Tag Archives: Facebook

Don’t Be Alarmed By Fake Facebook Copyright Notice

Have you seen this message circulating around on Facebook recently?

Facebook has consistently been plagued by privacy and copyright concerns and this is not the first message of its kind to have gone viral in this way. However, just like those before it, this notice is a hoax and not something to be alarmed about. Although it claims to provide those who post it with greater control of material they post on Facebook, this message will do nothing of the sort.

These notices started proliferating online shortly after Facebook adjusted its privacy guidelines, to remove users’ voting rights on Facebook policies, instead just allowing users to comment on any changes.

The post also claims that Facebook’s new status as an ‘open capital entity’ should be an extra incentive for users to circulate the message.  However, neither of these recent changes made any tangible difference to Facebook’s copyright and privacy policies, and even if they had, simply posting this message on your Facebook wall will do nothing in the way of protecting your copyright.

When you sign up to Facebook you agree to their terms and conditions, and unless you renegotiate them, or delete your account, you will still be bound by this agreement regardless of any messages you may post.

For those concerned about Facebook’s policy, you can find it here.

The main thing to remember, is that if you post any content covered by IP rights on Facebook, you grant it a ‘non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook’.

This basically means that you give Facebook the permission to use, and share with 3rd parties any IP content without the need for a license or to pay fees.  Crucially, this license is subject to your Facebook privacy and application settings – so in fact, you are more in control of your content than you might realise.  Beyond simply deciding not to share content through Facebook, you can finely tune your privacy settings to choose who can see the things you post

It is also important to appreciate that you don’t need a special notice to control copyright in your posts.  The message itself references the ‘Berner Convention’, which is presumably meant to say Berne Convention, according to which the original creator of a work is automatically the copyright holder. So even if you grant Facebook the right to use things you post, these rights are by no means exclusive and will have no bearing on how you display or distribute it by your own means.

You can now hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, as Facebook have posted an official, concise response to the notice on their website here:

Copyright Meme Spreading on Facebook

There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.

Pinterest and Copyright

Pinterest, a new social media site that allows users to ‘pin’ digital pictures on virtual pin boards, has recently faced a number of concerns regarding potential copyright infringement.

An American lawyer Kirsten Kowalski blogged about the social media site’s Picture-sharing boards as infringing copyright, announcing that she had deleted her Pinterest account when she realised that her use of the photo-sharing site could potentially make her break the law. The blog post sparked a lot of attention, and spread fears about these potential legal issues.

The main problem was to do with the terms and conditions of the site, as they explicitly say that should there be any copyright infringement for reposting a copyrighted picture, it would be the user and not the site that would be culpable. The way the law works is that even if users are unaware they may be infringing copyright, this does not absolve them from legal action.

Despite their terms, which clearly state that users who ‘pin’ images they do not hold the rights to may be liable, the site itself seems to actively encourage sharing images. As Kowalski puts it ‘their lawyers say you can pin anything that you don’t own… but the site is saying that you can’. The site makes it very simple to repost (or rather pin) pictures from other sites around the web, which has irritated some photographers.

However, the question still remains, why is Pinterest facing these problems when other social media sites have not? As Technollama points out, Pinterest’s terms and conditions are similar to those of other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. However, the primary difference between these sites, as discussed here, is that Pinterest’s whole business model surrounds the sharing of images. Although Facebook and Twitter do allow people to post images, this is not the main feature of either site.

Jonathan Klein, the CEO of Ghetty images, emphasizes this point. As TechCrunch noted, Klein is ‘not concerned about people playing with Getting photos, teenagers using them for school projects, and folks putting them up on their personal blog’. However, despite this he has highlighted the fundamental problem with Pinterest: ‘We’re comfortable with people using our images to built traffic. The point in time when they have a business model, they have to have some sort of license.’ It is the very fact that Pinterest’s business model heavily encourages not only for people to upload their own images to the site, but to share others images that has become cause for concern. So far Pinterest is not making any money, however as Techcrunch noted, as soon as they do they will be liable to have to either pay or remove copyrighted images.

