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The Two Faces of Technology: Convenience vs. Communication

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I was thinking about technology and how we use it in our life – and by “our life” I mean Derek and my life. I came to the conclusion that we each use the HECK out of technology … but in completely different ways.

Derek uses technology for convenience.
I use technology for communication.

Let’s start with the cell phone:

Derek has about 6.3 billion numbers programmed into his phone. Any person or company that he could possibly want to call – ever, is programmed into his phone. He is about to purchase the Blackberry Pearl so that, in addition to the 6.3 billion numbers that he currently has, his scheduler and email can be just a click away as well. Pure convenience.

I, on the other hand, have “just” a cell phone. Yes. I am PDA-less. However, I have one of the most baddass superior-coverage cell phones on the market today. I only have about 20 numbers in my phone, and besides the small handful of work-related numbers (that I only have programmed so I know when they are calling me), all of my programmed numbers are for people that I LIKE to talk to (or text) and that I ENJOY calling. (I may get a PDA in the future – but only for the instant blogging and email abilities.) My cell phone is used PURELY for communication.

Next, is our Top Producer account:

Derek loves our Top Producer account because all of his To-Do’s and appointments and time blocked activities are in one place. Again … convenience.

I don’t know what I would do without our TP account. It allows me to send out personalized mass emails, as well as effectively and consistently communicate and keep in touch with our clients through the personal marketing report websites (for our Sellers) and action plan activities (for our Buyers). I do not use the scheduler, as I am quite happy with the planner that the title company gave me last December. (Shush. Stop laughing.) Again … communication.

Our website is another one:

Derek loves the functionality of our new website. All the buttons and available options are easy to find and easy to use. … Convenience.

I love the blog application that allows me to share my knowledge and experiences with potential clients. … Communication.

Finally the internet … Ah! The internet:

Derek loves Google Reader so that all the hacking-blogs (yet another convenience factor) that he loves so much are all in one place. He also loves JOTT, which is an uber time saver and gets all his thoughts and master plans in one place. Anything he reads or watches involves making his life easier – new products, new services, etc. Convenience reigns king in Derek’s internet experience.

I also love Google Reader. My reader is packed full of all of my RE Blogging Buddies Blogs and How-to-Be-a-Better-Blogger Blogs. I like keeping abreast of what is going on in the blogosphere and in different parts of the country, as well as learn how to blog more effectively. I like interacting with the brilliant people on Agent Genius, commenting on Active Rain, poking people on Face Book and laughing at – er, I mean with people on MySpace (no, you’ll never find my MySpace profile HA HA HA!). Blogging and Social networking sites (communication) are the bulk of my non-work internet time.

It is amazing how integrated technology is in each of our lives, but how we use it in such starkly different ways.

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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Tiktok: Did they really just censor disabled users?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok was concerned about disabled users being bullied so in a stunning reversal, they limited those users visibility on the app. Yikes.

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TikTok, the popular social media platform where users upload short, often silly or light-hearted, videos is coming under fire this week. Internal moderation documents acquired by the German digital rights blog, Netzpolitik.org, show that TikTok has been discriminating against users who are disabled, queer, and fat.

According to these documents, TikTok instructed moderators to tag any content created by so-called, “special users.” The “special users” tag refers to users who are “susceptible to harassment or cyberbullying based on their physical or mental condition.”

The idea behind the tag was to provide these “special users” with protection from cyber bullying and online harassment. This was achieved by limiting the visibility of these user’s content. Videos with this tag had their viewership limited to the user’s country of origin and were prevented from being featured on the “for you” section of the app.

To make matters even worse, moderators only had about 30 seconds to make the decision to flag a video or not. Imagine looking at a complete stranger for less than a minute and having to decide if they fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Now, imagine doing that with only a 15 second video for reference.

Sources inside TikTok say that moderators complained about this policy multiple times, but their concerns were ignored. According to a TikTok spokesperson, the tag system was meant to be a temporary solution.

“This was never designed to be a long-term solution, but rather a way to help manage a troubling trend until our teams and user-facing controls could keep up.”

Point blank, TikTok discriminated against users based on their physical appearance and perceived disabilities. They denied these users a fair opportunity on their app by limiting the visibility of their content therefor preventing them from growing their audiences.

