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 Source: This article was published nytimes.com By GABRIEL J.X. DANCE, NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, and MICHAEL LaFORGIA - Contributed by Member: Linda Manly

As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information.

Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said. The deals allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.

[Here’s what we know about Facebook’s partnerships with device makers.]

Most of the partnerships remain in effect, though Facebook began winding them down in April. The company came under intensifying scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators after news reports in March that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, misused the private information of tens of millions of Facebook users.

In the furor that followed, Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by Cambridge in 2014 was cut off by the next year, when Facebook prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends. But the company officials did not disclose that Facebook had exempted the makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware from such restrictions.

 

“You might think that Facebook or the device manufacturer is trustworthy,” said Serge Egelman, a privacy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the security of mobile apps. “But the problem is that as more and more data is collected on the device — and if it can be accessed by apps on the device — it creates serious privacy and security risks.”

In interviews, Facebook officials defended the data sharing as consistent with its privacy policies, the F.T.C. agreement and pledges to users. They said its partnerships were governed by contracts that strictly limited use of the data, including any stored on partners’ servers. The officials added that they knew of no cases where the information had been misused.

The company views its device partners as extensions of Facebook, serving its more than two billion users, the officials said.

“These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform,” said Ime Archibong, a Facebook vice president. Unlike developers that provide games and services to Facebook users, the device partners can use Facebook data only to provide versions of “the Facebook experience,” the officials said.

Some device partners can retrieve Facebook users’ relationship status, religion, political leaning and upcoming events, among other data. Tests by The Times showed that the partners requested and received data in the same way other third parties did.

Facebook’s view that the device makers are not outsiders lets the partners go even further, The Times found: They can obtain data about a user’s Facebook friends, even those who have denied Facebook permission to share information with any third parties.

In interviews, several former Facebook software engineers and security experts said they were surprised at the ability to override sharing restrictions.

“It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said Ashkan Soltani, a research and privacy consultant who formerly served as the F.T.C.’s chief technologist.

How One Phone Gains Access to Hundreds of Thousands of Facebook Accounts

After connecting to Facebook, the BlackBerry Hub app was able to retrieve detailed data on 556 of Mr. LaForgia's friends, including relationship status, religious and political leanings and events they planned to attend. Facebook has said that it cut off third parties' access to this type of information in 2015, but that it does not consider BlackBerry a third party in this case.

The Hub app was also able to access information — including unique identifiers — on 294,258 friends of Mr. LaForgia's friends.

By Rich Harris and Gabriel J.X. Dance

Details of Facebook’s partnerships have emerged amid a reckoning in Silicon Valley over the volume of personal information collected on the internet and monetized by the tech industry. The pervasive collection of data, while largely unregulated in the United States, has come under growing criticism from elected officials at home and overseas and provoked concern among consumers about how freely their information is shared.

In a tense appearance before Congress in March, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, emphasized what he said was a company priority for Facebook users.“Every piece of content that you share on Facebook you own,” he testified. ”You have complete control over who sees it and how you share it.”

But the device partnerships provoked discussion even within Facebook as early as 2012, according to Sandy Parakilas, who at the time led third-party advertising and privacy compliance for Facebook’s platform.

“This was flagged internally as a privacy issue,” said Mr. Parakilas, who left Facebook that year and has recently emerged as a harsh critic of the company. “It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook’s testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled.”

The partnerships were briefly mentioned in documents submitted to German lawmakers investigating the social media giant’s privacy practices and released by Facebook in mid-May. But Facebook provided the lawmakers with the name of only one partner — BlackBerry, maker of the once-ubiquitous mobile device — and little information about how the agreements worked.

The submission followed testimony by Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, during a closed-door German parliamentary hearing in April. Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the lawmakers who questioned Mr. Kaplan, said in an interview that she believed the data partnerships disclosed by Facebook violated users’ privacy rights.

 

“What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent,” Ms. Winkelmeier-Becker said. “I would never have imagined that this might even be happening secretly via deals with device makers. BlackBerry users seem to have been turned into data dealers, unknowingly and unwillingly.”

In interviews with The Times, Facebook identified other partners: Apple and Samsung, the world’s two biggest smartphone makers, and Amazon, which sells tablets.

An Apple spokesman said the company relied on private access to Facebook data for features that enabled users to post photos to the social network without opening the Facebook app, among other things. Apple said its phones no longer had such access to Facebook as of last September.

Samsung declined to respond to questions about whether it had any data-sharing partnerships with Facebook. Amazon also declined to respond to questions.

Usher Lieberman, a BlackBerry spokesman, said in a statement that the company used Facebook data only to give its own customers access to their Facebook networks and messages. Mr. Lieberman said that the company “did not collect or mine the Facebook data of our customers,” adding that “BlackBerry has always been in the business of protecting, not monetizing, customer data.”

Microsoft entered a partnership with Facebook in 2008 that allowed Microsoft-powered devices to do things like add contacts and friends and receive notifications, according to a spokesman. He added that the data was stored locally on the phone and was not synced to Microsoft’s servers.

Facebook acknowledged that some partners did store users’ data — including friends’ data — on their own servers. A Facebook official said that regardless of where the data was kept, it was governed by strict agreements between the companies.

“I am dumbfounded by the attitude that anybody in Facebook’s corporate office would think allowing third parties access to data would be a good idea,” said Henning Schulzrinne, a computer science professor at Columbia University who specializes in network security and mobile systems.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how loosely Facebook had policed the bustling ecosystem of developers building apps on its platform. They ranged from well-known players like Zynga, the maker of the FarmVille game, to smaller ones, like a Cambridge contractor who used a quiz taken by about 300,000 Facebook users to gain access to the profiles of as many as 87 million of their friends.

Those developers relied on Facebook’s public data channels, known as application programming interfaces, or APIs. But starting in 2007, the company also established private data channels for device manufacturers.

At the time, mobile phones were less powerful, and relatively few of them could run stand-alone Facebook apps like those now common on smartphones. The company continued to build new private APIs for device makers through 2014, spreading user data through tens of millions of mobile devices, game consoles, televisions and other systems outside Facebook’s direct control.

Facebook began moving to wind down the partnerships in April, after assessing its privacy and data practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Mr. Archibong said the company had concluded that the partnerships were no longer needed to serve Facebook users. About 22 of them have been shut down.

The broad access Facebook provided to device makers raises questions about its compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the F.T.C.

The decree barred Facebook from overriding users’ privacy settings without first getting explicit consent. That agreement stemmed from an investigation that found Facebook had allowed app developers and other third parties to collect personal details about users’ friends, even when those friends had asked that their information remain private.

After the Cambridge Analytica revelations, the F.T.C. began an investigation into whether Facebook’s continued sharing of data after 2011 violated the decree, potentially exposing the company to fines.

 

Facebook officials said the private data channels did not violate the decree because the company viewed its hardware partners as “service providers,” akin to a cloud computing service paid to store Facebook data or a company contracted to process credit card transactions. According to the consent decree, Facebook does not need to seek additional permission to share friend data with service providers.

“These contracts and partnerships are entirely consistent with Facebook’s F.T.C. consent decree,” Mr. Archibong, the Facebook official, said.

But Jessica Rich, a former F.T.C. official who helped lead the commission’s earlier Facebook investigation, disagreed with that assessment.

“Under Facebook’s interpretation, the exception swallows the rule,” said Ms. Rich, now with the Consumers Union. “They could argue that any sharing of data with third parties is part of the Facebook experience. And this is not at all how the public interpreted their 2014 announcement that they would limit third-party app access to friend data.”

To test one partner’s access to Facebook’s private data channels, The Times used a reporter’s Facebook account — with about 550 friends — and a 2013 BlackBerry device, monitoring what data the device requested and received. (More recent BlackBerry devices, which run Google’s Android operating system, do not use the same private channels, BlackBerry officials said.)

Immediately after the reporter connected the device to his Facebook account, it requested some of his profile data, including user ID, name, picture, “about” information, location, email, and cell phone number. The device then retrieved the reporter’s private messages and the responses to them, along with the name and user ID of each person with whom he was communicating.

The data flowed to a BlackBerry app known as the Hub, which was designed to let BlackBerry users view all of their messages and social media accounts in one place.

The Hub also requested — and received — data that Facebook’s policy appears to prohibit. Since 2015, Facebook has said that apps can request only the names of friends using the same app. But the BlackBerry app had access to all of the reporter’s Facebook friends and, for most of them, returned information such as user ID, birthday, work and education history and whether they were currently online.

The BlackBerry device was also able to retrieve identifying information for nearly 295,000 Facebook users. Most of them were second-degree Facebook friends of the reporter, or friends of friends.

In all, Facebook empowers BlackBerry devices to access more than 50 types of information about users and their friends, The Times found.