Pinterest’s approach to these concerns has been similar to sites such as YouTube. The company believes that it is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and says that it will respond quickly to any copyright issues that might arise. Pinterest has been keen to listen to feedback from its users and has addressed any issues by updating its terms of service, details of which can be seen here. On top of this Pinterest has also made it easier for people to notify the site about any copyright or trade mark infringements.

This means if you object to an image you own being pinned on the site, it should not be too difficult to persuade the site to take it down, assuming you have proof that it is your copyright.

Social Media: Boon or Bane?

In the wake of the riots, which have spread throughout England, many are blaming social media as being the tool used to orchestrate the violence and destruction. We have previously written about the Student Protests and the revolution in Egypt, and the role social media played in each of these events. Now we have yet another instance of the power of social media.   

A week ago the British Prime Minister David Cameron is reported to have said that the ‘free flow of information’ can sometimes be a problem. He stated that when ‘people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them.’ The Government is blaming social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook for helping to contribute to the cause of such mass violence and destruction throughout the country.  There is also some discussion of banning social media sites.

Indeed much of the violence was orchestrated via Twitter and Blackberry’s instant messaging service, BBM. In particular, Blackberry’s messenger system seems to have been the communication device of choice between the rioters, with a number of BlackBerry users receiving instant messages suggesting riot locations. According to Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe, ‘while Twitter has largely been the venue of spectators to violence and is a handy public venue for journalists to observe, it would appear the non-public Blackberry BBM messaging network have been the method of choice for organizing it’.

Each coin has two faces!

However, although Social media may have been used as a method to spread violence throughout London and the rest of the country, it has not just been used as a tool to spread destruction. Both Twitter and Facebook were used to organize cleanup efforts in the areas hit by the riots, as well as calls for peace after the Tottenham riots on Saturday. Additionally, these sites were used by people to show support to the police in the wake of the riots, with the number of people following the force on Twitter jumping from 3,000 to 13,000 and hits on Facebook increasing from 2,000 to 8,000.

So is it appropriate to enforce bans and shutdowns of social media sites in the wake of the riots?   While these sites are a powerful tool that may be used to coordinate the masses on scales that would previously have been impossible, is it really on to ban them?  What about freedom of speech?  As Matthew Ingram of tech blog GigaOm stated, ”It may be tempting to smother that kind of speech when a government feels it is under siege, as Britain seems to feel that it is, but doing this represents nothing less than an attack on the entire concept of freedom of speech, and that has some frightening consequences for any democracy.” Interestingly, Labour seems to be on the side of the Government on this issue, with the shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis stating ‘free speech is central to our democracy but so is safety and security.’

Curtailing the freedom of speech?

This is not the first instance where social media sites have been banned in an attempt to stop the spread of violence and unrest. The recently overthrown totalitarian Egyptian Government used this tactic in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution. The regime blocked methods of communication, disconnecting the country from the Internet, blocking sites such as Twitter, and disrupting mobile networks. If what happened there is anything to go by, blocking methods of communication did not stop the revolution in Egypt, and seems unlikely to quell any further riots in the UK.

Blocking social media channels will do nothing to solve the root problem that was the cause of the unrest, although it would undoubtedly make it harder for rioters to organize themselves.

Representatives of Facebook and Twitter have agreed to meet with the government, but both are opposed to being censored or blocked in the UK. Alec Macgillivray, Twitter’s general counsel said ‘we don’t always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content’.

We will be watching to see if this proposal gets passed through, but what do others think about it?

A user interface, not so user friendly!

Twitter last week announced that the old version of its interface will be completely replaced by the new version.

The company stated in their official Twitter feed, ‘If you’re currently using the Old Twitter, we want to let you know that you’ll be upgraded to New Twitter this week’.

Twitter has warned users of the impending change since it rolled out its new version back in September 2010, so this news has hardly taken users by surprise.  There are some users who are complaining about the change, but this seems to be only a small percentage of its users.

Upgrade or degrade?

