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Archive for Social Media Messaging – Page 2

Facebook Developing “Facebook at Work”

In their never-ending quest for global domination, the brain trust at Facebook has announced yet another addition to their social media portfolio. Financial Times reported early yesterday the development of “Facebook at Work,” a professional-minded version of their ubiquitous social networking site.

If that sounds like an existing social media platform ::cough:: LinkedIn ::cough:: it should not surprise you, as Facebook has never been satisfied standing still. They have purchased entities like Instagram and WhatsApp, and in the case of start-ups unwilling to sell (Snapchat) they have dedicated millions in development dollars to try and push them out of the market.

Facebook touched on interface design that allows for the separation of work connections, personal connections and family connections by allowing for the placement of individual users on select lists—taking yet another idea from an existing social media site, Google+—but have stopped short of declaring all-out-war on LinkedIn. This is the official warning shot.

According to the report, Facebook at Work will operate in a similar fashion to LinkedIn, allowing for professional connections and chat functionality, but also incorporating features from Google Drive such as document-sharing. An independent Facebook site for strict work-related topics and conversation will also alleviate the quandary that many managers find themselves in: they realize the benefits of social media, but also the inherent distraction they present for many employees.

Facebook has yet to formally announce the project, but given the company’s history of doubling-down on all-things-expansion, I’m sure it’s on the way. There’s no stopping their scorched earth mission for dominion over the Internet.

The Revolution Will be Retweeted

Unless you’re carrying out a Robinson Crusoe existence, you know that the war has come home. For over a week now, images and video coming from Ferguson, Missouri have dominated front pages and evening news top stories. Since the killing of Mike Brown by a police officer, protestors have been clashing with law enforcement nightly. Military vehicles have been patrolling the streets, buildings have been looted and burned, and noxious plumes of tear gas are emanating from seemingly every corner of this city of 21,000. This is not occurring in Baghdad, Tripoli or Donetsk—this is occurring on American streets. The coverage has been wall-to-wall and the footage harrowing.

But that was not the case at the outset. With an influx of major news stories such as the renewed U.S. involvement in military and humanitarian roles in Iraq and the deaths of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, the reports from Ferguson were relegated to the second page coverage of the violent aspects of the protests, or nonexistent altogether.

That all changed last Wednesday night following the arrest of Huffington Post and Washington Post journalists Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery, who were cuffed and jailed for the crime of failing to leave a McDonalds quick enough. Individuals on the ground, however, had been covering the developing situation since the protests began. Social media and streaming sites such as Ustream have highlighted the power of citizen-journalism with the people on the scene using their smartphones and tablets to document the events unfolding.

Hashtags such as ‘#Ferguson’ are providing information as it comes in on Twitter, and the social media coverage and ordinary citizens filming the protests secured the mainstream media’s attention, leading to the Ferguson, Missouri situation now dominating the news cycle. However, most major news outlets have been remaining behind the ‘designated press area’ (First Amendment?); but the people on the ground on the ground streaming from their mobile devices are not beholden to such restrictions.

The power of social media was demonstrated during the Arab Spring protests, serving as a medium for organizing meet-ups to releasing information being censored by the government. It’s a sad state of affairs that this method of communication has become the most reliable news source in the United States, because freedom of the press is one of the pillars of our country. I have immense respect for the citizens in the streets forgoing their personal safety for the sake of bringing the story to the forefront, and I can only hope that this situation is resolved as quickly as possible.

Another Corporate Social Media Screw-up

Another week and another example of a corporation making a massive social media blunder—this time from fashion outlet and purveyors of all things spandex and neon, American Apparel.

If the sheer brightness of their clothing wasn’t enough to make your eyes burn, then one of their social media employees posting a photograph mistaking the space shuttle Challenger explosion for fireworks to its Tumblr account certainly is. American Apparel is no stranger to the news-cycle of late, as they recently forced out CEO and founder Dov Charney for purportedly abusing company funds and being a monumental creep. The latest e-gaffe is another glaring dent in a brand that increasingly seems to have no control of its image.