Categorized in Social

Source: This article was published internetofbusiness.com By Malek Murison - Contributed by Member: Carol R. Venuti

Facebook has announced a raft of measures to prevent the spread of false information on its platform.

Writing in a company blog post on Friday, product manager Tessa Lyons said that Facebook’s fight against fake news has been ongoing through a combination of technology and human review.

However, she also wrote that, given the determination of people seeking to abuse the social network’s algorithms for political and other gains, “This effort will never be finished and we have a lot more to do.”

Lyons went on to announce several updates and enhancements as part of Facebook’s battle to control the veracity of content on its platform. New measures include expanding its fact-checking programme to new countries and developing systems to monitor the authenticity of photos and videos.

 

Both are significant in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. While fake new stories are widely acknowledged or alleged to exist on either side of the left/right political divide, concerns are also growing about the fast-emerging ability to fake videos.


Meanwhile, numerous reports surfaced last year documenting the problem of teenagers in Macedonia producing some of the most successful viral pro-Trump content during the US presidential election.

Other measures outlined by Lyons include increasing the impact of fact-checking, taking action against repeat offenders, and extending partnerships with academic institutions to improve fact-checking results.

Machine learning to improve fact-checking

Facebook already applies machine learning algorithms to detect sensitive content. Though fallible, this software goes a long way toward ensuring that photos and videos containing violence and sexual content are flagged and removed as swiftly as possible.

Now, the company is set to use similar technologies to identify false news and take action on a bigger scale.

In part, that’s because Facebook has become a victim of its own success. With close to two billion registered users, one billion regularly active ones, and over a billion pieces of content posted every day, it’s impossible for human fact-checkers to review stories on an individual basis, without Facebook employing vast teams of people to monitor citizen behavior.

Lyons explained how machine learning is being used, not only to detect false stories but also to detect duplicates of stories that have already been classed as false. “Machine learning helps us identify duplicates of debunked stories,” she wrote.

“For example, a fact-checker in France debunked the claim that you can save a person having a stroke by using a needle to prick their finger and draw blood. This allowed us to identify over 20 domains and over 1,400 links spreading that same claim.”

 

The big-picture challenge, of course, is that real science is constantly advancing alongside pseudoscience, and new or competing theories constantly emerge, while others are still being tested.

Facebook is also working on technology that can sift through the metadata of published images to check their background information against the context in which they are used. This is because while the fake news is a widely known problem, the cynical deployment of genuine content, such as photos, in false or deceptive contexts can be a more insidious problem.

Machine learning is also being deployed to recognise where false claims may be emanating from. Facebook filters are now actively attempting to predict which pages are more likely to share false content, based on the profile of page administrators, the behavior of the page, and its geographical location.

Internet of Business says

Facebook’s moves are welcome and, many would argue, long overdue. However, in a world of conspiracy theories – many spun on social media – it’s inevitable that some will see the evidenced, fact-checked flagging-up of false content as itself being indicative of bias or media manipulation.

In a sense, Facebook is engaged in an age-old battle, belief versus evidence, which is now spreading into more and more areas of our lives. Experts are now routinely vilified by politicians, even as we still trust experts to keep planes in the sky, feed us, teach us, clothe us, treat our illnesses, and power our homes.

Many false stories are posted on social platforms to generate clicks and advertising revenues through controversy – hardly a revelation. However, red flags can automatically be raised when, for example, page admins live in one country but post content to users on the other side of the world.

“These admins often have suspicious accounts that are not fake, but are identified in our system as having suspicious activity,” Lyons told Buzzfeed.

An excellent point. But some media magnates also live on the other side of the world, including – for anyone outside of the US – Mark Zuckerberg.

Categorized in Social

Source: This article was published hindustantimes.com By Karen Weise and Sarah Frier - Contributed by Member: David J. Redcliff

For scholars, the scale of Facebook’s 2.2 billion users provides an irresistible way to investigate how human nature may play out on, and be shaped by, the social network.

The professor was incredulous. David Craig had been studying the rise of entertainment on social media for several years when a Facebook Inc. employee he didn’t know emailed him last December, asking about his research. “I thought I was being pumped,” Craig said. The company flew him to Menlo Park and offered him $25,000 to fund his ongoing projects, with no obligation to do anything in return. This was definitely not normal, but after checking with his school, University of Southern California, Craig took the gift. “Hell, yes, it was generous to get an out-of-the-blue offer to support our work, with no strings,” he said. “It’s not all so black and white that they are villains.”

Other academics got these gifts, too. One, who said she had $25,000 deposited in her research account recently without signing a single document, spoke to a reporter hoping maybe the journalist could help explain it. Another professor said one of his former students got an unsolicited monetary offer from Facebook, and he had to assure the recipient it wasn’t a scam. The professor surmised that Facebook uses the gifts as a low-cost way to build connections that could lead to closer collaboration later. He also thinks Facebook “happily lives in the ambiguity” of the unusual arrangement. If researchers truly understood that the funding has no strings, “people would feel less obligated to interact with them,” he said.

 

The free gifts are just one of the little-known and complicated ways Facebook works with academic researchers. For scholars, the scale of Facebook’s 2.2 billion users provides an irresistible way to investigate how human nature may play out on, and be shaped by, the social network. For Facebook, the motivations to work with outside academics are far thornier, and it’s Facebook that decides who gets access to its data to examine its impact on society.“Just from a business standpoint, people won’t want to be on Facebook if Facebook is not positive for them in their lives,” said Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer. “We also have a broader responsibility to make sure that we’re having the right impact on society.”

The company’s long been conflicted about how to work with social scientists, and now runs several programs, each reflecting the contorted relationship Facebook has with external scrutiny. The collaborations have become even more complicated in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which was set off by revelations that a professor who once collaborated with Facebook’s in-house researchers used data collected separately to influence elections. ALSO READ: Facebook admits it tracks your mouse movements

“Historically the focus of our research has been on product development, on doing things that help us understand how people are using Facebook and build improvements to Facebook,” Sherman said. Facebook’s heard more from academics and non-profits recently who say “because of the expertise that we have, and the data that Facebook stores, we have an opportunity to contribute to generalizable knowledge and to answer some of these broader social questions,” he said. “So you’ve seen us begin to invest more heavily in social science research and in answering some of these questions.”

Facebook has a corporate culture that reveres research. The company builds its product based on internal data on user behaviour, surveys and focus groups. More than a hundred Ph.D.-level researchers work on Facebook’s in-house core data science team, and employees say the information that points to growth has had more of an impact on the company’s direction than Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s ideas.

Facebook is far more hesitant to work with outsiders; it risks unflattering findings, leaks of proprietary information, and privacy breaches. But Facebook likes it when external research proves that Facebook is great. And in the fierce talent wars of Silicon Valley, working with professors can make it easier to recruit their students.

It can also improve the bottom line. In 2016, when Facebook changed the “like” button into a set of emojis that better-captured user expression—and feelings for advertisers— it did so with the help of Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who’s an expert in compassion and emotions. Keltner’s Greater Good Science Center continues to work closely with the company. And this January, Facebook made research the centerpiece of a major change to its news feed algorithm. In studies published with academics at several universities, Facebook found that people who used social media actively—commenting on friends’ posts, setting up events—were likely to see a positive impact on mental health, while those who used it passively may feel depressed. In reaction, Facebook declared it would spend more time encouraging “meaningful interaction.” Of course, the more people engage with Facebook, the more data it collects for advertisers.

The company has stopped short of pursuing deeper research on the potentially negative fallout of its power. According to its public database of published research, Facebook’s written more than 180 public papers about artificial intelligence but just one study about elections, based on an experiment Facebook ran on 61 million users to mobilize voters in the Congressional midterms back in 2010. Facebook’s Sherman said, “We’ve certainly been doing a lot of work over the past couple of months, particularly to expand the areas where we’re looking.”

 

Facebook’s first peer-reviewed papers with outside scholars were published in 2009, and almost a decade into producing academic work, it still wavers over how to structure the arrangements. It’s given out the smaller unrestricted gifts. But those gifts don’t come with access to Facebook’s data, at least initially. The company is more restrictive about who can mine or survey its users. It looks for research projects that dovetail with its business goals.

Some academics cycle through one-year fellowships while pursuing doctorate degrees, and others get paid for consulting projects, which never get published.

When Facebook does provide data to researchers, it retains the right to veto or edit the paper before publication. None of the professors Bloomberg spoke with knew of cases when Facebook prohibited a publication, though many said the arrangement inevitably leads academics to propose investigations less likely to be challenged. “Researchers focus on things that don’t create a moral hazard,” said Dean Eckles, a former Facebook data scientist now at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Without a guaranteed right to publish, Eckles said, researchers inevitably shy away from potentially critical work. That means some of the most burning societal questions may go unprobed.