When Twitter first introduced its new version it gave its users the option to ‘try it out’ and let them revert back to the old version whenever they wanted to. Some might believe that Twitter should have made the permanent change to its new version months ago, but by giving users plenty of time to adjust to the idea of a new version of the site, Twitter has managed to keep the majority of its users happy.

By contrast Facebook’s methods of introducing new changes are somewhat more drastic and abrupt.  When the company decided to step up its game in response to the launch of Google Plus, it announced a new video chat feature.

A couple of weeks ago I was given the option to ‘try out’ Facebook’s new Sidebar chat. I decided to give it a try, assuming that the option to revert back to the old chat would still be available. However, when I realized I didn’t like this new chat, there was no option to revert back.

I’ve since found out that Facebook’s sidebar chat feature has caused numerous complaints from Facebook users, with a group on Facebook called ‘I hate Facebook sidebar chat, with over 25,000 likes. Usually any major upgrade has caused a backlash of users against the changes.

Normally the negative comments surrounding upgrades can be put down to people simply disliking change, however in the case of the new sidebar chat the critiques seem well warranted.

Previously Facebook chat showed a small chat box on the lower right displaying which of your friends are currently online, which was a simple and easy design. However now the new chat takes up 20% of the screen and stretches from the top to the bottom of the right hand side of your screen. Whereas before only those online were shown on your chat box, now chat shows a list of people who Facebook has decided you would most like to speak to.

So what exactly has caused so much criticism about Facebook’s new chat? There are multiple issues that have come up in relation to this new chat. One of the main complaints raised is that the list of people now shown on your chat, are people that Facebook thinks you want to talk to, giving you no option to make any changes. According to Facebook, friends displayed on your list are those who you ‘interact with most frequently’. However, a number of the people displayed on my chat list are people I never talk to, and reading other critiques online it seems that this is the case for most people. Another complaint is that Facebook lists friends in alphabetical order. However, there is no scrollbar on chat, meaning that you cannot see everyone online and those who are at the bottom of the list aren’t going to appear in chat lists.

So far reading through others’ comments about the new chat feature, I have not seen a single positive comment. There may well be some people who are very happy with the sidebar chat, but the responses are overwhelmingly negative.

Survival of the fittest!

With the launch of Google Plus, attracting already over 10 million users, inadequacies such as this might be something that drives devoted Facebook users over to Google Plus. Apparently, amongst comments made about the Facebook sidebar chat, some users are threatening to stop using Facebook due to this feature, and others seem to be contemplating moving over to Google Plus instead.

One of Facebook’s biggest mistakes is not allowing its users to revert back to the old chat, despite advertising the new chat as something to try out.

With both Facebook and Twitter having introduced new layouts recently, Twitter has managed to avoid the backlash that has struck Facebook. One lesson to learn from this is that a gradual approach to big redesigns works best. Not giving people the option to revert back to the old feature so they can decide for themselves what friends they most want to talk to, is a clear example of how not to do things.   It is ultimately users who can make or break a business, therefore letting them have input is vital.

Google Plus – Social Network

There is much speculation as to whether Google’s social network, Google Plus could be the next big thing in Social Media. Last week we discussed Google’s naming strategy Here we will explore what people are saying about Google Plus.

Trial service

Google Plus launched with a trial service which only those invited to were able to join. This created an illusion of exclusivity about the site, with invitations to join being highly coveted. The site claims to have ‘temporarily exceeded’ capacity, having over 10 million users.

As a social network site to rival Facebook, it is one of Facebook’s strongest adversaries.

Google’s move into social media is a response to the challenge it faced as its position as the main method of accessing online information was compromised by Facebook and Twitter. The average U.S. Internet user spent 375 minutes on Facebook in May, and 231 on Google.

Better than other social networks?

As well as having similar features to other Social Networking sites such as Facebook, Google Plus has added a few extra unique features, such as what  Google calls Hangouts, Circles and Sparks in its demo.

The Circles feature allows users to place their friends and contacts into specific circles, like you would do ‘in real life’. Rather than grouping all contacts together, Google allows you to separate them into categories, such as family, work friends or those you go out drinking with. So far Circles has been the most widely applauded feature of the service.

