Your Reppler is at stake

13 10 2011

These days, hopefully we’re all at least a bit careful about what we put up on social networks. As a Civil Servant I tend to err on the side of caution, as the press like nothing better than to bash a public servant about something they posted inappropriately. Recently we had another Tweetgate scandal involving Chris Huhne, but such stories are nothing new. From Sarah Baskersville to Stuart MacLennan, the examples of what can happen when the media scent blood are out there for all to see.

I was also vaguely aware that potential employers might want to “vet” candidates online, but I’ve never given the matter much consideration. There is now a tool called Reppler that allows you to vet your own social media profile, and the results are an eye-opener. Here’s a snapshot of my attitude according to recent Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts.

My Reppler score

My Reppler score

It’s not too bad, apart from showcasing my obsessive cat tendencies, but I’m left wondering why I didn’t get 100% or why my attitude is only “partly positive”. Will employers see that as a natural thing or will they prefer candidates who are super-positive about everything? Will expressing an opinion on an issue of the day come back to bite me a few years down the line? Is it still safe to sign an e-petition?

I tend to use different social networks for different purposes and adapt my postings accordingly. Facebook is for fun – catching up with friends, arranging meets and posting  jokes. I’m still a bit careful about what I post on there, but it’s not exactly how I would like to present myself in the workplace either! I’ve already gone off it a bit with the latest revamp of the interface, but if its content is destined to be forever engraved on my resumé I might have to think about ditching it altogether. A recent survey showed that 91% of employers are now screening candidates on the web, so think twice before you post about your nights out next time – post something about how hard-working and enthusiastic you are instead.

Double plus good

14 07 2011

The Interworld has a new challenger! For anyone ‘lucky’ enough to get an invite, Google+ allows you to participate in a stripped-down version of Facebook. The big thing on G+ is circles. Rather than having to painstakingly set individual privacy levels for all your friends on FB, G+ forces you to group people into Venn diagram-like sets, so that you can choose for each post whether this should be shared with ‘family’, ‘friends’, etc.

Facebook - the end of the love affair?

Facebook - the end of the love affair?

To be honest, this feels like a chore. Every time someone adds you, you have to add them back and decide which circle they belong to. Every time you share a post, you must define which circles to share it with. Why not just email the link and have done with it? Besides, the sharing functionality means that anyone a post is shared with can then send this on to their own circles, or even to an email address, so there’s no real security benefit there.

I haven’t yet set up my own circles, again this is because involves too much effort. Do I really have to decide which people should go into ‘ex-partners of friends’, ‘folk I work beside but have no real connection with’, ‘people I’d like to get invites from’, ‘guys who think I’ve accepted them but will never get any posts’, etc? This kind of goes against the whole ‘social’ movement on the web and feels a bit mean.

At the moment all G+ consists of is a limited selection of the people I see on Facebook anyway, but instead of shooting the breeze the majority of posts are about Google+ itself. What am I doing here? Ooh, I got plus-oned! I prefer Facebook. Anyone else like the circles thing?

As you might have gathered from previous posts, I’m not always good at judging the merits of new platforms! I’ll give Google the chance to finetune the interface and wait for registration to open up before I decide whether or not it’s for me. Facebook certainly has its problems, so at the very least this development might force Mark Zuckerberg and co to raise their game. Having said that, if G+ goes the same way as Google Buzz and Google Wave, I won’t be all that surprised.


14 06 2011

This graphic shows up some interesting differences between the user demographics of today’s 2 main social media juggernaughts:

Digital Surgeon's social media comparison

Facebook vs Twitter


The first thing that strikes me about the graph is that 37% of Twitter users update their status using a mobile device, as compared to 30% of Facebook users. With the widely-held view that mobile web usage will overtake desktop-based browsing within the next five years, perhaps this points to Twitter overtaking its rival? The brevity of tweets certainly makes it easier to update using a numerical keypad.

On the other hand, the rising popularity of GPS-based social media is currently being expoited far more by Facebook. Users are able to “check in” to physical locations using their phones, tag friends with them and play location-based games within the Facebook interface. All Twitter users can do at the moment is add a location to their tweets but, as this is based on the location of their ISP’s network gateway, this is often wildly inaccurate.

Whoever wins the battle to get the most mobile users could well end up winning the social media war, so it will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next few years.

