Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore

If you thought that your search engine history was private, think again. It’s not. Or, at least, it may not be, depending on whether or not you’re under police investigation.

According to The Free Thought Project, a court in Minnesota has recently ruled that an entire city’s search history should be made available to police, an Orwellian first as far as anyone can tell. It may well mark the beginning of the end of Internet freedom.

Cops in Edina, Minn., were granted a warrant that requires search giant Google to provide search history information and the names of everyone in the city who utilized specific search terms between Dec. 1, 2016, and Jan. 7, 2017. 

Now mind you, this case isn’t about a nuclear bomb plot, a planned act of terrorism, a major jewel heist or child porn. Rather, ARS Technica notes, the case is about alleged wire fraud worth less than $30,000. But if Google honors the warrant, like it probably will have to do since the warrant is a legal document issued by a valid court, that would be a horrible precedent moving forward because it could be duplicated by departments all over the country.

ARS Technica reports that police investigators are looking for an online picture of a person with the same name as a local victim of financial fraud because said image was found on a phony passport that was utilized to fool a credit union into transferring some $28,500 out of a man’s account who takes up residence in Edina. Someone faxed the fake passport to the credit union as ‘proof’ of identity under a spoofed phone number to mimic the victim’s phone, the search warrant notes.

The Free Thought Project reported further:

The ominously worded warrant makes some chilling demands — all over a small fraud case.

A Google search, the warrant application says, as reported by Ars Technica, reveals the photo used on the bogus passport. The image was not rendered on Yahoo or Bing, according to the documents. The warrant commands Google to divulge “any/all user or subscriber information”—including e-mail addresses, payment information, MAC addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, and IP addresses—of anybody who conducted a search for the victim’s name.

What makes this warrant so worrisome, especially if Google complies with it, is that it seems to go far beyond the legal standard of probable cause. While it appears likely that something illegal may have happened, it’s obvious that most, if not all, of the people in Edina are not guilty of doing anything wrong. Granted, cops have to investigate but how can a court reasonably assume that everyone in an entire city is under suspicion, thereby satisfying the legal standard of probable cause?

That seems a stretch, to say the least.

What also seems very likely, then, is that police will obtain evidence that may implicate other criminal activity, and while you may applaud that, understand that such overly broad searches were never envisioned by our founding fathers, hence the adoption of the Fourth Amendment, which is supposed to protect against “unreasonable searches.” (RELATED: BREAKING: Police Are Now Routinely Taking Items Out Of Unlocked Cars To ‘Protect’ Citizens From Theft)

The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that ‘each man’s home is his castle,’ secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government,” Cornell University Law School notes in describing the purpose of the amendment. “It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.”

So it seems apparent a city-wide “search” of Google records is far and away outside the scope of what is allowable under the Constitution. It’s hard to tell what is worse – that a police department would make such a request or that a court would grant it.

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.





Author : JD Heyes

Source : http://newstarget.com/2017-03-21-everything-you-search-for-on-google-is-now-easily-obtained-by-police.html

The process of manually sifting through thousands of posts is incredibly time consuming for anyone. But for an algorithm, it takes only a second. And if you work in HR, that algorithm could be a godsend.

Forty-three percent of companies use social media to screen job candidates, and more than one-third of organizations said they have disqualified a candidate because of information they found through an online search, according to a 2016 Society for Human Resource Management study. 

Los Angeles-based Fama Technologies has software that automates social media and web analysis to help companies make hiring decisions. The company uses artificial intelligence to pick up on any "red flags" that exist within a person's online persona. 

Fama launched in January 2015 and it is now working with 45 firms including government contractors, hospitals, financial services and child care companies, according to Mones. Fama recently partnered with First Advantage, one of the world's largest background screening firms. 

Fama CEO and co-founder Ben Mones said that employers aren't that interested in recreational vices like alcohol use, but instead are focused on keeping bullies, misogynists and bigots out of their workplace.

The algorithm searches public posts, including photos and videos, and the candidate is informed that they are being screened.

"Employers are looking for folks who don't think there is anything wrong with what they are saying," Mones said. "Who don't think that misogynistic comment is wrong."

Mones warned that companies who vet candidate's social media on their own could be breaking the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"One of the big advantages of using Fama is that companies are able to zero in on only the content that is deemed critical to making the decision," Mones said. If an HR manager is searching through someone's Facebook page and notices that a candidate is pregnant or a certain religion, there may be unconscious biases made against that candidate. 

"They end up seeing stuff that they shouldn't be seeing," Mones said. 

He also emphasized that Fama doesn't provide specific recommendations. It just gives hiring managers links to the candidate's posts. 

Fama's software sells for a subscription ranging from $15,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year depending on the number of inquiries, Mones said.

The company raised $1.7 million and started in the Amplify.LA accelerator. Investors include Miramar Ventures, Double M Partners and Wavemaker Partners.

Author : Jeniece Pettitt

Source : http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/14/the-tech-that-hiring-managers-are-using-to-screen-all-of-your-social-media-posts.html

Stone Temple Consulting has published a new study supporting Google’s claim that it doesn’t use Chrome browser data for discovering new URLs for its search index.

The test was pretty simple: They created a “couple of pages that Google didn’t know about,” then they had “a bunch of people visit those pages from a Chrome browser.” They then waited to see if GoogleBot would visit the page to do a full crawl of the content, and GoogleBot never showed up.

Eric Enge, the CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, said the results showed “Googlebot never came to visit either page in the test… This is a remarkable result. Google has access to an enormous amount of data from Chrome, and it’s hard to believe that they don’t use it in some fashion.”