Vic Gundotra, the senior vice president for engineering at Google explained, ‘ Not all relationships are created equal’ adding that Google was trying to bring ‘the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software’.

Recreating what happens in real life    

Google Plus has carried over this desire to recreate what happens in real life to some of its other features.

Hangouts allow friends to meet-up via the web. Essentially it is a method to video chat as a group. To ‘hangout’, all you have to do is click on the Hangout button and invite members from a specific group to join you.

Sparks allows users to create areas of interest and then share them with friends via Google Plus. Also this feature allows users to find other areas of interest based on current ones. Each topic will get its own Spark page where there will be links to related photos, articles etc. This feature taps into what social networking is all about: people sharing information, videos, and interests with others.

So far Google refers to its Social Media site as a ‘project’, implying that what’s on show, might only be the start. Only time will tell whether Google Plus’ launch success will continue.

Will Google Plus be the next big Social Networking site?

Despite the immediate success of  Google Plus, is it enough to attract 700 million users away from Facebook?  Will Facebook be forgotten like MySpace has been?


Privacy has been a huge concern on Social Media sites. Facebook specifically has come under scrutiny over privacy concerns with apps such as Facebook Places.

When creating Google Plus, Google learned from its previous failures:  ‘We learned a lot in Buzz, and one of the things we learned is that there’s a real market opportunity for a product that addresses people’s concerns around privacy and how their information is shared’. Google’s decision to create a Social Networking site that takes these concerns into account will give it an edge over Facebook.

Facebook’s privacy settings are notoriously complicated and confusing, leaving users unaware they are sharing information with more people than they intended. Additionally, many criticize Facebook’s misuse of personal information for advertising purposes.

Google Plus has a short, plain English Privacy Policy

In contrast, Google Plus’s privacy features are easier to use, and its privacy policy is significantly shorter, and easier to understand than Facebook’s.

One of the ways Google Plus has escaped many of the privacy issues that have plagued Facebook, is by introducing the Circles feature. ‘We believe online sharing is broken and even awkward. Our online tools are rigid. They force us into buckets — or into being completely public.”

Google hopes its Circle feature will help eliminate this problem. By allowing users to share their posts or photos with specific Circles, rather than with all their contacts, Google Plus solves one of the privacy problems that Facebook has encountered.

By placing friends into particular circles, posts or messages can either be made public, or directed at specific circles of friends. No longer will statuses, photos or wall posts reach the eyes of any and all friends or contacts. Facebook does have a similar feature, Lists, but this is a lot more effort to use and often goes unnoticed by Facebook users.

Given that Google Plus has addressed the one main complaint consistently leveled at Facebook, it’s positioned itself cleverly.

Is Google Plus too late?

However, one question many are asking, is whether Google Plus is too late to challenge Facebook with its 700 million active users in the US and UK.

Microsoft’s attempt to launch its own online search engine Bing proved incapable of competing with the well-established Google. Despite Google Plus having a number of good qualities, it too may be too late to compete.

Some point out that Google, with its one billion users, already has more numbers  than Facebook. What Google has done is played this to its advantage by creating a notifications box at the top right of all its sites. This means anyone using any of Google’s services, will be enticed into looking through notifications and friends posts on Google Plus, therefore gradually spending more time on Google products than on Facebook.

Disruptive technology

Experts of social networking trends say Google Plus is going to disrupt Facebook’s so far unhindered success.

Google Plus is still in its trial stage, and has yet to go on general release. Google Plus has a few new interesting features that Facebook lacks, as well as sorting out some privacy issues that have been concerning certain Facebook users. The site definitely has potential to prove a threat to Facebook, but the main question is whether there is enough to drive the vast number of users away from their current social networking site Facebook.

It will be interesting to see what happens, but more competition is bound to improve the lot of users.

Data Retention Law in France Raises Privacy Concerns

PrivacyLarge technology businesses including Google, Facebook and eBay are fighting a new law in France (Google translation) that would require internet companies to keep user data for a year. The French Association of Internet Community Services (ASIC) is to challenge the law in front of the State Council.

