Category Archives: Social Media

Senators Seek More Transparency In Online Political Ads

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators are moving to boost transparency for online political ads, unveiling on Thursday what could be the first of several pieces of legislation to try to lessen influence from Russia or other foreign actors on U.S. elections. The bill by Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would require social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to keep public files of election ads and meet the same disclaimer requirements as political broadcast and print advertising. Federal regulations now require television and radio stations to make publicly available the details of political ads they air. That includes who runs the ad, when it runs and how much it costs. The bill also would require companies to “make reasonable efforts” to ensure that election ads are not purchased directly or indirectly by a foreign national. The move comes after Facebook revealed that ads that ran on the company’s social media platform and have been linked to a Russian internet agency were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 election. Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 race, and Klobuchar is the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees elections. The legislation also has support from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Lawmakers on the Senate intelligence panel and other committees investigating Russian influence have said one of the main roles of Congress will be to pass legislation to try to stop the foreign meddling. That’s in contrast to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also investigating and has the ability to prosecute if he finds any criminal wrongdoing. Other lawmakers are working on legislation to help states detect if foreign actors are trying to hack into their systems. That’s after the Department of Homeland Security said that 21 states had their election systems targeted by Russian government hackers. But it’s unclear if Congress will be able to agree on any such legislation amid heightened partisan tensions. Warner and Klobuchar are still trying to woo additional Senate and House Republicans, who have spent much of the year rolling back federal regulations they see as burdensome. McCain, who has for years broken with many of his GOP colleagues on campaign finance laws, said in a statement that he has “long fought to increase transparency and end the corrupting influence of special interests in political campaigns, and I am confident this legislation will modernize existing law to safeguard the integrity of our election system.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., has said he wants to wait until after an upcoming hearing with social media executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google before weighing in on the legislation. Late last month, after Warner first floated the bill, Burr said it was too soon to discuss legislation and that the hearing will “explore for the first time any holes that might exist in social media platform regulation or campaign law.” Another Republican member of the intelligence panel, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, said he has concerns about the bill, including that “there is a difference between the public airwaves and privately held fiber, basically, and how it’s managed.” He said the “idea isn’t bad,” but he wants to look at the technical issues. Lankford said he believes there will be several pieces of legislation coming out of the Russia probe, but “whether that’s the first or not, I don’t know.” Announcing the legislation at a news conference, the two Democrats framed the issue as a matter of national security. “Russia attacked us and will continue to use different tactics to undermine our democracy and divide our country, including by purchasing disruptive online political ads,” Klobuchar said. “We have to secure our election systems and we have to do it now.” Warner, who has worked closely with Burr on the intelligence panel, has said repeatedly that he hopes the social media companies will work with them on the legislation, which he calls “the lightest touch possible.” The companies have said very little publicly about the bill or the prospect of regulation. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said his company will now require political ads to disclose who is paying for them, a move that Warner and Klobuchar said their bill would “formalize and expand.” “We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising,” Erin Egan, Facebook vice president for United States public policy, said in a statement after Warner and Klobuchar introduced their bill. “We have already announced the steps Facebook will take on our own and we look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution.” Google also said it supports efforts to “improve transparency, enhance disclosures, and reduce foreign abuse.” The company said it is evaluating steps it can take. Twitter would only stay in a statement that “we look forward to engaging with Congress and the FEC on these issues.” The Federal Election Commission regulates campaign finance laws. Lawrence Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan election advocacy group, said that some foreign entities could potentially get around the legislation if it were passed, but it would make it harder for them and put more responsibility on the companies. “There is a difference between them saying they will do something and the law saying they have to do something,” Noble said. © Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Twitter Vows New Crackdown On Hateful, Abusive Tweets

