Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Should Facebook Have a Panic Button?

When thinking about social networking sites and security issues, I always remember the unfortunate cases of girls that would meet guys online (or vice-versa), agree to meet with them in real life, and then go missing until their lifeless bodies get found days later. Tragic and scary, to say the least!

A couple of months ago, a 17-year old British student told her mother she was spending the night at a friend’s house and instead made plans to meet with a boy she met on Facebook. Unfortunately, the young girl never returned home, as  her teenage “date” turned out to be a 32-year old sex offender, who raped and murdered her. The monster (who goes by the name Peter Chapman) eventually confessed and was jailed for life in March this year.

In the wake of poor girl’s murder, her family was joined by British child-protection advocates in demanding that Facebook install a so-called panic button on its pages that would enable people to access information about Internet safety topics such as cyber-stalking and sexual abuse. “It’s like a burglar alarm on your house: It tells anyone coming into that environment to engage with you that you’re protected”, said Jim Gamble, the head of Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center. According to a recent Times article, MySpace and Bebo already have panic buttons. So why isn’t Facebook following in their steps?


Facebook had previously said it would not install a “panic button” on its main pages, but would develop its existing system and would install links to organizations including CEOP on its reporting pages. Last week, Mr. Gamble announced the agency had received 252 complaints about Facebook during the first three months of the year-with 40 % of them about the potential grooming of children. Although Facebook has maintained that its abuse-reporting system is strong enough, the recent UK developments on the site’s existing system will allow members to report abuse directly to the CEOP instead of through Facebook’s internal system. In other words, when British Facebook users click on “Report/Block” person tab, a pop-up box will appear providing a link to the CEOP website.

“If the proposal is that we should put the button on every single page of the website, we’re quite clear that that isn’t the quick-fix solution that will actually make users of Facebook safer than they are today”, says Richard Allan, director of European public policy for Facebook. However, in the words of Mr. Gamble, “ if you’re going to operate a business that encourages people to frequent your public place so that you can advertise to them, then let’s look after them while they’re there”.

See full size image             See full size image  

As the saga continues, Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost said that the company will be donating ad space worth $7.7 million to cyber-safety groups over the next two years. Regardless of the initiatives taken both by the social networking sites and cyber-stalker protection, people first need to be EDUCATED about online safety. Raising awareness amongst Internet-users and ensuring that the safety lessons learned in real life be applied online is an absolute MUST and the initial step to over-coming and avoid tragic situations.



Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities

In the words of Allison Fine  in Momentum : ” The Net-Gen is plugged in, moving at Internet speed, and open-minded because they are coming into contact with so much information and so many different people from different places. The world is truly open to them and for them. The Net-Gen is ready to make social change happen. Are activist organizations ready for them?”


Social media without doubt has had an impact on the way we communicate with each other, conduct business transactions and approach opportunities that knock on our door. Following some reading I did regarding the non-profit organizations and their embrace of this technological phenomenon, I came to the following conclusion:

1. Social media can help non-profit-organizations engage their constituencies and deepen engagement from supporters.

According to the Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report conducted in March 2009, social networking has become an integral part of non-profits’ online strategy. Of the 929 respondents, 74.2 % have a presence on Facebook, and 30.9% have one or more social networking communities on their own website.

2. A number of NGO’s have been successful in using social media to change their cultures, and improve their programs and services. In her blog, Beth Kanter mentions the example of American Red Cross that began its social media campaign in 2006 by organizational listening strategy, which allowed them to take the input of their vocal critics and implement necessary changes for success.

3. Tremendous opportunity for non-profits

According to the Social Media Club and the Society of New Communications Research, trust in social media is significant among social media savvy would-be donors. 61 % of those aged 30-49 trust social networks and blogs to provide important information, as is the case with 44% of those 50 years or older.  Among 30-49 year olds, social media use is also very high with 91 percent of users participating in social networks, 81 percent participating in blogs, and 56 percent participating in message boards. Among those 50 and older, 94 percent participate in social networks, 78 percent participate in blogs, and 60 percent participate in message boards.

Social media can not only help non-profit organizations approach their audiences in a timely and cost-efficient manner, it also allows them to establish necessary support for successful campaigns. Furthermore, it allows for promotion of networking and fundraising, conveying their goal through visuals and sounds. And let’s not forget that it enables the above-mentioned organizations to get closer to younger generations and get them involved in their efforts.

However, a non-profit organization (or any organization for that matter) must be ready on all levels before implementing a social media campaign. For example, there is no purpose in creating a presence on facebook or twitter if one’s website hasn’t been updated in three months. In a similar manner, social media can help if it is used to target the audience that use it. So, if the group an organization is trying to approach does not use iPhone applications etc. what is the point?

A couple of useful points that I came across:

1. Pitch the right social networks

2. Prepare to lose control

3. Find an “expert” to help you.

4. Make a good first impression.

5. Know who is already pretending to be you. Farra discussed this in her presentation, with a vivid example of big duck domain that was already taken on Facebook.

6. Think of social networking as an investment in the future.

And let’s not forget what Clay Shirky,author of Here Comes Everybody said:  organizations of all kinds no longer have monopoly on coordinating or organising.  The Internet is good for short sharp shock organising, whereas institutions can provide continuity. @clayshirky : “tools get socially interesting when they get technologically boring”.

Tech-savy? Not me.

I usually find relief in writing, yet the problem I have is that I cannot be creative unless I am inspired. I don’t know if this falls under the category of  having “writer’s blog” but I’ve been struggling with it for as long as I can remember. I truly admire journalists who, when on assignment, can tune in and restlessly come up with a 1000 word article. In a similar manner, aren’t we PR professionals met with challenges when crafting press releases, or agendas for clients? Either way, I have a long way to go before I master my writing skills or reach the level where I can at ease face the everyday challenges of written expression.

Another challenge I am faced with in the ever-changing world is the relatively new concept of social media. I recall 2-3 years ago all of my friends opening up their Facebook accounts, and I refused to do the same as I failed to see the potential of this powerful site. Soon enough, I succumbed to temptation and to this day remain addicted. Facebook not only allows me to keep in touch with dear people, but it also enables me to find people I have long lost touch with in all parts of the world.  Fortunately or unfortunately, facebook ocassionally becomes my obsession and a perfect site for wasting time that could be used in a more efficient way. To my credit, facebook remains the only true addiction for me in the social media world. I am a relatively new user of Twitter and until now, have failed to absorb the true meaning of this medium, and its benefits over other social sites. However, I am willing to commit more to exploring it, and it will be interesting to see what conclusion I come up with.

Overall, I must admit that I am quite technologically challenged. In other words, I do not handle blogs and similar novelities with an ease that I should, which is why I am thrilled to be a part of the social media class. I am excited to learn about all the new things that are present in the technology world, and am ready to equip myself with the knowledge of how to use such tools to my benefit. This is going to be a long journey, and a beginning of something that I might not yet be aware of.

Until then, my name is Sara and this is my first attempt of writing a blog :)! I hope to keep you all entertained, and most of all, I hope that my experiences will benefit each one of you in a special way.