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What would you say if we found a mute button for social media?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social networking sites often aggregate conversations on all sorts of topics. What if there were an app that would let you mute the topics you didn’t want to hear about?

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World full of buzzwords

In a society full of Kardashians, North Koreans and other miscellaneous white noise, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re on social media by the onslaught of bad news and trashy editorials.

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One man has seen, and felt, this conflict and has opted to create a solution: Mute. First debuted on ProductHunt, Mute is described as a crowdsourced list of words to mute on social media. Muting anything on social media brings up quite the dichotomy of feelings.

Safe spaces

On the one hand, Mute could be super helpful. Whether it is muting spoilers from the most recent Game of Thrones episode (OMG FIRE), getting rid of the seemingly never ending skincare and vitamin supplements your friend from 4th grade is slinging or just avoiding that one ex, Mute has the potential to save you a headache, or six.

The app could also help keep frustrations and anxieties at bay.

What’s the saying, ignorance is bliss? If hearing the doom and gloom news of another terrorist bombing makes you reach for a xanax, or maybe the story of an off-his rocker (former) Google employee’s manifesto really just grinds your gears, Mute could be a viable solution to keeping those stories out of sight and out of mind.

Break the bubble

On the flip side, burying your head in the sand is no way to handle fear healthily and muting buzzwords on social media doesn’t exactly seem like a mature way to deal with those you disagree with and could create some potentially dangerous echo chambers.

I am in no way saying that a facebook conversation will ever be enough to change someone’s mind.

Especially because most times that thoughts are being opined on Facebook, their mind is already made up and differing opinions usually just end up with name calling and sharp tongues.

However, what does it say about our society when we create an app so that we don’t have to listen to the opinions of people who disagree with us? Change has never brought about from silence.

Optimism and Skepticism

As mentioned earlier, maybe you just want Mute so you can rid your feed of the TV spoilers from last night, or perhaps you want the app so you can get rid of all the political experts’ commentary in your feed.

Mute has the potential to be something super cool, but the jury is still out on if this will just result in a mass produced willful ignorance.

#Mute

Kiri Isaac is the Web Producer and a Staff Writer at The American Genius and studied communications at Texas A&M. She is fluent in sarcasm and movie quotes and her love language is tacos.

Social Media

European court busts Facebook for illegally tracking people

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is in hot water again for how they track non-users (and many were unaware they ever did).

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Facebook has been collecting data from both users and non-users across the internet, and Europeans are not having it.

A Belgian court has ruled that Facebook violates privacy laws by using technologies like cookies, plug-ins, and pixels, to track internet users’ browsing behaviors on up to 10,000 websites, whether or not users even have a Facebook account. A similar ruling was handed down by a German court just last week.

The legal battle began in 2015 when the Belgian Privacy Commission brought a civil suit against Facebook, who attempted to argue, unsuccessfully, that because their European headquarters is in Ireland, they are outside of the jurisdiction of Belgian law.

Nonetheless, the Belgian court is charging Facebook fines of €250,000 per day, up to €100 million, or 124,000 million U.S. dollars, if they fail to comply. The court has ordered FB to cease tracking Belgian internet users and to destroy the data they’ve already collected.

What’s Facebook’s excuse for non-consensually gathering so much data? As usual, they try to sell users on giving up their privacy for a more “relevant” ad experience. But we all know this is just a coded way of saying that they do it for the advertisers.

Facebook also claims that this data gathering is consensual and that users have the option to opt out. “We require any business that uses our technologies to provide clear notice to end-users, and we give people the right to opt-out of having data collected on sites and apps off Facebook being used for ads,” says Richard Allen, Facebook’s vice president for public policy in Europe.

However, the court, and Belgian privacy watchdog groups, say that many of Facebook’s tracking mechanisms are invisible to the user, and that privacy controls are preset to opt-in, with opt-out options difficult to find. The Belgian court also says that Facebook isn’t being clear enough about how the data they’re collecting is being used.

Facebook plans to appeal the ruling, and the case could very well end up in the CJEU, Europe’s supreme court. The social media giant will probably have an increasingly difficult time getting away with tracking practices after the EU passes new rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, in May.

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Social Media

Can you legally monitor your employees’ online activities? Kinda

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are they ways you are monitoring your employees online even legal? Did you know there are illegal methods? Yep.

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Edward Snowden’s infamous info leak in 2013 brought to light the scope of surveillance measures, raising questions about legality of monitoring tactics. However, the breach also opened up broader discussion on best practices for protecting sensitive data.

