Why I Reported Your Comment to Facebook

If you’re reading this it’s probably because I reported your comment to Facebook and I provided a link to this page to offer a more detailed explanation.

Here’s a problem I see on Facebook: a small number of people post some really offensive or just garbage content to the site. This includes spam, hate speech, bullying, and a variety of other categories of content that does more harm than good.

There was a time in my life when I thought that a real names policy would solve this. As in, if people had to post under their real names they’d surely not post racist content or associate their names with other forms of garbage content. It turns out that I was wrong.

There certainly are people who feel shame about their own thoughts. When people choose to post under fake names, my assumption is that they’re doing so because they don’t want to be held responsible for their own words. What if their friends, family, or coworkers find out how deplorable they really are? Thankfully, Facebook has a way to report fake profiles. They’re pretty slow at taking action on fake profiles by they eventually do.

Here’s a recommendation: If you decide to set up a fake profile because you’re unwilling to stand behind your own words, don’t use it to post publicly. Instead, just use your fake account as a private journal. That way you won’t have to worry about people reporting your fake account.

You may have noticed that I’m doing two things on Facebook: I’m reporting your garbage comments and posting a comment saying that I’ve reported your garbage comment.

The reason I do this is that I want you to know that your comments are not okay.

I also want everyone else who sees your comment to know that it’s not okay.

I want decent people who make the mistake of reading the comments to know that they’re not alone in their assessment of your garbage content.

And I want other people who’d consider posting garbage content to know that their content is not welcome.

Think of this as a public forum. A town hall. If you took a turn speaking at a town hall and said similar things you’d – rightly – be booed, told to sit down, asked to leave. You’d get the feedback you deserve (and, apparently, need) from people in your community.

Optimistically, I’m hoping to bring a similar level of decorum to Facebook comments. I’d like comments to be a welcoming place for members of our community to agree, disagree, and learn from each other without having to wade through hate speech, bullying, spam, and other forms of garbage like the garbage you’ve been sharing.

Longer-term, I expect that manual reporting of garbage comments will be used by Facebook as training data for machine learning systems that will auto-delete or at least auto-hide terms of service violating comments. If you have a history of posting garbage comments and post yet another comment that follows the same theme as previously posted garbage comments, it’s quite possible that your comment won’t be seen by other users.

I expect it will something similar to Twitter’s shadowbanning system where consistently deplorable users’ tweets do not appear in search results and are buried behind an extra click in responses. We already can see where this is heading based on Facebook’s default ranking of comments by relevancy.

Example of hidden comments on Facebook.

You may not realize this but your comments are already being pushed down to the bottom of comment threads due to their low quality. Facebook doesn’t have people hand-ranking comments. Instead, they’ve built programs that have looked through trillions of comments and determined that yours are among the worse their software encounters. It’s a somewhat elegant solution since it allows you to get some garbage out of your head without subjecting other people to your garbage.

Why don’t I just ignore your comments? Because I’d rather solve the problem that is you rather than ignore it. Think of it this way: at least someone’s paying attention to your garbage content.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about where I’m coming from on this.

If you happen to have read this far, and it’s not because you’re a troll, here’s something you can do to help make the web a slightly saner placer. I run a program that automatically reports hate speech on Twitter. You can chip in to help support the machine learning costs here.

7 Ways to Know That You Have Friended a Spammer on Facebook

I occasionally get friend requests on Facebook from what, to me, appear to be obvious spammers. But, then I notice that the spammer has a few mutual friends (nearly always male friends of mine), so I give the account a second look only to realize that the account is definitely a spammer, and my friends have been duped.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to avoid friending spammers on Facebook:

1. You don’t recognize her by name or photo.

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2. She’s relatively young, yet only has 16 friends on Facebook:

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3. She only has one photo on Facebook:

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4. And it looks like this:

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5. And it’s received no comments or likes:

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6. She was born in 1982 . . .

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 3.37.34 PMWatch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

. . . but only recently joined Facebook:

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7. She has no interest in music, movies, or TV shows:

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While it’s certainly possible that a 31-year old could have recently joined Facebook, posted a cleavage shot of herself, then started friending guys around the world for non-spammy reasons, you may want to give friend requests like this a second look before accepting them.