Facebook also almost always pairs outsiders with in-house researchers. This ensures scholars have a partner who’s intimately familiar with Facebook’s vast data, but some who’ve worked with Facebook say this also creates a selection bias about what gets studied. “Stuff still comes out, but only the immensely positive, happy stories—the goody-goody research that they could show off,” said one social scientist who worked as a researcher at Facebook. For example, he pointed out that the company’s published widely on issues related to well-being, or what makes people feel good and fulfilled, which is positive for Facebook’s public image and product. “The question is: ‘What’s not coming out?,’” he said.

Facebook argues its body of work on well-being does have broad importance. “Because we are a social product that has large distribution within society, it is both about societal issues as well as the product,” said David Ginsberg, Facebook’s director of research.Other social networks have smaller research ambitions, but have tried more open approaches. This spring, Twitter Inc. asked for proposals to measure the health of conversations on its platform, and Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn is running a multi-year programme to have researchers use its data to understand how to improve the economic opportunities of workers. Facebook has issued public calls for technical research, but until the past few months, hasn’t done so for social sciences. Yet it has solicited in that area, albeit quietly: Last summer, one scholarly association begged discretion when sharing information on a Facebook pilot project to study tech’s impact in developing economies. Its email read, “Facebook is not widely publicizing the program.”

In 2014, the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a massive study, co-authored by two Facebook researchers and an outside academic, that found emotions were “contagious” online, that people who saw sad posts were more likely to make sad posts. The catch: the results came from an experiment run on 689,003 Facebook users, where researchers secretly tweaked the algorithm of Facebook’s news feed to show some cheerier content than others. People were angry, protesting that they didn’t give Facebook permission to manipulate their emotions.

The company first said people allowed such studies by agreeing to its terms of service, and then eventually apologized. While the academic journal didn’t retract the paper, it issued an “Editorial Expression of Concern.”

 

To get federal research funding, universities must run testing on humans through what’s known as an institutional review board, which includes at least one outside expert, approves the ethics of the study and ensures subjects provide informed consent. Companies don’t have to run research through IRBs. The emotional-contagion study fell through the cracks.

The outcry profoundly changed Facebook’s research operations, creating a review process that was more formal and cautious. It set up a pseudo-IRB of its own, which doesn’t include an outside expert but does have policy and PR staff. Facebook also created a new public database of its published research, which lists more than 470 papers. But that database now has a notable omission—a December 2015 paper two Facebook employees co-wrote with Aleksandr Kogan, the professor at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook said it believes the study was inadvertently never posted and is working to ensure other papers aren’t left off in the future.

In March, Gary King, a Harvard University political science professor, met with some Facebook executives about trying to get the company to share more data with academics. It wasn’t the first time he’d made his case, but he left the meeting with no commitment.

A few days later, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, and soon Facebook was on the phone with King. Maybe it was time to cooperate, at least to understand what happens in elections. Since then, King and a Stanford University law professor have developed a complicated new structure to give more researchers access to Facebook’s data on the elections and let scholars publish whatever they find. The resulting structure is baroque, involving a new “commission” of scholars Facebook will help pick, an outside academic council that will award research projects, and seven independent U.S. foundations to fund the work. “Negotiating this was kind of like the Arab-Israel peace treaty, but with a lot more partners,” King said.

The new effort, which has yet to propose its first research project, is the most open approach Facebook’s taken yet. “We hope that will be a model that replicates not just within Facebook but across the industry,” Facebook’s Ginsberg said. “It’s a way to make data available for social science research in a way that means that it’s both independent and maintains privacy.” But the new approach will also face an uphill battle to prove its credibility. The new Facebook research project came together under the company’s public relations and policy team, not its research group of PhDs trained in ethics and research design. More than 200 scholars from the Association of Internet Researchers, a global group of interdisciplinary academics, have signed a letter saying the effort is too limited in the questions it’s asking, and also that it risks replicating what sociologists call the “Matthew effect,” where only scholars from elite universities—like Harvard and Stanford—get an inside track.

“Facebook’s new initiative is set up in such a way that it will select projects that address known problems in an area known to be problematic,” the academics wrote. The research effort, the letter said, also won’t let the world—or Facebook, for that matter—get ahead of the next big problem.

Categorized in Social

Source: This article was published entrepreneur.com By Brian Byer - Contributed by Member: Clara Johnson

Consumers do enjoy the convenience of the apps they use but are individually overwhelmed when it comes to defending their privacy.

When it comes to our collective sense of internet privacy, 2018 is definitely the year of awareness. It’s funny that it took Facebook’s unholy partnership with a little-known data-mining consulting firm named Cambridge Analytica to raise the alarm. After all, there were already abundant examples of how our information was being used by unidentified forces on the web. It really took nothing more than writing the words "Cabo San Lucas" as part of a throwaway line in some personal email to a friend to initiate a slew of Cabo resort ads and Sammy Hagar’s face plastering the perimeters of our social media feeds.

In 2018, it’s never been more clear that when we embrace technological developments, all of which make our lives easier, we are truly taking hold of a double-edged sword. But has our awakening come a little too late? As a society, are we already so hooked on the conveniences internet-enabled technologies provide us that we’re hard-pressed making the claim that we want the control of our personal data back?

 

It’s an interesting question. Our digital marketing firm recently conducted a survey to better understand how people feel about internet privacy issues and the new movement to re-establish control over what app providers and social networks do with our personal information.

Given the current media environment and scary headlines regarding online security breaches, the poll results, at least on the surface, were fairly predictable. According to our study, web users overwhelmingly object to how our information is being shared with and used by third-party vendors. No surprise here, a whopping 90 percent of those polled were very concerned about internet privacy. In a classic example of "Oh, how the mighty have fallen," Facebook and Google have suddenly landed in the ranks of the companies we trust the least, with only 3 percent and 4 percent of us, respectively, claiming to have any faith in how they handled our information.

Despite consumers’ apparent concern about online security, the survey results also revealed participants do very little to safeguard their information online, especially if doing so comes at the cost of convenience and time. In fact, 60 percent of them download apps without reading terms and conditions and close to one in five (17 percent) report that they’ll keep an app they like, even if it does breach their privacy by tracking their whereabouts.

While the survey reveals only 18 percent say they are “very confident” when it comes to trusting retails sites with their personal information, the sector is still on track to exceed a $410 billion e-commerce spend this year. This, despite more than half (54 percent) reporting they feel less secure purchasing from online retailers after reading about online breach after online breach.

What's become apparent from our survey is that while people are clearly dissatisfied with the state of internet privacy, they feel uninspired or simply ill-equipped to do anything about it. It appears many are hooked on the conveniences online living affords them and resigned to the loss of privacy if that’s what it costs to play.

The findings are not unique to our survey. In a recent Harvard Business School study, people who were told the ads appearing in their social media timelines had been selected specifically based on their internet search histories showed far less engagement with the ads, compared to a control group who didn't know how they'd been targeted. The study revealed that the actual act of company transparency, coming clean about the marketing tactics employed, dissuaded user response in the end.

 

As is the case with innocent schoolchildren, the world is a far better place when we believe there is an omniscient Santa Claus who magically knows our secret desires, instead of it being a crafty gift exchange rigged by the parents who clearly know the contents of our wish list. We say we want safeguards and privacy. We say we want transparency. But when it comes to a World Wide Web, where all the cookies have been deleted and our social media timeline knows nothing about us, the user experience becomes less fluid.

The irony is, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those polled in our survey don’t believe that companies having access to our personal information leads to a better, more personalized, online experience at all, which is the chief reason companies like Facebook state for wanting our personal information in the first place. And yet, when an app we've installed doesn't let us tag our location to a post or inform us when a friend has tagged us in a photo or alerted us that the widget we were searching for is on sale this week, we feel slighted by our brave new world.

With the introduction of GDPR regulations this summer, the European Union has taken, collectively, the important first steps toward regaining some of the online privacy that we, as individuals, have been unable to take. GDPR casts the first stone at the Goliath that’s had free rein leveraging our personal information against us. By doling out harsh penalties and fines for those who abuse our private stats -- or at least those who aren’t abundantly transparent as to how they intend to use those stats -- the EU, and by extension, those countries conducting online business with them, has finally initiated a movement to curtail the hitherto laissez-faire practices of commercial internet enterprises. For this cyberspace Wild West, there’s finally a new sheriff in town.

I imagine that our survey takers applaud this action, although only about 25 percent were even aware of GDPR. At least on paper, the legislation has given us back some control over the privacy rights we’ve been letting slip away since we first signed up for a MySpace account. Will this new regulation affect our user experience on the internet? More than half of our respondents don’t think so, and perhaps, for now, we are on the way toward a balancing point between the information that makes us easier to market to and the information that’s been being used for any purpose under the sun. It’s time to leverage this important first step, and stay vigilant of its effectiveness with a goal of gaining back even more privacy while online.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was published martechadvisor.com - Contributed by Member: Martin Grossner

Video has become an integral part of the overall content marketing mix – a significant chunk of people’s online activities involve consumption of videos.  51% of marketers swear by video to justify the ROI on content marketing activities - and YouTube gets more than 500 million hours of daily watch time. Facebook is not falling behind with 100 million hours of the same. And these numbers will only increase in the coming time.