Census working overtime

31 03 2011

My census was completed last weekend, as instructed. I didn’t put in “Jedi” as my religion, didn’t tell porkies about the number of people in the house and filled every field out to the best of my knowledge. Apart from being an employee of the people who wrote it, there’s simply no point in trying to be sneaky these days. All of our details are out there, on the web, and anyone who tries hard enough could find out a lot more about me than my ethnicity and how many dependant children I have.

The good people at Google and Facebook already know a great deal about everyone who’s ever used their products, and they use this mostly to try and sell us other people’s products. My Facebook account has personalised adverts at the side asking if I’d like to buy a set of drumsticks signed by Larry Mullen Junior, Gmail wants to know if I’d be interested in cheap Glasgow restaurants and a Google search asks me if I’d like to improve my prospects with Linux training. So why is the government spending a small fortune in this age of austerity asking how many rooms we have?

The official census website provides a somewhat unsatisfactory answer: because we need to count people. James Harkins’ article in the New Statesman is a little more thoughtful on the reasoning, but appears unconvinced by the arguments for having one and points out that the more the government wants to know about us, the more resistant we become to telling them.

Perhaps in ten years’ time when the next census is due, the supermarkets, social media providers, banks and search engines will simply gang up together and sell all of our information. Then statisticians, researchers, government agencies and planners could analyse it as they please. It would still be cheaper than the logistical nightmare of conducting a census and the results would be far more useful. So why not just do that?

I think this is the best answer for why we need a census; to stop the above scenario from every occurring. We need to do everything in our power to stop this, as if we allow our public spending plans to be controlled by private companies then we will be failing to meet the needs of society. I’m glad I filled out my census, it was a bit of a pain (especially as it kept crashing Firefox, grrr) but as least I helped keep my status up as a citizen and not just another customer.

Big Brother approach to social media

10 02 2011

Lesley Thomson alerted me to this post regarding the Commonwealth Bank’s rather OTT approach to controlling staff’s social media activity.

Big Brother is watching you

It’s disappointing that, after taking such a long time to acknowledge the existence of soc med, some companies have reacted in such an extreme manner. The CBA policy takes a few simple common sense guidelines (don’t discuss private business on an open forum, don’t do anything to bring the company name into disrepute, etc) and taken these to the illogical conclusion that employees should check what their friends are saying about the company on Facebook et al and report their findings back to management!

The reaction online has so far been almost universally negative and it looks as though the bank are going to be forced to have a rethink, but it’s worth keeping an eye out to see if other big corporations decide to go down a similar route. The Baskers case has made a lot or people out there jumpy, let’s hope that common sense prevails and employees are allowed some semblance of a private life, both on and off-line.

One’s status is now updated

10 11 2010

The queen has finally gone digital and launched her own Facebook page. Perhaps unsurprisingly, comments thus far have been mixed and she’s had to employ a host of moderators to check comments 24/7.  Despite this, at last count Her Royal Pageness had nearly 100,000 people liking it, so not all bad news for the royals.

A quick scan of the page (I didn’t ‘like’ it so couldn’t access the wall posts) shows that the moderators are not quite managing to keep up with the task of keeping the page free from negativity…they have allowed the Queen to be ‘tagged’ in photos. Not sure how many people out there will have genuine camera snaps of the Queen, but it has allowed protestors to get whatever pictorial message they choose out there on her photos page. You can imagine the results! 

Perhaps they’re already too busy deleting the comments on photos of Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Sorting the Tweet from the chaff

29 09 2010

Twitter is the new black. It’s everywhere: on the news, in political satire, in books, on the TV…if it wasn’t for Twitter and QI, who would still care about Stephen Fry? Despite this, I have to admit that I’ve still not quite got to grips with the platform.

It’s all very well in theory – 140 characters, converse with celebrities and other strangers in real time, follow important trends…I just don’t find it very engaging. The ephemeral nature of each tweet means that if anything particularly profound ever gets said (either by me or one of my followees) I’m likely to miss it. There’s always the retweet of course, but these depend on the Tweeter’s popularity as much as their content quality.

There’s also the problem of the Twitter interface. This has recently been retweaked but it still leaves a lot to be desired, with most Tweeters preferring to use 3rd-party apps such as Tweetdeck to post their updates. The process leaves me cold.

I’m going to keep trying with Twitter but, like Coronation Street, it’s not something I can ever see myself getting excited about despite its widespread popularity. This won’t stop me from trying to improve my work’s engagement with Twitter, but when I’m back in the house I’ll stick with Facebook.