Broward Sheriff’s Office introduces mobile optimized website


 

Creative and forward thinking is crucial in this new age of social media and digital communication.  Striving to stay ahead of the curve while effectively providing communication to the public in which they serve, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has recently introduced several new tools.

The first tool, “Community Events,” can be found at www.sheriff.org. Providing a detailed schedule of upcoming events the Broward Sheriff’s Office is hosting countywide, it also provides mapping to an actual location. Users with a GPS-enabled smart phone are provided turn-by-turn directions to their destination.

More exciting among the tools recently introduced is a new mobile-optimized version of sheriff.org created for smart phone and tablet users. The BSO Mobile Optimized Website (MOW) provides users with a sensible one-touch approach to connect with their various social media sites, view agency news, search arrests and civil cases, to report a crime or contact the agency, and to view, map and track events.

By researching the most valuable and utilized areas of interest to their website visitors, the Broward Sheriff’s Office decided to develop the MOW. Receiving over 500,000 distinct page views monthly and an impressive U.S. based Alexa ranking of 30,024, the BSO website is one of the most heavily-trafficked law enforcement agencies in the nation.

Among the first in the nation to launch such a progressive MOW, the interactive site can be activated by visiting www.sheriff.org/mobile or by clicking on the new “BSO MOBILE” button located in the top right-hand corner of the BSO website. Users can add a quick link to the site that will appear on their phones or tablets as an app. In less than a minute, you will have access to the most popular of all information available to the public.

It comes as no secret that social media is a rapidly emerging trend. While there are dozens of social media outlets, Facebook is by far the leader. With more than 900 million users worldwide – 156 million in the United States alone – more than half of all Americans have a Facebook account.

To put this into perspective, it took over 90 years for the home telephone to become conventional and only five years for Facebook to become part of the mainstream. Interesting enough, the largest increase in Facebook demographics is users who are 55 and older. 

Another popular site for quick and instant communication is Twitter.  This interactive form of social media allows users to input a minimal amount of characters for messages, also known as tweets.  Commonly used to provide information in “real time,” Twitter allows users to interact and forward “tweets” to their followers as they are posted.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office has developed their own SMS version of Twitter.  Called CyberVisor, this advisory e-mail and text system provides residents and business owners with vital information about criminal activity, traffic issues, security concerns, upcoming events, public safety initiatives, important safety tips and more.

“I am a firm believer that the more informed you are, the safer you are,” stated Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti.  “That is why we utilize these and other tools such as the E-Newsletter and the CyberVisor program to keep the community involved.”  

If you have not signed up for the CyberVisor program or E-Newsletter, please visit the Broward Sheriff’s Office at http://www.sheriff.org/cybervisor.  You can also follow them on Facebook at Broward Sheriff’s Office (Official) and Twitter @browardsheriff.  As always, residents can e-mail the Sheriff personally at Ask_The_Sheriff@sheriff.org.

‘Like’ the new Facebook ‘Want’ button


Boasting more than 900 million members worldwide, social media giant Facebook has reportedly created a new “Want” button that is substantially similar to the existing “Like” button that so many of us click on so often.

Inside Facebook reported Thursday that developer Tom Waddington from Cut Out + Keep discovered the “Want” button while searching through Facebook’s Javascript SDK.

While the “Want” button is not publicly listed among the social plugins on the Facebook developer site, Waddington indicated that it works on Open Graph objects that have been marked as “products.”

The new “Want” button would express a desire by the Facebook user to purchase a particular product or service.

One of the most popular aspects of the Facebook social network is the ability to “like” with the click of a button things on the site, such as other users’ status updates, comments or photos.

Many users already “like” brands, products or pages, but the introduction of a “Want” button would allow them to actively show their desire to purchase a particular product or service.

According to Inside Facebook, a “Want” button would allow Facebook to collect a massive amount of “desire-based” data on its users’ particular interests. This information could then be used in its battle with Google for online advertising revenue.