Data must be retained so that it can be handed over to the authorities on demand, and must be kept for at least one year, so that it can be used by the authorities if necessary. The data that the law will require the sites to retain includes personal information such as customer names, addresses, telephone numbers and even passwords.

However, Google and over 20 other companies want to reverse the new legislation. The ASIC argues, “It doesn’t make sense to have different requirements in France than what we have in Spain and England. Also we do not feel comfortable turning our customers’ passwords over to the police”

The new law raises a number of concerns over privacy, something for which Google and Facebook have already faced criticism as a result of their collection and retention of personal information. In fact Google has been the target of legal action brought by France itself, and was last month fined $142,000 after collecting data through wireless access points around the world.  On a related note, Facebook has found it necessary to change is privacy settings in light of concerns over access to user information.

With a number of the companies affected by the legislation having suffered damage to their reputation themselves following the efforts of privacy advocates, it is no surprise that they are objecting to a new law which will now require them to retain, and release on demand, their users’ personal data.

The new law could be could prove particularly problematic in cases where security is breached. If companies are bound to retain a broader range of user data, including passwords which might be used with a variety of services, it is more likely that an attacker would be able to gain complete access to millions of Internet users’ accounts across not only social networking sites, but email, intranets and possibly even online banking.

The head of ASIC, Benoit Tabaka, has highlighted a range of problems with the new law. One issue he raises is that ‘there was no consultation with the European Commission.’ He goes on to explain that, ‘Our companies are based in several European countries. Our activities target many national markets, so it is clear that we need a common approach’. And he claims that collecting and retaining passwords is a ‘shocking measure’.

In light of the increasing concern over privacy online it is not surprising that the new law has caused a stir. Especially among those companies which have come under attack as a result of their collecting personal information.  Furthermore, is this yet another burden for new IT business to bear, as touched on previously in our post covering Regulation and Start Up Britain, and could it lead to a less competitive marketplace here if similar measures are adopted in the UK?

What Business Can Learn From The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Revolution

Since the outbreak of the Egyptian revolution on January 25th of this year there has been speculation concerning the role social media played in causing the revolution.

Once again social media seems to have a huge impact on social developments.  In an earlier blog on our own site, I addressed how social media helped to organize and transform the student protests against the rise in University fees.  Now the discussion is around the true role of social media in the Egyptian revolution.

Role of social media

There has been divided opinion over the role that social media has played in the Egyptian revolution. Some people like Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker, claim it played little or no role at all, while others refer to it as the “Twitter Revolution”. Whilst it may be a little extreme to call it the “Twitter revolution”, it is generally accepted that social media definitely did play a role in the planning and organizing of this revolution even if it did not actually trigger it.

Many of those involved in the protest were young and technologically knowledgeable. They used social media sites to share information and organise activities. As information can be shared in real time to reach much larger audiences, it makes it easier to mobilize resources. Similarly, many believe that social media was a facilitator, rather than the trigger behind the Tunisian revolution.

In respect of Egypt, the government certainly acknowledged the role of social media by quickly blocking social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is not the first instance where social media sites have been censored from within a country. During the 2009 Iranian Presidential Election citizens’ access to Facebook was cut off, and after the election Twitter was used to help organize protests.

The purpose in blocking off access to these sites is to prevent the communication that enables more protests to be organised. In response to this Twitter posted on its own account @TwitterGlobalPR that “we believe that the open exchange of info and views benefits societies and helps governments better connect with their people”.

Social media useful business’s tool

Twitter’s comments highlight a vital point, namely that social media is a modern and useful way to connect people around the world.  There is much to learn from these political uses to which social media has been put, for businesses trying to reach their customers.

As Don Tapscott states, “[social media] will be what we want it to be, and in Egypt young people wanted it to be a tool to bring down a tyrant”

Social media is a powerful tool and with the right management it can have a positive impact for businesses.

