Category Archives: Internet Safety

Don’t get SWAMmed–How LinkedIn is Fighting Spam

Swimming-and-SwammedEarlier this year LinkedIn quietly introduced a new featured called S.W.A.M. designed to reduce the volume of spam and unsolicited sales pitches on their platform.

S.W.A.M. is short for Sitewide Auto Moderation and, in a nutshell, means that if one LinkedIn Group Manager blocks a person from their group, all future posts from that person to any other group will be placed into a moderation queue and not automatically published to group’s members.

While this is great news for the fight against spam and other misconduct in LinkedIn groups, it can be painful if a group manager decides to block someone who inadvertently breaks a rule. Group managers therefore should only use use block group members as a last resort; a simple reminder email about the group rules might have more desirable results.

For individual group members who find themselves the subject of a block it can be a painful and time-consuming exercise to ensure that future posts will be seen by other group members. Currently the only course of action is to contact the manager of each group to which you wish to post content and request that they unrestrict your posting permissions for their group. You’re unlikely to find out which group manager blocked you because LinkedIn never discloses details of which groups have blocked an individual. Your only recourse is to contact group managers one by one to request reinstatement of normal auto-posting status.

In summary: Group Managers should only block group members as a last resort and Group Members should take great care to ensure they play by each group’s rules. A SWAM block is a painful penalty for innocent mistakes, but a welcome new weapon to help reduce the volume of spam and other unwelcome behaviour in group discussions.

You can read more about SWAM on the LinkedIn Help Center.

Video: Social Media Etiquette

Here’s some good advice for you and your colleagues. It’s blindingly obvious common sense, but sometimes it’s common sense that’s, er, less commonly used.

Social Media Etiquette

How Facebook follows your every online move

210-facebook_dislike_butonA colleague shared a blog post with me today that shows how Facebook can collect data about your online movements, even if you don’t click a ‘Like’ button or log in to Facebook. It’s a scary scenario, but one that may be being played out right now on your computer.

Of course, we should also understand that the Facebook Privacy Policy clearly states that by signing in and accepting a Facebook cookie we give consent to their receiving information about our online activities at third party sites:

Whenever you connect with a Platform application or website, we will receive information from them, including information about actions you take. In some cases, in order to personalize the process of connecting, we may receive a limited amount of information even before you connect with the application or website.

I’m often asked what’s the best way to protect your personal data when using Facebook and other social networking tools. The only 100% safe way is not to use these sites. Ever. However, if you do wish to use them, as do millions of others around the world, make sure you’re happy with your privacy settings and understand exactly what you’re signing up to before you click ‘I agree’.

It’s a value exchange; you hand over information about you in exchange for social networking with your friends. So ask yourself, are you getting more out of the deal than the social networking site is taking?

Here’s the full blog post from Microsoft’s ‘The Other James Brown’:

Data Privacy Day 2011 – are you location-savvy?

Today is Data Privacy Day, a day designed to raise public awareness of privacy and data protection issues. Microsoft is a leading supporter of the campaign and recently commissioned research to gauge public awareness of how location-based services work and how the data collected is used.

The vast majority (94%) of people who are aware of location-based services say they find these valuable, but more than half (52%) are concerned about the risks to their personal privacy.

The infographic below covers some of the issues highlighted in the research (click to enlarge):

Location Privacy infographic

And there’s a more detailed research report available here.

Video – Your location and privacy, what’s on your mind?:Get Microsoft Silverlight


My advice: For marketers looking to use location-based data to target customers, it’s worth thinking carefully about how your campaign will be perceived, especially if it’s not clear how you acquired and are using location data. Whether you’re thinking of pushing out Bluetooth messages to passing shoppers or are using Facebook’s new Sponsored Story ad format, having a solid understanding of public concern can help ensure your campaign gets off on the right foot.

Protect your online identity or risk being impersonated

"Eric Schmidt's" Facebook pageTechCrunch reports that a number of high profile business executives cluelessly accepted a Facebook friend request from someone impersonating Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, this weekend. The report also highlights privacy issues arising from the lack of e-mail authentication required to create a new account on Facebook.

An unrelated study shows that 82% of babies under the age of 2 in Western countries already have a social media presence thanks to their photos having been uploaded by others, often not their parents.

Both stories serve as a useful reminder that we should all do more to protect our private data online.

The rules are simple. Lock down your social media privacy settings to a point where you’re happy that your data and identity will not be accessible to undesirables. And, if you’re responsible for children, you need to do the same for them to help keep them safe.

Free e-book: Internet Safety

The roads are getting congested, which can mean only one thing: the new school term has just begun. And with the start of a fresh academic year comes a new season of evening presentations that I’ll be giving to parents at schools across Surrey, Kent, and Berkshire to help them understand the importance of internet safety and keeping their children from harm while online.

Own Your Space e-book coverHigh up my job list is a task to narrate and upload my latest presentation to the web so more parents can get to see it. I’ll do that soon I promise, but until then you may enjoy a new e-book from Microsoft entitled “Own Your Space”. This e-book is aimed at teenagers and explains a host of common online threats like cyber bullying, phishing, and spyware.

But, even if your teenage years, like me, are well behind you, you’ll probably find some invaluable advice in this book .

Download the e-book directly from here and, if you want all chapters, choose either of the first two links labelled:

  1. Microsoft .XPS format (requires Windows 7, Windows Vista or IE6 or later)
  2. Adobe .PDF format (requires Acrobat Reader)
[tweetmeme only_single=”false”]
%d bloggers like this: