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UpTier makes it easy to promote your Zillow listing with QR codes

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Should homeowners wish to promote their property listing on Zillow, now they can with the drop of a link or simply entering the listing ID. Print it, wear it, share it, the world of QR codes is growing.

UpTier also creates socially aware QR codes for anyone, simply enter your social usernames, and create. It’s free, and easy.

We’re not sure what the pay model will look like in the future, but this leads us to the ultimate problem with QR Codes no one is talking about but us, and that’s QR spam.

QR spam will most likely stop QR use in its tracks unless a guaranteed safe transaction is presented. In fact, unless I know exactly what is on the other side of a code, I will not scan it. Why wouldn’t I want to scan it? Because my phone is worth more than the convenience of the 50/50 chance I’m taking by scanning a Trojan horse or ad serve onto my handheld device. I, like many people, have been trained not to click on links if I do not know where they’ll take me, and QR codes are the future of spam links.

Mark my words, until a trust source is created that all QR codes are fed through, the investment of real money into QR codes for Realtors is a risky proposition. If I see the code on a Realtor’s sign, hard printed, I am more likely to trust the QR destination than I am on random things like paper items such as business cards.

In fact today, I received a QR code in an email from a trusted source, did I scan it? No, I did not, and you shouldn’t either.

This is nothing on UpTier, I’m sure their product is sound, but in the future if ad supported, then it’s spam, is it not? And what of NEWS of the first ever QR shared virus? The publicity alone will dead end the future of QR use.

Solution? Is it time for certified codes? If so, what does that even mean or look like?

QR Spam, it’s what’s cookin’.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Steven Noreyko

    February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Seems pretty paranoid to me. How would a QR Code inject a Trojan or other virus on to your mobile device? I’d like to know if it’s even possible.

    Most of the scanner apps I’ve looked at on iPhone will sandbox the QR Code text within the app, and then offer to send you to a browser or make a phone call, etc. Not sure what BlackBerry or Android users have to deal with here.

    Seeing SPAM is certainly a problem with QR codes, but if you scan the code, that content is more HAM (to you) than SPAM since you ASKED to see the content.

    I’m curious to watch what happens in this space

    • Benn Rosales

      February 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      It isn’t ham if your once no ad QR is now filtered with an ad to support the QR provider.

      Paranoid?
      Come on. Clicking YES or NO on your computer screen was one upon a time seen as safe. lol Shortened links once upon a time never sent you to a malicious site, and today QR codes are obviously safe. Sure.:) It’s evolution.

  2. Ralph Bell

    February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    @Ben I use my own QR software on my server. I at least know that it will never have ads. But like everything else on the net someone will find a way to take an originally great idea and turn it into spam…Facebook, Twitter, bit.ly, etc. All have succumb to the evils of online marketing.

  3. Joe Cascio

    February 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I think the previous commenter was not out of line in using the term paranoia. This article doesn’t point out any specific threat, exploit or vulnerability owing uniquely to QR codes. It mentions no actual instances where a QR code in and of itself was used to deliver a virus or malware payload. It doesn’t even theorize on a QR-specific vulnerability or threat vector.

    I did a little research on this topic and the only specific vulnerability regarding QR codes I found had to with, guess what… Windows ActiveX. And that was some years ago and has undoubtedly been rectified.

    Let’s look at the facts here. QR codes are merely data. You can’t put anything in a QR code URL that you can’t put in a URL that you publish on a web page. You can’t embed binary executable code in QR. A QR code doesn’t contain any threat that doesn’t already exist, as far as I can see. If you use iOS or Android, the phone will prevent the browser from installing or executing any code you didn’t specifically authorize or that comes from their app stores.

    But the point is, it’s no different from clicking a malicious link on a web page. If you take the proper precautions to protect yourself from malicious web pages, a QR code won’t hurt you either.

    If the author knows of a particular new or unique threat presented by QR codes, then he should state it and stop hand-waving. If he knows of or has heard of a case where a QR code was used as an exploit vector then he should give us what facts he has.

    QR codes may be new to the author and many others in the US, but they have been in use for years by the millions all over Japan and Europe. If there was some particular threat owing to their use, I presume we would have heard at least something about it by now.

  4. Stacy Chapman

    February 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Interesting post Benn! We have been considering adding QR codes into our event ticketing software, and I really never considered the possibility of spam on the other side of the URL. I’m not sure if the thought of potential spam will sway me from scanning in the future, but it will definitely make me think twice if I don’t know the source.

    This past weekend, I actually scanned several QR codes on my phone from real estate signs and was excited at how easy I could get house data when a flyer was not present. The only frustration I saw from the scan was the slow speed it took to pull up a few of the websites that were driven entirely in Flash due to the high number of images and virtual tours.

