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What to do when your company is harassed or trolled online

(MARKETING NEWS) Though common targets include young people and women under age 30, anyone can be a victim of cyber abuse or being trolled, including your business.

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youtube trolls trolled

Don’t feed the trolls

Bullying, harassment, stalking, abuse – you can call it whatever you want, but it all amounts to the same inappropriate treatment. And it’s becoming more prevalent online. A recent survey conducted by Data & Society reported that 72 percent of internet users have witnessed some form of cyberbullying. From that data, 36 percent have experienced harassment directed towards them. Though common targets include young people and women under age 30, anyone can be a victim of cyber abuse, including your business.

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How do I prevent being bullied?

Even if you have never experienced online harassment, there are still measures to take to prevent it from happening. Though many social media platforms have been criticized for their lenient responses to bullying, thankfully more action is being taken to protect users. As a business, it is a good idea to hold regular communications meetings in order to clarify social media and online policies. The last thing you want is an employee going rogue and trying to take care of a cyberbully themselves.

You should not only address anonymous cyberbullying, but also how to handle potential abuses from other coworkers.

It is important to be familiar with each platform you have an account with. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn all have various privacy settings that you can adjust to a certain degree in order to ensure protection. All settings allow you to keep your account private, which prevents your profile from being viewed publicly.

Though a private profile may limit your views, you now have a block between yourself and potential abusers. In addition, both Instagram and Twitter have launched anti-harassment tools, allowing users to filter comments based on keywords. On Instagram, you can even turn off your comment thread completely. On LinkedIn, you can limit your invitation settings to prevent unwanted interactions.

What to do if you’re being harassed

Even if you have taken all of the preventable measures, a bully hiding behind their computer screen can still attack you online. As a business, you could take a financial hit from unjustified negative reviews or posts from your competitors. So what are your options?

Calmly address the abuser
Keep in mind that everyone is watching on the internet. If you receive a review that is completely false, you can report it to the site. However, it is unlikely that the review will be taken down. In the fight between customers and service provider, the customer wins out. Your first defense is to address the negativity head on. You can do this publicly, or by sending a private message. By politely addressing the concern, no matter how much you may want to tell the person to shove it, you have the upper hand in the public eye. Plus, they could even delete the review or revoke their comments.

Block the abuser
If the cyber-bullying is taking place via social media, you can block or unfriend the specific person. Again, you can adjust your privacy settings, preventing further interaction and limiting their availability to view your profile.

Be aware
Take notice of harassing remarks or behavior so that you can warn others about this individual. Bullies generally are insecure, so by making their presence known, you take away their power. As a company, this could go beyond direct attacks. You may have an impostor imitating your business or even using trademarked material. Keep on the lookout and address how to interact with such abusers with your employees.

Report
All social media platforms have the option to report harassing behavior and even posts about self-harm. In all of these cases, the best option is to speak out. More serious offenses should be reported to local authorities.

Unfortunately, online abuse is not something that will immediately disappear. However, you can educate yourself and employees on how to prevent harassment and deal with it in ways that do not add fuel to the fire.

#NoTrolls2017

Natalie is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

Tech News

Get all your digital organization in one place with Routine

(TECH NEWS) Routine makes note-taking and task-creating a lot easier by merging all your common processes into one productivity tool.

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A desk with a laptop, notepad, smartphone, and cup of coffee settled into an organized routine.

Your inbox can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Without organization, important emails with tasks, notes, and meetings can become a trash pile pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that aim to help you improve your efficiency, and the latest to add to that list is Routine.

Routine is a productivity app that combines your tasks, notes, and calendar into one easy-to-use app so you can increase your performance. Instead of having to switch between different apps to jot down important information, create to-do lists, and glance at your calendar, Routine marries them all into one cool productivity tool. By simply using a keyboard shortcut, you can do all these things.

If you receive an email that contains an actionable item, you can convert that email into a task you can view later. Tasks are all saved in your inbox, and you can even schedule a task for a specific day. So, if Obi-Wan wants to have Jedi lessons on Thursday, you can schedule your Force task for that day. Likewise, chat messages that need follow-up can also be converted into tasks and be scheduled.

To enrich your tasks, notes can be attached to them. In your notes, you can also embed checkboxes, which are tasks of their own. And if you have tasks that aren’t coming from your inbox, you can import them from other services, such as Gmail, Notion, and Trello.

To make sure you can stay focused on the events and tasks at hand, Routine makes it easy to take everything in. By using the tool’s keyboard-controlled console, you can access your dashboard to quickly see what tasks need to be addressed, what’s on your calendar, and even join an upcoming Zoom session and take notes about the meeting.

