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Facebook: Not Just for Friends Anymore (Part 2 of 6) February 3, 2010

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So just how many employers are checking your profile?  

According to a 2006 survey by CareerBuilder.com, as many as 12 percent of hiring managers regularly use social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace to screen potential employees.  

And, after discovering new information online, 63 percent of those employers chose not to hire candidates based on their discoveries.

But the big question on everyone’s minds is, what do these employers discover about their potential employees that is so terrible?  

Can photos of you and your friends goofing off on your own time really be used as evidence to show how “unprofessional” you are?  What exactly are people posting pictures of that scares their employers so much?  

As it turns out, quite a bit…

According to Tim DeMello, who owns the Internet company Ziggs, employers are often shocked at what they find on profiles — photos depicting underage drinking, orgies, drug use, and  disturbing illegal activity.  This is a far cry from the upscale, clean-cut image presented to an interviewer.  

Demello continues: 

“This person that’s sitting there is almost entirely different than the person posting on these Web sites.”  

Young people reveal a remarkable amount of information about themselves on social-networking sites, despite the efforts of these websites to block any material that is “obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit.”  

Why do young people reveal so much about themselves, especially when they know it can ruin their reputations?  

According to Liz Funk, reporter for USA Today, it’s about classic teenage rebellion finding a new way to reach the masses — via the internet.  

She suggests that thanks in part to celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, “young women act as though they derive some kind of power…” from posing in obscene pictures, especially those involving alcohol, drugs and sex.  She continues in stating that:

“In a generation that worships privilege and fame, many teens seem to feel that if they photograph themselves drinking and posing provocatively the way celebrities do, the glamour might translate into their lives…we learn that keeping one’s life an open book is a ticket to fame. We find that when it comes to Vanity Fair, Nicole Richie concealing the private details of her public fight with Paris Hilton cost her a spot on the cover, which Teri Hatcher ‘earned’ upon disclosing that she had been sexually abused as a child.”

Funk believes that young women need to seriously reconsider what “empowerment” means.  

Sharyn Alfonsi of CBS News says:

“If you’re supposed to dress for the job you want…some of these students really need to just put something on.  Sexy photos… don’t exactly scream ‘CEO material’.”

To be continued…

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Facebook: Not Just for Friends Anymore (Part 1 of 6) February 2, 2010

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Imagine yourself at a job interview: you’re wearing your best suit, a gleaming resume is in your hand, and you have rehearsed the answer to every question imaginable. 

You’re very nervous as you step into the employer’s office, but eventually you begin to relax, and you do your best to answer everything intelligently.  The employer listens to you intently and smiles, and when it’s finally over, you take a deep breath in the lobby and think back to how you did.  

Let’s see…  You dressed the part;  you have all the credentials; you were polite and witty; and your references are outstanding — looks like you got the job, right?  

Wrong.  A few days later, you open your mail and find a form letter “regretting” to inform you that you have not been hired.  What happened?  You think about what you might have done wrong all day, even as you hop online to check your email…  And suddenly, your answer reveals itself in one of the subject lines:

Your friend tagged photos of you on Facebook…”

And there you are, doing… well, you know what.  You’ve heard rumors about people not getting jobs because of photos on the internet, but you never thought it could happen to you — your profile is just something silly between you and your friends… isn’t it?   But the truth of the matter is this: 

Anything you post on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace can be accessed by potential employers and may be detrimental to your work now and in the future.

You may argue that the information you post online is personal; it has nothing to do with your career, and employers shouldn’t be using it to judge you.  You may even argue that this “virtual snooping” is unethical — an invasion of privacy.  But in today’s competitive job market, employers are using all the tools in their arsenal to screen out unsuitable candidates.  They have to if they want to see how their companies will be represented outside the office.  

And while what they’re doing may be questionable, it’s certainly not illegal.  As soon as something is put on the internet, it is public property.  

“You’re being watched,” says Victor C. Massaglia, career adviser at the University of Minnesota Law School. “The diary used to be behind the lock and key, and now it is on the Internet for everyone to read.” 

To be continued…

The week ahead… February 1, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Facebook.
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Dear Readers,

In the coming week I will be posting a six-part essay about the influence of social media on job hunting.  I was inspired to write this a few years ago (I apologize if the material is a little dated) after hearing several horror stories from recent college graduates looking for their first job.