In their statement about the moderation policy, TikTok’s spokesperson asserts that the policy is no longer in effect.

“While the intention was good, the approach was wrong and we have long since changed the earlier policy in favor of more nuanced anti-bullying policies and in-app protections.”

Owning up to their mistake is a good start, but a simple ‘our bad y’all’ is not good enough. When a company currently estimated to be worth 75 billion dollars admits to blatant discrimination against its users, there need to be some reparations.

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Facebook is finally allowing you to use your data freely, kinda

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is taking baby steps to improve data portability with new photo transfer tool. They are working with google, twitter, and microsoft to make it work

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Facebook is rolling out a new feature which will allow users to transfer their photos directly to Google Photos. The product is rolling out in Ireland first for some beta testing, but set to launch globally in the first half of 2020. At first glance this may seem like a mundane new tool, but it is just one thread in a complex web of legal and social change related to users’ right to their own data.

The true heart of this story is the ongoing issue of data portability. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft are all part of the Data Transfer Project which aims to create data portability. Data portability refers to an individual users’ right to control their own data on the web, which includes the right to download and transfer their data to different services. The hope is that a seamless flow of data will create a more authentic sense of competition.

In their statement about the new product, Facebook reiterates this belief by stating, “we believe that if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. That’s the principle of data portability, which gives people control and choice while also encouraging innovation.”

Being able to seamlessly transfer your photos from Facebook to any outside platform is a big step for a company that has spent most of the year in anti-trust investigations.

The photo transfer tool will be helpful to some users, but is it a genuine step towards breaking up the Facebook data monopoly? After all, Google has also gone through anti-trust investigations this year, so perhaps more open competition between two of the largest software companies on the globe is not exactly what legislators had in mind.

It’s nearly impossible to read whether Facebook’s attempts to improve global data portability are sincere or just an elaborate effort to keep governments off their bottom line. There is an argument to made about whether or not corporations can ever be sincere, but that is a story for a different day.

The best thing everyday users can do to protect their data right now is to stay informed and keep asking questions.

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‘Secret sister’ gift exchanges are not just lame, they’re ILLEGAL – tell your friends

(SOCIAL MEDIA) There’s a new gift giving program spread on Facebook but you may be giving more than gifts. Secret Sister is actually an illegal MLM that gives away your identity.

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‘Tis the season for Christmas themed pyramid schemes! No, we’re not talking about your favorite MLM adding some holiday flair (though that’s probably happening too), this is something more sinister: Secret Sister gift exchanges.

Not to be confused with Secret Santa (the anonymous gift exchange among friends), Secret Sister exchanges promises the impossible: buy one gift for a stranger, get upwards of 36 gifts in return. It might sound like a Christmas miracle, but it’s actually classified as a pyramid scheme… and gambling, to boot.

Not to mention, it’s definitely illegal, hun.

Circulated primarily on Facebook and targeted mostly at women, Secret Sister exchanges have been running since 2015, according to Snopes. Users are invited to join and invite up to six friends to participate too. Like all pyramid schemes, the further down the ladder you are, the less likely you are to receive many (if any!) gifts in return.

That’s the best case scenario.

Not only are you bothering your friends and potentially gaining nothing (or little) in return, you’re also at risk of identity theft when you participate in a secret sister exchange. Why? Well, most of these schemes involve users submitting important personal information such as phone number and home address, which aren’t the sorts of things you want falling into the hands of total strangers.

These “Secret Sister” gift exchanges might also go by other fun, festive names. For instance, one scam focused on “wine drinkers” and encouraged participants to purchase bottles of wine. But a pyramid scheme by any other name is still a massive waste of time and money.

A good rule of thumb? If something is offering amazing results for a fraction of the cost (like 36 gifts for the price of one), be wary. That’s the same promise you’ll get at a slot machine – and that’s less likely to steal your identity after you’ve lost money.

Not to sound like a PSA, but if you or anyone you know seems to be caught up in a secret sister gift exchange, get out! It shouldn’t be the season of law-breaking and identity theft. And if that $10 is burning a hole in your pocket, there’s plenty of ways to find some holiday cheer. Donate to a local charity, buy a gift for a coworker, maybe even treat yourself!

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