Author : Barry Schwartz

Source : http://searchengineland.com/new-study-confirms-google-not-use-chrome-browser-data-discover-new-urls-index-271311

Keeping malware off of your mobile device should be a top priority for anyone who purchases a new smartphone or tablet, but what if the battle against bad actors has been lost before you even open the box? That’s exactly what security firm Check Point says is happening right now, and it just released a report claiming that it detected malware on 36 different Android devices being used by multiple large tech companies.

The devices on which the malicious code was detected are thought to have been compromised at some point between manufacturing and eventual sale to the end user. “The malicious apps were not part of the official ROM supplied by the vendor,” Check Point’s Mobile Threat Prevention team explains in a blog post, adding that the malware must have been added “somewhere along the supply chain.”

In Check Point’s investigation, the devices that were shown to have preinstalled malware come from many different manufacturers. They include: Galaxy Note 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8, Asus Zenfone 2, LG G4, Nexus 5 and 5X, and Xiaomi Mi 4i and Redmi.

For better or worse, the malware found to be installed on the devices is fairly well known in mobile security circles and includes Loki, a malicious advertising bot, and Slocker, which uses the Tor network to send data back to its creator while avoiding detection. This is obviously a very serious situation, and it’s certainly not the first time Android devices were found to have security issues right out of the box. Check Point hasn’t revealed what company the devices belonged to, but that might not actually matter in the grand scheme of things, as it appears preinstalled malware is becoming something of a trend on Google’s mobile OS.

Trending right now:

  1. The Galaxy S8 won’t be able to deal with the iPhone 8’s killer feature
  2. There’s a new Google Pixel in stores, but it’s not the Pixel 2
  3. Despite imminent Galaxy S8 launch, now is the perfect time to buy a Galaxy S7

See the original version of this article on BGR.com

Source : https://www.yahoo.com/tech/38-popular-android-devices-ship-malware-already-installed-010213452.html

Saturday, 04 March 2017 14:50

Safari browser sheds users, mimicking IE

Apple's Safari browser, like rival Internet Explorer (IE), has lost a significant number of users in the last two years, data published Wednesday showed.

The most likely destination of Safari defectors: Google's Chrome.

According to California-based analytics vendor Net Applications, in March 2015, an estimated 69% of all Mac owners used Safari to go online. But by last month, that number had dropped to 56%, a drop of 13 percentage points -- representing a decline of nearly a fifth of the share of two years prior.

It was possible to peg the percentage of Mac users who ran Safari only because that browser works solely on macOS, the Apple operating system formerly labeled OS X. The same single-OS characteristic of IE and Edge has made it possible in the past to determine the percentage of Windows users who run those browsers.

Net Applications measures user share by sniffing the browser user agent string of visitors to its customers' websites, then tallying the various browsers and OSes.

Safari's share erosion was much less than that suffered by Microsoft's browsers, particularly IE, during the same period. From March 2015 to February 2017, the use of Microsoft's IE and Edge on Windows personal computers plummeted. Two years ago, the browsers were run by 62% of Windows PC owners; last month, the figure had fallen by more than half, to just 27%.

Simultaneous with the decline of IE has been the rise of Chrome. The user share of Google's browser -- its share of all browsers on all operating systems -- more than doubled in the last two years, jumping from 25% in March 2015 to 59.5% last month. Along the way, Chrome supplanted IE to become the world's most-used browser.

[ To comment on this story, visit Computerworld's Facebook page. ]

It's impossible to be certain, but Chrome was probably the beneficiary from Safari's user share decline as well. In the last 24 months, Mozilla's Firefox -- the other major browser alternative to Chrome for macOS users -- has barely budged, losing just two-tenths of a percentage point in user share.

The downturn of both IE and Safari expose the fragility of what was once thought to be their biggest advantage: That they were bundled with their respective operating systems. Because they came with the operating system -- Windows in IE's case, OS X and now macOS in Safari's -- their position was believed unassailable; users, it was thought, would largely use what they were given, rather than seek out alternatives.

Microsoft became the agent of IE's destruction when the company unexpectedly called for the retirement of most versions of the browser, and told customers they must upgrade to IE11. Faced with that, many instead simply deserted to Chrome.

Apple did not make that same mistake, so reasons for Safari's decline are muddier. One possibility: Those who used both Windows and OS X/macOS -- perhaps one at work, the other at home -- may have shifted to the common denominator of Chrome for the convenience of bookmark and password synchronization. Under that theory, a small increase of Chrome on OS X/macOS was simply a side effect of the much larger rise of Chrome on Windows.

Author : Gregg Keizer

Source : http://www.computerworld.com/article/3176061/web-browsers/safari-browser-sheds-users-mimicking-ie.html

Saturday, 04 March 2017 14:16

Why You Need Rich Snippets in Your Life

It all begins with a click. That’s the official start of your business relationship with potential new customers, followers, subscribers, and fans in the online world.

No click, no relationship. They’ve already moved on to the next listing.

To get that all-important click, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd. How big is it exactly? Well, the latest estimates suggest Google alone handles at least 63,000 queries per second, or 3.8 million per minute, or 5.5 billion per day…and each one of those presents thousands of results.

The numbers are mind-boggling.

To rise above it all, you need an optimized title tag and meta description. You need to target the right keywords. You need to rank as close to the top spot as possible.

And increasingly, you need rich snippets.

The World of Rich Results

In the beginning, a typical SERP displayed results that included a title, a URL link, and a brief description.