Millions of e-commerce and commercial websites already integrate the Facebook “Like” button on their websites. By itself, this does not prove whether users’ specifically want a particular product, or already have it.

With the “Want” button, Facebook is seeking more.

“Being able to distinguish between these groups of people and target ads to either one could be very powerful for advertisers and help make Facebook a stronger competitor to Google AdWords, stated Inside Facebook.

While the “Want” button is currently disabled on Facebook, Waddington claimed that he was able to implement the button on his own site — although anyone clicking it simply receives an error message.

When contacted early Friday afternoon, Facebook’s official response was: “We’re always testing new Platform features, however we have nothing new to announce.”

Bill Lewis is the principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” — a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends and issues on AM 740 WSBR in south Florida.

Anonymous takedown of Facebook a mainstream media mishap


For millions of Facebook users who suffered from social media withdrawal late last week as the world’s largest social media network experienced disruptions, all is now calm.

Access to your Facebook account should be fully restored.

Contrary to numerous mainstream media reports, the loosely associated hacktivist group “Anonymous” was not to blame. Anonymous did not attack Facebook nor at anytime did it ever claim responsibility for attacking the world’s largest social networking service.

The mainstream media simply got the story wrong and are now jumping through hoops to correct themselves.

The Washington Post, CBS News, Forbes, PCWorld, New Jersey Newsroom and RT.com all reported that Anonymous claimed responsibility for taking down Facebook on Thursday. The evidence offered to substantiate these reports came in the form of two distinct tweets from YourAnonNews celebrating the news that Facebook was down.

One tweet said, “Looks like good old Facebook is having packet problems,” followed by another tweet: “Oh yeah … RIP Facebook a new sound of tango down ….”

Facebook previously confirmed that the temporary outages experienced by users were not the result of a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack.

“Some users briefly experienced issues loading the site,” stated Michael Kirkland, a Facebook spokesman. “The issues have since been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

The Next Web is reporting that they have also confirmed Anonymous was not responsible for disabling Facebook, stating: “A Facebook spokesperson told us: ‘Last night’s outage was not the result of a DDoS.’”

If a DDoS attack was not responsible for taking down Facebook, it is highly unlikely that Anonymous was responsible given the fact that a Distributed Denial of Service attack is the weapon of choice for the Anonymous hacktivist.

Celebrating Facebook’s misfortune on Twitter is not the same as claiming responsibility for that misfortune.

In an attempt to clarify its position, Anonymous issued a statement denying any responsibility for disabling Facebook while reassuring the public they have no interest in taking down the 900 million user social networking giant.

The following is an excerpt from that statement:

Anonymous Press Release – We Did NOT Attack Facebook

This morning (Friday, June 1) it was reported by many mainstream media outlets that Anonymous had attacked the servers of Facebook and caused interruptions in service in a number of countries. We have investigated these allegations and have found them utterly false and without basis.

As this false report began to go viral in the mainstream media this morning, key Anonymous organizers from all over the world and in many countries gathered in the IRC channels we use to communicate. A quick poll of everyone present, representing a very broad spectrum of the global collective — quickly showed that no one in the actual Anonymous knew anything about an attack on Facebook. Most showed surprise because we all believed that we had successfully squashed the fail Op Facebook months ago, setting the record straight once and for all.

So having determined that no one in Anonymous knew anything about an attack on Facebook, we then turned our attention to the facts. We began with the statement released by Facebook. In that statement they indicated that they knew what the problem was, what it was that caused these service interruptions in various countries — and that it was an INTERNAL issue caused by a problem with some of their servers. Not only did Anonymous NOT attack Facebook, but there was no attack at all. Facebook IT’s were just having a bad day.

So what happened here? How did mainstream media get it so completely wrong? A careful analysis of the events this morning tell the story. It’s a story of lies, deceit — and mainstream media failing in it’s most basic journalistic obligations. None of which surprises us much.