So, businesses should not underestimate this new ability to communicate with their audience and market. Gap’s disastrous logo redesign exercise last year shows what can happen in this new interactive environment. The change proposed by Gap to their logo “prompted a public protest, with more than 2,000 comments on Facebook criticizing the decision to ditch the well-known logo”. As a result Gap went back to its former logo. Something like this would have been unheard of pre Web 2.0.

Here are some good examples of businesses engaging with their customers through social media. They include start up restaurants in San Francisco, who now rely on their online followers for custom, and retailers such as Levis who are investing more in building up their social media presence.

For earlier posts see ‘Student protests transformed by social media ‘ and ‘Social media policies for law firms’

Student Protests transformed by Social Media

Organising big events involving members of the public from all over the world has been transformed by social media.

In particular social media has become a powerful tool for organising protests and broadcasting responses to government policies. Discussing the student protests with my daughter who is currently in year 2 at University, I thought it would be useful for us to write about the protests which took place in the last few months of 2010 as they were noticeably affected by social media. Messages were spread to a wider audience and in particular, the voices of the public were spread rather than purely the voices of authority, or of news reporters.

Students were able to defend the accusations that the violence and abuse was wholly on the student’s side by uploading images or footage of scenes that showed otherwise, for example the footage of Jody McIntyre being dragged by the police out of his wheelchair.

The general public now have the power to report news. Many of the descriptions, images and clips that provoked the strongest response over the protests were reported on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr before being picked up by mainstream media.

The impact of social media was not limited to the way the student protests were reported, but also influenced the way in which students were able to organise themselves. Protests on multiple dates were arranged, making the protest the biggest seen since the 1970s.

Anti-social Media

However, some negative repercussions could be seen as attributable to the use of social media. Arguably, social media contributed to some extent to the transformation of the nature of the protest from one that was intended to be purely peaceful, to one that spiralled into violence. Anarchists determined to cause violence and destruction were also able to more easily mobilise themselves through social media. Twitter was used to advertise locations where there was a weaker police presence.  For example, KhurmArshad Tweeted: “Dear Students Please proceed to Liberal Democrats, 4 Cowley Street, after Milbank Tower. Show them who’s boss.” On top of this it has been estimated that up to 30 different organisations worked to organise the student protests, making it difficult to ensure that everyone acted in the peaceful manner originally intended.

The huge impact social media can have on these events stems from the speed at which it allows messages to spread. Word of mouth is far slower – in that one person might be able to communicate their idea to about 10 people, whereas blogs and social media allow messages to be communicated to 100s of people in one go.

Implications for Businesses

The scale of reach that these platforms offer can be used in a variety of ways. As explained in this post, social media has given the public a tool for protest, and this tool must not be ignored by businesses.

Companies have also found themselves the target of social media campaigns. For example Nestle was in March last year attacked as part of online protests over their use of palm oil, which has been linked to deforestation in Indonesia. Numerous complaints were made on their Facebook page, as part of  a lengthy, and at times venomous, protest.

Similarly, Gap’s new logo recently came under attack online, causing them to revert to their original design despite having spent large amounts on the revision. It might be argued that social media has given the voiceless a voice. Whether or not this is true, it is clear that businesses need to be aware of the power of social media, and try to harness it for the good of their brand.

Facebook or Twitter – Your Online Reputation and Job Prospects

Now, with the availability of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, employers can learn a lot more about potential employees than was previously possible. Whilst before, a resume and references were the critical ways to screen candidates, now employers can find out a lot more about people they are thinking of hiring simply by looking at their online profiles.

Pictures put up on Facebook of drunken nights out and stupid behavior could seem fun and games, but sometimes this could make the difference between getting hired or fired.  Everything is public and searchable, and could potentially affect your career.  The easiest way for companies to find out about their employees is online; therefore monitoring your reputation online is extremely important.

Social Photos on Facebook could affect your Professional chances

Now that Facebook has grown into a site with about 250 million active users, it is less easy to keep things private. Even with the option of changing privacy settings so that you can control who sees what on your profile, Facebook still claims the right to grant them “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook”.