Rich snippets in Google

Things, you may have noticed, have changed a lot. Now, we see paid ads, “People also ask” questions, and see plenty of rich results. These rich snippets, rich cards, and enhanced snippets are a growing segment of search results across the board. It’s best not to ignore them.

Featured snippets — the direct answer appearing at the top of the results — are a bit different. Google creates them by directly accessing content on the page. But that doesn’t make them any less valuable. One study found a 516% increase in sessions, the CTR quadrupled from 2% to 8%, and organic visitor revenue went up by 677% after getting a consistent featured snippet.

And we haven’t yet mentioned the Knowledge Graph or Knowledge Panel, either.

But let’s focus on rich snippets for now, because they’re advantageous and you need them in your life.

Rich Snippets

Rich snippets are search results that go beyond the basics. They are, by definition, a richer result than the ordinary.

Using structured data markup (more on that in a moment) added to your site HTML, you provide the search engines more information to better understand the content and intent of each page.

Best Buy vs Walmart rich snippets

Search engines can then present these extra details as rich snippets appearing under the URL on your result listing. Snippets may include additional information about your hours, contact details, reviews, pricing, location, star-rating, product availability, and more.

Snippets typically appear for queries about specific people, businesses, products, reviews, recipes, events, music, and video. The Search Gallery shows some of the more common types at work in their native habitat.

Unfortunately, there’s no switch that you flick to turn rich snippets on. You have to do a little more work, and the search engines aren’t under any obligation to use it after you do. There are no guarantees.

Fortunately (see, there’s always some good with the bad), setting it up isn’t as hard as you may have heard or believe.

Enter schema.org.


There are actually several different ways you could set yourself up for rich snippets success, but the schema markup is the most popular and recommended of them all.

According to the website itself, Schema.org “provides a collection of shared vocabularies webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines: Google, Microsoft, Yandex and Yahoo!”

Schema.org website homepage

Basically, schema provides the words and code necessary to instruct search engines to highlight and feature the information you want to be highlighted and featured on the SERPs. Good deal, right?

The schema markup includes itemscope (specifies that the HTML is about a particular item), itemtype (what kind of item it is), and itemprop (the specific property such as price, URL, review, and so on).

The available properties vary depending on the type. Types include creative works (books, films, music, recipes), events, organizations, person, local business, restaurant, product, offer, review, and action.

Thankfully, there are a number of convenient tools to help you create, implement, and test the schema markup:

If your website is built on WordPress, it’s even easier. Plugins include All-in-One Schema.orgWP Rich Snippets, and Schema App Structured Data.

The Case for Using the Schema Markup

Okay, so now you know what rich snippets and schema are, but we still haven’t explored why you should bother. Let’s remedy that.

To begin with, search engines seem to love it, but most sites are still not leveraging that adoration.

One of the most revealing studies was conducted by Searchmetrics in 2014. They found that over a third of Google search results (36.6%) included the schema markup, but only a minuscule 0.3% of websites were using the protocol. That’s shocking.

Their research also revealed that sites using schema ranked on average four positions higher than those that did not (although they’re quick to point out this is a correlation and not causation). More recently, Raven Tools crawled 200 million pages and discovered that only an anemic 20% were using schema.org microdata.

Add it to your site, and you’d be in exclusive company. And that gives you an advantage over your competition.

Schema and Your SEO

Big whoop. What specifically is that “advantage”, you might well ask. Does the schema markup produce better search rankings? Searchmetrics seems to suggest so (at least on some level).

But — and here’s the kicker — a more recent study involving one million Google search results by Backlinko found no correlation between the use of Schema and higher rankings. To further muddy the water, Google’s own John Mueller has said that “over time, I think it [structured markup] is something that might go into the rankings as well.” 

So, will it or won’t it? Does it, or does it not? There’s no clear answer. Yet.

Despite the vagueness of that, it ultimately doesn’t really matter. Yes, an SEO and ranking boost is a nice benefit of using structured data markup, but it’s certainly not the only one (and arguably it’s not even the best one).

At worst, it may have no impact on your rank. At best, it may indirectly influence it in some capacity (and might be a ranking factor down the road). Let’s stick a pin in this for a minute.

But there are other more concrete benefits from including it in your strategy.

Schema and Your Listing

There are several ways we know that the schema markup improves your SERP listing. No guessing. No assumptions.

First and foremost, the markup allows the major search engines to return more meaningful results. You’ve indicated exactly what your page is about, and have provided the details that matter most by throwing a virtual spotlight on them. The engines don’t have to interpret what’s going on. Less confusion, less misinterpretation, and better overall results. The engines are happy.

Isn’t that the endgame with your search engine efforts, anyway? For them to have the clearest, simplest, most accurate understanding of you, your business, and your site? Of course it is.

Beyond that, users can see immediately whether your site/business/content is the answer to their question or need. There’s no more guesswork on their end, either. The more information included in your result listing, the more likely you’re going to get that crucial click (remember, it’s all about the click) from the people who need what you have on offer. Less wasted time for everyone.

Including a price range, star-rating, availability, or anything else relevant makes your listing stand out from the rest. If everyone has only the standard title-URL-description, there’s no real differentiation yet.

But if yours is the only result with a 4.3 star rating, it draws the reader’s eye. It pops off the page. And at this stage, it’s all about grabbing more attention than the result above and below you.

Rich snippets in iPhone results

If one result has a 4.5 star rating, and the next one is 2.7, who’s going to get that click? If one site includes a price of $350 for Product X in their rich snippet, and another result has a price of $420 in theirs, which one is an interested buyer going to investigate first?