Finally let us, while we have your attention — address the Anonymous attitude towards Facebook. The fact is that Anonymous has a love-hate relationship with Facebook. While we enjoy the power of social networking media to do our work, bring positive change to the world and spread our message — we utterly despise the current management of Facebook and it’s evil anti-privacy and anti-anonymity policies. We are also not at all happy about their cooperation with law enforcement and intelligence agencies in tyrannical countries around the world, including the USA. Facebook has much to be ashamed of, and has earned the hatred of all human rights and information activists.

But that said, they ARE a personal and social media platform. One that has been used by these same activists to bring about much freedom and justice in this world. Anonymous has certain core principles, and one of those is that we NEVER attack the media — even media we strongly disagree with. There is NO Op Facebook, and there NEVER was. Anonymous did NOT attack Facebook, and we NEVER will.

SIGNED — Anonymous

Anonymous Operations

Peoples Liberation Front – http://www.PeoplesLiberationFront.net irc.voxanon.net #VoxAnon

Reliable Twitter Accounts: @AnonPublicRel @PLF2012 @Doemela @DiscordiAnon @AnonyOps @AnonMedics @AnonOpsSweden (NOT exhaustive, just examples)

The reporting by numerous mainstream media outlets that Anonymous was responsible for bringing Facebook down speaks volumes to the power of social media.

Jumping to an erroneous conclusion based upon the power of an internationally known Internet hacktivist collective group and the influence it wields in contemporary affairs can certainly bolster a slow news day. Facebook will live to see another day.

Clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook not protected speech according to federal judge


 

Clicking the “Like” button on Facebook does not qualify for First Amendment protection, a United States District Court judge ruled, dismissing claims that a Virginia sheriff improperly monitored the virtual support of several now former employees.

As the November election approached in 2009, Sheriff B.J. Roberts, of Hampton, Va., learned that six of his employees were actively supporting retired chief deputy Jim Adams for sheriff. These employees had expressed their support for Adams by clicking “Like” on his campaign Facebook page and by attending a barbeque fundraiser on his behalf.

Following a successful re-election bid, Roberts fired several employees, including three uniformed deputies and three civilian workers who supported Adams.

Bobby Bland, Daniel Carter, David Dixon, Robert McCoy, John Sandhofer and Debra Woodward sued Roberts in the Eastern District of Virginia for violating their First Amendment rights.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Roberts allegedly called an agency meeting in which he advised sheriff’s office staff to get on the “long train” with him, rather than ride the “short train” with Adams.

In a motion for summary judgment against the complaint, Roberts countered that some of the employees were fired because of their poor work performance or because he wanted to replace them with sworn deputies. The uniformed deputies were terminated because their actions “hindered the harmony and efficiency of the office.”

In his order, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that “liking” a Facebook page does not qualify as protected speech. While public employees are typically allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, simply clicking the “Like” button did not constitute free and expressive speech.

“The sheriff’s knowledge of the posts only becomes relevant if the court finds the activity of liking a Facebook page to be constitutionally protected,” Jackson wrote in his opinion. “It is the court’s conclusion that merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. In cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed in the record.”

The legal matter enters a vaguely interpreted area of the law as previous cases have dealt with actual written postings on social networks such as Facebook and not the mouse click of a “Like” button.

Nationally recognized constitutional attorney and law professor Bruce Rogow disagreed with Jackson’s ruling.

“A communicative act is a form of free speech and while clicking ‘like’ on Facebook is a minimal act, it is a form of communication thus protected under the First Amendment,” Rogow advised. “Although simply a mouse click, you are clearly conveying a message of support to others.”

But in his ruling, Judge Jackson added, “Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection. The court will not attempt to infer the actual content of Carter’s posts from one click of a button on Adams’ Facebook page.”

Jackson also ruled that Roberts is entitled to qualified immunity, even if the plaintiffs had posted written statements supporting Adams on Facebook.

