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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

Google begins evolving Hangouts into Google Chat

(TECH NEWS) Google is transitioning from Hangouts, and Meet to Chat to offer what they think consumers want. No more competing with themselves.

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Google chat

What is your favorite instantaneous way to communicate with your team these days? Phone call, text, video call, group text message, email, or instant message?

It might depend on the team members and their preferences, but organizations and business owners run the gamut on IM (Instant Messaging) software: Slack, Skype for Business, MS Teams, and Google Chat to name a few. There have also been several that worked well for smaller companies and startups like HipChat by Atlassian. These are often used in addition to still meetings, conference calls, and emails but depending on the culture of the organization, they may love IM, and require it to have a wider range of capabilities that just copy (i.e. photo and file attachments, groupings, privacy settings, focused team, or group channels)

To be fair, there are varying degrees of interest by employees in instant messaging. Some love the idea that you can quickly reach out to a coworker and ask a question, and some find it bothersome and would prefer an email so they can file and sort topics easily (or if it’s really that quick, a phone call or stopping by to ask – if they are in the same space – not COVID-19 alternative working).

This begs the question, does IM allow for more remote working capabilities, and does that mean Google is on to something that they may have just hit the right time and need? The truth of email is that we are becoming less and less interested in reading long forms of copy, and want the information quickly.

Google consolidated their people working on communications tool to one team and is moving Hangouts to Google Chat as well as quickly integrating Google Meet for everyone (you can start a video meeting from within your Gmail, so think Zoom but not having to leave your email – assuming you’re on the G-suite).

If timing is everything, this could be a really smart move for them. Do you even remember Google Hangouts? This was a product launched originally as a feature of Google+, and then became a stand-alone product in 2013. It incorporated video and voice call capabilities for individuals or groups. The thing is, in 2013, I think many people were still using IM through their work email (which was dominated by Microsoft Outlook and PCs). For whatever reason, people just weren’t really using it that way. Most likely people could use it with their internal teams, but would have to use Chat for external users.

The history of Instant Messaging is kind of fun to review – starting with AOL in 1997 when they launched AIM. Now pretty much every platform has a version of the instant message, and people are extremely accustomed to short exchanges and ways to reach out quickly. People frequently use text, Twitter, iMessage, GroupMe, and Facebook Messenger among other ways to quickly reach out, break through the clutter, and hopefully hear a response back pretty quickly.

It appears that Google hopes to offer the capabilities that their users need – when they realized it seemed that business users were using Chat within their organizations, but having to use Hangouts to speak to those outside of that company. Right now, this is only for business users, but they are likely to see how to roll it out to all customers now that they’ve added the Meet capabilities.

According to Android Police, “Furthermore, it’ll soon be possible for G Suite users to message other G Suite users from outside their organization starting May 26. Anyone not in your company will have an ‘External’ label next to their name in the Google Chat UI so there’s no confusion. You’ll also be able to add any contacts to group chats so long as you designate them as ‘External.’ This will only apply to new rooms, though — any you’ve already created will have to remain internal-only rooms.”

It looks like Google is working on getting rid of Hangouts for good, and broadening Google Chat, but there could be some other products in the meantime. Will this change how you use your G-suite?

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Tech News

A look into why AI couldn’t save the world from COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, but we just don’t have the data yet. So perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet.

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COVID-19 AI

Even in the best of times, the human race can hardly be defined by our patience in the face of uncertainty. COVID-19 has rocked our feelings of safety and security. Hospitals have struggled to keep up with demand for care, and researchers are working tirelessly to create a vaccine. Early on in the fight against this virus, some looked to artificial intelligence technology to lead the pack in finding a solution to the global health crisis, but science takes time and AI is no different.

Over two months ago, when COVID-19 was still most prevalent in China, researchers were already attempting to use AI to fight the virus’ spread. As Wired reports, researchers in Wuhan, China attempted to screen for COVID-19 by programming an AI to analyze chest CTs of patients with pneumonia.

The AI would then decipher if the patient’s pneumonia stemmed from COVID-19 or something less insidious. This plan failed for the same reason many pursuits do – a lack of time and data to pull it off.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization examined the lung CT tool, but it was deemed unfit for widespread use. The lung CT tool, and all other AI driven projects, are limited by the humans designing and operating them.

We have struggled to collect and synthesize data in relation to COVID-19, and as a result tools, like the lung CT scans, cannot hope to succeed. AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, so perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet. Our tenacity and optimism continue to drive AI forward, but progress can only be sped up so much.

Like all science, AI has its limitations, and we cannot expect it to be a miracle cure for all our problems. It requires data, experimentation, and testing just like any other scientific pursuit. There are many problems to unlock before AI can be a leader in the driving force for positive change, but its shortcomings do not outweigh its potential. AI couldn’t save us from COVID-19, but as researchers continue to learn from this global event, AI may still save us in the future.

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Tech News

Chrome can now group and color code your open tabs

(TECH NEWS) Do you have too many tabs, and can’t tell what’s what? Google has tab groups that make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

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Are you a tab collector? That’s Google’s name for people who have tabs upon tabs upon tabs open on their Google Chrome browser. And while third party apps are already available to help collectors manage tabs, Google is now stepping in with Tab Groups.

Tab Groups, try it here, allows users to color-code, group and add text or emoji labels to separate clusters of tabs in their browser.

Right-click on any tab and choose Add to New Group. A gray dot will appear to the left of the tab and outline it in the same color. Clicking on the dot lets users update the color, label and name the group. Once grouped together, the tab groups can be moved and reordered. They’re also saved when Chrome is closed and reopened.

Google said after testing Tab Groups for months, they noticed people usually arranged their tabs by topic and that appeared most common when people shopped or were working on a project.
“Others have been grouping their tabs by how urgent they are, “ASAP,” “this week” and “later.” Similarly, tab groups can help keep track of your progress on certain tasks: “haven’t started,” “in progress,” “need to follow up” and “completed.”

Of course, this new feature does nothing to dissuade users from opening too many tabs, despite research that says multitasking may change the structure of your brain and Chrome is notorious for using too much RAM. So now you can’t concentrate, and your computer is running hot and slowing down.

A solution? Use Chrome extensions such as The Great Suspender, which suspends tabs that have been inactive for a specific amount of time. Don’t worry, you can whitelist specific websites so if you always need a tab for Twitter open, it won’t be suspended.

Another tip is to focus on one task at a time using the Pomodoro Technique, breaking tasks and your workday into 25-minute bursts of productivity with five-minute breaks in between. FocusMe uses a timer and website blocker to reduce the risk of getting distracted. You’re on the internet, after all.

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