Rich snippets can get your foot in the door (or, more precisely, their foot in your virtual door). You need to back it up with great products and customer service, of course, but at the SERP stage of the journey, it’s all about that first impression. Get. The. Click.

Then make the sale.

And as for your SEO, let’s go back to it for a second…

Website owners can see higher CTRs and lower bounce rates because of the increased relevancy that rich snippets provide for their results. And those two metrics can and frequently do affect your SEO efforts and your page rank.

Neither one may be a direct ranking factor, but they do send a clear message to our search engine overlords about the relevance, usability, and popularity of a page for its users.

If your page is the number six result, but it frequently gets more clicks than pages appearing in the top five because you have a sweet star-rating and price range listed while they have nothing, then Google is going to notice. If fewer visitors bounce from your page than the number three result because the rich snippet told them it was exactly what they were looking for (no surprises or disappointment), the engines are going to be impressed.

Either way, it can translate into a beautiful little boost for you and your site.

Real World Applications

As an e-commerce platform, you could use rich snippets to highlight product prices and availability, limited time sales with the “PriceValidUntil” property, create a sense of exclusivity with the “quantity” property, or state a star-rating with the AggregateRating property (such as 4 out of 5 stars from 77 reviews).

Businesses and organizations with a physical, brick-and-mortar location can markup important details like their address, hours, phone number, and corresponding web address.

Both digital and real-world companies can highlight staff bios and name their c-suite executives.

Rich snippets can benefit you whether you’re a simple blogger, entrepreneur, e-commerce and/or brick-and-mortar business owner, and everything in between.

In the Commerce Sphere

In the commerce world, you can use several different types to draw attention to your products, services, and business as a whole:

  • Reviews matter. People turn to them when making a purchase decision, so if you can include them right there on the SERP, you’re already a step ahead.
  • We all love the star-rating system. It makes it so easy to gauge quality with just a quick glance. The Aggregate Rating markup provides an average rating based on multiple reviews, displaying a simple star-rating beneath the title and URL.
  • If you’re selling products, you can increase revenue with the Product markup. Include pricing, availability, reviews, and more. Give them all the information they need before even having to click (the click will follow…oh yes, the click will follow).
  • >If you regularly host or sponsor special events, then this markup is a must. Event allows you to display crucial details about where, when, and even how to get tickets.
  • Finally, no rich snippets strategy would be complete without the LocalBusiness markup for those of you with a physical location. Restaurants, retail stores, doctor or dentist offices, tailor shop, bowling alley, bar, recreational facility, dry cleaners, pub, and everything else. Include your address, phone number, hours, price range, payment options, geo coordinates, reviews, and more. Get the click.

In the Creative Sphere

Or maybe you’re a creative. Rich snippets can help you, too:

  • As an author — for both digital and print — you can share the details that matter with the Book markup. Format, ISBN, author, subject matter, intended audience, reviews, and ratings, to name just a few.
  • Perhaps you’re a journalist, or blogger, or freelancer. Get the word out about new work using the Article or blog markup. Subject matter, number of words, audience, awards, format, and so on.
  • Music markups include MusicRecording, MusicGroup, and MusicEvent. If you’re a rock-star-in-waiting, or a songwriter trying to break into the industry, get the right information in front of the right eyes right on the SERPs.
  • The internet is overflowing with great and not-so-great recipes. If you’re a chef, or caterer, or restaurant owner, or baker, you can share your best stuff with the very popular Recipe markup. Duration, images, ingredients, nutritional information, rating, and more.

There are dozens of types and properties to harness and use to deliver details that highlight, promote, and emphasize what matters most to your customers. Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll be featured, or move up seven spots, or increase revenue by 223%.

But it does make you more visible. It separates you from the majority still not using it. It can work to improve your CTR and bounce rate, which can give you a nice little SEO shot in the digital arm (there are other ways you can improve your SERP CTRs, but using rich snippets should definitely be on that list).

Rich snippets have been around for awhile already, but they’re still woefully underutilized. And they shouldn’t be. Virtually no downside, but incredible potential. Use them. Get them in your life.

Have you tried using rich snippets yet? What was the biggest obstacle for you? What positives or negatives have you experienced with them? Leave your thoughts on social media!

Author : Aaron Agius

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/need-rich-snippets-life/187181/

Being able to work remotely, or even build a company that’s remote, is not easy, but it’s possible today. Some of today’s most notable companies, including Basecamp, Buffer, Virgin, and WordPress are building companies with over 100+ employees all around the world. How did they do it?

They found the right ‘tools’. When your team members are living on opposite sides of the continent and in different time-zones, effective tools are vital to your team culture, productivity, and success. We’ve tested hundreds of online tools to maximize how we stay connected, productive, and happy.  Here is a list of top 14 online tools that you will find useful for yourself and your team. The first four deal with connectivity while the last four help to make your team happier. The remaining six tolls help to increase your team’s productivity.

1. Slack – Keeping Everyone Connected

Slack is a powerful and free way to coordinate with your team and keep everyone on the same page.

2. Help Scout – Customer Support Inbox Managed In One Place

When we first started, we coordinated all of our customer support through Gmail. That got messy — fast. With Help Scout, we can now invite our support team to the application, and coordinate all of our support tickets in one place. They also have a knowledge base feature that allows you to systematize your customer service.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.02.09 PM

3. Intercom – Live Customer Support

Intercom is a live chat support tool that allows you to send manual and automated notifications to visitors and customers inside the app based on their behaviors. It helps our customers get direct, immediate support, and helps us keep everyone happy.