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter vowed to crack down further on hate speech and sexual harassment, days after CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet-storm that the company was “still” not doing enough to protect its users. The policy changes were specifically aimed at protecting women who unknowingly or unwillingly had nude pictures of themselves distributed online or were subject to unwanted sexual advances. They would also aim to shield groups subject to hateful imagery, symbols and threats of violence. In an email Twitter shared with The Associated Press Tuesday, Twitter’s head of safety policy outlined the new guidelines to the company’s Trust and Safety Council, a group of outside organizations that advises the company on its policies against abuse. The company said it would enact the changes in the weeks ahead. News of the policy changes was first reported by Wired. Among the changes, Twitter said it would immediately and permanently suspend any account it identifies as being the original poster of “non-consensual nudity,” including so-called “creep shots” of a sexual nature taken surreptitiously. Previously, the company treated the original poster of the content the same as those who re-tweeted it, and it resulted only in a temporary suspension. It said it would also develop a system allowing bystanders to report unwanted exchanges of sexually charged content, whereas in the past it relied on one of the parties involved in the conversation to come forward before taking action. Twitter also said it would take new action on hate symbols and imagery and “take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause,” though it said more details were to come. While it already takes action against direct threats of violence, the company said it would also act against tweets that glorify or condone violence. On Friday, Dorsey foreshadowed the coming policy changes in a series of tweets, saying the company’s efforts over the last two years were inadequate. “Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re (asterisk)still(asterisk) not doing enough,” Dorsey tweeted. The moves also come amid intense scrutiny from congressional investigators into how Russian agents used Twitter, Facebook and Google to influence last year’s U.S. election. Twitter has said it would appear at a public congressional hearing on Nov. 1 after already briefing a Senate committee. The company has handed over the handles of 201 accounts it believes were linked to Russia. It has also said at least $274,000 in U.S. ads were bought by Russia Today, a Russian-government-linked media outlet, last year. © Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

How To Grow Your Small Business’s Subscription Base

 
Implementing growth strategies for your subscription base is a vital part of optimizing growth for your small business. A major step to success is understanding how to retain your current customer base and attract new subscribers. In essence, you want to create fresh content that engages your subscribers and keeps them coming back for more. Here are some more helpful tips for growing your small business’ subscription base.
   
Get to know your subscribers The first step in optimizing your subscriber list is getting to know the people who are on it. Learn about your customers by collecting useful data and information about them by installing an analytics tool on your website such as Google Analytics or Kissmetrics. These tools provide all kinds of important metrics like how many visits per month, per week, and per day your site gets, a visitor’s location, as well as a paid conversion rate. A site like CrazyEgg will give you a “heatmap” of your site that shows what areas are drawing clicks, and more importantly what areas are not. The more information you can gather about visitors’ clicking and browsing habits the better, so you can tailor your email marketing campaign accordingly.  
Give the people what they want The O’Jays summed up a successful subscription strategy best when they sang,“Give the people what they want,” in their 1975 chart-topping R&B song. Seems easy enough to do, especially when you can follow the adage, “write about what you know,” which goes along with giving your customers what they want. You should be an expert on your products and services. It all really starts with the content you create. Is your newsletter, blog post or informational email cool and entertaining? Does it display expert knowledge about your product, service and field. Are you giving your customer value-added information that they want and need? The key is to avoid being flat and boring. Also, don’t waste your customer’s time with irrelevant information. Give the people the quality content they want and you’ll have the best chance that they’ll keep coming back for more.  
Think outside the box Thinking out side the box should be meant figuratively and literally. You must be creative to stand out in a crowded inbox, thousands of other small business sites and social media pages. Your email heading should entice a click-to-open, and your content should drive your audience over to your site. Create interesting and fun interactions that would appeal to your audience while being useful. If you’re a hometown bakery, provide a fun how-to videos and secret recipes on your site about making pie crust or bread from scratch. Post photos of your best cupcakes or cookies. Include a “treat of the day” on Instagram or Twitter sites, and add the links in your email. You can also attract customers customers to your site by adding your link to your social media pages.  
Invite them to subscribe This might sound like common sense, but many small business owners fail to reach out with a simple link to allow for easy subscription on their site. You can also include subscription information on social pages, printed brochures, signup sheets at seminars, sales events and more. Always remember you are in business to attract and retain customers, and to ultimately sell your product or service. Building a strong subscription base often starts with a simple “please subscribe” invitation. Don’t hesitate to be aggressive in your effort to grow your list this way.  
Refer-a-friend perks Word of mouth goes a long way in the business world. If you can get a happy, enthusiastic customer to help spread the word about your business, then consider rewarding their loyalty. For instance, offer a subscription referral reward if a current subscriber refers a friend to join your list, or better yet, to your company for a sale. Maybe offer a product discount, a free sample or some other perk. New customers generated from happy customers is arguably the best kind of growth your business can experience.    
This article was written by Lori Melton for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