We all think the things we post on Facebook are in good fun, but I wondered if anyone had actually studied the effects these teenage habits have later on in people’s lives.  

It turns out, even in 2007 (when I originally wrote this essay) there was already quite a bit of talk on how people’s online pasts might come back to haunt them.

Of course, we’re all a little more aware of the “dangers” today, but hopefully the information I’m about to present will interest you and teach you a few things you didn’t know.

Likewise, although I have done my best to update this essay with current trends, I welcome any comments from you supporting (or disproving) the material.  I would love to hear what you have to say on the matter, or if you  know of any new technological developments that may influence the concepts presented forth.

Part One of the essay will be posted tomorrow, but in the meantime, I recommend checking out this article from Livescience.com that looks at how Facebook is a haven for Narcissists.

Keeping up with the Joneses January 31, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Assignments, Facebook, Journalism, Twitter.
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…and the Smiths, and the Johnsons, and the Williamses, and… 

Real time web is the newest trend to hit the net.  Ironically, it is a technology devoted to helping us spot… well, trends.

It allows users to receive information as soon as it is published, rather having to manually check for it.  An offshoot of social media, it is based on the idea of Facebook’s live newsfeed and the constant updates of Twitter.

By getting these “real time” updates on what their social circles are doing, users can spot the latest trends of what people are talking about.

Internet pundits are having a heyday monitoring the “latest” topics people are commenting/blogging/tweeting about; using this knowledge to engage other in conversation and bring traffic to their own sites.

Several companies have even developed free customizable widgets so users can stream this real-time content directly on their computers.

Despite its fancy new name, this is a concept we’re all familiar with.  How many times have we researched something further after seeing it posted on a friend’s Facebook page?  Or clicked on a feed in our CNN ticker to read the full article?  Or checked our RSS feeds over the first cup of coffee in the morning?

But although it may be old hat for us, the real news story is how Web 1.0 giants like Google are trying to keep up with this recent advancement.

In his personal blog, social media guru Michael Brito says that today’s technology isn’t fast enough to monitor these live conversations.

Traditional web searches crawl and index web pages periodically, seldom returning results differing from the day before.  But real time web search results change hourly; sometimes, by the minute. 

Last year, Google tried its hand at real time web by introducing its “Latest Results Box”.  A quick search for “Haiti” or “State of the Union” and you can see the latest results from Twitter, news organizations, and blogs galore.  

Truly, the real-time web is redefining what we mean by “breaking news”.

Blogger in the Rye January 30, 2010

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“Publishing is a terrible invasion of privacy.”

– J. D. Salinger

Why then, are millions of bloggers compelled to do it?  At this very minute, ordinary citizens around the world sit at their keyboards typing out every thought that comes to their heads; publishing it for many other millions to see.

But why?

J. D. Salinger died yesterday at the age of 91.  He once said, “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing.”

And yet we can’t seem to help it.   Even Salinger’s own death has triggered a blogging storm.  Whether you loved him, or hated him, or just delighted in making fun of his writing, no one can seem to stop talking about him.

 I can’t say why we’re compelled to blog.  While there are many theories, including narcissism, soapboxing, or just plain boredom, the mystery of the blogosphere is as deep as the mystery of Salinger’s reclusive lifestyle.

Although I preferred Seymour Glass to Holden Caulfield, (note name of this blog) I can relate to Holden when it comes to blogging.  He believed himself to be a “catcher in the rye”; a guardian to prevent children from falling off a cliff. 

Maybe we bloggers serve a similar function; we help save untold stories from slipping away into the oblivion.

The death of Web 2.0 January 28, 2010

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Web 2.0, known to its friends as social media, passed away on January 27, 2010.  It was born to Darcy DiNucci and Tim O’Reilly in the early 2000s.  It is survived by an older sibling, Web 1.0, along with several nieces and nephews.

Services will be held on PCs, laptops, and iPhones throughout the world.


An online battle is brewing.  

In one corner, we have the incumbent advocates of social media, touting its convenience, amiability, and usefulness in providing a free public forum.  