4. Basecamp – Creating company milestones, goals, and organizing files

Basecamp has been around for over 17 years. Which is far longer than most team management tools out there. And their product shows it. It’s a great tool to organize everything in your company, or even for yourself to keep everything organized. They have a free plan for one project (also known as Basecamp), and you can input as many users as you want.


5. Stunning– Helping Customers Update Billing Information In One Click

Stunning is a new tool we’ve recently adopted in order to recover lost revenue in our business. A common issue that every business runs into is failed charges. This could be due to fraud, card expiry, or just the customer’s bank rejecting the charge for security reasons.


What Stunning allows us to do is help update, remind, and empower customers to update their information with one-click.


6. Trello – Coordinating Future Blog Posts, To-Do Lists, And More

Content marketing has been the biggest driver of our website growth thus far, and it’s growing faster by the month. People often ask how we’re able to brainstorm, organize, and publish so many articles at a time. Before, we were using a Google Spreadsheet, which got pretty chaotic.


Now we use Trello to organize everything into various sections: Ideas, To-do’s, To be published, and Published.


7. WordPress – Content Management Platform

I have yet to hear a better platform for content management, which is why companies like Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and 20% of the internet is powered by WordPress.


8. Pomodoro – Workcycle To Maximize Productivity Without Burnout

I would often find myself working for two to three hour periods at a time, without taking a break. When you’re working on something you’re passionate about, it’s easy to put your head down without resting.

The issue was, I was feeling less productive and losing my creativity after about 60-minutes or so. I’ve recently been adopting the Pomodoro Technique, where you work in 25 minute chunks, then take small breaks (~5 minutes). It’s forced me to focus on completing one important task without distraction. Taking small breaks throughout the day prevents your team to from burning out.

pomodoro_image-1024x614 (1)

9. Invision – Design And Development Collaboration In One Place

Invision allows our team to collaborate and share comments on design layouts, feature builds, and even prototype new ideas inside the app. It’s saved us a lot of time and keeps our entire team aligned to one vision of the product.


10. Zapier – Automation Of Recurring Tasks (IFTTT For Business)

If you’ve used IFTTT for your personal automation, you’ll love Zapier for your business. It allows us to automate important functions of our business, without needing to develop it on the back-end.


11. Five Minute Journal – Daily Reminders To Express Gratitude and Appreciation

The five minute journal was originally recommended by Tim Ferriss, who uses it in his daily routine. It’s easy to be caught up with the current events of your day, and lose appreciation of what you have in your life. The five minute journal gives you the template and framework to record down your thoughts, and what you’re most appreciative for before you start your day, and before you hit the sheets.


12. Calm

Meditation And Peace Of Mind On-Demand

Whenever we feel stressed out, Calm is a go-to tool to get grounded again. It provides soothing background noises for you to enjoy, including a guided meditation practice that lasts 5 to 10 minutes.


13. Strides – Powerful Habit Tracker With Visual Data Analytics Of Your Habits

We are what we do repeatedly. As boring as it sounds, having daily routines is what gives us the freedom to do what we want in our lives. I’ve tried multiple habit tracking online tools, but Strides is one of the best based on visual appearances and usability.


14. 8tracks – Curated Music Selected Based On What Mood You Are In

8tracks gives you music collections depending on what mood you are in.


 Author : Sean Kim

Source : http://www.lifehack.org/433449/14-online-tools-that-help-your-team-stay-connected-productive-and-happy

Twitter has introduced some new features that will let you filter out more notifications and content you don’t want to see. Here’s what’s new.

1. New Filtering Options

Twitter advanced notification filters

Twitter has introduced three new advanced filters that give you the option to mute notifications from accounts that:

  • Use the default Twitter avatar (an egg).
  • Haven’t verified their email address.
  • Haven’t confirmed their phone number.

2. Timeline Muting Options

Twitter Muted words

In November, Twitter announced an update to its notification mute feature that let you mute keywords, phrases, hashtags, usernames, emojis, and conversations you didn’t want to see.

Now you can decide how long you want to mute content from your timeline. Twitter gives you four options:

  • 24 hours.
  • 7 days.
  • 30 days.
  • Forever.

3. Twitter Gets Proactive About Abusive Content

A couple other changes are on Twitter’s end.

First, Twitter said it’s working to algorithmically identify abusive content itself – even if users don’t report it.

When Twitter identifies an account that is engaging in abusive behavior, the platform will limit them so that only their followers can see their tweets.

“For example, this change could come into effect if an account is repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers or engaging in patterns of abusive behavior that is in violation of the Twitter Rules,” according to Twitter. “Our platform supports the freedom to share any viewpoint, but if an account continues to repeatedly violate the Twitter Rules, we will consider taking further action.”

In addition, Twitter said it will notify you (via your Notifications tab) when they receive your report of an abusive account, and update you if they take “further action.”

Author : Danny Goodwin

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/twitter-content-filtering-muting/188033/

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 16:09

The Dangerous Spread Of Fake Ads

Did Fake News Sneak up on America?

A recent Pew Research Center study reports that two-thirds of American adults get their news on Facebook, yet our legal and law enforcement systems have not kept up with the dramatic advances in communication technology. Just as these tools have the power to bring us together and enhance our lives, we are beginning to realize they also have a dark side. The speed and anonymity of the Internet has led to the development of a phenomenon that challenges the foundation of our society: the rapid creation and sharing of scams and fake news. This problem has reached such epic proportions that many fear the rapid spread of fake Internet news actually affected our presidential election. Now we are left trying to understand how this tsunami hit us seemingly without warning.