On the other hand, ample amount of opportunities brings the problem of saturation. How do you stand out from the clutter and the competition in the eyes of your viewers and the search engines? In this article, we will go over 5 techniques (Or hacks, if you will!) that will attract more viewers for your videos.

(Note: For our convenience, we’ll mostly use YouTube for all the examples. The tactics mentioned in this article will be applicable for most video hosting platforms and streaming websites.)

 

1. Video Keyword Search

First, let’s go over the most fundamental aspect of any content creation activity - keyword research. Before you move to create videos, generate a list of keywords and keyword phrases that you would like to rank for.

To start with, the YouTube Suggest feature will show you what people are searching for in YouTube. For instance, if you type in Digital Marketing 2018 in the search box, YouTube will present the relevant searches with that keyword phrases, and you can generate more ideas with the suggestions.

Another way to get keyword ideas is to look for keywords used in videos with a higher video count. In the screenshot below, barring the video with 150k views, you can see that videos with the keyword phrase Digital Marketing Trends for 2018 have received a good amount of views.

2. Optimize Video Metadata

To help people find your content, optimize your video content before it goes live. Here is how you can do that:

Title: Include the focus keyword in the video title along with the problem it solves. It should be engaging and should incite people to click on the video.

 

In the screenshot below, the video has to Maximize Your Productivity as the focus keyword and tells how batching your tasks can help solve the problem it talks about. Note, that the language is simple yet impactful.

Description: Use the focus keyword as early as you can in the description to tell the YouTube algorithm what the video is about (Source). 200+ words descriptions help YouTube and Google both in understanding more about your video. You can ask viewers to subscribe to your channel or direct them to your website and so on. Avoid stuffing keywords in the description box to avoid getting penalized by YouTube.

Tip: If your video runs longer (usually 8+ minutes), add timestamps in your description to help your viewers navigate through the video. Here’s how Gary Vaynerchuk does it.

Upload video transcript: Now, this will certainly help you outsmart your competition. Whenever you are uploading a video, upload the video transcript along with it, because search engine bots crawl closed captions included in the video. YouTube does automatic captioning, but try not to use it because you are at the mercy of the speech recognition technology which sometimes is not accurate.

Video Thumbnail: Although thumbnails don’t influence the SEO factors directly, an eye-catching thumbnail will certainly attract more viewers leading to enhanced SEO.

Make sure your thumbnail attracts eyeballs and tells viewers what the video is about. Here’s an example:

3. Create Playlists to Increase Your Watch Time

Watch time measures the amount of time people spend in watching your videos. It’s an important metric, because YouTube rewards videos that keep viewers engaged on YouTube. To optimize your watch time, create playlists on specific topics that would keep the viewers hooked for a longer time. Also, while working on playlists, make sure the name of the playlist is keyword-rich to reap the SEO benefits.

 

4. User Engagement

If people are liking, leaving comments, sharing your videos or subscribing to your channel, YouTube uses it as a signal that your videos are engaging. Here are 2 simple tips to increase user engagement in your videos.

a. Ask viewers to like, comment and share your videos - and to subscribe to your channel. Ask specific questions so they can easily answer them in the comments section.

b. Ensure to leave reply to the comments on your videos – select a specific time to answer all the comments. Replying to comments makes your viewers feel good and engage more with your videos leading to even increased watch time.

5. Schema Markup

Schema.org is an initiative between Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex to create a structured data markup schema. Implementing Schema markup will help videos stand out in standard search results. If you are not sure whether you should go for it or not, here is Matt Cutts himself affirming the significance of it.

You need to provide the description, thumbnail URL, upload date, and duration. Google has detailed out everything here regarding schema markups for videos.

6. Submit a Video Sitemap

Video sitemaps provide search engine bots with the placement and the metadata of the videos on your website. While the bots can crawl the content themselves, submitting the video sitemap speeds up the process.  The video sitemap should contain metadata like title, description, play page URL, thumbnail URL and the raw video file URL.

 If you have already started with video marketing and feel a little lost when it comes to getting more views, these hacks will set you in the right direction. How do you plan to implement these tactics? Let us know in the comments below!

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was published techcrunch.com By Josh Constine - Contributed by Member:Jennifer Levin

Facebook  wants to help connect brands to creators so they can work out sponsored content and product placement deals, even if it won’t be taking a cut. Confirming our scoop from May, Facebook today launched its Brand Collabs Manager. It’s a search engine that brands can use to browse different web celebrities based on the demographics of their audience and portfolios of their past sponsored content.

Creators hoping to score sponsorship deals will be able to compile a portfolio connected to their Facebook Page that shows off how they can seamlessly work brands into their content. Brands will also be able to find them based on the top countries where they’re popular, and audience characteristics like interests, gender, education, relationship status, life events or home ownership.

 

Facebook also made a wide range of other creator monetization announcements today:

  • Facebook’s Creator app that launched on iOS in November rolled out globally on Android today (this link should be active soon once the app populates across Google Play). The Creator app lets content makers add intros and outros to Live broadcasts, cross-post content to Twitter and Instagram, see a unified inbox of their Facebook and Instagram comments plus Messenger chats, and more ways to connect with fans.

  • Ad Breaks, or mid-video commercials, are rolling out to more U.S. creators, starting with those that make longer and original content with loyal fans. Creators keep 55 percent of the ad revenue from the ads.
  • Patreon-Style Subscriptions are rolling out to more creators, letting them charge fans $4.99 per month for access to exclusive behind the scenes content plus a badge that highlights that they’re a patron. Facebook also offers microtransaction tipping of video creators through its new virtual currency called Stars.

  • Top Fan Badges that highlight a creator’s most engaged fans will now roll out more broadly after a strong initial reaction to tests in March.
  • Rights Manager, which lets content owners upload their videos so Facebook can fingerprint them and block others from uploading them, is now available for creators, not just publishers.

Facebook also made a big announcement today about the launch of interactive video features and its first set of gameshows built with them. Creators can add quizzes, polls, gamification and more to their videos so users can play along instead of passively viewing. Facebook’s Watch hub for original content is also expanding to a wider range of show formats and creators.

 

Why Facebook wants sponsored content

Facebook needs the hottest new content from creators if it wants to prevent users’ attention from slipping to YouTube,  Netflix, Twitch and elsewhere. But to keep creators loyal, it has to make sure they’re earning money off its platform. The problem is, injecting Ad Breaks that don’t scare off viewers can be difficult, especially on shorter videos.

But Vine proved that six seconds can be enough to convey a subtle marketing message. A startup called Niche rose to arrange deals between creators and brands who wanted a musician to make a song out of the windows and doors of their new Honda car, or a comedian to make a joke referencing Coca-Cola. Twitter eventually acquired Niche for a reported $50 million so it could earn money off Vine without having to insert traditional ads. [Disclosure: My cousin Darren Lachtman was a co-founder of Niche.]

Vine naturally attracted content makers in a way that Facebook has had some trouble with. YouTube’s sizable ad revenue shares, Patreon’s subscriptions and Twitch’s fan tipping are pulling creators away from Facebook.

So rather than immediately try to monetize this sponsored content, Facebook is launching the Brand Collabs Manager to prove to creators that it can get them paid indirectly. Facebook already offered a way for creators to tag their content with disclosure tags about brands they were working with. But now it’s going out of its way to facilitate the deals. Fan subscriptions and tipping come from the same motive: letting creators monetize through their audience rather than the platform itself.

Spinning up these initiatives to be more than third-rate knockoffs of Niche, YouTube, Patreon and Twitch will take some work. But hey, it’s cheaper for Facebook than paying these viral stars out of pocket.

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was published blog.kissmetrics.com By Jonathan Cabin - Contributed by Member: Issac Avila

Have you ever been looking for something but didn’t know where to find it? If that something is online, then your search is over (or just about to begin). The following are 40 advanced and alternative search engines that you can use to find just about anything on the Internet. Use them to follow discussions about your industry, monitor your online reputation, and much more!

General Search

To start off our search adventure, let’s look at some general search engines beyond the top three.

DuckDuckGo

Concerned about online privacy? DuckDuckGo prides themselves as being the search engine that does not track or personalize your searches and results. They even offer handy visual guides on Google tracking and filter bubbling. And if you’re an iOS user, you can set DuckDuckGo to be the default search engine in Safari. It’s also an option for Safari on MacOS.

Search Encrypt

Looking for an alternative to DuckDuckGo? Give Search Encrypt a try. Like DuckDuckGo, they are a privacy-based search engine. It includes a general search function, as well as image and video search.