The company removed the image after immediate online-backlash and issued a swift apology, but curiously rationalized the mistake on an ‘international’ member of the social media staff born after the Challenger disaster that claimed the lives of seven Americans in 1986.

So while they apologized, the blame-shifting reeks of insincerity.

The real issue with these occurrences is the lack of oversight from companies themselves. Interns, low-level employees or contracted-help appear to have carte blanche when it comes something as pivotal as the corporate message, and the checks-and-balances that exist to prevent these screw-ups seem disturbingly absent. After this story broke I was immediately reminded of the Asiana Air crash last year where pilots’ names were reported to KTVU inaccurately. The names were given to the news outlet by an intern at the National Transportation Safety Board, and one has to instantly ask—how?

How are major organizations operating with this apparent nonexistence of accountability or fact-checking?

Your brand should be your most prized possession and guarded as such. American Apparel’s brand-value is on a steep decline in part because of their inability to monitor their own workforce, be it a result of ineffective management, the absence of functional roles and parameters or outright laziness—and it will show in their year-end financials.

Quelling Social Media Dissent in Egypt

In a troubling development out of Egypt, a country still engulfed in turmoil following the events of the Arab Spring that involved the ouster of two presidents, leaked documents detail the government’s desire to monitor its citizens’ social media accounts for any signs of dissent.

The Arab Spring was primarily a product of social media communication, with Egyptians updating their Twitter profiles and Facebooks with direct-accounts of events around Tahrir Square—information that the Mubarak (and later Morsi) regime was attempting to limit.

After completing yet another round of elections, this is a worrisome sign out of a country increasingly in the spotlight for alleged human rights abuses and limiting civil liberties.

According to the leaked documents, Egypt is actively recruiting IT firms with the ability to monitor all social media platforms—including messaging services such as WhatsApp—for any signs of political opposition. The language is broad and ambiguous, citing such activities as ‘planning sit-ins or illegal strikes’ or ‘profanity usage’ as grounds for governmental action.

The proposed monitoring technology reportedly has the capability to view messages within 30 seconds after being posted, and track the authors within a specific geographic perimeter.

Egypt is suspended in the post-revolutionary vacuum created by its peoples uprising, and its citizens are still struggling for the democracy they desired when they took to the streets in 2011. In a cruel game of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ that has been played in the country since Mubarak’s ouster, the new government’s active limiting of free speech is yet another indication that the victory the people envisioned has yet to be realized.

Facebook vs. Snapchat: Round 2

Hell hath no fury like a social media mogul scorned. Mark Zuckerberg has got it out for Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, who shockingly rejected Facebook’s $3 billion offer to acquire the multimedia messaging service last year. Shortly after Snapchat shot down Facebook’s acquirement proposal, Facebook began developing their version of Snapchat, and according to Spiegel, it was their full intention to bury them.

The app was known as ‘Poke’, and it failed. Entirely. 

Not one to abandon his vendettas that easily, it was announced that Zuckerberg and his team of programmers and designers are set to launch ‘Slingshot,’ another app concocted to directly compete with Snapchat.

The turf war for social media supremacy is one that Facebook normally wins, as their scorched earth policy of beat ‘em or buy ‘em has succeeded in the relatively short history of online networking. Spiegel and the Snapchat brass stunned the tech world when they refused what a handful of other outlets, like Instagram and WhatsApp couldn’t—and told Zuckerberg to scram, making a massive enemy in the process.

The Facebook vs. Snapchat battle is a David and Goliath scenario, as Snapchat is still in its relative infancy compared to Facebook’s massive dominion online. Zuckerberg appears to have a chip on his shoulder and is allowing his crusade against Spiegel to dictate corporate decisions—but it remains to be seen if Snapchat was wise to reject his $3 billion buyout offer, when ‘take the money and run’ seems to be the traditional modus operandi when Facebook comes knocking. 

The Internet is littered with the graves of tech start-ups, social media sites and apps that made the wrong decisions, and only time will tell if Snapchat will be among them, or will become the first company to thwart Facebook’s acquisition attempts.