The truth is that we had plenty of warning, but along with the biggest companies in America, we chose to ignore it. Fake news grew out of our prolonged national tolerance for “fake” or scam advertising. The law is only now beginning to catch up with this problem that has been going on for over ten years. In a precedent-setting case, the affiliate marketing network Leadclick was found culpable and warned by a U.S. court. What company will be next?

To understand how we, at The Dr. Oz Show got into this rut, here is some confidential data from the show’s battle with fake news and illegal advertising over the past decade. Because of its long history in the space, the show saw the earliest signs of this catastrophe and witnessed the tragic evolution. Perhaps the show was an early canary in the coal mine, but others have been deeply affected at this point. The show’s epiphanies could provide a treasure trove of opportunities for investigative reporters and savvy readers to cure the sepsis afflicting digital advertising. The fear is that if we don’t heal this process, the brilliantly democratic web will dissolve into an untrustworthy neighborhood where no one can safely travel.

After all, if a seven-time Emmy award-winning host of the top ranked health TV show can be exploited, what about the average American with far fewer resources?

The Dr. Oz Show Case Study From A First Hand Perspective

In many ways, fake news is a direct descendant of less sophisticated scam advertisements that many consumers have become wary of. Over a decade ago, I discussed natural antioxidants like acai berry on The Oprah Winfrey Show and that inadvertently gave rise to a cottage industry of advertisements that illegally used the names and likenesses of Ms. Winfrey and myself. Aggressive legal efforts to thwart these advertisements took place and the week that The Dr. Oz Show launched in September 2009, we filed a civil suit against merchants using our likenesses to sell and promote acai berry. No meaningful financial penalties could be collected due to the balkanized and covert structure of the illegal ad system.

Despite efforts to enlist the support of State Attorney Generals, including advanced conversations with Florida and Texas Attorney Generals’ Offices, none were willing to move forward. The general consensus was that these civil cases are civil matters that could be waged by the affluent victims, whose celebrity names were being exploited without their consent.

In September 2012, I took the case directly to my viewers as part of a multimedia blitz to warn the public of the fraudulent advertisements selling everything from weight loss supplements to wrinkle creams. Viewers were asked to join OzWatch to inform the show of “fake ads”. For nearly two years, The Dr. Oz Show concluded each show with a warning to avoid purchasing weight loss supplements promoted using my name. Over the next year, a service, which was enlisted to patrol the Internet and enforce its trademarks reported:

2,055 infringing website domain names
4,521 infringing websites; and
2,306 infringing online marketplaces (Amazon/eBay/Craigslist/etc.)
By May 2014, our viewers logged more than 37,000 reports on OzWatch that included:

28,000 total spam messages reported
9,000 unauthorized uses of my photo and video clips from the show
All in all, we issued well in excess of 1,093 takedown notices to over 791 sites that resulted in the takedown of over 300 websites and more than 4,700 videos from YouTube. In addition, our investigation of scammers led to high profile sting operations that were featured on the show. These people threatened us with legal actions, but understandably never followed through. Despite these efforts, a United States poll revealed that most people still believe I sell supplements, which I have never done. My moves were dwarfed by the avalanche of false ads that attack consumers who enjoy the web.

A direct appeal was made to the leadership of Google, Amazon, and Facebook in May 2013. As a result, Facebook provided a direct contact and process for takedowns but the onus was still on us to play catch up and scour the Internet for offenders. Google and Amazon ultimately said it was too cost-prohibitive to vet these scam ads and sites and asserted that The Dr. Oz Show was solely responsible for enforcing its brand and policing the Internet. Our legal counsel came to believe the initial willingness of these large companies to collaborate evaporated when they realized that they would need to spend money and take legal risks that would result in millions in lost revenue from vendors peddling unscrupulous ads. It took me 10 years to figure out that the affiliate marketing juggernaut was too big to beat by myself. We identified a deliberate conspiracy of ignorance within the industry, which made enforcing the rules almost impossible. The system is designed to provide anonymity to members of the supply chain, which encourages and protects this unscrupulous behavior. So The Dr. Oz Show has now enlisted the help of insiders, including Robert Glazer, founder and Managing Director of Acceleration Partners, who are interested in cleaning up this problem.

The Insider’s Truth about Affiliate Marketing and Fake News

All companies who sell something engage in various forms of marketing to do so both directly and indirectly. In the online world, the selling and marketing process becomes more complicated as there are typically multiple parties involved and understanding just who they are and how they benefit from a sale can be confusing, sometimes for a good reason.

Consider affiliate marketing. At its core, affiliate marketing is like any other influencer, word-of-mouth or referral marketing. It’s about one person or entity sharing information about a product or service and why they find value in it. In this relationship, affiliates are paid on a performance or commission basis only.

Key affiliate marketing players include:

You (Customers)
Publishers (Affiliates)
Affiliate networks
Merchants (advertisers, retailers, brands)

The Players

You (Customers) – Customers are, of course, the people who purchase goods and services from the retailers. They can be online shoppers looking for product reviews, price comparisons, and/or product recommendations or just browsing.

Publishers (Affiliates) – Affiliates come in all shapes and sizes. They typically have their own audience through content, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-mail, and social media activities. They can be bloggers, active social media posters, niche content and personal websites, shopping sites, loyalty, as well as coupon and reward websites. They earn commission when successful sales and transactions come through their properties.