 

Ecosia

Want trees planted while you search? That’s what Ecosia does! Simply run your normal searches and Ecosia will use its surplus income to conservationist organizations that plant trees. And you don’t have to sacrifice low-quality results to do good – Ecosia uses Bing and their own search algorithms.

Dogpile

If you want results from the top three search engines, but don’t want to go to them individually, try Dogpile. It’s results are pulled from the top three search engines “without all the mess.”

Blekko

Want spam free search results? Blekko‘s mission is to provide a differentiated, editorial voice in search. They look for quality over quantity, source-based authority over link based, removes sites whose primary purpose is monetization over information and uses human curating through the use of user tags.

WolframAlpha

Looking for a search engine based on computation and metrics? Try WolframAlpha. It will give you website data, historical information by date, unit conversions, stock data, sports statistics, and more. You can see examples by topicto learn more.

Gigablast

Want an open source search engine? Check out Gigablast. While it doesn’t always get things right, it does provide a retro look, results return quickly, and a feature similar to the now-defunct Google Instant.

Social Network Specific Advanced Search

Need to find something specific on one of the top social networks? Here are some great advanced search pages.

Facebook Search

Want to see a particular search across different areas of Facebook? Use Facebook Advanced Search. When you type in your query, click on the “see more results” link at bottom of the suggestions. Then use the filters on the left to see results within people, pages, places, groups, and more.

LinkedIn People Search

If you want to find some new connections on LinkedIn, use the Advanced People Search. This will let you narrow down your results by the above plus relationship and language. Premium members will have access to additional search filters including groups, company size, years of experience, and more.

 

LinkedIn Job Search

LinkedIn offers job seekers an Advanced Job Search to find jobs using the above information plus experience level and industry. Premium members can narrow their search down further by the salary offered.

LinkedIn Answers Search

LinkedIn Answers is a great way to gain exposure and build authority in your industry. Use the Answers Advanced Search to find the perfect questions to answer.

Twitter Search

Twitter’s Advanced Search is a great way to find better results on Twitter. It is especially great for businesses looking for a local audience by allowing them to filter their results using the Near this place field.

Social Search

The following search engines will allow you to search one or more social networks in one place and gain additional data about the results.

Keyhole

Keyhole allows you to search for hashtags, keywords, @mentions, and URLs. Want to see how your latest blog post was shared across social networks? Just select URL on Keyhole and put in the URL and you’ll see who has shared it.

 

Social Mention

Social Mention allows you to search across multiple types of networks including blogs, microblogs, bookmarks, comments, events, images, news, and more.

Buzzsumo

Use Buzzsumo if you have a topic in mind and want to see which articles on the web were most shared for that particular search. There is a paid version that can give you access to more tools for each topic.

Forums

Want to participate in forums in your industry? Use this search engine to find results specifically on forums.

Boardreader

BoardReader allows you to search forums and narrow results down by date (last day through last year) and language.

Blogs

Find industry related blogs and posts using the following search engines.

Regator

Regator allows you to search for blogs and posts on any topic, then narrow down your results by posts with audio or video, date range, topic, and domain.

Documents, eBooks, and Presentations

If you’re looking for documents, eBooks, presentations, or other similar file types, try the following searches.

Google Advanced Search

Google Advanced Search allows you to search for specific types of documents. Looking specifically for PDFs? Set that as your criteria. Want to search for Word docs or Powerpoint presentations? Then tell Google to find those file types.

Scribd

Scribd is the largest social reading and publishing network that allows you to discover original written content across the web. Sort results by category, language, length, file types, upload date, and cost (free or for sale).

SlideShare

SlideShare is the largest community for sharing presentations. If you missed a conference or webinar, there’s a good chance the slides from your favorite speakers are here.

Image Search

Looking for beautiful images? Try these image search engines – note that you must gain permission to use any images you find unless they are specifically marked as Creative Commons licensed.

Flickr

Flickr offers an advanced search screen that allows you to find photos, screenshots, illustrations, and videos on their network. You can also search within Creative Commons licensed content.

 

Pinterest

The ultimate image platform, Pinterest allows you to search for anything visual – clothing, cars, floors, airplanes, etc and pin it to your favorites. Just be sure you don’t steal copyright work. You will need to have an account before you can begin searching.

Bing

Bing offers an image search that starts out with the top trending images, then leads to images which can be filtered by size, layout, and other criteria. They also display tabs above the results with related search queries.

Google

Google Advanced Image Search allows you to get even more specific about the images you are looking for, including specifying whether they are faces, photos, clip arts, or line drawings. You can also search within images labeled for reuse commercially and with modifications.

TinEye

Have you seen an image around the web and want to know where it came from? That’s what TinEye is for. Just put your image in the search box and TinEye will find where that image has been seen from around the web.

Creative Commons Media

Need to find media created by others to use on your website? Try these Creative Commons searches.

Creative Commons

Looking for only images that you can repurpose, use for commercial purposes, or modify? Try the Creative Commons Search which will allow you to look through multiple sources including Flickr, Google Images, Wikimedia, and YouTube.

Wikimedia

Wikimedia Commons has over 12 million files in their database of freely usable images, sound bites, and videos. Use the search box or browse by categories for different types of media.

 

Video Search

Looking for a video to embed on your website or simply entertain you? Try these video search engines that look across multiple sources to find what you need.

Yahoo

Yahoo Video Search allows you to search through video content from their own network, YouTube, Dailymotion, Metacafe, Myspace, Hulu, and other online video providers for videos on any topic.

360Daily

360Daily allows you to go beyond YouTube to find videos on any topic from hundreds of sites including big names like YouTube and Hulu. If you’re looking for video, you’ll likely find it here.

AOL Video Search

AOL Video aggregates the days best clips from around the web, but you can also use it as a search engine.

Google Video

With Google Video Search you’ll be able to search for videos on any topic and filter your results by duration, the date when uploaded, video source, and much more.

 

Website Data & Statistics

Looking for information about your favorite brands and websites? Try out these search engines for data and statistics.

CrunchBase

CrunchBase offers insight into your favorite online brands and companies. Listings will tell you people who are associated with a company, contact information, related videos, screenshots, and more.

SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb allows you to search for website or app profiles based specific domains or app names. Domains with a high volume of traffic will have data including total regional visitors per month, pageviews online vs. mobile, demographics, sites similar audiences like, and more.

BuiltWith

Curious to see what technology your favorite sites use and usage trends of that technology? BuiltWith allows you to search for domains and see the technology they use, including analytics, content management systems, coding, and widgets. You can also click on any of the products to see usage trends, industries using the technology, and more.

 

Advanced Google

Can’t get away from Google, but want to get more out of it than a simple Google.com search? Try these advanced Google search features.

Google Advanced Search

Looking for something specific? Try Google Advanced Search or use Advanced Operators in your search queries.

Google Scholar

If you are looking for articles, theses, books, abstracts, court opinions or other information provided by academic publishers, professional societies, and university, try Google Scholar Advanced Search. You can also use Advanced Operators to refine your search results even more.

Google Books

Google Advanced Book Search will help you find search queries in books. You can also find entire books published online that might be available to download via PDF (when in the public domain).

Google Search Features

Need to check stock quotes, the time in another city, sports scores, or other specific information? The Google Search Features page allows you to search for everyday essentials, local listings, health information, and much more.

Categorized in Search Engine

Now more than ever, marketing experts are improving their marketing strategy with fewer resources, and they are shifting marketing budgets from traditional to digital tactics like search engine optimization and social media. Companies, too often, omit their social media marketing strategy from their SEO strategy, which is a grave mistake. A study conducted by Ascend2 indicates that companies with the strongest SEO via social media strategies now produce the best results, and vice-versa. Companies that consider themselves “very successful” at search engine optimization are integrating social media into their strategy, whereas, companies that are “not successful” at search engine optimization are not integrating social media into their strategy.

See the graph below:

SEOSocialIntegration

In the above graph, companies with successful SEO are in blue while those companies with an inferior SEO strategy are in amber. You can see 38% of those doing very well with search engine optimization was also extensively integrating social media. A full 50% of those doing poorly at search engine optimization was not integrating social media at all in their strategy. This graph signifies that companies that are succeeding in search engine optimization today are including social in their strategy.