How To Grow Your Small Business’s Subscription Base

 
Implementing growth strategies for your subscription base is a vital part of optimizing growth for your small business. A major step to success is understanding how to retain your current customer base and attract new subscribers. In essence, you want to create fresh content that engages your subscribers and keeps them coming back for more. Here are some more helpful tips for growing your small business’ subscription base.
   
Get to know your subscribers The first step in optimizing your subscriber list is getting to know the people who are on it. Learn about your customers by collecting useful data and information about them by installing an analytics tool on your website such as Google Analytics or Kissmetrics. These tools provide all kinds of important metrics like how many visits per month, per week, and per day your site gets, a visitor’s location, as well as a paid conversion rate. A site like CrazyEgg will give you a “heatmap” of your site that shows what areas are drawing clicks, and more importantly what areas are not. The more information you can gather about visitors’ clicking and browsing habits the better, so you can tailor your email marketing campaign accordingly.  
Give the people what they want The O’Jays summed up a successful subscription strategy best when they sang,“Give the people what they want,” in their 1975 chart-topping R&B song. Seems easy enough to do, especially when you can follow the adage, “write about what you know,” which goes along with giving your customers what they want. You should be an expert on your products and services. It all really starts with the content you create. Is your newsletter, blog post or informational email cool and entertaining? Does it display expert knowledge about your product, service and field. Are you giving your customer value-added information that they want and need? The key is to avoid being flat and boring. Also, don’t waste your customer’s time with irrelevant information. Give the people the quality content they want and you’ll have the best chance that they’ll keep coming back for more.  
Think outside the box Thinking out side the box should be meant figuratively and literally. You must be creative to stand out in a crowded inbox, thousands of other small business sites and social media pages. Your email heading should entice a click-to-open, and your content should drive your audience over to your site. Create interesting and fun interactions that would appeal to your audience while being useful. If you’re a hometown bakery, provide a fun how-to videos and secret recipes on your site about making pie crust or bread from scratch. Post photos of your best cupcakes or cookies. Include a “treat of the day” on Instagram or Twitter sites, and add the links in your email. You can also attract customers customers to your site by adding your link to your social media pages.  
Invite them to subscribe This might sound like common sense, but many small business owners fail to reach out with a simple link to allow for easy subscription on their site. You can also include subscription information on social pages, printed brochures, signup sheets at seminars, sales events and more. Always remember you are in business to attract and retain customers, and to ultimately sell your product or service. Building a strong subscription base often starts with a simple “please subscribe” invitation. Don’t hesitate to be aggressive in your effort to grow your list this way.  
Refer-a-friend perks Word of mouth goes a long way in the business world. If you can get a happy, enthusiastic customer to help spread the word about your business, then consider rewarding their loyalty. For instance, offer a subscription referral reward if a current subscriber refers a friend to join your list, or better yet, to your company for a sale. Maybe offer a product discount, a free sample or some other perk. New customers generated from happy customers is arguably the best kind of growth your business can experience.    
This article was written by Lori Melton for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