Routine is available for macOS, iOS, web, and Google accounts only. Overall, the app centralizes notes and tasks by letting you create and view everything in one place, which helps make sure you stay on top of things. Currently, Routine is still in beta, but you can get on a waitlist to test the product out for yourself.

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The paradox of CAPTCHAs: Too smart for humans vs AI?

(TECH NEWS) AI is catching up to our cybersecurity technology and often tricking humans too — so what’s next for CAPTCHAs and the internet?

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Person using phone with laptop to verify CAPTCHAs and code.

We’ve all encountered it before: The occasional robot test that feels impossible to beat. If you’ve felt like these tests, also known as CAPTCHAs, have gotten harder in the last couple of years, you aren’t wrong—and the reason is as ironic as it is baffling.

Simply put, AI are just as good as—and often better than—humans at completing CAPTCHAs in their classic format. As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the fundamental human attributes that make consistent CAPTCHA formats possible become less impactful, raising the question of how to determine the difference between AI and humans in the future.

The biggest barrier to universal CAPTCHA doctrine is purely cultural. Humans may share experiences across the board, but such experiences are typically basic enough to fall victim to the same machine learning which has rendered lower-level CAPTCHAs moot. Adding a cultural component to CAPTCHAs could prevent AI from bypassing them, but it also might prevent some humans from understanding the objective.

Therein lies the root of the CAPTCHA paradox. Humans are far more diverse than any one test can possibly account for, and what they do have in common is also shared by—you guessed it—AI. To create a truly AI-proof test would be to alienate a notable portion of human users by virtue of lived experience. The irony is palpable, but one can only imagine the sheer frustration developers are going through in attempting to address this problem.

But all isn’t lost. While litmus tests such as determining the number of traffic cones in a plaza or checking off squares with bicycles (but not unicycles, you fool) may be beatable by machines, some experts posit that “human entropy” is almost impossible to mimic—and, thus, a viable solution to the CAPTCHA paradox.

“A real human being doesn’t have very good control over their own motor functions, and so they can’t move the mouse the same way more than once over multiple interactions,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former click fraud expert from Google. While AI could attempt to feign this same level of “entropy”, the odds of a successful attempt appear low.

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Move over, Clubhouse: Slack adds their own audio chat rooms

(TECH NEWS) Slack planning to co-opt Clubhouse’s synchronous audio rooms has lead to mixed response. Did it really need to be done?

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Woman in green cardigan and headphones listening to audio chat room on mobile, where Slack becomes a competitor.

Slack is adding a synchronous audio chat room feature similar to what Clubhouse already has. While not everyone is happy about it, the addition is true to Slack’s ongoing form—if a little redundant.

Slack’s audio rooms would work similarly to Clubhouse’s current feature of the same persuasion. The rooms themselves would be ongoing for as long as they were open, and users would be able to drop in and out of calls at their leisure, even joining the conversation when permitted by the host or settings. In theory, it’s a cool way to round out Slack’s platform and make for yet another way for people to engage during the work day.

But not everyone is stoked about the addition. Pocketnow’s Nadeem Sarwar makes a strong point about the redundancy of adding a Clubhouse feature to the already-packed Slack deck: “…from a regular remote worker’s perspective, I’d rather use services such as Telegram, Discord, or Google Meet that we’ve grown accustomed to using for jumping into a group call with my teammates.”
“…[T]he need for audio chatrooms to get in a chaotic chat with colleagues, with whom you already chat over work and share memes five days a week, doesn’t make much sense,” he adds.

Sarwar also references research about remote meeting fatigue from Stanford and The Washington Post, positing that—since video conferences are already played out at this point—adding another quasi-conference option to Slack doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

He isn’t wrong. There are multitudinous conference options on the market now, many of which are free. One could argue that Slack, having marketed itself as a text-first communication hub, has no business entering the audio chat landscape.

That argument falls on its face when you consider Slack’s model—something both Sawar and the Slack CEO himself mention—involves “stealing” and implementing “good ideas” from others in order to make their own platform as comprehensive as possible. If one is able to use Slack for the majority of tasks that Google, Discord, and Clubhouse offer, that makes the platform a lot more attractive to users who are on the fence.

And, perhaps more importantly, it ensures that current users won’t migrate to a comparable platform in the future—especially if their colleagues are making the same choice.

It’s a smart move for Slack, especially given Clubhouse’s lack of Android support at this time—something Clubhouse has said probably still won’t launch for a couple of months.

The Clubhouse team, for their part, continues to add new features in efforts to maintain the platform’s upward mobility. One such feature is the option for paid subscriptions to content creators, allowing for people to monetize their presence on the platform. At the time of this writing, Clubhouse is valued at around $1 billion.

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