“In a case where the plaintiffs have asked the court itself to engage in extensive guesswork, an objectively reasonable official in the sheriff’s position cannot be expected to engage in that same calculus,” he said. “A balancing which has been difficult for multiple courts to engage is difficult more so for a sheriff attempting to ensure his actions do not impede upon the constitutional rights of his employees.”

“Taking the facts in the light more favorable to the plaintiffs, Sheriff Roberts is entitled to qualified immunity,” the court concluded.

Roberts, a law enforcement professional with over four decades experience, was unavailable for comment when contacted.

“By going to a candidate’s Facebook page and liking it, you are making a political statement,” concluded Rogow. “This is a form of protected speech.”

Converting a Non-Personal Profile at Facebook to a Business Page


With over 800 million members and hundreds more joining every hour, if Facebook were a nation, they would be the world’s third largest behind only China and India.  At seven years old, Facebook continues to develop an existence within society.

With that said, “change” is once again occurring at the social media utility as Facebook has released a cleaver and convenient way for users to convert non-personal profiles into business pages all without losing the social presence previously established.  A key difference between the two features is the fact that users can “like” a page while they must “friend” a profile.  Facebook believes that a page is a much better solution for businesses and public figures.

Over the last couple of years, numerous profile and privacy policy changes have occurred at the world’s largest social media network.  Most of these changes have been in relation to personal profiles and not those of businesses. Facebook’s main target with this move appears to be businesses and public figures that have previously setup a profile instead of a page.  In addition to a somewhat different feature set, personal profiles also have a 5,000 friend limit.

A Facebook personal profile created for a business, band, brand, organization, cause or product is a direct violation of the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and could result in the removal of all content and the connections the user has built over time.

Facebook business accounts offer page administrators special features that allow them to better connect with fans and customers while also allowing them to manage their social ads and presence on the Internet.  Facebook blocks business accounts from viewing fans’ personal profiles and content and restricts businesses from “friending” personal accounts.

In an effort to “change” its position on such personal profiles while no longer simply removing those that violate its stated policy, Facebook has developed a new business type page.  This change is a welcome move for those who want to move their friends to a page and setup a new profile to maintain a more personal relationship with people they actually know.  It can also help those who should have exercised better judgment when they accepted certain people into their Facebook network.

When a “personal” user converts an account, all friends will migrate with the profile and will become “fans” on the new business page. The profile picture will also migrate, but all other content (photo albums, wall posts, notes, links, etc.) will be lost.  Inside Facebook recommends using the “Download Your Information” tool before converting an account to retain its contents for use elsewhere.

If the personal profile has more than 100 friends, a new page name will have to be chosen.  All login, email and password data will remain the same on the new business page.

Facebook has created a profile migration portal to help users make the change. Users can assign a page to the category (local or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community) that will best define the page’s content and audience.

Facebook also has a Help Page to guide users through the process of converting personal accounts to business accounts.  It is important to note that profile migrating is irreversible, so be sure you really want to make the switch before completing all the steps.

To learn more about Facebook business accounts and profile migration, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?migrate.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit http://www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

It’s Official: Facebook to Start Charging Users


Now that I have your attention, the above statement is false.

Following yet another change at Facebook, a new version of an old hoax is spreading throughout the Internet warning users that the company will soon start charging for their service.

Starting early last week, many of my Facebook friends and fans sent private messages and texts seeking advice on whether they should join the new subscription service or move their friends to Google +

So widespread was the rumor that the subject was topic of numerous conversations during Presidency 5 and CPAC in Orlando last week.  Many politicians and political strategists were openly wondering whether they would now have to pay for someone to “Like” them.

In fact, several of my colleagues openly questioned this “new policy” while watching the Fox Presidential Debate and munching on Google candy in the media center of the Orange County Convention Center.

The rumor – which is spreading as a chain letter on Facebook – warns users that the world’s largest social network will soon start charging as a result of upcoming profile changes.  Notwithstanding the Facebook disclaimer that “It’s free and always will be,” hundreds of thousands have fallen for this hoax.

