favorites simply because the “standard Nielsen family” isn’t as interested as millions of online fans. We’re on the brink of television revolution, where the Internet has a serious stake in what is watched and what is produced; Twitter TV is a good first step in letting the bigwig producers know what we really want.

SEO news blog post by @ 2:25 pm on October 9, 2013


 

Erasing Your Embarrassments

The online social world has permanently altered the future. Young people are coming of age in an era where they can easily take and post photos online, share them with friends and family, and garner an audience of strangers. Teenagers — notoriously short in foresight, susceptible to “groupthink” and peer pressure, anxious to fit in and define themselves as individuals, exploring new aspects of adulthood — now have access to an infinite audience on the web. The combination often makes for toxic results, and sadly having a sloppy drunken photo on your Facebook page is often the best case scenario. There are already some infamous cases in which teenagers were persuaded or coerced into taking nude photos of themselves, only to find that their audience held them at ransom for years afterward, ruining their lives and threatening their futures. We all know that employers are going to check an interviewee’s social media to see what sort of person they are in their off time; can you imagine trying to apply for a job when you know that your boss could find your most humiliating secret at any time?

From http://www.connectsocialmedia.com.auThe abuse and exploitation of minors in social media circles is an area where the law has yet to catch up to reality. Due to the anonymous nature of the internet, it can be tough to track down a bully — or prove beyond reasonable doubt that the virtual abuse caused real-life harm. But a lot of the time a teen can be his or her own worst enemy. Take a look at any ‘Facebook Fails’ website and you’ll see hundreds of examples of poor judgment — of kids engaged in dumb, illegal, embarrassing, or self-incriminating behavior. They tweet before thinking and comment; all of which will come back to bite them when they find themselves on a major job search.

In this vein, it’s refreshing to read that California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law which requires websites to remove content when requested to do so by a minor. The bill allows minors to essentially push an “erase button” for digital content; while sites may not be required to completely eliminate the requested data, they have to remove it from the view of the public.

It’s important to note that this law doesn’t apply to content posted by a third party; it sadly can’t remove compromising photos posted by friends, enemies, or blackmailers. The bill doesn’t apply to sites which anonymize the content and/or their users, making it difficult to identify the minor individually. However, it does apply to social media sites, and even sites registered outside of California have to comply if a Californian teen requests the removal of content.

It’s tempting to scoff at this measure and chuckle at the hubris of adolescence. Many people argue that these digital records, however embarrassing or incriminating, are nonetheless important — and public — records of major prejudices, risk-taking behaviors, and other indicators of reliability and respect. But today’s teens are guinea pigs in an experiment which has no precedent; there has never been anything like Facebook before. Their mistakes aren’t unique to their generation; they are, however, far more widely recorded for public consumption. I think it’s a great step towards incorporating the social web into our lives and accepting that it is going to be a permanent part of how we interact with one another for the foreseeable future. If the California law gives teens a chance to clean up their act when those frontal lobe brain cells finally sprout, then they should have the same opportunity as their predecessors to put their best foot forward into young adulthood and beyond.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:40 pm on September 24, 2013


 

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