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Topics from Junior League of Nashville training, 4/29/2010

Today at lunch and again this evening, I’m speaking to members of the Junior League of Nashville about managing your online identity. Because the audience is going to be very diverse in age range and current technology adoption, most of our discussion is likely to be Q&A around the topics of online identity and privacy, and on the flip side, taking full advantage of social media for personal or business reasons.

We’re going to use these links as our jumping-off points. I’ll report back tomorrow on how it goes!

In case you weren’t scared already….

The Motrin Moms debacle

Oversharing and location awareness

Drunkengeorgetownstudents.com

Kevin Colvin, busted for his Halloween partying

Most of us have been guilty of sending angry emails.

Managing your online identity

Everything you want to know about online privacy

Managing your privacy on Facebook

Get started with Twitter

Share photos: Flickr and Picasa

Share videos: YouTube and Vimeo

Location services: Foursquare and Gowalla

Special cases
Job-hunting

Teaching your kids about media

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What you shouldn't learn from the Facebook TOS incident

Earlier this week, Facebook released a new terms of service agreement, which appeared to give Facebook perpetual, non-exclusive copyright to anything you post there.

After a bunch of back and forth in the blogosphere [I do hate that word, but this is really where it was happening], and general demonizing of Facebook itself, and the creation of several “I hate the new Facebook TOS” groups on Facebook itself, the company finally said, umm, we didn’t mean to make y’all mad. Let’s forget this ever happened, mmk?

And their intent seems to be, they’ll fix what they were trying to fix the first time around, with some overhauled terms, one day soon. But that they’re really not trying to steal our stuff.

What not to learn
And all this is very well and good. But I would hate for anyone to take away this lesson from the Great Facebook TOS incident of February 2009:

You can be sloppy and/or abuse your site’s users all you want.

Now, if Facebook didn’t have a history of actually doing that, I’d be more willing to excuse them for this incident. I think they really may just have not realized the loophole their new terms created for abuse of users’ content. But many significant developments on Facebook do seem to happen with this stutter-step approach:

  1. Facebook adds a new feature [the News Feed, Beacon] without properly sharing the benefits with the community.
  2. People have a cow.
  3. Facebook retreats or partially retreats.
  4. People simmer down and continuing sharing what they had for breakfast with everyone they know.

Here’s the bottom line: Facebook gets away with this kind of behavior because — according to Mark Zuckerberg’s recent blog post — if Facebook were a country, it would be the 6th most populous country on earth. China, India, the U.S., Indonesia, Brazil, Facebook. You can’t get the access Facebook gives you anywhere else.

The rest of us aren’t Facebook
In most other online communities — and especially small, private-label, or local communities — the group needs each user far more than the user needs the group. So when we’re managing a community, we have to remember that our efforts had better make sense the first time around. We’d better be transparent. And we’d better do our best to be useful to the community.

It’s just too easy for a community member to walk when we abuse them. No matter what Facebook demonstrates to the contrary.

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The Facebook TOS debacle: You probably don't care

Today, Consumerist made a big splash in certain geeky communities by identifying a passage that’s been removed from the Facebook terms of service agreement. Now, Facebook asserts the perpetual, non-exclusive right to any content you post on the site, even if you [or they] delete your account.

I’m actually one of those geeks who reads TOS agreements. I think I’ve read them for every major social network/content site I use. I don’t agree with all the provisions in all of them, but so far, I’ve been willing to agree to them legally, because the benefits of using the services have outweighed my disagreements with their legal positions.

The reality is outlined nicely by my Twitter friend Eyebee, however. Most people just don’t care.

…most people aren’t even going to read about it, and most that do won’t understand the implications, or even care about it anyway.

If you still care
I found a great analysis of the whole situation over at Mashable. It’s worth reading and understanding–and it makes a decent guess at Facebook’s motivation.

My thought here is that both points are relevant. Most people don’t care, but this situation clearly highlights an issue that we haven’t yet figured out the right way to resolve legally.

The real problem
Copyright law and digital rights management simply haven’t kept up with technology. I’m not one to advocate more regulation and legislation, particularly in this area–frankly, I think most in Congress understand less about the implications of our print-based copyright law on the Internet than most 22-year-olds at this point. I’m trying hard to think of something Congress has done about copyright recently that I liked. Hmm. Still thinking.

But situations like this one at Facebook–where posting content from various sources, and allowing it to be shared on various destinations–simply aren’t covered by existing law. And so we’re going to continue having these copyright and licensing issues for a long time.

Update: The Industry Standard gets the scoop from Facebook, who’s now also blogging about the TOS issue.

My final point: Facebook may CLAIM it intends to play nice here. And I suspect it does. But the new TOS agreement allows it not to.

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Figuring out the best social media platform

Chris Brogan has an interesting blog post where he wonders how to fix his Facebook dilemma: There’s a cap of 5,000 friends on Facebook, and he’s close to it. He’s wondering about the best way to stay in touch with both his friends and his fans, and considers how his Facebook fan page may help. It’s fairly well suited to staying in touch with a large group, but it’s not perfect.

In his post and in the comments, Brogan and others debate several social media platforms: Twitter, Ning, Facebook, more. Several people are frustrated with Facebook and its “limitations,” like the 5,000 friend limit, various “problems” with fan and group pages, the “extraneous” clutter [things like Facebook flair and Little Green Patch come to mind].

And while I agree that while these things are potentially troublesome for marketers, few of them are problematic for people. Not that I think Facebook [or any other social media platform] is perfect. But I think it matters what you use it for. Trying to keep in better touch with high school and college buddies, and keep up with local events? Facebook is what you need. Trying to manage a professional brand? You undoubtedly need Facebook plus several other tools — and Facebook likely isn’t even the first thing you need.

Are you using the best technology for your purposes? [That’s the question I think Brogan is trying to answer.] Many of us spend a lot of time trying to make our preferred technology the be-all and end-all, instead of choosing the right tool at the right time.

Just like I roll my eyes at people who send me tabular content in a Word document instead of in a spreadsheet, I’m dismayed at the clumsy uses I see of many elegant social media platforms. Kudos to Brogan for trying to figure out the right answer.

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