Twitter Cracks Down On Nudity, Harassment & Violence… Again

For years now, Twitter has been rolling out tool after tool designed to combat harassment and abuse. While the company says these initiatives are working — despite a lack of data — it’s also doubling down on its efforts: Twitter will soon roll out another set of changes to protect users. Wired reports that Twitter is prepping to unveil a set of new policy updates in coming weeks with a focus on once again cutting down on harassment and abuse between users. The policy changes — highlighted in an email to the company’s Trust and Safety Council — include a more rigid stance on “nonconsensual nudity,” or images or videos shared without permission, and a streamlined process to report “unwanted sexual advances.” Non-Consensual Nudity
While Twitter cracked down on so-called revenge porn in 2015 through a change to its terms of service, the company is increasing its efforts to combat the harassment. Revenge porn is when someone else puts nude photos or videos online without the consent of the subject, and it’s an issue many sites have been dealing with. Currently, Twitter says that a person who Tweets non-consensual nudity — either maliciously or inadvertently — are temporarily blocked and the content is deleted. Twitter then permanently deletes the user’s account if they post the non-consensual nudity again. With the upcoming changes, Twitter says it will “immediately and permanently suspend” any account identified as the original poster or source of non-consensual nudity. The same goes for a user who makes it clear they are intentionally posting said content to harass their target. The company says it will do a full account review whenever it receives a report about non-consensual nudity Tweets. If the account appears to be dedicated to such posts, it will be suspended immediately. Finally, Twitter says it is expanding its definition of non-consensual nudity to include content such as upskirt images, “creep shots,” and hidden camera content. “While we recognize there’s an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it’s nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually,” the email reads. “We would rather error on the side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it.” Unwanted Advances
Twitter generally allows pornographic content on its site. To differentiate when a conversation is consensual or not, Twitter currently relies on and takes action only if it receives a report from a participant in the conversation. Going forward, the social media site says the rule will make it more clear that harassing behavior is not acceptable. “We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation,” the email reads. The company will also debut tools to improve the ability of bystanders and witnesses to report an interaction is unwanted, and will also use signals from previous interactions — such as when someone is blocked or a conversation is muted — to make a determination and act on the content accordingly. Hate Symbols & Violent Groups
Twitter notes that it is still defining the exact scope of what will be covered when it comes to an upcoming policy on hate symbols and imagery, as well as violent groups. At a high level, Twitter says that hateful imagery, hate symbols, and other similar content will be considered sensitive media and treated in a similar way to adult content and graphic violence. As for violent groups, the company says it will take enforcement action against organizations that use or have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause. Tweets That Glorify Violence
Another new policy will revolve around Tweets that promote direct threats, vague violent threats, and hopes or wishes for physical harm. Moving forward, Twitter will also take action against content that glorifies and/or condones violence. Example Tweets include: “Praise be to <terrorist name> for shooting up <event>. He’s a hero!” or “Murdering <x group of people> makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services.” “We realize that a more aggressive policy and enforcement approach will result in the removal of more content from our service,” Twitter says in the email. “We are comfortable making this decision, assuming that we will only be removing abusive content that violates our Rules.” In an effort to ensure that only violating Tweets are removed and action taken against users, Twitter’s product and operational teams will be work to improve the appeals process and turnaround times for their reviews. A rep for Twitter tells Wired that the company plans to unveil more details on the new guidelines in coming weeks.

Russia-Backed Facebook Page Colored with Hot-Button Phrases

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — What does Russia-sponsored political influence look like on Facebook?

RELATED ARTICLE: Facebook COO Favors Release of Russia-Linked Ads

facebook word cloud russia Russia Backed Facebook Page Colored with Hot Button Phrases

Russia-backed Facebook page with hot-button phrases. (AP Graphic)

An Associated Press analysis of the content on a now-shuttered Facebook page called “Being Patriotic” shows it’s colored with words like “illegal,” “country” and “American” and phrases like “illegal alien,” “Sharia law” and “Welfare state.”

“Being Patriotic” was among 470 pages and accounts that Facebook shut down in recent weeks in response to a congressional probe into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

While Facebook says it deleted the posts this week, the AP was able to perform a content analysis based on the 500 most popular posts on the page, which was one of six Russia-influenced Facebook pages examined by Jonathan Albright, research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

Albright downloaded posts and metrics including the pages’ followers and interactions using Facebook’s analytics tool, CrowdTangle. The company has since disabled that functionality for deleted posts.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

The Weinstein Plague in America

If you have paid any attention to social media or the news on television you would have seen the whole up roar against Harvey Weinstein. Numerous women in Hollywood, both in the United States and in Great Britain, have accused him sexual harassment and sexual assault. (For more information, check out this recent article published… The post The Weinstein Plague in America appeared first on BayArt.