The posts have been reported in numerous languages and in numerous countries:

“IT IS OFFICIAL.  IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS.  FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING. DUE TO THE PROFILE CHANGES.  IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU.  PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON,  IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY.”

Another post offering various levels of Facebook membership:

“FACEBOOK JUST RELEASED THEIR PRICE GRID FOR MEMBERSHIP. $9.99 PER MONTH FOR GOLD MEMBER SERVICES, $6.99 PER MONTH FOR SILVER MEMBER SERVICES $3.99 PER MONTH FOR BRONZE MEMBER SERVICES, FREE IF YOU COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. WHEN YOU SIGN ON TOMORROW MORNING YOU WILL BE PROMPTED FOR PAYMENT INFO…IT IS OFFICIAL IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY.”

Mashable.Com has reported that the widespread rumor is just that, a rumor.  Despite the recent changes, Facebook continues to maintain on its homepage, “It’s free and always will be.”

After all, Facebook is expected to generate over $4 billion in advertising revenue in 2011.  They would not be able to do this as a paid subscription service.  Users would abandon them in droves in search of free social networks like Google +

Among the changes revealed last Thursday at the F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg discussed several new features covering everything from food to music.  One of the new features will provide a complete history of a Facebook users life on their profile page called “Timeline.”

“Timeline” will change a users profile page and will also display a large cover photo dominating it.  Facebook hopes this new service will better express who you are to others.

Even more interesting, “Timeline” will also allow Facebook users to check those who have defriended them.  This service has never before been available.

As a general rule of caution, Facebook users should not believe everything they read on their friends profile wall.  Although your friends may mean well, blindly copying and pasting false warnings and chain letters only allow rumors such as Facebook charging for its service to continue and thrive.

In dispelling other rumors: No, the Google candy available in the media room of the Fox Presidential Debate on Thursday did not contain transmitting devices. Therefore, you will not start glowing in the dark making you more searchable on Google search engines.

This is true – I was there and thoroughly enjoyed the candy bar provided by Google.

The Evolving Nation of Facebook


With over 600 million members and hundreds joining every hour, if Facebook were a nation, they would be the world’s third largest behind only China and India.  At seven years old, Facebook continues to develop an existence within society.

With that said, “change” is once again occurring at the social media utility as Facebook has released a cleaver and convenient way for users to convert non-personal profiles into business pages all without losing the social presence previously established.  A key difference between the two features is the fact that users can “like” a page while they must “friend” a profile.  Facebook believes that a page is a much better solution for businesses and public figures.

Over the last couple of years, numerous profile and privacy policy changes have occurred at the world’s largest social media network.  Most of these changes have been in relation to personal profiles and not those of businesses. Facebook’s main target with this move appears to be businesses and public figures that have previously setup a profile instead of a page.  In addition to a somewhat different feature set, personal profiles also have a 5,000 friend limit.

A Facebook personal profile created for a business, band, brand, organization, cause or product is a direct violation of the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and could result in the removal of all content and the connections the user has built over time.

Facebook business accounts offer page administrators special features that allow them to better connect with fans and customers while allowing them to manage their social ads and presence on the Internet.  Facebook blocks business accounts from viewing fans’ personal profiles and content and restricts businesses from “friending” personal accounts.

In an effort to “change” its position on such personal profiles while no longer simply removing those that violate its stated policy, Facebook has developed a new business type page.  This change is a welcome move for those who want to move their friends to a page and setup a new profile to maintain a more personal relationship with people they actually know.  It can also help those who should have exercised better judgment when they accepted certain people into their Facebook network.

When a “personal” user converts an account, all friends will migrate with the profile and will become “fans” on the new business page. The profile picture will also migrate, but all other content (photo albums, wall posts, notes, links, etc.) will be lost.  Inside Facebook recommends using the “Download Your Information” tool before converting an account to retain its contents for use elsewhere.

If the personal profile has more than 100 friends, a new page name will have to be chosen.  All login, email and password data will remain the same on the new business page.