 

SEO is much more than just high ranking in Google. It is a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approach to website optimization that ensures potential customers, who come to your website, will have an excellent experience, easily find what they are looking for, and have an easy time sharing your optimum-quality content. The combination of SEO and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can be overwhelming for big as well as small business marketers. Until recently, search engine optimization and social media marketing were thought of as two very different things, but actually, these are two sides of the same coin. Consider the below mentioned social network growth statistics:

  • YouTube hosts nearly 14 billion videos. Source: comScore
  • Google sites handle about 100 billion searches each month. Source: SEL
  • Facebook is now over 1 billion users. Source: Mark Zuckerberg
  • Twitter has over 550 million accounts. Source: Statistics Brain
  • Google+ has over 500 million users. Source: Google
  • LinkedIn is at 225 million users. Source: LinkedIn
  • Pinterest grew 4,377% in 2012 and continues to expand to 25 million users. Source: TechCrunch
  • Following statistics shows how social media is quite helpful in effective search engine optimization:
  • 94% increase in CTR (Click-Thru-Rate) when searching and social media are used together. Source: eMarketer
  • 50% of consumers use a combination of search and social media to make purchase decisions. Source: Inc
  • Consumers who use social media (vs. people who don’t) are 50% more likely to use search. Source: srcibd
  • Websites with a Google+ business page yield a 15% rise in search rank. Source: Open Forum

With these statistics, we can say that social media can be a primary engine for promoting new content and can take your website from zero visibility to a strong performing position almost overnight. For enhancing SEO through social media platform two factors play a vital role, which are social signals and natural link building. I have explained these two factors in an elaborative manner:

What’s Your Social Signal?

Social Signals are signals to various search engines that your content or information is valuable. Every time someone likes, shares, tweets or +1′s content about your brand, especially a link, they are sending a social signal and the more social signals means you have better chances to rank high on search engine result pages. Many researchers have found that social shares are quite valuable when it comes to building your website authority. Here is the latest research from Searchmetrics, highlighting which social signals correlate to rankings on Google:

socialsignals2

Note that 7 out of the top 9 factors are social signals. Now, it’s clear that social signals can have a huge impact on your search rankings, especially social signals from Google+. If you do not have time to leverage all of the social networking sites, then make sure that Google+ is one of the few you do use because it will play the biggest part in increasing your rankings on search engines. Top social signals that Google is tracking on your website are mentioned below:

Google+

Google+ is a fledgling community when it is compared to social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, but its social signals have the most impact on search ranking results. Some factors that you should look at are:

Amount of +1s- You need to start distinguishing +1 to your website in general and +1 to each piece of your content. You should increase +1s to your brand/your authorship profile. This also applies to +1s on Local+ pages.

Authority of +1s- If your profile or brand gets more +1, then you will get to rank higher and easier for the future content you produce.

Growth rate of +1s- You should strategize a plan that will increase your +1 steadily over an extended period of time.

Amount of Adds and Shares- How many people are following and sharing your content tells about how authoritative you are.

Authority of Adds and Shares- Who is following you is also important. A network with people with great profiles helps you to establish a voice.

Facebook

The king of social networking sites, Facebook has an active community of over 900 million. Millions of active users make it a perfect platform for generating social signals. Various research has shown that Facebook influences more search rankings as compared to Google+ or Twitter. Some factors that you should look at are:

Amount of Shares and Likes- You should remember that “shares” carry more weight than “likes”.

Amount of Comments- The collective amount of likes, shares, and comments correlate the closest with search ranking.

 

Twitter

Twitter is second only to Facebook and boasts 500 million users that are constantly “tweeting”, status updates and events in real time. Twitter users, known as “tweeps”, put more premium on a tweet’s authority rather than sheer amount; though the overall social signals generated by it lags just a little behind Facebook. On Twitter, you should look at some factors like:

  • Authority of followers, mentions, and retweets
  • Number of followers, mentions, and retweets
  • Speed and intensity of tweets and RT over time

Other social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare

The big three, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, play quite important role when it comes to social ranking factors, but you should not ignore the potential of other user-driven social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare. On these social networking sites you should look at following factors:

  • Amount of Pins and re-pins on Pinterest
  • Comments on Pinterest
  • Growth rate of Pins and Re-pins
  • Check-ins on Foursquare
  • Spread rate of check-ins at FourSquare
  • Upvotes on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon
  • Comments on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon

Link Development through Social Media

The traditional way of link building like en-masse link directories, spammy comments, forum-posts for the sake of links, and anchor text sculpting are over now. In the modern era, the powerful way to build link is an effective content marketing strategy. People love informative and quality content, and they love sharing content. Social media sites are one of the best platforms for content marketing, in this way these are quite important for natural link development.

How to build natural and quality links through Social Media Platforms

There are two tactics that will help you immensely in earning quality and natural links through Social Media Platforms are:

Link-building through interaction and community engagement

If you’re link-building but never building relationships or never interacting with people, you’re not really link building: you are spamming. If you interact with people who might care about your brand, you can gain a cutting edge over other competitors. Meaningful interactions with the audience in your niche prove your credibility and will lead to more authority links. 

You can also get links through interaction from a popular site or a popular brand, when they post to their Facebook page, make a Google+ post, launch a new blog post, or put up a new video on YouTube. In this case, I also recommend you to interact early and often. Early because a lot of times, being in the first five or ten comments, interactions, or engagements really helps you to be seen by the editors who are almost always watching. When you do such interaction, make sure you are adding value, by doing this you make yourself stand out in the comments. You can add value by doing a little bit of detailed research and by making the conversation more interesting. By posting great comments, you will create interest in target customers and they often click your profile that will latently earn you some links. In addition to this, you can also offer help to other people and you can help people without being asked. This is a great way to drive links back to your own site and you can do this, not just on blog posts, but on Google+ posts, Facebook pages, and YouTube comments.

 

Link building through quality content

In addition to gaining links from popular sites, you can also earn links by posting qualitative and linkable content on social media platforms. If you create content that people find valuable and informative, they are more likely to want to share it. What people find valuable can vary, but optimum quality blog posts and infographics that provide well-researched information, statistics, and new angles on a subject are all good starting points. A good and informative video that attracts viewers’ attention is eminently shareable, which is one reason nearly 87% of agency and brand marketers now creating a video for content marketing. When someone reads your quality and informative content on social media sites and finds it of value, it is more likely that they will want to link to it.

Article-Effective-Content

In order to give your informative content the best chance of reaching a wide audience, you should identify the key influencers or target audience in your field. In this way, you will be able to target your efforts effectively. Facebook and Twitter are the two go-to social media platforms for most people but you should also seek out targets on other platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr. In addition to this, if you are marketing within specific regions, you might want to channel your efforts to the most popular websites in each market. For example, VK is the preferred social media website in Russia, while Orkut can help extend your reach within Brazil and India.

You can also use various tools and services that can help you find the best targets. For example, Followerwonk offers a Twitter analytics service and it can help you to compare and sort followers by looking at data such as social authority scores and the percentage of URLs. Furthermore, you can also gauge reactions to your own tweets by monitoring your activity alongside current follower numbers. Apart from this, Fresh Web Explorer is a handy tool, as it searches for mentions of your brand, company or other keyword and automatically matches this with ‘feed authority’. In this way, you can sort key influencers from those with less perceived authority that will allow you to target your efforts more effectively.

Now, it is clear that social media is an essential part of search engine optimization. Following diagram explains you a blueprint of how social media supports SEO: 

seo-social-media

Quality Content gets published- One of the best ways to increase quality traffic to your website is to publish shareable, useful and relevant content on social media sites.

Content gets Shares, Links, & Likes- As you start publishing your company’s blog posts or research work on a regular basis and spreading it across the social networking sites, your content will start generating shares, links, and “likes”.

 

Sites Gain Subscriptions while Social Profiles get Fans & Followers- As a result, your site’s blog will gain more subscribers and your social media channels will gain more followers, fans, and connections.

Thriving Community Supporting the Website & Social Networks Grows- A thriving community of people who are interested in your user-focused content develops and starts to thrive.

Reputation Reinforced through Social Media & SEO as Authoritative Brand for the Niche- Signals are sent to various search engines about your activity on social media platforms and your keyword-rich and informative content. Your website starts being viewed as reputable, relevant, and authoritative.

Sites Gain Authority in Search Engines- As a result, your website and its informative and quality content starts appearing higher and more frequently in the top rankings and listings of search engines for your keyword phrases and targeted keywords.

Sustainable Stream of Users Discover the Site organically- A consistently growing stream of users will begin discovering the website via the social media sites, search engines, and your email marketing efforts.

I have explained how aligning SEO and social media efforts can really enhance your SEO performance. In order to execute this task effectively, you might even like to hire experienced SEO experts. You should make sure that your social media and SEO teams are working together in order to create a unified digital marketing strategy.

Source: This article was published problogger.com By Guest Blogger

Categorized in How to

This is the age of influence and networking. The success of a brand or an individual highly depends on the amount of influence earned as well as the level of networks created in the meantime. Today, the best place to power up influence and build network is social media and just like web search engines, there are number of cool social media search engines that can help you or your brand to find real people, build networks, and share or gain useful information required to raise influence within your niche market.

Yes, you heard it right. There are many specific social media search engines out there designed to help you find real people and user profiles across major social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and many others.

