Timesaving ‘V’ privacy – why I can’t wait to use the new Facebook tagging tool

Facebook now automatically recognises the people in photos

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Facebook has hit the headlines yet again this week after rolling out a facial recognition tool which automatically recognises the people in photos, and then gives users the option of tagging them.

The feature has been available in the USA for six months – but since launching in Europe last week it has caused outcry among some, who suggest that, yet again, those evil Facebook programmers are out to invade our privacy.

To be honest I’m not quite sure I get what the problem is.  It seems to me that the conspiracy theorists are just low on material at the moment.

For me, any tool which is added to makes things like uploading photos quicker and easier can only be a good thing, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Remember the days of ‘simple upload’ when you had to upload 5 photos at a time and albums had a maximum capacity of 60 images?

It was very frustrating – as is tagging friends in photos.

There are so many photos of me and my friends on holiday and at weddings etc that I would quite like to see, but can’t be bothered to go through everyone’s albums to find.

Same as I know that there are loads of photos of friends in my albums, who would love to be tagged, but don’t know the photos are there. And I certainly don’t have the time or the inclination to go through and tag them all myself!

This automatic facial recognition system will no doubt make things quicker and easier for all involved.

So what’s the problem?

From what I’ve read:

  • It only recognises your friend’s faces (and you know what they look like already, surely?!)
  •  It won’t recognise complete strangers who happen to be in the background, or people who you are not direct friends with on Facebook already
  • It won’t go through and tag all existing photos linked to your profile – only ones you upload from now on (and then you can choose whether or not to tag them)
  • Users who are tagged will receive a notification and can then untag themselves if they wish
  • And perhaps most importantly – you can turn the feature off! That means that your friends will have to continue to manually tag you in every photo

Don’t know how to turn it off? Check out instructions here.

This sort of technology has been around for years (there is even an exisiting app for Facebook which was launched in 2009), and I just simply don’t understand why it is an issue for Facebook to be using it to make their users’ experience more efficient.

What do you think?

Is Facebook invading our privacy or are people making a big deal out of nothing?

Photo via

Quality or quantity when it comes to social media accounts?

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I had an interesting discussion with a fellow creative earlier this week, about whether a brand should be utilising all of the social media channels available to them, or focusing on a chosen few.

His thoughts were that as marketers we should utilise every channel available for our clients – even if they don’t seem relevant to their product or service. That way you can continue to engage with the target audience on one or two main platforms, but you also have a presence on others in case they happen to look for you on there.

I suppose there is some truth in what he is saying – after all social networking sites are increasingly being used as search engines – but should this shift in the way networking sites are being used mean that you should compromise a brand’s identity?

For example, should a serious technical brand really have a Facebook or Flickr profile – and does a fashion brand really need a presence on LinkedIn?

I was, and still am, of the stance that you should choose a few key platforms, which reflect the brand’s personality and aims, and do them well. It’s important to explore new trends as they emerge – but these should be analysed to see if they fit into a brand or organisation’s overall marketing strategy.

You shouldn’t just jump on the bandwagon – which would surely result in a poor presence across a whole host of sites instead of a sustained, focused, coherent presence, with quality content, on just a couple.

What do you think is better?  Not having a presence on every platform, and potentially missing engagement if someone only uses that platform? Or using social channels which aren’t quite right for your purposes or brand and which don’t get as much content TLC as others?

Here are some pros and cons of each strategy – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’m on every social media site going and its great because:

  • I can be found everywhere
  • I have maximum exposure
  • I can have all of the pretty icons on my website – which makes me look active and current

It sucks because:

  • I find it hard to update all of the sites with fresh content regularly
  • Not all of the platforms suit my brand messages
  • I find it hard to create meaningful connections across all platforms

I am selective with my social media sites and it’s great because:

  • I have a very strong presence on the ones I use
  • My time is spent well – I’m not spread thinly across lots of social networks
  • I am able to build up real repertoire with peers and customers

It sucks because:

  • I may miss customers on other sites
  • I may be too far behind on other platforms when they really gain popularity
  • I am not fully aware of other site’s capabilities and often worry I may be missing out – even if I think on the surface they aren’t suitable, or that I wouldn’t have the right content

New social network – on the Path to success?

I read with interest earlier in the week the announcement of a new social networking site which is launching – Path.

Referred to by some as ‘the anti-social network’ and by itself as ‘the personal network’ it promises to limit friends to just 50 people.

On its blog Path says;

‘Because your personal network is limited to your 50 closest friends and family, you can always trust that you can post any moment, no matter how personal. Path is a place where you can be yourself.’

Bit full on for my liking, but I get where they’re coming from.

On Twitter there is a constant pressure that you need to impress – you have to be funny and intelligent, and source amazing articles, and engage with strangers without sounding pushy or false. Everyone who’s on it wants to be an industry ‘expert’ and, no matter how many blog articles there are saying that ‘it’s quality not quantity’ when it comes to followers, there is still that pressure that you should have more.