Facebook has created a profile migration portal to help users make the change. Users can assign a page to the category (local or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community) that will best define the page’s content and audience.

Facebook also has a Help Page to guide users through the process of converting personal accounts to business accounts.  It is important to note that profile migrating is irreversible, so be sure you really want to make the switch before completing all the steps.

To learn more about Facebook business accounts and profile migration, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?migrate.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit http://www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

Facebook Makes Sweeping Changes


With over 600 million members and hundreds joining every hour, if Facebook were a nation, they would be the world’s third largest behind only China and India.  At seven years old, Facebook continues to develop an existence within society.

With that said, “change” is once again occurring at the social media utility as Facebook has released a cleaver and convenient way for users to convert non-personal profiles into business pages all without losing the social presence previously established.  A key difference between the two features is the fact that users can “like” a page while they must “friend” a profile.  Facebook believes that a page is a much better solution for businesses and public figures.

Over the last couple of years, numerous profile and privacy policy changes have occurred at the world’s largest social media network.  Most of these changes have been in relation to personal profiles and not those of businesses. Facebook’s main target with this move appears to be businesses and public figures that have previously setup a profile instead of a page.  In addition to a somewhat different feature set, personal profiles also have a 5,000 friend limit.

A Facebook personal profile created for a business, band, brand, organization, cause or product is a direct violation of the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and could result in the removal of all content and the connections the user has built over time.

Facebook business accounts offer page administrators special features that allow them to better connect with fans and customers while allowing them to manage their social ads and presence on the Internet.  Facebook blocks business accounts from viewing fans’ personal profiles and content and restricts businesses from “friending” personal accounts.

In an effort to “change” its position on such personal profiles while no longer simply removing those that violate its stated policy, Facebook has developed a new business type page.  This change is a welcome move for those who want to move their friends to a page and setup a new profile to maintain a more personal relationship with people they actually know.  It can also help those who should have exercised better judgment when they accepted certain people into their Facebook network.

When a “personal” user converts an account, all friends will migrate with the profile and will become “fans” on the new business page. The profile picture will also migrate, but all other content (photo albums, wall posts, notes, links, etc.) will be lost.  Inside Facebook recommends using the “Download Your Information” tool before converting an account to retain its contents for use elsewhere.

If the personal profile has more than 100 friends, a new page name will have to be chosen.  All login, email and password data will remain the same on the new business page.

Facebook has created a profile migration portal to help users make the change. Users can assign a page to the category (local or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community) that will best define the page’s content and audience.

Facebook also has a Help Page to guide users through the process of converting personal accounts to business accounts.  It is important to note that profile migrating is irreversible, so be sure you really want to make the switch before completing all the steps.

To learn more about Facebook business accounts and profile migration, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?migrate.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit http://www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

“Change” Once Again at Facebook


“Change” is once again occurring at social media utility Facebook as they are set to release a cleaver and convenient method for users to convert non-personal profiles into business pages without losing the social presence they have previously established.

Over the last couple of years, numerous profile and privacy policy changes have occurred at the world’s largest social media network.  Most of these changes have been in relation to personal profiles and not those of businesses.

Facebook business accounts offer page administrators special features that allow them to better connect with fans and customers while allowing them to manage their social ads and presence on the Internet.  Facebook blocks business accounts from viewing fans’ personal profiles and content and restricts businesses from “friending” personal accounts.

A Facebook personal profile created for a business, band, brand, organization, cause or product is a direct violation of the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and could result in the removal of all content and the connections the user has built over time.

In an effort to “change” its position on such personal profiles while no longer simply removing those that violate its stated policy, Facebook has developed a new business type page. 

When a “personal” user converts an account, all friends will migrate with the profile and will become “fans” on the new business page. The profile picture will also migrate, but all other content (photo albums, wall posts, notes, links, etc.) will be lost. Inside Facebook recommends using the Download Your Information tool before converting an account to retain its contents for use elsewhere.

If the profile has more than 100 friends, a new page name will have to be chosen.  All login, email and password data will remain the same on the new business page.