If you’ve read this far and are still not convinced that your new Facebook friend is a fake, would it burst your bubble to find out that “she” created a different profile using the same photo but a different name last month?

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If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

A Weakness of Facebook Likes & Ads for Political Campaigns

If you want to follow an organization, company, politician on Facebook, you have to “Like” them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you like them, but you still have to like them if you’re interested in following what they’re posting to Facebook. This can get really odd at times.

For example, I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed when I encountered an ad from Diane Hofstede’s campaign for Minneapolis City Council. It’s not the most targeted ad in the world, considering that I’m not in her ward. But, it’s not entirely unexpected since her campaign may be running ads targeting Facebook users who live in Minneapolis who are friends with people who already like her campaign. That’s a pretty smart ad buy. But, going back to the whole “Like” issue, take a look at the ad I was served. Pay attention to the bottom of the ad where is says “Jacob Frey likes this”:

Diane Hofstede Ad on Facebook

Based on how that ad is presented, it seems likely that I was served that ad because a Facebook friend of mine, Jacob Frey (aka the DFL endorsed candidate in the Ward 3 city council race), happens to “Like” Diane Hofstede’s campaign on Facebook. While Frey does indeed “Like” Hofstede’s campaign on Facebook, I’m pretty certain that he likes his own campaign to oust Hofstede from her city council seat more than he likes her non-DFL-endorsed reelection campaign.

From there, I decided to look at where my friends stand on Facebook in this particular election. I found that five of my Facebook friends “Like” Hofstede’s campaign:

FB Friends that like Hofstede's Campaign

And 26 have “Liked” Frey’s campaign:

Jacob Frey Supporters on Facebook

It turns out that 4 of the 5 people who’ve “Liked” Hofstede’s campaign have also “liked” Frey’s campaign. One of those four is Frey. Another works for Frey’s campaign. Another one has been a regular attendee at Frey fundraisers.

So, it looks like at least 3 of the 4 Facebook friends of mine who’ve liked both campaigns are rock solid Jacob Frey supporters who could be mistakenly labeled as Hofstede campaign “Likers” based on Facebook’s poor choice of the term “Like” to describe what’s really a “follow” together with Facebook’s choice of using that action within ads to imply endorsement.

Facebook Nexus = Awesome

This blows my mind:

Nexus :: Ed Kohler

Each dot represents one of my Facebook connections. The lines between dots show who knows each other. I added my own labels to describe various sub-groups using Skitch.

My pre-college classmates have done a phenomenal job staying in touch over the past 17-30 years. Especially considering that we mostly left high school without our first email addresses.

This helps explain why I find blogging valuable. I’ve met a ton of people that I find interesting because of it.

If you have a Facebook account, you can run your own nexus here.

via Brittany Bohnet

How Your Prospect's Facebook Network is Stealing Real Estate Business

In real estate, some of the easiest business to win is generally from your own network: your family, your friends, and friends of theirs.

After that, you’re generally prospecting against other agents who have their own networks, so you’re essentially in the position of stealing business away from their networks.

So what happens when sites like Facebook help people keep in better touch with their networks? It certainly seems possible that real estate agents engaged in sites like Facebook will have an easier time closing business with a larger percentage of their network.

I searched for “real estate” within Facebook after logging into my account just now. After doing that, I clicked the “people” tab and found out that I’m currently friends with 20 real estate agents. Among those agents, I have between zero and 21 mutual friends. Some I know fairly well and some I went to high school or college with. To me, this is a reminder that real estate agents advertising to me have virtually no shot at winning my business away from one of the 20 agents I’m connected with on Facebook. And, of course, there are other agents I know well who aren’t on Facebook yet.

(This isn’t to say that all 20 of those agents have equal levels of experience, skills, or work the same geographies.)

My 21st friend in real estate. The one who knows what she’s doing but isn’t on Facebook yet, is missing out on a big opportunity. She’s no longer getting her name in front of me at the same degree 20 other friends are. And I’m just one of hundreds of people in her network that she’s not touching, virtually, on a regular basis, for free.