Then there’s Facebook – where you have a constantly updated stream of boring ‘I’m eating a sandwich’ or ‘I hate my boyfriend’ status updates and over-shares. Plus, you have the constant de-tagging of hideous photos to worry about, which instantly appear on your profile even if you don’t want them to.

The idea of only having 50 of your closest friends is very appealing.

But it does make me wonder if it will truly work.

It is very easy to limit the size of your existing social networks – you simply IGNORE the random friend requests from old school friends and the weirdo you met down the pub last Saturday.

But the fact is that the majority of people don’t ignore them.

Perhaps its people’s natural curiosity – they like spying on their ex and seeing how much weight they’ve put on, they enjoy nosing on the school ground bully and seeing that she’s now an unemployed chav with a bad taste in bomber jackets.

On Twitter – people like the idea that they are being followed. Indeed even the name ‘followers’ makes you feel special, like some kind of cult leader, or perhaps Jesus.

So, for these reasons I’m intrigued.

Has Path got staying power or will people get bored of just seeing the same 50 people?

The fact its launching on iPhone I see as a good thing – iPhone owners already feel slightly holier-than-thou, so the fact they will now have their very own social network (for the time being at least) will no doubt only serve to be benificial. And a great way to test if the concept works.

And besides, with social networking heavyweights behind the project including former Facebook senior platform manager Dave Morin, Macster co-creator Dustin Mierau and Napster co-founder Shawn Fannin I have a feeling that they won’t take fail as an option.

What do you think – are you going to sign up to Path? Or would you miss the banalities of other networking sites?

Happy social media day – is anyone else bored?

I may be putting my head slightly above the proverbial parapet here, but I need to get something off my chest.

I am so bored of social media.

Shock! Horror!

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

How can you be bored of social media when you work in PR and communications? Social media is what the industry is all about at the moment.

But seriously, am I the only one who is I’m bored of talking about social media and discussing how great it is and how it has changed the shape of the media landscape forever?

The point is – we know this.

I’ve been feeling like this for a while now but seeing the announcements for today’s social media day, has finally pushed me over the edge and into writing my first ‘rant’ for this blog. (Although in all fairness, after closer inspection,  the idea behind the day and getting people to connect, I actually quite like).

Are you celebrating social media day?

The benefits of social media are huge, and I, more so than many of my colleagues, have embraced it and can see the benefits of it for both personal and professional use.

I have three Twitter accounts and look after the company and clients social media, but, like us all, I am still learning and I’m excited about what the platform of social media will bring to the table over the next few years.

But it’s the incessant talking about it which is driving me mad!

I’ve been to a fair few social media events recently and each time I have walked away with interesting talking points, but ultimately each event is the same – different experts saying the same thing in a slightly different way.

Now that’s not to say they are not useful events but instead of talking about it, surely it’s better to just get on and do it?

I expressed this on LinkedIn once and was quickly shot down and told that you need a ‘strategy’ before ‘just getting on with it.’

Really though?

Perhaps I’m being naïve, but surely just making sure you don’t say anything stupid, that you follow and befriend people who are of interest to your industry, and that you signpost articles and news that are of interest to the types of people you want to follow or befriend you, is strategy enough?

Social media is a slow burn.

It takes a long time to get results and when you do get them its bloody hard to measure the return on investment. I’d rather just get stuck in and get the ball rolling.

Perhaps the reason I’m frustrated is that I like things that are black and white or yes or no and the one thing I have picked up from all this conversation about social media is that there is no yes or no answers.

Would you quit Facebook?

Last week saw ‘Quit Facebook Day,’ a day set up by a Canada-based duo Matthew Millan and Joseph Dee, who wanted to get the masses to quit the social networking site after the controversy surrounding its privacy rules.

Unsurprisingly, the day was a huge flop with only 33,000 users reportedly quitting.  

But why? Especially when so many people have been complaining about the site?

The fact is Facebook has become an integral part of modern life. Just like you couldn’t imagine living without a mobile phone, most people now can’t imagine living without Facebook.

Think about how many times your phone breaks, or the signal leaves more to be desired. You don’t turn round and say ‘well, that’s it I’m quitting mobile phones.’ Hell, most people won’t even go through the hassle of changing service providers!

Facebook is the same. Yes, it has its negatives but they are far out-weighed by its positives and despite the rise of other social networking sites such as diaspora I still don’t think Facebook will fall from grace for a very long time.

I’ve had my profile for 6 years and keep in touch with friends and family all over the world. It’s used for arranging events, sending birthday wishes, making friends, joining new activities and god knows how many other things.

Socially, it’s become a lifeline and the idea of having to start all over again elsewhere is quite frankly, not something I can be bothered with.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I’ve just got back from a university reunion in sunny (yes, really) Preston, Lancs and Facebook was integral in organising it. Where else can 14 people liaise so easily – and for free?

And to be honest – is the privacy thing that hard?

Of course online privacy is incredibly important but I feel strongly that it’s the user’s responsibility to ensure that they have their settings how they want.

Social networking sites are essentially a business and what they sell is YOUR personal details and access to your likes and dislikes.

The owners of the sites have no commercial interest in making things too easy. As long as the privacy options are there they have covered their responsibility, it’s up to us to utilise them.