Affiliate Networks – Affiliate networks and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms act as intermediaries in the affiliate marketing space. Networks typically handle all tracking, reporting and payment to the affiliates/publishers whereas SaaS platforms serve solely as a tracking technology partner. They also help recruit publishers.

Merchants (Advertisers, Retailers) – These companies sell a product or service. Industries include financial services, travel, retail (for example health and beauty products), telecom, broadband, gaming, and more.

How Publishers Get Traffic

Historically, publishers directed traffic to their site through email (newsletters), search engine optimization and paid search strategies. They either have legitimate content credibility that allows people to find them organically when searching for a topic; have a large audience or e-mail list; or they buy traffic to their website through different channels.

As social media has grown in popularity, it’s become a new source of traffic for publishers and a primary source of traffic for “influencers” who have large followings on sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Reddit. In its early days, this sort of social media-driven traffic was mainly “organic,” meaning it was earned, not paid for. However, the proliferation of paid social advertising has presented a complex new dynamic. It’s offered publishers and influencers the ability to target users by demographic and blurs the line between paid and organic marketing. In fact, many consumers struggle to know the difference.

This has created new opportunities for less honorable publishers who are generating traffic by leveraging fake news and often fake endorsements. Many people accept these types of marketing strategies as “organic”; they often don’t realize that these publishers are using specific tactics to target them, such as psychographic data and look-alike modeling to appeal to their predispositions. As an example, if you are someone who has commented a lot on Facebook about weight loss, you might be served a social ad leading to a bogus claim for a miracle weight loss drug.

These types of publishers are spending money to drive traffic through a variety of online sources by promoting information that isn’t necessarily true. What’s more is that they now have new tools to find the right audiences who are likely to believe their claims. The same is true for content syndication services that run on multiple large media sites. Publishers pay for these services to show consumers articles related to what they are already reading.

Identifying the Bad Apples

Networks are the glue that connect publishers and advertisers in the digital world. Some networks are full service and take commissions, and others are created using licensed technology to manage tracking and payment for which the technology vendor is simply paid a fee.

The trick is understanding if the network is actively involved or when someone has licensed technology to build their network. In these cases, it’s akin to someone who is selling a gun saying they are not responsible for how it is used.

Take, for example, the recent court ruling against affiliate lead generation network LeadClick that we mentioned above. A US federal court ruled that LeadClick engaged in “deceptive marketing” by recruiting and paying affiliates who were using fake news sites to generate traffic to LeanSpa, LLC’s products – specifically their acai berry “weight loss” and “colon cleanse” products. They tried to claim they were just the “tool” and could not be responsible for all the bad behavior.

However, the court found that LeadClick actively “managed” those affiliates, suggested substantive edits to their fake news pages and purchased banner ad space for these fake news sites on legitimate news sources. In some cases, the deceptive nature of the sites was further concealed because some of these players were using major news networks’ logos.

Prior to the ruling, the FTC had charged LeanSpa with publishing fake news about their acai berry and other products. The FTC’s complaint was that LeanSpa enticed customers with a “free trial” scheme before enrolling them into a recurring purchase program that was difficult to cancel. Eight months after charges had been brought against LeanSpa, LeadClick was named as a defendant in the case.

What’s important to understand is that the deceptive marketing practices that LeanSpa, LeadClick, and their affiliates engaged in is widespread, but it is not a standard practice in the upper echelons of performance marketing industry.

It’s important that we identify these activities and label them for what they are: fraud. Consumers also need to be smarter about not trusting everything that they read online. By blindly trusting what they see online, consumers create a demand and a marketplace for fake news and subsequent activity.

It can be quite challenging for companies to figure out what’s taking place online to promote or harm their brand. This is especially true when sub-affiliate networks are involved.

Simplifying Sub-Affiliate Networks

A sub-affiliate network is a company that offers to aggregate other publishers. The sub-affiliate network signs up as an affiliate with a brand and hundreds (even thousands) of partners may join a sub-affiliate network as a way to promote that brand and get paid commissions – without having to sign up as a direct affiliate themselves. When the sub-affiliate network gets paid, they distribute payment to the sub-affiliates within their network who drove sales and usually take their own cut.

While this model can offer significant value to brands, the fact that the sub-affiliates don’t have a direct relationship with the brand can sometimes make their activities murky and make it totally opaque as to who the company is even partnered with at the end of the day. For instance, there are cases where an affiliate has been removed from a merchant’s direct program because they’ve engaged in fraudulent activity, violated the programs terms and conditions, etc. When this happens, the affiliate will sometimes join a sub-affiliate network as a back door to continue promoting the brand.

An Authentic Approach

What makes the affiliate marketing model unique is that, when all these players are working cohesively together, they provide an infrastructure that allows merchants to track performance and return on investment. This is why almost every reputable, well-established brand has an affiliate marketing program.

Affiliates have long demonstrated that their influence can authentically and effectively contribute to the overall growth of a company and can represent an important part of a brand’s marketing strategy. What’s more is that affiliates are creative and entrepreneurial and can do an amazing job at cultivating strong customer loyalties.

Regardless of their industry, almost any company can benefit from a system that pays partners who direct paying customers or qualified leads to their business “after” they have delivered the desired outcome.

Like all marketing, affiliate continues to grow and evolve, especially as new technology platforms and applications come on to the scene. Advances in reporting and better access to data have made it possible for companies to manage their affiliate programs more effectively and identify and eliminate low-value participants. App-to-app mobile marketing and SaaS platforms are making way for even more performance-based approaches and giving companies the ability to strategically scale their marketing.