In the other corner, we have a populist uprising urging people to “go outside” and “meet your real neighbors again.”  They cite issues like Facebook owning their users’ “private” information, and that people aren’t really connected to all their online “friends”.

Some may think now that the internet has evolved from “web-as-information-source” to “web-as-participation” platform there’s no turning back.  But a new weapon has emerged in this war that may change everything.

Introducing the “Web 2.0 Suicide Machine.” 

Based in The Netherlands, the Suicide Machine is a free service that “kills” you off MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  It originally applied its craft to Facebook as well, but a recent cease and desist letter (along with a block on the machine’s IP address) has temporarily thwarted any further attempts. 

Their coup de grâce consists of:

*Deleting your friends

*Leaving all groups you were member of

*Excluding your account from public search

*Removing all email notifications

*Deleting all wall posts

*Uploading a new profile picture

*Changing your username and password (and not telling you what they are)

They claim this is more effective at removing your information that simply “deactivating” your account.  Furthermore, the online Kevorkians can do it in far less time than it would take to do it yourself.

(But you have to be sure.  Once the process begins, it cannot be stopped.)

So far, the machine boasts over 1,800 “Social Network Suiciders” with almost 300,000 tweets removed.

A similar service is Italy’s Seppukoo, a play on the ancient samurai practice of disembowelment.  A bit less dramatic than the Suicide Machine, users can reactivate their account anytime they want, and even earn high scores based on how many of their friends commit seppukoo with them.  Although not yet blocked by Facebook, the website has received their own cease and desist letter.

But if you think these measures a bit too extreme, there are alternatives.  John Haydon of Socialbrite.org suggests timing how long you spend on social media sites.  In a clever checklist, he provides information on how to program your computer to clock the amount of time you spend on these sites.

While the idea of getting off the computer, going outside and interacting with the real world is an excellent idea, we should have the fortitude to do it for ourselves, rather than depending on the internet (the same medium that got us into this mess) to do it for us.

IDK, my BFF Jesus? January 26, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Facebook, Journalism, Youtube.
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By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he blogged.

 Ok, so I’m not the world’s preeminent scholar on The Book of Genesis.  That would arguably be Pope Benedict XVI.  But phony quotes aside, His Holiness does have a few new ideas for the Vatican. 

Over the weekend, Benedict (who just last year showed his disdain for technology by urging Catholics to give up all forms of social media for Lent) asked priests to: 

 “…proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue…”  

In other words, the Pope is goin’ techno. 

This user-friendly message came during his announcement of the 44th annual World Communications Day (set for May 16, 2010); a time when the Angels & Demons-like secrecy of the Vatican eases up a bit to answer questions from the faithful. 

Benedict continued by saying that he hopes by embracing these forms of communication, the Church can reach out to a new generation of Catholics, as well as nonbelievers across cyberspace. 

And Benedict is practicing what he preaches.  Tech-savvy worshippers can follow the Pontiff on the Pope2You portal, a website that links you Benedict’s personal Youtube channel, Facebook fan page, and iPhone app that sends you updates on his trips and speeches. 

Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters

But Benedict also warns priests to use technology in compliance with the Church’s theological and spiritual principles, and not to strive to become stars of new media.  

“Priests… should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart.” he says. 

After all, his doesn’t want to start getting tweets like this: 

@SwissGuard: OMG do theez stripes mke me look fat? ROFL

Blogs to help Bloggers January 24, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Around the Blogosphere, Assignments, Journalism.
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1. Soshable

Soshable encourages its users to help them sort through the myriad fads of social media; to pick out the best of the best of social media and examine how it will change the future.  I like the idea of a blog being a two-way street — instead of just ranting, I’d like to hear others’ opinions on the topics I post about.

2. Social Media Blog

A great example of a personal blog.  Michael Brito has worked for Silicon Valley giants such as HP, Yahoo! and Intel, and considers himself one of the pioneers of social media.  I hope his successful real-world experience will help me in writing my own personal blog.

3. Smart Mobs

Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs, believes that instead of letting social media control you, you should control your use of social media.  His blog offers suggestions on how to use technology as a tool to connect to others.