The more people you can manage to add to your network from the same industry, your influence resultantly improves in the industry. And, there’s no better way to find people on the web other than looking for them via social media search engines.

 

Today, we bring you a cool list of top social media search engines that can help you find people within your industry nearby to grow your influence, reach, as well as network within the industry.

Best Social Media Search Engines to Find Real People across Top Social Networks

There is no doubt that Google is the most popular search engine on the web to find almost anything on the internet. However, even Google fails or is not up to the mark when finding people or profiles on popular social media channels.

Today, we will share some of the best social media search engines that would help you find real people as follows:

Social Mention

The first on our list is Social Mention. This web tool is systematically designed for people looking for social media contents that include blogs, microblogs, comments, bookmarks, videos, and more. With Social Mention, you can also set alerts and receive emails based on your searches for specific brands, celebrities, or company related updates. The tool is quite helpful for bloggers, who can install its real-time buzz widget on their blogs for maximum benefits.

WhosTalkin

WhosTalkin is another social media search engine that lets you explore conversations relevant to the topics that interest you. You can find updates about your favorite sport, favorite food, celebrity, or a company. With WhosTalkin, you can engage in conversations that are most relevant to the topics you like. This internet-based social media search engine tool is able to search through a number of social media networks and blogs for your favorite trending topics and conversations related your favorite celebrity, sports, food, places, videos, etc.

YoName

As the name of the search engine suggests, YoName lets you find people across different social media platforms by name. With YoName, you can search people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Blogger blogs, and several others using the search form. Simply enter people’s name, email address, or phone number and then hit “Yo” to get the results. Besides social media search, YoName also supports web search, business search as well as public records search.

Anoox

Well, Anoox is not exactly a social media search engine but it allows you to get information via multiple social media websites as well as find answers to your queries from real people. At Anoox, you can share & discuss with real people for the best answer, truth, and in turn more traffic to your website or profile.

BoardReader

Unlike other social media search engines, BoardReader is a search tool for community forums and boards. With BoredReader, you can easily explore popular content spread across the internet including news, articles, videos, press releases, etc.

Bing Social

After Google, Bing is the 2nd most popular search engine on the web and its social arm known as Bing Social is designed to find the latest news and trending topics shared across popular social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks.

 

Addictomatic

Addictomatic is yet another social search tool to explore the latest news, trending topics, attractive blog posts, viral videos, and interesting pictures. This tool searches the best live sites on the internet to find the latest news, blog posts, videos, and images for you. With this tool, you can easily keep up with the latest updates on the hot trending topics, and keep up to date with the latest social media sensation on the web.

Twazzup

Twitter is a strong social media platform with lots of viral and trending news surfacing on this microblogging tool every single second as you are reading this article. Twazzup lets you search these trending news and topics across Twitter and lets you keep up with the social media buzz around the globe.

Snitch Name

Snitch Name is a white pages service for social networks. This amazing search tool is designed to search people’s profile over popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and other networks.

Blinkx

Videos are now an integral part of the social media world and Blinkx is a social media search engine dedicated to videos medium. One of the best social media search engines on the web, Blinkx is a search engine for videos with over million hours of regularly indexed online videos. This video search engine enables you to watch videos ranging from a wide variety of different categories including but not limited to news & politics, celebrity, technology, business, gaming, food, sports, and more assorted from all the major news portals and video sharing platforms.

Flickr Advanced Search

Flickr, as everyone knows, is one of the largest photo and video sharing platforms on the internet. While it lets you upload and view photos and videos on it, Flickr also lets you search for images or videos based on your topic using its advanced search tool embed with smart filters and variety of options designed to deliver accurate and effective results.

Source: This article was published geekdashboard.com By Rajeesh Nair

Categorized in Search Engine

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines security as measures taken to guard against espionage or sabotage, crime, attack, or escape. Those descriptive words also apply to the protections you must take when you're online to safeguard your security and privacy. We all realize by now that the Internet is full of hackers looking to steal anything of value, but worse yet, the government that has pledged to be ‘by the people, for the people’ often intrudes on our privacy in the name of national security.

This guide, however, is not for those engaged in covert activities that need would shielding from the prying eyes of the NSA. It is intended to be a basic guide for people who use the Internet on a daily basis for:

  • Work
  • Social Media Activity
  • E-commerce

Whether your online activity is largely confined to a desktop, or you're a mobile warrior on the go, implementing the proper security and privacy protocols can protect you from hackers and also prevent your ISP provider from knowing every single website you’ve ever accessed.

What follows is a basic guide that anyone can use to beef up online security and ensure as much privacy as possible, while being mindful that total anonymity on the Web is nearly impossible.

 

ONLINE SECURITY FOR DESKTOPS, LAPTOPS, AND MOBILE DEVICES

Install Software Updates

At the minimum, you need to make sure that you install the most recent software updates on all your desktop and mobile devices. We know that updates can be a pain, but they can ensure that your software is as secure as possible.

In fact, you will often notice that many update messages are related to some type of security glitch that could make it easier for someone to gain access to your information through the most common browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

If you take your sweet time installing an update, it gives hackers that much more time to gain access to your system through the security flaw that the update was designed to fix.

Most of the major brands such as Apple and Samsung will send users messages on their desktops, laptops and mobile devices the moment they release a security update.

For example, Apple recently released new security updates for its iPhones, iPads and Macs for a computer chip flaw known as Spectre. This flaw affected billions of devices across all the major systems, including iOS.

Apple immediately sent a message to all its mobile users to install an update, which included security patches to block hackers from exploiting the flaw in the chip. The company also sent emails to desktop users to install Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.2, which included fixes to Safari for laptops and desktops.

The point is that you don’t need to worry that you won’t get these update prompts, because it’s in the best interests of the major brands to keep a massive hack from occurring. But if you want to ensure that you never miss an important update, there are several tools that can help you achieve this goal...

Update Tools for Mac Users

MacUpdate/MacUpdate Desktop – These two companion apps scan your desktop or mobile devices to locate software that needs updating. The desktop version has a menu bar that informs you when a software update is complete. The basic updating function is free to all users, but there are premium tiers that are ad-free, and include a credit system that rewards you for every new software you buy.

Software Update – This is a built-in app that you access through the Apple menu that opens the Mac App Store app and lets you click on the Updates tab. Software Update analyzes all the apps you’ve downloaded from the Mac App store to see if they’re updated. It does the same thing for your operating system software, which is a nice bonus.

Update Tools for PC Users

Patch My PC – If you choose the auto-update feature on this free tool, it automatically installs software patches on any application that has a security update. If you run the manual version, the program quickly scrolls through updated and non-updated applications and lets you check the ones you want to update and patch. One other useful aspect of this program is that you can run it using a flash drive.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ENCRYPTION

Encryption is a fancy word for a code that protects information from being accessed. There are various levels of encryption, and at the highest levels, encryption offers you the strongest protection when you are online. Encryption scrambles your online activity into what looks like a garbled, unidentifiable mess to anyone who doesn’t have the code to translate that mess back to its real content.

 

The reason this is important is that protecting your devices with only a password won’t do much to protect your data if a thief steals the device, accesses the drive and copies the data onto an external drive. If that device is encrypted, the data that the thief accesses and ports to another drive will still remain encrypted, and depend on the level of encryption, it will either take that thief a long time to break the code, or the thief will not be able to crack it.

Before we dive into some of the basics of encrypting desktops and mobile devices, remember that encryption has some drawbacks.

  • The main one is that if you lose the encryption key, it can be very difficult to access your data again. 
  • Second, encryption will affect the speed of your device because it saps the capacity of your processor.

This is a small price to pay, however, for all the benefits encryption offers in terms of security from intrusion and privacy from prying eyes that want to know exactly what you’re up to on the Internet.

Basic Encryption for Apple Devices

If you own an Apple mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad, these devices are sold with encryption as a standard feature, so all you need is a good passcode.

If you own a Mac desktop or laptop device, you can encrypt your device by using the FileVault disk encryption program that you access through the System Preferences menu under the ‘Security’ pull-down. Just follow the easy-to-understand directions to obtain your encryption key.

Basic Encryption for PCs and Android Devices

If you own a PC, you will need to manually encrypt your device. You can encrypt the newer PC models using BitLocker, a tool that’s built into Windows. BitLocker is only available if you buy the Professional or Enterprise versions of Windows 8 and 10, or the Ultimate version of Windows 7.

If you choose not to use BitLocker, Windows 8.1 Home and Pro versions include a device encryption feature that functions very much like BitLocker.

Newer Android phones including the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, have default encryption. But for phones that are not encryption enabled, the process is not difficult.

For phones and tablets that run on Android 5.0 or higher, you can access the Security menu under Settings and select ‘Encrypt phone’ or ‘Encrypt tablet.’ You will have to enter your lock screen password, which is the same password necessary to access your files after encryption.