No company wants to end up with a data breach situation on their hands, but businesses need to be careful when implementing monitoring systems to prevent data loss.

Monitoring your employee’s activity online can be a crucial part of safeguarding proprietary data. However, many legal risks are present when implementing data loss prevention (DLP) methods.

DLP tools like keystroke logging, natural language processing, and network traffic monitoring are all subject to federal and state privacy laws. Before putting any DLP solutions in place, companies need to assess privacy impact and legal risks.

First, identify your monitoring needs. Different laws apply to tracking data in transit versus data at rest. Data in transit is any data moving through a network, like sending an email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requires consent for tracking any data in transit.

Data at rest is anything relatively immobile, like information stored in a database or archives. Collecting data at rest can fall under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which typically prohibits unauthorized access or disclosure of electronic communications.

While the SCA does not usually prevent employers from accessing their own systems, monitoring things like Gmail accounts could get messy without proper authorization.

Who you’re tracking matters as well regarding consent and prior notification. If you’re just monitoring your own employees, you may run into disclosure issues. Some states, like Delaware and Connecticut, prohibit employee monitoring without prior notice.

The ECPA also generally prohibits tracking electronic communication, but exceptions are granted for legitimate business purposes so long as consent is obtained.

Monitoring third party communications can get tricky with wiretapping laws. In California and Illinois, all parties must be notified of any tracking. This can involve disclosures on email signatures from outbound employee emails, or a broad notification on the company’s site.

Implied consent comes from third parties continuing communication even with disclaimers present.

If you’re wanting to install DLP software on personal devices used for work, like a company cellphone, you could face a series of fines for not gaining authorization. Incorrect implementation may fall under spyware and computer crime laws.

With any DLP tools and data monitoring, notification and consent are crucial. When planning monitoring, first assess what your privacy needs are, then identify potential risks of implementing any tracking programs.

Define who, where, and why DLP software will apply, and make sure every employee understands the need for tracking. Include consent in employee onboarding, and keep employees updated with changes to your monitoring tactics.

Protecting your company’s data is important, but make sure you’re not unintentionally bending privacy laws with your data loss prevention methods. Regularly check up on your approaches to make sure everything is in compliance with monitoring laws.

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Social Media

What you need to know about Facebook’s collaborative stories

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook now allows Groups and Events to craft collaborative stories – here’s what you need to know.

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If you’re like me, you’ve never posted a story on Facebook. Many of you probably don’t even realize that Facebook got in the story game last year in an effort to compete with Snapchat and (sort of, maybe?) Instagram (even though they own it). Facebook is doing its best to change that by creating a more robust story experience that they hope will expand the networking possibilities of the already abundantly popular site.

Stories on Facebook seemed like a bit of a headscratcher at first, it seems like everyone has had enough story experience between their Snapchat and Instagram accounts, but according to Facebook, they plan on surpassing Snapchat’s capabilities by adding a number of features to boost usage.

Users of Facebook Groups and Events can now contribute to a Facebook story exclusive to the group’s members and can be controlled by admins. Their idea is that this could add excitement and momentum for social meetups, weddings, or parties. These collaborative stories will function similar to a hashtag, only it will be accessible only by those involved in the event or group.

While Snapchat has a group feature, you have to add members like a group chat, where Facebook’s idea gives the story feature a more open-ended scope that reaches a large amount of people where exclusivity is optional, rather than the purpose. Facebook is enabling groups based on hobbies, professions, locations, and ideologies to create their own niche content where you can go to blow off some steam or connect with people who love the same things you do.

Just think, you’ve always wanted to post a video into the Riverdale Facebook page arguing over Archie’s real age, now you can rant away without typing a word! Rather than spar with words, you can pontificate about Game of Thrones theories with all the gusto you can muster, emotions and all!

What was once lost in text will be lost no more.

Facebook will be giving page admins ultimate control over what gets posted or not, similar to how a page’s News Feed currently works. To encourage posting, Facebook has moved a bubble to the top of every event page for easy access.

Proving that they are serious about the future of collaborative stories, Facebook is working on integrating stories across the app instead of just throwing it in as a half-hearted extra for you to roll your eyes at. With Stories’ new abilities, users will be able to hit different groups and encourage sharing opportunities unavailable to Snapchat users. Rather than just liking or sharing a post you like, you’ll be able to share your opinion on the spot. Whether or not that’s a good thing is yet to be seen (troll on trollers!).

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