  5. Dawn Green

    March 1, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Hey Benn, great article! We’ve been thinking that adding QR codes to our print-at-home PDF tickets was in a future upgrade, but you blind-sided me with this! Obviously, I’ll take a wait-and-see approach on this one.

    Thanks!

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Instagram for Kids: Do kids really need social media that young?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram for Kids is a terrible idea that we’ll have to contend in the not-so-distant future as social media becomes more prevalent in our lives.

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Young girl playing phone, exploring Instagram for Kids

As a Facebook company, Instagram is used to pushing the envelope, and not always in a good way. One of their most recent initiatives, dubbed “Instagram for Kids”, offers pre-teens the opportunity to use a parent-controlled Instagram version—but global criticism is already mounting.

Instagram has a 13-and-up policy that restricts pre-teen kids from signing up for the app (in theory), but Instagram for Kids would allow younger users to share and interact with photos without the pressure of ads and inappropriate content (again, in theory). The goal behind a social media app for 12-and-unders is curious, given that acceptable teen social media use already starts at, arguably, a younger age than is responsible.

According to Instagram, though, their motivation for the app is simply to reduce access to harmful aspects of the web without instilling FOMO in younger children: “Kids are already online, and want to connect with their family and friends, have fun, and learn. We want to help them do that in a safe and age-appropriate way, and find practical solutions to the ongoing industry problem of kids lying about their age to access apps.”

Instagram also promises to “consult with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform [the app experience].”

That’s all fine in—and I cannot stress this enough—theory, but several members of the original internal discussion about this version of Instagram acknowledged that existing Instagram users who are under the age of 13 probably won’t switch over to the new platform, making Instagram for Kids obsolete for any illicit users. That leaves only one conclusion: That Instagram for Kids is for a substantially younger audience.

It’s difficult to find a morally upright justification for creating a social media app for, say, 8-year-olds. Parent control or not, the potential for data collection, early technology addiction, and breaches of privacy is very real. Add to that the fact that the children who are likely targeted by this app can’t exactly give informed consent for their information to be shared (not that 13-year-olds can, either, but that’s a different thing), and it starts to look pretty shady.

Instagram is already tangentially responsible for things like false marketing, eating disorders, and mental health decline in otherwise healthy adults. Adding pre-teens to that list is not only irresponsible—it’s morally bankrupt. Please keep your kids off of apps like this.

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Reels: Why Instagram can’t compete with TikTok… yet?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The future for Instagram Reels is uncertain, since even Instagram has acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead of them, but what does it mean for their future?

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Phone camera on stand in foreground with two women filming for TikTok or Instagram reels in the background

If you’re a TikTok user, chances are you’ve scoffed at Instagram’s attempt to compete with the hype. Yes, I’m referring to the Reels feature.

In an attempt to step in and absorb all the TikTok user run-off in August, when Trump announced the TikTok ban, Instagram launched Reels. Short, catchy and sharable clips, Reels are almost exactly like TikTok videos – but are they catching on?

In an interview with The Verge’s “Decoder” podcast, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that he isn’t yet happy with Reels, stating that TikTok is still “way ahead”. While Reels is growing in terms of shared content and consumed content, it’s not nearly where Instagram hoped it would be by this point. Perhaps this is because TikTok is still alive and well. Or perhaps there’s something else to it.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular Reels on Instagram are simply reposted TikToks. This poses the question: Is Instagram’s Reels simply a channel where the ‘cream of the crop’ TikTok videos can get posted in a second location and exposed to a new audience, or is it actually a platform for creators?

Mosseri also hints at some sort of consolidation across Instagram’s video features (i.e., IGTV, in-post videos, Reels). Without being entirely sure what that will look like, I’m already skeptical – is this all just another example of Facebook (via Instagram) trying to hold a monopoly on the social media sphere?

My opinion? As long as TikTok is still in operation, it will reign supreme. While the two apps have a ton of overlap, they are simply different cultural spaces. TikTok is a trend-heavy, meta-humor creative space that relies on engagement between users through effect, duets, and other TikTok-exclusive features.

Adversely, Reels is a space for Instagramming millennials and Gen Xers who might be choosing to opt out of TikTok (which has sort of become the cultural epicenter for the younger Gen Zers). The feature might also be used by Insta influencers and creators of all ages who toggle between the two apps (i.e., reposting your viral TikTok on Instagram to gain more traction).

Whatever the reason is for engaging in Reels, I’m fully certain the feature will never amount to the success of TikTok – but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Instagram has in store for us next.

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How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.

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Influencer planning her social media posts.

Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.

“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”

To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.

“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”

Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.

When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.

But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.

“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”

Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.

“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”

To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:

“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”

But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.

“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”

And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.

For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.

With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.

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