Facebook Responds to Questions About Macy’s Spam

Since writing about the emergence of Macy’s spam on Facebook last week, I’ve been inundated with search traffic and emails on the subject. I wrote a quick note to the Facebook communications staff this afternoon, wondering if they were aware of the problem. Here is their prompt response:

Thanks for the note and help in getting the word out about the Macy’s spam attack. We’re also aware of it and believe that only a small percentage of users have been affected. We’re working to update our security systems minimize further impact. Education is also a key part of the solution and we’ve posted a note about this on our security page (http://www.facebook.com/security). Other security tips and links to free virus scanners are also there so it might be a good place for you to send people.

Here are the links they provide on the security page:

Support for your Computer

If your Windows PC or Mac is ever infected with malware or a virus, check out these helpful sites:

* http://www.microsoft.com/security/default.mspx
* http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222

Free Online Virus Scanners

You should also immediately run a virus scan using one of these sites:

* http://www.kaspersky.com/virusscanner
* http://security.symantec.com
* http://us.mcafee.com/root/mfs/scan.asp?affid=56
* http://www.bitdefender.com/scan8
* http://onecare.live.com/site/en-us/default.htm
* http://ca.com/securityadvisor/virusinfo/scan.aspx
* http://www.ewido.net/en/onlinescan
* http://www.pandasecurity.com/homeusers/solutions/activescan

I’m impressed that Facebook responded so quickly. I’ll be even more impressed if they deal with the problem better than Myspace did.

Update: All Facebook has a writeup on the Macy’s spam on Facebook as well.


Social Media Goes Mainstream While Newspaper Circulation Plummets

Several headlines I came across this morning are illustrative of what I perceive as a long-term trend in the media landscape. As technology improves and new mediums for sharing information come about, news audiences will continue to fragment. This was evident in the 1980s and 90s with the explosion in popularity of cable television networks. Early in this decade, blogs took center stage as the new platform competing with the traditional press for inquiring eyeballs. In 2008, most of the attention is going to social media. Here are a few of the headlines I saw this morning:

Twitter Goes Mainstream: A lot more people — and businesses — are finding new ways to tweet

Reddit goes ‘Independent,’ says more deals to come

Putting Facebook and Twitter to work

Most Major Papers Continue Circ Decline

Read more »

Wired Thinks Blogs Are Over, Misses the Point

Paul Boutin, in the new edition of Wired Magazine, makes the case that blogging isn’t worthwhile anymore. While Boutin makes a few good points about the different functionality associated with blogging, social networking and microblogging, he fails to go beyond anecdotal evidence in his analysis of the value of blogging.

He begins:

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

Wired.com, where the article was published, hosts about a dozen blogs. Paul’s fulltime gig is with ValleyWag a top-500 blog focusing on silicon valley gossip. His personal website is, you guessed it, a blog. Apparently irony is easily lost on Mr. Boutin.

He continues:

The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother?

Yes, there is far more garbage in the blogosphere now than at any time prior. The other side of this though is the fact that there is more research, factchecking, sharp analysis, breaking news and “folksy self-expression” than ever before. Better yet, now we’ve got social news websites, blog search engines and web-based RSS readers to help us sort through the clutter.

The crux of the argument is as follows:

The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

Mr. Boutin fails to mention the fact that a pretty good percentage of Tweets are automatically generated from a blog’s RSS feed via Twitterfeed. The same is true for status updates on Facebook. Flickr is a great tool for uploading, storing and sharing photographs, but if your Internet outreach efforts are limited to photo-sharing, you won’t have much luck.

To get the most out of social media you should participate broadly. Just having a blog is as limiting as just having a Facebook account. Your flickr account is worth little if you have nowhere to post the pictures. If you spend all of your time creating short-form content on Twitter, will you have anything to link to? A comprehensive social media outreach plan should encompass all of the above and more. Ideally, organizations should be using social news sites (Digg, Reddit, Buzzflash, Current, etc.), social networking sites (Myspace, Facebook, etc.), social bookmarking sites (Simpy, Furl, etc.), microblogging sites (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) blogging software (WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc.), email lists, listservs, targeted blogger outreach, search engine optimization and more.

When the world wide web was popularized, we didn’t unplug our phones and throw away our stamps. When we need to send a quick note, we email. When we wanted something more personal or more in-depth, we pick up the phone. When we want to formalize a communication or reach someone across the globe, we write a letter. We learned to choose appropriate communications tools for the types of communication we were engaging in. We are going to have to do this more and more in the future, as our communications options continue to diversify. Just as Twitter is ideal for a quick, one-sentence not with a link, blogging is still ideal for mid-length communications with embedded pictures and video.

The bulk of the article is dedicated to hand-wringing over the social media habits of several early-adopting bloggers like Jason Calcanis, Robert Scoble and Mark Pilgrim. The article would probably be better off with more facts, and less anecdotal fluff. Here are a few facts he could have taken into account:

42% of Americans have read a blog and 11% do so daily.

The liberal blog reader project found that 74% of blog readers voted in 2006. Just 41% of all eligible voters did so that year.

71% of journalists have a list of blogs that they check on a regular basis.

Here are a few institutions you may have heard of who disagree with Mr. Boutin’s analysis:

“The Democratic Party cannot win major national elections without the netroots.” -NY Times

“The netroots now rank alongside [unions and interest groups].” -The National Review

“Liberal bloggers [have] quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics.” -The New Republic

“Now that the Netroots’ power has been cemented, any Democratic presidential candidate will have to consider how to woo these Internet activists.” -Time

Here is the bottom line: Blogging is not dead. As social networking and microblogging claim a larger share of the new media landscape, they justify a larger share of an organization’s media outreach strategy. Just as it wouldn’t have been wise to stop reaching out to newspaper and the traditional press when you hired a blogger, there is no reason to stop blogging because you want to create a Facebook or Twitter account. Shifting priorities to reach your audience as effectively as possible is a good thing, but Mr. Boutin’s assertion that blogging is no longer useful is way off the mark.

Anchor Text Links, Analytics Hacks and Plugins

Ever wonder how many words or characters Google reads in the anchor text of a link? This person did.

It appears the answer to the question ‘how many words in a text link” is 55 characters, about 8-10 words.

Why is this important to know?

1. You get to understand how many words Google will count as part of a link
2. You can see why you should keep titles to a maximum amount of characters
3. You can see why your domain name should be short and why urls should be snappy
4. You can see why you should rewrite your urls (SEF)
5. It’s especially useful especially when thinking about linking internally, via body text on a page.

Google Analytics is, with good reason, the most popular web analytics software in use today. Here are a bunch of great plugins and hacks you can use to make this super functional software even better.

Finding Competitor Keywords, Searching the Debate

Search Engine Journal has some good tips for identifying the keywords your competitors are using.

Quick tip: don’t forget to compare which terms your competitor tried to rank (i.e. which terms he is using throughout the site) and which terms he ended up ranked for. Thus, you will be able to do better than him.

Google took a look at the searches coming in during the third Presidential debate. Their findings were pretty interesting:

Read anything useful over the weekend?