Company Ruling: Firing Employees In The Time Of Social Media

 
With the advent of social media, the public now has the ability to elevate or tear down a brand’s reputation with shocking speed. As such, it’s mission critical for contemporary founders and their teams to behave in a manner consistent with their company’s core values. In instances when a team member falls short of those expectations, founders need to respond decisively to protect the firm’s reputation. Here are a few tips on how to fire an employee in the time of social media.
   
Establish a clear code of conduct The most effective way to protect your company from an employee-related public scandal is to take steps to prevent one from ever occurring. Before taking on any new team members, you need to inform them that they’ll be held to a clear code of conduct. They need to understand that if their poor behavior impacts the company’s reputation, on or off the clock, they will be disciplined or terminated. Doing so will influence your team to be mindful of their public behavior, and consequently, less likely to engage in activities that could result in major blowback for themselves and their employer.  
Don’t wait to react Because of the various federal and regional employment regulations that apply to small businesses operating in the United States, executives may feel hesitant to take action in the event of a public relations crisis. While the impulse is understandable, following it can have disastrous consequences. Being perceived as slow to react to a scandal will be perceived as weak leadership at best and a tacit approval of the bad acts at worst. In dealing with incidents of public employee malfeasance, suspend the offending worker immediately pending an investigation and release a statement to that effect as soon as possible. Showing decisive leadership in times of crisis is always received favorably by the marketplace.  
Understand the nuances of social media Obviously, flagrant violations of the company’s social media policy, like insulting specific team members or customers in a post, will warrant disciplinary measures. However, in cases where the issue is more ambiguous, such as a staffer expressing concerns about how management’s actions are affecting their ability to perform, employers need to acknowledge and address the employee’s concerns. Retaliating against employees for casting the company in a bad light and in a public forum in this instance could be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. As this recent Harvard Business Review article points out, small businesses should be careful, but definitive in how they deal with their employees’ problematic social media activity.    
This article was written by Mario McKellop for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

Company Ruling: Firing Employees In The Time Of Social Media

 
With the advent of social media, the public now has the ability to elevate or tear down a brand’s reputation with shocking speed. As such, it’s mission critical for contemporary founders and their teams to behave in a manner consistent with their company’s core values. In instances when a team member falls short of those expectations, founders need to respond decisively to protect the firm’s reputation. Here are a few tips on how to fire an employee in the time of social media.
   
Establish a clear code of conduct The most effective way to protect your company from an employee-related public scandal is to take steps to prevent one from ever occurring. Before taking on any new team members, you need to inform them that they’ll be held to a clear code of conduct. They need to understand that if their poor behavior impacts the company’s reputation, on or off the clock, they will be disciplined or terminated. Doing so will influence your team to be mindful of their public behavior, and consequently, less likely to engage in activities that could result in major blowback for themselves and their employer.  
Don’t wait to react Because of the various federal and regional employment regulations that apply to small businesses operating in the United States, executives may feel hesitant to take action in the event of a public relations crisis. While the impulse is understandable, following it can have disastrous consequences. Being perceived as slow to react to a scandal will be perceived as weak leadership at best and a tacit approval of the bad acts at worst. In dealing with incidents of public employee malfeasance, suspend the offending worker immediately pending an investigation and release a statement to that effect as soon as possible. Showing decisive leadership in times of crisis is always received favorably by the marketplace.  
Understand the nuances of social media Obviously, flagrant violations of the company’s social media policy, like insulting specific team members or customers in a post, will warrant disciplinary measures. However, in cases where the issue is more ambiguous, such as a staffer expressing concerns about how management’s actions are affecting their ability to perform, employers need to acknowledge and address the employee’s concerns. Retaliating against employees for casting the company in a bad light and in a public forum in this instance could be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. As this recent Harvard Business Review article points out, small businesses should be careful, but definitive in how they deal with their employees’ problematic social media activity.    
This article was written by Mario McKellop for CBS Small Business Pulse