Facebook is known for making frequent changes to the site, so you can’t be sure that something that is currently private will not become public.  Kathy Gill, a Professor of Digital Media and Communication from University of Washington said, “I think it is wise to ask yourself before posting, how would I feel if my mother saw this? Or, how would I feel if I saw this in the local or college newspaper?”.

So, given that Facebook is used for both social and professional purposes, many statuses or photos put up for social reasons could affect your professional chances.

Loss of job offers are all too common

Van Allen, a man who runs a recruiting agency for hospitals and clinics is an example of an employer who has been put off hiring someone because of what has been found on their Facebook page. When looking into the online profile of a young female candidate with a promising resume for a physician’s job, he found numerous pictures of her topless.  This put Allen off hiring her: “Hospitals want doctors with great skills to provide great services to communities,” Allen said. “They also don’t want patients to say to each other, ‘Heard about Dr. Jones? You’ve got to see those pictures.’”

This is just one example of how activities recorded by social networking sites can effect the chances of being hired by certain companies. A study conducted by Harries Interactive for CareerBuilder.com found that 35% of employers decided against offering a job to a candidate because of content found on a social networking site – the most popular site which employer’s check being Facebook.  Provocative photos, evidence of drink and drug use are among the top factors that would dissuade companies from hiring someone.

Being fired due to comments made on social networking sites

There are a number of incidents where people were fired due to comments made on social networking sites as well. Zach Good, a columnist from Penn State’s Daily Collegian was fired after students protested about comments opposing a campus cancer fundraiser.

Connor Riley, a 22 year-old lost his job offer at Cisco following his Tweet saying: ”Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work”.

So, great precautions should be taken about what gets posted on social networking sites, Even if you think a certain photo might be harmless fun, a potential employer could see it as a warning sign against hiring you.  Your online profile is the best way for employers to see what kind of a person they are thinking of hiring.

So whether we are in business, or individuals engaging in social media, we all need to bear in mind what our online profile says about us.

Recipes, Rights and Repercussions

Copyright is a hot topic at the moment, especially following the PM’s announcement that UK copyright law is to be reviewed with a view to potentially incorporating fair use provisions along similar lines to those in place in the US.  This blog has covered copyright online a number of times before, in the context of peer to peer software, piracy, and the activities of anti-copyright campaigners.  It has generally been the case that the masses will respond and attack attempts to enforce copyright rather than the other way around, Operation Payback is a recent example of this and serves to illustrate the formidable impact that organized dissent can have online.

On the other hand, circumstances are relatively few and far between where the party seeking to enforce their copyright receives the support of the online community, but last week swift reputation assassination was the price paid by Cooks Source magazine for either ignorance of, or blatant disregard for, copyright law.  This is an issue touched on briefly in an earlier post, but something deserving of further exploration.

Blogger Monica Gaudio was congratulated by a friend for getting an article published.  Something of a shock to Monica, she had never heard of the magazine, and was quite taken aback to discover that they had reproduced one of her recipes without even contacting her.  The fallout might have been controlled if it were not for the point of view taken by the magazine editor, Judith Griggs, in responding to Monica’s request for an apology, and compensation:

the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally.

What I find interesting in this case, is that despite taking no legal action to enforce her rights, the blogger to some extent achieved everything that bringing a lawsuit could have, and in far less time: she has received donations to cover her blogging expenses; the positive publicity gained is very likely to have an impact on her readership and could feasibly be monetised; her authorship has been firmly asserted; and the infringers have been punished.

The issue has been picked up by a variety of publications, including the Guardian, NPR, and a number of popular blogs, and the magazine’s Facebook page has been inundated with a constant stream of negative comment ever since.  No longer just a means of communication or entertainment, Facebook is big business (even the Queen has an account, adding to the existing presence of the British Monarchy on Twitter) and the repercussions of such an onslaught are likely to be significant.

These events should serve as a sobering reminder that copyright law is not something to be overlooked, and that to do so can have a considerable impact on a business.  They are also possibly a sign that the traditional approach of taking legal action to combat infringement may become marginalised in some cases, and that in the future more innovative strategies may prove more succesful, and cost effective.