4. Socialbrite

The goal of Socialbrite is online philanthropy.  They offer tips and techniques to help bloggers use this media to “advance the social good.”  Hopefully, I can pick up a few pointers on how to make my blog meaningful to society, and stand out from all the other cyber soapboxes.

5. Technosailor

To truly keep up-to-date on trends in blogging and social media, you must also know how users are going to view the content you post.  Technosailor investigates which smart phones/browsers people are using, and its writer boasts the creation of “The WordPress Bible.”

6. The Blog Herald

The Blog Herald was founded in 2003, and was the first blog designed to exclusively cover the news of the blogosphere, including the latest updates on Blogger, and WordPress to name a few.  A must for any newbie.

7. The Blogger’s Blog

A bit silly, a bit snarky; The Blogger’s Blog is to social media what The Daily Show is to traditional media.  Still, the site is awash with story ideas and links to more reputable sources.

8. The Buzz Bin

The Buzz Bin tries to examine everything it can from the view of social media — from current events and entertainment news to the cyber “age gap” and gonzo advertising, it provides great statistics and links to articles around the ‘sphere.

9. The Huffington Post

As an avid reader of The Huffington Post, I just had to list this one on my blogroll.  While stories about social media aren’t its main focus, I find it is one of the most accurate, reputable blogs out there about the world and its issues. 

10. The Social Networking Weblog

The Social Networking Weblog is great tool to keep up with all things social networking.  From Facebook to MySpace, its writers give you pointers on how to increase traffic to your page… or how to keep it private.

The Extraordinaries save the world January 23, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Apps, Journalism.
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It’s a bird!

It’s a plane!

It’s… an iPhone?!

The Extraordinaries are the new superheroes on the block, and they want you to join their gallant crusade.  They describe themselves as  “a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social problems.”

Their special superhero power is microtasking, or  simple tasks that someone else can do for you remotely.

And they’re using it to change the world.

The next time you’re waiting in line, bored at work, or any other time of day you decide to play with your phone, you can use those spare minutes to:

* Help map safe places for children to play

*Turn in animal abusers and illegal breeders to authorities

*Build a  database of defibrillator locations around the world

And many other missions, including their brand new Haiti Earthquake Support Center.  A matching application similar to playing Where’s Waldo, users are given photos of missing people and asked to look for them in photos taken during disaster relief efforts.

Also, you can help tag images in categories like:  gender, age, alive, etc.  And for those without an iPhone, the application is also available online at The Extraordinaries’ website.

So the next time you pull up solitaire, consider instead using your spare time to help people find their missing loved ones.

Move over, Leo — Colton’s got Facebook January 21, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Facebook, Journalism, Twitter.
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We all remember Leonardo DiCaprio’s character from Catch Me if You Can Frank Abagnale Jr. who, while still in high school, experienced life as a pilot, doctor, lawyer, and counterfeiter extraordinaire.  

The decade of the sixties was a simpler time — less airport security, fewer paper trails, no ghost-like watermarks of dead presidents on our currency to discourage counterfeiters.  I remember sitting in the movie theatre, wondering if it would be possible to pull a con as legendary as Abagnale’s in today’s high-security world.  

But apparently, it’s easier than ever.  

Courtesy of Island County Sheriff's Office

Meet Colton Harris-Moore.   

To date, the 18-year-old fugitive has stolen two small airplanes (which he totaled after “learning” to fly on the internet), two boats, several cars, and items from over 50 homes. 

The police in his hometown of Camano Island, Washington, have been searching for him for almost two years – but are far from catching him. 

 

So how do they know he’s still alive? 

 Well, they can follow his tweets, for one.  Or they could always check his fan page on Facebook.   

Through these social networking sites, the legend of “Barefoot Harris-Moore” has exploded into a cult phenomenon — with people writing him songs, plastering his face on t-shirts, encouraging his flight from “the man” and even offering their addresses as safe harbor to him via Twitter. 

A few months ago, Facebook temporarily shut down Harris-Moore’s fan page before quietly restoring it due to protests by its nearly 16,000 angry members. 

For all we know, Harris-Moore may go live with one of his Twitter followers, or he may get caught in an undercover sting. 

But until that day, this boy genius will continue to puzzle us with his paradox of staying connected to the world through social media, yet living his life just off the radar.