Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm Calling BS on Facebook Story

The BS meter went to 11 this week over the Associated Press story regarding job applicants being asked to give up their Facebook passwords to interviewers.

Not that I don't know for a fact that Fortune 500 companies and major universities screen applicants and vet finalists based on social profiles.


Who is Justin Bassett, and how did this one person become the face of the AP story?

No small coincidence that a quick google reveals 160,000 hits, leading with, shocking, Justin Bassett's Facebook page? And in the last week, roughly 3,300 news stories about his experience.

More in a minute.

That it happens is not the question. Why it has risen to the level of Congressional inquiry is?

No coincidence that Facebook chimed in to tell employers not to do that, but in large part because that's bad internet security to ask for passwords.

Notice, they didn't say the snooping was bad. That would mean the world's greatest data mining and information gathering machine would have to admit that its very core premise was wrong.

Meanwhile, back to Justin. My curiosity is from the PR professional point of view. How did the AP reporters happen upon his compelling story? Is it coincidence that something that would cause people to rethink their social profile material is going mainstream during the time between Facebook's public filing and the actual sale of shares?

Viral needs a host, and that host is the growing concern among the general public that we have given up too much of our privacy.

Guess what kids? Too late.

We did it to ourselves, and unless we can convince a rising generation of young adults there is something wrong with the honest of open lives, the chance of reversing into some European style privacy laws for on-line content is zero. Who watches the watchmen? You have to find enough people who care.

Perhaps that is the real motivation behind this story.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brands Learning College Lesson

I'm finding this article via the PRSA Issues and Trends interesting: Mascots Are Brands' Best Social Accessories.

For those of us old enough to remember, everyone had a cute mascot to promote their products like Tony the Tiger or Charley the Tuna. Eventually, it burned out as the Baby Boomers grew up, but . . . . their brand affiliations were somewhat established during that youth period.

The resurgence is tagged to social media, and the intimacy, casual conversation message and fun aspect.

Two things.

You're telling American universities something they figured out early, and the better ones have begun to ratchet up. Check out the institutional logos of the University of Texas, University of Michigan and LSU. Hmmm. Those look a LOT like the athletic marks.

Because once you get the ivory tower over it, they know the best sales pitch for the school is the friendly mascot. Everyone loves the mascot.

Second thing -- why didn't anyone ascribe the return of the mascot to the aging of the late Boomers?

Frankly, social has nothing to do with the revival in my opinion. Yes, the mascot makes a friendly face for the messaging, but this is more of a revival of the look and feel of the late 1960s and early 1970s fashion.

Mazda's new SKYACTIV commercial. The Blake Griffin 70s track suit look of his Kia commercials. The dominance of the Mad Men phenomenon.

And what was part and parcel of that advertising age?

Sorry Charlie, only the most retro get to be a part of the new social.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gooey EULA Fun at Pintrest

Pintrest got an unwanted week of attention as copyright advocates mounted a campaign against the hot new social network. Guess what? The week ends with Pintrest updating it's terms of service.

Ah yes, that EULA (End User License Agreement) that hardly anyone reads or notices until there is trouble.

Pintrest makes it clear -- you shouldn't be posting things you don't own copyright to, and to give in to the copyright crowd (and gain a little more DMCA protection) Pintrest made it easier to report violations of copyright.

But then, there was this:

Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.


Perhaps it should have said, Pintrest really wanted to sell your content in the data mining sense -- you suddenly got ads from say, Lowes, if you had pinned something that was in the home improvement part of the site. And photographers and other creative types took it to mean because the site is so visual that Pintrest wanted to sell your actual image creations.

Because Pintrest (and several new other services like Path) have another dirty little secret. On those "would you like FILL-IN THE BLANK WITH SERVICE NAME OF YOUR CHOICE to find your friends using . . . ", what the service is really doing is uploading your whole address book to its servers. Why? Oh, to make it work better for you. And, to harvest all those names and addresses.

Path and others were revealed to be archiving and storing those names. Why again? Just to make it convenient for you as a user of again, fill in the blank with whoever you want here, because they will help you by keeping those on file. In the server.

That is something that should concern us. However, when you consider how much of your data is now mine-able, searchable, track-able . . . what's another service watching you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don't Waste a Crisis

Rahm Emanuel's "you never want to waste a serious crisis" line is terribly Machiavellian.

Doesn't also mean it's not true.

Case in point. Here at Northwestern State we closed the campus today due to heavy rains and localized flooding within the parish.

My email box lit up at 9:42 p.m. last night. Twitter subscriptions -- 35 in about 15 minutes as students figured out that A) we'd just announced via our social and website the school was closed and likely B) they heard from friends that "hey, NSU just tweeted out there's no school."

Monday, March 19, 2012


Wally Hall laid down the marker in the sand -- the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was not signing the "restrictive" credential policies of the NCAA to cover the UALR-hosted women's first and second round. Rather than give up their rights on images and other restrictions, the ADG staff bought tickets and covered the event from the stands.

A noble stand in the growing battle over who controls what, and I would like to share with you Wally's prose.

But I can't. Because the ADG is behind a pay wall.

What's good for the goose, as they say.

What I can say to you are these things. I'm pretty sure that the photos taken from the stands are still owned by the NCAA (perhaps the ADG could check the back of the ticket stub for those policies)

I'm wondering how all those quotes got into the game story covered from the stands, if ADG reporter Troy Schulte covered the UALR-Delaware game from the paying public spaces.

I'm not saying Wally doesn't have some valid points, and he points out how he's going to have his 30-year streak of Final Fours broken by not accepting the NCAA's rules.

I am going to say -- if Mike Anderson's Razorbacks were in the tournament would the paper have stood on the same principles since it's "just" Tom Collen's Razorbacks in College Station.

And if the NCAA wants to get chippy, all that post game content -- quotes, play-by-play, stats -- can be declared their intellectual property.

Did Schulte keep his own stats in the stands? I'm sure those came from the AP, who got them from the NCAA.

A story that will bear watching as it goes forward -- will ADG stand firm when Arkansas' baseball team reaches post season in a couple of months?