Will there be companies and affiliates who attempt to game the system? Most likely. Just as there are in almost every industry. Therefore, it’s crucial for those who engage in white-hat performance marketing strategies to protect and defend the industry and for companies to ensure that they are working with credible affiliate partners.

Having an actively managed affiliate program that requires transparency and brand alignment can alleviate many of the issues with problematic publishers. By evaluating the strength and condition of their affiliate program, brands can understand whether their affiliates are in compliance, the key to preventing fraud and maintaining brand-integrity.

Working Together Clean up The Web

All Americans have an obligation to police the web, but three groups share a special burden.

First, traditional news media should advance the narrative that sharing false news and ads on our social feeds is an unfortunate reflex of a hacked brain. The Dr. Oz Show recently highlighted how fake news designed to get clicks by eliciting strong emotion, can actually increase activity in the emotional centers of the brain, similar to what might happen when one encounters physical danger. By being aware and not sharing these stories we can take back our minds, and thwart unscrupulous vendors who are hurting our nation and our health in order to make a buck.

Second, corporate America needs to police their supply chains to root out unscrupulous vendors selling products through unethically created clickbait. This week, Randall Rothenberg, leader of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents the 650 biggest online publishers and includes all the biggest companies we all know, joined The Dr. Oz show with an urgent plea to major companies to clean up the web. Companies that do not invest in this effort should be called out by honorable Americans. After all, who would you fault if a respected cereal manufacturer sourced contaminated grains from a disreputable supplier and caused a salmonella outbreak?

Third, we need to update laws and enforce the ones in existence. The web is fast moving and our legal process has fallen behind the times. The law treats the web loosely as a billboard, but the corporate entities outlined above should be held to standards resembling print media. Ads and fake news are carefully designed and served with intimate knowledge of consumer vulnerabilities. The rule of law is needed to give the average American a fighting chance.

The world of fake news and scam ads is dark and complicated and scammers will always use new methods to make money. But together we can stop the proliferation of news and ads designed for the sole purpose of taking advantage of our human nature. The key is accountability. We must hold companies that allow these activities to occur on their property accountable and demand action. We must hold the government accountable and demand that laws be adapted and enforced to deal with the modern scourge. We finally must hold ourselves accountable and take the time to make sure we only share the best information with our friends. Together, we can clean up our modern neighborhoods and make them safe for everyone.

Robert Glazer is the founder of Acceleration Partners, the leading independent performance marketing agency, which has worked with top brands such as adidas, Reebok, Target, Gymboree, Jet.com, Shutterfly, and Warby Parker. He has extensive experience in consumer, retail, and online marketing, has published more than 100 articles about performance marketing, strategy, and culture, and is the recipient of numerous accolades, including the Boston Business Journal “40 under 40” award and the SmartCEO Boston Future 50 award. A sought-after speaker, Robert has presented to global audiences, and has served as an advisor and board member to both nonprofit and high-growth businesses. You can read his Friday Inspirations at www.fridayfwd.com

Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-dangerous-spread-of-fake-ads_us_58b4aef5e4b0e5fdf6197604



Kay Brown, PR and social manager at Leeds digital marketing agency Blueclaw, writes for Digital City about the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ and its impact on her industry.

President Trump has brought the term ‘fake news’ into mainstream, with a 1000 per cent increase in Google searches for the term since November.

For digital marketing agencies like Blueclaw, this has brought a renewed focus on public appetite for authoritative, data-led news and content marketing.

‘Fake news’ accusations have been effective in many cases in part because of public scepticism about the accuracy of ‘official’ mainstream media reporting.

However, Dr Richard Thomas, journalism lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, points to a resurgence of journalistic quality in the UK, prompted by the Leveson inquiry: “Post-Leveson, journalists generally have had to work very hard to regain the trust of the public, even though not all journalists were guilty of the unethical and unlawful behaviour that some went to prison for.”

While some news audiences have made their choice to seek out sources that back up their established political and social viewpoints, others are expressing a desire for accuracy in reporting, and stats they can trust. In digital marketing, the information fatigue that many audiences suffer cannot be ignored and this is why in content marketing, advertising, PR and even SEO, it’s essential to focus on accuracy, results and relevancy.

For Google and other search engines, data-driven relevancy is king with search engine results ranked in order of how useful the website is objectively believed to be for the searcher.

Our content and search strategies are developed with the understanding that news websites are authoritative sources for Google and as such, coverage for a client is key to raising their rankings across their core search terms – so content marketing and PR must be accurate, inspire trust and meet the standards required for coverage.

As search engines and advertising platforms become smarter about the claims that marketers make (and more proactive in the penalties they dish out in terms of lost rankings), the greater the need there is to develop digital marketing strategies that customers, the media and search engines can have faith in.

Just as it was revealed that Wikipedia editors have voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for the website in all but exceptional circumstances, other online platforms are ever-more discerning about the content they will support.

As well as being aware that traditional media brands are in question more than ever, the way we work with journalists is changing.

There is a greater desire for information and stories that have quantitative data and multiple sources to reinforce their validity. There are also new opportunities for PR professionals to earn worthwhile coverage with content that is genuinely in the public interest.

However, not all data is equal so it is emerging that the role of both the PR graduate and journalist is to increasingly identify relevant data sources, dissect data sets and present it in an informative, easy to understand way that doesn’t undermine or affect the rigour of the data presented, whether the information is shared in 140 characters or more.

Author : Kay Brown

Source : http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/fake-news-is-driving-our-appetite-for-data-says-leeds-expert-1-8411590

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