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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

Students say free coding school wildly fails to deliver

(TECH NEWS) There’s a serious barrier to entry into web development so a free coding school launches, but students say it isn’t delivering on their promises.

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Coding bootcamps

Technology changes quickly and so does the skillset requirement by companies. Many people are finding themselves in the stage of their career path where they may want to try something new – and not surprisingly, make a nice salary doing it. The launch of coding bootcamps (starting with Code Academy and 2011) has been touted as the solution to educate those on a missing skillset and setting them up for well-paying J-O-Bs.

Coding bootcamps, now up to 95 full-time coding academies in the United States, offer job seekers training in an area where they can move in to a new career and also meet to provide much needed talent to employers who need people who can code. This doesn’t usually come for free though. Average coding bootcamps (6 months) can cost up to $21K with the promise you will land a high paying salary at the end of it. There are also many universities providing coding boot camp classes.

What does it mean when a free coding school launches (with the intent to provide an educational opportunity to those who maybe don’t have the funding for a large investment and/or the ability to take out more student loans) and simply asks for a portion of your starting salary once you land that incredible new Developer gig?

Sounds like a great idea. This meets the market demand for interested people to learn a new skill set and be ready for a new career in software development. Shouldn’t we be asking how easy it is for these folks to get hired after the program? The challenge with the Lambda School is that their curriculum and UX for online learning is in development.

While they intended to meet people where they were with an online platform (offering flexibility to the students and teachers), it has left a little bit to desire by its participants. The learning opportunities are constantly changing. The teachers are also not always available and most likely have other full-time obligations or employment.

Many students were left disappointed that they didn’t feel the education matched expectations and didn’t see how they were going to be able to be hired in to roles that would allow them to pay back the tuition. So much so they sent requests to get out of their signed contracts and halt the program.
It goes without saying that anything new has its challenges and businesses can only move so fast.

No matter how fast technology changes, we are humans and have certain human behaviors. Employers want to see real-world experience so even if you’ve taken classes, the candidate must be willing to do things above and beyond the class (volunteer projects and networking for sure). While we root for Lambda School to be a legitimate solution for those how may not have the budget for a full-time coding school, it might be worth the time to let them sort out their curriculum challenges and consider building up your skill set in this area in other ways.

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Tech News

Defense startups are getting beaucoup bucks from the DoD

(TECH NEWS) Some tech companies are getting large venture capital because the Department of Defense is looking for new defense startups.

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military looking defense startups

While private investors remain wary of funding defense startups, they are still keeping an eye on the possible venture opportunities. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is hoping domestic investors will increase spending into these startups in order to compete with China’s strategy of creating private equity firms to invest into foreign technologies.

A major reason for the growing interest by venture capitalists is the shift in focus from traditional weapons to tools for information warfare, meaning software and tech systems. Defense startups are creating products that may have multiple benefits outside the DoD.

Changes in the defense venture landscape are slow with all three parties learning how to benefit from one another. Startups realize working with the DoD is a “mission-driven objective” as stated by Ryan Tseng, founder of Shield AI. “We went into this eyes wide open, knowing full well that to the venture community, the math doesn’t make sense.”

However, there are several big investor players already in the game. Andreessen Horowitz, a top-tier venture fund is banking on the economic sustainability of defense startups in the future. They’ve already invested in Shield AI and defense tech company Anduril Industries. Additionally, the Founders Fund, another big name venture firm led by Silicon investors Peter Thiel, Brian Singerman, and Ken Howery is investing in Anduril and goTenna after successfully backing SpaceX and Palantir Technologies.

Defense companies’ emphasis on tech could be the answer to challenges usually associated with DoD investments like competing against dominate manufacturers with steady government contracts and long procurement cycles. U.S. Code 2377 stipulates that commercially available items be considered first in procurement efforts. If defense startups can enter the market, they will also stand a chance of winning government contracts over bigger, traditional companies, thus diversifying the playing field.

But until there is a greater guarantee of a payoff, investors are likely to remain skeptical. The possibilities for this new generation of defense companies is going to needs some more wins to prove the future is in their corner.

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Tech News

Goal-based project management tool simplifies your work life

(TECH NEWS) If you are struggling to keep tasks straight then this new tool Qoals allows for a simpler and more straightforward way to accomplish goals as a team.

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Qoals pitch

We all have goals – whether they be personal, professional, financial, etc. Anyone can set a goal, all it takes is having a thought and assigning it a certain level of importance. However, not everyone completes their goals due to the oft difficulties and confusions associated with execution.

Like anything else, if there’s a will, there’s a way. A new way has been found in the form of Qoals – a simple and straightforward tool that helps you to get aligned around business goals instead of an endless wall of tasks.

The ability to complete goals is done through: setting goals, adding tasks, collecting things, and tracking progress. With this, everyone on your team has access to this information to keep tabs on what’s happening.

With setting goals, you create and prioritize your goals, letting your team members know which ones are most important at that time. Goals can be prioritized with tabs such as: long term, short term, and urgent. By adding tasks, you can add and assign tasks to set a clear path in order to complete set goals.

In collecting things, you collect resources related to your goal and keep them in one safe place (again, this is accessible to your whole team). This doesn’t require uploading files, but simply including links to resources to keep everything easily accessible. Finally, by tracking progress, everyone on the team can see where you’re at with your goals – which saves time with the follow ups of “how’s Goal X going?”

Why did Qoals develop this goal-oriented approach? “It’s about time we simplify things,” according to the official website. “Get aligned around goals and let everyone know what’s important for the business. Add goals under various projects and start adding tasks and resources to make that goal happen.”

Additionally, Qoals boasts that this provides users with a birds-eye view of what’s happening with their team, allowing them to be more human-centric. You can create unlimited projects, set and track your goals, collected everything related to said goal, keep the discussion relevant, access your tasks with one click, stay connected to your team, and see what’s going on at a glance.
Qoals is currently in beta.

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