Going outside of my friend network doesn’t disappoint either. I can still find out way more about prospective agents when I research them within Facebook than I can on their own websites. Why? Because they share so much more about themselves, such as where they went to school, who their friends are, what other jobs they’ve had, where they like to travel, their tastes in movies and music, and dozens to thousands of photos of themselves and their friends. None of this can’t be done on their main business sites, but they don’t seem to realize that they should.

If you’re not engaging with your current network through online tools like Facebook, you’re opening up the door for all of the other real estate agents they know.

If you’re not sharing information about yourself online through Facebook and on your business site, you’re making things easy for your competitors who do.

Twitter and Facebook Update Status Suggestions for Real Estate Agents

Real Estate Agents are in an interesting breed of business where there is often a large crossover between business and personal relationships. Because of this, tapping into the power of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be a very smart marketing strategy, but only if done with some tact.

An effective strategy for this is to use Twitter, the status update within Facebook (or both) to shed some light into your business day.

Here are some example Twitter message / Facebook status updates worth considering:

1. Heading to my open house at 1355 Main Street East http://tinyurl.com/5omyz7

2. Just wrote up an offer for a client. Wish em luck!

3. 312 Franklin Ave has an incredible view of downtown.

4. Just listed 1234 Oak Lawn Dr. Create backyard for kids and dogs.

5. Trying to get in touch with seller’s agent but he won’t return my calls. Aaaargh!

Messages like this remind your friends and family that you’re out there working on behalf of clients every day. You’re not selling but reminding them that you work in real estate so when it comes time for them to make their next real estate transaction you’ll come to mind. And, of course, it has the potential to lead to more referrals from your friends and family members.

Show some emotion. Show that you care. Show that you work hard for your clients.

Of course, few friends will want to hear about your work life 24-7 so try to figure out an appropriate balance of work and non-work related updates and a post volume that your network will find reasonable.

Good luck!

You can follow me on Twitter here.

Age of Typical Facebook Users

Last week, I was on panel discussing the use of social networking sites for lawyers and mentioned that Facebook is most popular among recent college graduates. Taking that one step further, I ran the numbers on my high school’s use of Facebook (St Paul Central High School) by graduation year from 2008 back to 1920.

Here is how it breaks down. Click on the image to view larger, more readable versions:

Facebook Users by High School Class

1999 appears to be the first graduating class that was hardcore on Facebook. Of course, it may be a bit earlier among Harvard students, but looking at the HS level, that’s where I see the jump.

I’m a Facebook Flip-Flopper

Back on April 1st, I decided to “unfriend” Facebook friends of mine who didn’t use their real names or include a photo of themselves with their profiles.

One of my Facebook friends I unfriended (only in the world of Facebook) was Greg Swan, who happened to notice over the weekend that I’ve refriended him.

Did Greg change? No. I did. I’m a Facebook flip-flopper.

What’s changed is how I use Facebook. I’ve come to realize that the two primary functions of Facebook that I find valuable are: 1. being able to communicate to other people, and 2. using the invitation system. In both cases, how others present themselves has little bearing on how I’m using the service.

By the way, I said “being able to communicate to other people” rather than “with” other people. My “with” conversations have not moved into Facebook. They still take place over email, IM, Twitter, and now occasionally Friendfeed. I don’t foresee moving conversations other than an occasional short note like a birthday wish into Facebook. The interface is too clunky, I can’t export my own thoughts, and they’re locked behind Facebook’s wall.

Will Scrabulous Get You Fired?

Facebook’s new Lexicon feature (free Facebook membership required) graphs the popularity of terms used by Facebook members over time. For example, a search for the term “hangover” shows an unsurprising spike on January 1st:

Hangover search on Facebook Lexicon

Looks like there is a recurring weekly hangover problem as well. And additional spikes for the days after St Patrick’s Day and Halloween.

So, what is this Scrabulous vs Fired graph telling us:

Scrabulous Gets you Fired?

Is the popular online Scrabble game hurting the economy?

And are bachelor parties doing more to break people up than bring them together?

Bachelor Parties Cause Breakups?

I’ll try to investigate further once I’ve played a few games to Scrabulous to help me recover from a hangover. 🙂