Facebook has created a profile migration portal to help users make the change. A user can assign the new Page to a category (local or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community) that will best define the page’s content and audience.

Facebook also has a Help Page to guide users through the process of converting personal accounts to business accounts. 

A word to the wise – review any and all changes prior to finalizing the switch from a personal to business account as once completed, you cannot convert back.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

Death and Social Networks


Losing a friend or family member is painful enough, but imagine when that friend’s social networking profile at Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace continues to appear on your personal wall or in searches.

In the digital age, many of us publish our entire lives through profiles, status updates, networks, photographs, blog posts, etc. With more than a million social networkers dying yearly, family, friends and service providers are stuck trying to figure out how to deal with a deceased user’s digital bits.

As a social networking guru with over 40,000 contacts spread across six social networks, one of them – Barry Epstein, of Boca Raton – advised that he was closing the accounts of his recently departed son. Aware of the “memorial” policies of Facebook, I was prompted to investigate the various social networking policies on deceased users’ accounts and what can be done to preserve, memorialize or delete them following death.

Facebook

Although not the first to establish a policy for its 500 million users worldwide, Facebook was the highest profile because of the way it addressed the issue. Rather than allowing a family member to take control of an account, Facebook instead decided to take things a step further and allowed them to be memorialized. http://www.facebook.com/help/?search=deceased

This is helpful for two reasons. First, it preserves the deceased user’s online identity so that only confirmed friends can visit their profile to read about them, view photos and leave posts of remembrance.

When Facebook converts an account into a memorial, the deceased user no longer pops up in Facebook’s friend suggestions. Thus we are not constantly reminded of their disappearance. The person’s profile automatically becomes private to everyone but confirmed friends. Personal identifiers and contact information are also removed to respect privacy and prevent hacking.

To establish a Facebook memorial, family or friends fill out a special contact form and provide proof of death such as an Internet link to an obituary or news article. Unlike other social networks, Facebook allows non-family to perform this task, which is helpful in a situation where the deceased user’s friends are more Internet-savvy than family.

Twitter

Just as Facebook allows users to request an account be deleted or memorialized when a friend or family member has passed on, Twitter users can now request a permanent back-up of the deceased user’s public tweets or a complete account deletion. http://www.twitter.com/help

Accounts of deceased users will no longer appear in the “Who to Follow” suggestion box and previously scheduled tweets are not published. At present, accounts of deceased users look exactly the same as those of living users and can be followed and listed.

To establish a permanent back-up or to delete a deceased user’s Twitter account, a family member is required to submit the user name or link to the profile page, and proof of death in the form of a public obituary or news article. Twitter also advises, “Please note that we cannot allow access to the account or disclose other non-public information regarding the account.”

MySpace

As one of the oldest social networks, MySpace has a deceased user policy that is more of a standardized policy of removal rather than memorializing. Moreover, MySpace does not adequately address privacy concerns and is susceptible to hacking. http://www.myspace.com/help

To remove a MySpace profile, a family member must contact MySpace via e-mail with proof of death and the user’s unique identification number. A user-name is generally not acceptable.

“Unfortunately, we can’t let you access, edit, or delete any of the content or settings on the user’s profile yourself, but we’ll be sure to review and remove any content you find objectionable,” reads MySpace’s policy. This policy is not particularly helpful for older relatives that are not Internet-savvy and makes it almost impossible to remove a deceased user’s existence from MySpace.

Strangely enough, hackers can potentially access the deceased user’s account. On MySpace’s policy page is an admission admitting that anyone with access to their e-mail account can simply “retrieve the password through the forgot password link” and make any necessary changes.

“I believe social networks are really useful for memorializing the deceased,” stated Barry Epstein of Boca Raton. “No matter what one does at the memorial service, people are using social networks as a way to deal with the departed, but in a way that funerals don’t allow.”

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune – Media General Group  http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/dec/12/death-and-social-networks/news/

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series at the Highlands Today, visit www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.