For phones and tablets that run on Android 4.4 or lower, you must create a lock screen password prior to initiating the encryption process.

PROTECT YOUR TEXT MESSAGING

Even before Edward Snowden became a household name with his explosive revelations about the extent of NSA’s wiretapping of Americans, it was obvious that text messages were vulnerable to interception by outside parties.

What’s even more insidious is that the information generated from your text messages, which is known as metadata, is extremely valuable. Metadata includes information about whom you communicate with, where that communication takes place and at what time.

Hackers and government agencies can learn a great deal about you through metadata, which is why it’s so important for you to protect the privacy of your text messages.

Fortunately, there are applications you can install to encrypt your text messages after they are sent to another person, and many don’t collect metadata.

Tools to Encrypt Your Text Messages

The signal is a free app that provides end-to-end encryption for Android and iOS, which means that only the people who are communicating on the text message can read the messages.

Any other party would need the encryption key to decrypt the conversation, and that includes the company that owns the messaging service. One of the big advantages of using Signal is that it collects very little metadata.

Another popular encrypted messaging service is WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, which works mostly on mobile devices. Remember to turn off all backups on your WhatsApp account by accessing Chats, then Chat Backup and setting Auto Backup to Off. This turns off backups on the app and the cloud.

If you don’t disable the Auto Backup feature, government and law enforcement agencies can access the backup with a search warrant. Why is that so risky? Because end-to-end encryption only covers the transmission of your messages and doesn’t protect messages that are in storage. In other words, law enforcement or government agencies could read the text messages stored in a cloud backup.

One other thing to remember is that although WhatsApp is considered one of the more secure apps for encrypting text messages, it does collect metadata.

And if a government or law enforcement agency obtained a search warrant, it could force Facebook to turn over that metadata, which would reveal things you might want kept private such as IP addresses and location data.

PROTECT YOUR BROWSING HISTORY

Whenever you’re on the Internet, there are people trying to see what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and how often you’re doing it. Not all these prying eyes have ill intent, and in many cases, they are marketers who are trying to track your online movements so they can target you for ads and offers. But enterprising hackers are also monitoring your activities, looking for weaknesses they can target to obtain your personal information. And your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gathers a ton of information based on your browsing history.

In the face of all these threats to privacy, how do you protect yourself when you’re online?

You can use a virtual private network (VPN), which acts exactly the way a standard browser does, but lets you do it anonymously. When you use a VPN, you connect to the Internet using the VPN provider’s service. All transmissions that occur when you get online with your mobile phone, tablet, desktop or laptop are encrypted. This protects all your online activity from the government as well as from your ISP, lets you access sites that would normally be restricted by your geographical location, and shields you from intrusion when you are at a public hotspot.

 

If someone tries to track your activity, your IP address will appear as that of the VPN server, which makes it nearly impossible for anyone to know your exact location, or your actual IP address. However, VPNs don’t provide you with total anonymity, because the VPN provider knows your real IP address as well as the sites you’ve been accessing. Some VPN providers offer a ‘no-logs’ policy, which means that they don’t keep any logs of your online activities.

This can be hugely important if you are up to something that the government takes an interest in, such as leading a protest group, and you want to make sure none of your online activities can be tracked.

But VPN providers are vulnerable to government search warrants and demands for information and must measure the possibility of going to jail by keeping your activity private, versus giving up your information and staying in business.

That’s why if you choose to go with a VPN, it’s important to do the research on a provider’s history and reputation. For example, there are 14 countries in the world that have shared agreements about spying on their citizens and sharing the information they unearth with each other. It may not surprise you to learn that the U.S,  Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy are all part of that alliance.

What may surprise you is that it’s best to avoid any VPNs that are based in one of these 14 countries, because of their data retention laws and gag orders which prevent VPN providers from telling their customers when a government agency has requested information on their online activities.

If you’re serious about VPNs and want to know which are trustworthy and which aren’t worth your time, we’ve done a pretty extensive review of VPN services that you can access here. Used correctly, VPNs can provide you with a high degree of privacy when you’re online, but in an era in which billions have joined social media platforms such as Facebook, and services such as Google, what are the privacy risks related to how these companies use your personal information?

HOW THE HEAVY HITTERS USE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

Facebook

There isn’t much privacy when you join Facebook, especially since the company’s privacy policy blatantly states that it monitors how you use the platform, the type of content you view or interact with, the number of times you’re on the site, how long you spend on the site, and all the other sites that you browse when you’re not on Facebook.

How does Facebook know that little nugget? By tracking the number of times you click ‘Like’ on any site that includes a Facebook button.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to make Facebook more private. You can access the ‘Download Your Information’ tool to know exactly what the site has on you, and you can check your activity log to track your actions since you joined Facebook, but that’s about it.

Deleting your account will remove your personal information, but any information about you that your followers have shared in a post will remain on the site.

Google

Google stores personal information such as your name, email contact, telephone number, how you use the service, how you use sites with Ad Words, your search inquiries, and location tracking. More importantly, your name, email address, and photo are publically available unless you opt out.

To protect some of your privacy, you can edit a number of preferences, turn off location tracking, change your public profile and read what information Google has collected on you through the company’s data board.

Apple

Apple’s privacy policy states that it collects information such as your name, contacts and music library content, and relays them to its own servers using encryption. Apple’s News app analyzes your reading preferences to match them to ads targeted toward what you like.

Targeted advertising is one of Apple’s biggest con jobs, and that’s said with respect for the company’s ability to print money like no other business on earth. Apple has created ad-blocking technology in its iOS software to prevent outside companies from reaching its customers.

But it makes no bones about using personal information and personal preferences culled from its customers to supply them with an endless stream of targeted and intrusive ads.

You can opt out of what Apple calls ‘interest-based ads’, but the company pretty much lets you figure this out on your own.

Amazon

Amazon collects a ton of person information, including name, address, phone number, email, credit card information, list of items bought, Wish List items, browsing history, names, addresses and phone numbers of every person who has ever received an Amazon product or service from you, reviews you’ve posted, and requests for product availability alerts.

It isn’t much you can do to keep Amazon from being intrusive unless you’re not planning on using the site for purchases. For example, Amazon uses ‘cookies,’ which are snippets of data that attach to your browser when you visit the site.

Cookies activate convenient features such as 1-Click purchasing and generate recommendations when you revisit Amazon, but they also allow Amazon to send you ads when you’re on another website, which can feel like an invasion of privacy and are also annoying.

The problem is if you opt to turn off cookies on your Amazon account, you won’t be able to add items to your shopping cart or do anything that requires a sign-in, which pretty much eliminates all your buying options.

That gives you a general overview of how some of the big brands use your data so you’re aware of the implications of providing your personal information. Let’s wrap things up with some frequently asked questions about security and privacy.

 

FAQ'S ABOUT SECURITY AND PRIVACY

1. Can people really hack me at a coffee shop?

Most coffee shops offer public WiFi that has varying levels of security. In many instances, these free networks are not very secure, and even a low-level hacker could gain access to the transmissions occurring at the coffee shop by setting up a fake hotspot. If you want to get online at a coffee shop, do so through a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, make sure you’re signing in under the name of the WiFi hotspot, and limit your activity to browsing instead of conducting financial transactions.

2. Is the NSA really watching me via my computer camera?

The NSA definitely has the technology to spy on you through your webcam. Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA has plug-in that can hack cameras and take pictures, record video and turn on the mic on a webcam to act as a listening device. One easy way to thwart this hack is to place a sticker on your webcam lens that prevents a hacker from seeing anything in your home.

3. Can Facebook see my messenger chats and change my feed based on those conversations?

Facebook’s Messenger feature uses security that it says is similar to what banks use to protect their clients’ financial information. Two years ago, Facebook added end-to-end encryption to its messenger feature, but users must activate it because it’s not a default. However, Facebook does use your profile, public photos, and public posts to better customize things such as the content of the News feed it sends to you.

4. When can - or can’t - the government get personal data from companies?

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act passed in 1986, government agencies can obtain subpoenas and search warrants to force technology companies like Google or Apple to provide information about a user or a group of users. Companies can refuse based on the Fourth Amendment ban against unreasonable search and seizure, but they face an uphill battle if the request is for a legitimate reason. Recently, Amazon refused an order by the state of Massachusetts to turn over data about third-party sellers. But the company relented after it was served with court order to provide the data or face legal consequences.

THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE

Privacy and security are two sides of the same coin, and while there is no way to guarantee total privacy or complete security in the digital world, the first step is to understand the tools available to you, and the ways in which your personal data is being used by big companies that want your business.

While this isn’t a comprehensive guide to every aspect of online security and privacy, it provides you with some best practices and important concepts that can help you better understand this complex and ever-changing issue. 

 Written By Alex Grant

Categorized in Internet Privacy

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